Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – May 6, 2015

How to check if extensions are slowing your browser down;  Here’s How to Spring Clean Your Computer in 7 Steps;  Secrets of the Windows Control Panel;  The best Bluetooth speakers in 2015 for under $100;  These Are the 3 Best Free iPhone Apps Right Now;  New app can unearth video gems on Periscope;  A new virus will self-destruct when analyzed;  Security research uncovers far flung reach of secret ad tracking sites in Android apps;  Mortal Kombat X PC patch pulled after erasing data;  70 new Google Now cards, here are the 10 best for professionals;  This Tech Keeps You Safe From Hackers;  Wolfenstein: The Old Blood now available;  Hostage saves herself via Pizza Hut app;  Five OS emulators to put you in an alternate environment;  Get ready for two more seasons of The Simpsons;  Microsoft said to be considering a bid for Salesforce;  Tesla Powerwall: What you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to check if extensions are slowing your browser down – Extensions and apps are great fun, but they can also be huge resource hogs that slow down your browser. (Ad blockers, I’m looking at you.), If you find your browser is slowing down, one of the first things you should do is see if the culprit or culprits are browser add-ons and extensions. Here’s how to do that in Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer doesn’t support extensions.

Secure your home network—and every device attached to it—in 3 simple steps – If companies can’t protect themselves from the bad guys, what chance do individual users have? Even the police are falling prey to criminals. In reality, consumers have a better chance than most companies. Yes, home users are overwhelmingly targets of opportunity, but they can protect themselves by making their systems harder to compromise and looking out for signs of infections. For consumers, these techniques boil down to three simple strategies.

Secrets of the Windows Control Panel – There are probably life-long Windows users who have never accessed the Control Panel—the interface for taking care of all the of the operating system’s settings. With the Control Panel, you can add or remove software/hardware, administer users’ accounts, take care of you security settings, change how Windows looks and acts, and a lot more. It’s powerful stuff. And scary for non-techies. We can’t cover everything you can do with Control Panel—that would fill entire books, and even then, not comprehensively. But we can get you started on the basics.

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Personal screen grab – Windows 10 Control Panel

Here’s How to Spring Clean Your Computer in 7 Steps – Get down and dirty with your computer, wiping it clean from the screen to the system files, to make sure everything runs smooth the rest of the year. Don’t be daunted. Follow these seven steps to get your entire computer squeaky clean.

The best bluetooth speakers in 2015 for under $100 – I reviewed four Bluetooth portable speakers you can buy for less than $100. I found some top quality design, tech and sound features in my selection.

How to download and install the Office 2016 Preview – Mere months after releasing the locked-down Office 2016 developer preview, Microsoft has thrown open the proverbial doors to welcome all comers to the Office 2016 consumer preview. Want to get an early look at the future of Office? Here’s how to install the Office 2016 Preview today. It’s dead simple—though note that you’ll need to be running Windows 7, 8, or 10 to use the new Office suite.

These Are the 3 Best Free iPhone Apps Right Now – Looking to score some great new iPhone apps at no cost? These three are some of the best you can get without spending a dime right now.

Of the 70 new Google Now cards, here are the 10 best for professionals – Recently, Google released 70 new Google Now cards. Here are 10 that professionals can get the most out of.

Lock your phone to a single app with Lollipop’s screen pinning – Lollipop’s screen pinning feature can help keep your young kids from wreaking havoc on your phone. And it takes just a few moments to set up.

Abandoned Windows Media Center users will get a DVD playback option in Windows 10 – Gabriel Aul, an engineering general manager at Microsoft, wrote on Twitter that existing Windows Media Center users will get “a DVD option” in an update later this year. Aul noted that DVD playback is the main reason people still use Windows Media Center, which will not be compatible with Windows 10.

Here’s an Apple Watch app parents will love but teens will hate – As a the parent of a teenaged driver, I can appreciate what Volkswagen is trying do with its Apple Watch app. My son, however, is less likely to be excited. The just announced Volkswagen’s Car-Net app for Apple Watch can notify parents when the vehicle is driven somewhere it shouldn’t be or is going too fast. The new app supports select VW vehicles from the 2014 model year and up. Car owners can set up geo-fenced areas for driving: When the car leaves that area, a notifcation will appear on the Apple Watch.

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New app can unearth video gems on Periscope – In perhaps the first sign that live streaming might spawn its own assortment of sub-players, a visual data analysis startup is putting its chops to work to categorize and rank videos on Periscope, the app owned by Twitter. Dextro, which uses algorithms to analyze the content of photos and videos, is launching Stream on Tuesday. It’s a web app that categorizes and links to videos posted publicly in Periscope as they’re broadcast in real time.

GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub takes control of irrigation – It’s warm enough in many places now to prep the garden, and with the garden comes some particulars, one of which is managing the irrigation needs. This includes working around the weather to ensure the watering schedule isn’t too often or too little, and ideally includes optimizing the schedule so that water is not wasted. GreenIQ wants to be that solution, serving as a control hub of sorts for your garden’s irrigation to automatically tweak the watering process as needed.

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Google creates new, visual mobile ads as mobile searches overtake PCs – Mobile searches are overtaking PC searches around the world, and therein lies the opportunity for Google to sell and place new ads specifically designed for mobile searches. Bringing ads to mobile devices isn’t just a matter of scaling down current ads. There just isn’t enough screen space for lengthy keyword-based ads. Google also knows that when it comes to mobile devices, users prefer search from specialized apps like Yelp or Amazon instead using their browsers. So, Google’s mobile ads will be more pictorial to simulate the feeling of app-based searches.

Mysterious team resurrects Grooveshark – If all the streaming options and other ways to legally get music online aren’t to your tastes, there’s a decent chance Grooveshark’s demise was a disappointing blow to your music acquisition habits. Less than week later, however, the service is back and it’s thanks to a mysterious group that has surfaced to talk about their exploits. As it turns out, when the writing was on the wall some folks behind the scenes at Grooveshark started making backup plans in case things went south.

Comcast introduces voice-controlled remote for subscribers – Long gone are the days when you had to get up out of the chair to manually change the volume or the television channel, and if Comcast has its way, we’ll one day consider having to manually press buttons on the television remote as equally archaic. The company has introduced a new voice-enabled remote that leverages Texas Instruments’ RF technology to, according to Comcast, usher in what could end up being “the tipping point in a major revolution” for its subscribers.

Five OS emulators to put you in an alternate environment – Emulators are among my favorite tech-related items to play around with during my free time. Maybe it’s just me, but there is something cool about being able to run an alternate OS on your PC, especially when that alternate OS is something really off the wall. Let’s take a look at five emulators old and new.

Security:

Chinese Antivirus Company Tencent Endangers Users to Raise Test Scores – Today, three major antivirus testing labs reported an instance of test cheating that could actually harm users. Virus Bulletin, AV-Test Institute, and AV-Comparatives reported that Tencent, a Chinese software and Internet company, modified its antivirus with the very specific aim of gaming performance tests employed by AV-Test. A close examination revealed a whitelist that specifically exempted the installers and programs used in this test, so the antivirus skipped scanning them. Only the programs used in this test were listed, and each time AV-Test added or changed the programs they use, the list was updated to match.

Pointing up    Another black mark against the validity of these tests. This is the second reported manipulation attempt in less than a week.

Security research uncovers far flung reach of secret ad tracking sites in Android apps – Security researchers tested a group of 2,000 apps from the Play Store and found they connect to 250,000 different URLs from 2,000 different top-level domains. The team from Eurecam France said they’re working on an app that you’ll be able to use on your own Android device for determining if any of your favorite apps are connecting to nefarious tracking sites. About 10 percent of the sample group were rather aggressive about tracking, connecting to about 500 different URLs, some of them with questionable origins.

A new virus will self-destruct when analyzed by researchers – Security researchers at Cisco have published new research on a malware, named Rombertik, which will go out of its way to avoid getting analyzed by deleting essential data in the Windows system file called the Master Boot Record (MBR) sending the computer into an endless reboot loop. The malware also attempts to fool the researchers’ sandboxing tools by writing a random byte of data to the system’s memory over 960 million times. Once on a victims’ computer, Rombertik steals login information and other personal data entered into any website “in an indiscriminate manner” before sending the data to the attacker.

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Windows 10 Ditches Patch Tuesday for Security’s Sake – With roughly 50 million lines of code, Windows is bound to have some bugs, and some of those bugs are bound to affect security. When flaws are found, Microsoft issues patches as fast as possible, but those patches do no good if you fail to apply them. Even if you’re diligent, Patch Tuesday comes just once a month, so a vulnerability discovered the day after Patch Tuesday won’t be patched until the next Patch Tuesday rolls around. At Microsoft’s Ignite conference in Chicago, Microsoft Executive VP Terry Myerson surprised his audience with the news that in Windows 10, Patch Tuesday will no longer exist (for consumers, anyway).

Hostage saves herself via Pizza Hut app: “Please help. Get 911 to me.”  – Cops sent to the house, where man arrested, mom and kids released unharmed.

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This Tech Keeps You Safe From Hackers – From Edward Snowden to Anthem Healthcare, data security has been a hot-button topic the past couple of years. But between politics and personal data, one thing tying these two massive breaches together is encryption — or lack thereof.

Company News:

European court: Skype’s name too similar to Britain’s Sky broadcasting – A European court ruled Tuesday that Microsoft cannot trademark Skype, its popular Internet-calling service, in Europe because its name and logo is too similar to the longtime British broadcasting company. “The Court has dismissed Skype’s actions and by doing so confirmed that there exists a likelihood of confusion between the figurative and word sign SKYPE and the word mark SKY,” said a press release from the General Court of the European Union.

EA’s dice roll with Battlefield Hardline pays off, results beat Wall Street – The game maker ends a strong year thanks to its popular shooter franchise, while it also looks ahead to capitalize on the much-hyped Star Wars revival. The game maker took two big gambles with the popular franchise’s newest installment, Hardline, which was released in March. It delayed the game from last fall, when it has historically competed head-to-head with market leader Activision’s Call of Duty. But more dramatically, EA also changed its formula, moving players from the front lines of war to a setting in Los Angeles, where cops and robbers face off in the streets.

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Microsoft said to be considering a bid for Salesforce – Less than a week after rumors surfaced that Salesforce.com is fielding buyout offers, Microsoft is reportedly considering throwing its hat in the ring. Although Microsoft isn’t in talks with Salesforce and a deal isn’t imminent, Microsoft is evaluating making a bid for the cloud CRM provider after it was approached by another potential buyer, Bloomberg reported Tuesday afternoon.

Lenovo refreshes x86 servers, Flex systems – Lenovo on Monday updated its x86 server lineup and launched systems prequalified for analytics and enterprise applications such as SAP HANA. The refresh, which comes as Lenovo has finished digesting the acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business. A bevy of hardware makers are planning to announce new servers revolving around Intel’s latest Xeon processors.

Google buys Timeful, promising intelligent event scheduling for Inbox and Calendar – Timeful, originally an iOS app with plans of Android expansion, is now a Google product. The software smartly learns your daily patterns and helps schedule events to get things done.

Games and Entertainment:

Mortal Kombat X PC patch pulled after erasing data – Mortal Kombat X hasn’t been available for long, but it has already began causing problems for some users — in this case, those who are playing the game on the PC. A recent PC patch, users began reporting, was causing game data to be erased and gamers were losing their progress. In addition, the PC patch also resulted in some odd issue with the resolution, as some gamers discovered the game would launch in a low resolution after the patch was applied. As a result, the developer behind the fix has pulled it and is looking into the matter.

Zynga Launches Military Strategy Game, Empires & Allies – The company behind Words with Friends and FarmVille is taking things in a different direction with its latest mobile game. Zynga on Tuesday announced the worldwide launch of its military strategy game Empires & Allies on iOS and Android. The game challenges players to “design their perfect army and deploy the weapons of modern war in a never-ending battle to save the world,” Zynga said.

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Get ready for two more seasons of ‘The Simpsons’ – Fox announced Tuesday that the long-running show will continue for a 27th and 28th season — that’s a whopping 625 episodes since “The Simpsons” began making it the longest-running scripted television series in history. Considering its long list of awards (31 Emmy Awards and 31 Annie Awards) and accolades including being named the “Best Show of the 20th Century” by Time magazine and the “Greatest American Sitcom” by Entertainment Weekly in 2013, it’s no surprise that “The Simpsons” continues to make us laugh since its debut in 1989.

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PlayStation Now Subscriptions Headed to PS3 on May 12 – A PS Now game-streaming subscription gives you access to a catalog of more than 100 PS3 games for $19.99 a month, or $44.99 for three months. Sony first launched PlayStation Now subscriptions on the PS4 in January, and the service arrives on PS3 on May 12.

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GOG Galaxy “Steam killer” in beta, everything is optional – When it comes to PC gaming and distribution, perhaps no name rings louder than Steam. Despite that, not everyone is happy to put all their eggs in Valve’s basket, especially when the question of DRM comes up. GOG, which doesn’t just do Old Games only anymore, has always challenged that business model and now it’s preparing to hit Steam where it hurts the most. After nearly a year since it was first revealed, GOG Galaxy is now partly out of the woodwork, taking everything you might have loved about Steam and making them completely optional.

