Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – June 27, 2016

3 Must Do Things After Upgrading to Windows 10;  How to reinstall Windows like a pro;  Making your phone battery last all day (without using a power bank);  You can now livestream right from the YouTube app;  Chrome Bug Makes it Easy to Pirate Streaming Content; Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) – What you need to know;  Seven tips on keeping your phone safe while traveling;  How to delete your OK Google Now audio search history – and much more news you need to know.

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A Jim Hillier article – 3 Must Do Things After Upgrading to Windows 10 – Because it’s a hybrid operating system, catering for both desktop and mobile users alike, Windows 10 is a very different animal to Windows 7 and even more mobile-centric than Windows 8.1. You will no doubt have heard complaints regarding increased telemetry (data collection) in Windows 10 and this is largely related to the mobile side of things. In my humble opinion, the so-called “privacy” issues in Windows 10 have been widely overstated. The increased level of telemetry in Windows 10 bears a direct correlation to mobile, so disabling mobile related apps and features will exponentially decrease the level of data collection. If you’ve upgraded a desktop Windows 7 or 8.1 operating system to Windows 10, these are three steps you will need to take in order to not only achieve the lowest level of data collection but also help with the system’s speed and overall responsiveness.

Microsoft tweaks activation rules for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update – With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update nearly ready, Microsoft this week announced a seemingly minor change to its activation process. Under the new rules, it should be easier to reactivate Windows on a PC after major hardware changes. But is there more to the story?

How to reinstall Windows like a pro – It’s super-easy to reinstall Windows 10 or 8, and not much more difficult to reinstall Windows 7. Use these tips to get the most out of a reinstall.

You can now livestream right from the YouTube app – YouTube is finally ready to take on Periscope, Facebook Live, and other livestreaming mobile services, as the company is building live mobile video broadcasting right into the core YouTube app. Firing up a livestream seems pretty simple, according to the introductory blog post. “You won’t need to open anything else, just hit the big red capture button right there in the corner, take or select a photo to use as a thumbnail, and you can broadcast live to your fans and chat in near real time,” YouTube says.

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How to delete your OK Google Now audio search history – If you’re a Google Now power user, you might want to know that Google saves all of your audio searches. You might also want to know how to delete those searches from your account. Jack Wallen shows you how.

The Very Best Android Phnes – Apple’s iPhone not up your alley? Here’s how to find the right Google-powered alternative, along with our top-rated Android phones.

Making your phone battery last all day (without using a power bank) – Our phones are always with us, and they’re our only tool for doing most things anymore: getting in touch with someone, finding an address or phone number, navigating somewhere, taking a picture, and all that fun stuff. As such, a low or dead phone battery is harrowing. We’ll keep the phone on a charger when possible, but getting through a day without having to charge is ideal…and, fortunately, entirely possible.

Which browser is best for battery life: We test Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox – It’s a power struggle for the age of the web, as we test major browsers in a carefully controlled battery-rundown test. Which one will kill your laptop first? The answer’s not as simple as you’d think.

Toddler-Proof Your iPhone With This Quick Trick – The big danger of putting smartphones and tablets in tiny, unpredictable hands is that they’re likely to hit the home button, closing the episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that was the one thing standing between a civilized meal and a toddler meltdown. (Or worse, accidentally sending potentially embarrassing messages.) But there is a way to put your Apple device on lockdown while still letting an open app operate as usual. A setting called Guided Access keeps an iPhone or iPad locked in an app, even if someone hits the home button.

Five tips for taking professional looking photos with your smartphone – Want to take better photographs with your iPhone or Android smartphone? Here are my top tips.

What’s inside a $4 smartphone? – Indian company Ringing Bells is ready to start shipping a $4 smartphone – but how much smartphone can you buy for $4?

Chrome Bug Makes it Easy to Pirate Streaming Content – Will Google fix the Chrome vulnerability? Can it even truly be fixed? Free Netflix movies, then! According to Wired, two security researchers have found a vulnerability in Google’s Chrome browser related to how the browser treats media streaming. Specifically, the issue centers around how Chrome’s Wildvine—its digital rights management system—handles the exchange between the browser and streaming services’ content protection systems. The bug, allegedly a simple one to execute, allows a person to obtain a copy of a stream right after it’s decrypted but before it starts streaming in your browser. Hello, free content.

