Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 11, 2016

SSD vs. HDD: What’s the Difference?  Ed Bott makes Windows 10 work for you;  6 Tech Predictions for the Trump Years;  The best messaging apps with end-to-end encryption;  9 mobile apps designed to help veterans;  Ubisoft’s giving the wonderfully dumb Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon away for free;  Build a $400 Windows 10 PC;  Google Maps beta reveals new features;  Five password management apps that will work on all your devices;  This trick makes a cheap bottle of vodka taste like Grey Goose – and much more news you need to know.

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6 Tech Predictions for the Trump Years – It’s a new world: Donald Trump’s world. As 2017 hits, we’re going to see the US government’s attitude towards a range of technologies change, whether it be about a lighter touch on regulation or a harsher look at companies that import heavily from China. I hate making stock predictions. I’m going to try to stick to what I think you should expect and do, as US tech consumers, to prepare for 2017. For each prediction, I’m also trying to provide an action you should take to put yourself in the best position for the future.

The best messaging apps with end-to-end encryption – It’s not a pleasant idea to think that your messages could be archived for perpetuity on a large company’s server or analyzed by some algorithm. The quest for privacy has birthed a whole generation of apps that promise to give you exactly that. Services like Telegram and Signal have turned the phrase “end-to-end encryption” into a popular discussion. We’re here to help you figure out what this is all about and which apps to try.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts: Ed Bott makes Windows 10 work for you – Need help navigating Windows 10? Let Windows pro Ed Bott be your guide.


November 11 – Remembrance Day – Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada, and across the World. This day is set aside as a day to remember the sacrifices of members of the armed forces, and civilians, in times of war.

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National War Memorial – Ottawa, Canada.

9 mobile apps designed to help veterans – I count myself among the lucky veterans that left service without any serious physical or mental harm. For those that weren’t so fortunate taking advantage of the services offered to veterans can be difficult. That’s why I put together this list of apps that are great for veterans. Whether you need emergency help, need to determine what level of service connected disability payment you’re eligible for, or simply want to network with vets there are some great apps available.


SSD vs. HDD: What’s the Difference? – Do you like your storage plentiful and cheap, or do you like it fast and safe? Here’s how to choose between a traditional hard drive and a solid-state drive in your next PC.

Five password management apps that will work on all your devices – Password security is essential. We have more passwords than ever before and most of us don’t take them seriously. You can keep yourself safe with a password manager: Here are five worth checking out.

Google Maps beta reveals new features, including default satellite view – It would seem a new update that adds a few noteworthy features is on the way to Google Maps. The update to version 9.41.0 isn’t officially here yet, but it has entered beta, giving us a good look at what’s coming up. The folks over at Android Police got their hands on the beta and have put together a changelog that details the biggest additions this update will offer.

Now you’ll see ads in your LinkedIn mailbox too – LinkedIn is just the latest social network to let marketers target users through their inboxes.

Build a $400 Windows 10 PC – Looking to build a cheap Windows 10 PC? Here are the components you need to build a system that comes in at $400, including Windows 10! As always, shop around for the best deal on components, and remember that component prices change regularly.

Windows 10 to get a virtual touchpad for external displays – Although still not as widespread, it is no longer uncommon for computer users to face more than one screen at a time, whether in a more permanent multi-monitor setup or in an ad hoc presentation. Controlling external screens and projectors are no problem for desktops and laptops but can be cumbersome for tablets. Soon it won’t be. Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 Insider build showcases a new Virtual Touchpad feature that would allow users to navigate external displays using their tablets, even without a mouse attached.

Google Daydream View review: Fun for the entire family – Starting Thursday, Google’s next step in its attempt to bring virtual-reality to the masses will launch. Owners of a Google Pixel smartphone can purchase the Daydream View headset for $79 from various retail outlets or directly from Google to take advantage of the new platform. The idea of strapping a smartphone to your face and using it to enter a virtual world is something I still have trouble wrapping my head around, but after using Google Daydream for the past week I’m starting to see the light.

Google won’t build ad-blocking feature into Chrome – It’s better to reform misbehaving, power-sucking ads than to block them, the head of engineering for Google’s browser says.

How to download and save a Facebook video – Facebook doesn’t officially provide links to videos for you to save. But all you have to do is trick your browser into thinking you’re browsing Facebook on your phone.

TAPS touchscreen sticker lets any gloves work with any screen – Winter is here in much of the world and that means it’s glove weather. The catch with gloves is that many of them won’t work with your touchscreen device leaving you having to pull off a glove in the cold before you can answer a call or use your smartphone. TAPS touchscreen Sticker with Touch ID promises to allow you to use any glove with any touchscreen device.

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Snapchat put its crazy Spectacles on sale: here’s what happened – The company now known as Snap has hardware aspirations, and Spectacles is its first foray into that industry. The sunglasses feature integrated cameras that record short videos with a life-like perspective, but Snap isn’t making it easy to get ahold of its glasses. Rather than launching them through an online store, Snap has elected to make Spectacles available on a very limited basis via a vending machine…and this, by all accounts, has been quite a bit of fun.

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Share your Instagram stories with specific people – Instagram on Thursday added the ability to call out specific people within its photo story feature. In a move to outdo the functions of competitor Snapchat, Instagram now enables users to share photos and videos they’ve stitched together and tucked inside their app’s personal stories profile.

WhatsApp is rolling out two-factor authentication – WhatsApp users are beginning to see an option for two-factor authentication their account settings folder. According to Android Police, the feature is live in the most recent betas of the app (2.16.341 and above), and has also been spotted in the Windows Phone beta. Once activated, the app will prompt a user for a static six-digit passcode every time a new phone is registered to the account.

Security:

Russian Hackers Launch Targeted Cyberattacks Hours After Trump’s Win – Merely a few hours after Donald Trump declared his stunning victory, a group of hackers that is widely believed to be Russian and was involved in the breach of the Democratic National Committee launched a wave of attacks against dozens of people working at universities, think tank tanks, NGOs, and even inside the US government. Around 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the hackers sent a series of phishing emails trying to trick dozens of victims into opening booby-trapped attachments containing malware, and clicking on malicious links, according to security firm Volexity, which observed and reported the five attack waves. The targets work for organizations such as Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, the Atlantic Council, the RAND Corporation, and the State Department, among others.

Hacker shows how easy it is to take over a city’s public Wi-Fi network – An Israeli hacker found a vulnerability in routers that could have allowed him to take over the public Wi-Fi network of an entire city.

The latest weapon in the business email scammers’ arsenal? Small talk – Scammers pretending to be your boss are engaging in informal office conversation before asking to wire them funds.

Yahoo admits employees discovered hack in 2014 – Yahoo admitted today that some of its employees were aware of the theft of 500 million users’ data as early as 2014 — years before Yahoo publicly acknowledged the hack. The hack, which Yahoo has attributed to an unnamed “state-sponsored actor,” occurred in late 2014, and according to today’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it seems Yahoo detected it early on. Yahoo also reported that 23 consumer class action lawsuits have been filed in response to the breach, but that it’s too early to estimate monetary damages. It estimates the hack has led to a loss of $1 million so far.

Company News:

Mark Zuckerberg named Business Person of the Year – Fortune magazine has just anointed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as Business Person of the Year for 2016. The media outlet cites numerous criteria for honoring Zuckerberg, whose social network is used by nearly 1.8 billion people around the world, including the company’s performance year over year as well as his vision for growth and the ability to achieve it.

Google responds in EU antitrust case: “Android hasn’t hurt competition” – The company is accused of using Android’s position as the dominant smartphone operating system in Europe to force manufacturers to pre-install Google services while locking out competitors. Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager sent a so-called Statement of Objections to Google in April. On Thursday, the multinational corporation defended its position and spoke of the open source nature of the Android operating system. It also compared a typical Android smartphone to rivals Apple and Microsoft. According to Google, 39 out of 39 pre-installed apps are from Apple on iPhone 7, and 39 out of 47 pre-installed apps on the Microsoft Lumia 550 are from Microsoft.

Google says there are now 2 billion active Chrome installs – Google is hosting its Chrome Dev Summit today. There hasn’t been a lot of news out of the event, but one number that stood out in today’s keynote by Chrome Engineering VP Darin Fisher was that there are now 2 billion Chrome installs in active use across desktop and mobile. This is the first time Google has shared this number. Sadly, Google didn’t announce any new user numbers for Chrome today. The latest stat for active Chrome users remains at 1 billion — a number Google shared in April. While this number is surely higher today than it was six months ago, the company decided to focus on the number of active browser install today.

Nvidia crushes Q3 earnings, shares soar – Nvidia posted record-revenue for the quarter, and once again credits strong sales of its GPUs and deep learning technology for the boost on its balance sheet.

Apple CEO urges workers to ‘move forward together’ postelection – Tim Cook tells his staff in a memo that, in spite of the “strong feelings” that follow the election, the only option is to keep on keeping on.

Apple tax case: Ireland to formally appeal EU state aid ruling – The European Commission’s ruling that Apple should pay Ireland €13 billion (£11.1 billion) in back taxes is set to be formally disputed by the Irish government. Finance Minister Michael Noonan said on Tuesday that Dublin would challenge the judgment on Wednesday. In August, competition officials in Brussels concluded that the so-called sweetheart tax deals Apple received from Ireland constituted illegal state aid. The commission’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, said at the time: “Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies—this is illegal under EU state aid rules.”

Games and Entertainment:

Ubisoft’s giving the wonderfully dumb Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon away for free – Need something to tear you away from post-election social media today? Ubisoft delivers. As part of its ongoing 30th anniversary celebration, the company is giving away its latest monthly freebie—the neon-soaked Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. You can head here to get your copy, though you’ll need a Uplay account. That bitter pill aside, I recommend you grab it even if you’re a bit tired of Far Cry. Blood Dragon sticks to the same formula Ubisoft’s run into the ground since Far Cry 3, but it’s a bit more linear and cranks the “Dumb” meter to 11. Oh, and it ditches the realistic aesthetic of most Far Cry games for one that lifts from straight-to-VHS 1980s action films.

Free Overwatch weekend kicks off November 18 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC – Overwatch will almost certainly go down as one of the best games of the year, but if you’ve held out thus far, Blizzard is about to give you a chance to see what you’ve been missing. Blizzard has announced that Overwatch will be free to play across all platforms starting November 18. The promotion will last the entire weekend, wrapping up on November 21.

10 Games Every Sony PlayStation 4 Player Needs – Sony’s catalog of titles has expanded this past year to include some truly excellent exclusive games, as well as some multiplayer titles you do not want to miss. Uncharted 4 arrived in late spring to deliver the dazzling cinematic experience PlayStation fans have come to expect from the series. Doom is an amazing first-person shooter on any platform, but it is one PlayStation 4 players need to own if they don’t already. For the full rundown of our top 10 favorite PS4 games, check out the gallery.

Xbox Holiday Update brings more social fun, PC gamers invited – Everyone is overdue some distraction and relaxation these days. Fortunately, the holidays are just around the corner. Which also means gaming season is upon us! To ensure that the season will be enjoyable not just for you but for your friends as well, Microsoft has rolled out its 2016 Holiday Update for the Xbox platform, both on the Xbox One and as well as the Xbox apps. And like many of the updates these past months, this one puts a lot of weight on the social aspects of gaming, like forming Clubs and Looking For Groups, whether on the console or on the PC.

Incredible indie games of PAX Australia – Many agree the best part of PAX Australia is seeing the wonderfully creative projects from indie developers. Here are 11 standouts from 2016.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Zuckerberg denies Facebook News Feed bubble impacted the election – In the aftermath of the U.S. Presidential election, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at Techonomy16 to address concerns that the company didn’t do enough to stop the proliferation of fake news on News Feed. Zuckerberg insisted that more can always be done to improve the quality of the News Feed experience, but that Facebook could not have influenced the outcome of the election. “Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said. He continued by saying people are looking for a narrative to explain the election. However, he believes that a narrative that implicitly assumes Trump supporters are dumb enough to be manipulated by Facebook is insulting to those voters.

Facebook admits it must do more to stop the spread of misinformation on its platform – Facebook has responded to widespread criticism of how its Newsfeed algorithm disseminates and amplifies misinformation in the wake of the Trump victory in the US presidential election yesterday. Multiple commentators were quick to point a finger of blame at Facebook’s role in the election campaign, arguing the tech giant has been hugely irresponsible given the role its platform now plays as a major media source, and specifically by enabling bogus stories to proliferate — many examples of which were seen to circulated in the Facebook Newsfeed during the campaign.

China’s public security officer appointed Interpol head – Meng Hongwei, who is China’s vice minister of public security, assumes his new role as president immediately for a four-year tenure and pledges to adhere to Interpol’s principles.

Americans Are Flocking to Online Therapy For Post-Election Counseling – In this election, politics have been very personal. With Donald Trump as president-elect, the fate of the country has become a wild card, and many women, Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ citizens, and other minorities feel individually marginalized by the prospect of his leadership. So naturally they’re looking for help. Online therapy sites have seen an immediate uptick in clientele throughout the election. The American Psychological Association reported that even weeks before the results came in, 52 percent of Americans were coping with “high levels of stress brought on by this election.”

This trick makes a cheap bottle of vodka taste like Grey Goose – Everyone would love to be able to go to the store and pick up a premium vodka, but not everyone’s budgets will allow for such an indulgence. But there’s good news for those who want to stock up on booze for the holidays. The lowest quality vodka can apparently be improved with something you probably already have in your kitchen: a water filtering pitcher. I tested the trick to see if it works. Here’s what happened.

What GM has learned from 20 years of collecting data from cars with OnStar – Virtually all businesses struggle to understand large volumes of data. But OnStar gives GM a leg up; it’s been analyzing data from drivers for two decades. See what it’s learned.

Something to think about:

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

TIME: President Obama Should Shut Down the NSA’s Mass Spying Before It’s Too Late – President Obama has just 71 days until Donald Trump is inaugurated as our next commander-in-chief. That means he has a matter of weeks to do one thing that could help prevent the United States from veering into fascism: declassifying and dismantling as much of the federal government’s unaccountable, secretive, mass surveillance state as he can — before Trump is the one running it.

Snowden says tech companies should protect privacy no matter who is president – Edward Snowden gave an extended interview today touching on numerous topics, from the Trump Presidency to his own future. Overall his message was clear: it’s not about thwarting one leader or even one government, but using technology that guarantees rights across borders and administrations. In other words: don’t hate, innovate.

One of the early questions in the interview, which lasted a bit under an hour and was sponsored by Startpage.com, was posed by Ralph Zimmerman, creator of the PGP encryption protocol. Trump, he said, would be inheriting a powerful surveillance infrastructure — something that worries many.

“We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear in elected officials,” Snowden said. “We’re never farther than an election away from a change in leader, from a change in policy, a change in the way the powers we have constructed into a system are used. So what we need to think about now is not how do we defend against a president Donald Trump, but how do we protect the rights of everyone, everywhere, without regard to jurisdictions, without regard to borders?”

“Ultimately,” he said, “if we want to see a change, we must force it through ourselves.”

Could President Trump Really Turn the NSA Into a Personal Spy Machine? – It’s the nightmare scenario that many worried about: the US elects a president who uses the country’s nearly omnipotent surveillance powers for his or her own gain. Edward Snowden has described the NSA’s spying capabilities as the “architecture of oppression,” with the fear being that it could be deployed by a malicious commander in chief. But what could President Trump, a man who has incited hate speech against minorities and threatened to jail his political rivals, actually do with the NSA? Could he turn the NSA into his own personal spying army?

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 9, 2016

5 key things you need to know about VPNs;  The Best Encryption Software of 2016;  Web of Trust browser extensions yanked;  Google stops AdSense attack;  How to buy a new PC for your parents;  OS X El Capitan: The smart person’s guide;  YouTube adds support for HDR videos;  6 ways to delete yourself from the internet;  What you need to know about 4K TVs;  The best PC hardware we’re using now and why we love it – and much more news you need to know.

