Monthly Archives: August 2016

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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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – August 8, 2016

Getting started with Tails, the encrypted, leave-no-trace operating system;  ‘Quadrooter’ flaws affect over 900 million Android phones;  Windows 10: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers;  The Best Windows 10 Universal Apps of 2016;  How to solve Windows 10 crashes in less than a minute;  4 ways to repurpose your tablet – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Getting started with Tails, the encrypted, leave-no-trace operating system – A step-by-step guide on how to download, install, and start using Tails, the world’s most secure platform.

Ed Bott: Windows 10: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers – After a full year of public release, Windows 10 has undergone major changes. This FAQ includes details about the Anniversary Update, Windows 10 version 1607, released in August 2016.

The Best Windows 10 Universal Apps of 2016 – Windows 10 lets you easily install apps that run on all manner of devices from tablets and phones to PCs and Xboxes. Here are our favorites. And most of them are free.

Hardcore Windows: How to solve Windows 10 crashes in less than a minute – Let’s get seriously geeky: we’ll tell you how to set up your Windows 10 system up so that, when it does, you’ll be able to find the cause of most crashes in less than a minute for no cost.

Microsoft reduces Windows 10 roll-back grace period – Microsoft has reduced the I-changed-my-mind period in Windows 10 by two-thirds, cutting it from 30 days to 10, the company confirmed. Users who upgraded to Windows 10 were able to roll back to the preceding Windows as long as they did so within 30 days. To make that possible, Microsoft stored the older operating system in a special folder on the device’s drive, consuming up to 5GB of storage space. After the grace period expired, the folder’s contents were deleted. With last week’s Anniversary Update, aka version 1607, the 30 days were reduced to 10.

Microsoft says Windows 10 to receive two big updates in 2017 – The last week has been a big one for Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. The OS officially turned one year old, bringing an end to the free upgrade period for Windows 7 and 8 users, and shortly after Microsoft began rolling out the highly anticipated Anniversary Update, which introduces a number of new features and cross compatibility with the Xbox One. However, it seems Microsoft also quietly mentioned that it already has planned for two large updates to see release in 2017. There’s no word yet on what new features the first update of 2017 might include, but Windows Central notes that it’s believed to be codenamed “Redstone 2,” and should be released early in the year. The second update, known as “Redstone 3,” would follow at some point in the second half of 2017.

How to access a system image and restore individual files using Windows 10’s native VHD support – No one really has to tell you that it’s important to back up the data on your hard disk. With tools like File History and Create A System Image at your disposal, protecting your data is easy. The hard part often is remembering to use these tools regularly. A VHD is a virtual hard disk that is most notably used with virtual PC programs like Windows 10’s Client Hyper-V. And since Windows 10 lets you work natively work with VHD and ISO files, you can mount them simply by double-clicking on them in File Explorer. When you do, the operating system creates a virtual drive from the file, assigns a drive letter, and makes the drive available in Computer. What you may not know is that a VHD is at the heart of a system image of your hard disk. In other words, when you create a system image, the operating system actually creates a VHD file and stores the contents of the hard disk in it.

How to charge up your smartphone using a friend’s smartphone – Here’s how to make a cable that allows you to recharge your smartphone’s battery from almost any other charged device. Never let your devices go flat again!

Battery pack sales doubled after Pokémon Go’s release – People really weren’t joking about needing extra batteries to play Pokémon Go. Battery pack sales doubled in the US during roughly the two weeks that followed the game’s release, according to The NPD Group. It reports seeing a year-over-year growth of 101 percent, with 1.2 million mobile battery packs being sold between July 10th and July 23rd, just days after the game’s July 6th release. Pokémon Go really seems to be the only explanation here.

How to watch the Rio Olympics on the internet – More of the Olympics will be available online than over conventional TV. Here’s how to watch it.

4 ways to repurpose your tablet – Do you have an old tablet lying around? Or are you ready to upgrade but feel bad ditching your old one? You could make good use of it by repurposing it into something else. Here are a few easy ideas for turning your old tablet into something new — kind of.


‘Quadrooter’ flaws affect over 900 million Android phones – All versions of Android are vulnerable to these flaws, which won’t be fully patched until the September security release next month.

Hackers Make the First-Ever Ransomware for Smart Thermostats – One day, your thermostat will get hacked by some cybercriminal hundreds of miles away who will lock it with malware and demand a ransom to get it back to normal, leaving you literally in the cold until you pay up a few hundred dollars. This has been a scenario that security experts have touted as one of the theoretical dangers of the rise of the Internet of Things, internet-connected devices that are often insecure. On Saturday, what sounds like a Mr. Robot plot line came one step closer to being reality, when two white hat hackers showed off the first-ever ransomware that works against a “smart” device, in this case a thermostat. Luckily, Andrew Tierney and Ken Munro, the two security researchers who created the ransomware, actually have no ill intention. They just wanted to make a point: some Internet of Things devices fail to take simple security precautions, leaving users in danger.


The ransomware message that Tierney and Munro were able to display on the vulnerable thermostat.

Flaw in Samsung Pay lets hackers wirelessly skim credit cards – The tokens that are used to make purchases can be easily stolen and used in other hardware to make fraudulent transactions.

Department of Justice Official Tells Hundred Federal Judges to Use Tor – The US government has a complicated relationship with Tor. While the US is the biggest funder of the non-profit that maintains the software, law enforcement bodies such as the FBI are exploiting Tor browser vulnerabilities on a huge scale to identify criminal suspects. To add to that messy, nuanced mix, one Department of Justice official recently personally recommended Tor to a room of over a hundred federal judges. Ovie Carroll, director for the Cybercrime Lab at the Department of Justice, urged the judges to “use the TOR [sic] network to protect their personal information on their computers, like work or home computers, against data breaches, and the like,” Judge Robert J. Bryan said in July, according to a hearing transcript released on Friday.

Three times as bad as malware: Google shines light on pay-per-install – As some point you have probably downloaded a “free” piece of software only to find it has come with a whole host of other unwanted friends that go on to redirect your browser search bar or inject ads where there weren’t any before. This is the world of pay-per-install (PPI) and Google, along with New York University and the International Computer Science Institute, spent a year digging into the little-understood market, publishing their results in a paper [PDF] this week. What they found over the course of 12 months makes for sobering reading: the issue of PPI is three times greater than malware: no less than 60 million download attempts every week. That’s something that the authors say represents “a major security threat”. They estimate as many as five per cent of all browsers have been affected.

Having a One-Network Stand in a Short-Term Rental? Use Protection! – Using the free Wi-Fi in a sharing-economy rental could put you in a world of hurt, and the sharing renters can have their own serious problems.

Hackers Could Break Into Your Monitor To Spy on You and Manipulate Your Pixels – We think of our monitors as passive entities. The computer sends them data, and they somehow—magically?—turn it into pixels which make words and pictures. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if hackers could hijack our monitors and turn them against us? As it turns out, that’s possible. A group of researchers has found a way to hack directly into the tiny computer that controls your monitor without getting into your actual computer, and both see the pixels displayed on the monitor—effectively spying on you—and also manipulate the pixels to display different images. “We can now hack the monitor and you shouldn’t have blind trust in those pixels coming out of your monitor,” And Cui, the lead researcher who come up with this ingenious hack, told me earlier this week.

