Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 17, 2015

The Best Antivirus for 2015;  25 browser add-ons for an easier, hassle-free web experience;  How to disable the Adobe Flash browser plug-in;  6 gotta-know sound settings for Android and iOS;  Facebook tests buy button on Pages;  Microsoft releases new license terms for Windows 10;  Twitter Unveils New Dashboard;  Get Your Prescription Meds Delivered On-Demand;  New iPod Touch offers a cheap entry-level iOS device;  Stop others from copying, printing shared Google Drive files;  Oracle fixes zero-day Java flaw and over 190 other vulnerabilities;  LogDog Is A Mobile App That Helps Protect Your Online Accounts From Being Hacked;  Netflix Hits Record High — Again;  Intel profit falls as PC slump continues;  Angry Birds 2 is coming on July 30th;  Alternative is the question, Linux is the answer;  10 Mobile Games to Keep Your Mind Sharp;  Buy a PS4 or Xbox One, Get $100 Gift Card;  A gamer’s guide to online security.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Antivirus for 2015 – When your computer seems sluggish, do you blame your antivirus? That was famously the case in the past, but these days installing antivirus protection can effectively speed up your computer. That’s because the best antivirus products do their job more efficiently than the antivirus built into Windows. Which one is best for you? We’ll help you decide.

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How to disable the Adobe Flash browser plug-in – If you really want to keep using Flash, update it immediately. But it might be a better idea to go into your desktop browser settings and shut down this media streaming tool, at least for now. Devices using Google’s Android operating system do not have Flash pre-installed, and of course Apple has long banned Flash from iOS devices, so you only need to tweak your Windows and Mac browsers. Not sure if Flash is installed? Go to Adobe’s Flash Player page and click the Check Now button.

25 browser add-ons for an easier, hassle-free web experience – Using your PC for desktop software like Microsoft Office and Photoshop is nice, but the cold, hard fact is that most of the time our PCs are just glorified browser launchers. So much of what goes on in our lives these days lives on the web, whether it’s our social networks, email, financial dealings, or simply catching up on the day’s news. That’s why it pays to trick out your browser with extensions that make it easier to live online. Here’s a look at 25 browser add-ons and extensions that will make your browsing experience smoother, easier, and far less problematic.

6 gotta-know sound settings for Android and iOS – Clicking the volume rocker isn’t the only way to control the sound on your Android phone or iPhone. You can make key taps “click,” assign different ringtones to your favorite contacts, tweak your equalizer levels, and more.

Microsoft releases new license terms for Windows 10: Biggest surprise? No gotchas – Microsoft has consistently said that its new “Windows as a service” model doesn’t change the basic licensing terms for Windows. Based on these documents, that’s still true. In fact, the new license agreement is simpler and written more clearly than any similar document I’ve reviewed in 20 years of examining Windows license agreements. There are a few noteworthy changes, which I’ll outline in this post, but every one of those changes has previously been disclosed. Like I said: No surprises.

New iPod Touch offers a cheap entry-level iOS device for the enterprise – While many might consider Apple’s iPod Touch to be a kid’s toy, the inexpensive, Wi-Fi-only device with no cellular data capabilities could be the perfect product for businesses looking to roll out custom iPhone apps to their employees. With the cheapest iPhones costing around $500, the ability to pick up an iPod Touch (starting at $200 for a 16 GB model) makes for some interesting possibilities. Here are the details on the new model.

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Image: Apple

Twitter Unveils New Dashboard To Help Users Monitor Their Data – Twitter just released a new dashboard to help users keep an eye out on how their data is being accessed by third-party apps and other services. The dashboard, available in settings, allows users to review their log-in history and see devices that they are currently connected on. Users are also able to see the activity of apps that they have allowed access to their account.

Facebook tests buy button on Pages to help small businesses sell you stuff – If it seems like every social network wants you to buy more stuff, well, you’re not completely off-base. Now those efforts are moving beyond ads into actual buy buttons, with Pinterest and Twitter piloting efforts to let you buy items straight from your main feed. Facebook is putting its own spin on the shoppable social network by turning Facebook Pages into their own storefronts.

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Facebook is already using buy buttons in your News Feed, but its new initiative is a little different.

Stop others from copying, printing shared Google Drive files – Google Drive allows you to easily share documents, spreadsheets or media files with friends or coworkers. However, the list of options for how you share something has always been a bit too brief, only including the abilities to view or edit. Now there’s two new options for locking down your files, and here’s how to use them:

10 new keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10 – A couple of Windows 10’s new features, such as Snap Assist (OK, not really new, but improved) and virtual desktops are useful — and even more useful when you use them with keyboard shortcuts. Here are 10 keyboard shortcuts you’ll need to learn if you want to be able to navigate Windows 10 with ease:

Seven must-read Windows 10 deployment tips for net admins – System requirements, driver compatibility, and update branches are just some of the factors to consider prior to a Windows 10 deploy.

Get Your Prescription Meds Delivered On-Demand With Zipdrug – Just launched in NYC, Zipdrug is a on-demand prescription drug delivery service that will bring you your meds with the tap of a button. The first time users boot up the app they are prompted to enter the pharmacy where their prescription has been sent by their doctor, as well as payment and insurance information. The company then dispatches messengers to pick up your medicine, all of which have been through a background check, drug screening, and a HIPAA awareness course. All pharmacy payments are handled by Zipdrugs, so your card is just charged the cost of the medications after insurance deductions, plus a $10 delivery fee.

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Alternative is the question, Linux is the answer – Jack Wallen has seen a huge rise in the amount of a single question coming into his inbox. Those asking the question will surprise you… the answer will not.

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Workplace social and email disruption costs US companies $300 billion – Sapience has created a “Big Brother” like technology to monitor, help and show employees how to use their time more effectively in the workplace.

Reddit’s new content policy: bullies and more prohibited – Reddit promised that changes were coming, and now those changes are here. In a post today, the site’s back-again CEO Steve Huffman detailed some additional content restrictions the company is considering, and though they aren’t too restrictive they will spell the end to a variety of subreddits — some obscure, others well-known. Talking about illegal activities, for example, is still okay but posting illegal things is not. Bullying subreddits, too, are on the chopping block.

Security:

Windows 10 updates to be automatic and mandatory for Home users – Windows Update can’t be readily disabled in Windows 10 Home, and the license terms that all users must agree to allow Microsoft to install updates automatically. The Insider Preview releases of Windows 10 didn’t include any way to prevent Windows Update from downloading and installing updates, but it wasn’t clear if this was just some quirk of the previews, or the long-term plan; Microsoft’s previews often have special rules for things like providing automated feedback and hooking up online services, and so this could have been part of that. While inevitably someone will figure out how to disable Windows Update and block the updates, for the most part this change means that home users of Windows 10 are always going to be running both the most secure version, and the version with the most features.

Dozens of phone apps with 300M downloads vulnerable to password cracking – Smartphone apps from Walmart, CNN, ESPN, and dozens of other organizations put user accounts at risk of compromise because they allow attackers to make an unlimited number of login attempts, according to recently published research. Until last September, Apple’s iCloud service failed to limit the number of login attempts to that service, a shortcoming that may have contributed to last year’s mass celebrity hack and nude photo thefts.

Chrome Will Soon Show More “Safe Browsing” Malware Warnings Than Ever Before – Depending on your surfing habits, chances are you’ve come across a warning in Chrome that tells you that it’s probably safer not to proceed to whatever site you wanted to look at. That’s Google’s Safe Browsing technology at work, and over the next few weeks, the company plans to roll out a number of improvements to this service. This means you’ll see more Safe Browsing warnings than ever before, simply because Google has become better at finding sites that harbor malware, unwanted software and phishing attacks.

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LogDog Is A Mobile App That Helps Protect Your Online Accounts From Being Hacked – By some estimates as many as 1 in 4 people claim to have had one of their online accounts hacked, something that Israeli startup LogDog is on a mission to help stop. It offers a mobile app (currently Android, with iOS to follow soon) that promises to monitor an array of online accounts for suspicious login or attempted login activity. It does this, in part, by building a profile of your usual log in parameters, such as sign-in locations, times, and device types, and then alerts you of any suspicious activity. It’s then up to you whether or not to change the password for that particular account, ignore the attempt or, in the case of a false-positive, tell LogDog that it was in fact you.

Oracle fixes zero-day Java flaw and over 190 other vulnerabilities – Go ahead and update Java — or disable it if you don’t remember the last time you actually used it on the Web. Oracle’s latest patch, released Tuesday, fixes 25 vulnerabilities in the aging platform, including one that’s already being exploited in attacks. In addition to Java, Oracle also updated a wide range of other products, fixing a total of 193 vulnerabilities, 44 stemming from third-party components.

Verizon launches managed security service – Verizon’s enterprise unit said it has launched a managed security service aimed at businesses of all sizes. Today, the service is delivered via an appliance with a cloud offering on deck.

Company News:

YouTube and mobile ads drove strong revenue growth for Google last quarter – Google just released its financials for Q2 2015, the first such release the company is making under the guidance of new CFO Ruth Porat. The company made revenues of $17.7 billion, an 11 percent year-over-year increase. While Google’s still growing, things have slowed a bit since last year, though — in Q2 2014, the company increased revenue 22 percent over the previous year. As usual, advertising is what is making Google money; total advertising revenue of $16 billion was also up 11 percent over the prior year, but Google’s small “other revenues” category grew 17 percent over Q2 2014.

Netflix Hits Record High — Again – After reporting strong subscription growth and better-than-expected second-quarter profit, Netflix went on a tear today, spiking around 18 percent in regular trading. The company is also up after hours. It’s been a very busy week for Netflix, which managed an earlier record high ahead of its stock split and earnings. Off the back of that, Netflix cut its shares into sevenths, lowering its price to the roughly $100 mark. Then it rocked the earnings report and took flight. Netflix ended the day worth $49.51 billion, or roughly as much as Uber.

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Intel profit falls as PC slump continues – Intel’s revenue and profit both dropped last quarter as people held off on buying new PCs ahead of the Windows 10 launch later this year. Revenue from Intel’s Client Computing Group, which sells processors for desktops, laptops and smartphones, fell 14 percent from this time last year to $7.5 billion, the chip maker said Wednesday. Its Data Center Group, which makes the Xeon server processors, performed better, but not well enough to offset the ongoing slump in the PC industry. Intel’s total revenue for the quarter ended June 27 was $13.2 billion, down 5 percent from a year earlier. Net income was $2.7 billion, down 3 percent.

Huawei granted approval to make handsets in India: Report – Huawei Technologies has recently been granted a key approval from the Indian government that paves way for the Chinese telecom giant to make handsets in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for phones.

Huawei injects AU$30m into Sydney training centre – Huawei will be opening a training and development centre in Sydney to educate staff, customers, and students on its latest technologies.

Toshiba overstated profits, CEO and board members might have to resign – A Reuters report claims that Toshiba overstated profits for the past six years to the tune of 170 billion yen – or $1.37 billion. A third party probe into the accounts of the multinational have revealed these and more write-downs over the past six years and will result in as much as $2.4-3.2 billion in fines. The government is also investigating whether top officials were involved and is expected to publicize its findings in the next week. If proven guilty, as many as half the members of the board, including Vice President Norio Sasaki, may be sacked. Regardless of the decision, CEO Hisao Tanaka will likely be forced to step down in the wake of the scandal.

Jolla signs up India’s Intex as first Sailfish OS licensee – Jolla, the Finnish developer of an Android alternative, has signed Indian smartphone vendor Intex Technologies as the first licensee for its Sailfish OS. The company also announced Thursday at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai that its new Sailfish OS 2.0 is now available for licensing with a scalable 4G LTE reference platform. Jolla is talking to a number of potential partners but the first licensee so far is Intex, which will aim to make an affordable phone at a price around rupees 10,000 (US$158), company spokesman Juhani Lassila said Thursday.

BitTorrent teams with Onehub for ‘hybrid’ enterprise file-sharing service – BitTorrent has long billed its Sync file-sharing service as a peer-to-peer alternative to cloud storage, but on Wednesday the company announced it’s working with Onehub on a new, combined offering for large businesses. Onehub Sync integrates BitTorrent Sync into Onehub’s online file-storage service through what the two companies call a hybrid, peer-to-peer+one approach. The result combines the benefits of syncing directly between peers with using Onehub as a “persistent peer” that’s always available in the cloud.

European Commission opens antitrust investigations against Qualcomm—again – The European Commission has opened two formal antitrust investigations against the US company Qualcomm concerning possible “abusive behaviour” in the field of baseband chipsets used in consumer electronic devices. The first investigation will examine whether the company abused its dominant market position by offering financial incentives to customers on the condition that they buy baseband chipsets exclusively, or almost exclusively, from Qualcomm. The second will explore whether it used “predatory pricing”—that is, charged prices below costs in order to drive competitors from the market.

Games and Entertainment:

A gamer’s guide to online security – Trend Micro has a handy security checklist for gamers, including tips that are useful for any online account, like not sharing your passwords and not giving account info to phishers. But here are four especially important security tips for gamers: protecting your primary email address, signing up for two-factor authentication, guarding your credit card info, and avoiding links to fake websites.

10 Mobile Games to Keep Your Mind Sharp – If you’re going to be staring at your screen, why not do something that could maybe make you smarter? You don’t learn anything from Flappy Bird except new ways to combine profanity. Numerous researchers have been exploring the possibility of using “gamification” to make learning and training easier, and the fruits of their labors are all over the App Store. Check out the slideshow for 10 games that will get that old gray matter pumping and amp up your mental abilities.

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Eidetic – Eidetic is a fascinating app that uses some interesting mental principles to help you remember anything. Using “spaced repetition,” the app asks you to select a piece of information that you want to store, then interrupts you at irregular intervals to quiz you on it.

Angry Birds 2 is coming on July 30th – Finnish game developer Rovio has just announced that there’s an Angry Birds 2 in the works, and that it’s coming very soon: the game is set to launch on July 30th for unspecified mobile devices. Aside from the date, though, we don’t have very much information on the game. Rovio says that it will be “the mother of all sequels,” but there are no gameplay details, screenshots, or teaser trailers to get excited about. The one piece of promotional art shows a familiar cast of birds.

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‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ for PC Borked Until September – If you were expecting a two-day patch, or even a two-week patch, then you’re going to be disappointed. Unlike some other botched PC game releases—here’s looking at you, Mortal Kombat X—fixing up the disastrous launch of Arkham Knight looks like it might be a multi-month affair. The game debuted on June 23 and, according to some leaked documents obtained by Kotaku, it’s possible that the game won’t be fixed on the PC until September at the earliest.

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HBO Now moves beyond Apple, arrives on Android and Amazon devices – Three months ago, HBO made its programming available to consumers without a cable subscription, selling a streaming service called HBO Now on Apple devices. Today the exclusivity with Apple expired, rolling out to anyone with an Android phone or tablet or an Amazon Fire tablet. The price remains the same, at $14.99 a month, and HBO says users should expect it to soon be available across all the devices you can use for HBO Go, including Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV.

Goat Simulator arrives on PlayStation next month – Coffee Stain Studios has announced that its Goat Simulator, the fun game where people play as goats, will be arriving on Sony’s gaming consoles soon. Mark South of developer Double Eleven made the announcement today, saying that after collaborating with the studio the game will be launching for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 on August 11. The PlayStation versions of Goat Similar are going to be special, however, including a bit of extra fun that other versions haven’t had.

Showtime streaming explained: What you get, and how you can get it – Following the footsteps of rival HBO, Showtime now offers a standalone service with no pay-TV subscription required. Here’s what you need to know.

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Buy a PS4 or Xbox One, Get $100 Gift Card – For just $399.99, you can grab a PS4 with a copy of The Last of Us Remastered. And once you receive your $100 gift card, you can use it to get Batman: Arkham Knight and inFamous: Second Son at no additional cost. Prefer Microsoft’s platform? Right now, you can get an Xbox One with a copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection for $349.99. With your included gift card, you can also nab The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Sunset Overdrive to boot.

Gears of War 3 now free on Xbox Live – Now that it’s July 16, new Xbox One and Xbox 360 games are available for free on Xbox Live as part of Microsoft’s Games With Gold promotion. Xbox One owners can pick up the puzzle-platformer So Many Me (normally $15), while Xbox 360 users can download a free copy of Epic Games’ 2011 sci-fi shooter Gears of War 3 (normally $20). An Xbox Live Gold subscription is required to get the free games.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cop stops woman for allegedly using cell phone, ends up saving her life – Technically Incorrect: A cop believes a driver is talking on her phone. When he pulls her over, she’s clutching her throat because she’s choking on food.

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State of the art: $20,000, 1 megapixel. This is what digital cameras were like in 1995 – Flash back to 20 years ago, when photography was just entering the digital realm. This episode of CNET Central from the summer of 1995 features the “B-2 Stealth Bomber” of digital cameras, a Fuji X/Nikon hybrid. Roughly the size of a volleyball, this camera packed 1.3 megapixels and a removable 131 MB card capable of storing 70 images, all for $20,000 or (equivalent to $31,000 in 2015).

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Ancestry.com Welcomes AncestryHealth To The Family – Ancestry.com launched in the early 80’s and went public in 2009. It is now the largest genealogical database in the world, holding more than 16 billion family history records from all over the world and more than 70 million user created family trees. The company saw an opportunity in consumer genetic testing similar to 23andMe three years ago and launched AncestryDNA as a subsidiary of Ancestry.com. Ancestry’s patented algorithm began matching users to relatives as well as DNA matches to ancestors as far back as the 1700’s. The company is now taking those family connections a step further with the introduction of generational health information.

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Lack of sleep makes it harder to read people’s faces – Did you ever have one of those days at work when you thought everyone was out to get you? It may have had nothing to do with the weak coffee from the break room or your delusional mind. Your brain just probably needed a nap. A new study out of the University of California at Berkeley suggests that sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to recognize facial cues that indicate another person’s emotions and reactions, researchers said in a statement this week. A paper about their study was published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Having trouble reading these faces? Then get some sleep!

Gert Germeraad/Wikimedia

Something to think about:

If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable. - Louis D. Brandeis

Today’s Free Downloads:

BCUninstaller – BCUninstaller (or “Bulk Crap Uninstaller”) is a free program uninstaller. It is focused on removing large amounts of applications at once, in a small amount of time.

Uninstall any number of programs at once

Quiet (unattended) uninstall of many programs

Intelligent ordering of uninstallers in large tasks

Detection and clean up of leftovers after uninstalling applications

Uninstall lists (automatically select uninstallers from the list, can be edited in a text editor)

Advanced grouping and sorting

Filtering and searching

Editing tools and visibility of protected and invalid entries

Fully portable, requires Net 3.5 which is installed on all Windows 7 machines

Automatic error reporting and updating

And many more time-saving features…

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Ginger – Ginger Proofreader, the first product to be released based on the NLP platform, is a free spelling and grammar checker, intended for both speakers of English as their mother tongue, and English as a second language (ESL). Ginger Proofreader checks and corrects spelling mistakes, misused words, and corrects grammar mistakes, based on the context of the full sentence. Even when a word is spelled correctly, Ginger Proofreader checks grammar to see whether it makes sense in the sentence, and offers alternatives to the word.

Ginger Proofreader can also be used seamlessly by users writing documents, presentations, and emails, in MS-Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, IE, Firefox, and Chrome, enabling them to correct words in the sentence with a single click.

Features:

Ginger Proofreader is integrated with MS Office ® and with all major browsers

Contextual grammar and spell checking

Ginger Proofreader identifies and marks both spelling and grammar mistakes while considering their context

Corrects as you type or scans entire documents

Audacity – Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder. The interface is translated into many languages.

