Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 2, 2016

10 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10;  Windows 10 tip: Solve network problems with a one-click reset;  Everything you need to know about wireless charging;  Having Bluetooth connectivity problems? Try these quick fixes;  50 free Google Chrome browser extensions;  Android 7.0 Nougat: The smart person’s guide;  Dark Web: The smart person’s guide;  EVE Online to Go Free in November – and much more news you need to know.

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10 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10 – As it turns out, there are all sorts of tricks hidden beneath the surface of the sprawling beast that is Windows. All it takes is a little digging. Here we present a list of 10 cool tips that will help you get a little bit more out of your Windows 10 experience. Or, at least, there are some things you may have not known about. Some have been available in Windows for a number of generations, while some are native to Microsoft’s most recent OS.

Report: Windows 10 Adding Blue Light Reduction Option – At this point, Microsoft is just testing the feature, but if it actually makes its way to Windows 10, you’ll likely be able to toggle it on from the Notification area of your PC or mobile device, according to WinBeta. From there, the feature will automatically adjust the color of your screen based on the time of day, and the location of your device, reducing blue light at night to help you sleep.

Windows 10 tip: Solve network problems with a one-click reset – The Windows 10 Anniversary Update includes a new feature that lets you see your network status at a glance. If there’s a problem, you can run a troubleshooter or do a complete reset, with a single click.

Windows 10’s new beta lets computers download updates from other PCs – Microsoft is trying to make it faster for people to download Windows updates by using the vast network of PCs around the world to deliver them. The feature works similarly to the BitTorrent file distribution system. Update files get split into chunks, and then Windows 10 will download each chunk from the device that can deliver it the fastest. Microsoft first introduced the feature with the major Windows 10 update last November, but it only allowed people to download updates from computers on a local network or from Microsoft’s servers.

50 free Google Chrome browser extensions – Here are 50 extensions that focus on privacy and productivity. With these you can take screenshots, secure your browser, keep your passwords safe, take control of your tabs, secure your connection, do more with Gmail, grab text out of images, and much more. All these extensions are free and are available to download from the Chrome Web Store.

Google Expands Android ‘Early Access’ Beta Program – Android owners can visit the Google Play Store and look for the link to “early access” at the end of the list featuring “top charts” and “games.” Then simply find an app you’re interested in, install, and follow the on-screen instructions. Keep in mind, though, that early access space may be limited. To see a list of unreleased apps you’ve downloaded, navigate through the menu to “My apps and games” then “Beta.”

Everything you need to know about wireless charging – No smart home would be complete without wireless chargers to keep the batteries your smart devices topped off. We’ll help you choose the right standard.

Samsung confirms it is recalling the Galaxy Note 7 after reports of explosions – Samsung has confirmed that it is recalling the Galaxy Note 7, its newest smartphone, following reports that some devices exploded. The device was launched less than a month ago to very positive reviews, but concerns about the battery in some units — which reportedly combusted while charging — have forced the company’s hand. Yesterday, Samsung confirmed it was investigating the issue, and now it has taken quick action to avoid potential tragedies. Samsung said it has sold 2.5 million devices so far, and it plans to replace them all “in the coming weeks.” It added that it is aware of 35 cases of faulty batteries, although it isn’t clear how many of that number had exploded.

You Asked: What Is a Chromebook? – They come in many different shapes, sizes, and price points, but they all share a few common characteristics. Most noticeably, they start up fast, have built-in virus protection, automatically update their software, and are generally inexpensive. For these reasons, Chromebooks have becoming increasingly popular with casual Internet users — people who just want to surf the Web — and in the education field, a market that Apple had once dominated.

Facebook Messenger adds live video to augment your messages – A good rule of thumb in software these days is that any social product without a video feature is going to get one eventually. Another good rule of thumb is that any feature developed by Snapchat is coming soon to a Facebook product near you. Enter “instant video,” a twist on Snapchat’s video calling feature that lets you share a live stream from inside a traditional text chat.

