Monthly Archives: September 2016

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 30, 2016

Stop HTML5 autoplay videos in Chrome, Firefox, Opera;  How to create a secure and hidden folder on your Android phone;  21 essential Windows keyboard shortcuts;  10 Must-Read Tricks for Mastering Your New iPhone;  16 useful Windows 10 tools that help you get more done;  Is my Windows PC 32-bit or 64-bit? Why it matters;  The Best Laptops of 2016;  How Good Can Amazon’s New 8-Inch Tablet Be for Only $90? – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Stop HTML5 autoplay videos in Chrome, Firefox, Opera (but not Edge, Explorer, Safari) – Websites have shifted from Flash to HTML5 for video, because many browsers now allow native disabling of Flash. Here’s what you now need to know to stop videos from playing as soon as the page loads.

16 useful Windows 10 tools that help you get more done – Microsoft has stuffed Windows 10 full of productivity-enhancing tools and features that streamline common pain points.

Is my Windows PC 32-bit or 64-bit? Why it matters – Especially if you have an older PC, there’s a big difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows. Here’s how to find out what you have and why you should care.

How to watch the MLB playoffs and World Series without cable – For cord-cutters, finding live postseason baseball games online can be tougher than hitting a dancing knuckleball. Our guide will make sure you’ll never miss a pitch.


Credit: Thinkstock

21 essential Windows keyboard shortcuts – These Windows keyboard shortcuts help you navigate your PC faster, master documents, wrangle various virtual desktops, and shut down and secure a computer, using just a few keys.

Windows 10 tip: Hide unwanted drivers in Windows Update – Windows 10’s new approach to updates won’t allow you to refuse a security or reliability patch. But you can use a special troubleshooter to say no to a driver delivered through Windows Update. Here’s how.

Google Maps gains new voice commands on Android – In a bid to eliminate distracted driving, Google is adding new voice capabilities to Maps.

Best Bluetooth speakers – We’ll help you find the best wireless speakers for pairing with your smartphone or tablet—whatever your budget, and whatever music floats your boat.

How Good Can Amazon’s New 8-Inch Tablet Be for Only $90? – Want a tablet for watching movies in bed? Amazon’s $89.99 Fire HD 8 offers the best media consumption value you can get right now. The Fire HD 8 is the big sibling to the 7-inch Fire, and it has distinct advantages: better Wi-Fi, louder speakers, a faster processor, and more storage. It’s a basic, affordable tablet with a heavily modified Android operating system devoted to downloading, streaming, reading, and watching Amazon content. Don’t try to push the Fire HD 8 too far beyond media, and you’ll be satisfied. But there’s a definite cost to giving up Google’s native apps and app store, Google Play, and it’s one you should be aware of.

How to create a secure and hidden folder on your Android phone – Want to keep away the prying eyes? Then it’s time to grab some apps that will make pictures, videos, and more disappear from plain sight.

Twitter finally lets everyone create their own “Moments” – Finally, finally, Twitter has rolled out a version of its storytelling feature called Moments that it should have released at launch. Today, the company says that it’s opening up the Moments platform so anyone can create their own stories using tweets and photos uploaded to the service.

The Best Laptops of 2016 – Whether you want an ultraportable, a gaming behemoth, or anything in between, our shopping advice and product recommendations will help you find your ideal laptop.

Skype for iOS updated with Siri support – Now that Apple’s iOS 10 has been out for over a week and is making its way to most users’ iPhones, lots of popular apps are updating to take advantage of the software’s new features. One such release is today’s update for Skype, which allows the app make use of the new Siri API for third-party developers. Now users can ask Siri to place a Skype call to someone without even opening the app.

Luna Launcher turns your Android phone into a kid-friendly device – On the fence about whether your child is old enough for their own smartphone? A new app called Luna Launcher can help you warm to the idea, by offering a simple way to limit access to select apps and actions, including who they can call or text – a list you can restrict to family members, for example. Of course, because of the way it needs to interact with your phone’s operating system in order to restrict access, Luna Launcher is only available on Android.

Raspberry Pi gets its own official desktop environment: PIXEL – The Raspberry Pi, in all its incarnations, has been used in every DIY project or dream imaginable, from security systems to obstruction-detecting robots to, well, mini desktop computers. While most of these projects won’t really use a traditional computer desktop environment, the RPi was still in need of a lightweight, beautiful, and user-friendly desktop for beginners as well as those using the single-board computer as a regular, though less powerful, everyday desktop. Thus, PIXEL was born and is now available for download and use.


A new Microsoft tool shows how Win 10 might affect devices – IT administrators trying to figure out how to move their organizations to Windows 10 have a new tool that might change the game. This week, Microsoft released the Windows Upgrade Analytics Service, designed to make it easier to decide whether you can carry out a massive upgrade. WUAS gives administrators a sense of what drivers and applications are running in their environment, as well as how many devices are running Windows 10. Using Microsoft telemetry data, it decides whether those devices and the software running on them will be compatible with Windows 10 and suggest fixes for compatibility problems.

Periscope revamps website to make live videos easier to find – The site’s new look highlights relevant curated channels and makes it easier to search for video.

10 Must-Read Tricks for Mastering Your New iPhone – 3D Touch, found on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s, enables lots of helpful shortcuts


FBI director warns that hackers have been ‘poking around’ voter registration systems – The systems underlying our elections process are more important than ever this year, and the bad guys know it too. FBI director James Comey said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing today that “bad actors have been poking around” voter registration systems lately. The FBI issued a similar warning a month ago, saying that one state’s election board was compromised and others had seen multiple attempts. More activity has been observed since then.

Verizon technician sold calling, location data for thousands of dollars – An Alabama man who worked as a Verizon Wireless technician has agreed to plead guilty to a federal hacking charge in connection to his illegal use of the company’s computers to acquire customer calling and location data. The man, Daniel Eugene Traeger, faces a maximum five years in prison next month. He admitted Thursday that he sold customer data—from 2009 to 2014—to a private investigator whom the authorities have not named.

Security: It might not be the outside world that’s the largest threat to businesses – A new report reveals that one in three businesses experienced an insider attack in the past year. More devices with more access are putting sensitive info in the hands of everyone: Spies included.

Record-breaking DDoS reportedly delivered by >145k hacked cameras – Last week, security news site KrebsOnSecurity went dark for more than 24 hours following what was believed to be a record 620 gigabit-per-second denial of service attack brought on by an ensemble of routers, security cameras, or other so-called Internet of Things devices. Now, there’s word of a similar attack on a French Web host that peaked at a staggering 1.1 terabits per second, more than 60 percent bigger. It’s not easy for most people to know if their routers, DVRs, and other Internet-connected devices are infected. Most come with only a minimal control panel, and it’s not possible to use antivirus software to scan them for infections. Depending on the type of attack they’re carrying out, devices may show no sign they’re taking part in a crippling DDoS. The most important things end users can do is to change all default passwords, or better yet, to never connect the devices to the Internet in the first place.

Company News:

HP will stop blocking its printers from using third-party ink – HP is backtracking on a firmware update that recently blocked some printers from using third-party ink cartridges. Some users reported that the update sometimes mistakenly marked legitimate ink as fake, so HP’s CEO Jon Flaxman wrote today that the company will issue a new update to turn off the DRM. HP also clarified that third-party cartridges still work with the original update, so long as they’re built with HP security chips — aka HP is getting a cut of their business. The first mandatory update took effect on September 13th and forced printers to display “damaged cartridge” whenever a bad third-party cartridge was loaded. Following its activation, at least one company vowed to create new chips that could subvert the security check. It looks like that won’t be needed for now.

Google rebrands its business apps as G Suite, upgrades apps & announces Team Drive – Google announced today that its now ten-year old service Google Apps for Work (formerly Google Apps for Your Domain), is getting rebranded yet again. This time around, the company will call it “G Suite.” Sounds more hip, right? Alongside the news, Google also noted a handful of upgrades and improvements in G Suite’s existing product lineup, which includes apps like Drive, Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, Calendar, Hangouts, and more.

Apple inks partnership with Deloitte to push iOS devices in the enterprise – Apple has a new alliance with consulting giant Deloitte that could push more iPhones and iPads into the workplace. As part of the deal, Deloitte will open up a new in-house business unit comprised of 5,000 “iOS specialists” who will advise clients on how to adopt iPhones and iPads across their business. The unit will have teams in APAC, EMEA, and the Americas. Deloitte and Apple will also work together on a new service called EnterpriseNext. In a nutshell, the service will try to help companies build a mobile strategy around iOS devices as well as create custom-built iOS apps.

Mozilla is stopping all commercial development on Firefox OS – Mozilla ended development of Firefox OS phones in 2015, but there was still hope for the operating system. Mozilla wanted Firefox OS to power smart TVs, tablets, routers, all-in-one PCs, and all kinds of other devices. But that’s no longer in the cards. Mozilla just announced it’s now ending all commercial development of Firefox OS.

IBM, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon form enormous AI partnership – On Wednesday, the world learned of a new industry association called the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, and it includes some of the biggest tech companies in the world. IBM, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon have all signed on as marquis members, though the group hopes to expand even further over time. The goal is to create a body that can provide a platform for discussions among stakeholders and work out best practices for the artificial intelligence industry. Not directly mentioned, but easily seen on the horizon, is its place as the primary force lobbying for smarter legislation on AI and related future-tech issues.

Wells Fargo execs’ bonuses slashed as feds investigate and employees sue – On Tuesday evening, Wells Fargo announced that the bank’s CEO, John Stumpf, would forfeit $41 million in uninvested equity and forego his salary in the wake of a scandal that has hurt the bank’s reputation. The news comes on the heels of a new Labor Department investigation into the bank’s practices, as well as the filing of a proposed $7.2 billion class-action lawsuit by several ex-employees who claim they were forced to “choose between keeping their jobs and opening unauthorized accounts,” according to CNN Money.

Salesforce tries to block Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition – Microsoft made a splash earlier this year when it announced the largest acquisition in its history, signing an agreement to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. But now, Salesforce is trying to convince the European Union to block the deal. Salesforce Chief Legal Officer Burke Norton will argue to the EU’s competition authority that Microsoft’s control of LinkedIn’s dataset following an acquisition would be anticompetitive. EU competition chief Margarethe Vestager said in January that her agency would be looking directly at whether a company’s use of data is bad for competition, and these complaints seem aimed squarely at those comments.

Amazon Launches $2.5 Million Alexa Prize Competition – Teams will build bots on Amazon’s Alexa platform that can converse with people about popular topics and news events.

Oracle denied new trial in copyright dispute with Google over Java – A federal court in California has denied Oracle another trial in its long-standing copyright infringement dispute with Google over the use of Java code in Android.

Games and Entertainment:

No Man’s Sky is now under investigation for false advertising – The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority announced it’s investigating the way No Man’s Sky has been advertised on Steam. Regulators from the ASA have examined the game’s Steam page and, based on the information presented there, compiled a list of ways that No Man’s Sky gameplay deviates from what the company’s advertising copy promises.

Civilization 6: The most in-depth Civ to date – This year marks the 25th anniversary of Sid Meier’s Civilization. It’s an important milestone for a series that has shaped the strategy genre in countless ways over the last quarter-century. The release of Civilization VI is the next big step, and after 2014’s good-but-not-outstanding Civilization: Beyond Earth, which felt more like a spinoff than a sequel, expectations are high. The good news is that in the 15 hours and several hundred turns I’ve poured into a pre-release version of the game—which features all of the structural and mechanical features from the retail release, half of the game’s 20 distinct civilisations, a comprehensive list of different map types, three map sizes, and two game speeds—Civ VI is already very good indeed. It might even be the most in-depth Civilization game to date.

Gears of War 4 Prologue previewed in 20-minute gameplay video – We’re less than two weeks out from the launch of Gears of War 4, and if you remain on the fence about whether or not you’ll pick the game up, Microsoft is hoping that new gameplay video might sway you. This isn’t a typical trailer, though, as Microsoft and developer The Coalition actually take us through the game’s prologue missions.


Amazon gives its $40 Fire TV Stick better Wi-Fi and a quad-core processor – It’s a good time to be in the market for a streaming TV box. Roku just updated its lineup earlier this week with the tiny $30 Roku Express and some mainstream boxes that bring 4K video support for less than $100. Google is expected to release a 4K version of its popular Chromecast dongle at its product event next week. And Amazon has just announced a new version of its $40 Fire TV Stick.

Off Topic (Sort of):

50 percent of parents knowingly text their teens while the teens are driving – A new study reveals some stunning statistics about texting behind the wheel and a parent’s role in making it worse.

A Commodore 64 has helped run an auto shop for 25 years – Apple’s Phil Schiller thinks it’s sad that people use 5-year-old computers. Well, Phil, there’s an auto repair shop in Poland that’s going to send you spiraling into a long depression. Why? Because one of the computers they’re using on a day-to-day basis is a Commodore 64, and I don’t mean one of the slick nostalgic remakes. I’m talking about a classically beautiful beige C64 and its whirring, clunking 5.25″ floppy disk drive. It’s been there for more than 25 years. See, not everyone finds the idea of using an old computer sad. Some, like the mechanics at this shop in Gdansk, treat their hardware like a trusted member of their team. Clearly this Commodore 64 has been pulling its weight for the past 25 years, or the shop would’ve found a different system to help them balance driveshafts.


FCC delays vote on controversial set-top box proposal – The Federal Communications Commission made a last-minute announcement this morning that it would delay the vote on a measure that would have effectively killed off the cable box by requiring TV providers to make their shows and movies available through free streaming apps. A revamped proposal was introduced earlier this month, attempting to address some major complaints, by giving cable companies more control over their content and adding more copyright protections for content providers.

Pointing up    A few on that human garbage dump – Donald Trump.

Trump fuels conspiracy that Google is ‘suppressing’ bad Clinton news – Donald Trump is not a stranger to the occasional conspiracy theory, and in a speech on Wednesday, he added a new one to the list: Google is suppressing bad news about Hillary Clinton. “A new post-debate poll that just came out, the Google poll, has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide, and that’s despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton,” Trump said at the speech in Waukesha, Wisconsin. “How about that. How about that.”

Search Interest in Voter Registration by Spanish Speakers Skyrocketed After the Debate – Searches of “registrarse para votar” (Spanish for “register to vote”) rose 2200% in the past week on Google, peaking after Monday’s first presidential debate. Searches in English grew by just 430%. While Google search data isn’t entirely predictive, it can provide useful insight for what voters are asking in their internet browsers. The candidate most searched for by Spanish speakers was Democrat Hillary Clinton, who had 86% of the Google searches containing “votar por” (Spanish for “vote for”) compared to Trump’s 14% of searches.

Trump’s Campaign Is Trying to Cover Up His Lies About Climate Change – In a delicious turn of events at this week’s presidential debate, Donald Trump received his comeuppance over a four-year-old tweet in which he denounced climate change. On stage, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, referenced the tweet from 2012, and remarked that “Donald Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” His reply? An easily fact-checked lie. “I did not. I do not say that,” he scrambled to say, like a child who’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.


Hacker Zine Says It Will Pay $10,000 For Trump’s Tax Returns – A lot of people want to see Donald Trump’s tax returns. Especially in light of links between his campaign and Russian officials, what are his potential conflicts of interest while running for presidency? Now, infamous hacker zine 2600 says it will pay a hefty bounty for the documents. On Twitter, 2600 said, “We are offering $10K for 1st access to [Donald Trump’s] tax return.” The tweet suggests potential submitters can use PGP encryption to send the files and that the source’s identity will be protected.

Canada Is Now Prescribing Heroin to Fight Addiction – Heroin addicts in Canada can now get their fix with a doctor’s prescription. As of September 13, doctors who apply for a permit from Canada’s Special Access Program can prescribe diacetylmorphine, or pharmaceutical grade heroin, to severely addicted patients. Canada has been especially progressive in legislation that oversees addiction, treating it as an illness rather than a moral failure. In 2003, Vancouver became home to the first ever SIF, or supervised injection facility, where heroin users can bring their own stash and shoot up with sterile needles in a clean, safe environment. And the policies could pave the way for global changes. Now, New York’s city council just approved a study of supervised injection facilities in the city, while in Ithaca the mayor also proposed to open a SIF.