Security:

Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) – What you need to know – Malware, Trojans, Bugs – these very words strike fear in the heart of all of us, evoking images of lines of falling code, skulls and crossbones. These malicious programs are the filth of the Internet, the proof that with every useful technology there is an equal and opposite piece of garbage that at times could have adverse effects on your system. A potentially unwanted program (PUP) is exactly what it sounds like; software that you may or may not want clogging up your system. PUPs are similar to malware in that they cause problems when downloaded and installed, but what makes a PUP different is that when you download one, you are doing it with your consent.

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Adware loads annoying toolbars into your web browser

Seven tips on keeping your phone safe while traveling – In this edition of Ask Maggie, CNET’s Marguerite Reardon offers advice on how to make sure your vacation isn’t ruined by becoming a victim of mobile cybercrime.

Researchers steal data from a PC by controllng the noise from the fans – Even the noise from your PC’s fans could be used to steal the data inside. Researchers in Israel have found a way to do just by hijacking the fans inside and manipulating the sounds they create.

7 Ways the Cops Will Bust You on the Dark Web – Because users are protected by a veil of technological anonymity, the dark web is often portrayed as a space beyond the reach of law enforcement, where criminals can run amok without fear of prosecution. That couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, police all over the world have deployed a wide array of different techniques to identify and ultimately convict dark web drug dealers, weapon buyers, child pornographers, and more in the past several years. If anything, law enforcement agencies have become more accustomed to working in this space, and are likely to develop even more ways to bust technologically savvy criminals.

Google CEO’s Quora account briefly hijacked by Mark Zuckerberg hackers – Google CEO Sundar Pichai had his Quora account hacked last night, becoming the latest in a list of major tech figures to have their social media presences hijacked by a group calling itself “OurMine.” The breach comes less than a month after both Mark Zuckerberg and Spotify boss Daniel Ek suffered a similar fate. The breach of Pichai’s account became apparent when tweets linking to Pichai’s Quora posts — referencing the OurMine group — appeared on his official Twitter account late Sunday night. Unlike the case of Daniel Ek, however, the hackers hadn’t gained access to Pichai’s Twitter account proper, instead relying on Quora’s auto-tweet functionality to notify his half-a-million followers about the breach.

New exploits target hospital devices, places patients at risk – It is not just the enterprise, banks and individuals that are targeted by cybercriminals looking to cash in on data and rinse bank accounts. Things have taken a more sinister turn with the introduction — and evolution — of attacks specifically designed to compromise medical devices, which places both patient health and information at serious risk. A new report released by security firm TrapX on Monday highlights how this trend is becoming more and more serious, and healthcare organizations must sit up and take note of these emerging threats before it is too late.

How the ‘insecurity of things’ creates the next wave of security opportunities – More than 5 billion IoT devices were installed in 2015. Gartner estimates this will grow to 20 billion by 2020. Unfortunately, experts agree that security is not only an afterthought, but often is actively resisted and circumvented.

Company News:

Microsoft to end production on the Surface 3 by late 2016 – Microsoft plans to stop manufacturing its entry-level Surface 3 tablet by year’s end, the company announced today. The Surface 3 first launched back in May of 2015 as a more affordable 2-in-1 designed to attract students and those who might have gravitated more toward an iPad instead of a full-blown laptop. Quite a few sites dedicated to Microsoft and Windows news noticed of late that stock for the device has been running low, and ZDNet confirmed the company would be winding down production over the next six months.

Sony settles with PS3 owners over Linux lawsuit – A long-running class-action lawsuit from PlayStation 3 owners angry over losing the ability to run Linux on the console may finally be over. When the PS3 launched in 2006, it featured support for “OtherOS,” which let owners install Linux on the console’s hard drive. Only a few short years later, Sony disabled the feature in a software update, claiming it was necessary to fight piracy. After years of court battles, Sony has now agreed to a settlement worth millions of dollars.

Apple celebrates Pride with rainbow Watch straps – Apple joined with revellers across the world this weekend to celebrate LGBT rights, with the company’s employees and Chief Executive Tim Cook participating in the San Francisco Pride parade. The company distributed rainbow-patterned wristbands for the Apple Watch to employees who joined the celebrations, according to Reddit user Sakusuhon. Posting a picture of the band, Sakusuhon said they were “distributed as gifts for registration” and that he didn’t know whether they would be made available to the public.