Company News:

Walmart is buying for $3 billion and will announce the deal on Monday – Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is set to acquire two-year-old online retailer in what appears to be the largest-ever acquisition of an e-commerce company, according to multiple sources familiar with the transaction. The deal is expected to value Jet at right around $3 billion, according to these people. Some senior Jet executives, including co-founder and CEO Marc Lore, will have incentive bonuses on top of that. Lore will continue to run Jet as well as Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce operations after the acquisition closes. Walmart is expected to announce the blockbuster transaction on Monday, barring any last-minute hiccups. Bloomberg reported Saturday the two sides were trying to finalize the deal as early as this Monday. Walmart and Jet declined to comment.

Airbnb raising a reported $850M at a $30B valuation – TechCrunch independently verified that Airbnb indicated in a 28 page filing on July 28th that it has plans to bring in additional late-stage capital. Almost a year after its last raise of $1.6 billion, the company is said to be adding $850 million to its coffers, according to information obtained by Equidate. While $850 million is a ton of cash, it is not the largest round the company has raised. Last year, the company raised $1.5 billion in one of the largest VC rounds in history. The additional capital would only move Airbnb from the fifth to the forth most valuable tech unicorn at a potential valuation of $30 billion.

Apple acquires Turi, an AI and machine learning startup – Apple has acquired Seattle-based AI and machine learning startup Turi, according to sources, for around $200 million. Apple has not confirmed details about the acquisition, instead proffering its blanket statement that, on occasion, it buys small tech companies and generally doesn’t talk about why. Sources say the Turi team will probably remain in Seattle, but it isn’t known what exactly Apple has planned for the company.

Apple losing smartphone share in India despite big efforts – Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has described India as one of the company’s fastest growing markets and has proposed to the government a program to offer refurbished phones in the country as a way to get around the high prices of its devices in a price-sensitive market.

Games and Entertainment:

The Elder Scrolls: Legends enters open beta on PC – QuakeCon 2016 is officially underway, and Bethesda has kicked it off by making a pretty big announcement. The Elder Scrolls: Legends, Bethesda’s effort to capture some of the massive audience drawn in by Hearthstone, has entered open beta on PC. The game was previously available as part of an invite-only closed beta, but now Bethesda has opened the floodgates, letting everyone who’s interested have an early look at the game.

Pokemon Go arrives in 15 Asian countries, Niantic confirms catching difficulties are a bug – Pokemon trainers across Asia are rejoicing this weekend, as 15 additional countries in the region have seen Pokemon Go rollout to their app stores for iOS and Android. Niantic, the game’s developer, explained earlier this week that the controversial decision to shut out popular third-party mapping services, such as Pokevision, was in order to reduce strain on their servers, and give them the freedom to focus more on bringing Pokemon Go to other parts of the world.

Pokémon Go crosses $200M in global revenue one month into launch – While bugs and feature complaints are still causing a decent amount of negativity among users, Pokémon Go continues its upward trajectory in terms of overall revenue. App analytics platform Sensor Tower reveals that the game now have over $200 million in net revenue from players based on their estimates. The spending frenzy in Go compares favorably to in-game revenue generated by other huge in-app purchase-driven games, according to data also tracked by the firm. Pokémon’s star power has helped it nearly double the first month revenue of Clash Royale, the other big in-app star this year. And it’s made almost four times as much as Candy Crush Soda Saga managed during its first 30 days of availability.

Playing Early Copies of ‘No Man’s Sky’ Is a Waste of Time – All across the internet, players are managing to get their hands on early copies of the ridiculously hyped space exploration game No Man’s Sky and posting videos of what they’ve seen. For many, as should only be natural for a game that’s been burdened with so many expectations, the final product hasn’t lived up to the dream. But in that regard, the damage has been done (and the fact that Sony is forcing news sites to remove footage via DMCA requests isn’t exactly helping). But if one of those early copies manages to make its way to your door, you might be better off just waiting to play it with everyone else on the proper release date of August 9.

Hulu is developing several pop culture documentaries, including Batman and Bond – While Netflix continues to bolster its original content lineup with new series, streaming video rival Hulu has announced it’s working on a line of new original documentaries. Craig Erwich, Hulu’s senior vice president of global content, revealed on Friday that the service will establish its Limelight Documentary Series with several exclusive documentaries focusing on little-known people and stories in the world of pop culture.

Off Topic (Sort of):

IBM Watson: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide covers how the IBM Watson data analytics processor works, and how it helps customers in various industries make critical decisions.

6 myths about big data – Is your organization thinking about the best way to organize and analyze data? Here are 6 myths about big data to watch out for before you dive in.

The 12 Worst Habits for Your Mental Health – Depression is usually brought on by factors beyond our control—the death of a loved one, a job loss, or financial troubles. But the small choices you make every day may also affect your mood more than you may realize. Your social media habits, exercise routine, and even the way you walk may be sucking the happiness out of your day, and you may not even know it. Luckily, these behaviors can be changed. Read on for 12 ways you’re sabotaging your good moods, and what you can do to turn it around.

Microsoft, Sony, and other companies still use illegal warranty-void-if-removed stickers – One of the ways manufacturers coerce users not to modify or even open hardware they’ve purchased is through warranty-void-if-removed stickers. These stickers are common on electronics equipment — Microsoft uses them on the Xbox One, Sony has them on the PS4, and you’ve probably owned a phone that had at least one somewhere. These stickers are almost certainly illegal, as Motherboard points out in relation to the new Xbox One S. The problem with the stickers is that they run afoul of the FCC’s rules on tying repair services to specific products. This issue is also probably why Apple agreed to change its practices regarding iPhones, when devices that had been repaired by third-party shops would then suddenly fail when upgraded to Apple’s latest operating system.

Bats Crash Into Each Other All the Time, High-Speed Cameras Reveal – The sight of bats bursting forth from caves at dusk is majestic enough to dazzle any spectator, scientist, or Gotham City billionaire orphan vigilante. Comprised of hundreds of thousands of mammalian aeronauts, these massive clouds of biomass seem to move as one organism, demonstrating the extraordinary coordination of individual bats. Or, so it would appear to the untrained eye. High-speed video cameras, however, reveal that bats are a lot more accident-prone than they look at first glance.

People look guiltier when their actions are viewed in slow motion – Viewers who watch videos in slow motion—as opposed to regular speed—are more likely to feel that the people filmed act with a willful, deliberate, and premeditated intention, researchers report. The elongation of events, it turns out, gives viewers the impression that people in video clips have more time to think over and plan out what they are doing. The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that jurors who view slow motion footage of an alleged crime may assign more responsibility to the accused than they would have otherwise.

How Google Analytics ruined marketing – Marketers in the high-tech world who use phrases such as “social media marketing,” “Facebook marketing” and “content marketing” do not understand the basic difference between marketing strategies, marketing channels and marketing content. And Google Analytics is to blame.

FTC sets its sights on sneaky sponsored social media posts – While some types of sponsored content are easy to spot, that kind of transparency hasn’t quite made its way into the social media realm. Tweets, status updates, Instagram photos and more dot the digital landscape with celebrities holding or using products, slyly showcasing notable brands to their thousands or millions of followers. Often times, these posts are advertisements the individual is getting paid to publish…but rarely are the statuses flagged as such.

Something to think about:

“There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be President.”

–     Kurt Vonnegut

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI Dumps 18 Hours of Spy Plane Footage From Black Lives Matter Protests – It’s been just over a year since amateur aviation sleuths first revealed the FBI’s secret aerial surveillance of the civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland.