Facebook’s new algorithm will help save VR movies from shaky-cam – Facebook wants to make sure that any VR home movies shared on its social network won’t make people puke. That’s why the company is building a new video stabilization algorithm that will help smooth out all of the bumps and shakes that come from wielding a 360 degree camera.

5 ways Dropbox Paper could have an edge over Google Docs – From adding images and rich content to docs, to facilitating work with others, to tracking all changes, Dropbox Paper is a promising collaboration tool.

Having Bluetooth connectivity problems? Try these quick fixes – When researching a connectivity problem with his phone, TechRepublic writer Scott Matteson discovered there are tons of Bluetooth tips out there. Here are some that work.

Android 7.0 Nougat: The smart person’s guide – Learn what features and security enhancements Android Nougat has to offer, and why it’s important, in this resource guide about the seventh iteration of the Android platform.

Osmo Mobile turns smartphones into a motion tracking smart camera – If you are the sort who prefers to enjoy the moment rather than being focused on a camera or smartphone screen recording video and shooting images, the Osmo Mobile might be just the device for you. The Osmo Mobile smartphone holder turns your smart device into a smart motion-tracking camera. What that means is that you don’t have to choose between recording the happenings and participating. The DJI Go app that goes along with the Osmo Mobile device is designed to automatically keep the smartphone facing you as you move.

Intel quietly releases “Apollo Lake,” new low-cost chips for cheap PCs – Intel put most of its marketing and PR muscle for IFA this year behind Kaby Lake, the tweaked 4K-friendly version of its flagship Skylake architecture. But you’ll only see those chips if you’re buying midrange and high-end laptops—slower, lower-end stuff often comes with Celeron and Pentium chips derived from the lower-performance, lower-power Atom chips, and Intel has quietly announced some of those this week, too.

USB-C will soon output HDMI directly, no adapters needed – USB Type C, or USB-C for short, aims to be the end all and be all of connectors. Reversible in both orientation and flow, USB-C allows a single port to function as data conduit, charging channel, and even video output. The problem with the latter, however, is that it usually requires some adapter of sort. Soon, however, that will be a thing of the past. HDMI Licensing, LLC, the force behind the HDMI standard has announced a new Alternate Mode, or Alt Mode” that will allow USB-C devices, like smartphones and laptops, to output HDMI video to any compatible display, but this time with just a cable, without adapters or dongles.

How to track topics with Google Alerts and Inbox by Gmail – Combine Inbox bundles with Google Alerts to stay informed without overloading your email.

Apple will start pruning old, broken apps next week – If you have long had your eye on an old iOS or Mac app for some years now, you might want to install it before September 7th. That’s because, after that date, it has a chance to disappear, especially if it is considered ancient by Apple’s standards. The company has just revealed that it will be making an inventory of its App Store and will be removing apps that outdated, broken, or haven’t been updated in a long time. This is to make sure that actually usable apps aren’t buried beneath search results listing such “unworthy” apps.

Microsoft’s new business model for Windows 10: Pay to play – In the Windows 10 era, as Microsoft’s licensing revenue drops, the company’s finding creative ways to squeeze extra money out of customers, especially businesses.


Dark Web: The smart person’s guide – Nefarious profiteers use the encrypted internet to sell stolen data, drugs and weapons. Facebook and the UN use it to protect dissidents and journalists. This guide shines a light on the Dark Web.

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.

2012 Dropbox hack worse than realized, 68M passwords leaked – According to a recent report, a 2012 hack on cloud file sharing company DropBox put millions of users at risk. It also highlights the importance of good security hygiene for every employee.

Apple patches OS X to fix serious security flaw discovered in iOS – Apple has issued new security updates for El Capitan and Yosemite, as well as its Safari browser, fixing the same serious security vulnerability discovered in its iOS software last week. As with the urgent iOS 9.3.5 update, Mac owners should grab today’s OS X updates as soon as possible, fixing problems that could otherwise give malicious software access to your device’s kernel.

