Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 17, 2015

Online privacy nihilism runs rampant in US, survey says;  Hertz installs cameras and microphones in rental cars;  Here’s what Facebook will (and won’t) allow in your posts;  Skype for Business now available in preview form;  10 iPad apps you should be using;  Fun Fit app pits you against Facebook friends;  How to watch March Madness (even without cable);  The best apps for following March Madness on your Android phone or tablet;  Microsoft announces Office 2016 preview;  Brute force box lets researchers, Cops, pop iDevice locks;  What to do if someone steals your IP address;  Apple plans TV service with around 25 channels;  The Best iPhone Games of the Week;  Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review;  The 11 funniest hacker attacks;  Fujitsu has a cool liquid answer to hot spots in smartphones;  Snowden tells tech bigwigs: It’s up to you to thwart mass surveillance.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Online privacy nihilism runs rampant in US, survey says – A majority of Americans have not altered their online behavior in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations detailing widespread US government electronic surveillance activities, according to a Pew Research Center survey published Monday. Not everybody is a privacy nihilist, however, as some Internet users are taking limited precautions, the nationwide study said. Thirty-four percent of respondents who said that “they have heard about” the spying programs have taken what the study described as “simple steps” and have done at least one of the following: altered the social media privacy settings, avoided some apps, used social media less, spoke more in person, deleted social media accounts, or “have not used certain terms in search engine queries they thought might trigger scrutiny.”

Pointing up     And because you don’t care – you get the following outrage. Better get use to fishbowl living!  Still, if you have nothing to hide…

Hertz installs cameras and microphones in rental cars – The company has been installing cameras and microphones in its NeverLost navigational systems. They’re not in all their rental cars. They’re only in the NeverLost 6 version, introduced last year. But clearly the presence of them might make one or two drivers wonder about their capabilities. A report in Fusion added to the consternation. Hertz told Fusion that around 1 out of every 8 of its cars had the cameras installed. But no, no, the company wasn’t actually going to use them. Was this because it sensed that this might be seen as a painful intrusion. Not quite. A Hertz spokeswoman told Fusion: “We do not have adequate bandwidth capabilities to the car to support streaming video at this time.” So it’s only the tech that’s holding Hertz back from keep tabs on its renters?

Here’s what Facebook will (and won’t) allow in your posts – You might have heard news that Facebook is changing up their rules a bit, releasing an update to their ‘Community Standards’ guidelines. Those rules are in place to safeguard the Facebook community at-large against content that is widely regarded as offensive or distasteful. But you’re not one of those people, right? We hope not, but some algorithm might not be able to pick up on your humor or purpose. Rather than leave things to chance, let’s clarify what can and can’t be posted to Facebook.

Three contact manager apps better than the one that came with your phone – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: your smartphone’s contacts app isn’t the best contact manager around. A wide variety of third-party apps is available, making it easier than ever to keep track of all those names and numbers. And just like your list of contacts, these apps are constantly being updated—some of them much improved since last time I looked at them.

Microsoft announces Office 2016 preview for IT professionals and developers – Microsoft has announced the launch of a new preview of Office 2016 for IT pros and developers, which you can sign up for right now – although the company points out that it’s not yet feature-complete.


Skype for Business now available in preview form – Microsoft has just announced that it is releasing the first public preview of Skype for Business. The new program is designed to replace Lync and unify Microsoft’s offerings for the enterprise.


Intel doesn’t want Curie wearable computer making fashion statements – The Curie, slated to ship in the second half of the year, was first shown at CES in the form of a button-sized computer on Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s suit. The almost invisible Curie had technology that could read heart rates, and transfer the data wirelessly using Bluetooth. Blending technology discreetly into wearables is Intel’s goal with Curie, which will go into a wide range of tiny coin battery devices that can run for days and months without a recharge. The wearable computer is for non-technical customers, such as companies outside of the IT industry, that want to plug and play technology into devices, clothes and accessories.


10 iPad apps you should be using – Summary:Looking for apps for your iPad that you’ll actually end up using? These 10 apps are a good place to start.

YouTube Debuts A New Resource Site For Music Artists – The website aims to be more of guide to various resources available to music artists promoting their work on YouTube, and includes tips about how to get discovered, how to engage fans, and how to generate revenue, among other things. It also points artists to the newly launched “Cards,” which are interactive overlays that video publishers can use for a variety of purposes, including to help with raising funds via a crowdfunding campaign, selling merchandise, promoting upcoming shows, and more.

How to watch March Madness (even without cable) – Games will be streamed online and through the NCAA March Madness Live app. There’s even a trick to gain access to the games without a cable subscription.

The best apps for following March Madness on your Android phone or tablet – With these free apps you’ll be able to stream the game, follow your bracket, and catch all the scores from your phone or tablet. You’re on your own for bracket advice, though it’s not like you’re going to pick anyone besides undefeated Kentucky to win it all, anyway.

HTC new Fun Fit app pits you against Facebook friends – The latest tool in HTC’s quest to pump you up is Fun Fit, a fitness tracking app that turns you and your Facebook friends into zany animal avatars. It stores all the usual exercise information, like your number of steps, calories burned, and minutes that you work out daily. Fun Fit tries to be a little more, well, fun, by displaying your profile and any friends you drag in as cute animals. It works on most modern phones (not just HTC models), like the Galaxy Note 4, Nexus 6, and Galaxy S5. Fun Fit also compiles your records by day, week, and month for longer-term comparisons.


Apple Watch apps you’ll want to use – Anyone who understands technology will know that while Apple may have created the Apple Watch, it will be developers who truly make it “smart.” Developers will be the people who create solutions that mean a few seconds’ exposure to the connected intelligence on our wrists may make a positive difference to our lives. There’s a huge amount of activity going on already, so things look interesting. Here are just a few apps you’ll want to use if you buy yourself an Apple Watch.

Here’s How Microsoft Will Fit Windows 10 Inside Inexpensive Devices – Microsoft detailed its efforts today to reduce the footprint of Windows 10, a forthcoming operating system that the software company hopes will run across devices of every screen size. Fitting Windows onto smaller devices, however, is a challenge, given that the operating system isn’t known for having a diminutive footprint. Windows 10 has two chief methods built into it to reduce its size. Already out in the market in Windows 10 build 9879 is the ability to compress its system files, shrinking the disk space needed to hold the operating system by 1.5 gigabytes for 32 bit builds, and 2.6 gigabytes for 64 bit editions.


Brute force box lets researchers, Cops, pop iDevice locks – Apple fans have more reason to update to iOS 8.2 with the discovery of a device used in the computer repair industry that automates password exploitation. The IP-Box tool exploits CVE-2014-4451 to conduct unlimited password guesses against iOS devices on 8.1 and below for iPhones and iPads. A barrage of PINs are entered by resetting the phone which thanks to the since-patched vulnerability bypasses Cupertino’s rate-limiters and settings to nuke personal data after a set about of failed attempts. Attacks against four-digit PINs take a maximum of 17 hours with each attempt taking about six seconds to complete. The total time could be reduced by prioritising the most likely passwords a target user may pick, or by selecting a pre-defined option to test date of birth combinations.


Yahoo’s new on-demand password system is no replacement for two-factor authentication – In an effort to simplify authentication for its services, Yahoo has introduced a new mechanism that allows users to log in with temporary passwords that are sent to their mobile phones. If this sounds like a two-factor authentication system where users need to provide one-time codes sent to their mobile phones in addition to their static passwords, it’s not. Yahoo already had that option. Instead, the new log-in mechanism, which is based on what Yahoo calls on-demand passwords, still relies on a single factor, the user’s phone number.

What to do if someone steals your IP address – Neither your ISP nor anyone else can actually tell what you are doing on the Internet. But they can follow the activity of your public IP address—the one your router uses to access the Internet. And if someone else uses that address for unsavory purposes, you could become a prime suspect.

Company News:

eBay launches high-end auctions with Sotheby’s – eBay is taking another step into high-end auctions. Delivering on a partnership announced last summer, eBay is today launching a new area of its website built specifically for the auction house Sotheby’s. The section provides a much cleaner and more informative experience than you’d find elsewhere on the site and allows visitors to register for online access to live auctions. While browsing items up for auction at Sotheby’s, you’ll be able to quickly skip from one item to the next and read information about each piece. There will also be editorial content interspersed, targeted toward new collectors.


Pinterest valued at $11B after latest round of funding – Pinterest has raised $367 million in its latest round of financing, giving it a valuation of $11 billion and making the social discovery site one of the most valuable venture capital-backed startups. The makers of the visual bookmarking tool confirmed the financing Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is looking to raise as much as another $211 million, a spokeswoman said, for a total of $578 million raised in the Series G round.

Verizon Cloud now live in Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore – Summary:Verizon Cloud has debuted in Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong as part of the company’s aim to be an end-to-end cloud solutions provider for large, small, and medium-sized corporations.

Nintendo Announces Plans to Expand Into Mobile Gaming – You may soon be able to play iconic video games like Super Mario Bros. on your smartphone, according to an announcement by the game’s parent company, Nintendo, on Tuesday. Nintendo said it would partner with mobile gaming company DeNA Co. to develop “gaming applications” for smartphones and other non-console devices, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple plans TV service with around 25 channels after falling out with Comcast: WSJ – Apple’s long-rumored online TV service could be announced as soon as June, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company is reportedly preparing to offer a service with around 25 channels from broadcasters like ABC, CBS, and Fox and launch it this September across all iOS devices and the Apple TV. The bundle could include the likes of ESPN and FX, and Apple is said to be pushing for a large on-demand library, but it will likely leave out a lot of smaller networks. Recode said last month that Apple was in talks with broadcasters to offer bundles of content.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review – To suggest that Final Fantasy Type-0’s international release was “long awaited” would be a gross understatement. The original game (pre-HD)’s demo was first released in August of 2011, back before the first whispers of an 8th-generation console release. Originally titled Final Fantasy Agito XIII for its non-HD PSP release, this game was eventually re-named Final Fantasy Type-0, so named for its original approach in battle in the Final Fantasy universe. Here we’ve got Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, a game that’s been in development since mid-2012 for release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.


Battlefield: Hardline review impressions: Crossing the thin blue line – Battlefield Hardline, a cops vs. robbers spin on the military shoot ‘em ups, actually shakes up the series’ tried-and-true formula so much that it barely even feels like Battlefield anymore. Hardline’s singleplayer campaign is an entirely different beast. You play the part of Nick Mendoza, a rookie cop who lands in Miami’s Vice department. Yes, like the TV show. And that’s important, because Hardline is itself taking cues from TV. The entire campaign is set up like an episodic TV show, right down to a Netflix-style “Next Episode” overlay in between missions.


The Best iPhone Games of the Week – Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Flying Cars Could Be a Reality By 2017 – Though it’s not exactly what The Jetsons predicted, AeroMobil’s flying car may hit the road—er, sky—as soon as 2017. During an appearance at this week’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik said the company hopes to release its first model within three years, The Verge reported. Vaculik described three “prisons” of modern commuting, which he apparently likened to a communist regime: the traffic prison, airport prison, and prison of bad infrastructure. AeroMobil is based in Slovakia, formerly a part of the old USSR’s Czechoslovakia client state.


Stunning Loch Ness fireball illuminates shadowy monster’s home – The most famous photos ever taken on Scotland’s Loch Ness tend to feature fuzzy profiles of mythic creatures, or perhaps fuzzy, creature-shaped shadows, depending on your level of skepticism. But the above photo taken Sunday around 9 p.m. GMT shows another otherworldly feature over the Scottish lake with remarkable clarity. Local tour guide John Alasdair Macdonald, who runs, said he just happened to get lucky when he snapped the picture of a shooting star reaching fireball-level luminosity as the meteor streaked toward the ground.


The 11 funniest hacker attacks – Black hat cyber-terrorists use their 1337 skills for all kinds of nefarious purposes, but sometimes they just want a good laugh. The prankster mentality has been a part of hacker culture since the beginning, and in this feature we’ll run down the eleven most hilarious times computers were compromised for lulz.


Many of the best computer hacks reach out into the real world as well, as this illustrates.

Fujitsu has a cool liquid answer to hot spots in smartphones – Fujitsu has developed an approach to cooling smartphones that it claims can achieve five times greater heat transfer than metal or graphite sheets. One of the side effects of packing smartphones with ever more powerful components into smaller spaces is heat, which can be uncomfortable for the user and cause wear and tear on components.


Would you trust Google to decide what is fact and what is not? – Summary:A Google research project is looking at ways to rank pages based on the accuracy of facts on each page. Could this ignite a firestorm of political and religious disagreement?

Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

XnView Extended – XnView is an efficient multimedia viewer, browser and converter.


XnView is provided as FREEWARE (NO Adware, NO Spyware) for private or educational use (including non-profit organizations).

If you enjoy using XnView, Don’t hesitate to help the developer with a small donation.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

A Steady Erosion Of Confidence In Government – Governments around the world are facing significant political turmoil and enormous economic stress as they struggle with an alarming and unprecedented array of public-policy crises.

And whether it’s water scarcity in Brazil, the rural electricity shortfall in India, the financial meltdown in Russia, or income inequality in the U.S., public-sector leaders often seem overmatched and overwhelmed at a time when solutions and answers are needed.

To make matters worse, government officials are being challenged by citizen, business, media and employee stakeholders to address critical issues in operations, governance and elections. The repercussions from these issues – which include transparency, accountability, budgeting, spending, regulation and bureaucratic performance – have steadily eroded confidence in public institutions and public officials.

Snowden tells tech bigwigs: It’s up to you to thwart mass surveillance – SXSW 2015 In a quietly arranged Q&A session at South by Southwest (SXSW) on Sunday morning, Edward Snowden told about thirty influential people from the tech world that the onus for thwarting mass surveillance was falling to them.

Snowden had previously spoken at SXSW with the American Civil Liberties Union, explaining to attendees the “massive scale” on which he believed the US Constitution was being violated by the spooks’ mass-surveillance operations.

His talk on Sunday morning, however, was more private and directed specifically at technology companies, with few other parties invited by the SXSW organisers.

The Verge spoke to Sunday Yokubaitis, president at Golden Frog, a global online services provider, who attended the gathering and described Snowden’s question-and-answer session as a “call to arms”.

Yokubaitis said that Snowden was encouraging a greater adoption of end-to-end encryption.

“The low-hanging fruit is always [the] transit layer,” the NSA whistleblower reportedly said. “It raises the cost. Every time we raise the cost, we force budgetary constraints.”

Tech companies’ responsibility for managing their users’ privacy has been a standard concern for users since before the revelations regarding global surveillance began to be published.


EU Parliamentarians visit U.S. to talk data protection, mass surveillance – A delegation of 11 MEPs, all members of the Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE), are in Washington to discuss major issues. One of them is the renewal of the so-called Safe Harbor deal that regulates the transfer of personal data of EU citizens to the U.S.

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about U.S. government spying, the European Commission—the E.U.’s executive branch—gave the U.S. 13 demands that it wanted met in order for the Safe Harbor deal to continue. So far, however, no agreement has been reached. A summer 2014 deadline was postponed and the Commission now hopes to conclude talks on the deal by the end of May.

If that does not happen though, the deal could be suspended, which would have huge implications for U.S. tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, who use the agreement to process EU citizen data in the U.S.

Government Requests For Facebook Data Decrease In U.S. And UK, But Rise In India – The total number of requests from governments received by the world’s largest social network rose from 34,946 in the first half of the year, to 35,051 between July and December 2014.

Facebook is the de facto social media in most of the world, so it’s no surprise that the site is one of the first places that authorities turn to when they seek information about individuals. Facebook disclosed that it saw 14,274 requests from the U.S. government for information about users, 79 percent of those requests saw Facebook provide data. That figure represents a slight reduction on 15,433 requests in the first half of 2014.

India was the second highest government on Facebook’s list, with 5,473 requests made during the final six months of last year. That’s perhaps unsurprising — the country’s approach to censorship was highlighted when ISPs were told to block 30 websites, including GitHub in December.


Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 16, 2015

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out;  Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier;  Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop;  If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid;  Five commands Mac admins should know;  March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win;  Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption;  Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking;  PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP;  10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects;  Steam hits 1,000 Linux games;  Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans;  Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features;  Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits;  Smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid – Lenovo may have publicly buried bloatware, but it’s anything but dead. After the company’s Superfish scandal, we shopped Best Buy and found it alive and well on major vendors’ PC offerings. A little research should save you from the worst of it, though. Here’s what we learned.

What’s your pa$$word? Secure your organization by securing your accounts – The topic of password security has been spoken about continually for the past two decades. However, passwords continue to be a problem for almost every organization, and “password” and “qwerty” are still among the most common passwords in the world. Let’s go through seven basic facts about authentication and see if your accounts are as secure as they should be.

Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier – Sprint really, really wants you to ditch your current carrier and switch over to its network. And it’s prepared to pay a hefty price for your business. The company on Friday announced it will reimburse all of the costs to switch, including any early termination fees and remaining payments on your current plan, “no matter what is owed.” This means if you still owe money on your iPhone installment plan, Sprint will pay it — along with any fees you incur for breaking your contract.

Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google has finally announced the long awaited Android 5.1 update after its not-so-secret debut on Android One devices in the Philippines. This new build of Lollipop is rolling out to Nexus devices right now, but what’s in it? The official changelog was severely lacking in detail, but now that it’s hitting devices we can see all the tweaks to this version of Android. Let’s check it out.

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out – Free is always good. But when free equates to helpful and/or productive, free is outstanding. If you spend enough time on the Google Play Store, you will eventually come across apps that fit that category ─ free apps that actually improve your daily life in some way. But trudging through the muck and mire of the free games, shopping apps, and other (countless) apps that do nothing more than take up precious storage space can take a lot of time. That’s where I come in. I’ve spent plenty of time digging through the Google Play Store to come up with a list of solid free apps — all of which are must-haves in one way or another — that everyone should give a try. What are these apps? Let’s find out.

You can buy two of these Windows tablets for less than the price of Windows – How much did you pay for your last PC? I’m willing to bet it was a lot more than $48, which is how much this new Windows tablet will set you back. This is the Ployer MOMO7W, and yes, you really could buy two of them for less than the price of a copy of Windows 8.1. A full version is going for about $101 on Amazon right now. That’s insane, right? A Windows PC for less than half that price? How is that even possible?


March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win NCAA tournament – March Madness? Not really. Microsoft’s Bing took the sane route and picked undefeated Kentucky to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, topping Duke in the title game. The real news, however, is that Microsoft’s Bracket Builder tool went live Sunday night. After crunching what it said were more than 9.2 quintillion combinations, Bing has picked a winner for every game in the tournament—and it will even handily export the bracket to the NCAA’s own tournament pool for you to compete against celebrities and other players.


Facebook’s updated community standards explain what it will ban – The updated policy reiterates Facebook’s stance against harassment, but provides “more guidance on policies related to self-injury, dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation, nudity, hate speech, and violence and graphic content.” Facebook again stressed that its policies weren’t being radically altered. “While some of this guidance is new, it is consistent with how we’ve applied our standards in the past.”

New mobile app Graphiti can add style to pictures, websites – A new app for the iPhone lets you perform street art directly on pictures and live websites, then share the results with friends, with no worry of getting arrested for vandalism.


Windows 10 to support peer-to-peer downloading of apps and updates – Peer-to-peer downloads will be optional, and if enabled they will support two modes: systems will be able to either retrieve updates from other machines on the same local network, or from both the local network and PCs on the Internet. It’s not immediately clear what technology is used for the peer-to-peer patching.

Pro tip: Five commands Mac admins should know – Mac admins are responsible for a great deal of equipment maintenance and end-user requests. Jesus Vigo goes over five commands admins can use to work smarter, not harder.

The master list of Google Easter eggs worth checking out (pictures) – Google tries hard to maintain a sense of humor through surprises tucked throughout its Web properties. Here are all the best Easter eggs you need to check out.


YouTube Now Supports 360-Degree Videos – It’s not quite as immersive as some of the virtual-reality projects attracting investors, but YouTube’s addition of support for 360-degree videos could initially reach a broader audience. Out of the gate, YouTube’s new videos look pretty great even if you haven’t strapped a VR headset to your face.


The Internet is for (Virtual Reality) porn…? – There’s a lot of excitement about virtual reality, but could the first breakout application be VR porn? At SXSW, it’s thought that porn will become a multi-billion dollar application within a year.

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking – Right now, as you kick back on your couch and daydream about your next smart home upgrade, you may not realize it, but you’re awash in data. From Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats to Bluetooth-accessible door locks to Z-Wave-connected alarm sensors to Zigbee-networked lightbulbs, there could be an array or wireless signals criss-crossing your house. Why do we need so many different technologies that essentially do the same thing?


New ransomware is sleazing around the internet owning gamers – Heads up, PC gamers. There’s a new strain of cryptographic malware called TeslaCrypt sleazing around the internet that wants to get it grubby little claws on your save files. It works the same way that CryptoLocker does: it snoops through the contents of your hard drive until it finds the files it’s after. Once they’re located, they’re taken hostage using strong encryption. The list of affected games is already pretty big: most Valve, EA, and Bethesda titles, WoW, League of Legends, Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft, and Day Z are all marked. Not even your Minecraft files are safe, for crying out loud. This digital vermin even goes after Steam, RPG Maker, Unity, and Unreal Engine files!


Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption – Security and privacy are becoming more and more important as we transmit much more than just words via email. Yahoo is developing two new technologies to protect your data and create security solutions. Soon, any sensitive data that you send using email, from business documents to personal information, can be kept secure using an advanced end-to-end (e2e) encryption plugin for Yahoo Mail. And, if you forget your password, Yahoo has come up with a new solution for that as well. Yahoo is calling their new password retrieval system On-demand passwords.

BlackBerry announces SecuTablet, a modified Galaxy Tab S – While it may have the outward appearance of a standard Galaxy Tab S, this tablet is not meant for everyday consumers, and it’s $2,380 price tag makes that clear. The SecuTablet is built with a purpose of preventing sensitive data from leaking to the wild, and does so with voice and data encryption from a built-in Secusmart Security Card. But that doesn’t mean the tablet will be a boring, work-software-only kind of device. Typical entertainment and social apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter can be installed on the SecuTablet without worry of security compromises. This is where IBM’s software comes in, keeping secured apps and data isolated from personal items, including potentially malicious apps.

Company News:

Intel: PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP – Summary:The company’s recent results suggest a slowdown in firms leaving the ancient OS behind and upgrading to new systems. Why won’t they update?

Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features By Limiting Social Graph Access – Talk about timing: Twitter confirms they’ve bought Meerkat-competitor Periscope, and but a few hours later Twitter makes a move that kills off a few Meerkat features. Much of Meerkat’s success and draw lays in its tight integration with Twitter — something that many have noted could be an issue moving forward, be it that Twitter decides to get into live video themselves. Which, of course, they’ve just done. And now Twitter has begun to cut off off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph.

Facebook Buys And Shuts Down Shopping Site TheFind To Boost Commerce In Ads – Facebook today announced it has acquired personalized shopping search engine TheFind to help improve its commerce ads. TheFind had raised $26 million from Lightspeed and Redpoint since getting off the ground around 2005, but will now be shut down. Some, but not all, members of the team are joining Facebook.

Google wants Firefox users to set it as their default search engine – Google has started embedding a two-inch pop-up on searches made through the Firefox Web browser to combat Yahoo! being set as its default option.

Games and Entertainment:

The Greatest Gaming Tournaments in the World – “E-sports” is the term that has been coined to describe this new world of competitive gaming, and the stakes are high. Some tournaments have prize payouts into the six figures, and major stadiums get packed to the rafters with people watching the action. If you want to get involved in the tournament scene, the following list will help you get started. It runs down the biggest events around the globe and what competitors do to get the right to play there. Some are open to everyone, while others are the finish line for brackets that run for months beforehand.


Steam hits 1,000 Linux games days after Valve’s big Steam Machine reveal – Steam’s love affair with Linux continues, and the infatuation is paying off in spades for Linux gamers. At the moment, there are 1005 games that support Linux and SteamOS on Steam. That’s out of 4817 total games for all platforms on Steam, or 20.8% of all the games on Steam. And that’s just games—not DLC items, software, demos, or trailers. But, if you expand the search to include everything, there’s 1856 items in the Linux + SteamOS category.


‘Seinfeld’ streaming deal reportedly worth over $100 million could be nearing completion – According to the Wall Street Journal, multiple players are bidding for the rights to the sitcom. Naturally, Amazon and Hulu are strong contenders with Yahoo also throwing its hat into the ring. Netflix is noticeably absent from the list of top contenders with sources stating that they are not interested in the rights to Seinfeld. Netflix is most likely passing on the show having just acquired “Friends” last year for a hefty undisclosed sum. While there is no firm pricing for Seinfeld’s 180 episode, sources state that the contract could be worth north of $500,000 per episode.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects – The Raspberry Pi’s very existence can be chalked up to creativity. Ebon Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation created the $35 mini-PC to inspire students to learn computer science and enable tinkerers to dream up wild projects without breaking the bank. And they have! In honor of Pi Day—March 14, or 3/14—and the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 2, we’re basking in 10 of the most creative, surprising, and downright interesting Raspberry Pi creations crafted since the micro-PC’s launch. Even better, most of the creators share full details on how to replicate these crazy innovative projects in your own home. Let’s dig in!


# 3 –  Picrowave: Why bother owning a traditional microwave when you can swap out some innards and create your very own Pi-powered food nuker? Developer Nathan Broadbent took his microwave apart, redesigned the touchpad, and added some new functions like voice control, a barcode scanner to access an online database of cooking times, a web-based interface for remote access, and auto-tweets for when the timer is done.

Take an incredible drone flight through the world’s biggest cave – Equipped with a DJI Phantom 2, a Canon 6D and a GoPro Hero 4 Black, photographer Ryan Deboodt has produced some stunning footage of Hang Sơn Đoòng, the world’s biggest cave.


This Guy Turned A Quadcopter Into A Star Wars Speeder Bike And It’s Amazing – Okay, this is the last quadcopter-to-“Star Wars Universe”-thing we (or at least I) will post, I promise. BUT SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THIS THING. It is perfection. About 30 seconds into the video, I actually stood up and whooped.


Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans – A poll by Reuters/Ipsos has found that more than 69% of Americans surveyed had no desire to buy the Apple Watch and 46% of those had heard nothing about Apple’s latest product. Polls show 3 percent (or 10 percent or 30 percent) will buy Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: Now that Apple has presented its watch, the largest question emerges: how many people will buy it. Can anyone know?

UK safety tests show smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones – Transportation safety agencies have long said that using a handheld device such as a smartphone is a dangerous distraction to drivers. You pay less attention to the road, and reaction times are greatly slowed. But what about the continually growing presence of wearables like smartwatches? Surely they must be much less distracting than a phone, and with their heavy reliance on voice controls, they should be about as distracting as standard timepieces, right? Well, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says just the opposite.

Cuba has allowed the launch of the country’s first free, public Wi-Fi – Cuba is taking small steps to loosen its grip on internet access in the country. Recently, a cultural center in Havana began rolling out access to free, public Wi-Fi — the first of its kind in Cuba. The country currently prioritizes its limited bandwidth for schools and businesses, but this is the first time the Cuban government has allowed a free, public Wi-Fi hub, AP reports. The cultural center is run by the Cuban visual artist Kcho, who has ties to the state government.


(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fixing “Videogames” – Videogames are taking over the world. Videogames are bigger than movies, books, music, cars, mobile phones and sandwiches. Videogames are diverse, wonderful, causes for celebration. Videogames are art. Videogames are the tipping point of a 21st century revolution. Videogames aren’t some corner obsessive activity on the fringes of culture. Videogames make all the money. Videogames are going to win. And yet games don’t seem to be taking over the world. Games struggle to gain a wider acceptance equivalent to their footprint.

Something to think about:


Pointing up   Thanks Delenn13

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView – After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder

Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache

Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page.

VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden at FutureFest: Mass Spying Isn’t Going To Stop the Next Terror Attack – It may come as a surprise, but Edward Snowden has defended spying as necessary; he just wants surveillance to have real oversight—and not to be conducted against all of us.

In a video interview broadcast at FutureFest in London, Snowden said it’s important to see that, “some of these programmes do serve purposes, so we see where to draw the line”.

And key to that is understanding the true purpose of mass surveillance: The targets aren’t terrorists, and it’s never stopped a terrorist attack. The attackers in the Charlie Hedbo, Canadian Parliament, and Australian shootings were all known to their governments, he noted. “They’re not going to stop the next attacks either,” he said. “Because they’re not public safety programs. They’re spying programmes.”

However, he noted that “they’re extremely valuable in terms of spying.” Spying has benefits, he said, giving governments information on everything from trade negotiations to foreign militaries. “Some of these things are valuable, and you want to retain these… but you have to have this debate in the public,” he said.

Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits – Despite the fact that no federal license plate legislation has been proposed, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has sent a pre-emptive letter to top Congressional lawmakers, warning them against any future restrictions of automated license plate readers. The IACP claims to be the “world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives.”

As the letter, which was published last week, states:

We are deeply concerned about efforts to portray automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology as a national real-time tracking capability for law enforcement. The fact is that this technology and the data it generates is not used to track people in real time. ALPR is used every day to generate investigative leads that help law enforcement solve murders, rapes, and serial property crimes, recover abducted children, detect drug and human trafficking rings, find stolen vehicles, apprehend violent criminal alien fugitives, and support terrorism investigations.

Sarah Guy, a spokeswoman for the IACP, told Ars that current state and local restrictions have made the police lobby group concerned at the federal level.

The cameras scan at an extremely high rate, usually around 60 plates per second. Law enforcement policies vary widely concerning how long that information can be retained. Different agencies keep that data anywhere from a few weeks to indefinitely. Some cities have even mounted such cameras at their city borders, monitoring who comes in and out.


Oakland Police Department

The Orwellian re-branding of “mass surveillance” as merely “bulk collection” – Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.

NYPD caught red-handed sanitizing police brutality Wikipedia entries: “Garner raised both his arms in the air” changed to “flailed his arms about.” – IP addresses linked to the New York Police Department’s computer network have been used to sanitize Wikipedia entries about cases of police brutality.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won’t be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD’s entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for “building community trust and justice” with the nation’s policing agencies.

As many as 85 IP addresses connected to 1 Police Plaza altered entries for some of the most high-profile police abuse cases, including those for victims Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, Capital New York said. Edits have also been made to other entries covering NYPD scandals, its stop-and-frisk program, and the department leadership.

One of the most brazen alterations concerned Eric Garner, who was killed by police last year during an arrest that was captured on video by an onlooker. The mobile phone video went viral, prompting widespread protests and a grand jury investigation. On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury agreed not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection to Garner’s death, despite the medical examiner ruling it a homicide. The same day as the grand jury announcement, the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia was altered from IP addresses traced to 1 Police Plaza. Those alterations can be seen here and here.


Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 13, 2015

Mind the PUP: Top download portals to avoid;  62% of the Top 50 applications bundle toolbars and other PUPs;  How to Clean Crapware From a New PC;  The easy answer to the laptop vs. desktop question;  10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity;  Apple Watch knockoffs hit Chinese shelves;  6 Things to Know About Your Work Email Rights;  Apple launches public beta for iOS 8.3;  Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $48;  CryptoLocker look-alike searches for and encrypts PC game files;  Use free e to ensure your Android device is charging properly;  Microsoft to introduce Skype for Business on March 18;  This USB Drive Can Nuke A Computer;  How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill;  7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep;  Rovio Launches New Bubble Shooter, Angry Birds Stella POP;  SoftPerfect WiFi Guard (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Clean Crapware From a New PC – A new Windows PC typically comes pre-installed with shovels full of crapware you don’t want. Here’s how to deal with it.

The easy answer to the laptop vs. desktop question: Use a docking station – You can have the power, upgrade options, and ergonomic advantages of a desktop without sacrificing the portability of a laptop.

Don’t Pull a Hillary: 6 Things to Know About Your Work Email Rights – Let us begin this discussion by first acknowledging the following: As an employee, you have entered into an agreement to rent your brain and body to a company in return for a salary. Your HR department may attempt to sugarcoat this sad fact of adulthood with free coffee in the break room or the occasional “Taco Tuesday,” but you are essentially just a replaceable tool your company uses to create a product or provide a service. It is therefore in your company’s interest to get as much out of their tools (i.e. you) as possible. And that often takes the form of monitoring of your digital behavior. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of universal hard-fast rules regarding privacy and employment.

10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity – While there are plenty of web-based tools and productivity tricks to help you power through tasks in your browser, you can step up and speed up your capabilities even more by grabbing some smart Chrome extensions. These add-ons add more functionality to Chrome for Windows and Chromebook users alike, enabling you to quickly save items to Google Drive, clip articles, or keep tabs on all your social media shares.

Windows 8.1 tablets hitting new lows, MOMO7W 7″ Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $48 – The device, which comes from China (to no surprise), is right at the bottom of the low-end tablets and features a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM. 16GB, HDMI out and SD card slot, and is powered by an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor. Just like the other entry level tablets, this one comes with a 1-year subscription to Office 365 which means for less than the price of a stand-alone sub, you can get a tablet too. Microsoft currently charges $99 for a one year subscription to Office 365.