Now, in response to a FOIA request from the ACLU, the Bureau has released more than 18 hours of aerial footage from the Baltimore protests captured by their once-secret spy planes, which regularly fly in circles above major cities and are commonly registered to fake companies.

The cache is likely the most comprehensive collection of aerial surveillance footage ever released by a US law enforcement agency. The videos, which the FBI claims are its “complete” recordings of the Baltimore unrest, cover the period of April 29 through May 3, 2015, when protests and riots erupted following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody under suspicious circumstances. Last month, prosecutors dropped all remaining charges in the case, concluding with no convictions for any of the police officers involved in the incident.

The footage shows the crowds of protesters captured in a combination of visible light and infrared spectrum video taken by the planes’ wing-mounted FLIR Talon cameras. While individual faces are not clearly visible in the videos, it’s frighteningly easy to imagine how cameras with a slightly improved zoom resolution and face recognition technology could be used to identify protesters in the future.

Challenge Over UK Bulk Hacking Powers Taken to European Court of Human Rights – On Friday, activist group Privacy International and five internet and communications providers lodged an application before the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the UK’s use of bulk hacking powers abroad.

“The European Court of Human Rights has a strong track record of ensuring that intelligence agencies act in compliance with human rights law. We call on the Court to hold GCHQ accountable for its unlawful bulk hacking practices,” Scarlet Kim, legal officer at Privacy International, said in a statement.

The application has been made with UK-based non-profit GreenNet, the Chaos Computer Club from Germany, Jibonet from South Korea, US internet service provider May First, and communications provider Rise Up.

In 2014, Privacy International filed a complaint over the country’s bulk hacking powers with the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a court which determines if public authorities have unlawfully used covert techniques. In February of this year, the IPT concluded that GCHQ’s hacking was legal under the UK’s Intelligence Service Act 1994.

Privacy International is now challenging whether the UK’s interpretation of the Intelligence Service Act for using bulk hacking powers complies with the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

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Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – August 5, 2016

7 Dead Simple Ways to Make Your Computer Run Like New;  Avast users, if your Windows 10 Anniversary Update is failing, here’s why;  The best second-screen apps for watching the 2016 Olympics;  Looking to build or upgrade a PC? Here are the best hardware component;  Hey Dummy, Drop That USB Drive;  Dropbox Paper, now in open beta;  BBC will broadcast Rio Olympics in 360-degree video;  GOG Releases Classic 16-Bit Disney Games – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

7 Dead Simple Ways to Make Your Computer Run Like New – The way everything runs through our computers, smartphones, and tablets these days, unchecked electronic overgrowth can grind your life to a halt without a moment’s notice. “Digital clutter is insidious,” says Valeri Hall Little, owner of Intandem, a Toronto-based productivity consulting firm. “We can’t see it, and if we can’t see it, we don’t feel it, and we don’t know it’s there.” Instead of turning a blind eye to your digital disarray, give your devices an annual checkup with these expert tips.

Avast users, if your Windows 10 Anniversary Update is failing, here’s why – Avast users report that the antivirus program is conflicting with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update’s installation, causing BSODs. A fix is on the way.

Must-have Firefox extensions for productivity and added security – Here are some goodies for all you loyal Firefox users.

Chrome for Android 52 promises speedier video load times and less battery drain – Google says the latest version can save you as much as 50 percent data usage by flipping on data saver mode.

The best second-screen apps for watching the 2016 Olympics – Thanks to that second-screen surge, Rio 2016 is poised to be the first multi-platform Olympics. To make sure you don’t miss a second of complimentary content, we’ve compiled the most essential free apps to download. Whether you just want to stay on top of stats and scores, get an insider view of events, or follow your favorite athletes, you won’t miss a moment of Olympic action once competition begins on August 5.

How to block annoying Facebook political posts – Are you sick of reading status updates from people who think Hillary Clinton is the Antichrist? Do you want to throw up when your pals sing Donald Trump’s praises? Fortunately, there are ways to silence our friends when their Facebook political mudslinging gets to be too much.

How to get started with DIY home surveillance systems – While closed-system security cameras burdened with monthly fees get most of the attention, it’s now easier than ever to set up your own professional grade video monitoring system and avoid recurring costs.


Looking to build or upgrade a PC? Here are the best hardware components – If you’re looking to build or upgrade a PC with some new components, here is a selection of the best components unveiled over the past few months. This quarter there’s a heavy emphasis on storage and GPUs, but we also have a new powerhouse CPU from Intel, and with an excellent curved display from Phillips.

1Password launches monthly subscription plan for personal use – You hear all the time that you should keep separate passwords for each of your online logins, but that’s definitely easier said than done. With the need for increased online security, we’ve seen the rise of password managers, and while some of those are free, many of the better ones require some form of payment. One of those is 1Password, which demands an up-front price of $64.99 on the iOS App Store, though family and team subscriptions are available for a monthly fee.

Google Adding Critic Reviews, Best-of Lists to Search Results – The Web giant on Thursday announced a new feature that can help ensure you never miss out on highly recommended spots. Now, when you search via the Google app for the best spots to eat and drink, the Web giant will offer up reviews from top critics and best-of lists from reputable publishers right on the results page, so you don’t have to go tapping around to find this information.

Report: Facebook Drops Snapchat-Like ‘Quick Updates’ Feature – Don’t worry, you’ll only have to split your time between Snapchat and Instagram if you’re big into making temporary images and videos of your daily life.

Dropbox Paper, now in open beta, lets teams collaborate in the cloud – Ten months after Dropbox first unveiled Paper, the collaborative writing tool entered open beta on Wednesday and is getting mobile versions for iOS and Android.

Gboard for iOS gets support for French, Spanish and more – Google’s Gboard for iOS has been updated with support for additional languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. To coincide with the additional language support is a global launch of the keyboard app, which makes it easier to send someone a GIF or other things directly from the iPhone’s keyboard. Google has also packed some new features into the app including smart GIF suggestions.

The Best Drones of 2016 – Drones. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re here to stay. If you’re one of the many people who wants a quadcopter, these are the best we’ve tested, along with what you need to know to pick the right one.

Raspberry Pi 3, others get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update for the Internet of Things – After Microsoft released an anniversary update of Windows 10 for PCs, a version is now available for the popular Raspberry Pi 3 developer board.

Microsoft says it has two big Windows 10 updates planned for 2017 – Microsoft only started rolling out Windows 10’s Anniversary Update this week, but it’s already discussing future updates for the operating system. A new blog post detailing update changes for IT professionals sheds some light on Microsoft’s plans for Windows 10. “This will be our last feature update for 2016, with two additional feature updates expected in 2017,” says Microsoft’s Nathan Mercer. Understandably, Microsoft isn’t detailing exactly what features are coming just yet, but the next big feature update to Windows 10 is rumored to release some time early next year before spring. Codenamed “Redstone 2,” the Windows 10 update may coincide with hardware updates to Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Surface Book devices. Microsoft is already working on Redstone 2, with internal builds out for testing.

Why users may want a new PC to go with Windows 10 Anniversary Update – Combined with the end of free upgrades to Windows 10, buyers could upgrade PCs to take advantage of features in Windows 10 Anniversary Update


PC-nuking malware sneakily replaces popular free software on FossHub – Everything is fine now, but a few unfortunate FossHub users installed a fake Classic Shell installer that may have temporarily messed up their computers.

