Monthly Archives: November 2016

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 30, 2016

The Internet Archive is building a Canadian copy to protect itself from Trump;  $89 Linux laptop? Check out the new Pinebook;  Protect Yourself With a Free VPN Service;  How to watch Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services offline with PlayOn Cloud;  The best Facebook Messenger games to play right now;  Five To-Do apps that got a lot smarter this month;  The state of malware: 4 big takeaways from AV-TEST’s 2016 report;  7 best PC games to play over winter break – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Internet Archive is building a Canadian copy to protect itself from Trump – The Internet Archive, a digital library nonprofit that preserves billions of webpages for the historical record, is building a backup archive in Canada after the election of Donald Trump. Today, it began collecting donations for the Internet Archive of Canada, intended to create a copy of the archive outside the United States. “On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change,” writes founder Brewster Kahle. “It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase.”

Protect Yourself With a Free VPN Service – Very little in life is truly free, but as far as virtual private networks (or VPNs) are concerned, you can get quite a bit for nothing. Though you’ll likely have to pay to get all the features of the best VPN services, there are many free options available. If it’s the price tag that has prevented you from using a VPN, you should definitely try one of these services.

$89 Linux laptop? Check out the new Pinebook from Raspberry Pi rival Pine – The makers of a popular Raspberry Pi challenger, the $20 Pine A64, have returned with two sub-$100 Linux laptops, called Pinebooks. With an Allwinner quad-core ARM Cortex A53 64-bit processor, the A64 board could run Ubuntu, Debian, or Android Lollipop 5.1. The same processor is powering the 11-inch and 14-inch Pinebook notebooks, which at $89 and $99 respectively, could become some of the cheapest laptops available. The displays on both models have a 1,280 x 720-pixel resolution, and besides the A64’s ARM processor, the Pinebooks include the basics needed for a functional laptop, including display, keyboard, touchpad, storage, memory, and ports.


The sub-$100 Pinebook runs on an ARM CPU and Linux. Image: Pine

Fedora 25 makes Linux easy enough for anyone to try – The Fedora community created one of the smoothest Linux Installation experiences ever.

How to watch Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services offline with PlayOn Cloud – The free PlayOn Cloud iOS app is a ‘streaming digital video recorder’ that lets you watch offline video from Netflix, Hulu and other services.

Facebook is bringing games like Pac-Man to Messenger and your News Feed – Facebook wants you playing games just about everywhere, and today the company is introducing a new initiative called Facebook Instant Games that it hopes will do just that. Instant Games is an HTML5 gaming platform that lets Facebook users play games on Messenger and in the Facebook News Feed, without the need to download anything. Instant Games are cross-platform, so they’ll work on both the web and mobile. The service launches today in a closed beta with a total of 17 games, including the likes of Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders, and Words With Friends.

The best Facebook Messenger games to play right now – Starting today you can play games inside Facebook Messenger and News Feed, but which should you try? There are old classics like Pac-Man and Space Invaders, as well as modern titles like EverWing and Words With Friends you can play by tapping the game controller icon in a Messenger thread. Click or scroll through to see our quick reviews and scores out of 10 for all 17 of the launch titles, plus our three favorite picks at the end.

Yahoo brings its Q&A site to mobile via a new app, Yahoo Answers Now – Yahoo has quietly launched a native mobile app for Yahoo Answers, one of the web’s largest Q&A sites which attracts over 3.1 million U.S. monthly visitors. The app, which was previously being tested under a different name, Yahoo Hive, was rebranded to Yahoo Answers Now at the beginning of the month. Like the web version, Yahoo Answers Now lets you view, ask, answer and track questions posed by the online community.

A new rating system will tell you if SD cards are capable of running mobile apps – The SD Association announced a new “app performance class” that will give buyers more knowledge about what to put inside their phones.

Five To-Do apps that got a lot smarter this month – The holiday season doesn’t just usher in the shopping season, it also signals the count down to a new year. Which means that, in addition to trying to work off all that holiday food, people will obsess over resolutions, plans, and goals. Yes, it’s the perfect time to be a todo list app or a productivity app. And as if warming up the engines for the holidays, a handful of such apps and services have stepped up their game to deliver just a bit more smartness to their list of features. Here are five of the best known todo apps that have just made your productivity even more productive.

How to download Windows Store apps with a local account – Microsoft didn’t want you to use the Windows Store without signing in with a Microsoft Account. That no longer appears to be the case.

SnipBack: The best audio recording Android app you’ve never heard of – There’s a new Android audio recorder in town, and it’s making its competition look bad. Find out why SnipBack should be your go-to mobile recording app.

AMD will sneak-peek its high-end Zen CPU in December, starting a new CPU war – AMD’s Zen chips are supposed to be as fast as Intel’s fastest, and they may also be a lot cheaper. If the rumors come true, Intel will finally have some competition in high-end gaming CPUs.

Why you should start using Google Keep right away – Artificial intelligence is transforming Google’s yellow sticky note app into an indispensable peripheral to your own mind.

It will soon be illegal to punish customers who criticize businesses online – Congress has passed a law protecting the right of US consumers to post negative online reviews without fear of retaliation from companies. The bipartisan Consumer Review Fairness Act was passed by unanimous consent in the US Senate yesterday, a Senate Commerce Committee announcement said. The bill, introduced in 2014, was already approved by the House of Representatives and now awaits President Obama’s signature.

Cyber Monday hauls in $3.45B of online purchases, smashing the single-day sales record – As people continue to hunt for bargains online, we are more seeing more record-breaking marquee online sales days. Cyber Monday — coming the first day after the long Thanksgiving break — racked up $3.45 billion in sales in the U.S., pipping past the previous record of $3.34 billion spent on Black Friday just a few days earlier. Sales were up 12.1 percent compared to Cyber Monday a year earlier. Both figures come from Adobe, which said it tracked 23 billion anonymised visits to retail websites, covering 80 percent of all online transactions for the top 100 U.S. retailers. Earlier in the day, Adobe had said it expected $3.36 billion in sales.

Apple has a Calendar and Photos spam problem and it better fix it soon – There’s a nasty new kind of spam hitting Apple users across the Internet. We show you what’s happening, point you to some fixes, and call on Apple to make fixing this loophole a top priority.


Tech support scams evolve, borrow tricks from ransomware creators – If cold calling, fake alerts, and screen lockers aren’t enough, potential victims now face a new threat born from ransomware.

Firefox 0day in the wild is being used to attack Tor users – There’s a zero-day exploit in the wild that’s being used to execute malicious code on the computers of people using Tor and possibly other users of the Firefox browser, officials of the anonymity service confirmed Tuesday. According to security researchers who analyzed the code, it exploits a memory corruption vulnerability that allows malicious code to be executed on computers running Windows. The malicious payload it delivers, according to an independent researcher who goes by the Twitter handle @TheWack0lian, is almost identical to one that was used in 2013 to deanonymize people visiting a Tor-shielded child pornography site. The FBI ultimately acknowledged responsibility for the exploit, which was embedded in Web pages served by a service known as Freedom Hosting.

Newly discovered router flaw being hammered by in-the-wild attacks – Online criminals—at least some of them wielding the notorious Mirai malware that transforms Internet-of-things devices into powerful denial-of-service cannons—have begun exploiting a critical flaw that may be present in millions of home routers. Routers provided to German and Irish ISP customers for Deutsche Telekom and Eircom, respectively, have already been identified as being vulnerable, according to recently published reports from researchers tracking the attacks. The attacks exploit weaknesses found in routers made by Zyxel, Speedport, and possibly other manufacturers. The devices leave Internet port 7547 open to outside connections. The exploits use the opening to send commands based on the TR-069 and related TR-064 protocols, which ISPs use to remotely manage large fleets of hardware. According to this advisory published Monday morning by the SANS Internet Storm Center, honeypot servers posing as vulnerable routers are receiving exploits every five to 10 minutes.

The state of malware: 4 big takeaways from AV-TEST’s 2016 report – The new report details increased risks to Android and Apple products and the top 10 Windows malware programs of 2016. Here’s what your business needs to know to stay safe.

Web CCTV cams can be hijacked by single HTTP request – An insecure web server embedded in more than 35 models of internet-connected CCTV cameras leaves countless devices wide open to hijacking, it is claimed. The gadgets can be commandeered from the other side of the world with a single HTTP GET request before any password authentication checks take place, we’re told. If your camera is one of the at-risk devices, and it can be reached on the web, then it can be attacked, infected with malware and spied on. Network cameras typically use UPnP to drill through to the public internet automatically via your home router. Proof-of-concept code to exploit the vulnerable web server in the cameras can be found right here on GitHub.

Thousands of xHamster login credentials surface online – Members of the porn site xHamster should be changing their passwords today after a set of nearly 380,000 usernames, emails and poorly hashed passwords appeared online. The subscription-only breach notification site LeakBase has published the set of login credentials, which Motherboard reports were being traded online. It’s not clear exactly where the database originated, but it contains information for only a small subset of xHamster’s 12 million registered users. While xHamster doesn’t require viewers to register with the site, those who do can comment and make video playlists. Still, the leaked information has the potential to embarrass users — several of the accounts are linked to U.S. Army and other government email addresses. If xHamster’s subscribers reused their passwords on other sites, their accounts on those sites are at risk of compromise, as well.

Uber begins background collection of rider location data – Imagine you’re on your way to a therapy appointment in a downtown high-rise. You hail an Uber and enter a nearby coffee shop as your destination so you can grab a snack before the appointment. In the car, you scroll through Instagram and check your email. You get out, buy your coffee, and walk around the corner to your therapist’s office. If you installed the latest app update, Uber has been tracking your location the entire time.

Company News:

Samsung Electronics considers restructure following pressure from shareholders – Samsung Electronics has revealed that it is considering splitting the company into two following pressure from investors. Stakeholder Elliott Management last month criticized the Korean firm’s structure which it believes prioritizes the Lee family, which owns the Samsung Group, over its shareholders. In a statement released Monday, Samsung Electronics said it is assessing whether to implement a new corporate structure — which could see the establishment of a holding company — and the potential to list on additional stock exchanges worldwide. Samsung Electronics is working with “external advisors” to look over the possibilities, it said.

Report: Intel plans to make the Core i7 the brains behind self-driving cars – Sixteen years ago, a small low-power chip startup called Transmeta forced Intel to retool its desktop PC processors to meet the demands of notebooks. Today, Intel is adapting its PC processors to an entirely new market: self-driving cars. Intel has joined forces with Mobileye—the former brains behind Tesla Motors’ autopilot system—and auto parts maker Delphi, according to several reports.

Adblock Plus wins its 6th court case, brought by Der Spiegel – In the US, blocking online advertisements might land you in a heated debate. In Germany, you might have that debate in front of a judge. Eyeo GmbH, the company that makes Adblock Plus, has been through no fewer than six court cases by publishers who say blocking online ads violates German law. The ad-blocking company has now won all of its cases at the district level, and one case has been through an appeal. Other cases continue through the German appeals courts. The final lawsuit was brought by Germany’s best-known media brand, Spiegel Online, run by the same company that owns the newsmagazine Der Spiegel. Yesterday, Eyeo disclosed that its lawyers were contacted by telephone to be told that the case against them has been dismissed. The judge’s reasoning won’t be known until a written decision is released later this week.

Uber to European Court: We’re Not a Transportation Company – If the court rules that Uber is more than just an app, it will be subject to the same regulations as its taxi competitors.

Report: Google on pace to sell 3 million Pixels by the end of the year – A Morgan Stanley estimate says Google should sell another 5 to 6 million next year, though Samsung remains the smartphone sales king.

Games and Entertainment:

AT&T launches streaming TV service to compete with Vue, Sling – If you’re looking to cut cable TV, a new video streaming service from AT&T will be available starting Wednesday. DirecTV Now is a flexible pay-as-you-go streaming service that starts at US$35 per month. DirectTV’s conventional satellite service is the foundation, but the content will be streamed over the internet. Traditionally, users needed a two-year commitment and credit check to get DirecTV, but those requirements are not needed for the new service. The streaming service will work on the Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, as well as mobile devices with Android and iOS and PCs. There are four pricing bundles, AT&T said at a press event in New York City. Users will be able to get more than 60 channels for $35, more than 80 for $50, more than 100 for $60, and more than 120 for $70. As an introductory promotion, AT&T will offer 100 channels for $35.

7 best PC games to play over winter break – With winter break quickly approaching for many students in the US, a lot of you might be thinking about how you’re going to spend your time. More specifically, you might be wondering what games out there are worthy of a playthrough while you have some time to burn. We’ve already covered seven console games that are worth a look during your time away from school, but here are seven more for those of you playing on PC.

7 best console games to play over winter break – Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, some form of winter break is on the horizon for many students in the US. For high school students, winter break can last around two weeks, while colleges and universities usually break for three or four. If you’re in parts of the country that actually see snow and cold, spending any significant time outside may not be possible, so what’s a student with nothing but time to do? Play video games, of course – here are seven console-based games you should consider spending your winter break with.

The hottest games of winter – This time of year brings all kinds of reasons to stay in and play a video game, whether you prefer console or computer. As the nights grow longer, we’ll be firing up the hottest games of the season: Here are the four you won’t want to miss this month and next, three more coming at the top of 2017, and the holiday deals and discounts to watch for.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Google Earth Timelapse update shows Earth from 1984-2016 – Google Earth Timelapse is a really awesome project that lets you turn back the clock on Planet Earth. In 2013, Google worked with the US Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, and TIME to compile a history of satellite imagery from 1984 to 2012. Today, Google updated the project with “four additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data, and a sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016.” The new data isn’t just “new” data—Google also managed to compile better older images of Earth thanks to the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation Program. Google says it sifted through 5 million satellite images from five different satellites, taking the best of the “three quadrillion pixels” to create 33 images of Earth (one for each year). Thanks to the plethora of data and Google’s cloud-computing algorithms, you get all of this without any clouds blocking the view.

A Google Earth Timelapse of a community in Canada.

Why Fake News Is So Incredibly Effective – If you get your news from social media, as most Americans do, you are exposed to a daily dose of hoaxes, rumors, conspiracy theories and misleading news. When it’s all mixed in with reliable information from honest sources, the truth can be very hard to discern. In fact, my research team’s analysis of data from Columbia University’s Emergent rumor tracker suggests that this misinformation is just as likely to go viral as reliable information.

Homeopathic solutions now have to be labeled to disclose that there’s no science behind them – The FTC is playing whack-a-mole with pseudoscience again, and this time it’s targeting homeopathy. Their latest comments contend (PDF) that the standard disclaimer isn’t enough to dissuade consumers from buying this crap, so now not only do homeopathic products have to carry the standard disclaimer, they also have to say there’s no science behind them.

FDA approves large-scale trials of ecstasy to treat PTSD – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of MDMA in large-scale clinical trials, The New York Times reports, amid emerging evidence that the illegal party drug could be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Phase 3 research will involve at least 230 patients, the Times reports, and will be funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an organization that advocates for the medical use of marijuana, LSD, and MDMA (also known as ecstasy). MAPS has already funded six Phase 2 studies of MDMA, involving 130 PTSD patients in total. In one study involving 19 PTSD patients, 56 percent said their symptoms declined in severity after receiving three doses of MDMA; by the end of the study, two-thirds didn’t meet the criteria for having PTSD.

Ex-Watergate investigators urge Obama to show leniency to Edward Snowden – President Obama has been urged to show leniency to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden by 15 intelligence experts, who were part of a 1970s congressional committee that investigated the CIA during the Watergate era.

Something to think about:

“When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others.”

–       Bertrand Russell     (1872 – 1970)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

THE UK NOW WIELDS UNPRECEDENTED SURVEILLANCE POWERS — HERE’S WHAT IT MEANS – The UK is about to become one of the world’s foremost surveillance states, allowing its police and intelligence agencies to spy on its own people to a degree that is unprecedented for a democracy. The UN’s privacy chief has called the situation “worse than scary.” Edward Snowden says it’s simply “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.”

The legislation in question is called the Investigatory Powers Bill. It’s been cleared by politicians and granted royal assent on November 29th — officially becoming law. The bill will legalize the UK’s global surveillance program, which scoops up communications data from around the world, but it will also introduce new domestic powers, including a government database that stores the web history of every citizen in the country. UK spies will be empowered to hack individuals, internet infrastructure, and even whole towns — if the government deems it necessary.

Although the UK’s opposition Labour Party originally put forward strong objections to the bill, these never turned into real opposition. The combination of a civil war between different factions in Labour and the UK’s shock decision to leave the European Union means the bill was never given politicians’ — or the country’s — full attention. Instead, it will likely inspire similar surveillance laws in other countries. After all, if the UK can do it, why shouldn’t everyone else? And there will be no moderating influence from the US, where the country’s mostly intact surveillance apparatus will soon be handed over to president-elect Donald Trump.

With this global tide of surveillance rising, it’s worth taking a closer look at what exactly is happening in the UK. Here’s our overview of what the Investigatory Powers Bill entails:

Senators plan last-ditch push to curb U.S. law enforcement’s hacking power – Unless Congress takes 11th-hour action, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies will gain new authority this week to hack into remote computers during criminal investigations.

Proposed changes to Rule 41, the search and seizure provision in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, would give U.S. law enforcement agencies the authority to cross jurisdictional lines and hack computers anywhere in the world during criminal investigations.

The rules, in most cases, now prohibit federal judges from issuing a search warrant outside their jurisdictions. The changes, approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in April at the request of the Department of Justice, go into effect on Thursday unless Congress moves to reverse them.

Lawmakers opposed to the changes are planning a last-minute push to roll them back. Senators will attempt to bring the issue to a vote on Wednesday, said a spokesman for Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

Wyden and four other senators are sponsors of the Stop Mass Hacking Act, a bill to reverse the proposed changes. A similar bill in the House of Representatives has 12 co-sponsors. Two other bills, introduced earlier this month, would delay the proposed changes to give Congress more time to debate them.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 25, 2016

Ten desktop PCs that fit in your pocket;  The Best Media Streaming Devices of 2016;  The Ultimate Apple MacBook Buyer’s Guide;  8 Best Health or Fitness Apps for Android and iOS;  22 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know;  Telegram launches Telegraph, an anonymous blogging platform;  Hackers Are Using MailChimp to Spread Malware;  Are iPhone owners really less honest than Android users?  The best graphics cards for PC gaming;  Just How Big Has the Internet Become? – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Buying a PC on Black Friday? Here are five trends to watch out for – Based on this year’s ads, things are a little different than in the past if you’re looking to purchase a laptop, desktop, or tablet. Here’s how.

The Ultimate Apple MacBook Buyer’s Guide – Apple recently added three new MacBook Pros to its lineup, making the company’s notebook selection more diverse than ever. There’s the feature-packed new Pros, the still-worthwhile old Pros, the critic-favorite MacBook Air, and the ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook. Meanwhile, the iPad Pro is increasingly a worthy laptop replacement. So which MacBook is right for you? Here’s a breakdown of how Apple’s laptops compare that can help you make a decision, whether you’re buying for yourself or a loved one:

Ten desktop PCs that fit in your pocket – Today it’s not just phones you can slip in your pocket, it’s full desktop PCs. These portable desktops range from stick PCs to credit card-sized single board computers, such as the bestselling Raspberry Pi. Here are your go to gadgets if you want a full desktop machine you can take with you.

5 burning questions about AMD’s next-gen Zen processors – AMD’s Zen chip is just around the corner; it’ll first come to gaming systems any day now. There’s a lot of excitement about Zen, which AMD believes is its most important chip this decade.

The Best Media Streaming Devices of 2016 – We pit the highest-rated media-streaming devices against one another to find out which one is your best bet for streaming TV, movies, music, and more to your television.

22 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know – Here’s how to best take advantage of Amazon’s deals, shipping, payments, and more.

Check out our Thanksgiving tech support survival guide (2016 edition) – Get some down time over Thanksgiving (and the holiday season as a whole) by preparing in advance for the inevitable tech support requests.

8 Best Health or Fitness Apps for Android and iOS – Ever wondered why there is usually a surge of interest and sales in health-related products and apps around February. By now it’s probably obvious that it’s usually a guilt-induced urge brought about by months of binging on holiday treats. Of course, staying healthy is a year-round commitment and you don’t have to wait for next year to get started. Heck, you don’t even have to enroll in a gym. To help get the ball rolling, here are 8 apps, available on both Android and iOS that are not just meant to keep you healthy, they can be pretty fun too.

How to see Wi-Fi passwords on an Android phone – What do you do when all you see is a sea of asterisks? (Hint: Rooting required.)

