Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – August 31, 2016

Top 10 free troubleshooting tools for Windows 10;  Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems;  Here’s how much RAM your PC needs to run smoothly;  Here’s how surge protectors keep your gadgets safe;  Why your USB drive’s file format matters: FAT32 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS;  Google Cast gets built into Chrome;  How to Find Accessible Wi-Fi Hotspots;  9 things to check after installing wireless access points – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Top 10 free troubleshooting tools for Windows 10 – Into every Windows 10 user’s life a little rain must fall. Sometimes it comes down in buckets. Windows itself has many built-in troubleshooting tools, but they can be tricky to find and even trickier to harness in ways that’ll help you solve a problem—instead of simply sitting there looking pretty and/or perplexed. Here we introduce 10 tools you’re going to need, sooner or later, no matter how you use or abuse Win10. They’re free—either built into Windows, downloadable from Microsoft, or free as a breeze from a third party. Most of all, they get the job done … and done well.

Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems – The Anniversary Update to Windows 10, version 1607, has been rolling out for the past few weeks, and some early adopters are experiencing issues. Here’s Ed Bott’s guide to some specific fixes for known issues along with time-tested troubleshooting tools and techniques.

How to fix the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition webcam bug – Microsoft’s newest update to Windows 10 rolled out more than just features –it also inadvertently killed many webcams in the process. Good news: There’s a registry fix for that.

Here’s how much RAM your PC needs to run smoothly – Is there a case for more than 8GB of RAM? Sure there is, but the bang for the buck trails off beyond that point.

Here’s how surge protectors keep your gadgets safe – What can you do to protect your electronics from power surges? Use a surge protector that blocks it. Appliance Science looks at how these devices save your gadgets.

Why your USB drive’s file format matters: FAT32 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS – You have options when it comes to formatting a USB drive for use in a PC: FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS. We’ll explain what they are and how to choose the best file system for your needs.

Google’s new In Apps search lets you look through your Android apps for information – Google’s new In Apps search lets you look through your Android apps for information – Android users have a new way to look for information stored inside their smartphone apps, with a new Google search feature appropriately titled “In Apps.” The new feature, announced tonight, appears as an option inside Android’s Google app, and allows you to search for — among other things — contacts, photos, and videos across apps like Gmail, Spotify, and YouTube. In Apps searches work offline, meaning you won’t need a data connection to sift through your software for that address you forgot, and you’ll be able to tweak settings so that certain apps don’t appear in the search results.


Source: Google Blog

Google Cast gets built into Chrome – Google Cast—the protocol that powers Chromecast—previously worked inside of Chrome thanks to an extension released by Google. Buttons on YouTube, Google Music, and other sites allowed you to beam music and video to your TV or stereo system. Now you no longer need an extension to sling media across the room. Google has built the protocol directly into Chrome. Like all Chrome features, Cast support started in the “Dev” and “Beta” versions. Cast has finally hit the stable channel that most consumers use. The Cast buttons in website UIs will continue to work the way they always have, and if you click on the Chrome menu button, you’ll be treated to a new “Cast…” option that can beam an entire tab to your television.

When will your phone get Android Nougat? – Our continually updated list has all the latest details, announcements, and rumors to give you the best possible picture of when you’ll get Android 7.0.

How to delete photos from your Android device and retain them on Google Drive – If you need to free up local storage space on your Android device, and have lots of photos on your phone, learn how to delete those images without actually losing them.

Apple iCloud rises higher with new 2TB offer – For the modern computer user and knowledge worker, cloud storage is an inevitable fact of life. For mobile device users with very limited internal storage, it becomes a necessity. Apple’s iPhones have long been criticized by some camps for lacking a data storage expansion option and the company is unlikely to change its ways. Instead, it is now offering even more space on its iCloud storage service, up to 2 TB in fact, to give more room for your photos, videos, and files.

9 things to check after installing wireless access points – Whether you’re upgrading equipment or building out a whole new Wi-Fi network, use this checklist to make sure everything’s shipshape before you let users connect.

How to Find Accessible Wi-Fi Hotspots – You’re at a public place looking to get on the Internet through your trusty laptop. You may be indoors. You may be outdoors. Either way, you’re searching for a publicly accessible Wi-Fi network, or hotspot, through which you can hop online. Yes, you can always power up your laptop and search for a network. But that can be time-consuming. Instead, you can simply and quickly tap into a Wi-Fi finder app on your smartphone to see if any networks are nearby.

Fiber channel networking: The smart person’s guide – If your company needs a storage-area network (SAN) or an enterprise backup system, you’ll need to brush up on the subject of fiber channel (fiber optic) networking gear, which connects the components to your servers. This applies to storage arrays using traditional hard disk drives or all-flash arrays, along with traditional tape backup or disk-based backup. This guide is an entry-level summary about fiber channel networking.

Stop procrastinating: Signing emails is now a necessity – If employees don’t digitally sign all outgoing emails, Jack Wallen says your company and customer base is at risk. He explains why signing emails has reached critical importance.

4 worthy alternatives to Sunrise Calendar – At the end of the month, the sun will set on Sunrise, one of the most beloved calendar apps. That will leave a scheduling void for Android and iOS users who prized the app for its intuitive interface, third-party app integration, and support for Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, and iCloud. Though Sunrise leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, there are some worthy alternatives that can take its place. Here’s a look at four of the best.

Meet Intel 7th Gen Core, the 4K, VR-ready “Kaby Lake” processors – If we’re post-PC, nobody told Intel: the chip company has higher hopes than ever for the computer – albeit in a range of form-factors – running its new 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” Core processors, officially announced today. With headline 7th Gen vs 6th Gen improvements including swifter, less power-intensive media playback and processing, the ability to do serious gaming on the move, and broader support for next-generation interconnects like Thunderbolt and USB-C plus security features like Windows Hello, Intel sees Kaby Lake as more than just a speed bump.

Microsoft makes it easier to report hate speech on Xbox and other services – Microsoft has added new Web forms that allow users to report hate speech that can be found on Microsoft services like Xbox Live, Skype, and OneDrive.


Meet USBee, the malware that uses USB drives to covertly jump airgaps – In 2013, a document leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden illustrated how a specially modified USB device allowed spies to surreptitiously siphon data out of targeted computers, even when they were physically severed from the Internet or other networks. Now, researchers have developed software that goes a step further by turning unmodified USB devices into covert transmitters that can funnel large amounts of information out of similarly “air-gapped” PCs. The USBee—so named because it behaves like a bee that flies through the air taking bits from one place to another—is in many respects a significant improvement over the NSA-developed USB exfiltrator known as CottonMouth.

Poisoned Word docs deploy rogue web proxies to hijack your encrypted traffic – A new attack spotted and analyzed by malware researchers from Microsoft uses Word documents with malicious code that doesn’t install traditional malware, but instead configures browsers to use a web proxy controlled by attackers. In addition to deploying rogue proxy settings, the attack also installs a self-signed root certificate on the system so that attackers can snoop on encrypted HTTPS traffic as it passes through their proxy servers. The attack starts with spam emails that have a .docx attachment. When opened, the document displays an embedded element resembling an invoice or receipt. If clicked and allowed to run, the embedded object executes malicious JavaScript code.

Dropbox employee’s password reuse led to theft of 60M+ user credentials – Dropbox disclosed earlier this week that a large chunk of its users’ credentials obtained in 2012 was floating around on the dark web. But that number may have been much higher than we originally thought. Credentials for more than 60 million accounts were taken, as first reported by Motherboard and confirmed by TechCrunch sources. The revelation of a password breach at Dropbox is an evolution of the company’s stance on the 2012 incident — the company initially said that user emails were the only data stolen.

Officials blame “sophisticated” Russian hackers for voter system attacks – The profile of attacks on two US state voter registration systems this summer presented in an FBI “Flash” memo suggests that the states were hit by a fairly typical sort of intrusion. But an Arizona official said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had attributed an attack that succeeded only in capturing a single user’s login credentials to Russian hackers and rated the threat from the attack as an “eight on a scale of ten” in severity. An Illinois state official characterized the more successful attack on that state’s system as “highly sophisticated” based on information from the FBI.

BitTorrent client is found distributing Mac-based malware – Researchers at security firm ESET have been following a malware called OSX/Keydnap, which can steal passwords, and noticed that it was spreading through Transmission’s official site. Somehow, a version of the BitTorrent client containing the malware had been recently made available on the site, ESET said in a blog post on Tuesday. Transmission has already removed the download, according to ESET. But users who downloaded the client between this past Sunday and Monday should check for signs that their Mac has been comprised.

Free tool helps your IT team assess phishing risks – Duo Insight lets IT teams run internal phishing simulations to identify potential security weaknesses and make the case for investing in stronger solutions and more user training.

Company News:

Apple must pay Ireland $14.5 billion in taxes, rules European Commission – Europe’s competition chief has ordered Ireland to reclaim €13 billion (£11.1 billion/$14.5 billion) in back taxes from Apple. It comes despite the US treasury department warning last week that it would “consider its options” in such an eventuality. Speaking at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Margrethe Vestager said: “Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies—this is illegal under EU state aid rules.” The investigation, which started in 2014, has technically not found Apple guilty of wrongdoing. Rather it is a judgment that the so-called sweetheart tax deals Apple received from Ireland constitute illegal state aid. Because the commission can order recovery of illegal state aid for up to 10 years before first request for information, Ireland must now recover the unpaid taxes from Apple for the years 2003 to 2014, plus interest.

Apple responds to Ireland tax allegations (plus a few Brexit facts) – Apple responds to allegations from the European Commission which suggested that the company was receiving illegal tax breaks from Ireland. In this letter, penned by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company suggests that the EU is retroactively applying rules which should not apply to their taxation situation. Apple has their European base of operations in Ireland, having set that base up back in October of 1980, and has expanded throughout Ireland (and greater Europe) since. The European Commission suggests that Apple’s way of paying taxes in Ireland is “illegal under EU state aid rules.”

Apple sued over iPhone ‘touch disease’ – Owners of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Apple for failing to address the so-called “touch disease” that’s rendering some of the smartphones useless. The design flaw, which causes the screen on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to flicker and become unresponsive, came to light last week after repair specialists at iFixit said “a ton” of iPhone 6 Plus handsets have experienced the problem. The complaint filed in the US District Court for Northern California alleges that Apple concealed the defect and has refused to fix it for customers.

Google Is About to Take On Uber in a Big Way – Google is expanding a ride-sharing service that would directly compete with Uber and similar companies, the Wall Street Journal reports, the latest development in the two firms’ dissolution from partners to rivals. Google’s service, which will be available through the company’s Waze navigation app, would essentially work as a digital carpooling platform, linking paying ride-seekers with drivers headed in the same direction. The company has been testing the service on a small scale but is now ready to expand it more broadly across San Francisco, the Journal reports.

Microsoft sells MSN China portal, after announcing plans to shutter it – Microsoft has sold MSN China to Xichuang Technology, a company co-founded late last year by MSN China’s former general manager. That report comes from, which said that Microsoft announced the agreement to sell MSN China on the company’s official blog on Aug. 29, though the actual transaction was effective on Aug. 10. The report said no financial terms were disclosed, “though Microsoft said the two sides will continue to work closely together”.

Games and Entertainment:

10 BEST: Gaming Laptops – Purists will argue that you need a PC to truly play games, especially if you’re a fan of pushing the levels of graphics quality beyond the capabilities of a mobile phone or a mere gaming console. In this regard the gaming desktop is still the king, particularly when it comes to having the kind of components and horsepower needed to smoothly run 4K games and support virtual reality (VR) setups, such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, but sometimes you want something to tote around the house or over to your friend’s place. If that’s what you need, we’re here to help you choose the right gaming laptop.

Netflix in September: all the shows coming and going – It’s that time again — a new month is upon us and with it will come a refreshed Netflix library. Some movies and TV shows are on their way out, of course, and others are on their way in to fill the void. Depending on your tastes, the library refresh may be a good thing, but there are some losses that at least some viewers will certainly miss.

PlayStation Now streaming service available today on Windows PCs – You don’t need a PlayStation to play PlayStation games anymore: Sony’s Playstation Now subscription-based game streaming service is now out for PC, and you an grab the app and start playing some of PlayStation’s best legacy titles immediately if you’ve got a Windows machine. It’ll cost you, of course – but not as much as you would’ve paid for the games available individually. A 12-month subscription to PlayStation Now will run you $99.99 as part of a limited-time promotion to celebrate the PC launch. Normally, a PS Now subscription will run you more than double that.

Snapchat’s 8-bit Serena Williams game is interactive history – A new game from ESPN’s Discover channel sponsored by Gatorade highlight Snapchat’s efforts to distinguish itself as a marketing vector for brands, as well as its potential to expand beyond its media sharing origins with add-on apps and features that could end up with it resembling a more multi-faceted platform. Serena Match Point isn’t ground-breaking in terms of mechanics; input depends on a single tap, though you can vary the location of your tap to achieve different effects. But the 8-bit look of the game, paired with its faithful recreation of the scenes and, as Kotaku notes, set dressing of Serena Williams’ past 22 victories at major international pro tennis tournaments, definitely make it a worthwhile distraction.

Police Quest, Gabriel Knight, and other classic Sierra games are now on Steam – Steam just got a little more retro. A batch of classic games from revered publisher Sierra has been released on Valve’s digital store, and it includes some big names. You can grab all three entries in the Gabriel Knight series of point-and-click games, Roberta Williams’ horror adventure Phantasmagoria and its sequel, as well as collections bundling together titles from Quest for Glory and Police Quest. There are some notable omissions — including King’s Quest and Space Quest — and most of these games are already available on classic gaming service Still, for Steam users it’s a cheap and easy way to relive some classics, or experience them for the first time.

Fallout 4 Nuka-World expansion now available – The final Fallout 4 add-on, “Nuka-World,” is available now for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. With the expansion comes a foray into Nuka-World, which is split up into half a dozen distinct zones with their own perils and attractions. There’s a ton to do, according to Bethesda, though the map itself is a bit smaller than Far Harbor. The expansion brings new creatures, a trio of Raider gangs, and more.

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – Films starring Vera Farmiga, Morgan Freeman, and Mel Gibson appear in this week’s list of the most pirated movies on the Internet.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Privacy and privates: What you should learn from Anthony Weiner – There’s no such thing as safe sexting, but tons of people still send risque messages. What could go wrong?

Why calling screentime ‘digital heroin’ is digital garbage – The supposed danger of digital media made headlines over the weekend when psychotherapist Nicholas Kardaras published a story in the New York Post called “It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies.” In the op-ed, Kardaras claims that “iPads, smartphones and XBoxes are a form of digital drug.” He stokes fears about the potential for addiction and the ubiquity of technology by referencing “hundreds of clinical studies” that show “screens increase depression, anxiety and aggression.”

Chris Brown rants against LAPD in Instagram video, Facebook Live shows police outside his home – The social media network broadcasts a standoff after police respond to a call from “a female requesting help.” Meanwhile, Brown posts his version of events on Instagram.

Silicon Valley rains money on Clinton – People living in Silicon Valley, including San Francisco and Oakland, have contributed some $31.2 million to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Donald Trump, in contrast, is getting pocket change. Trump has raised just over $3 million from all of California, according to campaign finance data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. The totals are based on contributions of more than $200 from individuals. It is not surprising that Trump is doing poorly in Silicon Valley. In July, 150 Silicon Valley notables, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google, called Trump a “disaster for innovation.”

Orwell was right: Oliver Stone on what makes Snowden exciting – Oliver Stone wants you to know he’s not an activist. Sure, he directed and co-wrote the upcoming political thriller about Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who in 2013 revealed vast government surveillance systems. It’s just that Stone’s a little too cynical to believe a movie can influence the policies that drive US spy programs. Snowden,” scheduled for release on September 16, is a hard-charging race through 10 years of Snowden’s life, from his effort to join the Army (he broke both legs and got discharged) to his CIA training to his eventual belief that the federal government was abusing its power. The movie also chronicles Snowden’s relationship with longtime girlfriend Lindsay Mills, played by Shailene Woodley, who helped push him to question his government.

Something to think about:

“Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.”

–       Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC)


Emsisoft Emergency Kit – The Emsisoft Emergency Kit contains a collection of programs that can be used without installation to scan for malware and clean infected computers.


The malware Emergency Kit for infected PC´s

Award-winning dual-scanner to clean infections

100% portable – Ideal for USB flash drives

How it works:

The Emsisoft Emergency Kit contains a collection of programs that can be used without software installation to scan for malware and clean infected computers: Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner and Emsisoft Commandline Scanner.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner

The Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner includes the powerful Emsisoft Scanner complete with graphical user interface. Scan the infected PC for Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Dialers, Keyloggers and other malicious programs.

Emsisoft Commandline Scanner

This scanner contains the same functionality as the Emergency Kit Scanner but without a graphical user interface. The commandline tool is made for professional users and is perfect for batch jobs.

To run the Emsisoft Commandline Scanner, perform the following actions:

– Open a command prompt window (Run: cmd.exe)

– Switch to the drive of the USB Stick (e.g.: f:), then to the folder of the executable files (e.g.: cd run)

– Run the scanner by typing: a2cmd.exe

Next you will see a help page describing all available parameters.

The following parameter is an example of scanning drive c:\ with Memory, Traces (Registry) scan enabled, and archive support active. Detected Malware is moved to quarantine.

a2cmd.exe /f=”c:\” /m /t /a /q=”c:\quarantine\”

License: Emsisoft Emergency Kit is free for private use. For commercial use, please have a look at our Emsisoft Emergency Kit Pro page.

Will it run on my PC?

Unless you have a rather outdated PC from the late 90s, the answer is most likely yes, assuming that you’re using Windows 7, 8 or 10 – with the latest service pack installed. All features are fully functional on x64 systems too. While running, Emsisoft Emergency Kit uses about 200 MB of your RAM which is quite low considering the 10 million signatures that it must load. If your PC has at least 1 GB of RAM, this will be perfect.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

For law enforcement, the rule must be no implementation without representation – Last week it emerged that the police in Baltimore were working with a company called, appropriately enough, Persistent Surveillance, which deployed aircraft equipped with high-resolution cameras, recording entire regions of the city for hours on end for law enforcement to browse through. You should read Bloomberg Businessweek’s excellent write-up of the program if you’re curious. But the takeaway is that once again a powerful tool has been implemented against the public without its knowledge or consent — which rather defeats the point of having a voluntary, civilian police force, doesn’t it?

The tools ostensibly used to enforce the law are increasingly obscured behind a screen of private companies, non-disclosure agreements and obscure court orders binding the tongues of the few who could say what’s going on. It’s so lucrative to one side, and the capabilities so tantalizing to the other, that this seems unlikely to change.

Baltimore’s use of surveillance aircraft is a familiar story in many ways — other cities have employed the same strategy, the same company even, with varying degrees of disclosure. Class it with Stingray-type interceptors, facial recognition databases, big data efforts to classify and predict crimes, NSA surveillance, crypto back doors and the other dozen or two military-grade techs being deployed against us. And those are just the ones we know about — the known knowns, as they’re known.

WhatsApp policy changes prompt FTC complaints from privacy groups – Privacy groups in the U.S. have complained to the Federal Trade Commission that changes last week in WhatsApp’s terms and privacy policy break its previous promise that user data collected would not be used or disclosed for marketing purposes.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy have described the move as an unfair and deceptive trade practice, subject to an investigation and injunction by the FTC, in their complaint Monday.

WhatsApp said last week it will be sharing some account information of users with Facebook and its companies, including the mobile phone numbers they verified when they registered with WhatsApp. The sharing of information will enable users to see better friend suggestions and more relevant ads on Facebook, it added.

Messages, photos, and account information shared on the messaging app would not be shared on Facebook or any of the Facebook family of apps for others to see, WhatsApp said.

For Facebook, which paid US$22 billion for WhatsApp, the changes are an attempt by the social networking company to earn revenue from the platform.

Megaupload founder’s extradition appeal to be livestreamed – Kim Dotcom, founder of file-sharing service Megaupload, is a wanted man in the US on charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. In December of last year, a New Zealand court ruled that Dotcom could be extradited to his home in New Zealand to the US to face those charges.

This week, a New Zealand court began hearing Dotcom’s appeal against the extradition, which is expected to last eight weeks. On the first day, Dotcom requested that he be allowed to live-stream the proceedings. After expressing irritation that the request had not been made in advance, High Court judge Justice Murray Gilbert granted permission, with a caveat that the stream be 20 minutes behind real-time.

“It provides everybody in the world with a seat in the gallery of the New Zealand courtroom,” Dotcom’s lawyer, Ira Rothken, told the Associated Press.

The US prosecution believes that Megaupload cost copyright holders over $500 million in lost revenue. Dotcom’s lawyers argue that the German-born entrepreneur cannot be held responsible for the actions of Megaupload’s users.

The live stream for Kim Dotcom’s extradition appeal is due to begin tomorrow. Stay tuned to Dotcom’s Twitter feed for the link.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – August 29, 2016

Ransomware: The smart person’s guide;  The 7 Most Useful Features Coming to Your Android Phone;  The Best Tune-Up Utilities of 2016;    Diagnose car problems with your smartphone or tablet;  10 selfie tricks that actually work;  How Facebook censors your posts (FAQ);  Back-to-school tech 2016;  Travel Advisory: Scams and scares to watch out for on the road;  Everything coming and going on Netflix for September;  39 Ways to Soup Up Your Current Car With Tech – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Ransomware: The smart person’s guide – This guide covers the history of ransomware, the systems being targeted in ransomware attacks, and what you can do to avoid paying a ransom in the event of an attack.

