Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – August 1, 2016

Still Get Windows 10 for Free After 29th July;  How to control your Android device from Chrome with Vysor;  10 apps that can make life easier for teachers;  Instagram is building the anti-harassment tools Twitter won’t;  Backing up to the cloud? Read the fine print;  SwiftKey bug leaked emails and other personal information;  The dangerous cost of ‘free’ Wi-Fi;  Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi calling – and much more news you need to know.

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A Jim Hillier article: Still Get Windows 10 for Free After 29th July – Back in May this year Microsoft announced that the free upgrade offer would continue after July 29th for customers using assistive technologies. This decision was made to allow more time for assistive technology providers to overcome any potential incompatibilities. Microsoft has now launched the free upgrade path for assistive technology users via a dedicated website. Some may see this as a sneaky tactic to keep the free upgrade offer going past the original July 29th cutoff date. However, I’m pretty sure Microsoft has left this open because there are so many different types of assistive technologies involved and the company recognized how difficult, if not impossible, managing it all would become otherwise, plus perhaps to avoid the risk of a backlash by inadvertently leaving any disabled user out of the loop.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Everything you need to know – Microsoft’s biggest update to Windows 10 is set to drop August 2. Here’s what you need to know to get ready for the big day.

5 important things to know before a last-minute Windows 10 upgrade – Make sure if you upgrade to Windows 10 you remember these important factors, which could make all of the difference.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update reaches Release Preview milestone – In the last step before its official rollout to the public on August 2, Microsoft has begun delivering Windows 10 version 1607 to the Release Preview branch of the Windows Insider program.

10 apps that can make life easier for teachers – Technology is transforming education just like it’s changing the rest of the world. Mobile devices and laptops are common sights in the modern classroom, and as every teacher knows they can be a bane just as much as a boon. The simple fact is that they aren’t going away, so you may as well start using them to your advantage. Here are 10 apps that are designed for teachers and students that can help you make use of the tech that’s all around you.

How to control your Android device from Chrome with Vysor – If you get tired of jumping back and forth between your desktop and your Android smartphone, stop what you’re doing and read carefully. With the help of an easy to use Chrome extension and Android app called Vysor, you can display and interact with that Android device right from your desktop. This means you can type from your desktop keyboard and work much more efficiently. I’m going to walk you through the steps of installing and using Vysor.

Google wants to be your hub for the Rio Olympics – Google today announced a set of new features to help people follow the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which begin this week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Users can now more easily find information on the Olympics in search, including details on event schedules, athletes, and medal counts, and can sign up for automatic alerts through the Google app for Android and iOS. They can also watch event highlights from select broadcasters in more than 60 countries on YouTube, along with mobile live streams from 15 YouTube Creators who have been chosen to cover the games. Google Street View now features highlights and landmarks across Rio as well, including both tourist destinations and Olympic venues. The company announced the features in a blog post published Monday.

Google Maps for iOS gets multi-stop road trip capability – iOS users with Google Maps on their devices haven’t been able to use something that Android users of Google Maps have taken for granted for a while in the form of the ability to setup navigation for road trips that have more than one stop. iOS users can now make those multi stop road trips using the iOS Google Maps apps so you can route yourself to stores, restaurants, or other points of interest on your way to your final destination.

Reverse image searching made easy – TinEye and Google Image Search are both good for doing reverse image searches, and the two websites are different enough to be complementary. But there are other options including browser extensions and smartphone apps.

Instagram is building the anti-harassment tools Twitter won’t – Instagram has been building a series of anti-harassment tools and plans to roll some of them out to all users in the coming weeks. According to The Washington Post, Instagram will let each user create their own banned words list, which will stop unwanted comments from being posted on their photos. Users may also gain the ability to turn comments off on a photo-by-photo basis, so someone could potentially disable comments entirely if they wanted to. While harassment on Instagram hasn’t been as much of a story as harassment on other social networks, like Twitter, the development of these tools is still a big deal.

Philips’ new Health Watch tackles chronic disease instead of fitness – Inside the $250 watch is a Philips-developed continuous optical heart rate monitor, as well as an accelerometer. In addition to basic metrics like steps, calories, and heart rate, this sensor also tracks resting heart rate, resting respiration rate, active time, sedentary time, and sleep. Even though the Health Watch is not a fitness device, it can automatically track running, walking, and biking so you don’t have to manually start tracking those exercises. The watch’s heart rate monitor is smart enough to know when your heart rate is consistently high, so it will register when you’re doing other kinds of workouts as well.

Backing up to the cloud? Read the fine print – Some things never change. Back in July 2007 I had a “mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more” moment regarding cloud based file backup services. One thing that backups are supposed to protect against is deleting a file by accident. Yet, multiple reviews at the time (Wall Street Journal, Ars Technica and the New York Times) failed to consider this.

Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi calling – Wi-Fi calling is nothing new; apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp make it easier to use a phone to place calls and send texts over the internet and forgo mobile networks altogether. Carriers are also adopting Wi-Fi calling themselves. Whether it’s because they want to bolster their network coverage or improve user experience, several networks have phones that have this service baked in. To help you make sense of what Wi-Fi calling is, why it’s important and what you can use it for, CNET put together a handy guide to walk you through everything you need to know.

Security:

New Android Trojan SpyNote leaks on underground forums – A new and potent Android Trojan has been leaked on several underground forums, making it available for free to less resourceful cybercriminals who are now likely to use it in attacks.

iOS Pangu Jailbreak accused of unauthorized credit card access – Jailbreaking iOS gets a lot harder with every new release, so when a popular jailbreaking tool like Pangu releases one for the current iOS 9.3.3, there is unsurprisingly no small amount of rejoicing and excitement around it. Unfortunately, it seems that the euphoria was premature, as a number of jailbreakers discovered to their shock that there have been unauthorized accesses to critical private information, like credit cards, PayPal, and Facebook after they have jailbroken their iOS devices using the tool released by Pangu. Most of the accesses were traced back to China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, but could also just have been the result of proxies.

Serious privacy flaws discovered in Glow fertility tracker app – There are scores of startups making fertility tracker and family planning apps today, but a Consumer Reports investigation has singled out Glow Inc. for serious security and privacy flaws. First, Consumer Reports’ team was able to access very personal information including data and comments about users’ sex lives, history of miscarriages, abortions and more, through a privacy loophole having to do with the way the app allowed couples to link their accounts and share data. Additionally, Consumer Reports found that Pregnancy Glow community forums transmitted personal data about its users including their full name, e-mail address, approximate location, birthdate and number of other health details they’d logged within the app.

The dangerous cost of ‘free’ Wi-Fi – So you go to a political convention. Do a little politicking and listen to some speeches. While taking a break from the handshaking and schmoozing you decide to do a little work on your laptop. Then you get hacked.

SwiftKey bug leaked emails and other personal information – People use SwiftKey because it helps predict the words they’re trying to type, and usually, the service works pretty well. However, over the past week, some users reported that their keyboards were populating with other people’s email addresses and searched phrases. The bug relates back to SwiftKey’s cloud sync service, which has since been suspended. The incorrect predictions spawned multiple Reddit threads. In one, an English speaker was getting someone else’s German suggestions; in another, someone received NSFW porn search suggestions.

Tor may remain anonymous, thanks to Selfrando – In response to the FBI’s ability to bypass Tor, security researchers are beefing up the Tor Browser to keep those who use the Tor Network anonymous.

Chinese hackers take down Vietnam airport systems – Chinese hackers have reportedly compromised announcement systems at major airports in Vietnam. According to local media Tuoi Tre News, on Friday, flight information screens at both Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City were compromised, resulting in the display of profanity and offensive messages in English against Vietnam and the Philippines. Glitches and errors were also noticed at other airports.

Company News:

Microsoft will lay off 2,850 more people this year – Microsoft revealed Thursday that 2,850 people will lose their jobs by the middle of 2017, on top of the 1,850 cuts that Microsoft announced earlier this year.

Facebook: We will fight IRS over billions in possible owed back taxes – Facebook has formally informed its investors that it could be on the hook for billions more in back taxes if the Internal Revenue Service’s legal efforts are successful. This notice comes weeks after federal investigators asked a judge in California to force Facebook to open up its financial and business records for 2010—the year that the social networking giant established a subsidiary in Ireland largely for tax reasons.

Made in China: The coming iPhone apocalypse – Today it’s the $100 value handset. Tomorrow it will be the $200 premium smartphone. There’s nothing left for the traditional device OEMs with those kind of margins. Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi and Lenovo are coming, and Apple and Samsung can’t stop them.

Uber is planning on investing $500 million to map the world’s roads – Uber relies heavily on Google’s extensive maps, but it appears that the ride share company is getting ready to stand on their own. According to The Financial Times, it is planning to invest half a billion dollars into creating its own worldwide maps, a crucial step towards using autonomous cars. The Financial Times reported that the company is looking to “pour $500m into an ambitious global mapping project,” which would allow the company to create their own detailed maps.

Uber China gives up fight, will merge with local player, Didi Chuxing – Uber Technologies has decided to cooperate rather than compete in China, with the ride-hailing app company set to announce a merger of its local operation with arch-rival Didi Chuxing, the largest ride-hailing company in the country.