How to Customize Your Default Apps in Windows 10 – You can control which particular app or browser launches when you open a program in Windows 10. Here’s how.

Are iPhone owners really less honest than Android users? That’s what this study says – Researchers claim your phone really does say a lot about who you are as person, and if you’re an iPhone owner what it says is not flattering.

How to get more from Windows Defender by using its command-line tool – Windows Defender’s command-line utility lets you automate basic tasks and handle certain advanced operations. Here’s a look at how to use the tool and examples of ways it can come in handy.

Telegram launches Telegraph, an anonymous blogging platform – Telegram now has a blogging platform to go along with its popular messaging app. It’s called Telegraph and, according to VentureBeat, offers fast publishing and anonymous posting — without requiring you to register an account or sign in through social media. The app’s user interface looks very similar to Medium and allows for easy embeds. You can also embed images from your computer by clicking on the camera button. In comparison to Medium, the loading time for embeds is relatively fast. Publication is instantaneous upon hitting “publish.” Posts are shareable on social media platforms but are designed to work best on Telegram’s new Instant View layout, which works similarly to Facebook’s Instant Articles feature.

SD Association unveils App Performance Class SD cards – The SD Association has announced a new type of memory card that users of smartphones and tablets that need more space for their favorite apps will want to know about. The new App Performance Class is part of SD Specification 5.1 and establishes technical and market requirements to run and store apps on SD cards. The specification still supports storage of images, video, music, documents, and other data as well.

Vivaldi web browser can directly control Philips Hue bulbs – Philips Hue bulbs can already be controlled through various means and there are most likely web apps that can accomplish that as well. Vivaldi, however, prides itself for having that feature built right into the browser, no add-ons needed. As long as the bulb and the browser use the same Wi-Fi network, a bridge between the two can be made.

Google Cast branding dropped in favor of Chromecast built-in – The Google Cast brand hasn’t been around that long, but Google is already phasing it out. The branding, which marked speakers and other things compatible with Google’s casting technology, will disappear and be replaced with the ‘Chromecast built-in’ designation. The company’s Google Cast website already mentions this change, though it seems to be happening slowly rather than in one big sweep.

New federal guidelines seek to lock out apps on drivers’ phones – “Distracted driving” has been getting more attention because the government calculates that it is prevalent and is causing more car crashes. Today, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration published guidelines calling on smartphone makers to create a “Driving Mode” that shuts down app-use while a car is in motion. The 96-page voluntary guidelines (PDF), intended to reduce “driver distraction,” also call for cars to be more easily “paired” with mobile devices so that drivers can access them through an in-vehicle interface.

Windows 10 snooping: Microsoft gets more time to tackle ‘excessive’ data collection – Microsoft has been granted more time to change how Windows 10 collects data about users in order to comply with the French data protection act.


Make companies pay full cost of breaches to restore trust in the internet, says ISOC – Fake news, online banking thefts and data breaches: It’s no wonder that trust in the internet is at an all-time low. But don’t worry: The Internet Society has a five-step plan for restoring faith in the network of networks.

Google warns journalists and professors: Your account is under attack – Google is warning prominent journalists and professors that nation-sponsored hackers have recently targeted their accounts, according to reports delivered in the past 24 hours over social media. The people reportedly receiving the warnings include Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Stanford University professor and former US diplomat Michael McFaul, GQ correspondent Keith Olbermann, and according to this tweet, Politico, Highline, and Foreign Policy contributor/columnist Julia Ioffe; New York Magazine reporter Jonathan Chait; and Atlantic magazine writer Jon Lovett. Reports of others receiving the warnings are here and here. Many of the reports included banners that Google displayed when account holders logged in. Ars spoke to someone who works for a well-known security company who also produced an image of a warning he received. The person said he was aware of a fellow security-industry professional receiving the same warning.

Madison Square Garden Suffered Year-Long Credit Card Breach – The Madison Square Garden Company this week disclosed a massive credit card breach at four of its New York venues. Payment cards used to purchase merchandise, food, and drinks between Nov. 9, 2015 and Oct. 24, 2016 at Madison Square Garden, the Theater at MSG, Radio City Music Hall, or Beacon Theater—as well as Chicago Theater in Illinois—may have been affected. That means, for example, anyone who picked out a Billy Joel T-shirt or ordered popcorn and a beer during the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular could be a victim of identity theft.

US Navy warns 134,000 sailors of data breach after HPE laptop is compromised – A data breach at the US Navy has exposed the social security numbers and names of more than 130,000 current and former sailors, officials confirmed late on Wednesday—adding that “unknown individuals” had accessed the sensitive information. Hewlett Packard Enterprise told the US Navy that one of its laptops operated by a contractor had been “compromised,” however it didn’t provide any further information about how the breach—affecting 134,386 sailors—had occurred.

Hackers Are Using MailChimp to Spread Malware – You probably know MailChimp either as an email newsletter service, or the company that seems to have adverts on every single podcast you’ve ever listened to. Hackers recently jumped on that popularity, and managed to send out emails containing malicious links to subscribers of various different companies. The incident shows that hackers will likely use whatever distribution channels they can in an attempt to spread their malware and turn a profit.

Security researchers can turn headphones into microphones – Security researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University have created a proof-of-concept exploit that lets them turn headphones into microphones to secretly record conversations. The PoC, called “Speake(a)r,” first turned headphones connected to a PC into microphones and then tested the quality of sound recorded by a microphone vs. headphones on a target PC. In short, the headphones were nearly as good as an unpowered microphone at picking up audio in a room. The hack is fairly ingenious. It essentially “retasks” the RealTek audio codec chip output found in many desktop computers into an input channel. This means you can plug your headphones into a seemingly output-only jack and hackers can still listen in.

Tech Giants: IoT Security Is Terrible, Here’s How to Fix It – A report calls for future Internet of Things devices to have stronger encryption and allow less Internet access by default.

Company News:

Microsoft starts shipping Surface Studio orders early, offers dedicated support line – Microsoft has started shipping some Surface Studio orders a little early. The software giant originally planned to ship units to customers in mid-December, but Microsoft has been emailing the first people to preorder the $3,000 device, letting them know the Studio will arrive this week. Microsoft is still accepting “preorders” for the Surface Studio, but new devices won’t ship until “early 2017.”

Amazon makes good on its promise to delete “incentivized” reviews – Amazon is making good on its promise to ban “incentivized” reviews from its website, according to a new analysis of over 32,000 products and around 65 million reviews. The ban was meant to address the growing problem of less trustworthy reviews that had been plaguing the retailer’s site, leading to products with higher ratings than they would otherwise deserve. Incentivized reviews are those where the vendor offers free or discounted products to reviewers, in exchange for recipients writing their “honest opinion” of the item in an Amazon review. However, data has shown that these reviewers tend to write more positive reviews overall, with products earning an average of 4.74 stars out of five, compared with an average rating of 4.36 for non-incentivized reviews.

Facebook slapped with racial discrimination suit – Facebook was struck with a racial discrimination lawsuit after two black employees at the social network’s North Carolina data center alleged the company didn’t respond promptly to repeated complaints of harassment. The suit, filed Tuesday in US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges Facebook allowed “retaliation against the employees reporting discrimination to fester and continue” at the facility despite their continued complaints. Robert Baron Duffy, a former employee, and Robert Louis Gary, a current employee, allege a facility manager used racial slurs when referring to black employees. They also say they were paid less than white colleagues.

Games and Entertainment:

The best graphics cards for PC gaming – In the market for a new video card? These are the best graphics cards that PC gamers can buy today.

2016 is saved as Microsoft Solitaire hits iOS and Android – Microsoft is bringing one of its most popular products to iOS and Android, and if you needed the perfect distraction from Trump talk at the Thanksgiving dinner table, this is it. The Microsoft Solitaire Collection brings some of the mainstays of Windows distraction from the PC to the smartphones most of us have in our pockets. Best of all, it’s a free download.

Rocket League Game of the Year Edition drives onto PS4 and PC – If you’ve yet to play Rocket League, you may want to have a look at the Game of the Year Edition, which has arrived on PC and PlayStation 4. Interestingly enough, Xbox One isn’t included in this launch, despite the fact that there’s an Xbox version of Rocket League. Perhaps such a release is coming at some point in the future, but for now, Xbox One owners are being left out in the cold.

Minecraft introduces flying Elytras, cartoon textures – Holiday season isn’t just shopping season. It’s also gaming season. Which is why game makers usually go all out during this time to ensnare bored or willing victims into their choice of escape from reality. And nothing says “escape from reality” more than Minecraft. Appropriately, Mojang has just announced some holiday treats for everyone, both on consoles and mobile, though not everyone is getting the exact same gifts. Console gamers will have adventures and misadventures in the air, while those on mobile can make goofy faces instead.


Titanfall 2 free DLC arrives starting November 30 – Gamers who preordered Titanfall 2 will be able to download the game’s first free DLC starting on November 30. If you didn’t preorder the game, you’ll still get access to the DLC, but you’ll have to wait until December 3 to get it. Once you do, though, you’ll get access to the Angel City map from Titanfall 1, perhaps the most anticipated part of the DLC, as well as a new pistol and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Just How Big Has the Internet Become? – Wrap your mind around this: the average website today is now roughly 2.3MB—the size of the original Doom PC game, as noted in a study released in April by software engineer Ronan Cremi, CTO of DeviceAtlas. And the overall page size is “increasing inexorably,” Cremin stated in his report. Now consider the fact there are over 1 billion of these websites and counting clogging up the net, an increase of over 1,000 percent in the last decade. In other words, websites are getting bigger and bigger, and at the same time, more and more of them are being launched. But when you take into account all of these websites and their text, photos, animated ads, videos, and everything else that goes into them, just how big is the internet as a whole? And does it really matter?

Facebook is unlikely to succeed in China, even if it compromises on free speech – Facebook may have laid some of the early groundwork for a potential entry into China, but the U.S. social network’s chances of making a dent in the world’s most populous country are remote.

Google WiFi mesh networking crushes the competition in new test – Mesh networking is the future, and Google thinks it has a winner with Google WiFi. It’s backed up by a new test showing Google WiFi putting the competition to shame.

These 4 Things Kill Relationships – John Gottman can listen to a couple for 5 minutes and determine, with 91% accuracy, whether they’ll divorce. Gottman’s researched marriage for over 40 years and couples that attend his workshops have half the relapse rate that standard therapy provides. How can he tell who will split up? There are a number of indicators but at the core of Gottman’s research are ” The Four Horsemen.” These are the four things that indicate a marriage apocalypse is on its way:

Australia: Census reports highlight government IT incompetence – Inquiries by the Australian Senate and the PM’s special advisor on cybersecurity highlight ‘significant and obvious oversights’ by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which ‘couldn’t handle a predictable problem’.

The Small Business Holiday Season Survival Guide – Experts from Balboa Capital explain how small to midsize businesses (SMBs) can prepare for and capitalize on the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Reddit CEO admits he secretly edited comments from Donald Trump supporters – Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has admitted that he modified comments about him left on the site from supporters of Donald Trump. Huffman said he changed mentions of him in some of the messages inside the site’s largest forum for the President-elect, but not the messages themselves. But, in doing so, he dredges up past concerns that Reddit remains unable to work with its community.

Something to think about:

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

–       Franklin D. Roosevelt    (1882 – 1945)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tweets aren’t tools for surveillance: Twitter pushes back against law enforcement – Just because your tweets are public, doesn’t mean that law enforcement can use them to track your activity, Twitter clarified in a blog post on Tuesday. The post came after the company received reports of the service being used for surveillance on its users, the post said.

“As a company, our commitment to social justice is core to our mission and well established,” the post said. “And our policies in this area are long-standing. Using Twitter’s Public APIs or data products to track or profile protesters and activists is absolutely unacceptable and prohibited.”

Twitter’s public API makes tweets and some of their data available to developers worldwide, to be used in a variety of applications. In the post, the company said that the APIs were built using “content that people choose to share publicly,” and noted how that can be leveraged to help respond to natural disasters.

UK Cops Are Trying to Remove Spy Gear Records from the Web – UK police forces have long shrouded their use of IMSI catchers in extreme secrecy. In October, a report in the Bristol Cable uncovered new evidence that several forces had bought such technology, which UK police refer to as “covert communications data capture,” or CCDC.

But, that doesn’t mean police forces are going to break with tradition: some agencies have tried to remove evidence of their spending on IMSI catchers from the web, even though the publication of some of these documents is supposed to provide more transparency into the police and how it uses public funds.

“Their insistence on secrecy is in stark contrast to shallow political promises around accountability. There is no question that these devices raise serious data protection issues for the thousands of innocent people who have their personal data collected by these mass surveillance systems,” Richard Tynan, a technologist from activist group Privacy International, told Motherboard in an email.

Tynan added that UK police force’s stance on IMSI catchers “reveals their contempt for transparency.”

Germany is worried about fake news and bots ahead of election – Angela Merkel this week warned that fake news and bots may influence Germany’s national elections next year, days after she announced plans to seek a fourth term as the country’s chancellor. In a speech to parliament on Wednesday, Merkel said that fake news and bots have “manipulated” public opinion online, adding that lawmakers must “confront this phenomenon and if necessary, regulate it,” the AFP reports.

“Something has changed — as globalization has marched on, [political] debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Opinions aren’t formed the way they were 25 years ago,” Merkel said. “Today we have fake sites, bots, trolls — things that regenerate themselves, reinforcing opinions with certain algorithms and we have to learn to deal with them.”

UK ISPs may be forced to block porn sites that snub age checks, sex acts face ban – Late on Wednesday, the government’s planned amendment to the Digital Economy Bill—which, if unopposed by parliament, will force ISPs to block porn sites that refuse to provide adequate age verification mechanisms—was published online. The tabled tweak to the draft legislation states that, where ISPs fail to act, they will be found guilty of an offence and hit with a fine.

As part of its mission creep, the government is also pushing for the BBFC regulator to have the power to tell ISPs to block content that isn’t pornographic. It states:

The steps that may be specified or arrangements that may be put in place under subsection (2) (c) include steps or arrangements that will or may also have the effect of preventing persons in the United Kingdom from being able to access material other than the offending material using the service provided by the Internet service provider.

However, the government’s amendment doesn’t nail down what it defines as “other material”—making it arguably a sweeping demand for all sorts of content to be censored.

Meanwhile, campaigners are increasingly vexed by the government’s decision to appoint the BBFC to police online porn blockades where sites fail to bring in age checker systems—even though the regulator is yet to explicitly state what fruity online material would be placed on its banned list.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 25, 2016

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 23, 2016

20 tips and tricks that make Windows 10 more tolerable;  How to watch Thanksgiving football online;  3 security reports about shopping online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday;  The best video-streaming apps for Apple TV, from A to Z;  How to cheaply and easily improve Windows 10 performance;  How to make home IoT more secure: Assume the worst;  Windows 10 quick tips: Get the most out of Cortana;  5 things to know about fake news on Facebook, Google;  The most useful iOS travel apps for business professionals;  How to pick out the best high-end TVs for the buck this Black Friday – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to watch Thanksgiving football online – If you are unable to watch the TV broadcasts of the three NFL games, you have streaming options. Each one is a bit different, however, since each game is on a different network.

3 security reports about shopping online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Researchers list the most and least secure online retailers, warn about vulnerabilities in WordPress e-commerce plugins and warn that crooks are cashing in on top store brands and “Black Friday” to scam consumers.

How to make home IoT more secure: Assume the worst – A report by the internet advisory group BITAG on Tuesday identified common security problems in home IoT products and recommended steps vendors should take from now on.

20 tips and tricks that make Windows 10 more tolerable – No matter who you are and where you stand on the raging Windows 10 issues, I bet there are some things you love about your new operating system, along with other things you wish were better, had stayed the same, or simply went away. In this slideshow, I take you through the parts of Win10 that irk me the most, giving you quick tips on how to set things right … or at least, right-er.

How to cheaply and easily improve Windows 10 performance – Windows 10 performance on older PCs can be cheaply and easily improved through the use of Windows’ ReadyBoost feature and a spare USB flash drive or SD card.

Windows 10 quick tips: Get the most out of Cortana – Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana is one of the major additions to Windows 10 — and it’s a winner. Turn it on and Cortana alerts you to upcoming meetings; searches your PC and the Web; tells you about the weather, news and sports; and a lot more. To help you get the most out of Cortana, I’ve put together some of my favorite tips for using it — including using Cortana to manage your Google Calendar, identify the music you’re listening to and track packages and flights.

Windows 10 tip: Keep your Microsoft account secure with 2-factor authentication – Signing in to Windows 10 with a Microsoft account is convenient, unless your password is stolen or phished. Protect yourself by turning on additional security features.

Google Maps will now tell you how busy a place is in real time – Other data-driven tricks include projections about how long people stay at a place and more detailed hours from certain venues.

The most useful iOS travel apps for business professionals – Making travel arrangements can be a hassle, and that’s before you even start on your trip. These iOS and watchOS apps will make your life much easier while traveling.

How to use Skype without an account – Skype has always required an account before you could use it. Microsoft is changing that with a new feature for Skype for Web.

5 things to know about fake news on Facebook, Google – With presidential election signs coming down from front lawns and voters watching protests on the news, many are wondering if fake news stories on Facebook and Google contributed to Donald Trump’s winning the presidency. And that raises the question of what Google and Facebook plan to do about it.

New Google Sites now ready to build websites for everyone – Building websites is as much an art as it is (computer) science. And, let’s face it, not everyone has what it takes to craft beautiful, not to mention engaging, websites, nor do we always have a web designer on call. Don’t worry, though, because Google has you covered, again. After a period of dormancy, the Google Sites website builder is jumping back into action, newer, fresher, and more responsive than ever before, to help you and your team make websites that are just as fresh and responsive.

Secure messaging app Telegram now offers its own anonymous blogging platform – Telegram, the security-focused messaging app, has launched its own take on blogging platforms. If you’re among Telegram 100 million-plus active users then the new Telegraph service will be much as you’d expect. It’s minimalist and anonymous — you can add your name if you wish — with support for markdown, in-line photos and other embeds as is standard. That makes Telegraph an interesting option for posting short notes or anonymized content online. I took it for a spin — just a few pics — and it was very easy to use.

Instagram launches disappearing Live video and messages – Instagram is combining the best of Snapchat and Periscope to help you get comfortable on camera. Rather than overlap with Facebook Live and Messenger, Instagram is putting an ephemeral spin on video streaming and private messaging. Today, two big new features begin rolling out to Instagram Stories on iOS and Android over the next few weeks. Instagram Live lets you broadcast video to your followers in real-time, but they can only watch while you’re still streaming. No replays. But you will be able to browse an algorithmically curated Explore page of the best Instagram Live videos happening right now.

Disney launches free Moana-themed coding tutorials – As part of’s Hour of Code program, Disney is releasing “Moana: Wayfinding with Code,” a free online tutorial to teach kids the basics of computer science. The tutorial features characters from Moana, Disney’s upcoming animated feature film. In the past, the company has created coding tutorials featuring characters from Frozen and Star Wars. Through those sessions, Disney taught nearly 40 million kids the basics of computer programming. Disney says it hopes to reach even more this time around.

10 gizmos and gifts to encourage kids to learn to code – The learn-to-code space has no shortage of ideas to inspire young minds and help them get to grips with programming logic. We’ve rounded up some of the best stuff we’ve seen recently, from toys which aim to encourage learning via play, to connected hardware kits focused on inventing and project-making, to gamified software learning environments for those happy to gift a subscription. Prices range from a few dollars for an in-app purchase to around $200 for fancier gadgets. Whether you’re buying a gift for a three year old or a tricky teen you’ll find something to consider here.

Yeehaw is a 3D printer ideal for kids (priced that way, too) – Yeehaw is a 3D printer made specifically with kids in mind – made to be safe, simple to use, and inexpensive. This printer was built to allow kids to print their own toys, and tools, and all manner of tiny oddities. It does so with an always-expanding library of 3D objects available for download as well as an app that allows kids to create 3D objects with big pixels in 3D space.

Done With Tinder? Try ‘Sindr,’ the Vatican’s New Confession Finder App – For those Catholics itching to be absolved, a Scottish Archbishop may have just revolutionized the search for a confessional — with a new smartphone and tablet app launched at the Vatican on Tuesday. The Catholic app, which has inevitably been dubbed “Sindr” by some media and online commentators, is expected to go live in early 2017, according to Vatican Radio.