Hack in a box: Two thieves steal more than 30 cars using a laptop – The pair was finally caught after surveillance footage gave police enough information to work with.

Hey Dummy, Drop That USB Drive – A Black Hat presentation demonstrated that people are still plugging in unknown USB drives. Stop it, already!

Hackers unleash smart Twitter phishing tool that snags two in three users: Just. Don’t. Click. On. Dodgy. ShortURLs. People – Black Hat Twitter scammers have a new weapon with the release of an effective spear phishing tool that lands a victim almost two thirds of the time, dwarfing the usual five-to-fifteen-per-cent-open-rate for spam tweets. The SNAP_R machine learning spear phishing Twitter bot is a data-driven menace unleashed at the Black Hat security conference that is capable of consuming information from victim tweets to target users. Creators John Seymour and Philip Tully of Baltimore security firm ZeroFox say the neural network is the world’s first end-to-end Twitter pwn cannon useful to scammers, penetration testers, and staff recruiters.

Four misleading myths about the Dark Web – Combat Dark Web threats by understanding their reality. The Dark Web can threaten your data security. Don’t compound the risk by believing these misconceptions.

Tinder swipes too much personal information, says EU lawmaker – Marc Tarabella wants to swipe left on Tinder’s privacy policy. The company’s terms of use breach European Union privacy laws, according to Tarabella, a member of the European Parliament. Tarabella particularly dislikes the way the company gives itself the right to swipe the personal information and photos of its users, and to continue using it even if they deactivate their accounts. It’s not just Tinder: Tarabella is also unhappy about how much personal information Runkeeper keeps about runners’ movements, even when the app is inactive. He has the same concerns about Happn, a sort of missed-connections dating service. The lawmaker wants the European Commission to root out abusive clauses in the terms of use of a number of mobile apps, and to penalize their developers.

Report claims more than half of UK firms have been hit by ransomware – Large UK companies are amongst the hardest hit by ransomware in western countries according to a new report commissioned by Malwarebytes. The report found that more than half of large firms had been affected—and that nine percent had been left “entirely unable to operate.” Ransomware is clearly a growth industry in Britain: 58 percent of IT directors in this country have paid ransoms in the past, and the UK experiences more attacks than the Canada, Germany, and the US. American bosses are 21 times less likely to give in to hackers’ demands than their UK counterparts.


$6 device can break into hotel rooms and infect PoS systems – At DEF CON, a researcher will unveil a small $6 device which can be used to duplicate every keycard in a hotel, so an attacker could break into every room, as well as to infect point-of-sale systems.

Facebook strengthens efforts against News Feed clickbait – If you’re anything like me, your Facebook News Feed is probably a mess of posts featuring Donald Trump, babies, and articles with clickbait titles. It isn’t exactly a secret that Facebook has a clickbait problem, and a big one at that. Despite previous efforts to trim down the amount of clickbait that appears in any given user’s News Feed, the problem persists, and it’s led Facebook to implement a new – and hopefully improved – News Feed algorithm.

Iranian hacker group knows who is on Telegram – Hackers obtained the mobile phone numbers of 15 million Iranian users of the Telegram encrypted messaging app, and hacked the accounts of more than a dozen of them, security researchers say.

Company News:

LinkedIn posts a huge second quarter that really doesn’t matter – Microsoft beat out several bidders in the process, including Salesforce, and that price largely reset the damages from the company’s Q4 earnings report that sent the stock into a tailspin. But this report itself might signal why Microsoft was so interested in the company. LinkedIn reported revenue of $932.7 million and earnings of $1.13 per share.  Analysts were expecting earnings of 78 cents per share on $898 million in revenue. LinkedIn’s report today caps off a half decade-ish run as an independent company valued somewhere between a social network and an enterprise recruiting solution.

GoDaddy names new CFO as Q2 sales up 15.6 percent – The company, which provides hosting and domain registration services to small businesses, delivered a net loss of $11.1 million, or 11 cents a share, on revenue of $456.2 million, up 15.6 percent from a year ago. Of that sum, domains revenue was up 10.2 percent to $229.8 million, hosting was $167.5 million and business applications was $58.9 million. Wall Street was expecting second quarter sales of $450.5 million and a net loss of 7 cents a share. GoDaddy ended the quarter with 14.3 million customers and an average revenue per user of $125.

Amazon gets its own branded air cargo plane with 39 more to follow – Holding out the promise of quicker deliveries to its customers, on Thursday unveiled Amazon One, the company’s first air cargo plane.

Zynga plummets 9% in after-hours trading – Social game developer Zynga tumbled 9 percent in after-hours trading following the second quarter 2016 earnings announcement after the bell today. The company reported a net loss of $4.4 million, while still beating analysts’ expectations in terms of revenue. For the second quarter ended June 30, the San Francisco-based maker of FarmVille and Words with Friends posted revenue of $181.7 million and non-GAAP net earnings came in at $0.00. Wall Street expected EPS of $0.00 on revenue of $169.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters. The stock hit 9 percent down in late afternoon, after having closed less than 1 percent up at $2.97.

Comcast supports higher prices for customers who want Web privacy – As the Federal Communications Commission debates new privacy rules for Internet service providers, Comcast has urged the commission to let ISPs offer different prices based on whether customers opt into systems that share their data and deliver personalized ads. Comcast executives met with FCC officials last week, and “urged that the Commission allow business models offering discounts or other value to consumers in exchange for allowing ISPs to use their data,” Comcast wrote in an ex parte filing that describes the meeting. (MediaPost covered the filing yesterday.)

Games and Entertainment:

BBC will broadcast Rio Olympics in 360-degree video – Olympics fans looking forward to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio take note: the BBC has announced it’s launching a service that will allow viewers to watch a large portion of the event in 360-degree video. And you don’t need an expensive VR headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive either; any unit compatible with an iPhone or Android device will suffice, giving you the opportunity to watch as many as 100 hours of sports coverage as if you were there.

How to set up, use the new Apple TV Remote app – The day has come, Apple made good on its promise and released an improved Apple TV Remote app. It’s an entirely different app from the rather old Remote app Apple that has been available for several years now. Effectively, your iPhone is now capable of replacing the Siri Remote that comes with the newest Apple TV.

GOG Releases Classic 16-Bit Disney Games, Digging Up Bitter ‘Aladdin’ Feud – The digital PC game distribution platform GOG made a lot of millennials very happy today when it announced the exclusive release of three 16-bit Disney platformers from the mid 90s. GOG (formerly Good Old Games) is much like the digital distribution platform Steam, but with a focus on making old games available on modern PCs (and DRM-free!), which is why these three Disney games—The Lion King, The Jungle Book, and Aladdin—are a great get.


Mobius Final Fantasy game finally lands on mobile – With most of its offline, pre-PS3 Final Fantasy titles ported to mobile devices (save for VIII), Square Enix now seems to be turning its focus on completely new titles built from the ground up with smartphones in mind. From Final Fantasy Record Keeper to Brave Exvius, the game publisher is now bringing perhaps one of its more ambitious attempts at an original mobile title with the launch of Mobius Final Fantasy on iOS and Android, promising console level graphics paired with easy to use gameplay.


Every AMD Radeon RX 470 you can buy: A cheat sheet – AMD’s Radeon RX 470 launched today with a full array of customized partner cards. Here’s a guide to every graphics card you can buy today.

