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.

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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.


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2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 28, 2016

  1. delenn13

    Hey Bill,

    Re:Cybercrime and cyberwar: A spotter’s guide to the groups that are out to get you

    They left out a few of the scariest players…Trumps’ 10 year old son and the 400 pound bedridden guy(possibly hiding in his mother’s basement playing games). NTM, the scariest of all…THE CYBER!!!!!!