How to pick out the best high-end TVs for the buck this Black Friday – A few months ago. I bought a new home with something I’d always wanted: A room big enough for a home theater. So, I went looking for the best HDTV I could find and afford. Here’s what I found on my journey. Now, I grew up with a soldiering iron in my hand in my dad’s TV repair shop. I make my living from knowing how computers work, but I started in electronics with television. When it comes to TVs, I know what I’m looking for. Here are the factors I use in determining what TV to buy.


Don’t let yourself be targeted by cybercriminals: Here are 6 tips for safe holiday shopping – Online shopping is easy and convenient, and more people are doing it than ever before. The rise in e-commerce also gives cybercriminals more opportunities to rob you blind. Here’s how to stay safe.

Tor phone is antidote to Google “hostility” over Android, says developer – The Tor Project recently announced the release of its prototype for a Tor-enabled smartphone—an Android phone beefed up with privacy and security in mind, and intended as equal parts opsec kung fu and a gauntlet to Google. To protect user privacy, the prototype runs OrWall, the Android firewall that routes traffic over Tor, and blocks all other traffic. Users can punch a hole through the firewall for voice traffic, for instance, to enable Signal. The prototype only works on Google Nexus and Pixel hardware, as these are the only Android device lines, Perry wrote, that “support Verified Boot with user-controlled keys.” While strong Linux geekcraft is required to install and maintain the prototype, Perry stressed that the phone is also aimed at provoking discussion about what he described as “Google’s increasing hostility towards Android as a fully Open Source platform.”

Elegant 0-day unicorn underscores “serious concerns” about Linux security – Recently released exploit code makes people running fully patched versions of Fedora and other Linux distributions vulnerable to drive-by attacks that can install keyloggers, backdoors, and other types of malware, a security researcher says.

Would You Sacrifice Sex for Online Security? – To what lengths would you go to ensure online privacy? According to a new survey, about 40 percent of Americans would refrain from sex and give up their favorite food to avoid cybersecurity headaches. Password management firm Dashlane last week reported that nearly four in 10 people would sacrifice lovemaking for a year if in return they could stop worrying about being hacked, identity theft, or losing access to one or more of their online accounts. Such drastic measures, however, are not necessary if simple password rules are followed—which, based on a continued stream of successful attacks, we clearly aren’t all doing.

Company News:

Office Depot caught claiming out-of-box PCs showed “symptoms of malware” – Office Depot and its sister retailer OfficeMax have stopped using a technically dubious piece of malware-scanning software after two news services caught the stores recommending costly fixes for PC infections that didn’t exist. According to an investigation conducted by KIRO TV News, four out of six stores in Seattle and Portland, Oregon claimed that out-of-the-box PCs showed “symptoms of malware” that required as much as $180 for repairs and protection. The computers, according to the report, had never been connected to the Internet and were diagnosed as free of malware by security firm IOActive.

Samsung raided for second time over presidential scandal – Samsung has been raided for the second time over allegations that it bribed the president’s close contact to get approval over the controversial merger of its two key affiliates.

Oracle to buy cloud infrastructure provider Dyn – Oracle plans to acquire internet performance and DNS provider Dyn in an effort to pump up its cloud-based offerings and challenge infrastructure and platform service leaders like Amazon and Microsoft. Dyn, in the news last month when it was targeted in a massive distributed denial-of-service attack, operates a global network that makes 40 billion traffic optimization decisions each day for more than 3,500 enterprise customers, including Netflix and Twitter.

Apple dumps wireless router development, will exit the market – Apple has manufactured its own line of AirPort cards and routers for 17 years, dating back to the introduction of the original AirPort Base Station in 1999. Now, the company is apparently planning to kill its support for the AirPort division, not long after announcing it would also exit the display markets. It’s been more than three years since Apple announced a new base station (its last update, in 2013, added support for the 802.11ac standard), so this move isn’t entirely surprising — but it’s also a further sign that Apple is consolidating its product lines.

Google acquires AWS training vendor Qwiklabs – Google is acquiring Qwiklabs, a company that helps people learn how to use public cloud services to run applications without operating a data center. It’s a helpful move for Google, which is trying to expand the use of its cloud platform and stands to gain when developers and IT professionals get a handle on making applications run in the cloud. The company will create tools to help get people up to speed on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and G Suite productivity service, said Jason Martin, the director of professional services for Google Cloud, in a blog post.

The cloud price war continues: Amazon cuts its cloud storage prices, again – Amazon Web Services (AWS) is cutting the price of its S3 cloud storage service and Glacier cloud archive service, as well as adding new options for companies wanting to retrieve data from Glacier. AWS said it is cutting the per-gigabyte price of its S3 Standard Storage in most AWS regions as of 1 December, and reducing it down to three pricing tiers. It is also cutting the price of Glacier storage in most AWS regions.

Games and Entertainment:

The best video-streaming apps for Apple TV, from A to Z – The App Store might have opened it up to a wide variety of uses, but the Apple TV will always be, first and foremost, a media streamer. But while streaming on Apple TV is easier than ever thanks to its built-in Siri search capabilities and universal sign-in, finding things to watch requires a little legwork. Apple isn’t nearly as helpful with the channel lineup as it once was, and with thousands of apps available, you have to know where to look to find the best ones. So whether you’re an Apple TV newcomer or a veteran from the Front Row days, our list of the 50 best streaming apps will fill your schedule with more must-see than your Apple TV can handle.

The 5 best Black Friday gaming sales of 2016 – Black Friday is quickly approaching, and that usually means good things for folks looking to pick up some video games. Whether you’re looking for video games or consoles, a lot of stores will have plenty of offers to take advantage of. With so many places vying for your time on Black Friday, where do you stand the best chance at getting a good deal? Here are some of the more attractive locations for gamers on Black Friday.

Ultimate Xbox One holiday gift guide – There’s new Xbox One hardware on store shelves, cross-platform play is going strong, and the Xbox 360 backwards compatible catalog continues to grow. And if nothing else, 4K UHD TV owners have a very good reason to grab a new console this holiday season.

Here’s what you’ll need to run Windows 10 VR headsets next year – Excited about forthcoming Windows 10 VR support? You should be, since it’s going to open up who gets access to virtual reality considerably, thanks to third-party headsets from established OEM partners starting at just $299. Minimum PC specs are now available, too – and The Verge points out they aren’t too demanding, which is great news. The into comes via a ‘Windows Holographic First Run’ tester application that appears in pre-release builds of Windows 10 aimed at testers, and reveals minimum requirements for running Microsoft’s virtual computing environment that include 4GB of system RAM, at least one USB 3.0 port, a graphics card that can support DirectX 12 (not a steep bar) and at least 4 CPU cores that include dual-core processors with hyperthreading capability.

Titanfall 2’s Upcoming Free Map is a Blast From the Past – Titanfall 2 may not be doing great sales-wise but it has something that could help it in the long run: free DLC. We’ve known about the game’s free DLC model for some time but didn’t know when it would arrive or what it would contain. Today, Respawn Entertainment has at last outlined what the first downloadable content will be. The first DLC will be called Angel City’s Most Wanted, which has an all-new map, weapons, Titan kits, and more. The Angel City map is new to Titanfall 2 but not to the series since it appeared in the original Titanfall. Those who pre-ordered the game will have access to the map on November 30 while everyone else will get it on December 3.

Oculus Rift gets Xbox One game streaming on December 12th – Microsoft originally announced its plans to stream Xbox One games to the Oculus Rift back in June, 2015. While it’s taken nearly 18 months to arrive, the software giant is planning to allow Oculus Rift owners to play Xbox One games on December 12th. Rift owners will be able to download a free Xbox One streaming app from the Oculus Store, and any console output will be streamed directly to the Rift headset. Microsoft is also supporting the Rift natively in Windows 10, and the company continues to ship its wireless controllers with the Rift as part of its partnership.

Pokemon Sun and Moon become second-largest 3DS launch in Japan – It would seem that Pokemon Sun and Moon’s lineup of legendaries, vast number of pre-launch trailers, glowing reviews, and possibly even price have turned the games into a smashing success in Japan. Nintendo has announced that the games sold a combined 1.9 million copies in its home territory during their first weekend of availability. Sales numbers for North America aren’t available at the moment, while the games aren’t even available in Europe yet – something that’s set to change tomorrow.

Off Topic (Sort of):

#WeAreNotWaiting: Diabetics are hacking their health, because traditional systems have failed them – Diabetics have been waiting for years for better technology to manage their condition. Some got tired of waiting and hacked together an open source hardware and software solution. This is their story.

Eating Cheese Could Help You Live Longer – A new study from Nature Science suggests that consuming aged cheeses with the compound spermidine seems to extend the lifespan of mammals, based on tests with rodents. Rodents and cheese. Of course. It makes too much sense. But rats and mice weren’t the only test subjects to be examined. Italians were also queried on how much cheese they eat and their resulting health changes were studied accordingly. Both the risk of high blood pressure and heart failure seemed to go down as cheese intake went up.

Most students can’t tell the difference between sponsored content and real news – Most students can’t tell the difference between real news articles and sponsored content, according to a study from Stanford University, raising concerns over how young people consume online media. According to the study, 82 percent of students could not distinguish between a sponsored post and an actual news article on the same website. Nearly 70 percent of middle schoolers thought they had no reason to distrust a sponsored finance article written by the CEO of a bank, and many students evaluate the trustworthiness of tweets based on their level of detail and the size of attached photos, according to the Journal.

More than half the world’s people still off the Internet – Less than half of the world’s population still isn’t using the Internet, although the numbers are improving, according to a United Nations report. A report released this week by the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) found that 47.1% of the population is online, an increase from 2015’s figure of 43%. The spread of mobile networks around the globe has played an important role in increasing Internet connectivity, the report said. Mobile-broadband networks cover 84% of the world’s population this year, but the number of users, at 47.1%, is well below those who have access.

Fix your stuff with this $20 essential electronics toolkit from iFixit – This $20 toolkit from iFixit allows you crack open and take a stab at repairing most electronic devices.

Something to think about:

“This above all: to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day; Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

–       William Shakespeare     (1564 – 1616), ‘Hamlet,’ Act I, Scene iii

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FYI: The FBI is being awfully evasive about its fresh cyber-spy powers – Senior US senators have expressed concern that the FBI is not being clear about how it intends to use its enhanced powers to spy on American citizens.

Those are the spying powers granted by Congressional inaction over an update to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These changes will kick in on December 1 unless they are somehow stopped, and it’s highly unlikely they will be challenged as we slide into the Thanksgiving weekend.

The rule tweak, which was cleared by the Supreme Court in April, will allow g-men to apply for a warrant to a nearby US judge to hack any suspect that’s using Tor, a VPN, or some other anonymizing software to hide their whereabouts, in order to find the target’s true location.

Normally, if agents want to hack a PC, they have to ask a judge for a warrant in the jurisdiction where the machine is located. This is tricky if the location is obscured by technology. With the changes to Rule 41 in place, investigators can get a warrant from any handy judge to deploy malware to find out where the suspect is based – which could be anywhere in America or the world.

Also, when agents are investigating a crime that spans five or more different judicial districts in the US, the new Rule 41 will allow them to go to just one judge for a warrant, rather than all the courts in all the involved jurisdictions. And it allows the Feds, with a search warrant, to poke around in people’s malware-infected computers.

Here’s how assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell summed up the changes:

Surveillance firm slashes staff after losing Facebook, Twitter data – Business isn’t good at a Chicago tech company that was outed last month for its practice of buying social media data and re-selling it to police.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that Geofeedia had been given access to data by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which Geofeedia used to build software products for police that the ACLU called “surveillance tools.” Facebook and Instagram took cut off Geofeedia’s access in September, and Twitter blocked access after reviewing the ACLU report in October.

Losing access to those social media data feeds seems to have had a big impact on Geofeedia’s business. A Geofeedia spokesperson today told the Chicago Tribune that it laid off 31 employees out of about 60 total.

In an e-mailed statement to the newspaper, Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris said his company wasn’t “created to impact civil liberties,” but after the debate spurred by the ACLU report, they’re changing the company’s direction.

Facebook is reportedly building a censorship tool so it can re-enter China – Facebook is developing a software tool that suppresses users’ posts from appearing in the News Feed in designated geographic areas, a possible first step toward making the social network available in China, the New York Times reported. The tool has reportedly caused a controversy within Facebook, with “several employees” quitting in protest after working on it, according to the Times.

Facebook has been banned from China since 2009. Like many US technology companies, Facebook has long sought a way back in, seeing the country’s 1.3 billion residents as a source of enormous potential growth. Google built a version of its search engine that complied with China’s censorship guidelines but retreated from the country in 2010 after a series of seemingly state-sponsored cyberattacks. More recently, Uber exited the Chinese market with a quick sale of its business there to local rival Didi Chuxing.

As the Times notes, Facebook has taken down posts in other countries around the world, including Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey. But the tool now in development would prevent the posts from ever surfacing in the News Feed at all, according to the report. Facebook plans to outsource censorship duties to a third-party company, the report said.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 21, 2016

Jim Hillier: Best of Freeware 2016;   Worried about Windows 10 snooping? Here’s how you can stop it;  4 apps that give your phone a free second number;  Five ways to maintain your privacy on your smartphone, no downloads required;  The Top Black Friday Deals Sites;  Google Wifi wireless router: The smart person’s guide;  Google’s PhotoScan makes digitizing old photos easy;  How to Build a Website;  Everything you need to know about Windows 10 recovery drives;  How to avoid getting conned by fake news sites – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Jim Hillier: Best of Freeware 2016 – It’s a been a while since we last posted our best of freeware selections. That’s largely down to the fact that freeware offerings haven’t changed that much and new/innovative freeware has become somewhat of a rarity. So, there’s not much point in re-iterating categories which haven’t really changed (such as ‘image viewers’, for example, where FastStone, IrfanView, and XnView still pretty much rule the roost). The criteria for selections includes ease of use, feature set, plus overall efficacy. You will also notice that I have a particular leaning toward portable freeware. The availability of a portable version, where viable, is always a big plus in my book:

4 apps that give your phone a free second number – Need a disposable phone number for better online privacy? Or for an effective way to juggle work and personal lines? This is easier, and cheaper, than you think.

Worried about Windows 10 snooping? Here’s how you can stop it – Attempts to stem the quantity of data that Windows 10 gathers on users continue to this day. Here are the options available if you’re uncomfortable with how much data the OS hoovers up.

Everything you need to know about Windows 10 recovery drives – We take a look at the recovery drive, one of the most useful troubleshooting tools included with Windows 10.

Windows 10 tip: Protect removable storage devices with BitLocker encryption – Do you use a USB flash drive, MicroSD card, or portable hard drive to keep backups of important files? Protect yourself by encrypting removable storage devices so your files can’t be accessed if the drive is lost or stolen.

How to Use and Tweak the Start Screen in Windows 10 – Much maligned in Win 8, the Windows Start screen still exists, but it’s undergone several much-needed improvements.

How to avoid getting conned by fake news sites – Here’s how you can identify and avoid sites that just want to serve up ads next to outright falsehoods.

Just how partisan is Facebook’s fake news? We tested it – Far more spin and fake news is pushed at Trump supporters.

The Top Black Friday Deals Sites – Cash-strapped shoppers looking for the best deals should check out these online destinations. The sheer magnitude of deals can be overwhelming, but there are sites devoted entirely to highlighting the best, as well as collecting and scanning Black Friday circulars for you to peruse before the big day. Check out the gallery for sites that can help you plot your Black Friday plan of attack.

The 10 Best Gadget Gifts Under $60 – The 2016 holiday is fast approaching. That means one thing: gadget time. These are the TIME technology team’s suggestions for the best gifts under $60, which make great stocking stuffers or add-ons. We’ve also included a few lines about why we like each gadget we’ve picked for the list.

Five ways to maintain your privacy on your smartphone, no downloads required – You can download apps to audit your privacy, but who’s to say those apps aren’t a security risk themselves? Here are five tips for maintaining your privacy in the always-connected world.

Signal encryption app sees 400 percent boost after election – The co-founder of Open Whisper Systems says installations of its app have increased four-fold since November 8.

Facebook privacy settings: How to control your ad preferences – Facebook targets ads based on your activity. You can check–and change–what it thinks your interests are in Ad Preferences.

Google Wifi wireless router: The smart person’s guide – Our comprehensive guide about the Google Wifi wireless router includes its specifications and features, and what it means for small businesses and home use.

Google’s PhotoScan makes digitizing old photos easy – It is a question as old as time — or at least as old as digital photos: What is the best way to digitize old pictures? The answer is easy — a dedicated photo scanner. But, if you don’t want to drop the cash on one of those and spend all the time it takes to actually scan individual pictures, Google Photos thinks it has a pretty good solution in its new app.

Everything you need to know about home networking – CNET editor Dong Ngo gives all his answers to questions about the basics of home networking.

The 7 worst tech gifts you absolutely shouldn’t buy this holiday – Any site can tell you the best tech gifts to buy. But before you get too creative (or too cheap), read this list to find out what not to buy.

How to Build a Website – Need to establish an online presence for your business, but don’t know where to begin? Our primer will show you exactly what you need to get up and running in no time.


More Androids carry phone-home firmware – Got a cheap-and-cheerful Android phone from BLU, Infinix, Doogee, Leagoo, IKU, Beeline or Xolo? It might be harbouring some badware in the firmware. The issue affects phones that use an over-the-air update mechanism from Chinese company according to BitSight researcher Dan Dahlberg and Anubis Networks’ João Gouveia and Tiago Pereira. Since a firmware update runs at root, the phones in question are vulnerable to pretty much anything a malicious server might install. Which means a keylogger, bugging software, or anything else an attacker might contemplate. In a twist that doesn’t look like an accident, the vulnerable process tries to hide itself from the user and has a command that would let the manufacturer turn it off for six months or until the phone is rebooted

Hacker can backdoor your computer and router in 30 seconds with $5 PoisonTap – If you lock your computer and walk away, it takes only 30 seconds for a hacker armed with a small $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, which is loaded with devious code, to completely pwn your password-protected computer and install remotely accessible backdoors. PoisonTap, the latest creation of hacker and developer Samy Kamkar, has a long list of wicked slick capabilities, including the fact that after an attacker removes the device from a USB port, a backdoor and remote access will persist on both your computer and your router.


Company News:

Symantec will acquire identity protection firm LifeLock in $2.3B deal – Aiming to boost its consumer security business, Symantec is acquiring LifeLock, a vendor of identity protection services, for US$2.3 billion in enterprise value.

Major layoffs signal Intel’s departure from wearables – Except for some of the biggest tech companies, the wearables market has been a tough one to find success in. It seem Intel is waking up to that fact, as new reports indicate the company is laying off almost all the staff from its wearable division. This also comes after the debacle surrounding Intel’s own Basis Peak smartwatch, which was recalled earlier this year over concerns of overheating and burning users.

Samsung says its Galaxy S7 smartphones are safe and do not have battery issues – Samsung has denied that devices in its Galaxy S7 range are affected by the same battery safety issue that forced it to kill off the Galaxy Note 7. In addition to the Note 7 disaster, there have been reports that other phones in Samsung’s newest range have combusted due to battery issues like the Note 7. A paramedic, a mother in Australia, and even a tech reporter are among those who have witnessed a Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Active device go up in smoke, while Samsung is facing a U.S. lawsuit that alleges its battery problems apply to older devices, too

Apple is replacing faulty batteries on ‘a very small number’ of iPhone 6s devices – Tis the season for Apple replacement programs, it appears. Days after the U.S. tech giant addressed ‘touch disease’ on certain iPhone 6 Plus devices, so Apple has announced a battery replacement program for iPhone 6s owners affected by unexpected shutdowns. Apple said the problem impacts “a very small number” of iPhone 6s devices that were made between September and October last year. In those cases, the phone may unexpectedly shut down due to issues with the battery. Owners of affected devices can go to their nearest Apple Store to check the serial number of their device — which should identify whether it is part of the malfunctioning batch — and then get a free battery replacement, if needed.

Chinese smartphone vendors show sales gains as Apple, Samsung decline – Third-quarter smartphone sales showed strength by Chinese vendors but declines of 6% for Apple iPhones and 14% for Samsung smartphones over last year. Samsung’s decline is unsurprising, given the furor over the overheated batteries in its Galaxy Note7s that surfaced in late August, leading to a global recall of millions of the devices.

Sources: Microsoft and HP will launch consumer Windows 10 phone in 2017 – Microsoft and HP are working on a consumer-tier Windows 10 Mobile phone, according to sources. This would follow the HP Elite X3, a phablet with a hefty price tag and features like Continuum and HP Workspace. Details about this tipped consumer-tier Windows phone are still slight at the moment, though the same sources say Microsoft has announced a phone event internally for February 2017, highlighting a timeframe in which we may see this handset announced.