After Breaches At Other Services, Spotify Is Resetting Users’ Passwords – Popular music streaming service Spotify is actively resetting a number of users’ passwords. The company claims this is in response to data breaches of other websites, implying that the problem may be customers reusing passwords. “To protect your Spotify account, we’ve reset your password. This is because we believe it may have been compromised during a leak on another service with which you use the same password,” an email sent to a user on Wednesday reads. “Don’t worry! This is purely a preventative security measure. Nobody has accessed your Spotify account, and your data is secure,” it continues. It then prompts the user to create a new password by clicking on a link. Around six hours ago, users on Twitter reported receiving the same email.

So much for counter-phishing training: Half of people click anything sent to them – Security experts often talk about the importance of educating people about the risks of “phishing” e-mails containing links to malicious websites. But sometimes, even awareness isn’t enough. A study by researchers at a university in Germany found that about half of the subjects in a recent experiment clicked on links from strangers in e-mails and Facebook messages—even though most of them claimed to be aware of the risks.

“Foghorn” takes users out of phish-fighting with DNS “greylisting” – Clickers gonna click. Despite mandatory corporate training, general security awareness, and constant harping about the risks of clicking on unverified links in e-mails and other documents, people have been, are now, and forever will click links where exploit kits and malware lurk. It’s simply too easy with the slightest amount of targeted work to convince users to click. Eric Rand and Nik Labelle believe they have an answer to this problem—an answer that could potentially derail not just phishing attacks but other manner of malware as well.

This Phishing Service Lets Any Jerk Try to Steal Gmail Logins – One of the most effective ways of grabbing someone’s email or social media password is to just ask for it. Phishing, where a hacker sends a message pretending to be from a legitimate website and pressures the target to login, is still responsible for plenty of data breaches today. Well with one website, just about anyone can generate an authentic looking phishing page, send it to whoever they want, and potentially steal the victim’s login details; all with little to no training or technical knowledge.

Company News:

Box beats market expectations for Q2 – Box released its second quarter financial results for fiscal 2017 on Wednesday, narrowly beating market estimates. The cloud storage and content management firm reported a net loss of 14 cents a share, compared to 28 a share in the second quarter of fiscal 2016. The company reported record quarterly revenues of $95.7 million, an increase of 30 percent from the second quarter of fiscal 2016. Wall Street was expecting a net loss of 19 cents a share on revenue of $94.65 million.

Twitter adds new ways to monetize live video via Periscope – Twitter announced a new monetization option today, adding live Periscope content to its monetization options, which lets approved creators and brands earn a share of ad revenue on their media posts. Including live content produced via Periscope in the program is new, and the first partners to take advantage are Chase and Grey Goose, which are creating broadcasts with tennis legend Andy Roddick to coincide with the U.S. Open.

Apple’s Cook calls European tax ruling ‘total political crap’ – The European Commission’s decision to force Apple to pay Ireland billions in back taxes is “total political crap” and a reflection of anti-U.S. sentiment, company CEO Tim Cook said in an interview published Thursday.

Games and Entertainment:

Battlefield 1 beta impressions: Riding an armored train through the middle of hell – Battlefield 1’s open beta starts today and runs through…sometime soon. EA hasn’t exactly said when it ends, though it has specified it’ll last at least four days. My money’s on it ending on Tuesday, a.k.a. the day after Labor Day, but we’ll see. Regardless, anyone with a passing interest in Battlefield—active or lapsed—might want to hop over to Origin (I know, I know, save your sighing) and check it out. Having played for a few hours on Tuesday, I can say with confidence that this World War I-themed game is the most fun I’ve had with Battlefield in a long time.


NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2016 season – Watching sports without a big cable TV bundle has gotten a lot easier in the last year; NFL games are no exception. Thanks in part to new streaming options for cord-cutters, it’s possible to watch all your local NFL games without cable, along with all nationally televised games on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday nights. With the NFL season just a week away, now’s a good time to run through all the ways* that cord cutters can watch or stream NFL games, so you’ll be ready for kickoff:

EVE Online to Go Free in November – After more than a decade of gaming, EVE Online is going free. The game’s developer CCP announced today that starting in November, EVE Online will be a free-to-play game for all. Going forward, EVE Online will include two of what it calls “clone states.” The first, called the Alpha Clone State, will be a new base state for any user to train and use skills, and be saved for new users or those who are returning to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The Omega Clone State, on the other hand, will feature unlimited access to the game’s skills and other features and will act just as it does now for subscribers.


Plex goes after cord cutters with new DVR feature – Plex, a popular personal media player system that lets you stream from your own library, including music, photos, TV and movies, across devices, is today rolling out DVR functionality. The software will now allow you to watch and record their favorite programs, by pairing Plex with any digital antenna and an HDHomeRun digital tuner. This allows you to use Plex to watch TV on any device, including local news, sports, as well as content from the major networks, like ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, PBS and others.

8 Games You’ll Want to Buy in September – The fall video game rush comes early this year, as September features a beefy number of new titles. From Japanese RPGs to energetic sports games to handheld visual novels and side-scrolling action, this month features promising games across all platforms.

Why your home theater PC still can’t stream 4K Ultra HD video – Let’s say you’ve connected both a high-end gaming PC and an inexpensive streaming video-streaming box to your 4K television. Which one do you think would be capable of streaming 4K video from sources like Netflix? If you guessed the PC, you’d be wrong. The reasons why streaming services like Netflix and Amazon support 4K (and the emerging HDR format) on PC are complicated; but in large part, they trace back to copy protection and Hollywood’s desire to keep 4K locked down at all costs. And while premium 4K content is coming to the PC soon, you’ll probably need new hardware to see it.

Logitech announces $69.99 Prodigy gaming range with mouse, keyboard, and headset – Logitech is announcing the launch of its Prodigy gaming line today, which consists of a mouse, a keyboard, and a headset. All of them will cost $69.99 when they’re released later this month.


NVIDIA reveals ‘Vault 1080’ mod for Fallout 4 – NVIDIA recently unleashed a slew of new graphics cards, but judging from a new announcement on the NVIDIA blog, that isn’t all the company has been working hard on. NVIDIA announced today that it will soon be releasing a mod all its own for Bethesda’s Fallout 4, and just as you’d expect from a company that primarily deals in GPUs, this one is meant to push graphics cards a bit harder than the base game.

Off Topic (Sort of):

What you should know before buying a smart lock – Upgrading your locks isn’t as simple as swapping out light bulbs or plugging in a smart power outlet adapter. The installation is a little more hands-on, and the feature sets vary pretty significantly. And remember, these things aren’t cheap — most cost upwards of $200 or more. Bottom line: there are a few things you need to know before rushing out to the hardware store.

Caught in the act: How and why you should invest in a dash cam – No one gets into their car thinking they’re going to get into an accident—that, is until they do. Luckily, we now have dash cams, in-car technology that can be helpful to drivers in the event something goes wrong while they’re behind the wheel. If you don’t have one in your car already, you’ve probably heard about dash cams on the news when footage from a tense police encounter or from a foreign country like Russia has been featured due to an unusual situation. However, you likely won’t encounter meteorites and crashing airplanes as often as you will annoyingly aggressive drivers.

More people using drones to spy on cheating lovers – How do you discover if your suspicions of your lover’s infidelity are well founded? You can go through their phone and emails. You can follow them. How much more convenient, though, when you can get someone else to do the following for you. Or something else. More people are now using drones for the purpose, reports Bravo TV, which spoke with family-law specialist Peter Walzer of the law firm Walzer Melcher. It seems some people believe sending a buzzing object into the sky, camera attached, is the perfectly modern way to examine whether your dear heart is betraying you. There are a couple of kinks, however.