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5 key things you need to know about VPNs – A virtual private network is a secure tunnel between two or more computers on the internet, allowing them to access each other as if on a local network. In the past, VPNs were mainly used by companies to securely link remote branches together or connect roaming employees to the office network, but today they’re an important service for consumers too, protecting them from attacks when they connect to public wireless networks. Given their importance, here’s what you need to know about VPNs.

Web of Trust browser extensions yanked after proving untrustworthy – Earlier in November, a report out of Germany claimed the popular Web of Trust (WoT) browser add-on was selling its users’ browser histories to third-parties without properly anonymizing the data, resulting in the personal identification of Web of Trust users. There was also some debate over whether the company behind WoT (WOT Services) properly informed its users of data collection actions performed by the extension. On Sunday, WoT voluntarily pulled down its add-on from the extension libraries of all others browser, including Chrome and Opera. It’s not clear when WoT plans to reintroduce its add-on to all the various browsers it previously supported, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, and others.

Pointing up   A shoutout to Bob at bob3160 who advised me on this several days ago. Thanks Bob.

The Best Encryption Software of 2016 – Just because you have antivirus software installed doesn’t mean a zero-day Trojan can’t steal your personal data. Encryption keeps you safe from malware (and the NSA).

The best PC hardware we’re using now and why we love it – We celebrate 18 great components we couldn’t live without, from fast SSDs to a graphics card that’s just right, and even the perfect toolkit.

How to buy a new PC for your parents – Older computer users have different needs. The big question: Do they actually need a PC at all?

Long-awaited Gmail and Google Calendar iOS updates make apps faster – New updates for Gmail include an ‘Undo Send’ option and faster search capabilities, while Google Calendar offers ‘Spotlight Search’ support and alternate calendars. Here’s how it will help business users.

Now you can use Android Auto without upgrading your car – Android Auto looks set to show up on a lot more dashboards, albeit as a phone clipped to a mount rather than built into the native infotainment system. The interface, which pares back Android into a chunkier, more finger-friendly layout for use while driving, while hiding the more complex features that could prove a distraction, is being released as a standalone system, Google announced today. It’s the closest we’ve got so far to an admission by the Android team that Android Auto adoption among automakers may not have been as swift as they would’ve preferred.

5 things to know about GoPro Plus, the free-to-try backup service – Along with its new lineup of cameras and the Karma drone, GoPro also recently announced GoPro Plus. Every GoPro users is eligible to receive up to 60 days of free GoPro Plus service to test and try it out. Let’s take a look at the finer details of the service, starting with cost.

What you need to know about 4K TVs – Ultra HD, colloquially known as “4K,” is everywhere on TV shelves and online this year. Previously restricted to only high-end models, 4K resolution has become so inexpensive that your next 50-inch or larger TV will probably be 4K. What does it mean? Does it matter? Why should I care? Here are the basics — a cheat sheet if you will — about this advancement in TV technology.

OS X El Capitan: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide includes everything you need to know about Apple’s OS X El Capitan, including features, requirements, upgrade options, software updates, and more.

YouTube adds support for HDR videos – YouTube has added support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) videos, it has announced, opening the door for higher-quality content matching the capabilities of high-end televisions. HDR videos are often more detailed than regular videos, with better contrast and clarity, as well as a wide range of vibrant, highly saturated colors. While the technology is still somewhat rare in terms of consumer video devices, it is becoming more common and YouTube is making sure it keeps pace with the trend.

Google Home shares the Chromecast’s guts, teardown reveals – Google Home doesn’t quite have a Chromecast inside, but the two devices do have a lot in common.

Snapchat just copied the best feature of Instagram stories – It’s been just over three months since Instagram copied Snapchat stories and slapped them on top of its feed. The move appears to be a success: within a few weeks, 100 million people were using the feature every day. (Snapchat’s entire app gets 150 million users a day.) Instagram stories are almost identical to the Snapchat version, but they have an extremely useful extra feature: you can rewind them by tapping on the left side of the story. Well today it’s Snapchat’s turn to copy: you can now rewind stories just as you can on Instagram. The feature is part of an update to Snapchat that also includes “world lenses,” the rear-facing camera version of the app’s famous selfie filters.

5 plugins to help your WordPress site reach mobile nirvana – Is your company or personal WordPress site mobile-friendly? If not, here are five plugins to help you achieve mobile nirvana.

Google is shutting down the tool that let anyone edit Google Maps data – Today, Google announced that its Map Maker tool, which let users edit information and suggest changes in Google Maps, will be shut down in March of 2017. In its place, the same editing and suggestion features will be migrated to the main Google Maps app as part of the company’s Local Guides program, which rewards people for policing and improving local mapping data for their community by granting access to beta features and gifting Google Drive storage. Map Maker initially started in 2008 as a way to crowdsource information from rural areas that Google’s own toolset was ill-equipped at obtaining on its own.

How to make Chrome warn you before closing – Chrome on Windows doesn’t have a built-in warning dialog box before closing the browser. This workaround can help.

Adobe’s wild ‘Photoshop for audio’ experiment can change what you said – Adobe’s Project VoCo lets you edit and change an audio recording as easily as you’d edit text.

Security:

The big day is here and it’s time to decide: Patch Flash, Windows, Office or Android first? – Today is the second Tuesday of the month, and that means a fresh round of security updates from the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and Google. The November edition of Patch Tuesday brings with it fixes for Windows, Flash Player, Internet Explorer, Edge, Office and Android. For Microsoft, the monthly update comprises a total of 14 bulletins:

Microsoft just patched the critical Windows vulnerability revealed by Google last week – As promised, Microsoft today patched Windows to resolve a critical system vulnerability that Google’s security team publicized last Monday. The search giant controversially chose to acknowledge the bug before Microsoft had fixed it, claiming that hackers were already actively targeting it. As noted by ZDNet, the fix is contained in today’s release of monthly security patches. According to Microsoft’s security bulletin, any attacker who tricked a user into running a “specially-crafted application” could successfully exploit the vulnerability and gain the ability to “install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.” Microsoft believes that Strontium, a Russia-linked group, is responsible for launching “low-volume spear phishing attacks” that took advantage of the flaw, which leveraged vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and the Windows kernel.

Google stops AdSense attack that forced banking trojan on Android phones – Google has shut down an operation that combined malicious AdSense advertisements with a zero-day attack exploiting Chrome for Android to force devices to download banking fraud malware. Over a two-month span, the campaign downloaded the Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng banking trojan on about 318,000 devices monitored by Kaspersky Lab, researchers from the Moscow-based anti-malware provider reported in a blog post published Monday. Kaspersky privately reported the scam to Google, and engineers from the search company put an end to the campaign, although the timing of those two events wasn’t immediately clear.

Google to malware sites: We’ll brand you ‘deceptive’ for a month, no reviews allowed – Sites considered repeat malware offenders by Google won’t be able to contest security warnings shown in Chrome for 30 days.

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Android patches fix Drammer RAM attack, but not Dirty Cow exploit – Google released a new monthly batch of security patches for Android, fixing a dozen critical vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to compromise devices. One of the mitigated issues is a bit-flipping attack against memory chips that could lead to privilege escalation, but a more widespread rooting vulnerability in the Linux kernel remains unpatched.

How security flaws in voting machines could discredit election results – Security experts say voting machines are easy to tamper with, and in several key battleground states ballots will be nearly impossible to verify.

Why are Skype accounts getting hacked so easily? – If you’ve received a weird message on Skype with a link to Baidu or LinkedIn recently, you’re not alone. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve received spam links to Baidu from six of my Skype contacts, one of whom works for Microsoft’s PR agency and another is a former Microsoft employee. All were surprised to see their accounts breached, and some believed they were protected by Microsoft’s two-factor authentication. That wasn’t the case, though. A thread on Microsoft’s Skype support forums reveals this has been occurring to hundreds of Skype users since at least August. Breached Skype accounts are used to send thousands of spam messages before they’re locked and the owners have to regain access. Skype has fallen victim to similar attacks before, and hackers were able to spoof messages on the system last year after using lists of stolen usernames and passwords to gain access to accounts.

Company News:

Apple begins offering refurbished iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models – I frequently point friends and family toward Apple’s refurbished store to get decent deals on Macs and iPads. The selection isn’t comprehensive but it’s pretty good, and once a device has been on the market for a few months it’s usually possible to save a few hundred dollars without really giving up anything. In recent years, though, Apple has never offered iPhones through its refurbished store—something that changed today.

Samsung is really, really sorry about the Galaxy Note 7 and plans to ‘do better’ – Samsung is no doubt eager to put this whole Note 7 situation behind it as quickly as possible. In fact, the company apparently can’t stop talking up the Galaxy S8, even though that device is still a few months over the horizon. But of the seven stages of exploding smartphone grief, Samsung is currently on the apology tour part, issuing an open letter to readers both on its site and through full-page ads in a number of major US newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Airbnb dealt blow as judge rejects bid to block SF law – Airbnb suffered a loss on Tuesday when a federal judge rejected the company’s plea to change a San Francisco law that requires the home-rental company to block or remove hosts who haven’t registered with the city. Airbnb sued the city of San Francisco in June saying the city law violates federal laws, including the Communications Decency Act, the Stored Communications Act and the First Amendment. On Tuesday, US District Judge James Donato ruled this wasn’t the case, according to Reuters.

Got a Job Listing? Put it on Facebook – Facebook moves in on LinkedIn with an experimental feature available to select Page administrators.

Games and Entertainment:

Review: The NES Classic Edition and all 30 games on it – Nintendo is courting nostalgia for the holidays this year, like pretty much every year — but the NES Classic Edition, a palm-size recreation of the original console with 30 games built-in, rates highly on the nostalgia scale even for a company whose heart is stuck in the 1980s. It’s already a highly coveted item for millions of 30-something gamers, and make no mistake: This is a love letter to Nintendo’s oldest fans.

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Nintendo drops New 3DS to $100 for Black Friday – If you’re considering picking up a New Nintendo 3DS, you may want to wait until Black Friday rolls around. Nintendo has announced a new promotion that will see the 3DS drop to the lowest price it’s ever been – $99.99. While the 2DS is less expensive than that normally, this is the first time we’ve seen the clamshell design drop as low as $100.

PlayStation Vue is losing Comedy Central and other Viacom channels – If you’re a PlayStation Vue subscriber, Sony has some bad news for you: its livestreaming television service is losing Comedy Central, Spike, MTV, and other Viacom channels. Sony does not get into the nitty gritty details about why it is making this decision, but it represents a big blow to what has thus far been a great service. The absence of these channels means many subscribers will be losing their favorite shows, such as the new season of South Park, and many users are already vowing to ditch the service on November 11 when the change takes place.

Off Topic (Sort of):

What the Trump win means for tech, science and beyond: Net neutrality, science-based policy are threatened – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump will now become the 45th president, succeeding President Barack Obama. “I say it is time for us to come together as one people,” Trump, the president-elect, told supporters in New York, shortly after Clinton called him to concede the election. Here is where Trump stands on the issues near and dear to Ars:

Society Is Too Complicated to Have a President, Complex Mathematics Suggest – Roughly two-thirds of Americans believe the country is going in the “wrong direction,” and Tuesday the country will vote for two of the least popular presidential candidates of all time. Both the left and the right say that the United States’ government is ineffective. One potential reason for this? Human society is simply too complex for representative democracy to work. The United States probably shouldn’t have a president at all, according to an analysis by mathematicians at the New England Complex Systems Institute.

US citizens crash Canadian immigration site after Trump victory – With mop-haired politico octopus Donald Trump beating Hilary Clinton to the White House, the Canadian Immigration website has crashed under the weight of US citizens seeking an escape. As the election neared its conclusion, Google searches for “move to Canada” and “immigrate to Canada” went up. The website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) then had a blackout.

6 ways to delete yourself from the internet – Finally ready to get off the grid? It’s not quite as simple as it should be, but here are a few easy-to-follow steps that will point you in the right direction at the very least.

Human ears and eagle beaks: 10 amazing items created by 3D printers – The first thing printed on a 3D printer was rather boring—an eyewash cup printed by the inventor of 3D printing, Chuck Hull, in 1983. Since then, the process has been used to create prosthetics for humans and animals, unique candy designs, musical instruments and even human tissue, such as ears. As you’ll see, people are continually thinking of new and innovative ways to use 3D printing technology. Here are 10 of the coolest.

An investor’s journey to embracing marijuana legalization – While the concept of using cannabis evoked the image of a pothead smoking out of a giant bong, I found the industry had evolved significantly. Licensed doctors can prescribe marijuana in liquid, edible, and pill forms measured out to an exact dosage just like you might take any other prescription.

Something to think about:

“Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

–       John Kenneth Galbraith

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

THE NIGHTMARE PRESIDENT – DONALD TRUMP SHOCKED everyone but his own supporters Tuesday as his racist, xenophobic, authoritarian, climate-science-denying, misogynistic, “grab-them-by-the-pussy” candidacy somehow carried him to victory.

Larger than expected turnout among rural and working-class white voters led Trump to outperform polling expectations in almost every battleground state, winning Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which, according to the Associated Press, put him over the required 270 electoral votes early Wednesday morning.

The one-time leader of the racist “birther” movement entered the race calling Mexicans “rapists” and repeatedly refusing to condemn white supremacists, and issued policy proposals that seemed unbound by the limits of executive power or basic human decency.

Trump promised to “bomb the shit” out of Middle Eastern countries, kill terrorist’s innocent families, do “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” and suggested that dipping bullets in pigs’ blood may be sound counterterrorism policy.

Trump had a long history of misogyny and belittling women, but after a decade-old tape surfaced of Trump saying he could “grab [women] by the pussy,” and “if you’re a star, they let you do it,” many were horrified, and numerous women came forward with stories of being victimized by Trump. Forecasts predicted Clinton would win in a near landslide.

We’re Winning The Crypto Wars – This year has been filled with bad news. The world of cybersecurity has been no different, with zombie armies of hacked internet-connected devices taking down the internet, seemingly endless data breaches hitting hundreds of millions of people, and Russian hackers allegedly trying to mess with the US election.

Lost in this deluge of doom-and-gloom, some might have missed the good news: the spread of encryption, the technology that’s used to secure the data on your devices, your chats and sexts, as well as your internet connection, seems to be reaching a tipping point.

It’s true, we’re still in the midst of what some call Crypto War 2.0, a reignition of a 20-year-old conflict between law enforcement authorities and technologists focused on just how much access cops should have to user’s data. But in 2016 alone, encryption has won a crucial court fight, became default for hundreds of millions of people who use popular messaging apps, and spread like wildfire on the web.

Turks Are Flocking to Tor After Government Orders Block of Anti-Censorship Tools – Turkish internet users are flocking to Tor, the anonymizing and censorship-circumvention tool, after Turkey’s government blocked Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Usage of Tor inside of Turkey went up from around 18,000 users to 25,000 users on Friday, when the government started blocking the popular social media networks, according to Tor’s official metrics. To prevent Turks from doing exactly that and connecting to the blocked sites through censorship-circumvention tools such as Tor and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), the government took a step further and ordered internet providers to block those too.

This move seems to have affected the number of people connecting to the Tor network, as the numbers of reported users went down after Friday. But Tor offers an alternative method of connection precisely made for cases like this, called “bridge relays” or simply bridges. These make it harder for internet providers to know you’re using Tor, making it also harder, in turn, to stop you from using it.

Facebook-WhatsApp data sharing now on pause in UK at regulator’s request – A controversial decision this summer by Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp to share data on its users with its parent company — including for advertising purposes — continues to attract the ire of European regulators.

Now Facebook has agree to pause data sharing in the UK, following an investigation by data protection watchdog, the ICO. Although TechCrunch understands this pause only applies to sharing user information for products/ads purposes; WhatsApp user data is still being shared with Facebook for fighting spam and other business intelligence purposes (such as deduplicating the number of users across different Facebook-owned services).

In a strongly worded blog post detailing how its probe has been progressing, UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham writes: “I had concerns that consumers weren’t being properly protected, and it’s fair to say the enquiries my team have made haven’t changed that view. I don’t think users have been given enough information about what Facebook plans to do with their information, and I don’t think WhatsApp has got valid consent from users to share the information. I also believe users should be given ongoing control over how their information is used, not just a 30 day window.”

