Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – October 5, 2016

Yahoo spied on its own users’ emails for U.S. government;  Delete your Yahoo account;  Watch Google’s Pixel phone event in 10 minutes;  iOS 10 apps you should replace today;  How to encrypt your Facebook Messages;  Facebook launches Marketplace, a friendlier Craigslist;  Outlast 2 demo available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC;  Move over Raspberry Pi, here are a dozen, better alternatives – and much more news you need to know.

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Yahoo spied on its own users’ emails for U.S. government – Yahoo is at the center of a new damning report in which sources claim the company built its own software to spy on all incoming Yahoo Mail emails on behalf of the United States government. According to the sources, the software monitored the incoming emails for certain bits of information as provided by either the NSA or the FBI, resulting in “hundreds of millions” of accounts suffering privacy violations. This spying allegedly resulted in former Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos leaving the company, as sources say he disagreed with CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to comply with government orders.

Delete your Yahoo account – THERE’S NO GOOD reason to have a Yahoo account these days. But after Tuesday’s bombshell report by Reuters, indicating the enormous, faltering web company designed a bespoke email-wiretap service for the U.S. government, we now know that a Yahoo account is a toxic surveillance liability.

Watch Google’s Pixel phone event in 10 minutes – Google’s Pixel hardware event today unleashed a torrent of news and product announcements on the tech world. If you’re still trying to wrap your head around everything the company showed off, you’re in luck. We’ve boiled the 117-minute presentation down to 10 minutes of essential video. Check it out to catch up on Google’s ambitious play to control every bit of consumer computing and entertainment, from the smartphone to home appliances to internet connectivity.


Everything that will work with Google Home – With a built-in voice assistant, Google Home acts as your secretary, music hub and smart home controller. Here are all the products and services that will work with Google Home.

How to encrypt your Facebook Messages – All 1 billion Facebook Messenger users can now encrypt their messages so that governments, hackers, and even Facebook itself can’t read them. Facebook announced its “Secret” messages feature back in July. Now it’s fully rolled out, but still a bit tricky to use. Messenger threads aren’t Secret by default, so here’s a step-by-step guide for how to turn on encryption.

This Chrome extension mutes all tabs unless you whitelist them – Silent Site Sound Blocker lets you control which sites can shout at you. Here’s how.

iOS 10 apps you should replace today – iOS 10 lets you delete a whole bunch of built-in apps such as Mail and Calculator. Here are the apps you should be replacing them with.

Facebook launches Marketplace, a friendlier Craigslist – 450 million people already visit “buy and sell” Groups on Facebook each month, and now the company is launching a whole tab in its app dedicated to peer-to-peer shopping.

WhatsApp adds Snapchat-style emoji, drawing, and other camera editing tools – You can now draw and add emoji to your photos and videos on WhatsApp.

Move over Raspberry Pi, here are a dozen, better alternatives – The Raspberry Pi might be the name that springs to mind when people think of single board computers for homebrew projects, but there are other boards out there worth considering.

Windows 10 growth comes to screeching stop – Microsoft’s Windows 10 beat a retreat last month, losing user share for the first time since its debut more than a year ago. According to U.S. metrics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 lost half a percentage point in user share during September, ending the month on 22.5% of all personal computers.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Fix for endless reboot problem coming soon, says Microsoft – Microsoft is in the final stages of fixing a Windows 10 update that endlessly rebooted some PCs. Issued last Friday, the patch, known as Cumulative Update 14393.222, would keep restarting some Windows 10 computers in a vain attempt to install itself. Microsoft has acknowledged the problem affecting the patch for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update and said it is on the verge of correcting it.


Insulin pump vulnerabilities could lead to overdose – Users of the Animas OneTouch Ping insulin pump system have been warned that security vulnerabilities in the device allow attackers to remotely deliver insulin doses. On Tuesday, researchers from Rapid7 revealed the existence of three vulnerabilities in the Animas OneTouch Ping insulin pump system. Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Animas produces the device reads user blood glucose levels through a meter before the pump uses these readings by “communicating wirelessly” in the 900mhz band to deliver insulin. According to the research team, one of the major security flaws within the OneTouch Ping is caused because there is a lack of encryption between these components.