Apple Watch knockoffs hit Chinese shelves – If you are unable to afford a real Apple Watch, knockoffs from China are another option — and they also claim to be more “functional” than the original ones they imitate. One lookalike that’s already for sale on Alibaba’s e-commerce website, the “Airwatch A8 smart wearable watch”, looks hardly any different from the Apple Watch. But its functionality is more diverse. The “latest smartwatch in 2015″, as described by the seller, runs Android OS, can take photos and shoot video, and uses a SIM card for independent voice calling. It also comes preinstalled with popular Chinese apps like WeChat and QQ. The watch, which connects to iPhones as well as other Android-based smartphones via Bluetooth, is only priced at 478 yuan ($76). The official retail price for an Apple Watch Sport (38mm) is 2,588 yuan ($413) in China; five times more than the knockoff’s price.


Apple launches public beta for iOS 8.3 – For the first time ever, Apple is inviting regular users to test out an upcoming iOS update. The company has launched a page where interested iPhone owners can sign up to trial iOS 8.3 before it’s released to all consumers later this year. Apple’s signup page, pictured above, suggests it’s gained valuable feedback by running a public beta of OS X on the desktop, and now it’s extending the program to cover iOS as well.


Use Ampere to ensure your Android device is charging properly – Ever wonder if the USB cable or the AC adapter included with an Android device is faulty? Well, now you can check.


Google releases Chrome extension that replaces blank tabs with works of art – Tired of staring at a white screen every time you open a blank tab in Chrome? Google has released a new extension that replaces Chrome’s utilitarian new tab screen with classic works of art. The extension can either be set to give you a new artwork each day or a new artwork each time you open a tab, all displayed in a way that covers the entirety of the screen.


How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill – Summary:Think you can make a bajillion dollars creating an app? David Gewirtz shows you how to get started. He doesn’t guarantee you’ll make any money, but with this step-by-step guide, at least you’ll know where to begin.


Patch Flash now: Google Project Zero, Intel and pals school Adobe on security 101 – Hot on the heels of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday release, Adobe has published security fixes for its Flash Player browser plugin. The March 12 update for the internet’s screen door addresses 11 CVE-listed vulnerabilities. Adobe is listing the patch as a top deployment priority for Windows, OS X and Linux systems. Among the flaws are nine remote-code execution holes, which could be exploited to install malware or take control of a vulnerable system. Adobe said it has not received any reports of the flaws being targeted in the wild thus far – but we all know hackers love seizing these bugs to catch out people who haven’t updated.

Mind the PUP: Top download portals to avoid – We recently researched how many potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) come with the 50 most popular applications on Since the results were quite disturbing, we decided to look into the habits of other popular download portals to see if they are any better, or whether it’s better to avoid download portals altogether. Most of them claim to have “clean and safe downloads” and many portals express this on their website. However, trusting any download portal at all is becoming a difficult task for most people due to the rapid growth of bundled PUPs and the software reviews on the sites that often don’t seem objective. We looked into the ten most popular download portals, downloaded their top ten most popular applications to see how many toolbars, adware, homepage hijackers and other PUPs come with them to see how clean and safe they really are.

62% of the Top 50 applications bundle toolbars and other PUPs – CNET’s is considered to be one of, if not, the most popular download portal(s) hosting a conglomerate of different software (free and paid). We recently discussed the top ten methods of how toolbars, adware, homepage hijackers and other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) can sneak onto your computer. Potentially unwanted programs are becoming a new epidemic that users must learn face to overcome on a regular basis. In fact, a recent Panda Security study shows that potentially unwanted programs are on the rise resulting in PUPs now comprising 24.77% of total malware infections. A lot of potentially unwanted programs are delivered by installers hosted on download portals such as But what kind of programs are frequently bundled and should you look out for? And how many of’s apps actually contain PUPs? We researched both. First, here is a list of the most commonly bundled PUPs we see through

CryptoLocker look-alike searches for and encrypts PC game files – Crypto-based “ransomware” has become a lucrative business for cybercriminals. Since the arrival of CryptoLocker on the scene last year, a number of copycat malware packages have appeared to compete in the cyber-extortion market, encrypting victims’ photos and other personal files with a key that will be destroyed if they don’t contact the malware’s operators and pay up. Recently, a new variant has emerged that seeks to raise the stakes with a particular class of victim by specifically seeking out files related to a number of popular PC games, as well as Valve’s Steam gaming platform.


This USB Drive Can Nuke A Computer – Do not ever use a random USB flash drive. There are plenty software exploits that can ruin your computer or life. And with this flash drive, it can physically destroy your computer by blasting a load of voltage to the USB controller with negative voltage. Think Wile E. Coyote and an ACME Human Cannon. BOOM!


Apple Pay potential security concerns emerge – Summary:A new report suggests that a lapse in verification between banks and Apple Pay allows identity thieves to use CVVs hacked from online stores to link stolen credit card data to an Apple Pay mobile wallet.

Company News:

Yes, Asus cheated: The FCC fined the router maker last year – In the FCC settlement, which you can read here, Asus “admits that its marketing of these intentional radiators violated the Commission’s rules.” The violations, as it turned out, weren’t limited to Asus routers. They also involved the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101, certain wireless routers, and related wireless products, such as Wi-Fi bridge/range extenders and wireless adapters, according to the FCC Enforcement Bureau. The settlement states that these devices emit radio frequency radiation that’s out of compliance with the FCC’s technical requirements and could interfere with authorized communications.

Microsoft to introduce Skype for Business on March 18, replacing Lync – In a video posted on Facebook this week, Zig Serafin (Corporate Vice President for Skype Business Services) invited users to watch its keynote – which will be live-streamed on March 18 at 10:00h ET, and live-tweeted via @skypebusiness – in which the new Skype for Business product will be officially launched.


Docker scoops up Kitematic for smoother Mac compatibility – Docker has acquired Canadian startup Kitematic, maker of an open-source tool by the same name that makes it easier for developers to install and run Docker on Mac computers. Now a Docker product, the Kitematic tool remains open source and free, said Docker founder and CTO Solomon Hykes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Kitematic’s staff of three will join Docker’s team in San Francisco.

Ericsson unplugs 2,200 more staff – Ericsson’s move to focus on software is to hit another 2,200 jobs in Sweden, the telco vendor has announced. The cuts focus on roles in R&D and supply, the company’s statement says, but admin and sales roles will also be affected, along with external consultants. The vendor says R&D remains important, but reducing the number of product lines in its key market provided the impetus for slimming down in the home territory.

Lyft gets a lift with $530 million funding round – Lyft has raised $530 million in a new round of funding led by Japan-based e-commerce giant Rakuten. The new round brings Lyft’s total venture investment since its founding in 2012 to more than $860 million. In its announcement Wednesday, Lyft didn’t say what valuation its funding round was based on, but The Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported on the news, says the cash infusion came on a valuation of more than $2.5 billion.

Games and Entertainment:

Video Game Industry Enjoys Big Month – The video game industry had a terrific February with games, hardware, and accessories all enjoying sales increases for combine sales of $956 million for the month, the NPD Group reported Thursday. Growth in all three categories amounted to an 8 percent year-over-year sales increase from the same month a year ago, NPD analyst Liam Callahan said.

Rovio Launches New Bubble Shooter, Angry Birds Stella POP! – Get your slingshots ready, Angry Birds fans. Your favorite pink bird Stella is back for another adventure. Rovio on Thursday launched Angry Birds Stella POP!, a new puzzle game for iOS and Android devices, which marks the flock’s first foray into the bubble shooter genre. The game takes all the feisty characters from Angry Birds Stella on a journey of strategic bubble matching and popping.


Frozen 2 announced by Disney – It’s officially time to start preparing for Frozen 2. While Elsa hasn’t confirmed her return to the role, Olaf and Anna have – Disney has confirmed that development is really, actually underway. This comes after denial from directors / writers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck suggesting that there’s no sequel – none so far – now Disney has confirmed the inevitable. This bit of information came in the same Disney shareholders call that gave us information about Star Wars VIII and Star Wars Rogue One, two more full-powered Star Wars movies on the way.


Titanfall’s sequel won’t be a Microsoft exclusive – With its giant robots and fast, approachable gameplay, the original Titanfall was a refreshing take on the multiplayer first-person shooter. But it wasn’t available to everyone, launching exclusively on Microsoft platforms including the Xbox One, 360, and PC. That’s about to change: IGN reports that the sequel will be coming to the PS4 in addition to the PC and Xbox One. “It’ll be multiplatform,” Respawn CEO Vince Zampella said.


Netflix Tops Amazon as U.S. Streaming Favorite – Let’s face it, there are a lot of ways to watch video at home: TV, cable, on-demand, rentals, and of course, streaming. According to the latest stats from Nielsen, Netflix is the most popular way to stream your favorite shows and movies, with about 36 percent of U.S. households subscribing. Quite a bit behind that is Amazon Prime Instant Video at 13 percent, with Hulu Plus pulling in at just 6.5 percent.

SteamOS Hits Major Milestone – Steam now boasts more than 1,000 gaming titles for Linux, and therefore, SteamOS. Everything from indie games to AAA titles are available from the service. Best yet, even more titles are regularly popping up, with 14 games launching this week alone. Steam launched its Linux efforts in early 2013 with just 50 games and took a year to hit 500 titles. Now the game count is at 1004 and climbs to 1835 if downloadable content like DLCs and expansion packs are included.

Off Topic (Sort of):

7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep – There might be a hidden reason you’re so grouchy. In our seemingly always-on society, there’s great temptation to shortchange sleep. But sleep is a vital driver of every physiological system in the human body, and when we’re deprived of shuteye, health and wellbeing can suffer in myriad ways. Here, 7 signs it’s time to start heading to bed a little earlier.

BBC will give every Year 7 student in the UK a free Micro Bit computer – The BBC launched a flagship initiative today that aims to get a new generation excited about technology. The Make It Digital campaign will provide students in Year 7 (that’s around 11 years old) with a small microcomputer that will allow them to learn the basics of coding. The microcomputer, nicknamed the Micro Bit, will be a standalone, entry-level coding device with an LED display that students can plug into any computer. It will be able to communicate with more advanced devices like the Arduino, Galileo, Kano, and Raspberry Pi, as well as other Micro Bits. The initiative is a response to what the BBC is calling a “significant skills shortage” in the UK’s digital fields.



New Macbook parody video cuts through Apple’s reality distortion field – Apple’s reveal of the new, thinnest and lightest ever MacBook earlier this week was met with the usual “ooohs and aaahs” by the media and fans of Apple products. But it also managed to raise a few eyebrows, and quietly a lot of people must be thinking “$1,299 for that?” Then this parody video appeared, and it cuts right through the marketing and hits home exactly what the new MacBook is, while adding a healthy dose of humor along the way. You may want to turn the sound down a little before clicking play, though.


Texas Is About to Let College Students Carry Guns on Campus – The Texas state legislature is moving forward on a bill that would reverse the strict ban on concealed weapons at state universities, allowing gun owners with concealed-carry permits to carry their firearms around campus. The legislation is expected to clear the state Senate next week, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has promised to expedite its passage. “Regarding the Second Amendment, our first priority is to pass campus carry this session,” he wrote in a recent Facebook post. “I am an avid gun owner, was endorsed by the NRA with an ‘A rating,’ and have a 100% voting record on second amendment issues for over 8 years.”

Non-invasive ultrasound restores memory in Alzheimer’s mice – A team of researchers at the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research have successfully restored memory function in mice using the drug-free, non-invasive technology to break down the neurotoxic amyloid plaques that cause memory loss and loss of cognitive function. “We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” said CJCADR director Professor Jürgen Götz. “The word ‘breakthrough’ is often mis-used, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach.”

Watch President Obama Read Mean Tweets About Himself on Jimmy Kimmel – With his approval rating hovering below 50%, there’s no shortage of Americans who take issue with President Barack Obama. The Commander in Chief faced the music on Thursday night when he appeared on the famed #MeanTweets segment of Jimmy Kimmel Live to read some of the more comical musings about his performance as President and his decision to wear “THOSE jeans.”


Here’s How to Scientifically Train Your Mind to Be Happy – Training your mind to look for errors and problems (as happens in careers like accounting and law) can lead you toward a pervasive pessimism that carries over into your personal life. Why are lawyers 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression and more likely to end up divorced? They have trained their minds to seek out the bad in life because pessimists excel at law. Is there a way to get your mind out of these negative loops? Yes. You must train your brain to seek out the good things in life:

Something to think about:

“Before me were the CEO, the CIO, the CFO, the CTO and the vice presidents of sales, marketing, support and operations. I told them that I had been working in security long enough to know what sorts of things work. There’s the rule of least privilege, which enforces access controls based on granting only those privileges that any individual needs. There’s security awareness and the idea that changing employees’ behavior is one of the most crucial ingredients of strong security. There’s the acknowledgment that we’re only as strong as our weakest link. There’s the all-important realization that security is a process, not a point solution.”

–      Mathias Thurman

Today’s Free Downloads:

SoftPerfect WiFi Guard – SoftPerfect WiFi Guard is an essential tool for everyone running a small WiFi network and striving to keep it secure. Generally, modern WiFi networks are well protected, but there is a number of weaknesses that can compromise your WiFi password; this includes vulnerabilities in encryption and brute force attacks. As a result, someone can gain unauthorised access to your Internet and LAN, exploit them and stay unnoticed.

You may think: it’s ok, who cares, I have got an uncapped plan. But what about someone reading your personal emails, stealing private information or breaking the law online while using your Internet connection?

Here comes our little application that allows you to know immediately if your network is used without your knowledge. It’s a specalised network scanner that runs through your network at set intervals and reports immediately if it has found any new connected devices that could possibly belong to an intruder.


Screenshot from a personal system

Prey – Prey lets you keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and will help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. It’s lightweight, open source software, and free for anyone to use. And it just works.

How it works – Basically you install a tiny agent in your PC or phone, which silently waits for a remote signal to wake up and work its magic.

This signal is sent either from the Internet or through an SMS message, and allows you to gather information regarding the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally trigger specific actions on it. Next


100% geolocation aware

Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect

If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather

Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy

Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements

Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe

Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access

Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware

Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Full auto updater

Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Cory Doctorow: Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens –  Why spy? That’s the several-million pound question, in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Why would the US continue to wiretap its entire population, given that the only “terrorism” they caught with it was a single attempt to send a small amount of money to Al Shabab?

One obvious answer is: because they can. Spying is cheap, and cheaper every day. Many people have compared NSA/GCHQ mass spying to the surveillance programme of East Germany’s notorious Stasi, but the differences between the NSA and the Stasi are more interesting than the similarities.

Spying, especially domestic spying, is an aspect of what the Santa Fe Institute economist Samuel Bowles calls guard labour: work that is done to stabilise property relationships, especially the property belonging to the rich.

The amount a state needs to expend on guard labour is a function of how much legitimacy the state holds in its population’s reckoning. A state whose population mainly views the system as fair needs to do less coercion to attain stability. People who believe that they are well-served by the status quo will not work to upset it. States whose populations view the system as illegitimate need to spend more on guard labour.

How Easy It Is To Spy These Days, In One Graphic – Ashkan Soltani, a privacy and security researcher who has been working with the Washington Post on the Snowden files, has published a graphic that illustrates how technology has greatly reduced the barriers to performing surveillance.

Soltani included the graph in a paper published in the Yale Law Journal that explores how this situation erodes Americans’ privacy protections under the Fourth Amendment and what can be done to protect them.

The cost comparison involves the several location surveillance techniques of physical pursuit by foot and in vehicles, location tracking using a radio beeper, a GPS device, or a cell phone.

A few examples for understanding the chart:

Tracking a suspect using a GPS device is 28 times cheaper than assigning officers to follow him.

Tracking a suspect using cell phone data is 53 times cheaper than physical covert pursuit.

Tracking a cell phone is twice as cheap as using a GPS device.


U.K. Parliamentary Inquiry Calls For New Legal Framework To Govern Spy Agencies – In a report published today, the U.K. parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has called for a new single act of Parliament to govern how domestic spy agencies operate with the aim of improving transparency and public trust. It dubs its report “an important first step towards greater transparency”.

The 149-page report is the cumulation of a year long inquiry by the committee, set against the backdrop of ongoing revelations derived from documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (some of which have specifically pertained to the U.K. GCHQ spy agency), with the aim of examining the operations of the UK intelligence and security agencies — looking specifically at (in the committee’s own words):

the range of intrusive capabilities currently available to the Agencies;

how those capabilities are used, and the scale of that use;

the extent to which the capabilities intrude on privacy; and

most importantly, the legal authorities and safeguards that regulate their use

The committee claims to have found no evidence of U.K. government agencies seeking to circumvent the law, but does flag up what it says is a “lack of clarity in the existing legislation” — pointing to this as having “fuelled suspicion” about agencies’ activities.


Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 12, 2015

After 11 hours, the App Store and iTunes are back online;  10 things to consider before buying an LED bulb;  How to use your mobile device to control your home theater;  Twitter’s new policy: no to nonconsensual adult content;  How to unlock your Mac just by walking up to it;  10 LinkedIn Tips for Networking Success;  Hillary Clinton’s email system was insecure for two months;  Going on holiday? Mexico wants your personal data;  FTC charges DirecTV with fraud for misleading customers;  Facebook Is Facing a Massive Lawsuit Over Online Purchases Made by Kids;  Dropbox patches Android security flaw;  Play Cards Against Humanity On the Web, for Free;  Google Launches New Online Store To Showcase Hardware;  Why is killing such a central concept in video games?  Australians! Let us all rise up against data retention.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google’s smart-home plans include ‘neighborhood security networks’ and security ratings for homes – A patent application the search giant published Thursday points to a future in which smart homes have each other’s back, and where a smart home’s ‘security score’ determines the cost of security services and insurance.


Panda antivirus labels itself as malware, then borks EVERYTHING – Panda users had a bad hair day on Wednesday, after the Spanish security software firm released an update that classified components of its own technology as malign. As a result, enterprise PCs running the antivirus software tied themselves in something of a knot, leaving some systems either unstable or unable to access the internet. A Panda spokesman confirmed the problem while advising that the issue was well in hand. An official advisory on the problem says that the issue was limited to Panda Cloud Office Protection, Retail 2015 products and Panda Free AV. Users are strongly advised not to restart their computer until a fix is available.

10 things to consider before buying an LED bulb – The LED Age is officially upon us, and light bulbs are as high-tech as they’ve ever been. That makes it a great time to upgrade, but you’ll want to be sure you understand some light bulb basics first. Here’s what you need to know.

How to use your mobile device to control your home theater – With the right selection of apps you can transform your iOS or Android phone or tablet into an elegant home entertainment command center.


Evernote for Android gets sleek redesign – Evernote has pushed out a new design for its Android app, bringing it in line with Google’s design guidelines for Lollipop by largely refining what it already offered. Not much has changed over the last design update, though Evernote says there’s more to it than just the visual changes, and that “the thoughtful touches to these features” makes the overall Android note-taking experience better than before. Evernote went into details about the design change, talking about the motivation behind it and the best it has to offer users.


Twitter’s new policy: no to nonconsensual adult content – Twitter is making it clear: there is no room for revenge porn or similar content on its network. While it might sound like a no-brainer, given that Twitter already disallows graphic content anyway, it sometimes pays to be perfectly explicit, especially when it comes down to legalities. So as not to give any smart crack room to wiggle, the social networking giant has updated its Twitter Rules to lay out in no ambiguous terms, but without mentioning specifics, that revealing photos or videos are not allowed, especially if the subject doesn’t consent to its distribution.

Facebook Removes ‘Feeling Fat’ Emoticon After Backlash – Facebook has removed a controversial “feeling fat” emoticon after thousands complained that it promoted body-shaming. The emoticon, which featured chubby cheeks and a double chin, was previously listed as an option for status updates. It came under fire recently thanks to a petition from Catherine Weingarten of Endangered Bodies, a group that aims to “challenge the current toxic culture that promotes negative body image.”


Hey Barbie, Are You Invading My Privacy? – Big Sister is listening: A privacy group has issued a petition aimed at stopping Mattel’s “Hello Barbie” doll from hitting shelves this fall. The Wi-Fi-connected figurine can carry on a conversation, remember responses, store data in the cloud, and get to know a user over time (think Siri or Cortana). “Kids using ‘Hello Barbie’ won’t only be talking to a doll,” the privacy advocates said in a petition. “They’ll be talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial. It’s creepy—and creates a host of dangers for children and families.” In an effort to thwart the doll’s upcoming release, the CCFC penned a letter to Mattel CEO Christopher Sinclair, asking to stop Hello Barbie “immediately.”


Apple services including App Store hit by major worldwide outage – Apple services are currently experiencing a major outage around the world, with widespread reports across social media of users from Australia to Vietnam unable to gain access. The issue is affecting key services, including both the iOS and Mac App Stores, which are spitting out error messages indiscriminately when users try to access content. Many app listings are completely inaccessible, while some music and video content can be seen, but not purchased. At time of publication, the issues had been affecting users for several hours. Predictably, and in unmistakably Apple fashion, the company has been ignoring media requests for information, and according to its status page, there are no problems with its services at all.

After 11 hours, the App Store and iTunes are back online – Apple’s App Store and iTunes have sprung back into life, after technical issues brought the download stores offline in the early hours of this morning. Downloads of apps, music, and video resumed at approximately 1:30pm Pactific today, after what Apple described as a DNS issue left users not only unable to get to the App Store and iTunes on their iPhones and iPads, but temporarily killed the Mac App Store and iBooks Store too. In total, the services were offline for more than ten hours.

Google enters watch face market with Street Art – The first Google-made downloadable set of Android Wear watch faces has been released this week. Aside from the faces that come with every Android Wear device, Google has been mum on creating their own watch faces for the Android Wear line thus far. This piece of software called “Street Art watch face” breaks that silence with a wide variety of super talented artists.


Watch styles include Analog, Digital, and Minimal, and you’re able to flip off/on your display of date. This app is free from the Google Play app store and works with your Android Wear devices connected with your Android smartphone.

How to unlock your Mac just by walking up to it – This free app for your Mac or iOS device makes it too easy to unlock your Mac based simply on how close you are. Tether is a combination of a free OS X and iOS app that leverages Bluetooth 4.0 technology to monitor just how close you are, or should I say iOS device is, to your Mac. When your device is within range (about 30 feet by my count), the app unlocks your Mac. When you walk away, your Mac is locked back up barring any unauthorized access. Getting it all set up is simple; download the Mac app from Tether’s site. Followed by the iOS app from the App Store. Next, follow the instructions to connect your two devices.

10 LinkedIn Tips for Networking Success – Whether or not you’re looking for a job, you should be on LinkedIn to keep on top of what’s going on in your industry, chat with colleagues, promote your achievements, and network far beyond your geographic location. But with over 300 million LinkedIn members looking at 1.45 million jobs per day, the competition is tough. So how do you stand out from the pack? We’ve got a few tricks to help you find a new trade (or just a job within your current one).


Hillary Clinton’s email system was insecure for two months – The private email system used by Hillary Clinton when she was U.S. Secretary of State didn’t encrypt messages during the first two months of use, an Internet security company said Wednesday. That would have left emails sent and received by Clinton in early 2009 vulnerable to eavesdropping — just when British and American intelligence agencies were reportedly spying on world leaders. Around that time, British and American spy agencies were reportedly eavesdropping on world leaders. At the G20 summit in April 2009, they set up fake Internet cafes in the hope that government ministers and their staff would connect to Internet hotspots, allowing the agencies to tap unencrypted or poorly encrypted communications.

Going on holiday? Mexico wants your personal data – European airlines could soon be forced to break citizens’ right to privacy if they want to fly to Mexico. Mexican authorities have decided to implement a “passenger name record” (PNR) scheme from 1 April. PNR data encompasses all the information airlines hold on their passengers – from credit card details, phone numbers and emails to dietary requirements – and from April, Mexico wants all that handed over when someone flies into the country.

Pointing up   Vote with your wallet. Avoid Mexico and any other country which insists on knowing when you shower, shave, and …

Windows PCs remained vulnerable to Stuxnet-like attacks despite 2010 patch – If you patched your Windows computers in 2010 against the LNK exploit used by Stuxnet and thought you were safe, researchers from Hewlett-Packard have some bad news for you: Microsoft’s fix was flawed. This means that over the past four years attackers could have reverse-engineered Microsoft’s fix to create new LNK exploits that could infect Windows computers when USB storage devices got plugged into them. However, there’s no information yet to suggest this has happened.

Dropbox patches Android security flaw – Dropbox has patched a security flaw which allowed cyberattackers to steal new information uploaded to accounts through compromised third-party apps on Android devices. The company announced the fix through the Dropbox Developer Blog on Wednesday. Dropbox, a firm which caters for over 300 million users and offers cloud-based file storage, said a minor security vulnerability in Android Core and Sync/Datastore SDKs was patched a few months ago.

Ars tests ExoNet, the personal VPN that takes you home – Ars received a prototype of x.o.ware’s hardware and beta software to determine whether the technology at the heart of the product, which is expected to start shipping sometime this year, lived up to its promise. While the system is still in development, and there are still some fit and finish issues that need to be addressed before the products ship, I found that ExoNet and ExoKey were (in the most recent iteration of the early release software and firmware) fairly painless to set up and use. And they did a good job of protecting Web browsing sessions without the performance overhead of anonymizing networks. I did find some bugs along the way, which is addressing, and should be resolved in the shipping product.


First medical apps built with Apple’s ResearchKit won’t share data for commercial gain – As concern grows about data collection by mobile apps, Apple and companies involved with its new ResearchKit software development framework for medical studies say users of the first five apps have nothing to worry about. Access to health data collected by the apps will be restricted to approved medical researchers and barred from commercial use, and the apps won’t delve into the personal contents stored on a smartphone, according to the companies.

Company News:

Facebook Is Facing a Massive Lawsuit Over Online Purchases Made by Kids – Facebook was hit with a nationwide class-action lawsuit in the U.S. on Tuesday, over its refusal to provide refunds to parents whose children spent money on the website. A federal judge in San Jose, California ruled that hundreds of thousands of people across the country could now take legal action against the social network over its policy on online purchases by minors, Reuters reported.

Google Launches New Online Store To Showcase Hardware “Made With Google” – Google is launching a new online store today to showcase “all the latest products made with Google.” The new Google Store, instead of the Play Store, will now become the central spot for buying Google-centric hardware like Google’s own Nexus phones, Android Wear and Nest devices, Chromebooks from Google and its partners, as well as accessories, cases, keyboards and chargers. For the time being, Google will offer free shipping for all purchases, too (but only if you choose the slowest shipping option). If you made any hardware purchases in the Play Store, all of that information will be automatically transferred to the Google Store.


FTC charges DirecTV with fraud for misleading customers – DirecTV has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for misleading customers. The advertising in question was DirecTV’s 12-month discount package. The plan was advertised as costing only $19.95, but obscured from customers was the fact that a 2-year contract was needed to get deal. Even more astounding is that the FTC alleges that DirecTV charged customers for premium channels after a 3-month trial period, and DirecTV never told customers that they needed to cancel these channels in order to avoid being charged automatically.

Samsung launches Animal Edition battery packs to create social awareness – At the recently concluded Mobile World Congress, Samsung made sure that the attendees did not exhaust their smartphone’s juice by giving away a cute battery pack featuring images of animals; we did give one such battery pack away today. Now, it seems that the company has bigger plans for the device, as it has announced the availability of the battery pack for the masses. The device will be available in two sizes, one with 8400 mAh capacity and the other with 11300 mAh. Samsung has revealed that it wants to create awareness among people about these endangered animals through this innovative way.


Google unveils Nearline, their hot new solution to cold storage – Some info stored in the cloud is important, and should be kept ready for quick access. Other stuff isn’t as necessary at the drop of a hat, and companies have the option to tuck it away. That ‘cold storage’ option could take hours to query, which isn’t ideal for businesses or their customers. Today, google rolled out a new option named ‘Nearline’. It’s more like lukewarm storage, where you won’t get the info instantly, but the three-second average return is much better than three hours.

IBM workforce declined 12% in 2014; losses tied to corporate divestitures – IBM is reporting its global headcount at 379,592, a decrease of 51,600 employees from the prior year. The data is included in the company’s recently filed annual report for 2014. In 2013, IBM employed 431,212 globally. Of this overall reduction, divestitures accounted for 35,000 employees.

Snapchat nabs investment from Alibaba for $15B valuation – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made an investment in Snapchat that could value the ephemeral message service at $15 billion, sources confirmed Wednesday. Alibaba has invested $200 million in the startup, which specializes in messages that vanish after they are read, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Games and Entertainment:

Sony to power off PlayStation Mobile on July 15 – PlayStation Mobile will soon be no more, ending Sony’s foray into expanding its gaming empire to smartphones and tablets. The PlayStation Mobile store shuts down on July 15. You can still download any games you’ve previously purchased through September 10 and continue to play them afterwards as long as you activate your device. To do this, you’ll need to grab the PlayStation Mobile app on a supported device.

Watch the first episode of PlayStation’s sci-fi original series Powers – Curious to see what PlayStation’s first original series is like? The first episode of Powers is now available on YouTube in its entirety. This is the first scripted original series for PlayStation, and it follows in the footsteps of rival Microsoft, who late last year debuted its own Xbox original series based, Halo: Nightfall.


Dragon Age Inquisition is currently free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers – The promotion for Dragon Age Inquisition started last night, and if you own an Xbox One and are a Live Gold Subscriber you can play the game for free for almost a whole week. The last day of availability is the 16th but everything you do in game will get saved, including achievements, in case you decide to continue and purchase the full title.


Game of Thrones to air in over 170 countries at the same time – Season five of Game of Thrones will premiere on April 12 and it will air at the same time in over 170 countries around the world. HBO will broadcast all ten episodes of the new season via HBO networks in other counties and with assorted partner networks airing the show as well. The show will air in these other countries at the same time the show airs in the US. I would assume that to mean it will be on the air at odd times in many of those other countries. In Australia Foxtel will be airing the series.


Play Cards Against Humanity On the Web, for Free – You can now play the hilariously inappropriate game on your smartphone. A new site called Cards Against Originality lets you play the game with your friends on any smartphone, tablet, or computer — for free, right through your Web browser. The browser-basedapp is the brainchild of designer Dawson Whitfield, who acknowledged that the site is “a shameless copy of the real Cards Against Humanity.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Intel Honors Trio of Top Teen Scientists – Intel this week handed out $150,000 prizes to three “teen geniuses” who placed first in this year’s edition of the Intel Science Talent Search competition sponsored by the chip giant and run by the non-profit Society for Science & the Public. Winners Noah Golowich, 17, of Lexington, Mass., Andrew Jin, 17, of San Jose, Calif., and Michael Hofmann Winer, 18, of North Bethesda, Md. were feted at a ceremony held Tuesday in Washington, D.C.


Living Aerial Bot drone uses your smartphone as its brain – The Living Aerial Bot (LAB) is a drone with a twist, in that it uses your smartphone as its brain and face. The handset connects to the drone using Bluetooth or a wired connection, likely depending on the phone, delivering commands to the UAV’s on-board hardware. In addition, the related mobile app can also be used to display a “face” for the drone, such as an owl’s face or, depending on the situation, a live video feed used to give remote directions, such as in medical emergency situations.


Watch NASA Fire Up the Biggest Rocket Ever Built – NASA on Wednesday fired up its Space Launch System (SLS) for the very first time and thankfully, we can watch the “largest, most powerful rocket booster ever built” produce 3.6 million pounds of thrust in two minutes of awesome. The SLS will be responsible for lifting NASA’s deep-space Orion crew vehicle into space, carrying astronauts to destinations like Mars and near-Earth asteroids.


Why is killing such a central concept in video games? – On the PBS series “Game/Show,” host Jamin Warren discusses why the act of killing is such a fundamental game mechanic in video games from Mario Bros. to Grand Theft Auto.


Porn and the patrol car—one cop’s 2 hour-a-day habit – Pornography, though prevalent in the modern world, still isn’t the sort of thing one expects to see while waiting in traffic behind a cop car. But pornography is exactly what an irate Wheaton resident named Robin said he witnessed. On the morning of September 18, 2013, while sitting in his conversion van and waiting for a stoplight to change, Robin found himself directly behind Wheaton Police squad car 359. The height of his seat gave him a perfect view through the rear windshield of the squad car, and he could see the car’s mobile data computer displaying “scrolling pictures of completely naked women.”


When you watch enough porn that investigators have to compile spreadsheets, you know you’re in trouble.

Colorado Collects $2.3 Million In Marijuana Taxes For Schools In One Month – Colorado collected $2.3 million in excise taxes on the sale of recreational marijuana during the first month of 2015, 10 times the tax revenue generated in January last year. The 15% retail marijuana excise tax, which goes toward public schools and construction fees, earned exactly $2,332,843 in January 2015, according to a monthly report released by the state’s Department of Revenue. Last year, during the first month of sales, the school fund totaled $195,318. Residents voted in November 2013 for an aggressive 10% sales tax and a 15% excise tax on recreational marijuana sales. Medical and recreational cannabis-related revenue also comes from a standard sales tax, as well as license fees. Marijuana-related revenue not allocated to the school fund goes towards such things as substance abuse programs, medical research, and police training.