Sony financials reveal PlayStation accounts for 78 percent of profits – Sony Corporation has detailed its financial results for the three-month period spanning April 1 to June 30. The Game & Network Services division, under which PlayStation operates, was revealed to be one of its strongest, having reported increases in both sales and profit. During the period, the G&NS division cited sales at $3.2 billion, which is a 14 percent improvement over the same period in 2015. Operating income was $427 million, which is a 126 percent increase over 2015. Sony Corp’s overall profits were stated as $546 million, which means the games division accounted for about 78 percent of it.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One system update arrives with Cortana and more – If you’ve been eager to try out Cortana, Microsoft’s digital voice assistant, on your Xbox One, the wait is finally over. The console’s summer system update has started rolling out this weekend, and as has been promised for months, players will be able to use voice commands to navigate and use Xbox One features and settings. The update also introduces background music options and additional integration with Windows 10 desktop apps.

New Doom DLC multiplayer maps can be played for free – Earlier this week, developer Id Software announced a pair of updates for the recently released Doom. The first, which is available now, is a free download that introduces two new multiplayer modes and several new customizations for the SnapMap mode, where players can create their own maps and game types. The second update, “Unto the Evil,” however, is the first of three planned premium DLCs, which will cost money but include new multiplayer maps, weapons, and more.

Diablo 3 patch 2.4.2 brings three new difficulty levels – Diablo III owners will be getting patch 2.4.2 very soon, and with it will come a trio of new difficulty levels — levels XI, XII, and XIII. If that’s not enough to satisfy you, the patch will update existing items and add new items, including updates to a lot of Legendary and Set goods and additions to the Legendary items and powers. The update goes on from there, including some UI tweaks and some enhanced Adventure Mode rewards.

Chased Off of YouTube, Leaked ‘No Man’s Sky’ Footage Runs to Pornhub – I always feel a little dirty when I look at leaked footage of any kind, but rarely so much as when I brought up Pornhub yesterday to check out a video featuring the hyped space exploration game No Man’s Sky. I watched as some dude blasted some rocks with a laser while a porn star squeed with joy in an orbiting video ad. I had to go to Pornhub, as this corner of the web was the only place I’d been able to find the footage after it’d been yanked off of DailyMotion, YouTube, and almost every other video hosting site.

Nvidia offers $30 to GTX 970 customers in class action lawsuit over RAM – A class action lawsuit brought against Nvidia over a slow RAM partition has resulted in a proposed settlement (PDF) that could pay $30 to anyone who bought the company’s GTX 970 graphics card before its troubles came to light. After a year’s worth of negotiations, lawyers representing customers and Nvidia came to an agreement. Besides offering $30 for each unit purchased by a customer, Nvidia will also pay $1.3 million in legal fees and plaintiff’s attorneys fees. The motion explains that the $30 per unit should compensate customers for the missing data speed they thought they were getting. The GTX 970 cost approximately $350 on average between the day it went on shelves in stores and the day the lawsuit against Nvidia was filed. “A cash payment of $30 for each Unit would constitute approximately 8.6 percent of the purchase price,” the motion reasoned.

Niantic Shuts Down ‘Pokémon Go’ Tracking App, and Players Are in Revolt – Niantic, the studio behind Pokémon Go, isn’t too happy some of you have figured out how to find the rarest of pokémon with tracking apps like Poké Radar. In an interview with Forbes on Thursday, Niantic CEO John Hanke claimed he was “not a fan” of such tools and that players “might find in the future that those things may not work.” The future, it seems, is now. Earlier today the popular tracking apps Pokevision announced that they were no longer offering their services for the time being, out of a desire to follow “Niantic and Nintendo’s wishes.” More are expected to follow.

Disney Infinity servers close in March 2017, PC & mobile versions unplayable in September – Back in May, Disney announced that it was ending production of its expansive Disney Infinity game series as it exited game publishing entirely. Now the company has detailed the shut down process for the game’s online services, and simply put, it’s a bit messy. Disney Infinity was released on so many different platforms, with several ways to buy it on PC alone, and it seems like there’s different stages of the shut down for each version.

Off Topic (Sort of):

A Visual History of Microsoft Windows – Windows 10 Anniversary Update is upon us. Do you remember what Windows 1.0 looked like?

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Windows 1.0

Zero Days: Why the disturbing Stuxnet documentary is a must-see – Zero Days is a documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney about the cyberwarfare Pandora’s Box that was opened with the Stuxnet malware. Find out why Jack Wallen highly recommends the film.

WikiLeaks’ methods questioned by whistleblower Edward Snowden – Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, has censured WikiLeaks’ release of information without proper curation. On Thursday, Snowden, who has embarrassed the U.S. government with revelations of widespread NSA surveillance, said that WikiLeaks was mistaken in not at least modestly curating the information it releases. “Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @Wikileaks has helped. But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake,” Snowden said in a tweet. WikiLeaks shot back at Snowden that “opportunism won’t earn you a pardon from Clinton & curation is not censorship of ruling party cash flows.”