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Wolfenstein: The Old Blood now available – As promised, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is now available, bringing with it Nazis in zombie form. We previously detailed the game (and we’ve a trailer after the jump if you’re particularly keen on seeing it for yourself), and as expected it has arrived for those playing on the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, or PC. The game takes place in 1946 as the second World War is coming to its end, being set before The New Order with a pair of intertwining stories.

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Failed Christian shoe promoter makes anti-gay first-person shooter – The game makes very clear that its goal is to shoot and kill gay people (with liberal use of the pejorative F-word in the game’s title, at that). Players get points for killing gay people—more points if the person killed is transgender—and they lose points for any straight people they kill. It’s hard to make a judgment call about the “most” offensive thing in this game, but we were particularly disturbed to hear the game’s announcer celebrate a kill by saying, “AIDS carrier eliminated.” Before the game had been taken down, its Greenlight page included many comments from upset customers, including calls to Steam to institute a more rigorous filter or monitoring system so that the service didn’t have to depend on community votes.

HBO fights piracy by killing off review discs – Reviewers and pirates take note: HBO will no longer send out preview episodes on disc. Instead, the premium channel will set reviewers up with secure access to a streaming feed of the episode. Presumably, this will stop some of the lazier pirates out there, but definitely not all of them. Last month, four episodes of the ridiculously popular series Game of Thrones found their way online, and each one was traced back to a review disc.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Listen to the creepy voices of Thomas Edison’s talking dolls – Talking dolls designed by famous inventor Thomas Edison can speak again, thanks to a new method of audio reclamation pioneered by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with the Library of Congress. Edison launched the talking dolls onto the market in 1890, when audio recording was brand new. The system invented by Edison involved recording sound in grooves on wax or tin cylinders (the phonograph cylinder), and a small enough cylinder could fit quite neatly inside a doll’s hollow torso.

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Tesla Powerwall: What you need to know – Tesla’s massive Powerwall battery promises to be able to take homes and businesses off the grid. Here’s a sanity check on how realistic it is, and what it means for the energy market.

Meet the robot bartenders serving on smart ships – You’ll find them on cruise ships, but are they destined to become the future bartenders at your local pub?

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ZDNet | Charlie Osborne

5 ways humanity is killing crowdfunding – Crowdfunding was meant to democratize finance and help the best ideas for changing the world have a chance to succeed. But as usual, humanity is trying to sabotage that mission.

Samsonite and Samsung working on bags that check themselves in at the airport – The smart luggage will have chips inside that serve multiple functions, one will sense when the bag is entering the airport and automatically check in for the flight. It will do this by identifying you to the airport and receiving the airline, flight number, and the gate of departure. Unique identifiers will be generated and sent to your phone. The owner avoids baggage check-in lines and simply puts the bag onto a generic conveyor belt where the embedded information directs it on its way.

Something to think about:

“We are all born atheists, until someone starts telling us lies.”

–      Unknown

Today’s Free Downloads:

Unchecky Beta – Unchecky aims to keep potentially unwanted programs out of your computer.

Have you ever felt, while installing software, that the installer tries to push additional unwanted programs at all cost? Ever missed a checkbox, and spent hours afterwards removing adware? Ever opened your browser after an installation, only to find out that you have a new homepage, a new search engine, or even a new browser?

Nowadays it’s a reality that many software installations are bundled with potentially unwanted programs, such as toolbars or scareware system cleaners. If you’re a power user, you probably know that you have to be very careful while installing software, because if you miss a checkbox you might spend hours afterwards cleaning up the mess. If you’re an average PC user, you possibly leave everything by default, thus installing lots of additional unwanted programs without even knowing it.

Unchehky’s primary feature is automatic unchecking of unrelated offers, such as potentially unwanted programs, offers to change your homepage or your search engine. With Unchecky, these offers become opt-in instead of opt-out, i.e. they will be installed only if you explicitly choose you want them (you usually don’t).

Another important feature of Unchecky is that it warns when you accept a potentially unwanted offer. Installers often provide them as a natural part of the installation, so they can easily be accepted by mistake. With Unchecky, it’s less likely to accidentally accept such offers.

Unchecky is not an universal solution, and might not support installers which were not released yet. Thus, it’s worth noting that Unchecky updates automatically, so you don’t have to worry about running the latest version.

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility – The Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU) is a software application that allows you to fine-tune the settings of your K- or X-SKU processor. Using its various frequency, voltage, and other controls, you can fully customize your configuration in terms of power consumption and computing performance. Intel XTU is available for download at the Intel Download Center and can be loaded on any Intel system with a 2nd generation or newer Intel Core processor and a chipset that supports overclocking.

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is a fully integrated overclocking software application that allows you to analyze your own configuration, share and find overclock settings from users around the world, and hype your own achievements through social media. Intel XTU and the HWBOT integration aim to facilitate overclocking for beginners and novice users as well as give the advanced overclocking community and its power users a platform to show their overclocking skills and knowledge.

Tweak to your heart’s content using the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU).

Whether overclocking the CPU, memory, and system clocks, or monitoring system temperatures, voltages and fan speeds, Intel XTU allows you to tune, tweak and cool.

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility will prove a valuable helper in getting the most performance out of your components by easily overclocking them.

Features:

System Information – Inspect processor, memory, graphics, BIOS, operating system, and motherboard information.

Basic Tuning – Simple three-step process: benchmark your starting performance, overclock your processor, and measure your new performance and witness the performance unleashed!

Advanced Tuning – If you are an experienced overclocker, we give you all the controls to maximize the untapped performance of your processor, memory, and graphics hardware.

Stress Test – Interested in how stable your overclock is? The included stress tests help you test your system to be sure.

Benchmarking – Would you like to see how your setup compares? With Intel® XTU, you can benchmark your system and then compare your scores online with HWBOT.org.

Application and Profile Pairing – Have you optimized your overclock for a specific application? Use the app-profile pairing feature to apply different overclocking settings to separate applications.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australia: Is the looming internet filter justified? Not yet – A bill now before Parliament, the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, would give courts power to require internet providers block access to foreign websites whose dominant purpose is to facilitate copyright infringement.

In practice this means that Time Warner, which owns the copyright to Game of Thrones, could go to a judge and demand Telstra or iiNet block access to the Pirate Bay.

There are lots of problems with this bill. Its language is absurdly vague and broad. What counts as “facilitating” copyright infringement? Maybe it would block sites that offer virtual private networks, perhaps – those VPNs that Malcolm Turnbull has been encouraging us all to use.

But these are legislative technicalities. More importantly, blocking websites is censorship. The bill is an internet filter, no matter how stridently the Abbott Government rejects the comparison. (recommended by Mal C.)

French lawmakers approve new sweeping spying powers – French lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a new law granting the state sweeping powers to spy on its citizens despite criticism from rights groups that the Bill is vague and intrusive.

It will go before the upper house Senate later this month. Amnesty International has protested the legislation, warning it will take France “a step closer to a surveillance state”.

“This Bill is too vague, too far-reaching and leaves too many unanswered questions. Parliament should ensure that measures meant to protect people from terror should not violate their basic rights,” said Amnesty’s Europe director Gauri van Gulik.

The new law will set out exactly how agencies can gather intelligence, and sets up a new supervisory body known as the National Commission for Control of Intelligence Techniques to oversee access to data.

The new law will allow authorities to spy on the digital and mobile communications of anyone linked to a “terrorist” inquiry without prior authorisation from a judge, and forces internet service providers and phone companies to give up data upon request.

Intelligence services will have the right to place cameras and recording devices in private dwellings and install “keylogger” devices that record every key stroke on a targeted computer in real time.

One main criticism of the law is that authorities will be able to keep recordings for a month, and will be able to collect metadata for five years.

Cerf thinks encryption back doors would be ‘super risky’ – Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf argued Monday that more users should encrypt their data, and that the encryption back doors the U.S. FBI and other law enforcement agencies are asking for will weaken online security.

The Internet has numerous security challenges, and it needs more users and ISPs to adopt strong measures like encryption, two-factor authentication and HTTP over SSL, said Cerf, chief Internet evangelist at Google, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Recent calls by the FBI and other government officials for technology vendors to build encryption workarounds into their products is a bad idea, said Cerf, co-creator of TCP/IP. “If you have a back door, somebody will find it, and that somebody may be a bad guy,” he said. “Creating this kind of technology is super, super risky.”

Court rules warrant not needed for cell phone location data – Mobile phone users have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” for their location tracking data, and should expect police agencies investigating crimes to obtain that information without court-approved warrants, a U.S. appeals court has ruled.

Historical cell tower location data is not private information owned by customers but by the mobile carrier, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled Tuesday. The court affirmed a district court’s convictions of defendant Quartavius Davis, charged with multiple crimes in connection with a string of seven armed robberies in South Florida in 2010. Davis was sentenced to nearly 162 years in prison.

Police obtained more than 11,600 location records over 67-day period from carrier MetroPCS in an effort to track Davis’ movements. In June 2014 a three-judge panel at the appeals court threw out Davis’ conviction, saying the police had violated his Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, but the entire court decided to rehear the case.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 1, 2015

Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “just follow the damn Constitution”;  Speak up: Android gets more hands-free with additional voice commands;  Facebook change will give you control over data sharing with apps;  Microsoft will try to guess your age using machine learning and a picture;  The Best Security Suites for 2015;   These are your free Games with Gold for May;  Tesla Energy is Elon Musk’s battery system that can power homes, businesses, and the world;  How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click;  Steam to get its first adults-only rated game;  Apple Watch Sport costs $85 to manufacture;  6 Reasons to Try Microsoft’s Edge Browser;  How to Bet on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Online;  Test labs out AV vendor for using rival’s engine.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Security Suites for 2015 – When you sit down at your computer, security is probably the last thing on your mind. You want to check your email, catch up with friends on social networks, play some games, or maybe buy some goodies online. The problem here is that you actually need security. You have three main choices. You can cross your fingers and hope for the best (good luck with that). You can spend hours scouring the Web for information, researching a collection of separate security utilities that will keep you safe. Or you can check PCMag’s reviews of all-in-one security suites and select one that has the features you need, integrated into a single application. Guess which course I recommend? I’ve rounded up a collection of top-notch suites, varied enough that one should be just right for you.

Facebook change will give you control over data sharing with apps – Users are getting greater choice over what information is shared with websites and apps when they log in using their Facebook ID. A new version of Facebook Login, which begins its wide roll out this week, will present users with a prompt to “Edit the info you provide.” Clicking that will let users grant or deny access to different types of information. The login now also highlights who will see content posted by the app in Facebook, for apps that request the ability to do so.

Speak up: Android gets more hands-free with additional voice commands – Google has continued to evolve its voice commands beyond simple search for some time. The hands-free “OK Google” command has moved from a simple query function to one that can control phone settings, create calendar reminders and launch apps. You can say, for example, “OK Google, open Maps” without touching your phone or tablet, if it supports and is configured for the always listening feature. It’s not just Google’s own apps such as Maps, Search and Chrome that can be opened by voice though; with the most recent version of Android and supported apps, third-party software can be accessed as well.

How to turn on data compression in Chrome on your phone or tablet – Chrome for Android can save you precious mobile data if you turn on its data compression feature. It routes your web browsing through Google’s proxy servers, which will feed you smaller, more compressed images and other bits of data than the traditional route. Google says going through its own pipes is faster, which is always nice if you hit a less-than-stellar Internet connection. Here’s how to turn it on: touch the Menu Button (the three vertical dots) and then touch Settings. Scroll down and select Data Saver and toggle the option to On.

6 Reasons to Try Microsoft’s Edge Browser – Windows 10 Bug ArtInternet Explorer’s more modern and fast successor, previously code-named Project Spartan, is now Edge, and one of its most notable new features is extensions. Edge also maintains Spartan innovations like page markup, reading view, and Cortana integration. It’s also a Universal Windows app, meaning one application runs on PCs, phones, tablets, and whatever other Windows-running devices emerge.

Exploring Windows 10 Build 10074, in pictures – It wouldn’t be a Microsoft Build conference without a, well, new build of Windows 10. Meet Build 10074 of Windows 10, which continues making over the look and feel of Microsoft’s latest operating system. Two new additions stand out in the latest build: the new Start menu, which may include new Windows 7-style Aero Glass effects, and a more full-featured, intelligent Cortana digital assistant. We’ll walk you through all the notable changes in the following slides.

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Windows 10 pricing after first year remains up in the air – Microsoft has bold ambitions for Windows 10: To power 1 billion devices by 2018. To achieve that goal, the company for the first time will let most users update to the new version at no charge for one year after Windows 10’s release, slated for later this summer. After that, however, Microsoft doesn’t know what it will charge customers to upgrade — or how it will deliver upgrades in the future. Joe Belfiore, vice president of operating systems, said Thursday the company’s primary concern is getting the operating system onto a critical mass of devices as quickly as possible. How will people get their hands on Windows 10 after the first year? “I don’t know, ” Belfiore said at a press event during Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference in San Francisco.

Microsoft will try to guess your age using machine learning and a picture – Microsoft has created a new website that takes an old carnival game and attempts to use machine learning to guess your age; you can try it out right now. If you head on over to how-old.net you can upload a picture of your face and the algorithms will attempt to guess your age. When Microsoft built the site, they were only expecting 50 people to use the tool but the webpage ended up attracting over 35,000 users when it was first launched.