“We’ve set out the law clearly to Facebook, and we’re pleased that they’ve agreed to pause using data from UK WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes,” she adds.

Denham also hits out at “vague terms of service” for generally failing to give consumers “the protection we need”.

Unsealed Court Docs Show FBI Used Malware Like ‘A Grenade’ – In 2013, the FBI received permission to hack over 300 specific users of dark web email service TorMail. But now, after the warrants and their applications have finally been unsealed, experts say the agency illegally went further, and hacked perfectly legitimate users of the privacy-focused service.

“That is, while the warrant authorized hacking with a scalpel, the FBI delivered their malware to TorMail users with a grenade,” Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Motherboard in an email.

The move comes after the ACLU pushed to unseal the case dockets in September. The Department of Justice recently decided to publish redacted versions of related documents.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 7, 2016

4 things to know about Black Friday;  The Top Black Friday Deals Sites;   4 ways to get things done faster with Cortana;  You will soon be able to order McDonalds from your smartphone;  Microsoft’s popping up ads from the Windows 10 toolbar;  Over one billion installs of apps using OAuth 2.0 can be remotely hijacked;  What about the personal data on those millions of recalled Note7s?  The best budget earbuds and headphones for every need;  35 great PC games for Linux and Steam Machines;  3 handy apps for iOS-to-Android switchers – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Here we go again: Microsoft’s popping up ads from the Windows 10 toolbar – Microsoft appears to be sneakily reinstating Windows 10 ads without explicit user permission. Weren’t we done with all this?

Jim Hillier: Windows 10’s ‘Quick Assist’ Built-in Remote Access App – If you’re the unofficial tech support for your circle of family and are running Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you’ll surely appreciate the new built-in remote access program called Quick Assist. Quick Assist allows you to remotely access any computer also running Windows 10 1607 (Anniversary Update), working much along the same lines as third party programs such as LogMeIn and TeamViewer.

3 inexpensive steps to secure IoT – The attack against Dyn had a sustained rate of 620Gbps. The result was the outage of several web services due to the inability to perform DNS resolution. According to security experts, the botnet was composed mainly of compromised IoT devices. Unsecured IoT devices are a treasure trove for botnet operators. It’s the responsibility of IT managers to ensure these devices remain protected against botnet enlistment. IT security vendors offer expensive protection products. Alternatively, here are three simple steps to protect your enterprise IoT against compromise, even if you have a limited budget.

4 ways to get things done faster with Cortana – You can have Cortana compose and send emails, capture your notes, and more with these tips.

Basketball without cable: A cord-cutter’s guide to the NBA – Cord cutters can get their fill of big nationally televised games, but local broadcasts are still left on the bench.

How to Control Your Battery Usage in Windows 10 – Uh oh, the battery charge on your Windows 10 laptop is down to 10 percent, and there’s no AC outlet in sight. What can you do? Well, you want to squeeze as much as you can out of your current battery charge before it loses all its juice. Let’s look at how different settings in Windows 10 can coax your laptop to last longer on a single charge.

Best USB-C battery packs: We review the best portable batteries for your phone or tablet – Battery cases and portable battery backs are slowly creeping into the must-have accessory column for many users, especially those who frequently travel. With Amazon seemingly overrun by inexpensive battery packs, each one claiming faster charging and better efficiency than the next, it’s hard to know just what you are getting. So we went out, purchased fancy testing equipment, and gathered batteries priced high and low, with capacities all over the place.

Easy iPhone wireless charging hack – Tired of waiting for Apple to add wireless charging to the iPhone? Here’s how you can do it yourself, no screwdrivers or soldering irons required.

3 handy apps for iOS-to-Android switchers – Switching from iOS to Android can mean leaving some things behind. If you’re worried about losing features like Find My Friends and iMessage’s desktop abilities, these helpful Android apps can bridge the gap.

5 Simple Steps for Getting Started With Gantt Charts – Whether you’re building a deck on your house, building a new corporate website, or launching a rocket into space, Gantt charts let see you see exactly how to get your project done.

5 terminal commands every Linux newbie should know – A graphical user interface makes modern computing more enjoyable and easier to use the majority of the time. After all, placing an Amazon order using a text-mode browser in a terminal sounds like an over-enthusiastic exercise in masochism. We like our GUIs and graphical browsers, but there are times when you’ll find yourself in the world of the command line. Like any new tool, knowing a few basics can keep your blood pressure in check when a GUI fails to start, or you need to perform maintenance. For starters, here are five commands you should become comfortable with as a Linux user.

The Top Black Friday Deals Sites – Cash-strapped shoppers looking for the best deals should check out these online destinations.

4 things to know about Black Friday – As CNET’s resident Cheapskate, it falls to me to give you a Black Friday primer, to share the secrets of this big day while simultaneously helping you avoid the hype. With that in mind, here are four things you should know about BF:

The best budget earbuds and headphones for every need – A good pair of headphones doesn’t have to be an expensive pair of headphones. In the same way an expensive model may have subpar quality for the price, it’s possible to find inexpensive offerings with quality far above what you paid. Knowing where to look is half the battle, but we’ve done the hard work for you: here are a variety of inexpensive headphones to satisfy every user type, including athletes, children, and the frequent commuter.

WhatsApp ‘Status’ feature tipped as a Snapchat clone – WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature called ‘Status’ that works in much the same way as Snapchat. The feature was discovered in the most recent public beta version of WhatsApp for both iOS and Android. With it, users can post status updates in the form of photos and videos and share them with friends. The status updates expire and disappear after 24 hours, and can include things like text and doodles.

Understanding Hype, a live-streaming app packed with weird – The creators of Vine have a new gift for the Internet — and it’s called Hype. Hype is a live-streaming video app on iOS with wide-ranging creative freedom. Every broadcaster can layer a live video with multimedia, including photos, videos, animated GIFs, music, text and emojis. Anything can be moved around the screen and added or deleted during the live broadcast. The point of Hype is to use these tools to engage with a live audience and win subscribers. Like in other live-streaming apps, the audience can share comments in a chat window. But Hype takes it up a notch: If the broadcasters like a comment, they can pull it into the video, having it float above as a chat bubble.

The new 64-bit Orange Pi is a quad-core computer for $20 – Need a teeny tiny computer that can run Android or Linux? Only have $20? Well you’re in luck. When we first met the Orange Pi (get it?) the company was selling a nice Raspberry Pi clone for $15. Now they’re selling a souped up version with all the trimmings. The board includes an Ethernet port and three USB ports. It has 1GB of memory, H5 High Performance Quad-core 64-bit Cortex-A53, and a standalone graphics chip. It supports camera input as well as HDMI out and even has a physical power switch and IR blaster. In short it’s a mini computer that can probably play some games, display some HD video, and generally be used in all sorts of home-brew projects.

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Apple USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 prices cut amid MacBook Pro dongle outcry – Today Apple cut prices of USB-C accessories of all sorts, citing a need for legacy connections to older devices by professionals. The MacBook Pro is meant to be a professional notebook, and as most accessories have not yet moved to USB-C, dongles are needed. Apple suggests today that they’ve seen the need for this, and are therefore cutting costs to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals throughout the Apple Store.

You will soon be able to order McDonalds from your smartphone – A company representative told Business Insider that the technology will initially roll out to the United States and several international markets next year, with upwards of 25,000 stores using system by 2018. The move would help the restaurant chain catch up with competitors such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Chick-fil-A, which have apps that allow customers to place their orders before they arrive at the store, and in some cases, pay directly through the app.

8 digital turntables give old records a modern spin – Wondering what to do about that pile of records that’s collecting dust in your attic or basement? With one of these turntables, your records — from Shostakovich to Black Sabbath — can live again. This new generation of record players can play 33⅓ rpm (also known as LP), 45 rpm and sometimes even 78 rpm records — and most can also turn your favorite old vinyl into crisp new digital files. Each of these eight record players has the usual spinning platter, tonearm and needle to deliver analog audio from the record’s grooves. But wait, there’s more: An analog-to-digital converter turns the record player’s audio signal into a digital file.

Top Tips for Preserving Your Photos – It’s easy to forget about the old ways of doing things. Rotary phones, cassette tapes, and film are all relics that seem alien to youth raised on smartphones, streaming music, and digital cameras. But many families have photo albums gathering dust on a shelf or locked away in storage, and those with less organization may simply stumble upon a shoebox full of old prints and negatives in varying states of condition. Converting those images to digital format will ensure that they’re available for generations to come.

Uber and Google team up to get voters to the polls on election day – On Friday, days before the US presidential election on November 8, Uber said it wants to help increase voter turnout by offering an in-app feature that helps bring riders to their polling locations.

Security:

Tesco Bank freezes all online transactions after money stolen from 20,000 accounts – Tesco Bank has frozen the online transactions of all of its 136,000 current account holders following “online criminal activity”, resulting in the theft of funds from at least 20,000 customers. Some customers reported that money had gone missing from their accounts over the weekend, resulting in the banking arm of the British retailer opting to prevent online transfers as a “precautionary” measure. “Tesco Bank can confirm that, over the weekend, some of its customers’ current accounts have been subject to online criminal activity, in some cases resulting in money being withdrawn fraudulently,” said Benny Higgins, chief executive of Tesco Bank in a statement.

Sam’s Club resets passwords after thousands of logins posted online – Over 14,000 usernames and plain-text passwords for the retail giant’s online store were posted online over the weekend.

The US is reportedly readying cyber attacks if Russia tries to hack the election – In October, news broke that the CIA was preparing options to launch a cyberattack against Russia following revelations that the country was likely behind hacks at the Democratic National Committee earlier this summer. Now, a source has told NBC News that the US has penetrated key Russian systems, and will be ready to take action in case the country decides to interfere with next week’s elections. The systems allegedly include some of Russia’s telecommunications networks, its electrical power grid, and command systems at the Kremlin. NBC reported that the preparations are being made in the event that the US is “attacked in a significant way,” according to an anonymous intelligence official and top secret documents that the network had reviewed.

Cisco’s job applications site leaked personal data – Cisco has fixed a vulnerability in its Professional Careers portal that may have exposed truckloads of personal information. The networking giant has sent an email to affected users in which it says a “limited set of job application related information” was leaked from the mobile version of the website, blaming an “incorrect security setting” placed after system maintenance on a third party site. An unnamed researcher reported the flaw. Cisco says it has not found evidence of other unauthorised access but did find “an instance of unexplained, anomalous connection to the server” during the time data was exposed. Cisco says the borked security settings were in place from August to September 2015, and again from July to August 2016.

Over one billion installs of apps using OAuth 2.0 can be remotely hijacked, say researchers – OAuth 2.0 allows apps to verify credentials with Facebook or Google logins. One problem: over 41% of apps using OAuth 2.0 aren’t actually validating user info, allowing account hijacks.

Cerber ransomware menace now targeting databases – Criminals behind the massive Cerber ransomware enterprise are now targeting businesses as well as individuals with a module that kills and encrypts databases, warns Intel’s former security arm McAfee. Cerber had conducted more than 160 campaigns when examined in July targeting 150,0000 users and raking in a cracking US$195,000 in profits in that month alone. Of that figure, Cerber’s developer pocketed some US$78,000. It is estimated the malware earns authors and affiliates some US$1 million to US$2.5 million a year. Those figures surpass 2015 ransomware profits said to net authors a conservative US$84,000 a month for slinging ransomware at a cost of US$6000. That’s a whopping 1425 per cent profit margin. Security strategist Matthew Rosenquist says chasing businesses is the “next evolution” of ransomware.

What about the personal data on those millions of recalled Note7s? – The users of millions of faulty Samsung Galaxy Note7s, already turned in, face a bigger potential dilemma than whether the devices might blow up: The fate of their personal data on the devices. Many of the users of some 3 million Note7 devices sold were told by Samsung and government officials to immediately stop using the devices. They most likely didn’t have time to thoroughly wipe sensitive personal data like credit card numbers or medical information. Samsung hasn’t divulged what it plans to do with the Note7s that were turned in, and didn’t respond this week to a query about how it plans to ensure customer data is kept confidential.

Company News:

Google Capital changes its name to CapitalG – Google Capital — the company’s venture arm that focuses on growth-stage companies (read: those that have proven their idea and are now growing) as opposed to earlier-stage startups — is now “CapitalG.” All this, it’s worth noting, is a separate thing from GV, Alphabet’s investment arm that focuses on that earlier-stage stuff and rebranded from “Google Ventures” back in December of last year.

Uber settles ‘Jane Doe’ suit over alleged sexual assaults – Uber settled a lawsuit alleging it put profit over the safety of its female customers. The suit, originally filed October 2015 in US District Court in San Francisco, was brought by two unnamed “Jane Doe” women who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers. The women said Uber should be held responsible for its drivers’ actions. The details of the settlement, reached Thursday, were not released.

After sagging sales numbers, Fitbit’s stock price plunges by over 33% – In Thursday afternoon trading, Fitbit’s stock price lost more than one-third of its value after the company announced a significant drop in profits. According to its latest quarterly numbers, the company made $26.1 million in the third quarter of 2016 compared with $45.8 million during the same quarter a year ago. In mid-September, the company released the Fitbit Charge 2, a mid-range $150 device. Many financial analysts believe that the market for the popular fitness tracker may be hitting its saturation point. The company’s CEO, James Park, said as much on a call with analysts and reporters on Thursday.

Cannabis investor Privateer Holdings tacks on another $40 million in funding – In just five days, nine states will vote on marijuana legalization measures, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that the five-year-old, Seattle-based marijuana private equity investor Privateer Holdings just raised $40 million in convertible debt from undisclosed investors. Cowen and Co. is predicting that within 10 years, legal pot sales will hit $50 billion in the U.S., up from $6 billion today. Privateer has so far raised $122 million altogether. Earlier investors include Founders Fund, which led the company’s $75 million Series B round in March 2015, and Subversive Capital.

Games and Entertainment:

Facebook will begin testing ads on Apple TV and Roku devices – If you thought Facebook already has enough presence on the screens of your various devices, get ready for one more: the TV. The social network behemoth is gearing up to expand its ever-growing advertising network with a test that will run video ads within certain apps on the Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes. The tests could start as early as next week, but there’s no word yet on a pre-determined video length.

Windows 10 Store Refunds ‘Call of Duty’ Player Because Nobody’s Playing It – A few gamers who bought Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare through the digital storefront built into Windows 10 have discovered they can only play with other gamers who also bought the game from Microsoft. Xbox One players can only play with other Xbox One players, and PlayStation 4 players can only play with other PlayStation 4 players. This has always been the case. The trouble is that this time not all PC players can play with other PC players. For unknown reasons, Windows 10 Store customers are segregated from customers who bought the game from Steam, which is by far the most popular platform on PC. That’s like buying a game from Target and learning you can’t play with people who bought it from Best Buy. Call of Duty fans who made the unfortunate of mistake of giving Microsoft their cash are left sitting in lonely multiplayer lobbies waiting for games that’ll never start. However, it appears that Microsoft is giving out refunds.

Battlefield 1 is an anti-war message trapped in a best-selling shooter – Battlefield 1, set not during WWII but the global conflict more than two decades prior, is one of the most realistic first-person shooter games ever created. Every component, from the groundbreaking graphics to the sheer complexity of the maps, is in service of making players feel as if they’re experiencing a harrowing part of history — playing not the stars, but the forgotten extras of a Steven Spielberg film. Instead of shamelessly milking historical bloodshed, the development team has taken a different route with Battlefield 1. They made a game that is at once exhilarating and terrifying in almost equal measure — in effect, an anti-war game where the disposability of human life is treated not as a side effect of the gameplay, but as a core message it’s trying to convey.

Blizzard is recreating the original Diablo inside Diablo 3 – Blizzard’s BlizzCon is being held this weekend, and the developer has announced that one of its most classic games, the original Diablo, is making a return within the newer Diablo 3. In honor of the original dungeon crawler’s 20th anniversary, Blizzard is releasing a new “Darkening of Tristram” update for Diablo 3, allowing players to experience the classic graphics and gameplay, all on the engine of the latest entry.