Something to think about:

“The Google poll has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide, and that’s despite the fact that Google’s search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton. How about that?”

–   Donald Trump

“Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.”

–   Frank Leahy

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Human rights orgs take Five Eyes nations to court – Human rights organisations have today made the most direct legal challenge against the UK and USA’s surveillance activities since they were first revealed in 2013.

Despite the outcry against surveillance which followed the outpourings of rogue NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden, and a few successful legal challenges, the utility and lawfulness of bulk interception has been consistently upheld by courts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ten organisations including Privacy International, Liberty, and Amnesty International, have today filed a direct complaint against the UK and USA to the European Court of Human Rights.

The 115-page complaint [PDF] is the first to directly challenge programmes such as GCHQ’s system Tempora, as well the NSA’s Upstream collection programme, on the grounds that they are in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Article 8 provides for a qualified right to privacy, a right that may be abridged if particular conditions are met, including that there are clear legal regimes regulating how governments may engage in surveillance against their populations.

The claimants are concerned that domestic courts and independent oversight mechanisms haven’t been able to tackle the bulk interception of transnational data flows, and the sharing of such data between different government agencies, due to “institutional deficiencies” in some cases and “the geographically bounded jurisdiction of these mechanisms” in others.

Across US, police officers abuse confidential databases – Police officers across the country misuse confidential law enforcement databases to get information on romantic partners, business associates, neighbors, journalists and others for reasons that have nothing to do with daily police work, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Criminal-history and driver databases give officers critical information about people they encounter on the job. But the AP’s review shows how those systems also can be exploited by officers who, motivated by romantic quarrels, personal conflicts or voyeuristic curiosity, sidestep policies and sometimes the law by snooping. In the most egregious cases, officers have used information to stalk or harass, or have tampered with or sold records they obtained.

No single agency tracks how often the abuse happens nationwide, and record-keeping inconsistencies make it impossible to know how many violations occur.

But the AP, through records requests to state agencies and big-city police departments, found law enforcement officers and employees who misused databases were fired, suspended or resigned more than 325 times between 2013 and 2015. They received reprimands, counseling or lesser discipline in more than 250 instances, the review found.

Unspecified discipline was imposed in more than 90 instances reviewed by AP. In many other cases, it wasn’t clear from the records if punishment was given at all. The number of violations was surely far higher since records provided were spotty at best, and many cases go unnoticed.

Among those punished: an Ohio officer who pleaded guilty to stalking an ex-girlfriend and who looked up information on her; a Michigan officer who looked up home addresses of women he found attractive; and two Miami-Dade officers who ran checks on a journalist after he aired unflattering stories about the department.

FBI’s Controversial Surveillance Program Declined After Snowden – The FBI’s use of a controversial program that collected Americans’ phone records decreased significantly after Edward Snowden exposed it to the world in 2013, a new report has found.

The program allows the FBI to get access to phone records—but not the content of phone calls—with permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Between 2012 and 2014, that court approved 561 so-called “business records orders,” but that number dropped from a nine-year high of 212 in 2012 to 170 in 2014, a nearly 20 percent decrease, according to a review by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The number fell again in 2015 to 142 orders. Snowden’s revelations helped fuel a change in U.S. law that ended the government’s practice of collecting and storing the phone records. Now, the government must request the information from phone companies.

A Justice Department official attributed the diminishing use of the program to the “stigma attached” to it after Snowden’s leaks. But there may be other factors, including the FBI’s increasing use of different tools under surveillance law, notably Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That section was associated with another controversial practice that Snowden exposed: collecting emails and other electronic information from large technology companies, including Facebook, Apple, and Google.

Poll: Should Edward Snowden be pardoned? – As President Obama concludes his term, the idea of pardoning Edward Snowden has percolated through the major media and been chattered about vociferously on social media. A petition on the White House’s We The People page has over 160,000 signatures.

The hacker and former NSA contractor remains controversial, three years after he swiped and released evidence that the US spy agency had been stockpiling massive amounts of data about internet users. Snowden argued that his actions revealed “unconstitutional activity” by the NSA and other government intelligence organizations.

The government, and many private sector cybersecurity firms, see Snowden as a criminal who broke the law and exposed state secrets.

The media is equally divided. Major news organizations, some of which collaborated with or have close ties to Edward Snowden, have been vocal about the idea of a pardon. The New York Times, The Intercept, and The Verge argue in favor of a pardon and compare the Snowden leaks to the release of the Pentagon Papers.

Microsoft sees rise in number of secret data requests – Microsoft has seen a rise in the number of accounts affected by secret government demands, according to its latest transparency report.

But the number of overall number of demands filed by world law enforcement and intelligence agencies declined during the last six-month reporting period.

The latest report from the tech giant, which covers the first half of this year ending June, revealed an 8 percent decrease in requests for customer data from global law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

In total, the company received 35,572 demands for data from law enforcement agencies, affecting 38,366 accounts across the world.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 28, 2016

Windows 10: Here’s why it beats Windows 7 on security;  Twitter will now help you register to vote;  IObit Applock: An app locker Android users can count on;  FAQ: What’s so special about 802.11ad Wi-Fi?  How to build a budget PC for less than $300;  Best home security camera;   The Best Security Suites of 2016;  Why $130 for a pair of camera-glasses isn’t a crazy idea – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter will now help you register to vote, answer voter questions via direct message – Twitter today is the latest tech company to join the push to get more Americans registered to vote. The company is rolling out a new feature that will allow you to direct message the company’s @Gov Twitter account in order to receive voter registration assistance over private messaging. What’s clever about Twitter’s implementation is that it’s personalized to you, based on your zip code. Voter registration deadlines vary from state to state, which is why Twitter says you’ll need to send through your five-digit zip code in order to receive accurate information for where you live. After DM’ing the @Gov account, Twitter will respond to your message with your state’s deadline and a link to get registered. The company says it’s working with Rock the Vote to power this new feature.

Windows 10: Here’s why it beats Windows 7 on security, says Microsoft – At the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta the tech giant showcased the new security features in Windows 10 that will help secure firms.

Here’s how Microsoft is walling off malware to protect Edge users – Microsoft is aiming to better protect users and organizations from the threats that they face in the browser with a new feature called Windows Defender Application Guard. It’s designed to isolate Microsoft Edge from the rest of the files and processes running on a user’s computer and prevent computer exploits from taking hold.

IObit Applock: An app locker Android users can count on – Of all the app locker software I’ve tried, IObit Applock is the one I prefer. Why? Because it works, it has the right features with very little fluff, and there are no ads. IObit Applock is rock solid. The feature list will please anyone looking to add another layer of security to their devices.

The Best Security Suites of 2016 – Using your computer for games and social media is fun; keeping it safe isn’t. A security suite can be your one-stop solution. We’ve tested almost four dozen of them, and these 10 get our highest recommendation.

How to use ‘Training for Google Apps’ as your personal tech support – Google’s services from Gmail to Drive are packed with all kinds of surprising features. Most of us know the basics, such as sending an email, formatting a word-processing document, and editing a few cells on a spreadsheet. But sometimes even the biggest Google services fan needs a little help. That’s where a handy Chrome extension by Google called Training for Google Apps comes in.

4 scanning apps for easily digitizing your documents – Thanks to our smartphone cameras, we’re all walking around with handheld scanners in our pockets. All you need to unlock them is the right app. The best scanning apps provide everything you need to manage your digital-document workflow: editing tools to clean up the scanned images, optical character recognition (OCR) so you can edit and search document text, and the ability to upload scans to your favorite note-taking app or cloud storage for anywhere access. Here are four apps that do that and more.

Snapchat Spectacles: Why $130 for a pair of camera-glasses isn’t a crazy idea – Smartglasses — or any sort of aggressive head-wearable eye tech — is still the final frontier for tech. Google Glass died as an awkward joke. Most smartglasses look like the sort of oddball things a normal person wouldn’t wear for more than a few seconds. Enter Spectacles. Can camera-glasses become a thing at last?


They light up when recording, just so everyone else knows what you’re doing.

Record Labels Sue YouTube Audio-Ripping Site – Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony, among other labels, filed suit against, a Germany-based site that lets users convert YouTube videos with audio tracks into permanent audio files they can download. The labels are seeking $150,000 for each instance of piracy, the BBC reports; the suit alleges there could “hundreds of millions” of tracks ripped to computers each month through the site. Though is not alone in offering such services, the suit say it’s the “chief offender” with an estimated 60 million users per month.

Plex Cloud launched for Media Server lovers without hardware – Now for those users that like the idea of using Plex Media Server but don’t want the hassle of actually hosting the server themselves, the company has expanded. Plex has launched Plex Cloud, taking the approach other cloud storage companies have worked with and turning it on its head. While other cloud storage groups have launched their storage first, then their organizational tools, the Plex crew have been creating and refining their organizational software for while now – approximately 8.7-years, at this point.

Best home security camera: Our favorite tools for keeping an eye on the home front – A boom in wireless security cameras is inspiring a movement in DIY home surveillance. Follow our buying guide and read our reviews to find the best option for you.

Podo camera redux has larger pixels, wide-angle lens, two week battery – Remember the Podo wireless camera? It’s back again, this time as an upgraded version that has, among other things, twice the pixel size as the original and a wide-angle lens. Despite the changes, Podo still offers its best features — you can stick it anywhere (just about, anyway) for quick on-the-fly recording. Stick it to a door, and it’ll record your visitors; to a wall, and it’ll record your pets; to the fridge, and it’ll see who is stealing your lunch.


FAQ: What’s so special about 802.11ad Wi-Fi? – Here are the broad strokes about 802.11ad, the wireless technology that’s just starting to hit the market.

Cheap, but good: How to build a budget PC for less than $300 – Here’s how to build a cheap PC that can expertly handle all the “normal stuff” people do—web browsing, Office tasks, email, video playback, you name it—and do so on a tight budget. In fact, at less than $300, this budget PC is far cheaper than the average $448 selling price of Windows laptops, while still far less pokey than the cheap-o $250 Chromebooks stuffed with Celeron processors. And you’ll have a full keyboard and mouse to get stuff done.

Pointing up    If you can handle a screwdriver – you can build a PC. It’s really as simple as – “this goes here” and, “this goes there.”

Intel Core i5 vs. Core i7: Which processor should you buy? – Whether you’re building your next PC or shopping for a new computer online, one of the questions that comes up from time to time is whether the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 is a better bargain. The short answer, “It depends,” isn’t all that helpful, so we’ve broken the data out in more detail and for both mobile and desktop processors. Here’s what you need to know.

Get an Arduino and teach yourself to program – Programming is more than just picking a language and framework. Programming means understanding how code interacts with actual computer hardware. If you want to get a visceral (and fun) understanding of programming, start with an Arduino.


Arduino Uno

OneDrive’s file placeholders will return to Windows 10 as On-Demand Sync – Windows 10 users are getting OneDrive placeholders with a new name: On-Demand Sync. If you aren’t familiar with the concept behind OneDrive placeholders (or On-Demand Sync), it’s a feature that allows you to see all your OneDrive-stored files in the Windows File Explorer. Even if a file isn’t stashed on your device’s local hard drive it will still be visible when you open the OneDrive folder in File Explorer.

What to expect from Google’s big Oct. 4 hardware event – Pixel phones, Google Home, a 4K Chromecast, and maybe even a new tablet may come to dine at the hardware feast.

Google announces Neural Machine Translation to improve Google Translate – The Google Neural Machine Translation system ‘surpasses’ the results of all other machine-translation solutions currently available, with GNMT now being used for Chinese-to-English translations.


Virlock ransomware can now use the cloud to spread, say researchers – A new strain of this two-year-old ransomware takes advantage of users syncing and sharing to spread infected files through their network.


It’s not the FBI demanding payment here, it’s criminals. Image: Netskope

Yahoo’s Password Breach Could Have Wide-Reaching Consequences – As investors and investigators weigh the damage of Yahoo’s massive breach to the internet icon, information security experts worry that the record-breaking haul of password data could be used to open locks up and down the web. While it’s unknown to what extent the stolen data has been or will be circulating — or how easy it would be to use if it were — giant breaches can send ripples of insecurity across the internet.

Yahoo’s claim of ‘state-sponsored’ hackers meets with skepticism – Yahoo has blamed its massive data breach on a “state-sponsored actor”. But the company isn’t saying why it arrived at that conclusion. Nor has it provided any evidence.

US senator asks SEC to probe Yahoo hack – Democratic Senator Mark Warner has asked the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate whether Yahoo and its executives fulfilled its obligations to go public about the hack in 2014 that affected 500 million user accounts. In a letter to SEC chairwoman Mary Jo White, Warner said that public companies such as Yahoo are required to disclose material events that the public and shareholders should know about, and that “disclosure is the foundation of federal securities law”. Warner also asked the SEC to look into whether Yahoo made accurate representations concerning the security of its IT systems.

Beware: iOS 10 security flaw makes cracking encrypted backups 2,500 times easier – Russian security firm Elcomsoft discovered the flaw, which makes brute force password cracking far easier than in iOS 9. All iPhone and iPad users need to be aware of what’s at stake.

Armies of hacked smart devices launch unprecedented DDoS attacks – The botnets made up of compromised IoT devices are now capable of launching distributed denial-of-service attacks of unprecedented scale.

Trump hotel chain fined over data breaches – Trump Hotel Collection has arrived at a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman over hacks that are said to have led to the exposure of over 70,000 credit card numbers and other personal data.

Mozilla to China’s WoSign: We’ll kill Firefox trust in you after mis-issued GitHub certs – Mozilla has proposed to stop trusting new digital certificates from Chinese certificate authority WoSign for one year.

Cybercrime and cyberwar: A spotter’s guide to the groups that are out to get you – Security threats can come from a variety of different individuals and groups. Here’s a field guide to the major players.

Company News:

Rights warriors demand reverse-ferret on printers snubbing unofficial cartridges – The Electronic Freedom Foundation has written to HP Inc demanding it reverse its attempt to prevent any third-party ink cartridges or refilled cartridges from working in its Officejet Pro printers. The EFF objects that HP is depriving its customers of a useful feature – to use any ink they choose. It further accuses the ink giant of abusing the security update process by introducing doubt into the update and patching process.

Microsoft claims Windows 10 now active on 400 million devices – Microsoft released updated statistics on Windows 10, showing that 400 million people are now using the OS worldwide. It’s the fastest transition to a new version of Windows in at least a decade.

Google could soon bring free Wi-Fi to your bus – Why use your data on public transport when you can use free internet provided by Google? The American tech giant on Tuesday announced Google Stations, a project which aims to bring free Wi-Fi to trains and buses around the world. This all started last year when Google began providing Indian stations with free internet, but the company hopes to branch it out internationally.

Google Pushes Into India With Data-Saving Apps, More Wi-Fi – Google is making a big push into India this week with several new products intended to get people online without draining their data and bank accounts. During the second Google for India event, the company unveiled the data-saving YouTube Go app (pictured) and lighter versions of flagship products, but also tipped more options for activating public Wi-Fi and Hindi for Google Assistant.

Lenovo fires over 1,000 more employees, mostly from Motorola – Lenovo has confirmed it is making around 1,100 jobs redundant, with the cuts mostly impacting employees in its Motorola Mobility smartphone division.

Disney may bid for Twitter, too – You can add Disney to the list of companies considering making a bid for Twitter, at least if new sources are correct. According to these individuals, who are said to be familiar with the business plans, Disney is looking into possibly making a bid for Twitter, something Salesforce, Google, Verizon, and Microsoft are also reportedly looking into. As expected, neither Disney nor Twitter commented on the rumor; however, if Disney were to proceed with a successful bid, this would mark its largest acquisition in a decade.

