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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Security:

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:

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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 Startpage.com, 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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