3D Systems gets 10,000 injured dogs running again with 3D printed knee implants – 3D Systems partnered with Rita Leibinger Medical to 3D print metal knee implants for thousands of dogs, which has sped up surgery and recovery for pets around the world.


3D Systems built prosthetic legs for Derby the dog last year. Image: 3D Systems

Jet lag treatment discovered in a dish of living fruit fly brains – Todd C. Holmes, professor of physiology & biophysics in the UCI School of Medicine, is heading up this study using fruit flies in an attempt to better understand and hopefully solve the jet lag problem. What his team did was to extract the brains of fruit flies, placed them in a dish, and kept them alive for 6 days. During that time a single-cell resolution camera monitored the brains and what happened when a light pulse was used on them. The results are surprising and positive for regular long-distance travelers.

Something to think about:

“This new era of state surveillance can only breed a new generation of tools that make systems like TOR look like toys. No one wants to be watched, and as soon as someone, somewhere comes up with an effective means to render users invisible, it will be adopted by everyone, everywhere, almost instantaneously. That’s the way it ever was, only now we’re better at it than ever before, because we share everything we’re learning as fast as we learn it.”

–      Mark Pesce

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dutch court suspends mandatory data-retention legislation – A district court in The Hague has struck down a Dutch law requiring telecommunications companies to retain customer data for law enforcement for between six and 12 months.

The law was first enacted in 2009 in response to the EU directive on data retention, which was subsequently struck down by the European Court of Justice in April 2014.

The court said at the time that the directive infringed on the rights to privacy and protection of personal data.

Since then, the laws in Europe around mandatory data retention have either been struck down or amended to accommodate the ruling.

Australians! Let us all rise up against data retention – There is still time to step away from a poisonous framing that presents only two options: the state and its nominated ‘enemies’. There’s an opportunity to build connections, to share with one another, learn from one another, and come to trust one another. That’s what civilised people do. Civilised people certainly don’t spy on their neighbors. That sort of behaviour should be called out for what it is – paranoid.

Some have argued that our security and the safety of our children demand these steps be taken. But if we think about our actions consequentially – something adults must do – then we need to acknowledge that mass surveillance will inevitably land us in a more chaotic and largely invisible online culture. That’s the way the world works. All those paranoia-fueled good intentions can’t change that.

Stuxnet leak probe stalls for fear of confirming US-Israel involvement – A criminal leak investigation into a top military official has stalled out of concern it could force US officials to confirm joint US-Israeli involvement behind the Stuxnet worm that targeted Iran’s nuclear program, according to a media report published Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors have been investigating whether retired Marine Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright leaked highly sensitive information to New York Times reporter David Sanger. A 2012 book and article authored by Sanger said Stuxnet was among the crowning achievements of “Olympic Games,” a covert program jointly pursued by the US and Israel to curb Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. As reported in author and Wired reporter Kim Zetter’s book Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, Stuxnet was first seeded to a handful of carefully selected targets before taking hold inside Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility. From there, the malware caused computer-controlled centrifuges to spin erratically, an act of sabotage that forced engineers to scrap the damaged materials.

According to an article published Wednesday by The Washington Post, the probe into Cartwright’s suspected leak to Sanger is generating tension between national security concerns and the Obama administration’s desire to hold high-ranking officials accountable to disclosing classified information.

AP sues State Department to speed up release of Hillary Clinton’s emails – A day after Hillary Clinton defended her decision to use a private email account for official government correspondence, the Associated Press is ratcheting up the pressure to release her messages. The AP said today that it’s filing a lawsuit against the State Department, requesting access to emails that could shed light on her tenure as Secretary of State. Among other things, it’s looking specifically for Clinton’s full schedule and calendar, conversations with advisers who will be instrumental in her presidential campaign, and any messages regarding NSA surveillance and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

The AP says it’s resorted to a lawsuit after the State Department failed to respond to five Freedom of Information Act requests over five years, and only partially fulfilled a sixth.

ACLU files new lawsuits in hunt for police ‘Stingray’ mobe-trackers – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California has filed another two lawsuits on Tuesday as the organisation’s campaign to bring information about StingRay cellphone surveillance devices into the public domain continues.

The lawsuits against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the Anaheim Police Department allege that both police agencies have violated state law by not providing documents requested regarding the use of the controversial equipment.

Most of the information publicly known about the StingRay device has come from such ACLU cases.

UK Parliament says it’s “technologically infeasible” to block Tor – The UK Parliament has published a report on the future of the darknet and online anonymity, and it came to the heartwarming conclusion that it would be “not seen as acceptable” to ban online anonymity systems. Furthermore, speaking specifically about Tor, the parliamentary report says it would be “technologically infeasible” to block people from using the service in the UK.

This report comes a couple of months after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that encryption should be outlawed unless backdoor access is given to the government. “Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” Cameron said. At the time his comments were in response to the January attacks in Paris; strong encryption, so the argument goes, prevents intelligence and security agencies from foiling the plots of terrorists and other bad actors.

New smoking gun further ties NSA to omnipotent “Equation Group” hackers – Researchers from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab have uncovered more evidence tying the US National Security Agency to a nearly omnipotent group of hackers who operated undetected for at least 14 years.

The Kaspersky researchers once again stopped short of saying the hacking collective they dubbed Equation Group was the handiwork of the NSA, saying only that the operation had to have been sponsored by a nation-state with nearly unlimited resources to dedicate to the project. Still, they heaped new findings on top of a mountain of existing evidence that already strongly implicated the spy agency.

The strongest new tie to the NSA was the string “BACKSNARF_AB25″ discovered only a few days ago embedded in a newly found sample of the Equation Group espionage platform dubbed “EquationDrug.” “BACKSNARF,” according to page 19 of this undated NSA presentation, was the name of a project tied to the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations.


Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 11, 2015

Apple Products May Have Been Compromised By CIA Mass Surveillance Program;  CIA secretly helped build phone scanning tech for US operations;  Smartphone Thieves Hate This New Android Update;  15 things you’ve forgotten how to do thanks to your smartphone;  Meerkat lets you livestream videos over Twitter;  Facebook letting advertisers take a deeper look at users’ posts;  Apple’s Latest Betrayal;  It costs $158 to put ports back on your new MacBook;  Turkey to ban Minecraft for depictions of violence;  GTA Online Heists released today for Xbox and Playstation;  Senators again push for online sales tax;  Apple donates over $50 million to improve diversity in tech;  Here’s Why People Gossip So Much;  11 of the biggest geek freakouts of all time;  Researcher releases tool that can hijack accounts on sites using Facebook Login.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Apple Products May Have Been Compromised By CIA Mass Surveillance Program – The CIA has been involved in a “multi-year effort” to break through Apple’s security code, according to a new report from the Intercept. Top secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal a CIA-sponsored annual gathering called “Jamboree” where researchers presented the latest tactics at cracking the security code of Apple’s iPhones, iPads and proprietary developer tools. The report provides a total of 10 presentation slides detailing efforts to weaken the security of Apple’s products. One such slide describes the creation of a dummy version of Xcode that would be targeted at most likely innocent developers in order to “entice all MacOS applications to create a remote backdoor on execution.” This is just one accusation in a series of damning allegations against the NSA and cooperating security agencies. The NSA worked in conjunction with the British equivalent organization Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to steal SIM encryption keys, according to an earlier report from the Intercept.


CIA secretly helped build phone scanning tech for US operations – The new report furthers allegations that US law enforcement are increasingly relying on intelligence agencies for help, despite rules protecting domestic intelligence operations. The CIA, which is said to have provided most of the resources in the early days of the relationship, is barred from conducting most of its operations on US soil. Officials at the CIA and the Justice Dept. told the newspaper that they didn’t violate those rules.

Smartphone Thieves Hate This New Android Update – Android 5.1 was rolled out on Monday with a new anti-theft technology called Device Protection, according to Google’s Official Android Blog. The system will keep your stolen or lost phone locked until you sign in with your Google account, even if someone restores your phone to factory settings. Device Protection will be available on smartphones shipped with Android 5.1, and also the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9.

3 tools for finding and eradicating duplicate files on your hard drive – Do you have more files than space on your PC? These three tools can help you eke out a little more free space by getting rid of duplicate files and folders on your hard drive.

Meerkat lets you livestream videos over Twitter – With the rise of personal action cameras and, soon, VR headsets, livestreaming is taking a huge leap forward. We already have a lot of such platforms available, serving different needs, like Twitch and, of course, YouTube. But what if you wanted something a bit simpler, but also something that is as easily accessible as, say, your tweets? That is exactly what Meerkat is trying to offer. Users can simply start live streaming footage from their iPhone or iPad and broadcast it to their Twitter followers and for the whole world.


15 things you’ve forgotten how to do thanks to your smartphone – The transition from dumbphones to smartphones was pretty significant, but do you remember what you used to do before you had a portable, pocket-sized phone at all? Not to mention a portable, pocket-sized phone that also connects to the Internet and has hundreds of thousands of apps and controls every aspect of your life. I mean, remember when you had to do things like…call a restaurant from home, after looking up the phone number in the phone book, to make a dinner reservation? Here are 15 things you’ve totally forgotten how to do, thanks to your smartphone:

Facebook letting advertisers take a deeper look at users’ posts – This pipeline of data, which Facebook calls “topic data,” is being developed in partnership with DataSift, a data analysis company that looks at everything from social posts to news and blogs. Starting out, a select number of marketers that work with DataSift in the U.S. and the U.K. will gain access to the data, Facebook said on Tuesday. This type of Facebook data has previously been made available to marketers by third parties, but it offered only a limited view of what people were saying and of their demographic details.

How Apple’s New Health App Could Be Used — or Abused – While helping health care providers and researchers collect data and recruit qualified participants could lead to meaningful research advancements, some see reasons to be wary. “Two things concern me,” says Dr. David Ross Camidge, director of the Thoracic Oncology Clinical Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. For starters, big-name institutions may have more money and resources to develop these sorts of diagnostic apps, Camidge says. He worries patients may be directed away from the most-relevant or appropriate clinical trials to those that have the most funding behind them. “I certainly don’t know if that will be the case, but there seems like room for potential bias and commercialization,” he says.

Apple’s Latest Betrayal – “Seriously, fuck them,” read the tweet by M.J. The person was speaking about Apple and the new MacBook the company recently announced. There are countless other tweets and comments with the same sentiment. Right now there’s visceral hate directed at the company. A swath of consumers feel betrayed by the stark design of the new MacBook. Our original post on the topic was shared over 25,000 times. For good reason, too. The new MacBook thinks different. It has more in common with a tablet than most laptops. Think of it as an iPad that has a keyboard and runs OS X. And like the iPad, it only has one port, which is the cause of the outcry. This is Apple’s world and we just live in it.


It costs $158 to put ports back on your new MacBook – If the Lightning connector taught us anything, it’s that Apple is, unsurprisingly, totally willing to squeeze aging technology out of its products for the sake of thinness, even if means alienating customers in the short-term. Plus, it gives the company an excuse to sell that functionality back in the form of pricey little dongles. So with the newly announced thinnest-ever MacBook ditching everything but a headphone jack and an all-purpose USB Type-C port, get ready to buy a whole new set of adapters to turn it into a complete computer again.


Try These Interactive Demos Of Apple Watch Apps Featured At Apple’s Events – Apple has now spent a fair amount of time showing us how Apple Watch apps will work on its wearable, which launches on April 24 (with pre-orders starting April 10), but few have had a chance to try out the software for themselves. Dedicated watch app site WatchAware has spent considerable time and effort providing interactive teaser trailers that provide a basic idea how apps for Apple Watch will work in practice, however, and you can find a collection of those embedded below that include all the third- and some of the first-party apps Apple has featured both at Monday’s show, and at the iPhone launch event last September where the Apple Watch was first introduced to the world.


Here’s How the Apple Watch Will Work for Lefties – The device, which features a digital crown on its right side that can be twisted to manipulate menus, will offer an option to be oriented for the right wrist on initial setup. With that mode enabled, owners can simply flip the watch face over so the crown is on the left side instead. Watch bands can also be easily switched out so that they’re properly oriented.

Turkey to ban Minecraft for depictions of violence – When you think of Minecraft, the firs thing that pops into your mind isn’t likely to be violence. That’s not what the Turkish Ministry’s Children Services General Directorate is suggesting, though, making clear this week that they intend to begin the process of banning the game from the country for its depictions of violence. “Although the game can be seen as encouraging creativity in children by letting them build houses, farmlands and bridges,” said the ministry, “mobs [hostile creatures] must be killed in order to protect these structures. In short, the game is based on violence.”

OneDrive web app will get some usability improvements this month – Microsoft is constantly improving its online storage offering, whether it is by offering additional free storage, better integration with Outlook, or simply updating the apps that access the cloud service in order to provide a better experience. The Redmond giant today has announced that it will start rolling out a number of updates to its OneDrive web app, in order to improve the overall experience of using the cloud service for work. It will now be easier to create, share, and find the files you need to get things done.

Senators again push for online sales tax – A group of U.S. senators has revived an effort to require major online retailers to collect sales tax from shoppers. The nine senators on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would allow states to collect sales taxes—more than 9 percent in a handful of states—from large Internet sellers with no operations in the states collecting the taxes.

OnePlus One arrives in 16 new European countries – Chinese smartphone startup OnePlus is extending sales of the One in Europe ahead of the launch of its successor to the popular handset.

Microsoft India offers discounts on a new Lumia 435 if you trade in your Asha – Microsoft India has announced a Smart Exchange program, allowing owners of its Asha feature phones to trade in their devices in exchange for discounts of up to 25% off its new Lumia 435 Windows Phone.


Patch Tuesday patches FREAK, Universal XSS – Today’s bumper crop of updates for Windows and other Microsoft products doesn’t just fix a new version of the Stuxnet shortcut attack. It also provides fixes to two serious flaws, one in the operating system’s handling of secure connections and the other in Internet Explorer. First up is a fix for the FREAK attack that lets miscreants trick software into using crackable encryption. Windows was initially believed to be immune to the attack, but a couple of days after it was publicized, Microsoft announced that its software was vulnerable, though the company did not explain what it had learned or why Windows was initially believed to be safe.

Microsoft has pushed out four security patches for Windows 10 – If you are running Windows 10, Microsoft has released four security patches today that you should install as soon as possible to make sure that your OS is protected. The four patches were released today as part of ‘Patch Tuesday’ which occurs on the second Tuesday of every month.

Apple patches FREAK vulnerability on Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite – Apple has published its second major security roll-up package of the year, Security Update 2015-002, which contains fixes for multiple versions of OS X stretching from Mountain Lion 10.8.5 to Yosemite 10.10.2. These updates mitigate threats from several different vulnerabilities, but the most notable is a fix that will inoculate Safari users against the so-called “FREAK” SSL/TLS exploit (CVE-2015-0204, although at publication time the Apple page shows CVE-2015-0167 as the CVE ID for FREAK).

MajorGeeks blacklists Haysoft and MassTube for forced malware during installation – While making a test of the updated MassTube from HaySoft this morning I was given an unexpected detour of spending an hour trying to remove everything they silently installed when I attempted to close the window of one program it tried to install. The X in the corner was grayed out forcing you to reboot or end the process as seen in the picture below.


Ending the process or rebooting was too little, too late when I discovered 7 programs, including an out of date Java, installed on my computer without any warning.

Researcher releases tool that can hijack accounts on sites using Facebook Login – The tool, dubbed Reconnect, was released last week by Egor Homakov, a researcher with security firm Sakurity. It takes advantage of a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) issue in Facebook Login, the service that allows users to log in on third-party sites using their Facebook accounts. Homakov disclosed the issue publicly on his personal blog in January 2014, after Facebook declined to fix it because doing so would have broken compatibility with a large number of sites that used the service.

Yet Another Cleaner, Yet Another Stealer – Recently, we discovered that a relatively popular “anti-malware” product known as “Yet Another Cleaner” or YAC for short, has been claiming to be an affiliate of Malwarebytes in addition to using a lot of our detection names as their own. We looked deeper into their operation and found some pretty amazing and ugly things.

Kaspersky reveals CAPTCHA-tricking Podec Trojan – Kaspersky has unearthed an Android-targeted Trojan, dubbed Podec, that can trick the CAPTCHA image verification system into thinking it is human.

Company News:

Apple donates over $50 million to improve diversity in tech – In an effort to improve diversity within the tech community, Apple is donating over $50 million to a pair of organizations working to get more women and minorities working in the tech industry. In an interview with Fortune, Apple’s HR chief Denise Young Smith revealed that the company has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Center for Women and Information Technology to help improve diversity within the pipeline of talent coming into Apple, and throughout the industry.