Games and Entertainment:

Why you shouldn’t get excited about 4K and HDR gaming, at least not yet – One of the biggest letdowns of the “original” PS4 and Xbox One was the lack of 4K resolution. The new PS4 Pro and Xbox One S consoles fix that issue, offering the potential to game in 4K as well as high dynamic range, aka HDR. The combination promises better graphics, contrast and color than ever, especially when mated to a high-end big-screen TV. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Hold your horses. We aren’t quite in the era of 4K gaming just yet. Here’s what you need to know about these new consoles, what you need to get them to play 4K and HDR in your home, and where PC gaming fits in.

Roku reboots its entire lineup with five all-new Express, Premiere, and Ultra models – The streaming pioneer is retiring all of its current set-top boxes, but will keep the portable Roku Stick. Its top two new products will deliver 4K video and HDR decoding.


Forza Horizon 3 truly shines on Windows 10 — if you’re on high-end hardware – Even though Horizon 3 runs relatively smoothly at 30Hz on the Xbox One, the recommended specs for the Windows 10 version of the game are surprisingly high. The developers think you should be running at least a Core i7-3820 CPU, a GTX 970/R9 290X graphics card, 4GB of VRAM, and 12GB of RAM for a 1080p experience. Want to run the game at 2160p? Well, the “ideal specs” are listed as a Core i7-6700 CPU, a GTX 980Ti/R9 Fury X graphics card, 6GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, and an SSD.

New Battlefield 1 trailer previews single-player campaign – It’s hard to avoid talk of Battlefield 1 ever since the game’s multiplayer beta wrapped up, but one topic that’s been notably missing from discussion is the game’s single-player campaign. While multiplayer tends to be the primary focus of games like these, many of them do ship with a single-player component for players who prefer a little story with their gunplay, and Battlefield 1 will be no exception. Today, we’re getting a look at that campaign in the newest Battlefield 1 trailer.


GOG Connect offers more no-cost, DRM-free copies of Steam games you already own – Back in June, announced its new “GOG Connect” program, a way by which it hoped to undermine Steam’s dominance as a platform. Feel like you’ve spent so much money that there’s no way you could ever switch away from Steam? GOG’s plan was to provide you with duplicate, DRM-free copies of games you’ve already bought, alleviating that burden.

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – Films starring Pierce Brosnan, Kate McKinnon, and Daniel Radcliffe appear in this week’s list of the most pirated movies on the Internet.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How machine learning and AI will ‘save the entire security industry’ – Machine learning and big data have led to many advances, including some in cybersecurity. Cylance CEO Stuart McClure explained the biggest implications the technology has for security.

A visual look at Elon Musk’s plan to move us to Mars (pictures) – In a much-anticipated talk at a space conference in Mexico on Tuesday, SpaceX founder Elon Musk revealed his grand ambition to build a city on Mars of as many as a million people and as soon as the 2060s. The plan centers on a huge new SpaceX rocket (shown here in a slide from Musk’s presentation) even more powerful than the huge Saturn V rockets used for the Apollo missions of the 1960s and ’70s.


Anti-Defamation League Declares Pepe the Frog a Hate Symbol – Pepe the Frog’s beginnings were unoffensive: he is the creation of comic book creator Matt Furie, who featured the frog as a character in the series Boy’s Club beginning in 2005. The character subsequently became a beloved meme, often called the “sad frog meme” and shared with a speech bubble reading “Feels good man” or “Feels bad man.” It was at times posted on social media by the likes of Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. But recently, as the Daily Beast reported in May, the character has been co-opted by a faction of Internet denizens who decided to reclaim it from the mainstream, and began sharing it in anti-Semitic contexts.

Palmer Luckey lied — and that matters more than his politics – I don’t care who Oculus founder Palmer Luckey votes for or how he spends his money. If the 24-year-old VR pioneer decided that plastering billboards with anti-Hillary Clinton memes was the best way to spend his time, I won’t boycott his Oculus Rift headset or enjoy it any less. Particularly when Oculus (and its parent company Facebook) employ lots of people who shouldn’t be punished for Luckey’s actions. But I do care about the truth. And the truth is that Palmer Luckey — the poster boy for a technology we’ve dreamed about for decades, the one we’re trusting to build the future — lied about what he did or didn’t do.

Something to think about:

“Disconnecting from change does not recapture the past. It loses the future.”

–       Kathleen Norris

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Twitter Refuses to Block Account of Noted Turkish Journalist – A Turkish court ordered Twitter to block the account of a noted journalist last week, accusing him of “instigating terrorism.” But despite receiving the court order, Twitter has decided not to comply, Motherboard has learned.

The company got a court order requesting the censorship of 17 accounts, including that of Mahir Zeynalov, a well known DC-based writer. But as of Monday morning, the account was still up all over the world, including within Turkey. Twitter also notified Zeynalov of the censorship request via email on Friday. Twitter declined to comment for this story.

“Twitter has not taken any action on the reported account at this time. One of our core values is to defend and respect the user’s voice,” the notice sent to Zeynalov, which was obtained by Motherboard, read. “Accordingly, we may consider filing petition of objection if we find that there is an appropriate legal basis to do so. If you intend to file an objection to this order in the Turkish courts, please reply immediately to let us know.”

Despite the company’s refusal, Zeynalov said he expects his account to be censored.

Facebook Ordered to Delete WhatsApp Data in Germany – German data protection authorities on Tuesday ordered Facebook to delete data, such as phone numbers, it has received from its subsidiary WhatsApp.

Facebook acquired the global messaging service two years ago and announced this summer that WhatsApp would begin sharing the phone numbers of its users with the social network as part of a program to synchronize the two businesses.

But Hamburg’s Commissioner for Data Protection ruled that Facebook “neither has obtained an effective approval from the WhatsApp users, nor does a legal basis for the data reception exist.”

“After the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook two years ago, both parties have publicly assured that data will not be shared between them,” the agency said in a statement. “The fact that this is now happening is not only a misleading of their users and the public, but also constitutes an infringement of national data protection law.”

Facebook, whose German operations are based in Hamburg, questioned the ruling.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – September 26, 2016

The Best Antivirus Protection of 2016;  When is the first Presidential Debate? Live Streaming video detailed;  The Best Password Managers of 2016;   How to customize the Windows 10 Start menu;  What to do when you hate Windows 10;  Black Friday 2016 predictions include $90 Chromebooks;  Google Allo vs. Apple iMessage vs. Facebook Messenger;  Everything coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now in October – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Safe Browsing beats rivals but still only flags up 10 percent of hacked sites – Thousands of websites have been hijacked in the past three months, but just 18 percent were blacklisted by four major security services, including Google’s Safe Browsing system. Sucuri’s Hacked Website Report for the second quarter of 2016 contains a rundown of 9,771 infected sites that it has recovered in the past three months on behalf of customers. Only 18 percent of these infected sites have been blacklisted by Google’s Safe Browsing, Symantec’s Norton SafeWeb, Yandex’s Safe Browsing service, or McAfee’s SiteAdviser, according to Sucuri, meaning the vast majority have been spreading malware without users being warned about them.


Google’s service far outperformed the others, accounting for 52 percent of the roughly one-fifth of sites that have been blacklisted. Image: Sucuri

When is the first Presidential Debate? Live Streaming video detailed – Since the year 2008, the last time the United States had a presidential race that the entire world was interested in, a lot has changed in how we’re able to access video. The age of Live Video Streams has truly dawned, and we’re in a place where it’d more surprising to NOT see the debates available for live streaming online than if they were. And they are. And we’ve got all the links and video boxes and streamers in the world below, ready for the clicking and the watching.

Sling TV Capitalizing on Presidential Debate With Free Preview – The Sling TV free preview event starts at 8 a.m. ET on Monday, meaning you can watch pre-debate coverage, the beginning of the Falcons-Saints football game, which starts at 8:30, before (hopefully) flipping over to the debate at 9 p.m. ET. The free period will end at 2 a.m. ET the following day, so you can also check out post-debate coverage and game highlights.

What to do when you hate Windows 10 – I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but overall I don’t think Windows 10 is a bad OS like Windows 8 was when it launched. It’s essentially a hybrid version of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, and it’s going to be around for a very long time in one form or another so you might as well get comfortable with it now. It also offers a lot of tweaks that could help it grow on you. Here are some of my favorites:

How to customize the Windows 10 Start menu with numbered shortcuts – You can streamline the Windows 10 Start menu and make it even easier to access and launch the apps you use most often. This illustrated walk-through explains the steps.

The best online backup service for securely encrypting your data – Every hosted backup solution manages encrypted storage a little differently. We look at who gives subscribers the keys to the castle.

The Best Antivirus Protection of 2016 – Antivirus software is a must for every computer. Without it, you risk losing your personal information, your files, even the cash from your bank account. We’ve tested 44 utilities to help you pick the right one for your PC.

The Best Password Managers of 2016 – A password like “123456” or “monkey” is easy to remember, but it’s also easy to crack. With the help of a password manager, you can have a unique and strong password for every secure website.

Black Friday 2016 predictions include $90 Chromebooks, $299 Apple iPad Air 2 tablets – Expect the trend of store gift cards to be given in lieu of deals on Apple products, while budget Windows laptops will probably be priced around $150.

How to search the full text of web pages in your Chrome browsing history with Falcon – A new Chrome extension called Falcon lets you find web pages in your browsing history by searching for any word or phrase contained on the page you’re looking for.

Messaging app Telegram adds selfie masks, DIY GIFs – With what looks to be an eye on Snapchat’s selfie-loving fanbase, messaging platform Telegram has beefed up its in-app photo editor in what it dubs an “entertainment-heavy update” — including an option that lets users customize selfies by adding cartoon masks that automatically align on their faces. Snapchat of course has a lenses feature for transforming users’ selfies. The Telegram feature is far less sophisticated than Snapchat’s lenses; more ‘selfie augmentation’ than full facial transformation, given it only works with photos (not video). And is really just another sticker set that can be added to photos you’ve already snapped. But the popularity of stickers on messaging platforms should not be underestimated.

Google Allo vs. Apple iMessage vs. Facebook Messenger: How They Compare – The messaging apps you likely use each day, like Apple’s iMessage and Facebook Messenger, have changed dramatically over the past few months. These apps, primarily designed for simple conversation, are gradually evolving into platforms for more complex messaging and outside services. The shift can be compared to the move from mobile webpages to apps that took place once smartphones like the iPhone rose in popularity nearly a decade ago.

Google planning to release Wi-Fi router at October event, Home to cost $129: Report – The Google Wi-Fi router is expected to be released at Google’s October 4 event, according to the blog, which has correctly pegged past Google releases. The router is said to be designed like a small, white Amazon Echo Dot, and you can reportedly expand it with multiple access points .

Skype Teams expected to launch in January 2017, beta in November – Earlier in the month, we heard that Microsoft was plotting a competitor to Slack under its Skype branding. This new program, Skype Teams, was rumored to borrow a fair number of features while at the same time attempting to improve on the experience Slack offers its users through things like deep integration with Office 365. Now, we’re hearing that Skype Teams could launch as early as January, with Microsoft rolling out a large scale beta before then.

Snapchat Is Releasing Video-Sharing Sunglasses. They’re Called Spectacles – Snapchat is expanding beyond its platform for short vanishing videos with the launch of video-sharing sunglasses this year. The camera-embedded sunglasses, capable of capturing a wider field of view known as “circular video,” will connect directly to Snapchat, allowing users to share videos that more closely resemble human vision.

Face-Recognition Porn Is Now a Thing – Porn site Megacams just introduced a not-creepy-at-all feature that lets you upload a photo of someone you want to see nude and get matched up with a lookalike “sex model.” The feature leverages facial-recognition technology to scan a photo — analyzing things like the bridge of the person’s nose, their forehead, and chin — to find a similar-looking sex model in the site’s database. What a world we live in, huh?

Uber rolls out security selfies in US for driver authentication – Uber has taken another step toward addressing safety concerns voiced by critics, doing so by starting a rollout of security selfies in the United States. With these selfies, an Uber driver takes a selfie using their phone before they can go online in the Uber system, which users the selfie to determine whether the driver matches the account owner’s photo on file. By doing so, it serves as an authentication of sorts that the driver is who he or she is supposed to be.


Malwarebytes: Top 10 ways to secure your mobile phone –  To get a leg up against a rising tide of mobile malware activity, don’t just phone it in—secure your mobile phone with these tried and true methods.

Malwarebytes: Hosts file hijacks – The hosts file is the internet variant of a personal phonebook. We discuss a few malware variants that replace or change that phonebook, so you end up calling the wrong sites. The ones they want you to call.

Why the silencing of KrebsOnSecurity opens a troubling chapter for the ‘Net – For the better part of a day, KrebsOnSecurity, arguably the world’s most intrepid source of security news, has been silenced, presumably by a handful of individuals who didn’t like a recent series of exposés reporter Brian Krebs wrote. The incident, and the record-breaking data assault that brought it on, open a troubling new chapter in the short history of the Internet. The crippling distributed denial-of-service attacks started shortly after Krebs published stories stemming from the hack of a DDoS-for-hire service known as vDOS. The first article analyzed leaked data that identified some of the previously anonymous people closely tied to vDOS. It documented how they took in more than $600,000 in two years by knocking other sites offline. A few days later, Krebs ran a follow-up piece detailing the arrests of two men who allegedly ran the service. A third post in the series is here.

iOS 10 Has a ‘Severe’ Security Flaw, Says iPhone-Cracking Company – Specifically, the company found that iOS 10 backups saved locally to a computer via iTunes allow password-cracking tools to try different password combinations at a rate of 6,000,000 attempts per second, more than 40 times faster than with backups created by iOS 9. Elcomsoft says this is due to Apple implementing a weaker password verification method than the one protecting backup data in previous versions. That means that cops and tech-savvy criminals could much more quickly and easily gain access to data from locally-stored iOS 10 backups than those produced by older versions.

Company News:

Yahoo already hit with lawsuits over hack – On Friday, the firms Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Labaton Sucharow filed a suit in the US District Court in the Northern District of California. The suit, for which the firm intends to seek class action status, accuses Yahoo of “failure to establish and implement basic data security” and being “grossly negligent” with user data, according to the complaint. It also alleges the company knew of the breach “long before” it was disclosed, but hid it from the public until after its $4.83 billion sale to Verizon. A separate class action suit was filed Thursday in US District Court in San Diego, according to the San Jose Mercury News. In that case, plaintiffs came to the lawyer before Yahoo announced the hack, trying to figure out how people were accessing their information.

Snapchat unveils $130 connected sunglasses and rebrands as Snap, Inc. – Snapchat’s first hardware product is coming to the market sooner than anyone expected. The company said tonight that it will sell Spectacles, a set of connected sunglasses that record 10-second snippets of video, for $130 sometime this fall. It also rebranded itself as Snap, Inc. — a reflection of a fact that the company now makes more than its flagship app, co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel told the Wall Street Journal. Spectacles have a single button that you press to begin recording your snap, according to the Journal.

Facebook apologizes for feeding inflated video-view numbers to advertisers – On Friday, Facebook took to its official blog to confirm and respond to a Wall Street Journal report. In the blog post, the company acknowledged that one of Facebook’s most crucial metrics for measuring video-view performance had been wildly inflated. The blog post, from Facebook VP of marketing David Fischer, spells out exactly what the company did wrong. Its advertising-dashboard measure of “average duration of video viewed” was apparently based on questionable math. To get that count, the “total time spent watching a video” was only divided by the number of people who have seen at least three seconds of the video rather than everyone who watched the video.

Leica and Huawei continue camera partnership with joint R&D center – Leica and Huawei have announced plans for a new research and innovation center to be situated at Leica’s headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany. The Max Berek Innovation Lab, named after the famed optical pioneer who created many of Leica’s early lenses, continues a partnership first announced in February and solidified in April with the launch of Huawei’s Leica-branded P9 phone. According to Huawei, the R&D lab will “drive further development of optical systems and software-based technologies to improve imaging quality in a wide range of photographic and mobile device applications,” including AR and VR solutions. It’s not clear when work will begin at the center.