Hell freezes over as Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation – Microsoft announced today it is joining the Linux Foundation, some 15 years after declaring Linux was a cancer. Looks like the cancer won.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Top Game Consoles Duke It Out – Three years later, and the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 are still battling to be the best. Now the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro are jumping into the arena. Which side are you on?

8 awesome gifts for PC gamers – PC gamers are a tough, discriminating crowd to shop for. And if you don’t know the difference between an SSD and a GPU, it makes shopping even harder—can you imagine browsing for LED fans and power supply cables without knowing what you’re looking for? Yikes. But don’t worry—to make it easier for you, we’ve assembled a list of the best gifts for PC gamers that won’t break the bank. This is the gear that our gaming-obsessed staff is pining over this season, and there’s a little something to fit everyone’s needs.

Streaming-box app comparison: Roku vs. Chromecast vs. Apple TV vs. Fire TV vs. Android TV – It doesn’t matter how cheap or how powerful a media box might be if you can’t stream the programming you want. Here’s how the major players compare.

Google Play Movies is rolling out 4K rental and purchasing options – This will allow those with 4K televisions and a Chromecast Ultra to take full advantage of their capabilities, though the titles are going to cost you extra.

‘Motorsport Manager’ Shows That Racing Is About So Much More Than Driving – Auto-racing so often comes off as such a personal sport in video games, whether it’s in the realistic first-person views of Assetto Corsa or in the mad juggles for first place in a game like Super Mario Kart. Sometimes such games will tease at the larger truth beyond with menus that let players choose from multiple cars and tinker with features like rim styles and differentials, but the safe approach has always been to keep that under the rug and champion the illusion of personal glory. Motorsport Manager, a simulation game for PC, Mac, and Linux that casts you as the manager of a Formula 1-style racing team, tosses that personal focus aside to emphasize the big picture and emerges the better for it.

Massive Civilization VI update adds DirectX 12, new multiplayer mode and maps – The ranks of DirectX 12-compatible games continue to grow. Gears of War 4, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Forza Horizon 3 all released in recent months with support for Microsoft’s next-gen graphics technology, and today, Civilization VI’s getting a big fall update that adds DX12 along with some new multiplayer goodies.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It – I’m a millennial computer scientist who also writes books and runs a blog. Demographically speaking I should be a heavy social media user, but that is not the case. I’ve never had a social media account. At the moment, this makes me an outlier, but I think many more people should follow my lead and quit these services. There are many issues with social media, from its corrosion of civic life to its cultural shallowness, but the argument I want to make here is more pragmatic: You should quit social media because it can hurt your career. This claim, of course, runs counter to our current understanding of social media’s role in the professional sphere.

When Airbnb asked users to pledge to treat people equally, a lot refused – Stung by ongoing criticism and evidence that some of its hosts discriminated against non-white guests, Airbnb this month began asking users to pledge to treat everyone equally. A lot have refused. The so-called “community commitment” has been presented to Airbnb hosts and users since Nov. 1 and asks them to make a simple promise: to “treat everyone —regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age — with respect, and without judgment or bias.” Anyone declining to click the accept button has had their ability to host and book suspended and was given the option of canceling their account.

The 25 Best Inventions of 2016 – Every year, TIME selects the best inventions that are making the world better, smarter and—in some cases—a little more fun. In the past, we’ve featured everything from the real-life hoverboard to the desktop DNA lab. Here’s which ones made this year’s unranked list.

Tesla releases self-driving demo video that shows what the car sees – Tesla is continuing to go all-in with autonomous driving technology, having already promised that all future models, including the upcoming Model 3, will include self-driving features. Now found Elon Musk has shared a new video that attempts to better demonstrate to drivers how the technology works. The demo clip shows what it’s like for a Tesla vehicle to drive itself on local, public roads, all while showing the car’s point of view of things.


World War II warships, submarines are being stolen off the ocean floor – On February 27 1942, an Allied force consisting of two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and nine destroyers faced off against the Imperial Japanese Navy in what’s now known as the Battle of the Java Sea. The battle was a massive defeat for the Allied fleet, which contained ships from the Australian, Dutch, UK, and American navies. The area where the battle took place is now considered a graveyard, given that more than 2300 sailors were killed in the engagement. But a recent mission to the area to film the sunken vessels as part of commemorating the 75th anniversary of the battle has discovered that many of the wrecks have vanished off the ocean floor.

The top 12 overused IT terms – Every part of the corporate world has its share of unusual and even strange jargon. IT is no different, offering us clouds, ecosystems, waterfalls, sprints and scrums, and even cookies and breadcrumbs. Does anyone outside of IT really know what these expressions mean? Here are the top 12 annoying, overused IT terms that we should replace with normal language.

Something to think about:

“Nothing is worse than active ignorance.”

–       Johann Wolfgang von Goethe    (1749 – 1832)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Britain has passed the ‘most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy’ – The UK has just passed a massive expansion in surveillance powers, which critics have called “terrifying” and “dangerous”.

The new law, dubbed the “snoopers’ charter”, was introduced by then-home secretary Theresa May in 2012, and took two attempts to get passed into law following breakdowns in the previous coalition government.

Four years and a general election later — May is now prime minister — the bill was finalized and passed on Wednesday by both parliamentary houses.

But civil liberties groups have long criticized the bill, with some arguing that the law will let the UK government “document everything we do online”.

It’s no wonder, because it basically does.

Mark Zuckerberg outlines how Facebook will tackle its fake news problem – The weeks since the 2016 presidential election has put Facebook under the spotlight for its role in the circulation of fake news articles, which included President Barack Obama weighing in during a press conference earlier this week. While CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made an effort to sidestep the blame leveled against his company for the rise of these articles, he had said that the company has more work to do in combatting misinformation.

In a post to Facebook last night, Zuckerberg outlined the steps that Facebook is taking to limit the spread of false information, but reiterated his belief that the company should not become the “arbiters of truth.”

Some of the projects currently underway at Facebook include new systems that will help flag false information, better ways for people to report misinformation and flags to users once fake articles are reported, better recommendations when an article is clicked on, and updating its ad policies to discourage spam sites, which profit off of the exposure. He also noted that Facebook would be working with journalists and “respected fact checking organizations” to understand how they work to verify information, so that the company could learn from their efforts and experience.

It’s time to get rid of the Facebook “news feed,” because it’s not news – In the wake of the US election, critics have blamed Facebook for bringing about—at least in part—Trump’s surprise win. A BuzzFeed report showed that Facebook users interacted far more with “fake news” stories about both candidates than they did with mainstream news outlets before the election. This wouldn’t seem like such a big deal if it weren’t for a Pew Research Center survey showing that 44% of Americans rely on Facebook to get their news.

But proving whether fake news influenced the election more than the usual political propaganda is impossible. What’s certain is that fake news on Facebook is a symptom of a larger problem: the company is trying to play contradictory roles as both trustworthy news publisher and fun social media platform for personal sharing. The problem is that it cannot be both—at least not without making some changes.

U.S. lawmakers introduce bill to delay enhanced government hacking powers – U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation to delay the coming into force on Dec. 1 of a rule change that aims to expand the government’s ability to search computers and other digital devices across many jurisdictions with a single warrant.

The Review the Rule Act aims to delay for discussion proposed amendments to rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure until July 1 next year. The changes to the rule were upheld by the Supreme Court in April, and if Congress doesn’t act to the contrary, they will go into effect on Dec. 1.

The modified rule would remove the current prohibition with some exceptions on a federal judge issuing a search warrant  outside of the judge’s district, so as to enable the remote search by law enforcement of computers whose locations are concealed using technology such as anonymizing techniques. The changes in rule 41 were proposed by the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure at the request of the Justice Department.

The rule changes have been opposed by lawmakers, industry and civil rights groups who are concerned about their implications on privacy and surveillance.

Trump’s attorney general pick could restart the encryption fight – After weeks of speculation, President-elect Donald Trump today named Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as his choice for attorney general. The choice has already alarmed Trump critics for a number of reasons — particularly his role in drafting Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban muslim immigration — but for tech companies, there may be another concern entirely. Less than a year after prosecutors took Apple to court over an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino shootings, a Sessions-led Justice Department could be exactly what law enforcement needs to restart the encryption fight.

Sessions has to be confirmed by the Senate before he can officially take the post, but observers say it’s unlikely Democrats can effectively block the nomination.

A former prosecutor, Sessions was one of the FBI’s staunchest allies during the San Bernardino case, and has long criticized companies that design products without mechanisms for government access. As head of the Justice Department, Sessions would have the power to prosecute companies that don’t cooperate with law enforcement demands under the All Writs Act, the same mechanism used against Apple earlier this year.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 21, 2016

Filed under Latest Tech News

No Tech Thoughts Net News – November 14 to November 18

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Just a quick note to let you know that I will not be posting Tech Thoughts Net News this week. Today, I’m scheduled for the next – and hopefully the last – of the skin cancer surgeries I’ve been faced with this past year. This one is more complicated than previous and will require a 3 to 4 day hospital stay.

I’m not looking forward to 3 or 4 days of being unhooked from the web, and my machines, but I am looking forward to getting rid of this nasty business.

I’ll be back.


Filed under Personal Perspective

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 11, 2016

SSD vs. HDD: What’s the Difference?  Ed Bott makes Windows 10 work for you;  6 Tech Predictions for the Trump Years;  The best messaging apps with end-to-end encryption;  9 mobile apps designed to help veterans;  Ubisoft’s giving the wonderfully dumb Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon away for free;  Build a $400 Windows 10 PC;  Google Maps beta reveals new features;  Five password management apps that will work on all your devices;  This trick makes a cheap bottle of vodka taste like Grey Goose – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

6 Tech Predictions for the Trump Years – It’s a new world: Donald Trump’s world. As 2017 hits, we’re going to see the US government’s attitude towards a range of technologies change, whether it be about a lighter touch on regulation or a harsher look at companies that import heavily from China. I hate making stock predictions. I’m going to try to stick to what I think you should expect and do, as US tech consumers, to prepare for 2017. For each prediction, I’m also trying to provide an action you should take to put yourself in the best position for the future.

The best messaging apps with end-to-end encryption – It’s not a pleasant idea to think that your messages could be archived for perpetuity on a large company’s server or analyzed by some algorithm. The quest for privacy has birthed a whole generation of apps that promise to give you exactly that. Services like Telegram and Signal have turned the phrase “end-to-end encryption” into a popular discussion. We’re here to help you figure out what this is all about and which apps to try.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts: Ed Bott makes Windows 10 work for you – Need help navigating Windows 10? Let Windows pro Ed Bott be your guide.

November 11 – Remembrance Day – Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada, and across the World. This day is set aside as a day to remember the sacrifices of members of the armed forces, and civilians, in times of war.


National War Memorial – Ottawa, Canada.

9 mobile apps designed to help veterans – I count myself among the lucky veterans that left service without any serious physical or mental harm. For those that weren’t so fortunate taking advantage of the services offered to veterans can be difficult. That’s why I put together this list of apps that are great for veterans. Whether you need emergency help, need to determine what level of service connected disability payment you’re eligible for, or simply want to network with vets there are some great apps available.

SSD vs. HDD: What’s the Difference? – Do you like your storage plentiful and cheap, or do you like it fast and safe? Here’s how to choose between a traditional hard drive and a solid-state drive in your next PC.

Five password management apps that will work on all your devices – Password security is essential. We have more passwords than ever before and most of us don’t take them seriously. You can keep yourself safe with a password manager: Here are five worth checking out.

Google Maps beta reveals new features, including default satellite view – It would seem a new update that adds a few noteworthy features is on the way to Google Maps. The update to version 9.41.0 isn’t officially here yet, but it has entered beta, giving us a good look at what’s coming up. The folks over at Android Police got their hands on the beta and have put together a changelog that details the biggest additions this update will offer.

Now you’ll see ads in your LinkedIn mailbox too – LinkedIn is just the latest social network to let marketers target users through their inboxes.

Build a $400 Windows 10 PC – Looking to build a cheap Windows 10 PC? Here are the components you need to build a system that comes in at $400, including Windows 10! As always, shop around for the best deal on components, and remember that component prices change regularly.

Windows 10 to get a virtual touchpad for external displays – Although still not as widespread, it is no longer uncommon for computer users to face more than one screen at a time, whether in a more permanent multi-monitor setup or in an ad hoc presentation. Controlling external screens and projectors are no problem for desktops and laptops but can be cumbersome for tablets. Soon it won’t be. Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 Insider build showcases a new Virtual Touchpad feature that would allow users to navigate external displays using their tablets, even without a mouse attached.

Google Daydream View review: Fun for the entire family – Starting Thursday, Google’s next step in its attempt to bring virtual-reality to the masses will launch. Owners of a Google Pixel smartphone can purchase the Daydream View headset for $79 from various retail outlets or directly from Google to take advantage of the new platform. The idea of strapping a smartphone to your face and using it to enter a virtual world is something I still have trouble wrapping my head around, but after using Google Daydream for the past week I’m starting to see the light.

Google won’t build ad-blocking feature into Chrome – It’s better to reform misbehaving, power-sucking ads than to block them, the head of engineering for Google’s browser says.

How to download and save a Facebook video – Facebook doesn’t officially provide links to videos for you to save. But all you have to do is trick your browser into thinking you’re browsing Facebook on your phone.

TAPS touchscreen sticker lets any gloves work with any screen – Winter is here in much of the world and that means it’s glove weather. The catch with gloves is that many of them won’t work with your touchscreen device leaving you having to pull off a glove in the cold before you can answer a call or use your smartphone. TAPS touchscreen Sticker with Touch ID promises to allow you to use any glove with any touchscreen device.


Snapchat put its crazy Spectacles on sale: here’s what happened – The company now known as Snap has hardware aspirations, and Spectacles is its first foray into that industry. The sunglasses feature integrated cameras that record short videos with a life-like perspective, but Snap isn’t making it easy to get ahold of its glasses. Rather than launching them through an online store, Snap has elected to make Spectacles available on a very limited basis via a vending machine…and this, by all accounts, has been quite a bit of fun.


Share your Instagram stories with specific people – Instagram on Thursday added the ability to call out specific people within its photo story feature. In a move to outdo the functions of competitor Snapchat, Instagram now enables users to share photos and videos they’ve stitched together and tucked inside their app’s personal stories profile.

WhatsApp is rolling out two-factor authentication – WhatsApp users are beginning to see an option for two-factor authentication their account settings folder. According to Android Police, the feature is live in the most recent betas of the app (2.16.341 and above), and has also been spotted in the Windows Phone beta. Once activated, the app will prompt a user for a static six-digit passcode every time a new phone is registered to the account.


Russian Hackers Launch Targeted Cyberattacks Hours After Trump’s Win – Merely a few hours after Donald Trump declared his stunning victory, a group of hackers that is widely believed to be Russian and was involved in the breach of the Democratic National Committee launched a wave of attacks against dozens of people working at universities, think tank tanks, NGOs, and even inside the US government. Around 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the hackers sent a series of phishing emails trying to trick dozens of victims into opening booby-trapped attachments containing malware, and clicking on malicious links, according to security firm Volexity, which observed and reported the five attack waves. The targets work for organizations such as Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, the Atlantic Council, the RAND Corporation, and the State Department, among others.

Hacker shows how easy it is to take over a city’s public Wi-Fi network – An Israeli hacker found a vulnerability in routers that could have allowed him to take over the public Wi-Fi network of an entire city.

The latest weapon in the business email scammers’ arsenal? Small talk – Scammers pretending to be your boss are engaging in informal office conversation before asking to wire them funds.

Yahoo admits employees discovered hack in 2014 – Yahoo admitted today that some of its employees were aware of the theft of 500 million users’ data as early as 2014 — years before Yahoo publicly acknowledged the hack. The hack, which Yahoo has attributed to an unnamed “state-sponsored actor,” occurred in late 2014, and according to today’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it seems Yahoo detected it early on. Yahoo also reported that 23 consumer class action lawsuits have been filed in response to the breach, but that it’s too early to estimate monetary damages. It estimates the hack has led to a loss of $1 million so far.

Company News:

Mark Zuckerberg named Business Person of the Year – Fortune magazine has just anointed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as Business Person of the Year for 2016. The media outlet cites numerous criteria for honoring Zuckerberg, whose social network is used by nearly 1.8 billion people around the world, including the company’s performance year over year as well as his vision for growth and the ability to achieve it.

Google responds in EU antitrust case: “Android hasn’t hurt competition” – The company is accused of using Android’s position as the dominant smartphone operating system in Europe to force manufacturers to pre-install Google services while locking out competitors. Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager sent a so-called Statement of Objections to Google in April. On Thursday, the multinational corporation defended its position and spoke of the open source nature of the Android operating system. It also compared a typical Android smartphone to rivals Apple and Microsoft. According to Google, 39 out of 39 pre-installed apps are from Apple on iPhone 7, and 39 out of 47 pre-installed apps on the Microsoft Lumia 550 are from Microsoft.

Google says there are now 2 billion active Chrome installs – Google is hosting its Chrome Dev Summit today. There hasn’t been a lot of news out of the event, but one number that stood out in today’s keynote by Chrome Engineering VP Darin Fisher was that there are now 2 billion Chrome installs in active use across desktop and mobile. This is the first time Google has shared this number. Sadly, Google didn’t announce any new user numbers for Chrome today. The latest stat for active Chrome users remains at 1 billion — a number Google shared in April. While this number is surely higher today than it was six months ago, the company decided to focus on the number of active browser install today.

Nvidia crushes Q3 earnings, shares soar – Nvidia posted record-revenue for the quarter, and once again credits strong sales of its GPUs and deep learning technology for the boost on its balance sheet.

Apple CEO urges workers to ‘move forward together’ postelection – Tim Cook tells his staff in a memo that, in spite of the “strong feelings” that follow the election, the only option is to keep on keeping on.

Apple tax case: Ireland to formally appeal EU state aid ruling – The European Commission’s ruling that Apple should pay Ireland €13 billion (£11.1 billion) in back taxes is set to be formally disputed by the Irish government. Finance Minister Michael Noonan said on Tuesday that Dublin would challenge the judgment on Wednesday. In August, competition officials in Brussels concluded that the so-called sweetheart tax deals Apple received from Ireland constituted illegal state aid. The commission’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, said at the time: “Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies—this is illegal under EU state aid rules.”

Games and Entertainment:

Ubisoft’s giving the wonderfully dumb Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon away for free – Need something to tear you away from post-election social media today? Ubisoft delivers. As part of its ongoing 30th anniversary celebration, the company is giving away its latest monthly freebie—the neon-soaked Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. You can head here to get your copy, though you’ll need a Uplay account. That bitter pill aside, I recommend you grab it even if you’re a bit tired of Far Cry. Blood Dragon sticks to the same formula Ubisoft’s run into the ground since Far Cry 3, but it’s a bit more linear and cranks the “Dumb” meter to 11. Oh, and it ditches the realistic aesthetic of most Far Cry games for one that lifts from straight-to-VHS 1980s action films.

Free Overwatch weekend kicks off November 18 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC – Overwatch will almost certainly go down as one of the best games of the year, but if you’ve held out thus far, Blizzard is about to give you a chance to see what you’ve been missing. Blizzard has announced that Overwatch will be free to play across all platforms starting November 18. The promotion will last the entire weekend, wrapping up on November 21.

10 Games Every Sony PlayStation 4 Player Needs – Sony’s catalog of titles has expanded this past year to include some truly excellent exclusive games, as well as some multiplayer titles you do not want to miss. Uncharted 4 arrived in late spring to deliver the dazzling cinematic experience PlayStation fans have come to expect from the series. Doom is an amazing first-person shooter on any platform, but it is one PlayStation 4 players need to own if they don’t already. For the full rundown of our top 10 favorite PS4 games, check out the gallery.

Xbox Holiday Update brings more social fun, PC gamers invited – Everyone is overdue some distraction and relaxation these days. Fortunately, the holidays are just around the corner. Which also means gaming season is upon us! To ensure that the season will be enjoyable not just for you but for your friends as well, Microsoft has rolled out its 2016 Holiday Update for the Xbox platform, both on the Xbox One and as well as the Xbox apps. And like many of the updates these past months, this one puts a lot of weight on the social aspects of gaming, like forming Clubs and Looking For Groups, whether on the console or on the PC.

