Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 21, 2015

AVG says it can sell your browsing data;  How to enable Windows 10’s ‘Hey Cortana’ voice commands;  5 reasons to buy Amazon’s $50 tablet — and one not to;  Apple posts fix for iOS 9 ‘Slide to Upgrade’ bug;  Nasty URL bug brings Google Chrome to a screeching halt;  Tech finds 1.5M US medical records exposed on AWS;  Developer Removes Top Ad-Blocker From App Store;  Transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card;  Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know;  Mandatory South Korean parental control app is a security nightmare;  Why Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever;  The BBC to launch a streaming service in the U.S.; Microsoft sued over alleged gender discrimination;  Products with Microbeads: why you need to stop using them, now;  25 Habits That Will Make You Smarter;  A sport plane for the masses – if you have $189,000 to spare;  SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

 AVG says it can sell your browsing data in updated privacy policy – AVG has updated its privacy policy’s language, and in the amended document, the security firm admits that it can “make money from [its] free offerings with non-personal data.” These “non-personal” info include your device’s brand, language and apps in use, among other things. The company is adamant that it doesn’t sell anything with identifying information, and the data that it does collect is anonymized and stored without anything that can link it back to you. According to the updated policy, AVG can collect data you yourself provide — plus, it can use cookies to track your searchers and your activities on websites, apps and other products. It can then use those details to “build anonymous data profiles” or create statistical information, which it can then sell.

5 reasons to buy Amazon’s $50 tablet — and one not to – Yesterday, Amazon took the wraps off a $50 tablet, the simply named Fire. As you might expect, I’m a little excited. Admittedly, I haven’t seen or handled the new Fire, so I can’t address the elephant in the room: the screen. (More on that below.) But here are five reasons I think this is something you’ll want, either for yourself or as a gift.


Fifty bucks. Remember when all tablets were $500?

How to enable Windows 10’s ‘Hey Cortana’ voice commands – One of the best parts of Windows 10 is its deep integration with Cortana, Microsoft’s helpful digital assistant. To really make Cortana work for you, however, it helps to have the voice activation feature up and running. That way your next file search, weather check, or command to open an app is just a “Hey, Cortana” away.

Apple posts fix for iOS 9 ‘Slide to Upgrade’ bug – If you’ve upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 9 and it is stuck on the ‘Slide to Upgrade’ screen, this is the fix you’re looking for.

How to delete large attachments to save storage space in Gmail – If you’re pushing the 15GB limit for Gmail and Google Drive, you can save space by using FindBigMail’s service, or by running some simple searches – though you still can’t delete attachments without deleting the emails as well.

Nasty URL bug brings Google Chrome to a screeching halt – Visiting—or merely mousing over a link that contains a specific string of characters—is enough to cause the current release of the Chrome browser to crash. According to VentureBeat, merely appending “%%30%30” to the end of a URL will cause Chrome to hang and crash. The cruelest twist? You don’t even have to open a malformed URL to cause the crash–merely mousing over the link is enough to bring down Chrome. (In other words, don’t add the above string to URLs unless you like cussing at your computer. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Five to Try: Android Pay starts rolling out, and Spotify amps up your runs – We usually try to throw the spotlight on brand new apps with our weekly Five to Try column, but sometimes massive updates steal the show. It’s actually a little of both with Android Pay: the app itself is a totally new experience, although it’s being released as a rebranded update to the old Google Wallet. In any case, if you’re eager to tap and pay with your phone, it’s the app to get this week.

How to transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card – With a little bit of research and elbow grease, an external graphics setup can transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse for a fraction of the price of a whole new gaming PC.


Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know – Chromebooks are more powerful than you realize already, but zooming around the web in Google’s browser is just the beginning of what Chromebooks are capable of. Chrome OS is built on top of the Linux kernel, and you can install a full Linux environment alongside Chrome OS on your Chromebook. This gives you access to Steam and over a thousand PC games, Minecraft, Skype, and everything else that runs on desktop Linux.

Microsoft’s Edge browser will soon support Skype calls without a plugin – Skype is a natural fit for ORTC, and sure enough, the Skype team announced Friday that it is working on new versions of Skype for Web and Skype for that take advantage of this new technology. According to the Skype blog, “Skype users will be able to make voice and video calls without needing to install a plug-in on Microsoft Edge” starting sometime later this year. The Skype team says it’s also working on a plugin-free version of Skype for Business for Edge users, though it didn’t say when it expects to have that ready to rock.

Microsoft delivers Windows 10 test Build 10547 to Fast Ring Insiders – Microsoft has rolled out a new Windows 10 test build for PCs, 10547, as well as updates to a number of the built-in Windows 10 apps, for those on the Fast RIng.

Developer Removes Top Ad-Blocker From App Store: It ‘Just Doesn’t Feel Good’ – App developer Marco Arment just pulled his wildly popular ad-blocker, Peace, from the market. Arment said he didn’t feel good about the app, and has pulled it from the Apple’s App Store, announcing the move in a blog post Friday. “I’ve pulled Peace from the App Store. I’m sorry to all of my fans and customers who bought this on my name, expecting it to be supported for longer than two days. It’ll keep working for a long time if you already have it, but with no updates,” he wrote. He’s offering consumers a refund, as well as linking to instructions on how to get one.


Mandatory South Korean parental control app is a security nightmare – Back in April, South Korea required that wireless carriers install parental control apps on kids’ phones to prevent young ones from seeing naughty content. It sounded wise to officials at the time, but it now looks like that cure is worse than the disease. Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab have discovered 26 security holes in Smart Sheriff, the most popular of these mandatory parental apps. The software has weak authentication, sends a lot of data without encryption and relies on servers using outdated, vulnerable code. It wouldn’t be hard for an intruder to hijack the parent’s account, intercept communications or even scoop up the kids’ personal details. The worst part? Some of these vulnerabilities apply on a large scale, so a particularly sinister attacker could compromise hundreds of thousands of phones at once.

Apple’s Chinese App Store Has Come Under a Malware Attack – According to the Wall Street Journal, hackers planted an outwardly normal version of an Apple software called Xcode, used to develop iOS applications, on a Chinese cloud service called Baidu Pan. Developers began using it because it was faster to download than the Xcode software from Apple’s U.S. servers, the CBC reports, citing Palo Alto Networks director of threat intelligence Ryan Olson. However, the Chinese version was fraudulent and “Trojanized.” Olson told CBC that the breach was “a pretty big deal” as it showed that the App Store could be compromised.

VisitorTracker Malware Affects Thousands of WordPress Sites – Bad news for those using WordPress for their corporate or personal websites. According to security firm Sucuri, a not-so-insignificant number of WordPress installations have been compromised by a new “visitorTracker_isMob” piece of malware over the past two weeks. Visitors who attempt to go to these sites are redirected to a new page that probes their system for all kinds of weaknesses. If one is found, said system is compromised, and it only gets worse from there.

Tech finds 1.5M US medical records exposed on AWS – The private health records and private contact information of as many as 1.5 million Americans have been posted to Amazon’s cloud services. Names, addresses, and phone numbers along with biological health information including existing illnesses and current medications were posted in the clear to Amazon servers by insurers using Systema Software. It is unknown how the information was posted while the number of affected patients remains unconfirmed. Kansas’ State Self Insurance Fund, CSAC Excess Insurance Authority, and the Salt Lake County Database are known to be affected. Texan tech Chris Vickery spotted the files on Amazon servers and reported the breach to Systema Software. The company has since warned its affected customers and has kicked off an investigation.

South Korea hit with over 114,000 cyberattacks in 5 years – South Korea may have the fastest Internet speed in the world, but it looks like the country needs to ramp up its security. On Friday it was revealed that South Korea’s government has been hit by more than 110,000 cyberattacks in the past five years.

Why Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever – So far the buzz has mainly been about Windows Hello, which supports face and fingerprint recognition. But Device Guard and Credential Guard are the two standout security features of Windows 10—they protect the core kernel from malware and prevent attackers from remotely taking control of the machine. Device Guard and Credential Guard are intended for business systems and are available only in Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.

Company News:

Microsoft sued over alleged gender discrimination – The lawsuit comes from former worker Katie Moussouris, who served in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group in Redmond for more than half a decade. According to the lawsuit, Microsoft’s female technology professionals are paid less than their male counterparts, among other issues. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that sexual harassment took place against female workers via the man who was directing the Trustworthy Computing Group in 2008. Allegedly when a company investigation found this to be true, Microsoft allowed this individual to retain his “title and influence,” and simply reassigned him to a different part of the group.

T-Mobile Simple Global expands to all Europe, South America – Unsatisfied with trying to conquer the US, T-Mobile wants to spread its Un-carrier words beyond the country’ borders. Today it announces that its Simple Global scheme, which tries to make the world a smaller place through your smartphone, is expanding to 20 more countries, including all of Europe and all of South America. This means that in 145 countries, eligible subscribers can browse the Web or send SMS at no extra cost than what they would pay while at home, while calls do get charged $0.20 per minute.


AT&T says rogue employees secretly unlocked hundreds of thousands of phones – AT&T said three of its employees secretly installed software on its network so a cellphone unlocking service could surreptitiously funnel hundreds of thousands of requests to its servers to remove software locks on phones. AT&T’s allegations are made in a filing with U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in which it accuses two companies, four people and an unknown software developer or developers, of participating in the audacious scheme. AT&T filed its lawsuit on Sept. 11 but it was first reported by Geekwire on Friday.

Comcast strikes settlement with California over privacy issue – The settlement was announced on Thursday, and is related to claims that Comcast published personal customer data online, including phone numbers, names, and addresses. This is said to have affected “tens of thousands” of Comcast subscribers who had shelled out for an unlisted VOIP service. The settlement amounts to $33 million, with $25 million of that going toward paying legal fees related to the investigation and penalties. The other $8 million will be going to customers who were affected as restitution. All 75,000 or so affected subscribers will get refunds for the payments they made for unlisted service.

Games and Entertainment:

How to use Windows 10’s Game DVR to record videos of your PC gaming– With Windows 10’s Game DVR feature, you can easily record your gaming exploits and share with your Xbox-using friends—all without downloading and installing additional software like Nvidia’s ShadowPlay or OBS. Here’s how to get started.


GameStop refuses to sell console bundles with digital games – These days, when you purchase a new video game console that comes with bundled with one or more games, what’s inside the box is actually a code for redeeming a downloadable digital copy of the game. As it turns out, GameStop, one of the largest video game retailers in the US, doesn’t like this due to the fact that the vast majority of their profits come from trading in and selling of used games. So, the company has recently announced that it will no longer carry bundles with digital games, and only sell those with a physical copy.

The BBC to launch a streaming service in the U.S. – The BBC will launch a paid, on-demand streaming service in the U.S. next year, its head honcho Tony Hall revealed Thursday. It’s a move designed to boost the corporation’s overseas income amid the prospect of a serious reduction in domestic funding. The UK’s public service broadcaster is by no means a newcomer to the streaming game. It has offered an online TV catch-up service called iPlayer in its homeland since late 2007, and until not that long ago, also operated a subscription-based streaming service in more than a dozen markets around the globe. This upcoming venture, however, will be its first foray into the rapidly expanding U.S. streaming-video market.

Off Topic (Sort of):

25 Habits That Will Make You Smarter – Want to expand your mind? A little bit of effort every day goes a long way. In the Quora thread, “What would you do to be a little smarter every single day?”, readers shared the habits they follow to fuel their brains. Here are some simple actions that could help you become a smarter person.

A sport plane for the masses? Fun, sure — if you have $189,000 to spare – Earlier this week, I had a chance to take a flight in a diminutive airplane called the ICON A5. For someone whose air travel has typically meant an economy-class seat on a commercial airliner, sitting in the pilot’s seat of the A5 stoked a mixture of reactions. It was exhilarating, crazy, a little scary and, above all, a lot of fun. At $189,000 for the plane, it would be an extremely expensive hobby.


The ICON A5 sport plane can take off from land or water. Sarah Tew/CNET

Watch these drones build a rope bridge – One of the big selling points of drones is that they can get to areas that aren’t exactly safe or accessible by humans. That’s why watching quadrocopters assembling a rope bridge that’s sturdy enough for a person to walk across is so damned awesome — it immediately calls to mind a real-world use scenario that probably all of us can relate to. The video below was filmed at RTH Zurich Flying Machine Arena in Switzerland, and, according to the YouTube description, aside from the scaffolding on either side of the bridge, the structure is “entirely realized by flying machines.” Every knot and braid in the 7.4 meter (just over 24 feet) bridge was tied by the UAVs using Dyneema rope. As Robohub tells it, the material has a low weight-to-strength ratio that makes it pretty great for aerial construction uses.

Products with Microbeads: why you need to stop using them, now – The dangers of using health and beauty products with microbeads have been explored in a paper published this week in at the ACS. With the American Chemical Society, researchers have (once again) confirmed a number of reasons why microbead products contaminate our shared environment, suggesting then that the inclusion of microbeads in all products be banned immediately. While some bans have begun, much of the world continues to allow the manufacture and distribution of microbeads without regulation.


Volkswagen to recall 500,000 US vehicles because it used software to cheat on emission testing – German automaker Volkswagen has run afoul of US environmental regulators, and it could cost the company big. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a notice to Volkswagen that it broke the law by using software to circumvent emissions testing. The result is a mandatory recall of 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from model years 2009-2015. Volkswagen was caught building a so-called “defeat device” into its consumer diesel vehicles including the Jetta, Beetle, Passat, and Audi A3. This is essentially a special software mode that is only triggered when the car detects that it is undergoing official emissions testing. The engine will then be on its best behavior, so to speak.

Something to think about:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 

–    Ralph Waldo Emerson


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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

You can now find out if GCHQ spied on you – Anyone who has ever wondered how much information GCHQ knows about them can now ask the British intelligence agency directly. GCHQ has to reveal information illegally obtained and shared with the NSA before the end 2014 about citizens of any country. And after revealing what it collected, the information must be permanently deleted.

Privacy International’s “Did GCHQ spy on you?” tool attempts to make it easier for people to get in touch with the spy agency. It was originally launched in February but this earlier version of the tool saw Privacy International make requests on the public’s behalf. As GCHQ was not legally compelled to respond the tool was effectively useless.

“We think that millions of people’s fundamental rights have been violated and that they have a right to know that,” Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International tells WIRED.

The updated tool requires that people make their own request, with GCHQ required to reply to all properly filed requests. All requests will be handled by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, an independent body that deals with complaints made against the UK’s surveillance agencies.

Kim Dotcom finally faces extradition hearing – It’s been three-and-a-half tumultuous years since New Zealand Police raided Kim Dotcom’s mansion in Coatesville, Auckland.

Accused by the FBI of copyright violation, racketeering and money laundering, Dotcom fought a ferocious legal and extralegal campaign to avoid extradition to the United States.

Along the way, he embarrassed the Police, New Zealand spy agency the GCSB, the Prime Minister, disastrously entered the political fray via the Internet Party, released an album of music and appeared in TV ads.

Today, in an Auckland court, he finally faces the hearing he tried so hard to avoid.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 18, 2015

Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps;  Five tips and tricks for finding, sharing, and organizing your Google Drive on Android;  M.2 SSD roundup: Tiny drives deliver huge performance;  9 Ways to Make Your Old iPhone Work Faster and Last Longer;  Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems;  Before and After iOS 9: What’s Different?  How to switch from iPhone to Android and keep all your stuff;  Apple seduces Android users with switch-to-iOS app;  Overtime Is A Social Network For The Sports Obsessed;  Facebook’s Signal is a news-finding tool for journalists;  Amazon is selling a six-pack of tablets;  Sneaky malware allows online poker players to peek at your cards;  Apple AirDrop flaw leaves users vulnerable to exploit;  Pinterest now has 100 million monthly users;  Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2;  Xbox 360 gets big update with 2GB cloud storage and other new features;  Star Wars Battlefront beta open to all;  Why the Ad-Blocking War Could Hurt All of Us;  Tech Firms Support Bill Expanding Privacy Rights To Non-U.S. Citizens.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps – Thinking of tossing your cable box or ditching your satellite dish? If so, good news: many of your favorite shows are (probably) available for free on your Android phone or tablet. All you need are the right apps. We’ve rounded up 10 free TV apps that offer at least some of their full episodes without verifying a cable or satellite subscription, or requiring any other sort of payment beyond sitting through a few advertisements. Indeed, some of the best apps on our list serve up all their episodes for free, no pay-TV login required. Ready to sit back and start streaming? Let’s get started.

Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems – Windows 10 has been in wide release for only a few months so far, and as with any version 1.0 release some early adopters are experiencing issues. Here’s Ed Bott’s guide to some time-tested troubleshooting tools and techniques.

Five tips and tricks for finding, sharing, and organizing your Google Drive on Android – Much of what you can go with Drive on your computer, you can also do on Android. Here’s a guide to where all the new and important tools are.

Amazon Trade-In: Fair value for your iPhone or scam? – I mailed in a mint condition iPhone 6 for Amazon credit only to see the value degraded by the online retail giant. And it’s happened more than once and with increasing frequency.

9 Ways to Make Your Old iPhone Work Faster and Last Longer – Do you know the list price of the new iPhone 6s, which is available for pre-order now and officially goes on sale next Thursday? No, it’s not the $199 or $299 you paid when you signed up for your old phone. It’s $649, just for the cheapest 16GB model. If you chafe at the thought of being mugged every two years, which is probably the “new phone day” pace free upgrades have gotten you used to, here are a few things you can do to keep your old phone alive longer—and save you big money in the long run.

Before and After iOS 9: What’s Different? – At a glance, Apple’s latest mobile OS, iOS 9, looks pretty similar to last year’s iOS 8—both still mostly resemble the visually overhauled iOS 7. But Apple loves small tweaks as much as big reinventions. So here are some side-by-side image comparisons of the new OS and its predecessor that show off what has changed.