PayPal Doubles Down On Israel: Confirms CyActive Acquisition, New Security Hub – PayPal — soon to be spinning off from parent company eBay — today confirmed its latest acquisition and move to build out its payment technology as a standalone business, and provide better protection in the growing problem of security breaches in e-commerce. It is buying CyActive, a specialist in predictive malware detection based out of Israel. And it will use the company’s operations to kickstart a larger security hub in the country, including potentially more acquisitions. Terms of the CyActive deal are not being reported but local press reports last week leaked out and put the price at $60 million. Specifically, PayPal’s CTO and SVP of payment services James Barrese told TechCrunch that price was “speculative.”

Apple seeks dismissal of battery maker’s poaching lawsuit – Apple asked a federal court on Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a maker of batteries for electric cars. The suit, by A123 Systems, accuses the iPhone maker of poaching key engineers, and Apple argues that the complaint is based on unfounded speculation.

Uber Pledges to Hire 1M Women by 2020 – Uber is looking to diversify its workforce, and has pledged to create 1 million jobs for women by 2020. Uber said it plans to work with UN Women, an organization dedicated to gender equality, towards a shared vision of “equality and women’s empowerment.” Besides creating more jobs for women as drivers on the Uber platform, the company plans to invest in long-term women’s programs in local communities.

Sling TV notches 100,000 users in a month – Dish’s Sling TV streaming video service is off to a solid start, with more than 100,000 subscribers on board after one month. The user numbers come from Re/code’s Peter Kafka, who cites unnamed sources. One anonymous executive called the early adoption “encouraging.”

Games and Entertainment:

GTA Online Heists released today for Xbox and Playstation – Can anyone ever get sick of Grand Theft Auto? If you were wishing for more GTA or still holding your breath until GTA V for PC is released April 10th, then the new GTA Online Heists is your gaming solution. We showed you the trailer for GTA Online Heists, and now it’s finally here. You can now coordinate strings of high-intensity robberies across multiple counties in-game. Best of all is that it’s free and playable across multiple platforms such as Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.


New Nvidia freebie bundles The Witcher 3 with GeForce graphics cards – Nvidia announced Tuesday that it’s giving away copies of The Witcher 3 with the purchase of a GeForce GTX 960, 970, or 980 graphics card from now until…sometime. Despite the bundle’s cringeworthy name (the “Undeniably Epic” bundle) this is a hell of a good deal—especially since AMD retired its “Never Settle” free game bundle for Radeon cards earlier this year.


Watch a new trailer for Pixar’s highly emotional Inside Out – After plenty of teasing, Pixar is finally releasing a trailer for Inside Out that gives a real sense of what the movie will be like — and if the prior trailers didn’t get you on board, this one should do it. The latest trailer makes Inside Out look like an appropriately emotional take on what it’s like to be young and struggling with your emotions. The film has an all-star voice cast, including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Phyllis Smith, and it’s directed by Pete Docter, who’s behind Pixar classics Monsters, Inc. and Up. Inside Out will be out June 19th.


Cities: Skylines – Cities: Skylines somehow lives up to the unfair expectations heaped upon it, presenting one of the best city builders in years.


Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (PC) impressions: Cap’n, she runs fine – We just got review code for the PC port of Assassin’s Creed: Rogue yesterday, so unfortunately we don’t have a review for you yet. In light of Ubisoft’s/Assassin’s Creed’s recent PC track record, however, I thought it maybe prudent to let you know how the game runs. In short: Great. That should come as no surprise. After all, Rogue is built on basically the same engine that powered Black Flag, and Black Flag ran perfectly fine. On a 970 I’m getting a smooth 60 frames per second with settings cranked. And boy, there sure are a lot of settings to tweak.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Here’s Why People Gossip So Much – According to some estimates, the average corporate email user sends 112 emails every day. About one out of every seven of those messages, says a new study from Georgia Tech, can be called gossip.

End Daylight Saving Time Now – This is the computer era. Why are we continuing with this idiocy called daylight saving time (DST)? I used to not care so much about this, but this time around, I’m finally fed up with it. I normally get up fairly early, around 7:30 a.m. I do not like getting up at 6:30 a.m. unless I need to get to the airport, and I’ll often cancel a trip if it means getting up that early. Because of DST, I am essentially getting up at 6:30 all the time.


Chameleon color changing abilities unlocked by science – A paper has been published this week in Nature Communications which shows how chameleons are able to swiftly and radically alter their exterior colors. Believe it or not, this study is brand new – science did not know how a creature like the Panther Chameleon was able to change colors based on emotion or surroundings. In addition to uncovering the secrets of miniature nanocrystals for color change, these scientists also uncovered another reason for their existence: passive thermal protection (made to keep cool).


Denver Police With Body Cameras Failed To Record Most Use-Of-Force Incidents, Report Finds – A report released Tuesday found that during a six-month pilot program for body cameras, a group of Denver police officers failed to record about three-quarters of the use-of-force incidents they were involved. There were 80 documented cases of use-of-force during the test run that included officers punching, “tasing” or using batons on a suspect. Of those, just 21 — or 26% — were recorded. The Denver Police Department did not immediately return calls for comment.

This finger-mounted camera helps the blind to read – A prototype device developed by researchers at MIT’s Media Lab would allow the blind to read with their finger without having to learn Braille. The FingerReader, mounted on the user’s finger, is equipped with a number of sensors that allows it to read text on a page on behalf of the reader. While using a computer, a blind user can make use of software that converts text to speech for web pages, word processing documents, PDF files and emails — but printed text is a different matter. The FingerReader brings text-to-speech to the real world by guiding the user’s finger along a line of text, generating the corresponding audio in real-time.


MIT Media Lab

11 of the biggest geek freakouts of all time – Let’s be honest with each other: when the geek community doesn’t like something, we’re loud about it. Complaining online is part and parcel of the nerd identity, and in this feature we’re going to take a trip back in time to find the 11 things that made us spill our spaghetti like never before.

Something to think about:

“It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.”

–     George Orwell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweak-SSD – The original Tweak-SSD: Everything you need to optimize your SSD drive on Windows 7 or 8.

Optimize and tweak your Windows 7 or Windows 8 for a better performance of your SSD drive

Includes several tweaks that will optimize your SSD drive, making it even faster and reducing read and write access

Intuitive tweaking wizard guiding you from one tweak to the other, suggesting the best settings

Designed especially for Windows 7 and Windows 8 – unlike competitive products!

TRIM performance optimizer included (licensed edition only)

Completely free!

Compared to competitive products, Tweak-SSD does not require any user knowledge when it comes to activating SSD related system tweaks. The included wizard guides the user from one tweak to the other and suggests the best setting by intuitive red-green switch buttons, and an additional system status gauge visualizing the system’s optimization status.

Tweak-SSD works on Windows 7 and Windows 8, both on 32bit and 64bit editions. It includes an English user interface.

BitTorrent Sync – Share directly from device to device. No cloud. No limits.

Sync uses advanced peer-to-peer technology to share files between devices. No cloud is required. This means there are no accounts, no file size limits, and transfer speeds are never throttled. You are free to share anything and everything you have.

Sync is a powerful and flexible application that equips users to get the job done. It is simple enough to share photos with friends, and powerful enough to sync terabytes of video between co-workers.

Sync is built from the ground up to ensure that you are in always in complete control of your files. Data is transferred directly from device to device. Files are never duplicated on to third party servers. Every connection is encrypted and secured against prying eyes.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Wikipedia sues NSA over dragnet internet surveillance – Researchers working with the Central Intelligence Agency have conducted a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept.

The security researchers presented their latest tactics and achievements at a secret annual gathering, called the “Jamboree,” where attendees discussed strategies for exploiting security flaws in household and commercial electronics. The conferences have spanned nearly a decade, with the first CIA-sponsored meeting taking place a year before the first iPhone was released.

By targeting essential security keys used to encrypt data stored on Apple’s devices, the researchers have sought to thwart the company’s attempts to provide mobile security to hundreds of millions of Apple customers across the globe. Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.

The CIA declined to comment for this story.

Pointing up   This action is not sufficient – not even close to what is required. Every computer owner, world wide, should be part of a class action lawsuit directed at the United States, named members of Congress, and Obama and his thug cabinet.

In any other era, the United States absolute disregard for the rights of other countries and its citizens, would be seen as an attack on those countries, its citizens and its sovereignty.

More to the point – its time for Americans to ask the most pertinent question of all.  Who, or what, directs the U.S. government? It sure as hell doesn’t appear to be Obama and his cabal.

The CIA helped develop planes that scrape cell phone data – The US may be using cellphone-sniffing planes to find suspects across the world, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. In November, the Journal revealed the US Marshal’s secret program to locate specific fugitive through airplane equipped to mimic cell towers. Flying over an urban area, the planes can pinpoint the location of a single number amid a million or more phones. The new report shows the technology first originated with the CIA, which guided the initial deployment of the planes by the Marshal Service. Furthermore, Journal sources say continues to be used to locate intelligence targets overseas.

If true, the report unveils a powerful weapon in US intelligence efforts abroad, but also reveals a troubling trend of foreign intelligence tools used for domestic law enforcement purposes.

New Zealand Targets Trade Partners, Hacks Computers in Spy Operations – New Zealand is conducting covert surveillance operations against some of its strongest trading partners and has obtained sophisticated malware to infect targeted computers and steal data, newly released documents reveal.

The country’s eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, is carrying out the surveillance across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond as part of its membership in the Five Eyes, a spying alliance that includes New Zealand as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The documents, revealed on Tuesday by the New Zealand Herald in collaboration with The Intercept, expose more details about the scope of New Zealand’s involvement in the Five Eyes, and show that the agency’s reach extends far beyond its previously reported eavesdropping on at least ten small South Pacific nations and territories.

Bulk comms spying is not mission creep, insists UK foreign sec – The minister responsible for the oversight of GCHQ has today defended the interception of bulk communications data, saying it does not amount to mission creep by Blighty’s intelligence agencies.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it was necessary to address public concerns about the regulatory framework and the powers that govern their activities.

Hammond made the comments in a wide-ranging speech on security and intelligence, which also criticised ‘Jihadi John’ apologists and warned that Russia could pose the single biggest threat to UK security.

Hammond said there will always be a tension between giving agencies reasonable access to information and the legitimate concern of law-abiding people to protect their private communications.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 10, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About The Apple Watch;  iOS 8.2 rolls out bringing improvements and compulsory Apple Watch app;  The Apple Watch Compared To The Competition;  Minecraft update reduces security risks on PCs;  Google Rolls Out Android 5.1 Lollipop;  Samsung opens Milk Music to everyone via the Web;  What happens when a hard drive crashes;  Xiaomi solves Mi 4 malware dustup: device was counterfeit;  Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast vs. Amazon Fire TV;  New Xbox One bundle includes ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ at no extra cost;  Apple TV price cut to $69, £59 or AU$109;  Apple locks HBO Now for ‘Game of Thrones';  Apple ResearchKit Turns iPhones Into Medical Diagnostic Devices;  The Best iPhone Games of the Week;  Heavy smartphone use linked to lazy thinkers, low intelligence.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Everything You Need To Know About The Apple Watch – Apple has finally revealed all regarding the Apple Watch, the wrist-based wearable it first introduced last September. Many of the Apple Watch’s particulars were already known, but here, for the first time, is a comprehensive look at what will no doubt become the world’s most popular smartwatch. Pre-orders will begin on April 10th. The device will start shipping on April 24th, and cost anywhere from $349 to $10,000 depending on style.


9 facts you didn’t know you wanted to know about Apple Watch – According to Apple, it’s “everything a watch should be,” including very expensive and owned by models!

The Apple Watch Compared To The Competition – After nearly half a year of suspense, we finally have all the details about the Apple Watch, including when it’ll launch, how much it’ll cost, and what the user experience will be like. That means we can take a step back and look at how it compares to the rest of the smartwatch market. To make this a fair fight, we’ve taken the Apple Watch and put it up against premium smartwatches — other devices made from expensive-feeling metal and glass, with apps that communicate with those on your phone to keep you from spending all of your time staring at your iOS- or Android-powered pocket slate.


Use This Ingenious Trick to Choose the Right Apple Watch Size – It basically costs a dollar to tell which one’s right for you.

iOS 8.2 rolls out bringing improvements and compulsory Apple Watch app – The iOS update, which is detailed below, also brought with it the Apple Watch app to iPhone which cannot be deleted, the app joins an array of compulsory Apple apps that can’t be deleted including Passbook, Tips, Stocks, Weather, Calendar, Clock, FaceTime, Contacts, iBooks, Compass, Maps, Health, Newsstand, Photos, Camera, Notes, Messages, Voice Memos, the iTunes Store, and the App Store.

Google Rolls Out Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google on Monday rolled out some “tasty additions” to its Android Lollipop mobile operating system, adding some new capabilities like multiple-SIM card support. Android 5.1 “improves stability and performance” in phones and tablets running Lollipop, Google Android Platform executive Dave Burke wrote in a blog post. In addition to supporting multiple SIM slots in phones, the 5.1 update adds Device Protection to phones and slates running Lollipop, meaning that “your lost or stolen device will remain locked until you sign in with your Google account—even if someone resets your device to factory settings,” Burke said.

Let Authy handle your Android two-step authentication – For those sites and services that support two-step authentication, having a single tool to handle that would be a boon for many users. That’s exactly what Authy is. With this easy-to-use app, you can enable two-step verification on any service that takes advantage of Google authentication (such as Gmail, Dropbox, Lastpass, and Amazon Web Services). So, if you’re hoping for an easier means for two-step authentication, let’s install Authy and see if it meets that need.


Rocketbook digitizes notes, then erases them in the microwave - Try as we might, some of us cannot substitute writing on paper with writing on a display, no matter how sensitive the device and precise the stylus. Still, digital copies are the best way to store notes, and notebooks that digitize what one writes have been the long-running compromise, giving the best of both worlds. Rocketbook is one example of this, but with a twist: when writing with a specific pen, one can microwave the notebook for 30 seconds to erase the papers, making the same paper notebook reusable.


What happens when a hard drive crashes – We’re all terrified of the day when our hard drive just stops working. Here’s what goes on inside the drive when disaster strikes.

Apple ResearchKit Turns iPhones Into Medical Diagnostic Devices – ResearchKit lets people take tests like saying “ahhh” to detect vocal variations, walking in a line, or tapping in rhythm to test for Parkinson’s Disease. Users will decide how to share their data and Apple won’t see it. And to advance its evolution, ResearchKit will be open source. ResearchKit will be available next month, and the first five tests built with it will become available today. They help people participate in tests for Parkinson’s, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and breast cancer.


Samsung opens Milk Music to everyone via the Web – Samsung is bringing its free Milk Music streaming radio service to more users via the Web as promised in January. Until now, Milk Music has been available as an app only for Samsung’s smartphones, tablets, TVs and smartwatches, but starting Monday it will be available to anyone with a browser. Users will need to create an account on Samsung’s Web site to access the service .

Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast vs. Amazon Fire TV: Which streamer should you buy? – Which has the most apps? Which has the coolest features? Which one is the best? The most popular media streamers all have their merits, so we’ll help you decide which box is right for you.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook to close FriendFeed in April – A flash from the past is being shut down, Facebook has announced. It’s the now-dated social network FriendFeed, and the number of people still using it are dropping quickly, leaving little incentive for Facebook — which bought it more than a handful of years ago — to keep it around. Those still using the service will have a few more weeks to get any of their data off of it and say their final farewell, with the closure being scheduled to take place on April 9.

Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 CTP 3 Released – Microsoft has released a new Community Technical Preview of Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 and if you want to download the bits, you can find the link after the jump.


Xiaomi solves Mi 4 malware dustup: device was counterfeit – Yesterday, news surfaced that the Xiaomi Mi 4 came preloaded with malware. While we can handle a little bloatware, malware is just — no. Even more subversive than straight-up malware, some of the apps installed were disguised as Google apps. Security company Bluebox, who released the report, even suggested Xiaomi handed their handset off to a third party to get the malware installed, which is about as low as you can get. Now, Xiaomi has their say, and comfortably quashed any thought of malware on their devices.

Minecraft update reduces security risks on PCs – Minecraft is a very popular video game that lets players build just about anything they can dream up using blocks of all sorts of materials. What players can build in the game is only limited by their imagination and patience placing blocks. One of the drawbacks of Minecraft in the past was a potential to leave PCs with security vulnerabilities. These security issues were due to the Java run-anywhere code base that the game required. That particular Java code left PCs vulnerable to security exploits and adware. Those security vulnerabilities have now been reduced thanks to an update that landed over the last few weeks.


A few small steps for man, a giant leap for online security – The online world is vast. Just follow these straightforward tips, which will make it harder for hackers, and keep you secure.

Cyberespionage arsenal could be tied to French intelligence – A collection of computer Trojans that have been used since 2009 to steal data from government agencies, military contractors, media organizations and other companies is tied to cyberespionage malware possibly created by French intelligence agencies. Researchers from several antivirus companies have found links between the malware programs, which they call Babar, Bunny, Casper, Dino, NBot and Tafacalou.