Tech trends that will impact your home – High-tech homes are about to revolutionize the way we live. While interior design once relied on color schemes and playful accents, new tech trends are completely revamping how we design, build and live in our spaces.

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Kaspersky so very sorry after suggesting its antivirus will get you laid – Kaspersky has apologized for displaying a sexist pop-up advert in its security software. It’s not sorry about showing adverts on people’s PCs, however. The Russian giant’s desktop software suite flings adverts, er, news items about Kaspersky products at users who have already paid for its applications. On Friday, one of these fine articles appeared on PCs, with a cartoon that many have found offensive.

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(Source: Adam Hay)

Free ways to learn about IT, security and hacking online – There are many ways to begin your career in the cybersecurity field, from free courses to learning on the job — but you should understand something of the systems, networks and core computing processes involved. A great place to start is Coursera, a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) provider of free programs to give you a grounding in IT.

Why the Rumor That Facebook Is Listening to Your Conversations Won’t Die – Not long ago I watched a video in my Facebook timeline—I don’t remember what it was, only that it was something very sad. Whatever it was, I felt overwhelmed, and I put my head down on the bed beside my computer and did about sixty seconds of crying. When I lifted my head I saw something new at the top of my timeline: some garbage ad, like any one of thousands of garbage ads that speckle my social media usage with background noise. But this one was worrying: It was for “online counseling services”, or something like that. I was alarmed. Did Facebook hear me crying? No, Facebook has said clearly, but it really felt like it did, which is probably why this rumor won’t die.

Ex-Apple store employees reveal how customers try to fool them – Technically Incorrect: In an entertaining exposé, three former Apple store workers explain what customers fail to mention about their malfunctioning iPhones.

Justin Bieber turned down $5 million to perform during the RNC – Canadian singer Justin Bieber was offered $5 million to perform during the Republican National Convention, according to TMZ, but only passed after his manager threatened to quit. The multimillion dollar offer would have been the largest the singer had ever received, and it appears to have come with some strings attached: he would have been forbidden to hang banners reading Black Lives Matter (All Lives Matter were acceptable), and wouldn’t be permitted to say anything negative about the GOP or of its presidential nominee, Donald Trump. The money would have been paid to the singer up front.

Something to think about:

“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.”

–     Italian Proverb

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The RCMP Is Trying to Sneak Facial and Tattoo Recognition Into Canada – In November of 2015, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had a problem.

At the time, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had been using its massively controversial database of biometric information—photos of people’s faces, tattoos, iris scans, and more—at “full operational capacity” for about a year. The RCMP, on the other hand, was stuck with a national fingerprint database that didn’t allow officers to scan and search people’s faces or other body parts. Canada’s federal police force was falling behind its southern counterpart.

The RCMP had “no authority” to support new capabilities for its nationwide Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, according to an internal presentation from November 24 of 2015 that Motherboard obtained through an access to information request. Still, the police felt a pressing need to improve “interoperability with international partner systems”—in other words, to make sure their system meshed with what police in other countries were doing—but lacked an opportunity to do so.

Undeterred, the RCMP went ahead and began working to procure a new AFIS system that could analyze and capture faces, fingerprints, palm prints, tattoos, scars, and irises—all without clear authorization or approval by the country’s federal privacy watchdog, or even a plan to implement it.

Internet provider-backed groups appeal net neutrality court defeat – Trade groups CTIA, USTelecom, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and the American Cable Association on Friday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to rehear their challenge of the net neutrality rules after a three-judge panel upheld the rules in June.

The challenge isn’t to the FCC’s rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing web traffic, but to the agency’s reclassification of broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service, the NCTA wrote in a blog post.

“We believe this action is necessary to correct unlawful action by the FCC,” the NCTA wrote. “Dynamic Internet networks do not resemble or deserve to be treated like archaic telephone systems.”

The appeal of the ruling was expected. “It comes as no surprise that the big dogs have challenged the three-judge panel’s decision,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in an emailed statement. “We are confident that the full court will agree with the panel’s affirmation of the FCC’s clear authority to enact its strong Open Internet rules, the reasoned decision-making upon which they are based, and the adequacy of the record from which they were developed.”

A rehearing of the case would be before nine judges at the appeals court.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – August 1, 2016

  1. Pingback: Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – August 1, 2016 — Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts – Rosevoc2's Blog

  2. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: The dangerous cost of ‘free’ Wi-Fi

    I think a VPN is the best solution for this problem. The best I have used is Cyberghost (I’m using the free version). It’s come along way in recent years, slick and lean, and it works well. The free version is good enough for web surfing etc, the speed is a bit slower but not painfully slow. It’s the only one I use nowadays (apart from Tor now and again).

    Cheers
    Mal