How to Bet on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Online – Every spring, a group of very expensive horses with very ridiculous names heads to Louisville, Kentucky to try to earn a lot of money for their already wealthy owners and top stud privileges for themselves. This year marks the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, the main jewel in U.S. thoroughbred horse racing’s annual “Triple Crown.” While some may be content to partake in the julep-soaked, floppy hat-adorned festivities for the fun of it, the real excitement comes from the possibility of winning some cash money.

Google Apps Marketplace apps: Three things every admin should know – When you add a Google Apps Marketplace app to your Google Apps account, you save people time and increase security. People don’t have to remember an additional login–and app access and data are more likely to remain under organizational control. That convenience requires a bit of periodic work by a Google Apps administrator. Here’s how to review your Marketplace apps data access settings, check which apps are used, and discover new Marketplace apps to add.

How to Find a Comic Shop on Free Comic Book Day – Whether you’re a comic book diehard looking to explore a new series, an old school fan looking to get back in the game, or a newbie who wants to get your feet wet with a few print titles after seeing Marvel’s acclaimed Daredevil Netflix series, there’s no better time than Free Comic Book Day. There’s one problem, though: You have to find a comic book shop. The stores aren’t nearly as commonplace as they were in the 1990s, but technology makes locating comic book shops easy. The following tech tools—available on desktops, smartphones, and tablets—will help you locate a store.

Tablet Shipments Continue to Slip – The first quarter of 2015 wasn’t exactly a huge success for the tablet market, according to new figures from IDC. Worldwide tablet shipments suffered a year-over-year decline for a second consecutive quarter from January through March, the research firm said Thursday. Tablet and 2-in-1 device shipments fell to 47.1 million, a 5.9 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. That comes after the tablet market notably faced its first year-over-year decline in shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014.

How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click – For 2015, Google is playing around with the ability to mute noisy tabs with one click. Instead of switching to the tab and scrolling around the page to find the offending video or audio, a new hidden feature lets you silence the noise by clicking on a tab’s speaker icon. Here’s how it works.

Security:

Behold: the drop-dead simple exploit that nukes Google’s Password Alert – Less than 24 hours after Google unveiled a Chrome extension that warns when user account passwords get phished, a security researcher has devised a drop-dead simple exploit that bypasses it.

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Test labs out AV vendor for using rival’s engine – Chinese anti-virus vendor Qihoo 360 has been caught cheating on benchmarking tests by submitting versions running A-V engines from rival Bitdefender. The company has been reprimanded by established testing outfits VirusTotal, Av-Comparatives, and AV-Test which withdrew its 2015 certifications. In a joint statement [PDF] the AV testing outfits say Qihoo “cheated” by turning off its engine and flicking on BitDefender’s, a setting state that is the opposite of what customers receive by default. “According to all test data this would provide a considerably lower level of protection and a higher likelihood of false positives,” the statement says.

Company News:

Europe stays on the offensive with new probe into US tech giants – Google, Amazon, Skype, WhatsApp, and Netflix are all on notice. If the probe is given the go-ahead, it would become the latest example of the EU’s combative attitude towards US tech giants. In recent months, criticism of US companies has intensified both within the EU and from European politicians. In February, Barack Obama responded by accusing the EU of protectionism, arguing that it was attacking US tech companies because it simply “can’t compete.” The EU, meanwhile, argues that the single digital market is about protecting consumers and boosting the digital industries in Europe.

Apple may pay ‘material’ amount of tax back to Ireland – Apple has given investors the heads up that it may be forced to pay a “material” amount of tax back to Ireland if the European Commission finds the company guilty of striking up special tax deals with the Irish government. The tech giant said in its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it may be required to pay up to 10 years’ worth of tax if the European Commission rules against Ireland.

Apple and IBM will give 4 to 5 million iPads to Japanese seniors – IBM and Apple said today that they would be working with Japan Post, the country’s postal service, to deliver four to five million iPads outfitted with IBM software to seniors in Japan by 2020. The initiative will be a part of an existing Japan Post service called Watch Over in which post deliverers check in on senior citizens and report their status to family members for a monthly fee equivalent to about $8.40, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple and IBM will run a pilot program in the second half of this year.

LinkedIn Q1: Revenue beats street but weak outlook sends stocks plunging – The social network for professionals reported a net loss of $43 million, or 34 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 57 cents per share on a revenue of $638 million, up 35 percent year-over-year. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 56 cents per share on revenue of $636 million. As for the outlook for the current quarter, LinkedIn offered revenue guidance far below estimates, in the range of $670 million and $675 million, with projected earnings of 28 cents per share. Analysts had expected earnings per share of 74 cents on revenue of $717.5 million. As a result, LinkedIn’s shares tumbled 25 percent in after market trading.

Grooveshark shuts down after settlement with record companies – The settlement between owners Escape Media and the record companies was made ahead of a jury trial for award of damages.

Games and Entertainment:

These are your free Games with Gold for May – Xbox Live Gold subscribers can get some cool games for free this coming May, thanks to Microsoft’s promotional giveaways. First up, Xbox One users will get be able to download Castle Storm, the definitive edition. This is a fun little game that combines a few genres into one 2D package, and after reviewing it last year, we gave it a strong score. Those of you trying it out might find yourselves reminded of classic platformers, Angry Birds, RPGs and tower defense games. It has a $15.00 ERP but Gold subscribers will be able to get it free starting on the 1st of May. Meanwhile Pool Nation FX will continue to remain free for another month.

Review of Zen Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron pinball – The first thing you’ll notice is that Zen Studios is releasing Age of Ultron as a standalone table for $2.99, whereas the original Avengers table is only available within a 4-pack of tables and costs $10. I’ve always believed that it’s better to release tables individually in order to give customers a choice, so this was nice to see.

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Powerful DirectX 12 game demo points to a way out of Uncanny Valley – The inability to emulate human emotions in CG characters is one aspect that makes them so creepy, but a demo showed off at Build 2015 may point to a way out of the uncanny valley.

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This is a screen grab from Square Enix’s Witch Chapter 0 demo, which simulates crying.

Streaming Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC is awesome – Ever since Microsoft announced its plans to bring Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 back in January, I’ve been dying to try it. While the Xbox One dashboard has been updated to support the new feature, the Xbox one app for Windows 10 isn’t quite ready yet. At its Build developers conference in San Francisco this week, Microsoft is demonstrating Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs to the public for the first time. I got a chance to try it, and it’s as awesome as I had hoped.

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Steam game devs can now ban you from their game ‘because nobody likes playing with cheaters’ – In a surprise move today, Valve has announced that game developers can now ban Steam gamers if they find players misbehaving or cheating within their games. The initiative, called “Game Ban,” will allow game developers to identify cheaters within their games and then ban them permanently if they wish to do so.

Steam to get its first adults-only rated game – Controversial shooter Hatred will be released for PC via Steam this June, which developer Destructive Creations claims makes it the first game with the Adults Only rating to appear on the digital distribution service. Speaking to Eurogamer, the developer said that the game’s release date of June 1 was chosen so that it would “not interfere with the launch of the biggest game coming out from its native Poland at that time.” Hatred was rated Adults Only in North America by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, meaning that it won’t be coming to consoles without the developer making some changes. All three major console manufacturers–Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo–have a policy that forbids the publishing of Adults Only-rated games on their platforms.

New update for Xbox 360 adds support for larger external hard drives – The Xbox 360 hasn’t been the main focus of gaming news since the Xbox One was released back in 2013. Outside of the monthly Games with Gold promotion, you’ll be hard-pressed to catch many headlines regarding the decade-old console. However, the Xbox 360 has just picked up an update that owners started receiving this morning. Xbox 360 users that opted in to the new preview program have had the chance to experience much of what this update has to offer, which includes:

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tesla Energy is Elon Musk’s battery system that can power homes, businesses, and the world – Tesla has finally taken the wraps off Tesla Energy, its ambitious battery system that can work for homes, businesses, and even utilities. The system breaks down into two separate products: the Powerwall is a home battery system, that comes in a 10 kWh version for $3,500, or a 7 kWh model for $3,000. The unit is about three feet by four feet in size and six inches thick, and comes with integrated heat management and  can fit either on the inside or outside of the wall of your home. The system is connected to the internet — Elon Musk said that the system can be used to create “smart microgrids” — and can be used as a redundancy system, or potentially allow a home to go off the power grid entirely. “The whole thing is a system that just works,” Musk told reporters during a briefing this evening.

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Elon Musk just gave the best tech keynote I’ve ever seen – Here’s what I loved about Musk’s presentation. First of all, it was short, clocking in at about 20 minutes. Musk didn’t waste anybody’s time. He used that time to present a problem of critical importance (eliminating humanity’s use of fossil fuels), explained how it can be addressed, and offered a plausible solution in the form of a new product — one that’s priced within reach of a lot of people and available to order. Amazingly, all of those things are actually pretty rare to see in one show. Tesla’s presentation was inspiring, and Musk wasn’t selling some fancy sci-fi trinket that has the benefit of Star Trek nostalgia. Dude was selling a battery. But aside from all the technical details I enjoyed, what I liked most was Musk’s humble tenor.

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Older folks react to Mortal Kombat X fatalities – Reaction videos are all the rage anymore: we’ve seen videos of kids reacting to old cameras and gaming systems, older folks reacting to Google Glass, and a bunch between. The newest reaction video again goes with the older folks among us, and eschews hardware for a dose of video game fun. Mortal Kombat X, that is. These perhaps unsuspecting gents and ladies are shown the latest installment’s various fatalities, and we all get to enjoy their reactions.

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Apple Watch Sport costs $85 to manufacture, say analysts – You might be interested in buying an Apple Watch (unless you already have). Once you strap that thing on your wrist, you’ll undoubtedly — at some point — wonder how much it costs to make. You spent upwards of $350, but what did Apple spend on parts and such? Curiosity gets the best of us from time to time, and analysts are no different. IHS Technology recently tore the Apple Watch apart, and attempted to find how much it costs to manufacture. Their ‘guess’? $83.70.

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This is how absurd you look taking a call on your Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: An encounter with a friend is interrupted by his Apple Watch going off. Oh, the silliness.

11 Amazing Images From the Final Days of NASA’s Messenger Probe – Ever since entering Mercury’s orbit on March 18, 2011, Messenger has given project scientists (and by extension, humanity) an unprecedented up-close view of the tiny, rocky planet. But that will all come to an end today when—at precisely 3:26 p.m. ET—Mercury’s surface will receive one more crater when Messenger crashes into the planet’s surface due to a dwindling supply of propellant and the effects of solar gravity. Unfortunately—from a voyeuristic vantage point—the Earth will not get a clear shot of the impact. But space p0rn aficionados, do not despair! Over the past month, the probe has dutifully added to its library of more than 270,000 images with some beautiful close-ups of the planet’s surface. Here we present some of the most inspiring, beautiful, mysterious, and illuminating images from Messenger’s final days.

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Site-blocking legislation targeted at ‘arrogant’ Australian infringers – Rights holders and their advocates have argued that while the site-blocking legislation won’t stop piracy, it will send a message to Australians illicitly downloading with ‘arrogant impunity’.

Something to think about:

“Some days are just bad days, that’s all. You have to experience sadness to know happiness, and I remind myself that not every day is going to be a good day, that’s just the way it is!”

–       Dita Von Teese

Today’s Free Downloads:

AdwCleaner – AdwCleaner is a program that searches for and deletes Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers from your computer.

By using AdwCleaner you can easily remove many of these types of programs that intefere with your computers normal operations and get a better user experience particularly while browsing the web.

AdwCleaner specializes in removing:

– Adware: Programs which have been installed that are running unwanted advertisements on your system.

– PUP’s or Potentially Unwanted Program

– Toolbars

– Hijacker Home page, browser and advertisment hijackers.

For help using AdwCleaner check out our Malware removal guides or ask for help in our Majorgeeks Support Forums.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA is so overwhelmed with data, it’s no longer effective, says whistleblower – A former National Security Agency official turned whistleblower has spent almost a decade and a half in civilian life. And he says he’s still “pissed” by what he’s seen leak in the past two years.

In a lunch meeting hosted by Contrast Security founder Jeff Williams on Wednesday, William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the US government’s mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.

That, he said, can — and has — led to terrorist attacks succeeding.

Binney said that an analyst today can run one simple query across the NSA’s various databases, only to become immediately overloaded with information. With about four billion people — around two-thirds of the world’s population — under the NSA and partner agencies’ watchful eyes, according to his estimates, there is too much data being collected.

“That’s why they couldn’t stop the Boston bombing, or the Paris shootings, because the data was all there,” said Binney. Because the agency isn’t carefully and methodically setting its tools up for smart data collection, that leaves analysts to search for a needle in a haystack.

Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “just follow the damn Constitution” – Despite the best efforts of law enforcement to convince a Congressional subcommittee that technology firms actually need to weaken encryption in order to serve the public interest, lawmakers were not having it.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who described himself as a “recovering computer science major,” provided one of the most forceful counter-arguments. (He is just one of four House members with computer science degrees.) Lieu also is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves and served for four years as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

“It is clear to me that creating a pathway for decryption only for good guys is technologically stupid, you just can’t do that,” he said, underscoring that he found Conley’s remarks “offensive.”

He argued:

It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want a an out of surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.

Then you make another statement that somehow these companies are not credible because they collect private data. Here’s the difference: Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.

