Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – December 19, 2016

Take control of your privacy in Windows 10;  The Best PC Games of 2017;  The Twelve Scams of Christmas;  PowerShell: The smart person’s guide;  Untangling the mesh: Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi systems;  The best OneNote 2016 tips: 10 ways anyone can get organized;  Jim Hillier: Best of Freeware 2016;  Gadgets and apps for emergencies;  How to Charge Your iPhone Faster;  Google Maps now shows wheelchair accessibility info for locations – and much more news you need to know.

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The Twelve Scams of Christmas – The holiday season offers many ways to package classic scam techniques with pretty bows so appealing that we can’t help but open that email, click that deal or purchase discounted vouchers for the relatives who seem to already have everything. Here are the 12 scams to look out for this Christmas:

Take control of your privacy in Windows 10 – Where do you draw the line on personal privacy? The right options are different for everyone. In this guide, I show you which privacy settings help you create the right balance of privacy and convenience in Windows 10.

How to Use Sticky Notes as Reminders in Windows 10 – In Windows 10, you can create and edit onscreen sticky notes that act as reminders. Here’s how.

The best OneNote 2016 tips: 10 ways anyone can get organized – Microsoft’s OneNote is a surprisingly versatile tool for jotting down and organizing notes, random facts and more. These tips will help you make the most of its features.

Untangling the mesh: Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi systems – CNET editor Dong Ngo explains the good and the bad of Wi-Fi systems (aka mesh networks) and their alternatives that will make your home Wi-Fi great.

How to move your photos from Flickr to Google Photos – Save your Flickr photos and move them to another cloud photo service before you delete your Yahoo account.

PowerShell: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide covers essential PowerShell information, including features, usage requirements, and how Microsoft’s framework extends to task automation and management.

Gboard is Google Keyboard with built-in search, better predictions and more – Android’s Google Keyboard has been renamed ‘Gboard,’ and it is considerably more convenient with Google Search built in. Gboard still brings the features you’re used to accessing on Google Keyboard — this includes things like gliding to type and voice typing. However, there’s also a new “G” icon that, when tapped, pulls up Google Search directly from the keyboard regardless of what app you’re using.

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:

How to Charge Your iPhone Faster – The iPhone doesn’t have quick charging technology built-in like some Androids do, but there are a few things you can do to make your iPhone charge slightly faster. The less your iPhone is doing, the faster it’s battery will recharge. This is why many believe switching your phone into Airplane Mode helps it charge more quickly, since this cuts off the phone’s ability to connect to the Internet and fetch information. If you still want to receive texts and calls while charging, there are some other settings you can change to make your iPhone charge faster.

Vine won’t be removed from the app stores, will instead relaunch as “Vine Camera” – Vine Camera will launch in January, replacing the Vine app that’s live today. The videos recorded using the new app can be saved to your camera roll or posted directly to Twitter, the company says. That’s a similar strategy that Facebook-owned Instagram uses among its ecosystem of apps, too. Instead of trying to build them into their own social media brands, Instagram’s Hyperlapse, Boomerang, and Layout just feed content back to the main Instagram application. Vine Camera will do the same. In addition, Twitter will attempt to move the Vine user base to Twitter.

Google Maps now shows wheelchair accessibility info for locations – Google Maps is already a lifesaver for many of us, with the app spitting out locations with just a few taps and keeping us from getting lost with detailed directions. But now it can be even more vital for the millions of people in wheelchairs in the US. Now Google Maps will display wheelchair accessibility information for locations, right alongside details like store hours or dining options, under the “amenities” section.

Facebook Messenger strikes at Skype with desktop group voice calling – We might finally get to stop asking, “Wait, what’s your Skype name?” thanks to a test of new Facebook group audio calling on desktop. Facebook launched group voice calls on its mobile Messenger app in April, and now it’s working out the kinks to bring the feature to your home and office. It could become a useful alternative to traditional conference calls by piggy-backing on Facebook’s ubiquitous identity platform.

Gadgets and apps for emergencies – From an iPhone case that generates power to a flashlight that doubles as a USB charger, these devices and apps will help you stay safe in the event of an emergency.

You can find out how your CPU compares to AMD’s Ryzen for free – AMD’s Ryzen-based chips should be its best in decades, and now you can run the same test AMD used to compare Summit Ridge to your own CPU. Have at it.