Home Screen – The two home screens are virtually identical, but take a look at iOS 9’s new built-in apps like Wallet and News (right). These apps replace iOS 8’s Passbook and Newsstand, respectively (left).

Apple iOS 9 Users Quick to Block Ads – A day after Apple released iOS 9, which supports ad-blocking extensions on Safari, apps like Peace, Purify Blocker, and Crystal are shooting up the App Store charts. The $2.99 app Peace, which promises to “dramatically speed up web browsing by blocking most ads and privacy-invading trackers on web pages,” is now the No. 1 paid iPhone and iPad app, pushing Mojang’s ultra-popular Minecraft: Pocket Edition to the runner-up slot.

How to switch from iPhone to Android and keep all your stuff – So you’ve grown tired of Apple’s walled garden of apps and the iron grip it maintains over the iOS platform. Well, the freedom of Android welcomes you with open arms, but don’t forget to bring your data along for the ride! Apple doesn’t make it particularly easy to move your data from iOS to Android—it’s more interested in moving people in the other direction. Still, with just a few tools and some patience, you can be up and running on Android without missing a beat.

Apple seduces Android users with switch-to-iOS app – Move to iOS assists current Android users — those with smartphones or tablets — who switch to an iOS-driven iPhone or iPad by transferring some of the data on the Android device to a new iOS handheld. The app transfers contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, browser bookmarks, email accounts and calendars, according to the Google Play Store description. Other content, such as apps available on both platforms, are placed in a wish list within iTunes.


Aimed at Android switchers, Apple’s ‘Move to iOS’ app transfers some of their data and content to an iPhone or iPad.

M.2 SSD roundup: Tiny drives deliver huge performance – The marriage of PCIe and the SSD has resulted in uber-fast storage for your PC. We compare small-slot AHCI, NVMe, and SATA models. Even if you’re using a desktop, one of these tiny wonders can increase your storage transfer speeds by a factor of four.


Overtime Is A Social Network For The Sports Obsessed – Overtime, a social network for sports fans created by the team behind viral game studio OMGPOP, is launching today to provide a better outlet for fans to create, share and debate all things sports. Amidst a sports media world dominated by network TV, Overtime wants to give all fans the ability to create and consume their favorite sports content in the form of 10-second videos and GIFs. All content is organized by topic into feeds, which can be as broad as “#fails” or as specific as “#usopen.” Using Overtime’s slow motion video highlight tool, you can edit your own videos to create SportsCenter-like highlights of any play.


Microsoft to Shut Down Zune Services (Yes, Zune!) – Remember the Zune? It’s apparently still a thing because Microsoft this week issued a support note warning that it plans to retire Zune services on Nov. 15. First of all, way to stay committed all these years, Zune users. But in less than a month, you’ll no longer be able to stream or download fresh content to your device from the Zune music service. Rest assured that if you’re still using an old-school Zune player, it will work and any MP3 content you own will remain on your device. You’ll also still be able to transfer music to and from your Zune player.

Facebook’s Signal is a news-finding tool for journalists – For many journalists, Twitter remains the go-to source for following along with breaking news and major events in the world in real time. If there’s a major story, you can usually count on tweets being embedded inside the text. But Facebook desperately wants some of that spotlight, and today the company is rolling out a new product that aims to give Instagram and Facebook itself more of a presence in news articles you read every day. It’s called Signal, and Facebook describes it as “a free discovery and curation tool for journalists who want to source, gather, and embed newsworthy content from Facebook and Instagram, across news, culture, entertainment, sports, and more — all in one place.”


Amazon Tempts Parents With A $100 Tablet For Kids – How can any company compete with iPad when it comes to being the preferred tablet for children, thanks to the App Store’s large selection of educational apps and age-appropriate games? Amazon’s strategy, to date, has to make a more affordable tablet for the young ones, complete with kid-friendly software pre-installed, while also eliminating parents’ concerns over hardware damage. And today, along with a slew of new, lower-cost Fire tablets and an upgraded Fire TV, the company also announced an upgraded version of its Fire Kids Edition tablet that now sells for under $100 and comes with an updated kid-proof case.


Amazon is selling a six-pack of tablets and it’s not sure why – Amazon doesn’t know how cheap tablets will be used, but it’s going to throw them out there first and let everyone else come up with the answers later. Turning Android slates into practically a disposable commodity, the online retail behemoth is demonstrating its contentedness with wafer-thin margins by offering a “buy five, get one free” deal on the new Amazon Fire.


AVG’s new privacy policy is uncomfortably honest about tracking users – While anti-virus firm AVG congratulates itself over a new easy-to-read privacy policy, users are up in arms over what that policy spells out. The new policy, which takes effect on October 15, makes clear that AVG will collect non-personal data such as “Browsing and search history, including meta data.” AVG says it collects this data “to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free.”


Seven years of malware linked to Russian state-backed cyber espionage – For the past seven years, a cyber-espionage group operating out of Russia—and apparently at the behest of the Russian government—has conducted a series of malware campaigns targeting governments, political think tanks, and other organizations. In a report issued today, researchers at F-Secure provided an in-depth look at an organization labelled by them as “the Dukes,” which has been active since at least 2008 and has evolved into a methodical developer of “zero-day” attacks, pulling together their own research with the published work of other security firms to provide a more detailed picture of the people behind a long-running family of malware.


Apple AirDrop flaw leaves users vulnerable to exploit – Australian security researcher Mark Dowd from Azimuth Security has demonstrated the existence of a serious issue impacting the AirDrop service which could leave users vulnerable to attack. Speaking to Forbes, Dowd said the attack can take place when a hacker is in range of an AirDrop user. Once exploited, an attacker is able to issue a malware payload via a directory traversal attack — entering the device’s core operating system — before remotely altering configuration files to ensure the exploit still works even if an incoming AirDrop file is rejected by a user.

Kardashian Website Security Issue Exposes Names, Emails Of Over Half A Million Subscribers, Payment Info Safe – Alongside the launch of the Kardashian and Jenner mobile apps, which are now dominating the App Store after seeing hundreds of thousands of downloads apiece in their first days on the market, the celeb sisters also released new websites designed to help them better connect with their fans while offering a more personal look inside their lives. However, one enterprising young developer dug around those websites and immediately found an issue. Due to a misconfiguration, he was able to access the full names and email addresses of over 600,000 users who signed up for Kylie Jenner’s website as well as pull similar user data from the other websites. In addition, the developer said he had the ability to create and destroy users, photos, videos and more, though we understand he didn’t actually take those actions.


New IBM Tool Wants To Bring Shadow IT Under Control – This morning IBM introduced a new tool called IBM Cloud Security Enforcer, whose purpose as you might guess is helping IT to root out unauthorized cloud apps inside organizations. The use of cloud apps outside of IT’s purview has sometimes called Shadow IT because the cloud enables users to provision their own tools. This tends to make IT admins a bit crazy, knowing that people are using apps that they know nothing about. The thinking behind the new tool is that sensitive data could be leaking through these rogue cloud applications, and that the Powers that Be in the enterprise need to get a grip on this, find the ones that people like and block the ones that are the worst security offenders.

Chinese telcos impose harsh rules to push real-name SIM registration – Telecommunication firms in China have unveiled stringent rules regarding unregistered phone numbers to support the country’s crack down on phone scams and harassing text messages.

Sneaky malware allows online poker players to peek at your cards – Online poker malware lets players cheat by getting a peek at cards held by opponents whose machines have been infected. The Trojan, called Win32/Spy.Odlanor, is typically downloaded by victims because it is disguised as installers or resources such as poker databases and poker calculators, according to the ESET WeLiveSecurity blog. “In other cases, it was loaded onto the victim’s system through various poker-related programs … such as Tournament Shark, Poker Calculator Pro, Smart Buddy, Poker Office, and others,” the blog says. Once installed it grabs screenshots of the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker clients, letting the attackers see what cards the victim holds. In order to carry out the scam, the cheaters have to find and join the table at which the infected machine is playing.

Report: New hack lets an attacker bypass password-locked Android home screens – You can protect yourself with a PIN or pattern, but it’s another example of why all manufacturers need to get on board with monthly updates.

Company News:

Amazon names Shopify its preferred Webstore alternative – Amazon is now advising Webstore merchants to migrate their stores to Shopify, the companies announced Thursday. The e-commerce giant first confirmed in March that it would begin shutting down its Webstore e-commerce platform in July, but only now has Amazon provided a direct integration funnel to another platform. As part of the migration, Shopify merchants will also be able to add Amazon’s payment technology to their sites, such as Login and Pay with Amazon, as well as Fulfillment by Amazon. Both companies are also working on a new sales channel that will allow Shopify merchants to list products simultaneously on Shopify and through Selling on Amazon.

Intel Invests $67M Into 8 Chinese Companies, Including Segway Owner Ninebot – Fresh off a $60 million deal with Shanghai-based drone maker Yuneec, Intel is continuing to ramp up its investment in Chinese tech startups after the U.S. firm revealed it has pumped $67 million into eight companies in the country. Each deal isn’t broken out into specific investment size, but Intel said the companies it has backed span a range of verticals, including internet-of-things, smart devices, transportation and big data. There are very obvious synergies with the Intel mothership with each one, as you’d expect. The full list includes:

Microsoft has developed its own Linux. Repeat. Microsoft has developed its own Linux – Sitting down? Nothing in your mouth? Microsoft has developed its own Linux distribution. And Azure runs it to do networking. Redmond’s revealed that it’s built something called Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), describing it as “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux” and “our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches.” Kamala Subramanian, Redmond’s principal architect for Azure Networking, writes that: “At Microsoft, we believe there are many excellent switch hardware platforms available on the market, with healthy competition between many vendors driving innovation, speed increases, and cost reductions.”

Apple just bought Apple Maps its crystal ball – Apple has quietly snapped up a mapping analytics company, as it strengthens the challenge Apple Maps presents to arch rival Google Maps. The latest acquisition is Mapsense, sources tell Re/code, a San Francisco startup which promises cloud-based visualizations and analytics of geo-data.


Pinterest now has 100 million monthly users – Pinterest has crossed a pretty big line: 100 million monthly users. The site announced its milestone this morning, marking the first time that Pinterest has put a number on the size of its user base. While Pinterest seems to see the full 100 million as active users, it also says that only 70 percent of them pin something each month or click through on an item to learn more about it — which is to say that 30 percent of Pinterest’s users are more passive. Still, it’s a big figure. For comparison, Twitter currently counts 316 million monthly active users. Snapchat hit 100 million this time a year ago, and is now believed to have doubled that.

Games and Entertainment:

Metal Gear Online: Konami reveals all with detailed gameplay demo – Konami has published an in-depth gameplay video that reveals key details about Metal Gear Online, the multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. The 11-minute video, published below, discusses the three different player classes; the scout, the enforcer, and the infiltrator. It also talks through mission types, strategies, and player abilities. Meanwhile, Konami has confirmed that servers for MGO are set to go live on October 6.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 — new character classes demo’d – Still playing Plants vs Zombies? In Garden Warfare 2, some things about the franchise have been tossed around and restructured. At this point the game is a fairly robust 3D FPS far removed from the original 2D games, but the storyline itself has changed, too, with zombies battling against plants rather than the other way around. Today the company announced that the game will include six new character classes, which were shown off in a demo video.


Try (and fail) to land the Space X Falcon 9 with this video game – It really is crazy-hard to land the Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform without completely screwing it up.

The gorgeous follow-up to Braid is coming out in January – The long-awaited follow-up to Braid finally has a release date. Developer Jonathan Blow has revealed that his next game, a puzzle / exploration title called The Witness, will be hitting the PS4 and PC on January 26th. The news was announced via a slick new trailer, which shows off the game’s beautiful world — and it looks quite a bit better than when we checked out the game at E3 last year. The Witness has players exploring a huge, abandoned island, solving puzzles to uncover just what’s going on. Think of it like a modern, open take on Myst. It’s a big departure from the more traditional, side-scrolling Braid, and it’s been in the works for some time — it was first announced way back in 2009.


Pico Cassette is the game cartridge of the mobile age – A tiny device that plugs into your smartphone’s headphone socket may be the next big thing in tiny gaming. What the company called Pico Cassette wants to do is regain some of the joy and fervor that came with buying and loading games in your own home with physical cartridges, doing so here with a device that replicates the look and the feel with a unique accessory. Just don’t say the word “Nintendo,” or your dreams may never come true.


Star Wars Battlefront beta open to all – Publisher Electronic Arts is pledging to provide enough server capacity so that anyone who wants to play the Star Wars Battlefront beta will be able to do so. Mathew Everett, a Battlefront community manager, confirmed on EA’s Star Wars blog that the beta would remain open once it is deployed. He also offered new details about what gameplay modes will be available, but was not able to offer more insight into a release date. He said the beta “will consist of both our offline and online modes, including co-op and split-screen co-op, and it will take place on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and via Origin for PC.”

Xbox 360 gets big update with 2GB cloud storage and other new features – These days most of Microsoft’s gaming focus is on the Xbox One, but today the company proved that it hasn’t forgotten about that console’s predecessor. The Xbox 360 has received a pretty big update that adds a host of new features, led by a bump to 2GB of cloud storage for your game saves. Previously the 360 offered 512MB of cloud space, but now gamers are getting a lot more room for those occasions when they switch between consoles or visit a friend. The added storage is particularly useful since Microsoft is preparing to add backwards compatibility to its Xbox One.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why the Ad-Blocking War Could Hurt All of Us – The Washington Post is now reportedly restricting content for users who block their ads, forcing them to sign up for a newsletter or subscribe to the site instead. Underpinning this is software that can detect whether a user is using an ad blocker from companies such as Sourcepoint. In addition, Apple and Google are now locked in a battle over iOS9’s ability to shut down mobile ads. If this continues, users could eventually find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They will either have to accept extremely annoying ads (which can also sometimes be harmful to computers), clutter up their email box with newsletters, or have to pay for content that was formerly free.

NASA’s newest Pluto photos are breathtaking – Pluto photos continue to be shipped from New Horizon’s flyby completed earlier this year, and today’s are just fantastic. What you’re about to see is a set of photo captured just 15 minutes after the craft’s closest approach to Pluto, centering in on the plains informally known as Sputnik Planum (right) and the informally named Norgay Montes mountains on the left near the Hillary Montes near the skyline in the upper left. This first photo was captured at a distance of 11,000 miles (18,000 kilometers) from Pluto, and the photo shows a scene approximately 780 miles (1,250 kilometers) wide.


Supermoon Eclipse: How and When to see it – A few days back when mentioned that after 33 years we are about to witness another supermoon eclipse. Astronomers professional and amateur alike are looking forward to this rare event and if you want to check it out for yourself, here is when and how you can check it out.


The Web-Tracking Tipping Point – We are witnessing a watershed moment on the Internet — with Apple’s content-blocker announcement, the way we see and understand our users on the web is going to profoundly shift. It doesn’t seem like a very big deal. Adblockers have existed on desktop browsers for years, and products like Google Analytics have still become the industry standard for measuring and monitoring websites. But this is all about to change — individual products and categories will be massively disrupted by a simple technical shift in mobile Safari, and organizations with a web presence will have to adapt or risk being put at a competitive disadvantage.

7 PCs Turned Into Furniture You Might Actually Want – With the sheer abundance and toxicity of electronic waste posing a serious problem for industrialized nations today, some skilled individuals have taken electronic waste recycling to a whole new level, creating one-of-a-kind or limited-run handcrafted furniture out of computer parts. The resulting pieces often serve as functional artworks that honor their original constituent parts. Other times, they astound as weird novelties or conversation pieces. With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven of these interesting computer-fueled instances of electronic upcycling.


Bitcoin an official commodity: US trade commission – Digital currencies have been granted the status of an official commodity by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which said that bitcoin operators must immediately ensure that their companies are legally registered under the applicable trading laws and regulations. The decision, published on Thursday, means transactions made in cryptocurrencies must now comply with CFTC regulations as well as the governing legislation, the Commodity Exchange Act. Under Section 4c of the Act and Part 32 of the regulations, bitcoin operators in the US must now be registered as a Swap Execution Facility or a Designated Contract Market.

Cargo Node folding bicycle is a modern day pack horse – City living means cars, despite all of their upsides, can be more of a burden than a blessing. Parking is expensive; free parking is hard to come by. Gas is expensive. Maintenance is expensive. Traffic is usually terrible. For this reason, many use bicycles and skateboards when possible, but those also, obviously, have their own downsides. Xtracycle and Tern have addressed the biggest issues — lack of cargo capacity — with their new Cargo Node folding cargo bicycle.


Something to think about:

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

–       Ernest Hemingway


VeraCrypt – VeraCrypt picks up from where TrueCrypt left and it adds enhanced security to the algorithms used for system and partitions encryption making it immune to new developments in brute-force attacks.

VeraCrypt also solves many vulnerabilities and security issues found in TrueCrypt. It can load TrueCrypt volume and it offers the possibility to convert TrueCrypt containers and non-system partitions to VeraCrypt format.

This enhanced security adds some delay only to the opening of encrypted partitions without any performance impact to the application use phase. This is acceptable to the legitimate owner but it makes it much more harder for an attacker to gain access to the encrypted data.

NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 180 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.


NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware. This package doesn’t contain any 3-party software, toolbars, Web browser plugins, or other unwanted surprises. It will not install any software on your system and it will not change your Web browser homepage or other settings on your system.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.

NirLauncher allows you generate plugin files for BartPE (Launcher -> Generate BartPE Plugin Files), so you can easily use the utilities of NirSoft from a bootable live windows CD.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech Firms Support Bill Expanding Privacy Rights To Non-U.S. Citizens – American tech firms are lining up behind a House bill that would allow non-U.S. citizens to seek records U.S. agencies have collected and pursue legal action when such records are disclosed.