And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this. Because the NSA, your colleagues, have essentially violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen for years by seizing all of our phone records, by collecting our Internet traffic, that is now spilling over to other aspects of law enforcement. And if you want to get this fixed, I suggest you write to NSA: the FBI should tell the NSA, stop violating our rights. And then maybe you might have much more of the public on the side of supporting what law enforcement is asking for.

Then let me just conclude by saying I do agree with law enforcement that we live in a dangerous world. And that’s why our founders put in the Constitution of the United States—that’s why they put in the Fourth Amendment. Because they understand that an Orwellian overreaching federal government is one of the most dangerous things that this world can have. I yield back.

Airbus to sue NSA, German spies accused of swiping tech secrets – European aerospace giant Airbus is promising legal action over claims its top blueprints were stolen by German spies and given to America’s intelligence agencies.

“We are aware that as a large company in the sector, we are a target and subject of espionage,” the company said in a statement to the AFP newswire.

“However, in this case we are alarmed because there is concrete suspicion of industrial espionage. We will now file a criminal complaint against persons unknown on suspicion of industrial espionage.”

The threat comes after days of speculation in the German press over reports that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) – the German foreign intelligence agency – has been spying on German and European companies for the Americans since at least 2008.

Report says top US psychologists collaborated with torture program architects – Members of the American Psychological Association, the largest association of psychologists in the United States, “secretly coordinated” with the George W. Bush administration on the CIA’s torture program, according to a new report and emails released today. The report, written by a group of health workers and human rights activists, suggests the APA worked with top government officials to establish ethical guidelines that would allow the program to continue while shielding its architects from legal fallout.

The group behind the report analyzed emails from a now dead behavioral science researcher working with the RAND Corporation and involved in national security organizations. According to the report, the emails show how the association collaborated “with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations that comported with then­ classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.” Despite the close contact, according to the report, “there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the US intelligence community.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 30, 2015

How to Avoid Getting Hacked Next Time You Leave Home;  11 Cool Smartphone Camera Tricks You Should Know;  Google Fights Phishing Attacks With New Chrome Extension;  UK court: ISPs must block Popcorn Time download sites;  One thing every iPhone owner should do to stretch battery life;  Five tools to help you set up a kiosk;  How to embed playable MS-DOS games in your tweets;  Man implants NFC chip in his hand to hack Android phones;  PC prices to go up later this year, Gartner warns;  Secret, an app for anonymous posts, shuts down;  Valve ditches Steam paid mod plan after backlash;  Malvertising Strikes on Adult Site xHamster Again;  Report: Seinfeld Coming to Hulu;  Download: Windows 10 build 10074;  Tech Companies Line Up Behind Surveillance Reform Bill;  Twitter Collapses 18% In Wake Of Lackluster Q1 Revenue, User Growth;  More classic Star Wars PC games land on GOG.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Avoid Getting Hacked Next Time You Leave Home – How times have changed. It used to be that when you packed for a trip, you wanted to be sure not to forget vitals like your toothpaste, swimsuit, or even travelers’ checks. But if forgotten, those things can be replaced on the road. Instead, these days, we obsess about packing our smartphones, tablets, and even laptops. However, bringing tech on a trip can expose your entire life to hackers and cyber-crooks. So before you book your next vacation, consider these six tips on how to stay cyber-safe while traveling:

Trolls Are Posing as Baltimore Looters Online – Rage and frustration over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who succumbed to severe spinal cord injuries while in police custody, continues to explode in Baltimore in the form of riots and looting. Twitter trolls are fueling the fire by posing as looters and posting images of ostensibly stolen goods with the hashtag #BaltimoreLootCrew.

UK court: ISPs must block Popcorn Time download sites – The UK has cracked down against Popcorn Time, that neatly organized bit of movie piracy. It is illegal to stream the content offered by it, but that hasn’t stopped many and has spurred concerns for as long as it has been around. Following in line with this is a new ruling from the United Kingdom’s High Court that requires the nation’s top five broadband providers block some sites offering the Popcorn Time download. Whether that will make any difference is doubtful.

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11 Cool Smartphone Camera Tricks You Should Know – Right now, people all around you are walking around with super powerful digital cameras in their pockets, and they each have the power to beam their POV to the rest of the world instantaneously—all super hivemind style, language barriers be damned. And gadget makers have responded with better and ever more capable digital cameras. Chances are, you’re not even taking advantage of all the cool things your phone’s camera can do. Check out our slideshow for 11 truly amazing (as well as a few ridiculous) smartphone camera tricks.

One thing every iPhone owner should do to stretch battery life – Summary:While better than it used to be, owners of iPhones — especially frequent business travelers — have to keep an eye on battery life. One simple setting can help the phone last longer.

Project Spartan is now ‘Edge’, and will have Chrome extensions – Spartan was a cool working title for Microsoft’s browser. I really enjoyed it, but they’re not keeping it. Instead, they’ve come up with a new, ‘edgy’ title (pun intended). Instead of Spartan, they’re going with ‘Edge’. That’s right, Edge. Like from U2. The browser brings all the cool stuff we already knew about, like reader mode and notations, but is also sniping a bit of energy from another great browser. According to Microsoft, a bit more work on Edge will bring Chrome extensions.

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Dropbox ‘commenting’ feature now available to all users – If you use Dropbox to collaborate a workflow, you’ve probably been left scratching your head now and then. What is your colleague event talking about? Is this the right document for the project they were discussing in the meeting? Typically, that left you firing off emails or tracking them down via chat or stalking their cubicle. Now, you won’t have to be that person. Dropbox is opening up commenting within documents for all, which lets you discuss what’s going on with a particular document or project, all without ever leaving Dropbox.

Microsoft HoloLens dazzles at Build conference, but availability still a mystery – Microsoft offered another tantalizing look at its HoloLens headset, as it aims to turn your living room and workplace into a living, breathing desktop. The world’s largest software company saved the best for last during the keynote presentation at its Build 2015 developer conference, closing a three-hour parade of demonstrations and speeches with a closer look at its foray into the holographic world. The HoloLens doesn’t produce true holograms in the “Star Trek” sense. Rather, it beams light onto your eyes to blend 3D virtual images with the real world, a technology known more widely as augmented reality.

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How to embed playable MS-DOS games in your tweets – Social media platform Twitter has a neat little trick that lets you to embed playable versions of classic MS-DOS video games in your tweets, allowing you to play classic platforms directly from your feed. The feature piggybacks off the massive collection of MS-DOS games put online by the Internet Archive — joining its Console Living Room and Internet Arcade collections of console and arcade games.

Five tools to help you set up a kiosk – Kiosks make it easy to display information about your company, allow users to interact with website-driven company directories, get details about products, advertise your products and services, and much more. But how do you set up a kiosk? Surely they are complex creatures that require much care and attention! Not even remotely. Kiosks can be created using a standard machine or even a tablet. With simple and cost-effective solutions, you can have one up and running quickly. If you don’t want to invest too much time and money into the project, the five kiosk apps listed here are well suited for the task. In some instances, these apps will require you to have the HTML pages already set up and ready to go. Let’s dig into them and see if one will serve your needs.

Microsoft Announces Continuum, Turning Windows 10 Phones Into Desktops – Microsoft just demonstrated one of the intriguing possibilities from its single platform/multiple form factors approach for Windows 10: the ability to use your phone as your desktop computer. In contrast to Apple’s “Continuity,” which aims to make moving between phone, tablet and desktop seamless, Microsoft’s Continuum instead has the phone you’re using adapt its interface depending on the context you’re using it.

It Will Be Ridiculously Easy to Bring Apple and Android Apps to Windows – App developers whistled and applauded at Microsoft’s bombshell announcement Wednesday that they’ll be able to take code for Android and Apple apps and import it directly into the Windows ecosystem. The announcement marks an enormous strategic shift for Microsoft, but a logical one.

Download: Windows 10 build 10074 – Microsoft has released another Windows 10 build for the Windows Insider program and this release brings with it several new features that were shown off at Build 2015; the build number on this release is 10074. To upgrade to the new build, follow the steps below in your current install of Windows 10 to grab the bits or you can get the ISO from the links below.

Airbnb gives Android tablet and iPad users a slick, new interface – Airbnb decided that instead of simply scaling-up its mobile apps, it would completely design a new tablet interface from the ground up. The new apps boast a “cinematic” interface. The entire feel of the app is more like browsing through a thick, glossy travel magazine than searching through wordy hotel reviews. The new Airbnb apps for Android and iOS tablets give users more of what they want, pictures. Any armchair traveller knows the best part about looking at new travel destinations is the photographs. Sure, descriptions can excite the imagination, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Microsoft Expects 1 Billion Windows 10 Devices In 2-3 Years – The goal is reasonable, given the company’s decision to offer Windows 10 to current Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users for free for a year. That, combined with the normal PC sales cycle and the upgrade of Windows Phone users, is how Microsoft gets to the 1 billion-device figure. Keep in mind two things: Microsoft has granted itself quite a lot of wiggle room — a multi-year timeframe that has a full year of slack is a pretty wide band. But that’s hardly surprising, given that Microsoft has something at risk in this case. If the company cannot attract a mass of users quickly, developers might pass on building for the platform.

PC prices to go up later this year, Gartner warns – PC prices have enjoyed record lows for many years now, but buyers might have to shell out a few more bucks for their desired laptop or desktop later this year. Research firm Gartner is sounding the alarm that PC prices might go up later this year due to recent currency fluctuations. The effect may especially be felt in Europe and Japan, where local currencies are weakening against the U.S. dollar.

Security:

Google Fights Phishing Attacks With New Chrome Extension – Many phishing emails can look legit, and people are still clicking and unknowingly handing their personal details to hackers. Human error is a tough thing to combat, but Google has a new solution for Chrome users that might help you prevent significant data loss. The search giant today released a new Chrome extension, dubbed Password Alert, that can detect if you’re using your Google password on any non-Google site.

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Microsoft cracks down on misleading (and frequently malicious) advertisements – Microsoft is taking a hard stance against advertisements that trick users into visiting malicious websites or downloading potentially harmful applications. The effects will be seen in Internet Explorer, whose SmartScreen Filter feature will enforce new rules against misleading ads beginning June 1. The filter will display warnings to users when they encounter such ads (pictured below).

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Man implants NFC chip in his hand to hack Android phones – When you hold an Android phone, you just hold it. When Seth Wahle holds the same phone, an NFC chip in his hand can load a malicious web page that exploits the phone. So, should you stop letting people touch your phone from here on out? Well, you don’t have to freak out just yet.

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Ads on Colouring Pages Website Lead to Installs, Explicit Content – If you regularly download pages for family members to colour in, you may want to be aware of the adverts served up from certain websites. Not all of them are potentially family friendly.

Malvertising Strikes on Adult Site xHamster Again – Simply going on xHamster’s website could infect a PC if the browser or one of its plugins was not up to date. We notified TrafficHaus which responded immediately to shutdown the malicious ad, helping to limit the number of victims. The redirection chain used by the criminals was quite effective in that it only strikes one time per IP address and cleverly hides itself within an innocuous piece of code.

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Company News:

Apple says EC probe could lead to back tax payments – Apple has warned that an European probe into its tax payments in Ireland could lead to the company having to pay disputed past taxes covering up to 10 years. The company said the impact could be “material,” but did not provide an estimate. The European Commission began a probe last year into a tax deal between Ireland and Apple to ascertain whether the taxes the company paid complied with European Union rules on state aid.

Periscope Saw Over 1 Million Sign-Ins During Its First 10 Days – Twitter today gave the first official news about the growth of its live-streaming video acquisition Periscope, with CEO Dick Costolo saying more than 1 million people signed in to the app in the first 10 days after its official launch on March 26. The public is closely watching Periscope’s growth, as it’s in a heated battle with independent competitor Meerkat for the mobile live-streaming market. Costolo said “we have seen tremendous early growth” in Periscope.

Secret, an app for anonymous posts, shuts down – The company, also named Secret, formally launched its app last year and is said to have raised between $33 million and $35 million in funding. “After a lot of thought and consultation with our board, I’ve decided to shut down Secret,” CEO David Byttow said Wednesday in a blog post. Byttow said the app does not represent the vision he had when starting the company. Secret had attracted more than 15 million users, he said in the post. Byttow will spend the next couple of weeks winding down Secret, he said. Funding will be returned to investors.

Facebook says EU’s privacy investigations hurt innovation, economy – The social network’s head of public policy in Europe says changes to how regulations are handled there could prompt Facebook to stop bringing new features to its service.

Twitter Collapses 18% In Wake Of Lackluster Q1 Revenue, User Growth – The company reported revenue of $436 million, an increase of 74 percent on a year-over-year basis. That number missed the company’s own guidance, as well as street estimates that the company would report $456.8 million. Twitter earned $0.07 using adjusted metrics, and lost $0.25 using normal accounting methods (GAAP). The street had expected an adjusted profit of $0.04. The company’s GAAP net profit fell during the period, compared to the year-ago quarter, expanding from negative $132.3 million, to negative $162.4 million. The company’s GAAP EPS also fell by several cents, to negative $0.25.

Salesforce said to be fielding buyout offers – Salesforce is working with financial advisors to field bids after being approached by an unnamed party about a possible buyout, according to a Bloomberg report. The cloud-based CRM (customer relationship managment) company has a market value of more than $40 billion. It could be the largest software acquisition ever, according to Bloomberg.