Tesla Sues Michigan Over Direct Sales Ban – Tesla has sued Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and two other officials over the state’s refusal to allow the automaker’s direct sales-and-service model. The suit was filed only days after the state government rejected Tesla’s application for direct vehicle sales, Reuters reports. Tesla does not operate franchised dealers, but instead chooses to run its own facilities, which are not allowed in Michigan—a decision that violates the company’s right to due process, equal protection, and commerce, it claims.

Singapore social music startup buys 49% stake in Rolling Stone – BandLab Technologies says it plans to set up an international subsidiary in Singapore to build up its business and drive Rolling Stone’s expansion into new markets including Asia.

Games and Entertainment:

Street Fighter V PC update included rootkit, now pulled over malware concerns – Thursday saw the release of an update for Street Fighter V on both PS4 and PC that included several new features, including new character Urien, a versus CPU mode, and stage KOs, or the ability for players to defeat opponents using a level’s environment. But those playing the fighting game on PC noticed that they got something extra for their platform: a rootkit that allows any application access to the PC’s kernel.

Forza Horizon 3 review: the unofficial Fast and Furious video game – After a superlative 30-minute intro, that is like test-driving every car in the lot at the speed of light, you choose a driver — Forza Horizon developer Playground Games offers a diverse set of playable characters, not just bald white beefcakes — and begin taking over Australia through good-spirited road races, that leave a paradoxical wake of joyful onlookers and destroyed property. Nobody ever gets hurt, and damaged fences, shredded yards, and obliterated vineyards are repaired within minutes, as if by a set decoration team prepping a second attempt at a film’s big stunt sequence. And even coming in last place accrues followers in your quest to convert the island into a never-ending party sequence that starts every Fast and Furious film. (In one respect, it bests the Fast and Furious films by not sexualizing car culture and providing a full wardrobe for all female characters, not just the ones driving the cars.)


More Minecraft goodies: llamas in September, dragons in October – The Minecraft “Boss Update” may be coming to the Pocket, Windows 10, and Gear VR editions of the game on October 18th, but even before that happens, there will be a double blow update to be unleashed. One of them even starts on the 28th! This time, however, it will be the PC (and Mac) players as well as console gamers who will experience the new features first, introducing maps and fluffy, spitting llamas for one and colossal dragons for the other.

No one’s playing No Man’s Sky, as developer remains silent and players flee the franchise – When No Man’s Sky launched in August, it was already clear that the game would primarily appeal to a niche audience. The title’s lead designer and head of developer Hello Games, Sean Murray, has been blasted for promising the game would include features that didn’t actually ship. Not long after launch, Murray and Hello Games went radio-silent as players began requesting refunds. Now, nearly a month later, the game has transformed into a ghost of its former self.

50 facts about Destiny that you may not know – With so much coverage of the game since launch, it feels as if Destiny has no more secrets left to uncover. However, there are still a few things that folks may not know about the game. From hidden messages buried in the game’s UI and clever pop culture references, to a strange working title, and even a few nods to the Dark Souls series, Destiny’s secrets run deep. Below, we’ve compiled a list of 50 Destiny facts you may or may not know about. Some are weirder than others, but they are all equally as interesting.

Call of Duty 3 gets Xbox One backwards compatibility – Xbox One backwards compatibility has added Call of Duty 3 to its roster, allowing those with the latest Xbox One console to play the older COD title. The addition was confirmed by Larry Hyrb via a tweet yesterday; the support is in place now, so you can go ahead and pick up the title for your Xbox One if you’re so inclined. The addition joins both Call of Duty 2 and Black Ops on the backwards compatibility list.

Everything coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now in October – We’re just a few days away from October, and that means it’s time for Halloween. Scary movies. Spooky stories. Specters that crawl out of your television and have really long hair. Given that, it’s hard to not see this upcoming month as a streaming service contest: which player can out-Halloween the others?

The Best Original Shows On Netflix Streaming – Not all Netflix original series are great – we’ll have a tough time saying nice things about Fuller House – but the best ones are as good as anything on HBO or other prestige networks. Not being bound to a staggered release schedule lets creators get away with some stuff, too. What follows are our eleven top original series streaming on Netflix. As they debut more shows, expect some changing of the guard, but as of September 2016 these are the cream of the crop.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Register to Vote Now Via Snapchat – Snapchat is the latest platform to help consumers enroll in the voting process. Users in the US who are eligible to vote (those 18 years or older) can access video ads between Stories and Discover, Mashable reports. Tap to be redirected to an in-app voter registration site powered by TurboVote. Folks can sign up through the service to get registered, update current information, or request an absentee ballot. The joint campaign—run by Snapchat and nonprofit Democracy Works—runs through Oct. 7.

What The F? What swearing reveals about language and ourselves – In his new book What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves (UK) Benjamin Bergen—a linguist in the Cognitive Science Department at UC San Diego—tries to explain exactly why cussing is so amazing. His self-described “book-length love letter to profanity” defines what makes a swearword and why using one feels so great. Although What the F has its share of silliness, it’s full of cute tidbits you can drop at cocktail parties, like how all Samoan babies’ first words are “eat s#!t” and how Japanese completely lacks curse words. Japanese people with Tourette’s syndrome blurt out insults and childlike words for genitalia that are generally considered impolite and inappropriate, but not profane.

10 pieces of obsolete technology still in use today – The tech world moves fast, but not always as fast as you think. Obsolete technology has a tendency to hang on, and hang on strong. Here’s a list of 10 pieces of obsolete technology that are still alive and kicking, starting with a surprising one: dial-up internet. The days of connecting to the internet with a 56K modem are over for most of us, but approximately three percent of Americans are holding out–that’s about 9.5 million people. Who are they–and do they know they could get online faster?

Trump launches nationwide Snapchat filter to attack ‘Crooked Hillary’ before debate – After blasting her in Twitter tirades and during campaign trail speeches, Donald Trump is turning to Snapchat to attack Hillary Clinton. Trump’s campaign has purchased national Snapchat geofilters, the Independent Journal Review reports, that will be available to Snapchat users during Monday’s debate. A preview version of the filter frames the event as being “Donald J. Trump vs. Crooked Hillary,” but Time says it will be changed during the debate itself for a different version that removes the direct attack on the Democratic candidate.

Palmer Luckey’s Trump fund has been a kick in the teeth for VR – Last night, The Daily Beast reported that virtual reality pioneer Palmer Luckey had secretly funded a pro-Trump group called Nimble America, dedicated to promoting internet memes and “shitposting” in support of the candidate. While Luckey’s general political alignment hadn’t been a secret, the news potentially tied him to some of the uglier parts of Trump’s online support base, including alt-right cheerleader Milo Yiannopoulos. Late on Friday, Luckey called the reports of his Trump support inaccurate, although he admitted to donating $10,000 to the group in question — and one of his key claims remains in doubt.

What Does Alt-Right Patron Palmer Luckey Believe? – Palmer Luckey, the 24-year-old founder of Oculus and virtual reality pioneer, was just exposed by The Daily Beast for giving money to a pro-Donald Trump non-profit through a convoluted Reddit scheme. The news shocked the VR and tech community at large on Thursday night, but a look at Luckey’s Twitter activity reveals that he’s been openly in support of the alt-right and the bigotry that defines it since March. Luckey has “liked” many alt-right memes and WikiLeaks-sanctioned conspiracy theories on Twitter, many of them from his girlfriend Nikki Moxxi, a Trump supporter and GamerGater.

5 Oculus Rift alternatives if you’ve changed your mind – Today we’re running down a number of alternatives to the Oculus Rift, a device made by the folks who re-invigorated the modern world of virtual reality computing. While no device is exactly like the Oculus Rift, there are a few devices that fit the bill for a wide variety of computing situations – especially gaming. If you’ve been convinced today that you need to send your Oculus Rift right back where it came from, we’ve got a bit of info about that, as well.

What the List of Most Banned Books Says About Our Society’s Fears – When the American Library Association started keeping a database of challenged books in the early ’90s, the reasons cited were fairly straightforward, according to James LaRue, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “‘Don’t like the language,’ or ‘There’s too much sex’—they’d tend to fall into those two categories,” he says. Some books are still challenged for those reasons—Fifty Shades of Grey is a common example. But there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books “focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities,” LaRue says. “It seems like that shift is very clear.”

Pharma company boosts the price of an old acne cream 3,900% – The greedy, price-hiking ways of Turing, Mylan, Valent, and countless others are breaking out like blemishes across the face of the pharmaceutical industry. So it may come as no surprise that a simple acne cream, called Aloquin, saw its price hit a whopping $9,561 (£7,400) last week. The 60g tube of zit-zapping topical previously cost just $241.50—but that was months ago, before Chicago-based Novum Pharma bought the medication from Primus Pharmaceuticals in May of 2015 and made no changes to the product at all. Since then, Novum hiked the price three times, reaching an increase of 3,900 percent.

Something to think about:

“I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.”

–      Herbert Bayard Swope (1882 – 1958)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Police are increasingly using social media surveillance tools – We’re approaching a level of social unrest that we haven’t seen since the days of the Civil Rights movement. That means law enforcement agencies are trying to figure out how to manage and circumvent the unrest — a lot of which has resulted from the police killings of unarmed black people — through surveillance. You may remember that, back in August, Bloomberg found out that police in Baltimore had been secretly operating “wide-area surveillance” throughout the area. Well, that’s not the only type of surveillance law enforcement agencies are using.

This summer, the American Civil Liberties Union of California requested records from 63 police departments, sheriffs and district attorneys across California. Of the records they received, 40 percent of the agencies (20) used social media surveillance tools, and most of them started using them within the last year.

But these agencies didn’t notify the public or lawmakers about their use of this type of surveillance. And none of the agencies examined by the ACLU have any policies covering how to use those tools in a way that actually protects civil rights and civil liberties.

With these social media surveillance tools in hand, law enforcement agencies are able to target activists, according to the ACLU’s analysis of records. Agencies are using tools like MediaSonar, X1 Social Discovery and Geofeedia, some of which actively market their products as tools to target activists.

In addition to the fact that law enforcement agencies didn’t tell anyone about their use of social media surveillance tools, it’s unsettling to see the role Silicon Valley plays in all of this. Law enforcement agencies are using tools that are venture-backed and covered by the tech press.

Privacy groups urge US FTC to investigate WhatsApp promises – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should stop mobile messaging service WhatsApp from sharing user data with parent company Facebook in violation of earlier privacy promises, several privacy groups said.

The FTC should step in to stop WhatsApp from violating “commitments the company previously made to subscribers,” the 17 groups said in a letter sent to the agency Thursday. WhatsApp has long billed itself as a secure and private messaging service.

WhatsApp’s recently released plan to share user data with Facebook as a way to target advertising could amount to an “unfair and deceptive” trade practice, said the groups, including the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, and Demand Progress.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact this proposed change in data practices will have on the privacy and security of WhatsApp users in the U.S. and across the world,” the letter added. When Facebook acquired the messaging service in 2014, both companies “made numerous promises” that WhatsApp’s privacy policies wouldn’t change, the letter added.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 23, 2016

How the Yahoo mail hack affects you, and what to do;  How online surveillance cracked our trust in the web;  The Best Free Music Download Sites;  How To Make Your Kids Smarter: 10 Steps Backed By Science;   Google Allo: Don’t use it, says Edward Snowden;  How to use your Android, iOS, or Windows 10 smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot;  Firefox Will Now Narrate Articles as You Browse;  Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 review: The finest soccer game ever made – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How the Yahoo mail hack affects you, and what to do – Today is was revealed that Yahoo experienced a breach of account names and passwords of epic proportions. Now we’re running down the ways which users – any user of Yahoo products of all sorts, with Yahoo accounts – should move forward. This includes password changing. This includes the potential use of Yahoo’s Account Key. It includes not having a heart attack about the situation while, at the same time, understanding that one’s account breach could mean some very serious things.

Google Allo: Don’t use it, says Edward Snowden – Google’s Allo messaging app and its Assistant bot have finally arrived, but Allo has been slammed for reneging on a promise that it would, by default, make it more difficult to spy on. Because of the missing privacy feature, NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden’s first take of Allo after yesterday’s US launch is that it’s just a honeypot for surveillance.

How to use your Android, iOS, or Windows 10 smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot – If your life is anything like mine, that will be the moment when you absolutely must get your laptop online to make adjustments to a document, or reply to a lengthy email. Sure, you could tough it out and do this work on your phone, but that small screen can be a big hassle for major work. That’s why knowing how to turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot for your laptop is so useful.

Hands-on: Opera’s free, unlimited browser VPN is ready for secure surfing – Opera says its VPN service exists as an independent company, operating under strict Canadian privacy laws.

How to use advanced options in Windows 10 to access BIOS settings – In years past, getting to the BIOS configuration software involved pressing a specific key on the keyboard just before the operating system started to load. With Microsoft Windows 10, the advent of UEFI Firmware, and the fast boot setting now common on many PCs, getting to the BIOS settings these days often requires a far different approach and, as you will see, it can hardly be called intuitive. Here is how you access the BIOS settings screen if you are not given the opportunity to do so before Windows 10 starts loading.

Firefox Will Now Narrate Articles as You Browse – Mozilla just updated its browser with an option for text to be read aloud. This means Reader Mode will now narrate that article for you while you listen and browse the Web freely without interruptions. As Firefox users may know, Reader Mode strips away clutter from a page — things like buttons, ads, and background images — and changes the page’s text size, contrast, and layout for better readability. With this update, Mozilla has also added more customization options for Reader Mode, so you can adjust the text and fonts, as well as the voice narrating for you. If you tend to stay up late, you can now read in the dark better by changing the theme from light to dark.

Windows 10 tip: Change UEFI firmware settings or start in Safe Mode – Who can remember the magic keystroke combo that unlocks your PC’s UEFI firmware settings screen? Use the hidden Advanced Options menu instead; it lets you choose advanced startup options for maintenance or troubleshooting.

10 Quick Tips to Fix Your Bad Photos – It’s easy to place the blame on the camera (or your smartphone) if your images aren’t as nice as some others you see online, but by following a few guidelines you can improve the quality of your snapshots—without having to shell out big bucks for a new camera. Keep these 10 easy tips in mind next time you head out to capture the world around you. And if you have any tips that have helped you take better pictures, please share them in the comments section.

Samsung has shut down Milk Music – Samsung users are going to have to find a new way to listen to music: the company announced that it would be shuttering its streaming radio service Milk Music. According to Variety, Samsung will be shutting down Milk Music on September 22nd, urging its Galaxy and Note smartphone users to switch over to Slacker Radio, which powered the system. The elimination of the service has been rumored for several months, with reports that the company was going to shutter the service because it had failed to gain traction with users.

The Best Free Music Download Sites – What is this, you say? You don’t want to pay for music? Good on you! Live that frugal lifestyle since it’s only a matter of time before most humans lose the ability to make a living in an economy run by increasingly capable robots. Thankfully, there are a number of (legal) platforms out there where you can still find all manner of free music to download. Here are just a few.

Facebook Messenger now lets you poll your friends – Facebook Messenger is getting a new update today, tossing a pair of interesting new features into the mix. First and foremost is the addition of polls, which will let groups make decisions though the age-old concept of majority rule. Payments are also being refined in this update, and can now pick out phrases that would normally be associated with money to summon a “send money” button within the conversation itself.

Amazon Fights for Your Kids’ Eyeballs With $100 Kindle Bundle – Thinking of getting your kid an e-reader this holiday season? Amazon has just the thing. The Web giant just introduced a new, $100 Kindle for Kids Bundle, which includes the latest Kindle e-reader without sponsored screensavers; a kid-friendly cover in blue, green, pink, or purple; and a two-year guarantee. With that guarantee, if anything happens to the e-reader you can send it back to Amazon and the company will replace it with a new one for free, “no questions asked.”