You can use Audacity to:

Record live audio.

Record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine.

Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.

Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files.

Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.

Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

And more!

multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Why government-mandated encryption backdoors are bad for US businesses – A group of 11 computer scientists and encryption experts breathed a little easier in January 2015 when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proposed the retirement of six Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), including FIPS-185. The 11 experts were instrumental in this standard’s demise.

More commonly known as the Clipper Chip, FIPS-185 is an encryption implementation created by the NSA that included a backdoor to allow electronic surveillance by law-enforcement agencies. Soon after FIPS-185 was announced in 1997, the 11 experts coauthored a report detailing the issues and lack of transparency with FIPS-185 (PDF). “The deployment of key-recovery-based encryption infrastructures to meet law enforcement’s stated specifications will result in substantial sacrifices in security and greatly increased costs to the end user.”

Abbott appoints new spy overseer – Former Federal Court Justice Margaret Stone will soon be responsible for overseeing Australia’s peak security intelligence agencies, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Thursday.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) oversees the work conducted by six spy agencies in Australia: The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO), Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), and Office of National Assessments (ONA).

While much of the work of these organisations — such as the metadata accessed by ASIO — remains a secret, IGIS is responsible for ensuring that these agencies are acting legally within government guidelines and with respect for human rights.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 15, 2015

10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 It’s free!  Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant;  The Best Free Software for 2015;  Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew;  When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first;  Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age;  The ultimate guide to Gmail backup;  Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app;  Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars;  3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service;  Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday;  Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days;  6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team;  SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices;  Skype for Android updated to v5.5;  Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents;  ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant – It’s no longer a surprise that the government is reading your emails. What you might not know is that it can readily read most of your email without a warrant. Any email or social networking message you’ve opened that’s more than six months old can also be accessed by every law enforcement official in government — without needing to get a warrant. That’s because a key provision in a law almost three decades’ old allows this kind of access with a mere subpoena, which doesn’t require a judge. That includes every email or message you opened last year, and earlier. (Anything under that six-month period still requires a warrant, however.)

10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 – Everybody can finally exhale a sigh of relief: Windows 8 is going away, and it’s once again safe to upgrade your PC’s version of Windows. Windows 10 is nearly here, and a major thrust of its design is to be more familiar to users of pre-8 versions of Windows. It’s a chance for everyone who missed out on all the performance and feature advances in Windows 8 and 8.1—and believe it or not there are plenty, many of which are included in this list—to get caught up. Not only that: It’s free!

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10. Xbox App

Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew – The Pew Research Center announced today that it had made a discovery: Facebook and Twitter are growing in influence, with more and more users using them as a source of news. This increase isn’t due to a growing user base for the sites, says the study, but rather that existing users are increasingly discovering news stories there. Pew found that 63 percent of users on both Facebook and Twitter said they used the sites to find out about news and current events. These findings are probably particularly heartening for both sites, both of which have been pushing for a greater focus on news lately. Twitter’s “Project Lightning” will focus on providing live coverage and breaking news to everyone, whether they have Twitter accounts or not, while Facebook launched Instant Articles this past May, allowing news organizations to publish directly on the site.

The Best Free Software for 2015 – Software can be expensive if you’re not smart about it. Free programs have been a mainstay of the desktop experience for decades, and the offerings only get more powerful and fascinating each year. As PCs compete with smartphones, it gets even better. Software developers can adopt an ad-based model, donation-ware to keep things afloat, or a shareware/freemium model that charges for extra features. This is our first big look at free desktop software you can download and install (as opposed to just free Web-based apps) since 2012. While a lot has stayed the same, there’s an odious new threat: crapware installers.

Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age – You can think of Witness as something like a private version of Twitter’s Periscope, for example, combined with a user safety application designed to quickly alert friends or family if you’re in trouble or are in an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation where you may need help. But the app also resonated with the Hackathon audience and judges because of its potential to document and record police brutality or other cases where civil disobedience was met with undue force – especially as the app had emerged at time when a number of high-profile incidents of clashes with police had brought attention to these issues.

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Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app – Users of the service discovered that the app continues to upload your images to Google Photos even after it’s been disabled or deleted. Shocked customers found that their photos had shown up online on Google+ and the search giant’s other services, even though they had deleted the app from their phone. Luckily the fix for the problem is simple: go to the phone’s settings and turn off photo backup from there. That’s because Google Photos apparently uses the system’s toggles and options instead of its own app’s. After that photos should stop uploading to the service though you’ll still need to delete the ones that are already in the cloud.

When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first – Wi-Fi problems could be caused by your computer or your router, or some interaction that’s gone awry. Here’s how to identify and fix the problem.

Skype for Android updated to v5.5: easier sign-ins and more – Today Microsoft pushed an update for its Skype for Android app to the Google Play Store, bringing it up to version 5.5 and adding in some features that will be handy for mobile users. The biggest among the changes is arguably an improvement to signing in from mobile, making it easier for those who insist on logging out to sign back in from their Android smartphone or tablet. The chatting feature will soon be updated, too, and will likewise be a little more convenient once it is.

Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars – Linux is everywhere. It’s on your servers and in your phones, cars, watches, toasters, refrigerators… and desktops. Although fewer users see Linux on their desktops than in their thermostats, even that is on the rise, partly due to the number of high-quality distributions. This new wave of Linux desktop distributions is bringing a confluence of user-friendliness, modern design, and stability to the open source platform. The only problem you might have is figuring out which of the more recent distributions are the true darlings of the moment. Never fear, intrepid readers: I have you covered with the five Linux desktop distributions I feel are the hottest commodities coming out of the open source world.

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Elementary OS Freya

Google Drive update adds disable feature to sharing – Google Drive has been updated with additional features that give users optional control over how shared content is used by the recipient. In particular, the update introduces an option that disables one’s ability to print, download, and copy content that has been shared with them by another Google Drive user. While many users likely won’t care either way, those with more sensitive content like businesses will be able to use Drive for sharing content while limiting the other person’s control over it.

3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service – The popular Chrome extension Streamus disappeared from the Chrome Web Store on Tuesday, July 14. Current users of the extension shouldn’t lose functionality, the extension’s developer Sean Anderson told me, as he intends to keep the Streamus database running. Even if Streamus does stop working, have no fear—there are a number of alternatives for getting your streaming fix on.

10 outstanding open source server tools – If you work with open source servers (such as the world’s most popular web server, Apache), you know a massive number of tools are available to you. They range from security to functionality to monitoring… to just about anything you can imagine. But if you were to compile a single list of tools to include on your open source server farm, what would that list look like? My own list tends to fluctuate on any given day. But almost always, certain tools stay on it. Here are the tools I rely on the most.

The ultimate guide to Gmail backup – Want to make sure you have a local or backup copy of all that mission-critical business and personal history in your Gmail archives? David Gewirtz takes you through an array of options.

You will be able to buy a Windows 10 PC on July 29 – With almost two weeks to go until Windows 10 launches, Microsoft has rectified its statement; which now states that customers will be able to buy pre-installed Windows 10 PCs on launch day after all.

Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – Are you over-using a few words in everything you write? Here are two tools to help check yourself.

Apple Pay opens its doors in the UK – Apple has finally opened the gates to its nascent mobile payment system in the UK, turning on the Apple Pay switch for more than 250,000 shops across the country as well as several transportation networks. But while the UK comes only in second after Apple’s US launch way back in October last year, this could prove to be a much bigger contactless market than the US. This is thanks to the UK having a substantial head start in preparing for contactless payments and setting up compatible terminals almost everywhere.

Security:

Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday – In Microsoft’s round of updates for July, the company has issued 14 bulletins fixing dozens of vulnerabilities in many Microsoft products, including Windows and Office. Three of the bulletins — specifically MS15-065 for Internet Explorer, MS15-070 for Microsoft Office, and MS15-077 for Windows — are being actively exploited by hackers, said HP’s Dustin Childs in a tweet. Here’s the rundown of the most critical flaws:

MS kills critical IE 11 bug after exploit was shopped to Hacking Team – Microsoft has killed at least two security bugs linked to the compromised malware developer Hacking Team, including a critical remote-code execution hole that worked against people using the latest version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and 8 machines. The IE vulnerability was discovered in an e-mail a security researcher sent to Hacking Team executives, according to a blog post published Tuesday by researchers from security firm Vectra Networks.

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Firefox blacklists Flash player due to unpatched 0-day vulnerabilities – There’s some drama going down in the Flash camp. Yesterday, because of two unpatched Hacking Team zero-day vulnerabilities, Mozilla blacklisted Adobe Flash Player 18.0.0.203, meaning Flash was disabled by default in Firefox. This morning, just a few moments ago, Adobe rushed out version 18.0.0.209, plugging the two vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, over at Facebook, the company’s new chief security officer called for Adobe to “announce an end-of-life date for Flash,” so that we can finally “disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem.” And if two Web giants weren’t enough, Google recently announced that the next stable version of Chrome would “intelligently” block auto-playing Flash elements.

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Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days – Adobe Systems has issued an emergency update for its Flash media player to patch two critical zero-day vulnerabilities that allow attackers to surreptitiously install malware on end-user computers. The two Flash vulnerabilities unearthed this past weekend are in addition to a third one found earlier in the Hacking Team dump, which Adobe patched last week, a few days after it was discovered. All three critical vulnerabilities were present in Flash versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. At least one of them was potent enough to pierce the vaunted Google Chrome security sandbox, most likely because it was combined with a separate privilege-escalation exploit for Windows.

How to disable the Adobe Flash browser plug-in – If you really want to keep using Flash, update it immediately. But it might be a better idea to go into your desktop browser settings and shut down this media streaming tool, at least for now. Devices using Google’s Android operating system do not have Flash pre-installed, and of course Apple has long banned Flash from iOS devices, so you only need to tweak your Windows and Mac browsers. Not sure if Flash is installed? Go to Adobe’s Flash Player page and click the Check Now button.

It’s time to kill Flash, says Facebook’s new security chief – In tweets posted over the weekend, Alex Stamos, who joined the social networking giant from Yahoo last week, said the popular web plugin used for videos and games had to go. “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day,” he said in one tweet. He followed up in another tweet, adding: “Even if 18 months from now, one set date is the only way to disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem at once.” Stamos isn’t the first person to call for the plugin’s end-of-life, nor will he be the last.

Hacking Team spyware rootkit: Even a new HARD DRIVE wouldn’t get rid of it – Hacking Team RCS spyware came pre-loaded with an UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS rootkit to hide itself on infected systems, it has emerged following the recent hacking of the controversial surveillance firm. The stealth infection tactic, which has been revealed through leaked emails arising from last week’s hack, meant that the Remote Control System (RCS) agent stayed on compromised machines even if users formatted their drives – or even swapped disks. Although designed primarily for the Insyde BIOS (a popular laptop BIOS) it might also work on AMI BIOS as well, according to security firm Trend Micro.

Company News:

Fake Bloomberg news story causes Twitter shares to spike – Twitter’s stock spiked in midday trading Tuesday after a fake Bloomberg news report said the company had received an offer to be acquired for US$31 billion. The story appeared convincing, with a Bloomberg Business logo, but Bloomberg quickly tweeted that it was fake. There were some telltale signs it wasn’t authentic: the URL was businessweek.market rather than businessweek.com, and CEO Dick Costolo’s name was misspelled. That didn’t stop Twitter investors from reacting. The company’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange spiked briefly just before noon Eastern Time, surging about 10 percent from Monday’s close to more than $38 before settling back down as news spread that the report was fake.

Facebook wants to create its own virtual assistant called Moneypenny – It looks like Cortana, Google Now, Siri and Echo might soon have company, as Facebook is reportedly testing out its own virtual assistant, internally called Moneypenny. According to a report from The Information, which cites unnamed sources, Facebook is positioning Moneypenny as a helping tool that lives inside of its popular Messenger platform. From there, users would be able to use the feature to do research and shopping. It will also, apparently, allow you to ask real people for help with those tasks. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of what’s currently known about the service.

Google Eddystone open-source Bluetooth beacons revealed – Google has launched Eddystone, a new open-source Bluetooth LE beacon platform which plays nicely with iOS, Android, and other OSes. Aiming to power a new age of location-based services, as well as give those responsible for managing a flock of Bluetooth beacons the tools to make sure they’re working properly, Eddystone arrives with two main features: telling mobile devices exactly where they are and what’s nearby, and linking a physical location with online data.

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Verizon Signs Up VICE To Deliver Original Content For Its Upcoming Mobile Video Service – Verizon announced this morning that it will be adding Vice Media to the list of partners that provide content for the telco’s forthcoming over-the-top video service due out later this year. As a part of the multi-year agreement between the two companies, Vice will produce original domestic and international programming that’s exclusive to Verizon.

reddit loses another prominent female employee as chief engineer quits – On Monday night, reddit’s chief engineer, Bethanye Blount, resigned from her position after less than two months on the job. Blount said she decided to quit because she had lost confidence in the direction of the company.

BlackBerry names former Cisco exec head of sales – BlackBerry said Monday that it has hired Carl Wiese, a former Cisco executive, as its sales lead. Wiese will be in charge of BlackBerry’s sales strategy and bolstering growth. At Cisco, Wiese most recently led the company’s collaboration unit. BlackBerry’s move comes as it tries to transition to a business model that revolves around software. While hardware accounts for the bulk of the company’s revenue, BlackBerry plan is to grow its enterprise mobility business.

Games and Entertainment:

Electronic Arts, Comcast team up to bring game streaming to TVs – How much bigger can the video game industry get? That’s a question at the heart of a new partnership between game maker Electronic Arts and cable giant Comcast. The pair announced on Tuesday a “beta” test period for a new project that enables cable customers to play games through their set-top boxes using smartphones or tablets as controllers. Customers who have an Xfinity X1 set-top box from Comcast can begin playing games by selecting an app called Xfinity Games. Once there, they surf to a website on their mobile device, enter a code, and then select and control video games by swiping and tapping on their device screen while images are displayed on the television set.

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SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices – SanDisk today announced the newest addition to its wireless storage line – the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick. The Connect Wireless Stick ranges in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and in price from $30 to $100. The Connect Wireless Stick is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android devices, Windows PCs and Apple computers. It works with iOS version 8.0 or higher, Android 4.2 or higher, Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS 10.6 or higher, and via web browser for other Wi-Fi enabled devices, according to SanDisk.

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SanDisk – The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

TiVo Devices Now Support AirPlay For Streaming Recordings To Apple TV – The new feature is a nice addition for TiVo customers, some of whom complained in the past about the lack of AirPlay functionality – especially given the fact that TiVo has for a long time supported streaming directly to iOS devices via its Roamio DVRs. While obviously, TiVo users could already easily watch their recorded shows and movies on the TV connected to their TiVo DVR, support for AirPlay to Apple TV means users now have the option to streaming their content to other TVs around the home which aren’t hooked up to the DVR.

Apple looking into video and TV streaming, with several deals already underway – It seems that Apple is not satisfied with just streaming music and reports are coming in that deals with several TV networks are already underway, with a launch expected around fall.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team – “We’re here to help” was the basic message of Hacking Team. The Italian security company markets its software to law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide, but has long maintained that it did not sell it to repressive regimes that could use the information to persecute their citizens. Not everyone believed them, including Human Rights Watch and WikiLeaks. After a recent hack, the latter released thousands of emails and other documents that revealed Hacking Team’s dealings with unsavory governments. The documents are rather revealing, but data about these five countries were particularly enlightening. Click through the slideshow for more.

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Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency (INSA) monitors and filters websites in the country. “Internet filtering practices in Ethiopia do not appear to be regulated by law, nor subject to any kind of safeguard against improper or disproportionate censorship,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Land Rover software bug causes doors to open on their own  – You’re driving along and all is well until you turn and your door swings open — a door you’re sure was firmly shut when you got in the car. Such is a potential problem some Range Rover owners are facing due to a software bug that may cause the doors unlatch on their own. A door opening without warning could distract the driver and cause a wreck, could result in property damage, or could on the extreme end of things cause a passenger who isn’t wearing a seat belt to fall out of the vehicle.

Stop Trying To Make Sense Out Of The Reddit Saga – Why does reddit exist? How does reddit exist? Who are all of these people who participate? Who knows? They’re anonymous. How does something like reddit attract $50 million in funding? I have no idea, and a lot of the people I’ve been speaking to in tech circles over the past week don’t know, either.

Wi-Fi Aware Aims To Connect All Your Devices Instantly – The new technology, called Wi-Fi Aware, is being released by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit trade organization that includes Apple, Microsoft, Intel and hundreds of other tech powerhouses as members. Aware allows Wi-Fi-enabled products to discover and communicate directly with nearby devices, applications or information, without relying on cellular data or an Internet connection. Think of it as a sort of the same thing iBeacons were supposed to do but have yet to provide. Essentially, once you’ve installed an application that leverages Aware, your device will continuously broadcast and receive broadcasts from devices in your vicinity. Users can opt in to let applications both publish availability and subscribe to receive information and connection requests.

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UK pilots warn putting devices with lithium batteries in hold baggage is ‘aircraft fire risk’ – The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the professional association and trade union of UK pilots, has called on airlines to require air travellers to carry devices that run on lithium-based batteries with them in the passenger cabin. The union is issuing this call in order to address what it considers a significant potential safety risk. Lithium batteries used in devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and cameras are highly flammable. When they’re damaged, they can become especially volatile – as BALPA explains, “when they short circuit, [they] have a tendency to burst into high intensity fires, which are difficult to extinguish.”

ProxyHam anonymity project bizarrely destroyed sans explanation – Staying private on the Internet has become a big concern for many and a problem for certain government agencies. The Edward Snowden leaks revealed a trove of data on government spying, and since then companies have moved to further encrypt data and many devices have cropped up promising high security. ProxyHam is one of those devices. The maker described the device as a hardware proxy that could be planted somewhere like your local cafe; it would use radio connections to transmit the signal up to 2.5 miles away, leaving the Internet user safely hidden. Now the project has been cancelled under bizarre circumstances.

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A new look at the people erasing themselves from Google Search – With the “right to be forgotten” now firmly established in European law, hundreds of millions of people can now ask to be delisted by Google, effectively erasing themselves from Google Search. A new report from The Guardian digs into who has been using the new feature, using information accidentally revealed in the source code of Google’s recent transparency report. The new data covers the 218,320 requests that were made between May 2014 and March 2015, roughly three-quarters of the total requests, slightly less than half of which (101,461) resulted in a successful delisting. The data has also been published on GitHub, and is open for deeper analysis.

Something to think about:

“Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck”.

–       Thomas Jefferson

Today’s Free Downloads:

NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.

Features:

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.

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.

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ISO Burner – ISO Burner 2 is a simple ISO creator with bootable image support that is quick and easy to use.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection  – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked one of the nation’s top appellate courts to order the National Security Agency to stop its bulk records collection, which resumed in limited form last month as part of the USA Freedom Act.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled in ACLU v. Clapper in May 2015 that the dragnet data collection went beyond the scope of what was authorized by Congress.

“This dragnet surveillance program should never have been launched, and it should certainly be terminated now,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a Tuesday statement. “Not even the government contends anymore that the program has been effective, and the Second Circuit has already concluded that the program is illegal. It’s a needless and unlawful intrusion into the privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans.”