How to use Task Manager to monitor Windows 10’s performance – The Windows 10 Task Manager offers a treasure trove of details. Here’s a look at the information you can access on the Performance tab.

The Best Tune-Up Utilities of 2016 – There are many joys associated with buying a new PC, but the most obvious one is the assurance that your new computer, be it a budget business laptop or a tricked-out gaming desktop, will run at peak capacity. You boot it up, and sit back as windows and programs open and close and operate at a brisk pace. It’s wonderful. But it doesn’t last. That’s when tune-up utilities prove their worth.

Back-to-school tech 2016 – This month, parents and students are making lists and racking their brains to make sure students go back to school with everything they need for a successful year. As we do every August, we’ve scoured the latest offerings from top tech companies to find a lineup suitable for the modern student. We’ve also kept in mind the constraints of a student budget. The most expensive item on this list is $140, and several of them cost $30 or less.

The 7 Most Useful Features Coming to Your Android Phone – Google’s new version of Android, which was released for certain Nexus devices this week, comes with more than 250 new features. Some of them are under-the-hood changes that improve overall performance and security, like file-based encryption and direct boot, while others will be more immediately noticeable. There are plenty of new tricks baked into Android 7.0 Nougat that you’ll want to try out as soon as you upgrade. Here are the ones I’ve found to be the most useful so far.

Diagnose car problems with your smartphone or tablet – Got a ‘Check Engine’ light on your dash, staring at you? Wonder what it means? Wonder how much it will cost you to fix? Wondering if you can fix it yourself, if only you knew what it meant?

These Apps Can Help You Finally Cancel That Subscription You Keep Forgetting – Truebill, Trim, and other subscription management apps promise to help their users wrangle their finances.

Privacy groups threaten legal action over Facebook, WhatsApp data sharing – While Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp in 2014 was met with concerns over individuals’ privacy, the social network has done a good job since then of leaving the messaging as is and keeping it independent. That all changed last week when WhatsApp’s new terms-of-service stated that user data would now be shared with Facebook. Unsurprisingly, this has caused outrage, and now a number of privacy advocates and watchdogs are filing complaints.

How Facebook censors your posts (FAQ) – High-profile videos involving the police and the black community have gripped the country in recent months. They’ve also put a spotlight on the confusing mess that is Facebook’s censorship policies. We’ve put together the FAQ Facebook doesn’t have to help you understand how, when and why you’re being censored.

Facebook changes Trending Topics after criticism – The social network adds a more automated design that strips human-written descriptions from its list of popular topics, following months of criticism over how it displayed news stories.

Linux survival guide: These 21 applications let you move easily between Linux and Windows – If you need to navigate regularly between Linux and the Windows world, there are many applications that can make your job easier. We spotlight 21 quality applications that will pave the way.

Five to Try: Opera VPN secures your web browsing, and Riptide GP: Renegade revs up – This week’s Five to Try column is headed up by Opera VPN, a free service that lets you get around regional browsing restrictions, check the security of your Wi-Fi network, and even block ad trackers. Nike Run Club reboots the familiar Nike Running app with new features this week, as well, and if you’re looking for fresh games to enjoy, Riptide GP: Renegade, MLB 9 Innings Manager, and the ultra-goofy Hidden My Game By Mom are all worth a try. Read on for more on these hot new releases.

Seagate Barracuda Pro 10TB hard drive review: Vast and amazingly fast (for a hard drive) – The Seagate Barracuda Pro 10TB is pricey, but this large-capacity hard drive also reads and writes data far faster than the average HDD. It can’t match an SSD, but it makes a great companion for one.


Travel Advisory: Scams and scares to watch out for on the road – It starts innocently enough, with the same exact transaction you’ve performed a thousand times before. It’s a scam called ATM skimming, and it’s only one of the pitfalls to watch out for, especially when traveling in unfamiliar territory, whether you’re on vacation or a work trip. And with a little preparation, you can outwit the crooks.

Opera says its service for syncing web browser data was hacked – Opera, which recently agreed to sell its browser business to a Chinese consortium, has reset user passwords for one of its services after its servers were breached by hackers this week. The company revealed that attackers gained access to Opera Sync, a service that lets users synchronize their browser data and settings across multiple platforms. It is investigating the incident, but initially believes the attack may have compromised user data, including passwords and login names.

Cloud Security Alliance releases top 100 big data best practices report – The thoroughly detailed report breaks 100 best practices down into 10 categories. We’ve summarized them into the biggest takeaways IT professionals need to know about.

Mozilla launches free website security scanning service – In order to help webmasters better protect their websites and users, Mozilla has built an online scanner that can check if web servers have the best security settings in place. Dubbed Observatory, the tool was initially built for in-house use by Mozilla security engineer April King, who was then encouraged to expand it and make it available to the whole world.

Tracking Instagram’s money-flipping scammers – Trying to get more followers on Instagram? If you follow a few verified banks and financial institutions, you’ll suddenly end up with dozens of new followers. There’s just one drawback: Your new followers are trying to scam you. Instagram has become a hotbed for so-called “money flipping,” according to a study by the social media security firm ZeroFox.

Company News:

Intel delivers new 3D NAND SSDs for PCs, data centers, Internet of Things – The chip giant bets big on the next-generation storage technology, including a solid-state drive for consumer PCs starting at $70.

Cloud player Rackspace goes private in $4.3B deal – A private equity firm has signed an agreement to buy major cloud player Rackspace for $4.3 billion. Rackspace announced today that Apollo Global Management, a U.S.-based investment manager, will acquire the company in a deal that will give Rackspace shareholders $32 per share. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Pegatron is exploiting workers making Apple iPhone 7 in China – report – China Labor Watch has been publishing annual reports on working practices and salaries at Pegatron factories manufacturing Apple iPhones. The latest report shows that, after a whole decade of problems, Apple is still not doing enough to recognize and prevent exploitation.

Games and Entertainment:

Duke Nukem 3D remaster expected to be announced next week – Duke Nukem 3D is turning 20 years old this fall and it seems the game is getting a new remastered version in honor of the celebration. First released in 1996 on PC, Duke Nukem 3D is widely remembered for its rude and crude sense of humor, as well as helping to usher in the age of the FPS that was kicked off in part by Doom. But now an official website for the game features a countdown timer to an announcement next week, while additional details on the remaster have been posted on Reddit.

Ubisoft to retire free-to-play Ghost Recon on PC – While free-to-play games, often supported by in-game purchases with real money, have become the norm on mobile, developer Ubisoft has decided that the format just isn’t working for some of its PC series. Ubisoft has announced that it will be shutting down the multiplayer shooter Ghost Recon Phantoms, along with three other free-to-play PC titles, before the end of this year. Tom Clancy’s Endwar Online, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, and Might & Magic Duel of Champions will all see their servers taken offline on October 25th, while Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Phantoms will be shut down on December 1st.

Russia-exclusive Halo Online PC game is getting shutdown – Most people probably know Halo as the flagship FPS game series on Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. But what you may not have heard is that in early 2015, Microsoft released a free-to-play game called Halo Online for Windows PCs, making it exclusive to the Russian market. The game was never intended to be released outside the region, and it was only ever playable as a closed beta, but now it’s been revealed that the projects has been cancelled for good.

Everything coming and going on Netflix for September – “Marvel’s Luke Cage” and “Narcos” anchor a heavy-hitting September for Netflix.

Facebook launches Blizzard Streaming for live broadcasting of games like Overwatch – If you’re a frequent Overwatch player, you now have a new option for live broadcasting your gameplay. Thanks to the previously announced partnership between developer Blizzard and Facebook, gamers can now stream to Facebook Live with just one click. The feature is called Blizzard Streaming, and it’s not just limited to the recent hit Overwatch, but works with any of the developer’s games, including Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Diablo 3.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 selfie tricks that actually work – Taking the perfect selfie isn’t luck. It’s talent. It may be the only talent the Kardashians have (just kidding, Kim, I love ya). Your selfie game is weak: For some reason, all your selfies end up making you look older, heavier, and more washed out than you already are. Well, the good news is that if the Kardashians can master the skill of taking spot-on selfies, so can you, especially if you use these handy tricks to fool your smartphone’s front-facing camera into making you look fabulous.

39 Ways to Soup Up Your Current Car With Tech – For those of us with older cars, we’re stuck with incredible phones while driving vehicles that won’t talk to them, charge them, or display what we want to see from them. And that’s just the start. Modern high-tech cars should be laden with tech safety features, methods of connecting to the outside world, full diagnostics, and ways to keep passengers entertained. Thankfully, there is a massive aftermarket of gadgets and add-ons that work with just about any existing vehicle on the road today. Here’s our deep dive into the tech you can add to your old jalopy to make it feel a bit more Tesla-esque.

Tech and Trump – I won’t insult your intelligence by pretending to be unbiased. I think exactly what you’d expect a Canadian who lives in San Francisco to think: how could anyone with a reasonable command of the available evidence even consider voting for Donald Trump? …But my search for an answer has led me to the uncomfortable sense that the tech industry is partly responsible for Trump’s support.

Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for national anthem roils Twitter – While the rest of his team stood for the national anthem during a preseason game on Friday night, quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench. He surely knew this would not go quietly into the night. On Twitter, the reaction was strong and divided.

Something to think about:

“Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair.”

–       Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Proposed ‘social media ID, please’ law draws outrage – A plan by the U.S. government to require some foreign travelers to provide their social media IDs on key travel documents is drawing outrage.

People who responded to the government’s request for comment about the proposal spared little in their criticisms. They call it “ludicrous,” an “all-around bad idea,” “blatant overreach,” “desperate, paranoid heavy-handedness,” “preposterous,” “appalling,” and “un-American.”

But the feds are most serious about it.

The plan affects people traveling from “visa waiver” countries to the U.S., where a visa is not required. This includes most of Europe, Singapore, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — 38 countries in total.

Travelers will be asked to provide their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and whatever other social ID you can imagine to U.S. authorities. It’s technically an “optional” request, but since it’s the government asking, critics believe travelers will fear consequences if they ignore it. Business and pleasure travelers are affected, too.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – August 26, 2016

10 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10;  Windows 10 update breaks PowerShell;   The Best Encryption Software of 2016;  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  Windows 10’s Quick Assist lets you fix Dad’s computer from your desk;  The best ways to watch football this season (with or without cable);  Amazon Vehicles is a new destination for car shoppers;  Your Instagram account shows how depressed you are – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 update breaks PowerShell and Microsoft won’t fix it until next week – If you can’t use Microsoft’s PowerShell after the latest Windows 10 update, Microsoft has four words for you: sorry for the inconvenience Microsoft published an article giving consumers ‘five reasons why you should install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update’ on its website before the rollout began in August. However, since then it’s given Windows 10 users at least three reasons to be wary of updates. The latest came on Tuesday, when Microsoft rolled-out a cumulative patch for the Anniversary Update that broke PowerShell, its command line shell and scripting language. The notes accompanying the release suggest Microsoft knew the changes would stop several PowerShell features from working.

10 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10 – Microsoft’s Windows OS isn’t any one thing. It arises from a patchwork of finely tuned features. Each individual feature is, in turn, the result of a team of dedicated engineers who create the best (often personalizable) experience possible. So, with such a complex, nuanced, and vast piece of software, it makes sense that there are little tricks and UI flourishes that most people don’t even know about. As it turns out, there are all sorts of tricks hidden beneath the surface of the sprawling beast that is Windows. All it takes is a little digging. Here we present a list of 10 cool tips that will help you get a little bit more out of your Windows 10 experience.

Windows 10’s Quick Assist lets you fix Dad’s computer from your desk – Anyone who works in the computer industry, or has a reputation for being technologically savvy, knows the sinking feeling that accompanies these words: “So I bought a new computer.” Those six words inevitably mean you’re going to end up on a long telephone call trying to explain something like how to save a web document as a PDF, with each participant becoming more frustrated by the minute. Wouldn’t you just like to perform the task for them and be done with it? Quick Assist makes that possible—and without the car ride.

Five translation and language learning apps to make international business easier – Whether you need on-the-fly translation while overseas or you’re trying to learn a new language, here are five apps that can give you an edge.

The Best Encryption Software of 2016 – Businesses, websites, and government agencies that store your personal data have a duty to protect that data from hackers. Not that even the best practices and security software can keep the hackers out—they always find a way in. But if the data is properly encrypted, stealing it doesn’t do the hacker much good. You can up your security game by encrypting sensitive data on your own desktop and laptop computers. We’ve rounded up a collection of products to help you with that project.

Amazon Vehicles is a new destination for car shoppers – Amazon has announced a new destination targeted at car enthusiasts called “Amazon Vehicles.” The platform allows Amazon users to explore vehicles using a bunch of different filtering options, such as body type, make and model, mileage ratings, transmission type, and more. It’s the ultimate window shopping for cars, allowing one to find a vehicle, customize it, and see how much it costs.


Your Instagram account shows how depressed you are – The photos you post on social media may be saying more about you than you intend. Scientists from Harvard University and the University of Vermont have found that there is a strong correlation between the nature of photos posted on Instagram and the poster’s mental health. The link is so strong that researchers Andrew Reece and Chris Danforth suggest the algorithm they devised could be used for early detection of mental illness.

Google now lets you play solitaire and tic-tac-toe in search – Google will now allow you to play games with search results. When you search for solitaire or tic-tac-toe, it will return a playable game as a result.

My Favorite Back-to-School Tools for Your Tiny Egghead – To the dismay of kids and relief of their parents, back-to-school season has arrived. Of course, with the proliferation of blended learning initiatives and flipped classrooms, the boundaries of school have grown porous. More education occurs outside traditional classrooms, mediated through learning management systems, web forums, and mobile apps. But what about tools that are not prescribed by a teacher or school district? This week, I will share some new tech that parents can use to cultivate their children’s learning.

Facebook will use Whatsapp users’ personal data to target ads – WhatsApp is changing its privacy policy to allow it to exchange information about account holders with parent Facebook

Facebook’s Plan for WhatsApp Data Poses Legal Risks – When WhatsApp announced on Thursday that it would start sharing data with its corporate parent, Facebook, some of its fans howled that the popular messaging service was betraying long-held promises to protect their privacy. But for the companies, angry users may pose less of a problem than the Federal Trade Commission, which serves as the country’s top privacy regulator.

You can stop WhatsApp from sharing your phone number with Facebook – Hyper-popular messaging app WhatsApp announced yesterday that it would start sharing some user data — including your phone number — with parent company Facebook. WhatsApp has promised that it won’t sell or share that number with advertisers, but if you still balk at the idea of putting your phone number where a legion of hungry brands could potentially see it, you’re in luck — you’ve still got a chance to stop WhatsApp from handing Facebook this new data if you act fast.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – What can you do with your voice on your Android phone? More than you know!


Dropbox is resetting passwords for accounts that haven’t changed them since mid-2012 – Dropbox is requiring users who have not changed their passwords since mid-2012 to reset their passwords this afternoon. The action appears to be related to continued fallout over the massive hack on LinkedIn in 2012 where credentials for 117 million accounts were posted online. In recent months, treasure troves of user credentials and passwords — in addition to a large MySpace hack disclosed in May — have been discovered. Even though the data for these accounts is old, often passwords remain unchanged for long periods of time and are re-used across multiple accounts, leaving entire online identities vulnerable to hacks.

A serious attack on the iPhone was just seen in use for the first time – Earlier this month, an Emirati human rights activist named Ahmed Mansoor got a suspicious text. It promised new details of torture in the country’s state prisons, along with a link to follow if he was interested. If Mansoor had followed the link, it would have jailbroken his phone on the spot and implanted it with malware, capable of logging encrypted messages, activating the microphone and secretly tracking its movements. The attack is detailed in a new report from Citizen Lab and Lookout Security, which received the link directly from Mansoor. The malware targets three previously undisclosed vulnerabilities in iOS, allowing for arbitrary code execution, access to kernel memory, and access to kernel privileges. When combined, those vulnerabilities allow for a remote jailbreak of an iOS device, a long sought-after capability that has never been previously observed in an active campaign. On discovering the vulnerabilities, Citizen Lab and Lookout reported them to Apple, and fixes for the vulnerabilities have been patched with today’s release of iOS 9.3.5.

Exploits patched by Apple today hint at years of surreptitious government hacks – You’ll want to be updating your iOS devices to 9.3.5, the version released today by Apple — especially if you’re a prominent human rights activist. A recently thwarted attack on just such a person employed not one but three zero-day exploits addressed by the patch. The subsequent investigation suggests these were the work of a shadowy cybersecurity company whose software may have been used for years by governments looking to compromise political targets.

Is your Android phone being controlled by a rogue Twitter account? Botnet is first to receive commands via tweets – A new strain of mobile malware has been discovered that uses Twitter to control a botnet comprised of Android phones and tablets. Known as Twitoor, the Trojan is believed to be the first to use the social network to coordinate infected devices instead of a command-and-control (C&C) server. After the malware is downloaded, it hides and regularly checks in with a malicious Twitter account for commands. These instructions direct the Trojan to either download and install additional malicious applications — mostly data-stealing mobile banking malware — or to switch to a different C&C Twitter account.

How to remove pesky malware from your PC with Windows Defender Offline – Some malware is really good at hiding itself. You can thwart those malicious plans by running Windows Defender in offline mode.

A quarter of banks’ data breaches are down to lost phones and laptops – One in four breaches (25.3 per cent) in the US financial services sector over recent years were due to lost or stolen devices, according to a new study. Cloud security firm Bitglass further reports that one in five recorded breaches over the last 10 years were the result of hacking. More than 60 financial sector organisations suffered recurring breaches in the last decade, including most major banks. While hacking accounted for a disproportionate number of the individuals affected by financial services breaches, only one in five leaks were caused by hacking. Other breaches were the result of unintended disclosures (14 per cent), malicious insiders (13 per cent), and lost paper records.

SpyNote malware: One more reason to never sideload Android apps – Jack Wallen explains why the recently discovered SpyNote malware threat should make you squeamish about sideloading Android apps.

Company News:

Uber reportedly lost $1.27 billion in just six months – Uber lost $1.27 billion in the first half of 2016, according to Bloomberg, which on the surface seems like a lot of money. Okay, not just on the surface. It is a lot of money. But this is Uber we’re talking about! The most valuable startup in the world, most recently valued at $62.5 billion. So $1.27 billion in losses probably isn’t a big deal, right? Well, yes and no.

Did Uber just burst the sharing economy bubble? – By the end of 2015, the ride-hailing company was valued at $62.5 billion. It closed $1.6 billion in financing in January 2015, raised $2 billion in Leveraged-Loan Market in June 2016 and raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund around that same time. Today is a different story. Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, reports losses for Uber in first half of 2016 total at least $1.27 billion. The loss throws into question the narrative of the burgeoning sharing economy. The repurposing of resources like cars and apartments is supposed to create jobs, upend businesses and change the way we live. But what does that mean when Uber, one of the giants of this movement, can’t turn a profit?

Uber offers retirement plans to drivers as legal battle continues – The ride-hailing company announced today that drivers in several cities will be offered retirement plans through Betterment, an automated investment service. The deal, which has been in the works since this spring, will be offered first to drivers in Seattle, Boston, Chicago and New Jersey. Uber plans to eventually expand the program nationwide, and will offer drivers the opportunity to register for Betterment directly from the Uber app. The announcement comes as Uber’s legal battle over whether it should categorize drivers as employees or independent contractors continues, and Uber tells TechCrunch that it designed the retirement savings feature based on driver feedback.

Tesla gains antitrust approval for $2.6 billion SolarCity acquisition – Tesla announced plans to buy the solar panel maker earlier this month as part of its push to become a renewable-energy products company.

Google Fiber reportedly ordered to cut costs, downsize – Google Fiber’s ultrafast 1Gbps broadband service may not be going fast enough. Google Fiber, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, has fallen “well short” of its subscriber goals and is now looking to cut costs, according to a report Thursday from The Information. Alphabet co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been unhappy with the rollout and costs of Google Fiber, unnamed sources told The Information. Last month, Page reportedly ordered Google Fiber chief Craig Barratt to halve the size of the team and significantly reduce the cost of bringing the service to customers’ homes. Google Fiber declined to comment.

TripAdvisor scoops up social mapping service Citymaps – New York-based Citymaps, a social mapping application backed by $12 million in venture funding, has been acquired by TripAdvisor, the companies have announced. The service, which serves both as a mapping and navigational tool as well as a travel guide of sorts, will continue on as a standalone business at TripAdvisor, following the deal’s close. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Games and Entertainment:

TV Everywhere apps aren’t just for cable subscribers – Officially, cord-cutters aren’t welcome to use video-streaming apps from TV channels such as ABC, Discovery, The Food Network, and many others. Known in the industry as “TV Everywhere” apps, they’re really meant for paying cable or satellite subscribers, who can enter their account credentials to access a trove of on-demand shows and live channel streams. But if you look in the right places, these apps can provide a trove of ad-supported free TV for cord cutters, ranging from guilty-pleasure reality shows to late-night variety. Here’s a list of TV channel apps that offer free streaming shows, and how you can find the good stuff in each one:

Primed for pigskin: The best ways to watch football this season (with or without cable) – Whether you’re a cord cutter or a pay-TV addict, we’ll show you all the ways you can watch this season’s bone-crunching action on screens of any size.

The best free games on the PS4 – Free-to-play games have been growing in popularity on the PC for over a decade now, but it wasn’t until the last few years that the console devs started to take this business model seriously. Developers big and small are now entering the fray, and as such, we wanted to see exactly how these games stand up on the PS4. From the start, we’ve been keeping an eye on each and every F2P release. While some titles on the PlayStation Store aren’t even worth mentioning, there’s a variety of rock-solid titles on offer. And thanks to the low barrier to entry, you can try out anything that strikes your fancy. Now let’s jump in, and find something new to play.