Incredible indie games of PAX Australia – Many agree the best part of PAX Australia is seeing the wonderfully creative projects from indie developers. Here are 11 standouts from 2016.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Zuckerberg denies Facebook News Feed bubble impacted the election – In the aftermath of the U.S. Presidential election, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at Techonomy16 to address concerns that the company didn’t do enough to stop the proliferation of fake news on News Feed. Zuckerberg insisted that more can always be done to improve the quality of the News Feed experience, but that Facebook could not have influenced the outcome of the election. “Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said. He continued by saying people are looking for a narrative to explain the election. However, he believes that a narrative that implicitly assumes Trump supporters are dumb enough to be manipulated by Facebook is insulting to those voters.

Facebook admits it must do more to stop the spread of misinformation on its platform – Facebook has responded to widespread criticism of how its Newsfeed algorithm disseminates and amplifies misinformation in the wake of the Trump victory in the US presidential election yesterday. Multiple commentators were quick to point a finger of blame at Facebook’s role in the election campaign, arguing the tech giant has been hugely irresponsible given the role its platform now plays as a major media source, and specifically by enabling bogus stories to proliferate — many examples of which were seen to circulated in the Facebook Newsfeed during the campaign.

China’s public security officer appointed Interpol head – Meng Hongwei, who is China’s vice minister of public security, assumes his new role as president immediately for a four-year tenure and pledges to adhere to Interpol’s principles.

Americans Are Flocking to Online Therapy For Post-Election Counseling – In this election, politics have been very personal. With Donald Trump as president-elect, the fate of the country has become a wild card, and many women, Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ citizens, and other minorities feel individually marginalized by the prospect of his leadership. So naturally they’re looking for help. Online therapy sites have seen an immediate uptick in clientele throughout the election. The American Psychological Association reported that even weeks before the results came in, 52 percent of Americans were coping with “high levels of stress brought on by this election.”

This trick makes a cheap bottle of vodka taste like Grey Goose – Everyone would love to be able to go to the store and pick up a premium vodka, but not everyone’s budgets will allow for such an indulgence. But there’s good news for those who want to stock up on booze for the holidays. The lowest quality vodka can apparently be improved with something you probably already have in your kitchen: a water filtering pitcher. I tested the trick to see if it works. Here’s what happened.

What GM has learned from 20 years of collecting data from cars with OnStar – Virtually all businesses struggle to understand large volumes of data. But OnStar gives GM a leg up; it’s been analyzing data from drivers for two decades. See what it’s learned.

Something to think about:


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

TIME: President Obama Should Shut Down the NSA’s Mass Spying Before It’s Too Late – President Obama has just 71 days until Donald Trump is inaugurated as our next commander-in-chief. That means he has a matter of weeks to do one thing that could help prevent the United States from veering into fascism: declassifying and dismantling as much of the federal government’s unaccountable, secretive, mass surveillance state as he can — before Trump is the one running it.

Snowden says tech companies should protect privacy no matter who is president – Edward Snowden gave an extended interview today touching on numerous topics, from the Trump Presidency to his own future. Overall his message was clear: it’s not about thwarting one leader or even one government, but using technology that guarantees rights across borders and administrations. In other words: don’t hate, innovate.

One of the early questions in the interview, which lasted a bit under an hour and was sponsored by, was posed by Ralph Zimmerman, creator of the PGP encryption protocol. Trump, he said, would be inheriting a powerful surveillance infrastructure — something that worries many.

“We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear in elected officials,” Snowden said. “We’re never farther than an election away from a change in leader, from a change in policy, a change in the way the powers we have constructed into a system are used. So what we need to think about now is not how do we defend against a president Donald Trump, but how do we protect the rights of everyone, everywhere, without regard to jurisdictions, without regard to borders?”

“Ultimately,” he said, “if we want to see a change, we must force it through ourselves.”

Could President Trump Really Turn the NSA Into a Personal Spy Machine? – It’s the nightmare scenario that many worried about: the US elects a president who uses the country’s nearly omnipotent surveillance powers for his or her own gain. Edward Snowden has described the NSA’s spying capabilities as the “architecture of oppression,” with the fear being that it could be deployed by a malicious commander in chief. But what could President Trump, a man who has incited hate speech against minorities and threatened to jail his political rivals, actually do with the NSA? Could he turn the NSA into his own personal spying army?

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Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 9, 2016

5 key things you need to know about VPNs;  The Best Encryption Software of 2016;  Web of Trust browser extensions yanked;  Google stops AdSense attack;  How to buy a new PC for your parents;  OS X El Capitan: The smart person’s guide;  YouTube adds support for HDR videos;  6 ways to delete yourself from the internet;  What you need to know about 4K TVs;  The best PC hardware we’re using now and why we love it – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 key things you need to know about VPNs – A virtual private network is a secure tunnel between two or more computers on the internet, allowing them to access each other as if on a local network. In the past, VPNs were mainly used by companies to securely link remote branches together or connect roaming employees to the office network, but today they’re an important service for consumers too, protecting them from attacks when they connect to public wireless networks. Given their importance, here’s what you need to know about VPNs.

Web of Trust browser extensions yanked after proving untrustworthy – Earlier in November, a report out of Germany claimed the popular Web of Trust (WoT) browser add-on was selling its users’ browser histories to third-parties without properly anonymizing the data, resulting in the personal identification of Web of Trust users. There was also some debate over whether the company behind WoT (WOT Services) properly informed its users of data collection actions performed by the extension. On Sunday, WoT voluntarily pulled down its add-on from the extension libraries of all others browser, including Chrome and Opera. It’s not clear when WoT plans to reintroduce its add-on to all the various browsers it previously supported, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, and others.

Pointing up   A shoutout to Bob at bob3160 who advised me on this several days ago. Thanks Bob.

The Best Encryption Software of 2016 – Just because you have antivirus software installed doesn’t mean a zero-day Trojan can’t steal your personal data. Encryption keeps you safe from malware (and the NSA).

The best PC hardware we’re using now and why we love it – We celebrate 18 great components we couldn’t live without, from fast SSDs to a graphics card that’s just right, and even the perfect toolkit.

How to buy a new PC for your parents – Older computer users have different needs. The big question: Do they actually need a PC at all?

Long-awaited Gmail and Google Calendar iOS updates make apps faster – New updates for Gmail include an ‘Undo Send’ option and faster search capabilities, while Google Calendar offers ‘Spotlight Search’ support and alternate calendars. Here’s how it will help business users.

Now you can use Android Auto without upgrading your car – Android Auto looks set to show up on a lot more dashboards, albeit as a phone clipped to a mount rather than built into the native infotainment system. The interface, which pares back Android into a chunkier, more finger-friendly layout for use while driving, while hiding the more complex features that could prove a distraction, is being released as a standalone system, Google announced today. It’s the closest we’ve got so far to an admission by the Android team that Android Auto adoption among automakers may not have been as swift as they would’ve preferred.

5 things to know about GoPro Plus, the free-to-try backup service – Along with its new lineup of cameras and the Karma drone, GoPro also recently announced GoPro Plus. Every GoPro users is eligible to receive up to 60 days of free GoPro Plus service to test and try it out. Let’s take a look at the finer details of the service, starting with cost.

What you need to know about 4K TVs – Ultra HD, colloquially known as “4K,” is everywhere on TV shelves and online this year. Previously restricted to only high-end models, 4K resolution has become so inexpensive that your next 50-inch or larger TV will probably be 4K. What does it mean? Does it matter? Why should I care? Here are the basics — a cheat sheet if you will — about this advancement in TV technology.

OS X El Capitan: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide includes everything you need to know about Apple’s OS X El Capitan, including features, requirements, upgrade options, software updates, and more.

YouTube adds support for HDR videos – YouTube has added support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) videos, it has announced, opening the door for higher-quality content matching the capabilities of high-end televisions. HDR videos are often more detailed than regular videos, with better contrast and clarity, as well as a wide range of vibrant, highly saturated colors. While the technology is still somewhat rare in terms of consumer video devices, it is becoming more common and YouTube is making sure it keeps pace with the trend.

Google Home shares the Chromecast’s guts, teardown reveals – Google Home doesn’t quite have a Chromecast inside, but the two devices do have a lot in common.

Snapchat just copied the best feature of Instagram stories – It’s been just over three months since Instagram copied Snapchat stories and slapped them on top of its feed. The move appears to be a success: within a few weeks, 100 million people were using the feature every day. (Snapchat’s entire app gets 150 million users a day.) Instagram stories are almost identical to the Snapchat version, but they have an extremely useful extra feature: you can rewind them by tapping on the left side of the story. Well today it’s Snapchat’s turn to copy: you can now rewind stories just as you can on Instagram. The feature is part of an update to Snapchat that also includes “world lenses,” the rear-facing camera version of the app’s famous selfie filters.

5 plugins to help your WordPress site reach mobile nirvana – Is your company or personal WordPress site mobile-friendly? If not, here are five plugins to help you achieve mobile nirvana.

Google is shutting down the tool that let anyone edit Google Maps data – Today, Google announced that its Map Maker tool, which let users edit information and suggest changes in Google Maps, will be shut down in March of 2017. In its place, the same editing and suggestion features will be migrated to the main Google Maps app as part of the company’s Local Guides program, which rewards people for policing and improving local mapping data for their community by granting access to beta features and gifting Google Drive storage. Map Maker initially started in 2008 as a way to crowdsource information from rural areas that Google’s own toolset was ill-equipped at obtaining on its own.

How to make Chrome warn you before closing – Chrome on Windows doesn’t have a built-in warning dialog box before closing the browser. This workaround can help.

Adobe’s wild ‘Photoshop for audio’ experiment can change what you said – Adobe’s Project VoCo lets you edit and change an audio recording as easily as you’d edit text.


The big day is here and it’s time to decide: Patch Flash, Windows, Office or Android first? – Today is the second Tuesday of the month, and that means a fresh round of security updates from the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and Google. The November edition of Patch Tuesday brings with it fixes for Windows, Flash Player, Internet Explorer, Edge, Office and Android. For Microsoft, the monthly update comprises a total of 14 bulletins:

Microsoft just patched the critical Windows vulnerability revealed by Google last week – As promised, Microsoft today patched Windows to resolve a critical system vulnerability that Google’s security team publicized last Monday. The search giant controversially chose to acknowledge the bug before Microsoft had fixed it, claiming that hackers were already actively targeting it. As noted by ZDNet, the fix is contained in today’s release of monthly security patches. According to Microsoft’s security bulletin, any attacker who tricked a user into running a “specially-crafted application” could successfully exploit the vulnerability and gain the ability to “install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.” Microsoft believes that Strontium, a Russia-linked group, is responsible for launching “low-volume spear phishing attacks” that took advantage of the flaw, which leveraged vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and the Windows kernel.

Google stops AdSense attack that forced banking trojan on Android phones – Google has shut down an operation that combined malicious AdSense advertisements with a zero-day attack exploiting Chrome for Android to force devices to download banking fraud malware. Over a two-month span, the campaign downloaded the Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng banking trojan on about 318,000 devices monitored by Kaspersky Lab, researchers from the Moscow-based anti-malware provider reported in a blog post published Monday. Kaspersky privately reported the scam to Google, and engineers from the search company put an end to the campaign, although the timing of those two events wasn’t immediately clear.

Google to malware sites: We’ll brand you ‘deceptive’ for a month, no reviews allowed – Sites considered repeat malware offenders by Google won’t be able to contest security warnings shown in Chrome for 30 days.


Android patches fix Drammer RAM attack, but not Dirty Cow exploit – Google released a new monthly batch of security patches for Android, fixing a dozen critical vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to compromise devices. One of the mitigated issues is a bit-flipping attack against memory chips that could lead to privilege escalation, but a more widespread rooting vulnerability in the Linux kernel remains unpatched.

How security flaws in voting machines could discredit election results – Security experts say voting machines are easy to tamper with, and in several key battleground states ballots will be nearly impossible to verify.

Why are Skype accounts getting hacked so easily? – If you’ve received a weird message on Skype with a link to Baidu or LinkedIn recently, you’re not alone. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve received spam links to Baidu from six of my Skype contacts, one of whom works for Microsoft’s PR agency and another is a former Microsoft employee. All were surprised to see their accounts breached, and some believed they were protected by Microsoft’s two-factor authentication. That wasn’t the case, though. A thread on Microsoft’s Skype support forums reveals this has been occurring to hundreds of Skype users since at least August. Breached Skype accounts are used to send thousands of spam messages before they’re locked and the owners have to regain access. Skype has fallen victim to similar attacks before, and hackers were able to spoof messages on the system last year after using lists of stolen usernames and passwords to gain access to accounts.

Company News:

Apple begins offering refurbished iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models – I frequently point friends and family toward Apple’s refurbished store to get decent deals on Macs and iPads. The selection isn’t comprehensive but it’s pretty good, and once a device has been on the market for a few months it’s usually possible to save a few hundred dollars without really giving up anything. In recent years, though, Apple has never offered iPhones through its refurbished store—something that changed today.

Samsung is really, really sorry about the Galaxy Note 7 and plans to ‘do better’ – Samsung is no doubt eager to put this whole Note 7 situation behind it as quickly as possible. In fact, the company apparently can’t stop talking up the Galaxy S8, even though that device is still a few months over the horizon. But of the seven stages of exploding smartphone grief, Samsung is currently on the apology tour part, issuing an open letter to readers both on its site and through full-page ads in a number of major US newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Airbnb dealt blow as judge rejects bid to block SF law – Airbnb suffered a loss on Tuesday when a federal judge rejected the company’s plea to change a San Francisco law that requires the home-rental company to block or remove hosts who haven’t registered with the city. Airbnb sued the city of San Francisco in June saying the city law violates federal laws, including the Communications Decency Act, the Stored Communications Act and the First Amendment. On Tuesday, US District Judge James Donato ruled this wasn’t the case, according to Reuters.

Got a Job Listing? Put it on Facebook – Facebook moves in on LinkedIn with an experimental feature available to select Page administrators.

Games and Entertainment:

Review: The NES Classic Edition and all 30 games on it – Nintendo is courting nostalgia for the holidays this year, like pretty much every year — but the NES Classic Edition, a palm-size recreation of the original console with 30 games built-in, rates highly on the nostalgia scale even for a company whose heart is stuck in the 1980s. It’s already a highly coveted item for millions of 30-something gamers, and make no mistake: This is a love letter to Nintendo’s oldest fans.


Nintendo drops New 3DS to $100 for Black Friday – If you’re considering picking up a New Nintendo 3DS, you may want to wait until Black Friday rolls around. Nintendo has announced a new promotion that will see the 3DS drop to the lowest price it’s ever been – $99.99. While the 2DS is less expensive than that normally, this is the first time we’ve seen the clamshell design drop as low as $100.

PlayStation Vue is losing Comedy Central and other Viacom channels – If you’re a PlayStation Vue subscriber, Sony has some bad news for you: its livestreaming television service is losing Comedy Central, Spike, MTV, and other Viacom channels. Sony does not get into the nitty gritty details about why it is making this decision, but it represents a big blow to what has thus far been a great service. The absence of these channels means many subscribers will be losing their favorite shows, such as the new season of South Park, and many users are already vowing to ditch the service on November 11 when the change takes place.

Off Topic (Sort of):

What the Trump win means for tech, science and beyond: Net neutrality, science-based policy are threatened – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump will now become the 45th president, succeeding President Barack Obama. “I say it is time for us to come together as one people,” Trump, the president-elect, told supporters in New York, shortly after Clinton called him to concede the election. Here is where Trump stands on the issues near and dear to Ars:

Society Is Too Complicated to Have a President, Complex Mathematics Suggest – Roughly two-thirds of Americans believe the country is going in the “wrong direction,” and Tuesday the country will vote for two of the least popular presidential candidates of all time. Both the left and the right say that the United States’ government is ineffective. One potential reason for this? Human society is simply too complex for representative democracy to work. The United States probably shouldn’t have a president at all, according to an analysis by mathematicians at the New England Complex Systems Institute.

US citizens crash Canadian immigration site after Trump victory – With mop-haired politico octopus Donald Trump beating Hilary Clinton to the White House, the Canadian Immigration website has crashed under the weight of US citizens seeking an escape. As the election neared its conclusion, Google searches for “move to Canada” and “immigrate to Canada” went up. The website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) then had a blackout.

6 ways to delete yourself from the internet – Finally ready to get off the grid? It’s not quite as simple as it should be, but here are a few easy-to-follow steps that will point you in the right direction at the very least.

Human ears and eagle beaks: 10 amazing items created by 3D printers – The first thing printed on a 3D printer was rather boring—an eyewash cup printed by the inventor of 3D printing, Chuck Hull, in 1983. Since then, the process has been used to create prosthetics for humans and animals, unique candy designs, musical instruments and even human tissue, such as ears. As you’ll see, people are continually thinking of new and innovative ways to use 3D printing technology. Here are 10 of the coolest.

An investor’s journey to embracing marijuana legalization – While the concept of using cannabis evoked the image of a pothead smoking out of a giant bong, I found the industry had evolved significantly. Licensed doctors can prescribe marijuana in liquid, edible, and pill forms measured out to an exact dosage just like you might take any other prescription.

Something to think about:

“Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

–       John Kenneth Galbraith

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

THE NIGHTMARE PRESIDENT – DONALD TRUMP SHOCKED everyone but his own supporters Tuesday as his racist, xenophobic, authoritarian, climate-science-denying, misogynistic, “grab-them-by-the-pussy” candidacy somehow carried him to victory.

Larger than expected turnout among rural and working-class white voters led Trump to outperform polling expectations in almost every battleground state, winning Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which, according to the Associated Press, put him over the required 270 electoral votes early Wednesday morning.

The one-time leader of the racist “birther” movement entered the race calling Mexicans “rapists” and repeatedly refusing to condemn white supremacists, and issued policy proposals that seemed unbound by the limits of executive power or basic human decency.

Trump promised to “bomb the shit” out of Middle Eastern countries, kill terrorist’s innocent families, do “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” and suggested that dipping bullets in pigs’ blood may be sound counterterrorism policy.

Trump had a long history of misogyny and belittling women, but after a decade-old tape surfaced of Trump saying he could “grab [women] by the pussy,” and “if you’re a star, they let you do it,” many were horrified, and numerous women came forward with stories of being victimized by Trump. Forecasts predicted Clinton would win in a near landslide.

We’re Winning The Crypto Wars – This year has been filled with bad news. The world of cybersecurity has been no different, with zombie armies of hacked internet-connected devices taking down the internet, seemingly endless data breaches hitting hundreds of millions of people, and Russian hackers allegedly trying to mess with the US election.

Lost in this deluge of doom-and-gloom, some might have missed the good news: the spread of encryption, the technology that’s used to secure the data on your devices, your chats and sexts, as well as your internet connection, seems to be reaching a tipping point.

It’s true, we’re still in the midst of what some call Crypto War 2.0, a reignition of a 20-year-old conflict between law enforcement authorities and technologists focused on just how much access cops should have to user’s data. But in 2016 alone, encryption has won a crucial court fight, became default for hundreds of millions of people who use popular messaging apps, and spread like wildfire on the web.

Turks Are Flocking to Tor After Government Orders Block of Anti-Censorship Tools – Turkish internet users are flocking to Tor, the anonymizing and censorship-circumvention tool, after Turkey’s government blocked Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Usage of Tor inside of Turkey went up from around 18,000 users to 25,000 users on Friday, when the government started blocking the popular social media networks, according to Tor’s official metrics. To prevent Turks from doing exactly that and connecting to the blocked sites through censorship-circumvention tools such as Tor and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), the government took a step further and ordered internet providers to block those too.

This move seems to have affected the number of people connecting to the Tor network, as the numbers of reported users went down after Friday. But Tor offers an alternative method of connection precisely made for cases like this, called “bridge relays” or simply bridges. These make it harder for internet providers to know you’re using Tor, making it also harder, in turn, to stop you from using it.

Facebook-WhatsApp data sharing now on pause in UK at regulator’s request – A controversial decision this summer by Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp to share data on its users with its parent company — including for advertising purposes — continues to attract the ire of European regulators.

Now Facebook has agree to pause data sharing in the UK, following an investigation by data protection watchdog, the ICO. Although TechCrunch understands this pause only applies to sharing user information for products/ads purposes; WhatsApp user data is still being shared with Facebook for fighting spam and other business intelligence purposes (such as deduplicating the number of users across different Facebook-owned services).

In a strongly worded blog post detailing how its probe has been progressing, UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham writes: “I had concerns that consumers weren’t being properly protected, and it’s fair to say the enquiries my team have made haven’t changed that view. I don’t think users have been given enough information about what Facebook plans to do with their information, and I don’t think WhatsApp has got valid consent from users to share the information. I also believe users should be given ongoing control over how their information is used, not just a 30 day window.”