Expanding in Africa, eBay partners with MallForAfrica.com – American eBay sellers will soon gain access to Africa’s biggest consumer markets. This comes via a new partnership between the U.S. e-commerce giant and online shopping startup MallforAfrica.com, set to go live July 2016.

Games and Entertainment:

‘Civilization V’ Is Set to Conquer American High School Classrooms Next Year – It’s a sign of how far video games have come in the last few years that some of the biggest titles are working their way into the classrooms. The modern incarnation of the old classroom favorite SimCity has been doing well, as has Minecraft in its educational edition, but now players more suited to the “maps and chaps” aspect of learning are in for a treat. Through a partnership with publisher Take-Two Interactive, developer Firaxis Games, and an educational game company called GlassLab, the grand strategy game Sid Meier’s Civilization V will start appearing in American high school classrooms by autumn of next year.

You Can Play ‘Halo 5’ For Free Next Week – It will be playable from June 29 until July 5 as part of the Xbox Live Free Play Days program. Halo 5’s new Warzone Firefight mode is set to launch on June 29 as a free downloadable update. Newcomers will have an entire week to try out the game so long as they hold a valid Xbox Live gold membership. You can check out the new content to be included in Warzone Firefight below:

Most anticipated games of 2016: July to December – E3 is over, and now we have hard dates for nearly all of the big games for the rest of 2016. Here are ones we’re most looking forward to.

New Quake episode released in honor of 20th anniversary – 2016 appears to be the year to honor the influential FPS games from developer Id Software. First we got a brand new Doom that actually lives up to the legacy of the originals, and this last week saw the 20th anniversary of the first Quake. In an unexpected surprise celebrating the latter, a brand new episode for Quake was released — for free — by MachineGames, the developer behind the recent Wolfenstein titles The New Order and The Old Blood.

10 great Steam Summer Sale game bundles that will save you even more money – The legendary Steam Summer Sale may have lost a tinge of its excitement when Valve shifted away from Daily Deals and Flash Sales, but it’s still the place to go when you want to pick up great PC games for rock-bottom prices. This year’s Steam Summer Picnic Sale is no different. The glorious, brand new Doom for 40 percent off! Half-Life 2 for just $2! It’s ridiculous—ridiculously great. But if you want to save even more cash, bundles are the way to go.

Destiny developer Bungie gives more details on leaving PS3, Xbox 360 behind – When Destiny’s upcoming expansion, Rise of Iron, was officially revealed during a livestream just a few days before E3, developer Bungie clearly stated that the content would not be coming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, now referred to as “legacy consoles.” In other words, all future development and releases would be exclusive to the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game. Now Bungie has revealed more concrete details about how Destiny will work on those older consoles, and how players can migrate their progress to the current platforms.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Brexit: Answers to 8 crucial questions for business and technology professionals – The UK recently voted to leave the EU, which will likely have major implications for business and IT. Here are answers to the most important questions raised by the exit.

Teachers out at prep school after nasty Slack messages about students are revealed – Several teachers privately called the kids “idiots” and worse; then screenshots of their chats were circulated, say reports.

The heart of smart devices: These sensors make the Internet of Things aware – Sensors are at the heart of the Internet of Things, collecting the data that powers wearables and smart cities alike. We took a look at some of these components.

Facebook and Google may be using copyright scanners to suppress ‘extremist’ speech – The systems that automatically enforce copyright laws on the internet may be expanding to block unfavorable speech. Reuters reports that Facebook, Google, and other companies are exploring automated removal of extremist content, and could be repurposing copyright takedown methods to identify and suppress it. It’s unclear where the lines have been drawn, but the systems are likely targeted at radical messages on social networks from enemies of European powers and the United States. Leaders in the US and Europe have increasingly decried radical extremism on the internet and have attempted to enlist internet companies in a fight to suppress it. Many of those companies have been receptive to the idea and already have procedures to block violent and hateful content. Neither Facebook and Google would confirm automation of these efforts to Reuters, which relied on two anonymous sources who are “familiar with the process.”

A quick look at the state of hardware technologies in China and beyond – Recent developments in the hardware world show just how far China’s star has risen and how dominant the country has become in the world of technology hardware manufacturing, development, and innovation. And the physical impact of these products is only just beginning to shape the direction the tech industry will take in years to come.