Next-generation gaming PCs put to the test – These new desktops all feature powerful new Nvidia GeForce 1080 graphics cards for unmatched gaming and VR performance.

NFL Network, RedZone come to Sling TV’s streaming service for cord cutters – Sling TV has long been a viable option for sports fans who want to cut the cord with traditional pay television, thanks to its streams of popular channels providing sports coverage, like ESPN, Fox Sports, TNT, TBS and more. Now, you can add NFL Network and NFL RedZone to that mix, thanks to a newly announced deal between Sling TV parent company Dish Network and the NFL

Watch the first trailer for Christopher Nolan’s World War II movie Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan’s first World War II story, Dunkirk, just got its first teaser trailer. The film, which stars Tom Hardy, newcomer Fionn Whitehead, and Bridge of Spies’ Mark Rylance, also features One Direction’s Harry Styles in his first film role. It will tell the story of Operation Dynamo — a last-ditch effort to evacuate 300,000 Allied troops who were surrounded by Nazi troops in the French seaport of Dunkirk. The trailer is super short and super tense. It opens on a crowded boat of Allied soldiers who take note one by one of some sort of enemy aircraft descending on them. There are loud noises!

Pokemon GO launches in Central and South America – Pokemon GO players are still as fervent as ever, and now more gamers can join their ranks — the company behind the game has announced an expansion into Central and South America, marking the latest regions where the game is (officially) available to download. The expansion comes just in time for the Rio Olympics, and is joined by a handful of other changes, namely fixes for two big bugs players have been vocal about.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How Hackers Could Get Inside Your Head With ‘Brain Malware’ – It’s a futuristic scenario, but not that futuristic. The idea of securing our thoughts is a real concern with the introduction of brain-computer interfaces—devices that are controlled by brain signals such as EEG (electroencephalography), and which are already used in medical scenarios and, increasingly, in non-medical applications such as gaming. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle say that we need to act fast to implement a privacy and security framework to prevent our brain signals from being used against us before the technology really takes off.

Average US internet speeds make significant rise in first half of 2016 – With the rise of fiber internet and the amount of recognition companies like Google Fiber are getting, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little disappointed in your broadband connection. However, a new report from Ookla is showing us that the wider availability of fiber options may just be a good thing for those with fixed broadband connections, as average broadband speeds have taken a rather large jump year-over-year in the first half of 2016.

Internet of things: Early adopters share 4 key takeaways – Getting ready to launch an IoT initiative? Read these insights and advice from early adopters in aviation, transportation, manufacturing and more.

Take a tour of the 114-year old Japanese battleship Mikasa – The only pre-dreadnought battleship left in the world, the Mikasa is a step back into history. It’s now a museum ship near Tokyo. Here’s a full tour.


While the US Gets More Strict on Vaping, New Zealand Moves to Relax Its Laws – Though the New Zealand government took a hard stance against vaping early on, it also supported efforts to better understand the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes. A government-funded study in 2013 was one of the first to demonstrate the smoking-cessation possibilities of vaping, showing people who used e-cigarettes were just as likely to quit as those who use the nicotine patch. More studies have shown that, overall, e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking, which is partly why New Zealand is reconsidering its stance.

Architects Are Designing Buildings for the Age of Mass Shootings – Our culture of fear has changed the role of architecture in the United States. In just 2016 alone, the country has seen 221 mass shootings, and we struggle to keep up with the stream of international terrorism attacks by groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. If you listen to the news for too long, every building we enter seems compromised, from malls and movie theaters to schools. So while legislators falter over gun control laws, architects and building designers are working to rethink the concept of a safe space.

Something to think about:

“There is some magic in wealth, which can thus make persons pay their court to it, when it does not even benefit themselves. How strange it is, that a fool or knave, with riches, should be treated with more respect by the world, than a good man, or a wise man in poverty!”

–      Ann Radcliffe (1764 – 1823)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How to access Tor, even when your country says you can’t – Censorship is nothing new, but as many governments and law enforcement agencies tighten the noose, anti-surveillance solutions need to get creative.

The Tor Project, which runs the anti-surveillance Tor network, is one such being.

The non-profit runs a network designed to disguise the original locations of users through traffic and relay points, and is often used by journalists, activists, and those attempting to circumvent censorship.

Nima Fatemi, an independent security research and member of the Tor Project, highlighted in a recent blog post how users in countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran can still try to access the network.

This Engineer Started a Tor-Based Internet Provider to Fight Surveillance – UK lawmakers are currently closing in on their biggest expansion of government surveillance powers since the Snowden revelations—but one network engineer is determined to not let privacy go down without fight.

The Investigatory Powers bill—championed by former Home Secretary and current UK prime minister Theresa May and sometimes called the “Snooper’s Charter”—would create an expansive new legal regime for government mass surveillance in the UK, effectively legitimizing many of the programs exposed by Snowden. Among other things, it controversially proposes requiring that all internet service providers in the UK keep tabs on their customers’ internet activity, forcing them to retain so-called Internet Connection Records, or ICRs, for 12 months, and hand that data over to the authorities upon request.

But as the UK’s upper house prepares to vote on final amendments to the bill, engineer Gareth Llewelyn is readying his own technical countermeasures. Earlier this year, Llewelyn started building his own non-profit internet service provider that runs on the Tor anonymity network. His goal: Design a system that will frustrate the new mass-surveillance regime by making it technically impossible to censor content or comply with government requests for subscribers’ internet records.


Filed under Latest Tech News

When Free Doesn’t Mean Free

This guest post is contributed by my Aussie mate, Jim Hillier. Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at Dave’s Computer Tips. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele… as well as writing for DCT, of course.

Remember the good old days when the “free” in freeware meant exactly that?


I started writing about freeware back in the days when Clif Sipe (aka Clif Notes) and Ian (Gizmo) Richards were pretty much the freeware gurus. Those were the halcyon days when innovation was rife and there was always some new and exciting freeware to write about and discuss. When good old Spybot Search & Destroy was pretty much the only antimalware – long before anyone had even heard of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – and the awful Adobe Acrobat was the ubiquitous PDF reader.

I still vividly recall when Ian Richards first wrote about a new program called “Sandboxie” back in 2004. Sandboxie intrigued me no end and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread… still do. However, back in those days, the concept of an “isolated virtual environment” was pretty much unheard of and trying to explain it, even to experienced users, was no easy chore. Alas, Gizmo’s original Freeware Newsletter is no more and Clif Sipe has long retired to a well-deserved easier life.

Fast forward to today and the freeware scene has changed dramatically. Not only has just about every avenue for freeware innovation been well and truly covered, creating a scarcity of material for freeware writers, but the entire concept of “free” has also taken on a whole new meaning.


Today, it seems very little is actually free and there is usually some sort of trade off involved  –  limited features, upgrade nag screens, download wrappers, advertising modules, bundled PUPs, toolbars, etc. Writing a freeware review today is as much about the potential safety and bundling issues as the actual program. While I can’t blame developers for seizing the opportunity to monetize all the work involved with developing and maintaining their software, I do wish they would be totally transparent about it, plus perhaps consider a system of opt-in rather than opt-out.

The trend has become so prevalent that it has actually spawned a whole new category of freeware tools – such as Unchecky and  AdwCleaner –  which are specifically designed to help users deal with bundling and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs). A pretty scary indication of just how predominant this practice has become. Even the once pristine Open Source software has been sullied by SourceForge’s flirtation with DevShare, an adware supported download wrapper which was eventually discontinued after SourceForge changed hands in 2016.