Uber’s launching its food delivery service in NYC and Chicago – Food is an important part our lives, often extending beyond mere sustenance to serve as a notable touristy or social experience, among other things. Not all special meals have to take place inside of a restaurant, however, and Uber wants to make sure you’ve got access to them regardless of where you’re at. Cue UberEATS, a food delivery service the transportation company has been testing in Barcelona and Los Angeles, and that it has now officially launched in both of those cities, as well as Chicago and New York City.

Games and Entertainment:

Valve ditches Steam paid mod plan after backlash – A few days ago, we talked about the plans that Valve had put into place that would allow paid mods to be sold for Skyrim via the Steam Workshop. Those plans for paid mods didn’t sit well with fans of Skyrim and Steam. The backlash against the plans was swift and brutal.

Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass costs $40 – It used to be the case that you’d purchase a game and all the content would be available on the disc. Then we got expansions pack, and with the advent of the always-connected gamer and fast download speeds, DLC packs appeared, which inevitably led on to what is commonly called a Season Pass for games. Now Warner Bros. is attempting to charge $40 for a Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass on top of the $60 you’ll pay to play the game. 100 to unlock all the content for Batman: Arkham Knight will be too much to stomach for many gamers.

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Report: Seinfeld Coming to Hulu – According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Hulu has acquired streaming rights to Seinfeld. Hulu did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the Journal’s sources said the streaming company may announce the deal to advertisers on Thursday at a presentation in New York. If true, this would be one of the biggest programming acquisitions in the site’s history, the report notes. How big? Approximately $700,000 per episode. Hulu apparently beat out several other streaming rivals vying for rights to the 1990s classic, including Amazon and Yahoo.

This Video Game Trailer Will Raise Your Pulse and Make You Sweat – Just Cause 3, the next installment in the go-anywhere, destroy-anything open world series, is scheduled for a 2015 release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Developer Avalanche Studios just unveiled a new trailer for the title (above) that gives a pulse-quickening sneak peak at the new title’s gameplay. It looks, well, explosive.

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PSA: More classic Star Wars PC games land on GOG, debut on Steam – Last year, the restructured teams at Lucasarts, under new Disney ownership, got into PC gamers’ good graces by announcing a plan to digitally re-release a smattering of out-of-print Star Wars video games on PC. That October news included a partnership with Good Old Games (GOG.com), and on Tuesday, Lucasarts announced another digital storefront partnership, this time with Steam.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Ham radio attempts to fill communication gaps in Nepal rescue effort – Amateur radio has stepped in to fill communication gaps in Nepal, which is struggling with power outages and a flaky Internet after a devastating earthquake on Saturday killed over 5,000 people. The hobbyist radio operators, also known as ham radio operators or hams, are working round-the-clock to help people get in touch with relatives, pass on information and alert about developing crises ever since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit about 80 kilometers from Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu.

Drumi cleans clothes with no power and little water – In most homes, a significant amount of water and electricity is allotted to operating washing machines and drying clothes. That’s all fine and good in areas where there is plenty of water and reliable electricity. For people who want to go green and reduce electricity use while saving water, cleaning clothes can be done with an interesting new device called the Drumi. The green Drumi is 22-inches tall and needs no electricity to clean your clothing. It also needs only 10 liters of water and a bit of detergent to clean five pounds of clothing, which is about six items. Users toss the clothes into the drum along with five liters of water.

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I Spent a Day Learning How to Hack Alongside Wall Street’s Financial Consultants – I’m hacking the Komodo Bank of Asia. I’m actively taking money from its clients and transferring it into my account. My victim’s password sucked, his security question was laughable and easily Googleable. My balance soars; I watch his approach zero. The whole thing was too easy. I’m not in my parents’ basement, I’m not in a Chinese cyberarmy barracks or compound, I’m not even using Tor. I’m sitting in the modern offices of Capco, a financial consultancy a couple blocks off Wall Street. If I had to guess, with the information stored on these computers, some of Capco’s employees could definitely help me pull off some sort of large-scale digital heist. But they aren’t helping me—instead, they’re my adversaries in what is, as far as I can tell, the first corporate-backed class on how to hack.

DroneBase Lets Any Business Rent A Drone And Pilot – You don’t want to own a drone. Or learn to fly a drone. Or hire someone full-time to fly a drone. And you definitely don’t want to pay for a helicopter, plane or satellite. You just want some aerial photos or videos of your work site, real estate or infrastructure. Now, thanks to DroneBase, you can get the benefits of unmanned aerial vehicles without the hassle. DroneBase lets you commission a drone and its pilot for commercial jobs. You just submit your request online, DroneBase finds someone who can do the gig, they come fly and send you the media and data needed. The DroneBase marketplace is now open for business in Los Angeles with plans to expand.

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The Ars Technica guide to digital policy in the UK’s 2015 general election – As the passage of the UK’s technologically illiterate Digital Economy Act in 2010 demonstrated, many UK politicians are completely at sea when it comes to modern technology. But even they recognise that the digital world forms a crucial part of modern life, and that any political party hoping to enter government needs to have policies for issues the Internet raises. That said, the different political parties have very different views and priorities when it comes to legislating for the digital world. Ahead of the UK’s General Election on May 7, Ars has put together a guide to what the manifestos say on a number of key topics: surveillance; privacy and data protection; copyright and patents; web blocking; freedom of speech; digital rights; and various forms of openness—open data, open standards and open government.

Swedish airport gets the first remote air traffic tower – The problem for small airports is that they don’t have much flight traffic because there often is no tower to control incoming flights. These small airports have no tower because they don’t have the traffic to warrant a tower leaving them in a chicken/egg situation. A small airport in Sweden has been installed with the world’s first remote tower system.

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How to crack many Master Lock combinations in eight tries or less – There’s a vulnerability in Master Lock branded padlocks that allows anyone to learn the combination in eight or fewer tries, a process that requires less than two minutes and a minimal amount of skill to carry out.

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iPad app fail forces American Airlines to ground dozens of planes – Swapping massive kit bags for iPads seemed like a win for American Airlines flight crews when it happened two years ago. But while the bags were big, heavy space hogs, at least the binders never crashed and caused American to ground flights. The airline had to delay several dozen of its flights last night due to “an issue with a software app on pilot iPads.” To correct the issue, an updated version of the offending app had to be installed on the affected tablets. Planes had to head back to their gates to establish a Wi-Fi connection in order to pull down the update.

Something to think about:

“When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be.”

–      Thomas S. Monson

Today’s Free Downloads:

AirDroid – AirDroid allows you to access and manage your Android phone or tablet from Windows, Mac or the web, wirelessly, for free.

Features:

SMS: send and receive individual or group messages.

Files: transfer files between Android and computer from any network.

Notification Mirror: Mirror phone notifications from any allowed apps to computer.

AirMirror: Complete control of Android, and use any apps, like WhatsApp, WeChat and Line. (requires root, AirDroid Windows & Mac only)

Contacts: View and edit all the contacts.

Photos: Transfer photos between Android and computer.

Music & Videos: Play and manage music & videos on Android and transfer them between Android and computer.

Ringtones: Set music as ringtone and export ringtones.

Screenshot: View the real time screen of Android devices, take static screenshots. (requires root)

Apps: Import and export .apk files.

Camera: See through the lens of both front and back cameras.

URL: Push url to Android and open it with default web browser.

Clipboard: Share clipboard content between Android and computer.

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Farbar Recovery Scan Tool – Farbar Recovery Scan Tool, or FRST, is a portable application designed to run in normal or safe mode to diagnose malware issues. It is also possible to run FRST in the Windows Recovery Environment in order to diagnose and fix boot issues.

This program will display detailed information about the Windows Registry loading points, services, driver services, Netsvcs entries, known DLLs, drives, and partition specifications. It will also list some important system files that could be patched by malware.

Note: There are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Farbar Recovery Scan Tool available. Please pick the version that matches your operating system’s bit type. If you don’t know which version matches your system, you may try both of them. Only one of them will run on your system.

Limitations: If you are using Windows XP and have boot issue, the system should boot to the Recovery Environment using a PE Boot CD and then you can run FRST

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FunMouse – FunMouse: The Swiss-army-knife of mouse utilities.

With FunMouse, you name it, we can do it . . . From scrolling the window under the mouse cursor to assigning extra actions for up to 7 mouse buttons. Add to that 36 hotspot shortcuts plus 16 mouse gestures for common every-day tasks or your own custom tasks.

And if you think that is a lot, wait till you see our exclusive Paste2 function.

Paste2 will forever change the way you search for anything on your local pc and online. The only thing holding you back is your own imagination. Whether it be to paste a new screenshot to paint in one click to sending text to a new gmail message, get instant translation to any language or check spelling from any application. . . and with new add-ons regularly being released on our website, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without FunMouse & Paste2

As if that is not enough, FunMouse will also capture an astounding amount of statistics. From showing the distance you travel with your mouse to the amount of mouse clicks you perform every day, to name but two. How about controlling the system volume with your mousewheel with an onscreen volume display?

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech Companies Line Up Behind Surveillance Reform Bill – A wide range of companies today released their support for a surveillance reform bill that would effectively end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Reform Government Surveillance, a lobbying group representing many tech companies including AOL (they write my paychecks), came out backing the 2015 version of the FREEDOM Act.

“We support the bicameral, bipartisan legislation, which ends existing bulk collection practices under the USA Patriot Act and increases transparency and accountability while also protecting U.S. national security,” Reform Government Surveillance said in a statement.

“We thank Representatives Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Conyers and Nadler and Senators Lee, Leahy, Heller, and Franken, as well as other Members, who have worked hard over the past several months to draft a common sense bill that addresses the concerns of industry, the Intelligence Community, and civil society in a constructive and balanced manner. We look forward to working with Congress to pass this legislation by June 1st.”

RSA president questions government’s role in cybersecurity – The president of one of the world’s biggest computer security vendors says he is skeptical that a stronger government role in cyberdefense will abate the growing number of attacks.

In an interview with IDG News Service, Amit Yoran, president of RSA, also rejected calls by U.S. intelligence chiefs for industry to tread carefully in deploying more encryption in case it cuts off their ability to eavesdrop on communications by suspected criminals.

“The government is not the answer here,” he said, when asked about White House proposals for sharing of cybersecurity information. Despite the growing severity of attacks and a feeling that the government should “do something,” the issue is best left to private companies, because they are the ones developing networks and the technology that defends them, he said.

“Nobody is going to say information sharing is bad, but I’ve yet to see what is being asked to share by whom, for what purpose, to which parties, how will it be protected, how will it be used and then what is the value proposition back for sharing information,” Yoran said.

Instead, he said the government might better help by sharing some of its own threat intelligence with the private sector.

The Latest Argument Against Apple’s New Encryption: It’s for Perverts – After more than six months of complaints, we know US government officials, including the FBI director, President Barack Obama, as well as the head of the NSA, are not happy about Apple’s decision to turn encryption on by default on its new iPhone operating system, which makes it technically impossible for Apple to access the data the request of the police.

We also know that, in practice, they’re asking for impossible solutions, using fear mongering and hyperbolic statements such as “encryption threatens to lead us all to a very dark place,” or simply misleading or wrong examples to support their arguments.

But a Massachusetts prosecutor, who is scheduled to testify at a House hearing on encryption on Wednesday, is taking the arguments a step further into bizarre territory.

If encryption becomes widespread, according to Daniel Conley, the Suffolk County District Attorney in Massachusetts, perverts that take surreptitious pictures of women’s intimate parts on public transportation—also known as “upskirting”—will never be prosecuted.

Bill to rein in NSA phone data collection reintroduced – A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has reintroduced legislation aimed at ending the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone records across the country.

Four senior members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee planned to reintroduce the USA Freedom Act late Tuesday. The House passed a watered-down version of similar legislation in last May, but the Senate failed to act on it before November’s elections.

The new bill would end all bulk collection of telephone and other business records under the Patriot Act, the antiterrorism legislation passed in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing to amend and vote on the new bill this Thursday.

Lawmakers criticize FBI’s request to mandate encryption back doors – U.S. lawmakers are skeptical of an FBI request for Congress to mandate encryption workarounds in smartphones, with critics saying Wednesday that back doors would create new vulnerabilities that bad guys can exploit.

It’s currently impossible for smartphone makers to build in back doors that allow law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications but also keep out cybercriminals, witnesses and lawmakers said during a hearing before the IT subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Law enforcement representatives called on lawmakers to find a way to allow access to encrypted data as a way to prevent serious crime. Late last year, FBI Director James Comey called for a public debate on encryption after Apple and Google announced they would offer new encryption tools on their smartphone OSes.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 27, 2015

Enable or Disable what Google tracks;  Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search;  Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN;  Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam;  9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know;  Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff;  Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone;  Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website;  How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities;  Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating;  Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast;  Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called gross hypocrisy;  Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation;  Twitter launches Highlights;  LinuxLive USB Creator (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Person Finder and Facebook Safety Check provide relief in Nepal Quake – Tragedy struck Nepal as a 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused damage throughout the capital, Kathmandu. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, endangering climbers. Sadly, Google executive Dan Fredinburg lost his life in the avalanche. To help with the recovery and relief efforts, Google and Facebook are stepping up to the plate, reminding the public of their respective Person Finder and Safety Check features which can be used to check on friends and family from half way around the globe.