Home routers under attack in ongoing malvertisement blitz – As you read these words, malicious ads on legitimate websites are targeting visitors with malware. But that malware doesn’t infect their computers, researchers said. Instead, it causes unsecured routers to connect to fraudulent domains. Using a technique known as steganography, the ads hide malicious code in image data. The hidden code then redirects targets to webpages hosting DNSChanger, an exploit kit that infects routers running unpatched firmware or are secured with weak administrative passwords. Once a router is compromised, DNSChanger configures it to use an attacker-controlled domain name system server. This causes most computers on the network to visit fraudulent servers, rather than the servers corresponding to their official domain.

Updates and more on the Netgear router vulnerability – On December 9, 2016 we first learned of a command injection vulnerability in some Netgear routers. In the worst case, simply viewing a malicious web page could result in your router being hacked. What follows is a recap and expansion of the issue, along with the latest developments. Then, some Defensive Computing suggestions for protecting a router.

“Find my Phone” is an amazing short film about a stolen cell – Our phones are wildly personal parts of us and a movie like this one shows just how private – and dangerous – they can be. By following one cellphone thief for a few months we come to realize that with a little software and some bad intentions our cellphones can go from private property to electronic spy in a matter of seconds.

Ameriprise leak exposes millions of dollars worth of accounts – An internet-connected backup drive exposed social security, bank account, and financial planning data.

Germany to Yahoo users: switch to a different email provider – Many people have a Yahoo email account from years ago, but no longer use it. Those who do still use their Yahoo email account, though, are being encouraged to switch to a different provider in light of Yahoo’s second massive data breach disclosure. Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, more commonly called BSI, has advised existing Yahoo email users to switch to a different provider. The agency heavily criticized Yahoo, accusing it of failing to protect its users.

LinkedIn’s suffers database breach – Online learning platform has begun notifying its 9.5 million users that it recently experienced unauthorised third party access to a database that contains contact information of account holders, their learning data, and courses viewed. The LinkedIn subsidiary — and now Microsoft subsidiary — said there was no evidence the breach included the leak of passwords in the compromised data, but a spokesperson for LinkedIn told ZDNet it has reset the passwords for approximately 55,000 users as a precautionary measure.

Stolen Yahoo User Data Sold for $300K – The treasure trove of data stolen from Yahoo, a breach made public this week, has actually been for sale on the dark Web for several months, according to Bloomberg. Andrew Komarov, chief intelligence officer at cybersecurity firm InfoArmor, tells Bloomberg that a copy of the data was available for $300,000 in August, and three buyers emerged. Since Yahoo changed people’s passwords after this week’s disclosure, however, the data became less valuable and bids have dropped to $20,000 to $50,000, according to The New York Times.

Company News:

Uber, defiant, says it won’t apply for an autonomous car permit in California  – On Friday afternoon, Uber held a press conference to say that it would not be applying for a permit with the California DMV to test its so-called self-driving cars, despite an order from the DMV to apply for a permit or halt its operations. Uber added that it will still pick up riders with self-driving Uber cars, despite the DMV’s demands.

Amazon bets big on Las Vegas, rolling out nearly 5,000 Echo units to hotel rooms – Wynn Las Vegas is deploying Amazon Echo in its guest rooms. Initial features will include lighting and temperature control and eventually personal concierge functions will be added.

IBM launches Watson Discovery Service for big data analytics at scale – IBM’s Watson Discovery Service is a suite of APIs that aims to make it easier for companies to ingest and analyze their data, even if they don’t have an advanced degree in data science.

Airbnb authorizes $153 million more funding – A new Delaware filing for Airbnb, identified by CB Insights, suggests that the travel service has authorized another $153 million in Series F shares. This implies that they might be raising an extension to their financing $555 million round from a few months back. The filing prices the shares at $105, consistent with the latest round, which was said to be about a $30 billion valuation. Uber is the only U.S. startup with a greater valuation that Airbnb. It is not clear yet which investors might be getting these shares or if the round is even confirmed. Previous Airbnb investors include Google Capital, Technology Crossover Ventures, GGV Capital and Sequoia Capital.

Despite Super Mario Run’s Successful Launch, Nintendo’s Stocks Plunge – Despite making App store history with record-breaking download numbers, Super Mario Run‘s success hasn’t made Nintendo’s shareholders happy as the company’s shares have plummeted by $2 billion. There are several reasons why Nintendo’s investors are wary about the future success of Super Mario Run. One of the main reasons is the game’s price. The most expensive mobile games on the market usually top out at $5 but Super Mario Run costs double that at $10. The game is free to download, but it can only make a substantial profit if folks buy the full $10 version. There is also the fact that the game cannot be played without being connected to the internet via WiFi.

