Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 9, 2015

FCC Says It Can’t Stop Websites From Tracking You Online;  PC tech support tell customers to avoid Windows 10;  Guided by voices: Siri vs. Google Now vs. Cortana;  TV tech terms demystified, part two: Display types and technologies;  Black Friday is Nov. 27. Here’s why it doesn’t matter;  Windows Insider builds are downloadable again;  Add a printing service to your Android device;  This Google Maps Update Will Save You During the Holidays;  Yahoo Rolls Out A New, Flickr-Powered Image Search;  Extend your mobile battery life with Windows 10’s Battery Saver;  Hackers say they’ve breached U.S. arrest records database;  Apple wins dismissal of employee bag-search lawsuit;  Periscope adds fast-forward and rewind;  See the new Xbox One Experience in action in these two videos;  See Every James Bond Gadget in One Mind-Blowing Video;  What you need to know about Fallout 4 before its release;  Snapchat now gets over six billion views a day;  14 strange but true facts from the history of high tech;  California Is Winning The Digital Privacy Fight’.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

FCC Says It Can’t Stop Websites From Tracking You Online – It had been asked to make the “Do Not Track” setting in many browsers illegal to ignore. The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it can’t force Internet companies like Google, Facebook and ad providers from tracking users online. The commission had been petitioned by the privacy advocacy group Consumer Watchdog to make the “Do Not Track” setting in many browsers illegal to ignore.

Guided by voices: Siri vs. Google Now vs. Cortana – Digital assistants are increasingly integrated with your OS and apps, and they’ve become more than a way to search Google by voice. However, their skill sets vary, so we decided to interview the three assistants to find out which get the job done best.

PC tech support tell customers to avoid Windows 10 – While Microsoft might be revved up about getting people onto Windows 10 as fast as possible, if you call your PC maker’s tech support line, you might be advised to roll back to older versions. When quizzed as to why customers were being given this advice, the companies stated that while they were committed to Windows 10 – what choice do they really have other than to say that? – the job of tech support is to get people’s PCs up and running again, even if that means rolling the system back to an older version of Windows. And that’s exactly as it should be.

TV tech terms demystified, part two: Display types and technologies – Don’t be befuddled by the alphabet soup of acronyms, spec charts, and feature lists you’ll encounter when shopping for a new TV. This guide series explains it all in plain language.

Staples Black Friday 2015 deals include $299 Apple iPad Mini 4, $374 iPad Air 2 – Office superstore chain Staples has taken matters into its own hands, revealing its Black Friday deals on its website early, rather than be subject to the whims of other sites leaking its sale information. While tablets sales have flattened out, iPads are still a popular gift, and Staples is offering deals on four different models. These include $100 off the 16GB iPad mini 4, which will cost $299, or 25 percent off. The base iPad Air 2 will sell for $374, or $125 off, while the 64GB version gets a $150 price cut to $449. If you don’t mind older hardware, Staples also has specials on the 16GB iPad 2 mini –$239, or $30 off — and the original base iPad Air — $319, or an $80 discount.


Black Friday is Nov. 27. Here’s why it doesn’t matter – Retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy launched their big Black Friday marketing campaigns the minute Halloween came to a close. In other words, no need to set your alarm for 5 a.m. to score a place in line for that heavily discounted big-screen TV. “It isn’t Black Friday. It isn’t even Black Friday weekend or Black Friday week anymore,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, which analyzes retail sales. “This year it’s the whole month. It’s going to be Black November.”

This Google Maps Update Will Save You During the Holidays – Never find yourself in the parking lot of a closed store again this holiday season. Google Maps announced in a blog post that it has added holiday hours to its Map and Search function, so if a store is closed for the holidays in the next seven days, your app will alert you. And if holiday hours aren’t listed, Google will remind you that the hours might not be as advertised. “If you want to find out what’s open as the holiday draws close, just search for a place and if the holiday hours are listed, you’ll see them,” the post wrote.

Extend your mobile battery life with Windows 10’s Battery Saver – Once your battery charge falls below a certain percentage, Battery Saver automatically kicks in and throttles back various mechanisms that draw power, thus extending the battery life. The most noticeable thing Battery Saver does when it kicks in is to immediately dim the screen’s brightness, but it also cuts down operating system and app background activity and prevents push notifications from apps that contain live tiles. If you need to get more out of your battery, you can adjust Battery Saver’s settings. Let’s take a closer look.

Windows Insider builds are downloadable again – Judging by Microsoft’s wording — “You will need to install the Windows 10 Insider Preview build on a device that has been previously activated with Windows 10 or with a Windows 10 product key” — the device doesn’t have to have Windows 10 on it when you install the Insider build on it. The device just needs to have had an activated copy of Windows 10 on it at some time, which would include previous Insider builds. So if you have Windows 10 or used to have an Insider build of the OS on your machine, you should be able to install these new builds, even on a blank drive.

Snapchat now gets over six billion views a day, up three times from this spring – Snapchat has continuously added new features over the past year, and it looks like it is paying off. Snaps and videos in the app are now being viewed over six billion times a day. That’s a massive three times increase from just this past May, when the company told Bloomberg that it was serving two billion views daily. The company confirmed the six billion views figure to The Financial Times in a report published this weekend. To put that number in perspective, Facebook announced just this past week that the social network is handling over eight billion video views each day. Facebook has recently placed extra focus on its video offerings, and that figure represents a two-times increase from April.

Periscope adds fast-forward and rewind to replays on Android and the web – While live-streaming continues to be the heart of Periscope, the Twitter-owned video app is making some new investments in the replay experience for people who missed the original broadcast. The company updated today with one of users’ top requests — the ability to fast-forward and rewind through broadcasts. On Android, long-pressing on a replay with one finger will shrink the broadcast down into miniature and show you a time-stamp; drag your finger back and forth to advance or retreat in time. If you’re on the web, you can simply click any point in the broadcast on the scrubber bar and the broadcast will skip ahead.

Yahoo Rolls Out A New, Flickr-Powered Image Search That Returns Your Own Photos – Yahoo announced today an upgrade to its image search engine which now includes a combination of web results as well as images from its photo-sharing site Flickr, including your own photos. The way the service works is that signed-in users will see desktop search results that offer a combination of Flickr’s top public photos, images from people you follow on Flickr, and a selection of your own images.

Pro tip: Add a printing service to your Android device in a flash – If printing to a non-cloud-ready printer on Android has you confounded, learn how to add a manufacturer-ready print service so you can print to networked printers on your LAN.

Less Than 1 Percent of Android Users Have Marshmallow – Most Android users can only dream of having a taste of Marshmallow. A month after its debut, Google’s latest mobile operating system — Marshmallow — is running on less than 1 percent of Android devices. According to newly released developer stats from Google, Android 6.0 Marshmallow has found its way onto just 0.3 percent of Android handsets so far.


Hackers say they’ve breached U.S. arrest records database – The hacking group Crackas With Attitude, which previously infiltrated the personal email of CIA Director John Brennan, says it has breached a law enforcement portal through which one can access tools for law enforcement and arrest records, among other things. The breach is a serious one, and was accomplished via a vulnerability that hasn’t been detailed. One of the breached systems is a database containing U.S. arrest records.

Touchnote postcard app reveals customer data breach – Touchnote, a fairly popular postcards and greeting cards app, has announced that it suffered a data breach recently. The company made the announcement in a statement this evening, saying hackers made off with customer data, including names, home addresses, and email addresses. An investigation is currently underway; at this point the company is uncertain of how many users were affected. Though the breach was unfortunate, there is a small ray of light: the company says the hackers were only able to take information related to identity, and so no financial details or passwords were stolen.

New Android malware type gets root-level access, almost impossible to remove – If you thought the Android platform was on the verge of getting more secure following this summer’s Stagefright exploit, you thought wrong. The security researchers at Lookout have identified a new type of Android malware that, after disguising itself as a popular app, gains root access to a device and works itself so deep into the operating system that it’s nearly impossible to remove. Users might need to have manufacturers reflash the OS, or just flat-out replace the device, as a factory reset won’t be enough.

TalkTalk reveals 157,000 customers’ data stolen in hack – Following TalkTalk’s disclosure of a major hacking incident two weeks ago, in which it was said that data on all 4 million customers may have been accessed, the UK ISP has finally identified exactly how many people have been affected. Last week it put the estimate at under 1.2 million users, but fortunately the real figure is much less: exactly 156,959 customers. These people have had data including names, phone numbers, and email addresses stolen by those behind the cyberattack.

Company News:

Google acquires Fly Labs to build video editing tools for Google Photos – Google said today it has acquired Fly Labs, maker of four iOS apps for quickly editing video, and will put its team to work on Google Photos. “It’s a perfect match for what we built at Fly Labs, and we’re looking forward to folding our technology into Google Photos,” Fly said in a statement posted to its website. The company will continue to offer its four apps — Clips, Fly, Tempo, and Crop — for the next three months, and Google is giving away what used to be in-app purchases for free during that time. Fly said its apps had been downloaded 3 million times in the past 18 months.

Xiaomi makes big strides in India with 1M handsets sold in Q3 – Depending on which research firm you ask, either Huawei or Xiaomi is the leading smartphone seller in their home base of China. Competition there is fierce but focusing solely on the world’s most populous nation would be a mistake. That’s why Xiaomi is celebrating: A representative from the company on Friday says Xiaomi sold one million handsets in India last quarter. Ex-Googler, Hugo Barra, is the a Global VP at Xiaomi and tweeted the news.


14 smartphone makers to embed Opera Max in their Android devices – Opera has plans to become more that just a web browser, and its just-announced partnership with 14 electronics brands, including Samsung and Xiaomi, represents one of the company’s biggest moves in expansion yet. The partnership will see Opera’s data management app, Opera Max, be pre-installed on smartphones from different brands. The company expects that by 2017, over 100 million handsets will ship with its data-compression technology embedded.

AMD sued over allegedly misleading Bulldozer core count – A class action lawsuit has been filed against chip-maker AMD for allegedly tricking consumers into buying its Bulldozer processors by overstating the number of cores contained in the chips. The suit claims that while Bulldozer was advertised as having eight cores, functionally it actually only had four. AMD’s multi-core Bulldozer chips use a unique design that combines the functions of what would normally be two discrete cores into a single package, which the company calls a module. Each module is identified as two separate cores in Windows, but the cores share a single floating point unit and instruction and execution resources. This is different from Intel’s cores, which feature independent FPUs.

Apple wins dismissal of employee bag-search lawsuit – Judge says the more than 12,000 current and former employees were free to avoid waiting in line by not bringing a bag to work.

Verizon may be looking to shed its enterprise business for $10 billion – Enterprises that use Verizon might find their service provider under new ownership if reports that the carrier wants to get out of the corporate game are true. Verizon Communications is considering a sale of its enterprise assets for as much as $10 billion, according to a Reuters report on Friday. It’s still exploring how to structure a sale, and no deal is imminent, the report said. The enterprise business has its roots in long-distance giant MCI, which Verizon acquired in 2006. It operates a global network and offers services in more than 140 countries. The carrier says 99% of Fortune 500 companies are customers.

Games and Entertainment:

Google: Smarter ads in mobile games will be fun! No, really – You wouldn’t be blamed for rolling your eyes, considering the message comes from a company that makes most of its money off advertising. But Jeff Birnbaum, head of gaming partnerships at Google, says that the smarter ads it has in mind pop up less frequently and lower the likelihood of annoying gamers. Relying on ads for revenue also means a publisher can offer you a complete game, rather than one that constantly nudges you to pay for extra lives or levels.


Trivia Crack is an atypical mobile game that relies on advertising for most of its revenue. Etermax

See the new Xbox One Experience in action in these two videos – Are you ready for the new Xbox One Experience? Its release is only days away, and to tease the new software package, Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb—better known as Major Nelson—published a pair of videos on Friday that show it in action.


The state of 4K gaming: What you need to know, from pricing to performance needs – 4K gaming, limited to extremely well-off gamers in its infancy, is starting to seem more attainable for mainstream players. (Note that for the purposes of this article we’re defining 3840×2160 resolution as 4K.) We’ve seen recent drops in 4K display pricing to semi-affordable levels, and graphics technology has advanced as well. The true state of 4K gaming is more complex than a few price drops, though. Let’s dig into the realities and compromises involved with pixel-packed play on today’s hardware.


What you need to know about Fallout 4 before its release – Hardcore Fallout fans already have the game pre-loaded, and already know exactly how they’ll tackle the wasteland as soon as Fallout 4 launches. Players who are new to the franchise will probably find the game to be a wondrous, yet confusing new world. Jumping into an established game series can be a little disorienting, especially a vast free-roaming experience like Fallout 4. has already explained the important story points of Fallout 1, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, and New Vegas, but here are a few things that new players need to know about Fallout 4 in order to prepare for this fictional apocalypse.


Nintendo Hopes Its $2 Billion Yo-Kai Watch Franchise Can Be the Next Pokémon – Does Nintendo still have what it takes to successfully launch a new all-conquering franchise in the US? We’re about to find out. Released on Friday for the Nintendo 3DS, Yo-Kai Watch is a role-playing game that tasks players with fighting and capturing “yokai,” Pokémon-like creatures that are based on Japanese mythology. Nintendo, the game’s publisher, launched the series in 2013 in Japan, where it spans so many video games, toys, movies, cartoons, and comic books that the game’s developer, a company called Level-5, refers to it as a “cross-media project.”


Image: Nintendo

The Force Awakens Japanese Star Wars trailer reveals new details – This week the second full Star Wars trailer was revealed – in Japan. It would appear that either Japan is simply getting their trailers first (very possible) or JJ Abrams is messing with the lot of us. Either way, here’s what you’re about to see: more lines from the film, more scenes that you’ve never seen before, and a really chilling revelation. Like a rudimentary, sparking, red, and evil lightsaber to the neck of your best buddy, heatedly, terrifyingly. This trailer also has a new bit of music to go with it.


Blizzard’s Overwatch is coming spring 2016 for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 – Blizzard’s upcoming team-based shooter finally has a release window. Overwatch, which recently entered private beta, will be coming to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 — yes, it’s coming to consoles — in Spring 2016. The company additionally announced an Origins edition of the game which will feature (among other goodies) in-game items for virtually every other title in Blizzard’s library. Though it’s traditionally only dabbled in console development, Blizzard found success porting Diablo 3 to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (and then again when it released the Ultimate Evil Edition for Xbox One and PS4). It was also speculated that Overwatch might become a free-to-play game à la Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. That’s not the case — you can pre-purchase the game for PC now for $59.99.


ESPN, ABC, Disney channels head to Sony’s Playstation Vue cable alternative – Sony is filling some of the biggest holes in its streaming-video service, but the entertainment conglomerate hasn’t said if its subscribers will have to pay extra for the new content.

Off Topic (Sort of):

See Every James Bond Gadget in One Mind-Blowing Video – James Bond is known for his gadgets, and a new video lets you see all of them at once. The YouTube channel Burger Fiction has made a supercut of every awesome gadget built for Bond by Q Branch in 16 minutes and 39 seconds. Totaling 193 gadgets in all, this montage of the 007 technology includes a lot of standard grappling hooks, lasers, rockets and so forth, but there are some true gems like the spike umbrella, the classic car ejection seat and the Aston Martin car fire hose.


14 strange but true facts from the history of high tech – The first mouse. The first university-degreed computer scientist. And possibly, the first stupid password. Technology has its twists and turns—read on for the most fascinating ones we found.


Brewie is a countertop brewery that even novices can use – In the future, at-home beer brewing will be a set-it-and-forget-it cinch, and not the convoluted mess we have always known it to be. That’s the feeling one gets from looking at Brewie, the latest in a series of countertop appliances designed to automate the process of beer crafting. The Hungarian startup behind it claims Brewie is better and more automated than the competition—including the PicoBrew Zymatic home brewery we reviewed back in June .


Credit: Brewie

Chinese robot scores new longest distance walked record – A walking robot equipped with four legs has set a new “longest distance walked” record at 134 kilometers. The record was announced by Guinness World Records this week, which reports the robot was created by a team from China’s College of Automation of Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications. All in all, the robot walked just a touch over 83 miles in 54 hours, beating the last record holder. Guinness World Records requires robots taking on this challenge to walk the distance on a single charge or tank of fuel, which ever is relevant, doing so continuously until it runs out of power. The robot, which is named Xingzhe No. 1, spent 54 hours and 34 minutes walking.


Data, The Speed Of Light And You – We — humanity, that is — created 4.4 zettabytes of data last year. This is expected to rise to 44 zettabytes by 2020. And no, I didn’t make up the word “zettabytes.” For scale, it is estimated that 42 zettabytes could store all human speech ever spoken. One zettabyte is around 250 billion DVDs — almost enough fit the whole Friends series.

How to buy dimmable LED bulbs that won’t hum, flicker or buzz – If you’re shopping for LEDs, there are many options to choose from — and dimmer compatibility only complicates matters. With incandescent bulbs, dimming is simple, since the brightness of a the bulb is directly related to the voltage applied. Adjust the voltage applied by raising or lowering the dimmer and the brightness of the bulb will change accordingly. The same isn’t always true with LEDs, however. If you use an LED bulb with an incandescent dimmer switch, you may find that the bulb:

India launches Imprint-India project – The $150 million project aims to boost original research within India, solve major engineering challenges in the country’s relevant domains, and accelerate the process of sanctioning funds for research work.

Once a drunk tweeter, Adele says her posts must now be approved – Technically Incorrect: The world-famous singer says that she can’t risk offending her 24 million followers, so she has her tweets cleared by others before they go live.

4 Ways to Use Twitter Without Ever Actually Tweeting – Twitter can be scary, but you don’t need to post anything to get something out of it.

Something to think about:

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”

–     Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)


Grammarly – Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor.

Eliminates most writing mistakes – Grammarly corrects over 250 types of grammatical mistakes, while also catching contextual spelling errors and poor vocabulary usage.

Works wherever you write online – Grammarly helps you write mistake-free on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and nearly anywhere else you write on the web.

Built by the world’s leading linguists – Grammarly’s powerful algorithms are developed by the world’s leading authorities on linguistic technology.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Europe Sets Out Three-Month Timetable To Seal New Data-Transfer Deal With U.S. – The European Commission has said it hopes to reach a deal with the U.S. on a so-called ‘Safe Harbor 2.0′ agreement on data transfers by January 2016 — laying out a three month timetable to hammer out a new deal on transatlantic data flows.

The fifteen year old Safe Harbor agreement, which had allowed some 4,700 companies to self-certify that they would provide adequate protection of European citizens’ data once it was in the U.S. for processing — was ruled invalid by Europe’s top court early last month, leaving businesses scrambling to figure out how to operate legal data transfers in the meanwhile.

The trigger for the ECJ decision? U.S. intelligence agency mass surveillance programs undermining Europeans’ fundamental data protection rights. Intelligence agency access to data remains the sticking point for agreeing any new Safe Harbor 2.0 deal.

The UK Will Police the Dark Web with a New Task Force – The dark web has established itself as an arena for criminals to sell drugs, peddle stolen data, or host and exchange child pornography. With that in mind, the UK’s signals intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and its top law enforcement body, the National Crime Agency (NCA), have formed a new unit compromising of officers from both agencies to tackle online crime.

“An NCA and GCHQ co-located Joint Operations Cell (JOC) opens officially today,” an NCA press release published Friday reads. “The unit brings together officers from the two agencies to focus initially on tackling online child sexual exploitation.”

This unit has been in the works for some time. Back at the end of 2014, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plan for its formation at We Protect Children Online Global Summit. At the time, he said that “The so-called ‘dark-net’ is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear: we are shining a light on the web’s darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending, there will be nowhere for you to hide.” At the summit, it was said that GCHQ’s technical skills would be its contribution to the unit.

California Is Winning The Digital Privacy Fight – Starting in 2016, tech companies can tell law enforcement in California to get a warrant if they want access to digital data.

That’s because California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), a landmark digital privacy law that requires California police to obtain a warrant from a judge before they can access electronic information about people’s identities, where they go, who they know and what they do.

CalECPA protects digital information held by companies, including the content of emails and cloud documents, location information and metadata. The state’s electronic privacy law also means that data on consumers’ computers and mobile devices have the same protection from government snooping as paper files.

The protections provided by CalECPA were badly needed. While technology has advanced, digital privacy laws remain stuck in the digital Dark Ages. This has meant that emails, text messages, location information and all of our digital data have been open to warrantless police surveillance.

Tor Wars: The Signal Awakens – The long arm of the law wants ever more eyes, if you’ll pardon the gruesome metaphor. The UK government recently unveiled an attempt to legalize “draconian state surveillance powers.” US voices keep calling for a mythical “secure golden key” for government access to encrypted messages. Canadian police describe encryption plus legal decisions favoring online privacy as “a deadly combination.”

Meanwhile, in meatspace, cameras are everywhere. An EFF report on the thousands of automated license place cameras out in the wild, “mounted on street poles to capture the plates of passing cars as part of ongoing law enforcement dragnet surveillance programs,” revealed that “more than a hundred ALPR cameras were exposed online, often with totally open Web pages accessible by anyone with a browser.” Another informs us that “mobile biometric technologies are now being deployed more widely and cheaply than ever before—and with less oversight”?