35 great games for Linux PCs and Steam Machines – It’s taken a long time and the promise of SteamOS, but more and more big-name games are finally becoming Linux natives. Here’s a sampling.

Best Retro-Inspired PC Games for 2016 – Today’s video game industry draws a lot on the successes of the past, and that certainly isn’t a bad thing. With so many indie developers (and a few triple-A developers) paying homage to gaming’s past, we’ve been treated to a number of excellent games, and here we’ll round up just a few of the best for those who want a hefty dose of nostalgia to go along with their gaming. Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a list of the best classic games available for PC, nor is it a list of the most recent games available. Rather, it’s a list of games, both new and old, that draw on the past to deliver an experience that’s worth both your time and money.

Best iPhone Games of Summer 2016 – Today we’re running down the best mobile games on all platforms for the Summer of 2016. That’s pretty specific, but it only refers to the time in which we played the games, not the time in which the games were originally released. In this way we’re able to bring you the best games on the market in their current state, which is great for games that’ve matured and become far better than they were at launch, of which there are many in this environment. New games have come up to fight for the top spot, too!

September Xbox Live Games With Gold Lineup Revealed – Heads up, Xbox Live Gold members: Microsoft just revealed next month’s Games With Gold lineup. Expect four free games in September — two on Xbox One and two on Xbox 360. On Xbox One, Live Gold members can download Earthlock: Festival of Magic (normally $30) for free all month while Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China (normally $10) will be available from Sept. 16 through Oct. 15. On Xbox 360, you can get Forza Horizon (normally $10) from Sept. 1 through Sept. 15. Then on Sept. 16, you can download Mirror’s Edge, which will be available through Sept. 30. Note that you can play both of these Xbox 360 titles on your Xbox One, thanks to the console’s backward-compatibility feature.

Off Topic (Sort of):

US unveils charges against KickassTorrents, names two more defendants – US prosecutors have now named a total of three men said to be operators of the defunct file-sharing site KickassTorrents (KAT). The new allegations are in a formal indictment filed Tuesday, which contains the most detailed charges against the site yet. Last month, alleged site operator 30-year-old Artem Vaulin of Ukraine was arrested in Poland. The new indictment (PDF) also names Ievgen (Eugene) Kutsenko aka “chill” and Oleksander (Alex) Radostin aka “pioneer,” also of Ukraine. Bench warrants have been issued for the arrest of all three men, although authorities have confirmed the arrest of only Vaulin. The indictment was reported earlier today by TorrentFreak.

The 25 biggest events in Linux’s 25-year history – You can argue about Linux’s official birthday. Heck, even Linus Torvalds thinks there are four different dates in 1991 that might deserve the honor. Regardless, Linux is twenty-five years old this year. Here are some of its highlights and lowlights.

How to create a privacy policy that protects your company and your customers – Concerns about online privacy continue to escalate, as breaches and leaks of personal information grow increasingly common. Here are the key issues your privacy policy needs to address.

Google now lets you explore U.S. National Parks via 360-degree virtual tours – Exploring the world is something that’s always been a bit of a luxury for those who can afford to travel, but technology is changing that. With VR and 360-degree videos, you can now immerse yourself in virtual environments that give you a real sense of what a place is like, without actually being there. Google has been taking advantage of things like VR field trips and virtual reality to transport students to distant lands, but today it’s releasing a way to explore scenic wonders closer to home: the U.S. National Parks. The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks is a new Google Arts & Culture exhibit and interactive documentary, timed to launch in celebration of this month’s NPS Centennial.

Americans say science is why they’ve given up religion – Technically Incorrect: A new Pew survey finds that those who say they have no religion tend to cite science as one of the main reasons.

These Tech Companies Are Bankrolling Hillary Clinton – Thus far, the technology industry as a whole has given far more to Clinton than her Republican rival, Donald Trump. Employees at Internet companies have given Clinton and Clinton-supporting groups about $1.5 million, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks money in politics. Workers at those same companies have given just over $13,000 to Trump’s efforts. (Companies themselves can’t donate to campaigns; the data tracks employees at those companies instead.) Which technology firm’s employees have put the most money behind Clinton? Here’s a breakdown of top technology firms with employees who have given the most to Clinton, according to data from OpenSecrets:

Something to think about:

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

–       Stephen King

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Persistent Surveillance Systems has been watching Baltimore for months – A company that sends Cessna aircraft to surveil cities from 25,000 feet up in an effort to fight crime has been watching Baltimore for months now with zero public notification, according to a new report from Bloomberg Businessweek.

The firm, Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS), has been actively trying to get new contracts with large cities nationwide. When Ars profiled the company in 2014, company CEO Ross McNutt said PSS was trying to work with Chicago after having controversially flown for nine days over Compton, California—adjacent to Los Angeles—in 2012.

PSS has evidently now succeeded in Baltimore. As Businessweek reported, the Baltimore project was funded by two Texan philanthropists, John and Laura Arnold, who said that if the company could find a city to partner with, they would fund it.

Eventually McNutt worked his connections with the Baltimore Police Department, which arranged for payment via something called the Baltimore Community Foundation, a local group that describes itself as a “philanthropic foundation created by and for the people of Greater Baltimore, where many donors join together to make the region they love a better place, today and for future generations.”

Facebook, Google, Twitter lax on terrorists’ misuse of their sites, say UK MPs – A panel of U.K. lawmakers has described as “alarming” that social networking companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor billions of accounts for extremist content.

“These companies are hiding behind their supranational legal status to pass the parcel of responsibility and refusing to act responsibly in case they damage their brands,” said a report released early Thursday in the U.K. by the Home Affairs Committee appointed by the House of Commons.

If these companies do not tackle the issue and allow their services to become the ‘Wild West’ of the internet, their reputation as responsible operators will be eroded, it added.

The report, which said the use of the internet to promote radicalization and terror was one of the biggest threats faced by countries including the U.K., singled out Twitter for mention for not proactively reporting extremist content to law enforcement agencies.

The committee described as a “drop in the ocean” the suspension by Twitter of 125,000 accounts worldwide linked to terrorists between mid-2015 and February 2016, and Google’s removal in 2014 of over 14 million videos worldwide that related to all kinds of abuse.

In evidence to the panel, the companies said that they had staff who manually search for potentially extremist content online and decide on whether to take the content down and suspend accounts. Twitter said it had “more than a hundred” staff working on this job, while Facebook and Google did not provide a number.

Telegram’s encryption stymies French police but pleases their bosses – French government officials have been revealed as fervent users of Telegram, a messaging app that is frustrating their interior minister with its end-to-end encryption.

Telegram’s fans include the current head of the French judicial police, Christian Sainte, and his predecessor, Frédéric Péchenard. The app’s security has also won over a number of legislators, including the French finance minister, who encourages his team to use it, according to Wednesday’s edition of French newspaper Le Canard Enchainé.

Telegram claims over 100 million monthly users of its secure messaging app, but it was the action of just one of them — Normandy church attacker Adel Kermiche — that prompted French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve to call on Tuesday for investigators to be allowed to eavesdrop on Telegram users’ conversations.

Kermiche used the app to tell a group with 200 members to “download what’s coming and share it with everyone,” less than an hour before he and an accomplice stabbed a priest to death in northern France last month. The two filmed their action, but it is not known whether they succeeded in transmitting the video.

Police now have a transcript of the group chat, presumably either from Kermiche’s own phone or that of another group member, but Cazeneuve wants Telegram to provide investigators with much faster access to encrypted chats.

Cazeneuve doesn’t want to make communications operators like Telegram stop encrypting messages — merely to assist in decrypting them when asked by law enforcers, he said. Many companies are already providing such assistance, he said, but Telegram is not one of them.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – August 24, 2016

Windows 10 tip: Shut down OneDrive completely;  Google will punish sites that use annoying pop-up ads;  Opera brings its free VPN service to Android;  Best Android phones: What should you buy?  Android 7.0, Nougat: The complete FAQ;  Hackers linked to Russian intelligence agencies target The New York Times;  How Facebook censors your posts (FAQ);  No Man’s Sky on PC vs. PS4 — which version is worth playing right now? – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 tip: Shut down OneDrive completely – In Windows 10, OneDrive is built in. The connections are so tight, in fact, that OneDrive has its own node in File Explorer, with no obvious way to remove it. But the options to disconnect OneDrive are there if you know where to look. Here are full instructions.

How to rearrange the quick-actions tiles in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update – Microsoft’s quick actions tiles are a convenient way to get at key system settings. Here’s how to organize them to your liking in the Anniversary Update.

Google will punish sites that use annoying pop-up ads – Google is about to deal a small blow to some of the most annoying ads on mobile: pop-ups and interstitials. It’s not a stretch to argue that readers don’t like these ads. So Google is making a call that websites that use pop-ups and interstitials are worse search results and may rank them lower because of it. There are a “hundreds of signals” that go into Google’s search result rankings, so it’s not like every website that uses these ads will feel pressured to remove them overnight. If a site with a pop-up still has the best information, it’s still likely to appear first. But this change ought to benefit one site over another when those two sites appear roughly equal otherwise.

Opera brings its free VPN service to Android – Like the iOS version, the Android app is based on Opera’s acquisition of SurfEasy in 2015 and allows you to surf safely when you are on a public network. While Opera’s marketing mostly focuses on safety, Opera VPN also allows you to appear as if you are in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Singapore and The Netherlands, so it’s also a way to route around certain geo-restrictions without having to opt for a paid service. In addition to its VPN features, the service also allows you to block ad trackers. Somewhat ironically, though, the app itself will show you some pretty unintrusive ads.

Best Android phones: What should you buy? – Picking an Android phone can be difficult, but we’re here to help. These are the top Android phones you should consider bringing home.

The best mobile email apps for fast, easy inbox management – It’s estimated that Americans spend around six hours a day in their inbox. All that reading, writing, searching, and organizing email not only eats up our time but also our bandwidth, leaving little for the stuff we really need to get done. A number of mobile apps, however, are changing the way we interact with our email so that we can process messages more quickly and move on to more important tasks. These four lead the pack.

How Facebook censors your posts (FAQ) – High-profile videos involving the police and the black community have gripped the country in recent months. They’ve also put a spotlight on the confusing mess that is Facebook’s censorship policies. We’ve put together the FAQ Facebook doesn’t have to help you understand how, when and why you’re being censored.

Facebook is testing videos that autoplay with sound turned on – Facebook is testing a change to its main mobile apps that would have videos automatically start with the sound turned on, according to Mashable. The test, which appears to be active in Australia and may be ongoing in other countries, has Facebook video playing with sound so long as users have the volume on their smartphone turned on. In a similar test, some users are able to activate and deactivate the sound by tapping a small button in the corner of the video, similar to Twitter and Vine’s handling of videos with sound.

Facebook testing new ‘Add Contact’ option in Messenger – Facebook Messenger is testing a new feature that will make the app entirely more useable for some individuals: the ability to request adding a contact with another Messenger user rather than having to add that individual as a ‘friend.’ The new feature is aptly called ‘Add Contact,’ and would exist between Facebook friendship and messaging someone sans any formal affiliation with them; you can, for now, message someone who isn’t a friend by sending them a message request.

Android 7.0, Nougat: The complete FAQ – I never knew it was possible for so many people to be excited about Nougat. Heck, I don’t think I’d even heard the word “nougat” more than 20 times — ever, in my entire life — up until Google decided to use the sweet treat as the name for its latest Android release. But alas, here we are: Android 7.0 is officially on its way into the world, and that means the honey, egg, and nut-based gloop (yup, that’s nougat for ya) is atop many a tech-lover’s mind. So what’s Nougat — the Android software, that is — all about? And what’ll it mean for you? Here are answers to all of your burning questions.

How to jump the queue and download Android 7.0 Nougat now – Here’s how you can get the Android 7.0 Nougat up and running on selected Android devices right now.

Lisn’s new app lets you stream songs for your friends while chatting – “It’s like sharing earphones,” the startup’s website proclaims – and indeed, it does seem like the modern-day version of handing one of your earbuds to a friend. The app allows you to stream and share tracks via SoundCloud and Spotify (either full tracks via Spotify Premium, or 30-second previews). These songs are then synced in real-time when your friend tunes in to listen along with you.

Boomerang launches machine learning email composition tool Respondable – Writing emails that get responses is a valuable skill – but it is hard to determine what makes an email likely to get a response. Boomerang thinks its new tool has the answer for businesses.

Slice’s new browser add-on will email you when prices drop – Slice, a company best known to consumers for its mobile shopping assistant that helps you find the best deals, track packages, organize your receipts, and more, is out today with a new service aimed at helping online shoppers save. Called Slice Watch, its latest app lives in your web browser instead, allowing you to track price drops on items you find online. The idea is something akin to a smarter “wish list” of sorts.


Hackers linked to Russian intelligence agencies target The New York Times – Hackers believed by US officials to be working for Russian intelligence agencies have targeted American news outlets including The New York Times. The news was first reported by CNN on Tuesday afternoon, with the Times later confirming that there had been an attack on its Russian bureau, but that “there is no evidence that the hackers […] were successful.” CNN reports that the hackers also targeted “other US news organizations” in recent months, but did not specify which outlets. US intelligence officials told the publication that they are considering the attacks as part of a broader series of hacks that include those targeting emails from the Democratic National Committee. The Times says that the FBI is currently investigating the attack on its organization, but denied reports from CNN that it hired private investigators to help do so.

Wildfire ransomware code cracked: Victims can now unlock encrypted files for free – Victims of the Wildfire ransomware can get their encrypted files back without paying hackers for the privilege, after the No More Ransom initiative released a free decryption tool. No More Ransom runs a web portal that provides keys for unlocking files encrypted by various strains of ransomware, including Shade, Coinvault, Rannoh, Rakhn and, most recently, Wildfire. Aimed at helping ransomware victims retrieve their data, No More Ransom is a collaborative project between Europol, the Dutch National Police, Intel Security, and Kaspersky Lab.

NSA-linked Cisco exploit poses bigger threat than previously thought – Recently released code that exploits Cisco System firewalls and has been linked to the National Security Agency can work against a much larger number of models than many security experts previously thought. An exploit dubbed ExtraBacon contains code that prevents it from working on newer versions of Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA), a line of firewalls that’s widely used by corporations, government agencies, and other large organizations. When the exploit encounters 8.4(5) or newer versions of ASA, it returns an error message that prevents it from working. Now researchers say that with a nominal amount of work, they were able to modify ExtraBacon to make it work on a much newer version. While Cisco has said all versions of ASA are affected by the underlying vulnerability in the Simple Network Messaging Protocol, the finding means that ExtraBacon poses a bigger threat than many security experts may have believed.

Juniper confirms leaked NSA exploits affect its firewalls – Shy on specifics, the networking equipment maker wouldn’t say when patches would become available.

‘Grand Theft Auto’ Fan Site Hacked – Details for nearly 200,000 Grand Theft Auto fan site users have been traded on the digital underground., which posts news, screenshots, and other information about the Grand Theft Auto video game series, was breached earlier this month. A source provided Motherboard with the data after finding it on a hacking forum, and it contains email addresses, hashed passwords, dates of birth, and IP addresses. The hacking forum has since shut down.

Has your internet provider been compromised? Malicious insiders are helping cybercriminals hack telecoms firms – Hackers are using both willing and blackmailed staff at internet and phone providers to help them breach networks and steal data.

Singapore will ban civil servants from using the internet – Public servants in Singapore will be barred from using the internet at work, under a new policy aimed at protecting the city-state from cyber attacks and espionage. As Reuters reports, computers in some Singaporean ministries are already disconnected, or “air-gapped,” from the web, but security experts doubt that expanding the policy will do much to enhance cybersecurity. David Koh, head of Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, tells Reuters that officials decided to air gap government computers after realizing that the threat of a cyber attack “is too real.” Research has shown that countries in Southeast Asia face a higher risk of cyberattack, particularly those implicated in ongoing disputes over the South China Sea.

Company News:

Nintendo sells its majority stake in the Seattle Mariners for $661 million – Nintendo has revealed that it has sold off a majority of its ownership in the Seattle Mariners. They started negotiations to do so in April and it’s just been announced that they have sold their stake to minority shareholders for $661 million, dropping their stake from over 50 percent to 10 percent. The sale will no doubt be good news to Nintendo investors, who have seen the company struggling in recent years as the Wii U failed to live up to its promise. A recent surge in share price attributed to Pokemon Go has helped, however.

Instapaper has been acquired by Pinterest – Instapaper, a pioneering app for saving articles to read later, has been acquired — again. The app, which was created by developer Marco Arment and sold to Betaworks in 2013, has found a new home at Pinterest. The goal is “to accelerate discovering and saving articles on Pinterest,” the company said in a statement. It will continue to operate as a standalone app, and the Instapaper team will work on both that app and on Pinterest generally. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Microsoft acquires intelligent scheduling startup Genee – Microsoft announced Tuesday that it has acquired Genee, a startup that provided a virtual assistant for scheduling appointments.

‘Misleading’ Practices or Go to Court, Watchdog Says – Ashley Madison, the extramarital affair hookup site that was disgraced after a massive hack exposed its users’ personal information last year, fooled prospective users into joining with deceptive practices that included a fake “trusted security award,” Canada’s federal privacy watchdog has concluded in a new report. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) began its investigation into Toronto-based Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison, in August of 2015. On Monday, the OPC released its damning report, which slams the company for poor security practices and misleading claims that likely influenced people to join the site, including the promise of a “100% discreet service.”

Apple acquires Gliimpse, a health data startup – Apple has acquired Gliimpse, a startup that concerns itself with health data and making it easier for patients to access their medical records. Apple has, according to sources, acquired the startup, adding it to its own growing repertoire of health products. Though Apple has confirmed the acquisition, it hasn’t provided any details; sources claim the acquisition took place earlier this year. Gliimpse has not commented on the business deal.

Games and Entertainment:

The 50 Best Video Games of All Time – Whether you play video games or not, they’ve become an integral part of our culture. For some, it’s hard to imagine a world without video games—the chup-chup-boop of an arcade legend like Space Invaders or the growling “Finish Him!” in Mortal Kombat can be as evocative as a Michael Jackson or Beatles tune. Representing multiple generations of gamers, TIME’s tech team put more than 150 nominees through a multistage ranking process to compile a cross-section of gaming’s best ideas across nearly four decades. Here are our picks for the 50 greatest video games of all time.

People are quickly losing interest in Pokémon Go – Pokémon Go is unquestionably this season’s hit game. But whether it has any staying power is a very open question, and early signs suggest it’s already trailing off. Bloomberg has published some charts by Axiom Capital Management that show daily users and engagement dropping. One chart, using data from analytics firm Apptopia, shows Pokémon Go peaking at around 45 million users in mid-July, during the week or so following its launch. It then begins a decline to somewhere above 30 million daily users last week.

No Man’s Sky on PC vs. PS4 — which version is worth playing right now? – While the massive galaxy of No Man’s Sky is unquestionably impressive, a number of technical limitations, public gaffes, and design decisions have caused some disappointment and anger to bubble up online. Is it worth jumping in on your platform of choice, or is a wait-and-see approach still your best bet?

Sony Is About to Turn PCs Into PlayStations – Sony says a PC-compatible version of its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service, which at the moment boasts a catalogue of more than 400 PlayStation 3 games, is imminent in the U.K., and the U.S. and Canada “shortly thereafter.” All you need are a PC, a sufficiently fast broadband connection and a PS Now subscription.

PlayStation Plus annual fee jumping $10 in September, no new features – If you’re a fan of Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription service—which doles out free monthly downloads for the company’s various systems and enables online play on PS4 games in exchange for an annual fee—you might want to lock in your next annual renewal of $50 per year pretty soon. That’s because the annual fee goes up to $60 (or CAD $70) starting September 22, which is exactly one month after an announcement posted on Monday. Sony took an odd approach to making this announcement: the company edited the news into a late-July alert about the freebies PS Plus members would receive in August. The post did not receive an updated headline, despite the official PlayStation Twitter account linking to the post once it had been edited.

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit 30-disc bundle will set you back $720 – Warner Bros. has announced a new collection for those who love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. This new Limited Edition packages the extended versions of all six films together in a 30-disc set called The Middle-Earth Collection, including art books and disc cases made to look like leather-bound books. Sounds pretty nifty doesn’t it?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Blame it on your brain: Researchers discover why we ignore PC security warnings – A BYU study finds that you’ll most often ignore security warnings when you’re busy, which is bad for both the developer and you.

19% of shoppers would abandon a retailer that’s been hacked – Nearly a fifth of shoppers would avoid at a retailer that has been a victim of a cybersecurity hack, according to a survey. The 2016 KPMG Consumer Loss Barometer report surveyed 448 consumers in the U.S. and found that 19% would abandon a retailer entirely over a hack. Another 33% said that fears their personal information would be exposed would keep them from shopping at the breached retailer for more than three months. The study also looked at 100 cybersecurity executives and found that 55% said they haven’t spent money on cybersecurity in the past yearand 42% said their company didn’t have a leader in charge of information security. Those responses confirmed worries that retailers are falling behind other industries like financial services and technology on cybersecurity issues.