Why was Oscar-winning Snowden documentarian detained 50+ times in US airports? – Laura Poitras gained notoriety as the documentary filmmaker behind the 2014 Oscar-winning movie Citizenfour, a film about the time she and Glenn Greenwald spent with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

What’s less known about Poitras is that from 2006 until 2012, she was stopped at the US border every single time she entered the country. In all, she was stopped on more than 50 occasions. Poitras, who is a US citizen, never got a satisfactory explanation as to why the detentions took place.

Frustrated after years of stonewalling, today Poitras said she’s working with lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation to get answers. The group is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice and two other agencies.

Poitras said she’s filing the suit to support less high-profile people who were subject to the same years of “Kafkaesque harassment” that she was.

“This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy,” she said. “We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”

Another U.K. Surveillance Review Calls For Judicial Sign-Off For Intercepts – Another independent report into U.K. government surveillance has concluded interception warrants should require judicial sign-off, rather than being sanctioned by ministers as is the case now.

This follows the publication of the Anderson surveillance review last month which also urged the government to adopt judicial sign-off. The U.K. is alone among the so-called Five Eyes intelligence alliance powers in not having a judicial process for signing off interception warrants.

Late last month Home Secretary Theresa May said the government was considering the Anderson recommendations, and had not yet made a decision on the judicial sign-off point, although in earlier comments (reported in The Guardian) the government appeared to pour cold water on the idea of handing off warrant authorization to judges.

The government has said it is committed to introducing new surveillance legislation, the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill, in the current parliament, with a timetable to introduce a draft bill this autumn — with a view to gaining Royal Assent next year before emergency surveillance legislation (DRIPA) expires at the end of 2016.

Authors Guild demands ISPs monitor, filter Internet of pirated goods – The Authors Guild, one of the nation’s top writer’s groups, wants the US Congress to overhaul copyright law and require ISPs to monitor and filter the Internet of pirated materials, including e-books.

The guild, in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee as it mulls changes to copyright law, says the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act favor large corporations like Google over individual writers. The group said that ISPs purge the Internet of infringing content on their own. As the law now stands, ISPs are not legally liable for pirated content, and they get “safe harbor” immunity from infringement allegations as long as they remove infringing content at the owners’ request.

US to begin talks on drone privacy standards – A U.S. government agency will start its third attempt to develop voluntary privacy standards for an emerging area of technology, this time with a series of meetings on drone privacy scheduled to begin Aug. 3.

The U.S. National Telecommunication and Information Administration has already hosted similar discussions on mobile app privacy and facial recognition privacy but with mixed results. Privacy groups pulled out of the facial recognition discussions in June, saying the process wouldn’t lead to enough protections for consumers.

It’s unclear how many privacy and consumer groups will take part in the discussions about drones.

Still, they present several privacy challenges that the NTIA discussions can address, said Angela Simpson, the agency’s deputy assistant secretary for communications and information. President Barack Obama asked the agency earlier this year to host the discussions on privacy, she noted in a blog post.

“From enhancing news gathering, improving agribusiness, providing new delivery models, to providing Internet in remote areas, the possibilities for UAS are staggering,” Simpson wrote, referring to unmanned aircraft systems. “Consumer trust and responsible operation are keys to fully tapping the transformative potential of unmanned aircraft.”

In April, NTIA received more than 50 comments about drone privacy issues from individuals and companies.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 13, 2015

This Woman Changed Her Name Just So She Could Log In to Facebook;  Ethiopian LGBT Activist Banned by Facebook Under Real Name Policy;  20 Google Tips for Search Gurus;  Playing violent video games makes women feel sexy, study finds;  How to manage your voice and audio activity on Google;  Top 5 reasons to get a dedicated reader app for Android or iOS;  Pluto.TV is the best cord-cutting app you’re not using;  Amazon tool aims to help you ‘fling’ shows onto Fire TV;  Baldur’s Gate is getting a full-sized expansion;  Nine of the best movies of all time, now streaming on Netflix;  Virtual Reality Porn And The Future Of Loneliness;  New Twitch for Android lets you watch all the streams from all the places;  11 Hilarious Old-School Instructional Videos;  Instant messaging apps could be monitored in the UK under new ‘Snoop’ law;  How to delete your Amazon browsing history.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

This Woman Changed Her Name Just So She Could Log In to Facebook – You might change your name as a spy. Or adopt a new moniker to elude the law. But would you change your name for Facebook? Jemma Rogers did. The holistic therapist from Lewisham, southeast London, changed her name to match her Facebook pseudonym, Jemmaroid Von Laalaa, after she was locked out of her account, according to the Telegraph.

Ethiopian LGBT Activist Banned by Facebook Under Real Name Policy – Facebook does not allow the use of fake names, even when pseudonyms are necessary to shield their owners from violence. The activist, who goes by the pseudonym HappyAddis, used the social network to create and administrate some of the most popular groups for gay Ethiopians, including Zega Matters, which has more than 1,000 members. The East African country considers homosexuality a crime and those convicted of same-sex relations can face 15 years in prison. For that reason, many LGBT citizens use an alias to interact with others online in order to avoid punishment from the authorities and anti-gay violence.

20 Google Tips for Search Gurus – While Google has grown to include numerous other pursuits, search remains the company’s core product (and its most profitable, as well). With a decade-and-a-half of refinement behind it, Google search has evolved into a complex and beautifully versatile technology. (And one that always works. Have you seen Google.com go down? That’s no easy accomplishment for the world’s most popular website.) While you probably use it just about every day, there may still be a lot you still don’t know about the old dependable Google search. Click through our slideshow and see how much more you can get from a simple search.

How to manage your voice and audio activity on Google – When you ask Google Now a question, or use text-to-speech to respond to someone, these recordings are being saved to your Google account. The recordings are only accessible by you, but may include some information you don’t feel comfortable having in the cloud — like a private conversation. On the other hand, you may just want to reference your recordings for a piece of information that you used your voice to look up or send to someone else. Whatever your preference, PhoneArena recently shared how you can play and delete your recordings, and how to disable them from being saved in the future:

Pluto.TV is the best cord-cutting app you’re not using – No disrespect to streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu, but sometimes finding the perfect video feels like too much effort. That’s why as a cord cutter I’ve been enjoying Pluto.TV, a free service that tries to mimic the cable box experience, only with Internet channels instead of traditional ones. Pluto’s website and apps offer dozens of channels, ranging from mainstream news to stand-up comedy to extreme sports, all strung together from web sources such as YouTube and Vimeo. There’s even an entire channel dedicated to cat videos (and another one for dogs). It has a desktop website and dedicated apps for Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android, and PC, and it also supports Chromecast.

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How to delete your Amazon browsing history – Whether you’re just price-checking on gifts for friends and family, or searching for items that you might be embarrassed to look at in public, you can do it all from your computer. Unfortunately, looking up these items will add them to your browsing history, and they can also appear on your related purchase suggestions. These could reveal a bit too much information if you share a computer or check Amazon on a lunch break from your desk at work. Here’s how to delete select items, or all of them, from your browsing history on Amazon:

Amazon tool aims to help you ‘fling’ shows onto Fire TV – Taking on competitors like Chromecast and Apple TV, Amazon releases “Fling,” a toolkit that lets developers build into their apps the ability to share media content with Amazon’s set-top box.

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Amazon’s Fling icon tosses content up to a Fire TV.

How to add virtual desktops to your PC without upgrading to Windows 10 – For years, both Mac and Linux users have taken advantage of virtual desktops that let you create multiple desktop work spaces on your PC. Finally, Microsoft is getting into the game by adding this feature into Windows 10. But the truth is, Windows has supported this capability for some time—Microsoft just never enabled it by default. So how do you get multiple desktops? All it takes is a small download from a Microsoft site.

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New Twitch for Android lets you watch all the streams from all the places – It’s an all-too-common dilemma in today’s modern world: What do you do when you’re watching a livestream on your phone but need to switch to a different app? Twitch thinks it has a solution by borrowing an idea from TV—picture-in-picture. The latest update to Twitch for Android features a new “Pop-Out Player” that lets you keep tabs on your livestreams while browsing the web, checking email, texting your friends, or otherwise go about your business on your phone. As you work, your Twitch livestream will continue to play in a small window in the corner of your phone’s screen.

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The Pop-Out Player in Twitch for Android.

No, Microsoft won’t cut off support for Windows 10 in four years – There’s a story currently going around that claims Windows 10 will ‘expire’ after four, or even two years and that users might have to pay for updates after that. That story is bogus and here’s why.

Lenovo releases a user guide for Windows 10 – With Windows 10 just around the corner, excitement is running high among fans. To help new users, Chinese multi-national computer technology company Lenovo has released a Windows 10 user guide named “Starting to use Windows 10″ which discusses various topics relating to Microsoft’s new OS. This may sound trivial to Windows Insiders but are essential for beginners. You can download or view the Windows 10 starter guide by hitting up the source link below.

Microsoft’s Power BI visualization service will be generally available July 24 – The launch will bring a smorgasbord of new features, including new chart types, a refreshed desktop application and support for collaborating in groups on shared sets of data. Power BI was first released to the public as a beta earlier this year, and is designed to provide ordinary business users with powerful tools to visualize information from diverse data sets in live-updating dashboards. Power BI is built around three core components: datasets, which contain all of the raw information a user brings into Power BI; reports, which organize that data into a set of charts and graphs and dashboards, which are single live-updating pages that provide an at-a-glance look at specific visualizations based on those reports.

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Top 5 reasons to get a dedicated reader app for Android or iOS – As good as they are at loading web pages quickly and precisely on smaller screens, both Safari for iOS and Chrome for Android are terrible when it comes to loading a massive page-turner of an article—you know, that one you want to curl up with on a lazy Sunday. The solution: a dedicated reader app, and here’s five reasons why iPhone- and Android-toting bookworms shouldn’t be without one.

Rare breed: Linux Mint 17.2 offers desktop familiarity and responds to user wants – These days, the desktop OSes grabbing headlines have, for the most part, left the traditional desktop behind in favor of what’s often referred to as a “shell.” Typically, such an arrangement offers a search-based interface. In the Linux world, the GNOME project and Ubuntu’s Unity desktop interfaces both take this approach. Whether it’s driven by, in Ubuntu’s case, a vision of “convergence” between desktop and mobile or perhaps just the need for something new (which seems to be the case for GNOME 3.x), developers would have you believe that these mobile-friendly, search-based desktops are the future of, well, everything.

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The default Cinnamon desktop in Linux Mint 17.2.

Trying the iOS 9 public beta is easier than you think – Apple isn’t releasing iOS 9 until this fall, but if you can’t wait for a taste of the new iPhone and iPad software, the public beta holds an easy sneak-preview. Announced back at WWDC 2015, and launched this past week, the iOS 9 public beta software may not be quite final but it’s certainly ready for a broader audience to try out, not to mention an opportunity for iPhone users to flag up any final bugs to Apple. Trying the public beta needn’t be a headache, though, as long as you take a few precautions.

Wix Launches WixEd, A Free Online School For Website Design – DIY website creator Wix wants to make starting a career in web design as easy as it’s made building your own site. Today, the company is launching WixEd, a free online education program that teaches Wix users everything they need to know to launch their own website design business.

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Pro tip: Use Rufus to create a bootable USB drive to install (almost) any OS – After last week’s article, “Pro tip: How to create a bootable USB drive to install Windows on OS X,” I received feedback asking why anyone would install Windows on a Mac? This week’s entry deals with creating UFDs that allow you to install many other operating systems with the help of a utility called Rufus. But before diving into that, I have a question of my own. Why would you install any OS—besides OS X—on an Apple computer?

Ear Trumpet: A Windows 10 audio utility worth checking out – The utility breaks out the volume control for each app that is open, and does it all from a clean pop-up from the system tray. In my short time using it, I have had no major issues. One minor item that did occur on the first run was that it did not include apps that were opened before I installed Ear Trumpet, but after a quick restart of Spotify and Skype, they did show up in the list. Also, make sure you right click on the app and select ‘Show desktop apps’.

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Microsoft killing Photosynth and MSN apps, including Health & Fitness, Food & Drink – If Microsoft is killing MSN Health & Fitness, it’s not quite clear what this means for fitness tracking on Windows Phones.

Security:

Hacking Team’s Flash 0-day: Potent enough to infect actual Chrome user – The Adobe Flash zero-day exploit that spyware developer Hacking Team made available to customers worked successfully against even the advanced defenses found in Google’s Chrome browser, researchers said Friday. They also noted that it was used to infect computer users multiple times before it was leaked. The leak of the previously unknown exploit resulting from the devastating hack of Hacking Team last weekend and exploit kits available on the black market quickly added attack code to use the flaw. It allows attackers to surreptitiously install malware on targets’ computers, and there’s evidence that before last weekend’s breach, Hacking Team customers used the Flash zero-day against live targets.

After security disaster, OPM director resigns in disgrace – After it was revealed last month that more than four million federal personnel records had been stolen, members of Congress quickly demanded that the agency’s director Katherine Archuleta should be fired. In an e-mail, Archuleta wrote: “Today I informed the OPM workforce that I am stepping down as the leader of this remarkable agency and the remarkable people who work for it. This morning, I offered, and the President accepted, my resignation as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.”

How Google tries to keep ‘sneaky’ spam from your inbox – Determining which messages are spam and which are not is a neverending battle, especially since a message considered spam to one person could be legitimate to another. Messages from banks, airlines and other companies fall into this category. How does Google tell if a certain email is a sales promotion or an important notice informing you of information on your bank account or an upcoming flight? Spammers have also gotten smarter, using more tricks to better disguise junk mail so that automated spam filters have a tougher time figuring out how to tag it. So what new tools and techniques is Google using in the fight against spam?

Security researchers warn over 1 million users downloaded malicious Android games – Researchers at ESET have discovered that the Cowboy Adventure title, which until recently was up on the Google Play store, was stealing Facebook credentials and used them to spread itself to other users. The app did this by popping up a fake Facebook login screen in the middle of the game. If users were fooled, their credentials were sent via an HTTPS connection to a remote server. Another title, Jump Chess, was similarly infected by malicious code and used to gather social media credential from unsuspecting users.

Company News:

BlackBerry nabs two Android domain names – Following leaks and rumors, BlackBerry made its Android ambitions public yesterday, saying it has teamed up with Google to bring a more secure version of Android to the market. We’ve seen at least one device leak already reportedly showing a BlackBerry handset running Android. Whether that is legit is yet to be seen, but two more pieces of BlackBerry’s Android puzzle have surfaced. The company has nabbed two domain names, both of which revolve around the Android operating system.

Cisco will invest $1 billion to spur digital economic growth in UK – The investment will include a combination of job creation and education programs, startup and venture capital investments, and accelerated investing in cybersecurity solutions.

FTC exploring whether Apple’s 30% cut from music streaming apps is legal – Reuters reported on Friday that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into whether it’s legal for Apple to continue taking a 30 percent cut from sales within rival music streaming apps now that the company has its own music streaming service. No formal investigation has been launched, but one anonymous source speaking to Reuters said that the FTC “has had meetings with multiple concerned parties” to discuss the issue. Two other anonymous sources said that the FTC is exploring antitrust concerns related to restrictions that Apple places on its rivals, including “a prohibition on advertising in the app that the company is on other platforms, a ban on marketing in the app that consumers can also buy directly from the company’s website, and a ban on linking to a company’s website from within the app.”

Reddit Co-Founder Steve Huffman In For Reddit CEO Job, Pao Out – We’d been hearing that Steve Huffman, a co-founder of Reddit who also co-founded flight and hotel search startup Hipmunk, was being considered for the CEO job at Reddit. Now that move is confirmed. Huffman’s appointment follows turmoil at Reddit following the firing of Victoria Taylor, a community manager that the Reddit community relied on, last week. Y Combinator’s Sam Altman also confirmed the move on Reddit.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata dies at 55 – Iwata passed away Saturday at age 55 after working 13 years as president, a period that saw the gaming industry transition from dedicated consoles and PCs to mobile devices, a move that Nintendo was slow to embrace. Nintendo said board members Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto will continue to act as representative directors, a position required by Japanese corporate regulations. A new president has not been appointed.

Apple claims that 99 percent of iPhone users love their iPhone – Technically Incorrect: In one of two new ads, Apple celebrates the notion that almost every iPhone user loves that gadget. Is there actual evidence for this?

Games and Entertainment:

Nine of the best movies of all time, now streaming on Netflix and other services – In this, the last of our Now Streaming columns, our resident film critic names his all-time favorite movies.

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Stand by Me (Netflix)

Playing violent video games makes women feel sexy, study finds – The researchers found there was a correlation between violent video game play and a desire for sex, and this interest was across the board for male and female gamers. But here’s were the genders diverge. You see, there was no boost in “mate value” among men who played violent video games, but there was among the female participants. The results showed that women who play violent video games consider themselves a better catch, reporting that they enjoyed playing these kinds of games, because it made them feel more attractive, more sexy. So there you have it folks, violent video games give women a self-esteem boost. Now excuse me while I go play some Call of Duty.

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Baldur’s Gate is getting a full-sized expansion, 15 years later – Following a tease earlier this year, developer Beamdog has finally revealed the first details and footage of its upcoming Baldur’s Gate expansion-slash-sequel titled Siege of Dragonspear. Yes, an expansion for a game that originally released in 1998. PC gaming is a wonderful thing. From the announcement page: “Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear adds a new chapter to the Bhaalspawn saga. The events occurring between Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II are at last revealed in this 25-hour expansion pack for Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition.”

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Everything You Need to Know About the Revamped Destiny 2.0 – Destiny‘s next expansion, dubbed The Taken King, is launching on September 15. The popular shooter’s developer Bungie announced July 10 that the game will also be updated to version 2.0, bringing with it significant changes to many of the title’s core mechanics. In a blog post, Bungie creative director Luke Smith revealed that those changes will affect the game’s balance, progression, enemies, guns, quests and destinations.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The big deal about IBM’s tiny chips – IBM is making a big deal of celebrating a tiny achievement, successfully producing a 7nm chip that could mean huge efficiency improvements in phones, laptops and more. Squeezing more than 20 billion transistors into a chip the size of a fingernail took figuring out new manufacturing processes and chewed through part of a $3bn investment IBM earmarked back in 2014, but it’s shaping up to be worth every cent. Big Blue predicts a power/performance increase of more than 50-percent from the smaller processors.

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Virtual Reality Porn And The Future Of Loneliness – Welcome to the very-near future of porn. A few weeks back, a sex toy company called Lovense and a virtual reality porn company called VirtualRealPorn announced their collaboration. Soon, VirtualRealPorn’s growing library of VR porn videos will coordinate with Lovense’s digitally-endowed vibrator and Fleshlight-esque Max toy to stimulate your sensitive bits in sync with virtual sex.

This woman’s epic meltdown shows how attached we are to our phones – There is nothing funny about this video. You might be tempted to think it’s hilarious. We’re all tempted to think we’re holier than other people at times. But here is a woman who cannot cope with the fact that her phone has died. She cannot cope to a degree that she screams in frustration. A lot. It was uploaded to Facebook by Akira Chan, who shared it publicly on Tuesday. It has already been viewed on Facebook more than 1 million times. And I defy anyone whose phone has suddenly died to claim that they haven’t felt like this woman, if not expressed themselves exactly as she did.

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The vanishing: What happened to Google Street View’s missing streets – As Google expands Street View into ever more exotic places, it appears to have a problem in many of the towns and cities where the service has been available for years. Look closely at any major city, especially the residential areas, and Street View is littered with hundreds, even thousands, of little gaps. And although it’s hard to be sure, the problem may be getting worse.

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This moving video claims gadgets are separating kids from nature – Technically Incorrect: An ad from General Mills examines the different things that kids do now, compared to what their parents and grandparents did. It just might make you weep. Or perhaps not.