Julian Assange: All That Malware on Wikileaks Isn’t a Big Deal – On Tuesday, Wikileaks celebrated its 10th anniversary with a press conference in Berlin. In addition to reflecting on the publisher’s various releases over the years, Wikileaks editor Julian Assange hinted that more disclosures around the US election would come soon. But recently, one researcher found that Wikileaks’ site is hosting tens of thousands of malicious files within its archives, potentially infecting visitors who execute them. At the press conference, Assange downplayed the risk to users, talking via video-link from London.

One more bites the dust: Kaspersky releases decryption tool for Polyglot ransomware – Kaspersky has released a decryption tool for the Polyglot ransomware to assist victims in recovering their files without giving in and paying a fee. On Monday, the cybersecurity firm launched the free tool (.ZIP), which is suitable for the Polyglot Trojan which is also known as MarsJoke, a strain which has been linked to attacks on government targets.

After Mozilla inquiry, Apple untrusts Chinese certificate authority – Following a Mozilla-led investigation that found multiple problems in the SSL certificate issuance process of WoSign, a China-based certificate authority, Apple will make modifications to the iOS and macOS to block future certificates issued by the company.

Company News:

Google gets more time to respond to EU antitrust charges – Alphabet (née Google) has been given yet another extension to file its respond to charges in Europe that it has misused the dominance of its Android mobile platform to lock out competition by promoting its own services over and above others. Reuters reported the extension today, which gives the company until the last day of this month to file its rebuttal, and follows another extension last month — at the time touted as Google’s last — which pushed the deadline from September 7 to September 20. The original EC deadline for Google’s response was in April so we’re heading for six months later already at this stage (meanwhile the EC’s initial probe of Android complaints dates back to April 2015).

Apple Pay launches in Russia with Sberbank partnership – Apple launched Apple Pay in Russia on Tuesday, extending the payment platform’s reach to 10 countries around the globe. Apple Pay, which allows users to pay with an iPhone or Apple Watch through a contactless sales point, will be available through Sberbank and MasterCard. It’s not clear if Apple is planning additional partnerships.

Salesforce will buy Krux to expand behavioral tracking capabilities – has agreed to buy user data management platform Krux Digital, potentially allowing businesses to process even more data in their CRM systems. Salesforce will pay around $340 million in cash and a similar amount in shares for Krux, according to a filing it made with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. It expects to close the deal by the end of January. Krux describes its business as “capturing, unifying, and activating data signatures across every device and every channel, in real time.”

Akamai acquires enterprise security firm Soha – Akamai hopes the deal will keep the firm’s enterprise clients safer when using cloud and mobile technologies.

Games and Entertainment:

Streaming game trials rolling out in Google Play Store – One of the most annoying things for mobile gamers who like to play on their smartphone is downloading a free or purchased game only to find out it’s terrible a few minutes into play and delete the game. To help users find games they really like Google began to support streaming samples of games in December of 2015 but the catch was that the streaming was only for certain apps. As of today, the ability to try games via streaming before you buy has begun to roll out to more games.

Outlast 2 demo available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC – It’s October, and that means it’s socially acceptable to shroud yourself in all things scary and disturbing. If you prefer to entertain fears via your gaming console, good news: Outlast 2 has a new demo that can be downloaded for free on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 until November 1. The demo went live a handful of hours ago on the PlayStation Store and Microsoft Store, as well as Steam, of course, as an unexpected surprise for fans.

Why World of Tanks is wildly popular and no one seems to know why – How did World of Tanks become one of the top money-making games in the world?



18 Slick Xbox One Tips and Tricks – You probably have an Xbox One of your own (why else did you click into this story) and wonder how you can squeeze every last drop of digital delight out of the console. That’s why we put together this list of Xbone (does anyone call the console that but me?) features you may be missing out on.

