Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 18, 2015

Encryption is not the enemy: A 21st century response to terror;  Why the CIA wanting encryption backdoors is a failure of leadership, not intelligence;  The Best Free Password Managers for 2015;  Benchmark your hardware with one of these five apps;  5 new Windows 10 features worth looking into;  Vizio slapped with two class-action lawsuits over alleged smart-TV spying;  When will your phone get Android Marshmallow?  These Are the Gadgets Everybody Wants This Holiday;  Inside Windows 10’s November update: 3 tips to get started;  Black Friday 2015 tech guide: The best deals so far;  Turn any HDTV Into a Chrome PC for Only $90;  Tumblr’s app can now turn your photos and videos into GIFs;  Google just completely revamped Google+;  NBC streaming service SeeSo to launch free public beta;  This Is the Best Selling Video Game of 2015;  10 Games Every Xbox One Player Needs;  Tor Is Trying to Make Dark Web Sites More Secure.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Encryption is not the enemy: A 21st century response to terror – Whenever terrorists strike, governments respond. It is in the quality and wisdom of those responses that the future of our society rests. David Gewirtz looks at the question of encryption, and how we should think about policy and security in light of the Paris attacks.

Why the CIA wanting encryption backdoors is a failure of leadership, not intelligence – Analysis: The question shouldn’t be if encryption should have backdoors, but why intelligence agencies have begun shifting the blame onto those who push for privacy.

The Best Free Password Managers for 2015 – Remembering strong, unique passwords for every website you visit is too hard to do on your own. Fortunately, there are plenty of free password managers that can help.


Microsoft updates Privacy Statement, addressing concerns from critics – Windows 10 isn’t the only Redmond-based product that got a big update in the past few weeks. Microsoft recently revised its global Privacy Statement, with a few minor changes and some significant additions aimed at cooling overheated privacy concerns. Here are the details.

When will your phone get Android Marshmallow? Here’s what we know so far – Android Marshmallow is here! Well, sort of. You see, Android updates are a tricky affair. Unless you have a Nexus device, where you get the updates directly from Google, it’s a bit of a slog before you can actually get the latest Android operating system on your phone. That’s because there’s a process. Here’s what we know at this point about when your phone or tablet will get Android Marshmallow. We’ll update our list as the carriers or handset makers detail their plans.

Inside Windows 10’s November update: 3 tips to get started – Microsoft’s November update is rolling out now. Here are three tips to help take advantage of the switch and watch out for one minor annoyance.

Pointing up   Upgraded both Win 10 Pro and Win 10 Home yesterday – a very smooth experience on both machines. No issues at all.

5 new Windows 10 features worth looking into – Microsoft has just rolled out the biggest update to Windows 10 for PCs yet. Considering its new practice of flowing updates as they come, it might almost be unusual for Microsoft to dump such a huge update and yet here it is. Of course, this is more than just a maintenance release and if you’ve been following news and hints for the past months, you will most likely be familiar with some of the changes. But in case you’re only jumping in now, here are some of the five most noteworthy changes to your Windows 10 experience.

Benchmark your hardware with one of these five apps – Whether you want to play the latest first person shooter game or perform some hard core data analytics, having the right hardware can make all the difference in the world. That’s where system benchmarking comes into play. Benchmarking allows you to quantify your PC’s performance to make sure it’s up to the task at hand. This article discusses five benchmarking tools.


Passmark PerformanceTest sells for $27.00, but a free trial version is available for download.

These Are the Gadgets Everybody Wants This Holiday – According to research from the Consumer Technology Association, 65% of Americans are planning on buying tech gifts this year, with one in three holiday shoppers scooping up cutting edge devices like drones or smart home gear. So, what should you be on the lookout for while you do your shopping? Here are some of the most popular items that people will hunting down this year.

Turn any HDTV Into a Chrome PC for Only $90 – The Asus Chromebit is no bigger than a flash drive and can turn any HDMI-equipped HDTV or monitor into an all-in-one desktop PC.


Google Voice Search Gets Smarter, Now Understands Complex Questions And Their Meaning – If voice-based assistants are to become the primary way we interact with our devices now and in the future, then Google has just upped the ante in the battle between its own voice search functionality and that of rival mobile assistants like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. While Google’s app has historically done a better job at understanding its users and answering queries accurately, the company says today that its app has now gotten better at actually understanding the meaning behind users’ questions, as well. That is, the app has been improved so that it better understands natural language and more complex questions.