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11 Hilarious Old-School Instructional Videos – Video is a much more efficient way to demonstrate the use of a modern interface. So it’s only natural that companies like Microsoft, Apple, and others would turn to the medium in order to get their point across. And, like many other things from the 80s and 90s, they look hilariously bad today. In this feature, we’ll fire up the old VCR and give you our picks for the goofiest old-school instructional videos.

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Hillary Clinton Plans To Campaign Against Uber’s Contractor Economy – Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will blast contractor-fueled companies for repressing middle-class wage growth in a speech tomorrow laying out her economic policies, according to an outline of the talk attained by Politico’s Michael Grunwald. Clinton plans to make raising middle class incomes a focus of her campaign, and will lay out her strategy at The New School in Manhattan on Monday. Along with globalization and automation, Clinton will peg the sharing economy as “conspiring against sustainable wage growth”, according to Politico. The report says “she will argue that policy choices have contributed to the problem, and that she can fix it.”

Something to think about:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

–       Steve Jobs

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wappalyzer for Chrome – Wappalyzer is a browser extension that uncovers the technologies used on websites. It detects content management systems, eCommerce platforms, web servers, JavaScript frameworks, analytic tools and many more.

Available for Firefox.

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Dashlane – Log in instantly, fill out any form, manage your passwords, and check out anywhere online without ever touching the keyboard, no matter where you are.

Dashlane is an award-winning service that revolutionizes the online experience by replacing the drudgery of everyday transactional processes with convenient, automated simplicity in other words, letting you get to the good stuff faster.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Instant messaging apps could be monitored in the UK under new ‘Snoop’ law – The UK government is in the process of finalizing the Snooper’s Charter that will bring all online communication of its citizens under the government’s scanner, and apps that do not adhere to it will likely face bans.

It was reported recently that the UK government has granted contracts to five companies to monitor the social media activity of its citizens, but things might become even worse in the near future if the proposed Communications Data Bill is passed as law.

In order to track terrorist activity and prevent threats, the UK government has proposed the Communications Data Bill – aka the Snooper’s Charter – that will make it mandatory for internet service providers to monitor the online activity of their users and keep logs of such data for 12 months. The law also recommends the monitoring of communication apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Snapchat among many others.

US government’s reported number of wiretaps don’t add up – The government published its latest Wiretap Report on July 1. The headline finding was that encryption wasn’t foiling federal and state law enforcement officials, despite a growing chorus of people suggesting that we’re all gonna die unless the tech sector builds backdoor access into their products to enable government access.

In all, the federal agency that oversees the courts reported to Congress that there were 3,554 wiretaps in 2014, about 1 percent less than the year prior. Of the total, only four were thwarted via encryption.

But the reported number of wiretaps by the Administrative Office of the US Courts (AO) simply doesn’t add up. That’s according to Albert Gidari, one of the nation’s top privacy lawyers. He says “there is a bigger story” that calls into question the AO’s accounting:

Since the Snowden revelations, more and more companies have started publishing “transparency reports” about the number and nature of government demands to access their users’ data. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint published data for 2014 earlier this year and T-Mobile published its first transparency report on the same day the AO released the Wiretap Report. In aggregate, the four companies state that they implemented 10,712 wiretaps, a threefold difference over the total number reported by the AO. Note that the 10,712 number is only for the four companies listed above and does not reflect wiretap orders received by other telephone carriers or online providers, so the discrepancy actually is larger.

How can that be? Even taking into account some accounting complexities, Gidari says, “the numbers are still off by more than twofold” in one scenario.

Here are EFF’s most influential cases from its first 25 years – On Friday, July 10, the Electronic Frontier Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary. The San Francisco-based group has been a stalwart of tech and legal advocacy since its founding and has played a key role in a number of seminal cases.

To celebrate, Ars interviewed Executive Director Cindy Cohn, who mentioned that, within the list of cases that the organization has worked on, she had a number of favorites.

Here’s a quick summary of those cases, in chronological order.

Case name: Bernstein v. Department of Justice

Filed: February 21, 1995

Highest court reached: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Decided: May 6, 1999

Result: Court ruled that computer code is speech, and is protected by the Constitution.

This was EFF’s first significant case, and it won big.

Back in 1995, Daniel Bernstein, then a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, wanted to be able to publish “Snuffle.” This program converted a one-way hash into a private-key encryption system. He wanted to publish not only the algorithm involved, but a mathematical paper explaining it, and the relevant source code. However, federal arms regulations forbade him from doing so. He and the EFF challenged this interpretation of the law on First Amendment grounds.

Does Abbott have the cyber-patience Australia needs? – Prime Minister Tony Abbott met with “business leaders” to discuss the cyber threat on Wednesday last week. “We’re working to protect Australians online, to provide confidence, as well as peace of mind, for households and business,” he reportedly said.

The meeting was hosted by the Business Council of Australia, and from the outside it had a usual-suspects feel about it — representatives of banks, the Australian Securities Exchange, Telstra, and Foxtel, those sorts of business leader. As the government develops its new cyber-security strategy, expected to be completed later this year, this is a routine consultation.

The Australian government already sees the internet as a threat — full of terrorists and criminals whose communications data must be retained, copyright infringers who must be stopped, and so on. The last thing we need is for the cybers to be turned up to 11 and made part of the inflated national security rhetoric.

China makes internet shut-downs official with new security law – China is able to shut off internet access during major ‘social security incidents’ and has granted its Cyberspace Administration agency wider decision making powers under a draft law published this month.

The draft also appears to require critical infrastructure organisations including foreign entities to store “important” data on Chinese soil without specific permission to host offshore.

The Cyberspace Administration, headed by director Lu Wei, has a leading role in planning and coordinating information security policy efforts, analysts say .

The details of the new security approach are revealed in an English translation of the draft posted online.

Arizona makes deal with ACLU, won’t enforce bad law on “revenge porn” – A lawsuit filed in September by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with a group of booksellers and publishers, has put a stop to Arizona’s “revenge porn” law.

The lawsuit argued that the Arizona “revenge porn” law went too far, and violated the First Amendment. The statute widely banned the posting of nude images without consent, but had no requirement that the person distributing the images be intending to harm the person portrayed. The ACLU and the Media Coalition, argued that could have led to criminal charges against artistic photographers, or newsworthy or historic photographs.

In their complaint, ACLU lawyers said the law could get newspapers or academics in trouble for showing images with political and historical significance, like images of Abu Ghraib prisoners, or a photo like the iconic 1972 “Napalm Girl” photo.

The Arizona Attorney General (AG) agreed to a temporary stay of the case in November. In January, the 2015 legislative session began, and lawmakers considered a possible fix to the law’s language. However, the legislature adjourned in April without passing the change.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 10, 2015

Take the time to walk through the new Google Privacy Checkup;  How to make Google Drive more secure;  Install Security, Speed Up Your PC;  Declutter your phone with one of these handy apps;  10 ways to tune up your mobile office;  Two-Factor Authentication: Who Has It and How to Set It Up;  Meerkat live-stream app adds new features;  iOS 9 And OS X El Capitan Are Now Available To All As Public Betas;  Try These Apps and Sites for Selling Your Old Stuff;  Google’s Chromecast gets a hardwired Ethernet adapter;  How to install the iOS 9 public beta;  Adobe Flash exploit that was leaked by Hacking Team goes wild; patch now!  Massive Federal Data Breach Affects 7% of Americans;  Mozilla patches critical bugs in fresh Firefox update;  Windows 10: The end of computing as we know it;  A Social Watchlist App For Finding The Best Movies And Shows on any Service;  Xbox Music app now lets users stream from OneDrive;  Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta hits PS4 August 19th;  Getting by with pre-post-PC devices in a post-PC world;  Microsoft Worldwide Telescope (free);  Tech and politics clash over protecting your data.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Take the time to walk through the new Google Privacy Checkup – Google has finally introduced a user-friendly means of taking control of account privacy. Jack Wallen thinks the Google Privacy Checkup should go a long way to ease the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt surrounding the juggernaut.

Install Security, Speed Up Your PC – When activities on your PC seem to bog down, do you blame your security suite? Maybe it’s spending too much time scanning files in the background, or sucking up bandwidth exchanging details with its cloud database? Well, maybe you should think again. A new report from AV-Comparatives indicates that installing security can actually speed up your computer’s operation.

How to make Google Drive more secure – If you have a Gmail account, you have 15GB of free cloud storage from Google. It’s pretty handy, because it works across a variety of devices, and desktop users can create a special folder on their computer and drop files into it, and that folder syncs with your Drive account as fast as the file can be sent to the cloud. Of course, convenience isn’t the only concern for cloud backup services, as we explained recently in our review roundup. Our cloud of choice is SOS Online Backup. But because you may have good reasons for sticking with Google Drive, we’ve come up with a few things you can do to tighten its security.

Declutter your phone with one of these handy apps – Like PCs, smartphones can accumulate a lot of clutter in the form of duplicate pictures, temporary files, and unused applications. All this clutter can rob your phone of performance and decrease available storage space. Fortunately, a number of utilities can help you to cut through some of the mess.

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Meerkat live-stream app adds new features, including a new co-host mode – Live streaming video app Meerkat announced two new features designed to bring streamers and viewers a little closer together, including a way for people to jump into streams and a way to store a library of recordings. Meerkat said its new “Cameo” feature will allow stream viewers, once approved by the main broadcaster, to take over a stream and broadcast themselves for up to 60 seconds. The company will also now automatically save and store streams when people finish broadcasting. The library is private, but saved streams can be made publicly available.

Tips to get the most out of Wi-Fi on a train – The author’s local commuter rail offers free Wi-Fi service for riders. Find out how it works and what to expect from similar scenarios.

Try These Apps and Sites for Selling Your Old Stuff – Depending upon what you’re trying to sell, some services are better than others. We scoured online markets big and small, looking for the best ways to help you unload anything from your fridge to your Fendi bag.

Facebook makes it easier to hide annoying posts from friends – Facebook has updated its controls to let users prioritize posts from friends and pages while making it easier to unfollow those whose posts aren’t relevant or interesting enough.

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Pinterest users can now log into other apps with their Pinterest account – Frequent users of social networks know that often you can log into apps and other websites using your credentials from some of the biggest social networks like Facebook. Pinterest has announced that users of its site can now log into other apps with their Pinterest accounts and by doing so users get new ways to pin images to Pinterest to share.

iOS 9 And OS X El Capitan Are Now Available To All As Public Betas – The iOS 9 beta build will allow early adopters to try out upcoming features, including new apps like News and a refreshed Notes, transit directions in Apple Maps, an improved Siri, a smarter search which lets you surface results from inside apps, and much more. Meanwhile, El Capitan offers a variety of improvements to core features like Mission Control, Spotlight, native apps, including Safari, Mail, Maps, Photos, plus performance improvements, and other items.

How to install the iOS 9 public beta – First things first: Yes, Apple has released iOS 9 as a public beta, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready for everyday use. In fact, I’d suggest you stay away if you don’t like troubleshooting issues. And even after you’ve attempted to fix the issue, there are times when you simply have to live with an app not working or a feature you used to rely on crashing your device. It’s a beta for a reason. OK, with that out of the way, you want to test out Apple’s latest and greatest mobile operating system? Good. The more the merrier, as they say.

Windows 10 SDK Preview build 10166 now available – A new build of the Windows 10 SDK Preview is now available for developers that includes bug fixes, API surface level changes and the latest Windows 10 Mobile emulator.

Android M preview update brings a lot of sweet goodies – Google has just announced the first ever update to its developer preview of Android M, which still has to be christened with a name. Continuing the new tradition it set last year. Google is rolling out limited updates in order to let developers prepare their apps in advance as well as report bugs. And while Google is only officially sharing some of the juicy tidbits that are relevant to developers, the update also so has some hidden treasures for end users waiting to be discovered.

Room.me Wants To Prevent You From Getting Stuck With Horrible Roommates – Room.me works by matching potential roommates up with different personality types based on a the kinds of quizzes dating sites use, but tailored to a preferred living situation. It asks the usual questions like if you care if other roommates smoke or have sleepovers with partners a lot, but also things such as if you are a night owl or a morning person and if you prefer living with another night owl, or if you’d rather have a roommate that is a morning person. It also asks if you are looking for new best friends or would rather others stay out of your way – all things that can make a tremendous impact on who you match up with.

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Google’s Chromecast gets a hardwired Ethernet adapter – Google just started selling a cool little accessory for Chromecast owners with Wi-Fi woes, though: a hardwired ethernet adapter for the Chromecast. The accessory is a power brick that plugs into the Chromecast’s USB port, and—in addition to providing power—embedded in the brick is a full-sized Ethernet port. Just plug in and you can forget about ever having to push bits over Wi-Fi again. The adapter is $15 on the Google Store, and it supports up to 100Mbps.

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Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers – There are dozens of smaller distros that specialize in lightweight desktops that do the basics – manage windows, and offer file browsers, launchers and sometimes a menu bar of some sort – but otherwise stay out of the way. The point, after all, is the applications. Why waste RAM running a fancy desktop when all you want to do in interact with the apps you’re running? If you have the RAM to spare, well, sure, why not? But not all of us do.

Solar Paper is a paper-thin solar charger – Small solar chargers for your gadgets are nothing new, but the most modern batches are only vaguely similar to the first chargers on the market. Solar Paper is perhaps the best example of this — it is a solar charger ranging from 2.5 watts to 10 watts, and it is thin enough to slip between the pages of a book, hence its name. The charger features a USB port for charging USB devices, and is scarcely larger than a dollar bill. If the Solar Paper catches your fancy, you can back it on Kickstarter where its maker were hoping to raise $50,000 USD (they’ve since exceeded the $97,000 mark). A $69 pledge will get backers a 5W Solar Paper charger, while $99 will get a 7.5W unit, $129 will get a 10W unit, and higher amounts will get different bundle packs. Shipping to backers is estimated to start in September.

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10 ways to tune up your mobile office – If you’re an on-the-go IT pro, your mobile office could be slowing you down. Here are 10 simple tips to help make your workday more efficient.

Six cool accessories for mobile professionals from $20 – From a portable projector to a better gear bag, these six handy accessories can make help your business trips go more smoothly.

T-Mobile offers free calling and data services in Canada and Mexico – T-Mobile today announced a new feature of its Simple Choice wireless plans that adds free roaming services in Canada and Mexico. The new feature, which will be available to all T-Mobile Simple Choice customers starting on Wednesday, July 15th, includes free calling and texting services to and from Mexico and Canada, as well as 4G LTE data service in both countries at no additional charge. The new services for travelers to Mexico and Canada are an expansion of T-Mobile’s free international data roaming that was introduced in 2013.

Two-Factor Authentication: Who Has It and How to Set It Up – By sheer brute force or simple phishing, passwords are, to be honest, a pretty laughable way of authenticating who you are (or aren’t, as the case may be). What you really need is a second factor of authentication. And that’s why many Internet services, a number of which have felt the pinch of being hacked, have embraced two-factor authentication for their users. It’s sometimes called 2FA, or used interchangeably with the terms “two-step” and “verification” depending on the marketing. But what is it?

Security:

Adobe Flash exploit that was leaked by Hacking Team goes wild; patch now! – With the exploit folded into exploit kits that are available on the Internet, users who rely on Flash should install the update immediately (don’t forget to uncheck the boxes Adobe shamelessly checks by default to promote crapware). Readers may also want to experiment with uninstalling Flash altogether. If the results are acceptable, that’s a more secure alternative since it drastically reduces attack surface.

Mozilla patches critical bugs in fresh Firefox update – Mozilla has issued a new Firefox browser update with fixes for four critical vulnerabilities and a number of less severe issues. In Firefox 39, a total of four critical vulnerabilities, two high-level flaws and six moderate bugs have been patched among a total of 13 fixes. According to the Mozilla security advisory, security issues relate to use-after-free vulnerabilities, poor validation processes, buffer overflow problems and a variety of memory problems.

Trackbuster Lets You Remove Those Pesky Email Tracking Beacons – Trackbuster is a nifty little tool that could be useful if you’re paranoid about your privacy. Launching today, this service will analyze your incoming emails in Gmail, identify those that have invisible trackers and remove these trackers. It works with Gmail and it’s not perfect yet, but I can see why someone would use it.

After second hack, OPM confirms more than 22 million affected – The federal agency in charge of vetting government workers for security clearance has been hit by a second breach, leading to the theft of more than 21 million individuals’ records. The figure confirmed Thursday by the Office of Personnel Management includes a portion of the 4.2 million records — including Social Security numbers — compromised in an earlier breach reported last month. The total figure now stands at about 22.1 million individuals affected by the two cyberattacks.

Massive Federal Data Breach Affects 7% of Americans – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday that a massive data breach—one that targeted its security clearance system—compromised the sensitive information of 21.5 million people, including social security numbers for current and former federal workers, contractors, friends, and families, the agency said. As many as 19.5 million of those people had applied for security clearances.

Hacking Team claims terrorists can now use its tools – Hacking Team warned that a devastating data breach it suffered will allow its spying tools to be used by criminals and terrorists. The company’s claim, however, is worth questioning as it isn’t clear why someone would attempt to use software that’s been under extremely close scrutiny in recent days. Hacking Team somewhat undermined its claim as well. Rabe wrote that “we expect too that antivirus companies are upgrading their programs to detect the compromised RCS.”

Company News:

Barnes and Noble nixing Nook store for users outside US and UK – After some troubling signs, Barnes and Noble has made it official: it’s going to be dropping many of its customers, namely those living outside of the United States and the United Kingdom. This concerns the Nook aspect of Barnes and Nobles’ business, and will be taking place early next month. It’s a somewhat surprising move, given that Barnes and Noble previously offered the Nook in 40 countries including most of Europe, Australia, and Canada. Now only those located in the US and the UK will get access beyond August 7.

PC Market Slips 11.8 Percent In Q2 But Apple Keeps Picking Up Steam – According to IDC, the global PC market’s unit volume slipped 11.8 percent in the second quarter of 2015, a slightly larger-than-expected dip. As the company notes, the size of the decline reflects a strong second quarter in the year-ago period, when the death of Windows XP bolstered sales of new machines. Apple performed well in the quarter, seeing its market share rise to a global 7.8 percent, up from 5.9 percent the year before. Of all major PC OEMs, only Apple managed to grow its unit sales in the quarter. That fact mirrors TechCrunch’s prior reporting on Apple’s current PC business. For the rest, it was rough. Here’s the chart:

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IBM reveals first 7nm chips – Moore’s law has spurred improvements in processor architecture for years and Big Blue has just taken the next step, by creating working copies of 7nm transistors. IBM, last year, pledged $3 billion in funding for research into improvements in silicon design and it seems that their investment has paid off. While Intel, Samsung, Nvidia and other manufacturers are just now starting to move from the 28nm processes to 14nm transistors, IBM already has working prototypes of 7nm chips.

IBM inks $180 million cloud deal with energy company Columbia Pipeline – IBM has inked a $180 million cloud deal with Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG). Based in Houston, Texas, the energy company operates roughly 15,000 miles of natural gas pipelines across North America. As part of the deal, IBM will move CPG’s entire IT infrastructure and business applications into a private cloud in IBM’s Columbus, Ohio data center. IBM will manage the infrastructure — which includes human resources, billing and finance, and pipeline operations — for a minimum of five years.