Enable or Disable what Google tracks about your online presence – Browser preferences for privacy are all well and good, but Google takes it a step further by saving your online presence online, to enable or disable certain tracking options requires a few steps.

Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search – Last week, we showed you how to find your Android phone with a simple Google search. Now Google is introducing new features that allow you to push data to your phone through your desktop browser. You can send directions from the web to your phone; just type “send directions” into Google and a drop-down menu should pop up allowing you to “send directions to [your] phone.” Then, Google Maps will automatically open on your phone, and you’ll be ready to navigate away from your desktop.

Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN to change your country and see more – There may be some risk, but if you’re interested you can check out the Netflix movie selection in countries around the world.

Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam – What if you could get your webcam or a spare iOS or Android device to work like Dropcam? You can do just that with Camio, a cloud-based service that transforms smartphones, tablets and PCs into smart monitoring devices, complete with live streaming, motion detection, alerts, and more. Where it truly shines, however, is in the cloud recording department and the various ways in which it allows you to access your recordings.

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9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know – After unboxing the new smartwatch, we linked it up to an iPhone 6, and started exploring. Apple products are usually quite intuitive, and the Apple Watch is no exception, but there is a bit of a learning curve since everything has to be displayed on a tiny screen. Our slideshow features several videos that walk you through the basics of your Apple Watch—from changing the watch face to customizing notifications and setting an alarm. Check them out, and let us know in the comments if there are any other features you’d like to see in action.

Microsoft adds Apple Watch support to Skype for iPhone – The Apple Watch seems to be the next big thing, and a whole slew of apps are falling in line to provide support for the device – this time, another one from Microsoft: Skype for iPhone.

Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff – Twitter seems to be taking a cue from Facebook. The company announced on Thursday a feature called Highlights that — like Facebook’s News Feed — is designed to draw on a user’s information to deliver relevant content and keep people from becoming overwhelmed.

Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating – The wait is over. Debian 8.0—“Jessie”—will be released on April 25, after a nearly two-year development cycle for the next release of this long-standing Linux distribution. Microsoft is even throwing Debian a birthday party, complete with cake. Sure, it’s basically just an advertisement for Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform, but it’s still amusing.

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New version of Google Glass coming soon, says Luxottica CEO – The search giant is going forward with its connected-eyewear project, and it has partnered with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley for the next version.

GeniCan smart garbage can builds your next shopping list – A new smart home appliance has just cropped up, and it aims to make throwing out your kitchen waste a convenience. It’s called GeniCan, and it is a smart device that attaches to the top of your existing kitchen trash can. When an item is thrown away, the GeniCan scans the product and adds it to a growing shopping list for the next time you go shopping. It eliminates the need to write things down on a shopping list, and is joined by a few convenient features like finding coupons for the product (if available), and more.

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Five ways to bump up your Google mobile search ranking – This week Google altered the way it orders search results on phones to give preference to what it terms mobile-friendly websites. The change to Google’s algorithm means sites that haven’t been optimised to be easy to use and view on mobile devices could find themselves bumped down the mobile search rankings. Google offers a tool to allow sites to see if they pass its mobile-friendly test. Sites that fail appear to be falling foul of common gotchas – many of which are fairly simple to rectify. Here’s the approach you should take if you want to pass the test.

Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone – The modern smartphone is a wonder of modern technology, and in combination with the carrier network can allow you to make calls from the densest urban jungle to Mount Everest. But despite the amazing global coverage of the carrier networks, sometimes it just isn’t enough. This is when you need to rely on satellite coverage. And believe it or not, you can add satellite capability to your existing iPhone or Android smartphone. Yes, that’s right, you no longer need a dedicated satellite phone. What you need is a Thuraya SatSleeve. Just slide on the sleeve, and BINGO! You have a satellite phone. Yes, calls and data are going to cost you an arm and a leg (don’t be surprised if it adds up to several dollars a minute depending on where you want to use your handset).

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Google officially discontinues Nexus 7 tablet – If you’re in the market for an affordable, highly-rated, not-too-big-not-too-small tablet, your chances to buy the Nexus 7 are quickly running out. If you were planning to purchase one from Google directly, then your ship has already sailed. That’s because the company officially discontinued the 7-inch tablet on Friday, and is no longer selling it on the Google Store’s website. You can still find one from other places, but you better act fast.

Security:

Critical HTTPS bug may open 25,000 iOS apps to eavesdropping attacks – At least 25,000 iOS apps available in Apple’s App Store contain a critical vulnerability that may completely cripple HTTPS protections designed to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks that steal or modify sensitive data, security researchers warned. As was the case with a separate HTTPS vulnerability reported earlier this week that affected 1,500 iOS apps, the bug resides in AFNetworking, an open-source code library that allows developers to drop networking capabilities into their iOS and OS X apps. Any app that uses a version of AFNetworking prior to the just-released 2.5.3 may expose data that’s trivial for hackers to monitor or modify, even when it’s protected by the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol.

Google says Chinese Great Cannon shows need to encrypt web – The large DDoS attack on GitHub and Greatfire that occurred over March and April would not have been possible with encrypted web traffic, Google has said.

With ransomware on the rise, cryptographers take it personally – Some of the world’s leading cryptographers are concerned about the increasing number of malicious programs that hold computers and mobile phones to ransom, in many cases by abusing the encryption algorithms they designedd. The security industry is not doing enough and it’s going to get worse, they said

Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website – According to numerous reports yesterday, an unknown individual (or individuals) managed to get into the Tesla Twitter account, as well as the Twitter account belonging to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The hijackers claiming responsibility indicated they were known as “ripprgang” and, yes, they even posted a link to their own Twitter account—which isn’t filled with anything interesting, unfortunately, seeing as it has already been suspended as of this article’s writing.

Company News:

Hello?! Nokia Releases Official Statement Denying Reports It Will Return To Mobile – In a (short and somewhat terse) official statement today, Nokia noted “recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China.” It went on: “These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive. Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.”

Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast – First AT&T/T-Mobile, then Sprint/T-Mobile, and now Comcast/Time Warner have collapsed. This might also put AT&T/DirecTV in jeopardy. What all of these have in common is that they involved a service that’s essential for participating in the modern economy, and they totally failed to make the case that their mergers would make consumers’ lives better.

BitTorrent confirms layoffs: 40 workers rumored gone – BitTorrent has been putting a lot of work into growing, and it has seemingly been progressing well with its BitTorrent Originals entertainment effort and BitTorrent Sync, among other things. Sources have cropped up to reveal that things may not be going so well behind closed doors, however, and they claim that yesterday the company laid off “dozens” of employees. The move was said to be in an effort to focus on a smaller bunch of products, and to “streamline business operations”.

Microsoft CEO says Office has been downloaded 100 million times on iOS and Android – Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, revealed that Office has been downloaded more than 100 million times on iOS and Android, and reiterated plans to ensure that its products reach “every mobile device.”

Infosys buying digital commerce provider Kallidus in $120 million deal – Also doing business under the moniker Skada, Kallidus comes with a cloud-based digital commerce platform designed to link all of the e-commerce endpoints from the couch to the counter.

Games and Entertainment:

Solitaire Is Coming Back on Windows – The much-loved card game will once again be just a few clicks away when Microsoft’s next OS launches this summer. This means you’ll no longer have to go through the trouble of separately downloading it like you need to do on Windows 8. Microsoft previously admitted that Solitaire, along with Minesweeper and Hearts, have a “devoted following,” but decided not to pre-install them on Windows 8.

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Dungeons 2 review: Almost the Dungeon Keeper 3 you’ve been waiting for – Suffice it to say, Dungeons 2 is better than that pseudo-Dungeon Keeper racket. But that bar couldn’t be lower if the person holding the bar got stabbed in the gut by EA, fell down a conveniently placed flight of stairs into a basement, and then carried the bar six feet further down into a freshly-dug grave. Is Dungeons 2 any good not just in comparison, but on its own? Ah, now that’s the real question.

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Valve’s Launch Of Paid Mods Faces Backlash From Community – PC gaming giant Valve is facing vocal backlash from its community a day after giving developers of game modifications the ability to charge for their work on the Steam platform. Whereas digital stores typically take a fraction of the sales they process — say, Apple’s 30% on app sales an in-app puchases — Valve has decided to take 75% from each sale of paid mods. That amount is then split between Valve and the publisher or developer behind the original game. That split is one of the sticking points emerging as an issue in Reddit threads and posts on the Steam Community, but it’s certainly not the only one, as many understand it’s a prerequisite to get studios interested in letting others profit from the games they make.

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How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities – Adam Gazzaley is building a repertoire of games that could one day help us reduce or even reverse the impact on our cognitive faculties of disorders such as Alzheimer’s, or deficits caused by brain trauma. Gazzaley emphasised that although he is not against using medication for these types of deficits, 50 years of drug research later “and not one case has resulted in a high-level success story.” On top of this, high drug doses needed to target the underlying neural network inevitably have side effects, and treatment is not personalized—doses are often based on anecdotal evidence provided by the patient. It’s clear we need to look elsewhere for answers, at least until drug research finds a better solution or a complementary one.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation – The truth is, people will never achieve true privacy and anonymity online. Tracking is not only here to stay, it’s getting more pervasive and sophisticated. The technology now exists to track your movement across the web without even needing cookies. “Canvas fingerprinting” for example, is one of a number of cookie-less browser techniques that allow sites to uniquely identify and track visitors. In addition, Facebook and Google are becoming more savvy about correlating individuals’ activities on multiple devices, getting a single view of a person’s online behavior across their smartphone, laptop and any other devices. Furthermore, as emotional a topic as tracking can be, few people change their online behavior because of it or even bother to read the legalistic-to-the-point-of-unfathomable privacy policies that sites post

The hottest gadgets of 1985 – Summary: It seems like only yesterday for the Gen-X crowd, but it was 30 years ago that some of the most influential innovations in consumer technology were introduced.

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We are cruel. We always have been. The Internet did not make us so – Not that it asked me and not that it needs me and not that I expect it to do anything but mock me for my efforts, but I’m going to defend the Internet. Lately, humanity has been flattering itself that it was better and kinder before the Internet – as though we never slipped anonymous notes through locker doors in high-school hallways that were echo chambers in themselves, as if we never wrote on actual walls. To hear us now, you’d think no one ever ever crank-called late at night, dialled up even before dial-up to offer abuse, stared into other people’s windows through our own twitching curtains.

14 Animals Who Wore Cameras for Your Amusement (and Science) – If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like for a sea turtle swimming gracefully through the blue expanses, an eagle soaring through the mountains, or where your cat travels at night, technology makes it possible. Take a look through our slideshow to learn what it’s like to be a Hawaiin monk seal, a giant squid, and a menagerie of other critters. It will get you in touch with your wild side! Or something.

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Android mascot urinates on Apple in Google Maps Easter Egg – It’s a well-documented fact that Google loves Easter Eggs. However, this one hiding out in Google Maps is a spiteful little jab at Apple. It’s not exactly stealthily hidden for an Easter Egg. While a specific set of coordinates will take you right to the graffiti, you can also just punch up the New Islamabad Airport and head due East. You’ll stumble across it in no time.

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Mom allegedly attacks school official after daughter not allowed cell phone – In April, a Philadelphia school principal stumbled into a filmed contretemps with a parent who demanded that the school give him his daughter’s cell phone back. The school had confiscated it and said it would keep it for some weeks. Now footage from India has emerged, in which a mom is allegedly so upset that her daughter wasn’t allowed to have her cell phone at school that she attacks school director Jyoti Nagrani.

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Feds: 6 died as a result of overdosing from Silk Road-purchased drugs – The head attorney for Silk Road founder and convicted felon Ross Ulbricht has asked the judge that his upcoming sentencing hearing be postponed, according to a Friday court filing. Why does this lawyer, Joshua Dratel, want the date to be pushed back? Because, he argues, the defense needs adequate time to review the government’s latest revelation that six people died as a result of overdosing on drugs they purchased on Silk Road.

Pointing up   FYI – Acetaminophen Deaths: Data compiled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has linked as many as 980 deaths in a year to drugs containing acetaminophen. In addition, FDA reports of death associated with acetaminophen have been increasing faster than those for aspirin, ibuprofen and many other common over-the-counter pain medicines. Data obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 300 people die annually as a result of acetaminophen poisoning.

Something to think about:

“For all of life’s discontents, according to the pharmaceutical industry, there is a drug and you should take it. Then for the side effects of that drug, then there’s another drug, and so on. So we’re all taking more drugs, and more expensive drugs.”

–      Marcia Angell

Today’s Free Downloads:

LinuxLive USB Creator – LiLi USB Creator is a handy, easy to use application designed to enable you to create a bootable Live USB key with a Linux on it.

This software also offers an exclusive option of automatic virtualization to directly run Linux in Windows without any configuration nor installation.

Features:

Free and Open-source

LiLi is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anybody. All you have to do is to pick up a Linux in the list and give it a try.

No reboot needed

Are you sick of having to reboot your PC to try Linux ? No need with LiLi. It has a built-in virtualization feature that lets you run your Linux in Windows just out of the box !

Supports many Linux distributions

Wow ! Did you see that never-ending list ? They are almost all there : Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux …

Persistence

Having a Live USB is better than just using a Live CD because you can even save your datas and install softwares. This feature is called persistence (available only on selected Linux).