Who here thinks that there will be fewer cameras and less biometric analysis in the future? Who here thinks they won’t be fully internetworked? Who here thinks there will never be sky-eye cameras looking down from law-enforcement drones, watching us all? Anyone? Anyone at all? …Didn’t think so.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 6, 2015

New Android adware hits thousands of apps, can’t be removed;  How to check if your Android device is vulnerable to attack;  How to stop Windows 10 from saving files to OneDrive;  Watch Local News Broadcasts With NewsON App;  Create your own Wi-Fi hotspot with the help of these five free tools;  Need a ride home from work? Now you can call Lyft from Slack;  Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drones;  Drone pilots get a guide to the sky, safety alerts with new app;  Hands-On With Priv, BlackBrerry’s First Android Phone;  Facebook adds song clips from Spotify and Apple Music to your News Feed;  Why Firefox Is (Still) the Web’s Best Browser;  Project Fi and Google Voice: Your questions answered;  Buy Your Favorite BBC Shows Online;  CNET’s guide to mastering the new Apple TV;  Is Facebook the new political town hall?  Ben Carson’s pyramid theory is from Sid Meier’s Civilization;  Hacking Team pitches encryption-cracking tools to US law enforcement.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New Android adware hits thousands of apps, can’t be removed – Researchers have found a new type of Android malware found in thousands of apps, posing as popular titles — including Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and more. Making matters worse, it’s almost impossible to remove, forcing a user to replace their device entirely. Lookout Security, a mobile security firm, discovered the new so-called “trojanized adware,” which puts a new twist on how cybercriminals are generating money. “Because these pieces of adware root the device and install themselves as system applications, they become nearly impossible to remove, usually forcing victims to replace their device in order to regain normalcy,” said the company in a blog post.

How to check if your Android device is vulnerable to attack – From Stagefright 1.0 to Stagefright 2.0, not to mention LTE flaws, and even trojanized malware and app hijacks, there have been a slew of issues that have plagued device makers and users alike. And with a fragmented market of Android versions and patches that don’t arrive because the carriers haven’t approved their release, it’s hard to know which devices are vulnerable to what. Now it’s relatively easy to do.

Apple wages battle to keep App Store malware-free – Apple is facing growing challenges keeping suspicious mobile applications out of its App Store marketplace.

Many US businesses are still running XcodeGhost-infected Apple apps – Dozens of U.S. enterprises are still using Apple mobile apps seeded with malware, a clever hacking scheme revealed last month known as XcodeGhost.

How to stop Windows 10 from saving files to OneDrive – If you don’t watch out, Windows 10 will put your documents, music, and photos into OneDrive. Here’s how to get them back and stop this behavior.

Watch Local News Broadcasts With NewsON App – Heads up, cord cutters: You no longer have to miss out on local news broadcasts, thanks to a new app called NewsOn. Launched on Tuesday for iOS, Android, and Roku, the free, ad-supported app offers live and on-demand local newscasts right to your mobile device or TV. The app features video content from 118 stations in 90 markets, covering approximately 75 percent of the U.S. That includes stations operated by ABC Owned Television Station Group, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Media General, and Raycom Media. Together, these five broadcast TV station groups formed NewsON back in June, and now the app is available for download.


Create your own Wi-Fi hotspot with the help of these five free tools – Whether you want to share a wired connection with your friends or just link multiple devices to a single Ethernet connection, having your own portable Wi-Fi hotspot can come in handy. Here are five free applications that can turn your own PC into a Wi-Fi hotspot to share its internet connection.

Access shared Google Drive files through push alerts, thanks to newest update – You don’t have to dig through your email any more to find sharing requests and collaboration invites with Drive for Android and iOS.

Microsoft cuts OneDrive storage, here are 3 cloud alternatives – In early November 2015, Microsoft announced plans to reduce OneDrive storage limits. Customers on Office 365 Home, Personal, or University plans will see storage limited to 1 TB, while free OneDrive users will see storage decrease from 15 GB to 5 GB. Microsoft will offer a new paid storage upgrade to 50 GB of storage for $1.99 a month. The changes won’t impact customers with other plans. So, if you need more storage, what are your options?

Just Stop Calling Things Unlimited – Microsoft’s elimination of unlimited OneDrive storage is just the latest tech industry abuse of “unlimited.”

Need a ride home from work? Now you can call Lyft from Slack – Back in August Slack added a new “Add to Slack” feature with launch partners including Box, and on Tuesday, it introduced another update designed to make tying in outside apps even easier.

Circle with Disney keeps any device under parental eyes – Circle with Disney basically turns any device that connects to your home router into a kid-friendly device. Or any age-friendly device for that matter. And you don’t even need to buy specialized hardware aside from Circle itself. It doesn’t replace your router but instead connects to the router wirelessly. Because of this, parents can setup up fine grained control of any Internet content that goes to any device connected to Circle, which is practically any device in your house that connects to the Internet. Parents can set up time limits on apps and Internet access, filter content, and even “pause” the Internet entirely. That works not just for kids but for any member of the family, regardless of their age. The Circle management app allows parents to create profiles for each family member and group devices according each profile, tallying up total hours across devices owned by the same person.

Luma smart wifi system spreads the web around your home – There’s a router – which you already have – then there’s a Smart Wifi system like Luma. The folks behind Luma have decided that it’s time we started really digging in to how well wireless internet is applied to our homes – especially since we no longer just have a set of 2 or 3 computers as we did ten years ago. Luma is a also a secure system, promising monitoring abilities for kids and alerts of incoming hacker attacks. Below you’ll see an introductory video for Luma which tells of the more interesting bits of the system. There you’ll see a clever presentation of how these little devices will spread the web around your home in a smart way, protecting your data and monitoring the content of your web browsing for you in the process.


Drone pilots get a guide to the sky, safety alerts with new app – Drone pilots will have a little more insight into the world around them and get safety alerts through to a free smartphone app launching on Thursday called Hivemapper. The app is designed to supplement the video feed coming from the drone’s camera by adding a layer of data about buildings, locations of drone launch sites, no-fly zones and user-contributed waypoints that mark interesting or scenic places to fly. At the heart of Hivemapper is the building database that the company says contains information on 20 million structures across the U.S. including their shape and height. When combined with GPS and flight data from a drone, the app is able to figure out what buildings are in the vicinity and overlay that data on the video coming from the drone.


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drones: Watch this before buying one – Drones are guaranteed to be a hit this holiday season — one estimate says 1 million of them will be given as gifts this year. But what is a drone, how do they work and what kind of safety precautions do owners need to follow? Watch the video to find out.


Ed Bott: Is Windows 10 telemetry a threat to your personal privacy? – Microsoft has built an entirely new telemetry system for its ‘Windows as a Service’ engineering model. In Windows 10, you can dial data collection back almost to zero, but you can’t turn it off completely. Here’s why.

YouTube Adds Support For VR Video To Its Android App – Google’s YouTube app for Android now supports virtual reality (VR) video in combination with its Cardboard VR viewer. VR video takes the 360-degree videos you may already be familiar with a step further by using VR techniques like stereopsis and binocular disparity to give you a stronger feeling of immersion (which is what VR is all about, after all). The company has already worked with a few video creators to launch this feature, so you can already see a demo for a Hunger Games VR experience on YouTube now, as well as an ad for TOMS shoes. You can also find a few more here.

Facebook adds song clips from Spotify and Apple Music to your News Feed – As part of its ongoing effort to surface every bit of information you could possibly need without ever having to leave your News Feed, Facebook has begun rolling out a new music feature that will let you sample the music shared into your feed. A new post format called Music Stories will let users preview 30 second clips of songs and albums shared to Facebook from Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes.

Hands-On With Priv, BlackBrerry’s First Android Phone – We’re told that the ‘priv’ in BlackBerry Priv, the Canadian handset maker’s first Android phone, stands for both privilege and privacy. Privilege perhaps because the Priv is being pitched very much as a flagship Android device with a price tag that pits it against the iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S6s of the world. Standout premium features include a 5’4″ curved display like the one Samsung recently debuted on the S6 Edge, an 18 MP dual-flash camera with optics ‘certified’ by Schneider-Kreuznach — similar to Nokia’s emphasis on Carl Zeiss for its camera-focused flagships back in the day — and a slide out physical QWERTY keyboard (more on that later). Meanwhile, Privacy is a reflection of BlackBerry’s legacy in security and some of the privacy feature additions it’s bringing to Google’s OS.


BlackBerry pomises monthly security updates for Priv – The recent spate of Android vulnerabilities, especially the Stagefright security hole, has left Google and many OEMs rethinking their update strategy. While Google confidently announced a regular monthly cycle for vanilla Android and its own Nexus devices, other manufacturers couldn’t make the same commitment. Considering how BlackBerry’s upcoming Priv smartphone revolves around the concepts of privacy and, therefore, security, it is only reasonable to expect the company to promise quick responses to such security issues, both on a monthly schedule and as needed.

Project Fi and Google Voice: Your questions answered – Google’s new wireless service and its long-standing phone management service work together in confusing ways. Time to sort it all out.


Verizon’s new Ellipsis tablet was made for kids – Although not as popular as some of the top brands in the tablet market, Verizon has regularly put out its own brand of slates aimed at budget conscious customers. Now it’s bringing its Ellipsis brand to its youngest demographic yet. Joining the announcement of the new GizmoPal 2 and GizmoGadget from LG, Verizon is revealing the Ellipsis Kids tablet. The name says it all, delivering an Android tablet that’s designed both inside and out for kids, with age-appropriate content, colorful rugged bumpers, and, of course, parental controls.


Why Firefox Is (Still) the Web’s Best Browser – The Mozilla Foundation and its thousands of coding volunteers just keep innovating with the open-source Firefox Web browser. Lately, the most-customizable, privacy-respecting browser has added tracking protection in its Private Browsing mode, Hello video chat, a clean-reading mode for ad-jumbled pages, Windows 10 customizations, new social-sharing capabilities, Pocket integration, and even a Web-app store. Microsoft is making noise with its innovative and fast new Edge browser, but for now, Firefox remains our first choice for day-to-day browsing. It’s fast, web-standards compatible, and supremely customizable. For all that, Firefox remains our Editors’ Choice for Web browsers.

Build a Windows 10 PC for under $400 – I’ve previously shown you how to build a Windows 10 PC for under $500, but is it possible to shave another $100 off the build? You bet!

Microsoft delivers next big Windows 10 update to testers – Microsoft has released a fresh new build of Windows 10 to preview members today. That’s a fairly regular occurrence, but today’s release is the final version of a big new Windows 10 update that will arrive to everyone next week. The update includes a number of fixes and UI changes that were originally planned for the final version of Windows 10. Microsoft is expected to deliver this Windows 10 Fall Update next week on November 10th as part of the company’s regular Patch Tuesday.


New type of auto-rooting Android adware is nearly impossible to remove – Researchers have uncovered a new type of Android adware that’s virtually impossible to uninstall, exposes phones to potentially dangerous root exploits, and masquerades as one of thousands of different apps from providers such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Okta, a two-factor authentication service. The researchers have found more than 20,000 samples of trojanized apps that repackage the code or other features found in official apps available in Google Play and then are posted to third-party markets. From the end user’s perspective, the modified apps look just like the legitimate apps, and in many cases they provide the same functionality and experience. Behind the scenes, however, the apps use powerful exploits that gain root access to the Android operating system. The exploits—found in three app families known as Shedun, Shuanet, and ShiftyBug—allow the trojanized apps to install themselves as system applications, a highly privileged status that’s usually reserved only for operating system-level processes.

Wireless jammers cast a dark shadow on IoT security – Imagine someone deploying a Wi-Fi jammer in a major retailer’s store on Black Friday. These types of IoT security disasters are fast approaching.

Booming crypto ransomware industry employs new tricks to befuddle victims – Ransomware that uses strong cryptography to hold entire hard drives’ worth of data hostage keeps getting nastier, as criminals attempt to find new ways to extort more people into paying increasingly hefty ransoms to recover their files. A case in point is Chimera, a relative newcomer to the crypto ransom racket that targets primarily businesses. In an attempt to turn up the pressure on infected victims, the malware threatens to publish their pictures and other personal data somewhere on the Internet unless a ransom of $638 in bitcoins is paid. There’s no evidence yet that the new cryptoware title has made good on the threat to post victims’ private data online, but it’s a likely bet the prospect is enough to convince some undecided victims to go ahead and pay the fee.


3 Warning Signs Of A Breach – What Security Teams Should Be Looking For – Between hackers using a smoke-and-mirrors approach to manipulate enterprise attention and resources, unusual file access activity and user behavior patterns requiring consistent investigations, and account lockout maintenance, security staff members are busy putting out fires when they should be standing back and surveying their risk landscapes. What are some early warning signs of a breach that security operations centers should have a heightened focus on, in order to help them decrease initial response resources and put more energy toward bigger security initiatives?

Warning Sign No. 2: Unexpected file activity – Unexpected file activity or unusual log-in patterns from your team.

Microsoft follows Firefox in considering early ban on SHA-1 website certificates – Microsoft is considering advancing the blocking of the SHA-1 hashing algorithm on Windows to as early as June next year, taking a cue from a similar decision by the Mozilla Foundation. There have been concerns about the security of the algorithm, which led Microsoft, Google and Mozilla to announce that their browsers would stop accepting SHA-1 SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates. Researchers have proven that a forged digital certificate that has the same SHA-1 hash as a legitimate one can be created, and users can then be tricked into interacting with a spoofed site in what is called a hash collision.

Company News:

Facebook No Longer Counts Third-Party Apps And Still Has 1.55 Billion Users – Some say Facebook inflates its monthly active user count by including people who shared from or used a Facebook-connected third-party app. But today Facebook quieted those critics with a 10-Q update to its SEC filing that says it now only counts people who used Facebook or Messenger directly. That means the 1.55 billion user count it gave yesterday on its earning report is real.


Microsoft finally ties the knot with Red Hat for Linux on Azure – In a move many consider long overdue, Microsoft and Red Hat on Wednesday announced a new partnership through which Microsoft will offer Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the preferred choice for enterprise Linux workloads on Azure.


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed the company’s newfound love for Linux last year. Credit: James Niccolai

Apple prepping a new 4-inch iPhone for 2016 – When Apple refreshed their iPhone line-up this fall, there were only two new phones: the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Next year, though, their larger handsets may be joined by a brand new 4-inch iPhone. This isn’t just some rumor that popped up on an Apple forum, either. The report comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, so there’s a very, very good chance it’s on target. Kuo has an unbelievably good track record when it comes to predicting products in Apple’s pipeline.

Nvidia easily beats Q3 earnings expectations with strong Q4 outlook – Nvidia published third quarter financial results after the bell on Thursday, and the tech brand best known for its gaming hardware looks to be sailing smoothly into the holiday season already. The graphics chip maker reported a net income of $246 million, or 44 cents per share. Non-GAAP earnings were 46 cents per share on a revenue of $1.305 billion, up seven percent year-over-year. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 25 cents per share with $1.18 billion in revenue.

Microsoft buys Mobile Data Labs, maker of MileIQ mileage tracker – Microsoft has acquired Mobile Data Labs, the company behind the MileIQ mileage-tracking app. Microsoft announced the pending Mobile Data Labs acquisition on November 5, declining to disclose financial terms of the deal. MileIQ takes advantage of sensors in mobile devices to capture, log and calculate business miles for tax-deduction purposes. According to Microsoft’s blog post, MileIQ has more than one million users and has been the top-grossing finance app in the iTunes store for 20 months straight. The DataIQ app is also available in the Android Play Store.

Games and Entertainment:

CNET’s guide to mastering the new Apple TV – The new Apple TV has arrived. The streaming box from Apple features a redesigned remote control, a revamped interface and a full App Store. In addition to streaming content from Netflix, Hulu and other services, the Apple TV doubles as a gaming console. Read on to learn more about all of the cool new features the Apple TV is capable of. This guide will be updated frequently with more tips and tricks from members of our How To and Reviews team, so be sure to keep checking back.

Buy Your Favorite BBC Shows Online – Whether you’re in the mood for period dramas, creepy cops, or soothing nature shows, the new BBC Store has something for everyone. The British Broadcasting Corporation today unveiled a new digital service that lets audiences buy and keep their favorite programs. Visit to register and start downloading seasons of Peaky Blinders, Luther, Orphan Black, and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Sift through categories like children’s, comedy, drama, entertainment, factual, and music & arts; hunt for new programs alphabetically; or use the search box to find exactly what you’re looking for.


Amazon will deliver Black Ops III at midnight using Prime Now – Lazy early adopter super fans rejoice! Now you can replace standing in line in the freezing cold for a midnight video game launch with the comfort of your home. How is that possible? It’s all thanks to Amazon Prime Now. Amazon launched Prime Now late last year, allowing products to be ordered and delivered within an hour if you are willing to pay a higher delivery price ($7.99) and live in a city that supports it. Never one to miss an opportunity, Amazon has decided to experiment with using Prime Now to deliver midnight game launch games. The first of these being Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which is released November 6.


Xbox One Backward Compat questions answered ahead of launch – In just a week’s time, Xbox One owners will be receiving the biggest software update to the console ever. And while the update will be bringing many, many features, like Windows 10 and a revamped interface, one thing that many gamers are waiting for is the backwards compatibility feature for Xbox 360 games. Since such a feature has never before heard of in a mainstream console, it is only natural that there are many questions surrounding it. Luckily, Major Nelson has taken some time with FLitz from Smosh Games to answer some of those.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 releases Feb. 23 – We’ve seen the game in numerous videos, and it will take the franchise to new heights, or so the story goes. Still, Plants vs. Zombies fans couldn’t get too excited, as they’ve still been waiting for information about when the latest installment in the series will be released. That changed today, with the launch date being officially announced. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 will be arriving for gamers on multiple consoles on February 23, 2016.


Fallout 4 cars come to Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport 6 – Now here’s a bit of an unexpected cross-over: Xbox One gamers are getting treated to a special set of Fallout 4-themed cars as DLC for the recently released racing game Forza Motorsport 6. Feast your eyes on the vehicle above, a 1956 Ford F100 adorned with Vault-Tec logos and looking it’s rolled right out of the post-nuclear apocalypse that makes up the world of Fallout 4. Forza 6 players can download that pickup truck starting today, and it’s completely free.


‘The Hateful Eight’: new trailer arrives – A new trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming movie The Hateful Eight has been released, this one joining the one we saw back in August. That last one was officially the “teaser” trailer, though it was more than two minutes long. This new one is more than two minutes long, too, though it is shorter than the first. Samuel L. Jackson again shows up right at the start of things.


Steam Item Stores revisits the idea of paid mods on Steam – Remember earlier this year when Valve and Bethesda teamed up to allow paid mods for Skyrim via Steam? It’s safe to say that the effort blew up in their faces, as users lashed out at both companies. Eventually the paid mod store was pulled down, and considered to be a failure. Well, Valve has decided to re-introduce the idea of putting community-created content up for sale, but they’re taking a different approach this time.

Nvidia readies Game Ready driver flood, $100k in prizes for GeForce Experience push – Nvidia is using a giveaway to encourage PC gamers to register with GeForce Experience before it becomes mandatory for access to game-ready, day one drivers. Prizes for the driver download giveaways include copies of hot games like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and a mystery third title Nvidia can’t discuss right now but promises is awesome. Nvidia will also give away some hot hardware including GTX 980 Ti, GTX 960, and GTX 950 graphics cards, and Shield Android TV boxes. Nvidia didn’t announce exactly when the giveaway kicks-off or when it will end.

Windows 10 adoption rises with Steam users: 25 percent have jumped to the new OS – Windows 10 hit a milestone in the PC gaming world last month: The operating system is now installed on more than a quarter of all computers running Steam. Valve’s monthly Steam hardware and software survey shows that 26.63 percent of users were running 64-bit Windows 10 in October. Another 1.01 percent were running “Windows 10,” which presumably refers to the 32-bit version, for a grand total of 27.64 percent. The survey was first spotted by WinBeta.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Ben Carson’s pyramid theory is from Sid Meier’s Civilization – Ben Carson, ex neurosurgeon and current Republican hopeful for President of the United States of America, holds an unpopular theory about the pyramids in real-world Egypt that shares with the turn based strategy game Sid Meier’s Civilization. It might not be a popular opinion with scientists or his fellow Republican nominees, but it conforms to Civilization’s Great Wonder mechanic and a verse from the Bible, so he’s sticking to his guns. In 1998, Carson gave a commencement speech at Andrews University, a school associated with the Christian Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where he said that the pyramids were not constructed by aliens to be tombs, like all the scientists think, they were built by Joseph (of technicolor dreamcoat fame) to store grain.


Artificial intelligence will attempt to persuade thousands of people via smartphone app – Researchers in Singapore began a two-year trial this week of a smartphone app that attempts to use artificial intelligence to influence the real world decisions of users.

Watch crazy jetpack daredevils fly in formation with a jumbo airplane – Fly the friendly skies with a couple of jetpack-wearing risk-takers who pull off one of the scariest aerial stunts ever seen.