“We’ve set out the law clearly to Facebook, and we’re pleased that they’ve agreed to pause using data from UK WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes,” she adds.

Denham also hits out at “vague terms of service” for generally failing to give consumers “the protection we need”.

Unsealed Court Docs Show FBI Used Malware Like ‘A Grenade’ – In 2013, the FBI received permission to hack over 300 specific users of dark web email service TorMail. But now, after the warrants and their applications have finally been unsealed, experts say the agency illegally went further, and hacked perfectly legitimate users of the privacy-focused service.

“That is, while the warrant authorized hacking with a scalpel, the FBI delivered their malware to TorMail users with a grenade,” Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Motherboard in an email.

The move comes after the ACLU pushed to unseal the case dockets in September. The Department of Justice recently decided to publish redacted versions of related documents.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 7, 2016

4 things to know about Black Friday;  The Top Black Friday Deals Sites;   4 ways to get things done faster with Cortana;  You will soon be able to order McDonalds from your smartphone;  Microsoft’s popping up ads from the Windows 10 toolbar;  Over one billion installs of apps using OAuth 2.0 can be remotely hijacked;  What about the personal data on those millions of recalled Note7s?  The best budget earbuds and headphones for every need;  35 great PC games for Linux and Steam Machines;  3 handy apps for iOS-to-Android switchers – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Here we go again: Microsoft’s popping up ads from the Windows 10 toolbar – Microsoft appears to be sneakily reinstating Windows 10 ads without explicit user permission. Weren’t we done with all this?

Jim Hillier: Windows 10’s ‘Quick Assist’ Built-in Remote Access App – If you’re the unofficial tech support for your circle of family and are running Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you’ll surely appreciate the new built-in remote access program called Quick Assist. Quick Assist allows you to remotely access any computer also running Windows 10 1607 (Anniversary Update), working much along the same lines as third party programs such as LogMeIn and TeamViewer.

3 inexpensive steps to secure IoT – The attack against Dyn had a sustained rate of 620Gbps. The result was the outage of several web services due to the inability to perform DNS resolution. According to security experts, the botnet was composed mainly of compromised IoT devices. Unsecured IoT devices are a treasure trove for botnet operators. It’s the responsibility of IT managers to ensure these devices remain protected against botnet enlistment. IT security vendors offer expensive protection products. Alternatively, here are three simple steps to protect your enterprise IoT against compromise, even if you have a limited budget.

4 ways to get things done faster with Cortana – You can have Cortana compose and send emails, capture your notes, and more with these tips.

Basketball without cable: A cord-cutter’s guide to the NBA – Cord cutters can get their fill of big nationally televised games, but local broadcasts are still left on the bench.

How to Control Your Battery Usage in Windows 10 – Uh oh, the battery charge on your Windows 10 laptop is down to 10 percent, and there’s no AC outlet in sight. What can you do? Well, you want to squeeze as much as you can out of your current battery charge before it loses all its juice. Let’s look at how different settings in Windows 10 can coax your laptop to last longer on a single charge.

Best USB-C battery packs: We review the best portable batteries for your phone or tablet – Battery cases and portable battery backs are slowly creeping into the must-have accessory column for many users, especially those who frequently travel. With Amazon seemingly overrun by inexpensive battery packs, each one claiming faster charging and better efficiency than the next, it’s hard to know just what you are getting. So we went out, purchased fancy testing equipment, and gathered batteries priced high and low, with capacities all over the place.

Easy iPhone wireless charging hack – Tired of waiting for Apple to add wireless charging to the iPhone? Here’s how you can do it yourself, no screwdrivers or soldering irons required.

3 handy apps for iOS-to-Android switchers – Switching from iOS to Android can mean leaving some things behind. If you’re worried about losing features like Find My Friends and iMessage’s desktop abilities, these helpful Android apps can bridge the gap.

5 Simple Steps for Getting Started With Gantt Charts – Whether you’re building a deck on your house, building a new corporate website, or launching a rocket into space, Gantt charts let see you see exactly how to get your project done.

5 terminal commands every Linux newbie should know – A graphical user interface makes modern computing more enjoyable and easier to use the majority of the time. After all, placing an Amazon order using a text-mode browser in a terminal sounds like an over-enthusiastic exercise in masochism. We like our GUIs and graphical browsers, but there are times when you’ll find yourself in the world of the command line. Like any new tool, knowing a few basics can keep your blood pressure in check when a GUI fails to start, or you need to perform maintenance. For starters, here are five commands you should become comfortable with as a Linux user.

The Top Black Friday Deals Sites – Cash-strapped shoppers looking for the best deals should check out these online destinations.

4 things to know about Black Friday – As CNET’s resident Cheapskate, it falls to me to give you a Black Friday primer, to share the secrets of this big day while simultaneously helping you avoid the hype. With that in mind, here are four things you should know about BF:

The best budget earbuds and headphones for every need – A good pair of headphones doesn’t have to be an expensive pair of headphones. In the same way an expensive model may have subpar quality for the price, it’s possible to find inexpensive offerings with quality far above what you paid. Knowing where to look is half the battle, but we’ve done the hard work for you: here are a variety of inexpensive headphones to satisfy every user type, including athletes, children, and the frequent commuter.

WhatsApp ‘Status’ feature tipped as a Snapchat clone – WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature called ‘Status’ that works in much the same way as Snapchat. The feature was discovered in the most recent public beta version of WhatsApp for both iOS and Android. With it, users can post status updates in the form of photos and videos and share them with friends. The status updates expire and disappear after 24 hours, and can include things like text and doodles.

Understanding Hype, a live-streaming app packed with weird – The creators of Vine have a new gift for the Internet — and it’s called Hype. Hype is a live-streaming video app on iOS with wide-ranging creative freedom. Every broadcaster can layer a live video with multimedia, including photos, videos, animated GIFs, music, text and emojis. Anything can be moved around the screen and added or deleted during the live broadcast. The point of Hype is to use these tools to engage with a live audience and win subscribers. Like in other live-streaming apps, the audience can share comments in a chat window. But Hype takes it up a notch: If the broadcasters like a comment, they can pull it into the video, having it float above as a chat bubble.

The new 64-bit Orange Pi is a quad-core computer for $20 – Need a teeny tiny computer that can run Android or Linux? Only have $20? Well you’re in luck. When we first met the Orange Pi (get it?) the company was selling a nice Raspberry Pi clone for $15. Now they’re selling a souped up version with all the trimmings. The board includes an Ethernet port and three USB ports. It has 1GB of memory, H5 High Performance Quad-core 64-bit Cortex-A53, and a standalone graphics chip. It supports camera input as well as HDMI out and even has a physical power switch and IR blaster. In short it’s a mini computer that can probably play some games, display some HD video, and generally be used in all sorts of home-brew projects.


Apple USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 prices cut amid MacBook Pro dongle outcry – Today Apple cut prices of USB-C accessories of all sorts, citing a need for legacy connections to older devices by professionals. The MacBook Pro is meant to be a professional notebook, and as most accessories have not yet moved to USB-C, dongles are needed. Apple suggests today that they’ve seen the need for this, and are therefore cutting costs to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals throughout the Apple Store.

You will soon be able to order McDonalds from your smartphone – A company representative told Business Insider that the technology will initially roll out to the United States and several international markets next year, with upwards of 25,000 stores using system by 2018. The move would help the restaurant chain catch up with competitors such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Chick-fil-A, which have apps that allow customers to place their orders before they arrive at the store, and in some cases, pay directly through the app.

8 digital turntables give old records a modern spin – Wondering what to do about that pile of records that’s collecting dust in your attic or basement? With one of these turntables, your records — from Shostakovich to Black Sabbath — can live again. This new generation of record players can play 33⅓ rpm (also known as LP), 45 rpm and sometimes even 78 rpm records — and most can also turn your favorite old vinyl into crisp new digital files. Each of these eight record players has the usual spinning platter, tonearm and needle to deliver analog audio from the record’s grooves. But wait, there’s more: An analog-to-digital converter turns the record player’s audio signal into a digital file.

Top Tips for Preserving Your Photos – It’s easy to forget about the old ways of doing things. Rotary phones, cassette tapes, and film are all relics that seem alien to youth raised on smartphones, streaming music, and digital cameras. But many families have photo albums gathering dust on a shelf or locked away in storage, and those with less organization may simply stumble upon a shoebox full of old prints and negatives in varying states of condition. Converting those images to digital format will ensure that they’re available for generations to come.

Uber and Google team up to get voters to the polls on election day – On Friday, days before the US presidential election on November 8, Uber said it wants to help increase voter turnout by offering an in-app feature that helps bring riders to their polling locations.


Tesco Bank freezes all online transactions after money stolen from 20,000 accounts – Tesco Bank has frozen the online transactions of all of its 136,000 current account holders following “online criminal activity”, resulting in the theft of funds from at least 20,000 customers. Some customers reported that money had gone missing from their accounts over the weekend, resulting in the banking arm of the British retailer opting to prevent online transfers as a “precautionary” measure. “Tesco Bank can confirm that, over the weekend, some of its customers’ current accounts have been subject to online criminal activity, in some cases resulting in money being withdrawn fraudulently,” said Benny Higgins, chief executive of Tesco Bank in a statement.

Sam’s Club resets passwords after thousands of logins posted online – Over 14,000 usernames and plain-text passwords for the retail giant’s online store were posted online over the weekend.

The US is reportedly readying cyber attacks if Russia tries to hack the election – In October, news broke that the CIA was preparing options to launch a cyberattack against Russia following revelations that the country was likely behind hacks at the Democratic National Committee earlier this summer. Now, a source has told NBC News that the US has penetrated key Russian systems, and will be ready to take action in case the country decides to interfere with next week’s elections. The systems allegedly include some of Russia’s telecommunications networks, its electrical power grid, and command systems at the Kremlin. NBC reported that the preparations are being made in the event that the US is “attacked in a significant way,” according to an anonymous intelligence official and top secret documents that the network had reviewed.

Cisco’s job applications site leaked personal data – Cisco has fixed a vulnerability in its Professional Careers portal that may have exposed truckloads of personal information. The networking giant has sent an email to affected users in which it says a “limited set of job application related information” was leaked from the mobile version of the website, blaming an “incorrect security setting” placed after system maintenance on a third party site. An unnamed researcher reported the flaw. Cisco says it has not found evidence of other unauthorised access but did find “an instance of unexplained, anomalous connection to the server” during the time data was exposed. Cisco says the borked security settings were in place from August to September 2015, and again from July to August 2016.

Over one billion installs of apps using OAuth 2.0 can be remotely hijacked, say researchers – OAuth 2.0 allows apps to verify credentials with Facebook or Google logins. One problem: over 41% of apps using OAuth 2.0 aren’t actually validating user info, allowing account hijacks.

Cerber ransomware menace now targeting databases – Criminals behind the massive Cerber ransomware enterprise are now targeting businesses as well as individuals with a module that kills and encrypts databases, warns Intel’s former security arm McAfee. Cerber had conducted more than 160 campaigns when examined in July targeting 150,0000 users and raking in a cracking US$195,000 in profits in that month alone. Of that figure, Cerber’s developer pocketed some US$78,000. It is estimated the malware earns authors and affiliates some US$1 million to US$2.5 million a year. Those figures surpass 2015 ransomware profits said to net authors a conservative US$84,000 a month for slinging ransomware at a cost of US$6000. That’s a whopping 1425 per cent profit margin. Security strategist Matthew Rosenquist says chasing businesses is the “next evolution” of ransomware.

What about the personal data on those millions of recalled Note7s? – The users of millions of faulty Samsung Galaxy Note7s, already turned in, face a bigger potential dilemma than whether the devices might blow up: The fate of their personal data on the devices. Many of the users of some 3 million Note7 devices sold were told by Samsung and government officials to immediately stop using the devices. They most likely didn’t have time to thoroughly wipe sensitive personal data like credit card numbers or medical information. Samsung hasn’t divulged what it plans to do with the Note7s that were turned in, and didn’t respond this week to a query about how it plans to ensure customer data is kept confidential.

Company News:

Google Capital changes its name to CapitalG – Google Capital — the company’s venture arm that focuses on growth-stage companies (read: those that have proven their idea and are now growing) as opposed to earlier-stage startups — is now “CapitalG.” All this, it’s worth noting, is a separate thing from GV, Alphabet’s investment arm that focuses on that earlier-stage stuff and rebranded from “Google Ventures” back in December of last year.

Uber settles ‘Jane Doe’ suit over alleged sexual assaults – Uber settled a lawsuit alleging it put profit over the safety of its female customers. The suit, originally filed October 2015 in US District Court in San Francisco, was brought by two unnamed “Jane Doe” women who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers. The women said Uber should be held responsible for its drivers’ actions. The details of the settlement, reached Thursday, were not released.

After sagging sales numbers, Fitbit’s stock price plunges by over 33% – In Thursday afternoon trading, Fitbit’s stock price lost more than one-third of its value after the company announced a significant drop in profits. According to its latest quarterly numbers, the company made $26.1 million in the third quarter of 2016 compared with $45.8 million during the same quarter a year ago. In mid-September, the company released the Fitbit Charge 2, a mid-range $150 device. Many financial analysts believe that the market for the popular fitness tracker may be hitting its saturation point. The company’s CEO, James Park, said as much on a call with analysts and reporters on Thursday.

Cannabis investor Privateer Holdings tacks on another $40 million in funding – In just five days, nine states will vote on marijuana legalization measures, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that the five-year-old, Seattle-based marijuana private equity investor Privateer Holdings just raised $40 million in convertible debt from undisclosed investors. Cowen and Co. is predicting that within 10 years, legal pot sales will hit $50 billion in the U.S., up from $6 billion today. Privateer has so far raised $122 million altogether. Earlier investors include Founders Fund, which led the company’s $75 million Series B round in March 2015, and Subversive Capital.

Games and Entertainment:

Facebook will begin testing ads on Apple TV and Roku devices – If you thought Facebook already has enough presence on the screens of your various devices, get ready for one more: the TV. The social network behemoth is gearing up to expand its ever-growing advertising network with a test that will run video ads within certain apps on the Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes. The tests could start as early as next week, but there’s no word yet on a pre-determined video length.

Windows 10 Store Refunds ‘Call of Duty’ Player Because Nobody’s Playing It – A few gamers who bought Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare through the digital storefront built into Windows 10 have discovered they can only play with other gamers who also bought the game from Microsoft. Xbox One players can only play with other Xbox One players, and PlayStation 4 players can only play with other PlayStation 4 players. This has always been the case. The trouble is that this time not all PC players can play with other PC players. For unknown reasons, Windows 10 Store customers are segregated from customers who bought the game from Steam, which is by far the most popular platform on PC. That’s like buying a game from Target and learning you can’t play with people who bought it from Best Buy. Call of Duty fans who made the unfortunate of mistake of giving Microsoft their cash are left sitting in lonely multiplayer lobbies waiting for games that’ll never start. However, it appears that Microsoft is giving out refunds.

Battlefield 1 is an anti-war message trapped in a best-selling shooter – Battlefield 1, set not during WWII but the global conflict more than two decades prior, is one of the most realistic first-person shooter games ever created. Every component, from the groundbreaking graphics to the sheer complexity of the maps, is in service of making players feel as if they’re experiencing a harrowing part of history — playing not the stars, but the forgotten extras of a Steven Spielberg film. Instead of shamelessly milking historical bloodshed, the development team has taken a different route with Battlefield 1. They made a game that is at once exhilarating and terrifying in almost equal measure — in effect, an anti-war game where the disposability of human life is treated not as a side effect of the gameplay, but as a core message it’s trying to convey.

Blizzard is recreating the original Diablo inside Diablo 3 – Blizzard’s BlizzCon is being held this weekend, and the developer has announced that one of its most classic games, the original Diablo, is making a return within the newer Diablo 3. In honor of the original dungeon crawler’s 20th anniversary, Blizzard is releasing a new “Darkening of Tristram” update for Diablo 3, allowing players to experience the classic graphics and gameplay, all on the engine of the latest entry.

Facebook Messenger is testing “Instant Games” like this one from King – Facebook Messenger is preparing to launch a new “Instant Games” platform that will let people  play lightweight games against friends. Candy Crush maker is already testing one of these Instant Games called “Shuffle Cats Mini” in New Zealand, TechCrunch has discovered. And other studios including Big Viking also appear to be prepping for the Instant Games launch.

Zotac Zbox EN1060 review: Better than console gaming in a tiny package – For the first time (Gigabyte’s awful Brix Gaming range and Alienware’s modest Steam Machines notwithstanding), you can buy a PC that’s smaller than a game console, yet packs in enough processing power to run games at ultra settings and 60FPS. Enter the Magnus EN1060, the latest model from mini PC champions Zotac. Inside its tiny 20cm-by-20cm footprint sits a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, giving it enough graphics grunt to power games at the highest settings, even at resolutions above 1080p. It makes for a mean, highly portable, VR-ready PC. Unfortunately, stuffing such powerful components into a chassis barely bigger than a DVD case was always going to result in some compromises—and the EN1060 isn’t quite the desktop powerhouse its spec sheet promises.


35 great PC games for Linux and Steam Machines – The promise of SteamOS has lured several dozen big-name games to Linux PCs. Here are some of the best Linux PC games you can play today.

Original ‘Left 4 Dead’ Developer Releases ‘Lost’ Level for Free – Player cooperation and interaction lies at the heart of the zombie shooter Left 4 Dead, and thus it’s understandable why a campaign encouraging players to split up might have been left on the cutting room floor. Now, though—almost eight years to the day after Left 4 Dead’s 2008 release—that specific campaign’s been released as a free add-on, allowing players to experience what might have been if such ideas had made it into the final product.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Social media is a gold mine for detectives busting scams – How clean is your Facebook feed? Investigators have built a tool to more easily trawl for information you might want to keep private.

What is a blockchain, and why is it growing in popularity? – Effectively a blockchain is a kind of independent, transparent, and permanent database coexisting in multiple locations and shared by a community. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as a mutual distributed ledger (MDL). There’s nothing new about MDLs, their origins traceable to the seminal 1976 Diffie–Hellman research paper New Directions In Cryptography. But for a long time they were regarded as complicated and not altogether safe. It took the simpler blockchain implementation within Bitcoin to turn things around. The permanence, security, and distributed nature of Bitcoin ensured it was a currency maintained by a growing community but controlled by absolutely nobody and unable to be manipulated.

Elon Musk: Trump doesn’t reflect well on the US – Silicon Valley seems divided on the election. In one corner is Peter Thiel and a few quieter sympathizers. In the other stand a number of tech CEOs and employees, aghast at the notion that Donald Trump — a man who suggested boycotting Apple products — might be the next president. Tesla founder Elon Musk is in the latter category.

WTF is CRISPR? – Say you’ve inherited a rare genetic mutation that guarantees you’ll get a certain form of cancer by the time you reach 50 years of age. And that this is most likely how you are going to die. But what if I told you this cancer gene, passed down from generation to generation, can be snipped out of your genome entirely and you never pass it on to any of your offspring?

Something to think about:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

–       Abraham Lincoln

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How Bureaucrats and Spies Turned Canada Into a Surveillance State – This week, Canadians received a shock to the system when a spate of news items revealed how police and spy agencies flout the law and moral conventions to spy on citizens and journalists, in some cases dating back for many years.

The largest blow to Canada’s often rosy image came on Thursday when a federal court ruling revealed that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been operating a secret metadata collection program since 2006, and retained citizens’ identifying information illegally. The question on every Canadian’s mind now is: how, in our supposedly sleepy liberal democracy, did this happen?

In establishing the domestic spy agency with the CSIS Act, legislators largely left it up to CSIS itself to decide how the law should be interpreted. “It appears that CSIS got their own legal advice that gave them the most favourable spin or interpretation of the law that one could possibly take,” said privacy lawyer David Fraser in an interview. “Really, stretching it almost to the breaking point.”

“We believed we had the authority. Was it set out specifically? No, it wasn’t”

In a call with journalists on Thursday, Chief General Counsel for the Department of Justice Robert Frater seemed to confirm this perspective. “Our legal position was that we were retaining it legally,” he said. “We believed we had the authority. Was it set out specifically? No, it wasn’t.”

China’s new cybersecurity law is bad news for business – The Chinese government has passed new cybersecurity regulations Nov. 7 that will put stringent new requirements on technology companies operating in the country. The proposed Cybersecurity Law comes with data localization, surveillance, and real-name requirements.