Hollywood’s take on cybersecurity – Cybersecurity experts are a small and elite group, and, more often than not, feel the same way watching movies about our field that genuine medical doctors do as they watch Patrick Dempsey and Kate Walsh trade flirtatious one-liners over a flat-lining patient’s body on “Grey’s Anatomy,” or how forensic pathologists feel when watching CSI. It’s entertaining, perhaps, but not enough to counter the cringe. This baseline frustration explains some of the crazy hype for “Snowden,” Oliver Stone’s hotly anticipated take on the most famous government whistle-blower of our time. Even the story of the film’s evolution is fascinating to those of us who work in the same fields as Snowden once did: Director Oliver Stone was so paranoid about the National Security Agency interfering in his project that he packed up cast and crew and moved the entire set to Germany — and even in Europe the long fingers of the U.S. government continued to stymie him throughout filming. But as we get our tickets and popcorn ready, it’s a good time to take a look at the rare handful of film and TV projects that actually got hacking, and the complicated business of security in the cybersphere, right.

What a Night of Sleep Deprivation Does to Your Brain – Sleep: We all do it, a lot of us enjoy it, but no one knows exactly why we need it or what it does. We know that sleep deprivation can cause physical and psychological damage, yet it has also proved a very fast and effective treatment for depression (albeit usually only until the person falls asleep again). Basically, there’s a lot about sleep that’s still a mystery. Christoph Nissen, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist at the University Medical Center Freiburg in Germany, wants to understand more about the function of sleep in order to unravel potential mechanisms of related disorders and treatments. To do so, he and a team of researchers recently measured people’s brain activity after a night of sleep and a night of no sleep. They found several key differences in the sleep-deprived participants. Their results are published in Nature Communications.

Happy 25th birthday, Linux – Linux will turn 25 years old on August 25, the day Linus Torvalds sent out his fateful message asking for help with a new operating system. “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things),” he wrote in the comp.os.minix message board. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Numbers lie all the time: How political polls work – The business of numbers is big business. Read our quick guide to how polling works, how big data changed the industry, and the most influential and accurate polls of the 2016 election.

Something to think about:

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

–      Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

France and Germany want Europe to crack down on encryption – France and Germany this week called on the European Union to adopt a law that would require app companies to make encrypted messages available to law enforcement, as part of Europe’s ongoing efforts to thwart terrorist attacks.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and his German counterpart, Thomas de Maizière, said in a joint proposal released Tuesday that encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram “constitute a challenge during investigations” by making it difficult for law enforcement to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists. The proposal calls on the European Commission to draft a law that would oblige app makers to “remove illicit content” and “decrypt messages” in terrorist investigations.

Intelligence officials in the US and Europe have argued that end-to-end encryption makes it easier for terrorists to covertly plot attacks, since the content of encrypted messages is only accessible to senders and recipients. But privacy advocates and security experts say that creating “backdoors” for law enforcement would jeopardize security and user privacy.

The proposal announced Tuesday follows a spate of attacks across both France and Germany this summer, including an attack at a church in Normandy that was carried out by two jihadists who reportedly met on Telegram. The proposal acknowledges that encryption plays a critical role in securing communications and financial transactions, though it says that “[s]olutions must be found to enable effective investigation” while protecting user privacy. The ministers urged the European Commission to discuss encryption at a summit on security next month in Bratislava.

Turkish Journalist Jailed for Terrorism Was Framed, Forensics Report Shows – Turkish investigative journalist Barış Pehlivan spent 19 months in jail, accused of terrorism based on documents found on his work computer. But when digital forensics experts examined his PC, they discovered that those files were put there by someone who removed the hard drive from the case, copied the documents, and then reinstalled the hard drive.

The attackers also attempted to control the journalist’s machine remotely, trying to infect it using malicious email attachments and thumb drives. Among the viruses detected in his computer was an extremely rare trojan called Ahtapot, in one of the only times it’s been seen in the wild.

“We have never seen a computer attacked as ferociously as Barış’s. The attackers seemed to pull everything out of their bag of tricks,” Mark Spencer, digital forensics expert at Arsenal Consulting, said.

Pehlivan went to jail in February of 2011, along with six of his colleagues, after electronic evidence seized during a police raid in 2011 appeared to connect all of them to Ergenekon, an alleged armed group accused of terrorism in Turkey.

Report: WikiLeaks published rape victims’ names, credit cards, medical data – Even as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sits trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, the WikiLeaks website continues to publish the secrets of various governments worldwide.

But that’s not all it’s publishing. A report today by the Associated Press highlights citizens who had “sensitive family, financial or identity records” published by the site.

“They published everything: my phone, address, name, details,” said one Saudi man whose paternity dispute was revealed on documents published by the site. “If the family of my wife saw this… Publishing personal stuff like that could destroy people.”

One document dump, from Saudi diplomatic cables, held at least 124 medical files. The files named sick children, refugees, and patients with psychiatric conditions.

In one case, the cables included the name of a Saudi who was arrested for being gay. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punishable by death. In two other cases, WikiLeaks published the names of teenage rape victims.

Rights groups decry plan to inspect social media of US-bound tourists – Calling it “highly invasive” and “ineffective,” more than two dozen rights groups urged the US Department of Homeland Security on Monday to scrap a proposal asking the millions of tourists entering the country each year to reveal their “online presence,” such as social media identities. The government announced in June that it wanted to implement the plan to give the DHS “clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections.”

A coalition of 28 groups are not in favor. “This program would invade individual privacy and imperil freedom of expression while being ineffective and prohibitively expensive to implement and maintain,” the organizations, led by the Center for Democracy & Technology,  wrote the government.

The plan adds a line to the paper form and the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application that US-bound visitors must fill out if they don’t have a visa and plan on staying for up to 90 days for vacation, business, or other affairs. The agency says travelers coming to the US under the Visa Waiver Program won’t be forced to disclose their social media handles. The authorities said it was “optional.” However, as we all know, leaving it blank could raise red flags.

This is what will be asked: “Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.” This field doesn’t call for additional information such as passwords.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – August 22, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update breaks most webcams;  How to turn on Twitter’s quality filters and silence trolls;  How To Find Your Wireless Network Password;  Here’s how to make rechargeable batteries last for years;  22 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Watch Out for Malware in Those Wikileaks Email Dumps;   How to avoid falling victim to Android app scams on Google Play;  The 15 most exciting PC games still coming in 2016 – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 Anniversary Update breaks most webcams – The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka version 1607, has been found to leave many webcams inoperable. The update prevents the use of webcams in applications such as Skype and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), along with all manner of custom CCTV programs. Extremely popular hardware, such as Logitech’s C920 and C930e cameras, in conjunction even with Microsoft’s own Skype, will fail to properly broadcast video. People first noticed the issue earlier this month. But it’s only within the last couple of days that the exact cause became clear via a post by Brad Sams on Microsoft has said that a fix is in development, but has not yet said when that fix will be distributed.

How to tap into the benefits of Windows 10’s Default Programs tool – The Default Programs tool is often underused or overlooked. Learn how to take advantage of all the configuration settings it offers.

Unauthorized, mislabeled Microsoft support tool leaks; could cause more trouble than it cures – Several mainstream tech sites this week published details of a purported new Microsoft support tool designed to fix problems with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. After some digging, I can report that it is no such thing. My advice: Stay far away from this “Windows Self Healing Tool.”


One support expert called this unofficial tool “frightening”

How to turn on Twitter’s quality filters and silence trolls – Twitter has a solution for stopping trolls: A new timeline quality filter that discards nasty tweets in your notifications

Jim Hillier: How To Find Your Wireless Network Password – Everyone should be using a password to protect their wireless network from uninvited intruders. You are, aren’t you? Of course you are. Most of us do, and most of us also rely on Windows remembering that password for us so we don’t have to keep typing it in each time we connect. There are occasions, however, when we need to know the password – when connecting a device to the network for the first time for example – and while the computer is very good at remembering it, many of us aren’t. There are a few ways to retrieve your wireless network password, here are two common methods.

Google Duo edges out Pokemon Go on Android – Less than a week after its release, Google’s video-calling service is the second-most popular app in Google’s Play Store.

Facebook’s new teens-only app Lifestage turns bios into video profiles – “What if I figured out a way to take Facebook from 2004 and bring it to 2016? What if every field in your profile was a full video?” asks Facebook’s 19-year-old product prodigy Michael Sayman. The answer is Lifestage, a standalone iOS app for people 21 and under, which Facebook is launching today. It asks for your happy face, sad face, likes, dislikes, best friend, the way you dance and more, but instead of filling in this biography quiz with text, you shoot videos. Lifestage turns those clips you recorded into a video profile others can watch. While technically anyone can download Lifestage, anyone 22 or older will only be able to see their own profile.

How to backup images in device folders to Google Photos – Google Photos is a great way to back up and organize all your images, though you still need to do a little bit of legwork if you want to capture everything. That’s because Android organizes images that are saved from different apps into folders. So if you want to save screenshots, Instagram pictures, or photos from other social networks, you need to go through a few steps.

A dozen Raspberry Pi alternatives – The Raspberry Pi might be the name that springs to mind when people think of single board computers for homebrew projects, but there are other boards out there worth considering.

22 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – Facebook has been around for awhile, but there are probably a few tricks you don’t know about.

Samsung Milk Music closes its virtual doors September 22 – Samsung will discontinue the streaming service to instead focus on partnerships with other music streaming companies.

Surface Pro 3 battery issue to receive software fix, confirms Microsoft – For more than a few weeks now, Surface Pro 3 tablet owners have been suffering from a rapidly draining battery issue. Back in July, Microsoft told users that this was not a failure on the hardware’s part, and that they should continue updating to the latest software version. Now the company has reiterated this message, saying that it has confirmed the battery problem can be fixed with a software patch which is currently in testing, and that users don’t need to pursue hardware replacements.

How to find the right baby monitor – When you’re about to have a child, one of the must-buy products is a baby monitor. Sure, you’ll be sleeping in the same room for a few months, but if you want any alone time while the baby is napping, a monitor is paramount. Of course, picking the right monitor isn’t as simple as it once was. When you’re picking one out, here are the four most important questions to ask.


How to avoid falling victim to Android app scams on Google Play – Android security is a serious problem, and the Play store is a hotbed of malware. Here are a few simple tips for avoiding the wrong apps when you go looking for new ones.

Shopped in an Eddie Bauer store recently? Your card’s probably gone. It’s just gone – Clothing chain Eddie Bauer has admitted the payment terminals in more than 350 of its stores have been siphoning customers’ bank card details to criminals. The retailer – which sells high-end clobber for hikers or anyone who wants to pretend they’re outdoorsy – said malware infected its cash registers on January 2 and the code remained undetected for at least six months. The software nasty was cleaned up on July 17. Anyone who used their credit or debit card at any of the group’s 350 stores in the US and Canada during that time may well have handed over their card numbers to fraudsters. The malware silently skimmed people’s payment information during transactions and fed the data to crooks to create cloned cards for spending sprees.

Watch Out for Malware in Those Wikileaks Email Dumps – A security researcher found more than 300 instances of malware available for download on Wikileaks.

Inventor of The Internet’s Most Terrifying Search Engine Shows Us How To Use It – The internet isn’t just made of Facebook, Motherboard, 4chan and all your other favorite websites. There are thousands of devices, such as webcams, smart light bulbs, printers, and even smart homes, connected to it and there’s a special search engine that allows you to find them. It’s called Shodan and it’s a great tool to find insecure devices, so that people can fix them and make the internet safer. Shodan crawls the internet and collects all kind of stuff connected to the internet, from mundane smart fridges to industrial control systems. It’s a powerful tool, and you don’t really appreciate it until you use it yourself, or, better yet, until its inventor shows you what it can do. We met with Shodan’s creator John Matherly, who gave us a glimpse of all the crazy things you can find with Shodan.

Smart Electrial Sockets Could Be the Next Botnet – Smart electrical sockets might launch the next cyberattack, or might even put your life in danger. Security researchers at Bitdefender have found a vulnerability in a popular brand—the researchers did not disclose which—that they say could allow an attacker to turn power outlets into botnets, read your email, and even set your house on fire if you connect an appliance that could overheat. The vulnerable socket plugs into a regular one, and allows users to schedule the activity of any dumb electronic device, with the help of a smartphone. The app is available for both iOS and Android platforms, and there have been over 10,000 downloads from Google Play alone. Bitdefender contacted the smart socket vendor, and they’ve promised to release a fix during Q3 2016.


Shared code in Snowden leaks and NSA breach back up hackers’ claims – Documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden share a malware tracking code with several files released this week by hacking group Shadow Brokers, according to a news report. Shadow Brokers claimed they had hacked a cyberespionage team linked to the U.S. spy agency when they released a group of sample files earlier this week. Similarities between the Shadow Broker files and information in documents leaked by Snowden give credence to the claims by the anonymous hacking group.

Company News:

Lyft reported to have failed to find buyer in Apple, Uber, GM, others – Just a week ago it was reported that Lyft, the US’s second largest ride-hailing company, turned down an acquisition offer from investor General Motors. But new details from the New York Times say that Lyft has actually been looking for a buyer for several months now, holding discussions with a number of companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google, GM, China’s Didi Chuxing, and even main rival Uber, but failing to make any deals.

Anti-Google research group in Washington is funded by Oracle – The Google Transparency Project is a Washington, DC group that’s laser-focused on letting Americans know about Google’s lobbying efforts. To get its message out, GTP has worked with journalists at Re/Code and The Intercept, which have run stories about Google’s many visits to the White House, the prevalence of ex-Googlers in the US Digital Service, and other links. What wasn’t known, until today, is who was paying the bills for research by the “nonprofit watchdog” group. Today, Roberts has published a followup, confirming that based on a tip, he found at least one funder—Oracle. That’s the same company that lost a major copyright trial to Google and continues to spar with the search giant in court.

Pandora rumored to launch on-demand service to compete with Spotify – Pandora, one of the oldest players in the streaming music market, appears to finally be stepping up its service from simply radio-only to an actual on-demand option for users. A new report indicates that following the purchase of Rdio last year, Pandora is nearing the release of a premium on-demand music service that would allow it to compete with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and others.

Apple and Google team up with FCC to fight robocalls – Remember back in July when we told you that the FCC had called on carriers and device makers to help in the fight against robocalls? You’d be forgiven if you thought nothing would come of the FCC’s urging, but the very next day, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he was ready to lead a “strike force” to help the FCC put an end to the robocall problem. It turns out that strike force is real and it had meeting with the FCC today, kicking off its efforts to make robocalls a thing of the past.

Samsung mulls over refurbished smartphone sales scheme – As reported by the Reuters news agency, the South Korean tech giant will sell used and refurbished smartphones of the Samsung brand — including premium models — in a new program which could launch as early as 2017. According to people familiar with the matter, Samsung will refurbish devices returned by users who are part of upgrade programs in countries including South Korea and the United States which allow customers to upgrade their handsets every 12 months.

Why your Apple store is no longer a ‘store’ – The company’s brick-and-mortar locations are losing the “store” part of their name. Is this a conscious attempt to tweak the way you think about Apple?

Games and Entertainment:

The 15 most exciting PC games still coming in 2016 – Despite some high-profile games slipping into 2017 already (damn it, Mass Effect Andromeda), there’s still quite a bit to be excited about in 2016. We’ve gone ahead and picked the 15 titles we’re looking forward to most—from Deus Ex (August 23) to South Park (December 6) and everything in between.

Sony to reveal two new PlayStation 4 consoles next month, says WSJ – Sony will show off a new slimmer version of its current PlayStation 4 console next month, the Wall Street Journal reports, a smaller and less expensive machine that would go on sale alongside the upgraded 4K-capable PS4 that the company described earlier this year. The news comes soon after pictures appeared in an online auction that appeared to show a thinner and smaller PlayStation 4, suggesting that we may already have had our first glimpse at the device in question. The company is set to detail both this slimmer PS4 and the upgraded 4K version of the console at an event in New York on September 7th, just a month after competitor Microsoft released its own slimmed-down version of its Xbox One.

Tomb Raider on PS4 was worth waiting for, superior to Xbox One version – Rise of the Tomb Raider will be hitting the PlayStation 4 on October 11.  Since the PS4 is a more powerful system than the Xbox One, one would expect the game to run better on Sony’s console. The game was shown during this year’s Gamescom, and as was to be would expected, it does perform noticeably better on the PS4. More importantly, however, it plays better.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the FPS’s latest sub-series – The release of this year’s Call of Duty, titled Infinite Warfare, is fast approaching, and many fans of the long-running franchise still aren’t pleased. It mostly boils down to two reasons: either they’re unhappy that they have to buy the special edition in order to get the remastered version of the beloved CoD4: Modern Warfare, or they don’t like the theme changes from modern combat settings to a futuristic, sci-fi story set in space. Unfortunately for those in the latter camp, there’s likely to be more Infinite Warfare titles in the coming years.

Five to Try: Google Duo delivers easy video calling, and Deus Ex Go dazzles on Android – All the new apps and games you need to check out this week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Here’s how to make rechargeable batteries last for years – Whether it’s a rechargeable battery inside a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, here are a set of tips to help you get the most from it.

12 things your smartphone has replaced – New technology always replaces older tech (that’s kind of the point of “new” technology). But there’s nothing quite as versatile when it comes to making things obsolete as the smartphone—or, should I say, phone/internet browser/camera/music player/alarm clock/reading material/calculator/photo album/gaming device/flashlight. Here are 12 standalone devices that you never use anymore, thanks to that handy Android phone in your pocket.


Tech and the presidential race – For Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the importance of articulating a vision for the technology industry seems to be lost. While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released a comprehensive technology policy platform in June that should excite software developers, Mr. Trump doesn’t pay much attention to our industry’s concerns and is, frankly, on the wrong side of many of the most important issues facing tech today.

US Air Force wants to plasma bomb the skies to improve radio reception – The US Air Force is working on a plan to plasma bomb the sky. No, they have not been co-opted by a super villain bent on world domination. This plan has legitimate, perhaps even noble goals. If the USAF can pull it off. Radio signals will be able to travel farther through the atmosphere.

The reality of VR porn – Is virtual reality porn merely an example of an industry — already known for early adoption of new tech — extending its market reach, or could the growing sophistication of the online porn experience have unforeseen social and psychological impacts?

DroidOL: Android malware detection based on online machine learning – Discover how researchers figured out a way to improve Android malware detection with machine learning that is continuously and automatically trained online.

Something to think about:

“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”

–      Herbert Spencer

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How the NSA snooped on encrypted Internet traffic for a decade – In a revelation that shows how the National Security Agency was able to systematically spy on many Cisco Systems customers for the better part of a decade, researchers have uncovered an attack that remotely extracts decryption keys from the company’s now-decommissioned line of PIX firewalls.

The discovery is significant because the attack code, dubbed BenignCertain, worked on PIX versions Cisco released in 2002 and supported through 2009. Even after Cisco stopped providing PIX bug fixes in July 2009, the company continued offering limited service and support for the product for an additional four years. Unless PIX customers took special precautions, virtually all of them were vulnerable to attacks that surreptitiously eavesdropped on their VPN traffic. Beyond allowing attackers to snoop on encrypted VPN traffic, the key extraction also makes it possible to gain full access to a vulnerable network by posing as a remote user.

BenignCertain’s capabilities were tentatively revealed in this blog post from Thursday, and they were later confirmed to work on real-world PIX installations by three separate researchers. Before the confirmation came, Ars asked Cisco to investigate the exploit. The company declined, citing this policy for so-called end-of-life products. The exploit helps explain documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and cited in a 2014 article that appeared in Der Spiegel. The article reported that the NSA had the ability to decrypt more than 1,000 VPN connections per hour.

“It shows that the NSA had the ability to remotely extract confidential keys from Cisco VPNs for over a decade,” Mustafa Al-Bassam, a security researcher at payments processing firm Secure Trading, told Ars. “This explains how they were able to decrypt thousands of VPN connections per minute as shown in documents previously published by Der Spiegel.”

EFF accuses T-Mobile of violating net neutrality with throttled video – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has accused T-Mobile USA of violating net neutrality principles with a new “unlimited” data plan that throttles video. The group is weighing whether to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, and the EFF is evaluating a similar offering from Sprint.

T-Mobile’s $70-per-month unlimited data plan limits video to about 480p resolution and requires customers to pay an extra $25 per month for high-definition video. The plan also throttles mobile hotspot connections unless customers pay an extra $15 for each 5GB allotment. Going forward, this will be the only plan offered to new T-Mobile customers, though existing subscribers can keep their current prices and data allotments.

UK’s mass-surveillance draft law grants spies incredible powers for no real reason – review – An independent review into bulk surveillance powers in the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill has warned that there is no proven case to let British snoops hack the planet.

The study group examined the UK government’s Operational Case for Bulk Powers [PDF], which provided the government’s reasons for needing the most intrusive and wide-reaching surveillance powers. The review panel questioned whether the information obtained via those powers could be gained by other, less intrusive means.

Published this morning, the 204-page study [PDF] found that bulk surveillance powers are indeed needed and are already in wide use by the security and intelligence agencies — but it warned that there was not yet a proven operational case for “bulk equipment interference.”

The power for the intelligence agencies to conduct enormous hacking campaigns has long been seen as one of the most controversial abilities the UK gives its spooks. The former terrorism legislation review, David Anderson QC, has advocated that “very considerable caution” over the power is needed, especially because of its ability particularly “when used at scale, to cause, even inadvertently … lasting harm to networks and to devices.”

His warning comes on the heels of a public auction of NSA hacking tools, many of which had been present in security gear for years.