Avast acquires mobile virtualization firm Remotium – Avast has acquired Remotium in a deal aimed at boosting BYOD security in the enterprise. Announced on Wednesday, security firm Avast said virtual enterprise mobility company Remotium’s solutions assist the enterprise to implement bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies more securely and effectively, and therefore can be considered a valuable addition to Avast’s mobile security portfolio.

Judge tosses jury’s $533M patent verdict against Apple, orders new trial – A $533 million jury verdict that would have been the largest ever for a “patent assertion entity” has been struck down four months after a jury granted it. US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who oversaw the case against Apple, has ruled (PDF) that the damages verdict must be thrown out because of a faulty instruction to the jury. He has ordered a new trial to be held solely on the issue of damages.

With $10M In New Funding, Lendingkart Helps Small Businesses In India Get Loans – Since launching a year ago, Lendingkart has processed loans from 50 cities and 17 states across India. It will use its new capital to expand into all towns and cities in India, improve its credit scoring technology, and hire more employees. The startup is similar to LendingClub in that it allows businesses to apply for loans online, bypassing banks and other traditional finance institutions. Co-founder and chief executive officer Harshvardhan Lunia explains that Lendingkart’s algorithms use 1,500 data points to score credit application. The site claims that its application process takes just 15 minutes, with most loans approved in a few hours and disbursed within three working days.

BlackBerry and Google team up to make Android business-friendly – BlackBerry has announced a new partnership with Google to develop new enterprise security standards for Android and improved device management tools for businesses.

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Uber Files Opposition To Case That Could Make All Drivers Employees Instead Of Independent Contractors – Uber filed a briefing in court today that opposes a class-action lawsuit attempting to label drivers as Uber employees instead of as independent contractors. Drivers in both Lyft and Uber also filed class-action lawsuits in March alleging both ride hailing companies had misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees. And both claim that Uber and Lyft were depriving them of certain rights and benefits. Uber refutes the claim that drivers should be employees and says the lawsuit does not reflect the desires of most of its drivers to remain independent.

Logitech to rebrand as “Logi,” dropping “tech” from its name – Speaking at the launch event, Logitech company representatives explained that the “Logi” brand will be used for “future-facing stuff,” and consumers will soon see it begin to appear in striking colors on new Logitech products, especially in the “Internet of Things” categories (which in this context realistically means small connected devices). The full “Logitech” branding will continue to stick around for more established legacy products, like keyboards and mice.

Games and Entertainment:

Legit Debuts A Social Watchlist App For Finding The Best Movies And Shows On Any Service – Today, an app called Legit is launching with hopes of becoming the go-to watchlist for finding any movie or TV show across service, streaming or otherwise. It even helps you figure out if movies are worth seeing in the theaters, or if you can wait for the digital release. Currently, Legit focuses on content that can be found on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or iTunes, as well as in theaters. At first launch, the app asks you about favorite genres, movies, and the platforms you use, in order to customize the experience. You can then dive into Legit to find things to add to your watchlist, track friends’ ratings, and more. You can even quickly poll friends about their likes on the app or on its Apple Watch counterpart.

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Xbox Music app now lets users stream from OneDrive – The soon to be re-branded Xbox Music apps for iOS and Android have received a big update from Microsoft this week. The main new feature allows users to stream songs they’ve stored on OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service. This has already been available to those who use Xbox Music on Windows since earlier this year, but now it’s available to mobile users for the first time.

Survey: Most people don’t care about the sex of a game’s protagonist – It’s a common stereotype that boys like games where sexy images of women are present. However, a survey has revealed that most gamers don’t care about the sex of the protagonist.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta hits PS4 August 19th – The latest entry in gaming’s biggest FPS franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, will soon be upon us, and these days that can only mean one thing: a multiplayer beta test to get fans pumped up. Call of Duty players won’t be disappointed, as developer Treyarch has just announced the beta will be available for PlayStation 4 on August 19th. Keep in mind that date is only for players on the PS4, as a beta will be available on Xbox One and other platforms, but just at a later date.

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Paramount movies get in-home streaming just 17 days after theatrical release – To get this done, Paramount struck up a deal with the US’s second largest chain, AMC Theaters, and the Canadian giant Cineplex by offering a percentage of digital rental sales to the theater owners up to 90 days after the movie debuts in movie houses. AMC and Cineplex were reportedly the first two outlets Paramount went to, but now that they’re on board, the studio is seeing if other chains want to get in on the action.

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10 Hidden Roku Tricks for Streaming Success – Whether you just got a Roku or you’ve had one for years, there’s more to know beyond the basics of watching Netflix and catching up with “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” on Crackle. We’ve put together 10 ways for you to get more out of your Roku.

GOG.com’s old-school PC games will be ready for Windows 10 – The entire existence of GOG.com (and DOSBox, et cetera) is predicated on the fact that eventually our computers outgrew—for a number of reasons—some of our most beloved games, from SimCity 2000 to Dungeon Keeper to Syndicate. Which should make today’s news from GOG.com a relief: “Windows 10 is coming on July 29th and we are as ready as can be!”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Windows 10: The end of computing as we know it – IT leaders considering a Windows 10 migration as a cornerstone initiative risk having a focus that is a decade behind. Patrick Gray explains why.

Getting by with pre-post-PC devices in a post-PC world – Even though many three and four-year old devices still work, they’ve reached obsolescence by virtue of the changing nature of computing. Here’s a story every ZDNet reader can identify with. A late-night “please fix my computer” call from a friend.

Just say no to connected cars – Around 5% of new vehicles already include some form of embedded technology inside. But have you thought about the consequences?

Mount Fuji will be a free Wi-Fi zone for 3 months – Imagine reaching the end of an exhilarating but also tiring mountain climb. You reach for your phone to take a selfie or tweet to the world about your accomplishment. But alas, you have no Internet connection. Big problem, right? Well, not if you’re on top of Japan’s highest peak. That’s right, the iconic Mount Fuji is going to have free Wi-Fi hotspots, eight of them, in fact, and they are being placed exactly so that you can share to the world your wonderful hiking experience.

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Solocam Is A Selfie Stick That Isn’t Completely Insufferable – Solocam is a selfie stick that may actually provide value (bear with me here) by letting journalists shoot video from the field without lugging around an entire camera crew. The device is a selfie stick attached to a high-definition bluetooth microphone, just like the pros use. While the entire setup looks ridiculous, the video it helps create looks surprisingly professional. The device also comes with an app for your mobile device which lets you record while using features like a teleprompter or special effects. The camera is set at an angle to avoid the dreaded flesh beard under all of our chins. The most basic version will set you back $50, while the pro is selling for $149.

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Read the first chapter of Harper Lee’s first book since To Kill A Mockingbird – It’s been a long, 55-year wait, but Harper Lee, the author of the seminal To Kill A Mockingbird, is about to release her second book. Go Set A Watchman is out on July 14th, and courtesy of The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, you can read the first chapter now. The book follows Scout, the protagonist of To Kill A Mockingbird, now grown up and traveling from New York to Alabama to visit her sick father. The chapter joins Scout on a train traveling south.

Something to think about:

“The problem is humans can’t keep up with all the technology they have created. It’s becoming unmanageable by the human brain. Our best hope may be that computers eventually will become smart enough to maintain themselves.”

–      Avivah Litananalyst at Gartner

Today’s Free Downloads:

VirtualBox – VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

Features:

Modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a client/server design. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a virtual machine in a typical virtual machine GUI and then control that machine from the command line, or possibly remotely. VirtualBox also comes with a full Software Development Kit: even though it is Open Source Software, you don’t have to hack the source to write a new interface for VirtualBox.

Virtual machine descriptions in XML. The configuration settings of virtual machines are stored entirely in XML and are independent of the local machines. Virtual machine definitions can therefore easily be ported to other computers.

Guest Additions for Windows and Linux. VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows and Linux virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. Among the features provided by these Guest Additions are mouse pointer integration and arbitrary screen solutions (e.g. by resizing the guest window).

Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as “shared folders”, which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.

A number of extra features are available with the full VirtualBox release only.

Virtual USB Controllers. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device specific drivers on the host.

Remote Desktop Protocol. Unlike any other virtualization software, VirtualBox fully supports the standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A virtual machine can act as an RDP server, allowing you to “run” the virtual machine remotely on some thin client that merely displays the RDP data.

USB over RDP. With this unique feature, a virtual machine that acts as an RDP server can still access arbitrary USB devices that are connected on the RDP client. This way, a powerful server machine can virtualize a lot of thin clients that merely need to display RDP data and have USB devices plugged in.

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Microsoft Worldwide Telescope (WWT) 5.2.9 Beta / 3.1.52 Legacy – The WorldWide Telescope is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes to enable seamless, guided explorations of the universe. WorldWide Telescope, created with Microsoft’s high-performance Visual Experience Engine, enables seamless panning and zooming across the night sky blending terabytes of images, data and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-rich, immersive experience. The WorldWide Telescope experience scales from a web browser all the way to multi-channel full dome in some of the world’s most advanced planetariums.

You can research and import your own data and visualize it, then create a tour to share with others.

Features:

Navigate seamlessly through 3D spherical environments: the Sky, Planets and our Solar System

Access to hundreds of terabytes of sky, earth and planet data

View, create, and edit guided tours

Experience the 3D Solar System view with moon orbits, asteroids, and more

Access billions of objects in a web-based astronomical catalog

Use touch controls for touch-screen navigation

Travel 2,000 years forwards and backwards in time

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech and politics clash over protecting your data – How far can government surveillance reach, and how protective are we allowed to be of our personal communications? On Wednesday, the director of the FBI said he thinks the government should be able extend its powers and break tools that keep information private.

It used to be that Internet and phone communications were easy to intercept, hack and read. That was before Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, revealed information showing the US government has been snooping on citizens far more than most of us expected. Now tech companies are fighting back.

Their weapon: encryption, or technology that disguises communications and files so that only the intended recipient can read them.

It’s quickly becoming the standard way people communicate. Apple’s iMessage text message program uses encryption, as does Facebook’s WhatsApp. Google, Yahoo and a bunch of other tech companies have begun scrambling information being sent between their servers, all with the goal of keeping prying eyes from seeing what’s going on inside.

Surprise: The US and UK governments don’t like it, and are trying to stop the practice from becoming pervasive. FBI Director James Comey told a committee of US senators on Wednesday that encryption could be a godsend to criminals and terrorists.

This is the most outrageous government tirade against iOS 8 encryption – Following the leaks by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden that began in the summer of 2013, encryption and encryption backdoors have become hot-button topics of discussion.

That’s because many companies, including Apple and Google, have been going out of their way to encrypt products after the public learned that the US had embarked on a massive, legally and morally suspect electronic spying operation against its own citizenry and the global community at large. Fearing encryption is undermining their surveillance capabilities, government officials from the US and across the pond in the UK have been increasingly decrying encryption or at least demanding a government-accessible backdoor to unlock said encryption.

FBI Director James Comey complained to a Senate panel that companies, like Apple, are building products in which the keys necessary to decrypt communications and electronic devices are being left “solely in the hands of the end user.” In a joint statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey and a Justice Department official essentially told lawmakers that we’re all doomed unless companies bake encryption backdoors into their products to allow for lawful access by the government. Comey said the problems backdoor-less encryption presents to law enforcement “are grave, growing, and extremely complex.”

FBI chief tells Senate committee we’re doomed without crypto backdoors – James Comey, the director of the FBI, told a Senate committee Wednesday that the government should have the right to lawfully access any device or electronic form of communication with a lawful court order, even if it is encrypted.

Comey and another Justice Department official briefed the Senate Judiciary Committee and complained that keys necessary to decrypt communications and electronic devices often reside “solely in the hands of the end user”—which they said is emblematic of the so-called “Going Dark problem.” Companies should bake encryption backdoors into their products to allow lawful access, they said.

“We are not asking to expand the government’s surveillance authority, but rather we are asking to ensure that we can continue to obtain electronic information and evidence pursuant to the legal authority that Congress has provided to us to keep America safe,” read the joint prepared remarks (PDF) of Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. “Mr. Chairman, the Department of Justice believes that the challenges posed by the Going Dark problem are grave, growing, and extremely complex.”

Canadian Senators Want to Target Radicalization by Training and Certifying Imams – Canada’s senators are calling on the government to ramp up its efforts to thwart terrorism and radicalization by getting involved with the training and certification of imams in the country.

In a new report on security threats facing Canada released Wednesday, the Standing Committee on National Security and Defense offers the federal government 25 recommendations on how it can better deal with terrorist threats.

“The committee heard testimony from members of the Muslim community and others that some foreign-trained imams have been spreading extremist religious ideology and messages that are not in keeping with Canadian values,” the report says.

It urges the government to “work with the provinces and the Muslim communities to investigate the options that are available for the training and certification of imams in Canada,” but doesn’t say whether the government should carry out the training process.

Pointing up   Another hair-brained attempt by the Stephen Harper “boys in short pants brigade” to challenge the Constitution and Canadian Bill of Rights. Current challenge score –

The Constitution – 8

The Harper troglodytes – 1

ASIO, NT Police, NSW Police named in Hacking Team emails – The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was allegedly interested in using products from surveillance software company Hacking Team as recently as November last year, according to emails leaked from the Milan-based company.

Hackers on Monday uploaded a 400GB torrent file containing the sensitive documents, tweeted a link to the file using Hacking Team’s own Twitter account, and also posted screenshots of internal company emails and secret deals with governments around the world.

Early assessments of the company’s receipts and client lists only linked Hacking Team to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). However, on Thursday, WikiLeaks made Hacking Team’s entire email archive searchable, revealing a number of other links to Australian government organisations.

One email from Hacking Team’s Singapore salesperson representing the company in the Asia-Pacific region, Daniel Maglietta, said Canberra-based surveillance firm Criterion Solutions was interested in products from Hacking Team for ASIO as recently as in November last year.

How to take over the accounts of UK politicians using public Wi-Fi hacks – An experiment using public Wi-Fi networks to break into accounts belonging to UK politicians has highlighted a distinct lack of understanding basic security principles.

In the UK, the new currently budget dominates the news, but last week, comments made by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron caused uproar in the technology space. We know the US and UK have a fondness for surveillance and collecting data en masse, but following Edward Snowden’s leaks to the media concerning government spying programs, tech firms began ramping up encryption efforts to make spying more difficult.

This has not sat well with the PM. Cameron, following in the steps of the US FBI director James Comey, wants to ban strong encryption to “ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate.”

In other words, encryption protocols which would force officers of the law to go directly to a device owner instead of companies to demand data are not a popular idea for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Security professionals slammed the demand as outrageous and portraying a lack of basic understanding of how security works.

The results of a recent test conducted by F-Secure suggest this lack of training and understanding trickles down the parliamentary chain.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 8, 2015

How to use Google to sync all your passwords;  Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family;  Google needs to fix what ails Chrome;  Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  How to use your smartphone less and be happier;  Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you?  Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator;  Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft;  Stop the inbox insanity!  Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild;  Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off;   Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy;  You can now subscribe to Showtime online;  CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company;  Rdio launches new curated stations;  This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids;  PaperScan Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to use Google to sync all your passwords – Securely store your passwords with Google and forget about the need to pay for a password manager.

Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family – Users over the age of 50 have an especially difficult time keeping their identities and bank accounts safe, as they may find that all of the practical sense they have developed over the years to spot scams in real life just don’t translate on the internet. Scammers know how vulnerable older generations can be on the web, and they take advantage of unsuspecting victims everyday. This can cause stress not just for seniors, but also for their entire family unit. Younger generations may also be fearful of how vulnerable their parents or grandparents are to internet fraud.

Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you? – Android tablets and Chromebooks are taking on all sorts of overlapping forms. Here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the ever-expanding maze of options.

Say goodbye to the keyboard: Tablets are now the only work device for four in ten workers – Who needs a keyboard, anyway? Nearly half of workers are doing all their work on a tablet, a proportion that’s set to rise rapidly. According to research from analyst firm IDC, tablets are now 40 percent of business users’ only enterprise device, a figure that rises further when two-in-one hybrid devices are added into the mix. While the majority of tablet users in enterprises currently still have at least one other work device, such as a desktop PC or notebook, according to Marta Fiorentini, IDC senior research analyst, standalone tablets’ share is set to increase.

How to use your smartphone less and be happier – Nine hours. That’s how much time college students spend on their phones each day, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. It’s not entirely surprising. Whether you’re waiting in line for coffee or out “watching” fireworks overhead, it seems like everyone has their phone out in some capacity. It’s as if we prefer the confines of a pocketable screen with the world only in peripheral. So let’s learn to be healthier about our smartphone habits — here are 10 tricks to help with that.

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? – The days of Windows being a system hog are gone. So modest are the requirements for Windows 10, you may be able to run it on machines that shipped with Windows Vista eight years ago. But just how low can Windows 10 go when it comes to PC specs? Since Microsoft released the OS for testing last year people have been loading Windows 10 onto hardware dating back to 2003 – eons ago on the PC refresh timescale. Here are the low-end and long-in-the-tooth machines that proved capable of running Windows 10.

Stop the inbox insanity! These 4 email managers can sort, organize, and delete for you – Email managers let you weed out junk mail, triage messages, and turn them into tasks.

Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy – Jumping from a multi-display desktop setup to a laptop can be a bit of a letdown, particularly if you’re rocking more than two displays. Fortunately, someone’s working on a way to double or triple your mobile screen space. The product is called Sliden’Joy, and it can clip a second and third display onto your laptop’s existing display. Or third and fourth, if you happen to be one of the select few who plunked down big bucks for a dual-screen laptop. Their pixel-packing panels come in three different sizes: 13, 15, and 17 inches. Sliden’Joy will come in several different finishes, too, so there ought to be one that’s a good fit for your notebook of choice. A single display (presumably the 13-incher) will run €199 (about $220), while dual-display packs start at €299 (about $330).

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Hooks, The App That Lets You Get A Notification For Almost Anything, Lands On Android And Apple Watch – Hooks, the app that sends you push notifications triggered by things that are important to you, has a new version for Android, as well as the now almost obligatory Apple Watch app. Previously, the latest version of Hooks was iOS only. Apple’s smartwatch platform seems particularly suited to a service that lets you pick from 100 or so ‘channels’, consisting of 1 million-plus user created alerts, to keep you updated on anything from the latest tweet, news article or sports score, or something more specific such as a change in stock price or the current bitcoin exchange rate.

Rdio launches new curated stations, brings them to more countries – Rdio has already offered curated stations in the United States, Canada, and UK, but now users can listen in from Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. A major perk of Apple’s Beats 1 station is its widespread availability, and this seems to be Rdio’s answer to that.

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Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – I go through phases with my writing. Sometimes I feel like every second sentence needs to start with “but,” then I start using “however,” which becomes “nevertheless,” and on and on it goes until the bad habit stops. For times like those, it’s handy to use a word frequency tool to understand how often I’m using problem words. Here are two ways to get that done. One is easy and the other is a little advanced.

Tinder clone for Apple Watch uses heartbeat to determine matches – Imagine an alternate way of using dating app Tinder, where instead of looking at profiles on your smartphone and swiping right or left, you simply glance at your Apple Watch and the app know if you’re attracted to someone based on your heart-rate changes. That’s the idea behind design agency T3’s concept “Hands-free Tinder.” T3 built its app with the use of Apple’s recently released Watch SDK for detecting a user’s heartbeat. They claim to be releasing the app “soon,” but unless it’s really a cooperation with Tinder, a name change seems likely.

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Google needs to fix what ails Chrome – Google Chrome has been (and still is) the single most popular browser on the planet. But recent issues with memory usage and stability have caused trust in Google’s go-to tool to wane.