There are still developers who remain true to the original spirit of freeware of course. Nir Sofer and his excellent collection of free portable NirSoft tools and utilities readily spring to mind. Unfortunately though, true unadulterated freeware is fast becoming as scarce as rocking horse manure and, sadly, today’s users need to approach all so-called freeware with a heightened sense of “let the downloader beware”.


Filed under downloads, Freeware, Software, Technicians Advise

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – August 3, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: The good, the bad and the ‘meh’ (with video);  How to watch the Olympics without paying for cable TV;  Android security software: Unique features of five popular apps;  Transform Google Chrome into the ultimate browsing tool;  Five tips to soup up Chrome for Android;  The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked;  12 Tips to Make You a Chromebook Pro;  Manchester United vs. Everton to kick off live on Facebook – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10’s Anniversary Update is now available – Microsoft’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update is here and ready to download. The software maker first started testing its Anniversary Update back in December, and now all Windows 10 users get to experience the new features and improvements free of charge. Chief among them is a new Windows Ink feature. Microsoft has supported inking in Windows for years, but Windows Ink is a dedicated hub designed for devices like the Surface Pro 4, and other 2-in-1s with styluses. Windows Ink will work with your fingers, for doodling and inking on screenshots, but it will obviously work better with a dedicated stylus. Windows 10 Anniversary Update also includes a number of UI improvements to the Start menu, notification center, taskbar, and overall dark theme. Microsoft is also tweaking Cortana to allow the digital assistant to work on the lock screen and answer queries.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: The good, the bad and the ‘meh’ (with video) – The Windows 10 Anniversary Update has been a year in the making, with more than two dozen public previews made available so that we could get a taste of what was to come. As of August 2nd, it is finally here. So after all the time, all the work and all the hype, how does it stack up? Will it improve Microsoft’s one-year-old operating system, or make users regret that they upgraded? I’ve installed it on a Microsoft Surface 2 tablet and HP Stream 13 laptop in order to take an in-depth look. Read on for details.

10 Cool New Features in Windows 10 Anniversary Update – Windows 10 has now been around for almost a year, and it’s off to a much better start than Microsoft’s previous major release, Windows 8. With over 350 million devices running the operating system so far, the company claims it’s experienced the fastest update of any version of Windows. It also gets the highest satisfaction level, according to customer feedback. Click through the slideshow to see what we consider the coolest new capabilities in the Anniversary Update.

How to install Microsoft Edge browser extensions – With the Anniversary Update Microsoft Edge can finally use browser extensions. Here’s how to install them.

Five tips to soup up Chrome for Android – For the first few years of Android’s existence, the stock browser was a WebKit-based affair that was only updated when the OS was. Now, Chrome ships on nearly all Android phones and tablets, and it’s updated at near light speed via the Play Store. It’s gotten a lot better over the years, but many of the best features are not immediately apparent, and a few need to be toggled on. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of Chrome on Android.

LibreOffice 5.2 includes classified documents and a streamlined interface – The Document Foundation is today releasing LibreOffice 5.2 for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. Major new features include support for marking sensitive documents as classified and a function for forecasting financial data. It’s still open source and completely free to use.

Transform Google Chrome into the ultimate browsing tool – Simple hacks to make the Google Chrome browser better, faster, and more RAM efficient, as well as helping to make you more productive.

12 Tips to Make You a Chromebook Pro – They’re inexpensive and easy to use, but these tricks make Chromebooks even more user friendly.

A beginner’s guide to BitLocker, Windows’ built-in encryption tool – Here’s how to get started with BitLocker, the encryption tool Microsoft built right into many versions of Windows.

Instagram’s anti-abuse comment filter is rolling out now – As detailed last week, Instagram is now letting some of its users ban certain words from appearing in comments on their posts. The photo-sharing social network has now introduced a new filter that users can manually customize by adding words of their choosing that they want excluded, potentially allowing them to ban trolls, spammers, and other nefarious figures from leaving offensive or annoying messages on personal accounts.

Instagram launches “Stories,” a Snapchatty feature for imperfect sharing – People only post the highlights of their life on Instagram, so today the app adds its own version of “Stories” to poach goofy, off-the-cuff, everyday content from Snapchat. It works exactly like Snapchat Stories, allowing you to post 24-hour ephemeral photo and video slideshows that disappear. But because Instagram Stories appear at the top of the old feed, your followers will inevitably see them without you needing to build a new audience in a different app. Instagram Stories is rolling out globally for iOS and Android over the next few weeks.

Four US firms rule the world’s cloud infrastructure – There are plenty of companies vying for a piece of the worldwide cloud infrastructure market, but the top four — all in the U.S. — currently dominate by such a wide margin as to effectively leave their competitors in the dust.

Android security software: Unique features of five popular apps – There are a lot of antivirus apps available for Android, and like everything in the Google Play store, caution is required. Antivirus apps need lots of access to your phone, so make sure you completely trust whatever you choose to install. If you’re wondering which apps you can trust take a look at these five and some of the features that make them unique.


19 ways to stay anonymous and protect your online privacy – Whether you’re a political activist or simply someone who hates the idea of third-parties scrutinizing your surfing habits, there are plenty of tools available to keep prying eyes off of your traffic. In this post, I’m going to highlight 19 ways to increase your online privacy. Some methods are more complicated than others, but if you’re serious about remaining private, these tips will help shield your traffic from snoops. Of course, internet security is a topic in and of itself, so you’re going to need to do some reading to remain thoroughly protected on all fronts. And remember, even the most careful among us are still vulnerable to imperfect technology.

The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked – The internet can sometimes be a scary place, where hackers steal hundreds of millions of passwords in one swoop, or cause large-scale blackouts. The future is probably not going to get better, with real-life disasters caused by internet-connected stuff, smart house robots that could kill you, flying hacker laptops, and the dangers of hackers getting your genetic data. But here’s the good news. There’s actually no need to be scared. Hacking and data breaches are real, growing dangers, but there are basic steps that can keep you generally safe on the internet, and we’re going to tell you what they are.

Bitcoin exchange hit with $61 million theft – Hackers have compromised the Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex, the company announced today, withdrawing roughly $61 million from various consumer accounts. The causes of the breach are still unclear, but the attackers appear to have bypassed Bitfinex’s mandated limits on withdrawals. “The theft is being reported to — and we are co-operating with — law enforcement,” the statement reads. “We ask for the community’s patience as we unravel the causes and consequences of this breach.” Bitfinex halted trading at 2pm GMT in order to stop further thefts, and users can check the public blockchain to see if their own accounts were affected.

Google now gives you Android notifications when new devices log into your accounts – Rather than receiving an email alert from Google when a new device has been used to login to a Google account, Android users can expect to see a native notification on their smartphone asking whether they have just tried to sign in. From there, the user can tap the notification to review account activity and take action to secure their account if necessary.


People are four times more likely to review alerts in mobile notifications than in email. Image: Google

Frequent password changes are the enemy of security, FTC technologist says – Shortly after Carnegie Mellon University professor Lorrie Cranor became chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission in January, she was surprised by an official agency tweet that echoed some oft-repeated security advice. It read: “Encourage your loved ones to change passwords often, making them long, strong, and unique.” Cranor wasted no time challenging it. The reasoning behind the advice is that an organization’s network may have attackers inside who have yet to be discovered. Frequent password changes lock them out. But to a university professor who focuses on security, Cranor found the advice problematic for a couple of reasons.