Facebook Messenger is testing “Instant Games” like this one from King – Facebook Messenger is preparing to launch a new “Instant Games” platform that will let people  play lightweight games against friends. Candy Crush maker King.com is already testing one of these Instant Games called “Shuffle Cats Mini” in New Zealand, TechCrunch has discovered. And other studios including Big Viking also appear to be prepping for the Instant Games launch.

Zotac Zbox EN1060 review: Better than console gaming in a tiny package – For the first time (Gigabyte’s awful Brix Gaming range and Alienware’s modest Steam Machines notwithstanding), you can buy a PC that’s smaller than a game console, yet packs in enough processing power to run games at ultra settings and 60FPS. Enter the Magnus EN1060, the latest model from mini PC champions Zotac. Inside its tiny 20cm-by-20cm footprint sits a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, giving it enough graphics grunt to power games at the highest settings, even at resolutions above 1080p. It makes for a mean, highly portable, VR-ready PC. Unfortunately, stuffing such powerful components into a chassis barely bigger than a DVD case was always going to result in some compromises—and the EN1060 isn’t quite the desktop powerhouse its spec sheet promises.

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35 great PC games for Linux and Steam Machines – The promise of SteamOS has lured several dozen big-name games to Linux PCs. Here are some of the best Linux PC games you can play today.

Original ‘Left 4 Dead’ Developer Releases ‘Lost’ Level for Free – Player cooperation and interaction lies at the heart of the zombie shooter Left 4 Dead, and thus it’s understandable why a campaign encouraging players to split up might have been left on the cutting room floor. Now, though—almost eight years to the day after Left 4 Dead’s 2008 release—that specific campaign’s been released as a free add-on, allowing players to experience what might have been if such ideas had made it into the final product.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Social media is a gold mine for detectives busting scams – How clean is your Facebook feed? Investigators have built a tool to more easily trawl for information you might want to keep private.

What is a blockchain, and why is it growing in popularity? – Effectively a blockchain is a kind of independent, transparent, and permanent database coexisting in multiple locations and shared by a community. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as a mutual distributed ledger (MDL). There’s nothing new about MDLs, their origins traceable to the seminal 1976 Diffie–Hellman research paper New Directions In Cryptography. But for a long time they were regarded as complicated and not altogether safe. It took the simpler blockchain implementation within Bitcoin to turn things around. The permanence, security, and distributed nature of Bitcoin ensured it was a currency maintained by a growing community but controlled by absolutely nobody and unable to be manipulated.

Elon Musk: Trump doesn’t reflect well on the US – Silicon Valley seems divided on the election. In one corner is Peter Thiel and a few quieter sympathizers. In the other stand a number of tech CEOs and employees, aghast at the notion that Donald Trump — a man who suggested boycotting Apple products — might be the next president. Tesla founder Elon Musk is in the latter category.

WTF is CRISPR? – Say you’ve inherited a rare genetic mutation that guarantees you’ll get a certain form of cancer by the time you reach 50 years of age. And that this is most likely how you are going to die. But what if I told you this cancer gene, passed down from generation to generation, can be snipped out of your genome entirely and you never pass it on to any of your offspring?

Something to think about:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

–       Abraham Lincoln

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How Bureaucrats and Spies Turned Canada Into a Surveillance State – This week, Canadians received a shock to the system when a spate of news items revealed how police and spy agencies flout the law and moral conventions to spy on citizens and journalists, in some cases dating back for many years.

The largest blow to Canada’s often rosy image came on Thursday when a federal court ruling revealed that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been operating a secret metadata collection program since 2006, and retained citizens’ identifying information illegally. The question on every Canadian’s mind now is: how, in our supposedly sleepy liberal democracy, did this happen?

In establishing the domestic spy agency with the CSIS Act, legislators largely left it up to CSIS itself to decide how the law should be interpreted. “It appears that CSIS got their own legal advice that gave them the most favourable spin or interpretation of the law that one could possibly take,” said privacy lawyer David Fraser in an interview. “Really, stretching it almost to the breaking point.”

“We believed we had the authority. Was it set out specifically? No, it wasn’t”

In a call with journalists on Thursday, Chief General Counsel for the Department of Justice Robert Frater seemed to confirm this perspective. “Our legal position was that we were retaining it legally,” he said. “We believed we had the authority. Was it set out specifically? No, it wasn’t.”

China’s new cybersecurity law is bad news for business – The Chinese government has passed new cybersecurity regulations Nov. 7 that will put stringent new requirements on technology companies operating in the country. The proposed Cybersecurity Law comes with data localization, surveillance, and real-name requirements.

The regulation would require instant messaging services and other internet companies to require users to register with their real names and personal information, and to censor content that is “prohibited.” Real name policies restrict anonymity and can encourage self-censorship for online communication.

The law also includes a requirement for data localization, which would force “critical information infrastructure operators” to store data within China’s borders. According to Human Rights Watch, an advocacy organization that is opposing the legislation, the law does not include a clear definition of infrastructure operators, and many businesses could be lumped into the definition.

“The law will effectively put China’s Internet companies, and hundreds of millions of Internet users, under greater state control,” said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director. HRW maintains that, while many of the regulations are not new, most were informal or only laid out in low-level law — and implementing the measures on a broader level will lead to stricter enforcement.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 4, 2016

Microsoft Cortana: The smart person’s guide;  Home networking: Everything you need to know;  4 things to know before you buy Google Home;  Can your PC run virtual reality? The free new VRMark benchmark can tell you;  LastPass syncing across multiple devices is now free;  5 macOS screen capture apps;  Feds Say it’s Okay to Hack Your Own Car, Smart TV;  Move over Raspberry Pi, here is a $4, coin-sized, open-source Linux computer – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Firms that force you to change your password are clueless says cyber security chief – Does your firm make you change your password each month and warn you not to open suspicious email attachments? Then they haven’t got a clue about IT security. So says Dr Ian Levy, technical director for the UK National Cyber Security Centre. Levy was scathing in his assessment of the “stupid” and user-unfriendly security advice habitually doled out. Top of his list was the perennial warning not to open attachments or click on links in an email unless you trust the sender. The number of users capable of delving into the technical detail of an email to spot the difference between a well-crafted spoof banking message sent by a hacker and the genuine article is vanishingly small, he said. “That is the most stupid piece of advice I have ever heard,” he told the Microsoft Future Decoded conference in London. “We’re blaming the user for designing the system wrong, we’re trying to get the user to compensate for bad system design. That’s stupid, let’s fix it.”

Microsoft Cortana: The smart person’s guide – For Microsoft and devices running the Windows 10 operating system, the digital agent that will help us interface with our computing devices more efficiently is called Cortana. If you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone running Windows 10, you have Cortana—even if you have never used it. This TechRepublic Smart Person’s Guide describes what Cortana is, who its designed for, when you should use it, and why it matters.

4 things to know before you buy Google Home – The Google Assistant has escaped, and it’s haunting your house. No longer is it trapped in your phone or your browser: instead, the power of Google’s so-called Knowledge Graph now gets a new enclosure, the vase-esque Google Home. Like Amazon’s Echo, it reacts to voice rather than touchscreen or buttons, and like Amazon’s assistant Alexa, it promises to streamline your day and entertain your evenings with its personalized knowledge of your tastes and interests. Sounds great, right? Turns out, there are a few things you ought to bear in mind before you bring Home home.

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Home networking: Everything you need to know – Did you know that Wi-Fi and internet are two different things? That’s true, Wi-Fi is just a wireless method for devices in a local network to connect to one another using a router and share a single internet connection, if there is one. Then what is a local network, you ask? And what’s a router for Pete’s sake? Here I’ll (try to) explain them all so that you can have a better understanding of your home network and hopefully a better control of your online life.

Hands On With Microsoft Teams – If you’ve ever felt a disconnect between your applications, files, and coworkers, Microsoft Teams is designed with you in mind. The tool is a cloud-based collaboration chat app that takes the best aspects of Slack and connects them to Microsoft Office 365, as well as more than 150 third-party applications. For those of you who’ve never used a chat app at work, here’s a small primer:

Can your PC run virtual reality? The free new VRMark benchmark can tell you – There’s a new way to easily test your PC’s virtual reality chops. Futuremark, the creators of the widely used 3DMark benchmarking tools (including Fire Strike), just announced VRMark for gauging your computer’s VR capabilities. VRMark comes in both Basic and Advanced Editions. The basic version is free and allows you to run one of VRMark’s two tests, dubbed “Orange Room.” Orange Room tests your PC with the recommended hardware requirements of VR headsets in mind. Futuremark says your PC will pass if it can hit the benchmark’s target frame rate without dropping frames—two crucial requirements for virtual reality. Orange Room also provides an overall score at the end so you can compare different system results.

Move over Raspberry Pi, here is a $4, coin-sized, open-source Linux computer – VoCore2 is an open source Linux computer and a fully-functional wireless router that is smaller than a coin. It can also act as a VPN gateway for a network, an AirPlay station to play lossless music, a private cloud to store your photos, video, and code, and much more. The Lite version of the VoCore2 features a 580MHz MT7688AN MediaTek system on chip (SoC), 64MB of DDR2 RAM, 8MB of NOR storage, and a single antenna slot for Wi-Fi that supports 150Mbps. All this for $4.

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VoCore2

How to track down the Startup folder in Windows 10 – There are various ways to access the Windows 10 Startup folder–but this Shell command trick cuts to the chase.

How to add a Hibernate option to the Windows 10 Start menu – Windows 10 doesn’t include Hibernate in the shut-down options by default, but it’s easy enough to add it.

How Microsoft plans to shrink down and speed up Windows 10 updates – Microsoft has revealed a new Unified Update Platform that’s designed to make it easier for devices to upgrade from one version of Windows 10 to another.

LastPass syncing across multiple devices is now free – LastPass has announced that its syncing feature is now free to use across multiple devices, including things like your laptop, tablet and smartphone. Whatever devices you use the service on, your passwords will sync across them and it won’t cost you anything. Premium members will still keep exclusive access to the other premium perks, however, including things like going ad-free and sharing with up to five users.

Vivaldi: A stellar web browser, but don’t make it your default yet – Before making the switch to Vivaldi, read what an avid Chrome fan likes and doesn’t like about this much-talked about web browser.

Another 40 million people bolt from Microsoft’s browsers as mass exodus continues – Microsoft’s browsers hemorrhaged another 40 million users last month, according to analytics vendor Net Applications.

15 hidden Facebook Messenger tips – There are hidden Messenger games, fun emoji animations and more that you probably don’t know about.

5 macOS screen capture apps that make sharing important info a snap – Taking a screenshot isn’t hard, but making use of them can be a lot trickier. Here are five apps for your Mac that can make your screen captures far more functional.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Fix, Comp CC now on Android – Adobe is finally showing some Android love. The company whose name is synonymous with digital content creation tools hasn’t exactly been close friends with Android, preferring to focus its resources more and first on iOS as far as mobile platforms go. Not like Android users are less creative than their iOS counterparts. But, as they say, better late than never. Finally, Android users can enjoy three new creative mobile apps from Adobe: Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Fix, and Adobe Comp CC.

Red Hat releases new flagship Linux operating system – Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 includes new features and enhancements built around performance, security, and reliability. The release also introduces new capabilities around Linux containers and the Internet of Things.

Android closes in on 90% market share – As the battle between iOS and Android rages on, we’re seeing Android pick up some market share in quarter three 2016. Strategy Analytics has published a new report for the quarter that shows Android making some gains while iOS loses a little ground. On top of that, the smartphone market as a whole showed some modest year-over-year growth.

Uber has overhauled its app: three key differences – Uber has rebuilt its mobile app, making it cleaner and easier to use in comparison to the previous version. This update was necessary, says Uber, as the app had ‘become complicated and harder to navigate’ since the last big overhaul in 2012. By remaking it from the ground up, the app is now faster and, says the company, smarter — it can learn your routines if you’re a frequent rider, and pretty soon it’ll be able to tap your mobile’s calendar, too.

Hands-on: Using CrossOver Android to run Windows apps on a Chromebook – Android app support in Chromebooks opens the door to Windows emulation, but that first step is a doozy.

Report: Smartwatch sales aren’t falling — shipments increased 60% year-on-year – Are smartwatch sales tanking? Analysts are divided. A recent IDC report suggested the total shipment of smartwatches had plummeted by 50 percent in the last year, but this week rival analyst firm Canalys claimed that sales have actually increased.

Security:

The ransomware dilemma – More than 90 percent of all phishing emails are now ransomware. The average amount paid via ransomware has grown from $40 in 2009 to $1,000 in 2016. This amount will grow even faster as ransomware moves to enterprise. An LA-based hospital paid $17,000 and, according to FBI records, several small businesses have paid as much as $80,000. Many are embarrassed to admit it, so we may never know the real figures. According to Cyber Threat Alliance, ransomware variant CryptoLocker generated $325 million for the hackers within 100 days of launch. At the Black Hat 2016 CISO Summit in Las Vegas, several industry experts projected a billion dollars will be paid in ransomware in 2016.

(Another) Hospital Falls Victim to Ransomware – The NHS’s Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust is back up and running after a four-day ordeal.

Mobile subscriber identity numbers can be exposed over Wi-Fi – Researchers have now found that protocols used by operators to offload data connections and voice calls to Wi-Fi can be abused to track mobile subscribers by their unique identification numbers.

How to block the ultrasonic signals you didn’t know were tracking you – The technology, called ultrasonic cross-device tracking, embeds high-frequency tones that are inaudible to humans in advertisements, web pages, and even physical locations like retail stores. These ultrasound “beacons” emit their audio sequences with speakers, and almost any device microphone—like those accessed by an app on a smartphone or tablet—can detect the signal and start to put together a picture of what ads you’ve seen, what sites you’ve perused, and even where you’ve been. Now that you’re sufficiently concerned, the good news is that at the Black Hat Europe security conference on Thursday, a group based at University of California, Santa Barbara will present an Android patch and a Chrome extension that give consumers more control over the transmission and receipt of ultrasonic pitches on their devices.

Mirai botnet attackers are trying to knock an entire country offline – The nation state has a single point of failure fiber, recently installed in 2011, and it could spell disaster for dozens of other countries.

Australia’s cybersecurity strategy: Continue the omnishambles – As the UK launches its much-praised active cyber defence plan to integrate protection of the entire .gov.uk domain, Australia chooses to do the exact opposite. Hilarity will ensue.

Flaw in Wix website builder risked computer worm – Wix.com, a major website building provider, may have a significant bug on its hands. A vulnerability with the company’s sites can potentially pave the way for a computer worm, warns a security researcher.

Company News:

Google formally rebuts EU antitrust charges against Shopping, AdSense – Google has now formally responded to two antitrust charges brought against it by Europe’s Competition Commission, rebutting charges of exploiting the popularity of its search engine to boost its price comparison service, Google Shopping, and its ad placement service, AdSense. The company has yet to respond to a third EU antitrust complaint — regarding complaints that it uses its Android mobile OS as a ‘trojan horse’ to promote its own products and services at the expense of rivals’ — but in a blog post outlining its response in the Shopping case the company’s SVP and general counsel, Kent Walker, said it will be responding to the Android Statement of Objections “in the days to come”.

Symantec reports solid Q2, CornerStone, Arista, Hortonworks also report – The tech earnings parade was led by Symantec. Generally speaking the results from enterprise vendors were solid.

Lenovo posts ‘solid results’ in tough PC and tablet market – The world’s biggest PC vendor has announced its second-quarter results, with a return to profit despite tough PC and server markets. Revenue stood at $11.2 billion, an eight percent decrease year-over-year, and a 12 percent increase over its first financial quarter. Pre-tax income for the second quarter was $168 million compared to a loss of $842 million in the same quarter last year. Net income stood at $157 million compared to $714 million in last year’s second quarter. Lenovo described this as “solid performance” at a challenging time in the industry, with both the PC and tablet markets down, and smartphones and servers showing only modest growth.