The proposed legislation, known as the Judicial Redress Act, would extend the same rights Americans enjoy under the Privacy Act of 1974 to foreign citizens in select allied nations, primarily in the European Union. The law gives American citizens and permanent residents an avenue to seek their records, correct mistakes in those files and seek redress if an agency misuses their personal information.

The tech community’s support of bill marks the sector’s latest effort to rebuild trust abroad in the wake of Edward Snowden’s disclosures, which revealed many companies were turning over customers’ communications to the U.S. government.

“That degradation of trust has translated into significant negative commercial consequences for U.S. firms, with global consumers choosing technology solutions from other providers,” wrote a group of tech industry groups, including BSA Software Alliance and the Consumer Electronics Association. “Additionally, the revelations have led a number of foreign governments to consider proposals that would impede the borderless nature of the internet – the very characteristic that has permitted the Internet to thrive.”

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook have all voiced support for the legislation. Under the terms of the bill, only citizens’ countries who extend similar rights to Americans to seek legal redress for privacy violations will be eligible.

Encryption puts terrorists beyond the reach of law, says MI5 chief – The use of encryption and secure messaging apps is making it harder for intelligence agencies to track terrorists, the head of MI5 has said.

The director general of the UK security service Andrew Parker warned that new laws are needed to give police and intelligence agencies access to encrypted communications and that tech companies themselves should be more willing to hand over messages that could help catch criminals.

In an interview with the BBC, Parker said: “We all live our lives with our smartphones in our pockets, the terrorists do the same and they are using secure apps and internet communication to try to broadcast their message and to incite and direct terrorism.”

While there has been increasing concern about the mass collection of data by intelligence agencies, Parker said that if MI5 is “to find and stop the people that mean us harm” then it needs to be able to “navigate the internet to find terrorist communication, we need to be able to use datasets so we can join the dots to be able to find and stop the terrorists who mean us harm before they are able to bring plots to fruition.”

SCREW YOU, FEDS! Dozen or more US libraries line up to run Tor exit nodes – A dozen libraries across the US have asked for details on how to host Tor exit nodes following a decision by the small town of Lebanon, New Hampshire, to forego police warnings.

Following a decision by the library’s board of trustees earlier this week to put the exit node back online, the founder of the Library Freedom Project, Alison Macrina, said that she had heard from a number of other libraries interested in hosting tor nodes.

“Between libraries and community leaders around the country, we’ve heard from probably about a dozen who are interested in joining this,” she told Motherboard.

One of those people was present at the board meeting, having driven two hours to attend. As a library trustee at nearby Reading, she revealed that it was going to have its own meeting on the issue next month.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 16, 2015

This Graphic Shows All The Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked;  Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere and on any device;  29 Productivity Apps To Help You Rule The Office;  Millennials putting themselves at risk online: Norton;  3 ways to keep sensitive files encrypted on a flash drive or external hard drive;  Crank Up Your Workout With ‘Spotify Running’ on Android;  Snapchat Starts Charging $0.99 For 3 Replays, Adds Face Effect “Lenses”;  Chrome users can now get Facebook notifications on Android;  Google and the Washington Post lead the charge against the ad blocker blitz;  Five Android time trackers to keep order in your mobile life;  Twitter is being sued for scanning direct messages;  Zuckerberg confirms a form of “dislike” button coming to Facebook;  HP to cut up to 30,000 jobs as it splits into two;  Nvidia GeForce graphics cards now allow faraway friends to play your games;  Need for Speed for PC Delayed Until 2016;  ‘Star Trek’ vs. ‘Star Wars’: Georgia Tech professors weigh in;  Children need teachers to teach them – not computers, says the OECD;  Microsoft signs deal to let NATO check its products for backdoors; – Windows Repair (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

This Graphic Shows All The Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked – The increase in automobiles armed with internet-connected technology has opened the door for hackers looking to get into our cars remotely. As such, Intel, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chips and processors used in computers, has some ideas about the best ways for automakers to safeguard cars against cyber attacks.


3 ways to keep sensitive files encrypted on a flash drive or external hard drive – Files you carry in your pocket can be easily lost or stolen. You can thwart the thieves with these easy techniques for encrypting external storage.

Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere and on any device – Whether you’re a cord cutter or a pay-TV addict, we’ll show you all the ways you can watch this season’s bone-crunching action on screens of any size.


29 Productivity Apps To Help You Rule The Office – It’s no secret that technology has made our lives a lot easier, especially with the advent of smartphones and apps that can track anything from your heartbeat, to the amount of time you waste on Facebook. However, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. So here’s a list of 29 of apps for maximizing your productivity.

Five Android time trackers to keep order in your mobile life – One of the most pressing issues with freelance IT support, one-person shops, or just about any type of client-based business is tracking time. You go out on a run, do a job, and hope you’ve retained reliable records of billable time spent. This is easy if you’re in the office all the time or you have someone watching over you every step of the way. But when you’re on your own, you need a bit of help to maintain order for your business. That’s where time management apps come in to play. Let’s wind the clock, punch in, and see what’s available.

Crank Up Your Workout With ‘Spotify Running’ on Android – Need some motivation to get your butt off the couch and go for a run? Spotify wants to help. Spotify Running offers a number of genre playlist options covering everything from hip hop and electro to pop and classical, as well as some original running compositions. Once you select the type of music you’re in the mood for, just start running and Spotify will detect your tempo — 170 steps per minute, for instance — and deliver a non-stop playlist, customized to your pace.

Chrome users can now get Facebook notifications on Android – Facebook has just revealed that it’s taken advantage of Google’s new feature allowing websites to send push notifications through the Android version of its Chrome browser. This means Facebook users can choose to notifications about updates on the social network directly in the mobile browser, even if the Facebook app isn’t installed on their mobile device. This was the result of collaboration between Google and Facebook, with a goal of developing a new standard for web notifications.

Snapchat Starts Charging $0.99 For 3 Replays, Adds Face Effect “Lenses” – Snapchat is debuting its first in-app purchase. It’s a new way for it to make money by letting users purchase three extra Replays of Snaps they just watched for $0.99. The company is also adding a new feature called lenses that lets users add animated effects to their face. When in Selfie mode, Snapchat will detect their faces, and users can then tap and swipe to add little overlaid graphics that let them puke rainbows, turn into monsters, and more.


‘To read this page, please turn off your ad blocker: Google and the Washington Post lead the charge against the ad blocker blitz – The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has become the largest newspaper to refuse to serve readers who filter out advertisments. The Post described it as “a short test” to gauge what users who use blocked blockers will do next. “Often, we run tests like this not in reaction to a problem, but to learn,” said the paper in a statement. Last week, Google also began to nuke the filters used to block preroll ads on its YouTube service. For extra punishment, YouTube viewers using AdBlock Plus had to sit through the full ad, by disabling the ‘Skip Ad’ button.


FLUID Is A Smart Water Meter For Your Home – FLUID simply snaps around the main water pipe in your home. You plug it in, connect it to your Wi-Fi, and download the FLUID app to access real-time reports on your iPhone or Android. Using ultrasonic technology — essentially sending pulses from one ultrasonic transducer to another — the device is able to measure the rate of water flow without cutting into the pipe. What’s even cooler is how FLUID knows exactly where the water is coming from. In the case of a leak, FLUID serves as a disaster prevention tool, alerting you immediately before your basement floods and your water bill spikes to all new heights. With a price tag of $239, or $179 for early bird Kickstarter backers, FLUID will pay for itself in under an hour if you have a burst pipe and in five days if your toilet is running.


Apple Might Finally Let You Delete Those Apps You Never Use – Great news: someday you might finally get to delete stock iPhone apps like Tips and Stocks — someday. Though there’s no timeline on the horizon, Apple CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed in a recent interview that at some point in the future, the company will let iPhone owners delete some of these apps.

Zuckerberg confirms a form of “dislike” button coming to Facebook – In recent interviews, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the social network’s “like” button, which users can use to quickly acknowledge posts or messages—but which also lacks a certain amount of nuance for more sensitive or sad content. As recently as December, Zuckerberg said that he wasn’t interested in a “dislike” button, but a Tuesday “town hall” Q&A saw the cofounder change his tune. “People have asked about the dislike button for many years,” Zuckerberg told a crowd on Tuesday at Facebook’s Menlo Park office (and a livestream crowd at the event’s official site). “We’ve finally heard you, and we’re working on this.”


Millennials putting themselves at risk online: Norton – Norton has revealed that while people under the age of 35 are concerned about their safety online, they are not doing much to secure themselves from being victims of online crime. The nationwide poll of 1,000 Australians, half of which were aged under 35, found that security concerns were very strong among millennials, with 62 percent concerned about their online information not being safe, and 50 percent worried about who can see their information. The study also showed that half were worried about identity theft. Despite these concerns, the research showed that 72 percent of millennials do not have security software, 58 percent are not running regular security updates, 48 percent do not use complex passwords, and as much as 72 percent do not back up their devices regularly.

Attackers slip rogue, backdoored firmware onto Cisco routers – The firmware on at least 14 business routers has been replaced with a backdoored version, researchers from Mandiant found.

Large Malvertising Campaign Goes (Almost) Undetected – In mid August, the actors behind some of the recent malvertising campaigns we documented on this blog before started to come out with several new tricks to fly under the radar and yet expose tens of millions of users to malware. The malvertising campaign we are exposing leveraged several top ad networks, as well as many more smaller ones. Despite its large scope and impact, it ran mostly uninterrupted for almost three weeks, according to telemetry data we were able to mine once we uncovered the scheme.


Microsoft’s ‘anti-malware Device Guard’ in Windows 10: How it works, what you need – Microsoft has published a technical guide to its new Device Guard features in Windows 10 – including how to configure the anti-malware technology, and what hardware you’ll need to use it. We first learned of Device Guard in April at the RSA 2015 conference in San Francisco, and then a month later a little more info was teased out. Back then, it appeared the tech involved sticking critical parts of the operating system into a hardware-protected zone that is fenced off from applications and the rest of the Windows OS.

Company News:

Twitter is being sued for scanning direct messages – Twittter is facing a new proposed class action accusing the company of violating user privacy. The lawsuit says the company has been “systematically intercepting, reading, and altering” direct messages, most likely a reference to Twitter’s long-standing practice of automatically shortening and redirecting any in-message links. While the practice could be used to monitor or redirect any URLs included in a direct message, it’s generally seen as a benign extension of the company’s broader link-shortening systems. In a statement to USA Today, Twitter called the allegations “meritless.”

Russian authority finds Google guilty of antitrust abuses – The antitrust authority opened the case in February following a complaint from Russian search engine Yandex, which also develops mobile apps and runs its own Android app store. Late Monday, the authority said Google had broken Russian law by requiring phone makers to install its own app store, applications and search system on Android phones intended for sale in the Russian Federation, and to place its apps on the devices’ home screen. That requirement had the effect of preventing developers of competing services from having their apps installed by the vendors, the authority said. Under Russian law, Google could face a fine of up to 15 percent of its revenue from selling goods and services in the market where the offense was committed.

HP to cut up to 30,000 jobs as it splits into two – Hewlett-Packard swung back into the black in 2013, maybe poised for “expansion.” HP’s imminent split into two companies—the PCs-and-printers HP Inc, and the enterprise services Hewlett-Packard Enterprise—is going to come at a high cost in both personnel and restructuring, the company told analysts today. Tim Stonsifer, who will be made CFO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise once the split occurs on November 1, has said that there will be some 25-30,000 positions cut of around 300,000 total, with most losses coming from its Enterprise Services division. The cost of the restructuring will be around $2.7 billion, with HP claiming that it will lead to savings of $2.7 billion a year. The cost cuts of the split were previously estimated at around $2 billion a year in Enterprise; another $700 million in savings have been found elsewhere.

IBM boosts connected car data analysis with service launch – IBM has launched a new cloud-based service specializing in connected car data in order to improve real-time services and data analysis. Revealed on Tuesday, the New York-based firm said the new service, IBM’s Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive solution, will assist automakers in turning driver and vehicle data into something tangible and useful in the modern business realm. Data collected from individual sensors — including environment insights, driving patterns and vehicle condition — as well as third-party information, such as traffic conditions and accident alerts, will be sent to the cloud and analyzed for the benefit of drivers and companies. Big Blue says the service can transform data into “actionable insights” for vehicle maintenance, real-time diagnostics on engine trouble and guiding drivers to the most efficient traffic routes.

It’s the year of the Linux desktop, for Dell, in China – For years, the “year of the Linux desktop” was right around the corner: Open-source software would displace Windows (or Window$), and usher in a glorious, peaceful revolution in the computing industry. If Dell is to be believed, that revolution is happening now. Dell’s head of China told The Wall Street Journal that NeoKylin Linux is shipped on 42 percent of the PCs it sells into the country, primarily for the commercial and government PCs that Dell specializes in. Hewlett-Packard also ships NeoKylin-equipped PCs to China, the paper said, but it’s unclear how many they sell with the OS installed.


US mental health agency director hired by Alphabet – The director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel, is joining Alphabet’s Life Sciences, which was spun out from Google X. Starting November 1st, Insel will lead a mental health effort at the company, according to a letter from the NIH. Insel served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health for 13 years. Under his guidance, the NIMH launched initiatives like the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium — a project that looks for links between genetic data and psychiatric illnesses — and the Army STARRS project, which was designed to identify factors that can protect servicemembers’ mental health. Now, he’s headed for Life Sciences, a Google-founded company that works on genetics, cancer, and diabetes — and the first company to fall under the Alphabet umbrella.

Games and Entertainment:

Nvidia GeForce graphics cards now allow faraway friends to play your games – Nvidia graphics card users can now phone a friend to get through a game’s tough spots with the latest GeForce Experience beta. To use GameStream Co-op, the host PC needs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 or higher desktop graphics card or a Non-Optimus GeForce GTX 660M laptop card (with Optimus support coming later), a Core i3-2100 or higher CPU, at least 4 GB of RAM, and an 802.11 a/g router with at least 7 Mbps of upstream bandwidth. The guest PC has all the same system requirements minus the graphics card, and needs 7 Mbps of downstream bandwidth. After receiving an invite from the host, the guest can launch the stream using a Google Chrome extension.


Need for Speed for PC Delayed Until 2016 – While Ghost Games’ Need for Speed will hit next-gen consoles this fall, PC players will have to wait a few more months due to community requests for an unlocked frame rate. “To deliver this, we’ve made the decision to move the PC release date to Spring 2016,” Ghost said in a blog post. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release dates, however, remain the same, starting Nov. 3 in North America, before rolling out worldwide on Nov. 5.


This week’s big Xbox One and Xbox 360 Deals With Gold revealed – Microsoft has announced this week’s lineup of Xbox One and Xbox 360 deals, with offers available for titles like Grand Theft Auto V, The Elder Scrolls Online, Trials Fusion, and Darksiders II, among others. The full lineup of deals, divided by platform, is available below. All offers are good through September 21. Deals marked with an asterisk are good for all Xbox Live members.


Rockstar Games

‘Bloodborne: The Old Hunters’ DLC Coming Soon to PS4 – Sony today announced the latest DLC expansion for Bloodborne—The Old Hunters. The $19.99 download will be available to PlayStation 4 owners on Nov. 24. The news comes as Bloodborne reached a milestone 2 million units sold worldwide. With Bloodborne: The Old Hunters, however, players enter a world full of ancient hunters who are trapped in new stages “full of dangers, rewards, and deadly beasts to defeat,” producer Masaaki Yamagiwa wrote in a blog post. Making your way through each level, you’ll find fresh outfits and more weapons, as well as additional magic to added to your arsenal.


‘Star Trek’ vs. ‘Star Wars’: Georgia Tech professors weigh in – The greatest, longest-lasting debate in the science fiction community, whether “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” reigns supreme, continues to rage, this time in academic circles. The latest issue of Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine is all about science fiction (and some science reality, of course), and one ambitious article aims to determine which geeky franchise wins. It pits “Star Wars” fan Sherry Farrugia, the school’s managing director for health research partnerships, against a self-proclaimed master of all things Trekkie, Gary May, engineering professor and dean of the College of Engineering. You can read more of Farrugia’s and May’s arguments, and find out why the panel of Georgia Tech faculty, staff and alumni gave the nod to “Star Wars,” by reading the article in full on the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine web page.

Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s a cloud desktop world: Get over it – Things change. We’re heading back to our past. Over the years several trends came together to undermine the PC. First, broadband fast enough to support software-as-a-service (SaaS) became commonplace. We may not like having only 4 to 6 Mbps on DSL, but that’s fast enough to run text-based apps such as office-suites and e-mail. At the same time, the rise of smartphones and tablets made it clear that, many, perhaps most of us, merely need to read or view data. Creating documents? Spreadsheets? Not so much. Lots of people need just enough of a computer to write short notes or to click radio-buttons.

Appeals court strikes a blow for fair use in long-awaited copyright ruling – The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today issued a ruling that could change the contours of fair use and copyright takedown notices. In an opinion (PDF) published this morning, the three-judge panel found that Universal Music Group’s view of fair use is flawed. The record label must face a trial over whether it wrongfully sent a copyright takedown notice over a 2007 YouTube video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song. That toddler’s mother, Stephanie Lenz, acquired pro bono counsel from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF in turn sued Universal in 2007, saying that its takedown practices violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Here’s how Blue Origin will launch space tours from Florida – This morning’s Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, announced that the space company would launch tourists from a new Florida-based launchpad. This is the first time the company has formally announced a place from whens they will be launching, and the new closest point to when we’ll be able to take a trip to space as everyday common citizens. Blue Origin’s announcement via Bezos this morning places their new launch site at Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral in Florida.