Black Friday 2015 tech guide: The best deals so far – What are the best gadgets and tech on sale leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday? ZDNet finds out. [This guide will be updated as new deals appear]


Google Photos can now delete pictures to save space on your phone – After an update to Google Photos on Android today, a new button will appear in its settings tab offering to help “Free Up Space.” Tapping it will delete all local photos that have already been backed up by the app. A similar option has appeared in the past for people who back up photos at full resolution, but Google is now building it into the settings menu for everyone to use. On some Android phones, Google Photos will also be able to delete copies stored on SD cards. With Photos being the default Android gallery app for many, this update really should make it easier to start clearing up space. The feature is coming “soon” to iOS.

Tumblr’s app can now turn your photos and videos into GIFs – The next time you go to post a photo on Tumblr, you may find a bunch of GIFs ready and waiting to be posted instead. Tumblr is updating its iOS app today with a new feature that lets it turn photo bursts and videos into GIFs. It works really well, automatically detecting GIFable moments in your camera roll and presenting them right alongside your other images, nearly ready to post. If you have a long video or burst, Tumblr will ask you to trim the GIF down to about three seconds. You can also choose to speed up or slow down a GIF and whether you want it to restart over and over again or if it should play back and forth endlessly, hiding the cut.

Google just completely revamped Google+ – Google’s update to Google+ includes a redesigned home stream that keeps main controls atop and below the moving river of content. Material Design cues can be seen throughout this complete aesthetic change-up, making the app more spectacularly simple, visually, and in turn making the app faster. The new look for Google+ will be released simultaneously this afternoon on desktop machines (via the web), Android, and iOS devices – iPhones and iPads. The version you’re seeing today is a preview, so you’ll be able to switch to and fro between the new and the old if you do so wish.


How to enlarge display text in Windows – You can easily enlarge the text on your screen by switching to a smaller resolution…but I don’t recommend it. You’ll lose all of the advantages of high-definition (and likely get a soft-focus visual effect), and you won’t be able to put as many windows on your screen. You’d be better off changing the settings in Windows that control the size of your text and other objects, such as icons and the taskbar. Here are instructions for Windows 7, 8, and 10.

12 travel-friendly tech gifts you’ll want to take with you – The travel-friendly tech in this gift guide can save your favorite frequent flier some stress on their next trip. Whether it’s a clip-on camera accessory or a great organizer, it’s all worth taking with you.

Apple Pay Arrives in Canada, Australia This Week – The Cupertino tech giant on Tuesday launched Apple Pay in Canada, but just for American Express customers.


Vizio slapped with two class-action lawsuits over alleged smart-TV spying – Vizio, the company best known for its bang-for-buck TVs, is these days in the news for all the wrong reasons owing to some truly troubling data collection practices. And it doesn’t seem as if the controversy is going to blow over in a jiffy. On the contrary, as first reported by Consumer Reports, it has boiled over into court. While that site only referred to a single lawsuit in its report, turns out the company is facing two different class action complaints.

Disable this feature to stop your Vizio smart TV from spying on you – Vizio is the latest TV maker to come under fire for tracking the viewing habits of its customers. A feature that is turned on by default on more than 10 million Vizio smart TVs can track what you’re watching and then share the data with advertisers. This is similar to programs we have seen in the past from Samsung and LG. While you could disconnect your TV from the Internet to prevent this, it’s not the best solution. You likely bought a smart TV to use built-in apps like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video. Disconnecting the TV from the Internet would mean that you could no longer use a majority of the smart functions. You can, however, manually disable the data collecting feature. Here’s how:

Tor Is Trying to Make Dark Web Sites More Secure – Tor users were reminded about the importance of dark web security recently with news that a university had unmasked both the servers and users of some hidden services—sites that hide their location using the Tor network—and provided that information to the FBI. Tor has since patched the vulnerability that the attackers took advantage of, but there are still concerns with some aspects of its security. With that in mind, the Tor Project is making several security improvements to the infrastructure that allows dark web sites to remain hidden.

Blackhole exploit kit makes a surprising encore appearance – The Blackhole exploit kit has made a surprising reappearance two years after cybercriminals stopped using it, according to security vendor Malwarebytes. About four years ago, the source code for Blackhole was leaked, which led to more cybercriminals using it. But exploit kits require quite a bit of ongoing maintenance, and fresh exploits for new vulnerabilities need to be integrated to maintain high infection rates. For some reason, whoever decided to start using Blackhole recently made a large error and left the server that hosted the exploit kit’s infrastructure open on the Internet, which allowed Malwarebytes to take a look.