3DPhotoWorks Brings Great Art To The Blind – Art belongs to everyone and enlightenment is available to all. Thus we present 3DPhotoWorks, a project that aims to bring the “world’s greatest art” to the blind. The team, led by John Olson wants to convert famous paintings into digitally sculpted objects that blind people can touch and experience.


Is Facebook the new political town hall? – Candidates for the U.S. presidential nomination are turning to Facebook to reach potential voters, COO Sheryl Sandberg said Wednesday.


Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination on stage at CNBC’s debate in Boulder, Colorado, on Oct. 28, 2015. Credit: Jason Bahr/CNBC

Leftovers aren’t making your fridge stink, it’s the fridge itself – So you’ve removed all of the moldy takeout containers and that wedge of fancy cheese, but your fridge still smells? Don’t worry. There’s some simple reasons why your fridge probably stinks and they’re very simple to fix.

Something to think about:

“Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.”

–    Clarence Darrow     (1857 – 1938)


Unchecky! Keeps your checkboxes clear – Tired of unchecking unrelated offers while installing software?

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

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

Unchecks – Unchecky automatically unchecks unrelated offers, both saving you mouse clicks and making it less likely to miss a checkbox of an unwanted offer.

Warns – Installers often try to sneak additional programs as a natural part of the installation. Unchecky warns you when you try to accept a potentially unwanted offer, which makes it less likely to be accepted accidentally.

Updates automatically – Install and forget. Unchecky automatically updates whenever a new version is available, so you don’t have to worry about running the latest version.


Watch Unchecky in action

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Hacking Team pitches encryption-cracking tools to US law enforcement – Hacking Team, the Italian company that provides offensive intrusion and surveillance software to governments, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, is back in the saddle, knocking on the doors of US law enforcement.

Motherboard reports that in an email sent to a mailing list containing addresses of contacts at various US law enforcement agencies, government agencies, and local police departments, Hacking Team CEO David Vincenzetti has been offering encryption-cracking tools.

“Most [law enforcement agencies] in the US and abroad will become ‘blind,’ they will ‘go dark:’ they will be simply be [sic] unable to fight vicious phenomena such as terrorism,” he warned. “Only the private companies can help here, we are one of them.”

“It is crystal clear that the present American administration does not have the stomach to oppose the American IT conglomerates and to approve unpopular, yet totally necessary, regulations,” he added.

What Type of Biometric Data Are Cops Collecting? – Cops around the country are using biometric technologies to catch lawbreakers. But what does that mean for local residents and the future of police work?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and MuckRock in August launched a joint investigation into how state and local departments use mobile biometrics in the field—starting with California. Of the 31 agencies contacted, nine submitted data to the project.

The most popular technique—employed by five of the respondents—is facial recognition. Using a smartphone camera and mobile app, officers can snap a photo of the suspect, then scan the database for quick results.

It seems to be working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and Pasadena Police Department, which use iOS, Android, and Windows 8 devices to connect. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego Police Department, and Carlsbad Police Department, meanwhile, count on Android devices to compare mugshots.

Also common among four of the nine departments is a mobile ID system that scans fingerprints and matches them to criminal files while on the go.

TPP Trade Agreement Slammed For Eroding Online Rights – Measures agreed to in an international trade treaty between Pacific Rim countries threaten Internet users’ privacy and consumer rights, civil and digital rights organizations have warned today.

The full text of the Trans Pacific-Partnership (TPP) international trade agreement — some eight years in the negotiating — was published online earlier today (in a version marked “subject to legal review”), after agreement was reached between the 12 countries early last month, which include the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

The text still needs to be ratified in the individual countries before the treaty becomes binding.

“The E-Commerce chapter has serious implications for online privacy,” said Peter Maybarduk, of non-profit consumer rights organization, Public Citizen, in a statement on TPP. “The text reveals that policies protecting personal data when it crosses borders could be subject to challenge as a violation of the TPP.”

Public Citizen says the agreement puts a requirement on countries to allow unregulated cross-border transfer of Internet users’ data and prohibits governments from requiring companies host data on local servers — with what it says is no express protection for privacy and data protection policies to be exempted from the rules.

FBI official: It’s America’s choice whether we want to be spied on – FBI General Counsel James Baker today spoke about how encryption is making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies to conduct surveillance. While the FBI has previously argued in favor of backdoors that let authorities defeat encryption, Baker said the issue must ultimately be decided by the American people.

“We are your servants,” Baker said. “The FBI are your servants, we will do what you want us to do.”

Baker was speaking in a panel discussion titled “Going Dark: The Balance Between Encryption, Privacy, and Public Safety” at the annual Advanced Cyber Security Center conference in Boston.

But while FBI officials are America’s servants, Baker argued that encryption is making it harder for the bureau to protect the nation from terrorism and other criminal activity. Even when law enforcement agencies get a warrant, they aren’t always able to get the information they want, he said.

“We go to judges, we do what the law requires, we show up with the order and we can’t get the fruits of surveillance for a variety of technical reasons, increasingly due to encryption,” he said.

Anonymous Hackers Officially Dox Hundreds of Alleged KKK Members – The infamous hacktivist group Anonymous has delivered on its threat of doxing members of the Ku Klux Klan, publishing a list of hundreds of names of alleged members of the racist group on Thursday. A Twitter account believed to be controlled by hackers behind the operation tweeted a link to a Pastebin containing a detailed list of names and their affiliation with local KKK groups, and links to the alleged members’ social media profiles as part of its “OpKKK.”


In the UK, Web browsing history must now be stored for a year – The UK home secretary, Theresa May, confirmed today that the UK government will seek to force all ISPs to retain a record of your Web browsing history for the previous year, even though the existence of tools like Tor and VPNs can make such data useless. This “Internet Connection Record” will be “a record of the Internet services a specific device has connected to, such as a website or instant messaging application.” It does not include details of individual webpages visited.

Moreover, the police will only be able to request details about accessing certain classes of website. As May explained in her statement to the House of Commons when she introduced the draft Investigatory Powers Bill: “They would only be able to make a request for the purpose of determining whether someone had accessed a communications website, an illegal website or to resolve an IP address where it is necessary and proportionate to do so in the course of a specific investigation.” She went on to explain, “If someone has visited a social media website, an Internet Connection Record will only show that they accessed that site, not the particular pages they looked at, who they communicated with, or what they said.”

TSA airport screeners’ ability to detect weapons declared “pitiful”– US lawmakers and federal watchdogs on Tuesday derided the Transportation Security Administration’s ability, or lack thereof, to adequately detect weapons and other contraband during the passenger screening process at the nation’s airports.

According to a report, secret test operation uncovers widespread security failures.

“In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercises it really was pathetic. When I say that I mean pitiful,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), speaking Tuesday during a House Oversight hearing concerning classified reports from federal watchdogs. “Just thinking about the breaches there, it’s horrific,” he added.

Auditors from the Inspector General’s Office, posing as travelers, discovered enormous loopholes in the TSA’s screening process. A leaked classified report this summer found that as much as 95 percent of contraband, like weapons and explosives, got through during clandestine testings. Lynch’s comments were in response to the classified report’s findings.

Exxon Mobil under state investigation over climate change research – Oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil is the target of a new state investigation that seeks to determine whether the company deliberately misled the public about the risks of climate change. The New York Times reports that New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena to the company on Wednesday, in which he demanded access to financial records, emails, and other documentation, dating back to the late 1970s.

The investigation will include a ten-year period from the mid-1990s to 2007, during which Exxon Mobil provided funding to groups and scientists who rejected or attacked climate change. Speaking in the wake of the subpoena, Kenneth P. Cohen, Exxon Mobil’s vice president for public affairs, said that the company “unequivocally reject[s] the allegations that Exxon Mobil has suppressed climate-change research.” But recent reports have indicated that Exxon Mobil was indeed conscious of the risks of climate change, choosing to fund groups that denied concepts of global warming even as it conducted its own research that showed climate change was a real problem. In the wake of these reports, members of Congress called for an investigation into the company.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 4, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Safe Online, Facebook Security Expert;  Signal secure messaging lands on Android, endorsed by Snowden;  Avast’s 2016 security solutions pack in the free features;  Microsoft drops unlimited OneDrive storage;  The top 10 apps that companies hate;  Turn nearly any laptop into a Chromebook for free;  7 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday;  Chatty app from Facebook helps the sight-impaired ‘see’;  Google Inbox will reply to e-mails for you with machine learning;  Firefox 42 Launches With Tracking Protection In Private Browsing Mode;  Hackers use anti-adblocking service to deliver nasty malware attack;  Video: How to destroy hard drives;  JSocket: Android malware that hijacks legitimate apps;  MPAA Takes Down Pirating Group And Popcorn Time Fork;  Best mobile games of October 2015 (pictures);  How to block the Windows 10 upgrade;  Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free;  20 things you don’t actually need to keep in the fridge;  This Is the New Apple TV’s Single Best Feature.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 Ways to Stay Safe Online, According to a Facebook Security Expert – “Because people interact with Facebook so often, we’re spending a lot of time thinking about how we can play a role in helping increase security literacy overall across the internet,” Facebook security product manager Melissa Luu-Van tells Business Insider. Luu-Van — who says that Facebook is trying to spread the gospel that good security is proactive versus reactive — outlined five things principals that internet users should be thinking about whenever they sign up for a new internet service:

Signal secure messaging lands on Android, endorsed by Snowden – When it comes to staying away from the prying eyes and eavesdropping ears of spies and hackers, perhaps no one knows better than Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who has spilled it all and is now also trying to stay away from said people’s reach. So when he openly endorses on Twitter (yes, he is on Twitter, of all places) WhisperSystem’s Signal app, now on Android, then you know, with a bit of confidence but perhaps also a grain of salt, that your text messages and voice calls will be secure and private.

Avast’s 2016 security solutions pack in the free features – PC users who don’t want to pay for a security solution have become used to stitching together various parts: antivirus here, antispyware there, and so on. Avast 2016 combines many of those into a single, free package. And, if that’s not enough, Avast’s Avast Mobile Security has also taken many of its formerly premium features and made them free.


The new password manager scans your passwords for vulnerabilities.

Pointing up     Currently running this edition on 3 home machines.

The top 10 apps that companies hate – Companies are wary about what employees are doing on their smartphones. Be it losing data or wasting time, a growing number of employers are actively stopping staff from using certain apps on company-controlled devices. After surveying the roughly 6,000 companies that uses its mobile security management software, MobileIron determined the top 10 consumer apps that are most often blocked or blacklisted at companies:

7 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday – Year after year, the holidays arrive a little earlier, and 2015 is no exception, with some already offering “Black Friday” savings. But perhaps you don’t buy into the hype. “How much can I really save?” you wonder. Truth is, you’ll need to keep tabs on opening times and lightning rounds, but deals can be had. As a result, there are a number of gadgets you shouldn’t buy before Black Friday. Check them out in the slideshow.

Microsoft drops unlimited OneDrive storage after people use it for unlimited storage – A little over a year ago, Microsoft announced that paid Office 365 Home and Personal subscribers would get, as part of their subscription, unlimited cloud storage on its OneDrive service. Yesterday, the company announced that it wasn’t going to do that after all. It turns out that if you offer unlimited storage to people, a few of them actually take you at your word and trust that you are truly offering unlimited storage, and then they start using it. Explaining the backtracking, the new blog post complains that a small number of paying customers were using OneDrive to store backups of multiple PCs and large collections of movies and TV shows. Some of these outliers used more than 75TB of space, which Microsoft says is 14,000 times the average (putting the average OneDrive user at about 5.5GB).

Turn nearly any laptop into a Chromebook for free – If you want to try a Chromebook without spending any money, a free method from Neverware makes this easy.


Snapchat: Your Snaps Are Still Private – The social network reiterated that it is not, and never has been, stockpiling private images and text.

Chatty app from Facebook helps the sight-impaired ‘see’ – Facebook could soon tell you what you’re looking at. The social network has developed an app that invites those with impaired vision to ask questions about photos and have the answers read to them. When presented with a picture of a friend’s baby, for instance, you might ask, “Where is the baby?” or “What is the baby doing?” The app would then announce aloud that the baby is in the kitchen, say, or that she’s eating cereal. Here’s the demo video of the app, which is still in development:


Twitter replaces stars with hearts, Favs are now Likes – Twitter has finally done it. They’ve made the change that many have been expecting for some now. The star icon for favoriting something is out, and now the social network is all about hearts. Because hearts are in. To really emphasize the change, the action is not even called “favorites” anymore, but is instead the universal “likes” from now on. In a blog post, Twitter says the change is going into effect from today on both Twitter and Vine.


Google Inbox will reply to e-mails for you with machine learning – Google Inbox, Google’s new-age e-mail client that lives alongside Gmail, can now respond to messages for you. The feature is called “Smart Reply,” and for e-mails that only need a quick response, Inbox will generate three short replies you can pick from and send. The feature is a lot like the canned quick replies found on some messaging apps, but it’s also a lot smarter than those systems. The three possible replies are generated by a deep neural network geared for natural language processing—basically a high-tech chatbot powered by the Google Cloud.


Smart Reply” generates three responses and sticks them at the bottom of the screen.

Slack wants to hire a cab or check the weather for you – Slack, the social messaging app that is becoming the go-to chatroom for workplace communication, announced a new service Tuesday called Slash Commands to merge outside companies like Lyft, Foursquare, and Poncho into its platform. The update builds on the app’s “Add to Slack” feature announced last August and factors into the company’s larger plans to convince its users to completely eschew email and other messaging services for its platform.

MakerBot Desktop 3.8 brings 30% faster printing – MakerBot has announced an update to its desktop software, MakerBot Desktop 3.8. This new version brings with it a few changes and improvements, not the least of which is 30-percent faster printing over previous editions. In addition to the faster speeds, the new version also boasts the ability to print with “stronger structural support,” something facilitated by a new Brilliant Cut Diamond infill pattern.


Chrome user share swells to record 31% – Chrome last month reached another major milestone in user share as Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox again shed fans at ruinous rates. Meanwhile, use of Microsoft’s Edge, the intended replacement for IE, continued to sink among those running Windows 10. The latest data published Sunday by California-based Net Applications portrayed the browser battle in October as another victory for Google and its Chrome, and signaled that the looming deadline facing almost half of all IE users has not been taken seriously.

Fedora 23 lands with GNOME 3.18, Wayland progress, and a new upgrade system – Rejoice, Linux lovers: Fedora 23 is scheduled to launch on Tuesday after week-long delay to fix some last minute bugs. The latest release includes quite a few improvements thanks to GNOME and other upstream projects. Fedora’s developers are also on the cusp of switching to the new Wayland graphical server by default, with a stable, optional Wayland session available in Fedora 23 today.


Microsoft gives OEMs a deadline: one year, then no more new Windows 7 PCs – Want to buy a new Windows 7 PC? Better get busy, because there are only 364 shopping days left. As promised, Microsoft is providing one year’s notice to PC makers on Windows 7’s end of life. The clock starts now.

Vivaldi beta browser’s trick to lure in power users: Mashing Chrome and Opera together – Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera all render the Web, but each has gone its own way in terms of its interface, plugin strategy, performance, and more. Now a new browser targeting power users has blurred the lines: Vivaldi, which puts a feature-packed, Opera-like interface on top of Chromium’s open-source platform. Vivaldi has been available for some time as a technical preview, and the company claims that 2 million people or so have downloaded it. On Tuesday, the Vivaldi browser was released as a beta—still lacking some features, but with enough spit and polish for anyone to use.


How to block the Windows 10 upgrade – It’s nice of Microsoft to offer all of us a free upgrade to Windows 10. But it’s not so nice when they insist upon it.


Firefox 42 Launches With Tracking Protection In Private Browsing Mode – After a short beta period, Mozilla today graduated its new Tracking Protection feature for Firefox’s Private Browsing mode into its release channel with the launch of Firefox 42. While Private Browsing (which is Firefox’s counterpart to Chrome’s Incognito mode) ensures that none of your browsing history and cookies for this private session are saved locally, some of your data can still leak out to third-party sites. The new tracking protection ensures that third-party trackers, including those from social networks and analytics companies, can’t receive any data from your browsing session.

Hacking tool swipes encrypted credentials from password manager – Using a password manager is one of the biggest ways that average computer users can keep their online accounts secure, but their protection is pretty much meaningless when an end user’s computer is compromised. Underscoring this often ignored truism is a recently released hacking tool that silently decrypts all user names, passwords, and notes stored by the KeePass password manager and writes them to a file. KeeFarce, as the tool has been dubbed, targets KeePass, but there’s little stopping developers from designing similar apps that target virtually every other password manager available today. Hackers and professional penetration testers can run it on computers that they have already taken control of. When it runs on a computer where a logged in user has the KeePass database unlocked, KeeFarce decrypts the entire database and writes it to a file that the hacker can easily access.

Hackers use anti-adblocking service to deliver nasty malware attack – More than 500 websites that used a free analytics service inadvertently exposed their visitors to a nasty malware attack made possible by a hack of PageFair, the anti-adblocking company that provided the analytics. The compromise started in the last few minutes of Halloween with a spearphishing e-mail that ultimately gave the attackers access to PageFair’s content distribution network account. The attacker then reset the password and replaced the JavaScript code PageFair normally had execute on subscriber websites. For almost 90 minutes after that, people who visited 501 unnamed sites received popup windows telling them their version of Adobe Flash was out-of-date and prompting them to install malware disguised as an official update.

Don’t throw out that old phone — turn it into a privacy device – The core of this idea is that old smartphones that are no longer tied to a cellular network can use Wi-Fi (preferably someone else’s, to ensure non-traceability); a number-assigning service to send text messages or even place calls; and a VPN to encrypt the texts and anonymize location. Lifehacker focused on the usefulness of such privacy devices for law-abiding individuals. But I think enterprises could benefit too.


Video: How to destroy hard drives – Normally when making sure no one can recover the data off of a hard drive you use one of the three traditional approaches (a software eraser, hardware eraser, or make use whole disk encryption). But how do you prevent data from being recovered from dead or dying hard drives? In this video I show you the method I use, and try a couple of methods I’ve been told have worked for others in the past. Some of the methods worked, and others weren’t so successful.


vBulletin password hack fuels fears of serious Internet-wide 0-day attacks – Developers of the vBulletin software package for website forums released a security patch Monday night, just hours after reports surfaced that a hack on the developers’ site leaked password data and other sensitive information belonging to almost 480,000 subscribers. vBulletin officials have put in place a mandatory password reset for all users after discovering it was subjected to a hack attack. They went on to warn that the attacker “may have accessed customer IDs and encrypted passwords on our system.” A separate post on the vBulletin site makes reference to a security patch for versions 5.1.4 through 5.1.9 of the vBulletin Connect software package.

JSocket: Android malware that hijacks legitimate apps – First discovered in June this year, JSocket — most recently known as AlienSpy — is described by Fidelis in a new report as a “reincarnation” of previous malware. Not only can Java-based JSocket control Linux, Mac and Windows PC systems remotely, but the malicious code is also able to affect mobile devices. As an example, JSocket is able to take existing mobile apps and embed malware so victims can remain infected all the while using otherwise fully functional and legitimate software on their Android mobile devices.

Baidu app component puts 100 million Android devices at risk – A software development kit created by Chinese Internet services company Baidu and used by thousands of Android applications contains a feature that gives attackers backdoor-like access to users’ devices.

Company News:

Intel Puts $22M In 10 Startups, With A Stake In FreedomPop To Launch A Rival To Google’s Project Fi – Intel Capital, the venture arm of the tech giant, today announced $22 million in new investments across 10 startups. The news was delivered at the company’s annual global summit, where it also said that it would invest half a billion dollars in total this year. This is both a rise and fall of sorts. As a point of comparison, during the same event last year, Intel announced $67 million of investments in 16 startups, but said that 2014 investments totaled $359 million.

FreedomPop, Intel’s Wi-Fi first smartphone takes on Google Fi – Google’s Project Fi was more than the MVNO that people have been expecting, at least based on earlier rumors. Instead of a simple, directly mobile service that would compete with carriers, Project Fi made a tempting proposition: a service that automatically switched back and forth between paid cellular connection and free Wi-Fi depending on the latter’s availability. That is the new paradigm that FreedomPop and Intel are chasing after in a partnership that will see not only a new service to compete with Project Fi but a new smartphone as well.


Samsung retains top spot in India’s increasingly important smartphone market – The South Korean electronics giant has strengthened its grip on India’s smartphone market, keeping its top position in quarter three of 2015

Google is giving $2.35 million in grants to groups fighting racism – Google’s philanthropic arm,, is giving millions to groups in the Bay Area fighting systemic racism. According to USA Today, the company has set aside $2.35 million to support #BlackLivesMatter activism as well as groups addressing income inequality, the criminal justice system, and other issues. The move represents a particular outsized statement from the tech giant, especially when tech companies continue to face scrutiny concerning the presence of women and people of color in their ranks. An official announcement will reportedly take place tonight at San Francisco’s famous Castro Theatre during a screening of 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, a documentary about the shooting death of Jordan Davis, an unarmed black 17-year-old shot outside of a Florida gas station in 2012.

Avast CEO talks new products, China ban, and the Snowden effect – The Prague-based company has about one-third of the global consumer antivirus market, and yet one of its biggest revenue drivers is a free product.