Security:

Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild – Researchers sifting through the confidential material stolen from spyware developer Hacking Team have already uncovered a weaponized exploit for a currently unpatched vulnerability in Adobe Flash, and they also may have uncovered attack code targeting Microsoft Windows and a hardened Linux module known as SELinux. The exploits can be used to surreptitiously install Hacking Team surveillance software, or other types of malware, on vulnerable computers with little or no indication anything is amiss. If the exploits leaked from the colossal Hacking Team breach are limited to two or three unpatched vulnerabilities in Flash, Windows, and SELinux, the resulting damage will be much less severe than it might have been. Still, with 400 gigabytes of data to digest, there may yet be other surprises to find.

Hacking Team used shockingly bad passwords – One of the biggest hacks of the year — not just in scope and size, but impact — is over. As reporters and interested parties sift through the debris of the attack that left Hacking Team crippled, a big question remains. How was someone able to walk in and swipe what appears to be the company’s entire cache of corporate data? The company used weak passwords.

Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator – Palo Alto Networks found three variants of the malware, which it calls Gunpoder, masquerading as emulator applications used to play Nintendo games. Gunpoder apps can do a variety of invasive actions, including collecting bookmarks and browser histories, sending itself to other people over SMS, showing fraudulent advertisements and executing other code. And users get to pay for that data-stealing capability. When a Gunpoder app is launched, it asks users to buy a lifelong license for the emulator for US$0.20 or $0.49, payable through PayPal or Skrill.

Antivirus maker Avira is building a secure web browser – From the department of straightforward naming comes Avira Browser. Like most of the new custom browsers you’ve seen pop up, it’s based on Google’s open source Chromium code. That means it looks and functions very much like Chrome (for better or worse). Want to see what Avira Browser is all about? It’s currently a beta app, and unfortunately it’s not as easy to try as clicking a download link. You’ve got to create an account on Avira’s beta site, verify your email, and then apply to the Avira Browser beta. If you’re thought to be a worthy test pilot, they’ll send a link your way in a few days.

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Lizard Squad hacker draws suspended sentence for online attacks – A teenager who is apparently a member of the Lizard Squad hacker group has received a two-year suspended sentence in Finland in connection with various cybercrimes including attacks against U.S. university servers. The seventeen-year-old, known as “Zeekill” and “Ryan,” was charged with 50,700 counts of hacking and other offenses including credit card fraud, according to a Lizard Squad Twitter account and Finnish news reports. In a Twitter post, Lizard Squad gloated that “Zeekill got a suspended sentence for 2 years. 0 time spent in prison.”

Company News:

Samsung Electronic’s Earnings Guidance Points To Another Disappointing Quarter – Another quarter, another lackluster earnings guidance from Samsung Electronics. Heralded as Apple’s arch rival in “The Great Smartphone War” just two years ago, Samsung’s performance has declined as competition from a bevy of other Android makers cuts into its market share. The company said today that its Q2 2015 earnings will likely miss expectations. Its operating profit is expected to be 6.9 trillion won (about $6.13 billion), a four percent decline from a year ago, and below analysts’ expectations for 7.2 trillion won. Consolidated sales slipped eight percent to 48 trillion won, below forecasts for 53 trillion won.

Gartner: No help for the PC biz from Windows 10 – Windows 10 won’t help the struggling PC business out of its multi-year slump in 2015, researcher Gartner said today. But it might next year. “The release of Windows 10 on 29 July will contribute to a slowing professional demand for mobile PCs and premium ultra-mobiles in 2015, as lifetimes extend by three months,” said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement Tuesday. “However, as suppliers and buyers adjust to new prices, Windows 10 could boost replacements during 2016.” From Gartner’s perspective, the mere appearance of Windows 10 will result in delayed replacement PC purchases as enterprises and other large organizations put plans on hold as they begin evaluating the OS.

Jolla splits business, refocuses efforts on software – Its been a little over two years since the birth of Jolla. The company was created shortly after then-CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, dismantled the Meego team and decided to pioneer Nokia’s future with Windows Phone. While things didn’t fair so well for Nokia, the ex-Nokia staff that formed Jolla has slowly and steadily solidified its small place in the mobile world. Today, Jolla has announced that they will refocus their efforts on their Sailfish OS licensing and development business and create a new company dedicated to hardware.

AMD preannounces lower revenue due to poor demand for its APUs – AMD warned Monday that its second-quarter revenues would fall by 8%, due to a lower demand for PCs than it had previously expected. AMD said previously that revenue could fall by as much as 3%. AMD specifically blamed weaker-than-expected demand for its APUs, which combine a CPU and a graphics chip and make up its A-series product line. The company had already slashed A-series APU prices in late 2014 to help move product. In the second quarter, AMD said, it expects channel sales and channel inventory reduction efforts to be in line with the company’s plans.

Uber wants to buy Tesla’s entire first batch of self-driving cars – It’s no secret Uber is excited about our future of self-driving cars. The company’s business model revolves around drivers using their own vehicles to transport goods and people, but for Uber those drivers represent a significant expense. Self-driving cars, assuming the legislation will reach a point where drivers are no longer required, will eliminate that expense. Uber made partnerships in recent times to work on autonomous driving technologies, and more recently the ridesharing service’s CEO has expressed a lot of interest in Tesla’s future self-driving vehicles.

Sony not looking to exit mobile market, says CEO – Sony Mobile has been struggling to compete in the smartphone market, but the company’s CEO has revealed that it is in the process of turning things around with a long term strategy and won’t be exiting the space. Ever since inexpensive, feature-packed smartphones started making their way to the market, traditional high-quality device makers such as HTC and Sony have found it hard to sell their own devices, especially in emerging markets which are responsible for high volume sales.

Games and Entertainment:

You can now subscribe to Showtime online – Showtime is now offering an online subscription, allowing customers to watch its shows and movies without also getting cable. The subscription is being offered through a few different apps and sites, including Showtime’s iPhone and iPad apps, the Apple TV, Roku, Hulu, and PlayStation Vue. The subscription costs $10.99 — although some services, like Hulu, are offering it for less — and grants access to Showtime’s back catalog, its currently screening films, and even some of its live feeds.

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Sony just rolled out a big UI update to its PS Now game streaming service – PlayStation Now, Sony’s “Netflix for gaming” service that rolled out last year, hasn’t changed dramatically since it launched. The company added a much-needed subscription option earlier this year to help fix the otherwise crazy pricing structure PS Now had for game rentals, but there otherwise hasn’t been much in the way of updates to speak of. That changes today — a major user interface update has just been pushed out to PlayStation Now on the PS4. The update was included in last week’s PS4 software update, but Sony is just now turning it on.

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Australian online video subscriptions jump sixfold in six months – The arrival of Netflix, Stan, and Presto has seen the number of Australians subscribing to video-streaming services jump from 315,000 at the end of 2014 to 2 million by the end of June, according to Telsyte.

Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off; here are all the best deals – Dozens of games are marked down for the duration of the event, which begins today and ends July 13, including Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and more. Check out a breakdown of this week’s Deals With Gold and Ultimate Game Sale offers below. All deals are good through July 13 and require an Xbox Live Gold subscription except where otherwise noted.

Excellent! Harry Shearer returning to ‘The Simpsons’ – The voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers and a ton of other Springfield regulars signs a new deal that will keep him on the show for at least four more seasons.

Off Topic (Sort of):

CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company – We all know telecoms are evil. But as an individual, there’s rarely a way to fight back. Enter CrowdSuit, a new company that aims to help phone customers seek legal redress against phone companies even when they cannot file class action suits. Telecoms increasingly are including a contract provision that prevents customers from filing class action lawsuits against them. Because the cost of an individual lawsuit is often greater than the damages a customer would receive if they won a suit on an issue like throttling, it’s not worth it for them to sue alone. As a result, no one sues, and the telecoms get a free ride. In some states just filing a lawsuit would cost $70, and the amount customers could win by filing would be far less than that.

This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids – Earlier this year the BBC announced that it planned to give one million students across the UK a programmable microcomputer, called the BBC Micro Bit, to help them learn the basics of coding. Now four months later, the design of the device has been finalized, ahead of its scheduled rollout date in October. The Micro Bit features two buttons, an array of programmable LED lights, and an in-built motion sensor. Users can connect their microcomputer to bigger devices by Bluetooth or USB, or to the similarly tiny Raspberry Pi through it’s input-output rings.

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This Is Apple and Google’s Next Big Battleground – For most of my 35-year technology career, fights over operating systems have dominated the landscape. First, it was MS-DOS againt the original Apple II OS. Then it shifted to Microsoft’s Windows vs. the Mac OS. Today it’s between Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Google’s Android and Chrome OS. These wars have become ideological, with fanboys and devout followers in each camp. But there’s another fight brewing, too — the battle over artificial intelligence, or AI.

Russian government issues guide to avoiding hazardous selfies – Technically Incorrect: It may seem like common sense not to stray too near an approaching train while taking a selfie. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

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Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft – Life vests are effective, but bulky. They’re not the sort of thing you haul around with you wherever you go. The Kingii on Indiegogo wants to save your life by being attached to your body at all times when you’re enjoying a day at the ocean or the pool. The 4.9-ounce Kingii (pronounced “kin-gee”) is worn on the wrist. A lever triggers a carbon dioxide cartridge to inflate an orange, balloon-like float. The float pulls you back up to the surface of the water, whether you’re out surfing or taking a dip in a pool. Cartridges can be swapped out to make the wristband reusable. The Kingii appears to be going gangbusters on Indiegogo. The initial $65,000 funding goal has been engulfed by over $445,000 in pledges with 23 days left to run. However, $400,000 of that comes from one anonymous backer.

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10 Spectacular Building Demolitions – In this roundup, we pay tribute to the bold men and women who bring down buildings for a living by sharing incredible footage of them at work. These are some of the most ambitious, technically difficult, or just plain cool to look at building demolitions ever caught on tape.

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Study hints kids are future cord-cutters – The television industry has been scrambling to stave off the pressure it feels from services like Netflix and the subscribers it is losing to them. Its efforts may prove to be in vain, however, at least according to a recent study. Miner & Co. Studio conducted research and has found that 57-percent of kids prefer watching videos on their tablet or smartphone rather than on a television. In addition, a common parental discipline might be driving kids further away from television, causing them to associate it with punishment.

Something to think about:

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

–      Muhammad Ali

Today’s Free Downloads:

160WiFi – 160WiFi provides a free WiFi hotspot. No hidden cost, no function limit, and never waste your money on those expensive ones that won’t work.

Enjoy Wi-Fi anywhere. 160WiFi offers the greatest choice of available Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere like home, office, airport and so on.

Secure. 160WiFi is safe to use. With strong password security, It allows no one to connect to your wireless hotspot without your permission.

Save money. 160WiFi can turn your computer into a wireless router, allowing your phone or other portable devices to connect the hotspot to surf the internet for free. This cut the data usage of your phone and save much money.

Easy to use. Download, install and connect – only a few clicks.

Features:

Totally free and secure, fully used; No advertising, no annoying pop-ups

Turn laptop/desktop (with a working wireless adapter) into WiFi hotspot in seconds

Easily Manage your computer on the connected Android, iOS and other portable devices

Save cellular data & avoid overcharges

Handy network speed detection

Easy to use, no need of advanced configuration

PaperScan Free – PaperScan is a powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on one idea : making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

You have many different scanners or plan to buy new scanner? PaperScan is simply universal while most of the scanning applications are dedicated to one scanner or one protocol.

With PaperScan you can control any scanner ( TWAINor WIA)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senate advances secret plan forcing Internet services to report terror activity – The Senate Intelligence Committee secretly voted on June 24 in favor of legislation requiring e-mail providers and social media sites to report suspected terrorist activities.

The legislation, approved 15-0 in a closed-door hearing, remains “classified.” The relevant text is contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, a committee aide told Ars by telephone early Monday. Its veil of secrecy would be lifted in the coming days as the package heads to the Senate floor, the aide added.

The proposal comes as the Islamic State and other terror groups have taken to the Internet to gain converts across the globe, including in the United States. The FBI issued a public warning in March about American teens being susceptible to the Islamic State’s online recruitment tactics. And the Brookings Institute estimated in March that there were as many as 70,000 pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts. Twitter has removed tens of thousands of these terror propaganda accounts, which violate its terms of service.

FBI chief: Strong encryption lets bad guys ‘communicate with impunity’ – The director of the FBI has called for a “robust” debate over the use of encryption, but has admitted there may be no easy way to protect both security and privacy.

FBI chief James Comey warned that the increasing use of strong encryption will make it harder for law enforcement to access email or other digital conversations.

“There is simply no doubt that bad people can communicate with impunity in a world of universal strong encryption,” he said in a post for the Lawfare blog, and warned this will have an impact on public safety.

Apple’s and Google’s encryption plans have not gone down well with US law enforcement, and the agency’s director says the companies are leading us down a dark path.

He wrote: “That tension is vividly illustrated by the current ISIL threat, which involves ISIL operators in Syria recruiting and tasking dozens of troubled Americans to kill people, a process that increasingly takes part through mobile messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, communications that may not be intercepted, despite judicial orders under the Fourth Amendment.”

Thanks to the Edward Snowden revelations about pervasive internet snooping by US and UK intelligence agencies, tech companies have been turning to encryption to protect their customers’ conversations. This has led to claims from law enforcement that important sources of intelligence are ‘going dark’.

Top Security Experts Say Government Limits On Encryption Present Risks –  A group of top cybersecurity experts reported today that giving law enforcement special access to encrypted data for investigations would pose “major security risks.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab report included input from cryptography expert Bruce Schneier and researchers from MIT, Stanford University, Columbia University, Cambridge University, Johns Hopkins University, Microsoft Research, SRI International and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Since October, U.S. law enforcement officials have called for a special door that would allow government agencies to access encrypted data that could help them in investigations. The report tells us that a backdoor for the government and law enforcement also provides an opening that could be exploited by hackers.

The experts argue such special access points “pose far more grave security risks, imperil innovation on which the world’s economies depend, and raise more thorny policy issues than we could have imagined when the Internet was in its infancy.”

Former A.G. Eric Holder says Snowden deal is possible – The “possibility exists” for the U.S. Department of Justice to cut a deal that would allow surveillance leaker Edward Snowden to return to the U.S., a former attorney general said in a media interview.

Snowden, who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, “spurred a necessary debate” about the collection of U.S. telephone records, former Attorney General Eric Holder told Yahoo News.

The DOJ, however, hasn’t changed its official position on Snowden, a spokesman said. The DOJ wants Snowden to return to the U.S. from Russia and face criminal charges, the spokesman said by email.

Holder, who left the DOJ earlier this year, filed espionage charges against Snowden in 2013.

Holder declined to give Yahoo News details about what a possible deal with Snowden would look like.

NSA officials have reportedly considered a plea deal for Snowden, including some jail time. But Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s lawyers, rejected the possibility of pleading guilty to a felony.

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Filed under downloads, Free Software Downloads, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News, Online Safety, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 6, 2015

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe;  5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network;  14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore;  The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook;  How to take dreamy long exposure photos;  The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender;  See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI;  Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked;  Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes;  The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far);  Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China);  Personal Health In The Digital Age;  Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday;  GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents;  Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles?  Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app (free);  US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany;  InternetOff (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe – It doesn’t take a coding genius to steal your Social Security number, but you can be smarter than identity thieves.

5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network – Thanks to Wi-Fi every device in your home can easily get online, whether it’s your iPad, desktop PC, the high-definition television in the living room, and maybe even your coffee pot or fridge. But are you getting the most out of your wireless Internet connection? Is it truly as fast as your service provider claims? Are the neighbors screwing up your signal? Do you know how to connect all your various devices together to share files at home? Here are five free Wi-Fi-enhancing tools that can help you answer “yes” to all of those questions.

14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – Facebook is a magnet for some of the top engineering talent in the world, so it stands to reason that the company would boast one of the world’s most complex and multi-faceted websites. It rivals many standalone software apps with the sheer amount of personalization, tweaks, and tinkering available to visitors. In fact, there are so many things you can do on Facebook.com that you probably don’t know about them all.

Facebook Tests Features That Make Sharing GIFs In Messenger Easier Than Ever – Facebook really wants you to use GIFs inside Messenger. The company recently unleashed a series of GIF apps from third-parties which work inside Messenger — as part of its Messenger platform initiative — but it is now going beyond that with a series of pilots that bring GIFs right into Messenger without those apps.

Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore – For the past eight years, Melanie, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, shared her Chandler, Ariz. home with several roommates. But when she finally got the place to herself this past spring, she felt her newfound privacy came at the cost of security. So, she decided buy a Canary all-in-one home security device, placing it in the bedroom of her 2,000-square-foot house. Here’s the footage from Melanie’s Canary, provided by the company and posted here with Melanie’s permission:

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The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook – Android and Chrome are better together. Google continues to tie the laces between the two operating systems, giving developers—and adventurous everyday users—the tools to put Android apps on Chrome OS. Be warned: This effort is definitely in the early stages, so if you’re uncomfortable with running into some glitches along the way then it may be best to tread very slowly before trying to turn your Chromebook into a second home for all your Android apps.

How to take dreamy long exposure photos – Long exposure photography is a great technique to play with and lends itself particularly to clouds moving across landscapes, waves crashing onto rocky shores, or busy night-time city streets. It doesn’t even require expensive kit or hours of training to get started. Read through this guide to find out how you can create your own slow shutter masterpieces.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Reddit’s Subreddits Pop Back Online After Brief Protest – That didn’t take long. A sea of protests recently hit the popular social sharing site Reddit, resulting in a number of the more popular subreddits going private—including many of those that new users are subscribed to, by default, when they join the site. However, many of these subreddits are now back online; the protest, it seems, was a bit more of a sneeze than a siege. As of Saturday morning, all of these 50 default subreddits were online. That’s not to say that the small protest wasn’t extraordinarily successful at getting attention, though.

Petition for Pao resignation from Reddit grows to 130K – An online petition calling for the resignation of Ellen Pao, Reddit’s interim CEO, has attracted more than 130,000 signatures, growing rapidly in the past two days since the dismissal of a key administrator at the community-curated news site. The Change.org petition describes a lack of confidence in Pao, who petition organizers accuse of ushering in “a new age of censorship” and worry that she will “run Reddit into the ground.” The petition, which was launched three weeks ago, grew from 16,000 signatures on Friday to more than 130,000 two days later after the alleged firing of Victoria Taylor, one of the social news site’s highest profile administrators.

Browsy Is a Fullscreen, Distraction-Free Browser for iOS – Browsy’s main pitch is it’s fullscreen, distraction-free view. Basically, load up a web page and you’re treated with a great fullscreen view for easy browsing. No URL bar, no buttons, nothing. Beyond that Browsy also has some clever DuckDuckGo integration that adds some Omnibar tricks, and a useful “Keep screen awake” button that comes in handy if you’re reading recipes or how-to guides. It’s not going to replace Safari or Chrome by any means, but it does have its uses if you’re looking for a simpler browser.

The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender – After spending a total of 110 hours researching 25 different Wi-Fi extenders (and testing 10 of them), plus analyzing reviews and owner feedback, we found that the $100 Netgear EX6200 is the best Wi-Fi extender for most people right now.  It costs as much as a great router and it shouldn’t be the first thing you try to fix your Wi-Fi range, but it has the best combination of range, speed, flexibility, and physical connections of any extender we tested.

Image reveals BlackBerry’s new Android slider with dual-curved display – BlackBerry’s new handset features a slide-out keyboard, and has apparently been revealed in a leaked image, showing a Galaxy S6 edge-style dual-curved display, and what seems to be stock Android.

