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.

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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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