Tesla Misses In Q3 Earnings, With Adjusted Revenue Of $1.24 Billion And A Drop $.058 In EPS – Tesla missed the street in its reported Q3 earnings today, including non-GAAP revenue of $1.24 billion and non-GAAP loss per share of $0.58. Analysts expected a non-GAAP loss per share of $0.50. The company’s non-GAAP revenue also missed analyst estimates of $1.26 billion. But the real story here is on the amount of cars delivered this year. Tesla produced a total of 13,091 and delivered 11,603 cars in Q3 2015. The company originally planned to sell 50,000 to 55,000 cars this year, which would be a 70 percent increase in cars sold in 2014. However, that estimate was lowered after Tesla reported its preliminary Q3 delivery figure of 11,580, just above guidance.

Etsy Meets Expectations In Q3, Stock Drops 8% After Hours – Following trading today, Etsy reported its Q3 financial performance, including revenue of $66 million, and earnings loss per share of $0.06. The Street expected Etsy to lose $0.06 per share, off revenue of around $66.17 million. So that’s a “met expectations.” The company reported 1.5 million active sellers and 22.6 million active buyers. The company was up 3.18 percent today, trading at just over $11 at market close. When the company went public this year, it sat pretty at a mean $30 per share. That has trailed off considerably as shares of Etsy are down around an alarming 8% in after-hours trading.

Activision Blizzard Acquires Candy Crush Maker King Digital Entertainment For $5.9 Billion – Well here’s a blockbuster acquisition for you. Gaming mothership Activision Blizzard has entered into an agreement to acquire, maker of the wildly popular game Candy Crush and probably other games that I have nor ever will play. Mobile. Games. It’s all of the hot things. Oh, and King says it had 474 million monthly active users in the third quarter this year. So there’s that. King went public in 2014.

Games and Entertainment:

This Is the New Apple TV’s Single Best Feature – While all of those developments are welcome additions, there’s one Apple TV feature that truly makes the viewing experience a lot easier and more convenient. If you’ve missed a piece of dialogue, you can hold down the Siri button on the remote control and ask, “What did he/she say?” Siri will then rewind your TV show or movie by 15 seconds, turning on closed captioning until the show or film has reached the point where you initially asked the question. It’s a clever and useful feature.

MPAA Takes Down Pirating Group And Popcorn Time Fork – There are corks popping around the MPAA offices today. The American trade organization is claiming responsibility for shutting down several pirating services including a popular version of Popcorn Time, you know, the Netflix for pirates. This comes after the MPAA obtained an injunction in a Canadian against three operators of, which forced the site and service offline. The MPAA also won an interim injunction in a New Zealand court against the operator of YTS, which it claimed was the home of the pirating group YIFY. The torrent site came online in 2010, and according to report by TorrentFreak, the pirating group was responsible for releasing some 6,000 titles.


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

PlayStation Now adds 105 games to its subscription streaming service – Sony today announced more than 100 new titles have been added to its streaming game service PlayStation Now. Capcom provides the biggest contribution with 21 new titles — highlights include Resident Evil 4, 6, and Code Veronica X (RE5 was already part of the service); four Street Fighter titles; three Lost Planets; and Dead Rising 2. With today’s update, the PlayStation Now subscription library has grown to over 250 titles for subscription (and many more via its pricey à la carte rental library).


PS4 gets in-ear stereo headphones with noise canceling tech – While the PlayStation 4 ships with a single, mono-audio earbud, the only premium headphones for the console from Sony have been the over-ear type. Now there will finally be another option to choose from, as Sony has just announced the In-ear Stereo Headset for PS4. The earbuds plug directly into the headphone jack on the DualShock 4 controller, and they even feature AudioShield technology, which filters out unwanted background noise to let players focus on the game’s audio.


CBS Will Launch A New “Star Trek” TV Series On Its Streaming Service, Not Network TV – CBS’s own over-the-top streaming service aimed at cord cutters has largely flown under the radar in comparison with more popular competitors like Netflix and Hulu. But now the network is hoping to change that, with the announcement that it will launch a brand-new “Star Trek” TV show exclusively on CBS All Access, the company’s on-demand streaming service. The show’s episodes, outside of a special preview broadcast, will not be available on CBS’s television network, the company says. Instead, only those who pay for CBS All Access will be able to watch the new series, here in the U.S.

AMD kills Catalyst, replaces it with a mini OS called Radeon Software Crimson – In September, AMD turned its graphics unit into a standalone business. Now, the Radeon Technologies Group is getting ready to release the first version of its software. They’re calling it a graphics mini-operating system. Radeon Software is due to arrive before the end of this year, and they’re pretty excited about what’s going to ship. Some of the improvements you’ll see include faster start times, more intuitive navigation throughout the app, a new game manager, an overhauled Overdrive for simplified overclocking, and enhancements to AMD’s six display-capable Eyefinity.


Jon Stewart Is Coming To HBO In Four-Year Deal Focused On Short-Form Digital Content – HBO, which launched its first over-the-top streaming service this year with the debut of HBO NOW, has just scored a notable new deal with former Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, who will be tasked with creating “timely short-form digital content” for HBO NOW, HBO GO and other platforms, the network announced today. The exclusive four-year production pact will begin with a project involving Stewart creating content focused on current events that will be refreshed on HBO NOW multiple times per day. Other projects may follow, but have yet to be announced. The deal also includes a first-look option for other film and TV ventures, HBO says. Stewart and team will be using technology from the cloud graphics company OTOY Inc. in order to develop the content, which HBO describes as Stewart’s view of current events “through his unique prism.”

Vice’s cable channel, Viceland, will launch February 2016 – Most of the big media news these days is about the unbundling of cable television into pieces you can pay to access with just an internet connection. But Vice Media, which started as a government-subsidized paper-and-ink magazine and has since become a surging player in the digital media space, is making a move into traditional linear television. The New York Times is reporting that it plans to launch its channel, Viceland, in February of 2016, part of a partnership with its investor, A&E.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 things you don’t actually need to keep in the fridge – There is probably a bunch of things in your fridge that doesn’t need to be there. Removing these items from your fridge can free up space and improve the taste and quality of items that should be stored at room temperature. Take a look at this list and then go rummage through your fridge.

OS/2: Blue Lion to be the next distro of the 28-year-old OS – The WarpStock convention — the annual gathering of users, developers, and enthusiasts of IBM OS/2 — was held in Wichita, KS on October 23 – 25, 2015. For an operating system whose principal development stopped in 1996, it may be surprising that the OS/2 community is vibrant enough to warrant a convention — and likely even more surprising that it has two, as WarpStock Europe will be held in Cologne, Germany in May 2016. This year’s event, however, may well be the most consequential in several years, as it marks the return of OS/2.


Various windows open in the Workplace Manager. Image: Screenshot by James Sanders/TechRepublic

This Incredible 4K Video of the Sun Took NASA 300 Hours to Make – The latest video to come out of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is the most detailed yet, and it’s completely mesmerizing. The 30-minute film features a soundtrack from German composer Lars Leonhard titled ‘Deep Venture,’ and, as NASA puts it “presents the nuclear fire of our life-giving star in intimate detail, offering new perspective into our own relationships with grand forces of the solar system.” So sit back and enjoy the most detailed video yet of the giant ball of energy at the center of our solar system.


SprayPainter turns you into a graffiti artist – If you like the idea of painting graffiti style art in your home or office, but lack the artistic skills to make that happen on your own the SprayPainter is for you. SprayPainter is an accessory that clips to a can of spray paint and makes it sort of like a dot matrix printer from back in the day. Using dots of spray, the device is able to create any work of art you want.


Vast, uncharted viral world discovered on human skin – In the microbial metropolises that thrive in and on the human body, underground networks of viruses loom large. A closer look at human skin has found that it’s teeming with viruses, most of which don’t target us but infect the microbes that live there. Almost 95 percent of those skin-dwelling virus communities are unclassified, researchers report in mBio. Those unknown viruses may prune, manipulate, and hide out in the skin’s bacterial communities, which in turn can make the difference between human health and disease. The finding highlights how much scientists still have to learn about the microscopic affairs that steer human welfare.

Something to think about:

“Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”

–      Robert Service     (1874 – 1958)


Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free – Popular software programs contain millions of lines of code. Bad guys exploit flaws (vulnerabilities) in the code to deliver malware. Except when they can’t. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit wraps four layers of security around popular browsers, preventing exploits from compromising vulnerable code. Not an antivirus, but compatible with most antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a small, specialized shield designed to protect you against one of the most dangerous forms of malware attacks. And it’s free.


Shields browsers and browsers add-ons (including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and others)

Shields Java

Operating Systems:

Windows 10® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows 8.1® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows 8® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows 7® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows Vista® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows XP® (32-bit, 64-bit)


Screenshot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Why Avast won’t show source code to the government, but others do – Ask a chief executive of any security company what the crown jewel of their business is, and they’ll tell you it’s the source code.

In a day and age of government spying, hackers, and backdoors, there’s a great deal of mistrust and paranoia in the tech industry.

Governments particularly are on edge that other states are using tech firms to get access to their most critical systems and data, including the US government, which has been shown to conduct industrial espionage (despite its claims that it doesn’t).

It’s no surprise that this air of deception has led some countries, like Russia as far back as 2003, and more recently China, to seek access to source code in order to approve or certify products in their countries.

“No, we refuse to hand over source code,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive of Avast, in an hour-long conversation in our New York newsroom late last month.

Operation KKK leaks: Will Anonymous yank KKK hoods off of politicians, cops, feds? – Anonymous has promised to make this Fifth of November memorable by leaking the personal details of alleged KKK members — some of whom are supposedly cops, feds, mayors, senators and even a pastor. Buckle up for #OpKKK and #Hoodsoff cyber-fireworks as lists are already being leaked and Anonymous claims it will expose up to 1,000 alleged KKK members.

Snowden inspires New Zealand ‘protected disclosure’ regime – The smallest member of the Five Eyes spying alliance is rolling out a “protected disclosures” policy to enable would-be Edward Snowdens to safely blow the whistle on suspected wrongdoing by security agencies.

New Zealand’s Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, said a formal internal policy for handling protected disclosures, or “whistleblowing”, has been developed by her office in liaison with security agencies.

“The Edward Snowden disclosures demonstrate how critical it is to have a clear path, with appropriate protections, for disclosing information about suspected wrongdoing within an intelligence and security agency,” she said.

Edward Snowden has consistently said it was impossible for him to make internal disclosures about what he believed was wrongdoing due to the lack of whistleblower protections he faced in the USA.

The Inspector-General, who released her second annual report (PDF) today, is independent from the intelligence and security agencies and is not subject to direction by Government ministers.

Why the NSA may not need backdoors – James Bamford’s 2012 WIRED article The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) is a fascinating read about the NSA’s monster data center near Bluffdale, Utah and what it might be used for. Here’s an excerpt:

“Breaking into those complex mathematical shells like the AES is one of the key reasons for the construction going on in Bluffdale,” explains Bamford. “That kind of cryptanalysis requires two major ingredients: super-fast computers to conduct brute-force attacks on encrypted messages and a massive number of those messages for the computers to analyze. The more messages from a given target, the more likely it is for the computers to detect telltale patterns, and Bluffdale will be able to hold a great many messages.”

Bamford then suggests the super-fast computers are part of the High Productivity Computing Systems program located in Oakridge, Tenn. (of Manhattan Project fame), specifically in Building 5300 according to a former senior intelligence official involved in the project interviewed by Bamford.

The official mentions that security intensified in a big way when the Building 5300 team made a huge breakthrough, adding, “They were thinking that this computing breakthrough was going to give them the ability to crack current public encryption.”

Fierce battle ahead for new web surveillance law – The UK government is preparing a major overhaul of legislation relating to internet surveillance.

The new legislation — the Investigatory Powers Bill — due to be unveiled tomorrow, is likely to require communications companies to retain data on customers’ web surfing for up to a year, while there have been suggestions that the government will also look again at how to gain access to encrypted communications – a new and increasing difficult area for law enforcement. It may also provide more clarity around the powers of intelligence agencies to hack into computers.

But the new legislation will be published against a complicated background, with intelligence agencies calling for stronger powers to cope with changing internet technologies, while privacy campaigners argue that too much unnecessary surveillance is already taking place without enough proper oversight.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 2, 2015

Fix Windows 10 issues with FixWin for Windows 10;  Five ways Microsoft plans to get you to upgrade to Windows 10;  10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps;  14 Cool Smartphone Camera Tricks You Should Know;  Talk With Your Colleagues Anonymously, With Blind;  10 Apps to Download on Your New Apple TV Right Now;  Three desktop tools for ultra-private encrypted chats;  18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  Leaving Laptops in Hotel Rooms: A Bad Idea;  Apple’s Giant iPad Pro Is Coming on November 11;  Hi-Rez Studios releases 21 years of Tribes games for free;  Amazon To Exit Daily Deals With Closure Of Amazon Local;  Stitch Is A Social Network For Seniors;  Research says your cat might be thinking about killing you? Really?  Nimble Jump is the new Flappy Bird;  How a group of neighbors created their own Internet service;  AIDA64 for Mobile devices (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Five ways Microsoft plans to get you to upgrade to Windows 10 – Microsoft wants Windows 10 on one billion devices by 2018 – and its tactics for hitting that ambitious goal are about to get more aggressive. From next year, Microsoft will be more direct in pushing Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade to its latest OS, in an attempt to bolster the 110 million-strong Windows 10 userbase. Here’s how Microsoft is about to crank up the pressure to make the switch.

Fix Windows 10 issues with FixWin for Windows 10 – Got some Windows 10 related headaches that you’re trying to fix? FixWin for Windows 10 by The Windows Club might be able to help. FixWin 10 is an update to the popular FixWin application that brings with it a raft of Windows 10 specific repair options to the application. Getting started with FixWin 10 is easy – you just download the file, extract it, and you’re ready to go, with no installation required. Here are the common Windows 10 related issues this application can fix:

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps – Apps not only make using your Windows 10 device easier by giving you better ways to do the things you want to do, they can also make the experience a lot more fun. While there are plenty of built-in apps on Windows 10 devices, there’s a whole host of free or almost-fee apps that are guaranteed to make you more productive. These essentials tools will allow you to work with, share and annotate documents; back up your important data; organize and personalize your desktop; work with photos and text, and socialize and stay in touch with coworkers, friends and family.

14 Cool Smartphone Camera Tricks You Should Know – Right now, people are walking around with super powerful digital cameras in their pockets, allowing them to beam their POV to the rest of the world instantaneously—all super hivemind style, language barriers be damned. That’s kind of amazing if you think about it. For its part, the public has enthusiastically shrugged off any privacy concerns it may have once had and learned to embrace mobile photography. And gadget makers have responded with better and ever more capable digital cameras. Chances are, you’re not even taking advantage of all the cool things your phone’s camera can do. Check out our slideshow for 14 truly amazing (as well as a few ridiculous) smartphone camera tricks.

Pew survey shows 68 percent of US adults now own a smartphone – According to the survey, 68 percent of adults in the United States currently own a smartphone, up from 35 percent four years ago. Meanwhile, 45 percent own some form of tablet, up from three percent in 2010. Pew’s data shows that desktop and laptop ownership has remained more or less flat over the last decade. According to Pew, 73 percent of survey respondents currently own a desktop or laptop, compared to 71 percent in 2004. Traditional PC ownership trended slightly upward until the early part of this decade before tailing off somewhat the last two or three years.

Apple’s Giant iPad Pro Is Coming on November 11, Report Says – Apple is positioning the iPad Pro as the company’s most powerful iOS device yet. It runs on a new processor made by Apple that’s said to be nearly twice as fast as the chip inside the iPad Air 2. The device also works with a new accessory called the Apple Pencil, which is a pressure sensitive stylus Apple made just for its large-sized iPad. Pricing starts at $799 for the entry level model.


iPad Pro featuring a 12.9-inch Retina Display and Apple Pencil

Forget Self-Destructing Messages, Buzz’s New App Offers Self-Destructing Connections – Today, there are a variety of apps to choose from if you just want to privately chat with friends or even place phone calls without having to give out your real phone number – for example, Google Voice, Burner, kik, Viber, Whatsapp and others are popular choices. But these apps aren’t fully private. Users still have to provide a phone number or email when creating an account, or, in some cases, those you chat with can still find you at any time via your permanent user name. A newly launched app called Buzz has a different idea – instead of offering self-destructing messages, Buzz’s focus is on self-destructing connections. That is, the connections you make on Buzz will automatically expire after 72 hours, unless both parties choose to continue chatting.

Google’s ‘Who’s Down’ makes it easier to hang out in person – When you’re not hanging out in Hangouts, Google wants to make it easier to find friends for hanging out in real life via its new “Who’s Down” mobile app. The app, which has been dropped in the Google Play Store, is currently open to those who have an invitation. If it manages to catch on in any significant way, though, it’ll one day be an option for quickly seeing which friends are available for getting together, and which friends aren’t, no typed response necessary.


Talk With Your Colleagues Anonymously, With Blind – Tired of being monitored by your company while wanting to dish with colleagues about said company? Or maybe you’re curious about what people with similar work experience are making at other companies. Blind, a two-year-old app founded in South Korea and newly available in the U.S., may be just the thing for you. Its big idea: bringing anonymity to the workplace so you can “share the real you” with other employees. If you happen to figure out what’s really happening in the upper echelons of the company, so much the better.


How to upgrade from pirated Windows to legitimate Windows 10 – Pirates, Microsoft wants you to come clean. While we wait for the ‘one-click upgrade’ that’s coming soon, here’s how to do it now.

10 Apps to Download on Your New Apple TV Right Now – The 2015 Apple TV is still new, so apps are likely to become even more useful and polished over time. And yet, a significant number of developers have created apps and games specifically designed for the new gadget. Besides the standard cord-cutting apps, here are a few picks from the new App Store that are definitely worth checking out first:

18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and its cousin Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools—and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. (And we’re just talking about the Web version, the mobile incarnations are a whole other bag of magic.) Here, we present 18 cool things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. Click on through and experience just a little bit of the power of the everyday.


Three desktop tools for ultra-private encrypted chats – Many people like the idea of increasing their privacy with encryption and anonymity tools for sharing files, web browsing and messaging. The trouble is finding tools for the job that aren’t overly complex. Today’s tip will take a look at how easily you can use current privacy tools to chat with your friends in privacy and security.

Leaving Laptops in Hotel Rooms: A Bad Idea – A laptop filled with data? An external HDD filled with even more data? There’s bound to be a phone – possibly two if you spend a lot of time in one location overseas and don’t / can’t switch SIMs in your main one. They probably have a fair bit of info on them, especially if your phone doubles as a camera. A tablet for when you’re on the plane? That isn’t uncommon. The big question is: what do you do with them once you arrive at your destination? Most people tend to keep essentials like phones and cameras in their pocket, but all those other things like the 15″ laptop and the tablet? Into the safe they go. That’s the theory, anyway. The reality is a bit different.

Third arrest made in TalkTalk breach – Police in England made a third arrest in the alleged theft of millions of digital records from communications company TalkTalk, taking a 20-year-old man into custody. Previously a 15-year-old boy from Ireland and a 16-year-old boy from London were arrested in the case. Both of those boys were released on bail. On Sunday (GMT), the 20-year-old was arrested in the county of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England, by Metropolitan Police on suspicion of violating the Computer Misuse Act. The other two arrested in the case face the same suspicion under the same offense.

Company News:

Amazon To Exit Daily Deals With Closure Of Amazon Local – Amazon is exiting the daily deals space. According to a message now being displayed on the Amazon Local homepage, the company’s deals platform is closing up shop on December 18, 2015. At that point, Amazon will stop selling deals via the website and in the Amazon Local mobile app. Customers who have already bought deals, however, will still be able to use them, the company notes. The shutdown is not surprising, given the downturn occurring in the once-buzzy daily deals market.


Apple posts huge gains in its $25 billion enterprise business – On the back of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 2015 was the biggest year in Apple’s history by a huge margin. In fiscal 2015, the company generated $53.4 billion in net income on $233.7 billion in sales. Year-over-year, Apple’s sales and net income jumped 28% and 38%, respectively. That’s big growth and a nice chunk of that came from Apple’s enterprise sales. On the quarterly earnings call with analysts, Tim Cook revealed that enterprise markets contributed around $25 billion to Apple’s bottom line, up 40% from the prior year. That’s outpacing Apple’s overall corporate revenue growth significantly.

Baidu 3Q revenue climbs to $2.8bn, but profits dip to $395m – Baidu has reported a 36 percent increase in its third quarter revenue of 18.38 billion yuan (US$2.89 billion) over the same quarter last year, with mobile now accounting for a bulk of its business. For the quarter ended September 30, 2015, the Chinese search giant saw its mobile search monthly active users grow 26 percent year-on-year to 643 million, while the user base for its mobile maps grew 34 percent to 326 million. Mobile revenue accounted for 54 percent of its total revenue in the third quarter, up from 37 percent in the same quarter last year.

Panasonic bringing light and portable power to those without – The Japanese electronics giant has designed a power system for the electricity-deprived regions of the world, which it intends to ship throughout Asia and Africa by the year’s end.