Company News:

Microsoft asks U.S. court to ban Kyocera’s Android phones – Microsoft has asked a court in Seattle to ban Kyocera’s DuraForce, Hydro and Brigadier lines of cellular phones in the U.S., alleging that they infringed seven Microsoft patents. The software giant has in its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington charged that some Kyocera phone features that come from its use of the Android operating system infringe its patents.

Google hires Twitter’s data guy – Google just hired one of the most important people at Twitter to join their team as Trends Data Editor. Not that Simon Rogers is going to make or break a company like Twitter, but the ability to do what he did for Twitter – and what he’ll be doing for Google – is really, really is an important role. Especially for the public, seeing how events explode in a virtual way, seeing that sort of thing clearly, and easily – that’s what Rogers does.

Intel Unveils First 14nm, Xeon D SoCs – Intel on Monday introduced its 14-nanometer Xeon D family of microserver processors, bringing System-on-a-Chip (SoC) capabilities to the company’s Xeon line of datacenter products for the first time. The first Xeon D products are the quad-core Xeon Processor D-1520, priced at $199, and the eight-core Xeon Processor D-1540, priced at $581. Both new SoCs are available today. Intel said Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Quanta Cloud Technology, Sugon, and Supermicro are among the companies designing microservers based on Xeon D.

Tesla’s China troubles lead to job cuts – Tesla has lofty goals, and it has grown its workforce steadily over the last year or so. Still, the Chinese market has proven problematic for the auto maker, and now those troubles are leading to job cuts. That doesn’t mean Tesla is giving up on the market — to the contrary, this “restructuring” is taking place so that the company can continue to operate there, at least according to the auto maker. It isn’t clear how many jobs are on the chopping block at this point.

Uber, Lyft, Sidecar asked by US lawmakers to use fingerprint checks of drivers – Eight members of the U.S. Congress have asked Uber Technologies, Lyft and Sidecar Technologies to adopt fingerprint-based background checks of their drivers, describing the procedure as “more comprehensive and harder to fake.” The ride-hailing companies have come under increasing pressure to better vet their drivers, particularly in the wake of reports of sexual and other assaults by drivers in some cities.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple TV price cut to $69, £59 or AU$109 – At the Apple Watch event today Tim Cook announced a price cut on the Apple TV box, bringing it down to $69 in the US and £59 in the UK. In Australia it stays the same at AU$109, due to a downturn in the Australian dollar. Since its debut in March 2012 the streaming box has sold for $99 in the US.

Apple locks HBO Now for ‘Game of Thrones’ – Attention cord-cutting “Game of Thrones” fans: If you want to watch the new season of the hit fantasy while it’s new, you better be an Apple fan too. Apple’s exclusive launch of HBO Now will last through the entirety of the new fifth season of “Game of Thrones.” That exclusive lasts three months, HBO said, and because HBO Now’s launch in early April precedes the season premiere April 12, a standard 10-episode season will run its course before owners of Roku, Google’s Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV will get a shot at subscribing.

New Xbox One bundle includes ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ at no extra cost – Halo fans who have yet to buy an Xbox One now have a compelling reason to do so: Microsoft is now offering “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” for free as part of a $350 bundle with its newest gaming console. According to a post on the company’s official Xbox Wire website, “The Master Chief Collection” will be available for free with the Xbox One bundle in the U.S. and “most regions where Xbox One is available.” The game will come as a digital download to consumers purchasing the bundle, though no additional details were provided.


GTA Online Heists update details leaked online – GTA Online Heists is a new mode which will officially launch tomorrow as a free update. However, some users have already posted screenshots with several details indicating that they prematurely received the update overnight. These users claim that the download size is a hefty 4.8 GB on the Xbox One but is relatively smaller on the Xbox 360 weighing in at 1.2 GB. The long-awaited add-on includes five new heist missions along with an assortment of weapons, armored cars, costumes and masks. Nine achievements worth 250 gamerscore have also been added, amounting to a total of 1250 gamerscore. The missions include beating a heist without taking damage and spending in-game money on the new cars.


ScreenStick is a stick-on joystick for tablets – Mobile gaming has become a sophisticated hobby over the years, and anyone who enjoys it quickly grows tired of on-screen digital controls. The solution is a mobile gamepad, of which there is no shortage, but they all come with the same design: a clip in which a smartphone or tablet is slid, positioning it above a standard gaming controller. ScreenStick is different, putting physical joysticks on your device’s display using suction cups for a more natural feel when holding the device.


Xbox Live for Windows 10 will be free for online multiplayer gaming – Microsoft is finally bringing Xbox Live to Windows PCs and phones in a meaningful way with Windows 10, and with it comes the possibility of online multiplayer gaming using Microsoft’s gaming service. While Microsoft currently charges Xbox One owners to use online multiplayer gaming, the software maker has no plans to extend that to Windows 10 PCs or phones. Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, otherwise known as Major Nelson, confirmed the plans on Twitter last week in response to concerns over Xbox Live on Windows 10. “Not charging,” says Hryb, “Xbox Live Gold will not be required for online multiplayer gaming using our service on Windows 10 PCs and Phones.”

The Best iPhone Games of the Week – Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This is the first Apple Watch TV commercial – Apple is starting to air its first TV commercial for the Apple Watch. It features the usual array of floating products set to white backgrounds and mesmerizing music. There’s no voiceover here, you just see “the watch is coming” and the April 24th launch date alongside various features like fitness, mapping, timing, flight tracking, weather, Passbook, and even messaging or calls. The focus is very much on the changing bands throughout the 60-second ad, with a lot of different styles displayed. It’s bold, typically Apple, and you’ll likely see it a lot of times on your TV over the next few weeks.


The Apple Watch Isn’t A Watch, It’s An iPhone Sales Engine – The Apple Watch is not a watch in the same way that the iPhone was not a phone — or at least not what we knew to be a phone at the time. “Watch” is not the device’s primary functionality, just as “phone” was not the iPhone’s primary functionality. iPhone was an honest-to-god computer in your pocket — and Apple Watch is an honest-to-god iPhone on your wrist. But there’s a big caveat: It’s an iPhone on your wrist that requires yet another iPhone in your pocket.

Samsung made a $30,000 high-tech dog house – Apple’s engineers are hard at work on an ultramodern car. Samsung’s? They just finished making a dog house. A really, really fancy dog house. Samsung is sponsoring the world’s biggest dog show, Crufts, this year. They look a bit odd next to a bunch of pet food and pet insurance companies, what with them not really being in a pet-related business. It’s one of the few things they’re not active in, really. To fit in with the likes of Purina and Orijen, Samsung engineers and designers whipped up this insanely modern dog house. It’s packed with technology to pamper the savvy pooch in your life. All that gadgetry comes at a price, of course: roughly $30,000.


We have no self-control: America’s most powerful men explain why they’re scared of email – As two of Congress’ most senior representatives, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain sit on many of the most important committees overseeing the business of the United States government. Which has left observers all the more confused and disturbed that they seem to be doing so without use of arguably the most pervasive and influential written communication application in the world. The solution to vast intrusions into privacy, in the senior lawmakers’ eyes, is seemingly not to protect citizens from those carrying out surveillance but to simply opt out of using technology altogether. And that is far more disturbing that the use of personal email by a former secretary of state.

Solar airplane soars to start first-ever round-the-world trip – The Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Abu Dhabi on the first leg of an attempted 20,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe — an unprecedented journey for a sun-powered craft.


Heavy smartphone use linked to lazy thinkers, low intelligence – The University of Waterloo has carried out a study of 660 people focusing on the cognitive style of participants combined with their smartphone habits. More specifically, they looked at the type of thinkers they are, ranging from very intuitive right through to very analytical. They also looked at verbal and numerical skills. The University stops short of claiming smartphones decrease intelligence, stating further research would be required for that. However, if you consider how many children carry a smartphone around today, it’s not hard to imagine how their ability to learn may be inhibited by the always available alternative brain in their pocket.

Pointing up    Lazy and stupid smartphone users – I don’t know much about. Ignorant, rude and crass smartphone users – I know lots about.

After taking phone giants’ money, these Republicans want to kill net neutrality – More than 30 members of Congress are rallying behind a bill that threatens the new rules introduced by the FCC.

Something to think about:

“Human rights do not stand in the way of security that is universal, durable and inclusive. Human rights are in fact the very key.”

-     Toronto Star

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Disk Defrag – Get the best performance out of your expensive hardware investments, improve your PC’s performance and stability.

Disk fragmentation leads to system slowdowns, PC crashes, slow startup and shutdown and sometimes to system failures.

Auslogics Disk Defrag is designed for fast optimization of today’s modern hard disks. Get the maximum performance out of your expensive hardware investments. And it’s absolutely FREE.

Hard disks are by far the slowest component in your computer. CPU and memory work much faster than hard disks because they do not have moving parts. Therefore fragmented disks often become a bottleneck of the system performance.

Besides causing slowdowns, fragmentation makes the hard drive disk heads move frequently when reading files which leads to freeze-ups and system crashes. It is important to keep your disks defragmented and optimized as much as possible.


Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in only a few minutes

Useful disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Anti-terror bill a setback for human rights in Canada – Want to feel more secure? Bill C-51, now being examined by a parliamentary committee in three weeks of truncated hearings, aims to establish criminal offences that infringe free expression, unprecedented intrusive intelligence powers, breathtakingly vast definitions of security, unbridled sharing of information and stunning levels of secrecy; all while doing nothing to enhance review, oversight and accountability of Canada’s national security agencies.

The message is that human rights have to give way to keep terrorism at bay. The relationship between the two is seen as a zero-sum game. More safety means fewer rights. Stronger regard for rights leads to greater insecurity.

It is time to turn that around. Human rights do not stand in the way of security that is universal, durable and inclusive. Human rights are in fact the very key.

Schneier on Security: Attack Attribution and Cyber Conflict – The vigorous debate after the Sony Pictures breach pitted the Obama administration against many of us in the cybersecurity community who didn’t buy Washington’s claim that North Korea was the culprit.

What’s both amazing — and perhaps a bit frightening — about that dispute over who hacked Sony is that it happened in the first place.

But what it highlights is the fact that we’re living in a world where we can’t easily tell the difference between a couple of guys in a basement apartment and the North Korean government with an estimated $10 billion military budget. And that ambiguity has profound implications for how countries will conduct foreign policy in the Internet age.

Immediately After Launching Effort to Scuttle Iran Deal, Senator Tom Cotton to Meet with Defense Contractors – In an open letter organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.

Tomorrow, 24 hours later, Cotton will appear at an “Off the Record and strictly Non-Attribution” event with the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for defense contractors.

The NDIA is composed of executives from major military businesses such as Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, ManTech International, Boeing, Oshkosh Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton, among other firms.

Cotton strongly advocates higher defense spending and a more aggressive foreign policy. As The New Republic’s David Ramsey noted, “Pick a topic — Syria, Iran, Russia, ISIS, drones, NSA snooping — and Cotton can be found at the hawkish outer edge of the debate…During his senate campaign, he told a tele-townhall that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels joining forces to attack Arkansas was an ‘urgent problem.’”

“Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.”

Pointing up   Each of the signatories to this letter should be arrested and charged with Treason. 

According to the U.S. legal code, the definition of treason is fairly specific: 

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 9, 2015

Why You Should Never Sign a Cell Phone Contract Again;  How to keep your connected home safe;  The top security apps of the year;  The Best Smartphones and Tablets of MWC;  Is Chrome OS right for you? A 3-question quiz to find out;  3 cool things about Gmail 4.0 for iOS;  How to run more than web apps from a Chromebook;  8 On-Demand Weed Delivery Apps;  Vivaldi Is Quickly Becoming The Alternative Browser To Beat;  5 apps for managing your wine cellar;  Six factors for finding a new web hosting provider;  UK Readies 25% ‘Google Tax’ On Tech Giants’ Diverted Profits;  U.K. Police Arrest 57 in Cybercrime Crackdown;  Blizzard Launches ‘Heroes of the Dorm’ Tourney;  21 Crazy GoPro Stunt Videos You Must Watch;  Can We Guess Your Age By How You Use The Internet?  1600 Windows Icons – Metro Style (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Inside the panopticon economy: The next internet revolution, privacy and you – Summary:The next evolution of the internet will embed sensors into nearly everything around us. Dealing with the privacy and security implications of that will be one of the biggest challenges of the next century.

Pointing up   I’ve been feeling sort of sliced, diced, sold and digested, this last while. Now I know why.    Sad smile

Why You Should Never Sign a Cell Phone Contract Again – Like rocket science and high school relationships, cell phone plans are complicated for a reason. Two-year contract or early-upgrade plan? Month-to-month or pay-as-you-go? Individual or shared data? Big carriers like AT&T and Verizon love it this way — they know most consumers won’t know a good plan from a bad one. When every choice is filled with exceptions, limitations and fine print, how can you even begin to compare your options? You’d be a fool to even try. Well, call us fools, because we sat down and did just that. In order to keep things straightforward, we made a few assumptions up front:

How to keep your connected home safe: 7 steps you can take to boost home security – The proliferation of smart devices, however, also opens the door to new dangers and threats. Even with something as simple as a smart light socket that you can control remotely with your phone, what makes that possible is the little computer in the switch that can talk to the Internet—which means that Internet users can talk back. What’s a homeowner to do? While it’s practically impossible to stop a determined professional hacker, there are steps you can take to at least make their task more difficult, and to discourage the simpler attacks. Think of these seven steps as the connected home equivalent of putting locks on your windows or stopping your newspaper delivery while you’re on vacation.


Independent labs have announced their awards for the top security apps of the year – What’s the best antivirus software, and how can you tell? When we review security software at, we do hands-on testing, looking at everything from user-friendliness to virus eradication, but we also look at test results from independent institutes like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. These labs do not produce their own antivirus software and perform rigorous, objective tests on security suites from all major manufacturers. Here are the consumer security apps that recently won the labs’ seal of approval:

The Best Smartphones and Tablets of MWC – Barcelona is the mobile tech capital of the world, and Mobile World Congress has far surpassed CES as the preeminent venue for all the greatest mobile device releases. If there’s a new smartphone or tablet out there, it’s here on the show floor. We’ve been scouring the halls of the Fira Gran Via convention center, sifting through endless booths filled with studs and duds of the mobile world to bring you the cream of the crop.


Driver was on Facebook before crash that killed three, say cops – A Wisconsin woman’s phone is recovered months after a crash in which her daughter and two nieces, whom she was driving, were killed. She is being charged with homicide.

3 cool things about Gmail 4.0 for iOS – For any Gmail user who owns an iPhone or iPad, there’s a decision to be made: Use Apple’s stock Mail app, or switch to Google’s Gmail app? If you’ve been on the fence, this may swing the pendulum toward the latter: Gmail 4.0 for iOS brings three welcome new features to iPhones and iPads, most of them designed to help you work faster.

Is Chrome OS right for you? A 3-question quiz to find out – Google’s Chrome OS is one of the world’s most misunderstood computing platforms. Chromebooks are foundationally different from traditional PCs, after all — and consequently, there are a lot of misconceptions about how they work and what they can and cannot do. Whether it’s you or someone you know who’s curious, the following three questions should help shed some light on what the platform’s all about and for whom it makes sense.

How to run more than web apps from a Chromebook – If you use a Chromebook, you may still want to use software built for another operating system, such as Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. Good news: you can, but you may need additional hardware — or a subscription to a service — to do so. Here are a few options.

Apple Watch apps designed to be used for a few seconds at a time, report says – App-makers are hard at work building apps for the Apple Watch in top-secret conditions that would make Maxwell Smart jealous, according to a new report. Behind those closed doors, Apple is offering guidelines on how Watch apps should work and suggesting that wearers will use the app for less than ten seconds at a time. According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, sample Watches are made available to developers in locked rooms with no Internet access at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. Code created by the developers isn’t allowed to leave Apple.

Pinterest Releases First Year-Long Transparency Report – As you might expect, the U.S. government doesn’t care all that much about your pinned content. Or, to frame it another way, there just doesn’t seem to be all that much on Pinterest that necessitates investigation by U.S. law enforcement agencies. Pinterest has officially released its first-ever (full-year) transparency report, and the service just didn’t receive that that many legal requests throughout 2014. In total, it receive 39 requests from agencies within the United States, and a whopping two requests from international agencies (one Canadian and one Australian).

GNOME 2 is back: Ubuntu MATE is now an official flavor – Ubuntu MATE is now an official flavor of Ubuntu. Yes, that means Ubuntu is giving a stamp of endorsement to GNOME 2 once again. You don’t need to switch to Linux Mint—just install the Ubuntu MATE disc and get a desktop that works like it did before Ubuntu’s Unity and the GNOME Shell came along.