The regulation would require instant messaging services and other internet companies to require users to register with their real names and personal information, and to censor content that is “prohibited.” Real name policies restrict anonymity and can encourage self-censorship for online communication.

The law also includes a requirement for data localization, which would force “critical information infrastructure operators” to store data within China’s borders. According to Human Rights Watch, an advocacy organization that is opposing the legislation, the law does not include a clear definition of infrastructure operators, and many businesses could be lumped into the definition.

“The law will effectively put China’s Internet companies, and hundreds of millions of Internet users, under greater state control,” said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director. HRW maintains that, while many of the regulations are not new, most were informal or only laid out in low-level law — and implementing the measures on a broader level will lead to stricter enforcement.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 4, 2016

Microsoft Cortana: The smart person’s guide;  Home networking: Everything you need to know;  4 things to know before you buy Google Home;  Can your PC run virtual reality? The free new VRMark benchmark can tell you;  LastPass syncing across multiple devices is now free;  5 macOS screen capture apps;  Feds Say it’s Okay to Hack Your Own Car, Smart TV;  Move over Raspberry Pi, here is a $4, coin-sized, open-source Linux computer – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Firms that force you to change your password are clueless says cyber security chief – Does your firm make you change your password each month and warn you not to open suspicious email attachments? Then they haven’t got a clue about IT security. So says Dr Ian Levy, technical director for the UK National Cyber Security Centre. Levy was scathing in his assessment of the “stupid” and user-unfriendly security advice habitually doled out. Top of his list was the perennial warning not to open attachments or click on links in an email unless you trust the sender. The number of users capable of delving into the technical detail of an email to spot the difference between a well-crafted spoof banking message sent by a hacker and the genuine article is vanishingly small, he said. “That is the most stupid piece of advice I have ever heard,” he told the Microsoft Future Decoded conference in London. “We’re blaming the user for designing the system wrong, we’re trying to get the user to compensate for bad system design. That’s stupid, let’s fix it.”

Microsoft Cortana: The smart person’s guide – For Microsoft and devices running the Windows 10 operating system, the digital agent that will help us interface with our computing devices more efficiently is called Cortana. If you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone running Windows 10, you have Cortana—even if you have never used it. This TechRepublic Smart Person’s Guide describes what Cortana is, who its designed for, when you should use it, and why it matters.

4 things to know before you buy Google Home – The Google Assistant has escaped, and it’s haunting your house. No longer is it trapped in your phone or your browser: instead, the power of Google’s so-called Knowledge Graph now gets a new enclosure, the vase-esque Google Home. Like Amazon’s Echo, it reacts to voice rather than touchscreen or buttons, and like Amazon’s assistant Alexa, it promises to streamline your day and entertain your evenings with its personalized knowledge of your tastes and interests. Sounds great, right? Turns out, there are a few things you ought to bear in mind before you bring Home home.


Home networking: Everything you need to know – Did you know that Wi-Fi and internet are two different things? That’s true, Wi-Fi is just a wireless method for devices in a local network to connect to one another using a router and share a single internet connection, if there is one. Then what is a local network, you ask? And what’s a router for Pete’s sake? Here I’ll (try to) explain them all so that you can have a better understanding of your home network and hopefully a better control of your online life.

Hands On With Microsoft Teams – If you’ve ever felt a disconnect between your applications, files, and coworkers, Microsoft Teams is designed with you in mind. The tool is a cloud-based collaboration chat app that takes the best aspects of Slack and connects them to Microsoft Office 365, as well as more than 150 third-party applications. For those of you who’ve never used a chat app at work, here’s a small primer:

Can your PC run virtual reality? The free new VRMark benchmark can tell you – There’s a new way to easily test your PC’s virtual reality chops. Futuremark, the creators of the widely used 3DMark benchmarking tools (including Fire Strike), just announced VRMark for gauging your computer’s VR capabilities. VRMark comes in both Basic and Advanced Editions. The basic version is free and allows you to run one of VRMark’s two tests, dubbed “Orange Room.” Orange Room tests your PC with the recommended hardware requirements of VR headsets in mind. Futuremark says your PC will pass if it can hit the benchmark’s target frame rate without dropping frames—two crucial requirements for virtual reality. Orange Room also provides an overall score at the end so you can compare different system results.

Move over Raspberry Pi, here is a $4, coin-sized, open-source Linux computer – VoCore2 is an open source Linux computer and a fully-functional wireless router that is smaller than a coin. It can also act as a VPN gateway for a network, an AirPlay station to play lossless music, a private cloud to store your photos, video, and code, and much more. The Lite version of the VoCore2 features a 580MHz MT7688AN MediaTek system on chip (SoC), 64MB of DDR2 RAM, 8MB of NOR storage, and a single antenna slot for Wi-Fi that supports 150Mbps. All this for $4.



How to track down the Startup folder in Windows 10 – There are various ways to access the Windows 10 Startup folder–but this Shell command trick cuts to the chase.

How to add a Hibernate option to the Windows 10 Start menu – Windows 10 doesn’t include Hibernate in the shut-down options by default, but it’s easy enough to add it.

How Microsoft plans to shrink down and speed up Windows 10 updates – Microsoft has revealed a new Unified Update Platform that’s designed to make it easier for devices to upgrade from one version of Windows 10 to another.

LastPass syncing across multiple devices is now free – LastPass has announced that its syncing feature is now free to use across multiple devices, including things like your laptop, tablet and smartphone. Whatever devices you use the service on, your passwords will sync across them and it won’t cost you anything. Premium members will still keep exclusive access to the other premium perks, however, including things like going ad-free and sharing with up to five users.

Vivaldi: A stellar web browser, but don’t make it your default yet – Before making the switch to Vivaldi, read what an avid Chrome fan likes and doesn’t like about this much-talked about web browser.

Another 40 million people bolt from Microsoft’s browsers as mass exodus continues – Microsoft’s browsers hemorrhaged another 40 million users last month, according to analytics vendor Net Applications.

15 hidden Facebook Messenger tips – There are hidden Messenger games, fun emoji animations and more that you probably don’t know about.

5 macOS screen capture apps that make sharing important info a snap – Taking a screenshot isn’t hard, but making use of them can be a lot trickier. Here are five apps for your Mac that can make your screen captures far more functional.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Fix, Comp CC now on Android – Adobe is finally showing some Android love. The company whose name is synonymous with digital content creation tools hasn’t exactly been close friends with Android, preferring to focus its resources more and first on iOS as far as mobile platforms go. Not like Android users are less creative than their iOS counterparts. But, as they say, better late than never. Finally, Android users can enjoy three new creative mobile apps from Adobe: Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Fix, and Adobe Comp CC.

Red Hat releases new flagship Linux operating system – Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 includes new features and enhancements built around performance, security, and reliability. The release also introduces new capabilities around Linux containers and the Internet of Things.

Android closes in on 90% market share – As the battle between iOS and Android rages on, we’re seeing Android pick up some market share in quarter three 2016. Strategy Analytics has published a new report for the quarter that shows Android making some gains while iOS loses a little ground. On top of that, the smartphone market as a whole showed some modest year-over-year growth.

Uber has overhauled its app: three key differences – Uber has rebuilt its mobile app, making it cleaner and easier to use in comparison to the previous version. This update was necessary, says Uber, as the app had ‘become complicated and harder to navigate’ since the last big overhaul in 2012. By remaking it from the ground up, the app is now faster and, says the company, smarter — it can learn your routines if you’re a frequent rider, and pretty soon it’ll be able to tap your mobile’s calendar, too.

Hands-on: Using CrossOver Android to run Windows apps on a Chromebook – Android app support in Chromebooks opens the door to Windows emulation, but that first step is a doozy.

Report: Smartwatch sales aren’t falling — shipments increased 60% year-on-year – Are smartwatch sales tanking? Analysts are divided. A recent IDC report suggested the total shipment of smartwatches had plummeted by 50 percent in the last year, but this week rival analyst firm Canalys claimed that sales have actually increased.


The ransomware dilemma – More than 90 percent of all phishing emails are now ransomware. The average amount paid via ransomware has grown from $40 in 2009 to $1,000 in 2016. This amount will grow even faster as ransomware moves to enterprise. An LA-based hospital paid $17,000 and, according to FBI records, several small businesses have paid as much as $80,000. Many are embarrassed to admit it, so we may never know the real figures. According to Cyber Threat Alliance, ransomware variant CryptoLocker generated $325 million for the hackers within 100 days of launch. At the Black Hat 2016 CISO Summit in Las Vegas, several industry experts projected a billion dollars will be paid in ransomware in 2016.

(Another) Hospital Falls Victim to Ransomware – The NHS’s Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust is back up and running after a four-day ordeal.

Mobile subscriber identity numbers can be exposed over Wi-Fi – Researchers have now found that protocols used by operators to offload data connections and voice calls to Wi-Fi can be abused to track mobile subscribers by their unique identification numbers.

How to block the ultrasonic signals you didn’t know were tracking you – The technology, called ultrasonic cross-device tracking, embeds high-frequency tones that are inaudible to humans in advertisements, web pages, and even physical locations like retail stores. These ultrasound “beacons” emit their audio sequences with speakers, and almost any device microphone—like those accessed by an app on a smartphone or tablet—can detect the signal and start to put together a picture of what ads you’ve seen, what sites you’ve perused, and even where you’ve been. Now that you’re sufficiently concerned, the good news is that at the Black Hat Europe security conference on Thursday, a group based at University of California, Santa Barbara will present an Android patch and a Chrome extension that give consumers more control over the transmission and receipt of ultrasonic pitches on their devices.

Mirai botnet attackers are trying to knock an entire country offline – The nation state has a single point of failure fiber, recently installed in 2011, and it could spell disaster for dozens of other countries.

Australia’s cybersecurity strategy: Continue the omnishambles – As the UK launches its much-praised active cyber defence plan to integrate protection of the entire domain, Australia chooses to do the exact opposite. Hilarity will ensue.

Flaw in Wix website builder risked computer worm –, a major website building provider, may have a significant bug on its hands. A vulnerability with the company’s sites can potentially pave the way for a computer worm, warns a security researcher.

Company News:

Google formally rebuts EU antitrust charges against Shopping, AdSense – Google has now formally responded to two antitrust charges brought against it by Europe’s Competition Commission, rebutting charges of exploiting the popularity of its search engine to boost its price comparison service, Google Shopping, and its ad placement service, AdSense. The company has yet to respond to a third EU antitrust complaint — regarding complaints that it uses its Android mobile OS as a ‘trojan horse’ to promote its own products and services at the expense of rivals’ — but in a blog post outlining its response in the Shopping case the company’s SVP and general counsel, Kent Walker, said it will be responding to the Android Statement of Objections “in the days to come”.

Symantec reports solid Q2, CornerStone, Arista, Hortonworks also report – The tech earnings parade was led by Symantec. Generally speaking the results from enterprise vendors were solid.

Lenovo posts ‘solid results’ in tough PC and tablet market – The world’s biggest PC vendor has announced its second-quarter results, with a return to profit despite tough PC and server markets. Revenue stood at $11.2 billion, an eight percent decrease year-over-year, and a 12 percent increase over its first financial quarter. Pre-tax income for the second quarter was $168 million compared to a loss of $842 million in the same quarter last year. Net income stood at $157 million compared to $714 million in last year’s second quarter. Lenovo described this as “solid performance” at a challenging time in the industry, with both the PC and tablet markets down, and smartphones and servers showing only modest growth.

GoPro shows its vulnerability after horrific Q3 earnings – Expectations were already incredibly low for GoPro this go around and yet somehow the company managed to eclipse even the worst fears of analysts. The company’s stock trading was halted prior to the release of results that missed revenue expectations by 23 percent and nearly $75 million. When trading began again, shares were down 22 percent. This means that, in a matter of minutes, the market cap of the company melted from $1.23 billion to $972 million — the spontaneous combustion of roughly $250 million in value.

Fitbit shares tank 29 percent as holiday sales look bleak – Fitbit is going to have a rough holiday season as the company shared a disappointing outlook for the next quarter on yesterday’s earnings call. As a result, Fitbit shares (NYSE:FIT) opened at $9.03, down 29.5 percent compared to yesterday’s closing price of $12.81. So what happened exactly? Fitbit’s earning report yesterday wasn’t great, but it wasn’t too bad either. According to Forbes, earnings were in line with the analysts’ expectations, and revenue was slightly below expectations — $504 million vs. $507 million. This doesn’t seem enough to tear the company apart on the stock market. The issue is what’s going to happen next. Fitbit devices seem like the perfect gift for the holidays. But Fitbit says it’s not going to be the huge quarter investors expected. Fitbit’s own outlook says that earnings per share are going to be between $0.14 and $0.18, well below expectations of $0.75 per share, according to the WSJ.

Facebook doubles down on video as forecast worries investors – With new video features, the social network is preparing itself for the future. Still, investors are worried about the coming year.

Intel Security sets up strategy, ecosystem, architecture for McAfee independence – Intel Security outlined its strategy, architecture, key partners, and a series of products as it preps to become McAfee and a standalone company. At its Focus 16 conference, Intel Security launched an architecture that ties together its four key systems for endpoints, data protection, data center, and cloud and security analytics. Intel Security announced 10 products driven by machine learning malware classification and cloud advanced threat protection.

Games and Entertainment:

GOG’s Fall Sale dangles free copies of Victor Vran, Little Big Adventure 2, and more – You can walk away with four free games on top of this year’s GOG’s “Monstrous” fall sale harvest.

Review: ‘Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’ Reaches for the Stars But Never Gets off the Ground – Once more, we’re drowning in a season of shooters: the jazzy robo-parkour of Titanfall 2, the eco-pocalyptic hustle of Gears of War 4, the anthologized toil of Battlefield 1. And on November 4 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the slick celestial operatics of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. It’s the thirteenth installment in Activision’s granddaddy projectile-chucker that’s been nipping at Pokémon‘s fourth place heels in the battle for all-time bestselling franchise bragging rights.

PlayStation 4 includes free COD: Infinite Warfare on November 4 – 5 – Sony has announced that PlayStation 4 consoles purchased on November 4th and November 5th will include a free copy of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the latest addition to the popular game franchise. The promotion is being offered through ‘select retailers,’ according to PlayStation Brand Marketing Vice President John Koller. As well, it will only be available to customers in the United States and Canada.

PS4 Pro Will Have 30 Games Optimized for Launch, 45 by Year’s End – Next Thursday will see the launch of the PlayStation 4 Pro. With a more powerful CPU and GPU, games will run and look better than they do on the current PlayStation 4. All future releases will be optimized to take advantage of the system’s beefier hardware, and some older titles will be patched to do the same. Sony has today revealed a list of all the titles that will optimize for the PS4 Pro. This list contains titles that are getting patched or have been created with PS4 Pro in mind. Some of the games that will be PS4 Pro ready include 2016 releases like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Battlefield 1, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Ratchet & Clank, Titanfall 2, and Firewatch. Older titles like Knack, inFAMOUS: Second Son, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and XCOM 2 will be getting optimized as well.

EVGA issues patch to stop its GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 cards from catching fire – EVGA issued a patch to its GeForce GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 graphics cards this week after some users reported that their cards overheated and sometimes caught on fire. Is this the year of exploding gadgets? Tom’s Hardware Germany initially reported an issue with EVGA’s cooling system. The site found that the card reached up to 107 degrees Celsius, or 224 degrees Fahrenheit, when put under the Furmark stress test. Tom’s noted that EVGA failed to include an adequate cooling solution, which the company is now trying to remedy through a VBIOS update that will speed up the fans so everything stays cool.

Sling TV adds on-demand kids channel: here are four alternatives – Children’s programming is an important part of the television industry, not just because kids comprise a large viewer base, but also because they’re more likely to stick with something that becomes familiar to them at an early age. It’s no surprise, then, that video streaming companies have been fleshing out their family-friendly and kids-centric programming, and Sling TV is no exception.

Vimeo to Take On Netflix With Premium Subscriptions – Vimeo hopes to create an ad-free streaming service with lower prices than its competitors.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Feds Say it’s Okay to Hack Your Own Car, Smart TV – Want to hack your own car or smart TV? Now you legally can. The Federal Trade Commission last week announced that the Librarian of Congress issued a new temporary exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), authorizing the hacking of consumer devices for the sake of research. That includes everything from electric toothbrushes to home thermostats, connected appliances, cars, smart TVs — even medical devices so long as they’re not connected to humans during the research. It does not, however, apply to “highly sensitive systems” like nuclear power plants or air traffic control. The FTC called the new temporary exemption “a big win for security researchers and for consumers who will benefit from increased security testing of the products they use.”

These glasses trick facial recognition software into thinking you’re someone else – Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have shown that specially designed spectacle frames can fool even state-of-the-art facial recognition software. Not only can the glasses make the wearer essentially disappear to such automated systems, it can even trick them into thinking you’re someone else. By tweaking the patterns printed on the glasses, scientists were able to assume one another’s identities or make the software think they were looking at celebrities. (In the image at the top of the article, you can see the researchers wearing the glasses in the top row of pictures, and the identity they copied in the bottom row.)


SPUD lets you take a pop-up 24-inch screen on the road – The challenge with working from the road for many people is that even with a laptop, often the screen is too small to be truly productive. A new portable display called the SPUD has landed on Kickstarter and this gizmo will make it a snap to carry a large screen with you for all your devices wherever you go. SPUD is a collapsible, pop-up projection screen measuring 24-inches diagonally.


Can you solve some of the most complicated cryptographic puzzles in the world? – The UK’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) are some of the best code breakers in the world. Think you have what it takes to be a cryptanalyst? Find out here.

Something to think about:

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

–      Ralph W. Sockman

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The FBI is investigating its own Twitter account over allegedly pro-Trump tweets – The FBI’s Inspection Division has launched an internal investigation into a string of tweets from the @FBIRecordsDivision account, according to an exclusive report from ThinkProgress. The account had been inactive for more than a year before this week, when it sprang to life with a string of tweets publishing records from a years-old investigation into then-president Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich in 2001. The account also tweeted its archive on Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump, whom the account hailed as a “philanthropist.”

Under the Hatch Act, the FBI and its employees are forbidden from taking an active role in election activities. But some critics have argued that the bureau overstepped that line with FBI Director Comey’s July press conference, which criticized Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for classified communication while simultaneously declining to recommend criminal charges.

Canadian Spies Illegally Retained Metadata for a Decade – A bombshell federal court ruling revealed on Thursday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada’s CIA analogue, operated a secret metadata collection and retention program for a decade.

The Operational Data Analysis Centre (ODAC), a CSIS program that was not known to the public until this court ruling, has been in operation since 2006, the court found, although CSIS did not make courts aware of its existence until this year. This breached the spy agency’s “duty of candour,” the court ruled.

The ODAC is a “powerful” program, the court’s judgement states, and collected and retained information known as metadata. This sort of information would include details like the sender and recipient of an email, for example, but not the contents of the message.

“The end product [of ODAC surveillance] is intelligence which reveals specific, intimate details on the life and environment of the persons the CSIS investigates,” the court’s ruling states. “The program is capable of drawing links between various sources and enormous amounts of data that no human being would be capable of.”

Unlike the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s version of the NSA, CSIS is mandated to spy on Canadians in order to thwart terror attacks.

The ODAC program not only collected metadata from people that CSIS had warrants to surveil, but also collected so-called “associated data,” which means information on non-threats or third parties: in other words, citizens not under investigation.

Edward Snowden Calls Police Spying on Quebec Journalists a ‘Threat to Democracy’ – In a speech to 600 people at McGill University in Montreal on Wednesday night, Edward Snowden described police spying on Quebec journalists a “threat to the traditional model of our democracy.”

Though it had been announced months ago, the timing of Snowden’s conference was strangely appropriate. The event took place just hours after La Presse revealed the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), which is the provincial police force, had put at least six prominent journalists under surveillance. Two days earlier, the same Montreal daily had broken the story that its own star columnist, Patrick Lagacé, had been spied on by the Montreal police force (SPVM).

Appearing live from Russia, where he’s been living in exile since exposing top secret information about US intelligence and surveillance programs, Snowden did not mince words when discussing the behaviour of Quebec police.

“From now on, local police can decide they don’t like what a journalist has been reporting and go to a justice of the peace, who’ll say, ‘Sounds great. Look at the GPS on his phone, figure out everywhere he’s been traveling, figure out anyone he’s communicated with. No, you can’t actually read his emails, you can’t actually listen to his calls, but you can find out anyone he met with, who did he call, how long he was on the phone with them’,” the former CIA agent and NSA employee said. “With this, you can gain an extraordinary understanding of how this individual works.”