With Google Pixel, the Android promise fulfilled, at last! – This October Google will have fulfilled the promise they’ve been making on the Android operating system for the past decade. In the year 2005, Google acquired Android. In 2011, Google acquired Motorola (then, not long after, sold everything but their patents). In 2016, Google is in a position to not only create a set of Android smartphones and control the hardware, sales, and distribution, but the software, too. Google will be panned for copying Apple’s game plan with these devices, but these devices will be exactly what consumers want, and will buy.


Yahoo says half a billion accounts breached by nation-sponsored hackers – At least half a billion Yahoo accounts have been breached by what investigators believe is a nation-sponsored hacking operation. Attackers probably gained access to a wealth of holders’ personal information, including names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, answers to security questions, and cryptographically protected passwords. Yahoo Chief Information Security Officer Bob Lord dropped that bombshell announcement on Thursday afternoon, several hours after news site Recode reported the company was poised to disclose a compromise affecting several hundred million accounts. With at least 500 million accounts included in Yahoo’s official statement, the breach is among the biggest ever to hit a single Web property.

Hackers post emails from White House staffer, including Michelle Obama’s passport – Anonymous hackers have compromised the private Gmail account of a low-level White House staffer, and posted the email archive publicly on the site DCLeaks. It’s the same site that published Colin Powell’s personal email archive earlier this month, as well as emails from the Democratic National Committee. A number of analysts believe the site is part of a Russian effort to influence US politics. The emails deal largely with day-to-day logistics, but also include what appears to be an image of first lady Michelle Obama’s passport. Since the staffer’s duties largely involve travel and other logistics, it’s plausible he would have had access to the passport, although it’s unclear why it was sent through his personal Gmail address.

Hackers sell tool to spread malware through torrent files – Be careful with what you torrent. A new tool on the black market is helping hackers distribute malware through torrent files in exchange for a fee. On Tuesday, security researchers at InfoArmor said they discovered the so-called “RAUM” tool in underground forums. It leverages torrenting — a popular file-sharing method associated with piracy — to spread the malware. Popular torrent files, especially games, are packaged with malicious coding and then uploaded for unsuspecting users to download. Using torrents to infect computers is nothing new. But the makers of the RAUM tool have streamlined the whole process with a “Pay-Per-Install” model, according to InfoArmor.

Which political party is more cybersecure? – Cybersecurity expert Tim Bandos reveals which political party is most vulnerable, common hacking techniques, and what companies can learn from watching how the DNC and RNC respond to cyberthreats.

71 percent of Australian-used IoT devices failed privacy probe – 71 percent of devices and services used by Australians did not provide a privacy policy nor a notice explaining how personal information is collected, used, and stored.

Report: The top 6 industries hit by ransomware – Education, government, and healthcare top the list of at-risk sectors, according to a new report. Here’s what you need to know to protect your company.

Company News:

Facebook gave advertisers inflated video-viewing metrics for two years – Facebook has been overestimating the average time it told advertisers that users were spending watching videos on its platform for two years, possibly affecting marketer spending on Facebook ads. The miscalculation likely led to an overestimated viewing time of 60 percent to 80 percent, according to a letter sent to an ad-buying agency that was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. Facebook said it had taken steps to correct the issue. Facebook shares fell $1.78 to $128.30, or 1.3 percent, in after-hours trading after the Journal reported the error.

Yelp fighting court order requiring it to remove negative review – California’s top court is agreeing to hear a case in which a lower court has ordered Yelp to remove a bad review. The California Supreme Court did not say when it would hear the case that tests the Communications Decency Act, which San Francisco-based Yelp maintains protects it from having to remove content on its site posted by third parties. The case concerns a June decision by a state appeals court that requires Yelp to remove a defamatory review about a law firm written by an unhappy client. A lower court issued a default judgement for over $500,000 against the reviewer, Ava Bird, for a review that the law firm claimed was defamatory. Bird was sued for defamation but was a no-show in court.

Amazon undercuts rivals with launch of new photo printing service, Amazon Prints – Watch out, Shutterfly. Amazon has quietly launched a new service called Amazon Prints, which allows consumers to print photos and custom photo books, and soon, other photo products like stationery and calendars, at prices significantly cheaper than rivals. Though the company made no formal announcement, Amazon Prints debuted last week and is being made available to customers who use the Amazon Drive cloud storage service – in fact, that’s the only way you can use Prints, as it turns out. The news of the launch caused Shutterfly’s stock to take a big nose-dive, Bloomberg reported. With shares dropping 12 percent to close at $44.20 on Wednesday, it clocked in as the worst single-day decline for Shutterfly stock since February 2008.

Apple acquires another machine learning company: Tuplejump – Apple is on a machine learning company buying spree. After buying Perceptio at the end of 2015 and Turi just a few months ago, Apple has now acquired an India/US-based machine learning team, Tuplejump. We’d been hearing rumors of another acquisition in this space by Apple for some time. While Apple won’t outright confirm it, when asked about Tuplejump this morning, a representative from Apple gave us the company’s standard we’re-not-saying-yes-but-well-yes response that they only give when they have, in fact, bought the company in question:

Samsung, LG, and Vizio accused of exploiting TV energy tests – Scoring better energy use and efficiency makes a TV more desirable to consumers, so manufacturers are keen to score as best they can. What the NRDC discovered is that because the test loop used in the EnergyGuide testing is well known, it can be exploited. More specifically, Samsung, LG, and Vizio TVs have their energy saving features turned on during tests, but they are disabled if and when an owner adjusts settings on their TV. The tests also do not test the most up-to-date content and do not take into account relatively new visual features such as HDR or 4K content viewing, both of which can increase energy use.

Games and Entertainment:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 review: The finest soccer game ever made – There are many ways to interpret the beautiful game. Some teams prefer to keep the ball on the turf. Others prefer to launch it into the air. Defending deep in your own half is an option, as is pushing up the pitch towards the opposition. And do you play physically, or cerebrally? As long as you play by the rules, in football, there is no right or wrong approach. PES 2017 continues this tradition. Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, and Paris-Saint Germain all play very differently in real life, and that’s ably represented in PES. Football is a simple game made complex through myriad approaches it offers players, teams, and mangers. No other game comes as close to replicating those intricacies with a pair of analogue sticks as PES does. Simply put, PES 2017 is the finest football game ever made.


You can now stream Android games to Facebook Live from your PC – Game streaming is something that everyone working in streamed video wants a part of, and now Facebook Live can stream Android games (and other apps) via the BlueStacks desktop emulator for PC and Mac. The integration is pretty smart, and while it was previously available for Twitch, the addition of Facebook Live support means mobile games streamers can potentially reach a different, more varied audience than they might encounter on Amazon’s more gamer-centric streaming network.

Forza Horizon 3 (PC) review impressions: Get ready to make your graphics card sweat – Ever since Microsoft announced its Xbox Play Anywhere program—a fancy name for “We’re porting all our first-party titles to PC”—the game I’ve been looking forward to most is Forza Horizon 3. Bombing through the back-country of Australia at 144 frames per second, music thumping, tires squealing, reflections…reflecting. And after spending most of a night with the game, I can confirm it’s gorgeous. You’re going to need one monster of a PC, though.


Minecraft: Education Edition arrives November 1 – The full version of Minecraft: Education Edition is finally arriving on November 1, following an extended testing and free trial period that began this summer. The version of Minecraft aimed at educators and schools came out of Microsoft’s acquisition of learning game MinecraftEdu earlier this year, which built upon Minecraft to give teachers tools to build lessons around STEM, art, language and more. The free trials will still be available to educators up until the launch date, giving them a way to check out the early access edition and evaluate whether they might want to use the full software once it’s available. Minecraft: Education Edition will then be available for purchase from November 1 and following. Pricing is $5 per user, per year, and customers can either buy directly on their own, or via Microsoft’s Enrollment for Education Solutions volume licensing arrangement.

October Xbox Live Games With Gold Lineup Revealed – Heads up, Xbox Live Gold members: Microsoft just revealed next month’s Games With Gold lineup. Like usual, you can expect four free games in October — two on Xbox One and two on Xbox 360.

YouTube Gaming update smooths out chat experience and drops in a new Easter Egg – Version 1.7 also is built to better support Android Nougat and fix a number of pesky bugs that have hung around.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How To Make Your Kids Smarter: 10 Steps Backed By Science – I’ve explored the science behind what makes kids happier, what type of parenting works best and what makes for joyful families. But what makes children — from babies up through the teen years — smarter? Here are 10 things science says can help:

19 caffeine-laced foods to replace coffee – Face it: Your office latte machine has not been cleaned since the last tech-bubble crash. The cost of Starbucks soy mochas can add up. And you’re hungry. And you’re tired. So try these caffeine-infused food alternatives instead. You’d be amazed what they’re putting caffeine in these days.

Windows 10: ‘Microsoft should pay compensation for user upgrade woes’ – Now Microsoft’s pushy Windows 10 upgrade offer is over, a consumer rights group has called on Microsoft to compensate users for the issues it caused.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announces $3 billion investment to cure disease – The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative just announced a new program informally called Chan Zuckerberg Science to invest $3 billion over the next decade to help cure, prevent, or manage all disease. The money comes from the $45 billion organization Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan started last year to advance human potential and equality. The project will bring together teams of scientists and engineers “to build new tools for the scientific community” Priscilla Chan said on stage at an event in San Francisco.

YouTube will livestream the election debates, too – Both Facebook and Twitter will be livestreaming the 2016 Presidential debates, and now YouTube has announced that it will be, too. The company is pushing for individuals to get out and vote this election season, and in that spirit it has announced the #voteIRL campaign. Livestreaming and campaigns such as this both largely target young viewer bases, the same group that is unlikely to have a regular cable subscription through which to watch the events.

Trump: Internet control belongs to US. Period – Trump lends his support to former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Trump’s bitter rival and the highest profile government figure to lead the charge against the transition. Cruz argues that if the US cedes control to nonprofit ICANN, it could give countries like Russia and China power over the internet. Trump echoed that sentiment.

The most ancient civilisation on Earth is still around today – While there have been claims that Indigenous Australians were the world’s oldest civilisation for some years, the genomic study published in the science journal Nature is the first time extensive DNA evidence has been able to prove it. The study has revealed that not only did Indigenous Australians first come to Australia some 50,000 years ago, they remained almost entirely isolated on the continent until around 4,000 years ago.

Something to think about:

“It is folly to punish your neighbor by fire when you live next door.”

–       Publilius Syrus

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The undercover war on your internet secrets: How online surveillance cracked our trust in the web – Learn how the battle over privacy technologies could define the future of the web. This TechRepublic cover story explains the strange history and the serious consequences of the fight over encryption.

Twitter Makes it Easier to See Who Wants Your Data – Twitter this week released its latest transparency report, and with it, a revamped website that makes the heaps of data easier to digest.

Updates include bigger and bolder visualizations (notably, the interactive graph at the top of the page), clearer explanations of numbers, and more granular details about requests.

Unsurprisingly, the US is Twitter’s biggest data requester, with 44 percent (2,520) of all worldwide applications (5,676) for account information between January and June 2016. Most originated from California, New York, Virginia, and Illinois and came from top requesters the FBI, Secret Service, and the New York County District Attorney’s Office. The microblogging service also received 25 information requests—emergency and nonemergency—from US embassies abroad.

This marks the first time Twitter has identified “the US law enforcement agencies that make the highest volume of requests for account information,” as well as the types of legal instruments—subpoenas, court orders, search warrants—they use,” Jeremy Kessel, director of Twitter’s global legal policy, wrote in a blog post.

Facebook is expanding its campaign to combat hate speech – Facebook is expanding its efforts to combat online hate speech, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The company’s Online Civil Courage Initiative, announced in January, will transition from a pilot phase to offer advertising credits and marketing advice to a wider range of groups that counteract extremist messaging. The Berlin-based program has so far focused its efforts on France, Germany, and the UK.

The announcement marks Facebook’s latest effort to combat propaganda from terrorist organizations and far-right groups. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other major web companies have faced increased pressure to escalate anti-hate speech campaigns, and to more swiftly remove propaganda from groups like ISIS and far-right extremists. While the companies have touted an increase in takedowns of extremist content, the Online Civil Courage Initiative is focused on so-called counter-messaging, which seeks to discredit hate speech and propaganda. A Google-funded study published over the summer found that such campaigns can be an effective means of sparking debate online.

“Censorship is not effective,” Erin Saltman, program manager for the Online Civil Courage Initiative, tells the Journal. “Conversations would start on mainstream platforms and migrate to less regulated, encrypted platforms.”

Kids need to reclaim their data and security… especially at school – Another school year is now in full swing, which for many kids means reconnecting with friends and learning. It also means a start of another data collection cycle that is neither visible nor truly optional for the majority of the students.

Over a third of US middle and high school students use school-provided laptops or tablets. Even more kids are required to adopt a wide range of tech applications that allow for more personalized learning. Although this approach certainly has great educational benefits, it raises serious questions about the long-term security and privacy implications for this generation.

Palmer Luckey is funding Donald Trump’s internet trolls with his Oculus money – Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is financially supporting a pro-Donald Trump group of “shitposters,” he confirmed to the Daily Beast today, using his considerable personal fortune to fund the creation of memes attacking Hillary Clinton. Luckey, who is believed to have received some $700 million from Facebook’s $2 billion Oculus purchase, said he had donated “significant funds” to Nimble America — a group that calls itself a “social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit dedicated to shitposting in real life.”

In its announcement post on Trump-fan subreddit r/The_Donald, Nimble America said it had already “proven that shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real,” and that it wanted to bring so-called “shitposting” into the real world “in a way that was transparent and had purpose.” In practice, the unofficial Trump-supporting group suggested this could be done via T-shirts, Nimble America’s spokesperson saying that it would “not just sell t-shirts to sell them, but to sell t-shirts to shitpost.” The group’s home page was last updated on July 11th.

Luckey said that he first reached out to the unofficial group over Facebook. “It went along the lines of ‘hey, I have a bunch of money. I would love to see more of this stuff,'” he told the Daily Beast, referring to the anti-Clinton memes the group had produced before its official launch as Nimble America. Luckey said the group wanted to “build buzz and do fundraising,” and he offered to pay for both its initial push and its ads, as well as promising to match any money earned during a 48-hour donation drive. “I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time,” he said.

Should Hacking a Tor User to Get an IP Address Require a Warrant? – On Monday, a judge chucked out all evidence obtained by a piece of FBI malware in a child porn case, becoming the third court to suppress evidence related to the FBI’s investigation of dark web site Playpen.

But US District Court Judge Robert W Pratt also threw a punch in an ongoing legal debate with implications that stretch beyond any single case.

In recent months, judges, defense lawyers, and the government have fought over whether obtaining a Tor user’s real IP address, perhaps through hacking, counts as a search under the Fourth Amendment. The debate has serious consequences for whether law enforcement requires a warrant to break into a suspect’s computer, even if it’s only to learn the target’s IP address.

Pratt argued that when the FBI hacked suspected Playpen users and grabbed their IP addresses, that constituted a search.

“If a defendant writes his IP address on a piece of paper and places it in a drawer in his home, there would be no question that law enforcement would need a warrant to access that piece of paper—even accepting that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the IP address itself,” Pratt writes in his order.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 21, 2016

Microsoft surprises everyone by releasing a new $37 Nokia phone;    Ransomware’s next target: Your car and your home;  This Tool Lets You Check If Your Personal Info Is on the Dark Web;  The essential macOS Sierra upgrade guide;  Opera’s free VPN is now available in its main desktop browser;    SanDisk reveals world’s first 1TB SD card;  10 Beyond-Basic Photography Tips;  The CW prepares to launch subscription-free streaming – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft surprises everyone by releasing a new $37 Nokia phone – No, this is not an extremely late April Fool’s Day prank. Microsoft really did just reveal another phone that bears the Nokia brand name. The new Nokia 216 is exactly what you’d expect from a budget phone. It sports a 2.4-inch QVGA display, VGA front and rear-facing cameras, integrated FM radio tuner, and an impressive 24 days of standby time. It comes in three colors: white, black, and a sort of robin’s egg blue. And yes, it still has a headphone jack.