As such, Anderson makes what he calls “a single, major, recommendation: that the Investigatory Powers Bill be amended to provide for a Technical Advisory Panel of security-cleared independent academics and industry experts to be appointed by the IPC ‘to advise the IPC and the Secretary of State on the impact of changing technology on the exercise of investigatory powers and on the availability of techniques to use those powers while minimising interference with privacy’.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – August 19, 2016

Windows 10 needs proper privacy portal, says EFF;  How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet;  We ignore computer security alerts up to 90% of the time;  When your computer beeps at you, that’s a cry for help;  12 Tips to Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection;  Bloatware as a security risk: Researchers’ innovative ways to combat the scourge;  20 great new features in Android 7.0 Nougat;  Companies Can’t Legally Void the Warranty for Jailbreaking or Rooting Your Phone –  and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

We ignore computer security alerts up to 90% of the time, study says – We as a society may be more concerned about privacy and cybersecurity than ever, but that doesn’t mean we’re paying more attention to security alerts. People ignore software security warnings up to 90 percent of the time, according to a new study from Brigham Young University. The cause? Our inability to multitask.

Twitter’s Anti-Abuse Filter Is Finally Available to All – The social media giant finally introduced full public access to the quality filter, a hopeful step in curbing persistent online abuse. The filter, which had been rolled out to some verified users last year, can screen for spam bots, offensive language, and duplicate accounts. And journalist Caitlin Dewey reported that it works pretty well—blocking out trolls and users threatening to kill her. (It was also able to discern between a news story talking about rape and let that reach her feed.)

Google updates Classroom with new tools for students, parents and teachers – Google Classroom, the company’s platform that brings together Google Apps for Education and a number of tools for managing classes and content, is getting one of its regular summer updates today (right in time before the next school year starts). While Classroom has traditionally focused on offering tools for teachers and students, this new version now also brings in parents and guardians. Parents can now automatically receive summaries of their kids’ work so they can know exactly how they are doing in any given class (helicopter parents will surely love this feature, though students may not be so happy about it). This feature is optional, and teachers can opt in parents to daily or weekly emails.

12 Tips to Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection – With the proliferation of smart home devices, online gaming platforms, and streaming video services, maintaining a strong Internet connection at home is more important than ever. If you’re experiencing lag while playing League of Legends, or it takes forever to download music, there’s good chance that the problem is on your end and not an Internet Service Provider (ISP) issue. Before you schedule a service call with your cable company, check out our tips for troubleshooting your Internet connection.

When your computer beeps at you, that’s a cry for help – There’s only one good beep: The single tone of power-on affirmation you’d hear back in the day when you turned on your PC. Nowadays most computers don’t have speakers on the mainboard, so we don’t hear beeps unless there’s a problem. If that’s the case, here’s what you do. First, note the pattern of beeps. It could be one long beep, or one short, one long, etc. It varies according to the situation. Note the number and duration of beeps, then head to your motherboard or system manufacturer’s website, or search online. Here are links to explanations of beep codes for Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.

Myth busted: Copper pennies didn’t help our overheating laptop – Copper is a fantastic conductor, and the top of your MacBook is where the heat likes to party. If you placed some copper coins there, wouldn’t that heat go away? It’s not hard to see why that idea became such a popular myth. But we busted it wide open.

Google Duo will support audio-only calls ‘soon’ – Earlier this week, Google introduced Duo, its latest app for both Android and iOS that features simple to use video calling. The comparisons to Apple’s own FaceTime are obvious, with both offering high quality video and audio, however Duo’s big advantage is that it is cross-platform. Unfortunately, the one major feature that Duo doesn’t have yet is support for audio-only calls. But at least Google has confirmed that it’s on the way.

20 great new features in Android 7.0 Nougat – Google’s operating system is everywhere, and it just keeps getting better. Here’s what’s new in this year’s big release.

24 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed – Whether you’re an old pro freaking out a little about changes coming to your timeline or just started gramming, PCMag rounded up a few tips that could make your photos stand out and garner you acclaim—well, at least a like or two more than you might have gotten before.

WhatsApp usage is now free on FreedomPop in the U.S. – Millions of people use WhatsApp every month, and now FreedomPop is aiming to make sure its customers are able to use the messaging app no matter what. The carrier is providing a zero-rated WhatsApp SIM in the United States, as well as free data to those customers in more than 30 other countries in Southeast Asia and Europe. With it, users can use WhatsApp’s service without it eating into their data allotment, of which there are 200MB included in the company’s free basic plan.

Google Maps updates Street View rendering and controls – Google has detailed a slew of updates over at its Developers Blog aimed at making Street View rendering less crummy, courtesy of some tweaks to the Maps JavaScript API. Among the resulting improvements are smoother transitions from place to place, thanks to more frames and better loading animations, as the system has switched from repeating old images, which resulted in a stuttering effect to new low-res shots, which creates the effect of a blurry periphery coming into to sharper focus.

Best Fitness Trackers to keep you fit in 2016 – Fitness trackers and smartwatches with health features come in all shapes, sizes, and design, to keep you at least mindful of your activities, or lack of it. And though we’re way past the middle of the year, there’s no time like the present to start the journey towards a healthier you. But there are dozens, literally, of fitness-centric accessories out there. So to help you pick your next healthy purchase, here’s our top ten choices for this year’s best fitness wearables.

Microsoft’s new plan to save Edge: reward points – Microsoft today made a play to boost usage of Edge with an awards program that gives users points for browsing with the Windows 10 application. “Earn points for every hour of active browsing … up to 30 hours a month,” Microsoft announced on a promotional page. Edge usage — the browser only runs in Windows 10 — has eroded since its mid-2015 debut. According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Edge ran on 24% of all Windows 10 PCs in July, down from 27% in June and 29% in May.

US prepares to hand over power of the internet’s naming system – Starting October 1, the US will no longer have power over the domain naming system (DNS), the US Department of Commerce said in a blog post Tuesday. The DNS is one of the core components of the internet, linking every web address to servers using a unique set of numbers, commonly referred to as an IP address. Control of the system will be passed from the US government to a multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).


Cisco confirms NSA-linked zeroday targeted its firewalls for years – Cisco Systems has confirmed that recently-leaked malware tied to the National Security Agency exploited a high-severity vulnerability that had gone undetected for years in every supported version of the company’s Adaptive Security Appliance firewall. The previously unknown flaw makes it possible for remote attackers who have already gained a foothold in a targeted network to gain full control over a firewall, Cisco warned in an advisory published Wednesday.

Bloatware as a security risk: Researchers’ innovative ways to combat the scourge – Unnecessary code in software provides digital criminals more opportunities to compromise computing devices, according to researchers. Read about their solutions to bloatware.

Infographic and interview: The explosion of cybercrime and how to protect your business – A new chart details how cybercrime ballooned in the past decade. Cybersecurity expert Ron Schlecht explains how even small breaches can cost enterprise and SMB companies millions.


Netflix Aims to Shield Your TV Habits From Prying Eyes – Behind the scenes, Netflix engineers are trying to encrypt its video streams without sacrificing quality.

Company News:

Google loses appeal against Russia’s Android antitrust ruling – Google’s appeal against an antitrust ruling over its Android operating system in Russia was tossed out by Moscow’s ninth arbitration court on Wednesday. The ad giant was fined 438 million rubles (£5.25 million, $6.85 million) by the country’s competition watchdog, the Federation Antimonopoly Service (FAS) last week. FAS found that Google had imposed restrictive contracts on mobile phone manufacturers who want to use its Android operating system, forcing them to pre-install other Google services, while blocking those of rivals.

Netflix deal brings service’s app to more in-room hotel TVs – Enseo, in case you’ve never heard about it before, is the source of the in-room entertainment you get at many hotels. Netflix has announced a new expanded deal with Enseo that will allow the latter company to bring the Netflix app to some of its devices for in-room enjoyment at any hotel in any country where Netflix is available. On the consumer end of things, this means you’ll more frequently find the Netflix app provided on your hotel room’s TV.

McDonald’s ditches Happy Meal activity trackers – McDonald’s isn’t exactly seen as a healthy eating option by most parents. It’s more seen as a cheap place to fill your gob with food that is questionably tasty and not particularly good for you. The company is seeing demand for its food sag as parents and consumers in general have started to flock to eateries with healthier options. To combat this McDonald’s has relied on Happy Meals for kids with toys that grab their interest leading to parents taking kids in not so much for food as for the toys.

Pizza Hut DJ box puts two turn tables and conductive ink inside your pizza box – The fast food world is full of gimmicks to lure people into their restaurants to buy food. McDonalds is likely the most infamous for this practice with lots of toys packed inside Happy Meal bags and boxes to make kids want to eat their food. Pizza Hutt has a new box that it puts its pie into that has something special left behind for you to play with after you eat.


Judge rejects Uber’s $100 million settlement with drivers – A US district judge has rejected a proposed $100 million settlement in a pair of class action lawsuits filed in California and Massachusetts, saying the proposed settlement was neither fair nor adequate. “The settlement, mutually agreed by both sides, was fair and reasonable,” said Uber in a statement. “We’re disappointed in this decision and are taking a look at our options.”

Uber’s self-driving cars will pick up their first customers this month – Uber’s self-driving taxis will get their first real-world test in Pittsburgh this month, with the semi-autonomous vehicles assigned at random to customers using the company’s app. According to a report from Bloomberg, the test fleet will consist of modified Volvo XC90 SUVs, with each car supervised by a human in the driver’s seat (a legal requirement) as well as a co-pilot taking notes. The trips themselves will be free, with a tablet in the backseat informing the passenger about the car’s capabilities.

T-Mobile and Sprint’s new unlimited plans have some nasty fine print – T-Mobile and Sprint are both making a big splash today with the introduction of some too-good-to-be-true data plans. Both companies’ new plans offer unlimited talk, text, and — importantly — data, but both companies’ unlimited data come with big asterisks beside them. That’s because their data plans have some significant limitations. T-Mobile’s plan, called T-Mobile One, limits all video playback to low-res 480p. Sprint’s plan, called Unlimited Freedom, has the same video limitation and then goes even further, limiting music streams to 500kbps (which is relatively high) and gaming to an extremely slow 2Mbps. T-Mobile will let you avoid that limitation if you pay an extra $25 per month per line; Sprint doesn’t seem to offer an option. There are also limitations around tethering.

Australia’s Telstra and Optus outed as two of the world’s six most expensive ISPs – Content delivery network Cloudflare has outed Australia’s Optus as one of the six most expensive internet service providers in the world, and says the other major local player Telstra is rubbish too.

Games and Entertainment:

Facebook is partnering with Unity for a desktop gaming platform – Facebook and game engine company Unity have announced a partnership that will let developers easily port their Unity games onto the social network, including a Facebook desktop gaming platform that’s currently in development. Developers have until August 31st to apply for a closed alpha of the export tool, which will be integrated directly into the Unity Editor. The details are still nebulous, and there’s no timeline given. But so far, it sounds like a potential competitor to desktop gaming catalogs like Steam and GOG — just one that’s focused more on casual gaming and comes with a massive built-in audience.

TiVo is ditching support for its Series 1 DVRs – If you’re still using the original TiVo Series 1 DVR released more than one and a half decades ago, TiVo has some bad news for you: it is dropping its support for the device next month. The model, which was first released in 1999, will not be functional as of September 29 per an email TiVo is sending out to device owners. Though the model is old, TiVo says there are still about 3,500 Series 1 DVRs still being used, which is a significant number of people who are going to have to upgrade.

Deus Ex GO brings diorama-esque cyberpunk to mobile – The first Deus Ex became a cult classic because of how it bended and blended genres, a daring proposition during its time. The third installment and the upcoming fourth follow up have revolutionized the franchise, bringing it to current graphics standards and tastes. And now, they’re doing genre bending revolution on mobile. In the tradition of Hitman GO, Lara Croft GO, but not Pokemon GO, Square Enix has finally released Deus Ex GO for Android and iOS, taking the now familiar puzzle game mechanic and slapping on a futuristic, cyberpunk aesthetic.


FIFA Mobile for Android and iOS launches this autumn – EA has announced FIFA Mobile, a soccer ‘experience’ for both Android and iOS. The game, which will launch this autumn across the globe, will feature a new gameplay mode, a ‘truly social experience,’ leaderboard and leagues, more than 650 teams, and more. The game was built specifically for the mobile devices it will be played on, and while a specific launch date hasn’t yet been revealed, EA promises it will give fans a whole new experience. The FIFA Mobile game will offer turn-based matches compatible with two players, as well as Live Events that bring new content every day based on actual happenings in the game across the world. This content will include mini games that give players tokens that are then redeemable for various packs and game characters.

Nvidia’s new $200 GeForce GTX 1060 3GB challenges the Radeon RX 480 head-on – Nvidia’s cut-down GeForce GTX 1060 3GB is priced the same as the AMD Radeon RX 480, but claims better performance.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet – Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.

Companies Can’t Legally Void the Warranty for Jailbreaking or Rooting Your Phone – After I published an article about how electronics manufacturers including Microsoft and Sony illegally void the warranties of consumers who open their devices, I got a flood of emails from people wondering whether federal law protects their right to jailbreak or root their phones. The short answer is yes, it does: Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, manufacturers cannot legally void your hardware warranty simply because you altered the software of an electronic device. In order to void the warranty without violating federal law, the manufacturer must prove that the modifications you made directly led to a hardware malfunction. In practice, of course, it’s all much more complicated.

When we’re happy, we actively sabotage our good moods with grim tasks – Always keeping your house tidy and spotless may earn you the label of “neat freak”—but “super happy” may be a more accurate tag. When people voluntarily take on unpleasant tasks such as housework, they tend to be in particularly happy states, according to a new study on hedonism. The finding challenges an old prediction by some researchers that humans can be constant pleasure-seekers. Instead, the new study suggests we might seek out fun, uplifting activities mainly when we’re in bad or down moods. But when we’re on the up, we’re more likely to go for the dull and dreary assignments.

Stealing bitcoins with badges: How Silk Road’s dirty cops got caught – DEA Special Agent Carl Force wanted his money—real cash, not just numbers on a screen—and he wanted it fast. It was October 2013, and Force had spent the past couple of years working on a Baltimore-based task force investigating the darknet’s biggest drug site, Silk Road. During that time, he had also carefully cultivated several lucrative side projects all connected to Bitcoin, the digital currency Force was convinced would make him rich.

7 Gadgets That Should Be in Your Emergency Kit – As the recent flooding in Louisiana and wildfires in California prove, it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause an emergency. Now is the time to check your emergency kit and ensure all your supplies are stocked up and ready to go. While you’re at it, it’s also wise to upgrade your gear with some of the newest emergency tech out there. These seven devices will help keep you warm, dry, and powered up.

Goodbye, Gawker – While the fate of Gawker is still unclear – last-minute Hail Mary media saves are the norm when it comes to online properties (even if it does gut the site) – what is clear is that Gawker as we once knew it is dead. The current staff probably won’t stick around only to fall under some less beneficent ruler and Univision doesn’t want what is perceived as a hive of snark and villainy. You don’t buy a business with a lawsuit hanging over it, especially if that lawsuit is bankrolled by a shark with legs and Hulk Hogan.

How Tesla Autopilot drove a man with a blood clot to the hospital, and expanded the autonomous car debate – News of the fatal crash involving Tesla Autopilot has sparked necessary debate over safety. The counterpoint is a life recently saved by Autopilot. Here’s the story.

Satellite images of Earth help us predict poverty better than ever – We already know that the more lit up an area is at night, the richer and more developed it is. Researchers use this method to estimate poverty in places where we don’t have exact data. But “night light” estimates are rough and don’t tell us much about the wealth differences of the very poor. Scientists at Stanford University fed a computer three data sources — night light images, daytime images, and actual survey data — to build an algorithm that predicts how rich or poor any given area is. This method, described in a study published today in the journal Science, estimates poverty in more detail than we’ve had before.

Twitter has suspended 235,000 accounts since February for promoting terrorism – Twitter has suspended 235,000 accounts since February for promoting terrorism, the company said in a blog post today. The company said it’s also expanded the team that works on flagging such content, and claims to have made progress on stopping accounts from starting again under a new handle. In a previous post from February, Twitter said it had suspended 125,000 accounts since mid-2015.

Something to think about:

“The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him; and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show your distrust.”

–     Henry L. Stimson (1867 – 1950)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Windows 10 needs proper privacy portal, says EFF – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has called on Microsoft to offer a “single unified screen” on which Windows 10 users can control how Windows 10 deals with their personal information and monitors their use of the OS.

The organisation has listed the long list of nasty nagware tactics Microsoft used to get people running Windows 10, labelling some “questionable tactics to cause users to download a piece of software that many didn’t want.”

It’s not keen on the nagware bundled alongside patches, suggesting that tactic reduced trust in patches and therefore potentially exposed users who don’t act promptly when important fixes arrive.

It also rails against the telemetry Windows 10 collects and is especially harsh on Microsoft’s insistence that if business users send it less data, Windows Update will be less effective and PCs will be less secure.

The Foundation says “this is a false choice that is entirely of Microsoft’s own creation.”

Internet tracking software maker to face wiretapping trial, court rules – A US federal appeals court says the maker of an online spying tool can be sued on accusations of wiretapping. The federal lawsuit was brought by a man whose e-mail and instant messages to a woman were captured by the husband of the woman. That husband used that data as a “battering ram” as part of his 2010 divorce proceedings.

It’s the second time in a week that a federal court has ruled in a wiretapping case—in favor of a person whose online communications were intercepted without consent. The other ruling was against Google. A judge ruled that a person not using Gmail who sent e-mail to another person using Gmail had not consented to Gmail’s automatic scanning of the e-mail for marketing purposes. Hence, Google could be sued (PDF) for alleged wiretapping violations.

For the moment, the two outcomes are a major victory for privacy. But the reasoning in the lawsuit against the makers of the WebWatcher spy program could have ramifications far beyond the privacy context—and it places liability on the producers of spyware tools.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – August 17, 2016

Respect: Windows 10 security impresses hackers;  Android antivirus apps are useless — here’s what to do instead;  The best free Android apps for going back to school;  11 awesome back-to-school gadgets for students;  The 100 Best Android Apps of 2016;  How to boost your Wi-Fi speed by choosing the right channel;  Windows 10: The best hidden features, tips, and tricks;  Cortana: The spy in Windows 10 –  and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Android antivirus apps are useless — here’s what to do instead – It seems like you can’t go a week without one security firm or another producing a statistic illustrating just how much Android malware there is in the wilds of the internet. More often than not, these reports come with a few reminders that the company’s own security suite can protect you from these nasty bits of code, which is true some of the time. However, Android is by its very nature more secure than a desktop computer, so maybe you don’t need these security apps. You’ve probably already got what you need.

The 100 Best Android Apps of 2016 – Whether you’ve got a brand-new Galaxy Note 7 or an older Android phone or tablet you just want to spruce up, these are the apps that matter.


Windows 10: The best hidden features, tips, and tricks – Now that Windows 10 Anniversary Update is out and millions of people are running it, let’s take a look at some of the best hidden features, tips, and tricks in the operating system. Windows 10 combines the best of Windows 8 — super-fast startup, improved security — with much of what made Windows 7 familiar and easy to use, and without trying to force you to buy a touch screen or learn a whole set of hidden UI gestures. The Anniversary Update only makes it that much sweeter.

When will your PC get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update? – Version 1607 is rolling out to Windows 10 users slowly, via Windows Update. Here’s how you can take charge of the upgrade process and avoid unpleasant surprises.

How to remove unwanted apps from Windows 10 (even though Microsoft doesn’t want you to) – Certain Windows 10 apps can’t be uninstalled the normal way–they have to be removed with PowerShell commands. Here’s how you do it.

Top five 2016 Chromebooks for school and everywhere else – Chromebooks are now the most popular school laptops of them all. If your school doesn’t supply them, here are your best choices.

How to boost your Wi-Fi speed by choosing the right channel – If you’ve ever messed around with your Wi-Fi router’s settings, you’ve probably seen the word “channel.” Most routers have the channel set to Auto, but we’re sure many of us have looked through that list of a dozen or so channels and wondered what they are, and more importantly, which of the channels are faster than the others. Well, some channels are indeed much faster — but that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and change them just yet. Read on to find out more about 802.11 channels, interference, and the massive difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi.

How to get to Firefox’s ‘about:’ pages the easy way – Firefox’s ‘about:’ pages open the door to settings changes, UI customization, performance info, and more. Here are two easy ways to reveal all the available options.

Google launches Duo, a barebones video calling app – Google Duo is a video calling app and just a video calling app—it does one-to-one video calls and nothing else. It’s also only available for mobile phones—there are no Web, Chrome, or desktop clients. It doesn’t even require a Google Account—Google says that “all you need is your phone number and you’ll be able to reach people in your phone’s contacts list.” Duo has two features. The first is that the video calling is claimed to be “fast and reliable” even with limited bandwidth. It can switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data without dropping the call and can “gracefully degrade” the video when bandwidth gets low. The other feature is called “Knock Knock,” which shows live video from your contact on the incoming call screen before you even answer the call.

Google Duo vs. FaceTime vs. Skype vs. Messenger: How They Stack Up – Google rolled out its latest app on Tuesday—a video calling service called “Duo.” Strangely enough, it is completely separate from Google’s other communication services including Hangouts, which already supports video calls. Here’s how Duo stacks up against its rivals:

These 20 essential applications let you move easily between Windows and a Mac – While many consumers are moving to tablets and phones, many professionals find themselves working on both Macs and PCs. If you find yourself jumping back and forth between Windows and Mac systems, here are some apps that will make your job easier. No matter what you do, though, most of these apps will be incredibly helpful and make the jump back and forth between platforms almost seamless.