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See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI – Last month the trippy so-called “dream” photos created by Google’s Artificial Neural Networks took the Internet by storm, and the response was split down the middle: some found the photos, which include things like a “pig-snail” and random faces, to be fun and creative while others found them creepy. If you’re skewed toward the former group and want to see what your own photos look like through the eyes of AI, you’re in luck. A new tool gives you a peek.

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Security:

Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked – Italian surveillance software slingers Hacking Team has allegedly been cracked by hackers, who exfiltrated some 400Gbs of data. The plunder has been uploaded to BitTorrent in a monstrous listing of directories, allegedly including audio recordings, emails, and source code. Hacking Team sells the Da Vinci malware surveillance software to law enforcement agencies claiming to only deal with ethical governments. It is marked as an Enemy of the Internet by activist outfit Reporters Without Borders. The trove also allegedly reveals all Hacking Team customers and when they purchased the software. The company is said to count Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Lebanon among its customers.

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Tasty Spam: Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes – Criminals are getting creative about getting users to open up malicious file attachments in emails. Cloudmark tells us what warning signs to look for the next time a resume lands in your inbox.

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China hacks ‘everything that doesn’t move’ says Hilary Clinton – In widely-reported remarks made at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Clinton said China is “ … trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America. Stealing commercial secrets … from defence contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage.” Any aspiring commander in chief needs to sound credible on foreign policy, so Clinton’s remarks are to be expected and are likely intended for a domestic audience as much as they are for Chinese ears. China, of course, says the same about America and can point to the works of one E. Snowden, late of Moscow, when asked for proof about its statements. Clinton’s not backed her remarks with new information, although her status as a former secretary of state gives her comments a little extra weight.

Plex hacker demands Bitcoin ransom for return of data – Video streaming service Plex has reset user passwords after it was breached by a hacker who threatened to release stolen data unless he’s paid a ransom. Someone going by the nickname “Savata” claimed responsibility for the breach and threatened to release the data on torrent networks if a ransom wasn’t paid in bitcoins. Savata asked for 9.5 bitcoins ($2,400) but wrote that the ransom would increase to 14.5 bitcoins if it wasn’t paid by Friday, according to a copy of the message posted on Reddit. “I don’t care who the BTC comes from as long as the payment is made: no data will be released,” Savata wrote.

Presidential hopeful Trump wants to keep this country safe, but can’t even keep your credit card safe – In case you missed it, Donald Trump has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming presidential race. Apparently, that means he’s far too busy to make sure his hotel chain has adequate network security in place. The Trump Hotel Collection has just reported that their credit card processing system has been breached. Executive VP Eric Trump downplayed the situation, saying “like virtually every other company these days, we have been alerted to potential suspicious credit card activity.” So yeah, it’s no big deal that the credit card you used to secure your $500-per-night hotel room in SoHo may have been snatched by criminals. It’s happening to everyone.

Company News:

Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China) – ShanghaiDaily reports that in China, Samsung will have some explaining to do about the amount of crapware it ships in its smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission has sued Samsung (and Chinese OEM Oppo) for loading up devices with crapware. The commission studied 20 smartphones and said that many pre-installed apps were un-removable and eat into customers’ data plans. The commission specifically calls out the Galaxy Note 3, which had 44 apps installed (stock KitKat with the full Google Play suite ships with 31 apps) and the Oppo Find 7a, which had a whopping 71 apps.

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Samsung’s app selection from the Galaxy S5.

Startup Sues A Domain Name Owner To Grab A 16-Year-Old URL – Jason Kneen is a programmer and happens to own about a hundred domain names picked up over a sixteen year period. One of those, workbetter.com, he purchased in 1999 and it has been available on his site for years. In late April 2014 a company, OfficeLinks, approached him about buying the domain for use as a URL for their co-working space. It’s a tale old as the Internet: someone has and idea and the URL is taken. The owner and the startup hash out a deal and sometimes those deals fall through. When that happens most startups head back to the drawing board. For OfficeLinks, however, it was straight to the lawyers.

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Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday – To celebrate its 20th birthday, Amazon is introducing Prime Day, a “global shopping event” that the retail giant says will offer more deals than Black Friday. The deals will become available at midnight ET on July 15th, but will only be available to Amazon Prime customers in the US, the UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria. Amazon says new deals will be introduced as fast as every ten minutes, and will come from every product category, from clothing to electronics.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far) – I don’t want to blow your mind, but it’s already July. I know. Crazy. And it’s been one hell of a year so far for video games— The Witcher 3! Kerbal Space Program! Grim Effin’ Fandango! Phew. We’re on track already to have one of those years—you know, like 1998. Or 2007. And we haven’t even entered the fall reviews season yet, where we’ll see heavy hitters this year like Fallout 4 and SOMA. So while there’s still time to catch our breath, let’s take a look back at the first six months of 2015—and the best PC games so far this year (in no particular order).

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Book of Unwritten Tales 2

Nintendo to aim for a “free-to-start” mobile gaming model – By announcing its plans to start a presence on mobile, Nintendo has practically sealed its fate in that part of the market. But, as with many advanced announcement, details of those plans haven’t been fleshed out or, in some cases, might be totally non-existent. Nintendo isn’t divulging much of its plans for the future but, at a recent shareholders’ meeting, CEO Satoru Iwata revealed one aspect of its mobile business plan. It wants to distance itself from the negative image of “free-to-play” and will instead adopt a “free-to-start” business model. In other words, we’re back to the days of demoware.

Play Pong Inside Microsoft Bing – Microsoft is now wading into the black-and-white waters of Pong. If you head over to Bing and search for Pong, you’ll be able to play a very simple version of the game right in your browser. Yes, you’re playing against the computer and, yes, it’s classic Pong—nothing crazy, just paddles and a ball. Still, it’s…fun? The game appears to work in all browsers. The first to five is the winner, but you can always click to play again, and again, and again.

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Mojang unveils new “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta” – If you are an avid fan of Microsoft-owned Mojang’s “Minecraft”, you’ll be pleased to hear that the company has announced a new version of the game designed specially for Windows 10 PCs. Aptly named as “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta”, this game will make its way to the Windows Store on the 29th of July, the same day Windows 10 launches.

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Netflix’s Lemony Snicket trailer isn’t for the squeamish – Hot on the camp trail of “Wet Hot America Summer,” Netflix is now out with a teaser for its take on “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a young-adult book series that combines dark humor and fantasy elements. The trailer is full of icky critters, from spiders flooding out of a gramophone to a toothy leech creature flailing in a jar. There’s some bug-squishing action and plenty of wriggling worms. It should get fans plenty excited about the new adaptatation.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Solar Impulse breaks record for longest sun-powered flight – The 4,000-mile leg — considered one of the most dangerous because there was no immediate landing zone if the plane ran into trouble — set a record for the world’s longest solar-powered flight both in terms of time and distance. It also was the longest solo flight by time. But the landing also furthers Solar Impulse’s larger mission: to legitimize the possibility of zero-fuel airplanes in the future. While there are no plans to bring a solar-powered airplane to the passenger industry anytime soon, the Solar Impulse 2 presents a possible alternative to fuel-guzzling airplanes.

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Personal Health In The Digital Age – We live in the digital age. You know that already. Two out of three Americans are now smartphone owners, and more than 86 percent of the population is connected online. But while digital has permeated everything from our social lives to how we work and how we shop, it is only starting to touch how we manage health.

GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents – GM has announced that it will be offering a way for parents to track their teens’ driving behavior in order to help cut down on accidents. The new system can be set to track the distance driven, the maximum speed traveled, any over-speed warnings issued during a drive, stability control events, antilock brake events, forward collision alerts and forward-collision braking events (if the vehicle is equipped to offer them).

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The Teen Driver system will be displayed as a report card on the MyLink telematics system.

Adam Smith was right about that invisible hand, you know – We have a nice little empirical proof that Adam Smith really was right about us all being guided by that invisible hand. Yeah, I know, you’re sooo tired of the free market maniac telling you that governments are all wet and laissez faire is where it should be. Except that’s not something Smith ever said nor is it what he meant by ‘invisible hand’. What he did mean was this from Barry Ritholtz:

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Remy Martin puts NFC chip in its Cognac to prove they are genuine – How do you tell a fine, authentic cognac from some knockoff in a fake bottle? Right now that requires a keen eye and an interest in cognac, but in the near future it might only require a smartphone with an NFC chip. Premium alcohol maker Rémy Martin has started production of a new “connected” bottle with an NFC tag to guarantee freshness and authenticity. Truly this is the future.

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See winning National Geographic nature photos snapped by kids – Kids between the ages of 9 and 17 are showing off their camera talents with a collection of pictures capturing crackling light bulbs, swarming ocean life and a curious young sea lion. National Geographic Kids selected 10 winning images taken by youthful photographers to display at the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C. The pictures rotate inside a digital frame and represent a wide spectrum of both natural and man-made subjects.

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A brightly painted swing ride opens up into the sky like an overgrown flower in this photo taken by 15-year-old Jordana Collins.

Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles? – One of the more challenging jobs the auto industry has right now is explaining to consumers that the future isn’t going to be like the past. We desperately need to reduce vehicle carbon emissions in order to avoid turning the planet into a hellscape, and that means turning to cars with some kind of energy storage other than hydrocarbons we’ve dug up from the ground and then distilled. That’s where people get confused and the message stalls, a problem laid out in a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences.

Something to think about:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”

–       Hermann Goering ‘On War And The People’

Today’s Free Downloads:

Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app – Salient Eye Turns your spare android smartphone into a motion detector burglar alarm system! The app uses the phone’s camera as a motion-sensor. Your phone will capture photos of intruders moving in front of the camera and will instantly send them to you. Once sufficient evidence has been collected, your phone will also sound a noisy alarm.

With “SalientEye Remote Control” app you can start and stop the Salient Eye without touching the device,it runs on.

You can leave a device with Salient Eye security system installed at the

position you want, connected to charger and no longer touch it.

You can control the alarm from your primary device.

Main features:

Push notifications on motion detection events.

Start/Stop Salient Eye on the other device

Get Current picture from Salient Eye on the other device

Connect as many remotes and as many salient eye devices as you wish.

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InternetOff  – InternetOff is a free tool that allows you to quickly turn off\on your internet connection from the system tray.

Why it’s needed:

The main and inherent problem with always being online is that you are too connected. Twitter, RSS feeds, YouTube video, answering email or IM message… And again from the start of the list. You only react on those “incoming” things instead of act. When you go offline all those distractions disappear. There’s no Twitter. No chat. No web. Only you and your tasks. Since you cannot consume you have to create so that something happens.

InternetOff allows you to quickly turn off the internet so that you can go offline. When you need the connection, you can enable the internet easily for some period (and it will be automatically turned off) or permanently in just two clicks. Besides the program lets you password protect access to the internet.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany – Evidence that the US government has spied on German officials is sadly commonplace, but now it appears that the Obama administration’s efforts went beyond government officials. Der Spiegel says it has filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutors office wherein it claims its journalists were the victims of a spying campaign, based on documents it has obtained.

At the same time, CNN is also reporting that it has obtained evidence that the US government spied on Der Spiegel. Jake Tapper tells the story of a US official who could have been representing either the CIA or NSA going to the German government’s intelligence coordinator, Günter Heiss, and demanding he do something about a deputy (Hans-Josef Vorbeck) who was supposedly leaking information to the press. In response, Heiss reportedly traveled to Washington to discuss the alleged leaks and his government opened a file about “U.S. protocols of intercepted communications between Vorbeck and journalists.” The incidents took place back in 2011, well before the Snowden leaks revealed the extent of the US government’s spying to the world. Vorbeck was apparently reassigned, though at The Intercept reports the alleged reasoning for the reassignment is only now coming to light.

Canadians Seek to Halt Fair Elections Act, Compare It to Voter Suppression in the US – Young and Indigenous voters could have a harder time casting ballots in Canada’s fall election thanks to the contentious new Fair Elections Act. On Thursday, two groups went to court to ask a judge for an urgent injunction to put the Act on hold.

“The public confidence in the election may hang in the balance,” Steven Shrybman, a lawyer representing the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), told the Ontario Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

The Fair Elections Act, which the applicants compared to voter suppression efforts in the US, removes the ability of electors to use voter information cards they receive through the mail, and could prevent tens of thousands of Canadians from casting ballots in the upcoming Oct. 19 election, Shrybman argued.

“The tenor of all this is basically, we don’t want you to vote,” Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, told VICE outside the court Thursday afternoon. “Our other concern is that fewer people are voting every year.”

Only 39 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 25 voted in the last election, she pointed out.

“This kind of legislation basically says: you’re not welcome, don’t bother. And that’s the big concern—that it’s just anti-democratic,” she argued. “It dissuades people from voting.”

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 3, 2015

6 Secret Tricks For Photographing Fireworks With Your Phone;  Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs?  21 Spotify Tricks That Will Make You a Streaming Samurai;  Chicago adds ‘amusement tax’ to services like Netflix and Hulu;   Hacktivist group possibly compromised hundreds of websites;   Here’s How India Is Getting Serious About Wi-Fi;  Best mobile games of June 2015 (pictures);   Snapchat update gives your finger a rest;  Swappa Price helps you determine how much a device is worth;   6 Must-Know Tricks for Mastering Apple Music ;  7 common iOS problems and how to fix them (pictures);  Which version of Windows 10 is for you? Microsoft’s feature chart will help you decide;  How Ads Follow You from Phone to Desktop to Tablet;  This Chrome Bug Makes It Hard to Tell If You’re on the Real Facebook;  Sources say WB knew Arkham Knight PC was horribly broken;  Fix the Cloud, or Give Up;  AVG LinkScanner (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

6 Secret Tricks For Photographing Fireworks With Your Phone – Firework photography is like the fish that got away. Every summer (or New Year’s Eve), you think you’ve finally mastered your smartphone camera chops to snap a magnificent cascade of falling sparks, only to be left with a camera roll full of blurs. But this year, with just a little advance planning, maybe you’ll finally reel in the big one, whether it’s a golden horsetail, a fiery chrysanthemum, or a sparkling peony. (Those are all firework effects, not fish names.) Here’s how to take great fireworks photos with just your smartphone:

Snapchat update gives your finger a rest – A tweak to the popular messaging app lets you view snaps without having to hold down your finger. It also includes an extra layer of security and new ways to add friends.

6 Must-Know Tricks for Mastering Apple Music – The $9.99-per-month service is trying to beat competitors like Spotify and Google Play Music by cramming in as many features as possible: access to 30 million songs on demand, playlists curated by music experts, algorithmically powered radio stations and a live radio station like the ones you hear on the classic FM dial. All those features add up to make Apple Music an incredibly powerful app, but also one that can be pretty challenging to navigate. Here are five quick tips to make the experience a bit more seamless:

CyanogenMod team shows off Gello, a customizable browser based on Chromium – The newest Android browser project has a lot of security settings, making it ideal for the privacy conscious. Based off open-source Chromium, it’s still a work in progress. And Cyanogen hasn’t shared whether it will only work on devices powered by its operating system variant or if it will end up in the Play Store. The video gives you a pretty good idea, however, of how it will look and perform.

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Not everyone will get Windows 10 on its July 29th release date – It sounds as though Windows Insiders — who are already testing Windows 10 — will be able to receive the update on July 29th. After that, people who have gone through the Windows 10 reservation process will begin to receive the ability to update to the new OS. When the rollout hits them, Windows 10 will download to their computers before they’re presented with the option to update. It actually seems like a smooth and sensible update process, even if it may disappoint some who were hoping to jump in right on day one. Microsoft doesn’t state how long it expects the rollout to take.

Which version of Windows 10 is for you? Microsoft’s feature chart will help you decide – Later this month, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 and for consumers who want to know the differences between Home and Pro SKUs, the company has released a new chart that will make the decision a bit easier. Posted below is the chart that details the differences between Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education. For the enterprise, there is only one option and the same goes for education, so this chart is most beneficial to the consumer to see if they need the Home or Pro SKU.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 10162 ISOs ahead of release to Slow Ring – Microsoft released build 10162 to the fast ring just yesterday marking the 3rd build in just four days. With the weekend approaching, they have decided to make the ISOs available ahead of the Slow Ring release, which we are expecting to drop next week. If you have been waiting on the ISO’s to perform a clean install, you can download those now.

Swappa Price helps you determine how much a device is worth – A new app from Swappa, a website for buying and selling used smartphones, wants to take the pain out of determining the value of your old smartphones.

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21 Spotify Tricks That Will Make You a Streaming Samurai – Spotify’s a magical, minimalist piece of software that beams all the world’s recorded music (well, nearly all the world’s recorded music) directly to his computer. For free! Of course, users have the option of upgrading to Spotify Premium, which ditches the ads and allows for offline and restriction-free smartphone and tablet listening. Or they can just do what most users do (including a certain baby boomer I know) and rent out their earholes to Spotify’s advertisers for complimentary access. But regardless of how you listen, you may not be taking full advantage of what Spotify has to offer.

7 common iOS problems and how to fix them (pictures) – Let’s face it, our phones aren’t perfect. They can be slow, have trouble powering on, and suffer from terrible battery life. These are some quick fixes for some of the most common problems iPhone and iPad owners face.

GarageBand can now upload songs straight to Apple Music Connect – Apple is trying to make it easier for artists to go from creating a song to getting it in front of fans. It updated GarageBand this week to allow for tracks to be published from the app into Apple Music’s Connect section, a social area that allows artists to post news, photos, and songs.

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Apple Music Is Cheaper Depending on Where You Live – Apple Music may cost about $10 per month in the United States, but that’s not the case everywhere. The music streaming service, which rolls out in more than 100 countries this week, is considerably cheaper in parts of Asia and South America. In India, a subscription will cost about $2 per month, according to Quartz. In Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand, the cost is about $5. These countries also have the group membership subscription, which costs $15 in the U.S., offered at a similar discount.

Skype for Business preview gets meeting broadcasts and more – Microsoft has announced a new Skype for Business technical preview available for Office 365 enterprise users. The preview ushers in a trio of new features, two of which are limited to customers located in the United States. The new Skype Meeting Broadcast is perhaps the most notable change for enterprise users, allowing customers worldwide to broadcast a meeting taking place over Skype for Business to up to 10,000 users across multiple devices.

Microsoft updates Health, support for Golf now rolling out – Microsoft has updated its Health app for Windows Phone users and has added Golf support to the app; the update is rolling out now and should be arriving on your device shortly.

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How to use PPAs to install bleeding-edge software in Ubuntu and Linux Mint – PPAs are a great way for Linux users to install software that’s unavailable in central repositories, but carry some risks you need to be aware of.

There’s even an app for dogs and cats scared of fireworks – Fireworks and other loud noises account for nearly 20% of missing pets, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA Pet Safety app shows pet owners ways to search for a lost animal that are tailored to the pet’s personality and where the pet went missing. It also helps an owner create a digital lost pet flyer to share quickly over a user’s social networks. Tips for ensuring a pet’s safety are included, as well as a place to store medical information and other vital stats about a pet. There’s even a field to store a pet’s specific embedded identity chip number for quick reference in an emergency.

Turn multi-page web articles into a single, scrolling page with this extension – Autopagerize is an add-on for Chrome and Firefox that automatically loads the next page as you scroll.

Reddit Moderators Are Locking Up The Site’s Most Popular Pages In Protest – The moderators behind a number of the most popular subreddits on the site — which is known as the front page of internet — have made their communities private, thus shutting them off from the internet, in protest of the departure of a key Reddit staffer and ongoing poor communications.