Pokemon GO still pulls in $2 million in gross revenue per day – It isn’t uncommon to see some folks on the internet claiming that Pokemon GO is dead. While it’s true that you’re not likely to see as many people playing as you did when Pokemon GO fever was at its peak, a recent report from Newzoo shows that the game is far from dead, still managing to pull in $2 million per day without counting the cut Apple and Google take. That certainly isn’t chump change, and it shows that a significant number of people are still playing and downloading the game.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Test your ethics around killer AI cars with this Moral Machine game – Should a self-driving car full of old folks crash to avoid puppies in the cross-walk? Is it OK to run over two criminals if you save one doctor? Whose lives are worth more, seven-year-olds or senior citizens? This new game called the “Moral Machine” from MIT’s researchers lets you make the calls in the famous “trolley problem” and see analytics about your ethics. Thinking about these tough questions is more important than ever since engineers are coding this type of decision making into autonomous vehicles right now. Who should be responsible for these choices? The non-driving passenger, the company who made the AI or no one?


Researchers find no evidence ‘brain training’ games offset aging, cognitive decline – A new, massive research effort has examined all available data on whether cognitive training, also colloquially referred to as ‘brain training,’ can offset cognitive decline. The data isn’t particularly positive.

Intel ships RealSense-powered kits to build your own robots and drones – Want to build a drone at home? Intel’s now shipping its Aero Compute Board so you can get your unmanned aerial vehicle in the sky.


What happens if we live to be 150? – Humans have lived for approximately 8,000 generations, but only in the past four has life expectancy taken dramatic leaps upward thanks mostly to societies addressing some of the most basic life issues, including infant mortality, heart disease, homicide and influenza. In 1907, the average human life expectancy was 46 years; in 1957, it rose to 66; in 2007, it reached 76. But I predict we won’t stop there. Over the next generation or two, I see us living to 150 years, largely driven by breakthroughs in genomics and bioengineering. That might seem like a long-odds prediction, but it’s good to consider outlier possibilities.

Something to think about:

“In politics, absurdity is not a handicap.”

–    Napoleon Bonaparte

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Yahoo scanned users’ email for U.S. intelligence agencies – Yahoo’s trust with users is damaged today by a Reuters report that claims the company developed a custom program to search all users’ incoming email for specific queries given by U.S. intelligence officials.

“We’ve worked hard over the years to earn our users’ trust and we fight hard to preserve it,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says in the opening to the company’s transparency report, in which it documents government requests for user data. But it appears that Yahoo subverted user trust by creating the custom program, and excluded information about it from its transparency report.

The dragnet surveillance of Yahoo’s email customers was initiated last spring and was confirmed to Reuters by former employees. The former employees claimed that the software was developed in response to a classified government order and led to the June 2015 resignation of Yahoo’s then-Chief Information Security Officer, Alex Stamos. Mayer and Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell directed email engineers to create the program, which was discovered by Yahoo’s security team in May 2015, Reuters reports. Stamos and other security team members initially thought hackers had compromised the company’s email security, and Stamos resigned when he learned that Mayer had approved the program.

“Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,” a Yahoo spokesperson told TechCrunch. A spokesperson at Facebook, where Stamos is currently Chief Security Officer, declined an interview request for Stamos.

The surveillance program has already been condemned by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and members of Congress, who have called the government order received by Yahoo unconstitutional.

Twitter, Microsoft, Google and others say they haven’t scanned messages like Yahoo – Yahoo is under scrutiny today after former employees claimed the company designed custom software to enable U.S. intelligence agencies to scan incoming emails to all of Yahoo’s millions of users. The allegations, first published by Reuters, raise questions about the constitutionality of such dragnet surveillance and about the legal means used to compel Yahoo to build the software.

Other major tech companies were quick to distance themselves from the report, stating that they have not received similar requests for custom software from the government.


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