Facebook Agrees To Do More To Help Combat Hate Speech In Germany – In Germany, where thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing conflict in their own country are being offered asylum, Facebook has found itself being pressured by the government to do more to combat hate speech against immigrants. Yesterday the WSJ reported that Facebook has agreed to work with the German Justice Ministry to fight xenophobic and racist messages being posted on its platform. In a statement, Facebook also said it is “striving” to partner with Germany internet safety NGO, FSM, to help “support users” in Germany, as well as “working with expert local input” to do more to tackle hate speech. For its part, the FSM said it welcomes Facebook’s efforts to become a member, with general manager Otto Vollmers adding:” Along with Facebook, we can develop joint solutions to address controversial cases referred to in this sensitive and difficult trade-off.”

Dainese motorcycle airbag jackets aim to protect riders in an accident – If you have ever wondered how exactly a motorcycle racer can take a massive spill at triple digit speeds and then just get up and walk away, it’s the safety gear that allows them to do that. Part of that safety gear for modern racers is an airbag system that inflates at just the right time to protect the rider from serious injury as they hit the ground and slide. A company called Dianese has a new line of airbag jackets coming to market for street riders.


California’s low snowpack truly exceptional – After two winters of extremely low precipitation, California is suffering through a severe drought, one exacerbated by unusually warm weather. The heat influences the drought in part by enhancing evaporation, ensuring that less of the limited precipitation stays in the ground. But it also changes the dynamics of how the precipitation falls. That’s because most of the precipitation comes in winter, and temperatures control whether it falls as rain or snow. Now, researchers have looked into the history of California’s snowpack and found that it’s showing some exceptional behavior as well. It may be the least snow the region has seen in 500 years.


Snowfall in January 2013 (left) compared to the same date in 2014. The drought has only gotten worse since.

Peer inside a crocodile’s mouth without losing your head – National Geographic releases startling footage of Australian crocodiles taking a bite out of some underwater cameras. You’ll say “Ahhhhhhhh!” when you see it.


Children need teachers to teach them – not computers, says the OECD – Walk into any school in term time and you will likely see the kids hard at work on their computers, chatting online, or texting their friends but, according to the OECD, all this technology is not making our kids any smarter. In fact, it says, the evidence suggests it is having the opposite effect. As the OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher, points out in his report, Students, Computers and Learning: Making The Connection, published today, although students who use computers “moderately” at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely, “students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics”. It gets worse.

Twitter and Square launch political donations service – The donation service requires politicians to set up an account through Square’s site, which will give them a unique Cashtag that they can tweet to followers.

Something to think about:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–      Steve Jobs

Downloads: – Windows Repair – – Windows Repair is a tool designed help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including; registry errors, file permissions, issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Updates, Windows Firewall and more. Malware and poorly installed programs can modify your default settings resulting in your machine working badly – or worse. With Windows Repair you can restore Windows original settings fixing many of these problems outright. – Windows Repairs section as always been completely free for both personal and business use. We offer a Pro version. adds features like automatic updates, an enhanced drive cleaner, memory cleaner, speed tweaks and more. This allows you to support future development and get something in return!

Tweaking.Com – Windows Repair has been consistently rated 5 Stars on some of the best tech sites including MajorGeeks, SnapFiles, Softpedia, Bleeping Computer, TechSpot, The Windows Club, Malwaretips, MalwareBytes Forums and many others. It has been spotted in use by customer support of Microsoft, Time Warner, Comcast and many OEM computer manufacturers support to repair problems. – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including:

Unhide Non System Files

Repair problems with .lnk (Shortcuts)

File Association


Windows Firewall

Internet Explorer

Windows Installer (MSI)

Hosts File

Policies Set By Infections


Winsock & DNS Cache

Proxy Settings

Windows Updates

CD/DVD Missing/Not Working

Reset Registry and File Permissions

Register System Files

Remove Temp Files

and more…


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Human Rights Watch demands to know who’s been snooping on it – Civil rights NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has launched a legal challenge to find out if its information was shared between the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The organisation is unhappy that a ruling by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in February did not reveal the full extent of intelligence sharing.

Human Rights Watch, together with three individuals, has now lodged a new legal challenge.

“Given the mass surveillance capabilities of the NSA and GCHQ, a huge number of people could have been affected by the unlawful spying,” said Human Rights Watch in a statement.

For now, the organisation is focusing on those who handle the most sensitive information. In July it emerged that GCHQ had spied on Amnesty International, so HRW lodged a complaint on behalf of itself, a security research expert, an investigative journalist and a lawyer.

“We are bringing this case because those who work to protect human rights and expose abuses and war crimes depend on confidentiality of communications,” said Dinah PoKempner, HRW general counsel.

Microsoft signs deal to let NATO check its products for backdoors – Microsoft has signed a security agreement with NATO that allows the organisation to vet Microsoft products’ source code for backdoors.

The deal extends Microsoft’s 12-year cybersecurity partnership with the NATO Communications Information (NCI) Agency and marks the Redmond company’s latest Government Security Program (GSP) agreement.

Microsoft struck a similar agreement with the EU in June and opened its second European Transparency Centre in Brussels to offer governments a secure location to review its source code.

According to Microsoft, the agreement means the NCI agency will gain access to technical information and documentation about Microsoft products and services, as well as threat intelligence and product vulnerability information.

Microsoft launched GSP in 2003, and the program has since evolved into a set of resources for government officials offerings controlled access to source code, access to its Transparency Centers, and vulnerability and threat intelligence from the company.

EU’s privacy high priest: Plans big on hyperbole, less clear on specifics – Fresh from preaching about data protection regulation, Europe’s high priest of privacy is planning to take on ethics.

Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), has said that his institution will soon set up an external Ethics Board to “help define a new digital ethics in ways that reinforce the rights and freedoms of individuals”.

Essentially, he doesn’t want human beings reduced to mere “data subjects” – which is all well and good, but not really his job.

Officially, the EDPS is charged with “monitoring the EU administration’s processing of personal data, advising on policies and legislation that affect privacy and cooperating with similar authorities to ensure consistent data protection.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 14, 2015

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New;  Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater;  Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out;  Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models;  How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That;  When your computer reboots itself over and over again;  How to restore ringtones to iPhone;  Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10;  PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US;  Tumblr now has its own fashion line;  The difference between antivirus and anti-malware;  Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack;  This week in games;  How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron;  Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use;  GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots;  6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume;  10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps (free);  FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New – Forget overpriced schools, long days in a crowded classroom, and pitifully poor results. These websites and apps cover myriads of science, art, and technology topics. They will teach you practically anything, from making hummus to building apps in node.js, most of them for free. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to master a new skill, expand your knowledge, or eventually boost your career. You can learn interactively at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. It’s hard to imagine how much easier it can possibly be. Honestly, what are you waiting for?

Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out – The newest Apple TV adds some long-awaited features to a device that hasn’t been updated since 2012, a lifetime in the world of streaming media. While Google’s first connected media platform, Google TV, didn’t catch on, Android has still become a powerhouse for media hubs thanks to the Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices. Roku was one of the first dedicated media hub brands, and it’s gained in popularity thanks to an easy-to-use interface and hundreds of content channels. There’s also a slew of sticks you can just plug into the back of your HDTV, as well as smart HDTVs with built-in apps. A lot has changed in three years.

How to quickly jump to often-used Windows app subsections in Windows 10’s Start menu – I don’t dive into Windows 10’s Settings app that often, but when I do it’s usually to check two or three things, such as Windows Update or my Wi-Fi settings. An easy way to jump to a particular section of the Settings app is to search for it with Cortana in the taskbar. But if repeatedly typing “Wi-Fi” or “Windows Update” sound tedious, there’s a far easier way to jump to oft-used parts of the Settings app. Instead of searching or navigating the Settings app manually, you can pin sections to the Start menu. This tip isn’t just for the Settings app, however—you can also use it in a limited number of other Windows apps such as Mail and OneNote. For our example here, however, we’ll stick with the Settings app.


Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models – The impedance specification is ignored by most headphone buyers, but it might be one of the most important. Not that anything catastrophic will occur with an impedance mismatch, but you might not get the best sound quality from a headphone with impedance that’s too high or too low for your music player or home amplifier.

5 tips for getting started with Slack – Started as side project for a video game company, Slack quickly moved front and center and took off as word of mouth spread among the tech companies that were using it. One of the company’s mottos is “Be less busy,” and many have heralded Slack as the product that could end reliance on email. If you’re planning on deploying Slack within your organization, here are some pointers to help get you going.

Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater – Turns out, Sony’s “waterproof” Xperia devices might not be so waterproof after all. After talking up the waterproof capabilities of its Xperia devices for years — even running marketing campaigns showing people happily using its devices underwater — Sony now says that they should not be submerged. As XperiaBlog first reported, Sony recently revised its support page on water and dust protection to warn people against taking a swim with their gadgets. “Remember not to use the device underwater,” the site says.

Supporting causes on Facebook is about to get a lot easier – You’re perhaps familiar with the idea of changing your Facebook profile picture to support a specific cause or event: gay marriage, cancer research, your mate’s stag do, and so on. Facebook has noticed the trend and wants to help – the social media behemoth is testing out a new feature that lets you set a temporary profile picture that expires after a set number of hours, days or weeks. The idea is that the picture automatically reverts back to the original profile image without you having to remember to change it – your rainbow-coloured portrait will only appear for as long as it’s relevant, in other words.

When your computer reboots itself over and over again – Something is rotten in the state of your Windows PC. Here’s how to deal with a computer that keeps rebooting.

Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10 – Microsoft will launch Office 2016 for Windows on Sept. 22, and has now detailed how it will deliver updates and upgrades with a cadence and rules similar to Windows 10.


How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That – It’s called EnLighten and it uses a phone’s GPS location and real-time traffic-signal information provided by the municipality to determine when a driver is stopped at a red light. It can then show on the phone’s screen a countdown in seconds of when the light will change and will also sound a chime when the light turns green to remind the driver that it’s time to get going. The iOS and Android apps work in a dozen or so U.S. cities and also have a dual timer for traffic lights with separate left-turn signals. But the EnLighten iPhone app can sync with the dashboard of BMWs with ConnectedDrive and the BMW Apps feature, provided you’re driving in Portland or Eugene, Oregon or Salt Lake City, Utah). It offers extra features, such as timing traffic lights so that you potentially don’t have to stop or even prevent an accident.


How to restore ringtones to iPhone – Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. This time we have a reader whose custom-made iPhone ringtone library has seemingly disappeared. But that doesn’t mean those tones are gone for good! Here are the steps you can take to track them down on your Mac, then restore them to your iPhone.


The difference between antivirus and anti-malware – It seems like a simple question, right? What’s the difference between antivirus and anti-malware? But ask a security professional, and he answers as if it’s the riddle of the Sphinx. You just want a simple answer to a simple question. Is that too much to ask? The truth is, the answer to this question is a little complicated. But we’ve broken it down like a lumberjack chopping redwood into mulch. We’ll tell you what viruses and malware are, which types of threats antivirus and anti-malware companies fight, and how they do it. So look no further. The answer…is in the link.

PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US – Before you get all riled up, this isn’t yet another Android vulnerability like Stagefright. This is your run of the mill malware installed through social engineering or carelessness, but one that has far graver ramifications than other ransomware. Discovered by researchers from security company ESET, the Android/Lockerpin.A ransomware goes the extra mile to actually change your device’s PIN code in such a way that trying to reset the PIN will lock the user, and ironically the attacker too, from the device completely, with no recourse other than a factory reset.

Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack – Security research group CynoSure Prime were able to find out the most common passwords that were used on Ashley Madison, a site which helps married people cheat on their partners, which suffered a massive data breach earlier this year when it was targeted by hackers. The list of the 100 most commonly-used passwords was first posted on Ars Technica.

Website hackers hijack Google webmaster tools to prolong infections – Hackers who compromise websites are also increasingly verifying themselves as the owners of those properties in Google’s Search Console. Under certain circumstances this could allow them to remain undetected longer than they otherwise would be, researchers warn.

Company News:

Security company litigates to bar disclosure related to its own flaws – FireEye is a publicly traded security firm that regularly finds and reports vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. But when security researcher Felix Wilhelm found five critical flaws in FireEye’s Malware Protection System, the company went to court to obtain an injunction barring the disclosure of some of the technical details. The move is generating howls of protest among security professionals, who argue that FireEye of all companies should know better than to stifle the free flow of vulnerability information.

Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use – Facebook is riding the wave of mobile adoption in Africa to help meet its goal of connecting businesses with people in emerging markets. Sixty percent of all Internet users in Africa are now active on Facebook and 80 percent of them access the site on mobile devices, according to statistics shared by the social network this week. According to the African Union’s first session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and ICT last week, 84 percent of the continent’s population is covered by mobile networks.

Microsoft buys popular Android lock-screen app maker – Microsoft has added to its stable of Android apps with the acquisition of Double Labs, the makers of the Echo Notification Lockscreen, a popular app on Google’s mobile platform that helps users control the notifications they see.

Tumblr now has its own fashion line – Tumblr now has its own line of clothing featuring an eclectic array of apparel adorned with artwork from ten of the social network’s artists/users. The line isn’t limited to just clothing — there’s a backpack, for example (as well as a kimono); it’s unisex and designed to look the same as the Tumblr collective, at least in spirit. Half a dozen Tumblr users have also been selected to show off the new product line. The new Tumblr wear is said to be in celebration of Tumblr’s 10th New York Fashion Week participation.


Google hires ex-Hyundai America CEO to lead self-driving car project – Google has hired a new CEO for its self-driving car project. John Krafcik, who worked at Ford and was President and CEO of Hyundai’s American operations before joining automotive price-comparison site TrueCar, will take the position in late September. In a statement, the veteran of the automobile industry said that Google’s technology “can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today.” Krafcik has a background in automobile manufacturing, having worked on two “lean production” manifestos during his time at MIT, but a Google spokesperson told Automotive News that his hiring did not indicate the company would start producing cars itself.

Brad Smith will decide privacy policy, IP issues and more as Microsoft’s new president – If you’re interested in Microsoft’s stance on privacy or public policy, Brad Smith is the one to watch. The former general counsel at Microsoft, Smith will also become the company’s chief legal officer.

Etsy to test same-day deliveries as Amazon threat grows – Google offers product deliveries, and is working on expanding them. Amazon does and is doing the same. And then there’s Etsy, the website where all manner of crafts and creativity are offered. The service soon will face steep competition from Amazon, which is reportedly looking to start its own similar crafts marketplace, and in light of that it isn’t surprising Etsy will start testing its own same-day deliveries. The testing will take place in certain regions of New York City, the same place that Amazon and other services are and have been testing same-day and one-hour delivery services. This test is done in partnership with Postmates, and will also include next-day deliveries. Most appropriately, this delivery service will be called “Etsy ASAP”.

Etsy will now help designers find manufacturers – Six months after Etsy completed an IPO that valued it at $3.5 billion, the craft marketplace is expanding. The company is introducing Etsy Manufacturing, a new service that will link Etsy sellers — who often make items by hand — with small manufacturing companies. The operation is designed to help both sellers who’ve found success but have little time to fulfil larger orders, and smaller manufacturers, some of whom have lost business to huge manufacturers in countries where labor is cheaper.

Games and Entertainment:

How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron – We’re not talking about facial recognition devices, police body cams, or other security measures likely zeroing in on fans. Instead, employees from San Jose-based Zebra Technologies had recently finished scanning the NFL uniforms of the 49ers and of their opponents—the Dallas Cowboys. All of a sudden, an on-the-field de facto surveillance society was instantly created when Zebra techies activated nickel-sized Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chips that were fastened inside players’ shoulder pads. Every movement of every player now could be monitored within an accuracy level of all but a few inches.


Blizzard’s Final Starcraft II Expansion Lands November 10 – In case you were not tuned into the finals of WCS Europe earlier today, Blizzard, a popular gaming company, announced that the final chapter of its Starcraft II will touch down on November 10. The third iteration, called Legacy of the Void, will at once be a computer game, and Blizzard’s statement regarding the long-term viability of Starcraft proper as an esport. Starcraft II’s predecessor, Starcraft, proved a long-lived esports product popular the world around. Its successor has done even better.Regardless, here’s the new film. It’s worth a view.


New Apple TV gets touch remote, Siri voice control, games and an app store, starts at $149, coming in October – The new box, still simply called “Apple TV,” was unveiled at the company’s September 9 event in San Francisco, sharing the stage with a new big-screen iPad and new iPhones. It’s a complete overhaul of the current device, which has been around since 2012. “We believe the future of television is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when introducing the device. The new Apple TV will be available in two versions: $149 for the 32GB model, and $199 for the 64GB model, and both start shipping to the US and dozens of other countries in October. The current Apple TV box remains on sale at $69. UK and Australian prices for the new model have not yet been announced, but $149 and $199 convert to £95 and £130, or AU$210 and AU$285.


This week in games: Fallout 4 teaches the value of Strength, Ubisoft builds a theme park – It’s a short week, which I guess means nothing at all really happe—Wait, Ubisoft is opening a theme park? And there was a new Fallout 4 video and the first Tribes update in two years? I present your gaming wrap-up for the week of September 7-11.

Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume – To ensure your resume stands out (for the right reasons), there are a few things you’ll want to avoid and some you’ll definitely want to include, says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink. “Basically employers want to see where candidates have earned, learned, and contributed.” Whether to include things like an objective statement, list of skills, and education will depend on your level of experience and industry — but here are six simple things you should always include on your resume, no matter what:

What porn site statistics can tell us about the worldwide console wars – First, the obvious disclaimer; YouPorn viewing statistics are not a perfect analogue for console popularity. It’s possible (and maybe even likely) that the userbase for one system or another is more or less likely to use their console to surf for porn. And it says nothing about whether they’re more likely to use the console for, you know, actual games. Still, YouPorn statistics seem to bear some resemblance to overall console popularity worldwide. Overall, YouPorn’s stats show 51% of visits coming from PlayStation, 39% from Xbox, and 10% from Wii systems. That’s decently close to the 50%/29%/20% split for PS4/XB1/Wii U sales in our latest analysis.


GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots – The GoPro line of action cameras, especially when paired with drones, have yielded a massive library of photos and videos that would have been otherwise impossible to take using commercial equipment. But when paired with a weather balloon, things get even more dramatic. In 2013, a group of five students from Arizona did just that and launched the GoPro into the atmosphere. Sadly, they lost track of the camera during after its reentry. Good thing they recovered it two years later in good condition because the footage it had stored is truly a sight to behold.


Australian police get McLaren and Aston Martin supercars – You wouldn’t want to get into a high-speed car chase with one of these bad boys: the NSW Police Harbourside Local Area Command has just added a McLaren 650S and an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante to its official fleet. However, the two supercars aren’t for regular policing, nor will they be a permanent fixture on Sydney’s streets. They have been loaned to the force for just a few weeks by a local dealership, which will cover all the costs of the vehicles except for fuel. Both cars have been given a NSW Police makeover, with blue-and-white decals declaring their law enforcement affiliation. Underneath, the AU$450,000 McLaren 650S is a brilliant, eye-catching yellow, while the $500,000-plus Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is a suave silver. The cars made their police debut on September 12 at the annual Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance, a day that pays tribute to the sacrifices of officers killed on duty.


The McLaren 650S on loan to the NSW Police. NSW Police Harbourside LAC

The LAPD has a Tesla now – At a press conference today, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the lease of 160 battery electric vehicles and 128 plug-in hybrids for the city’s vehicle fleet. “Today, we take another step toward becoming the most sustainable city in America,” the mayor told reporters. “This year, Los Angeles will become home to the largest city-owned fleet of pure battery electric vehicles anywhere in the country, and we will save taxpayer dollars along the way.” The city’s fleet already includes 23 electric scooters and three fully electric motorcycles, but this is the first major move into electric cars. The mayor has set ambitious environmental goals for the fleet, requiring that electric vehicles constitute half of the light duty fleet by 2017, and 80 percent of the city’s fleet purchases by 2025.


10 automakers vow to make automatic emergency braking standard – The NHTSA, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have announced that ten auto makers plan to offer automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. This is the latest step major car manufacturers are taking to bring more advanced safety technologies to a larger customer base, something that will eventually lead to such technologies being common on the road and, hopefully, a subsequent decrease in the number of crashes and deaths that happen. The auto makers are comprised of well-known car companies, including Audi, BMW, GM, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Toyota, Tesla, Volvo, and Volkswagen. Furthermore, the IIHS and US Department of Transportation says that other makers of lightweight vehicles and truck manufacturers should also consider making automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard in their vehicles.

Something to think about:

“Fine, go to those Bangalore Infosys centers, but just for the hell of it go three miles aside and go look at the guy living with no toilet, no running water … The world is not flat and PCs are not, in the hierarchy of human needs, in the first five rungs.”

–    Bill GatesThe Financial Times, Nov. 1, 2013


10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps – 10AppsManager is a freeware that will allow you to easily uninstall and reinstall the default, built-in, preinstalled Windows Store apps in Windows 10. While you can always manually uninstall or reinstall the Store apps, the process is not so easy for the preinstalled apps. It is easy to uninstall or reinstall 3rd-party apps, but not the default preinstalled apps. What this tool from our TWC stables does, is automate the process and let you carry out the operations in a click.


WebBrowserPassView – WebBrowserPassView is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords stored by the following Web browsers: Internet Explorer (Version 4.0 – 11.0), Mozilla Firefox (All Versions), Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. This tool can be used to recover your lost/forgotten password of any Website, including popular Web sites, like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and GMail, as long as the password is stored by your Web Browser.

After retrieving your lost passwords, you can save them into text/html/csv/xml file, by using the ‘Save Selected Items’ option (Ctrl+S).


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs – On a stage in a ballroom in the Walter Washington Convention Center on September 10, the heads of the United States’ intelligence community gathered to talk about the work their agencies perform and the challenges they face—or at least as much as they could in an unclassified environment. But the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency also had one particular mission in mind as they took the stage at the Intelligence & National Security Summit, an industry event largely attended by government officials and contractors: stopping the poisoning of the public debate around their missions, and especially around the issue of encryption, by unreasonable haters.

CIA Director John Brennan suggested that negative public opinion and “misunderstanding” about the US intelligence community is in part “because of people who are trying to undermine” the mission of the NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies. These people “may be fueled by our adversaries,” he said.

FBI Director James Comey referred to the backlash against his lobbying for backdoors into encrypted communications provided by the technology industry as “venom and deep cynicism” that are making a rational discussion about what could and should be done nearly impossible.


The directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA, NGO, DIA, and NRO stand for a group picture. Sean Gallagher.

Apple, in refusing backdoor access to data, may face fines – This week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Dept. served Apple with a court order in a case “involving guns and drugs,” demanding it provide real-time access to iMessage, Apple’s proprietary service for sending messages between iPhones.

Apple refused — not because it necessarily wanted to, but because it couldn’t comply. The iPhone and iPad maker reportedly told the feds that the service is encrypted, making it impossible for the company let alone the feds to access the data they demanded, unlike phone companies which, under US wiretap laws, are required to comply.

The criminal case is under seal in an unidentified U.S. federal court.

Apple’s defiance comes at a time when the FBI is pushing for access to user data in the wake of the claims that the U.S. government had access to Silicon Valley systems through its PRISM surveillance program. In response to allegations it was complicit in spying on Americans, Apple quelled fears by revealing its iMessage texting and FaceTime calling services were encrypted and unable to be wiretapped, and said even it “cannot decrypt that data.” Around the same time, the company proceeded to offer device encryption, forcing feds to go directly to the suspect in question to get access to some user data.

Plan to shift internet’s control panel away from US government gets tentative thumbs-up – The plan to shift control of the top level of the internet away from the US government to domain name overseer ICANN has been given a tentative thumbs-up by the internet community.

A public comment period on the proposal for the IANA functions contract closed earlier this week with 159 submissions received. Just under half the comments came from individuals, but governments, the technical community, business groups, and civil society all sent in comments.

The vast majority of the comments were supportive of the plan overall, which will hand control over to a new affiliate of the current contract owner, ICANN, and two new groups set up to ensure that the contract is run effectively. In addition, a process to pull the IANA functions was identified as a last resort.

The proposal was pulled together from three different proposals covering the three main technical jobs that are being considered. Despite most commentators agreeing with the proposal, there were significant concerns over key aspects of the plan.

The same five issues were identified repeatedly from stakeholders as diverse as Google, the Internet Society, US Council for International Business (USCIB), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and others:

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 11, 2015

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches;  Android Pay launches today: here’s how to get it;  Microsoft’s new NFL app is ready for kickoff;  Instagram ads are about to get longer, more prominent;  Periscope live streaming app adds landscape video mode;  Install Kali Linux tools on Ubuntu with this easy script;  Camera+, The Third-Party Camera App With 14 Million Users, Goes Free;  Western Digital is selling a 1TB drive kit for the Raspberry Pi;  How to replace your PC’s motherboard;  Don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10? You’ll download it whether you like it or not;  New Android ransomware locks out victims by changing lock screen PIN;  Will Windows 10’s coming security features win over Windows 7 users?  Dell bets on Chinese innovation with $125 billion investment;  20th Century Fox bought National Geographic magazine;  Minecraft update lets Windows 10, iOS, and Android gamers play together;  Here are the games coming to the new Apple TV (pictures);  U.S. Consumers Now Spend More Time In Apps Than Watching TV;  StudioLine Photo Basic 4 (free);  That’s a Tor order: Library gets cop visit for running exit relay in US.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches – Despite the many highlights of Windows 10—Cortana, virtual desktops, windowed Windows Store apps, the revamped Start menu, DirectX 12, among others—there are still some annoyances with the new operating system. Windows 10 can reset your default browser if you upgrade; updates are now mandatory; and behind the scenes, the new OS is a file-sharing machine. Those are just a few of Windows 10’s notable headaches, but the good news is there are fixes for all these problems. Even better? Most are really easy to implement. Let’s dig in.

Don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10? You’ll download it WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT – Redmond was careful to say that these unwanted bits will only be pushed out to people “who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update.” Yet receiving automatic updates is the default setting, and switching it off, of course, means you’ll be endangering your system by not receiving potentially critical security updates. There is a bright side for those worried about their disk space, though. Microsoft told The Reg that it is possible to remove the Windows 10 update files using the Disk Cleanup utility. “Those who remove the Windows 10 upgrade files can still upgrade later,” the spokesperson helpfully said. No word on what you should do if your internet bandwidth is at a premium, though.

Microsoft’s new NFL app is ready for kickoff – Football fans who are users of Windows 10 and the Xbox One can now download the new update to Microsoft’s NFL app, which includes upgraded statistics and other new features.


Android Pay launches today: here’s how to get it – Today Android devices everywhere* will begin to gain access to Android Pay. Just so long as those devices have NFC. *And just so long as they’re inside the United States. Android Pay is a sort of re-branding of Google Wallet, a system where Google’s devices handled your money from a variety of sources, allowing you to pay for items both in the physical world and digitally. Now with systems like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay on the rise, Google has changed the name.


Periscope live streaming app adds landscape video mode – Periscope’s live streams are no longer stuck in portrait orientation. Today the company is unveiling a new landscape mode that works across iOS, Android, and the web and easily lets users shoot and broadcast video in landscape. Creatively, the new feature allows for a wider field of view than you’d get recording in portrait. To be clear, this was technically possible before, but it wasn’t really an official feature and required viewers to watch videos sideways. Now, landscape video will look right regardless of which orientation your phone is in; just rotate it to landscape to take broadcasts fullscreen.

Periscope landscape

Facebook now lets journalists broadcast live video to your News Feed – Celebrities like Dwayne Johnson aren’t the only people allowed to use Facebook’s live streaming app anymore. The company is opening up the future, which works through a standalone app called Mentions, to journalists with verified Facebook profiles and / or pages. Previously, only high-profile public figures like actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, and other “influencers” were permitted to stream live video to users through the Mentions app. Replays are available once the initial live stream is compete, and Facebook also allows comments and likes alongside broadcasts like YouTube and Periscope.


Instagram ads are about to get longer, more prominent – While Instagram isn’t necessarily pushing more ads on its users, advertisers are getting a few new ways to draw in eyeballs. The maximum length of video ads, for instance, is doubling to 30 seconds, encouraging users to gaze for a bit longer as they scroll through an ad in their feed. Photo and video ads may also appear in landscape mode for a more cinematic look. Instagram is also adding a new type of ad called “Marquee,” which sounds like some sort of attention-grabbing header. Instagram describes it as a “premium product that helps drive mass awareness and expanded reach in a short time-frame,” especially for events such as movie premieres.

Fastest ISPs 2015: Canada – Here are the ISPs that provide the best connection speed across Canada’s almost 10 million square kilometers.

Pro tip: Install Kali Linux tools on Ubuntu with this easy script – You’ve heard of Kali Linux, right? If not, what you need to know is that Kali is one of the most powerful penetration testing platforms on the market. It’s a Linux distribution that can be installed and used for free to help you run just about every kind of network test imaginable. But for some, running Kali would be so much easier if it could be integrated with the likes of Ubuntu. Guess what? It can! Thanks to an easy to use script, called Katoolin, you can install any of the Kali Linux tools right on Ubuntu. Let me walk you through the process.

We Tried Apple’s Huge iPad Pro + Tiny iPad mini 4 – The big new iPad is a terrific drawing surface. The little one is what Apple should have released last year.


Camera+, The Third-Party Camera App With 14 Million Users, Goes Free – Tap tap tap, the company behind the popular third-party camera app Camera+, is making its flagship application free today. The app, which has grown over the years to reach 14 million users and $18 million in sales, has capitalized on Apple iPhone users’ demand for an expanded set of photography-related features that take advantage of the high-quality cameras found on their device. But until now, Camera+ has only been available to users as a paid download.


Microsoft confirms Office 2016’s release date: September 22 – Microsoft has confirmed a September 22 release date for Office 2016, alongside plans for monthly feature updates through Office 365. The release date had previously appeared in a leaked image from Microsoft’s employee intranet. In a blog post, Microsoft’s Julie White acknowledged that you “may have heard the rumors” before confirming the official launch date.

Western Digital is selling a 1TB drive kit for the Raspberry Pi – Western Digital supplies a bare 1TB hard drive with a USB 3.0 connector on its backside (likely ripped from one of their externals), a 2A 5V power adapter, and a proprietary cable that lets you hook everything up without having to resort to a USB hub. They even throw in a micro SD card and SD adapter that you can load Raspbian or Windows 10 onto to get your Pi going. The WD PiDrive kit sells for $79.99 in the Western Digital shop, which isn’t a bad deal considering one of their 1TB external USB drives goes for around $65 on its own.

How to replace your PC’s motherboard – Sometimes components fail. Motherboards are no exception. I’ve fried many a motherboard thanks to bad BIOS flashes and failing or flaky power supplies. Things happen, and sometimes those things can irreparably damage your motherboard. But replacing a motherboard is a lot of work. Before you start, you want to make very, very sure that your motherboard is broken. Step one is using one of these handy troubleshooting flow charts to make sure your motherboard is truly the culprit. Assuming your motherboard is confirmed dead, it’s time to consider a replacement.

Tinder Adds a ‘Super Like’ Button to Let Users Show Eagerness – In dating, it’s all about showing that special someone that… well, they’re special. So on Wednesday, dating app Tinder introduced a new honor you can bestow upon a potential match: the “Super Like.”


New Android ransomware locks out victims by changing lock screen PIN – Malicious apps that disable Android phones until owners pay a hefty ransom are growing increasingly malevolent and sophisticated as evidenced by a newly discovered sample that resets device PIN locks, an advance that requires a factory reset. Dubbed Android/Lockerpin.A, the app first tricks inexperienced users into granting it device administrator privileges. To achieve this, it overlays a bogus patch installation window on top of an activation notice. When targets click on the continue button, they really grant the malicious app elevated rights that allow it to make changes to the Android settings. From there, Lockerpin sets or resets the PIN that unlocks the screen lock, effectively requiring users to perform a factory reset to regain control over the device.


Attack code exploiting Android’s critical Stagefright bugs is now public – Attack code that allows hackers to take control of vulnerable Android phones finally went public on Wednesday, as developers at Google, carriers, and handset manufacturers still scrambled to distribute patches to hundreds of millions of end users. The critical flaws, which reside in an Android media library known as libstagefright, give attackers a variety of ways to surreptitiously execute malicious code on unsuspecting owners’ devices. The vulnerabilities were privately reported in April and May and were publicly disclosed only in late July. Google has spent the past four months preparing fixes and distributing them to partners, but those efforts have faced a series of setbacks and limitations.

Excellus healthcare hack puts 10m Americans at risk of identity theft – Health insurance company Excellus said hackers broke into its servers and may have made off with the personal details of 10.5 million people. While the breach is believed to be limited to those in the upstate New York area, the information exposed is extremely sensitive. It includes member names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and member identification numbers. Also at risk are insurance claim and financial account details for the 10.5 million patients in the Excellus and Lifetime Health Care insurance providers in the area.

4 vital elements in a robust healthcare IT security strategy – Your sensitive health information is worth 10 times more to hackers than your credit card on the black market, reported Reuters in 2014. According to a new KPMG cybersecurity report (PDF), 81% of healthcare executives surveyed said that their IT security has been compromised at least once in the past two years. Despite the regulatory and legal consequences of a data breach, the authors of KPMG’s report argued that the healthcare industry is behind others when it comes to cyberattack readiness and security technology capabilities.

Photos of TSA’s Luggage lock master keys have been leaked – The TSA has long dictated certain “blessed” locks that only it could pick. You know, in case they need or want to open your baggage. For national security, of course. The TSA is able to accomplish this thanks to a set of master keys that can open any TSA-certified luggage lock. Thanks in part to a blunder by Washington Post, however, those keys have now leaked all over the Internet, which doesn’t really forget, giving anyone the keys to all such locks. Pun totally intended.


Will Windows 10’s coming security features win over Windows 7 users? – Windows 10 includes a number of new security features that weren’t part of Windows 7, yet so far Microsoft hasn’t been touting them much. Here’s more of some of what’s new and noteworthy.

This Could Be The Year Of The University Hack – While many students think online threats consist only of cyberbullying, joining the university ranks means their threat risk has expanded. The intellectual property and sensitive data housed on university networks, including financial, health, academic and social records, are a data gold mine. And hackers can use this information to take over mobile devices and network accounts, max out credit cards, steal student loans and redirect existing funding to the hacker’s coffers. Gearing up for college isn’t just about buying textbooks and registering for classes anymore. As students plan to head back to school this year, it is important that they understand the rising threat of university network hacks and learn to recognize common attacks. According to Norton’s threat research, the three most frequent attacks against universities include:

Company News:

Dell bets on Chinese innovation with $125 billion investment – Dell plans to invest $125 billion over the next five years in China, betting on the country’s growing economy to provide alternative revenue sources beyond the dwindling PC market. The PC maker’s CEO Michael Dell announced Dell’s new strategy in Shanghai on Thursday. The chief executive said the new “In China, For China” strategy will include an investment of $125 billion over the next five years, $175 billion contributing to imports and exports, and will also “sustain one million jobs through the ecosystem.” Dell said the investment demonstrates the firm’s “long-term commitment to the Chinese market.” China is Dell’s second-largest market outside of the United States, and as PC sales to dwindle, it is critical that other avenues for business growth are explored.