The world’s most famous whistleblower suggested SPVM chief Philippe Pichet should resign immediately, describing the surveillance of Lagacé and other journalists as a “radical attack on the operations of the free press.” Snowden also took shots at Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard for not firing Pichet.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 2, 2016

TIME: The 50 Best Apps of the Year;  4 Windows 10 tools that will kickstart your productivity;  The Best Free Antivirus Protection of 2016;  Google Drive dumps Windows XP and Vista;  Microsoft to patch Windows security flaw under attack next week;  Google Play Store hardened: here’s how to protect yourself;  Tor: The smart person’s guide;  5 Android navigation apps for those who are sick of Google Maps – and much more news you need to know.

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TIME: The 50 Best Apps of the Year – We’re increasingly reliant on the smartphones in our pockets to keep in touch with friends, watch movies and TV shows, and get work done. But the phones themselves would be meaningless without the software that, almost like magic, imbues them with new powers even their creators never thought possible. In that spirit, these are TIME’s 50 best iPhone and Android apps of the year. These are apps that were either released, had a notable redesign, or took off in popularity this year. The list is unranked, as the different functionality of each app makes them impossible to fairly compare.

4 Windows 10 tools that will kickstart your productivity – There are apps for everything from tracking your to-do’s to curing you of your procrastination. But when it comes to productivity tools, look no further than your PC’s operating system. Windows 10 boasts many new features and improvements on old ones that can help you work much more efficiently. Here are a few you should start taking advantage of today.

The Best Free Antivirus Protection of 2016 – Whether you run Windows 8 or Windows 10, your computer is theoretically under the protection of the built-in Microsoft Windows Defender. However, our hands-on tests and independent lab tests show that you’re better off with a third-party solution. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of free choices, and the best of them are better than many competing commercial products. Which one is best for you? We’ve rounded them up to help you choose.

Tor: The smart person’s guide – Tor is complex, yet easy to install and operate. The tool is widely used by reporters, political dissidents, hackers, and Dark Web profiteers to communicate anonymously. Tor enabled the Arab Spring, is used by millions of Chinese users to skirt the Great Firewall, and helps sources and whistleblowers safely share vital information with reporters. Conversely, the encrypted browser also allows hackers to snoop safely, and has helped illicit Dark Web markets flourish. TechRepublic’s smart person’s guide is a routinely updated “living” precis loaded with contemporary information about about how the onion router works, who Tor affects, and why privacy-enhancing software is important.

5 Android navigation apps for those who are sick of Google Maps – There are plenty of other navigation apps on the market, and most of them are just as speedy and accurate as Google Maps (some are more so). Google Maps is a good general maps app, but if you commute all day long or you primarily use public transit, it may not be the best app for you. Here are five other Android navigation apps you might want to check out:

Google Play Store hardened: here’s how to protect yourself – In an ideal world, users will only install software from, usually a single, blessed source, like a repository or app store, containing only trustworthy and quality software. But we don’t live in an ideal world and even with app stores like Google Play or iTunes, some questionable apps still manage to get through the cracks. In an attempt to protect the integrity and image of its Play Store, Google has announced new security measures to weed out fraudulent or downright malicious apps. But users also have a role to play in protecting themselves from such “soft” attacks.

Google Drive dumps Windows XP and Vista, now what? – Google Drive is dumping official support for Windows XP and Vista. Here are some options for anyone running those systems.

Five Android apps that will teach you new skills in your spare time – There are always a few moments during the week spent staring at a smartphone to kill time. Why not learn something in those spare moments with these five Android apps?

Chrome 53 on Windows promised to be 15% faster – Web browsers have become more and more critical to modern computing that for many users, they have practically become the operating system, an idea that Google turned into practice with Chrome OS. As such, there is always a need to make web browsers more and more optimized, in performance as well as power usage. As one of the major web browser makers, Google is always looking for ways to improve its performance, which has borne fruit in the latest version 53 and 54 of Chrome for Windows.

Instapaper Premium goes free for everybody – According to the company’s Brian Donohue, the company is able to make Premium open and free because the Pinterest acquisition has enabled the team to “focus on just delivering the best product to our users.” Instapaper is a “Save anything, read anywhere” service not unlike Pocket, and it has a premium version that comes with its own perks. Pinterest acquired the company back in late August, and now we’re getting the fruits of that business deal: premium for everybody, no strings attached, and no ‘catch,’ per Donohue.

iOS 10.1.1 released: What you need to know – An update bringing iOS to version 10.1.1 is coming down the pipeline today, just about a week after we received the update to iOS 10.1. Being such a quick follow up to the rather significant iOS 10.1 update, the patch notes for 10.1.1 aren’t exactly long. However, 10.1.1 does bring with it a rather important fix for the Health app.

iOS 10 tip: Built-in iOS apps you should replace with third-party apps – iOS 10 gives iPhone and iPad users the ability to delete built-in apps such as Mail, FaceTime, and Music and replace them with third-party apps. But which apps should you choose? Deleting a built-in app is the same as deleting any other app, just press and hold on the icon on the Home screen until they jiggle, and then tap the X. Press the Home button when you’re done.

A simple fix for the new MacBook Pro’s big problem – Apple’s decision to ditch almost all the legacy ports on its flagship notebook was done in the name of ushering in widespread adoption of Thunderbolt 3 and enabling a thinner machine. However, while Thunderbolt 3 may undoubtedly be a better connector than the bevy of sockets along the edge of the old MacBook Pro, the Cupertino firm’s decision to go slim has frustrated many who have legacy devices to plug in, and who were hoping for a more significant power upgrade.

A dozen, faster, better or cheaper alternatives to the Raspberry Pi – 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. (Updated Nov 1, 2016)

Samsung bundles free Watch Dogs 2 with select SSDs and curved monitors – We’re a few weeks out from the release of Watch Dogs 2, and if you’ve had your eye on it, you might like to know that Samsung has launched new hardware bundles that include a free copy of the game. These bundles feature a range of Samsung solid-state drives and some of the company’s newer curved gaming monitors. So, if you’ve been in the market for some new PC hardware, you might want to give these bundles a look.

Instagram makes e-commerce push with new shop tags in photos – New ‘shoppable’ photos will have a shopping tag next to items to identify the product as available for purchase.

Microsoft ends OEM sales of Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8.1 – If you can get Dell, HP Inc, Lenovo or any other PC-maker to sell you a PC running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1, please let us know how you did it because Microsoft no longer sells the operating system to OEMs. Redmond’s Windows lifecycle webpage has long-since flagged October 31, 2016 as the date on which Windows 7 Pro would “no longer [be] shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).” Seeing as we’re into November, from now on Redmond will only send copies of Windows 10 to the world’s PC builders.


Google issues warning of critical Windows vulnerability in wild – Recently, Google’s Threat Analysis Group discovered a set of zero-day vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and the Microsoft Windows kernel that were already being actively used by malware attacks against the Chrome browser. Google alerted both Adobe and Microsoft of the discovery on October 21, and Adobe issued a critical fix to patch its vulnerability last Friday. But Microsoft has yet to patch a critical bug in the Windows kernel that allows these attacks to work—which prompted Google to publicly announce the vulnerabilities today. “After 7 days, per our published policy for actively exploited critical vulnerabilities, we are today disclosing the existence of a remaining critical vulnerability in Windows for which no advisory or fix has yet been released,” wrote Neel Mehta and Billy Leonard of Google’s Threat Analysis Group.”This vulnerability is particularly serious because we know it is being actively exploited.”

Microsoft to patch Windows security flaw under attack next week – Microsoft said it will fix a security vulnerability in Windows next week as part of the company’s usual patching schedule. The company confirmed the move in a blog post on Tuesday, in which it accused a Russian hacking group of being behind the spearphishing campaign that exploits a newly discovered security flaw in the operating system. Details of the flaw were first revealed on Monday after Google said it would forego its usual disclosure policy of three months, citing the severity of the “critical”-rated flaw.

Google to untrust WoSign and StartCom certificates – Following similar decisions by Mozilla and Apple, Google plans to reject new certificates issued by two certificate authorities because they violated industry rules and best practices.

Malwarebytes: How to beat ransomware: prevent, don’t react – Picture this: You’ve spent the last few weeks working on a tribute video for a friend’s 30th wedding anniversary. You collected photos and video clips and edited them together, laying over a soundtrack of their favorite songs. It was a real labor of love. When you finally finish the project, you go to copy the file onto a DVD and—what the?—a strange message pops up. “Unfortunately, the files on this computer have been encrypted. You have 96 hours to submit payment to receive the encryption key, otherwise your files will be permanently destroyed.” You’ve been hit with ransomware. You didn’t back up the anniversary video. In fact, you haven’t backed up any of your files in months. What do you do?

Shadow Brokers Releases Second Trove of Spying Tools – Shadow Brokers, a secretive online group that in August published details of hacking tools allegedly belonging to the NSA, released new leaks this week that appear to expose more of the agency’s cyber strategies, as well as those from multiple foreign countries. The leak discloses NSA-style code names, including “Jackladder” and “Dewdrop,” the Associated Press reports. It also appears to offer a list of servers compromised by the Equation Group, a separate hacking organization with ties to the NSA. In a post on Medium in broken English, Shadow Brokers referenced Equation Group twice and suggested that its motivation for exposing the server information was related to the US presidential election. The post also demands a ransom payment, although it does not suggest a specific amount of money.

Researchers build undetectable rootkit for programmable logic controllers – Researchers have devised a new malware attack against industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that takes advantage of architectural shortcomings in microprocessors and bypasses current detection mechanisms.

Delete unused Android apps now, or risk a security nightmare – Your Android device most likely contains unused apps that could still use data or fall prey to vulnerabilities. The solution to this potential security problem: delete those apps.

Company News:

BlackBerry signs deal with Ford to work on cars of the future – BlackBerry has made a deal with Ford to produce software that could power the first generation of mass-market self-driving cars. The Canadian company announced yesterday that it was dedicating a team of engineers to help the car manufacturer incorporate a range of BlackBerry software — including its QNX Neutrino operating system, its Certicom security tech, and audio processing software — into future Ford from a hardware company to a software one.

Nintendo reportedly calls quits on Wii U production – The days of the Wii U have been numbered ever since Nintendo announced the Switch, but the company may be looking to pull the plug long before the Switch hits the scene in March. Multiple sources have confirmed to Eurogamer that Nintendo will halt Wii U production at the end of this week. Given the console’s slow sales, these reports aren’t really all that shocking.

Sony’s profit down 86% but its costly mobile business has been shored up – Sony’s profit dropped 86 percent year-on-year as the strong performance of the Japanese Yen, fallout from the Kumamoto earthquake and company restructuring weighed on its Q2 2016 earnings. The Japanese electronics giant posted a small $48 million (4.8 billion JPY) profit in its Q2 2016 financial period, down from $205 million last year. On the positive side, though, its mobile business again showed that it has stopped bleeding cash.

Giphy Has Almost No Revenue But Is Worth $600 Million – These little mini-clips may be fun, but does that justify giving one of the companies that create them a market value of $600 million? By way of comparison, that’s more than twice what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid for the Washington Post. Giphy, which was created in 2013 as part of the New York-based venture fund/incubator Betaworks, got this valuation by raising a Series D funding round of $75 million from a series of venture capital investors. That doubled the amount the company has raised so far, and coincidentally also doubled its valuation to $600 million. If you’re wondering what Giphy’s valuation works out to as a multiple of revenue, the answer is that it’s almost infinite — because the company doesn’t really have any revenue to speak of.

Samsung to invest $1 billion in Austin plant to make mobile chips – Samsung is still sorting out the mess connected to the recalled Galaxy Note7, but is nevertheless ramping up mobile chip manufacturing by investing $1 billion in an Austin, Texas, factory. The investment will be applied early next year, and will also be used to expand manufacturing of semiconductors for electronics, the company said on Tuesday.

Games and Entertainment:

Facebook officially announces Gameroom, its PC Steam competitor – After losing mobile gaming to iOS and Android, Facebook is making a big push into playing on PC with today’s developer launch of its Gameroom Windows desktop gaming platform. After months of name changes, beta tests and dev solicitation, Facebook opened up the beta build for all developers and officially named it Gameroom. The app is openly available for users to download on Windows 7 and up. Gameroom let users play web, ported mobile and native Gameroom games in a dedicated PC app free from the distractions of the News Feed.


The best mobile MMORPG games of 2016 – As smartphones become more powerful, Internet access move ubiquitous, and mobile users mode engaged, MMORPGs have started to make a comeback, but on a smaller screen and with somewhat fewer controls. Here are our top picks for this year’s best MMORPGs, with some dating back even older, proving their massively multiplayer appeal.

Google Daydream View worldwide release detailed – This morning Google revealed the pricing and release date of their first non-cardboard VR headset, Daydream View. This accessory works with any Daydream-ready smartphone – first Google Pixel and Pixel XL. It’ll be available starting on the 10th of November, 2016, both online and at several retailers around the world.

Microsoft launches Minecraft: Education Edition for schools – Microsoft wants kids playing Minecraft in class, and it’s hoping that schools will not just let them, but support them. It’s launching a version of Minecraft today called Minecraft: Education Edition that includes some classroom tools and a way to roll out accounts to every student in a class or district. Despite the new name, Education Edition isn’t dramatically different from regular Minecraft. It’s pretty much the same game, just with some tools that’ll make things easier for teachers — there’s a way to see where all their students are on a map, give students different resources, and teleport people to specific locations. There are also a few new in-game items, including a camera and a chalkboard.

Hulu’s live TV streaming service will have channels from Fox & Disney, including ABC, ESPN & more – Hulu said today it has partnered with Disney and 21st Century Fox for its upcoming live TV streaming service, launching next year. The deals involve Fox’s news, entertainment, sports, and other properties, along with Disney’s portfolio of networks from is ABC Television Group and ESPN, among other things. In total, the two agreements will bring more than 35 TV networks to Hulu’s live TV service. What this means for consumers who are considering cutting the cord with pay TV is that they’ll gain access to two of the top broadcast networks, Fox and ABC, on Hulu’s new streaming platform.

Roku TV sets can now pause live TV – Today, Roku TVs from TCL, Sharp, and others are being updated with version 7.5 of Roku OS. If you’ve got an antenna running into your TV, you can now pause content for up to 90 minutes. A USB drive (with at least 16GB of free storage) must also be plugged in for this feature to work, since Roku needs somewhere to store the parts of shows you’re missing. This is nothing close to a full-fledged DVR; it’s really just a simple, convenient feature that’s there if you’re interrupted in the middle of a show or sports game.

Seagate 512GB SSD Game Drive for Xbox One arrives in November – Seagate has taken the wraps off a new SSD drive for the Xbox One called the Game Drive for Xbox. According to Seagate, the Game Drive was designed specifically for Microsoft’s video game console, offering gamers an expansion option for storing games beyond the limit of the Xbox’s internal drive. The drive comes in a 512GB capacity and will be available starting next month.


EVGA GTX 1080s and 1070s allegedly exploding due to improper VRM cooling – Most of the time, which OEM you choose to buy a GPU from isn’t seen as having a huge impact on the performance of the card, though added value and included goodies often vary between manufacturers. Every now and then, however, design differences between companies do play out in a more significant way, and that may be what has happened to EVGA and its GTX 1080 and 1070 lineups. Reports from Reddit and the EVGA forums suggest that a number of cards have failed catastrophically and in high-profile fashion.

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.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Mobile internet use passes desktop for the first time, study finds – More users around the world are accessing the internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers for the first time, according to internet monitoring firm StatCounter. The combined traffic from mobile and tablet devices tipped the balance at 51.2 percent, vs. 48.7 percent for desktop access, marking the first time this has happened since StatCounter began tracking stats for internet usage. It’s a huge moment for the web overall: this means going forward, companies that haven’t yet decided to focus on a mobile-first approach to their internet services and web properties really should, as the trend line is unlikely to reverse.

Could Facebook actually be good for you? – People who are well liked on Facebook may also be healthier, according to a study that linked people’s activity on the social network to their lifespans. This could be another blow against the increasingly unstable position that digital media is inherently dangerous. The study looked at the association between the Facebook use of 12 million people between the ages of 27 and 71 and their longevity, using records from the California Department of Public Health. Led by William Hobbs — who at the time was a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego — the researchers found that Facebook activity that indicated a rich offline social life tracked with improved longevity. They published their results yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How Obama will pass his Twitter account to next president, and what you can learn from it – The White House recently came up with a transition strategy for presidential social media accounts and other properties. Here’s what your business can learn.

Science Confirms the Election Could Ruin Your Facebook Friendships – It’s the last few days of election season, but don’t be surprised if you lose some “friends” for your polling posts. Research shows that in times of conflict, people are more likely to unfriend or unfollow their political adversaries as a political gesture on social media. A recent study published in the Journal of Communication analyzed “political unfriending” on Facebook and found it to be an act of “political disengagement.” The study itself focused on the Israeli-Gaza conflict of 2014, but may have indications for the political conflicts over the election cycle as well.

ACLU sues California over ban on ballot box selfies – Civil rights group says state’s prohibition on taking selfies at the ballot box violates freedom of speech.

Something to think about:

“The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes.”

–       Henry Kissinger

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

As Rule 41 deadline looms, an “expansion” of FBI hacking powers looks likely – Rule 41 might be the least interesting name for one of the most significant factors this year in security and privacy.

Why? Because the rule is about to change, allowing the FBI to vastly broaden its spying powers.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court proposed a new rule that would allow US judges to issue warrants outside their jurisdiction. Under existing rules, judges can only issue orders within their jurisdiction, often only a few miles across or covering a few local districts. The hope was that this rule change would make cases more efficient, such as in cyber-related cases, which typically span multiple districts and even countries.

But civil liberties and privacy groups argue that the change would expand the FBI’s hacking and searching capabilities to any computer or device in the world.

Simply put: all it would take would be for the FBI ask a friendly judge to sign off on a search warrant that would let the agency use its so-called network investigative techniques — or NITs — to carry out hacks and conduct searches on computers and devices potentially anywhere in the world.

We’ve seen good uses of that hacking effort, such as catching users of a dark web child porn site, but one prominent privacy-minded lawmaker said in a statement that the rule change “would allow the government to get a single warrant to hack an unlimited number of Americans’ computers if their computers had been affected by criminals, possibly without notifying the victims.”

Here’s the twist. The proposed rule change will automatically go into effect on December 1 — that’s a month away — unless Congress intervenes.

How Canada’s Anti-Cyberbullying Law Is Being Used to Spy on Journalists – Patrick Lagacé, a columnist for Montreal’s La Presse newspaper, says that police told him he was a “tool” in an internal investigation when they tapped his iPhone’s GPS to track his whereabouts and obtained the identities of everyone who communicated with him on that phone.

Lagacé alleges that this surveillance was designed to intimidate and discourage potential sources within the Montreal police department from approaching him with information for his story.

Police obtained a warrant for this under the hugely controversial Bill C-13, which gave investigators new powers, privacy lawyer David Fraser noted in an interview. The bill was initially sold as combatting cyberbullying and the unwanted publication of intimate images online, also known as “revenge porn.”

“These laws are presented with certain scenarios in mind, but these are laws of general application that can be used for any offence,” Fraser said. “We need to be very careful in parsing, and frankly, not believing, the objectives that politicians use [when selling the public on the need for these laws]. We need to cut through that and look at the substance of the law to see how they can be used, and more importantly, abused.”

According to Citizen Lab researcher Christopher Parsons, these same powers that target journalists can be used against non-journalists under C-13. And the only reason we know about the aforementioned cases is that the press has a platform to speak out.

Facebook hit by civil rights grievances – It’s been a tough week for Facebook when it comes to civil rights allegations against the world’s largest social network.

First, the news site ProPublica alleged that Facebook was enabling advertisers to exclude users based on race.

Now Facebook is dealing with an open letter from 73 civil rights organizations to company CEO Mark Zuckerberg who say they are “deeply concerned” about cases where Facebook allegedly censored posts about possible human rights violations — particularly postings about police violence.

“It is critical that Facebook be a platform that supports the protection of human rights above all else and does not discriminately apply its policies on the basis of race, creed, national origin, gender, and/or sexual orientation,” wrote organizations like the Center for Media Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Sierra Club and “When the most vulnerable members of society turn to your platform to document and share experiences of injustice, Facebook is morally obligated to protect that speech.”

Facebook confirmed that it got the letter.

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