Jeep hackers at it again, this time taking control of steering and braking systems – A pair of hackers have compromised their Jeep Cherokee, fooling the car into doing dangerous things like turning the steering wheel or activating the parking brake at highway speeds. It’s the same pair that hacked their Jeep remotely last year. But, because this version of the hack requires physical access to the car — in this case, through a laptop connected to the OBD II engine diagnostic port — it may not be quite as scary, except for the fact that they’re controlling way more vehicle systems.

Hacker Dumps Sensitive Patient Data From Ohio Urology Clinics – On Tuesday, a hacker or group of hackers using the name Pravvy Sector posted a link on Twitter to over 150 GB of data from the Central Ohio Urology Group. On its website, the organisation says it is the largest concentration of experienced urologists in Ohio, and lists more than 20 locations. The data contains a mountain of apparent financial spreadsheets, human resource documents, and patient records. The files include names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and what looks like treatments patients have received, such as renal ultrasound, sperm count, or semen analysis. Some records show the insurance company patients are registered with.

Yahoo ‘Aware’ Hacker Is Advertising 200 Million Supposed Accounts on Dark Web – A notorious cybercriminal is advertising 200 million of alleged Yahoo user credentials on the dark web, and the company has said it is “aware” of the hacker’s claims, but has not confirmed nor denied the legitimacy of the data. On Monday, the hacker known as Peace, who has previously sold dumps of Myspace and LinkedIn, listed supposed credentials of Yahoo users on The Real Deal marketplace. Peace told Motherboard that he has been trading the data privately for some time, but only now decided to sell it openly.

Company News:

Bitcoin drops 20% after $70M worth of Bitcoin was stolen from Bitfinex exchange – Bitfinex, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges online, has suffered a major hack. The company has posted a note on their website detailing the security breach, and while it doesn’t mention a total amount, one of their employees confirmed on Reddit that the total amount stolen was 119,756 bitcoins. That amount converts to about $77,000,000 based on a price of $650 USD per bitcoin, which is about what Bitcoin traded at over the course of the last week. After news of the hack spread the price of Bitcoin dropped almost 20%, settling in around the current price of $540 USD per bitcoin. It’s not exactly clear why the price dropped, but it’s likely Bitcoin investors got nervous about potential hacks on other exchanges and decided to sell off their Bitcoin holdings, which led to a rapid decrease in price.

Judge wipes out patent troll’s $625M verdict against Apple – A patent-holding company that won a huge court victory against Apple had its victory wiped out today, and its stock plunged by more than 40 percent. Nevada-based VirnetX won a jury trial against Apple earlier this year. An East Texas jury ruled that Apple must pay $625.6 million to VirnetX for infringing four patents. The patents are said to cover Apple’s VPN on-demand feature, as well as FaceTime. US District Judge Robert Schroeder, who oversaw the trial, published an order (PDF) on Friday that vacates the verdict and orders a new trial to begin in September.

Google Project Wing drone delivery testing will take place in US – Google has been given the go-ahead to test its Project Wing delivery drones in the United States, permission announced by the White House itself to highlight research in the field of UAVs. The Project Wing testing is set to eclipse Amazon’s own drone testing, becoming the currently largest drone delivery trials in the U.S. Google will be given access to one of half a dozen drone testing sites approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

6 Things to Know About Uber’s Surrender in China – In a summer of big tech deals, this could be counted as the most unexpected. Uber is selling its China operations to its bitter – and more successful – rival, Didi Chuxing, which controls 80% of China’s ride-sharing market. The repercussions of the deal will be felt far beyond China, affecting everything from Uber’s prospects for an IPO to the fate of its competitors in other markets.

How Comcast convinced customers to buy “near-worthless” service plans – The Washington state attorney general’s $100 million lawsuit against Comcast, filed yesterday, uses a sales script and transcripts of chats with customers to make the case that Comcast deceived subscribers when marketing what the state calls “near-worthless” service plans. Since January 2011, Comcast made $73 million selling Service Protection Plans (SPP) for up to $5 a month to 500,000 customers in Washington. But the service plans were sold to customers under false pretenses, with Comcast describing the plans as being far more comprehensive and useful than they were, Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleged.

FCC forces TP-Link to support open source firmware on routers – Networking hardware vendor TP-Link today admitted violating US radio frequency rules by selling routers that could operate at power levels higher than their approved limits. In a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission, TP-Link agreed to pay a $200,000 fine, comply with the rules going forward, and to let customers install open source firmware on routers. The open source requirement is a unique one, as it isn’t directly related to TP-Link’s violation. Moreover, FCC rules don’t require router makers to allow loading of third-party, open source firmware. In fact, recent changes to FCC rules made it more difficult for router makers to allow open source software.

Games and Entertainment:

Manchester United vs. Everton to kick off live on Facebook – England captain Wayne Rooney’s testimonial game will be shown live from Old Trafford to Facebook users around the globe.

How to watch the Olympics without paying for cable TV – Rio 2016 promises to be the “most live Olympics ever.” It may also end up being the most-streamed, thanks to a wealth of options that enable cord cutters catch all the action. The good news is today there are alternatives for cord cutters we couldn’t dream of at the time of the last Summer Games just four years ago. And with very little hassle or expense, you can be sure you won’t miss a single medal-winning performance.

The Xbox One S heats up the HDR format war – The newly revised Xbox One S launched today and offers HDR video support as one of the primary distinctions from the original model. More specifically, the Xbox One S uses the HDR10 standard to allow your Xbox to output HDR video (assuming you’ve got one of the few compatible HDR TV sets) to offer better picture quality for supported games and videos than regular HD content. Wondering what HDR video is? What the differences between HDR10 and the competing standard, Dolby Vision are? Which TV sets support it? Read on.

Apple TV remote app turns iPhone into a remote control – Apple has launched a new app to give users more control over their Apple TV without having to put down their iPhone. The app is simply called the Apple TV Remote and is designed to give iPhone users the same sort of control that Siri Remote offers from their smartphone. Using the app, the Apple TV can be controlled with a swipe of your finger and the keyboard can be used to enter text more quickly than you can with the normal Siri Remote.

6 Games You’ll Want to Buy in August – August breaks the video game dry spell with a fantastic lineup of titles. This year’s video game releases pick up the pace as we move into the second half of the year. August kick-starts the incoming flood with a wealth of great titles for a variety of platforms. We’ve selected some of the month’s most promising video games for our list, so be sure to consult it if you’re on the hunt for a new game or three.

The NFL is the first sports league on Snapchat Discover – The NFL and Snapchat heart each other, and will continue to heart each other for multiple years to come: The two announced an extension to their “strategic partnership” today, which includes Snapchat’s first official sports league Discover channel, an NFL-programmed collection of piping hot football fan service content. The NFL is also doubling down on its existing commitment to create Live Stories, promising one produced for every single NFL official season game, including the Super bowl, and for special events like the NFL Draft. Live Stories from the NFL blend behind-the-scenes content from insiders, as well as fan-created Snaps added via location-based contributions. Also in store for NFL fans are custom-created Snapchat Geofilters for each of the NFL’s 32 teams.