Consumer Reports: iPhone 7 camera does not outperform iPhone 6s – Apple is advertising major improvements in the cameras on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the second telephoto camera on the 7 Plus is new for Apple. However, Consumer Reports initial testing shows the performance for the main cameras are about the same.

Ditching Microsoft Office? Tips on how to switch to LibreOffice – Breaking up with Microsoft doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow this advice from those in the know.

Opera’s free VPN is now available in its main desktop browser – VPNs or virtual private networks are services that re-route your traffic through different countries. They’re good if you want a little more anonymity or are trying to find your way around geoblocks, but they usually cost money. Not in Opera’s latest browser, though. After testing out a built-in VPN in the beta version earlier this year, the company is now rolling out the same service on its main software stream. That means if you download the latest version of the browser, Opera 40, you get a free VPN with unlimited data. We’ve tested the software and it’s quick and easy to use.



5 awesome Android widgets for a more useful home screen – Whether you’re looking to speed-dial friends or quickly scan documents, these widgets will help you get stuff done.

macOS Sierra is now available to download – After a summer of beta versions, Apple has just released the final version of macOS Sierra. macOS Sierra is the major update of OS X El Capitan — yes, OS X is dead, long live macOS. Other than the name change, this year’s update brings many neat improvements over El Capitan, making it a polished update from day one. It’s available in the Mac App Store as a free download. If you don’t see the update right away, don’t panic as it could take a few minutes due to App Store propagation.

The essential macOS Sierra upgrade guide – Mac users everywhere are full of anticipation as they await the next release of macOS Sierra, the latest version of the OS they rely on each day. There are a few hours to go until the release (traditionally though not exclusively at around 10am PDT) so please take a moment to review this upgrade guide.

You can now save drafts of your photos on Instagram – Instagram is now letting users save drafts of their photo edits so they can come back to them later. You know the situation: you just spent 15 minutes perfecting the shadows and highlights on your next Instagram post, only to realize you’re late for work and need to rush. Now the Instagram app will prompt you to either discard or save your photo draft if you leave the editing screen. Up until today, you had to use some serious tricks to save your work.

Blockchain: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about the blockchain, the innovative technology that powers Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies.

SanDisk reveals world’s first 1TB SD card – SanDisk today showcased its upcoming 1TB SDXC card prototype at a European trade show for photo and video professionals. The Western Digital subsidiary, which just two years ago debuted the first 512GB SD card, said doubling the capacity of its Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card was necessary to address the increasing demand for high-resolution content, such as 4K and 8K videos, virtual reality and 360-degree videography. SanDisk’s 512GB SD card sells for $345.77 on online retail sites.

Canary Flex is a small, smart outdoor security camera – Canary has launched a new security camera product called the Canary Flex; it is small, smart, and can be used outdoors, withstanding things like rain and wind to stand ever vigilant over your home. The camera sits idle, and starts recording when it detects movement. If something particularly odd — at least in the camera’s estimation — comes into view, it’ll fire off a push notification to its owner. Overtime, Flex will better understand what kind of things are worth sending notifications about and which ones are, while unusual, of no particular interest or importance.


Samsung: just 25 percent of Note 7s in US have been exchanged – Samsung has just announced that it has shipped 500,000 replacement Galaxy Note 7 devices to US retailers and carriers. They’ll be available beginning tomorrow to owners of the original, fire-hazard Note 7 for in-store exchanges. This first batch of replenishment stock is intended exclusively for exchanges; Samsung hasn’t yet said when Note 7 retail sales will officially resume — but VentureBeat claims the relaunch will come in late October. In another update, Samsung now says 25 percent of Note 7 devices have so far been exchanged in the United States.

Mobile productivity: These are the three apps Ed Bott can’t work without – What handful of mobile apps are essential to your daily work life? We asked our writers and editors to name the iOS or Android productivity tools they can’t live without. These are Ed Bott’s favorites.

Google Trips: This iOS, Android app gives you all your travel data plus offline access – Google has created a smart travel app that makes it easier to plan trips and search for information when on the go.

How to Take a Screenshot on Any Device – No matter what your platform, here’s how to take a picture of what’s on your screen.

10 Beyond-Basic Photography Tips – You don’t have to be a pro to really love photography. If taking pictures is your passion, consider these tips and ideas to help expand your skills and bring new perspective to your work.

Google’s New Messaging App Allo Is Surprisingly Addictive – Allo is more than just a messenger, it’s the future of Google Search.


Data-stealing Qadars Trojan malware takes aim at 18 UK banks – Sophisticated malware has been discovered, capable of tricking users into giving away admin rights to their entire system, as well as stealing their bank details.


Hackers hijack Tesla Model S from afar, while the cars are moving – Chinese hackers have attacked Tesla electric cars from afar, using exploits that can activate brakes, unlock doors, and fold mirrors from up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) away while the cars are in motion.

Ransomware’s next target: Your car and your home – Cybersecurity researchers have demonstrated how vulnerabilities in everyday connected devices can allow hackers to hold whole areas of your life to ransom.

This Tool Lets You Check If Your Personal Info Is on the Dark Web – It’s pretty hard to know when your data might have been compromised. Over the last few years, an industry of threat intelligence firms has popped up that offer to monitor criminal forums, paste sites, and Tor hidden services for stolen intellectual property or customer information. Now, one of these companies is letting anyone monitor the dark web for a limited amount of their own personal information. On Tuesday, Terbium Labs announced it was opening up its “Matchlight” product to the general public, allowing users to keep tabs on five different pieces of info for free.

Someone Is Putting Malicious USB Sticks in Australian Mailboxes – Some people just can’t resist the urge to plug random USB sticks into their computers. Now, someone in Australia is taking full advantage of the public’s naivety when it comes to cybersecurity. On Wednesday, police from Victoria warned of malicious USB sticks being placed in citizens’ mailboxes. “The USB drives are believed to be extremely harmful and members of the public are urged to avoid plugging them into their computers or other devices,” the announcement reads. Those who plug the devices into their PCs are presented with “fraudulent media streaming service offers, as well as other serious issues,” the announcement adds.


A picture of the offending USBs. Image: Victoria Police

Raum turns the most popular torrents on the web into malware spreading weapons – According to InfoArmor, Raum is used to “weaponize” these torrents by inserting malware into the packages through both the uTorrent client and a “special infrastructure” which allows the threat actors to manage new seeds for torrents using a network of dedicated and virtual servers, alongside compromised devices. The cybercriminals behind the scheme use data analytics to identify trends on video, audio, software and other downloads which are popular through torrents. Once the group has identified the most popular — and therefore most likely to distribute malicious code — Raum is used to create malicious “seeds” — the systems hosting the full file for download — while “leechers” seek the file for download, execute, and potentially become compromised.

Hackers Hit ‘Some’ Cisco Customers With Leaked NSA Hacking Tools – Unknown hackers have used NSA hacking tools released online last month to breach some targets using firewalls, switches and routers made by Cisco Systems, according to the tech company. This is apparently the first real-world cyberattack leveraging an unknown vulnerability that was in the arsenal of the NSA elite hacking team for years until a mysterious group calling itself The Shadow Brokers dumped several of those NSA tools on the internet.

Over 554M data records breached, with identity theft most common – More than 970 data breaches were reported worldwide in the first half of 2016, up 15 percent from the previous six months, according to Gemalto’s Breach Level Index.

Company News:

Google’s October 4 “Pixel phones” Nexus event is official – Google has confirmed it will hold an event on October 4, where we’re expecting to see the next generation of Android Nexus smartphones. The event, which will take place in San Francisco, has been rumored for some time now, with Google predicted to make some significant changes to how it runs its own-brand smartphone program.

Google is Facing a $400 Million Tax Bill and a Criminal Case in Indonesia – Indonesia plans to pursue Alphabet Inc’s Google for five years of back taxes, and the search giant could face a bill of more than $400 million for 2015 alone if it is found to have avoided payments, a senior tax official said. Muhammad Haniv, head of the tax office’s special cases branch, told Reuters its investigators went to Google’s local office in Indonesia on Monday. Asked to respond to Haniv’s comments, Google Indonesia reiterated a statement made last week in which it said it continues to cooperate with local authorities and has paid all applicable taxes.

HP inkjet printers refuse to accept third-party ink cartridges after stealth firmware update – The inkjet printer market has been a ridiculously profitable racket for HP and its ilk for decades, and manufacturers have fought tooth and nail to keep it that way. HP launched the latest salvo in this effort earlier this month, when a six-month-old firmware update suddenly kicked in and locked out third-party ink cartridges. Multiple models in HP’s OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X were all affected, even though none of these models had seen a firmware update in the past six months. The consensus is that HP actually baked this response into the March 2016 update it released, but told no one it was coming. This ensured more people would adopt the firmware and report that it worked without incident.

Pointing up  Purchased an OfficeJet Pro last month – and, had this HP policy been in effect, I would not have bought this printer (love the printer though). Limiting a purchaser’s options in such a fundamental way, after the fact, seems like a class-action lawsuit in the making, to me. What’s next – Nissan telling you that you can only use a particular brand of gasoline (in which they have a financial interest, naturally), in their vehicles?  Is that a stretch to far? Maybe not.

BlackBerry “Argon” DTEK60’s existence leaked by BlackBerry – BlackBerry apparently isn’t done with Android smartphones yet. Or at least isn’t half done. If you remember the days preceding the announcement of the oddly named DTEK50, there were rumors about “Neon” and “Argon”, even a “Mercury” smartphones coming up. Well, “Neon” eventually became the DTEK50 we know today and, apparently, Argon is going to be the DTEK60 after all. That is according to a product page that was, funnily enough, “accidentally” published by BlackBerry itself. And even if BB takes the page down, the Internet now knows and will remember.

Facebook makes its dynamic ads more friendly to brick-and-mortar retailers – Facebook just announced some new features for its dynamic ads, aimed at making the format more appealing to businesses with brick-and-mortar stores. Facebook’s dynamic ads show you different products based on your activity and interests. Now, the company says it can incorporate data about local product availability, pricing and special offers into these ads. So instead of just showing you the product, the ad can direct you to a specific store where the product is available at a specific price. Then if the product sells out at local stores, the campaign can start featuring something else from the catalog.

AT&T AirGig to Test Broadband Over Power Lines – AT&T today announced new technology it says has the potential to deliver “low cost, ultra-fast multi-gigabit per second wireless internet speeds” using existing infrastructure — power lines. The technology “has the potential to transform Internet access globally, well beyond the AT&T footprint,” delivering speedy wireless connectivity to homes and wireless devices all around the world. It’s performed “extremely well” in AT&T’s internal tests, so the company is now gearing up to see how it works in the real world and plans to soon announce AirGig market trials in select cities and countries.

Games and Entertainment:

The state of 4K gaming: What you need to know, from pricing to performance needs – When we last updated this article in November 2015, you’d need to drop roughly $1,300 at least on just your graphics card, 4K monitor, and power supply to get your PC up to snuff. A whole new PC would of course cost far more. Has the lower price of 4K displays and the launch of a supercharged new generation of graphics cards taken ultra-high resolution gaming mainstream? We’ll tell you what you need to start PC gaming at 4K resolution.

How LG uses fuzzy math to label some of its LCD TVs as 4K – By replacing every fourth red, green, or blue subpixel with a white one, LG boosts the brightness of its 6100-, 6500-, and 6800-series models. The trick works, but it sacrifices resolution.

The CW prepares to launch subscription-free streaming – The CW is making a big move many of its peers are still too afraid to make: it is getting ready to launch subscription-free streaming across just about every major device, including Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, and Xbox, as well as on iOS and Android, and over AirPlay. Because it will be subscription-free streaming, you won’t need an applicable for-pay cable plan in order to sign in and access the content.


Gears of War 4 comes free with Nvidia’s GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 cards – Microsoft is teaming up with Nvidia to give away free copies of Gears of War 4. If you purchase a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 as a graphics card, part of a system, or inside a laptop then you’ll get a free copy of Gears of War 4. The promotion runs from today until October 30th, and as the game is Xbox Play Anywhere you’ll get a copy of the PC version and Xbox One variant for free. While graphics card game bundles are common on the PC side, it’s unusual to see Microsoft pairing up with Nvidia. Microsoft currently uses AMD chips inside its Xbox One, but there’s speculation the company may make the move to Nvidia in the future.

TV Shows Every Self-Respecting Geek Should Watch This Fall – A quick guide to the sci-fi/fantasy shows sure to get the nerd-rage/love as we start a new round of TV watching.

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – Films starring Chadwick Boseman, Tom Hanks, and Sheri Moon Zombie appear in this week’s list of the most pirated movies on the Internet.

Off Topic (Sort of):

MIT’s New Device Uses Wireless Signals to Detect Emotions – If you’ve ever dated an introvert you know that guessing someone’s emotions can be very risky. But soon, you may have more clues: A new device can detect people’s emotions using wireless signals. Designed by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, “EQ-Radio” measures heartbeat and breath to determine if someone is excited, happy, angry, or sad. “Our work shows that wireless signals can capture information about human behavior that is not always visible to the naked eye,” said MIT professor and project lead Dina Katabi. “We believe that our results could pave the way for future technologies that could help monitor and diagnose conditions like depression and anxiety.”


Here’s the full U.S. Federal Automated Vehicles Policy – The U.S. Federal Government noted yesterday that it would be releasing an autonomous vehicle policy designed to help guide the safe development of driverless tech, while also allowing flexibility so that companies can continue to innovate in this space. The full policy is now available, and viewable in full either via the embed below, or at the official website.

ABC News will stream the presidential debates on Facebook Live – ABC News and Facebook are teaming up to bring live streams of all the 2016 presidential debates online. The three debates will air live across eight TV networks as they typically do, but also on ABC News’ Facebook page. Viewers will be able to ask questions and make comments, which ABC says will be incorporated into the Facebook Live coverage. The debates will also be preceded by a new show called Strait Talk and then followed by another Facebook Live show hosted by Nightline co-anchor Dan Harris. The first debate is on September 26th in Hempstead, NY. This isn’t the first time Facebook Live has been involved in political moves this year.

Cops record themselves allegedly fabricating charges with suspect’s camera – In a US federal civil rights lawsuit, a Connecticut man has shared footage to bolster his claims that police illegally confronted the pedestrian because he was filming one of them. Authorities seized Michael Picard’s camera and his permitted pistol, and the officers involved then accidentally recorded themselves allegedly fabricating charges against the man.


New report details 3 reasons why messaging apps are taking over customer service – A recent report from Forrester explained that messaging apps will play a deeper and deeper role in how businesses interact with customers in the future. Here’s why.

Facebook, Google, other tech giants answer Obama’s refugee plea – President Obama says 51 US companies, including major tech players, will provide money, training and tech to help millions of refugees.

Microsoft wants to crack the cancer code using artificial intelligence – Cancer is like a computer virus and can be ‘solved’ by cracking the code, according to Microsoft. The computer software company says its researchers are using artificial intelligence in a new healthcare initiative to target cancerous cells and eliminate the disease. One of the projects within this new healthcare enterprise involves utilizing machine learning and natural language processing to help lead researchers sift through all the research data available and come up with a treatment plan for individual cancer patients. IBM is working on something similar using a program called Watson Oncology, which analyzes patient health info against research data.

Something to think about:

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.”

–     Christopher Morley (1890 – 1957)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Terence Crutcher’s shooting was absent from Facebook Trends – Facebook said 53,000 people were talking about Terence Crutcher’s death by police, but instead it showed me Trends about Xbox, a Game Of Thrones actor, and New Jersey’s governor, even though they all had less chatter.

[Update 3:45pm PT: As of rougly 2:45pm Pacific, “Tulsa Police Shooting” become a Trend on Facebook. But the fact that it took an entire day to appear, and four hours after TechCrunch published this story, demonstrates just how badly Facebook Trends needs to be rethought. This article has been revised.]