Security:

How Ads Follow You from Phone to Desktop to Tablet – Advertisers are increasingly using technology that targets users across multiple devices, and it’s working. For advertisers, the process is divine in its own right. Over the past year, companies have substantially and successfully stepped up repeat ad targeting to the same user across home and work computers, smart phones and tablets. With little fanfare, the strategy is fast becoming the new norm.

Media Server Company Plex Hacked – Forum Servers Affected, But Payment Info Safe – Plex, a popular application that lets users organize and stream their media collections across devices, has been hacked. However, the attackers were only able to compromise the servers hosting the company’s forums and blog – not account information or users’ financial data, the latter which Plex says is not stored on its own servers at all. That being said, many Plex users had forum accounts which are linked to their Plex.tv account, which means that both accounts have been compromised as a result of the attack. As a precaution, Plex is blocking those users from accessing their accounts until they complete a password reset.

This Chrome Bug Makes It Hard to Tell If You’re on the Real Facebook – Is the website you’re looking at on your screen really the website you wanted to visit? Thanks to a newly-discovered bug in Google’s Chrome browser, the answer to that question might sometimes be “no.” Security researchers have found a bug in Chrome that allows a website to spoof its address, essentially pretending to be a different web page. Mustafa Al-Bassam, a computer science student at King’s College London and former member of the Anonymous hacking offshoot LulzSec, created a demo to showcase how the bug can be exploited, making a webpage that pretends to be Facebook.com, but isn’t.

LG won’t fix malware slinging bloatware update hole – The the Budapest University of Technology and Economics’ Security Evaluation and Research Laboratory (SEARCH-LAB) says “malicious attackers controlling the network are able to install arbitrary applications” on LG’s Android phones, thanks to a flaw in their software update mechanism. The Lab says the flaw impacts “all Android based LG Smart Phones”, thanks to the “Update Centre” LG installs on its hardware to handle upgrades to the non-standard apps it uses to pollute handsets with bloatware add value in a crowded market. SEARCH-LAB says it informed LG of the flaw in November 2014. LG users can defend themselves by disabling the automatic update feature and only installing updates over trusted WiFi connections.

Harvard Reveals It Had An IT Breach In June Impacting 8 Colleges And Administrations – A seventeenth-century university has become the victim of a twenty-first-century crime. Harvard University on Wednesday announced that on June 19, it discovered a breach in the IT systems of its Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Central Administration, currently impacting eight different schools and administrative organizations at the university. A copy of the memo from Anne Margulies, VP and Harvard’s CIO, announcing the intrusion to one of the groups affected, students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is copied at the end of this post. It was quietly sent out in the evening on July 1 — not “burying the news on a Friday afternoon” time but also not at a peak time, either.

Coordinated attack cuts high-capacity fiber optic internet lines for 11th time this year – The FBI is looking into the latest act of vandalism on fiber optic internet lines in California, which took place earlier this week. For the 11th time this year, vandals gained access to high-capacity fiber optic cables and cut them, causing widespread service outages in the San Francisco area. The FBI is calling this a coordinated attack in which three different cables were severed around the same time. The cables damaged in this attack belonged to Level 3 Communications and Zayo, both of which are Tier 1 network operators. That means they transport large amounts of data across the internet backbone so it can filter down to ISPs and customers. That means the outage affected many other companies and individuals, which is probably exactly what the attackers wanted.

Hacktivist group possibly compromised hundreds of websites – So far the group has published the names of over 450 websites, but claims that it has hacked many more. The alleged victims range from companies to education institutions and government organizations from different countries. Based on its Twitter messages so far, the group’s goal is to demonstrate “how truly deplorable cybersecurity has become” and that Internet security has not improved despite a flood of security technologies and products in recent years. The group published only partial information from the databases that it claims to have compromised, because it wants “to prove that they have indeed been infiltrated and to raise awareness.”

Company News:

PayPal Agrees to Buy Xoom for $890 Million – Xoom, a San Francisco-based online money transfer technology and services company that went public in 2013, is being acquired by PayPal for $25 per share in cash or $890 million. The price represents a 32 percent premium over Xoom’s three-month volume-weighted average price. As stated in a PayPal-issued release about the tie-up, “Acquiring Xoom allows PayPal to offer a broader range of services to our global customer base, increase customer engagement and enter an important and growing adjacent marketplace. Xoom’s presence in 37 countries – in particular, Mexico, India, the Philippines, China and Brazil – will help us accelerate our expansion in these important markets.”

HP officially files to spin off enterprise division – Hewlett-Packard has filed paperwork to register HP Enterprise as an independent company, an official step on the path to splitting itself in two. The paperwork, called a Form 10, was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday and provides a look at how the divisions that will make up HP Enterprise performed financially over the past few years. It shows a business that made a profit of $1.6 billion last year on revenue of $55.1 billion, down from a profit of $2.1 billion on revenue of $57.4 billion in 2013.

Sprint teams up with leading UK retail group Dixons Carphone to open 500 new stores in US – Dixons Carphone is one of the UK’s largest retail groups, as well as being one of Europe’s top retailers of mobile hardware and services, with operations in 11 countries. The group has enjoyed considerable success in the UK with its Carphone Warehouse and Currys PC World retail brands, and it’s now going to be applying some of its knowledge and experience in the hotly-contested US market. Dixons Carphone announced today that it has agreed a partnership with US carrier Sprint, with plans to open hundreds of retail stores.

Facebook starts sharing video ad revenue, but there’s a catch – For the first time ever, Facebook has decided that it will share as much as 55 percent of ad revenue to video creators whose content will have some video ads attached to it. While this seems like a move to encourage more video makers to upload to the social networking site instead of, say, YouTube, the arrangement isn’t as clear cut as it seems. In particular, Facebook’s revenue sharing setup might actually be less favorable to the advertisers that will be the source of that monetary incentive.

Microsoft buries hatchet with Kyocera, ending litigation – Microsoft and Kyocera have put an end to a patent spat that began earlier this year by expanding a patent cross-licensing deal between them. In a tersely worded, four-sentence press release Thursday, the companies said the licensing deal would enable them to use “a broader range of each other’s technologies in their respective products.” Beyond that, the terms were not disclosed.

Games and Entertainment:

Best mobile games of June 2015 (pictures) – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in June 2015.

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The second game by Bastion’s developer Supergiant is filled with beautiful pathos.

Pre-ordering Fallout 4 on Xbox One gets users Fallout 3 too – Back in during all the madness of E3 last month, when developer Bethesda first announced Fallout 4, they also mentioned that those who buy the Xbox One version of the game would get a free downloadable copy of 2008’s Fallout 3. Other details were slim at that time, such as if the deal required the purchase of the limited edition of Fallout 4, or for how long the offer would be available. Bethesda has now cleared the air on things, with a blog post detailing how Xbox One gamers can score the series’ previous entry.

July PlayStation Plus Free Games Lineup Revealed – “Prepare yourselves for a free games lineup the likes of which you’ve (probably) never seen!” Sony’s Ryan Clements wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “We’ve got rocket-powered cars, stealthy goblins, science cats, and even a little dab of arthouse wonder for good measure.” On PlayStation 4, you’ll get four titles, including the multiplayer arcade game Rocket League, fantasy stealth game Styx: Master of Shadows, and puzzler Mousecraft. If that’s not enough, you can also “embark upon an adventure that spans nine lifetimes” with Entwined.

Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs? – Both companies offer ways to watch TV shows free of their original networks, and both have advantages and disadvantages. Obviously you don’t have to choose just one, unless you’re in some kind of weird Saw-style deathtrap and a homicidal maniac is making you, but we thought it would be valuable to put these two streaming media titans up against each other and see who comes out on top. Place your bets and let’s see who wins the hotly contested battle of Netflix vs. Hulu.

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Bing Pong is Microsoft’s own search engine game – At some point Google thought it would be fun to turn its logo into a game, and since then we’ve seen different browser-based games that can be played directly on the search engine’s website. Microsoft has decided to do something similar with its own search engine, but it is starting small: with Pong, which involves just two paddles and a square ball bouncing between them. It is the same as the classic game, and can be found simply by searching for it.

Pluto TV, An Online Video Service Targeting Cord Cutters, Will Stream Hulu – Up-and-coming video streaming service aimed at cord cutters, Pluto.TV, will now be distributing Hulu’s free content, thanks to a new distribution agreement between the two companies. For Pluto TV, the addition means its service will now be able to offer a wider variety of mainstream fare, including popular shows from networks like ABC, NBC, and Fox. The deal was first reported by Variety, which noted that the content will include a variety of current and older shows, like “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Saturday Night Live”; as well as “Seinfeld,” “Star Trek,” “Cheers,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Happy Days,” for example.

After 55 Million Downloads, Dots Gets A Major Upgrade – Dots, the incredibly basic but addicting mobile game created by gaming studio Playdots, is getting its first major upgrade in over a year. Dots now features three new themes: Space, Mod Synth, and Desert. There’s also a custom “Designer” option if users prefer to select their own dot and background color palate. The goal of the game is simple — connect same-colored dots, vertically and horizontally, to rack up as many points as possible while a timer counts down 60 seconds.

Sources say WB knew Arkham Knight PC was horribly broken – The launch of Batman: Arkham Knight was a disaster, at least for PC owners. Now it might be even more of a PR disaster for publisher Warner Bros. Although the company issued an apology to owners and fans after pulling the game out of sales, it seems it might just be a well-worded cover up. Numerous sources, including the games’ testers, are now saying that Warner Bros. was fully aware of the issues that the PC version faced, but decided to ship it at the same time anyway.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Facebook to beam the Internet from the sky using lasers – When your core business is essentially dependent on the Internet, it makes sense that you’d want everyone to have access to the Internet as well. Google has its Project Loon and Facebook has Internet.org. Of course, those are lofty goals, but the question is always “how”. Unlike Google’s balloons, Facebook will be using satellites, drones, and lasers. Yes, lasers. Mark Zuckerberg has just posted online, on his Facebook account no less, a teaser of what’s to come, with lasers being shot from the sky to deliver the Internet, and Facebook, to everyone.

Here’s How India Is Getting Serious About Wi-Fi – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to make sure his country’s population can get fast Internet as soon as possible. In fact, he’s pumping $18 billion into a campaign called “digital week,” which plans to do just that. The move comes after Wi-Fi became available at the iconic Taj Mahal palace for the first time. The plan’s goal is to create over 100 million jobs for Indian citizens.

Chicago adds ‘amusement tax’ to services like Netflix and Hulu – Chicago is about to become a little less welcoming to cord cutters, with the city authorizing an ‘amusement tax’ on online streaming services like Netflix and Pandora. Under this, subscribers are going to be paying a 9-percent tax on their various cloud-based streaming entertainment services, as well as for the ‘privilege’ of playing games online. This is the expansion of the existing amusement tax which was previously applied to things like buying concert tickets, and it will apply to businesses as well.

Firefighters use drone to help rescue stranded rafters – Firefighters in the town of Mechanic Falls, Maine, have successfully used a drone in a river rescue operation. Earlier this week, two young men aged 12 and 18 became stranded on a rock in the middle of some fast-moving rapids, says the local fire department, but only the younger of the pair was equipped with a life jacket. While rescuers began setting up an inflatable dinghy to retrieve the young men, Fire Chief Frank Roma used his DJI Phantom 3 to fly a haul line out to them. The unnamed 18-year-old then used this to pull in a life jacket before the tricky rescue operation began.

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Vinyl records are still riding that big comeback wave, sales up 38% in a year – Who’s leading the charge on all that vinyl? None other than the music industry’s favorite singer-songwriter Taylor Swift with her album 1989, which sold 33,500 LPs. Following behind Swift on the vinyl chart is Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, The Arctic Monkeys’ AM (released in 2013), Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color, and in fifth place, none other than Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, which sold 23,200 copies in 2015. Also interesting is that Nielsen found that digital album sales were flat compared to last year, and digital track sales were down 10.4 percent. Unsurprisingly, CD sales were down 10 percent.

Jimmy Kimmel mocks Apple fanboys’ need to give company money – Technically Incorrect: The talk show host claims to reveal Apple’s latest product. It costs $20 a month. But it’s basically just a donation to Apple.

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18 Striking Photos Taken With an iPhone – In the slideshow, take a gander at the grandeur of what can be captured by a talented photog using the same kind of camera you probably have in your pocket. These are the first place winners in each of the IPPAWARDS’ categories. Get inspired. Take some shots. You might be the next winner.

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Chevrolet adds “Active Phone Cooling” to next-gen vehicles – Chevrolet is the first automotive company to bring “Active Phone Cooling” to vehicles. This is a sort of air conditioner for your phone, made to keep your device cool when you’re using it for high-power-requirement tasks like turn-by-turn directions with online maps, and music streaming. “Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel,” said Impala engineer Dan Lascu, “Sometimes simplicity offers the most elegant solution to a problem.” The solution in this case is giving the smartphone its own little handy-dandy super-cool compartment where it can rest easy.

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Fix the Cloud, or Give Up – I’ve long had mixed feelings about online subscription services and the cloud in general, especially when its usefulness pales in comparison to workstation-centric computing. OpinionsIf I can buy 5TB of portable hard disk storage for $150, why should I be spending $10 a month for sub-terabyte cloud storage for my backups? Offsite storage safety? Well, I can keep the backup drive in a safe deposit box at the bank, the trunk of the car, at a friend’s house, or in a fireproof safe at home.

Something to think about:

“You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality”

–       Ayn Rand

Today’s Free Downloads:

AVG LinkScanner – Nowadays, there are far more threats out there than plain viruses. You have probably come across the term spyware as well, however, authors of malicious codes and dangerous websites are very innovative, and new kinds of threats emerge quite often, the vast majority of which are on the Internet. Here are some of the most common:

Exploit is a malicious code that takes advantage of a flaw or vulnerability in an operating system, Internet browser, or other essential program.

Social engineering is a common term for various techniques used to trick people into giving away their personal information (passwords, bank account details, credit card numbers etc.). A typical example of social engineering is phishing – an attempt to acquire sensitive personal data by shamming a trustworthy and well-known organization. Usually, the potential victims are contacted by a bulk e-mail asking them to e.g. update their bank account details. In order to do that, they are invited to follow the link provided which then leads to a fake website of the bank.

Scam can be also considered a kind of social engineering; it includes false job offers, or ones that will abuse the workers for illegal activities, summons to withdraw a large sum of money, fraudulent lotteries and the like.

Hoax is a bulk e-mail containing dangerous, alarming or just bothering and useless information. Many of the above threats use hoax e-mail messages to spread.

Finally, malicious websites are ones that deliberately install malicious software on your computer, and hacked sites do just the same, only these are legitimate websites that have been compromised into infecting visitors.

AVG LinkScanner is here to protect you from all these online threats.

AVG LinkScanner is up and running immediately from the moment of installation. All basic settings have been pre-set by the manufacturer, so most of the time you will not have to worry about anything – just let AVG work in the background and protect you without any effort on your part. However, there might be situations where you need to adjust the program settings, or decide what to do with a virus infected file; this help system is here to provide detailed information and assist you with any task.

Get AVG LinkScanner and enhance your online protection!

NetGear Genie – NetGear Genie is a dashboard to manage, monitor and repair your network.

With it you can remotely control all media in your home from your smartphone/tablet with MyMedia, print on any printer from your iPad or iPhone with AirPrint, view all the devices on your network and more.

Easy dashboard to manage, monitor and repair your network

My Media—Find and play music and video files anywhere in your network from your smartphone/tablet

Makes any printer AirPrint® compatible so you can print from an iPad® or iPhone®

Now with EZ Mobile Connect securely connect smartphones and tablets to your home wireless network with the scan of a QR code.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

GCHQ did spy on Amnesty International, secret tribunal admits – The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which provides oversight for UK intelligence services, admitted yesterday that its judgement made on 22 June wrongly failed to declare that Amnesty International had been subject to unlawful surveillance by GCHQ. The IPT revealed this in an e-mail sent to the ten NGO claimants involved in the earlier legal challenge to UK government surveillance. As Amnesty International explained: “Today’s communication makes clear that it was actually Amnesty International Ltd, and not the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) that was spied on in addition to the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.”

The Intercept has obtained a copy of the e-mail sent to the NGOs, which shows that the IPT made the finding that “there had been a breach by virtue of the exceeding of time limits for retention”—the communication files were kept too long. That is, as far as the IPT was concerned, spying on one of the world’s most respected NGOs was not in itself problematic.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, commented: “The revelation that the UK government has been spying on Amnesty International highlights the gross inadequacies in the UK’s surveillance legislation. If they hadn’t stored our communications for longer than they were allowed to by internal guidelines, we would never even have known.” If the records had been destroyed according to the rules, the IPT would have made “no determination” as to whether surveillance had taken place—its standard way of neither confirming nor denying allegations that spying has occurred.

NSA’s spying on UN and others detailed in newly published documents – Imagine you’re a world leader walking into a meeting with the president of the United States. But he already knows everything you’re going to say because his spies hacked into your communications and read your notes before you got there.

That’s not a plot for the latest James Bond flick. It’s straight from the latest published report drawn from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Snowden’s revelations have led to snowballing accusations that the National Security Agency is accessing and reading communications from world leaders. Wednesday’s revelations come on the heels of revelations that the NSA spied on French political leaders, and countries that have been caught up in the agency’s snooping on dignitaries include Mexico, Germany and Colombia.

In a story published Wednesday, The Intercept went into great detail on how far one of the NSA’s spying programs, called X-Keyscore, can reach into the web and find any kind of communication, be it chats, emails or documents.

Kenya to require users of public Wi-Fi to register with government – The head of Kenya’s Communications Authority, Francis Wangusi, announced a new set of regulations on Tuesday aimed at combatting cybercrime in the country. The new rules would require all users of devices with wireless networking capability to register their devices with the Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC)—much in the same way that some US states require registration of assault rifles and sex offenders.

Wi-Fi proxy could thwart cops, spies from finding you – The almost ridiculous extents which government agencies go through to get otherwise private data is sometimes being matched by equally almost ridiculous extents to protect it. Since Tor and VPNs no longer seem to be enough to protect user privacy, for good or for ill, some have taken seemingly drastic countermeasures. Like this Proxyham for example, which combines a Wi-Fi proxy with the concept of a HAM radio. Not only does it let users anonymously connect to Wi-Fi using almost unidentifiable low frequency radio channels, it also lets them connect from about 2.5 miles away.

Proxyham offers privacy protection in both distance and signal frequency. While Proxyham itself connects to a Wi-Fi source in a public spot, the user could be connected half way across town. Spies and law enforcers might be able to locate Proxyham, but that doesn’t mean they will be able to immediately locate the connected user. That last part is even made more difficult by the frequency that Proxyham uses. In particular, it transmits over 900 MHz, which affords not just distance but also masking, as that spectrum is also used by things like two-way radios and cordless phones.

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WikiLeaks: New intelligence briefs show US spied on German leader – On Wednesday, WikiLeaks published two new top-secret National Security Agency briefs that detail American and British espionage conducted against German leaders as they were discussing responses to the Greek economic crisis in 2011.

The organization also published a redacted list of 69 German government telephone numbers that were targeted for snooping. That list includes Oskar Lafontaine, who served as German finance minister from 1998 to 1999, when the German government was still based in Bonn—suggesting that this kind of spying has been going on for over 15 years at least.

As with the recent documents concerning NSA spying against France, WikiLeaks did not explain how it obtained the documents. However, it did share them with Greek, French, and German-language media, which all published them simultaneously on Wednesday evening, Europe time.

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