Games and Entertainment:

Super Mario Run was downloaded 2.85 million times in its first day – According to analytics firm Apptopia, the game was downloaded 2.85 million times in its first day of availability. Those numbers handily beat out Pokémon Go, which was downloaded 900,000 times in its first day, according to Apptopia’s data (that number jumped to 5.6 million by day three). Of course, the comparison isn’t entirely fair: Super Mario Run was available in 150 countries at launch, while Pokémon Go debuted in just three before a staggered rollout brought it out to the rest of the world (it was only recently made available in India and South Asia, for instance).

Super Mario Run players are slamming it with one-star reviews – Apple has been hyping Nintendo’s first mobile game for iPhone, Super Mario Run, for months now, but that hasn’t stopped frustrated players leaving a rash of 1-star reviews in the App Store. The hotly-anticipated title, which brings gaming icon Mario to iOS in a simple 2D, coin collecting side-scroller, is designed for one-handed play, with straightforward tap-to-jump control. That’s gone down well among many players – ourselves included – but not everyone is convinced.

The Best PC Games of 2017 – The holiday shopping season is upon us, so you’ve got to get games either for yourself or a loved one. We’ve reviewed more than 100 titles that make the perfect stocking stuffers for the PC gaming crowd.

‘Odyssey’ Is Edutainment Done Right With Inspiration From ‘Myst’ – Odyssey’s most obvious inspiration is the brain-straining Myst games, which are enjoying a revival of sorts in new titles like Obduction and The Witness. Much as in the original Myst, players explore an island, opening new walkways and zones by solving a wide variety of puzzles. The big difference is Odyssey features none of the Magritte-styled magical realism that defines those games. Much as Odyssey champions real-world science, its setting is a small set of imagined Caribbean islands, altered over the years by the historical forces of environmental protections, military encampments, pirates, and natives long vanished. Although there’s a pleasing amount of backtracking, it’s also more linear than the games that inspired it, but with good reason for its educational aims.

Dragon Quest XI revealed, coming to PS4 & 3DS in 2017 – When it comes to RPG series from Japan, there are two top franchises: Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Oddly enough, they both come from Square Enix, and since we just saw the long-awaited release of FF15, the developer is turning its focus towards the upcoming Dragon Quest XI. At the Jump Festa 2017 event in Japan this weekend, the first details of DQ11: In Search of Departed Time were revealed live on stage, along with a debut trailer.


15 of the best traditional holiday movies now streaming – From the Muppet Christmas Carol, to the one-and-only Christmas episode of the Twilight Zone, to some top-notch feature-length Christmas-season classics, this list of traditional holiday movies will give you and yours plenty to do between presents and feasting.

Off Topic (Sort of):

See 4,000 Santas and 11,000 penguins fight to the death – Ho ho, oh no! Who will win in the epic battle between thousands of jolly Saint Nicks and adorable penguins? Find out in this festive Epic Battle Simulator video.


After a year of setbacks, can smartwatches still succeed? – After the iPad was a thing, analysts started talking about the iWatch being the next big thing. Google was heavily rumored to be working on wearables too. Then, Pebble beat them all to the market with a record-setting Kickstarter campaign. A year or two ago it seemed like all the predictions of the importance of smart wearable technology were coming true. Now, a series of public setbacks have called into question the idea of a mainstream smartwatch. Regular people wanted (and still want) smartphones, but what if they don’t (and never will) want a smartwatch?

The United States of Climate Change Denial – Donald Trump has promised to unleash an energy revolution by extracting billions of dollars in untapped fossil fuels and gutting incentives to invest in renewable energy. With the nominations of Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, and Rick Perry to his Cabinet, the President-elect is poised to do more damage to America’s environmental legacy—and future—than any other leader in recent memory. Despite Trump’s untraditional approach to choosing Cabinet officials, nothing about their nomination is accidental. Each of them offers a range of qualifications and connections that, together, form a unified front against climate progress, human health, and energy security.

‘SNL’ ruthlessly mocks Trump’s spelling, calls him Putin’s gift – Commentary: If you thought ‘Saturday Night Live’ would go easy on the president-elect and his Twitter account, think again.

