Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – July 18, 2016

How to secure your computer and online accounts in 10 simple steps;  Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights;  For privacy and security, change these Android settings right now;  2 ways to control Windows 10 automatic updates;  Google Search power-user tips and tricks;  How to remove your email address from Windows 10’s login screen – and much more news you need to know.

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Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights – Players of Pokemon Go are not only giving up their right to act like sane human beings in public, as they walk around, zombie-esque, reaching into the phones held in front of their faces, they are also likely to be waiving legal rights if they don’t take a very close look at Niantic Labs’ Terms of Service for the game.

How to secure your computer and online accounts in 10 simple steps – Data breaches, hacks, and vulnerable software makes it easier than ever for a hacker to get access to your data. These simple steps can help mitigate it happening in the first place.

For privacy and security, change these Android settings right now – It only takes a few minutes from the very first time you power on your Android phone to lock it down for your security and privacy. Each version of Android comes with a host of features, though they vary between devices. Before you customize your phone or tablet, such as downloading new apps or syncing your data for the first time, these settings need to be checked.

After one year, 10 lessons learned for Windows 10 – It’s been a busy year in Redmond, with Windows 10 delivering three major releases to 350 million active users. Here’s a look back at some major milestones and stumbles along the way, and new predictions about when Windows 10 will hit its ambitious goal of a billion devices.

2 ways to control Windows 10 automatic updates – Previous Windows versions let you update manually or automatically. But Windows 10 updates whether you want it to or not…unless you know the trick.

A Jim Hillier article: Add ‘Copy To’ & ‘Move To’ to Windows Right-Click Menu – Do you remember the old “Copy to” and “Move to” options which were once part of the Windows right-click context menu? For some reason, beginning with Vista, Microsoft decided to do away with these two options. I remember, years ago, using a freeware tweaking tool to add the “Copy to” and Move to” options back in. Anyway, it’s something which I’ve always found useful and, while there are still freeware tweaking tools around that will add these options for you, it’s very easy to do manually via a simple registry hack.


Amazon Video now lets you download movies and TV straight to Android SD cards – One of the big advantages of Amazon’s video streaming service has always been the ability to download its content on mobile devices. That way, if you’re taking a flight, or just want to save on battery, you can watch films and TV shows without having to connect to the internet. Now, Amazon has made a small but significant tweak to this feature, adding the ability for Android users to download content directly to their SD cards. This means that users that want to download, say, the whole of Mr Robot season one, won’t have to juggle their files, moving them about from main to removable storage as they run out of space. Instead, they’ll just go straight into the latter. The feature is available on Android tablets and smartphone from today in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan.

Google Search power-user tips and tricks – One of the essential skills of the 21st century is mastering how to carry out effective Google searches. Take some time out from your day to learn a few tips and tricks that will make your more effective.

36 Secret Tips Every Evernote User Should Know – What are the tips and tricks that will make you an Evernote master? We’ve got them here for you.

5 essential Google Drive extensions for Chrome – As the heart of Google’s productivity suite, Drive is the tool you access most. So why not make it easier to get to when you need it? These Chrome extensions will let you save emails, upload images, and create new Google documents all without leaving your current browser tab.

How to remove your email address from Windows 10’s login screen – The Anniversary Update adds a nice little feature that makes it easy to hide your email address on Windows 10’s sign-in screen.

Five iPhone battery-saving tips that really work (and five that are useless) – There are countless iPhone battery saving tips floating about on the internet, but which ones actually make an appreciable difference, and which aren’t worth the effort? I’ve done the real world testing to sort the wheat from the chaff.

If Microsoft can’t install Windows 10 on your PC, it’ll give you a new one – Terms and conditions apply, but if the company’s stores can’t perform a same-day upgrade on your Windows 10-compatible PC, it’ll give you a new Dell notebook.

iOS 10 is a total mess – With about two months to go until iOS 10 is released, the current beta shows an operating system full of bugs and strange user interface changes.

Kim Dotcom: Megaupload is Coming Back on Jan. 20 – The previous Megaupload topped out at around 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors. Can Kim Dotcom regain his old site’s popularity?


Pokemon GO: giving hackers direct access to your phone – On sign up, you will be asked to provide your Google login. Apps commonly use existing credentials rather than creating their own to speed up installation and make sign up easy. However, in the case of Pokemon GO, Niantic Labs, the app’s developers, offer no clear limitation to what the app has access to. Upon reading the Privacy Policy, the Emsisoft team were shocked to find that the app had full access to all aspects of a player’s Google account, including the ability to send and read emails, access edit and delete documents in Google Drive and Google Photos and access browser histories and location information. There is no mention of what Niantic Labs intends to do with the data it accesses, but users should be aware that full access to a user’s personal data is a huge security risk.

Fake Pokémon Go app on Google Play infects phones with screenlocker – Badware purveyors trying to capitalize on the ongoing Pokémon Go frenzy have achieved an important milestone by sneaking their fake wares into the official Google Play marketplace, security researchers said Friday. Researchers from antivirus provider Eset report finding at least three such apps in the Google-hosted marketplace. Of the three, the one titled “Pokemon Go Ultimate” posed the biggest threat because it deliberately locks the screen of devices immediately after being installed. In many cases, restarting an infected phone isn’t enough to unlock the screen. Infected phones can ultimately be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android Device Manager.