Best Password Managers for 2016 – Take control of your logins – It’s 2016 and people have stored more information, a lot of the private, on a public, intangible system more than any other time in the history of mankind. And yet, these very same people protect those pieces of themselves with passwords like “1234” or “password”. The increasing rate of hacks don’t seem to be enough to shock people into adopting better habits when it comes to their digital lives. Because, let’s face it, trying to come up with more than a dozen strong passwords is a tough job, much less remembering all of them. That is why there are such things as Password Managers to do the heavy lifting for us, and still they aren’t utilized enough. In the interest of spreading the word, here are our top five picks for Password Managers for this year.

Five categories of apps you need to transform your phone into a mobile office – It’s not always practical to reach for your laptop, but things still have to get done. Here are five app categories that can turn your smartphone into a work powerhouse.

How to activate Cortana voice recognition on your Xbox One – Cortana on Xbox isn’t as powerful as Amazon’s Echo, but it will make your entertainment system smarter.

Cortana: The spy in Windows 10 – Let’s start with Cortana’s fundamental lust for your data. When it’s working as your virtual assistant it’s collecting your every keystroke and spoken syllable. It does this so it can be more helpful to you. If you don’t like that, well, you’ve got more problems than just Cortana. Google Now and Apple Siri do the same things. And it’s not just virtual assistants; every cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) does this to one degree or another — Google Docs, Office 365, whatever. But Cortana doesn’t stop there. With the recently released Windows 10 Anniversary Update, hereafter Windows 10 SP1, you can’t shut Cortana off.

Intel challenges Raspberry Pi 3 with tricked-out Joule board – Intel has unleashed a new competitor to Raspberry Pi 3 with its new Joule development board, which packs superior graphics and wireless connectivity.


Intel’s Joule developer board looks to challenge Raspberry Pi. Credit: Intel

11 awesome back-to-school gadgets for students – Whether you’re just starting high school or about to graduate college, our list of essential gear for students will ensure that you have a productive—and fun—school year.

The best free Android apps for going back to school – Sadly, it’s time for fewer games and more productivity. Here’s how to get your Android device ready for another school year.


Respect: Windows 10 security impresses hackers – Windows is a popular attack target for criminals and security researchers alike, but Microsoft has done a good job of making it harder to exploit security flaws in the OS.

Kaspersky outs Android malware riding on Google Adsense network – More often than not, malware attacks start with conning unsuspecting users into visiting seemingly innocent, even helpful, websites or downloading software. Far more frightening, however, is malware that escapes early detection because it piggybacks on legitimate channels or apps. Such is the case with an Android Trojan reported by security company Kaspersky Lab Solutions called Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q”, or Svpeng, for short. This particular malware, which attempts to intercept and steal banking information, is spreading on perfectly legit websites through Google’s own AdSense advertising network.

Best secure Android browser: Orfox (with Orbot) – Orfox is a variant of Mozilla Firefox, which should be familiar to desktop users. Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari have an effective duopoly on mobile devices, and that’s too bad, because Firefox and Orfox have a lot to offer. However, we’d argue that a Web browser alone can’t create a reasonably secure user experience, because browser security and privacy depend on the path you take across the Internet from your phone to your destination site, and depend on how much personal information you share online (knowingly or otherwise). That’s where Orbot comes in.

Now data-stealing Marcher Android malware is posing as security update – Cybercriminals are telling users their device is at risk from viruses unless they download a particular ‘security update’ — which delivers the malware.

Ransomware-as-a-service allows wannabe hackers to cash-in on cyber extortion – Authors of the Cerber ransomware are selling their ransomware as-a-service for a 40 percent cut of their customers’ ill-gotten gains.

Windows 7, 8.1 switches to monthly rollup update scheme – Windows as a Service. That was one of Microsoft’s battle cries for Windows 10. In a nutshell, it compared Windows to web services, like web apps and cloud services, whose software get updated behind the scenes in a rolling basis. Now it is bringing that same paradigm to Windows 10’s immediate predecessors, Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1, with monthly rollup and security-only updates. This new system, promises Microsoft, will ensure higher quality patches and a more consistent update experience for users.

Company News:

Apple is investing more in China, including an R&D center – It’s not clear exactly where, how big, or how expensive the Chinese R&D center will be, but the move represents a further effort by Apple to get in Beijing’s good books. Earlier this year the company announced a $1 billion investment in ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing, which Cook said was being made “for a number of strategic reasons, including a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market.”

Intel will start producing ARM chips to boost foundry business – Chip maker Intel and British semiconductor IP company ARM announced an agreement that could help boost the chip giant’s custom foundry business. The deal, revealed today at the the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, will allow Intel Custom Foundry to make ARM processors for third parties. Intel’s latest earnings announcement made it clear that the company is in the midst of a shift, and it needs to gear up for the Internet of Things. The agreement with ARM Holdings, which was acquired by Japanese tech giant Softbank a month ago, could be the first step in this direction.

UK antivirus firm BullGuard buys Israeli IoT security startup, Dojo-Labs – UK antivirus maker BullGuard is acquiring Israeli startup Dojo-Labs to expand its portfolio of security products to the Internet of Things. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. We covered Dojo-Labs last November, when it launched out of stealth — unwrapping a pebble-shaped consumer focused Internet of Things security device, called Dojo, designed to monitor network traffic and flag and block anomalous behavior by connected devices on the home network.

LinkedIn sues 100 information scrapers after technical safeguard fail – Microsoft-owned LinkedIn has filed a lawsuit in California against 100 unnamed individuals who circumvented its security technology to harvest data from its network of 400 million people. The lawsuit claims that the individuals used a specially created botnet that has been collecting data from the site since December 2015 and created thousands of bogus accounts to facilitate the attack. They also used an unnamed “whitelisted third-party cloud service provider” to speed up the information retrieval.

Univision wins auction to acquire Gawker Media – Univision has won the auction to acquire Gawker Media’s websites and business. Recode broke the news, reporting the acquisition price was $135 million and would cover all seven of Gawker’s websites. The company’s founder Nick Denton confirmed the deal in an email to reporters. The sale is the result of Gawker’s defeat in a lawsuit by Terry Bollea, a.k.a. wrestler Hulk Hogan, who sued the company after it published a clip of a sex tape featuring Hogan. Hogan’s lawsuit was bankrolled, in part, by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who recently wrote an op-ed for The New York Times arguing that the case is about protecting privacy and gay rights.

Games and Entertainment:

HP gets into high-end gaming with this glowing cube – The Omen X Desktop’s baseline model will come with an i7 Skylake processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive and 256GB SSD, liquid cooling, and AMD’s Radeon RX 480 graphics card, which itself has 4GB of RAM. It also has a ludicrous 10 USB ports (eight 3.0, two USB-C). Buyers will be able to spec it much higher if they want to, with the machine’s graphics option maxing out at either dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 cards or dual AMD Radeon R9 Fury X cards. Pricing will start at $1,799 on HP’s website beginning tomorrow.


Amazon brings free episodes of its Original Series to YouTube & Facebook – Amazon this morning announced that, for the first time ever, it will begin distributing its Original Series from Amazon Video to social media sites, including Facebook and YouTube. Pilot episodes from ten primetime and kids series are now available in both places, in their entirety, allowing anyone – including non-Amazon Prime members – to watch. The goal with the expanded distribution, however, is not to allow people to watch or purchase these series in their entirety off-site, but rather give them a tease of what an Amazon Prime membership has to offer. Along with the free two-day shipping, Prime customers gain access to thousands of tv shows and movies for free through Prime Video, which will remain the place to watch these shows, and many others.

Spotify ‘Kids’ section brings music, fairy tales, lullabies, and more – Spotify has a music category for just about everything, and that now includes a “Kids” section. The newly launched category is a shortcut way to find kid-friendly music, and it’s broken down into specific age ranges for even more narrow results. The category includes music collected together into genres like “Family Road Trip,” “Milk & Cookies,” and “Kindie,” as well as spoken content.

Microsoft bringing built-in Xbox Wireless support to Windows 10 PCs – For most PC gamers, if a keyboard and mouse won’t do, the choice of controller seems to fall to either the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One gamepads. This isn’t exactly a coincidence, as the level of compatibility between Windows and Xbox – both being developed by Microsoft – means that gamers can usually just plug the controller in and get to playing. Microsoft is looking to make Xbox One controllers an even easier choice for gamers, announcing today the first Windows 10 PC with built-in support for Xbox Wireless.

Pokémon Go cracks down on cheaters with lifetime bans – Pokémon Go cheaters will now be permanently banned from playing the popular game, according to updated wording in the game’s terms of service. Niantic Labs, the game’s developer, writes that accounts can be banned for cheating, including by “falsifying your location, using emulators, modified or unofficial software and/or accessing Pokémon GO clients or backends in an unauthorized manner including through the use of third-party software.”

Oculus Rift arrives in Canada and Europe next month – The team behind the Oculus Rift is gearing up to significantly expand its reach, announcing today that the VR headset will be available in Canada and Europe starting on September 20. Oculus Rift will also go up for pre-order in those regions through a variety of retail partners, so if you’re inclined to reserve one before the Rift launches, you’ll be able to do so beginning today.

Xbox Game Preview is coming to Windows 10 to let you play PC games under development – Microsoft first introduced its Xbox Game Preview feature at E3 last year, allowing Xbox One owners to act as beta testers for games that are still being developed. PC gaming, in particular Steam, has had similar “early access” programs for years, and now Microsoft is bringing its own Xbox Game Preview version over to the world of Windows 10. The first title to debut on Xbox Game Preview for Windows 10 will be Everspace later this year, but Microsoft is promising “there will be many more to come.” Microsoft announced its Xbox Game Preview for Windows 10 as part of the company’s limited presence at Gamescom in Germany today.

Why I Stopped Playing No Man’s Sky – I spent roughly 12 hours and $60 on No Man’s Sky this past weekend. And I don’t think I can go back. That’s not because it’s bad — it’s wonderful, in the truest sense of the word. I stopped because of the way the game was making me feel.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Every major cable TV company lost subscribers last quarter – The second quarter of each year is generally bad for pay-TV companies, but subscriber losses this year reached new heights. The 11 biggest pay-TV providers in the US, representing 95 percent of the market, lost 665,000 net video subscribers in Q2 2016, Leichtman Research Group reported today. This is more than double the losses of two years ago. Previously, the companies lost 545,000 subscribers in Q2 2015, 300,000 in Q2 2014, and 350,000 in Q2 2013. This year’s Q2 net losses “surpass[ed] the previous quarterly low set in last year’s second quarter,” said the research group president, Bruce Leichtman. The group’s data goes back to 2001.

Viruses are 10x better at infecting humans in the morning – Getting ill sucks regardless of when it happens, although I’d argue around the holidays is the worst time to be sick. There’s lots of precautions you can take to avoid illness, and most of them are simple such as regularly washing your hands. But a recent study out of the University of Cambridge has discovered a new and interesting fact about viral infections: they are much more successful in the mornings.

5 things to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership – The U.S. presidential campaign has shined a spotlight on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade deal that’s simmered on the back burner for years.

5 People Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls for Advice – Tim Cook might run one of the world’s biggest companies, but even the Apple CEO needs to ask for help once in a while. When asked who he turns to for advice, Cook rattled off a high-profile list of names in an interview with the Washington Post.

Google wants to help you vote – Yup, the search giant is adding information about how to vote in the upcoming presidential election in November. When people search for information about voting, they’ll get information, such as what’s on the ballot in each state, the ID requirements and deadlines for voting by mail. “We hope this customized state-by-state guide will help you find the information you need quickly and easily to help get your voice heard,” Google wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Something to think about:

“Remember that what you believe will depend very much on what you are.”

–       Noah Porter (1811 – 1892)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden speculates leak of NSA spying tools is tied to Russian DNC hack – Two former employees of the National Security Agency—including exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden—are speculating that Monday’s leak of what are now confirmed to be advanced hacking tools belonging to the US government is connected to the separate high-profile hacks and subsequent leaks of two Democratic groups.

Private security firms brought in to investigate the breach of the Democratic National Committee and a separate hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have said that the software left behind implicates hackers tied to the Russian government. US intelligence officials have privately said they, too, have high confidence of Russian government involvement.

In the weeks following the reports, WikiLeaks and an unknown person using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 have published a steady stream of documents. One batch released just ahead of last month’s Democratic National Convention contained embarrassing private conversations that led to the resignation of DNC Chair Debra Wasserman Schultz. A more recent installment included a spreadsheet detailing the cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other personal information of every Democratic member of the House of Representatives. The Obama administration has signaled that it may impose new economic sanctions on Russia in response to what critics claim is Russian attempts to disrupt or influence the US presidential election.

Canadian Cops Want a Law That Forces People to Hand Over Encryption Passwords – Encryption tools that keep your digital communications hidden from prying eyes are becoming more widespread, and Canadian police say they need a law that compels people to hand over their passwords so cops can access those communications.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), a lobbying organization with membership from across the country, passed a resolution at its annual conference on Tuesday mandating that the group advocate for a law that would force people to provide their computer passwords to police with a judge’s consent, CTV reported.

“To say this is deeply problematic is to understate the matter,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association. “We have all kinds of laws that do not compel people to incriminate themselves or even speak.”

A law that compels people to give police access to their devices, which may contain messages, photos, and data that have nothing to do with any active criminal investigation, doesn’t fit within Canada’s current legal landscape and would be “tricky constitutionally,” Vonn added.

“If an individual legitimately objects to handing over their password, that alone makes them criminal”

“I’d question whether this proposal is constitutional,” said Tamir Israel, a lawyer for the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa.

“It’s rare to force people to help police investigate themselves, and for good reason,” Israel continued. “It shifts the focus of criminal condemnation away from actual criminal activity and onto compliance. So if an individual legitimately objects to handing over their password, that alone makes them criminal.”

Baltimore police accused of illegal mobile spectrum use with stingrays – A law professor has filed a formal legal complaint on behalf of three advocacy organizations, arguing that stingray use by law enforcement agencies nationwide—and the Baltimore Police Department in particular—violate Federal Communications Commission rules.

The new 38-page complaint makes a creative argument that because stingrays, or cell-site simulators, act as fake cell towers, that law enforcement agencies lack the spectrum licenses to be able to broadcast at the relevant frequencies. Worse still, when deployed, cell service, including 911 calls, are disrupted in the area.

Stingrays are used by law enforcement to determine a mobile phone’s location by spoofing a cell tower. In some cases, stingrays can intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity. At times, police have falsely claimed the use of a confidential informant when they have actually deployed these particularly sweeping and intrusive surveillance tools. Often, they are used to locate criminal suspects.

US wiretap numbers still don’t add up, and nobody knows why – There’s a big discrepancy between the number of wiretaps reported by the US courts and the number of wiretaps responded to by US phone companies.

Last month, the US Courts’ Administrative Office said the number of wiretaps authorized in 2015, which allow the authorities real-time access to communications, stood at 4,148 wiretaps, up by 17 percent from a year ago. Not a single wiretap request was rejected during the year.

But that figure doesn’t make sense when you look at how many government data demands were processed by the big telcos.

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint responded to 11,633 wiretaps during the year — almost a threefold increase over the government’s annual wiretap report. (T-Mobile alone said in its latest transparency report that it received hundreds more wiretaps than the government’s official tally.)

And that’s just the cell networks — the difference is likely far larger when you account for landlines and internet companies.

So how many wiretaps were authorized last year? Nobody can explain the discrepancy.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – August 15, 2016

The best free Android apps for going back to school;  Secret Tips for Getting Started in No Man’s Sky;  8 Dangerous Data Breaches That Should Freak You the F*&K Out;  How to give Dropbox on Android a boost with Dropsync;  15 Android Apps Actually Worth Paying For; 13 essential network security utilities;  Best budget laptops;  The best graphics cards for PC gaming –  and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best free Android apps for going back to school – Sadly, it’s time for fewer games and more productivity. Here’s how to get your Android device ready for another school year.

How to lock down Windows 10 Anniversary Update’s privacy settings – The Windows 10 Anniversary Update has dropped, bringing a significant number of under-the-hood changes to the operating system. We’ve written many times about Windows 10 privacy issues over the past year, but haven’t gathered up our recommendations and strategies into a single story until now. Want to lock down your install and improve security? You’ve come to the right place.

Jim Hillier: Make File Explorer Open to ‘This PC’ in Windows 10 – In Windows 10, Microsoft changed File Explorer’s default view from This PC  (formerly My Computer or Computer) to Quick Access. Whenever you open a File Explorer window, you’ll see the Quick Access view, which provides access to frequently used folders and recently used files. *File Explorer was previously named Windows Explorer in earlier Windows versions but was renamed to File Explorer in Windows 8. Some may find the new Quick Access display handy but others might prefer the more traditional view, similar to older versions of Windows, which displays connected drives and devices. Changing between the two is a very quick and simple process, here’s how:

Windows 10 Anniversary Update freezing: Microsoft offers temporary fix – Microsoft confirms that some Windows 10 devices are freezing after installing the Anniversary Update and suggests ways around the issue while it investigates.

Best budget laptops: We rate the best-selling portables on Amazon and Best Buy – Everyone’s received that call for help. So here’s what we’d tell our non-nerdy friends if they asked which laptops are really the best deals on Amazon and Best Buy.

The hacking toolkit: 13 essential network security utilities – “Magic bullet” software does not exist. There is no single app that will be used to attack, or help defend all desktop, mobile, and IoT networks. Instead, a suite of open source and commercial software is used to map networks, sniff packets, and crack passwords. These are the most widely used exploitation tools.

15 Android Apps Actually Worth Paying For – Really, when you think about it, apps—truly worthwhile apps—are some of the best bargains available. The alternative is barf-inducing mobile ads or sly freemium models that prey on the ignorant. Everybody wins when you are willing to shell out a little for the apps you use every day. Here we present 15 apps available for download in Google Play that are completely worth the tiny cost of entry.

How to work with PGP keys using GnuPG – To encrypt email and files, you need to know how to work with PGP keys. Get up to speed on generating, exporting, and importing encryption keys with GnuPG.

How to give Dropbox on Android a boost with Dropsync – If you use Dropbox on an Android device, the Dropsync app is a must-have, says Jack Wallen. Learn how to use Dropsync.

Google Cloud Platform … in less than two minutes – Wondering what makes Google Cloud Platform different from AWS and MS Azure? Find out … in less than two minutes!


20 top US hotels hit by fresh malware attacks – A new swathe of US hotels has fallen prey to point-of-sale (PoS) malware which may have exposed customer financial data. 20 US hotels operated by HEI Hotel & Resorts on behalf of Starwood, Marriot, Hyatt and Intercontinental may have leaked the financial data of customers due to malware installed at PoS terminals and systems, including at bars, restaurants, spas and shops. Hotel properties in cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Arlington and Washington DC were included in the data breach. Malware was active at different stages depending on the property, but customer data was exposed between 2015 and 2016. The full list is below:

8 Dangerous Data Breaches That Should Freak You the F*&K Out – In recent decades, some of the most secure servers in the world have gotten pwned. Security is an illusion!

How to mitigate ransomware, DDoS attacks, and other cyber extortion threats – Ransomware and other forms of cyber extortion are effective moneymakers for the bad guys. Learn why, and how not to fall prey to digital extortionists.

Hackers can steal data via the sounds of a hard drive – Just about anytime you think you and your computer are safe from hackers and security weaknesses, some bizarre, unexpected method or flaw gets discovered. Case in point: security researchers have come up with a way to steal data from a computer’s hard drive just by listening to the sounds it makes. Not only can information be transmitted without a users’ knowledge, but their computer doesn’t even need to be connected to the internet. Called DiskFiltration, the hack works by taking control of a hard drive’s actuator, or the arm that moves back and forth across the platters when reading and writing data. These movements make various noises — the kind you usually hear when first booting up a desktop PC.


Guccifer 2.0 doxes hundreds of House Democrats with massive document dump – On Friday, the online persona behind a high-profile hack of the Democratic National Committee took credit for a separate breach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To prove they were responsible, the leaker known as Guccifer 2.0 published a massive amount of personal information belonging to hundreds of Democratic representatives. One Excel spreadsheet contains a dizzying amount of work and cell phone numbers, home addresses, official and personal e-mail addresses, names of staffers, and other personal information for the entire roster of Democratic representatives.

These were the best hacks at Black Hat and Def Con this year – Weren’t in Vegas for the heat and hacking? Here’s what you need to know.

Gmail’s new security warnings make your email safer – Google has made its email service a bit safer thanks to the inclusion of a pair of new security warnings. Gmail users will see these security warnings both on the Web and in Gmail for Android, with one warning showing up as a question mark and the other being a big, bold red “Warning” notice. The security warnings are being rolled out as part of a rapid release, which is scheduled to happen in two weeks; the actual rollout will only take a couple days, though, so you should see both arrive in your inbox fairly soon.

The IoT threat to privacy – As the Internet of Things becomes more widespread, consumers must demand better security and privacy protections that don’t leave them vulnerable to corporate surveillance and data breaches. But before consumers can demand change, they must be informed — which requires companies to be more transparent.

Company News:

Lyft turned down an acquisition offer from General Motors – General Motors recently told Lyft that it is interested in acquiring the ridesharing company. Though Lyft at least briefly considered it — and went on to look into other potential acquirers, as well — it ultimately turned GM away. This is according to a pair of sources who cropped up recently; while they don’t know how much General Motors was looking to pay, it is worth pointing out that GM has already invested heavily in Lyft, having shelled out $500 million to get a 9-percent stake in the company several months ago.

Foxconn completes acquisition of Sharp – After months of negotiation, Foxconn has acquired debt-ridden Sharp, and as a result has appointed Tai Jeng-wu as the company’s new president and chief executive.