Rogue lawyers made $6 million shaking down porn pirates, Feds say – The indictment alleges that two lawyers — Paul R. Hansmeier and John L. Steele — used the copyright system to extort roughly $6 million out of porn pirates over the course of three years. Prosecutors say the lawyers uploaded their own pornographic videos to torrent services — including the embattled Pirate Bay — then aggressively targeted users who downloaded the content, discovering names through the standard copyright violation process and then threatening pirates with damages up to $150,000 unless they agreed to a settlement. The typical cost of a settlement was $4,000, far less than the cost of challenging the order in open court.

Inside Amazon’s clickworker platform: How half a million people are being paid pennies to train AI – Internet platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk let companies break jobs into smaller tasks and offer them to people across the globe. But, do they democratize work or exploit the disempowered?

Something to think about:

“My Father taught me how to be a man – and not by instilling in me a sense of machismo or an agenda of dominance. He taught me that a real man doesn’t take, he gives; he doesn’t use force, he uses logic; doesn’t play the role of trouble-maker, but rather, trouble-shooter; and most importantly, a real man is defined by what’s in his heart, not his pants.”

–       Kevin Smith  – My Boring Ass Life

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Washington Post automatically inserts Trump fact-checks into Twitter – In an apparent first for any American news outlet, the Washington Post released a Chrome plug-in on Friday designed to fact-check posts from a single Twitter account. Can you guess which one?

The new “RealDonaldContext” plug-in for the Google Chrome browser, released by WaPo reporter Philip Bump, adds fact-check summaries to selected posts by President-elect Donald Trump. Users will need to click a post in The Donald’s Twitter feed to see any fact-check information from the Washington Post, which appears as a gray text box beneath the tweet.


Apple, Google, Uber join tech giants in refusing to create Muslim registry for Trump – Apple, Google, and Uber went on record on Friday stating that they would have no part in building or contributing to a “Muslim registry” that was proposed by President-elect Donald Trump during his election campaign. Buzzfeed received statements from spokespeople for all three tech giants, each iterating that they were against the idea of, and would in no way participate in creating such a registry for the Trump Administration.


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4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – December 19, 2016

  1. Vince

    you continue to gratuitously insert anti Trump messagesgrow upmaybe this attitude is a source of your cancer-think about it  Vince Greco 

    From: Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts To: Sent: Monday, December 19, 2016 7:23 AM Subject: [New post] Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – December 19, 2016 #yiv0352837437 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0352837437 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0352837437 a.yiv0352837437primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0352837437 a.yiv0352837437primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0352837437 a.yiv0352837437primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0352837437 a.yiv0352837437primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0352837437 | Bill Mullins posted: “Take control of your privacy in Windows 10;  The Best PC Games of 2017;  The Twelve Scams of Christmas;  PowerShell: The smart person’s guide;  Untangling the mesh: Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi systems;  The best OneNote 2016 tips: 10 ways anyo” | |

    • Your comment is DEPLORABLE (my cancers and my view of Donald Trump are linked? Just WOW!!) – but, I’ll deal with it anyway.

      I’ve told you before, but it obviously needs repeating – any references to this psychopathic monster, appearing here, are taken from mainstream technology sites. Why would it be otherwise?

      On the other hand, I could simply reference material relevant to this sub-human emotional wreck from any one or more internationally recognized news organizations.

      Today for example:

      The Washington Post –

      The Daily 202: Donald Trump embraces the risky ‘Madman Theory’ on foreign policy

      The New York Times –

      Baldwin Has Gift for Embodying, and Irritating, Trump

      Tell you what I’m going to do – I’m going to set up a new sub-heading (Trump Tales), within MY blog, which will reference 2/4 NEWS stories (from the Post and The Times), on this megalomaniac pretender to the throne. Stay tuned.

    • delenn13

      @Vince Greco
      OH. MY. GOD. My head just hurts now from the “face palms” I just did from the pure stupidity of your statement. You make me ashamed to be an American and a Christian. What a hateful, despicable, mean, small thing to say to anyone.Get with the program. There is a reason they call it the “New Testament”. 2 Rules: Love God with all your heart and soul and Love your neighbour as yourself.

      Do yourself a favour and pick it up and read it.

      Oh and…Merry Christmas!

      P.S The internet is like your TV…If you don’t like the channel…change it or just turn it off.

  2. Mal


    Ban the fool, like yesterday.