Is ‘Sexting Addiction’ a Real Thing? – Earlier this week, ex-congressman and documentary star Anthony Weiner wound up in the papers once more, his extramarital sexting back in the public eye for the third time in five years. Given all the story’s elements—Sex! Technology! Self-destructive behavior!—it was only a matter of time until Weiner’s woes became fodder for a bit of handwringing about the way we live now. Indeed, it only took a few hours for reporters to start asking if Weiner’s tale was a sign that sexting might actually be addictive. If your automatic reaction to that question is to roll your eyes, you’re not alone.

Wearable Monitoring Tech May Not Always Be Good for Your Health – There are plenty of reasons for caution as we rush into this new world of personalized healthcare—not least privacy and data security concerns—but the risk of overdiagnosis and unnecessary medical interventions should, perhaps, also cause us to pause before we strap the next generation of monitors to our chests and head out to work.

Governments and nation states are now officially training for cyberwarfare: An inside look – Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, and others are now running training exercises to prepare for the outbreak of cyberwar. Locked Shields is the largest simulation and TechRepublic takes you inside.

Something to think about:

“How easy it is for generous sentiments, high courtesy, and chivalrous courage to lose their influence beneath the chilling blight of selfishness, and to exhibit to the world a man who was great in all the minor attributes of character, but who was found wanting when it became necessary to prove how much principle is superior to policy.”

–       James Fenimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans, 1826

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

LEAKED CATALOGUE REVEALS A VAST ARRAY OF MILITARY SPY GEAR OFFERED TO U.S. POLICE – A CONFIDENTIAL, 120-PAGE catalogue of spy equipment, originating from British defense firm Cobham and circulated to U.S. law enforcement, touts gear that can intercept wireless calls and text messages, locate people via their mobile phones, and jam cellular communications in a particular area.

The catalogue was obtained by The Intercept as part of a large trove of documents originating within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where spokesperson Molly Best confirmed Cobham wares have been purchased but did not provide further information. The document provides a rare look at the wide range of electronic surveillance tactics used by police and militaries in the U.S. and abroad, offering equipment ranging from black boxes that can monitor an entire town’s cellular signals to microphones hidden in lighters and cameras hidden in trashcans. Markings date it to 2014.

Cobham, recently cited among several major British firms exporting surveillance technology to oppressive regimes, has counted police in the United States among its clients, Cobham spokesperson Greg Caires confirmed. The company spun off its “Tactical Communications and Surveillance” business into “Domo Tactical Communications” earlier this year, presumably shifting many of those clients to the new subsidiary. Caires declined to comment further on the catalogue obtained by The Intercept or confirm its authenticity, but said it “looked authentic” to him.

“By design, these devices are indiscriminate and operate across a wide area where many people may be present,” said Richard Tynan, a technologist at Privacy International, of the gear in the Cobham catalogue. Such “indiscriminate surveillance systems that are not targeted in any way based on prior suspicion” are “the essence of mass surveillance,” he added.

Sheriff’s Raid to Find Blogger Who Criticized Him Was Unconstitutional, Court Rules – AN APPELLATE COURT in Baton Rouge ruled Thursday that a raid on a police officer’s house in search of the blogger who had accused the sheriff of corruption was unconstitutional.

The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals argued that Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s investigation into the blog ExposeDAT had flawed rationale: the alleged defamation was not actually a crime as applied to a public official.

The unanimous ruling from the three-judge panel comes after police officer Wayne Anderson and his wife Jennifer Anderson were denied assistance in local and federal court.

“I love it when justice is tangible,” Jerri Smitko, one of the Andersons’ laywers, told The Intercept.

“With that piece of paper it says that what they did was unconstitutional — that’s a great feeling because you’re holding it in your hand and it’s vindication for people that they intended to oppress,” she added.

The raid was sparked by the sheriff’s investigation into who was behind the anonymous blog that accused local officials, including him, of corruption and fraud. Through a blog and a Facebook page called “John Turner,”ExposeDAT used public records to show conflicts of interest.

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