GoPro shows its vulnerability after horrific Q3 earnings – Expectations were already incredibly low for GoPro this go around and yet somehow the company managed to eclipse even the worst fears of analysts. The company’s stock trading was halted prior to the release of results that missed revenue expectations by 23 percent and nearly $75 million. When trading began again, shares were down 22 percent. This means that, in a matter of minutes, the market cap of the company melted from $1.23 billion to $972 million — the spontaneous combustion of roughly $250 million in value.

Fitbit shares tank 29 percent as holiday sales look bleak – Fitbit is going to have a rough holiday season as the company shared a disappointing outlook for the next quarter on yesterday’s earnings call. As a result, Fitbit shares (NYSE:FIT) opened at $9.03, down 29.5 percent compared to yesterday’s closing price of $12.81. So what happened exactly? Fitbit’s earning report yesterday wasn’t great, but it wasn’t too bad either. According to Forbes, earnings were in line with the analysts’ expectations, and revenue was slightly below expectations — $504 million vs. $507 million. This doesn’t seem enough to tear the company apart on the stock market. The issue is what’s going to happen next. Fitbit devices seem like the perfect gift for the holidays. But Fitbit says it’s not going to be the huge quarter investors expected. Fitbit’s own outlook says that earnings per share are going to be between $0.14 and $0.18, well below expectations of $0.75 per share, according to the WSJ.

Facebook doubles down on video as forecast worries investors – With new video features, the social network is preparing itself for the future. Still, investors are worried about the coming year.

Intel Security sets up strategy, ecosystem, architecture for McAfee independence – Intel Security outlined its strategy, architecture, key partners, and a series of products as it preps to become McAfee and a standalone company. At its Focus 16 conference, Intel Security launched an architecture that ties together its four key systems for endpoints, data protection, data center, and cloud and security analytics. Intel Security announced 10 products driven by machine learning malware classification and cloud advanced threat protection.

Games and Entertainment:

GOG’s Fall Sale dangles free copies of Victor Vran, Little Big Adventure 2, and more – You can walk away with four free games on top of this year’s GOG’s “Monstrous” fall sale harvest.

Review: ‘Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’ Reaches for the Stars But Never Gets off the Ground – Once more, we’re drowning in a season of shooters: the jazzy robo-parkour of Titanfall 2, the eco-pocalyptic hustle of Gears of War 4, the anthologized toil of Battlefield 1. And on November 4 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the slick celestial operatics of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. It’s the thirteenth installment in Activision’s granddaddy projectile-chucker that’s been nipping at Pokémon‘s fourth place heels in the battle for all-time bestselling franchise bragging rights.

PlayStation 4 includes free COD: Infinite Warfare on November 4 – 5 – Sony has announced that PlayStation 4 consoles purchased on November 4th and November 5th will include a free copy of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the latest addition to the popular game franchise. The promotion is being offered through ‘select retailers,’ according to PlayStation Brand Marketing Vice President John Koller. As well, it will only be available to customers in the United States and Canada.

PS4 Pro Will Have 30 Games Optimized for Launch, 45 by Year’s End – Next Thursday will see the launch of the PlayStation 4 Pro. With a more powerful CPU and GPU, games will run and look better than they do on the current PlayStation 4. All future releases will be optimized to take advantage of the system’s beefier hardware, and some older titles will be patched to do the same. Sony has today revealed a list of all the titles that will optimize for the PS4 Pro. This list contains titles that are getting patched or have been created with PS4 Pro in mind. Some of the games that will be PS4 Pro ready include 2016 releases like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Battlefield 1, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Ratchet & Clank, Titanfall 2, and Firewatch. Older titles like Knack, inFAMOUS: Second Son, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and XCOM 2 will be getting optimized as well.

EVGA issues patch to stop its GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 cards from catching fire – EVGA issued a patch to its GeForce GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 graphics cards this week after some users reported that their cards overheated and sometimes caught on fire. Is this the year of exploding gadgets? Tom’s Hardware Germany initially reported an issue with EVGA’s cooling system. The site found that the card reached up to 107 degrees Celsius, or 224 degrees Fahrenheit, when put under the Furmark stress test. Tom’s noted that EVGA failed to include an adequate cooling solution, which the company is now trying to remedy through a VBIOS update that will speed up the fans so everything stays cool.

Sling TV adds on-demand kids channel: here are four alternatives – Children’s programming is an important part of the television industry, not just because kids comprise a large viewer base, but also because they’re more likely to stick with something that becomes familiar to them at an early age. It’s no surprise, then, that video streaming companies have been fleshing out their family-friendly and kids-centric programming, and Sling TV is no exception.

Vimeo to Take On Netflix With Premium Subscriptions – Vimeo hopes to create an ad-free streaming service with lower prices than its competitors.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Feds Say it’s Okay to Hack Your Own Car, Smart TV – Want to hack your own car or smart TV? Now you legally can. The Federal Trade Commission last week announced that the Librarian of Congress issued a new temporary exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), authorizing the hacking of consumer devices for the sake of research. That includes everything from electric toothbrushes to home thermostats, connected appliances, cars, smart TVs — even medical devices so long as they’re not connected to humans during the research. It does not, however, apply to “highly sensitive systems” like nuclear power plants or air traffic control. The FTC called the new temporary exemption “a big win for security researchers and for consumers who will benefit from increased security testing of the products they use.”

These glasses trick facial recognition software into thinking you’re someone else – Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have shown that specially designed spectacle frames can fool even state-of-the-art facial recognition software. Not only can the glasses make the wearer essentially disappear to such automated systems, it can even trick them into thinking you’re someone else. By tweaking the patterns printed on the glasses, scientists were able to assume one another’s identities or make the software think they were looking at celebrities. (In the image at the top of the article, you can see the researchers wearing the glasses in the top row of pictures, and the identity they copied in the bottom row.)

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SPUD lets you take a pop-up 24-inch screen on the road – The challenge with working from the road for many people is that even with a laptop, often the screen is too small to be truly productive. A new portable display called the SPUD has landed on Kickstarter and this gizmo will make it a snap to carry a large screen with you for all your devices wherever you go. SPUD is a collapsible, pop-up projection screen measuring 24-inches diagonally.

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Can you solve some of the most complicated cryptographic puzzles in the world? – The UK’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) are some of the best code breakers in the world. Think you have what it takes to be a cryptanalyst? Find out here.

Something to think about:

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

–      Ralph W. Sockman

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The FBI is investigating its own Twitter account over allegedly pro-Trump tweets – The FBI’s Inspection Division has launched an internal investigation into a string of tweets from the @FBIRecordsDivision account, according to an exclusive report from ThinkProgress. The account had been inactive for more than a year before this week, when it sprang to life with a string of tweets publishing records from a years-old investigation into then-president Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich in 2001. The account also tweeted its archive on Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump, whom the account hailed as a “philanthropist.”

Under the Hatch Act, the FBI and its employees are forbidden from taking an active role in election activities. But some critics have argued that the bureau overstepped that line with FBI Director Comey’s July press conference, which criticized Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for classified communication while simultaneously declining to recommend criminal charges.

Canadian Spies Illegally Retained Metadata for a Decade – A bombshell federal court ruling revealed on Thursday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada’s CIA analogue, operated a secret metadata collection and retention program for a decade.

The Operational Data Analysis Centre (ODAC), a CSIS program that was not known to the public until this court ruling, has been in operation since 2006, the court found, although CSIS did not make courts aware of its existence until this year. This breached the spy agency’s “duty of candour,” the court ruled.

The ODAC is a “powerful” program, the court’s judgement states, and collected and retained information known as metadata. This sort of information would include details like the sender and recipient of an email, for example, but not the contents of the message.

“The end product [of ODAC surveillance] is intelligence which reveals specific, intimate details on the life and environment of the persons the CSIS investigates,” the court’s ruling states. “The program is capable of drawing links between various sources and enormous amounts of data that no human being would be capable of.”

Unlike the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s version of the NSA, CSIS is mandated to spy on Canadians in order to thwart terror attacks.

The ODAC program not only collected metadata from people that CSIS had warrants to surveil, but also collected so-called “associated data,” which means information on non-threats or third parties: in other words, citizens not under investigation.

Edward Snowden Calls Police Spying on Quebec Journalists a ‘Threat to Democracy’ – In a speech to 600 people at McGill University in Montreal on Wednesday night, Edward Snowden described police spying on Quebec journalists a “threat to the traditional model of our democracy.”

Though it had been announced months ago, the timing of Snowden’s conference was strangely appropriate. The event took place just hours after La Presse revealed the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), which is the provincial police force, had put at least six prominent journalists under surveillance. Two days earlier, the same Montreal daily had broken the story that its own star columnist, Patrick Lagacé, had been spied on by the Montreal police force (SPVM).

Appearing live from Russia, where he’s been living in exile since exposing top secret information about US intelligence and surveillance programs, Snowden did not mince words when discussing the behaviour of Quebec police.

“From now on, local police can decide they don’t like what a journalist has been reporting and go to a justice of the peace, who’ll say, ‘Sounds great. Look at the GPS on his phone, figure out everywhere he’s been traveling, figure out anyone he’s communicated with. No, you can’t actually read his emails, you can’t actually listen to his calls, but you can find out anyone he met with, who did he call, how long he was on the phone with them’,” the former CIA agent and NSA employee said. “With this, you can gain an extraordinary understanding of how this individual works.”

The world’s most famous whistleblower suggested SPVM chief Philippe Pichet should resign immediately, describing the surveillance of Lagacé and other journalists as a “radical attack on the operations of the free press.” Snowden also took shots at Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard for not firing Pichet.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 2, 2016

TIME: The 50 Best Apps of the Year;  4 Windows 10 tools that will kickstart your productivity;  The Best Free Antivirus Protection of 2016;  Google Drive dumps Windows XP and Vista;  Microsoft to patch Windows security flaw under attack next week;  Google Play Store hardened: here’s how to protect yourself;  Tor: The smart person’s guide;  5 Android navigation apps for those who are sick of Google Maps – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

TIME: The 50 Best Apps of the Year – We’re increasingly reliant on the smartphones in our pockets to keep in touch with friends, watch movies and TV shows, and get work done. But the phones themselves would be meaningless without the software that, almost like magic, imbues them with new powers even their creators never thought possible. In that spirit, these are TIME’s 50 best iPhone and Android apps of the year. These are apps that were either released, had a notable redesign, or took off in popularity this year. The list is unranked, as the different functionality of each app makes them impossible to fairly compare.

4 Windows 10 tools that will kickstart your productivity – There are apps for everything from tracking your to-do’s to curing you of your procrastination. But when it comes to productivity tools, look no further than your PC’s operating system. Windows 10 boasts many new features and improvements on old ones that can help you work much more efficiently. Here are a few you should start taking advantage of today.

The Best Free Antivirus Protection of 2016 – Whether you run Windows 8 or Windows 10, your computer is theoretically under the protection of the built-in Microsoft Windows Defender. However, our hands-on tests and independent lab tests show that you’re better off with a third-party solution. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of free choices, and the best of them are better than many competing commercial products. Which one is best for you? We’ve rounded them up to help you choose.

Tor: The smart person’s guide – Tor is complex, yet easy to install and operate. The tool is widely used by reporters, political dissidents, hackers, and Dark Web profiteers to communicate anonymously. Tor enabled the Arab Spring, is used by millions of Chinese users to skirt the Great Firewall, and helps sources and whistleblowers safely share vital information with reporters. Conversely, the encrypted browser also allows hackers to snoop safely, and has helped illicit Dark Web markets flourish. TechRepublic’s smart person’s guide is a routinely updated “living” precis loaded with contemporary information about about how the onion router works, who Tor affects, and why privacy-enhancing software is important.

5 Android navigation apps for those who are sick of Google Maps – There are plenty of other navigation apps on the market, and most of them are just as speedy and accurate as Google Maps (some are more so). Google Maps is a good general maps app, but if you commute all day long or you primarily use public transit, it may not be the best app for you. Here are five other Android navigation apps you might want to check out:

Google Play Store hardened: here’s how to protect yourself – In an ideal world, users will only install software from, usually a single, blessed source, like a repository or app store, containing only trustworthy and quality software. But we don’t live in an ideal world and even with app stores like Google Play or iTunes, some questionable apps still manage to get through the cracks. In an attempt to protect the integrity and image of its Play Store, Google has announced new security measures to weed out fraudulent or downright malicious apps. But users also have a role to play in protecting themselves from such “soft” attacks.

Google Drive dumps Windows XP and Vista, now what? – Google Drive is dumping official support for Windows XP and Vista. Here are some options for anyone running those systems.

Five Android apps that will teach you new skills in your spare time – There are always a few moments during the week spent staring at a smartphone to kill time. Why not learn something in those spare moments with these five Android apps?

Chrome 53 on Windows promised to be 15% faster – Web browsers have become more and more critical to modern computing that for many users, they have practically become the operating system, an idea that Google turned into practice with Chrome OS. As such, there is always a need to make web browsers more and more optimized, in performance as well as power usage. As one of the major web browser makers, Google is always looking for ways to improve its performance, which has borne fruit in the latest version 53 and 54 of Chrome for Windows.

Instapaper Premium goes free for everybody – According to the company’s Brian Donohue, the company is able to make Premium open and free because the Pinterest acquisition has enabled the team to “focus on just delivering the best product to our users.” Instapaper is a “Save anything, read anywhere” service not unlike Pocket, and it has a premium version that comes with its own perks. Pinterest acquired the company back in late August, and now we’re getting the fruits of that business deal: premium for everybody, no strings attached, and no ‘catch,’ per Donohue.

iOS 10.1.1 released: What you need to know – An update bringing iOS to version 10.1.1 is coming down the pipeline today, just about a week after we received the update to iOS 10.1. Being such a quick follow up to the rather significant iOS 10.1 update, the patch notes for 10.1.1 aren’t exactly long. However, 10.1.1 does bring with it a rather important fix for the Health app.

iOS 10 tip: Built-in iOS apps you should replace with third-party apps – iOS 10 gives iPhone and iPad users the ability to delete built-in apps such as Mail, FaceTime, and Music and replace them with third-party apps. But which apps should you choose? Deleting a built-in app is the same as deleting any other app, just press and hold on the icon on the Home screen until they jiggle, and then tap the X. Press the Home button when you’re done.

A simple fix for the new MacBook Pro’s big problem – Apple’s decision to ditch almost all the legacy ports on its flagship notebook was done in the name of ushering in widespread adoption of Thunderbolt 3 and enabling a thinner machine. However, while Thunderbolt 3 may undoubtedly be a better connector than the bevy of sockets along the edge of the old MacBook Pro, the Cupertino firm’s decision to go slim has frustrated many who have legacy devices to plug in, and who were hoping for a more significant power upgrade.

A dozen, faster, better or cheaper alternatives to the Raspberry Pi – The Raspberry Pi might be the name that springs to mind when people think of single board computers for homebrew projects, but there are other boards out there worth considering. (Updated Nov 1, 2016)

Samsung bundles free Watch Dogs 2 with select SSDs and curved monitors – We’re a few weeks out from the release of Watch Dogs 2, and if you’ve had your eye on it, you might like to know that Samsung has launched new hardware bundles that include a free copy of the game. These bundles feature a range of Samsung solid-state drives and some of the company’s newer curved gaming monitors. So, if you’ve been in the market for some new PC hardware, you might want to give these bundles a look.

Instagram makes e-commerce push with new shop tags in photos – New ‘shoppable’ photos will have a shopping tag next to items to identify the product as available for purchase.

Microsoft ends OEM sales of Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8.1 – If you can get Dell, HP Inc, Lenovo or any other PC-maker to sell you a PC running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1, please let us know how you did it because Microsoft no longer sells the operating system to OEMs. Redmond’s Windows lifecycle webpage has long-since flagged October 31, 2016 as the date on which Windows 7 Pro would “no longer [be] shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).” Seeing as we’re into November, from now on Redmond will only send copies of Windows 10 to the world’s PC builders.