IBM Buys StrongLoop To Add Node.js API Development To Its Cloud Platform – IBM has today made another acquisition to expand its business in cloud services — specifically in the area of enterprise app development. It has acquired StrongLoop, a startup based in San Mateo that builds application development software for enterprises using the open source JavaScript programming language Node.js. This in turn enables enterprises to build mobile and cloud-based apps equipped with APIs to integrate with each other and handle high volumes of data between mobile, web and Internet-of-Things apps. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. StrongLoop had raised $9 million in funding from Shasta and Ignition Partners, including an $8 million round in 2013.

Amazon finally puts out the Fire: Inventory of its failed phone is exhausted – Since last year’s flop, Amazon has been cutting the price of the Fire phone so that just a couple of weeks ago it was down to $130 for a 32GB unlocked model that included a year of free Amazon Prime service, a $99 value. GeekWire received confirmation that Amazon has sold out of its inventory of Fire phones so we shouldn’t see any more price promotions. At the time of the announcement, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos indicated this model was just the first in a line of future mobile phones. Given that Amazon has fired many of the employees from the group working on the Fire phone, it’s not likely we will see Amazon attempt to build another smartphone.

20th Century Fox bought National Geographic magazine – The new company is called National Geographic Partners and joins the National Geographic cable channels with the National Geographic magazines, National Geographic Studios, the company’s digital platforms and social media accounts, books, maps, children’s media, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and, e-commerce businesses. The Society will keep control of the museum in DC and its related activities.

California: Former Uber driver was an employee – Uber, the app-based ride-hailing service, classifies its drivers as independent contractors, not employees, but this position has been undermined yet again. The California Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers the state’s unemployment insurance benefits program, has determined that a former Uber driver in Southern California was an employee, Reuters reported.

Games and Entertainment:

November Xbox One Update brings Xbox 360 game support – November marks one of the most anticipated updates yet for the Xbox One game console. The big new feature that the update will add to the Xbox One console is the ability to play Xbox 360 video games on the Xbox One at no additional cost. This is a big deal for gamers who have Xbox 360 games left and a dead Xbox 360 console. The update will also bring with it several other updates aimed at making gaming on the Xbox One more social. The New Xbox One Experience will land with the update and is powered by Windows 10. Microsoft says that games will be able to get popular gaming features running 50% faster than before.


Elite: Dangerous comes to Xbox One on October 6 – We’d previously heard Elite: Dangerous was heading to the Xbox One, and now we know when it’ll be arriving: on October 6. The information comes from Frontier Developments’ CEO David Braben, who was kind enough to answer a series of questions posted in an AMA on Reddit. Among the questions was an inquiry about when we’d see the full release for the Xbox One. Turns out there’s only about a month of waiting left.


Capcom’s ‘Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen’ Headed to PC – The new year will bring a new adventure for PC gamers. Capcom’s popular fantasy-action RPG Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen will be available on Windows PCs in January for $30. This has been a long time coming. The original Dragon’s Dogma was released in 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The Dark Arisen expansion arrived on PS3 and Xbox 360 the following year, and now it’s finally making its way to PC.


Here are the games coming to the new Apple TV (pictures) – Apple has announced a new Apple TV, and gaming is going to be a key component of its appeal. Here is a taste of the games you can expect.


Disney Infinity

Minecraft update lets Windows 10, iOS, and Android gamers play together – Minecraft: Pocket Edition version 0.12.1 brings a host of improvments, but the biggest one is cross-platform play for all mobile gamers including the Windows 10 version.

Microsoft will soon invite gamers to test Windows 10 on Xbox One – The all-new Xbox One dashboard, which is powered by Windows 10, will roll out to all owners of the console in November. But before that happens, Microsoft is letting its Xbox Preview Program install the new software early and help mold the final product before it reaches everyone. “Because this is a significant update, we are giving Preview members the opportunity to decide for themselves if and how they want to participate in helping us release the New Xbox One Experience,” the Xbox team wrote today.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Let your old man navigate with Google Dad Directions – Can’t get enough of your old man? Now your pop can tell you corny jokes while he gets you to your destination with Google Dad Directions. At least, that’s the gag in a parody video released Wednesday by comedy group Above Average. In the clip, we see a couple get into their car ready for a night out as a familiar voice asks them where they’re headed. Their car’s navigation system has been replaced with Google Dad Directions, a service that features good old dad telling you how to reach your destination — or not.


Elon Musk: nuking Mars will get humans established sooner – Elon Musk doesn’t just want humans to walk on Mars; he wants them to live there. He’s not the only person who aspires to such a future, and he sees it as a necessity for the survival of the human race. Some efforts are already being made to get human colonies established on the Red Planet, though some are more questionable than others. The key to getting human colonies established on the planet may, it turns out, be a couple thermonuclear bombs.


Rare pink dolphin surfaces again in Louisiana waters – Whatever mental image you have dolphins, set it aside. “Pinky” is unlike any other, and for one very obvious reason: she is entirely pink. The dolphin was first spotted eight years ago as a young calf swimming near her mother in the waters near Louisiana. The man who first saw her reports having seen her hundreds of times over the years, sometimes with other dolphins and sometimes alone. And, now, it is reported that she may be pregnant.


This is why you shouldn’t drive while holding a selfie stick – Technically Incorrect: For reasons best known to himself, a man drives a Jeep while holding a selfie stick out of the window. And then he hits traffic. Really hits traffic.


California governor Jerry Brown vetoes controversial bill on drone restrictions – A California bill that would have forced drones to be flown at a minimum height of 350 feet (107 meters) over private property has been vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in the wake of criticism that it could impact the state’s drone industry and the economy at large.

U.S. Consumers Now Spend More Time In Apps Than Watching TV – Traditional cable TV has already been suffering in recent months, as more consumers are cutting the cord or opting never to sign up in the first place for pricey TV packages filled with channels they don’t want, or have time to watch. But while many are turning to online streaming services like Netflix or Amazon to get their TV fix, Flurry’s report indicates that consumers are also spending their time away from TV doing other things – namely, using apps. According to the company’s data, the average U.S. consumer is now spending 198 minutes per day inside apps compared to 168 minutes on TV.

Something to think about:

“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.”

–     Jim ButcherVignette


BitTorrent Sync – With Sync, you never need to upload files to remote servers halfway around the world before sharing. Sync always uses the shortest path between devices. This saves time, especially for massive files, and makes failed uploads a thing of the past.

Fast, intelligent file transfers – Sync skips the cloud and finds the shortest path between devices when transferring data. No Cloud. No uploading to third party servers. Just fast, simple file syncing.

Big files? No problem – Sync can handle files of any size. Easily sync and share folders that contain gigabytes (or terabytes) of data.

Sync between any platform – Keep folders synced between multiple platforms and operating systems. Sync is available for OS X, Windows, Linux, NAS devices and more.

Access files on the go – Access all of your synced files from your iOS, Android or Windows Mobile device. Keep files on your mobile devices backed up by syncing photos, videos, docs, pdfs and more to your desktop or NAS device.


StudioLine Photo Basic 4 – StudioLine Photo Basic 4 contains many of the same functions as StudioLine Photo Classic 4. It supports dual-monitor video cards, and is regularly updated with Smart-Update. StudioLine Photo Basic is the completely free starter package for personal use!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Director of national intelligence: Snowden forced “needed transparency” – In comments after giving the opening plenary presentation of the Intelligence & National Security Summit, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the disclosures made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden had driven the intelligence community to become more transparent to citizens about how it does business. In response to a question about the impact of Snowden’s disclosures on the intelligence community asked through moderator and former Director of National Intelligence Ambassador John Negroponte, Clapper said, “On one hand, it forced some needed transparency, particularly on programs that had an impact on civil liberties and privacy in this country. If that had been all he had done, I could have tolerated it.”

But, Clapper added, Snowden “exposed so many other things that had nothing to do with” civil liberties and privacy, including information about the US intelligence community’s operations that did tangible damage to operations. “He has [done] untold damage to our collection activities,” Clapper said, asserting that “terrorists have gone to school on what Snowden leaked.” And programs that had a real impact on the security of American forces overseas, including one program in Afghanistan, “which he exposed and Glenn Greenwald wrote about, and the day after he wrote about it, the program was shut down by the government of Afghanistan,” Clapper noted.

That’s a Tor order: Library gets cop visit for running exit relay in US – A New England library is calling off its plan to host a Tor exit node after cops, tipped off by the US Department of Homeland Security, paid a visit.

The Kilton Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, had been hosting an exit relay on the Tor network since July as part of a pilot program to safeguard citizens’ privacy online.

After meeting with the plod, however, the librarians have taken the box offline over fears it was being used for criminal activity.

Tor – aka The Onion Router – helps cloak people’s identities online by routing their connections through multiple nodes and out to the wider internet via exit relays. It is used by whistleblowers, journalists, activists, crooks and lowlifes. All connections leaving the Tor network go through these exit points, which will inevitably carry a lot of traffic that the Feds will be interested in.

Kilton’s exit node was the pilot for an effort by the Library Freedom Project to equip local libraries in the US with Tor nodes that could be accessed by users in areas where internet traffic is censored and closely monitored.

“This is an idea whose time has come; libraries are our most democratic public spaces, protecting our intellectual freedom, privacy, and unfettered access to information, and Tor Project creates software that allows all people to have these rights on the internet,” the group said of the pilot program.

According to a report by ProPublica, the Department of Homeland Security gave word of the node to police, who then had a meeting with library and city officials. ProPublica claims that the police did not threaten any action against the library, but merely informed them of the possibility that their Tor node could be used for criminal activity.

The library’s board of trustees will vote later this month on whether to bring the node back online.

Handing over emails in an Irish server to the FBI will spark a global free-for-all, warns Microsoft – Microsoft has warned a US appeals court that forcing it to hand over emails stored on a server in Ireland would demolish internet user privacy worldwide in a “global free-for-all”.

At the heart of the matter is a row over whether the Redmond giant should cough up messages held in an Irish data center – messages belonging to someone living in Dublin. US prosecutors chasing a drugs investigation sought a search warrant in the US to access the files, but Microsoft thinks the action should be taking place on Ireland’s soil, where the information is stored.

Microsoft’s lawyer Joshua Rosenkranz told the New York court that if Uncle Sam could order multinational companies in America to give up data in systems in other countries, there’s no reason other nations couldn’t play similar games. Calling it a “matter of national sovereignty,” Rosenkranz added: “We would go crazy if China did it to us.”

The counter from the US government’s lawyers was that withholding the data would let criminals and fraudsters evade American prosecutors by sending their data offshore.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 9, 2015

The essential guide to powerline Ethernet adapters;  These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun;  When your Windows image backup fails, try this;  Adblock Plus releases its web browser for iOS;  YouTube forces AdBlock users to watch unskippable video ads;  Turn Chrome’s new tab page into a to-do list powerhouse;  The best scanning apps for Android and iPhone;  Selling your old iPhone: Online vs. in-store trade-ins;  Android porn app takes your mugshot, holds your device ransom;  Windows Media Center lives on with unofficial Windows 10 version;  Kaspersky Lab pushes emergency patch for critical vulnerability;  Opera Mini browser for Android gets new data compression tech;  Amazon expected to release $50 6-inch Fire tablet this year;  Airbnb Hosted Nearly 17 Million Guests This Summer;  The FIFA 16 demo is here – this is how you play;  Netflix’s new excuse for no offline playback is even lamer than the last one;  If you’re buying a TV, know these three letters: HDR;  AirConsole turns browsers into a local multiplayer console;  Apple refused to wiretap an iMessage account for the Justice Department.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

It’s football season! These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun to watch – According to the NFL, 70 percent of fans use a second screen while watching football. It’s easy to understand why: mobile devices—and the apps that run on them—give us easy access to player stats and analysis, provide interactive features to supplement the big-screen experience, and offer a convenient way to communicate with other fans watching the game. We’ve rounded up seven of the best second-screen apps to enhance your football viewing. Take them for a spin when the season kicks off later this week, and we’re sure you’ll be reaching for them along with your remote every Thursday and Sunday until the end of Super Bowl 50.


The essential guide to powerline Ethernet adapters (including 12 hands-on reviews) – This roundup of powerline ethernet adapters is continually updated. It was originally published on January 15, 2015, updated in March and again in June 2015 and now again in early September,. Click here if you would like to read that original story as published in January 2015. This latest iteration contains entirely new reviews of the Extollo LANsocket 1500 and TP-Link TL-PA8030P KIT, plus updated reviews of the D-Link DHP-701AV and the Trendnet TPL-420E2K.


The seven apps you need to tame your email overload – Managing email for most people is an irritating and time-consuming task, but thankfully there’s a host of email apps that make it easier.

When your Windows image backup fails, try this – This has to be one of the worst things that can happen in the digital world. You create a backup and then, when you need it, it doesn’t work. That’s why I recommend making two backups. But let’s see if we can fix the problem at hand.

Adblock Plus releases its web browser for iOS – Makers of the popular ad-blocking software Adblock Plus have launched a stand-alone mobile browser for iOS. The Adblock Browser launched as a beta on Android back in May, but has not been available on Apple’s App Store until now. The company is marketing the software primarily as a way to block ads when browsing webpages online, but says this feature offers a range of other benefits, including protecting users from malware, and saving their battery life and mobile data. Users can block all ads by default or whitelist favorite sites.

Opera Mini browser for Android gets new data compression tech – The latest version for the mobile browser adds a new High compression mode that minimises data expenditure without affecting the page display.

YouTube forces AdBlock users to watch unskippable video ads – Browser extensions that block website advertisements are becoming very common these days and their use is expected to only grow in the next few years. Some websites that survive on advertising have turned to things like tip jars or even politely asking users to turn off their ad-blockers. Google’s YouTube, however, is taking a bit more of a direct approach: users with the AdBlock Plus extension installed are forced to watch video advertisements before the actual content video plays.

Turn Chrome’s new tab page into a to-do list powerhouse – It’s just one program on your PC, but for many of us the browser is the central tool we use for work, play, and communication. That’s why so many people love Google Chrome and its healthy ecosystem of extensions and apps. Today we’re going to look at one way to turn your new tab page into something a little more productive than you’ve got now thanks to Microsoft’s recently acquired to-do list app Wunderlist.

The best scanning apps for Android and iPhone – Never bother with a scanner again. Thanks to high-quality cameras on today’s top smartphones and nifty behind-the-scenes tech, scanning a document or photo with great results is as easy as opening an app and snapping a picture. Here are CNET’s top picks for the best apps to turn your phone into a scanner.


Evernote Scannable in action. Josh Miller/CNET

Twitter for Windows 10 catches up with group messages and other new features – Twitter for Windows has been a perfect example of Microsoft’s app problems; sure, the app exists, but it has fallen far behind Twitter’s smartphone apps in terms of features and functionality. Today, Twitter for Windows is taking a much-needed step forward and adding group messaging, multi-account support, lists, and other improvements.

Selling your old iPhone: Online vs. in-store trade-ins – The latest iPhones are just around the corner, and that means some Apple fans may be looking to sell their old devices. Dozens of websites offer easy trade-in programs for old smartphones. Some retailers also offer customers the option to sell their used devices. Even wireless carriers are making it easy for customers to trade in their iPhones and upgrade to new ones. Which option is right for you? That’s the question I answer in this edition of Ask Maggie.

Raspberry Pi gets its first official touchscreen display – A year after it was first announced, the Raspberry Pi touch display finally launched on Tuesday. The new component means Raspberry Pi hackers can now experiment with an officially sanctioned 7-inch, 800-by-480, 10-point multi-touch LCD display for their Pi projects. The $60 touchscreen does cost more than the Pi itself, but that comes down to component costs. The screen uses a display serial interface (DSI) and digital parallel interface (DPI) that requires a driver board to interface with the Pi. The display also requires its own power connection, which can be shared with the Pi over USB.


How to delete the Windows.old folder from Windows 10 – Did you upgrade your PC to Windows 10? If so, ever wonder what happened to the previous version of the OS? It probably disappeared into the mists of Windows past, right? Wrong. Your old OS didn’t get erased; rather, it’s lingering in a system folder called, aptly enough, Windows.old. And depending on the size of that version, it could be hogging a lot of precious space. First things first: If you think you might want to downgrade from Windows 10 back to the previous version, don’t delete that folder.


Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Windows Media Center lives on with unofficial Windows 10 version – Although Microsoft has officially discontinued its old living room PC software, some users on the My Digital Life forums have apparently patched Windows Media Center to run on Microsoft’s latest operating system. Why this matters: While Microsoft has claimed that hardly anyone uses Windows Media Center anymore, it remains a popular program among hardcore home theater PC users, many of whom are avoiding Windows 10 so they can keep using the living room software. This workaround could let users enjoy the benefits of Windows 10 without giving up Windows Media Center, but we’d still advise against it.


It’s still 2015, and your Windows PC can still be pwned by a webpage – Microsoft has today released patches for 56 security vulnerabilities in its products. People should apply the updates as soon as possible because miscreants are actively exploiting at least two of the holes – and likely more by the time you read this. The September patch batch includes critical fixes for Internet Explorer and Edge, Office, and Windows. Users and administrators are being advised to test and install the updates on the double. Of the 56 vulnerabilities, 14 in Internet Explorer, four in the supposedly super-whizzbang-secure Edge browser, one in Windows’ handling of OpenType fonts, four in Windows’ Journal file handling, and four in Microsoft Office, allow an attacker to remotely execute evil code on a victim’s system. Microsoft’s September bulletins in full:

Android porn app takes your mugshot, holds your device ransom – Bad news, mobile porn viewers! The FBI knows what you’re up to. They’ve taken your mugshot and they’re going to need you to transfer $500 via PayPal before you can do anything with your phone again. No, it’s not part of some crazy government crackdown on Internet porn. It’s a shakedown attempt some enterprising criminals concocted. The idea is simple enough: trick a user into installing an app that disguises itself as a porn video player, sneak a few extra permissions in thinking that they’re so eager to get at the goods that they won’t read them, and then hijack the startup process and hold the infected device for ransom.