SmartClean & SmartDownload

SmartClean uninstalls properly any previous Live USB installs and SmartDownload lets you download any supported Linux in 2 clicks automatically selecting the best mirror to download it.SmartClean also lets you clean your USB key in one click.

And a lot more!

Intelligent processing : LiLi works with many Linux, even if they are not officially supported

Hidden install : LiLi hides the Linux install, your key stays clean

File integrity : tells you if your ISO is corrupted

Keeps your data on your USB device (format only if needed)

Intelligent format : can format disks bigger than 32 GB

Auto-Update : automatic updates when new Linux distributions are available

Also works with .IMG files (experimental)

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater – Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater is a a software updater for Adobe’s Flash Player. Flash is one of the key technologies of Web 2.0 – you can find it nearly everywhere. Commonly used technologies are always a main target for malware authors – Flash Player is not different. Adobe frequently releases security updates to fix the latest security vulnerabilities.

However, Flash Player’s out-of-box updater uses long time intervals between update checks. Most endusers do not bother to configure the internal updater – they run outdated Flash Player versions. That is an extremely underestimated security risk!

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater was developed to offer an easy to use application for inexperienced endusers who do not want to bother with updates. It can install updates with no user interaction required and thus keep your system secure without bothering you.

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater offers many features for single- and corporate users like automatical update checks with a custom time interval. Also, it allows corporate users to use a remote configuration and thereby avoid configuring every single client.

Features:

Even works if no Flash Player is installed on the system (offers download)

Works on Windows x86 and x64 (32-bit, 64-bit)

German, English and Spanish (automatically detects the system language)

Can work completely hidden (except notifications when updates are available)

Users can choose to let it start with Windows

Works behind a proxy server and with different administrator credentials (these are encrypted in the configuration file)

an use a global configuration file for network environments

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called “gross hypocrisy” – Yesterday, former CIA Director David Petraeus was handed two years of probation and a $100,000 fine after agreeing to a plea deal that ends in no jail time for leaking classified information to Paula Broadwell, his biographer and lover.

“I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life and continuing to serve our great nation as a private citizen,” Petraeus said outside the federal courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday.

Lower-level government leakers have not, however, been as likely to walk out of a courthouse applauding the US as Petraeus did. Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, called the Petraeus plea deal a “gross hypocrisy.”

“At the same time as Petraeus got off virtually scot-free, the Justice Department has been bringing the hammer down upon other leakers who talk to journalists—sometimes for disclosing information much less sensitive than Petraeus did,” he said.

The Petraeus sentencing came days after the Justice Department demanded (PDF) up to a 24-year-term for Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who leaked information to a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about a botched mission to sell nuclear plans to Iran in order to hinder its nuclear-weapons progress.

NSA spied on EU politicians and companies with help from German intelligence – Germany’s intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has been helping the NSA spy on European politicians and companies for years, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The NSA has been sending lists of “selectors”—identifying telephone numbers, e-mail and IP addresses—to the BND, which then provides related information that it holds in its surveillance databases. According to the German newspaper Die Zeit, the NSA sent selector lists several times a day, and altogether 800,000 selectors have been requested.

The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism “Memorandum of Agreement” on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA’s requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed.

According to Der Spiegel, investigators found that the BND had provided information on around 2,000 selectors that were clearly against European and German interests. Not only were European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians—including German ones.

The NSA made a coloring book for kids – Last week we met Dunk, the NSA’s captivatingly weird Earth Day mascot, and now it looks like he’s not the only anthropomorphic creature in the NSA family. Dan Raile at Pando Daily went to the RSA security conference last week, and returned with a prize: an NSA-themed coloring book.

The book, America’s CryptoKids: Future Codemakers and Cokebreakers, tells the story of a team of talking animals, who, when they’re not spying on you, spend their time shredding on the guitar and playing friendly games of lacrosse. While also spying on you, of course.

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Austraalia: ACCC warns site-blocking Bill may be used to ‘intimidate’ VPN users – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has warned against rights holders ‘inappropriately’ threatening to block services that grant Australians access to geoblocked services like Hulu and HBO Now.

CIA couldn’t fully use NSA spy program as most analysts didn’t know about it – A newly-released document from the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) own internal watchdog found that the government’s controversial warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program was so secretive that the agency was unable to make “full use” of its capabilities even several years after the September 11 attacks. Initially, only top-level CIA officials were cleared on its use, rather than rank-and-file “CIA analysts and targeting officers.”

The document, a June 2009 report from the CIA Inspector General (IG) was released as part of a trove of 747 pages entitled the “Report on the President’s Surveillance Program” and was published on Friday by The New York Times as the result of victory in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice.

The CIA IG report, like the others, is redacted in many places, but provides some new material as to the specific history, play-by-play and internal evaluations of the program. In 2009, the government had previously published a far shorter unclassified version.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 24, 2015

3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC;  App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now;  Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus;  Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome;  How to Buy a Cell Phone;  Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money?  BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs (free);  Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price;  11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should;  Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  Cash register maker used same password non-stop since 1990;  10 easy ways to punch up your presentations;  Can We Secure the Internet of Things?  The 15 best Android games to play right now;  Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s;  Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home;  Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones;  Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Silicon Valley’s privacy efforts must be working, because our governments are freaking out – If you’ve ever wondered what a government has left in its last breath of an argument it’s already lost, it’s almost certainly going to have something to do with “national security.” Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are freaking out because they’ll no longer as easily be able to grab your data — with or without a warrant. In the past week, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned that encryption made it almost impossible to find criminals and terrorists. That was hot on the heels of one Manhattan district attorney saying iPhones will become the “device of choice” for terrorists. And if that wasn’t enough, the UK’s leading counter-terrorism official said tech companies are creating systems that are “friendly to terrorists.”

3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC – It really doesn’t take much to set up a solid backup protocol for your PC. Here are the basics, with pointers to more details.

Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus – After eight years of using AVG’s antivirus software, I’ve decided to switch to Avast! Antivirus. Read about the frustration that pushed me over the edge, and why I chose Avast as my free anti-malware protection… (recommended by Bob3160).

How to Buy a Cell Phone – If you thought choosing a cell phone was difficult before, it’s even tougher today. That’s a good thing, though, because it demonstrates how innovation in the wireless industry has skyrocketed. We’re seeing rapid progress across all fronts, including displays, data networks, user interfaces, voice quality, third-party apps, and even mobile gaming. So what should you be looking for when buying a cell phone? Here are some key points to consider:

Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money? Let’s find out – Google’s offering a different kind of wireless phone service with its new Project Fi program. So how good of a deal is it compared to traditional carrier plans?

Misunderstanding Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price – Google’s new mobile voice and data service may save you money, or it may not. Either way, it offers network redundancy and coverage advantages for work and personal use.

Never miss a word with Microsoft OneNote 2013’s synced audio notes – Did he really say that? With Microsoft OneNote’s Record Audio feature, you can quickly zoom to the relevant bit of information.

SwiftKey Beta gives its myriad settings an extreme makeover with the Hub – The predict-your-typing company also reveals it’s partnering with Dashlane in an effort to automatically enter your passwords on mobile.

Twitter Highlights lures lazy users with friends’ activity – Twitter has rolled out Highlights, a new feature aiming at summarizing some of the peaks from your timeline that you might have otherwise missed. The new tool automatically cooks up a summary of the most interesting things the people you’re following are tweeting, along with local trending topics, twice a day. For Twitter, meanwhile, it’s another way to try to maintain active users.

Garmin’s latest navigation device has a built-in dash cam – Garmin is known for its in-car navigation systems, but its latest GPS system may take the cake. The Garmin nüviCam LMTHD (fun name) has a built-in dash cam, which allows you to overlay directions right over the feed so you can keep an eye on the road at all times. It also has a number of features usually reserved for luxury vehicles like alerts when you’re coming too close to a car ahead of you, or if you’re drifting out of your lane. For $399, the Garmin NüviCam LMTHD may be the first stand-alone GPS worth buying in quite a while.

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11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should – You love Android—but how well do you really know Android? These power user tips dig deep into your system’s hidden crannies, and surface super-cool features you can really use.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Despite still being very much an early preview, Windows 10 is already brimming with handy new features, along with new tweaks and tricks—and, because the operating is still in preview, a handful of those tricks unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Others, though, simply let you mold some of Windows 10’s new features into the shape you see fit. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found. Be warned: Some of these may break as the operating system evolves, though we plan to update this article over time.

Amazon Apple Watch app puts shopping on your wrist – Amazon has updated its iPhone app to support Apple Watch, turning the new wearable into a mobile voice-controlled shopping accessory. The new version of the app, released just as the first Apple Watch orders are shipping out, not only works as a scratchpad for the Wish List, but entire purchases can be carried out directly from the wrist. It’s one of around 3,000 Apple Watch apps already waiting for Apple’s new toy in the App Store today.

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App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now – It’s time to have a peek at exactly how many apps are being released to the Apple Watch at “launch” this week with the new App Store for Apple Watch. What is an “App Store for Apple Watch”, you might ask? It’s basically a category within the App Store on your iPhone or iPad. You can also access this category for the Apple Watch specifically through iTunes on your desktop computer. This “Apps for Apple Watch” section has not yet been released in its entirety to the full Apple software system. This is just the beginning. Imagine how awesome it’s going to be when these developers decide to bring their apps to Android Wear a few weeks down the line.

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Dropbox Notes beta arrives as Evernote competitor – Early this month, some Dropbox users spotted hints of a note-taking service that was in-progress, something that had seemed likely as an eventual product after Dropbox made some tweaks to how it showed up once in the public eye. Now the service has been made official, though it isn’t open to the public in general yet: it’s called Dropbox Notes, and it is in a private beta. Invitations are going out now, and those interested can sign up to (hopefully) get one.

Polaroid Zip pocket printer spits out prints from your smartphone – Polaroid launched a new tiny portable printer earlier this week without much fanfare, and it is targeted at the mobile photographers among us — those who can’t remember the last time they picked up a dedicated digital camera because they’ve been too busy cataloging their life with a series of stylish smartphone-snapped pics. It is called the Zip printer, and it is small enough to fit in your pocket, printing out physical photographs for those times you take a shot that is extra special.

10 easy ways to punch up your presentations – Ah the slide presentation. For some, it’s the best route to getting an audience involved with a talk/discussion/lecture, showing the audience what to focus on. But after awhile, it can become a bit… routine. If you fall back on the same old delivery, your audience will pick up on it and you may lose their attention. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to enliven your presentations and turn them into effective tools that will not only help you get your point across, but also transform the event into an active and memorable moment. Don’t believe me? Read on.

Your website is about to lose 50% of all traffic thanks to Google – Google has changed how search works. If your site is not mobile friendly, you could lose as much as 50% of your traffic starting today. The company announced changes today in how they crawl sites after warning that the change was coming for the last month. It’s being called mobilegeddon already. If your site is not mobile friendly — that is, if users have to tap and zoom, scroll around, and can’t really make out the text on a smartphone — Google will penalize the site by pushing it much lower in the search engine results.

OpenOffice development is looking grim as developers flock to LibreOffice – Development on the free productivity suite is down to just 16 people, and the support system for new contributors is sorely lacking.

Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May – Summary:Amazon and DHL are piloting a scheme that will see deliveries made straight to Audi owners’ vehicles – whether they’re there or not.

Security:

Cash register maker used same password – 166816 – non-stop since 1990 – Fraud fighters David Byrne and Charles Henderson say one of the world’s largest Point of Sale (PoS) systems vendors has been slapping the same default passwords – 166816 – on its kit since 1990. Worse still: about 90 per cent of customers are still using the password. The enraged pair badged the PoS vendor by its other acronym, labelling it a “piece of shit” and heaping scatological scorn on a bunch of other borked sales systems. Fraudsters would need physical access to the PoS in question to exploit it by opening a panel using a paperclip. Such physical PoS attacks are not uncommon and are child’s play for malicious staff. Criminals won’t pause before popping and unlocking.

Pointing up  A sickening abdication of responsibility.

Negligence – the failure to exercise that degree of care that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons that may be injuriously affected by the want of such care.

FTC hits retail firm for secretly tracking customers – In reports to retail clients, Nomi provided aggregated information on how many consumers passed by the store instead of entering, how long consumers stayed in the store, the types of devices used by consumers, how many repeat customers enter a store in a given period and how many customers had visited another location in a particular chain of stores. In the settlement with the FTC, Nomi is prohibited from misrepresenting consumers’ options for controlling whether information is collected, use or shared about them and their devices. Nomi is also prohibited from misrepresenting how it notifies consumers about its information-gathering practices.

Pointing up   It’s unfortunate, but predictable, that the NSA firestorm has managed to virtually obscure an equally repugnant attack on personal privacy. While the NSA has a defensible position relative to data collection for national security purposes (a position I don’t support mind you), these parasitic corporate money hungry voyeurs continue to slip under the radar of public scrutiny.

Potent, in-the-wild exploits imperil customers of 100,000 e-commerce sites – Criminals are exploiting an extremely critical vulnerability found on almost 100,000 e-commerce websites in a wave of attacks that puts the personal information for millions of people at risk of theft. The remote code-execution hole resides in the community and enterprise editions of Magento, the Internet’s No. 1 content management system for e-commerce sites. Engineers from eBay, which owns the e-commerce platform, released a patch in February that closes the vulnerability, but as of earlier this week, more than 98,000 online merchants still hadn’t installed it, according to researchers with Byte, a Netherlands-based company that hosts Magento-using websites.

