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.

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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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