OurMine claims credit for attack on Pokemon Go servers – Having trouble logging in to Pokemon Go this weekend? You’re not alone. A hacking team called OurMine has spent the past several hours hitting Pokemon Go’s login servers with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, leaving some players frustrated and unable to log in to the game. The group said it would not stop the attack until representatives from Pokemon Go contacted them.

Ubuntu Forums hacked again, 2 million users exposed – Canonical’s Ubuntu Forums have been hacked, and the attacker has managed to access and download part of the Forums database, containing usernames, email addresses and IPs for 2 million users.

Company News:

SoftBank is reportedly bidding to buy chip giant ARM for $31 billion – SoftBank is bidding to buy chip giant ARM, one of the world’s most influential technology companies, according to multiple media. UK-based ARM designs chips for many of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Apple and Samsung, it has licenses with more 300 tech firms and has shipped over 60 billion chips based on its tech to date. The Financial Times reported that Tokyo-based SoftBank is offering a 43 percent premium on its closing price last week (£17 in cash for each share) in a transaction that could be worth £23.4 billion, or around $31 billion. That would make it the largest acquisition of a Europe-based tech firm to date. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both confirmed a bid via sources, but neither reported a price.

Snapchat applies for patent to serve ads by recognizing objects in your snaps – Snapchat has filed a patent application for a system of advertising using object recognition to serve users sponsored filters. The technology outlined by the company would identify items in users’ pictures, and then offer them image overlays from brands related to these objects. It’s the visual equivalent of buying advertising space based on keywords in Google searches — but instead of looking for textual data in searches like “headphones” or “shoes,” it’s looking for the objects themselves. The patent application was filed in January last year, published by the US patent office earlier this month, and first spotted by Business Insider.

Comcast expands $10 low-income Internet plan – Comcast’s Internet Essentials program that provides $10-per-month Internet service to low-income families has been expanded to make about 1.3 million additional households eligible. Comcast created Internet Essentials in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 and has decided to continue it indefinitely even though the requirement expired in 2014. Comcast says the 10Mbps plan has connected more than 600,000 low-income families since 2011, for a total of 2.4 million adults and children, and provided 47,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each.

Games and Entertainment:

The Best PC Fighting Games of 2016 – PCMag’s favorite PC fighting games are highlighted below. This isn’t a hastily crafted roundup designed to simply appease the Google gods. Uh-uh. You’ll find links to in-depth reviews, as well as summaries for those of you who are pinched for time. And rest assured that all these reviews are penned by fighting game fans. It’s all love.

Netflix debuts ‘Flixtapes’: shareable mixtapes for streaming video – If you grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, you likely remember mixtapes. If you didn’t, a mixtape is like the physical form of a playlist; a collection of songs from different artists, usually grouped by a theme or mood, recorded on a single audio tape that could be shared between friends and romantic interests. Well, Netflix has just updated that ancient practice with a new feature called “Flixtapes” — a shareable playlist of movies and TV shows for, well, Netflix.

Star Wars VR game Trials on Tatooine comes to Steam for free – You’re only about a day away from being able to experience the world of Star Wars in virtual reality. At the Star Wars Celebration, currently being in London this weekend, Lucasfilm announced that it was releasing the VR game experiment Trials on Tatooine on Steam on Monday, July 18th. The best part is that it’s completely free, assuming you have a HTC Vive headset.

This week in games: CS:GO implodes, Overwatch adds a sniper mom, and Pokémon Go to the polls – Plus: System Shock Remastered hits its Kickstarter goal, Beastmen come to Total War: Warhammer, and more. This is your gaming news for the week of July 11 – 15.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Activists Release Nearly 100 Years of TIME Magazine Issues For Free – Activists have downloaded nearly 100 years worth of TIME magazine issues from the publication’s paywalled digital archive and dumped them all online for anyone to grab for free. “It was possible and seems worthwhile,” Michael Best, a freedom of information activist who obtained the files, told Motherboard in an online chat. In a statement published along with the files, Best wrote, “They’re a useful research tool with a lot of historical news and cultural information. They should be freely viewable online as they would in a well-stocked library, however most libraries lack this complete a collection of TIME Magazine back-issues.”

Too much big data running through my brain – Big Data by all accounts is supposed to help humans perform better by augmenting our limited brain power. Computers, after all, have the ability to crunch data with lightning speed, something humans just haven’t been built to do. Conventional tech wisdom states that the more data you have, the better the outcome — even if that sounds counter-intuitive. That’s the thinking behind the NSA hoovering up as much data as they can get their hands on. With more data should come deeper understanding, but what happens when there’s too much data and it surpasses our human ability to understand it in a given moment?

Sorry, there’s no more porn with your Starbucks latte – Starbucks said Friday it would soon add porn-blocking filters to its public, in-store Wi-Fi. The move follows McDonald’s, which disclosed this week that it had blocked the hamburger-eating public from accessing Wi-Fi-enabled porn at its restaurants. The group Enough is Enough and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have been putting pressure on companies that provide free Wi-Fi to the public to block porn sites.