Security:

Google issues warning of critical Windows vulnerability in wild – Recently, Google’s Threat Analysis Group discovered a set of zero-day vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and the Microsoft Windows kernel that were already being actively used by malware attacks against the Chrome browser. Google alerted both Adobe and Microsoft of the discovery on October 21, and Adobe issued a critical fix to patch its vulnerability last Friday. But Microsoft has yet to patch a critical bug in the Windows kernel that allows these attacks to work—which prompted Google to publicly announce the vulnerabilities today. “After 7 days, per our published policy for actively exploited critical vulnerabilities, we are today disclosing the existence of a remaining critical vulnerability in Windows for which no advisory or fix has yet been released,” wrote Neel Mehta and Billy Leonard of Google’s Threat Analysis Group.”This vulnerability is particularly serious because we know it is being actively exploited.”

Microsoft to patch Windows security flaw under attack next week – Microsoft said it will fix a security vulnerability in Windows next week as part of the company’s usual patching schedule. The company confirmed the move in a blog post on Tuesday, in which it accused a Russian hacking group of being behind the spearphishing campaign that exploits a newly discovered security flaw in the operating system. Details of the flaw were first revealed on Monday after Google said it would forego its usual disclosure policy of three months, citing the severity of the “critical”-rated flaw.

Google to untrust WoSign and StartCom certificates – Following similar decisions by Mozilla and Apple, Google plans to reject new certificates issued by two certificate authorities because they violated industry rules and best practices.

Malwarebytes: How to beat ransomware: prevent, don’t react – Picture this: You’ve spent the last few weeks working on a tribute video for a friend’s 30th wedding anniversary. You collected photos and video clips and edited them together, laying over a soundtrack of their favorite songs. It was a real labor of love. When you finally finish the project, you go to copy the file onto a DVD and—what the?—a strange message pops up. “Unfortunately, the files on this computer have been encrypted. You have 96 hours to submit payment to receive the encryption key, otherwise your files will be permanently destroyed.” You’ve been hit with ransomware. You didn’t back up the anniversary video. In fact, you haven’t backed up any of your files in months. What do you do?

Shadow Brokers Releases Second Trove of Spying Tools – Shadow Brokers, a secretive online group that in August published details of hacking tools allegedly belonging to the NSA, released new leaks this week that appear to expose more of the agency’s cyber strategies, as well as those from multiple foreign countries. The leak discloses NSA-style code names, including “Jackladder” and “Dewdrop,” the Associated Press reports. It also appears to offer a list of servers compromised by the Equation Group, a separate hacking organization with ties to the NSA. In a post on Medium in broken English, Shadow Brokers referenced Equation Group twice and suggested that its motivation for exposing the server information was related to the US presidential election. The post also demands a ransom payment, although it does not suggest a specific amount of money.

Researchers build undetectable rootkit for programmable logic controllers – Researchers have devised a new malware attack against industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that takes advantage of architectural shortcomings in microprocessors and bypasses current detection mechanisms.

Delete unused Android apps now, or risk a security nightmare – Your Android device most likely contains unused apps that could still use data or fall prey to vulnerabilities. The solution to this potential security problem: delete those apps.

Company News:

BlackBerry signs deal with Ford to work on cars of the future – BlackBerry has made a deal with Ford to produce software that could power the first generation of mass-market self-driving cars. The Canadian company announced yesterday that it was dedicating a team of engineers to help the car manufacturer incorporate a range of BlackBerry software — including its QNX Neutrino operating system, its Certicom security tech, and audio processing software — into future Ford cars.ing from a hardware company to a software one.

Nintendo reportedly calls quits on Wii U production – The days of the Wii U have been numbered ever since Nintendo announced the Switch, but the company may be looking to pull the plug long before the Switch hits the scene in March. Multiple sources have confirmed to Eurogamer that Nintendo will halt Wii U production at the end of this week. Given the console’s slow sales, these reports aren’t really all that shocking.

Sony’s profit down 86% but its costly mobile business has been shored up – Sony’s profit dropped 86 percent year-on-year as the strong performance of the Japanese Yen, fallout from the Kumamoto earthquake and company restructuring weighed on its Q2 2016 earnings. The Japanese electronics giant posted a small $48 million (4.8 billion JPY) profit in its Q2 2016 financial period, down from $205 million last year. On the positive side, though, its mobile business again showed that it has stopped bleeding cash.

Giphy Has Almost No Revenue But Is Worth $600 Million – These little mini-clips may be fun, but does that justify giving one of the companies that create them a market value of $600 million? By way of comparison, that’s more than twice what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid for the Washington Post. Giphy, which was created in 2013 as part of the New York-based venture fund/incubator Betaworks, got this valuation by raising a Series D funding round of $75 million from a series of venture capital investors. That doubled the amount the company has raised so far, and coincidentally also doubled its valuation to $600 million. If you’re wondering what Giphy’s valuation works out to as a multiple of revenue, the answer is that it’s almost infinite — because the company doesn’t really have any revenue to speak of.

Samsung to invest $1 billion in Austin plant to make mobile chips – Samsung is still sorting out the mess connected to the recalled Galaxy Note7, but is nevertheless ramping up mobile chip manufacturing by investing $1 billion in an Austin, Texas, factory. The investment will be applied early next year, and will also be used to expand manufacturing of semiconductors for electronics, the company said on Tuesday.

Games and Entertainment:

Facebook officially announces Gameroom, its PC Steam competitor – After losing mobile gaming to iOS and Android, Facebook is making a big push into playing on PC with today’s developer launch of its Gameroom Windows desktop gaming platform. After months of name changes, beta tests and dev solicitation, Facebook opened up the beta build for all developers and officially named it Gameroom. The app is openly available for users to download on Windows 7 and up. Gameroom let users play web, ported mobile and native Gameroom games in a dedicated PC app free from the distractions of the News Feed.

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The best mobile MMORPG games of 2016 – As smartphones become more powerful, Internet access move ubiquitous, and mobile users mode engaged, MMORPGs have started to make a comeback, but on a smaller screen and with somewhat fewer controls. Here are our top picks for this year’s best MMORPGs, with some dating back even older, proving their massively multiplayer appeal.

Google Daydream View worldwide release detailed – This morning Google revealed the pricing and release date of their first non-cardboard VR headset, Daydream View. This accessory works with any Daydream-ready smartphone – first Google Pixel and Pixel XL. It’ll be available starting on the 10th of November, 2016, both online and at several retailers around the world.

Microsoft launches Minecraft: Education Edition for schools – Microsoft wants kids playing Minecraft in class, and it’s hoping that schools will not just let them, but support them. It’s launching a version of Minecraft today called Minecraft: Education Edition that includes some classroom tools and a way to roll out accounts to every student in a class or district. Despite the new name, Education Edition isn’t dramatically different from regular Minecraft. It’s pretty much the same game, just with some tools that’ll make things easier for teachers — there’s a way to see where all their students are on a map, give students different resources, and teleport people to specific locations. There are also a few new in-game items, including a camera and a chalkboard.

Hulu’s live TV streaming service will have channels from Fox & Disney, including ABC, ESPN & more – Hulu said today it has partnered with Disney and 21st Century Fox for its upcoming live TV streaming service, launching next year. The deals involve Fox’s news, entertainment, sports, and other properties, along with Disney’s portfolio of networks from is ABC Television Group and ESPN, among other things. In total, the two agreements will bring more than 35 TV networks to Hulu’s live TV service. What this means for consumers who are considering cutting the cord with pay TV is that they’ll gain access to two of the top broadcast networks, Fox and ABC, on Hulu’s new streaming platform.

Roku TV sets can now pause live TV – Today, Roku TVs from TCL, Sharp, and others are being updated with version 7.5 of Roku OS. If you’ve got an antenna running into your TV, you can now pause content for up to 90 minutes. A USB drive (with at least 16GB of free storage) must also be plugged in for this feature to work, since Roku needs somewhere to store the parts of shows you’re missing. This is nothing close to a full-fledged DVR; it’s really just a simple, convenient feature that’s there if you’re interrupted in the middle of a show or sports game.

Seagate 512GB SSD Game Drive for Xbox One arrives in November – Seagate has taken the wraps off a new SSD drive for the Xbox One called the Game Drive for Xbox. According to Seagate, the Game Drive was designed specifically for Microsoft’s video game console, offering gamers an expansion option for storing games beyond the limit of the Xbox’s internal drive. The drive comes in a 512GB capacity and will be available starting next month.

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EVGA GTX 1080s and 1070s allegedly exploding due to improper VRM cooling – Most of the time, which OEM you choose to buy a GPU from isn’t seen as having a huge impact on the performance of the card, though added value and included goodies often vary between manufacturers. Every now and then, however, design differences between companies do play out in a more significant way, and that may be what has happened to EVGA and its GTX 1080 and 1070 lineups. Reports from Reddit and the EVGA forums suggest that a number of cards have failed catastrophically and in high-profile fashion.

NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2016 season – Watching sports without a big cable TV bundle has gotten a lot easier in the last year; NFL games are no exception.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Mobile internet use passes desktop for the first time, study finds – More users around the world are accessing the internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers for the first time, according to internet monitoring firm StatCounter. The combined traffic from mobile and tablet devices tipped the balance at 51.2 percent, vs. 48.7 percent for desktop access, marking the first time this has happened since StatCounter began tracking stats for internet usage. It’s a huge moment for the web overall: this means going forward, companies that haven’t yet decided to focus on a mobile-first approach to their internet services and web properties really should, as the trend line is unlikely to reverse.

Could Facebook actually be good for you? – People who are well liked on Facebook may also be healthier, according to a study that linked people’s activity on the social network to their lifespans. This could be another blow against the increasingly unstable position that digital media is inherently dangerous. The study looked at the association between the Facebook use of 12 million people between the ages of 27 and 71 and their longevity, using records from the California Department of Public Health. Led by William Hobbs — who at the time was a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego — the researchers found that Facebook activity that indicated a rich offline social life tracked with improved longevity. They published their results yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How Obama will pass his Twitter account to next president, and what you can learn from it – The White House recently came up with a transition strategy for presidential social media accounts and other properties. Here’s what your business can learn.

Science Confirms the Election Could Ruin Your Facebook Friendships – It’s the last few days of election season, but don’t be surprised if you lose some “friends” for your polling posts. Research shows that in times of conflict, people are more likely to unfriend or unfollow their political adversaries as a political gesture on social media. A recent study published in the Journal of Communication analyzed “political unfriending” on Facebook and found it to be an act of “political disengagement.” The study itself focused on the Israeli-Gaza conflict of 2014, but may have indications for the political conflicts over the election cycle as well.

ACLU sues California over ban on ballot box selfies – Civil rights group says state’s prohibition on taking selfies at the ballot box violates freedom of speech.

Something to think about:

“The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes.”

–       Henry Kissinger

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

As Rule 41 deadline looms, an “expansion” of FBI hacking powers looks likely – Rule 41 might be the least interesting name for one of the most significant factors this year in security and privacy.

Why? Because the rule is about to change, allowing the FBI to vastly broaden its spying powers.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court proposed a new rule that would allow US judges to issue warrants outside their jurisdiction. Under existing rules, judges can only issue orders within their jurisdiction, often only a few miles across or covering a few local districts. The hope was that this rule change would make cases more efficient, such as in cyber-related cases, which typically span multiple districts and even countries.

But civil liberties and privacy groups argue that the change would expand the FBI’s hacking and searching capabilities to any computer or device in the world.

Simply put: all it would take would be for the FBI ask a friendly judge to sign off on a search warrant that would let the agency use its so-called network investigative techniques — or NITs — to carry out hacks and conduct searches on computers and devices potentially anywhere in the world.

We’ve seen good uses of that hacking effort, such as catching users of a dark web child porn site, but one prominent privacy-minded lawmaker said in a statement that the rule change “would allow the government to get a single warrant to hack an unlimited number of Americans’ computers if their computers had been affected by criminals, possibly without notifying the victims.”

Here’s the twist. The proposed rule change will automatically go into effect on December 1 — that’s a month away — unless Congress intervenes.

How Canada’s Anti-Cyberbullying Law Is Being Used to Spy on Journalists – Patrick Lagacé, a columnist for Montreal’s La Presse newspaper, says that police told him he was a “tool” in an internal investigation when they tapped his iPhone’s GPS to track his whereabouts and obtained the identities of everyone who communicated with him on that phone.

Lagacé alleges that this surveillance was designed to intimidate and discourage potential sources within the Montreal police department from approaching him with information for his story.

Police obtained a warrant for this under the hugely controversial Bill C-13, which gave investigators new powers, privacy lawyer David Fraser noted in an interview. The bill was initially sold as combatting cyberbullying and the unwanted publication of intimate images online, also known as “revenge porn.”

“These laws are presented with certain scenarios in mind, but these are laws of general application that can be used for any offence,” Fraser said. “We need to be very careful in parsing, and frankly, not believing, the objectives that politicians use [when selling the public on the need for these laws]. We need to cut through that and look at the substance of the law to see how they can be used, and more importantly, abused.”

According to Citizen Lab researcher Christopher Parsons, these same powers that target journalists can be used against non-journalists under C-13. And the only reason we know about the aforementioned cases is that the press has a platform to speak out.

Facebook hit by civil rights grievances – It’s been a tough week for Facebook when it comes to civil rights allegations against the world’s largest social network.

First, the news site ProPublica alleged that Facebook was enabling advertisers to exclude users based on race.

Now Facebook is dealing with an open letter from 73 civil rights organizations to company CEO Mark Zuckerberg who say they are “deeply concerned” about cases where Facebook allegedly censored posts about possible human rights violations — particularly postings about police violence.

“It is critical that Facebook be a platform that supports the protection of human rights above all else and does not discriminately apply its policies on the basis of race, creed, national origin, gender, and/or sexual orientation,” wrote organizations like the Center for Media Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Sierra Club and 350.org. “When the most vulnerable members of society turn to your platform to document and share experiences of injustice, Facebook is morally obligated to protect that speech.”

Facebook confirmed that it got the letter.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 31, 2016

5 reasons why your laptop is slow;  The IoT security doomsday is lurking, but we cannot talk about it properly;  WTF is the dark web?  6 smart settings to make your Android phone anticipate your needs;  22 Cool Tricks and Secret Gems Inside Facebook Messenger;  How to Launch Windows Without Entering a Password;  How To Clean Boot Windows;  How to Get Windows XP’s Quick Launch Bar In Windows 10 – – and much more news you need to know.

The IoT security doomsday is lurking, but we cannot talk about it properly – Something needs to be done to stop the IoT turning into the IoDDoS, but communication with lay people is all but impossible.

5 reasons why your laptop is slow – If your old laptop is starting to show its age, there can be any number of issues affecting its performance. Here are five likely culprits for why your laptop is running so frustratingly slow and five solutions to return it to its former glory.

6 smart settings to make your Android phone anticipate your needs – There’s no denying that our smartphones have made our lives so much easier, putting our contacts and schedules, our driving directions, the whole internet, right at our fingertips. But if you’re using an Android phone you might be leaving even more convenience on the table. There are a bunch of super-smart settings in Nougat and Google Now that’ll make your Android device feel like it’s 10 steps ahead of you.

22 Cool Tricks and Secret Gems Inside Facebook Messenger – Facebook’s standalone messaging platform, the aptly named Facebook Messenger, has become almost as popular as Facebook itself. As of July, Messenger can boast 1 billion monthly users. That’s pretty impressive. But Zuck & Co. appear to have far bigger plans for Messenger than just being Facebook’s chatty kid sibling. In recent months, Facebook has packed a lot of cool (and somewhat unexpected) functionality into Messenger and has hinted at a lot more to come—particularly in the realms of AI and commerce. It seems that Facebook, Inc. is grooming Messenger to become an all-in-one productivity/communication platform.

Skype for Business comes to Mac, Skype iOS gets Siri messaging support – Microsoft’s messaging and video calling platform Skype has released two updates heading into the weekend, one each for the Mac and iOS. The first isn’t technically an update, but a brand-new app for the desktop: Skype for Business, the platform’s service that focuses more on inter-office communication and productivity, along with heavy Office integration. The second is an update the regular Skype app on iOS, which introduces the ability to send messages by dictating them to Siri.