Games and Entertainment:

The History Of Gaming: An Evolving Community – Since its commercial birth in the 1950s as a technological oddity at a science fair, gaming has blossomed into one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world. The mobile technology boom in recent years has revolutionized the industry and opened the doors to a new generation of gamers. Indeed, gaming has become so integrated with modern popular culture that now even grandmas know what Angry Birds is, and more than 42 percent of Americans are gamers and four out of five U.S. households have a console.


The Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. It  preceded Atari by a few months, which is often mistakenly thought of as the first games console.

Pointing up   Bought this in 1973 at a cost of $275 ($1,520 in 2015 dollars). Crude as it was, I found it incredibly exciting.

Nimble Jump is the new Flappy Bird – The game Nimble Jump is pixely, cute, and entirely addicting. It’s also difficult to play, but extremely enjoyable at the same time. Out for both iOS and Android – the latter released just recently, the former earlier this year, this game is prepared to take on both of the big mobile ecosystems at once. You’ll begin with a character that’s chosen for you, leaping from one wall to the other to avoid saws, then you’ll be given the opportunity to create your own character on a pixel grid. From there, you’ll never stop.


Wild: A game of animal survival that stretches off into infinity – If Sony’s PlayStation 4 lineup is anything to go by, 2016 will be the year games go to infinity. The headline grabber is No Man’s Sky, of course, but for those not keen on space travel, there’s another option that’s also crazily ambitious. Wild is many things—an adventure game, a survival game, a riding on the back of a bear and skidding his bum along the side of a mountain game—and, like No Man’s Sky, it’s a game of infinite exploration. The idea, at least for now, is that players—taking on the role of a shaman—must simply survive. As day turns to night, the world of Wild becomes nasty, and those without shelter or means of protection will succumb to the animals that roam at night.


Hi-Rez Studios releases 21 years of Tribes games for free – To celebrate more than 20 years of games, Hi-Rez Studios has decided to thank fans of the Tribes franchise by releasing the entire back catalog for free. This includes not only the Tribes titles, but the original Earthsiege games as well. What’s more, they have announced that after putting it on hiatus, the studio is back working on Tribes: Ascend. If you want to get your hands on the older Tribes games, hit up All of the games are there, ready to be downloaded with just a couple of clicks.

Warner Bros. Offers More Refunds for Batman: Arkham Knight on PC – Guess what’s still broken, even thought it was supposed to have been fixed up by the time sales resumed again?

Off Topic (Sort of):

5 dead operating systems, and what their ghosts can tell us – We conduct a séance of sorts to call forth the souls of operating systems past—not so we can gaze upon their ghastly interfaces, but to learn from their tragic demises. What happened to OS/2? Why won’t Windows XP users give up? Find the answers here.

The future is the Internet of Things—deal with it – IoT is about to explode, perhaps literally, if privacy and security issues aren’t fixed.


Stitch Is A Social Network For Seniors – The winner of a recent TC Radio Pitch-Off contest, Stitch is a social network designed for those over 50 years old. Headquartered in Australia, the site is designed to help members find friends, romantic companionship, or just new activities to try. Marcie Rogo, cofounder of Stitch, explained that “many older adults have lots of things they want to do, but nobody to do them with. Stitch meets this need with a unique and vibrant social network with the ability to meet other like-minded people through member-driven group activities, travel, and one-on-one companionship”. This means that unlike dating sites, many Stitch members host group events like wine tastings or trivia nights. There are now 20,000 active members, and over 50 actives Stitch communities.

How a group of neighbors created their own Internet service – When you live somewhere with slow and unreliable Internet access, it usually seems like there’s nothing to do but complain. And that’s exactly what residents of Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands in Washington state, were doing in late 2013. Faced with a local ISP that couldn’t provide modern broadband, Orcas Island residents designed their own network and built it themselves. The nonprofit Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA), founded by Sutton, Brems, and a few friends, now provide Internet service to a portion of the island. It’s a wireless network with radios installed on trees and houses in the Doe Bay portion of Orcas Island. Those radios get signals from radios on top of a water tower, which in turn receive a signal from a microwave tower across the water in Mount Vernon, Washington.


Volvo is testing kangaroo avoidance technology for Australian drivers – Stateside, as large mammals go, deer are probably the single biggest threat to cars traveling the highways. Now, imagine a smaller, “very unpredictable” deer that hops on two legs: that’s the hell of driving in Australia, where some 20,000 kangaroo collisions are said to happen annually. Volvo is trying to tackle the problem using radar and cameras to sense them along the road ahead and automatically brake as necessary. Similar technology already exists for other creatures — including human pedestrians — but ‘roos are trickier. A Volvo engineer quoted in the company’s release puts its best, largely because he references both moose and reindeer: “In Sweden we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals like moose, reindeer and cows which are a serious threat on our roads. Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic. This is why it’s important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment,” he says.

volvo kangaroo

Research says your cat might be thinking about killing you? Really? – Last year, a wise anthrozoologist declared that your feline thinks you’re just one big, stupid cat. Earlier this year, researchers in the UK said cats really don’t need their owners at all. And now this. Some have interpreted a study from the Bronx Zoo and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland as saying that your cat might be trying to bump you off. Yes, kill you, eat you, that sort of thing.

UK police to test crime reporting over Skype – Video chat platform/app Skype has long been replacing the way people contact each other, from personal calls across the globe to teleconferencing in business environments. Now it may finally find a place in contacting law enforcement. The police in the UK city of Peterborough have revealed a trial program where crime reports and follow-up interviews can done over Skype. Now, this isn’t for emergency calls to police, like in the event of an attack or serious injury, but rather for those time when an officer would to someone’s home to discuss something less serious.

Something to think about:

“It is well to give when asked but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.”

–     Kahlil Gibran    (1883 – 1931)


AIDA64 for Mobile devices: For users who want to know everything about the innards of their gadgets – To mark the 20th anniversary of AIDA64, FinalWire rolled out 3 new mobile apps this year. With the new apps, users of smartphones, tablets, TV devices and smartwatches, running Android, iOS or Windows Phone can learn everything about both the hardware and the software under the hood. AIDA64 mobile apps have clean user interfaces, optimized for the supported device categories, which makes them easy to handle even for users unfamiliar with the PC editions of the AIDA64 system information tool.

Features of AIDA64 mobile apps include:

CPU and GPU detection

Screen dimensions, pixel density and camera information

Battery level and state monitoring

Wi-Fi and cellular network information

Operating system properties

SoC and device model identification

Memory and storage utilization

Sensor polling

Screen Shots

System Requirements:

AIDA64 for Android: Android 2.1 or later

AIDA64 for iOS: iPhone 4 and iOS7 or later

AIDA64 for Windows Phone: Windows Phone 8.1 or later

AIDA64 for Tizen: Tizen 2.3 or later


AIDA64 for Tizen is available in the Tizen Store, which is only accessible on Tizen devices.

Dual Monitor Tools – Dual Monitor Tools is a software package for Windows users with dual or multiple monitor setups.

All the tools are open source and free, and each tool is independent so you only need to install or run what you want.

Current status:

The latest release of Dual Monitor Tools is 2.1 and is available for downloading from SourceForge.

The major change between this version and the 1.* versions is that the functionality of the old Swap Screen, Dual Launcher, Dual Wallpaper Changer and Dual Snap tools has been integrated into a single tool.

The tools/modules currently available are:

DMT: This is now the main tool in the system with support for multiple modules. It runs in the notification area and double clicking on it’s icon will bring up the options for all of the modules it supports.

DMT Cursor DMT – Cursor: This is a module within DMT which allows you to restrict cursor movement between monitors. You can lock the cursor to the current monitor, or make it sticky so that extra effort is required to move it between monitors or the cursor can be completely free to move between monitors.

DMT Launcher DMT – Launcher: This is a module within DMT which allows you to launch your favourite applications with a few key strokes and to position them at pre-configured positions on any of your monitors. You can also use it to launch your favourite websites and to run any of the functionality provided by the modules in DMT.

DMT Snap DMT – Snap: This is a module within DMT which allows you to take a snapshot of primary monitor and show it on the secondary monitor. Previous snapshots can be viewed, saved to a file or copied to the clipboard.

DMT Swap Screen DMT – Swap Screen: This is a module within DMT which provides hotkeys for performing common operations on the windows on your monitors. This includes operations like moving the active application window to the next monitor or to a pre-configured position, minimising all windows on a single monitor only and rotating the contents of all monitors.

DMT Wallpaper Changer DMT – Wallpaper Changer: This is a module within DMT which changes the wallpaper at regular intervals and/or at start up. Offers similar support for multiple monitors as to that provided by Dual Wallpaper. Images for wallpaper may come from multiple sources.

Dual Wallpaper Dual Wallpaper: Standalone tool that simplifies the process of using existing images as wallpaper on your monitors. You can either specify a different image on each monitor, or spread an image across two or more monitors or if you have enough monitors, a combination of these.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The security community’s reaction as CISA passes US Senate – On Tuesday, the US Senate has passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a legislation that will allow companies to share information about the cyber attacks they suffered with government agencies, without having to worry about getting sued by users for breach of privacy.

Opponents of the bill – both various companies and privacy advocates – worry that CISA will be used by the government to perform surveillance, as it contains no strong protection of US citizens’ privacy rights.

What’s even worse, the EFF says, is that CISA doesn’t address the real cybersecurity problems that caused computer data breaches like Target and the US Office of Personnel Management.

“The bill now moves to a conference committee despite its inability to address problems that caused recent highly publicized computer data breaches, like unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links,” they noted.

Here are some reactions from the security community Help Net Security received about the passing of the bill.

Operation KKK Is Beginning To Unmask Hate Group Members – Operation KKK, an Anonymous-led effort to shut down the Ku Klux Klan, has begun in earnest. The main Twitter account is reporting that many KKK-related sites are down after concerted hacking efforts and that more are to come as they prepare for an action called HoodsOff on November 5.

The Ku Klux Klan is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center and is said to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members. Operation KKK hopes to unmask 1,000 of its prominent members.

“After closely observing so many of you for so very long, we feel confident that applying transparency to your organizational cells is the right, just, appropriate and only course of action,” wrote the representatives of hacker collective Anonymous on Tuesday. “We will carry out our mission in a responsible, effective manner. We appreciate your patience & support for this initiative.”


FBI planes gathered days of video, electronic surveillance over Baltimore – The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations that detail the surveillance flights made by FBI-operated aircraft over Baltimore last May. The flights included both high-resolution optical and infrared surveillance and at least two electronic surveillance flights, though the exact nature of the sensors used on the electronic surveillance flights was redacted from the documents.

The collection of records, which includes flight logs, evidence logs, and an FBI memorandum justifying the flights, was obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act filing on May 6. The aircraft, which were registered to FBI front companies that are used to conceal the identity of the aircraft flown by the FBI’s Special Flight Operations branch, flew day and night missions over the areas where protests were taking place in Baltimore—areas where riots broke out the previous week after the death of Freddy Grey in police custody.

The records show that the FBI not only provided live video intelligence to the Baltimore police, but also collected and saved high-resolution video footage of hundreds of people participating in protests on the streets of Baltimore—footage that may be used in the future to build profiles on those people. The records offer a look inside the FBI’s secret surveillance operations that span the country, carrying not just cameras but electronic sensors such as “dirt boxes” that can track cell phones on the ground and potentially intercept calls.

In the electronic memorandum filed by the FBI, accompanying evidence records from the surveillance, FBI officials described their reasoning for the aerial surveillance:

National U.S. Privacy Laws Are Needed – As the most recent security breaches have taught us around the world, losing one’s privacy also means losing one of humanity’s unique attributes — its secrets. The hack at Ashley Madison taught us that no stored data is secure, no matter how much we think it is or if a service, by it’s very nature, implies it’s providing the highest caliber of security and discretion. The spill of this data has led to, among other things, massive lawsuits, an departing CEO and even suicide. As time will no doubt show us — we’ve lost our humanity.

Somehow we missed privacy from the initial design of the Constitution and amendments thereafter. This “right” to privacy was not endowed to us by our Founding Fathers nor does it make up the conscience of our jurisprudence system of government today.

Legally, privacy is, at best, a regulation or a state-level law focused around data protection. The United States is not alone in having few overarching privacy laws. Many people in the world do not have a legal right to privacy. Even in the best of scenarios, countries only have laws focused around some notional data element — like a right to healthcare or financial privacy.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – October 30, 2015

Stop Google from tracking your voice;  Tor Project releases beta version of its anonymous instant messenger;  Microsoft Aces Antivirus Test;  TV tech terms demystified, part one: Screen size, resolution, and speed;  Google is merging Chrome OS and Android;  Facebook helps Tor project to get official recognition for .onion hidden sites;  Google Photos Will Hide Pics of Your Ex;  Microsoft’s radical Android launcher “Arrow” now public;  This is what a $50 Tablet looks like;  Three iOS 9 battery management tricks that will delight you;  This One GIF Explains How BitTorrent Finds Files;  Microsoft to users: You’ll download Windows 10, and you’ll like it;  Five apps perfectly suited for a one-person IT shop;  Spice Up Your Skype Video Messages With New Filters;  Disk wiping and data forensics: Separating myth from science;  Three baseline IT security tips for small businesses;  Everything you need to know about YouTube Red;  Google Play Games Now Lets You Record And Share Gameplay;  SystemRescueCd  (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Stop Google from tracking your voice – When you ask Google a question, these recordings are automatically saved to your Google account. While the recordings are only accessible by you, they may include some private information you don’t feel comfortable having in the cloud. There’s no reason to panic. It’s easy to access and delete recordings, and prevent Google from saving them in the first place. Here’s what you need to know:


The Tor Project releases beta version of its anonymous instant messenger – The Tor Project has just released the beta version of Tor Messenger, a chat client that allows for anonymous, “off-the-record” chats based on Tor’s secure browsing system. The instant messenger is a beta release more than a year in the making, and promises to create a more seamless, accessible way for people to chat securely on the web, built on the instant messaging client Instantbird but routing all traffic through Tor. Similar instant messaging clients, like Pidgin and Adium, can be set up for encrypted chatting, but the Tor Project says Messenger takes the idea one step further, enforcing encrypted chats “out of the box” and disabling logging of information by default. The cross-platform client supports Jabber (XMPP), IRC, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, Twitter, and Yahoo.


Facebook helps Tor project to get official recognition for .onion hidden sites – With the efforts from Facebook and the Tor project, it should become easier to browse securely via SSL on the so-called Darknet.

Microsoft Aces Antivirus Test – For years, Microsoft’s antivirus has been the sad sack in antivirus tests. Several labs have taken to calling Microsoft’s performance a baseline. If you can’t beat the baseline, you’re doing something wrong. That trend seems to be changing, though. In the latest test results reported by AV-Test Institute, Microsoft earned a respectable 14 points (out of a possible 18). That’s a lot better than its previous score of 9.5 points; 10 points is the minimum to pass this test. It seems that Microsoft is on a roll. Dennis Technology Labs certifies antivirus products at a number of different levels: AAA, AA, A, B, and C. For the first time, Microsoft managed AAA certification.

TV tech terms demystified, part one: Screen size, resolution, and speed – Don’t be befuddled by the alphabet soup of acronyms, spec charts, and feature lists you’ll encounter when shopping for a new TV. This guide series explains it all in plain language.


Credit: Panasonic

Google is merging Chrome OS and Android – Google’s two operating systems will soon be one. Chrome OS is going to be combined with Android, and the combined OS could be revealed as soon as next year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that Chrome is essentially being folded into Android, because Android has emerged as the dominant operating system by quite a long stretch. Combining the two operating systems means setting up Android to run on laptops and desktop computers, which would require big changes, as well as supporting the Google Play Store. Chromebooks will reportedly receive a new name to reflect the new OS.

Google Photos Will Hide Pics of Your Ex – Google Photos will let you hide certain individuals from appearing under People.

Microsoft’s radical Android launcher “Arrow” now public – All the troubleshooting is done and what’s left is a home screen replacement app for your Android device that’ll make you wish the company had skipped over Windows for mobile devices and gone straight to Google for their software. While Google may have been catching up with Microsoft’s “most used apps” tray topper, here you’ll find the ability to select what you want for starters. This launcher also has a pull-up quick-select menu with settings and a set of apps – again, of your choosing.


This is what a $50 Tablet looks like – While most tablets in the $50 range aren’t much more than glorified alarm clocks, the $49.99 Amazon Fire is a fully realized, functional slate with access to tons of content. It’s good for reading books, watching movies, running apps, or just browsing the Web. With a decent screen, a portable form factor, solid parental controls, and helpful technical support for newbies, there’s simply no other meaningful competition in this price range. That makes the 7-inch Amazon Fire our Editors’ Choice for budget tablets.


Three iOS 9 battery management tricks that will delight you – iOS 9 includes new ways to keep track of the battery life on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Learn the ins and outs of using these management techniques.

Microsoft Integrates Skype With Office Online, Rolls Out An Office Chrome Extension – Microsoft today announced its plans to extend the social features of Office by integrating Skype into Office Online, allowing users to communicate by voice and video chat within Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Online documents, as well as in With the integration, users will be able to see and chat with Skype contacts right from within their file, which Microsoft says will help teams better collaborate. In addition, Skype’s chat history will remain connected to the document, so you’ll be able to see where you left off after closing a file and later returning. Microsoft also rolled out a new Chrome browser extension, which makes it easier to quickly access or create new Office documents with a click on Chrome’s toolbar.

Spice Up Your Skype Video Messages With New Filters – Add balloons to video messages, change the appearance of your face, or go color negative to spook out your friends.

This One GIF Explains How BitTorrent Finds Files – While services like Popcorn Time have been simplifying BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, for end users, it’s becoming easier and easier to look at torrenting as an abstract streaming service rather than a tangle of users passing files between each other. The BitTorrent team has put together some visualizations that’ll help you imagine what’s happening here. The team is putting together a browser called Project Maelstrom, which can visualize torrent networks using data pulled from their popular µTorrent client and also promises to allow websites to leverage BitTorrent technology in users’ actual browsers.

Disk wiping and data forensics: Separating myth from science – Strongly held opinions about the proper method to wipe data from hard drives reflect bygone eras. Learn about disk wiping for modern platter hard drives, and securing data on solid-state drives.

Google’s Snapseed app can now edit RAW photos on Android – An increasing number of Android smartphones are now able to shoot photos in RAW, which gives users much greater flexibility when it comes to editing and retouching their shots after they’ve been taken. But finding a good app for editing RAW files on a smartphone isn’t easy, so Google’s updating one of its own to fill the void. The latest version of Snapseed, released today, offers full support for DNG RAW files. Google says the new Snapseed will help you “correct exposure after the fact” with far better results than you’d see from a JPG file, where mucking with the exposure too much can easily ruin an image. And you’ll also have much more control over white balance, color, and tone.


Giphy Expands Beyond Messenger With Its New GIF-Sharing App – Giphy, the popular resource for finding and sharing GIFs, has rolled out a significant upgrade to its flagship mobile application today, which sees the app rebranded from an add-on utility for Facebook Messenger users, to a fully-featured, standalone app for finding and sharing GIFs across a number of channels, including social networks, text messages, Messenger, email and more.

Linksys launches new range extenders to terminate WiFi dead spots – Linksys has added a pair of new WiFi range extenders to its lineup of devices that includes the AC1200 Boost EX Range Extender RE6400 and the AC750 Boost Range Extender RE6300. Both of the devices are designed to expand your wireless network into areas of your home or office where signal strength is weak.


Five apps perfectly suited for a one-person IT shop – You’ve broken out on your own to start a one-person IT shop. To do this successfully, you’re going to need a bit of help to make the daily grind, well, a grind. Since you’re an “army of one,” you can’t hire support staff to keep you organized, get you paid, keep an inventory… etc. To keep from losing your mind (or your shirt), you’ll need a few apps to pick up the slack. Fortunately, there are plenty of good ones available to keep your efforts moving forward.

Microsoft to users: You’ll download Windows 10, and you’ll like it – Microsoft really wants people to get on the Windows 10 bandwagon, so much so that the company plans to start automatically downloading its new operating system to some users’ computers next year.

Everything you need to know about YouTube Red – Google’s well aware that YouTube is a video powerhouse of viral hits, music videos and unique shows you cannot find anywhere else. Hoping to capitalize on its unstoppable success, Google created YouTube Red, a new paid monthly subscription service with several perks that make your viewing experience better. Here’s what you should know before you sign up.


Three baseline IT security tips for small businesses – Millions of small businesses are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks that can cost an average of $20,000 per attack. Here is some basic wisdom to help SMBs protect themselves.

Free website hosting service 000webhost has suffered a data breach which has placed the service’s security practices under scrutiny – 000webhost is a free web hosting service which supports both PHP and MySQL, catering for millions of users worldwide. On Wednesday, the firm told users in a Facebook message that the company had suffered a databreach on its main server. A hacker used an exploit in an old, unpatched version of PHP to upload malicious files and gain access to the service’s systems. Not only was the full database containing the usernames, passwords and email addresses compromised, but this information has been dumped online.