Facebook denies it’s a media company, and has tried to distance itself from editorial decision-making by firing all its human Trend curators. But its values and stance towards important social issues are coded into the algorithms and processes that surface trends, and they’re not doing the public justice.

Hopefully this incident will spur Facebook to re-examine how it chooses trends, the way the Ferguson protests inspired Jack Dorsey to get Twitter more involved with activism for worthy causes.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – September 19, 2016

Easily Uninstall/Reinstall Windows 10 Apps;  Got an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? Do these 10 things first;  12 Must-Have iPhone Apps;  20 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do;  How to tell if your Galaxy Note7 is safe to use;  Hack This: Become a Command Line Assassin;  A Simple Way to Secure Sensitive Information;  Xbox Play Anywhere launches, here’s how it works – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Jim Hillier: Easily Uninstall/Reinstall Windows 10 Apps – Windows 10 comes with a slew of pre-installed apps, the usefulness of which will vary from user to user. Most of the less useful apps, such as “Get Office” for example, include their own right-click uninstall option. However, some do not, and this is where third party removal tools can come in handy.

12 Must-Have iPhone Apps – Which apps are so essential that pretty much everyone will benefit from downloading them? Here are a dozen top-notch titles that deserve a home on your iPhone. Bonus: They’re all free!

Got an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? Do these 10 things first – After you inhale that new-iPhone smell, follow this setup guide to be up and running faster than you can say A10 Fusion.

20 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Part of its appeal lies in its pure portability, but there’s also the price: just $35 to wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO, Hulu, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV. Not to mention apps for music, working out, and catching up on sports. When the Chromecast was released in July 2013, it quickly sold out, and is still going strong. Sales have now topped 30 million. While the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

Windows 10 Redstone: A guide to the builds – Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update was rolled out, the company began work on the next two major updates to Windows 10, code-named Redstone 2 and Redstone 3. (Redstone 1 was the code name for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.) Redstone 2 will likely be fully ready in the spring of 2017. It’s not yet clear when Redstone 3 will be finished. We’re making it easy for you to keep track of when builds are available. What follows is a list of every preview build of Redstone 2, starting with the most recent. When Redstone 2 is finished and Redstone 3 builds become available, we’ll list those as well. For each build, we’ve included the date of its release and a link to Microsoft’s announcement about it.

How to tell if your Galaxy Note7 is safe to use – Samsung has created specific box markings and an IMEI lookup tool so you can tell if you have a non-explosive model.

Russia bans Pornhub, YouPorn—tells citizens to “meet someone in real life” – Two of the biggest porn sites in the world have been blocked by Russia’s media regulator, a decision which has apparently prompted uproar on the country’s social media. The regulator dropped the banhammer on Tuesday, applying rules which had previously been imposed by two separate regional courts. Any Russian citizen visiting PornHub or YouPorn is now redirected to a simple message telling them that the sites have been blocked “by decision of public authorities.”

Facebook ads still slipping past Adblock Plus via stripped-down code – It’s been a month since Facebook broke ABP’s last workaround, and the social network’s marketing messages are still getting through. Despite the fact that ABP’s browser extension gets the final say on what appears on your screen, it can’t build filters fast enough when Facebook has total control over the code it serves.

The Problem with Sexual Consent Apps – Not only are they far from sexy, which can hamper use, they miss the mark on discussing what consent actually is.

Here how the uninterruptible power supply keeps your gadgets going – A UPS can keep your gadgets and appliances working when the power goes out. How do they do this? Appliance Science looks at how Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSes) work.

We tear apart a hard drive and SSD to show you how they work – What’s inside your PC’s storage? We took a screwdriver to a dead hard drive and SSD to reveal the inner workings of these vital components.

Hack This: Become a Command Line Assassin – Using the command line is second-nature for me, almost as much so as using the regular old OSX/Windows GUIs. In developing software/programming, we wind up constantly using a lot of tiny utility applications that just don’t have graphical frontends, nor do they need them. To interact with these utilities, we use command-line interfaces, either those provided by an operating system—Terminal in OSX or just the command prompt in Windows—or something third-party, like Cygwin. Why should you the non-hacker care about this particular functionality? For one thing, it’s a slight window into how operating systems actually work. Moreover, there are a few fairly routine tasks that can really only be done via command prompt, and, beyond that, a much larger number of small, helpful utilities that you might like to employ in your regular day-today computing, especially those relating to automation.


Jim Hillier: A Simple Way to Secure Sensitive Information – I’m always on the lookout for innovative methods to secure sensitive data/information stored on the hard drive and USB drives. Recently, I came across SafePad, a simple text editor (similar to Notepad) which automatically encrypts all contained information. I can see multiple useful applications for this type of software: to store a list of account passwords, credit card or banking details– indeed, any sensitive or confidential information.

Michael Horowitz: A Defensive Computing term paper on privacy: VPNs, Tor and VPN routers – If I was in High School, tasked with a writing a term paper about online privacy, I might hand in homework that compared and contrasted Tor, consumer VPNs and VPN routers. Something much like the following.

Malicious smartphone apps turn your phone into tracking device – Four apps available on the Google Play Store were spying on users in secret, according to research released Friday by Mobile security company Lookout. Running a malicious code that Lookout has dubbed Overseer, the apps could track your latitude and longitude and collect information on who you were emailing when.

Chrome, Firefox Make it Harder to Get Your Pirate Bay Fix – Google and Mozilla are reportedly blocking direct access to The Pirate Bay’s download pages. The homepage and search results load without issue, but when trying to download an actual torrent, users are met with a warning message in Chrome (“The site ahead contains harmful programs”—pictured) and Firefox (“Reported unwanted software page!”). “This Web page at has been reported to contain unwanted software and has been blocked based on your security preferences,” Firefox says. “Unwanted software pages try to install software that can be deceptive and affect your system in unexpected ways. Chrome users are similarly told that “Attackers on might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on sites you visit).”


Blizzard hit with DDoS attack disrupting play for gamers – Blizzard Entertainment was hit with a denial-of-service attack on Sunday that knocked its servers offline. “We are currently monitoring a DDOS attack against network providers which is affecting latency/connections to our games,” Blizzard wrote in a tweet. runs many of Blizzard’s popular games, including Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and more. Gamers took to social media with frustration, as VentureBeat points out it was the third time Blizzard’s servers have gone down in a week.

Mozilla plans Firefox fix for same malware vulnerability that bit Tor – Mozilla officials say they’ll release a Firefox update on Tuesday that fixes the same cross-platform, malicious code-execution vulnerability patched Friday in the Tor browser. The vulnerability allows an attacker who has a man-in-the-middle position and is able to obtain a forged certificate to impersonate Mozilla servers, Tor officials warned in an advisory. From there, the attacker could deliver a malicious update for NoScript or many other Firefox extensions installed on a targeted computer. The fraudulent certificate would have to be issued by any one of several hundred Firefox-trusted certificate authorities (CA).

Company News:

Galaxy Note 7 lawsuits begin: man blames Samsung for burns – If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a global recall for Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. It seems the batteries have a high probability of exploding. If have heard about this issue, along with the ensuing news about the Note 7 being prohibited from use on an airplane, or an explosion causing a car fire, then you know it’s just a matter of time before a lawsuit is filed against Samsung. Well, that time has arrived.

Samsung offloads shares of Seagate, Rambus – Samsung Electronics sold its shares in partner firms ASML, Seagate, Rambus, and Sharp, the company said, to efficiently manage assets and focus on its core businesses. Partnerships with the companies will continue “unaffected” by the selling of shares, it added. The sales are to “efficiently manage past investments to focus on core business,” the company said in a statement. The South Korean tech giant sold 1.5 percent share of the Netherlands’ ASML, half of its total of 3 percent, or 6.3 million shares.

Google acquires location-based analytics firm Urban Engines – Google has acquired the two-year old startup Urban Engines to incorporate its location-based analytics into Google Maps. “Location analytics is an important focus for both Urban Engines and Google, and we’re excited to combine forces to help organizations better understand how the world moves,” said Urban Engines in a blog post. Google Maps has been improving and expanding its functionality, as Apple and other companies like Uber bolster their own mapping capabilities.

Oracle buys Palerra to boost its security stack – Terms of the deal were not disclosed but we will try to find out. Palerra was founded in 2013 (originally called Apprity) and raised $25 million with investors including Norwest Venture Partners and August Capital. Palerra’s business currently focuses on providing security automation for enterprise apps, covering not just data in the apps but as that data “moves across services and it offers several layers of protection across infrastructure and software services,” as we wrote about them last year. Given how many apps today integrate and exchange data by way of APIs, that makes for a significant business.

Lyft’s president says ‘majority’ of rides will be in self-driving cars by 2021 – Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer released a 14-page document today in which he predicts that by 2021, “a majority” of rides on its network will be in autonomous vehicles. Also by 2025, Zimmer says personal car ownership in US cities will be a thing of the past. The end of car ownership will change cities in “huge ways,” he said, echoing those experts and academics that predict streets and parking lots will be transformed into housing and open spaces with the mass adoption of autonomous vehicles. It will also change the daily experience of riding in a car, he said.

Logitech acquires Saitek, maker of simulation game controllers – Logitech has acquired Saitek, maker of simulation game controls. The Saitek website already sports the Logitech logo (the acquisition was made public on Thursday); while Saitek hasn’t issued any statements about the business move, Logitech says it is excited with “a whole list of reasons.” What are those reasons? Logitech says that Saitek’s products are “just great,” giving simulation gaming fans the kind of controllers they need for an immersive experience.

Fox files suit against Netflix for employee poaching – 20th Century Fox is looking to get an injunction against Netflix to prevent it from luring away employees under contract, according to a new lawsuit filed with an LA court. Recent Netflix hires Tara Flynn and Marcos Waltenberg were apparently the proverbial straws that broke the camel’s back, as both ex-Fox employees had contracts signed that tied the to the studio through at least 2016. According to the suit, Netflix allegedly knew about the agreements in place before pursuing the hires of both employees, with the specific intent of incentivizing them to break their contracts. Fox is looking for damages in addition to the injunction against any further poaching.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Play Anywhere launches, here’s how it works – With the launch of ReCore, Microsoft has started its Play Anywhere initiative. Users can now purchase a digital game on either Xbox One or PC (via the Windows Store) and have access to it on both platforms. Players can play on Xbox One and then move over to play on PC (and vice versa) and have their progress, including achievements, carry over. Play Anywhere gives players more freedom to play where and how they want, but how does it all work exactly?

The Best Documentaries On Netflix Streaming – Netflix has a solid selection of non-fiction films streaming (and one spectacular non-fiction series in Making A Murderer.) If you’re looking for a gripping story to occupy you for a few hours, these are our picks for the best documentaries on Netflix streaming. From psychological horror to true crime, video games and comics to conspiracy theories, these movies will give you a glimpse into corners of the world you may never have otherwise seen.

Two million people streamed the NFL on Twitter last night and loved it – More than 2M people watched the game on Twitter, compared to 48M who watched it on TV. The average user also spent 22 minutes watching on Twitter, compared to 25 minutes watching on TV (which is the only stat that is almost identical). More specifically, an average of 243,000 people were watching on Twitter at any given time, compared to an average of 15.4M watching at once on CBS and NFL Network (the two networks showing the game on cable). While the numbers seem low compared to cable, it’s actually a pretty big win for the network, which was able to show investors and the rest of the industry that at least some people will actually watch a live streamed game on Twitter.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The best inventions in food technology of all time – In this series we take a look at everything, large and small, that has changed the way we do things and significantly enhanced our lives. In part nine we look at technology advancements in food that we cannot live without.

Ted Cruz is Trying to Sabotage the Internet’s Governance Transition – Led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Republicans are working to sabotage the US government’s long-standing plan to transfer oversight of core internet technical functions, including management of the Domain Name System (DNS), to a nonprofit group of global stakeholders. Cruz and his GOP allies claim that the Oct. 1 transfer would undermine global internet freedom, imperil US national security, and violate federal law—and they’ve pledged to use the federal budget process to block the move. Cruz has even gone so far as to threaten federal employees working on the transition with prosecution and imprisonment.

New EU rules decree free, public 100Mbps Wi-Fi in every town in Europe – According to the president of the EU’s executive body, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU is in trouble. Between the refugees and the terrorists and the finances, Juncker says, the EU is facing an “existential crisis,” and what Europe really needs right now is… more internet. All the cool kids are online, Juncker implies, and internet access empowers people. While he’s also in favor of logging all border crossings and giving that information straight to Europol, he wants to permanently kill roaming charges and spread out internet connectivity via free public Wi-Fi, so that it reaches everywhere people spend their time. He wants to do this by 2020. To that end, he’s got a €120M grant laid out for municipalities to use for internet infrastructure, and the plan is to start writing checks by the end of this year.

Something to think about:

“I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.”

–    Alice Roosevelt Longworth  (1884 – 1980)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Why Obama should pardon Edward Snowden – Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has asked President Barack Obama for a pardon, and the ACLU, which represents Snowden in the US, agrees. The following essay by Timothy Edgar, which originally appeared on the blog Lawfare, supports that position. Edgar is the former director of privacy and civil liberties for the Obama administration’s national security staff, and is currently the academic director of law and policy at Brown University’s Executive Master in Cybersecurity program, and visiting scholar at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

Why President Obama won’t, and shouldn’t, pardon Snowden – A “pardon Snowden” campaign was launched Wednesday in conjunction with the Snowden film. Snowden himself made the “moral case” for why he should be pardoned, and Tim Edgar made a much more powerful case. I remain unconvinced. I don’t think the president will, or should, pardon Snowden.

I say this even though I agree with Tim about many of the upsides to Snowden’s theft and leak of documents from NSA databases. On the third anniversary of the Snowden disclosures, I wrote about how, despite their many costs, the disclosures strengthened the intelligence community. They forced the NSA to be more transparent and to better explain itself, demonstrated that the NSA was acting with the full knowledge and support of three branches, resulted in its authorities being strengthened and its collection practices barely narrowed (and in some respects expanded), and overall enhanced its domestic legitimacy going forward. I was not kidding when I said that “[t]hese are but some of the public services for which the US government has Snowden to thank.” This was not a new theme with me. I have made similar points for years.

Don’t just pardon Edward Snowden; give the man a medal – As Barack Obama’s second term comes to an end, an increasingly loud chorus of voices are calling for a dramatic final presidential act: the pardoning of Edward Snowden. Authoritarians are horrified by this, and, as usual, they are wrong. A pardon really isn’t enough. As I’ve argued before, Snowden deserves a medal.

I can hear the outraged naysayers already. “It was treason!” “He broke the law!” “He should have followed official channels!” They’ll probably point to the House Intelligence Committee report on Snowden, turning a wilfully blind eye to what Barton Gellman calls its “aggressive dishonesty.”

But whether you revere or despise Edward Snowden as a person, the cold hard fact is that America is a far better place because of Edward Snowden’s so-called “treason” — even if it was illegal. A certain apoplectic subset of the intellectual lazy seem unable to cope with the notion that an action can be simultaneously “against well-intended laws” and “good” — and yet, this is so, and the Snowden revelations act as a superb object example.

World’s largest internet exchange sues Germany over mass surveillance – The world’s largest internet exchange point is suing the German government for tapping its communications systems.

DE-CIX runs a number of critical exchange points – most of them in Germany, but with others in France, Spain and the United States – and has sued the German interior ministry over orders from the German security services to allow them to tap its exchange centers.

The goal of the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Leipzig, is to reach a “judicial clarification” over whether the German government’s actions are legal, the company said (in German), and “in particular, legal certainty for our customers and our company.”

According to DE-CIX, its customers – typically large ISPs from around the world – have pressured the exchange point to seek clarity over the legality of tapping its centers.

A recent paper by a German constitutional lawyer claimed that the actions of the German intelligence services (BND) were “completely illegal,” arguing that the degree of surveillance was “disproportionate” and failed to account for whether the communications covered German citizens or not.

News Orgs Sue FBI for Details on San Bernardino iPhone Hacking – The Associated Press and two other news organizations sued the FBI on Friday for details about who the agency worked with and how much it spent to hack the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone earlier this year.