Min Vid Test Pilot experiment gives Firefox a YouTube picture-in-picture mode – Firefox has a Test Pilot experiment that hardcore YouTube fans will want to grab right away. The new experiment is called Min Vid, and it allows users to watch YouTube videos in a “picture-in-picture” mode. That way you can continue to browse and get work done while still watching your video. But that doesn’t even describe the half of it. Mozilla’s experimental feature places a web-based persistent video player on your desktop that is “always on top” no matter which app or program you’re using. It’s a really great experiment worth trying out for anyone who likes to run a video while doing other things on their PC.

Jim Hillier: How To Clean Boot Windows – You may have read about using Clean Boot to help with diagnosing issues, especially recently in reference to installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, but do you know how to Clean Boot and what it actually does? Clean Booting Windows involves disabling all third party startups and services and is a recognized method to help ensure a major upgrade installation completes successfully. Starting Windows in a Clean Boot state is a very simple process which has remained pretty much the same throughout all recent Windows versions, with just a slight variation when startup management was moved from the System Configuration utility in Windows 7 to Task Manager in Windows 8.1 and 10.

How to Launch Windows Without Entering a Password – As long as you feel secure without the protection, you can easily dodge that Windows log-in password.

How to add Google Drive folder shortcuts to your Android homescreen – If you’d like to have home shortcuts to various Google Drive folders on your Android homescreen, check out how to do it.

How to customize Windows 10 colors – You can tweak the built-in Windows 10 color palette quite easily; you just have to know where to look!

How to Get Windows XP’s Quick Launch Bar In Windows 10 – The beloved Quick Launch Bar from Windows XP lives on in Windows 10, providing easy access to specific folders and files from the taskbar. Here’s how to get it.

How to get KeepPass password protection on Android with Keepass2Android – If you’re looking for a best-in-breed password safe for Android, look no further than Keepass2Android.

Here’s how the MacBook Pro stacks up against the PC – If you had to put a word to Apple’s first big MacBook reveal in, well, years, it would have to be meh. Sure, you think I’m just throwing shade at Apple because I’m the original hater, but frankly I expected more after four years of neglecting the MacBook Pro lineup. I really expected Apple to knock it out of the park and show the PC world the bottom of its sneakers as it raced ahead. But no. Apple has not raised the bar. Worse, in plenty of metrics, the PC remains ahead. Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down.

Giphy to Offer Tool for Converting Vines to GIFs – Vine is going away, but your Vines—six-second looping videos that have attracted a faithful Internet following—are not. The Twitter-owned company already announced that the clips will continue to live on the web even after its mobile app is discontinued, and soon you’ll also be able to turn them into GIFs. That’s thanks to Giphy, which today announced it is working on a conversion tool for Vine that will be launching “very soon.” All that’s required is a Vine account, Giphy wrote in a blog post on Friday, although it’s unclear whether you’ll import Vines from the app or the web. If it’s the latter case, you should be able to convert your Vines to GIFs indefinitely, even after the Vine app shuts down.

Go PC! 5 killer MacBook Pro alternatives for disappointed Apple fans – Looking for an alternative to Apple’s new MacBook Pro? Check out these pretty, powerful PC laptops.

Free online ‘Web Bloat Scores’ encourage overweight pages to slim down – Most of today’s web pages are overweight, but a free service can provide a Web Bloat Score that’s more than just the raw download size. And, of course, cutting WebBS leads to faster downloads and happier users.

Best color LED smart bulbs – Today’s color-tunable bulbs are brighter and easier to control than ever, but choosing the right one for your environment remains a challenge.

Security:

Watch The FBI’s Hilariously Overacted Cybersecurity PSAs – Scared of being hacked? Have no fear, Americans, the FBI is here to help. Earlier this week, the agency released a collection of amazing, hilariously overacted cybersecurity public service announcements on YouTube. Citizens, wheel the big TV cart into your conference room and get ready to learn how to be a productive denizen of the internet. In all fairness, the FBI’s cybersecurity tips are actually pretty sound advice.

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New Annoying Ransomware Forces Victims to Take Online Surveys – Ransomware, as it’s called, is so lucrative that countless different strains have popped up in the last couple of years. Some are really effective ones, and some are just plain weird. Now, someone is making particularly annoying new type of ransomware. Instead of asking infected users for money, it forces them to fill out tedious online surveys. This new ransomware strain is apparently still in development, and hasn’t infected anyone yet, according to the blog Bleeping Computer, which first wrote about the ransomware on Thursday, after it was discovered by GData security researcher Karsten Hahn.

130 serious Firefox holes plugged this year – The browser-backing outfit announced the statistics in a post covering its bug bounty program and broader information security efforts. More than 500 million users ran Firefox at the close of 2015. It’s since become the world’s second-most-used browser. Google Chrome dominates the browser rankings soaking up 50 percent of all browser usage. Mozilla security head Richard Barnes says shuttering the serious bugs is critical for the security of the web.

Lost thumb drives bedevil U.S. banking agency – A U.S. banking regulator says an employee downloaded a large amount of data from its computer system a week before he retired and is now unable to locate the thumb drives he stored it on. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is a part of the Department of the Treasury, said the loss represented “a major information security incident” as it reported the case to Congress on Friday. The data was taken in November 2015, but its loss was only discovered in September this year as the agency reviewed downloads to removable media devices in the last two years.

Video: 5 things to know about ethical hacking – Tom Merritt explains how white hat hackers keep systems safe and secure from their bad guy counterparts.

Company News:

Amazon Prime arrives in China – Amazon Prime has arrived in China as of today, and it works more or less the same way it does in the U.S. Customers in China can subscribe to a year of Prime for the equivalent of $28 USD during a promotional period, with the regular price being $57 USD. With this comes free shipping, including on imports from the Amazon Global Store. With this new business move, Amazon takes on Alibaba and other competitors.

Mozilla promises a next-gen Firefox engine that will deliver huge improvements – Mozilla says the new Project Quantum engine at the heart of its Mozilla web browser will be “blazing fast,” both for web browsing as well as apps.

UK court rules Uber drivers are employees, not contractors – The ride-hailing service has long maintained its drivers are independent contractors. In a decision that could majorly impact the gig economy, British judges disagree.

Facebook tried to buy Asian Snapchat clone Snow – Here’s fuel to the fire for those who believe that Facebook will buy anything that looks, smells or moves like Snapchat. The U.S. social networking giant this summer made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Snow, a Snapchat-like service from Naver, the $25 billion-valued Korean firm behind chat app Line, a source close to the company told TechCrunch.

Games and Entertainment:

Google is celebrating Halloween with an adorable, ghastly game – Google’s new doodle gets into the Halloween spirit a bit early this year with a browser game. This is a really clever game. Players disperse the ghosts by drawing the symbol hovering over their heads: A V and inverted V, horizontal and vertical lines, and lightning bolts. Players draw a heart to replenish their lives. The game takes place in five levels: the school’s library, cafeteria, a classroom, the gym, and the roof, each with their own boss. As each level progresses, the ghosts come with even more complicated strings of symbols, which you have to cast in the right order to make them go away.

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Review: Civilization VI is a beautiful prance through history – This time it’s not just Civilization’s version of history that’s virtually spotless and free of pesky complications. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is a nearly spotless game—freer of the menu-diving, micromanagement, and spreadsheet reading than just about any turn-based 4X strategy game I’ve yet played. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating ahistorical societies, but were always too afraid of numbers to give Civ a shot, there’s never been a better time to dive in. Newcomers will also be spared the trouble of un-learning all the franchise lessons that Civ 6 throws out of the series’ window. Civ 6 is both the easiest-on-the-eyes Civilization yet and the series’ biggest departure from tradition (among the mainline “numbered” games, that is).

Gears of War 4’s first free maps arrive on November 1 – Xbox One exclusive Gears of War 4 has been out for a few weeks now, and players, especially those that partake in the multiplayer modes, might be wondering when new maps will be released. Fortunately, Microsoft has just addressed that, revealing that the first two maps will be available for players starting in early November. GoW4 developer The Coalition has said that the legacy maps Checkout and Drydock will be the first additions to the third-person shooter’s multiplayer arena lineup. Players who have purchased the game’s Season Pass can start playing on the two maps on November 1st by visiting the early access Developer Playlist. Then on November 8th, the maps will be added to the general public playlists.

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Comparing Skyrim: Enhanced Edition with the classic version – Now that Skyrim: Enhanced Edition has hit shelves, plenty of people are going to be checking to see whether a five-year-old game is worth playing for the first time or generally good enough to justify a second playthrough. Special Edition is free if you own all of the Skyrim DLC and $39.99 if you don’t (the new game contains all previous DLC). If you already own the game, you can grab a pretty sweet upgrade for free. If you don’t, the $39.99 price tag isn’t terrible, but it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting when you buy a new version of a five-year-old title.

Off Topic (Sort of):

WTF is the dark web? – Maybe you heard your LinkedIn, Tumblr or Dropbox password was floating around there. Or maybe you read a news story about that guy who got busted for running Silk Road, that site that sold drugs and other illicit goods. Chances are, you’ve seen the words “dark web” splashed in a headline or heard them mentioned by a friend. But WTF is the dark web? How do you get there? And what makes it “dark”?

Horrible hacks, death robots, and kamikaze phones: Meet the scariest tech of the year – With Halloween just around the corner, what better way to mark the day than telling stories of wail and woe about the technology that wants to kill, terrify, or bring about the end of society as we know it. ZDNet’s bloggers, writers, and editors have come up with a list enough to scare the wits out of you. Robots that will murder you in the street. Cars that will drive you off this mortal coil. Phones that will blow up in your pocket (yes, we’re looking at you, Samsung). Why not ask your iPhone, “Siri, are you giving all of my data to the government?” See what she says. Boo! You weren’t expecting that now — were you? Let’s begin.

7 unexpected places you can hide a spare key – It’s always a good idea to have a spare key for your home. While it poses an obvious security threat, it can also help you gain entry to your home should you misplace your primary key. Not to mention, it can save you a costly locksmith call. It takes just a small amount of creativity and time to come up with a few good hiding places for spare keys around your home. Below are seven unusual places you can use for inspiration for hiding your spare key.

Tesla Powerwall 2 can power a 2-bedroom home for a full day – In addition to the new Solar Roof, Elon Musk has announced the arrival of the Powerwall 2, an update to Tesla’s original Powerwall offering. The Powerwall 2 is a vital component for powering your home using the sun, particularly with one of the new solar roofs. This residential home battery will power a two bedroom home, including its lights and appliances, for a full day.

New ‘social impact scoring system’ xocial spurs a movement of competitive kindness – There is a new online community that calculates and curates what it calls “competitive kindness” to help mere mortals out-nice each other, and make the world a better place. Optimistic online community xocial (pronounced soh-shuhl) gives cause-conscious and otherwise kind-hearted individuals and companies the ability to do good, see good, feel good, and measure good. The platform connects people, businesses, and organizations to causes they care about. It also inspires them to take action, and measures the impact of their efforts. The idea is to compete to “out nice” each other. The tool calculates how nice they are (their social impact) and ranks them in a scoring system.

Spambots are impersonating teens to spread pro-Trump tweets – A new Twitter campaign is impersonating American teens, and using their likenesses to spread right-wing propaganda. The pattern was identified by Nicole Flotteron, who analyzes Twitter activity at Mercury LLC, after a friend fell victim to the scheme. But while Flotteron is used to spotting spam, she says this is something different. “They’re pushing pro-Trump propaganda,” Flotteron told The Verge. “There are a lot of disturbing things that happen on Twitter, but I’ve never seen something like this.”

The reasons why Twitter won’t let anyone save Vine – There are so many ways Twitter could end up looking like a fool if it gave up control of Vine that it would rather bury the app than sell it. There’s little to gain and a lot to lose. So in the spirit of Vine, I’m going to break down the reasoning into 6-second snippets of text:

Something to think about:

“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.”

–      Khalil Gibran

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Facebook lets advertisers exclude users by race – Imagine if, during the Jim Crow era, a newspaper offered advertisers the option of placing ads only in copies that went to white readers.

Facebook’s ad platform now guesses at your race based on your behavior

That’s basically what Facebook is doing nowadays.

The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.

Here is a screenshot of a housing ad that we purchased from Facebook’s self-service advertising portal:

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The ad we purchased was targeted to Facebook members who were house hunting and excluded anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American, or Hispanic people. (Here’s the ad itself.)

When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”

WhatsApp-Facebook privacy U-turn now being probed by EU data watchdog – A seismic shift in privacy policy by messaging app WhatsApp this summer, when it said it would begin sharing user data with parent company Facebook including for ad targeting, has now attracted the attention of European’s data protection watchdog group, the Article 29 Working Party.

The WP29 group wrote to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum yesterday, setting out its concerns about the privacy policy U-turn — including how the shift was communicated to users.

“The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) has serious concerns regarding the manner in which the information relating to the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy was provided to users and consequently about the validity of the users’ consent,” it writes.

“WP29 also questions the effectiveness of control mechanisms offered to users to exercise their rights and the effects that the data sharing will have on people that are not a user of any other service within the Facebook family of companies.”

It adds that its various members, so basically all the national DPAs of EU Member States, will “act in a coordinated way” to target any problems they identify, with a dedicated working group for enforcement actions set to address the WhatsApp issue specifically.

The letter asks WhatsApp for details of the specific data being shared — including data categories, source and recipients, and the effects of the data transfer on users and on “potential third persons” — so the working group can assess whether changes are necessary to ensure legal compliance.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – October 28, 2016

New code injection method exposes all versions of Windows to cyberattack;  How to Free Up Disk Space on Your Windows 10 PC;  Apple MacBook Pro 2017: The smart person’s guide;  Apple MacBook Pro swaps outdated function keys for Touch Bar;  Twitter is shutting down Vine;  Pornhub offers to buy Vine;  8 easy ways to make a GIF;  Windows 10 quick tips: How to protect your privacy;  These Are Some of the Devices Vulnerable to Mirai;  Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is free on Xbox One – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New code injection method exposes all versions of Windows to cyberattack – To make matters worse, there is no fix.

These Are Some of the Devices Vulnerable to Mirai – Internet users across the eastern seaboard found their connections interrupted Oct. 21 during a massive cyberattack. The attack was in part fueled by Mirai, a virus that gives hackers access to unsecured webcams and similar devices. How can you tell if your gadgets are infected with Mirai? A good place to start is this list compiled by security researcher Brian Krebs, who analyzed Mirai’s publicly available source code to see which devices it’s been targeting.

Twitter is shutting down Vine – The announcement was devoid of any explanations about what led to the decision, only stating that Twitter would share more news on its blog and via its official Twitter account in the future regarding what comes next. While the plan is to wind down Vine’s operations, Twitter also says the website will remain online because the company thinks “it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made.”

Pornhub offers to buy Vine: ‘Six seconds is more than enough’ – Vine will not be left to shrivel up and die on itself, not if Pornhub has anything to say about it. Earlier on Thursday Twitter announced it was ending Vine’s short run, and the adult site was quick to come to the rescue…maybe. In a letter from Pornhub VP Corey Price to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that was shared with CNET, Price lays out the rationale:

Check out these 11 new Windows 10 features Microsoft sneakily revealed – Microsoft showed off a handful of marquee features for next year’s Windows 10 update on Wednesday, but the company sneakily hid 11 more new releases in its sizzle reel preview of the Creators Update. There’s a lot packed in there, including a new app plus changes to Edge, Maps, Windows Defender, and more. The company declined to comment when asked about these features, and the video makes clear that they may change or disappear before the update launches this spring. Fair warning.

How to Free Up Disk Space on Your Windows 10 PC – If you’re running low on disk space on your Windows 10 PC, there are a few ways to free up some real estate.

Samsung to cap battery charge of unreturned Note 7s at 60 percent – The South Korean tech giant will commence a software update to cap battery charging at 60 percent, again, for Galaxy Note 7s yet to be returned.