Severe external drive vulnerability prompts Seagate to issue emergency patch – Watch out Seagate wireless external hard drive owners—your peripheral may have serious flaws in it that will open your files to malicious attackers. The good news is Seagate has already issued a patch for the problem. The vulnerabilities primarily affect owners of Seagate Wireless Plus Mobile Storage, Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage, and LaCie Fuel devices purchased since October 2014.


Kaspersky Lab pushes emergency patch for critical vulnerability – Kaspersky Lab has released an emergency patch for some of its antivirus products after a security researcher found a critical vulnerability that could allow hackers to compromise computers. The flaw was discovered by vulnerability researcher and Google security engineer Tavis Ormandy, who mentioned it Saturday on Twitter, before sending the bug’s details to Kaspersky.

Researcher demands FireEye pay up for zero-day vulnerabilities or suffer his ‘cold silence’ – A security researcher has demanded that FireEye pay him for several zero-day vulnerabilities he found in the firm’s security products, and he has threatened that he will otherwise remain silent about the bugs’ details.

Company News:

Airbnb Hosted Nearly 17 Million Guests This Summer – Growth is up and to the right for Airbnb. Nearly 17 million people worldwide booked their guest stays with the peer-to-peer lodging platform this summer, according to a new travel report. That’s a whopping 353x’s surge in the last five years – and a far cry from the three guests Airbnb hosted before officially launching in the summer of 2008. Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were just trying to figure out a way to pay rent at the time and made a website that advertised $80 to rent an air mattress on the floor of their apartment for a night plus breakfast in the morning. Three people, two guys and a girl, decided to try it out and Airbnb was born.

Facebook Equips Business Pages With Mobile Storefronts For Shopping And Services – Likes ≠ Dollars. Facebook wants Pages to actually earn money for the 45 million small businesses that use them. So today Facebook is upgrading Pages with a tabbed mobile layout that lets them display storefront “Sections” where users can “Shop” for products or view a list of “Services” the business offers. The company is also making calls to action on business Pages, such as “Call Now,” “Send Message” and “Contact Us,” bigger, more colorful and more prominent beneath the cover image. The “Shop” section will include Buy buttons powered by Facebook’s partnership with Shopify so users can check out without leaving the social network. Facebook is also testing Buy buttons that link out to a business’ traditional website.

Netflix to launch in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan – After becoming available in much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Netflix now looks to expand its reach to Asia. Netflix announced plans to enter four new markets in Asia on Wednesday as the Internet video streaming service continues its global expansion. Netflix will officially become available in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan early next year, the company said.

Amazon Prime Now in Seattle expands to offer meal delivery – Last month, Amazon launched its Prime Now delivery service in its home city, Seattle. The service offered one-hour and two-hour delivery of thousands of items, including things like a nice bottle of wine for dinner or one of its own pieces of hardware. Now, nearly two weeks after the initial launch, Amazon has announced an expansion of its Seattle delivery service, including meal delivery from select local restaurants as part of its offering.


Amazon expected to release $50 6-inch Fire tablet this year – Amazon was one of the first device makers to really put its full weight behind Android as a tablet operating system. The original 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet was released in 2011 at an unheard of $100 price point. However, that proved to be Amazon’s high-point when it comes to Android tablets. Attempts to sell more premium slates have fallen flat, but now the retailer is expected to announce a $50 Android tablet in time for the holidays. This report comes from the Wall Street Journal, which cites the always-reliable “people familiar with the matter.”

Microsoft Confirms Purchase Of Cloud Security Firm Adallom – Microsoft announced this morning that it purchased cloud security firm Adallom. According to sources familiar with the matter, the deal cost the Redmond-based software giant $250 million. That dollar amount is below previously reported figures pegging the value of the purchase north of $300 million.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix’s new excuse for no offline playback is even lamer than the last one – Apparently you don’t want offline video support after all. And if you had it, you wouldn’t know what to do with it.

The FIFA 16 demo is here – this is how you play – Those anticipating the release of the next big video game based on the world’s most popular sport, soccer (football if you’re outside the US), are in for a treat: the demo for EA Sports’ FIFA 16 should be available later today for the PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. Those in New Zealand can get to downloading now, while those in North America might need to wait until later in the day, with exact times varying based on console and region of the world.


Minecraft 0.12.1 update brings multiplayer cross-platform action – Minecraft fans listen up, a big update is coming and you will love it. With the new update players on both of these versions will be able to play together on a local network. That means you can invite friends over and play with them on the same servers on your Windows 10 PC while they are playing on mobile devices or tablets. Up to five people can play together over Xbox Live and all players will be able to tweak their gear with special effects from enchanting tables. This is the largest update for Pocket Edition ever published. The update brings new touch controls, controller support, and a controller mapping screen.

Get the ‘Witcher 3’ Expansion Pack on Oct. 13 – The expansion pack features more than 10 hours of new adventures as well as “new characters, powerful monsters, unique romance, and a brand new storyline shaped by gamer choices,” the Polish developer said. Players will “step again into the shoes of Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster slayer, this time hired to defeat a ruthless bandit captain, Olgierd von Everec, a man who possesses the power of immortality,” according to CD Projekt RED. The expansion will also feature a new system of Runewords, which are said to “significantly” affect gameplay. Under the new system, each Runeword impacts a different aspect of in-game mechanics, so you’ll have to experiment with various strategies and tactics.


AirConsole turns browsers into a local multiplayer console – Meet AirConsole, the virtual web-based gaming console that turns any browser into a local multiplayer gaming experience and your smartphone into controllers. Things couldn’t get any simpler than this. Simply go to the AirConsole website and get the code to connect as many smartphones as possible. The limit is based on how many simultaneous players a game supports. While you can technically use your smartphone’s web browser to connect to the AirConsole running on your computer or tablet, there are also dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android.


Disney’s fantastic cloud movie locker now works with Amazon, Microsoft video apps: Buy once, watch everywhere – Disney Movies Anywhere is what UltraViolet should have been; buy a movie once, and watch it on nearly any device — without needing to download a separate app or video player. It already works across Android and iOS (plus popular digital retailers like Vudu), and today Disney is adding Amazon Video, Microsoft Movies, and TV to the mix. Next week, a Disney Movies Anywhere app will launch for Roku’s set-top boxes and Android TV. So pretty soon it’ll be incredibly simple to watch your Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars films regardless of which device is in your hands or in your living room. Once you’ve linked your Disney account, all of those movies will appear right inside Amazon Video and also Microsoft’s video apps for Windows and Xbox.


Ubisoft to open Malaysia theme park in 2020 – On Monday, Ubisoft announced plans to open a theme park in Malaysia, one that it describes as being “next-generation”. This will give its fans a chance to experience its games as a real-world adventure, the company says, at least if you’re in or near Malaysia. The theme park won’t be opening until 2020, but when it does it’ll offer 10,000 square meters of attractions, rides, shows, and more, all of them featured indoor for all-weather and year-round enjoyment.

Off Topic (Sort of):

LG develops 111-inch double-sided 4K OLED TV – The hottest tech in displays right now is OLED and 4K. Combine the two and you have a fantastic, high resolution at any size TV, but LG has gone a step further by developing a double-sided 4K OLED TV. If that wasn’t enough to impress you, they also made 111-inches big. The massive, unique display is being shown off at IFA Berlin this week. LG achieved the 111-inch size by combining three 65-inch OLED panels while keeping the display just a handful of millimeters thick. A smaller 55-inch double-sided TV was also present with its thickness listed as just 5.3mm.

If you’re buying a TV, know these three letters: HDR – If you’re looking to buy a new TV, prepare to hear a lot about HDR. After bigger screens, and thinner screens, and 3D screens, and curved screens, and 4K screens, HDR is the new flavor of the season in television technology and it’s one worth paying attention to. High dynamic range is probably most familiar to people through the HDR mode on their digital cameras. It’s designed to deliver a picture that has greater details in the shadows and highlights a wider range of colors. HDR in televisions pursues the same goal. The color palette is wider, blacks are deeper and whites are brighter.


MESSE BERLIN – An HDR TV displayed by Panasonic at the IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin on Sept. 4, 2015.

Geeky club sparked Apple’s first computer, gave Woz a ‘eureka’ moment – A 1975 meeting in a Silicon Valley garage inspired the young, shy Steve Wozniak to build the Apple I — and ignite a legacy. Woz tells the tale to CNET.


Here’s How Many People Are Still Rocking the Original iPhone – Apple is expected to announce two new iPhones on Wednesday, an annual update to its most successful product lines. This will mark the ninth year that Apple has introduced a new set of iPhones. The company has sold 10 different variations of the iPhone, from the 2007 original (which launched without the App Store) to last year’s supersized iPhone 6 Plus. In total, Apple has sold more than 700 million iPhones since 2007. But just how many people are using a spiffy new iPhone 6 Plus compared to the older models?


Source: Fiksu Get the data

Space whisky returns to Earth! Here are the taste test results – In 2011, samples of scotch whisky were sent to mature aboard the International Space Station. Now they’re back and sporting a different flavor than their terrestrially mellowed counterparts.


Something to think about:

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

–       John Adams


Dashlane: The password manager, perfected – Keeping track of passwords and making them secure is startlingly simple with Dashlane’s free password manager. Automatically import your passwords from Chrome or any other browser into your secure password vault. Save any missing passwords as you browse. Make a new password right within your browser. Get automatic alerts when websites get breached.

And with our auto-login, you will never have to type any password on any of your devices again. It’s that simple.


DocFetcher – DocFetcher is an Open Source desktop search application: It allows you to search the contents of files on your computer. — You can think of it as Google for your local files. The application runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and is made available under the Eclipse Public License.

Basic Usage:

The screenshot below shows the main user interface. Queries are entered in the text field at (1). The search results are displayed in the result pane at (2). The preview pane at (3) shows a text-only preview of the file currently selected in the result pane. All matches in the file are highlighted in yellow.

You can filter the results by minimum and/or maximum filesize (4), by file type (5) and by location (6). The buttons at (7) are used for opening the manual, opening the preferences and minimizing the program into the system tray, respectively.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Apple refused to wiretap an iMessage account for the Justice Department – For years, Tim Cook has been telling users that iMessage’s encryption makes it impossible to wiretap — and now, the Justice Department seems to have found out the hard way that he’s right. According to a New York Times report, Apple received a court order from the Justice Department this summer, demanding real-time access to a suspect’s iMessage account. Apple replied that iMessage encryption made the request impossible. The company later handed over iCloud backups of the suspect’s messaging history, but the request for real-time access (akin to a traditional wiretap) remained unfulfilled.

There are still a number of unanswered questions around the report. We don’t know the nature of the court order or the justification for Apple’s refusal, so it’s difficult to assess the legality of either one. Still, federal agencies have been trying and failing to wiretap iMessage accounts for years now, so the central facts of the story are very plausible. In its most recent transparency report, Apple reported more than 250 national security requests, and said 6 percent of law enforcement requests pertained to user account data.

US claim on the world’s servers at a crossroads – The Obama administration on Wednesday will argue to a US appeals court that companies operating in the US must comply with valid warrants for data—even if that data is stored on overseas servers.

Much of the tech sector, from Amazon and Microsoft to Verizon, oppose the US government’s position in the closely watched case. These companies and a slew of others maintain that the enforcement of US law stops at the border. They say the global community is already skittish about trusting US-based tech companies in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. So a ruling siding with the Obama administration would fuel that mistrust, conflict with foreign data protection laws, and place the tech sector at risk of foreign government sanctions, the companies said.

The two-year-old dispute before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York concerns e-mail stored on Microsoft’s servers in Dublin, Ireland. As part of a drug investigation, US authorities served Microsoft with a warrant demanding access to e-mail on an overseas Microsoft account. Microsoft balked, writing in a court brief that “The government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility.”

Norwegian Pirate Party provides DNS server to bypass new Pirate Bay blockade – Following a court-ordered block of The Pirate Bay and a number of other file-sharing websites in Norway, the Norwegian Pirate Party (Piratpartiet Norge) has now set up free, uncensored DNS servers that anyone can use to bypass the block. While the DNS servers are based in Norway, anyone can use them: if your ISP is blocking access to certain sites via DNS blackholing/blocking, using the Piratpartiet’s DNS servers should enable access.

A few days ago, TorrentFreak reported that the Oslo District Court had sided with several Hollywood studios and domestic Norwegian rights holders in a case that sought to block a number of sites, including The Pirate Bay, Viooz, and ExtraTorrent. The court ordered that the country’s major ISPs, including Telenor, TeliaSonera, NextGenTel, and Altibox, must block the sites.

The Norwegian Pirate Party, as you can probably imagine, isn’t happy with the court-ordered block. In response, it has set up an unblocked DNS server——and a website that shows you how to change your DNS server settings on Windows, Mac, or Linux.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 7, 2015

How to turn off Windows 10’s keylogger (yes, it still has one);  You Asked: Can My Phone Kill My Car Battery?  Addicted to Facebook? You are not alone;  Facebook Messenger is now the second most popular app;  10 Travel Apps That Will Make You Feel Like a Local;  Take advantage of the Microsoft Print to PDF feature in Windows 10;  How to get the most out of your inkjet printer ;  6 new Google Drive features you need to know about;  Best free video editing software;  Files on Seagate wireless disks can be poisoned, purloined;  Microsoft prepares new Windows 10 phones for India;  The trailer of Netflix’s first movie will chill you to the bone;  Injected electronics: The next wave of wearable tech?  Batman: Arkham Knight PC patch finally available;  Feeling sad could change how you see colours;  Comcast’s adding new features for football fans;  Windows Firewall Control (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to turn off Windows 10’s keylogger (yes, it still has one) – Microsoft pretty much admits it has a keylogger in its Windows 10 speech, inking, typing, and privacy FAQ: “When you interact with your Windows device by speaking, writing (handwriting), or typing, Microsoft collects speech, inking, and typing information—including information about your Calendar and People (also known as contacts)…” If that makes you feel creepy, welcome to the human race. The good news is that you can turn off the keylogging.

You Asked: Can My Phone Kill My Car Battery? – When you plug your phone into your car to charge it up — especially when the car’s engine isn’t running — a feeling of dread can sneak into your mind. “Can my phone kill my car battery?” this voice whispers. The short answer is “yes.” The long answer, however, imparts some electronics smarts.

Addicted to Facebook? You are not alone – On the back of Facebook’s rise in second quarterly revenue and the fact 1.49 billion people use Facebook, the survey shows some revealing trends in how we actually use Facebook in our lives. The survey was carried out by Stop Procrastinating — a UK based productivity site. It asked 2000 people who use Facebook regularly and found that a majority are worried that their use of Facebook is compulsive.

Facebook Messenger is now the second most popular app in the United States – Remember when Facebook spun off Messenger and forced you to download it separately? Turns out, even though users initially hated it, the company knew what it was doing. A new report from digital media analytics company comScore shows that Facebook Messenger is currently the second most popular app in America. Messenger is Facebook’s answer to concerns that younger users are gravitating more to messaging apps like Snapchat. Of late, Facebook has embellished the app, adding in video calling, instant video sharing, peer-to-peer payments and even a personal assistant called M. Whatever the reasons for the increased focus on Messenger, the company’s efforts are paying off.


Spindle Is A Social App That Encourages You To Be Selfish With Your Content – While social media platforms theoretically can be a great place to document life’s special moments, the reality is that social pressure often forces us to curate and filter our content for others, instead of focusing on ourselves. Launched last week, Spindle is a social journaling app that solves this issue by putting the emphasis on letting a user create content for themselves, and share it with friends as an afterthought.


WhatsApp tops 900 million monthly active users – While other mobile messaging apps continue to grow in popularity, it seems none can push the Facebook-owned WhatsApp from its throne. Founder Jan Koum revealed that the app now has an incredible 900 million monthly active users. The news was shared by Koum in a Facebook post, and means that WhatsApp has gained an additional 100 million new users in just under five months, and achieved a 50% growth rate over the last year.

10 Travel Apps That Will Make You Feel Like a Local – No one wants to feel like a tourist. And these days, people don’t even want to feel like travelers, but want to experience a place like a local. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Multiple apps even. From sleeping in a local’s apartment to getting them to cook you a meal there, these 10 apps will turn you into an insider anywhere you go.

Best free video editing software – Commercial video editors can be very expensive, of course, but you may not have to go that far. Whether you want to trim your clips down to size, add a soundtrack or captions, apply transitions or special effects, there are some great free tools which can help – and these are the very best around.

Photoshop for 40 quid: Affinity Photo pushes pixels further than most – When El Reg tested the leading alternatives to Photoshop we told you to keep an eye out for Affinity Photo, a Mac-only rival from Serif that looked like being the best yet. It’s now out of beta and available for £40, which would buy you a Photoshop subscription for less than five months. Still, you could get an image editing app for even less, and Apple already gives you one free – helpfully called Photos, just to make it impossible to Google any information about it. It’s just about capable of displaying and tagging your collection of pictures and making basic non-destructive tweaks, and it looks pretty, but Photoshop it ain’t. And Affinity Photo? Well, I’ve been tweaking pics and reviewing image editing apps for two decades, and this is the first one I can remember that I might actually want to use.


This is an app for serious image manipulation and compositing, not just tweaking.