Microsoft gives partners their Windows 10 marching orders – “If you haven’t gotten it yet: Security, security, security. Focus on security first.” That was the missive from Microsoft execs to the company’s reseller partners in one of several sessions on selling Windows 10 at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference last month. In a session called “Content and Cash: Microsoft investments in helping partners sell and deploy Windows 10,” Microsoft’s emphasis on getting Windows 10 into enterprises was clear. And the way to enterprises hearts is first and foremost through improved security, Microsoft officials said.

Games and Entertainment:

The best graphics cards for PC gaming – Let us make it easy for you. We’ve tested damned near every major GPU that has hit the streets over the past couple of years, from $100 budget cards to $1,200 luxury models. Our knowledge has been distilled down into this article—a buying guide with recommendations on which graphics card to buy, across all major price points.

Secret Tips for Getting Started in No Man’s Sky – To help you get started, here are our tips for how to take the first steps on your journey toward the center of the No Man’s Sky galaxy. It’s going to be a long trip, and we’ll all surely arrive changed from what we were when we began, but it’s time to take to the sky. Not sure this is the game for you? Maybe our list of 5 Reasons to Get No Man’s Sky will convince you.


No Man’s Sky is a game so vast and so open that knowing where to start can be tricky. Our tips can help you take your first steps into the unknown.

No Man’s Sky launch on PC puts a big dent in the resurgence of computer gaming – The No Man’s Sky launch on PC is a terrible nightmare. Some gamers have even decided to wait for bug fixes. This is not a good sign.

PlayStation Now tipped for PC launch later this month – Sony has a game subscription service called PlayStation Now that allows PlayStation owners to play a bunch of games streamed over the Internet. According to a new source that has cropped up, the company is planning to launch that game subscription service for PCs later this month, giving computer gamers the same massive roster of games for, presumably, the same $19.99/month price that PlayStation owners pay.

Another Halo Wars 2 beta will hit Xbox One, PC in 2017 – The Xbox One’s open beta for Halo Wars 2, the second real-time strategy game set in the Halo universe, was held back in June, and developer 343 Industries has revealed details on what their main takeaways from the experience were, along with some of the things they’ll be changing as a result of player feedback. The biggest surprise, however, was the announcement that a second beta will be released in early 2017 for both of the game’s platforms, Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.

Final Fantasy XV release delayed by two months, Square Enix confirms – The long, long wait for Final Fantasy XV just got a little longer, as director Hajime Tabata confirmed rumors that the game has been delayed. The new release date is November 29th, almost two months after the previously announced date of September 30th.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Woman caught texting with hands, steering car with foot – Technically Incorrect: In Pennsylvania, a couple films a woman who relies on her New Balance shoe to balance her car.


Guy tricks Windows tech support scammers into installing ransomware – Windows tech support scammers have fleeced an unbelievable number of people out of their hard-earned cash. One geeky vigilante decided to turn the tables. Now, plenty of tech-savvy folks have had a little fun at the expense of these fraudsters. Generally they play along and waste as much of the caller’s time as possible and watch them harmlessly fiddle with a virtual machine. This guy took things to the next level.

Elio Motor’s 3-wheeled mini-car priced at $7,000 for pre-orders – You might remember hearing about Elio Motors before. The company is known for crowdfunding its small, three-wheeled car that gets 84 mpg from a 3-cylinder engine, promising a price “around $6,800,” and remaining noncommittal on a release date. Well, Elio Motors has announced a new pricing scheme that somewhat overshoots that original price, but will still allow customers to pre-order the vehicle for a guaranteed price of $7,000, as long as they make a binding commitment to purchase one.


Australia: Census 2016: A case study in the confluence of failure – Rather than being its usual night of civic duty, the 2016 Australian Census was a failure of leadership, technology, and communications by government, the ABS, and IBM.

Does Trump Really Write All of His Tweets? – An data scientist analyzes Donald Trump’s Twitter account to determine which ones he writes himself.

The Secret to Learning a Foreign Language as an Adult – I’ve learned several foreign languages as an adult. I was able to learn French to conversation fluency in 17 days using the following techniques. Note that I had previously learned Spanish to fluency so this was not my first foreign language.

MIT and Microsoft Research made a ‘smart’ tattoo that remotely controls your phone – A group of PhD students from the MIT Media Lab and researchers from Microsoft Research have come up with the ultimate wearable: a temporary tattoo that can turn into a touchpad, remotely control your smartphone, or share data using NFC. The researchers say you can design a circuit using any graphic software, stamp out the tattoo in gold leaf (which is conductive to electricity), and then apply other commodity materials and components that would make the tattoo interactive.


How 4 universities are using 3D printing to create ears, cartilage and blood cells – Innovations in 3D bioprinting continue to shock this year, with announcements of exciting new projects around the US aiming to make medical treatment advances.

Is Undead Smallpox Reemerging From Siberian Graves? – As if the news that resurrected anthrax from thawed-out reindeer wasn’t bad enough, increasingly warming temperatures are prompting renewed fears that permafrost could thaw enough to unleash smallbox from remote Russian cemeteries. As The Siberian Times reports, this year the permafrost melt has been three times more extreme than usual above the Arctic Circle, causing erosion near graveyards of a town where smallpox wiped out 40 percent of the population decades ago. Yet, some scientists argue that it’s not the graves we should be worried about.

Something to think about:

“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

–      George Bernard Shaw

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FACEBOOK REMOVES POTENTIAL EVIDENCE OF POLICE BRUTALITY TOO READILY, ACTIVISTS SAY – AS MORE DETAILS emerge about last week’s killing by Baltimore County police of 23-year-old Korryn Gaines, activists have directed growing anger not only at local law enforcement but also at Facebook, the social media platform where Gaines posted parts of her five-hour standoff with police.

At the request of law enforcement, Facebook deleted Gaines’ account, as well her account on Instagram, which it also owns, during her confrontation with authorities. While many of her videos remain inaccessible, in one, which was re-uploaded to YouTube, an officer can be seen pointing a gun as he peers into a living room from behind a door, while a child’s voice is heard in the background. In another video, which remains on Instagram, Gaines can be heard speaking to her five-year-old son, who’s sitting on the floor wearing red pajamas.

“Who’s outside?” she asks him. “The police,” he replies timidly. “What are they trying to do?” “They trying to kill us.”

Statements made by officials in the days after the incident revealed little-known details of a “law enforcement portal” through which agencies can ask for Facebook’s collaboration in emergencies, a feature of the site that remains mostly obscure to the general public and which has been criticized following Gaines’ death.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – August 12, 2016

Test the security of your apps with;  10 killer PC upgrades that are shockingly cheap;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  12 of the best software utilities for your Mac;  Top 10 apps: the most downloads so far this year;  Windows 10: More free upgrade and activation questions answered;  McAfee outs malware dev firm with scores of installs;  Now even your sex toys are spying on you – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Test the security of your apps with –, which launched in public beta last week, offers detailed rundowns of the third party code libraries and software development kits used in an app, links to source code, and information about the app’s transport security enforcement settings and system APIs. For someone with a little bit of technical knowhow, it’s an information goldmine. But even if the world of SDKs and APIs is completely foreign to you, breaks down the important points so they’re easy to understand. For example, the page for Snapchat shows when the app will encrypt your content in transit and when it won’t. Although you probably expect Snapchat to access your location data and contact list, you might not know that Snapchat also has access to your calendar and can read telephone call-related information.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Windows 10, Microsoft’s back-to-basics re-embracing of the PC, is brimming with handy new features, and with all the new goodies come a legion of new tweaks and tricks—some of which unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Others simply let you mold some of Windows 10’s new features into the shape you see fit. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found, including a spate of fresh finds from August’s massive Anniversary Update.

10 killer PC upgrades that are shockingly cheap – Looking to put more pep in your PC’s step? These surprisingly cheap PC upgrades and accessories do the trick without breaking the bank.

Top 10 apps: These boast the most downloads so far this year – Survey Monkey has released its list of the most popular downloaded apps in the US on iOS and Android for the first six months of 2016. Pokemon Go was released in July so did not make it here.

12 of the best software utilities for your Mac – There’s little doubt that OS X ‘El Capitan’ is a fully-featured operating system that helps you to get a lot done, but by adding a few extra utilities will allow you get an awful lot more from the platform with very little extra effort.

10 must-have Android apps to make your Chromebook more useful – Ever since Google introduced Chrome OS on the CR-48 prototype laptop back in 2011, Chromebooks have relied on web apps and simple Chrome extensions to get things done. Now, Chromebooks are getting access to the Play Store with heaps of Android apps. Not all of them work well on Chromebooks, and others don’t really add to the experience, but some of them can give your Chromebook a big boost. We tested dozens of popular apps on an Acer R11 to see which are which—here are the ones you should install on your Chromebook.

Sick of NBC’s vapid Olympics coverage? Use Opera’s built-in VPN and you can watch the BBC’s coverage instead – A free, unlimited VPN feature within Opera’s latest developer browser makes watching the Olympics through the eyes of foreign broadcasters a snap.

I like the Olympics better without announcers – Probably like you, I’ve been watching quite a lot of the Olympics. Possibly unlike you, I’ve been watching very little on my TV. Why would I, when an app from NHK — Japan’s public broadcaster — is giving me such a better experience? What the NHK app, and other regional equivalents, do is untie themselves from the leash of traditional TV restrictions and offer video coverage of pretty much everything going on in Rio. This is usually just the raw footage provided to all official broadcasters around the world to do with what they see fit; NHK doesn’t have the budget nor the viewer interest to give each sport the full production treatment with commentary and on-site reporting, so most of these events are only able to be streamed unadorned by announcers or studio banter. Which, as it happens, I actually prefer.

Windows 10: More free upgrade and activation questions answered – Here are a few more answers to some nagging questions about Windows 10 upgrades and activation in the post-Anniversary-Update era.

Windows 10 tip: Find your PC’s original product key – If you’ve purchased a new PC with Windows pre-installed in the past few years, chances are it has a product key embedded in its BIOS. With a little PowerShell wizardry, you can find that well-hidden key and learn more about your current licensing status.

Adblock Plus has already defeated Facebook’s new ad blocking restrictions – Facebook’s plan to stop ad blockers has already been foiled. Adblock Plus has found a way to strip ads from Facebook, even when they’re served up in Facebook’s new ad blocker-proof format. Anyone with a fully updated version of Adblock Plus should once again be able to avoid ads in Facebook’s sidebar and News Feed. The method may be flawed, however: Facebook says that in its attempt to remove ads, Adblock Plus is also removing regular posts. “We’re disappointed that ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook as these new attempts don’t just block ads but also posts from friends and Pages,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “This isn’t a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue.”

Box extends its global push with new Zones in Canada and Australia – Box has made no secret of its global ambitions, and on Wednesday it advanced them another step by announcing two new regional “Zones” in Canada and Australia.

Facebook tweaks News Feed to show more informative stories to users – Facebook’s News Feed is an interesting beast, and it’s been receiving a lot of tweaking recently. From offering up personally relevant advertisements to limiting the number of clickbait articles that make it through, the News Feed has been changing quite a bit this summer. Facebook isn’t done with its adjustments, today announcing a new update that will hopefully show more relevant and informative stories to its users.

Microsoft Azure … in less than two minutes – Wondering what makes Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform unique? Find out in less than two minutes!


This App Helps You Pick Out the Right Strain of Medical Weed – The future of medical marijuana might be at your fingertips. PotBot, a mobile app developed by the company Potbotics, helps users find out the best weed for their body, and recommend the right strain of marijuana for your particular medical condition.

This New App Proves Mobile Payments Are a Mess – Retailers’ resistance to adopt Apple Pay and similar services is making life harder for customers.

Hands on: MyScript Nebo is what Windows Ink should be – MyScript’s Nebo app for Windows 10 transforms digital ink into text as you write, which is what Windows Ink needs to become. From editable text to equations, Nebo offers it all. And for a short time, it’s free.

Must-have essential smart office tech in 2016 – Office work doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom — and there are some interesting gadgets out there which can make your life more organized and efficient.


McAfee outs malware dev firm with scores of installs – McAfee says a software company with more than 50,000 downloads on sites such as is distributing web browser hijacking and fraud malware. Researcher Santosh Revankar says Lavians Inc is pushing the browser redirect and home page hijacker which creates seeming problems that the company then attempts to fix at a cost. The technique is straight out of the black hat fraud handbook and is used by low level and lowly web scum who take advantage of the proliferation of trash software to inject advertisements, and drop all manner of malware on user machines. Lavians Inc has 19 uploads currently hosted on and 24 on, along with applications on its own site.

Linux bug leaves USA Today, other top sites vulnerable to serious hijacking attacks – Computer scientists have discovered a serious Internet vulnerability that allows attackers to terminate connections between virtually any two parties and, if the connections aren’t encrypted, inject malicious code or content into the parties’ communications. The vulnerability resides in the design and implementation of RFC 5961, a relatively new Internet standard that’s intended to prevent certain classes of hacking attacks. In fact, the protocol is designed in a way that it can easily open Internet users to so-called blind off-path attacks, in which hackers anywhere on the Internet can detect when any two parties are communicating over an active transmission control protocol connection. Attackers can go on to exploit the flaw to shut down the connection, inject malicious code or content into unencrypted data streams, and possibly degrade privacy guarantees provided by the Tor anonymity network.

Why haven’t we seen the smartphone security apocalypse in iPhone and Android – Finally, the mobile security apocalypse is upon us. A recent BBC headline warned: “Android bug fear in 900 million phones.” For those of us who lived through Windows 95, widespread, catastrophic malware and security vulnerabilities were the norm, not the exception, which is why one of life’s great mysteries has been the apparent absence of massive mobile security threats. Despite everyone carrying around multitudinous attack vectors 24/7, when was the last time a friend or family member called you up to ask how to remove a virus on their phone? Something like the extremely destructive Chernobyl virus that plagued Windows 95? Probably never.

Microsoft Secure Boot key leak shows why backdoors are bad – There is an oft quoted adage called “Murphy’s Law” (not to be confused with Moore’s Law) that, simplified, goes like this: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Well, that proverbial thing may have just hit the fan, as far as Microsoft’s operating system and devices are concerned. The “golden key”, that is, a key to a hallowed backdoor, to Microsoft’s Secure Boot implementation has just been leaked. It’s a double-edged sword that allows power users to install operating systems and software on previously locked down devices but also gives unsavory characters the power to install malware such as rootkits and bootkits.

Thieves can wirelessly unlock up to 100 million Volkswagens, each at the press of a button – Security researchers will demonstrate how crooks can break into cars at will using wireless signals that can unlock millions of vulnerable vehicles. The hack can be used by thieves to wirelessly unlock as many as 100 million VW cars, each at the press of a button. Almost every vehicle the Volkswagen group has sold for the past 20 years – including cars badged under the Audi and Skoda brands – is potentially vulnerable, say the researchers. The problem stems from VW’s reliance on a “few, global master keys.”

Google makes Gmail safer with new security warnings to fight phishing – On Wednesday, Google announced security warnings that display if an email sender is authenticated, in its latest initiative to welcome business users to the app platform.

Now even your sex toys are spying on you – Fusion was first to report the story that the We-Vibe 4 Plus tells its maker, Standard Innovation Corporation, the exact time and date when the device is being used, its temperature, and the type of vibration mode being used. That data is said to be used for hardware diagnostics to ensure the device remains safe. There are two problems.

Company News:

Russia fines Google $6.75 million for pre-installing apps on Android (Less than what Google makes in an hour) – Google has been hit by a $6.75 million antitrust fine in Russia for requiring phone manufacturers to pre-install its apps on Android mobile devices. The majority of smartphones and tablets solid in Russia run on Android, and domestic search engine rival Yandex filed a complaint last year that the US company was abusing its position. The fine itself is small — less than what the company makes in an hour, notes Recode — but the decision shows increasing enmity to Google in Europe.

Bleeping Computer countersues maker of SpyHunter – Bleeping Computer, a longstanding popular discussion forum that helps people rid their computers of malware, has now countersued Enigma Software Group (ESG), which makes an antivirus software known as SpyHunter. Bleeping now claims that ESG has been violating Bleeping’s trademarks by registering new domain names that include “bleepingcomputer” and posting some of the company’s webpage’s source code on other websites without its authorization, among other allegations. ESG had sued Bleeping for libel earlier this year over a series of messages that it claims disparaged SpyHunter and the company as a whole.

Macy’s will close 100 stores so it can spend more on digital tech – The retailer on Thursday said it’s working to align its in-store and online shopping experiences by allocating more funds to its digital businesses and ongoing stores. There will also be a greater focus on digital technology, including natural language search capabilities, improved online ordering and fulfillment systems, capacity building on its sites and mobile apps, and an upgrade to its “Buy Online, Pickup in Store” service. Macy’s is also planning to close around 100 stores in order to focus spending on its highest-growth-potential locations and new digital tech.

Acer sees net profit surge as operating income heads south – Acer has released its financial results for the second quarter of the year, reporting an operating loss of NT$279 million. The result comes after the PC maker pulled an NT$866 million operating profit in quarter one. Revenue for this quarter was NT$56.1 billion, down from NT$60 billion in the same quarter last year. Realised gross profit also saw a 19 percent decrease quarter-on-quarter, coming in at NT$5.4 billion. The non-operating income of NT$1.05 billion was largely due to foreign exchange gains, Acer said, while net income — profit after tax — reached NT$538 million, up from NT$2 million at the same time last year.

Nvidia touts record revenue on Q2 earnings beat – Graphics chipmaker Nvidia easily topped second quarter earnings targets Thursday after the bell. As for the numbers, Nvidia reported a net income of $253 million, or 40 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 53 cents per share on a revenue of $1.43 billion, up 24 percent year-over-year. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 37 cents per share with $1.35 billion in revenue.

London transport authority defends English language test for Uber drivers – Uber says the level of English required to be a private hire driver in London will put “thousands” out of work.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft is buying a company that lets viewers control video game live streams – Today, Microsoft announced its plans to acquire live streaming service Beam, a Seattle-based company that lets users influence and interact with a video game being streamed by another player. Beam launched in January to compete against well-established game streaming services from Twitch and YouTube. It set itself apart by taking a core concept made popular by streamers — the notion of letting players control a game from afar — and turning into a unique streaming platform.

Reviewed: No Man’s Sky doesn’t live up to the hype, but it does provide a unique thrill – The most hyped game of the year is a bit of a letdown, especially after you realize the planets all share some similarities. It’s also a brilliant match for sci-fi lovers.

Reach the limits of No Man’s Sky with these tips and tricks – No Man’s Sky, the grandest procedurally generated, astronomically massive open world game around, is here. In it, you’ll be mining and crafting (not unlike that other massive procedurally generated open-world game) so you can upgrade your ship, get better gear, and keep trekking the stars. With 18 quintillion planet-sized planets there’s a lot of ground to cover, and if you’re going to go trekking out to the black, you might need some tips to get you started. Here are our best suggestions for players who are just getting started on their own adventures into the great unknown.

Minecraft for Oculus Rift launches next week – We heard in late July that Minecraft for Oculus Rift would be available soon, and now we have a more specific time frame: it will be available next week, leaving only a precious few days of waiting. The information comes from Mojang’s Tommaso Checchi who works on the Minecraft Pocket Edition. According to a tweet from Checchi published a couple days ago, the Oculus Rift version is finished and ready to go live.

Off Topic (Sort of):

17 Ways Tech Could Land You in Jail (Or Worse) – Living in a connected world often bestows a false sense of freedom. Your computer monitor and smartphone screen do not protect you from laws governing privacy, security, or harassment, of course, but sometimes, tech-related activity you thought was legit might land you in a whole lot of trouble. When we unbox a new gadget or download an app, we often hastily discard or dismiss the accompanying pages of dry documentation and fine print. But those pages may come back to haunt us as a lawsuit if they’re not properly heeded.

Online sales of illicit drugs triple since Silk Road closure – Copycats sprang up within weeks of the feds shuttering the online illegal-drug marketplace in 2013, new research finds.

Xbox One S gets its own XBOOK ONE S laptop mod – Well that was quick. The Xbox One S is barely just a few days old in the market and, as expected, it is already getting its first serious mod. Yes, the now famous (among avid gamers, at least) Ed Zarick is at it again, turning what is billed as the smallest Xbox ever into perhaps the most portable Xbox ever. Ed has finished designing and creating the first XBOOK ONE S laptop and is opening the doors to customers who want to enjoy console gaming without being stuck at home. Too much.


Inside the IBM PC 5150: The first-ever IBM PC – 35 years ago (today), IBM launched the most influential commercial computer system of all time, the IBM PC 5150. Over the past three and a half decades, architectural descendants of this single machine have taken over the desktop, workstation, server, and even game console markets. And despite inroads from ARM-based smartphones, its digital descendants are still relied upon for just about all the heavy lifting in the computer industry. On the anniversary of such a monumentally important computer, I thought it would be instructive to take a deeper look into the machine that started it all. How? By taking apart one of these bad boys on my trusty workbench, of course. And that’s exactly what you’ll see in the slides ahead.


Snapchat Doesn’t Think Its ‘Yellowface’ Filter Is Racist – We can all agree that Snapchat filters have four primary objectives: to make you look hotter, uglier, fun, or weird as shit. But you know what they shouldn’t do? Paint you as a racist caricature ripped straight out of World War II propaganda. Apparently, Snapchat hasn’t gotten that memo. Yesterday, the four-year-old company was called out by Twitter users for its derogatory “anime” filter that layered slanted eyes, buckteeth, and rounded cheeks over people’s faces, according to Mic. Snapchat has removed the lens, but its digital imprint left many Asians and Asian Americans feeling like targets of casual racism.