Cryptowall ransomware revenue may flow to one group – Just one cybercriminal group may be collecting the revenue from Cryptowall 3.0, a malicious program that infects computers, encrypts files and demands a ransom, according to a new study.


Cryptowall 3.0, which encrypts files on a computer and demands a ransom, may have generated as much as $325 million for its developers. Credit: Cyber Threat Alliance study

Company News:

Zuckerberg visits India to boost Facebook numbers amidst hiccups – The social network has received fierce criticism for allegedly violating net neutrality, and if that isn’t bad enough, if media articles are to be believed, doesn’t seem to be attracting many takers either.

Apple asks Supreme Court to overturn decision in ebooks antitrust case – As reported by Reuters, Apple filed a petition with the court on Wednesday, arguing that the most recent appeal ruling against the company would “harm competition and the national economy.” In its most recent letter to the court, Apple suggested that its actions were not anticompetitive, writing that a decision was “exceedingly important to the United States economy as it concerns the rules that will govern disruptive entry by dynamic companies into new or stagnant markets.” Apple has been set to pay out $450 million if the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, or if the lower court’s decision is upheld. That would be the conclusion to a battle that’s been unfolding since 2013, when Apple was found guilty of the conspiracy.

LinkedIn Earnings Beat Expectations With $780M In Revenue, Stock Jumps 9% – LinkedIn handily beat analyst expectations today with revenue of $780 million and earnings of 78 cents per share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 45 cents per share on about $756 million in revenue. LinkedIn shares promptly spiked as much as 8% in extended trading. In total, the company’s revenue grew 37% year-over-year, up from around $568 million in the third quarter last year.

Still fuming over HTTPS mishap, Google makes Symantec an offer it can’t refuse – Google has given Symantec an offer it can’t refuse: give a thorough accounting of its ailing certificate authority process or risk having the world’s most popular browser—Chrome—issue scary warnings when end users visit HTTPS-protected websites that use Symantec credentials. The ultimatum, made in a blog post published Wednesday afternoon, came five weeks after Symantec fired an undisclosed number of employees caught issuing unauthorized transport layer security certificates. The mis-issued certificates made it possible for the holders to impersonate HTTPS-protected Google webpages.

PayPal reports solid Q3, $2.26 billion in revenue – Wall Street was looking for revenue of $2.27 billion. The slight miss caused PayPal’s stock to drop nearly seven percent after hours.

Sony Records $280M Profit In Q2 2015 But Its Smartphone Struggles Continue – Sony’s financial turnaround continues with its Q2 2015 period. The Japanese company posted a slim net profit of $280 million (33.6 billion JPY) on revenue of $15.8 billion (1,892.7 billion JPY). Operating profit came in at $733 million (88 billion JPY). The firm didn’t quite hit the highs of the previous three-month period, when it bagged an eight-year high $780 million operating profit on revenue of $14.5 billion, but Q2 2015 is a big jump on the $785 million loss suffered one year prior, when it wrote down $1.5 billion from its struggling mobile division. That said, revenue for Q2 2014 was around half a percent higher.

Samsung’s Q3 results are in, lets company breathe a bit – Samsung has just posted its financial numbers for the third quarter in a year and finally the Korean manufacturer has some room to breathe. But probably not for long. Even though the numbers are still small and still somewhat disappointing, consolidated revenues and operating profits have gone up, mostly thanks to its semiconductor and display panel businesses. The bad news, smartphone sales are still lower than hoped. The worse news, Samsung expects that the next quarter, nay the next year, will be even more difficult.

Games and Entertainment:

Google Play Games Now Lets You Record And Share Gameplay – Twitch? Who needs it. Today, Google Play Games announced a new feature which will let you record and share your gameplay moments with others. No, it’s not for streaming hours of footage, it’s more for when you want to share yourself beating a level or getting a high score. You can then pop it onto YouTube Gaming to get those views and make that revenues.

Here’s what the team had to say:

Today, we’re launching a new feature on the Google Play Games app that lets you easily record and share with others your own best gaming moments from your favorite mobile games.

It’s simple. In the Play Games app, select any game you want to play, then tap the record button. You can capture your gameplay in 720p or 480p, and choose to add video of yourself and commentary via your device’s front facing camera and microphone. When you’re done recording, you can quickly edit and upload your video to YouTube.

Valve resurrects Halloween modes for Team Fortress 2 – Valve might not be good at trilogies, but they love community events. This year marks the seventh Halloween event for Team Fortress 2, and they’re making it a doozy. Instead of making just one new game mode, they’ve decided to bring back all six previous Halloween modes. They’re not just slacking off by re-hashing old content, there will be some new stuff to enjoy, as well.


The 11 weirdest MMORPGs still online – The era of the massively multiplayer online game might be one of the strangest in PC gaming history. Some of the earliest online experiences were called “multi-user dungeons,” or MUDs, which allowed people to dial in to a server and explore a text-based world with other real people. That concept eventually mutated in 1997 with the release of Ultima Online, Richard Garriott’s transformation of his classic series into the MMORPG realm. A few others followed, but it was the release of World Of Warcraft in 2004 that really kicked the MMORPG craze into full swing. Blizzard managed to perfectly capture what millions of players wanted in an online world, and over multiple expansions it’s managed to dominate the market for over a decade in the face of some tough challenges.


Sony Provides Sneak Peek at Upcoming PS4 Game Lineup – Sony kicked off this year’s Paris Games Week with a slew of PlayStation 4 announcements. Eight trailers—and one gameplay walkthrough—highlighted upcoming releases, from the Battleborn open beta to the multiplayer Vector. A number of established franchises are getting a boost from new iterations, like the Gran Turismo Sport beta, expected to begin in the spring.


Gran Turismo Sport

Terrifying PC horror classic Outlast is getting a sequel – Spooky asylum hellhole Outlast is getting a sequel, developer Red Barrels announced today. There’s not much to the trailer, aside from a burning upside-down cross and a guy yelling scripture and/or pseudo-scripture about death, judgment, et cetera. Oh, and a release date of Fall, 2016. Check it out:


20 terrifying PC horror games to play with the lights off – Horror games are a dime a dozen. Good horror games—well, those are much rarer. We’ve rounded up some of the best horror games ever made, running the gamut from big-budget extravaganzas released this very year to… text adventures. I’m serious. Turn out the lights, put on some headphones, make sure you’ve got a spare pair of underwear nearby, and enjoy these spine-tinglers.

How to watch the World Series live online – Can’t get to a TV for the Fall Classic? Here are your options are for streaming the games online.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cord-cutter Confidential turns one: What a crazy year it’s been – One year ago today, I kicked off my weekly Cord Cutter Confidential column by declaring there’s never been a better time to cut the cord. I’m happy to say that since writing that first column, living cable-TV-free has only gotten easier. Those who ditch the bloated cable bundle now have more choices and better programming than they did a year ago, as TV networks and service providers realize they must start appealing to this rapidly-growing audience. Let’s look back at some of the highlights:


US govt drafts Google, Walmart, Amazon, BestBuy execs for drone registration system – The task force will help the FAA and DOT decide how to go about setting the new rules and procedures for registering private drones in the US. The registration will allow cops and Feds to track drones back to their owners when FAA rules are broken. The FAA said the task force will have until November 20 to decide what recommendations it should make on how to roll out drone registration. The group will gather to meet from November 3-5 to hash out the recommendations.

Students In India Held A Massive Celebration to Honor Bill Gates On His Birthday – Bill Gates, philanthropist and cofounder of Microsoft, turned 60 years old on Oct. 28. Gates is the wealthiest man in the world, and he along with his wife Melinda have put their fortunes towards starting numerous campaigns aimed at making the world a better place. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation runs various programs that seek to improve global health, eliminate poverty, and provide easier access to education among solving other issues impacting the world. In these photos, school children in Chennai, India honored Gates’ birthday by holding portraits of him during a celebration.


Sit? Stand? Nifty new workstation lets you lie down on the job – The debate over the health impact of working at a computer continues to rage. Standing desk fans insist that being on their feet is the way to go for health and productivity, but for many of the rest of us, standing up for hours on end looks like an awful lot of hard work. The science isn’t exactly clear-cut, either. California startup Altwork has what may be the solution with its first product: the Altwork Station. While adjustable sit/stand desks have been done before, the Altwork Station takes things to the next level: it’s an integrated workstation combining seat, desk, and monitor stand, and it’s all electrically controlled to support not just sitting and standing but also a supine position: you lie back with your monitor or monitors above you. The keyboard and mouse stay affixed to your desk through the magical power of magnets.


Watch a Soccer Player’s Punt Drop This Drone Out of the Sky – There are few things more satisfying for a shotgun-wielding technophobe than dropping drones out the sky. But rarely do you see a kill as dead-on as this one. That’s a ball kick from a Rosmini College soccer player in New Zealand that landed squarely on a passing DJI Phantom 3 drone. The quadcopter had been recording the match before being hit and spiralling down near the goalpost. It’s hard to tell just how high up the drone was when it got nailed. 75 feet? 100 feet? Either way, quite a shot.


Hudway Glass gives you augmented reality nav on your windshield – Typically, when we are using a navigation device we are using it on a device built into the dash of our car or via something stuck to the windshield. A new device is on Kickstarter called Hudway Glass that aims to make looking at those navigation cues easier and safer while we drive. The device turns your smartphone into a head up display and holds it safely on the dash of your car. The device is designed to eliminate any issues with doubling of the image, lack of reflection during the day, image size, and other issues.


Here’s How Airplane Wi-Fi Works – Nearly two-thirds of flights over the U.S. have on-board wi-fi these days, according to a survey by travel platform Routehappy. But how does in-flight Internet work, anyway? Watch the video to find out.


‘C By GE’ Smart Bulbs Change Color Depending on Time of Day – Does the glow of your home’s lights make it difficult to wind down at night? Maybe things too are too dim during the day? GE has some new connected bulbs that can serve up the best lighting based on the time of day, all from your smartphone. Unlike other smart lighting solutions, you don’t need a hub to operate C by GE bulbs; just fire up the smartphone, connect via Bluetooth, and select your desired setting. A $50 starter pack contains two C Life bulbs and two C Sleep bulbs, GE said, which should last 20 years.

Something to think about:

“Lying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego, and lessens the frictions of social contacts.”

–     Clare Booth Luce     (1903 – 1987)


SystemRescueCd – SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions.

It comes with a lot of linux software such as system tools (parted, partimage, fstools, …) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It can be used for both Linux and windows computers, and on desktops as well as servers.

This rescue system requires no installation as it can be booted from a CD/DVD drive or USB stick, but it can be installed on the hard disk if you wish. The kernel supports all important file systems (ext2/ext3/ext4, reiserfs, btrfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).


RAM Disk for Windows – SoftPerfect RAM Disk is a free high-performance RAM disk application that lets you have a disk on your computer entirely stored in its memory. As the memory is much faster than physical hard disks, storing temporary data on a fast in-memory disk achieves a higher performance. Whatever your job is, read on to find out what a RAM disk can offer you.

SoftPerfect RAM Disk creates a virtual disk residing in the computer RAM accessible in Windows Explorer and other applications, allowing you to store any temporary information on this disk. Furthermore, Windows can be configured to use the RAM disk for temporary files, so that the system and most applications would use the fast in-memory disk for their temporary data. As Windows and other third-party applications often create a large number of temporary files for a short time only, using a RAM disk will extend your hard disk’s life by sparing it from excessive reading and writing.

Modern computers are equipped with at least 1 GB of RAM, and most of the time there is a lot of unused memory that could be used as a high-performance alternative to the slower HDD storage. This product lets you create any number of virtual RAM disks limited only by the memory available. You can also work with on-disk images and RAM disks associated with an on-disk file, that ensures your data is preserved between sessions.

Key features of the RAM Disk:

Any number of RAM disks. In practice, up to 26 disks due to the number of drive letters available.

Any RAM disk size on 64-bit systems. Up to approximately 3.5 GB on 32-bit systems.

Persistent RAM disks with an associated on-disk image.

Volatile RAM disks whose content disappears on shutdown.

Built-in disk image manipulation tools.

Five very good reasons to use the RAM Disk:

Higher PC performance. Provided you have got a sufficient amount of RAM, using a fast in-memory disk for temporary data will boost the computer performance.

Reduced file system fragmentation. The file system on your hard disks will be far less fragmented as the temporary files will never be written to the hard disk.

Reduced wear-and-tear of the physical disk. Because the temporarily files are not written to the hard disk, there will be fewer read/write cycles, which is especially important for prolonging the life of Solid State Drives (SSD) often installed in laptops.

Less junk on the hard disk. Many software applications create temporary files that remain undeleted although no longer needed. The contents of RAM disks is cleared every time the computer is restarted or switched off, so the unneeded files won’t clutter your HDD.

Less noise and heat from the hard disk because the system will use the hard disk less intensively.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EU Parliament calls for charges against Snowden to be dropped – In a 285 to 281 vote, the European Parliament has called on member states to drop criminal charges against Edward Snowden, saying he is an “international human rights defender” who must be protected as a whistleblower. In a statement, the Parliament asked that countries “grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties.”

A very similar version of the vote was reportedly set to be tried last year, but ultimately could not be agreed on.

The vote came alongside a broader resolution passed by the Parliament, which gauged the responses from EU member countries following the Snowden leaks. According to the Parliament, not enough progress has been made to curb mass surveillance in the wake of the leaks.

The organization also cited concerns about new laws that have increased “surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies.” France passed a controversial surveillance law in April, and the UK and Netherlands were also named by the Parliament. The resolution also praised a ruling from earlier this month that invalidated Europe’s controversial data-sharing agreement with the United States.

Australia: Government accessed 820,000 customer records in 2014-15 – More than 820,000 customers had their account details revealed to law-enforcement, emergency services, and national security agencies by telecommunications providers during 2014-15, according to a report published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

In its 10th annual ACMA Communications Report 2014-15 [PDF], tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, the ACMA revealed that 824,841 customers had their details revealed by carriers and carriage service providers (CSPs) during the year under Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, with the majority of these for enforcing criminal law: 584,029 customer records were handed over for this purpose during 2014-15.

“Customer information provided by telecommunications carriers and CSPs to law-enforcement and national security agencies is protected under Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act,” the report says.

Petition calling for strong encryption will get White House response – The White House will respond to a call for strong encryption protections after a petition organized by activists received more than 100,000 signatures. The petition asks that the Obama administration endorse support for privacy and “[r]eject any law, policy, or mandate that would undermine our security.”

The petition, started by Access Now and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was based on the White House’s We The People platform. Today, the petition reached its goal of 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the threshold for a direct response from the White House. (It’s unclear when, exactly, that response will be made.)

The statement from the administration will come at a contentious moment in the political battle over cryptography. Law enforcement officials have been lobbying for “backdoor” access to tech companies’ products, with FBI director James Comey suggesting that encryption has become an unnecessary hurdle to law enforcement. But privacy activists argue that adding such systems necessarily makes it more likely that criminal hackers will break in.

EFF: We found 100+ license plate readers wide open on the Internet – Law enforcement agencies around the country have been all too eager to adopt mass surveillance technologies, but sometimes they have put little effort into ensuring the systems are secure and the sensitive data they collect on everyday people is protected.

Earlier this year, EFF learned that more than a hundred ALPR cameras were exposed online, often with totally open Web pages accessible by anyone with a browser. In five cases, we were able to track the cameras to their sources: St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Kenner Police in Louisiana; Hialeah Police Department in Florida; and the University of Southern California’s public safety department. These cases are very similar, but unrelated to, major vulnerabilities in Boston’s ALPR network uncovered in September by DigBoston and the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

After five months of engagement with these entities, we are releasing the results of our research and the actions these offices undertook in response to our warnings.

NSA can keep illegally spying on Americans into November – The NSA can continue its illegal spying on Americans for one final month after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that wanted it shut down immediately.

The New York Appeals Court declined to block the surveillance program, which is due to be overhauled by the end of November, because the US Congress had already approved a “transition period” for the spying system.

“That orderly transition requires that the government retain the tools it has been using to investigate threats of foreign terrorism until new tools may be put in place,” said Judge Gerard Lynch in his opinion [PDF].

“Congress has balanced privacy and national security by providing for a 180‐day transition period, a decision that it is uniquely suited to make. Congress’s decision to do so should be respected,” he argued, with the backing of the two other appeals judges.

Since that transition period is going to end next month, the court decided not to weigh in on the topic of whether the NSA program – in this case, the use of section 215 of the Patriot Act to store records of all phone calls in the United States – was constitutional or not.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – October 28, 2015

Security trumps privacy as Senate passes controversial cyber bill;  The Art of Data Wiping on Mobile Devices;  Ransomware victims: Just pay up, grin, and bear it – says the FBI;  The best bloatware: 14 pre-installed apps that actually come in handy;  Clean up your Droid’s act for free with the first-rate Droid Optimizer;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  How to Squeeze More Life From Your Aging Laptop;  How to hold Skype chats with people who aren’t Skype users;  Netflix: ‘Beasts of No Nation’ has millions of views;  Will your phone soon be free? DataWind announces $15 smartphone;  11 secrets you didn’t know about your new Surface Book;  15 spooky, scary Halloween games for your Android phone;  AIG will insure your drone against damage and liability;  15-year-old arrested in connection with TalkTalk hack;  Wireless Network Watcher free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Security trumps privacy as Senate passes controversial cyber bill – The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, known as CISA, could make it easier for the government to abuse citizens’ civil liberties, opponents say.

Clean up your Droid’s act for free with the first-rate Droid Optimizer – There are many apps that advertise to keep your Android device running fresh-out-of-the-box smooth. Some deliver, some don’t. Here’s what separates the good from the bad: a well thought-out interface, no intrusive ads, and maybe an extra feature or two. Droid Optimizer is at the top of my list of optimizers, because it has a very well thought-out interface, there are no ads, and it offers all the standard features. But does it work?


Image: Jack Wallen

The best bloatware: 14 pre-installed apps that actually come in handy – Bloatware. Usually it’s the annoying, pre-installed apps on your mobile device that take up precious space. But some bloatware out there isn’t that bad. Here are 14 pre-installed apps that you’ll be glad come already loaded onto your phone.

This free app helps eliminate the Live Photos you don’t want – iOS offers a way to remove the life from live photos, but on a photo-by-photo basis, making Lean an important tool for batch editing.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Windows 10, Microsoft’s back-to-basics re-embracing of the PC, is already brimming with handy new features, and with all the new goodies comes with a legion of new tweaks and tricks—some of which unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Others, though, simply let you mold some of Windows 10’s new features into the shape you see fit. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found. Be warned: Some of these may break as the operating system evolves, given Microsoft’s new “Windows as a service” mentality, though we plan to update this article over time.

Windows 10 shares your files with the internet… here’s how to turn it off – By default, a Windows 10 update will use your bandwidth to share files on your PC with other PCs.  This walk-through shows how to disable that feature–or tone it down a bit.


Image: Microsoft News

Windows 10 comes to the Xbox One 12th November – Let that sentence sink in for just a bit longer. Windows, an OS mostly associated with desktop and laptops, will be running on a gaming console. A few years ago, that concept might have been unthinkable. But with Microsoft’s push to put Windows 10 on every device it can get its mitts on, that is the reality facing Xbox One owners in little over two weeks. Xbox’s Phil Spencer announced that the major update will hit consoles starting November 12, bringing a revamped Windows 10 interface and much more.


How to Squeeze More Life From Your Aging Laptop – Looking to squeeze another year out of your aging portable? The common ailments below can be cured for $150 or less. And if you’re not sure what the trouble is, these sites can help diagnose the problem for free. Tech Support Guy lets you pose questions to volunteer tech experts; iFixit features repair guides that show how to take gadgets apart, upgrade them, and put them back together; and CCleaner is an app that speeds up your computer by getting rid of junky, unneeded programs.


Illustration by Peter Arkle

How to hold Skype chats with people who aren’t Skype users – Recently, Microsoft added a new feature to Skype that lets anyone join a conversation even if you aren’t a Skype user. Personally, I’d be hard pressed to find someone I know without a Skype account. Nevertheless, it’s a good feature to have ready just in case. The new Skype feature is available now for U.S. users, but you have to activate it first. There may be a more official way to get it working, but here’s how I did it. These instructions are for the Windows desktop version of Skype but will work similarly on Skype for the web.

InFocus Kangaroo nano PC is as small as a smartphone and costs just $99 – This guy spent $99 on that little box you see next to his left hand, but it’s not an external hard drive. It’s actually a Windows 10 PCmade by Infocus called the Kangaroo. What makes the Kangaroo stand out is its docking connector. For starters, InFocus is offering a single “base unit” that features two USB ports (one 3.0, one 2.0) and an HDMI port. It’s not much, but since the base unit has built-in Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac WiFi you won’t need to waste either on a keyboard, mouse, or network adapter — though you could always hook up a docking station if you decide you need the extra ports. There’s another unique piece of hardware on the Kangaroo: a fingerprint reader. For just $99, then, Infocus is offering you a Windows 10 PC that you can stuff into a pocket, comes with an Atom x5-Z8500 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and supports Windows Hello for secure, easy logins.