The lawsuit, filed by the AP, Gannett (which owns USA Today), and Vice Media, “seeks records about the FBI’s contract with an unidentified vendor who provided a tool to unlock the phone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook,” the AP said.

The lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia under the US Freedom of Information Act.

“Understanding the amount that the FBI deemed appropriate to spend on the tool, as well as the identity and reputation of the vendor it did business with, is essential for the public to provide effective oversight of government functions and help guard against potential improprieties,” the suit argues, according to the AP.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 16, 2016

Microsoft is finally bringing desktop apps to the Windows Store;  Remix OS is now available as a simple-to-use Android emulator for Windows;  Five types of browser extensions every professional should have;  12 little-known tips and tricks for Apple Music;  6 tips to get the most out of Google Apps for Education;   The Best Web Browsers of 2016;  21 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life;   Hackers are shaping US election coverage with data leaks – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft is finally bringing desktop apps to the Windows Store – Microsoft’s Windows Store originally launched alongside Windows 8 nearly four years ago. Instead of listing existing desktop apps and useful Windows tools, the Windows Store has always been used as a way to push Microsoft’s new universal apps. Microsoft is finally changing the way the Windows Store works this week, allowing third-party developers to easily bring their existing desktop apps and games over to the universal app platform. Evernote, Arduino IDE, doubleTwist, PhotoScape, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro, Virtual Robotics Kit, Relab, SQL Pro, Voya Media, Predicted Desire, and korAccount are all available in the Windows Store this week, and many more are expected in the coming months

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update enhances the Settings tool – Windows is moving toward a more sensible and user-friendly Settings tool. And although progress has been slow, the Anniversary Update does include some promising improvements.

How to turn off Windows Defender’s enhanced notifications in Windows 10 – Windows Defender in the Anniversary Update loves to tell you what it’s doing. Here’s how to stop that.

How to tweak the Windows 10 Action Center to make it less annoying – The default settings for the Windows 10 Action Center can be irritating. Take a few minutes to customize it and reduce the annoyance factor.

Remix OS is now available as a simple-to-use Android emulator for Windows – Remix OS is basically a desktop version of Android, with floating windows and a start menu-style app drawer. So, it makes sense that creators Jide would make it as easy to use on a desktop. Enter Remix OS Player — a free, downloadable emulator of the OS for Windows. It’s always been fairly easy to get Remix OS on a Windows device by booting from a USB stick, for example, but with the Player you simply download it as .EXE.


The Best Web Browsers of 2016 – With new browser options like Edge and Vivaldi, the Web has become a much more interesting place. Here’s how the newbies stack up against your old favorites on features and performance.

Five types of browser extensions every professional should have – Google Chrome and Firefox both make installing extensions easy. With more and more work done online, these five types of extensions will save you time and effort.

5 more Firefox add-ons that boost browser productivity – Keep tabs on all your email accounts, track your web surfing, and more with these customizations.

Pandora launches Pandora Plus, an improved version of its $5 subscription service – As expected, Pandora has launched Pandora Plus, a rebranded and improved version of its $5-a-month Pandora One offering. It also has enhanced its free, ad-supported service, which the majority of its users take advantage of. The release of the updated services marks the beginning of a new era for Pandora, as the company will end 2016 with three tiers of service and an on-demand service to compete against Spotify and Apple Music.

12 little-known tips and tricks for Apple Music – Apple Music’s new look refreshes some old features, like For You, and adds few under-the-radar ones that make version 2.0 a whole lot easier to use. Yes, Connect is no longer taking up valuable space in your navigation bar, although it’s not gone altogether. Here are 12 tips that will help you get the most out of Apple Music in iOS 10.

Google Maps adds speed limits to Android app and Android Auto – We have all been cruising down the road at one time or another and wondered exactly what the speed limit was on the road. Often this thought comes to mind right after we see a police car. The problem is for a lot of the roads there are no speed limit signs or they are few and far between. Google has an update for its Google Maps app rolling out that will help us know what the speed limit is. Google Maps is now showing speed limit icons on maps on Android Auto and on the Android app.

6 tips to get the most out of Google Apps for Education – More and more educational organizations are moving to Google Apps for Education. Tim Burke of BetterCloud suggests a few best practices for Google Apps admins in the space.

Samsung’s replacement Note 7s will be in US stores by September 21st – Moments ago Samsung announcement a formal, CPSC-backed recall of the Galaxy Note 7 in the United States. And in a press release dealing with that news, Samsung also provided an update on when its new, replacement Note 7s (with safe batteries inside, hopefully) will reach retailers: they’ll be arriving by next week. “We confirmed that new Note 7 replacement devices will be available in the United States at most retail locations no later than September 21st, 2016,” the company said in a statement.

T-Mobile Warns: Don’t Download iOS 10 – Bricked iPhones, lost network connections, and porn are a few of the operating system’s unintended features.

21 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life – There are some “productivity” apps that will suck you in and never let you go. Day after day, you’ll return to them, enjoy them, and then wonder “Where the hell did the time go?” They’re the empty calories of the app world. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth downloading; just beware that these apps don’t suck … but they will suck time.


Remote hacker nabs Win10 logins in ‘won’t-fix’ Safe Mode attack – Security researcher Doron Naim has cooked an attack that abuses Windows 10’s Safe Mode to help hackers steal logins. The Cyberark man says remote attackers need to have access to a PC before they can spring this trap, which involves rebooting a machine into Safe Mode to take advantage of the lesser security controls offered in that environment. Once in Safe Mode, logins can be stolen and otherwise with defeated pass-the-hash lateral techniques can be used to compromise other networked machines.

Microsoft releases one of its biggest security updates this year – Microsoft released one of its biggest security updates this year, fixing 50 vulnerabilities in its products and 26 more in Flash Player which is bundled with its Edge browser.

Adobe fixes critical flaws in Flash Player and Digital Editions – Adobe Systems has fixed over 30 vulnerabilities in its Flash Player and Digital Editions products, most of which could be exploited to remotely install malware on computers.

Hackers are shaping US election coverage with data leaks – Hackers are becoming a major source for political leaks in this year’s presidential election. Tuesday’s leak of emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell has security experts worried that hackers are manipulating U.S. media outlets to influence this year’s election.

FBI director says tape is the best way to defeat webcam hacks – According to officials tasked with keeping the US homeland safe, tape should be the first supply atop everybody’s safety list. Today, that leftover tape can now help us stave off a webcam hack—at least an attack that secretly films unsuspecting computer users. That’s what James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, said Wednesday. In April, he told Americans that he puts tape on his webcam. Now it’s your turn.

Cybersecurity predictions for 2016: How are they doing? – We examine the frequency and scale of cyberattacks in the first half of 2016, and see whether security experts’ predictions were on the money at the start of the year.

Pokémon Go guide app with half a million downloads hacks Android devices – A rogue Pokémon Go helper application with over 500,000 downloads on Google Play had Trojan code that downloaded root exploits to take over Android devices.

Just how vulnerable is election technology? – This year’s electoral process has been unconventional, to say the least, and most voters are either polarized or frustrated (sometimes both) with how we got to this point. Now, as this volatile election approaches the final threshold of November, citizens are skeptical about whether our electoral system — particularly the technology used in it — is precise, unbiased or secure enough to produce a fair, accurate vote count. In fact, 66 percent of citizens think our electoral system is, in some ways, broken. But just how vulnerable is our election technology? Is it something we should be collectively worried about?

Company News:

Apple unit in Japan said to pay $118M to cover underreported tax – An Apple iTunes unit in Japan agreed to pay 12 billion yen ($118 million) in tax after local authorities determined it had underreported income, according to local media. Apple is one of many US technology companies that have benefited from stashing cash overseas. That maneuver lets the companies avoid paying hefty taxes they could face by bringing the cash back to the US. The report comes a little more than two weeks after the European Union hit Apple with a $14.5 billion tax penalty, ruling its deal with Ireland was illegal.

Twitter rolls out new features for businesses running customer service accounts – Twitter today is rolling out a series of new features designed to help users better connect with businesses offering customer support through their official Twitter accounts. Now those businesses will be able to clearly display on their profile if their account offers customer service, as well as which times those accounts are active. The business can now indicate if it offers service via a new Customer Support settings page on the Twitter Dashboard website. Once enabled, the business’s Twitter profile will read that it “Provides Support.” This option will also turn on the account’s ability to receive Direct Messages from anyone. In other words, the business will no longer need to request that customers follow them back so they can send a private message.

Apple shoots down rumor it’s buying Tidal – For months now we’ve been hearing rumors and industry talk about streaming music service Tidal looking for a buyer, with an acquisition by Apple being the most expected. However, in a rare case of addressing such rumors, Apple has come out and clearly stated that it has no plans to purchase Tidal or any other streaming service. That doesn’t mean the two companies didn’t have talks at some point, but it certainly looks like a deal won’t be reached anytime in the near future.

Volkswagen is founding a new cybersecurity firm to prevent car hacking – As cars become more computerized, the vehicles are facing a greater risk of being hacked. That’s why Volkswagen is founding a new cyber security company devoted to protecting next generation cars.

Uber Launches Self-Driving Vehicles in Pittsburgh – Uber on Wednesday launched its self-driving pilot program that allows some passengers to get to their destination in a vehicle that drives itself, marking the company’s first public test in the U.S. of the future of the technology.

Amazon will use stocking stuffers to take over your home – The e-commerce giant plans to seed the market with cheap, Alexa-powered electronics, and corner the smart home in the process.

Amazon plans mammoth wind farm in Texas – Amazon unveiled on Thursday its largest renewable energy project to date: a mammoth wind farm in Texas. When it opens next year, the west Texas farm will generate 1 million megawatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power nearly 90,000 US homes, Amazon said. The farm will include more than 100 turbines, each with a rotor diameter twice as long as the wingspan of a Boeing 747, the company said.

Games and Entertainment:

PSA: Grab all of Battlefield 4’s expansions for free through next week – Good things come to those who wait—and, in this case, “good things” means “All five packs of Battlefield 4 DLC, for free.” That’s right, all of it. Each pack has been given away separately at some point in the past, but with Battlefield 1 releasing next month, DICE and EA have made it easy on everyone and thrown all the deals together—but only for a short time. Grab them by Monday, September 19 if you want them. You need the base copy of the game too, naturally.

Battlefield 1 beta becomes largest EA beta of all time with 13.2m players – If you thought that maybe the market for first person shooters was beginning to narrow, Electronic Arts and DICE would like a word with you. The two companies announced today that its multiplayer beta for Battlefield 1, which ran for a little over a week, has become the largest beta in EA history, attracting a grand total of 13.2 million players.

New Resident Evil 7 details include trailer and demo update – With the Tokyo Game Show currently underway in, well, Tokyo, developer Capcom has used the event to reveal new details and media on Resident Evil 7 biohazard. The most exciting bit is that the “Beginning Hour” teaser demo that was first released in June on PS4 has received a free update that adds new areas to explore. Also neat is that the PS Plus requirement has been dropped, so now anyone can download the latest version of the demo at no cost. The “Twilight” update to the demo is available starting today, and once installed, “allows players to explore more of the mysterious, derelict mansion,” Capcom notes. In addition to new rooms are more items and clues to the game’s mysteries.

Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Collection arrives for PS4, Xbox One in November – Ubisoft has announced that Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection will be available for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 starting this upcoming November. According to the company, more than 100 million copies of Assassin’s Creed games have been sold thus far, marking a big milestone for the franchise ahead of November’s “The Ezio Collection” launch. The Ezio Collection will include Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, and Assassin’s Creed Revelations, among other things.

How to build a cheap but powerful gaming PC for $500 – This budget gaming PC might cost only $500 to build, but it’ll deliver excellent performance in any PC game you throw at it.

The Fifty Shades Darker trailer set a new record for views in its first day – In its first 24 hours of existence, the trailer for the sequel to last year’s Fifty Shades of Grey garnered more views than the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens did in its first day. The Fifty Shades Darker trailer was viewed more than 114 million times during a one-day time frame, according to Deadline. The Force Awakens trailer previously held that record with 112 million views.

Off Topic (Sort of):

A ‘Memory Hacker’ Explains How to Plant False Memories in People’s Minds – We tend to think of memories as perfect little time capsules—important records of past events that matter to us and made us who we are, as unchangeable as a dragonfly stuck in amber. Well, they’re anything but. I recently met with Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist who specializes in the science of memory. “I am a memory hacker,” Shaw told me. “I use the science of memory to make you think you did things that never happened.” Implanting a false memory, it turns out, is alarmingly easy to do.

You can now take a walk through 10 Downing Street with Google – The traditional home of the British Prime Minister has now been opened to the public — at least, in a digital fashion. Members of the public can now explore 10 Downing Street London after the traditional home of the British Prime Minister has remained off-limits to tourists for so long. While you may not be able to physically walk the halls or fondle the ornaments, you can, at least, wander around the buildings’ rooms and halls thanks to a new partnership between the UK government and Google.

Bayer Just Bought Monsanto, Here’s Why You Should Care – The $66 billion merger is the largest this year, and means Bayer now controls more than a quarter of all seeds and pesticides on the planet, according to the BBC. But what’s even crazier is that this is just the latest in a long list of big mergers of agricultural companies this year, meaning the options for where farmers buy their seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers are shrinking at lightning speed. If this all sounds vaguely threatening but you’re not sure why, it’s because there’s a chance these mergers could put additional pressure on farms, leading to higher food prices, or even threaten food security.

Something to think about:

“Passive acceptance of the teacher’s wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favour of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position.”

–     Bertrand Russell    (1872 – 1970)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech leaders, activists call for Obama to pardon Snowden – Tech luminaries Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, have joined a new campaign pushing for a pardon of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Other supporters of the campaign, launched Wednesday, are Harvard law professor and tech policy author Lawrence Lessig; tech investor Esther Dyson; noted cryptographer and MIT professor Ron Rivest; and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow.

The campaign, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, asks supporters to sign a letter asking President Obama to pardon the former NSA contractor. “Snowden’s actions … set in motion the most important debate about government surveillance in decades, and brought about reforms that continue to benefit our security and democracy,” the letter says.

The campaign has also attracted high-profile support from outside the tech community, with many backers coming from the liberal end of the political spectrum.

Lawmakers tell Obama not to pardon Snowden – U.S. lawmakers are trying to stifle any hope that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will receive a pardon. On Thursday, the House intelligence committee sent a letter to President Obama urging him to treat Snowden as a criminal.

The letter was sent amid calls from tech leaders and liberal activists for Obama to pardon Snowden. The campaign, supported by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and celebrities including actor Daniel Radcliffe, argues that Snowden sparked an important debate about government mass surveillance.

FBI makes new rules for impersonating reporters after fake news malware sting – After a controversial sting operation conducted by the FBI, in which agents impersonated the Associated Press to plant malware on a suspect’s computer, the agency says it has instituted new rules for when it can use the undercover practice.

The news came in a report from the Department of Justice inspector general, which acts as an independent watchdog for the agency. The report said that the FBI decided in June of this year to create a new “interim” policy, which requires top brass to sign off on any undercover operation where FBI agents impersonate journalists. The inspector general’s report called the new interim policy “a significant improvement.”

Facebook censored a live stream video posted by Dakota pipeline protesters – Facebook has admitted to censoring a video posted by activists protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, with the social network blaming the removal on its automated spam filter. The live stream video, published on Tuesday by the media collective Unicorn Riot, showed police arresting around two dozen protesters at a Dakota pipeline site. Unicorn Riot published a link to the live stream on its Facebook page, but the URL was blocked and other users were unable to share it. The link has since been restored, and a Facebook spokesperson apologized for the removal in a statement to Motherboard.

In a statement to Antimedia, a member of Unicorn Riot said that the video was censored “shortly before two of our journalists were arrested onsite,” adding that posts and comments that contained the URL “triggered popup security alerts.” According to the collective, Facebook’s debugger said that the link violated the site’s “community standards.”

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