If you’re worried that stupid people have more kids, don’t be (yet) – It’s a common perception that less-educated people have more children. The idea causes much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over the possibility that human populations might become stupider over the course of generations. But it’s actually pretty difficult to confirm whether there really is a reproductive trend that would change the genetic makeup of the human population overall.

Research Confirms Dating Apps Are a Sad Game – Tinder and other dating apps have totally upended the modern romantic experience, yet we don’t really know how they work or how other people use them. We share stories of IRL meetups with friends, and guess at how other people behave on the app. Why didn’t this person respond to my carefully-picked emoji? Why did this other person flood me with an unending stream of inane messages for a week, only to disappear? Here’s why: dating apps are a sad, pointless game people play while mindlessly watching Netflix and drinking too much wine for a Tuesday night. And now research confirms it, thanks to a massive study that looked at 19 million messages between 400,000 hetero people on a dating app that couldn’t be named due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Live streaming to take off at political conventions – With presidential candidates looking to reach more viewers, especially younger voters, both the Republican and the Democratic national conventions this summer will be live streaming their events. Live streaming, while not a new technology, has become a hot communication tool and people heading up to the conventions are seeing it as a way to reach potential voters who might not watch the events on television or read about them in print or online.

Something to think about:

“I’m a very stable person. I’m so stable you wouldn’t believe it. I’m not a fast trigger. I’m the exact opposite of a fast trigger, but nobody’s going to push us around.”

–     Donald Trump

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google Search will offer state-by-state guide to voter registration – After months upon months of political ads, debates, and news stories flying at us from every direction, the general election will finally be decided later this year. Yet, living through nearly two years of endless political commentary and talking heads analyzing nearly every word each candidate has ever said will all be for nothing if you aren’t registered to vote when time comes in November. Google has announced today that it’s going to try to make the process of registering to vote at least a little easier for those who want their voices to be heard.

Is Twitter success of Trump and Clinton propped up by botnets and fake followers? – Trump and Clinton have one thing in common: a massive contingent of zombie Twitter followers. The data suggests large numbers of followers may have been purchased.

GOP convention sponsors have second thoughts as online activists notch win – Hewlett-Packard, which donated $1 million in funds and tech equipment to the past two Republican National Conventions, abruptly said it would snub this year’s GOP gathering in Cleveland.

Apple, which committed computers and iPhones to the last two Republican conventions, also sent its regrets. Motorola, which donated more than $600,000 during the 2012 RNC, took the same path.

The series of cancellations caps a remarkable victory for ColorOfChange and Credo Action, online activist groups that began pressuring some of the biggest corporations in the country to withdraw from what’s shaping up to be the most contentious political gathering in nearly half a century. Using social media, online petitions and calls, the two groups targeted 30 major companies, prompting half to cancel or curtail their participation in the event, where Donald Trump is expected to be named the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

In a blast of emails and tweets, the organizations warned companies that Trump’s divisive campaign and tactics would tarnish their well-polished brands. Did the companies want to be associated with a candidate who has repeatedly attacked women, immigrants and minorities? they asked corporate leaders.

UK surveillance bill includes powers to limit end-to-end encryption – The UK government has explicitly confirmed that a surveillance bill now making its way through the second chamber could be used to require a company to remove encryption. And even, in some circumstances, to force a comms service provider not to use end-to-end encryption to secure a future service they are developing. The details were revealed during debate of the Investigatory Powers Bill at a committee session in the House of Lords this week.

This cements concerns over the phrasing of a clause in the bill that refers to the ‘removal of electronic protection’, which critics, including from the technology and security industries, have long been warning risks outlawing the use of strong encryption in the UK.

The government’s counter argument has been that there should be no safe spaces for terrorists and criminals to operate online, i.e. where their communications are definitively out of the reach of security and law enforcement agencies.

How to circumvent Turkey’s social media block – Access to several social media sites was blocked for over an hour in Turkey today during a reported military coup. Although internet traffic appears to be flowing normally again, Turkey’s government frequently responds to political events by blocking certain websites or throttling traffic.

“We saw the throttling of connections from Turkey to Twitter and Facebook just after the reports of the coup in Turkey,” Doug Madory, the director of internet analysis at Dyn Research, told TechCrunch. “We did not see any problems with YouTube, but I have also seen others report problems accessing that website.” Livestreaming services like Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live appeared unaffected by the block.

Overall, internet traffic in Turkey may have dropped by half, according to CloudFlare data. CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince tweeted, “From CloudFlare data, appears there’s about a 50% drop in Internet traffic coming out of Turkey.”

Turkish censorship of social media has been relatively easy to circumvent in the past — users could use DNS services like Google Public DNS to evade the blocks. But Turkey has become more sophisticated in how it blocks its citizens from accessing social media, according to Madory.

“This time Turkey appears to be restricting bandwidth when accessing social media. This represents a more sophisticated censorship technique that is harder to detect,” Madory said. “Users should still be able to circumvent it using a VPN, but the average user in Turkey may still not have that technology readily available.”

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