Off Topic (Sort of):

MIT creates video you can reach out and touch – Strictly speaking, video isn’t an interactive medium, but a new research project from MIT aims to change that: The school’s CSAIL lab has come up with a technique through which viewers can reach out and “touch” objects in videos, manipulating them directly to achieve effects similar to what you’d expect if you were actually touching the object live in the real world. Basically, that means that using this technique, if you were watching a YouTube video of someone playing guitar and it zoomed in tight on the fretboard, you could theoretically use your mouse to drag across the strings and watch them vibrate as if you’d strummed them in real life. Or, you could even load test an old covered bridge by applying virtual stressors like simulated wind, or a truck rumbling across.


Is it dumb to trust smart technology? – How do you use something that’s fully automatic, anyway? What is the responsibility of the “user”? Can we just hand over control to the bots? Recent events in the news suggest that when it comes to using our automatic products and features, some people are doing it wrong.

Donald Trump signs pledge to crack down on Internet porn – Donald Trump has pledged to crack down on Internet pornography via corporate partnerships and possibly establishing a federal commission on the harmful effects of pornography, a nonprofit said Monday. While it appears to be coincidental, Trump’s pledge comes a day after the New York Post’s Sunday edition included a full-page nude photo of Melania Trump, his wife, on its cover. Enough is Enough, a nonprofit dedicated to confronting online pornography, child pornography, child stalking and sexual predation, published Trump’s signed pledge on Monday. Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton refused to sign the pledge, Enough is Enough said, though her campaign told EiE that she supported its goals.

HPE CEO Meg Whitman endorses Hilary Clinton, dumps on Trump – Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman has endorsed Hilary Clinton as the next president of the United States. Whitman penned a statement on Facebook in which she unloaded on Trump. “As a proud Republican, casting my vote for President has usually been a simple matter,” she opens, before saying “To vote Republican out of party loyalty alone would be to endorse a candidacy that I believe has exploited anger, grievance, xenophobia and racial division. Donald Trump’s demagoguery has undermined the fabric of our national character.” She goes on to say Trump “lacks both the policy depth and sound judgment required as President” and “would endanger our prosperity and national security.” A vote for Hilary Clinton, she says, represents a vote for “stable and aspirational leadership” that America needs. She concludes by urging “all Republicans to reject Donald Trump this November.”

US Constitution becomes a best-seller after Trump comments – The US Constitution is hot. The document, which turns 229 years old next month, has become an Amazon best-seller after the father of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq pulled out a miniature copy at the Democratic National Convention last week to criticize Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?” he asked, shaking the pocket edition in the air. “I will gladly lend you my copy.” Since then, a $1 pocket edition of the document has climbed the internet retailer’s best-seller list, coming in second only to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

US government poised to approve first private mission to the Moon – Private spaceflight company Moon Express will soon announce it has been granted regulatory approval by the US government to send a lunar lander to the surface of the Moon, according to a source familiar with the matter. If so, that means the company will be the first private company to have received permission from the government to send a vehicle beyond Earth orbit and on to another world. Moon Express is a private spaceflight company with long-term hopes of mining the lunar surface.

Something to think about:

“Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.”

–    Henry Kissinger

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Judge blasts FBI for bugging courthouse, throws out 200 hours of recordings – The FBI violated the Fourth Amendment by recording more than 200 hours of conversation at the entrance to a county courthouse in the Bay Area, a federal judge has ruled.

Federal agents planted the concealed microphones around the San Mateo County Courthouse in 2009 and 2010 as part of an investigation into alleged bid-rigging at public auctions for foreclosed homes. In November, lawyers representing five defendants filed a motion arguing that the tactic was unconstitutional, since the Fourth Amendment bans unreasonable searches.

“[T]he government utterly failed to justify a warrantless electronic surveillance that recorded private conversations spoken in hushed tones by judges, attorneys, and court staff entering and exiting a courthouse,” US District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in an order (PDF) published yesterday. “Even putting aside the sensitive nature of the location here, Defendants have established that they believed their conversations were private and they took reasonable steps to thwart eavesdroppers.”

Breyer concluded that the disputed evidence must be suppressed. At a hearing next week, he’ll consider whether the recordings tainted the rest of the prosecution’s case.

Privacy Activists Launch Database to Track Global Sales of Surveillance Tech – The surveillance industry is notoriously secretive and opaque. But on Tuesday, activists at Privacy International released a searchable database on over 500 surveillance companies, including many of their brochures and export data.

“We’re trying to compile a resource which will track all the open source accounts of what technology is being used where, and who it’s provided by,” Edin Omanovic, research officer at Privacy International, told Motherboard in a phone call.

The database is called the Surveillance Industry Index (SII), and can be queried by company name and city, type of product, different surveillance trade shows, and more. The idea, Omanovic said, is to give journalists, activists, researchers, and policymakers “a better understanding of what kind of products are out there, and what the actual industry looks like.”

This is particularly important in regard to the sale of surveillance equipment to authoritarian regimes, or countries with a poor human rights record.

“In non-democratic and authoritarian systems, the power gained from the use of surveillance technologies can undermine democratic development and lead to serious human rights abuses”

Privacy International regularly sneaks into surveillance or military trade shows and obtains product brochures. The group has also collated and examined government-published export data, as well as media and NGO reports.

The top five countries represented in the SII are the US with 122 companies, the UK with 104, France and Germany with just over 40 each, and Israel with 27. In all, the SII covers 528 companies, and includes over 1500 brochures.

Census 2016: Chaos for Australians ahead of August 9 – The census next Tuesday will be the first time the names and addresses of 24 million Australians will be kept and linked to other data for four years, a change that has sparked outrage among public interest groups.

“The whole concept behind privacy is control of your personal information,” said Kat Lane, vice chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation.

“What we need to understand as a society is that it needs to be a choice whether you share your data with the world and whether you don’t.”

Ms Lane said Australians needed to be assured by the government that they would not be prosecuted and fined for not putting their names on the census if they did not wish.

“[The Australian Bureau of Statistics] didn’t factor in a large amount of media coverage over what is a significant change…the consultation process was so poor, they should be announcing that no one should be prosecuted.”

Australians that do not complete and return a census form could face fines of up to $180 a day. (recommended by Mal C.)

Data Shows How the UK Grants Licences to Export Interception Tech – Since 2015, the UK government has granted over 100 export licenses for “off the air” interception devices such as IMSI-catchers, figures show.

The data, compiled by activist group Privacy International and shown to Motherboard, highlights that the majority of applications to export these surveillance technologies to regimes such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were granted.

“Such technology can be used to indiscriminately track and spy on vast amounts of people in a specific place, for example at a demonstration,” Edin Omanovic, research officer at Privacy International, told Motherboard in an email. “Without safeguards, an accountable security sector, and a strong legal framework in place, such technology can be used to undermine human rights and democratisation, and in such circumstance it should certainly not be being exported. It is therefore extremely worrying that countries with records of gross human rights abuses appear in the records.”

Most granted licenses were for Indonesia, which had 19, followed by Qatar and Singapore

UK companies have successfully applied to export interception tools to countries such as Turkey, Turkmenistan, Russia, Bangladesh and China. The data lists 64 different recipient countries. In all, 113 applications were successful, according to the data provided by Privacy International.

Most granted licenses were for Indonesia, which had 19, followed by Qatar and Singapore, with 17 and 16 licenses respectively.

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