Pandora reveals ad-free day pass coming soon – When it comes to online music streaming service Pandora, there are two ways to listen: the typical ad-supported option which is free, and a paid subscription plan called Pandora One, which costs users $4.99 per month. But what about those times when you want to play some music for an extended period without the annoying ads, yet paying for a full month is just too much? At a recent investor day, the company revealed a new day pass option, said to be coming later this year, that aims to serve just such a user scenario.

The Evolution Of The Browser – The browser wars have always been cyclical, moving from periods of monoculture dominated by one or two browsers to periods of comparative competition characterized by multiple, strong, second-tier browsers and a growing list of niche browsers.  While Spartan and Vivaldi are the most widely written about new browsers, many additional, niche browsers have recently launched or are under development, including Torch (BitTorrent) Epic (privacy), Nitro (speed) and Slim (fast startup) and Lightspeed (minimalist, search-oriented). Then, there are the many browsers with large followings in China — 360 Safe for PC, Baidu, Sougou, UC Web and Cheetah.

Vivaldi Is Quickly Becoming The Alternative Browser To Beat – Opera’s former CEO Jón von Tetzchner launched the first preview of its new Chromium-based Vivaldi browser in January. Now in its second technical preview, which adds a boatload of new features, the browser is quickly shaping up to be a worthwhile alternative to Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE — and especially for former Opera users.


An incredibly shrinking Firefox faces endangered species status – Just two weeks after Mozilla’s top Firefox executive said that rumors of its demise were “dead wrong,” the iconic browser dropped another three-tenths of a percentage point in analytics firm Net Applications’ tracking, ending February with 11.6%. That was Firefox’s lowest share since July 2006, when the browser had been in the market for less than two years.

Pocket vino: We review 5 apps for managing your wine cellar – Numerous wine cellar management apps are now available, but this is a market that’s still emerging and in flux. Growing pains abound, and many of these apps are still finding their feet. In fact, some of the veterans in this space have yet to build a reliable, worthwhile app for what ought to be a pretty simple task. Which app should you trust with managing some of your most prized possessions? We put five of the most noteworthy wine cellar management apps to the test to separate the gems from the plonk.

8 On-Demand Weed Delivery Apps – The fast-growing pot industry not only raked in $2.7 billion in sales this last year, it’s also produced quite a few ganja-based startups. It’s legal to light up a bowl for recreation or medical reasons in 23 of these 50 United States now and soon as there’s a growing industry, there are technological innovations to support it. We’ve counted at least 8 on-demand delivery apps out there that will bring medicinal grade weed varietals right to your door.

Photos: 10 must-have accessories for your 3D printer – If you have a desktop 3D printer, you need some accessories to keep it updated and working properly. Here are 10 things to keep in your toolkit.


Six factors for finding a new web hosting provider – Small business owners are often completely in the dark when it comes to choosing a hosting provider. This is a major decision for your business, so make sure to consider every option before making the call. Start by taking a hard look at these six key areas:


Xiaomi Mi 4 malware accusation prompts security controversy – Earlier this week, Bluebox, a data security company, released a findings report on their tests of the Xiaomi Mi 4 smartphone. Unfortunately for Xiaomi, their results were far from stellar. Not only did the security firm find malicious malware installed on the device, but some of it was even disguised to appear as Google apps. Even worse, they believe an unknown third party tampered with the Android-powered smartphone. Read on for more details about what they found, as well as Xiaomi’s official response to the report. Xiaomi has contacted SlashGear with an official statement, confirming an investigation is underway and suggesting that Bluebox was sold a counterfeit phone. In addition to publishing Xiaomi’s comment in full, below, we have updated our title to reflect the ongoing development of this story. Crapware Added to Mac OS X Java Installations – Spoiler: Don’t just blindly click through prompts when installing Java. While the integration of software into the Java installation program might not rise to the level of, say, a Lenovo Superfish incident, it’s still unfortunate to see Oracle doubling down on adware. For more, see How to Remove the Toolbar From Your Browser.

Silent Circle: We haven’t been served a single demand for data – The maker of encrypted phone and messaging products was caught in a mini-storm Saturday when reports suggested its warrant canary, a tool designed to alert the receipt of a warrant that comes with a gag order, was missing an explicit declaration that it had not been compromised by a government data demand.

Three foreigners charged with massive email breach in US – There is that saying about the long arm of the law and the places that it reaches. Considering how this latest cyber crime case practically covers three countries both near and far from the US, that might very well be applicable here. Several agencies of the US government made a joint announcement revealing some of the details that concerns two Vietnamese nationals and one Canadian who have been involved in one of the most massive case of email hacking and spam in the history of the US.

U.K. Police Arrest 57 in Cybercrime Crackdown – The U.K’s National Crime Agency on Friday announced it has arrested 57 suspected hackers as part of a cybercrime crackdown dubbed “strike week.” Working with partners in law enforcement, industry, and government, the agency carried out 25 separate operations across England, Scotland, and Wales. The suspects are charged with crimes such as breaking into the networks of multinational corporations and government agencies to steal data, launching distributed denial of service attacks, and developing and distributing computer viruses and other malicious software.

Company News:

UK Readies 25% ‘Google Tax’ On Tech Giants’ Diverted Profits – In the lead up to the UK’s national election in May, big tech companies are finding themselves in the crossfire. An article in the Sunday Times (paywalled) lays out more details around UK Chancellor George Osborne’s proposal for a “Google Tax” — a 25% tax on big tech companies’ profits from UK operations that, through creative accounting, have been diverted offshore, saving these businesses millions in tax bills. The tax will be included in the UK Budget, due to be published later this month. The “Google Tax” of 25% will be higher than the usual 20% corporate tax levied in the UK, and it is expected to be applied only to companies whose annual revenues are more than £250 million ($376 million).

Samsung has received more than 20 million pre-orders for its latest flagship devices – A top executive at a leading mobile carrier in Europe says that Samsung has received 20 million pre-orders for its Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge which is far better than the previous Galaxy models.

VMware alleged to have violated Linux’s open source license for years – Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig filed the suit in the district court of Hamburg, Germany with funding from the nonprofit Software Freedom Conservancy, which works to “promote, improve, develop, and defend” free and open source software. The case centers on “a combined work that VMware allegedly created by combining their own code (‘vmkernel’) with portions of Linux’s code, which was licensed only under GPLv2,” the group said in an FAQ describing the lawsuit.

Google is developing a virtual reality version of Android, report says – A team of engineers at Google is building a version of Android for virtual reality applications, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing two people familiar with the project. “Tens of engineers” and other staff are said to be working on the project. The OS would be freely distributed, the report said, mirroring the strategy that made Android the most popular OS for smartphones. The report didn’t provide any launch plans, and Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


Photobucket Raises $3.6 Million, Plans To Acquire A Mobile Photo-Sharing App – Denver-based Photobucket, one of the web’s older brands which offers a photo and video-sharing service online and on mobile, has closed on $3.6 million in new funding, an SEC filing reveals and the company confirms. The additional capital is part of a larger, still-in-progress round, which sees the photo sharing service seeking around $8.1 million in new funding.

Games and Entertainment:

Blizzard Launches ‘Heroes of the Dorm’ Tourney – Want to win free college tuition? Get out your game controller. Blizzard on Friday announced a new Heroes of the Storm tournament for college students with more than $450,000 in tuition and prizes up for grabs. The so-called “Heroes of the Dorm” tourney is open to active college students in the U.S. and Canada and will have three rounds of competition. Open qualifiers begin March 28, followed by a single-elimination bracket featuring 64 teams that starts on April 11. The event concludes with a final “Heroic Four” live event in late April. The final rounds of the tourney will be televised live on ESPN.


5 Interesting Indie Games at PAX East – Titles like Banner Saga, Gone Home, and Rogue Legacy represent relatively small games that provide big entertainment for a fraction of the price of mainstream, juggernaut titles—you can purchase an acclaimed indie for roughly $15. That’s a wonderful thing in this era of the troubled AAA game, a time when $60 titles ship to stores littered with bugs that require massive Day 1 patches. Indie games, free from large publishers’ vice-like grip, often dare to be different. While AAA titles typically feature shooting, shooting, and more shooting, indie games come in a variety of flavors. And PAX East is full of them.


An example: Gathering Sky (Android, iOS, PC) – Gathering Sky has the potential to be 2015’s Journey. You guide a single bird through the sky as you explore the game world and find other birds to join you. The goal? Fly through beautiful environments and create an expressive story without words. You can expect to see Gathering Sky in digital marketplaces in mid-April.

PS4 software version 2.50 to include button remapping, rest mode enhancements – It’s a been a while since Sony has released an update to the PlayStation 4’s software that really added any new features to the console. But it appears that will change soon, as version 2.50 seems to be in the works, with members of the PlayStation MVP program getting invites to beta test the software update. Invites are said to come via message from the PlayStation Network through March 9th, while the following info about new features comes from those who’ve already downloaded the beta.

Feelreal Brings Real Scents, Heat, and Water to Virtual Reality – The Feelreal headset isn’t its own virtual reality device. Rather, it straps on to an existing headset like the Oculus Rift, the Samsung Gear VR, or Sony’s Morpheus headset (to name a few). The sensation is unique, to put it mildly. To its credit, Feelreal’s headset does a decent job of recreating sensations using a variety of techniques: Odors blasted toward your nose, hot air sent across your face, and a gentle water misting dripped onto your cheeks. Nevertheless, the experience didn’t quite thrill Robertson, who summed up his trip through a virtual reality rainforest, waterfall, and fire as “pure, unfettered fear.”


Mantle is a Vulkan: AMD’s dead graphics API rises from the ashes in OpenGL’s successor – Obi Wan said it best: ‘If you strike me down, I’ll become far more powerful than you’ll ever imagine.’ That’s happened with AMD’s API Mantle which died at 1.0 but has risen as the new Vulkan API.

Off Topic (Sort of):

21 Crazy GoPro Stunt Videos You Must Watch – Illegal shenanigans aside, it turns out that there’s a bountiful library of GoPro-enabled videos that will allow those of us with a healthy amount of respect for our physical well-beings to live vicariously through those who don’t. We don’t recommend that you try any of these activities yourself, but we do recommend that you watch as others narrowly avoid catastrophe!


Can We Guess Your Age By How You Use The Internet?


Pointing up    The test tells me that I’m 29 years old – off by 30 years. Looks like tech is keeping me young (younger, youngish?)   Smile

The Ambassador who worked from Nairobi bathroom to avoid State Dept. IT – The current scandal roiling over the use of a private e-mail server by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is just the latest in a series of scandals surrounding government e-mails. And it’s not the first public airing of problems with the State Department’s IT operations—and executives’ efforts to bypass or work around them. At least she didn’t set up an office in a restroom just to bypass State Department network restrictions and do everything over Gmail. However, another Obama administration appointee—the former ambassador to Kenya—did do that, essentially refusing to use any of the Nairobi embassy’s internal IT. He worked out of a bathroom because it was the only place in the embassy where he could use an unsecured network and his personal computer, using Gmail to conduct official business. And he did all this during a time when Chinese hackers were penetrating the personal Gmail inboxes of a number of US diplomats.

Goodyear’s new concept tires can help power your electric car – The tire is called the BH03, and it looks like the craziest tire you’ve ever seen. Goodyear plans to collect heat into the tire in a number of ways. The first is perhaps the simplest: black patches on the tire’s surface will absorb heat from the Sun — especially when you leave your car in a hot parking lot. The tire will also heat up from the effects of friction as you drive down the road. The heat generated from the tire as it flexes will also be collected..


‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ reportedly banned under Florida governor – Officials working in Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection were banned from using the words “climate change,” “global warming,” and “sea-level rise” under Republican state governor Rick Scott, according to a new report by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Kristina Trotta, a former DEP employee, said that her regional administrator told her and her colleagues that they were no longer allowed to use the terms in 2011. Officials were reportedly told that sea-level rise was to be euphemistically referred to as “nuisance flooding.” Spokespeople for the DEP and the governor’s office said that there was no policy on the use of the terms, but four former officials told the FCIR that the unwritten order was well known and distributed verbally statewide.

Superhydrophobic paint resists scratches from sandpaper, knives – Superhydrophobic surfaces are common and very hard-wearing in nature, but man-made versions, while available, don’t last very long and easily break down when exposed to oils. That is, until now. A team of scientists at the University College London and Dalian University of Technology (China) have collaborated to create a very tough new superhydrophobic paint, capable of withstanding scratching with sandpaper or a knife blade. As this coating is able to withstand the elements, scuffs, and scrapes, it has applications in a very wide range of industries. Imagine having a car that no longer gets wet, or windows that never need to be cleaned and remain perfectly clear after a downpour. There’s even a use for it on the smartphones and tablets we all rub our fingers over every day. The research team also has high hopes for making antimicrobial surfaces for use in hospitals.


You have the right to bear arms, not “electrical” arms, court declares – Massachusetts’ ban on the private possession of stun guns—an “electrical weapon” under the statute—does not violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the state’s top court has ruled. The decision says (PDF) that the US Constitution’s framers never envisioned the modern stun-gun device, first patented in 1972. The top court said stun guns are not suitable for military use, and that it did not matter whether state lawmakers have approved the possession of handguns outside the home.

Pointing up    The boundless enthusiasm for high-hurdling logic in this decision is (now, I’m carefully choosing my words here) – CRAZY!

Drinking Poison Control Medicine Is the Newest Bougie Health Fad – Juice companies and wellness blogs are suddenly lauding activated charcoal as a cure-all “detoxifier,” but you may want to think twice before forking over $10 for “activated lemonade.”

Something to think about:

“A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.”

–       Salman Rushdie

Today’s Free Downloads:

1600 Windows Icons (Metro Style) – 1600 Windows Icons (Metro Style) is a free collection of icons in Windows 8’s Metro style that you can use to update older versions of Windows or add variety to Windows 8. The icons are in PNG format and must be unzipped and converted to ICO files for Windows.


Metro style: Windows 8’s cool Metro design language takes its name and stylistic cues from the iconic typography of Swiss public signs that many people appreciate.

Lots and lots: Any way you count them, 1,600 is a lot of icons, especially for free.

Wide variety: While system icons predominate, we saw a lot of unique and much-needed themes, such as Christmas, Halloween, and Phones — even “Star Trek” and “Dr. Who.”


Conversion required: You must convert 1600 Windows Icons’ PNG files to icon (ICO) files for most Windows uses. Freeware and online converters are easy to use, but you might find the extra step more taxing than a few icons are worth.

One by one: It’s not difficult to change Windows icons, but it might take you a while to change them one by one, especially with so many to choose from in 1600 Windows Icons’ collection.

Bottom Line

The clean, well-rendered Metro style is particularly suitable for computer interfaces. Despite the steps involved, we think 1600 Windows Icons’ stylish replacements are worth the time and effort it takes to unpack and install them.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Supreme Court waves through indiscriminate police surveillance – A Supreme Court decision handed down on Wednesday has given carte blanche to police forces to retain personal data they have collected for virtually any purpose and hold it as long as they like – even when the people targeted are not violent and have committed no crime.

New Zealand PM refuses to rule out mass surveillance – New Zealand’s prime minister has refused to rule out the possibility that the country’s electronic spy agency conducts mass surveillance, while suggesting that New Zealanders are not legally entitled to be told when their communications data is collected.

Who’s who in Australia’s mandatory data-retention debate – Summary: There are a lot of players in the mandatory data-retention debate. We look at who is for the legislation, and who is opposing it.

Schneier on Security: Data and Goliath’s Big Idea – Data and Goliath is a book about surveillance, both government and corporate. It’s an exploration in three parts: what’s happening, why it matters, and what to do about it. This is a big and important issue, and one that I’ve been working on for decades now. We’ve been on a headlong path of more and more surveillance, fueled by fear­–of terrorism mostly­–on the government side, and convenience on the corporate side. My goal was to step back and say “wait a minute; does any of this make sense?” I’m proud of the book, and hope it will contribute to the debate. But there’s a big idea here too, and that’s the balance between group interest and self-interest.

The CIA will reorganize to increase its focus on cybersecurity – The CIA is planning one of the largest reorganizations in the agency’s history, The Washington Post reports. CIA director John Brennan unveiled the plans in a press briefing today, saying the agency will focus more on cybersecurity issues and digital espionage. In addition to undergoing a massive structural overhaul, the CIA will create a new “Directorate of Digital Innovation” to track advances and threats in cyberspace.

Australia to prosecute Heartbleed pentest in desperation to pin charges on Anonymous radio host – Arrested 10 months ago by Australian Federal Police, Anonymous radio host LoraxLive (Adam Bennett) faces a prosecution struggling to pin charges on him.


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