Security researchers have developed a method for detecting NSA Quantum Insert-style hacks – Fox-IT has published free open-source tools to detect duplicate sequence numbers of HTTP packets, with different data sizes, that are the hallmarks of Quantum Insert. The utilities developed by Fox-IT are capable of exposing fiddling with HTTP packets but are no by no means perfect and might themselves be circumvented, as a blog post by Fox-IT explains.

Can We Secure the Internet of Things? – It seems that “Internet of Things” or “IoT” is the latest catchphrase; you hear it everywhere. Has the IoT simply evolved from existing technology? Is it revolutionary, breaking old ideas? Or is it just a fad? An all-star panel at the RSA Conference debated this topic. Afterward I caught up with panelist Jeffrey Greene, Director Government Affairs North America and Senior Policy Counsel for Symantec, to get some insight.

Company News:

Google grew both its revenue and profit in the first quarter of 2015 – Google just released its earnings statement for the first quarter of 2015, and the company had another healthy financial period — albeit one that just missed Wall Street estimates. The company pulled in $17.3 billion in revenue, up 17 percent year over year, while operating income of $4.45 billion represented a 26 percent increase over one year ago. That’s compared to the $17.5 billion in revenue Wall Street analysts were expecting; Google’s earnings per share of $6.57 also just missed expectations of $6.61.

Yahoo to take on Siri and Google Now (again) with Index – Yahoo is one company that definitely doesn’t have “quit” in its vocabulary. Predating but practically overthrown by Google and perhaps to some extent even Bing, Yahoo is always in search of new ways to generate income but without budging on its true calling. Under CEO Marissa Mayer, the company is hedging its bets on search. But it won’t be taking on Google directly, though of course it will do that as well. Instead, it is training its guns on Google Now, Siri, and Cortana. Yes, Yahoo will once again be entering the personal assistant arena. This time perhaps for real.

Comcast reportedly abandons acquisition of Time Warner Cable – Comcast is calling off its $45 billion dollar attempt to buy fellow cable provider Time Warner Cable, according to Bloomberg. The decision comes after recent reports that both the US Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission were preparing to turn against the deal after months spent looking into what it would mean for competition in the cable industry. Apparently Comcast saw the writing on the wall with the increased scrutiny from regulators and has walked away from a merger that would have combined the top two cable operators in the United States. An official announcement that the deal is canceled could come as early as tomorrow, per Bloomberg’s sources.

Median age at Google is 29, says age discrimination lawsuit – The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Robert Heath, a software engineer, was 60 when he applied in 2011 for a job at a rapidly growing Google. He wasn’t hired despite having “highly-pertinent qualifications and experience,” and being deemed by a Google recruiter as a “great candidate,” according to Heath’s lawsuit. The complaint was filed in U.S. district court in San Jose, California.

Games and Entertainment:

Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome – So you’re a big fan of the original Max, the Road Warrior, the nameless stranger, yes? Mad Max is a game based on a movie, a movie that resurrects the original Mad Max trilogy of films with a new lead actor and an alternate take on the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Have a peek at the latest trailer, the last trailer before launch, we hope, for Mad Max. This game will be coming out well after the movie, and it’ll include Dinki-Di dog food, just like it should. Just as Australian God intended.

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Steam Workshop lets game modders sell their work, starting with Skyrim – Valve is taking another step in turning its Steam Workshop into a full-fledged marketplace for people who make mods, maps, or in-game items. Today, it expanded the ways that creators can directly sell their work — and it’s starting with one of the gaming world’s most vibrant modding communities, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Valve and Skyrim developers Bethesda Game Studios first added support for Steam Workshop in 2012, but at that time, they could only be offered for free. Now, modders can set their own price when they upload an item. Relatively few have taken advantage of this so far. Of over 25,000 mods, 19 are being sold for between $0.49 and $5.99.

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Assassin’s Creed creator reveals his new game: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – Original creator of the Assassin’s Creed series and ex-Ubisoft Creative Director Patrice Désilets has unveiled Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, the first project to emerge from his indie studio Panache Digital Games. According to the studio’s website, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will be a third-person action and adventure game with survival elements. As is becoming increasingly common, the game will also be released in an episodic format. Each episode promises to “relive the greatest moments of mankind with a documentary twist.”

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Telltale is making Marvel video games – Telltale Games, the studio known for its story-focused adventure video games based on properties like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Jurassic Park, has a major new partner: Marvel. Polygon reports that the first Telltale Marvel game will hit unspecified platforms sometime in 2017; it’s not known which characters it will concentrate on, or how it’ll fit into various iterations of the Marvel universe.

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Acer unveils a new 34-inch Quad HD ultra-wide gaming monitor – and it’s quite a looker – Today, Acer announced a curved monitor that we suspect many buyers will want to stare at from every angle. But the XR341CKA isn’t all about style – although it certainly excels in that area. The 34-inch display features a 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio with Quad HD (3440x1440px) resolution and 178-degree viewing angles. It’s also the first curved monitor to feature NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, which the firm says “minimizes stutter and screen tear”. It will go on sale first in markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in August, priced around €1,399 EUR, but sales in North America ($1,299 USD) and China (8,999 CNY) won’t begin until September.

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The 15 best Android games to play right now – The Play Store is overflowing with games these days, and amid seemingly endless free-to-play grinds, it can be difficult to find the really fantastic, absorbing experiences worth pouring your time into. Luckily, we’ve been playing them for years, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction. Included within are our picks for the 15 most essential, can’t-miss Android games you ought to play right now. It’s a diverse mix of options: memorable adventures, addictive quick-hit affairs, and everything in between, spanning a wide array of genres and price points. Ready to find your next on-the-go gaming obsession?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s – How many times have your parents told you to “turn that noise down?” How often do you wonder who the heck Wiz Khalifa, Sia, and Mark Ronson are? It’s clear that, as we grow older, our musical tastes change. But how much exactly? That’s the question Spotify sought to answer with new research from the company’s Taste Profiles (internal tools for personalization) and Echo Nest.

New Phantom 3 sets a higher bar for consumer drones – Check out the latest addition to the most prolific line of consumer quadcopters on the market. Filmmakers rejoice, it comes with 4K.

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BMW 7 Series recognizes finger gestures, parks itself after you exit the car – Cars have been parallel parking themselves for years now, but BMW’s new 7 Series takes things to a new level. It can pull in to — and out of — parking spaces, and you don’t even have to be sitting in the vehicle while the magic happens. That’s right, the new 7 Series features remote control parking that you can activate from the fob. It’s like having your very own valet, except you never have to worry about tipping or finding a roach in the ash tray. It’s no ordinary fob, either. It’s BMW’s tech-packed Display Key, which features a touchscreen and lets drivers do things like adjust the cabin temperature and check fuel levels.

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Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones – How far is too far when it comes to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality? One of the developers putting this question to the test is Australia-based Paranormal Games. Project Elysium, its entry into the upcoming Oculus VR Jam 2015, treads some shaky moral ground by promising to create a “personalized afterlife experience,” reuniting people with loved ones who have passed on. Exactly how the developer hopes to do this isn’t clear at this point (it will be required to showcase screenshots by April 27, followed by video footage the week after to be eligible for the jam’s grand prize), although a screenshot from Project Elysium’s development does show a friend of the studio being transformed into a 3D model.

Pointing up   I love the notion that the software development industry is, in part, driven by a sort of “because we can” philosophy –but, sometimes I have to wonder!

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A development screenshot from Project Elysium – Paranormal Games

170-year-old champagne provides clues to past winemaking – Divers discovered bottles in a shipwreck off the Finnish Aland archipelago in the Baltic Sea in 2010. After tasting the bottles on site, the divers realized they were likely drinking century-old champagne. Soon after, 168 unlabeled bottles were retrieved and were identified as champagnes from the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (VCP), Heidsieck, and Juglar (known as Jacquesson since 1832) champagne houses. A few of the recovered bottles had been lying horizontal in close-to-perfect slow aging conditions. Discovery of these wines, likely the oldest ever tasted, unleashed a flood of questions. When were these wines produced? What winemaking processes were in use at the time? Where was the wine going when the shipwreck occurred?

Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home – An academic paper published by a team from the Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute has outlined the idea of something the researchers call Zensors. The idea behind Zensors is to use an Android phone and some fancy programming to make the dumb items in your home smart.

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Researchers use VR goggles to study effects of human ‘invisibility’ – Researchers have managed to make people feel as if they were invisible using VR goggles, and that’s not a bad thing…at least not in the context of the study. The researchers found that by making people feel as if they were invisible, any social anxiety they might have experienced by standing in front of a crowd was lessened. Though the study and research in general are still in their early stages, it could pave the way to treatments for social anxiety, and could also answer some interesting questions about how humans would act if no one could see them.

Something to think about:

“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.”

–    Richard Feynman

Today’s Free Downloads:

BlueStacks 0.9.26 Beta – BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs with instant switch between Android and Windows – no reboot is required. End consumers can now enjoy their favorite Android apps on Windows PCs. Android apps can appear either as icons on the Windows desktop, or within a full-blown Android environment.

BlueStacks helps PC manufacturers to ride the Android momentum by enabling Android apps on x86-based tablets, netbooks, notebooks, convertibles and AiO Windows PCs. With the new hybrid convertible form factors, BlueStacks completely eliminates the need to carry two devices. The end consumer benefits from getting both Android and Windows at the price of a single PC.

BlueStacks integrates seamlessly with Citrix and Microsoft software delivery infrastructure and with Citrix’s Enterprise App Store. With BlueStacks, enterprise IT can deliver Android apps securely and effortlessly to any end point running Windows.

The seamless user experience, simultaneous use of Android and Windows apps, and multi-touch enablement are built on ground breaking virtualization technology which requires zero configuration and is transparent to the end consumer.

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StudioLine Photo Basic – StudioLine Photo Basic is an easy-to-use yet powerful management and editing software for digital photos. Images can be imported from camera, scanner and all popular file formats.

The image archive is the central database where you conveniently categorize your images and add keywords and descriptions. Standard IPTC and Exif tags are fully supported. 30 professional image tools are included to improve exposure problems, red-eye effects, color tones, etc.

Photos can be printed, emailed or uploaded as web galleries. CD/DVD writing is included.

Limitations: After installation you’ll be able to test all functions of StudioLine Photo Basic for 30 days. To continue using StudioLine Photo Basic 3 as a home user at no cost, simply request the complimentary activation code. StudioLine Photo Basic is only “Freeware” for personal use. Business or other commercial use requires purchase of a license.

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Ghostery for Firefox – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. Ghostery for Chrome also available.

After showing you who operates behind the scenes, Ghostery also gives you the opportunity to learn more about each company it identifies, including links to their privacy policy and opt-out options.

Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

Ghostery also includes the optional, opt-in feature called Ghostrank, which sends Ghostery servers anonymous information about the trackers you encounter and where you encounter them. This allows us to create a more comprehensive list of detectable items, and helps us create a more transparent behavioral advertising ecosystem through our partnership with Evidon.

Ghostery is built and maintained for users that care about their online privacy, and is engineered with privacy as a primary goal. Ghostery use is anonymous. No registrations or sign-ups are required. The Ghostery plug-in does not place cookies into your browser. Neither the Ghostery application nor Evidon receives any data from Ghostery users unless the user opts-in to participate in Ghostrank. Ghostrank data itslef is anonymous, is NEVER used for advertising targeting purposes, and is only shared in aggregated, non-personal, statistical form.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation – The Australian government last month introduced legislation that would allow rights holders to get an injunction placed on internet service providers (ISPs) to force telcos to block specific overseas piracy websites from access by Australian users.

The move has been welcomed by rights holders, but faces opposition from Google, which told the parliamentary committee looking into the legislation that site blocking “is not the most effective means of stopping piracy”.

“A recent study of the piracy ‘ecosystem’­ in which the authors conducted a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of various anti-­piracy measures found that anti­-piracy efforts directed towards blocking access to pirated content have not been successful,” Google said in its submission.

Google said that more effective measures include providing legitimate content that is more attractive to consumers than piracy, and cutting off advertising to piracy websites. The introduction of site blocking could have unintended consequences, Google warned.

House passes second cyberthreat information-sharing bill – For the second time in two days, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that would give legal protections to companies that share cyberattack information.

The House on Thursday voted 355 to 63 to pass the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPA), which would protect companies from customer lawsuits after they voluntarily share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies.

The NCPA is similar in several ways to the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), which passed the chamber on Wednesday, despite concerns from some lawmakers that it would allow some customer information to wind up in the hands of surveillance agency the U.S. National Security Agency.

David Petraeus sentenced to probation for leaking government secrets – Former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine today for leaking classified government intelligence to his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. The sentence is the end of a drawn out, very public ordeal for Petraeus, whose fall from grace was precipitous.

The scandal started in 2012, when the FBI discovered — apparently by accident — that Petraeus, then CIA Director, was disclosing classified information to Broadwell. Petraeus soon resigned from the agency, and charges were filed against him by the Justice Department. Petraeus ultimately took a deal, pleading guilty to one charge of sharing classified information.

Pointing up   Break this down any way you like, but the truth is – Petraeus betrayed his country for sexual favours.

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