City-funded broadband just lost a big fight in court – Some city-funded broadband networks may be in trouble after a U.S. appeals court struck down Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibited states from restricting those projects. The FCC has no authority from Congress to prohibit state laws that limit municipal funding of broadband networks, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said in a decision released Wednesday.

Slack is now selling emoji-based temporary tattoos – Have you ever looked at an emoji and wished you could print it on your flesh in the style of classic American tattoos? If you answer yes, then Slack has good news for you. The company has added a pack of temporary tattoos to its online store. The tattoos were designed by tattoo artist Jessi Preston and come in sets of half a dozen. This is the latest item in Slack’s online store for physical goods.


Why Arianna Huffington left the Huffington Post – Huffington’s press release says she left because she had decided she couldn’t work at both HuffPo and also launch Thrive Global, her new “corporate and consumer well-being and productivity” startup. “I thought it would be possible to build a startup and continue as editor in chief of the Huffington Post,” Huffington says in a statement. “Today, it’s clear that was an illusion.” That’s a turnaround from a couple months ago, when she announced her plans to launch Thrive while continuing to run HuffPo, which she launched 11 years ago and sold to AOL five years ago. A more realistic explanation, according to a person familiar with her new venture, is that things have changed at Verizon, which bought AOL last year and is now going to swallow up Yahoo.

Top US Marine says smartphone society has made soldiers soft – General Robert B. Neller, commandant of the US Marines Corps, says soldiers may need to leave their phones at home.

Something to think about:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge…”

–    Albert Einstein

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Internet Doesn’t Route Around Surveillance – One of the most famous quotes about the web says that “the Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” But what about surveillance? Is it possible to make the internet route around spying?

In the last few years, especially after revelations of pervasive monitoring by the NSA and its British sister spy agency the GCHQ, some countries, Brazil being the most vocal, have publicly announced their intentions to avoid sending internet traffic to the US and the UK in an effort to dodge surveillance.

As it turns out, all internet pipes lead to surveillance. Or, at least, it’s really hard—if not impossible—to avoid routing web traffic through surveillance states like the United States, according to a recent paper by a group of Princeton University researchers.

Judge blasts DOJ’s refusal to explain stingray use in attempted murder case – At a Monday hearing in federal court, US Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu had strong words for prosecutors in an attempted murder and gang case that has dragged on for nearly three years.

“It is stunning to me that at this point in the case, the government cannot tell me very clearly what search has been done and what exists or does not exist, relevant to a stingray,” she said with exasperation.

As Ars reported over a year ago, the case of United States v. Ellis et al involves four men who are charged with the 2013 attempted murder of local police officer Eric Karsseboom. The men are also charged with running an alleged East Oakland gang centered around Seminary Avenue (known as “SemCity”).

But in the process of locating lead defendant Purvis Ellis on the night of January 20, 2013, the Oakland Police Department may have unintentionally opened up a way to challenge evidence in the case. How? Due to the warrantless use of a stingray, or cell-site simulator.

Since Ars last reported on the story, the government has admitted in court filings earlier this year that, not only did the Oakland Police Department have a stingray at the scene, so did the FBI.

Judge tosses suit accusing Twitter of providing material support to ISIS – A US District Judge in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit against Twitter that claimed the social networking platform had provided “material support” to terrorists from ISIS. An American woman whose husband was working as a contractor in Jordan filed the suit after her husband and several others were shot and killed by a terrorist who allegedly was inspired by extremist propaganda disseminated on Twitter.

The lawsuit, Fields v. Twitter, claimed that Twitter violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by providing Twitter accounts to the terrorist group.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – August 10, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Watch out for these nasty surprises;  Microsoft rolls out several new Windows 10 cumulative updates;  Why Tor and privacy may no longer be synonymous;  Facebook will start showing ads even if you have an ad blocker;  Hulu will soon end its free streaming options;  4 essential Android add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets;  Google Chrome puts Flash to pasture starting next month;  Surprise: a lot of smart locks have terrible security  –  and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Watch out for these nasty surprises – Windows 10 users are getting the first major update to the operating system in just under a year, with the release of the Anniversary Update. But alongside the new features and fixes are some more unwelcome changes, ranging from less control for users to frozen machines. Here are the main gotchas to look out for, as well as some fixes.

Microsoft rolls out several new Windows 10 cumulative updates – Microsoft is making a number of fixes and reliability and performance improvements available across a variety of different flavors of Windows 10 via new Cumulative Updates.

How to adjust your AutoPlay settings in Windows 10 – Control how AutoPlay responds to various removable media in Windows, so you can enjoy the feature’s convenience while minimizing the risk to your PC’s security.

11 Much-Hyped Tech Features That Aren’t Worth the Money – Not all tech features are created equal. These nine aren’t worth the extra cash.

Why Tor and privacy may no longer be synonymous – Many security experts and tech journalists for years have been championing Tor, a platform designed to prevent network traffic analysis (a surveillance technique) as a means to securely share sensitive information over public networks without compromising the sender’s privacy. However, these same pundits (including me) are now warning that government agencies, including the FBI, are finding ways to circumvent the technology behind Tor. Knowing that might, and should, give pause to those who use and rely on Tor. Adding more fuel to the fire are two researchers at Northeastern University: Guevara Noubir, professor of computer and information science, and Amirali Sanatinia, Ph.D. student.

Facebook will start showing ads even if you have an ad blocker – It is not an unreasonable position — Facebook is free to use, completely optional, and funded by advertisements — but the change is likely to tick off those who find ads frustrating enough to block. To remedy that, Facebook is giving users the ability to block ads from certain businesses, as well as ads that pertain to various interests, “like travel or cats.” Its hope is that by letting users remove unwanted ads and only receive more personalized ones, the ads it does show will be far less annoying.

4 essential Android add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets – Create mobile apps, e-sign documents, and more right from your phone with these third-party enhancements.

Soon, All Twitter Users Will be Able to Create Moments – Twitter on Tuesday announced it is expanding its Moments feature to a larger group of partners, brands, and “influencers,” like civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson. And, more exciting than that: in the coming months, all Twitter users will be able to create their own Moments, which, for the uninitiated, are essentially collections of tweets that tell a story. Until now, only Twitter’s curation team and a small group of publishing partners (like BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and Major League Baseball) have been able to create Moments.

Hulu will soon end its free streaming options – Hulu will reportedly stop offering free video, but the streaming service’s users still be able to find some of Hulu’s free shows thanks to a new business partnership with Yahoo. In the next few days, Hulu will begin notifying customers of a plan to “shutter its offering of no-cost, ad-supported television and movies,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote today. Hulu has already de-emphasized its free offerings, attempting to push customers toward subscription plans that cost $8 to $12 a month.

Google is rolling out a Wi-Fi-only mode for Maps on Android – Back in July, Google began testing a new feature that would allow users to enable a Wi-Fi-only mode for Maps, which would help those with limited or expensive data plans avoid overages. Well apparently the tests went well, as Google has started rolling out the addition to Google Maps on Android. Wi-Fi-only mode can be toggled on in settings and will limit the app to only working with your saved offline areas unless you’re connected over Wi-Fi, while the rest of your device operates as normal. Maps for Android is also picking up SD card support, allowing you to download those offline maps without eating up your local storage.

How to set up Google Family Sharing to share apps, books, movies, and more – Here’s what you need to know about Google Play’s new scheme to make all of its content easier to share.

Netflix’s speed test tool is now on iOS and Android – Netflix launched an internet speed test at back in May, and this week it rolled out dedicated apps for the tool on iOS and Android. While the apps are identical to the website, Fast’s launch as an app could go a long way toward getting people to use it. And that’s a big part of the goal here: the more people using Fast, the more data Netflix has on where internet service providers are doing a poor job. There’s good reason to pick Fast over other speed tests, too. Service providers are well aware of certain popular testing sites, and they can optimize their network to perform better on those specific tests.

Inbox for Gmail adds Trello, GitHub, and Google Alerts summaries – Inbox for Gmail has become a little more organized starting today, assuming you get notifications from Trello, GitHub, or Google Alerts. Those who use Trello, for example, will find a summary of their projects in their Gmail inbox, making it easier to see the projects’ status in one place. Similarly, GitHub users will see a summary detailing issues and code changes in repositories and Google Alerts users will see alerts grouped together.

Google Chrome puts Flash to pasture starting next month – There really is no stopping Flash’s demise. Not when all the major browsers have ganged up on it. The latest to pull the plug is Google’s Chrome, which is kickstarting the process to Flash’s exit from the Web scene starting in September. Of course, that doesn’t mean that annoying ads, especially video ones, will be going away forever, though some will undoubtedly see some downtime on Chrome browsers. It just means that, eventually, they will be taking on a more resource efficient, standards compliant form.


Kaspersky Lab offers free anti-ransomware tool for Windows – Kaspersky recently teamed with Intel Security, Europol, and the Dutch Police to launch No More Ransom, a free online portal which provides keys to unlocking encrypted files, as well as information on how to avoid getting infected in the first place. Kaspersky Lab’s tool combines two technologies: the cloud-based Kaspersky Security Network, which processes data of voluntarily participants across the globe, and System Watcher, a security technology that records and analyses network events, along with providing evidence of malicious activity.

Surprise: a lot of smart locks have terrible security – As I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, the security of these devices is often inadequate. This week at DEF CON, two researchers, Anthony Rose and Ben Ramsey, emphasized this point by demonstrating how they easily compromised 12 different Bluetooth Low Energy smart locks using cheap hardware that cost around $200 altogether. Some devices, including the Quicklock Doorlock & Padlock and the iBluLock Padlock, stored passwords in plain text. Anyone with a Bluetooth sniffer could gain access. Other locks, including the Ceomate Bluetooth Smart Doorlock and the Elecycle EL797, were vulnerable to replay attacks, which means the researchers grabbed data over the air when a legitimate user unlocked the lock, and they then just replayed that data to gain access. Some of the other attacks were a bit more intricate, although still fairly basic.

Website for Australian census 2016 attacked, ABS says – THE minister responsible for the Census has denied that the national survey was “hacked” or “attacked”, despite public statements from the Australian Bureau of Statistics claiming otherwise. In an overdue press conference this morning after more than 12 hours of confusion, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack said: “This was not an attack, nor was it a hack. “It was an attempt to frustrate the collection of data, an attempt to frustrate the collection of data. People should feel rest assured their data is safe.” This directly contradicts tweets and a press release issued by the ABS this morning, which stated there were four “attacks”. (recommended by Mal C.)

Android’s ‘Verify Apps’ feature may keep QuadRooter threats at bay – Yesterday we told you about a rather scary set of vulnerabilities that could potentially threaten as many as 900 million Android devices. Known as “QuadRooter,” the set of four vulnerabilities was discovered in Qualcomm drivers, lending to how widespread the threat is. However, today we’re getting confirmation that a feature introduced way back in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean could stop QuadRooter in its tracks, and it was designed specifically for scenarios like this.

Researchers crack open unusually advanced malware that hid for 5 years – The malware—known alternatively as “ProjectSauron” by researchers from Kaspersky Lab and “Remsec” by their counterparts from Symantec—has been active since at least 2011 and has been discovered on 30 or so targets. Its ability to operate undetected for five years is a testament to its creators, who clearly studied other state-sponsored hacking groups in an attempt to replicate their advances and avoid their mistakes. State-sponsored groups have been responsible for malware like the Stuxnet- or National Security Agency-linked Flame, Duqu, and Regin. Much of ProjectSauron resides solely in computer memory and was written in the form of Binary Large Objects, making it hard to detect using antivirus.

Data theft rises sharply, insiders to blame – A new survey exploring the main causes of corporate data breaches suggests that three out of four organizations in the US have been hit with the loss or theft of sensitive data in the last two years — and insiders are usually the ones at fault. According to the researchers involved in the study, rising data breach and information loss is often due in part to compromised employee accounts, which is further exacerbated by staff and third parties having access to more sensitive information than they need. In addition, the “continued failure” by businesses to properly monitor access and activity around email and file systems is to blame.

Follow a Trail of Twitter Porn Bots and This Is Where They’ll Take You – Everyone has probably come across a Twitter porn bot at some point. You go to check your notifications, someone called “Viola13” has liked your tweet, and she wants you to check out her latest sexy pics, or something. Tired of the alerts from fake accounts, I decided to dig into a few that had recently interacted with my tweets, curious as to where all these bots were coming from. Who were all these attractive women, some with the same profile picture, and why were they so fascinated with my Twitter stream? What I found was a network of over a dozen interlinked dodgy-looking dating websites, just a click or two away from the porn bot underbelly of Twitter.

Company News:

Lyft starts selling $20 physical gift cards at Starbucks – On demand ride provider Lyft is getting physical – creating actual gift cards with $20 in ride credit that people can buy beginning today at participating Starbucks stores across the U.S. The cards also come with a $5 Starbucks gift card as a free bonus, and Lyft passengers will also start being able to earn Starbucks Reward Stars by riding. This isn’t Lyft’s first tie-up with Starbucks: The ride-sharing provider teamed up with the coffee seller first in July 2015, when a multi-year deal kicked off with Lyft drivers getting the chance to opt in to Gold Level status int he old My Starbucks Reward program. Drivers could also receives Starbucks virtual gift cards as tips from riders. The two are also testing a program (Lyft confirms the test continues) in the Bay Area where Starbucks employees would get free rides from work starting late at night and continuing until early AM.

Facebook is testing a new Wi-Fi service in India – Facebook’s latest effort to provide people with internet so they can become Facebook users is taking shape as Express Wifi, a new program that lets phone owners in India purchase data from local internet service providers. Effectively, Facebook is providing software that helps local ISPs and entrepreneurs sell and provide internet service in rural areas, which can be accessed via public Wi-Fi hotspots. Express Wifi has already completed a trial period in the country with a local state-run telecom and about 125 rural Wi-Fi hotspots, according to the BBC. This is Facebook’s second attempt to provide connections for one of the world’s most populous and fast-growing countries.

Disney will invest $1B into MLB’s streaming video business – The Walt Disney Company just announced that it’s paying $1 billion for a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, the video streaming company created by Major League Baseball. As a result of the deal, BAMTech is also spinning out of MLB’s broader digital media business, MLB Advanced Media. BAMTech’s clients aren’t limited to baseball (they include HBO Now, the National Hockey League, the PGA Tour and the WWE Network), and Disney says it will be working on its own streaming efforts with the company. In fact, those efforts will include a new multi-sport subscription service from Disney-owned ESPN.

AT&T to Pay $7.75M For Phone Bill Scam – AT&T will pay $7.75 million to settle an FCC investigation into whether the company added unauthorized cell phone charges to customers’ bills. According to the FCC, the carrier allowed scammers to charge approximately $9 per month for a sham directory assistance service.

Games and Entertainment:

You can now play more than 2,000 Amiga games in your browser – In its latest tribute to retro gaming, the Internet Archive has uploaded a treasure trove of games, applications, and demos for the Amiga family of computers. You can play all of them for free, directly in your browser, but be warned — you might run into a few glitchy titles. There are more than 2,000 games online, including classics such as Bubble Bobble, R Type, and Double Dragon. However, our searching couldn’t find a number of well-loved Amiga titles, such as Elite, Cannon Fodder, and The Secret of Monkey Island (all of which were available on other platforms as well). There are also thousands more applications and demo titles, designed to shown off the hardware’s capabilities, though, of course, we’ve not had time to look through them all.

No Man’s Sky is an immersive wonder for solitary wanderers – The change in perception you experience as a player coming back to your ship after a long trip on foot for the first time in No Man’s Sky is astounding.


Pokemon GO update tries to prevent driving while playing – Niantic has pushed out another Pokemon GO update, and first among the changes is an effort to curb driving while playing. After updating, players will be reminded not to play Pokemon GO if they’re “traveling above a certain speed,” per Niantic’s wording. The game will require the player to confirm they aren’t driving in order to keep playing, presumably when the game detects they’re going over that ‘certain speed.’ As well, the update fixes some more bugs, enables nickname changes, and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Myth busted: Older workers are just as tech-savvy as younger ones, says new survey – We’ve seen them in movies for years: The bumbling, out-of-touch older person at the office who just can’t figure out how to turn on a computer or send a text. Contrary to this pervasive stereotype, a recent Dropbox survey of more than 4,000 IT workers found that people over age 55 are actually less likely than their younger colleagues to find using tech in the workplace stressful. On average, people 55 and up used 4.9 forms of technology per week, compared to the overall average of 4.7 per week, the survey found. Only 13% of respondents aged 55 and older reported having trouble working with multiple devices, compared to 37% of 18-to-34-year olds. Despite their evident tech skills, workers in all age groups tended to believe that older workers were slower to adopt new technology, with 59% of 18-34 year olds reporting feeling this way.

An Amateur’s Guide to Taking Photos of the Perseid Meteor Shower – Get your cameras ready, astro-nerds: This week brings a regular highlight to space-gazing with the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, and it’s expected to be a particularly good one this year. Watching the meteor shower isn’t difficult—go out at night, away from streetlights and clouds, allow 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust, and look up. Getting a picture, though slightly trickier, doesn’t have to require hugely professional kit.


Why privacy is the killer app – Companies are consuming, processing, amassing and analyzing massive volumes of consumer data to help marketers advertise, personalize, predict and convert browsers into buyers. Add to that the inevitable explosive growth of internet connected “things” and the speed at which artificial intelligence is maturing to help interpret massive amounts of data and make decisions. It’s clear that the era of data-driven marketing is just getting started. Whether this is a utopian or dystopian view of the future depends on your perspective. For marketers, the availability of data is a dream. For the general public, the aftershock of Edward Snowden’s revelations about government surveillance has created a growing awareness and concern about how personal data is used. Privacy is rapidly becoming the defining issue of the digital era.

Humans Have Used All the Earth’s Resources for the Year – As of yesterday, we’ve officially overspent nature’s resource budget, according to the Global Footprint Network, an international climate research organization. Metaphorically speaking, if Earth were a bank, we’d be in over our heads with overdraft fees. This year, “Earth Overshoot Day” fell on August 8, based on measurements of each nation’s withdrawal of natural capital. From carbon sinks to fisheries, humanity has taken more from nature than it’s been able to reproduce. Quite simply, we’re in environmental debt.

Twitter explodes over Trump Second Amendment ‘joke’ – Technically Incorrect: An aside made by the Republican candidate was interpreted by many as suggesting the assassination of his Democratic opponent.

Something to think about:

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”

–      Eric Hoffer

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Local Police In Canada Used ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Device Without a Warrant – For years, Canadian police have successfully kept their use of controversial and indiscriminate surveillance devices called IMSI catchers a secret.

Today, for the first time, and thanks to a year-long effort by a coalition of civil rights organizations and Vancouver-based Pivot Legal Society, we know that at least one local police force in Canada has used an IMSI catcher, also referred to as a “Stingray”: the Vancouver PD.

According to the BC Civil Liberties Association, which posted a blog announcing the news on Monday, the Vancouver police used an IMSI catcher once, nearly a decade ago, and without a warrant.

“We sent a letter asking the Vancouver police if they’d ever used one of the RCMP’s IMSI catchers, and if they would again,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BCCLA. “The answer to both questions was yes.”

The police force claimed that the surveillance device was used under “exigent circumstances,” Vonn said, meaning that there was an imminent threat that couldn’t wait for a warrant to be dealt with. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the Vancouver police maintained in May of this year that they possess no records relating to their use of IMSI catchers.

FBI chief Comey: “We have never had absolute privacy” – FBI Director James Comey has some phones—650 of them, to be exact—that he’d really, really like to take a look at.

Right now, the FBI can’t read the data on those phones, because it’s encrypted. For Comey, that’s a problem. In remarks to the American Bar Association on Friday, he made it clear this is an issue he intends to bring up before Congress next year.

While nothing other than the election will get politicians’ attention during the next few months, Comey told the audience that he intends to gather data about how the problem of encryption, which he calls “going dark,” is affecting his agents’ work. Then, he’ll present the findings to Congress.

“I love encryption,” he said. “I love it. It not only protects me personally, it protects the FBI from theft, and stalking, and threatening. It is a great thing for all of us. I also love public safety, and being able to solve terrorism cases and child pornography cases. We can have an informed conversation as a democracy about what to do about it. A democracy should not drift to a place.”

Court: Feds must get warrant to search e-mail, even if cops find child porn – A federal appeals court in Denver has ruled that e-mailed images obtained by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children constituted a warrantless search and therefore must be suppressed as part of a child pornography case.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Friday in favor of a Kansas man who sent an e-mail in April 2013 with four attachments that included suspected child porn via his AOL account. AOL immediately flagged the message via its hash value matching algorithm, believing one of the attached images was suspect, and sent them all on to NCMEC. (Providers have a “duty to report” to the NCMEC if their users access, transmit, or store child pornography.) The agency then opened his message and confirmed that Walter Ackerman had indeed attempted to transmit not just one, but four illegal images.

The following month, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent got the tip through the NCMEC system, and he sought and received a warrant to search Ackerman’s home in Lebanon, Kansas. Under questioning, Ackerman admitted to distributing child pornography via e-mail. Months later, Ackerman was formally indicted on two counts of child pornography. His lawyers filed a motion to suppress in February 2014, arguing that his e-mail was searched illegally. Ackerman eventually accepted a plea deal in September 2014. Although he was sentenced to 170 months in prison, he was kept out of custody pending an appeal on the Fourth Amendment question.

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