11 secrets you didn’t know about your new Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 – We’ll tell you about the buttons you might miss, the settings worth seeking out, and some other hidden tricks.

HTC Slashes The Price Of Its Action Camera – HTC cut the price of the Re camera to just $50 from $200, making it one of the least expensive action cameras on the market. It’s a capable little camera with decent image quality. Yet it’s hard to recommend even at this low price since its ecosystem of mounts and accessories pales in comparison that of GoPro or Sony. This price cuts comes as HTC is weathering a financial storm. The company is in trouble and is clearly grasping at straws. It’s unclear at this time if the Re’s price cut is a fire sale or an aggressive price cut to better compete in the crowded action camera market. Worth the money? You would be hard pressed to find a better camera for $50.


Will your phone soon be free? DataWind announces $15 smartphone – Could the era of the free smartphone be around the corner? Yesterday, Canadian-UK company DataWind announced a 999 rupee ($15) linux-based smartphone, to be launched in India towards the end of December. If the launch goes according to plan, customers will get a year’s worth of free internet along with the phone, which will use a Linux-based operating system. If you wanted proof that the phone industry is going to rapidly emulate the PC one in terms of becoming rapidly commoditised, you can’t get it better than this.

Here’s what Samsung’s giant 18-inch super tablet looks like – The latest rumored specs for the Galaxy View claim it will have an 18.4-inch screen, a 1080p display at 120 pixels per inch, a 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 SoC, 32GB of storage, stereo speakers, 2GB of RAM, a microSD slot that supports cards up to 128GB, and a 5,700 mAh battery. The View is expected to come in a Wi-Fi only model, as well as a 3G and LTE version. As for pricing, the Wi-Fi model could cost around $600 based on a recent leak.


A leaked image of the Galaxy View.

Stock Trading Was Expensive And Ugly. Robinhood’s App Makes It Free And Pretty – Robinhood steals stock trading from rich guys in suits and gives it to normal people who couldn’t afford to pay $7 per transaction. The zero-fee stock trading app is bonafide hit. Less than a year after launch it has hundreds of thousands of users, over $1 billion in transactions, $66 million in funding, and an Apple Design Award. In fact, it’s the first finance app to win that award.

US government says it’s now okay to jailbreak your tablet and smart TV – The US Library of Congress today issued a set of exemptions to an infamous provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), establishing a victory for consumers who like to tinker with devices without running afoul of copyright law. The exemptions were far-reaching, extending from movie and television files used in an educational context for criticism to installing third-party software — in other words jailbreaking — tablets and smart TVs.They will however only last for three years.

Europe Agrees EU-Wide Net Neutrality Rules And End To Mobile Roaming Fees – European politicians have agreed to end mobile roaming charges in the region by mid 2017, with significant cuts to fees by next summer. MEPs also voted to bring in EU-wide net neutrality rules — which will come into force from April 30, 2016. The latter issue has stirred up much controversy in the region, with critics attacking what they perceive to be big loopholes in the rules — and dubbing the legislation a threat to the open Internet. The vote took place in the European Parliament this afternoon, and was passed without amendments.

Twitter fails to nab new tweeters – Twitter and its new CEO Jack Dorsey still face plenty of challenges as they work to convince more people to spend time on the microblogging site.


15-year-old arrested in connection with TalkTalk hack – Last week, the UK telecom TalkTalk was hit with a cyberattack, and a short while later it revealed that a ransom had been made by an individual claiming to be behind the hack. The cyberattack was described as being “significant and sustained,” though later on it stated the attack wasn’t as bad as previously feared. Now a teenager has been arrested by law enforcement in Northern Ireland in connection to the cyberattack. According to Reuters, an unnamed 15-year-old boy was arrested on Monday in connection with the TalkTalk hack. According to a statement given by the Metropolitan Police, he was arrested “on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act offenses.” He is to be interviewed about the matter at the County Antrim police station.

Ransomware victims: Just pay up, grin, and bear it – says the FBI – Firms that fall victim to infection from file encrypting ransomware should simply pay the ransom, Joseph Bonavolonta, an assistant special agent with the FBI, told delegates to Boston’s Cyber Security Summit 2015, adding that developments such as CryptoWall are essentially unbreakable. “To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom,” Bonavolonta said, the Security Ledger reports. Bonavolonta comments sparked a heated debate on the topic within Spiceworks online community for IT pros forums. Options for those unlucky enough to get their systems infected with ransomware boil down to reverting to back up systems, contacting a security expert, or paying crooks. Of course paying crooks simply perpetuates the scam but in cases where the data can’t be recovered it may be only immediate option.

Unpatched browser weaknesses can be exploited to track millions of Web users – Over the past decade, there’s been a privacy arms race between unscrupulous website operators and browser makers. The former wield an ever-changing lineup of so-called zombie cookies that can’t be easily deleted and attacks that sniff thousands of previously visited sites, while browser makers aim to prevent such privacy invasions by closing the design weaknesses that make them possible. Almost as soon as one hole is closed, hackers find a new one. Over the weekend, a researcher demonstrated two unpatched weaknesses that Web masters can exploit to track millions of people who visit their sites. Taken together, the attacks allow websites to compile a list of previously visited domains, even when users have flushed their browsing history, and to tag visitors with a tracking cookie that will persist even after users have deleted all normal cookies.


What’s Patch Tuesday? – We’re two weeks out from Patch Tuesday. Chances are, an IT admin and/or CISO spent the day battening down the hatches while his staff furiously tested and rolled out patches. Chances are also that by this time, only two weeks later, the patches are wearing thin and the system is vulnerable. While the monthly patching system has served as a reliable security fix for years, cyber criminals are finding ways to penetrate the system, exploiting vulnerabilities in a matter of days, if not hours. Since this month is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we thought we’d share some of the problems we’ve discovered with patches.


The Art of Data Wiping on Mobile Devices – Electronics sellers, especially of handheld computing devices, must exercise vigilance in removing their personal files before putting them in the online market. We can show you how.

Company News:

China is becoming Apple’s most important market – Apple may bring in the bulk of its revenue in The Americas, but China — now Apple’s second largest market — is quickly turning into its most crucial one. Apple has just released its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015, and revenue from China has grown to $12.5 billion, up from $5.7 billion year-over-year, a 99 percent jump. After not including China in the initial launch countries for the iPhone 6 last year, Apple managed to ship the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus on day one, and the results were immediately clear. Apple sold 13 million iPhones on its opening weekend, beating the record 10 million iPhones sold a year earlier.

Apple’s Q4 2015: iPads are still the only dark spot in a $51.5B quarter – Apple broke quarterly records, with $11.1 billion in profit and $51.5 billion in revenue, compared to $8.5 billion in profit and $42.1 billion in revenue in Q4 of 2014. Its gross margin was 39.9 percent. These results beat Apple’s guidance for the quarter, which predicted revenue between $49 billion and $51 billion and profit margins between 38.5 and 39.5 percent. The company predicts that it will make between $75.5 and 77.5 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, with profit margins between 39 and 40 percent.

Huawei ships 27 million smartphones in Q3 – Chinese hardware manufacturer Huawei has announced its results for the third quarter of 2015, with its Consumer Business Group reporting total shipments of 27.4 million smartphones for the three months to September 30, a jump of 63 percent year on year. The company attributed its rise in smartphone shipments to increased interest in mid- and high-end devices, which accounted for 33 percent of total shipments — an increase of seven percentage points quarter on quarter.

Alibaba Beats Expectations As Revenue Increases 32% To $3.5B In Q2 2015 – Alibaba’s latest Q2 2015 earnings have dropped and the company, which was expected to have a difficult quarter, has beaten expectations with $3.488 billion in revenue and adjusted earnings per share of $0.57. The Chinese firm said revenue increased 32 percent year-on-year to beat analyst expectations of $3.39 billion, as polled by the Wall Street Journal. Beyond revenue and EPS, GMV (gross merchant volume) is an important indicator for Alibaba as it represents total sales out across its marketplace and other e-commerce services. The company warned of a slowdown last month, but it logged a decent 28 percent year-on-year increase to reach $112 billion in GMV during the quarter.

Cisco Beefs Up Security, Buys Lancope For $453M – As HP downsizes its own holdings in network security, another IT giant is ramping up: today Cisco announced that it would acquire Lancope, which focuses on behavior analytics, threat visibility and security intelligence to detect malicious activity on corporate networks. Cisco is paying $452.5 million in a cash and equity deal, with the Lancope team becoming part of the Cisco Security Business Group.

Apple Pay is expanding to Australia and Canada with American Express – Apple today announced an expansion of its mobile payments service Apple Pay in two new countries, Australia and Canada, for owners of American Express cards. CEO Tim Cook broke the news on Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings call today, saying the company wanted to bring Apply Pay to more “key global markets.” Apply Pay, which lets users make payments either online or in-store using iPhones and iPads with a fingerprint sensor, has been available in the US since its launch in October 2014. The service was extended to UK users in July of this year, and Apple is now increasing the speed of the rollout. Following Australia and Canada, American Express plans to bring Apple Pay to card owners in Spain, Hong Kong, and Singapore starting in 2016.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix: ‘Beasts of No Nation’ has millions of views – Beasts of No Nation is an important movie for Netflix — it is the company’s first official foray into theatrical feature films, and though it stumbled with its limited theatrical release, the film itself has done very well on the streaming service. According to Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, the movie has been streamed more than three million times already. That’s a particularly impressive figure in that Beasts of No Nation premiered on October 16.


Just Cause 3: an apolitical game about destroying a dictatorship – Just Cause is arguably the prototypical destruction game series. It’s a sandbox in which “chaos” is an actual, quantifiable value, accrued by protagonist and professional revolutionary Rico Rodriguez. It’s a shooter where your target is not other human beings, but the entire national infrastructures of totalitarian regimes. The ideal mission ends with walls, oil tanks, and guard towers crashing down in a fiery chain reaction, while Rico floats away using his limitless reserve of parachutes. So Just Cause 3, a new installment coming out in December, is going to be judged mainly by one metric: how well it can keep the explosions coming.


Sony teases PS1/PS2 backwards compatibility in PS4 customer survey – Microsoft’s big Windows 10 update for the Xbox One is just around the corner. This will bring a host of new features to the console, including backwards-compatibility with 360 games. While Xbox One owners are excited, people are wondering what Sony has in the works for their flagship console. Sony isn’t sitting by quietly though. It seems that they’ve got some plans in the works.


The 11 best trailers from PlayStation’s Paris Games Week showcase – Sony made quite a big deal out of its press conference for Paris Games Week. In addition to announcing a release date for No Man’s Sky and spending ample time on its PlayStation VR (née Project Morpheus) headset, the company showed off dozens of new trailers for upcoming games. Here are some of our favorites.


Horizon Zero Dawn

15 spooky, scary Halloween games for your Android phone – Looking for scares you can take anywhere? Grab these games and get ready.

Off Topic (Sort of):

AIG will insure your drone against damage and liability – AIG is one of the largest insurance companies in the world that writes polices to insure all manner of things for individuals and business. The company has announced that it has a new insurance product aimed directly at people who operate drones. The new product is insurance that will protect you from the financial loss associated with a damaged drone or damaging persons or property while operating your drone.


Drone carrying drugs, hacksaw blades crashes in Oklahoma prison – A drone carrying drugs, a cell phone, hacksaw blades and other contraband was discovered crashed in an Oklahoma prison yard on Monday morning. Officers patrolling the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester noticed the drone lying upside down inside prison grounds at about 9 a.m. having apparently crashed after hitting razor wire that guarded the facility.

Dad who shot ‘snooping vid drone’ out of the sky is cleared of charges – A father who shot down a drone that was hovering over his family home in Kentucky has been cleared of all charges. Dad-of-two William Merideth thought the quadcopter was spying on his daughters in their yard in Hillview, and blasted the gizmo out of the sky with a shotgun. That earned him the title “Drone Slayer” from pro-privacy quarters. Merideth was arrested shortly after in July, and charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. He appeared before the Bullitt County District Court on Monday this week, and after a two and a half hour hearing, Judge Rebecca Ward dismissed the case against him. “I was in my right to protect my family and my property,” said Merideth. The judge agreed, telling the court: “He had a right to shoot at this drone.”

Ditch The Faux Hoverboard And Commute With Gi FlyBike, A Foldable Electric Bike – Forget electric skateboards and faux hoverboards. One startup is trying to convince commuters to stick to the good old-fashioned bicycle. Meet the Gi FlyBike, a folding electric bike that can travel up to 40 miles on one charge. The bike, which is now available on Kickstarter, will also be for sale on Amazon Exclusives, the e-commerce company’s online store featuring “up-and-coming brands.” Started by three friends from Argentina, Gi FlyBike was conceived after a public transportation strike left the entire country without transportation. So how does an electric bike work? While riders still pedal, they are assisted by an electric engine that will propel them to a maximum speed of 15 mph. The motor also works on hills and rough terrain, meaning riders aren’t limited to the street.

The Futility of Modern Fears – From an evolutionary perspective, our fear instincts make a lot of sense. They’re a method of threat detection, allowing us to identify and react to the poisonous snakes and the hungry bears and the dozens of other death-mongers that surrounded humans when we lived outdoors. But in our cozy modern-day lives, fear sometimes seems to do more harm than good. Instead of living a glorious, post-fear existence in the comfort of our sheltered lives, needless fears plague us. Meanwhile more useful fears—like being frightened of texting and driving—refuse to take root. What role does fear have in a world where we’re usually pretty safe? And why, exactly, are we still so afraid?

Mystery space junk will reach Earth next Friday the 13th – A small payload of mysterious space junk is hurtling toward Earth, and it’ll be arriving on the most apropos of days: Friday the 13th (of November). What is the junk composed of? That’s not entirely known, but it does have a name: WT1190F, which, of course, looks like everyone’s favorite text exclamation. That’s purely coincidental, according to the researchers, as is its arrival date.


A Big Change Is Coming to Elevators, And It Matters More Than You Think – Think back to the last time you were in a lobby jam. You know, that pileup of people all waiting for an elevator. Someone has already hit the “Up” button. But as the seconds pass, they seem like minutes, then hours. Another person steps forward and jams their thumb into the already-lit button ten more times. As if that actually does anything. Soon enough, that move of frustration mixed with desperation may accomplish something. But it’s not what you think.

September 2015 sets new ‘hottest month’ record – The planet is getting warmer, and no amount of arguing is changing that fact. Enter 2015, a year full of record-breaking months, not the least of which is September. According to the latest NOAA report, September followed the trend set by February, March, May, June, July and August before it, and is now officially the hottest among all Septembers to have ever been recorded. That’s not the only significant part of the news; September also saw the largest rise above average for any month ever recorded over the last 100+ years.

Facebook teaches employees empathy with throttled Internet – When consistently using high-speed Internet services, it can be easy to forget just how terrible truly slow Internet speeds are. Facebook has been targeting emerging markets, and has released apps for those markets that use very little data. Still, to help its employees properly sympathize with the Internet experience had in rural India, the social network has introduced “2G Tuesdays”, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Something to think about:

“Trust me, you can dance”

–   Vodka


Wireless Network Watcher – Wireless Network Watcher is a small utility that scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network.

For every computer or device that is connected to your network, the following information is displayed: IP address, MAC address, the company that manufactured the network card, and optionally the computer name.

You can also export the connected devices list into html/xml/csv/text file, or copy the list to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other spreadsheet application.

System Requirements And Limitations:

This utility works on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

This utility can only scan a wireless network that you’re currently connected to. It cannot scan other wireless networks.

In rare cases, it’s possible that Wireless Network Watcher won’t detect the correct wireless network adapter, and then you should go to ‘Advanced Options’ window (F9), and manually choose the correct network adapter.

Although this utility is officially designed for wireless networks, you can also use it to scan a small wired network.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Discarding Democracy: A Return to the Iron Fist – In a year marked by an explosion of terrorist violence, autocrats’ use of more brutal tactics, and Russia’s invasion and annexation of a neighboring country’s territory, the state of freedom in 2014 worsened significantly in nearly every part of the world.

For the ninth consecutive year, Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual report on the condition of global political rights and civil liberties, showed an overall decline. Indeed, acceptance of democracy as the world’s dominant form of government—and of an international system built on democratic ideals—is under greater threat than at any point in the last 25 years.

Even after such a long period of mounting pressure on democracy, developments in 2014 were exceptionally grim. The report’s findings show that nearly twice as many countries suffered declines as registered gains, 61 to 33, with the number of gains hitting its lowest point since the nine-year erosion began.

This pattern held true across geographical regions, with more declines than gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Eurasia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and an even split in Asia-Pacific. Syria, a dictatorship mired in civil war and ethnic division and facing uncontrolled terrorism, received the lowest Freedom in the World country score in over a decade.

The lack of democratic gains around the world was conspicuous. The one notable exception was Tunisia, which became the first Arab country to achieve the status of Free since Lebanon was gripped by civil war 40 years ago.

By contrast, a troubling number of large, economically powerful, or regionally influential countries moved backward: Russia, Venezuela, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Nigeria, Kenya, and Azerbaijan. Hungary, a European Union member state, also saw a sharp slide in its democratic standards as part of a process that began in 2010.


Senate passes controversial CISA cybersecurity bill – In a 74 to 21 vote, the Senate has voted to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, a bill that privacy advocates have long argued will quietly give the government invasive spying powers. The House has already passed similar legislation, and the two versions will now enter a conference committee, to be reconciled before being sent to President Obama.

A series of amendments for the bill were introduced Tuesday that would have altered some of the most controversial parts, but those were ultimately voted down.

“This vote will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of Internet our children and our children’s children will have, but what sort of world they will live in,” Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group, said in a statement.

Under the bill, companies would be encouraged to silently share “security” information with the Department of Homeland Security and, ultimately, other government agencies. But civil rights groups and tech companies have argued that the terms of such agreements are vague, and give broad leeway for companies to share information with the feds without accountability.


California Supreme Court should force cops to give up LPR data, case argues – Two civil liberties groups filed their opening brief with the California Supreme Court late Monday, forcefully arguing that the millions of automated license plate reader records gathered automatically by police throughout the Golden State are not records of investigation.

If the court agrees, such data could be released to anyone as part of the state’s public records process. Such a decision would represent a sea change in how automated license plate reader (ALPR, or LPR) data is shared with and scrutinized by the public.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California originally brought their case against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in an attempt to obtain one week’s worth of all LPR data. When the agencies refused, the organizations filed suit and lost at both the local and appellate levels.

The lower courts found that the LPR data can be withheld as it does constitute an investigatory file. But the EFF and the ACLU argue:

The Court of Appeal is incorrect: the vast data collection possible with ALPRs is fundamentally different from license plate checks by human officers, and that difference cannot be ignored. Human officers cannot possibly check as many plates per minute as an ALPR system, let alone check the license plate of every car that passes on the streets of Los Angeles. For this reason, an officer manually checking license plates must choose one vehicle to check over others—even if just on the basis of mere suspicion or a hunch. But because ALPRs lack these human limitations, they can collect, check, and store data on every plate that comes into view. ALPRs are untargeted, indiscriminate and comprehensive in a way that human officers can never be. When this Court addressed the investigatory records exemption in Williams and Haynie, it could not have contemplated an application of § 6254(f) that would cover such a vast collection of data.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 26, 2015

How to Avoid Having Your Posts Show Up in Facebook’s New Public Search;  How Much Data Tracking Is Acceptable in the Car?  The 59 Best Productivity Apps for 2015;  When Facebook Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself;  Amazon’s $50 Fire tablet reviewed: Surprisingly, it doesn’t suck;  10 Linux GUI tools for sysadmins;  11 times you should not be posting to Instagram;  Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast;  Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature;  Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget;  Tech’s dirtiest little secret: Sometimes we agree to go backward;  Here’s How to Make Your Facebook App Stop Draining Your iPhone Battery;  Halo 5: Guardians Review: A Mediocre Story With Terrific Multiplayer;  UK Internet provider TalkTalk hit by ‘significant, sustained cyberattack’;  The 13 movie-streaming sites you probably don’t know about;  10 amazing microscopic GIFs;  FCC to turn the tables, publish telemarketers’ numbers.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Avoid Having Your Posts Show Up in Facebook’s New Public Search (There’s even a way to undo your past public transgressions) – Facebook is making all of the public posts on the social network easily searchable. The idea is to make it easier for people to follow conversations unfolding in real time, like on Twitter. But, luckily for those who don’t want to have their every thought be a contribution to the public town square, there’s an out. Just follow these steps:

How Much Data Tracking Is Acceptable in the Car? – We know—and mostly accept—that the trade-off for being constantly connected via computers and portable devices is that we’re also constantly being tracked by search engines, social media, and marketers. While there are ways to avoid such tracking, it’s a time-consuming chore for consumers to stay vigilant and keep up with the persistent changes to the privacy policies of websites and apps. As a result, most consumers see protecting online privacy as a mild annoyance and never do much, if anything, about it. But somehow people feel much more sensitive about being tracked when it comes to their cars, even when there’s a financial incentive.

The 59 Best Productivity Apps for 2015 – With the right productivity apps and services at your fingertips, you can increase your efficiency and get more done. People seem obsessed with productivity these days, but few actually think about what it is or what it means. To me, “productivity” is highly personal, but ultimately, it’s about achieving goals. It’s about making the most of your time so that you have time and energy left over to do more.