Take advantage of the Microsoft Print to PDF feature in Windows 10 – I’ve always been a fan of tools, such as CutePDF Writer, that allow me to generate a PDF file via a print option. There are just so many instances where this capability can come in extremely handy. Well, fortunately, Microsoft has finally bestowed such a feature in Windows 10. Called Microsoft Print to PDF, this feature is installed as a native printer in Windows 10, right next to the good old Microsoft XPS Document Writer. Let’s take a closer look.


How to get the most out of your inkjet printer – Printers are probably one of the most hated pieces of consumer electronics. Most of the time we can live without them, but when we need them, we really need them, and more often than not, that’s the time when they decide to play up.

6 new Google Drive features you need to know about – Just in time for the school year, Google’s added new features to Docs, Sheets and Slides, its online productivity tools. But you don’t have to be a student to use these cool new features, since they’re available to anyone with a Google account. Here are our favorite additions.

Snooz “sound conditioner” aims for restful sleep – Some people need total darkness to sleep, others need a little light. In the same way, some people need complete silence, but others need noise. That noise can come from a smartphone app, but the artificial nature of these noises make it ineffective for some. Others just flip the fan on, but that’s not feasible in certain situations, and is a waste of energy. That’s where Snooz comes in — it’s a relatively small saucer-shaped horizontal “sound conditioner” that provides white noise.


Snap digital camera takes Polaroid back to its instant photo days – The latest camera to bear the Polaroid name (it’s actually the work of a company called C&A Marketing, a brand licensing outfit) is the cheap-and-cheerful Snap. Snap isn’t like other digital point-and-shoots on market. It’s built for fun and shareability, but in an old-school, Polaroidy way. Instead of using built-in WiFi to zip your pictures off to Facebook friends, you can print out a copy and actually hand it to them on the spot. The 10mp shooter also has a cool “photo booth” mode. Switch it on and the Snap captures six pictures in 10 seconds, very much like those machines at the mall do.


Five to Try: Hopper helps you score cheap flights, and Pokémon hits the Play Store – It’s Labor Day weekend here in the States, so it’s apt that our latest Five to Try picks focus on fun, relaxation, and entertainment. In fact, if the long weekend has you thinking about another breather on the horizon, Hopper can help you secure the best fares by predicting flight pricing trends. Meanwhile, Google’s new standalone Street View app lets you explore stunning photo spheres from around the world, while Scout Launcher refocuses your home screen on videos, music, and news.


Files on Seagate wireless disks can be poisoned, purloined – thanks to hidden login – has reported Seagate wireless hard drives include “undocumented Telnet services” accessible with a hard-coded password. This allows “unrestricted file download capability to anonymous attackers with wireless access to the device.” And another flaw makes it possible to upload anything into the devices’ default file-sharing directory. The three flaws present in the device mean that anyone on your network – or can reach it from the outside – armed with the default password of “root” and enough savvy to try the username “root” can download the entire contents of the Seagate devices, then upload malware into them. Which could mean fun times if bad guys decide to replace your putty.exe, or Office documents, with something containing malware. Seagate’s made new firmware available, version to be precise, and requests owners of its kit to “please check the Download Finder regularly to determine if new firmware is available for your drive.” Lovely sentiments, but of course most consumers have shown they’ve no idea about this stuff by failing to install much-needed new broadband router firmware despite colossal security holes.

Hackers spent at least a year spying on Mozilla to discover Firefox security holes – and exploit them – Hackers have known about unpublicized and unpatched critical security holes in the Firefox web browser for a year or more – all by invading Mozilla’s systems. The Mozilla Foundation admitted on Friday that a privileged account on Firefox’s Bugzilla bug-tracking software has been compromised since at least September 2014. Said account, and thus the miscreants who gained access to it, could view the crucial non-public details of security bugs in Firefox that programmers were working on fixing. Information on these vulnerabilities is withheld so people can’t write code to exploit the bugs to infect Firefox users with malware – if you have access to what the browser’s developers are trying to fix, you know exactly how to attack the software and infiltrate victims’ computers.

LinkedIn-based intelligence gathering campaign targets the security industry – A LinkedIn-based intelligence gathering campaign has been using fake LinkedIn profiles to map out the professional networks of IT security experts.

Spotify updates its privacy policy again, makes it more clear – Spotify updated its privacy policy in the recent past, and while many users went on to accept the updated terms (which are, by all accounts, fairly benign), some users expressed concern about some of the content Spotify may or may not be accessing. That all boiled down to a communication issue, says Spotify, which had quickly pushed out an apology when the uproar started. Now it is back with another updated privacy policy, and this one is more clear. Spotify announced the new (new) privacy policy on Thursday, saying that the confusion resulting from its last policy update was “understandable”.

Company News:

Getting Nokia’s groove back: Microsoft prepares new Windows 10 phones for India – Microsoft is preparing a new set of Windows 10-based, Nokia-branded smartphones to be released in India by the end of 2015, according to a report in the Economic Times. The devices will be some of the first designed from the ground up for Windows 10. The new operating system, which launched on PCs and tablets in late July, is expected to be rolled out for mobile devices in the next few months.

Google may return to China with a censored app store – Back in 2010, Google largely abandoned China over concerns of cyberattacks and surveillance. It was a bold, if commercially risky, move meant to protect users of Google’s services and assert Google’s values. The situation in China likely hasn’t changed in the years since, but it may simply be that Google can no longer ignore the country’s enormous technology market. Apple is already there with phones and an app store, after all, and China is expected to become its dominant market. Google and China didn’t exactly leave things on good terms, however, so it may need help getting back into the country. The Information reports that Google will lean heavily on partners, possibly such as Huawei, to include the Play Store with phones sold throughout China.

BlackBerry acquires Good Technology for $425 million, accelerates software plans – BlackBerry on Friday moved to bolster is enterprise mobility management prospects and consolidate the industry a bit with a deal to acquire Good Technology for $425 million in cash. The company has been working to reinvent itself as one primarily driven by software and the acquisition of Good will go a long way toward that goal. BlackBerry said Good will add $160 million in revenue in the first year. In a statement, BlackBerry said that Good will give it the assets to offer a unified mobility platform that can manage multiple platforms.

Games and Entertainment:

PC gaming flourishes at IFA as PC makers seek higher profits – Asus, Lenovo, and other PC makers are putting PC gaming hardware front and center among their hardware lineups. Why? Money, of course.


With the Windows 10 Xbox app, the gaming console and PC are colliding.

The trailer of Netflix’s first movie will chill you to the bone – Netflix has just released the trailer of it’s upcoming movie, Beasts of No Nation, and the Idris Elba starrer has us on edge already. True Detective director Cary Fukunaga is behind the child soldier drama, which has recently been doing the film festival rounds where it has already received honors – we suspect Netflix will be pushing hard for an Academy Award nomination. The film stars Idris Elba as a war lord, and follows the story of Agu, portrayed by child actor Abraham, who is forced to become a child soldier during the civil war of an unnamed African country.


Batman: Arkham Knight PC patch finally available – Batman: Arkham Knight was released a mess and now, finally, is getting a PC patch that will maybe (hopefully) squash all those bugs. The patch was recently up for beta testing, and on Thursday it was announced on Steam that those who’d already grabbed the Arkham Knight for PC game could now get the patch. If you didn’t get the game when it was released (its sales were pulled a short while later), you’ll still need to wait. When the PC game will be going back up for sale is not clear.


Borderlands Getting Xbox One Backwards Compatibility – Good news, Borderlands fans. The original role-playing shooter will work on Xbox One when Microsoft releases its backwards compatibility update in November. Even better — if you’re a member of the Xbox One Preview program, you can try it out now. This means that if you own Borderlands for Xbox 360, you’ll be able to play it on your Xbox One — and you can carry over your previously saved files, game add-ons, and achievements.


Comcast’s adding new features for football fans – Comcast is catering to the wants of its subscribers, at least the subscribers who enjoy football season. On Thursday, the service provider announced that it is making its X1 Sports mobile app “the ultimate football companion” for football season — for both the NCAA and NFL seasons. Comcast says it’ll be bringing users more football content than before, including everything from visualizations that make it easy to catch up on what has already gone down to real-time stats on games.


World premiere of Steve Jobs movie gets rave reviews – Though opinions tend to vary quite drastically on Steve Jobs the man, it seems that everyone’s in agreement about Steve Jobs the movie, which has garnered a rapturous response from critics out of its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival this past weekend. Currently rocking a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are unanimous in their praise for Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of the visionary behind Apple, with David Ehrlich of Time Out calling his performance “miraculous”, while Gregory Ellwood of HitFix states that though Fassbender “doesn’t look or sound very much like Jobs”, his “impressive performance” still prompts “sympathy for an obviously stubborn egomaniac.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Injected electronics: The next wave of wearable tech? – Forget Google Glass and that Fitbit you used to wear; the ultimate in wearable computing isn’t worn on your body, but embedded within it. With chips physically inserted into your body either attached to nerves or placed into muscles or skin, a new form of synergy between human and computer can occur. The medical uses are potentially huge. “The technology could be used to help recover tissues following a brain injury or help manage diabetes by providing an intelligent solution for controlling insulin levels,” says Collette Johnson, Medical Business Development Manager at Plextek Consulting. “Injectable electronics could also provide similar applications in chemical regulation of the brain for people with imbalances, as well as for individuals with growth hormone-related diseases. They could also be used to help control prosthetics by reacting to muscle motion.”


Federal bust of long-running escort site leads to protests – isn’t the first website to be shut down for allegedly promoting an illegal business. But federal prosecutors may not have expected the backlash stemming from last week’s bust of the 19-year-old gay escorting site. Anger over the bust began with blog posts and Twitter diatribes, and yesterday it spilled onto the streets. A group of several dozen people marched in a small but well-organized protest in front of the US District Court in Brooklyn, home to the prosecutors who took down the site last week.

These Playing Cards Can Take A Bullet – If you ever wondered what you’d do if someone pulled a gun on you as you were playing poker, wonder no more. A group called “Sly Kly” are seeing pickup on its playing cards that are made out of Kevlar or carbon fiber…your choice. These materials, as you probably know, can take a bullet. I’m not the only person who feels like I need this added protection, as they’ve already raised $40,371 as of writing (way past their $25,000 goal). I’ve never shot a deck of regular playing cars, since I don’t really like guns and most certainly don’t have a gun, but I imagine that it’d put a hole right through every card. These Kevlar ones? Not so much. Have a watch as their deflection of bullets is put on display:

Vicious drone attack by sneaky chimp no accident say researchers – A chimp by the name of Tushi took down a drone in a report released this week by the journal Primates. This event took place this April but footage was just released today, complete with drone movement, pre-emptive chimpanzee strike action, and a 1.8-meter long stick. This attack was described as deliberate and planned. This shows more evidence that primates are able to think ahead and be creative in their toolmaking, so said scientists to the surprise of absolutely no-one.


Israel Could Grow Into A Global Cannabis Startup Superpower – Israel is already a leading global player in clinical testing and Israeli growers have been leveraging those clinical trials to produce new strains for decades. These growers have developed unique grow-how to deliver a medical grade product. “Israeli growers have agreements with companies in USA, Canada, Czech Republic and Australia. Israel has the oldest and largest regulated medical cannabis programs in the world with over 22,000 registered patients. The Hebrew University holds a rich IP bank of cannabis patents. It is easier to conduct cannabis research and clinical studies in Israel than in any other country in the world,” said Saul Kaye, the founder of iCan and CannaTech, a yearly cannabis innovation and investor summit in Israel. Governments and multinationals are currently flocking to Israel where clinical testing faces fewer hurdles.

Feeling sad could change how you see colours – A blue mood may be more than just a figure of speech. Your mood may also affect how you perceive the world around you, according to a new study. A team of researchers has demonstrated that sadness could have an effect on the way we see colour. The team, led by psychology researcher Christopher Thorstenson of the University of Rochester, found that people in whom they had induced a sad mood were less accurate in identifying colours on the blue-yellow axis, compared to people who weren’t feeling sad.

Facebook beats Google as the best place to work in the UK – Glassdoor, the jobs website, has published a list of the top 25 places to work in the UK. Facebook came top and Google bottom, but most of the companies are involved in IT, and not all of them are based in London….

Something to think about:

“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.”

–     Barack Obama


Windows Firewall Control – Managing Windows Firewall is now easier than ever – Windows Firewall Control is a powerful application which extends the functionality of the Windows Firewall and provides quick access to the most frequent options of Windows Firewall. It runs in the system tray and allows user to control the native firewall easily without having to waste time by navigating to the specific part of the firewall. This is the best tool to manage the native firewall from Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, Server 2008, Server 2012. Windows Firewall Control offers four filtering modes which can be switched with just a mouse click:

High Filtering – All outbound and inbound connections are blocked. This setting blocks all attempts to connect to and from your computer.

Medium Filtering – Outbound connections that do not match a rule are blocked. Only the programs that you allow can initiate outbound connections.

Low Filtering – Outbound connections that do not match a rule are allowed. The user can block the programs he doesn’t want to allow initiating outbound connections.

No Filtering – Windows Firewall is turned off. Avoid using this setting unless you have another firewall running on your computer.

Program Features:

√ Intuitive and easy accessible interface in the system tray, next to the system clock.

√ Full support with standard user accounts. Elevated privileges are required only at installation.

√ Disable the ability of other programs to add Windows Firewall rules.

√ Multiple and easier ways of creating new rules in Windows Firewall.

√ Integrated support of creating, modifying and deleting Window Firewall rules.

√ Lock feature which can disable the access to the settings of the program and Windows Firewall.

√ Shell integration into the right click context menu of the executable files.

√ Display invalid rules with the possibility to delete them very quickly.

√ Merge multiple similar rules or duplicate existing ones.

√ Search for executable files through folders and create new rules in seconds.

√ View recently allowed and blocked connections and create new rules from the Security log.

√ Choose if you want the program to start at user log on.

√ Import, export and restore all firewall rules or just the selected rules.

√ Protection to unauthorized uninstallation.

√ Possibility to restore previous settings at uninstallation.

√ Global hot keys are supported and various shortcut keys are available.

√ And many, many more. Just try it out.


Process Lasso – Tame CPU hungry processes and take control of your PC!

Process Lasso is NOT yet another task manager. It is real-time process optimization and automation software. Priority optimization, affinity optimization, core optimization, automated rules, automated power profiles; you name it, and Process Lasso does it!

ProBalance – Keep your PC responsive during high CPU loads!

Gaming Mode 2.0 with Bitsum Highest Performance power plan – new

IdleSaver – Run at maximum performance while active; conserve energy when idle

SmartTrim – The first-ever intelligent RAM optimizer – new

Real-time CPU affinity and process priority optimization!

Automate and control process settings and power plans

Light-weight native code with negligible resource use

Efficient stand-alone core engine that can run as a service

Unique system responsiveness metric to quantify your experience!

Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and Windows 10


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Mind-blowing secrets of NSA’s security exploit stockpile revealed at last: Incredible document has to be seen to be believed – The NSA has revealed for the first time in public how it handles and reports critical unpatched security flaws its snoopers discover in software.

It is generally accepted the US taxpayer-funded spy agency has a private stash of exploitable programming blunders that it uses to infect and monitor its intelligence targets’ computers and phones.

Alerting app makers and IT giants to these holes, and getting them patched, could cost Uncle Sam some valuable information. It’s possible the agency tips off companies about the vulnerabilities once they’ve been successfully used against a target. The tech security world has been pressing to get some insight into the US government’s zero-day policy.

On Friday, we found out thanks to a successful Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Human Rights Groups Lambast Twitter For Banning Service That Tracked Politicians’ Deleted Tweets – Seventeen international human rights and transparency groups, including the Sunlight Foundation, EFF, Free Press, Open State Foundation, Human Rights Watch and others, are taking Twitter to task for its decision to ban the Politwoops tool last month, which was used to track politicians’ deleted tweets. Twitter had earlier banned the U.S. version of this tweet-tracking service in May, saying it was in violation of Twitter’s developer agreement. At the time, Twitter also noted that every user on its service should have the same rights to privacy.

But the organizations argue that what politicians say is a matter of public record, and therefore, they shouldn’t have the same expectations of privacy when using social media as ordinary citizens do.

Politwoops, for those unfamiliar, was a tool developed by Dutch organization, the Open State Foundation, over three years ago. The code was used to track politicians’ and diplomats’ remarks on Twitter – and their subsequent removal – in 30 countries around the world. In the U.S., a government transparency group called the Sunlight Foundation used that same code to create a U.S. version of the service.

Twitter shut down the U.S. Politwoops account in May, but dozens of other international accounts continued to operate until this August.

America’s crackdown on open-source Wi-Fi router firmware – THE TRUTH – In a proposed update [PDF] to the regulator’s rules over radiofrequency equipment, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would oblige manufacturers to “specify which parties will be authorized to make software changes.”

In addition, it proposes that “modifications by third parties should not be permitted unless the third party receives its own certification.”

While the intent is to make the FCC’s certification of the next generation of wireless equipment faster and more flexible, open source advocates were quick to notice that the rules would effectively force manufacturers to lock down their equipment and so remove the ability to modify software without formal approval from the US government. Such an approach goes directly against the open source ethos.


French ISPs petition court to overturn secret foreign surveillance decree – Two French ISPs have asked France’s highest court to make public a secret government decree defining how French security services can monitor the Internet.

France’s foreign intelligence service, the Directorate General of Exterior Surveillance (DGSE) operates under rules set in a secret government decree in 2008. The existence of the decree was revealed by the magazine l’Obs in July this year.

The decree’s existence has not been denied by the government. While its content remains secret, it is known that it authorizes the DGSE to tap Internet communications entering or leaving French territory on a massive scale.

On Thursday, ISPs FDN and FFDN, along with online rights group La Quadrature du Net, revealed that they had filed two suits with the Council of State, seeking a summary judgment and suspension of the unpublished decree. The Council of State is, among other functions, France’s highest court for matters involving the administration.


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