8 easy ways to make a GIF – Since there’s a GIF for every occasion there should be a GIF-making tool for every occasion, so here are eight easy-to-use options and some suggestions of when to use them. This list is going to be Giphy-heavy because Giphy’s invested a lot of time and energy in dominating the GIF-making market. They may not be making any money, but they sure are making a lot of GIFs.

There’s Now a Search Engine for Every Animated GIF From GeoCities – Remember the good old days™? When Bill Clinton was President, when average monthly rent was around $645, and when Yahoo’s acquisition of GeoCities shot the dream of personal websites into the stratosphere? What a simpler, kinder time. Now, just in time for Halloween, the good folks over at the Internet Archive have a little GeoCities gift for us. A special project has blown away the cobwebs and dug up all of the GIFs ever hosted in the tombs of the old web. Available, for your viewing pleasure, is GifCities: An animated GIF search engine for GeoCities GIFs.

Get spooky on Facebook Live with Halloween-themed filters – The scariest time of year has arrived, and I don’t mean election season. To help users get in the Halloween spirits, Facebook Live has taken a page from Snapchat and rolled out some spooky new face filters that take the form of masks. Among the options to choose from are a witch, skull, jack o’lantern, and a handful of animals, including a panda.

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7 PDF editing tools for iOS and Android – It’s not enough to read a PDF on your mobile device anymore — you have to be able to sign it, copy it or edit it. These apps can help.

Apple MacBook Pro 2017: The smart person’s guide – Everything you need to know about the new MacBook Pro, including the new OLED touch panel that redesigns the keyboard, fingerprint ID and an overall smaller package.

Apple MacBook Pro swaps outdated function keys for Touch Bar – Apple’s latest laptop gets rid of the old terminal function keys in place of a touch sensitive toolbar with Touch ID and Siri.

Apple’s new MacBook Pro kills off most of the ports you probably need – Apple just introduced a shiny, super thin new MacBook Pro. But for what was birthed, a lot of widely-held standards had to die. Today, Apple removed the MagSafe 2 charging port type, they stripped away the HDMI port, they ripped out the SD card slot, they shuttered the Thunderbolt 2 ports (which you probably used like three times) and they most notably killed the standard USB port.

Photos: Microsoft’s new Surface Studio and 10 great alternatives – Microsoft recently announced its new all-in-one PC, the Surface Studio. Here are the details and some other good options. Microsoft’s new Surface Studio features an ultra-thin,12.5-millimeter touch screen that is 28 inches across. It seems to be targeted toward creatives and designers as part of the new Windows 10 Creators Update. It costs $2999, and is available for preorder.

Windows 10 “Creator’s Update” will be coming for free this spring – Although Microsoft has released a number of new Windows builds to members of its insider program since the August release of the Anniversary Update, so far these haven’t contained much by way of substantial new features. The contents of the next major update to Windows 10 have remained largely unknown. That changed today. At its NYC event, Microsoft revealed some—though the company stresses, not all—of what we should expect to see when the update is released next year. And as with the Anniversary Update, the “Creator’s Update” will focus on various key areas such as productivity and gaming.

Windows 10 quick tips: How to protect your privacy – There has been some concern that Windows 10 gathers far too much private information from users. Whether you think Microsoft’s operating system crosses the privacy line, or just want to make sure you protect as much of your personal life as possible, we’re here to help. Here’s how to protect your privacy in just a few minutes.

How to keep your Linux PC safe from exploits – The 9-year-old Dirty COW vulnerability was recently fixed, if you’re running a patched kernal. Here’s how to know if your Linux is safe.

Security:

Emergency Flash Player patch fixes zero-day critical flaw – Adobe Systems has released an emergency patch for Flash Player to fix a critical vulnerability that attackers are already taking advantage of. Users are advised to upgrade to Flash Player 23.0.0.205 on Windows and Mac and to version 11.2.202.643 on Linux. The Flash Player runtime bundled with Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 10 and 8.1 will be updated automatically through those browsers’ update mechanisms.

Twitter to reveal new security measures to combat trolls next month – If you’re a frequent Twitter user, you might have noticed that the site has a bit of a troll problem. This isn’t a new problem, either, with harassment long being at the forefront of conversations about Twitter. The company has tried a number of things to prevent more unsavory folks from using Twitter as a platform for harassment, but those measures haven’t always been the most successful.

20 arrested, 61 charged in India-based IRS phone scam case – On Thursday morning, federal authorities in Texas unsealed criminal charges against dozens of people who are accused of being part of a “transnational criminal organization” that allegedly victimized tens of thousands of people and yielded hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. The indictment was filed against 61 people and includes charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft, impersonation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering. Of those people, 20 were arrested Thursday in the US.

Australian Red Cross apologises for massive data leak – Half a million Australians look to be impacted by a data leak that the Red Cross has put down to human error.

Malware from Friday’s DDoS attack continues to harass in short bursts – It’s still unclear who pulled off Friday’s massive internet disruption, but the malware largely responsible for the cyber attack has since been found assaulting new targets—possibly video gamers.

Dan Kaminsky calls for a few good hackers to secure the web – Dan Kaminsky, chief scientist for the cybersecurity firm White Ops, reknowned for fixing flaws in the DNS system, has a new project push on and he’s looking for coders to lend a hand. He’s currently hosting a four-day hackathon to build a set of tools designed to fix some of the most basic flaws and faults in IT security. These include Autoclave, a browser that uses multiple VM sandboxes to open possibly dodgy data, and Jump to Full Encryption (JFE) to automate full-disc encryption of systems. The full list of software being worked on is up on Dan’s GitHub page and he said he is looking for coders of all skill levels, saying there are plenty of projects for all. He’s physically hosting the hackathon in San Francisco before heading out to an O’Reilly security conference in New York on Monday – but the coding will go on in the meantime.

5 best practices for switching your site to HTTPS for improved security – Chrome is starting to flag more pages as insecure. Here are five things every webmaster should know about HTTPS.

Microsoft adds macro blocker to Office 2013 to stymie old-school attackers – Microsoft yesterday said that it had added a malware-in-macros blocker to Office 2013 after customers demanded that it expand the feature beyond the latest version, Office 2016. IT administrators have been able to block macros from running in Office 2016 since March. Enterprise IT staff can craft group policies to restrict macros, completely block them, or amplify the warnings users normally see before a macro is opened. The same capability was extended to Office 2013 last month, Microsoft said.

Company News:

Amazon plunges on earnings miss – Amazon disappointed investors when it posted third quarter earnings after the bell Thursday. With an adjusted earnings per share of 52 cents, this was well beneath the expected 78 cents. The stock quickly fell at least 6 percent in after-hours trading. Revenue of $32.7 billion was in line with what Wall Street was expecting. The miss came as a surprise because in recent years the company has significantly improved its financials. For a long time, Amazon was seen as an example of an unprofitable business that could maintain investor enthusiasm because the market believed in Bezos’ long-term vision and stuck along for the ride.

Amazon sues more sellers for buying fake reviews – Amazon is continuing its efforts to crack down on fraudulent reviews across its site with new lawsuits aimed at two U.S. sellers, and one from the E.U., which claim to have evidence of customer review abuse. That is, the defendants created fake reviews for their products, which could have influenced customers’ buying decisions. These suits, like those that preceded them, are meant to dissuade sellers from engaging in review abuse as they know that by doing so, they could be subject to legal action. Since the beginning of last year, Amazon has sued more than 1,000 defendants who offered to post fake reviews on its site in exchange for compensation. It has gone after those who sold their fake review services on the website Fiverr.com, the operators of websites who engage in this practice and the sellers who buy the fake reviews.

Well into its second decade, Google’s business is still booming – Alphabet, the holding company formed around Google, reported its third quarter earnings today. The company grew its revenue 20 percent over the same period last year, to $22.45 billion. Its profit also improved, climbing 27 percent over the same period last year to $5 billion. These numbers were only slightly better than analysts expectations, and shares of Google didn’t move much in after-hours trading. But its nonetheless impressive that a company in its 18th year is still posting such strong and continuous growth in both revenue and profits.

Twitter lays off 9% of its workforce as it posts a desperately-needed positive Q3 – With Twitter’s acquisition hopes essentially dead, the company now seems it’s on its own to fend for itself and needs to figure out a way to build a reasonable and profitable business. Today, it got a much-needed good Q3 performance by largely beating Wall Street’s expectations across the board. Twitter reported earnings of 13 cents per share and revenue of $616 million, and the service grew to 317 million users. Analysts were looking for earnings of 9 cents per share on around $606 million in revenue, as well as 315 million monthly active users. Last quarter, the company had 313 million monthly active users.

Games and Entertainment:

Streaming TV bundle roundup: Everything we know so far – Streaming-TV channel bundles probably aren’t the future of television, but they’re the hot trend right now. After Sling TV and PlayStation Vue paved the way with cheaper alternatives to the traditional cable bundle, more competition is coming from companies like AT&T, Hulu, and YouTube. While these bundles don’t represent a radical re-envisioning of television—they’re largely trying to duplicate the cable TV experience through streaming devices—they might still be cheaper than cable, especially when you take away the rental fees for clunky cable box hardware. Here’s a roundup of all the nationwide streaming bundles we know about, including those that are rumored, announced, and already available.

Apple’s new TV app is an important half-step to the future – I just got a chance to play with Apple’s new TV app on the Apple TV, which is… just called TV. It’s more of a second home screen than an app, really — when you open it up you see a bunch of shows and movies that you can watch based on the video services you’ve subscribed to either directly or through your cable provider. If you don’t have the apps installed, you won’t see the stuff. That’s the big thing to know — this is another frontend to apps, not a service on its own. And importantly, there’s no Netflix content anywhere in sight, although Apple says it’s working to sign up more partners soon.

Game streaming coming to Windows 10, and bitstream coming to Xbox One – Microsoft’s Windows Creator Update event included a brief segment about the company’s game-specific updates. That Wednesday segment kicked off with an announcement that Windows will now come with live, online game-streaming capabilities built in. These won’t be powered by the popular game-streaming site Twitch, however, but by Beam, a very similar game-streaming service that Microsoft acquired in August. Instead of having to connect games to Beam’s Web UI, PC gamers will be able to load the Windows “game bar” interface—which already exists in Windows 10 by pressing the Windows key and the G button—and pick a “Beam” streaming option.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is free on Xbox One – Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is free on Xbox One from October 27 to October 30, it has been announced. The game has been made free for these days so you can get in on an event Xbox Live has underway. During these days, Xbox Live members — including those without a Gold membership — can play during the Multiplayer All-Access event. It is available for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.

More proof shows Hollywood insiders leaking movies on torrent sites – A legal flap between Warner Bros. and a Hollywood talent agency once again shows that Hollywood insiders are leaking pre-release movies to BitTorrent file-sharing sites. The latest evidence is spelled out in a copyright infringement lawsuit (PDF) brought this week by Warner Bros. against talent agency Innovative Artists. The studio claims Innovative Artists effectively set up its own pirate site of DVD screeners and other movie rips on a shared Google drive folder. This, according to the lawsuit, led to watermarked screener copies of Creed and Heart of the Sea being uploaded to file-sharing sites.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 programs to help you break into a cybersecurity career – Eighty-two percent of IT professionals report a shortage of cybersecurity skills at their company. Here are 10 programs spanning all education levels to help you get your start in the field.

Internet Archive celebrates 20 years of ‘wayback web’ and a new mission – The Internet Archive in San Francisco celebrates 20 years. Here’s a quick introduction to some of the people that created a global treasure…

Self-driving cars doomed to be bullied by pedestrians – In a paper published on Wednesday in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Adam Millard-Ball, an assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, argues that the increased adoption of autonomous vehicles may make them less desirable in urban environments than human-driven cars. The reason is that pedestrians know their fellow humans may run them over. So they act accordingly – as if their lives depended on not wading heedlessly into onrushing traffic. They also know that automated vehicles will defer to them, or they will discover as much when they interact with them. Millard-Ball contends that pedestrians and drivers are engaged in a game of chicken, in which one party eventually decides to yield to the other based on the psychological perception of risk.

This ‘Pickled’ Dinosaur Brain Was Miraculously Preserved for 133 Million Years – For the first time ever, paleontologists have identified fossilized soft brain tissue from a dinosaur, providing an unprecedented glimpse inside the heads of these iconic Mesozoic animals. According to a Special Publication of the Geological Society of London released Thursday, an innocuous rock found near Bexhill-on-Sea in southern England contains traces of capillaries, partial cortical tissues, and meninges—protective membranes that envelop the brain—which belonged to an Iguanodon-like dinosaur some 133 million years ago.

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The innocuous-looking sample found in Bexhill, Sussex. Image: Jamie Hiscocks

WWF Says Wildlife Populations Have Declined by 58% Since 1970 – The current human population on Earth is somewhere in the neighborhood of 7.2 billion. That’s a lot of anything to have walking around the planet, but our impact is greatly increased by the industrialized society most humans exist in. A new report from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) illustrates the scale of human impact. It says vertebrate wildlife populations have declined by 58% since 1970.

Something to think about:

“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

–     Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FCC imposes ISP privacy rules and takes aim at mandatory arbitration – The Federal Communications Commission today imposed new privacy rules on Internet service providers, and the Commission said it has begun working on rules that could limit the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in the contracts customers sign with ISPs.

The new privacy rules require ISPs to get opt-in consent from consumers before sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other third parties. The rules apply both to home Internet service providers like Comcast and mobile data carriers like Verizon Wireless. The commission’s Democratic majority ensured the rules’ passage in a 3-2 vote, with Republicans dissenting.

Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn was disappointed that the rules passed today did not include any action on mandatory arbitration clauses that prevent consumers from suing ISPs. But Chairman Tom Wheeler said that issue will be addressed in a separate rulemaking.

Canadian Police Are Texting Potential Murder Witnesses – On Thursday, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will send text messages to anybody who was in the vicinity of a murder in the hopes that one of them will have information that can help catch the culprit. One of the recipients may even be the killer. Others may wonder how the police obtained their phone number in the first place, or knew where they were on the day in question.

The OPP is ramping up its efforts to find the murderer of 65-year-old hitchhiker John Hatch, who was found dead near Erin, Ontario, on December 17, 2015. He was last seen alive the day before, outside Ottawa.

Now, the OPP has announced what it’s describing as a “new investigative technique” for the force: obtaining the phone numbers of everyone who was in the area where and when Hatch was last seen alive, via a court order, and sending each person a text message directing them to a police website. If they follow those instructions, they’ll be asked a series of online questions.

According to digital privacy lawyer David Fraser, this technique is known as a “tower dump”—essentially asking telecom companies for information about everyone who connected to a certain cellphone tower, at a given time. If the police plan on using this technique again, its future uses could have unintended effects, Frasier said.

“There’s got to be a cut-off of severity here,” said Fraser. “Are they going to do this after a bar brawl at a strip club? Imagine you’re sitting on the couch with your lovely spouse and your phone buzzes and your spouse looks and says, ‘Oh, it’s the police wondering if you were at the strip joint and if you saw anything?”

EU-US Privacy Shield data transfer deal faces legal challenge – The European Commission’s newly minted data-sharing arrangement with the U.S. — the EU-US Privacy Shield — is facing a legal challenge on privacy grounds.

Reuters reports that privacy rights organization Digital Rights Ireland has filed a legal challenge against Privacy Shield, arguing it does not contain adequate privacy safeguards, citing several people familiar with the matter.

Critics of the new deal had predicted this day would come, arguing the arrangement lacks adequate privacy safeguards to pass muster with Europe’s courts.

The agreement, which was multiple years in negotiation, was only formally adopted this July, with sign-ups open from August. Urgency had been injected into the negotiating process after fall 2015 when Europe’s top court struck down the prior Safe Harbor agreement, ending a regime that had authorized personal data transfers between the EU and the U.S. for some 15 years.

The EC argues Privacy Shield greatly strengths privacy safeguards to ensure Europeans’ data protection rights are secure when personal data flows to the U.S. Critics disagree, pointing to U.S. mass surveillance programs as an inexorable violation of these fundamental rights.

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