Your PC stuck in Windows 10 “reschedule or upgrade now” limbo? Here’s a fix – The fix comes in the form on an update to a third-party utility called GWX Control Panel, an excellent utility that has previously allowed users to opt out of and avoid the nags to upgrade to Windows 10.

Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget – What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck? That single, simple sentence cuts to the core of what people on the hunt for a new graphics card are looking for: The most oomph they can afford. Sure, graphics cards are complicated pieces of modern technology, powered by billions of transistors and countless other types of intricate hardware, but people just want to crank the detail settings on Far Cry and just plain play. Answering the question can be a bit trickier than it seems. Raw performance is a big part of it, but factors like noise, the driver experience, and supplemental software all play a role in determining which graphics card to buy, too.


PCWorld’s graphics card testing rig.

When Facebook Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself – Every time you log in to Facebook, every time you click on your News Feed, every time you Like a photo, every time you send anything via Messenger, you add another data point to the galaxy they already have regarding you and your behavior. That, in turn, is a tiny, insignificant dot within their vast universe of information about their billion-plus users. It is probable that Facebook boasts the broadest, deepest, and most comprehensive dataset of human information, interests, and activity ever collected. (Only the NSA knows for sure.) Google probably has more raw data, between Android and searches–but the data they collect is (mostly) much less personal. Of all the Stacks, I think it’s fair to say, Facebook almost certainly knows you best.


CloudReady has a Chrome OS platform ready for your non-chromebook hardware – If you’re looking to get Chrome OS on non-chromebook hardware, Neverware has just the solution for you. Jack Wallen shows you how to get this exciting, Linux-based, operating system up and running.


Back in the world of Chrome OS, only running on standard hardware –  Image: Jack Wallen

10 Linux GUI tools for sysadmins – If you’re a system administrator, it’s reached a point where Linux has become a must-know. This is especially true when you’re working in a larger environment. Many organizations have migrated from Windows, where everything is managed with a point-and-click GUI. Fortunately, Linux has plenty of GUI tools that can help you avoid the command line (although every serious sysadmin should become familiar with the commands). What are some good GUI tools that can simplify your Linux sysadmin tasks? Let’s take a look at 10 of them.

11 times you should not be posting to Instagram – A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. We were catching up, when our food came. It looked delicious. I picked up my fork to dig in, when my friend reached out her arm to stop me. “No!” She practically yelled in my ear. “First, let me Instagram it!” Excuse me? I was so shocked that I just stared at her as she took 48 photos from different angles before lowering her arm and oh-so-generously allowing me to partake in my now slightly-cold meal.


When you’re driving

Twitter Moments, now with a side dish of advertisements – Twitter introduced a new feature call “Moments” on October 6, and now, less than a month later, the service has announced that it will be adding advertisements to Moments. They’ll be called “Promoted Moments”, and they’ll kick off starting tomorrow with ads for the movie Creed. These Promoted Moments are akin to Promoted Tweets, and are the latest way by which Twitter is looking to get advertisers on board with its platform.

Amazon’s $50 Fire tablet reviewed: Surprisingly, it doesn’t suck – Amazon’s new Fire tablet is, remarkably, even cheaper than the competition, and sacrifices little despite its low price. At £50 ($50) it’s one of the cheapest tablets you can buy from a big-brand manufacturer, and it’s perfectly capable and pleasant to use. Oh sure, it’s not exactly what you’d call a looker, the low resolution display is merely adequate, and you won’t be able to run all of your favourite Android apps without a little work thanks to Fire OS, Amazon’s forked version of Android that lacks the Play Store. But if you end up with one of these in your Christmas stocking—and I expect that’s where a lot of these will end up—you should thank Santa, rather than curse him for not bringing you a PS4.


Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast – Of course we had to pit the Surface Book vs. the MacBook Pro. It’s like Ford vs. Chevy, or Coke vs. Pepsi. Each side has its diehard fans, plus others who just want to know which is better. Microsoft claims its new Surface Book is “twice” as fast as its equivalent MacBook Pro. Well, we ran some benchmarks, and hate to say it, but Microsoft lied. The Surface Book isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast. Read on for the details.

BlackBerry’s first Android phone ships November 6th for $699 – The device is being sold in the US, UK, and Canada, with pricing at $699, £559, and CA$899, respectively. In the US and Canada, the device starts shipping November 6th, and in the UK the Priv will ship “starting the week of November 9.” The Priv has a 5.43-inch 1440p AMOLED display with curved edges on the left and right of the screen. Internally, there’s a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a non-removable (and massive) 3410mAh battery. There’s also an 18MP rear camera with OIS and phase detect auto focus, and a 2MP front camera. For a carrier, it looks like you’ll need a GSM provider as Blackberry says the device is “Not compatible on Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular.”


Facebook At Work Signs Up Its Biggest Business Yet: 100,000 Workers At The Royal Bank Of Scotland – After months of pilots, Facebook today is announcing its biggest customer yet: the Royal Bank of Scotland, which plans to have 30,000 workers on its FB@Work network by March of next year, and its entire workforce of 100,000 using the platform by the end of 2016. The deal signals a new phase for Facebook at Work. It demonstrates Facebook’s ambitions to scale this B2B service just as it has its consumer product (which now has 1.5 billion monthly active users on desktop, 1.3 billion on mobile). And it demonstrates how enterprises are taking Facebook’s effort seriously.


Tech’s dirtiest little secret: Sometimes we agree to go backward – The technology world talks incessantly about progress, but even with some of the best products we sacrifice great features in the name of progress. Here’s why, and some big examples.

Here’s How to Make Your Facebook App Stop Draining Your iPhone Battery – Facebook has released an update to the iOS version of its app that should make the social network less of a battery hog. Earlier this month various users pointed out that Facebook’s app was consuming considerably more battery power than most other popular apps, even when it wasn’t actually being used more. The fixed version of the app is available in the App Store now.


12 new malware strains discovered each minute – G DATA researchers discovered a 64.8 percent spike of new malware strains as compared to the first half of 2014. This averages out to 12 new strains per minute. In all, the total number of malware strains this year is expected to be well above the level of 2014, with the U.S., China and France hosting the most malicious and fraudulent websites.


Microsoft doesn’t see Windows 10’s mandatory data collection as a privacy risk – In the run-up to the launch of Windows 10 earlier this year, users noticed that Microsoft’s operating system would be collecting more data on them by default than it had in the past, including information about their location and what they’re typing, and sending it off to Microsoft. Understandably, some folks were concerned about the privacy implications of such a move, especially given disclosures around government surveillance, and the fact that Microsoft previously hadn’t built this kind of data collection into its operating system. Those concerns weren’t helped by Microsoft, which was slow to clarify exactly what it takes from users and how to disable much of that collection.

UK Internet provider TalkTalk hit by ‘significant, sustained cyberattack’ – UK phone and broadband provider TalkTalk may have once again left its customers exposed to hackers. TalkTalk warned its 4 million customers on Thursday that attackers could have gained access to their names, addresses, credit card and bank details, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and TalkTalk account information. This is the latest chapter in an increasingly familiar story of an sophisticated attacks on companies ranging from Target to Home Depot and Carphone Warehouse. For TalkTalk, it’s the second hack in the past 12 months, following an incident last December. Even when customers aren’t directly affected, they could see costs increase because the severity of attacks can drive up the cost of cybertheft insurance.

Joomla patches serious SQLi flaw – Joomla, a popular content management system, released patches on Thursday for a vulnerability that can allow an attacker to get full administrative access to a website. Joomla versions 3.2 through 3.4.4 are vulnerable, and the latest version is 3.4.5. The SQL injection flaw was found by Asaf Orphani, a researcher with Trustwave’s SpiderLabs, and Netanel Rubin of PerimeterX. SQL injection flaws occur when a backend database executes a malicious query when it shouldn’t. The type of vulnerability is one of the most prevalent ones within web applications.

Valuing A Data Breach Victim – In the relentless world of public breach reporting, there’s a fixation on the number of accounts affected; the higher the number, the larger the impact. But from a victim’s perspective, does it make a difference if your information was included in a breach alongside 10,000 or 50,000,000 others? From a criminal ecosystem perspective, the number of victims per successful breach is largely irrelevant. Apart from the original hackers, where obtaining a million records is more efficient than just a thousand and, consequently, where basic multipliers are at play, the rest of the cybercrime world is oriented toward timeliness and completeness of the stolen data.

Company News:

Bing finally shows a profit – Microsoft said Thursday in its fiscal first quarter earnings call that Bing had achieved profitability. Search contributed more than $1 billion to Microsoft’s first quarter that ended September 30, said Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood. More interestingly, nearly 20 percent of Microsoft’s search revenue in September was driven by Windows 10 devices, executives said. By building Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant powered by Bing, directly into Windows 10, Microsoft is automatically increasing the number of Bing searches.

Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature – We should have probably seen this coming a mile away, especially considering how people love suing Apple for almost every consumer misstep it makes. The latest class action suit filed against it by William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips on behalf of all other disgruntled iPhone and iPad users relates to the new Wi-Fi Assist feature added and enabled by default on iOS 9. The feature, which silently uses cellular data when Wi-Fi quality is poor, has allegedly caused the plaintiffs more than $5 million in data charges.

Judge: Pintrips Doesn’t Infringe Pinterest Trademarks – A pin, is a pin, is a pin, right? The company Pintrips, which runs a little Web and mobile app that allows you to save flights from travel sites by “pinning” the ones you’re most interested in to a (digital) personal trip board, certainly hopes so. It was sued by Pinterest, the much larger pin-themed social network, back in 2013 for alleged misuse of Pinterest’s trademark. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, however, ruled in Pintrips’s favor for every issue Pinterest raised. According to him, the act of “pinning” is a pretty universal action anyone can undertake—Pinterest doesn’t own, and can’t own, the concept of pinning one thing to another.

Pandora Loses More Than A Third Of Its Value As It Battles Apple Music For Listeners – Shares of online radio service Pandora tanked about 36 percent on Friday. The sharp decline comes after the company reported a loss of almost $86 million yesterday. The call was the company’s first report on earnings after the June 30 launch of Apple Music, and Friday’s dive shows investors were not pleased with how the Oakland, California, company stacked up against the fledgling streaming service. Pandora’s loss comes as Apple says its music service has gained 6.5 million paid subscribers, and 8.3 million people are still using the free three-month trial.

Toshiba to sell image sensor operations to Sony: Reports – Toshiba is reportedly preparing to sell its image sensor operations to Sony in a deal estimated at around $165 million. The move would mark Toshiba’s effective withdrawal from producing image sensors used for smartphones and other devices, Kyodo News said. The step comes as the Japanese engineering conglomerate attempts to restructure itself after a damaging billion-dollar accounting scandal. The reported deal, estimated around 20 billion yen, could include sales of production facilities in southern Japan and lay-offs of thousands of workers, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. The move could give Sony a firmer position as global leader in image sensors used in smartphones and other camera-equipped electronics, the Nikkei business daily said. Sony is used as a supplier for image sensors in Apple iPhones.

Games and Entertainment:

Halo 5: Guardians Review: A Mediocre Story With Terrific Multiplayer – The games—mostly first-person shooters staged in the 26th century that star a super-soldier battling theocratic aliens—have sold north of 65 million copies. Altogether that makes Halo Microsoft’s second-bestselling video gaming franchise, just shy of phenom Minecraft, which it purchased last November. Halo 5 is also the first new installment for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, which arrived in tandem with Sony’s PlayStation 4 two years ago, but hasn’t kept pace. The game’s forever-visored paragon, the Master Chief, is basically Microsoft’s Mario, and Microsoft needs a win.


Microsoft sets sights on gamers with low-end Surface Book – This new version of the most basic Surface Book laptop, spotted Thursday by TechRadar, adds a separate Nvidia GeForce graphics chip rather than relying on graphics tech integrated directly into the model’s Intel Core i5 processor. Separate graphics chips cost extra but help endow video games with lavish landscapes and snappy performance. Until now, the GeForce option was available only on higher-end Surface Book models. This low-end, gamer-friendly Surface Book, which includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, costs $1,699 (£1,100 or AU$2,350). That’s $200 more than the same model without the GeForce chip.

Xbox beta app for Windows 10 gains new social features – On Friday, Microsoft announced a handful of new features for the beta app, including some bolstered social sharing tools. Highlights include a new Facebook friend finder feature that looks through your Facebook friends for any with Xbox Live accounts and lets you add them as  Xbox Live friends. The idea here is to make it easier to find people to play with. All you have to do is go to the app’s settings and link your Facebook account with your Xbox Live account.


Assassin’s Creed Syndicate review: Something old, something new – There’s no denying that Victorian London is a popular video game locale. In fact, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is just the latest of multiple titles set in the period that were released in this year alone. It’s fitting that Syndicate explores such well-worn territory, as many of its gameplay mechanics are borrowed from other games or previous entries in Ubisoft’s flagship series. But while it’s hard to shake the feeling of having seen it all before—of having played it before—the lack of innovation in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is easily forgiven when you’re having so much fun.


The 13 movie-streaming sites you probably don’t know about – Netflix has now become its own verb (we netflixed that last night), and everyone knows about Amazon and Vudu. Even Hulu has become a force to be reckoned with. But those are not the only options for streaming movies and other content. We searched the web for other services that show everything from mainstream releases to off-the-wall material, sometimes without costing a penny. Note: You’ll encounter dozens of shady-but-free sites on the web offering large collections of movies (including films that are still in theaters). The services listed here are all legitimate and legal.

Brave Enough to Watch These 14 Blood Curdling Streams!? – Here are 14 terrifying films you can stream to your TV or device and which will scar your soul for life! (Some picks for wimps too!)


19 questions you might be asking after seeing ‘Steve Jobs’ – You’ve just seen “Steve Jobs”, the new movie about the life and times of Apple’s divisive co-founder. The filmmakers have said the movie is a “painting, rather than a photograph”. So, how much is real and how much is made up? The movie is based on Walter Isaacson’s in-depth Jobs biography and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s meetings with key figures in Jobs’ life. Despite depicting many real people and events, the movie plays fast and loose with the details. Here are answers to some questions you might be left with after watching “Steve Jobs”.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Keep up with the latest in drones: 9 Twitter accounts to follow – As drones become part of business, a host of questions have emerged about where and how they can be used and regulated. Follow these nine Twitter accounts for the latest in drone news.


Photos By Drones –  Image: Twitter

Fallout Beer may be the strangest Fallout 4 tie-in yet – Bethesda has teamed up with Carlsberg UK to create a “light coloured pilsner lager, with a refreshing zesty hoppy taste and a floral aroma.” With so many names to choose from, we can only wonder how they came up with “Fallout Beer” for this Wasteland tie-in product. The beer in Fallout was called “Gamma Gulp” for a couple of games, which would have been a nice throwback. But I guess it’s better than just calling it “beer” as they have in the last couple of games.


A brief history of Popcorn Time, the piracy service everyone’s watching – Most of us think of Netflix when we think of streaming movies and TV shows, but over the past year and a half, a competitor has emerged: one that’s almost as easy to use, doesn’t charge a thing, and — you guessed it — steals everything it streams. That new service is called Popcorn Time, and it’s become known as the “Netflix for pirates.” What’s going on behind the scenes, however, is a lot more complex, not to mention illegal in much of the world. To get all of those movies, Popcorn Time reaches out to groups of people sharing films and TV shows over torrent networks. It then begins to download the video you want to stream and at the same time shares that video with other people. This means when you click play, you’re both downloading pirated content and sharing it with others.


This 11-year-old is selling cryptographically secure passwords for $2 each – We now live in a world where a New York City sixth grader is making money selling strong passwords. Earlier this month, Mira Modi, 11, began a small business at, where she generates six-word Diceware passphrases by hand. Diceware is a well-known decades-old system for coming up with passwords. It involves rolling actual six-sided dice as a way to generate truly random numbers that are matched to a long list of English words. Those words are then combined into a non-sensical string (“ample banal bias delta gist latex”) that exhibits true randomness and is therefore difficult to crack. The trick, though, is that these passphrases prove relatively easy for humans to memorize.


10 amazing microscopic GIFs – No matter how good your eyesight is, you’re missing a lot as you scan the world. There are invisibly small things that can be both fascinating and disturbing, but you can also get a different perspective on the expected and mundane elements of life. So here are 10 GIFs of the world at high magnification.


Face mite – Bad news, everyone. You have face mites.

FCC to turn the tables, publish telemarketers’ numbers – Telemarketers and robocallers aren’t as big of a problem as they used to be, but they’re still around, and they’re still managing to call just as you sit down for dinner. The FCC has served on the front lines in the battle against them, and now it is planning to turn the tables, so to speak, and put telemarketers on the defense. The Commission has revealed plans to publish such spammers’ phone numbers, making it easy to blacklist them. In a report published on Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission revealed it will publish weekly data on telemarketers and robocallers derived via complaints from the public. Among the data will be the number with which the spammer or unsolicited company calls, with the idea being that developers and others can use the data for aiding consumers in blacklisting the numbers.

Prison phone companies fight for right to charge inmates $14 a minute – The Federal Communications Commission is about to face another lawsuit, this time over a vote to cap the prices prisoners pay for phone calls. Yesterday’s vote came after complaints that inmate-calling companies are overcharging prisoners, their families, and attorneys. Saying the price of calls sometimes hits $14 per minute, the FCC has now capped rates at 11¢ per minute. Those are the kinds of prices that the two major inmate calling companies, Global Tel*Link (GTL) and Securus Technologies, want to keep charging. Both vowed to take the FCC to court over the decision.

Something to think about:

“Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions.”

–     Evan Esar     (1899 – 1995), Esar’s Comic Dictionary


Stellarium – Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.



default catalogue of over 600,000 stars

extra catalogues with more than 210 million stars

asterisms and illustrations of the constellations

constellations for 20+ different cultures

images of nebulae (full Messier catalogue)

realistic Milky Way

very realistic atmosphere, sunrise and sunset

the planets and their satellites


a powerful zoom

time control

multilingual interface

fisheye projection for planetarium domes

spheric mirror projection for your own low-cost dome

all new graphical interface and extensive keyboard control

telescope control


equatorial and azimuthal grids

star twinkling

shooting stars

eclipse simulation

supernovae simulation

skinnable landscapes, now with spheric panorama projection


plugin system adding artifical satellites, ocular simulation, telescope configuration and more

ability to add new solar system objects from online resources…

add your own deep sky objects, landscapes, constellation images, scripts…


OpenedFilesView v1.61 – View opened/locked files in your system (sharing violation issues) – OpenedFilesView displays the list of all opened files on your system. For each opened file, additional information is displayed: handle value, read/write/delete access, file position, the process that opened the file, and more…

Optionally, you can also close one or more opened files, or close the process that opened these files.

This utility is especially useful if you try to delete/move/open a file and you get one of the following error messages:

Cannot delete [filename]: There has been a sharing violation. The source or destination file may be in use.

Cannot delete [filename]: It is being used by another person or program. Close any programs that might be using the file and try again.

When you get one of these error messages, OpenedFilesView will show you which process lock your file. Closing the right process will solve this problem. optionally, you can also release the file by closing the handle from OpenedFilesView utility. However, be aware that after closing a file in this way, the program that opened the file may become unstable, and even crash.

System Requirements: This utility works properly on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003/2008, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. On 64-bit systems, you have to use the 64-bit version of OpenedFilesView. Older versions of Windows (NT/9x/ME) are not supported. Also, you must have administrative privilege in order to run this utility.

Known Issue: If you try to run the 64-bit verion of this tool directly from a zip file, you may get the following error message:

The application was unable to start correctly (0xc000007b). Click OK to close the application.

In order to solve this issue, you have to manually extract the content of the zip file into a folder, and then run it from there.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA dodges another lawsuit because nobody can prove agency is spying on them – Plaintiffs are having trouble taking down the NSA in court for a simple reason: they can’t prove that the spy agency’s wide-reaching surveillance programs actually targeted them. Judges in several courts — including the Supreme Court — have repeatedly ruled that it is not enough to assume that these programs were highly likely to have caught a certain organization’s data in its dragnet.

The latest case to fall victim to this line of reasoning is a case brought forward by the ACLU, Wikimedia, The Nation, Amnesty International, and a few other organizations. In a court’s ruling, US District Judge TS Ellis III writes that the “plaintiffs’ argument is unpersuasive, as the statistical analysis on which the argument rests is incomplete and riddled with assumptions.” He continues on to note that, without the proper context, it’s unclear whether or not Wikipedia is large enough to have come under the NSA’s policies — despite the fact that it’s one of the largest sites on the internet.

The judge ultimately decided that the case rested on “the subjective fear of surveillance,” noting that the plaintiffs “have not alleged facts that plausibly establish that the NSA is using Upstream surveillance to copy all or substantially all communications passing through those chokepoints.” He added, “In this regard, plaintiffs can only speculate.” Since the 2013 Supreme Court case Clapper v. Amnesty International sided with the NSA on just those same grounds in a 5–4 decision, the US District Court also decided to follow that precedent and dismissed the case.

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