Mr Zuckerberg, tear down this wall – Today we need to cut the crap. This nonsense has gone too far. I’m speaking of the Echo Chamber. The search engine optimization, and the filtering of the content I see on the internet. Not only me, but my family and my friends, as well. This point was driven home to me this morning by a fellow by the name of Tom Steinberg who, earlier today, attempted to find any people on Facebook who were expressing happiness with the results of the “Brexit” vote for which results have come in overnight. He couldn’t find any. That’s not real. At least it’s not realistic. At most, it’s extremely dangerous.

Something to think about:

“To find a fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.”

–    Plutarch (46 AD – 120 AD)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US Customs wants to collect social media account names at the border – Your Twitter handle may soon be part of the US visa process. Yesterday, US Customs and Border Protection entered a new proposal into the federal register, suggesting a new field in which persons entering the country can declare their various social media accounts and screen names. The information wouldn’t be mandatory, but the proposed field would still provide customs officials with an unprecedented window into the online life of travelers. The process already includes fingerprinting, an in-person interview, and numerous database checks.

The proposal focuses on arrival / departure forms commonly collected from non-citizens at the US border, as well as the electronic form used for anyone entering the country under a visa waiver. Under the proposed changes, those forms would include a new optional data field prompting visitors to “please enter information associated with your online presence,” followed by open fields for specific platforms and screen names.

It’s unclear from the proposal how thoroughly officials will examine the social profiles, although it’s clear they will be used for investigative purposes. “Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections,” the announcement reads.

The public has 60 days to comment on the new proposal before it will be formally considered. Comments can be mailed to Customs and Border Protection at its Washington office.

Russia moves toward alarming new counter-terrorism law – The lower house of Russia’s parliament has passed so-called anti-terrorism legislation that would allow steep prison sentences for dissent, and require ISPs and phone companies to store huge amounts of communications for long periods of time, The Guardian reports. The “Yarovaya law” would also make it a crime not to report information about terrorist attacks and other crimes, require telecoms to assist the government to break into encrypted messages, and increase the strongest penalty for “extremism” from four to eight years of imprisonment, according to The Guardian. Even this bill, which was passed on Friday, is softer than a previous version which would have allowed the government to strip Russians of citizenship.

The bill was reportedly crafted as a response to the bombing of a Russian passenger plane last October, and The Guardian speculates that it will likely be passed by the rest of parliament and eventually signed by President Vladimir Putin. Critics of the law liken it to Soviet-era measures; Tanya Lokshina, a program director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that the bill “will severely curb people’s right to exercise free expression and other fundamental freedoms in Russia.” The bill could be used to intimidate dissenters and expand punishments against those critical of the Kremlin; the Russian government has already punished citizens harshly for attending anti-war rallies in recent years through mass arrests and prison sentences for protesters.

FBI’s use of Tor exploit is like peering through “broken blinds” – Law enforcement does not need a warrant to hack someone’s computer, according to a just-unsealed court order written by a federal judge in Virginia.

This case, United States v. Matish, is one of at least 135 cases currently being prosecuted nationwide stemming from the FBI’s investigation of the Tor-hidden child pornography site called “Playpen.”

US District Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. further explained in the order on Thursday that warrantless government-sanctioned hacking “resembles” law enforcement looking through broken blinds. In this case, however, a warrant was sought and obtained. Judge Morgan found that even if the warrant did not exist—or was found to be invalid—the search would have been valid.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – June 27, 2016

  1. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Re Brexit.

    There is a saying, apocryphally known as the “Chinese curse”, which goes “may you live in interesting times”.

    This could either be a time of disaster, or of huge opportunity for the UK and a lot of dust has to settle before the future begins to become clear. As a democrat (small d) my hope is that we can accept the will of the majority who voted in a large turnout, and work together to produce the best outcome possible for all concerned, regardless of how people voted.

    The optimist in me hopes this can be achieved sooner rather than later. The cynic (realist?) in me, not so much.

    Kind regards,
    John

    • Hi John,

      I’m of two minds on this (hardly surprising – 🙂 )

      On the one hand, I think that it’s time to kick globalism in the buttocks. I’ve had enough of the mind games and money grubbing.

      On the other hand, I’m tired of a system that allows the under-educated and UNINFORMED to participate in their own destruction. Think Donald Trump.

      Still, what’s done is done and ever effort should be made to follow the will of the people. It is what it is – and, swift compliance is the order of the day.

      Best,

      Bill