Don’t fall for drone registration scams, warns FAA – The Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t revealed its plans for drone registration yet, but that hasn’t stopped at least one company from trying to make a buck from confusion about the rules.

Microsoft touts new, holistic approach to enterprise security – Microsoft combines the attack protection, detection and response features built into Windows 10, Office 365, Azure and the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite to help enterprises improve their operational security posture.

How Cisco is trying to keep NSA spies out of its gear – Cisco’s suppliers have stronger security requirements, and customers will soon be able to inspect products before buying.

Millions of sensitive records exposed by mobile apps leaking back-end credentials – Thousands of mobile applications, including popular ones, implement cloud-based, back-end services in a way that lets anyone access millions of sensitive records created by users, according to a recent study. The analysis was performed by researchers from the Technical University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology in Darmstadt, Germany, and the results were presented Friday at the Black Hat Europe security conference in Amsterdam. It targeted applications that use Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) frameworks from providers like Facebook-owned Parse, CloudMine or Amazon Web Services.

ISIS calls Anonymous ‘idiots,’ offers tips to elude hackers – In a message circulated via encrypted messaging app Telegram, an account allegedly linked to ISIS called Anonymous “idiots” and offered tips to avoid being hacked by the group. The message, which was posted in English and Arabic, was forwarded to multiple ISIS-affiliated Telegram channels, according to Business Insider. In its warning message, ISIS gave supporters a handful of tips to avoid being hacked by Anonymous. The group warned against opening links from untrusted sources and talking to unknown people on Telegram. Supporters were also told to avoid direct messages on Twitter. The message also said supporters should use a VPN, or virtual private network, which can create a secure “tunnel” for Web browsing, so all data sent to and from a browser is encrypted.

Company News:

Microsoft Invests In Affordable Internet Access With Launch Of New Fund – Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to bring affordable Internet access to underserved parts of the globe with the launch of a new fund that will invest in companies that are solving problems associated with bringing the Internet to the 4 billion people worldwide who are still disconnected. The fund will aid in entrepreneurial efforts focused on last-mile access technologies, cloud-based services and applications, new payment mechanisms, and other innovative business models that help get people online.

Pandora To Buy Rdio Assets For $75M In Cash, Rdio Files Ch.11, Will Shutter Service – That was fast: just as soon as it was reported that Pandora was in talks to buy Rdio, the two sides have confirmed that an acquisition is indeed taking place. Pandora has acquired “key assets” from Rdio for $75 million in cash, the company has just announced. But as part of it, the Rdio service as we know it is tanking: the streaming service is filing for bankruptcy.

India’s largest technology incubator ‘T-Hub’ launched – The PPP project aims to assist 800 Indian start-ups, with the first phase offering seed funding, working space, mentorship, and opportunities to network in one place.

Home Services Marketplace Angie’s List Rejects IAC’s $512M Acquisition Offer – Well, it looks like it might be a while yet before you swipe right to find your next bricklayer or painter. Angie’s List, a marketplace for independent contractors, has formally rejected an offer from IAC, owner of Tinder, to buy the business for $512 million. The offer, originally made earlier this month, was for IAC to buy the company at $8.75 per share. Angie’s List trades on the NASDAQ exchange.

Citrix to spin off GoTo, focus on enterprise, cut 1,000 jobs – Citrix outlined its moves to focus on its core business and simplify. The GoTo business, which has about $600 million in trailing 12-month revenue, will become an independent entity.

Nuance tops Q4 targets on revenue of $513 million – Nuance released its fourth quarter and fiscal 2015 earnings report Monday after the bell. The voice recognition software giant posted a net loss of $11 million, or four cents per share (statement). Wall Street was expecting earnings of 35 cents per share on revenue of $508 million. Nuance also acknowledged that it lost $9.2 million of revenue due to “accounting treatment in conjunction with acquisitions.” For fiscal 2015, the company reported net income of $411.6 million, or $1.27 per diluted share, compared to $360.1 million, or $1.12 per diluted share, for fiscal 2014. Nuance also narrowed its GAAP net loss to $115 million, compared to $150.3 million the year prior.

NY Attorney General Adds Yahoo To FanDuel & DraftKings Investigation, Preliminary Hearing Next Week – While DraftKings and FanDuel await their day in court next Wednesday, the NY Times has reported that Eric T. Schneiderman, NY’s Attorney General, has decided to include Yahoo in his investigation into the daily fantasy sports. While Yahoo has avoided the flashy prime-time ads that are now common in the industry, the site actually added daily fantasy sports to its fantasy offerings in July, and since then has become the third largest DFS provider after FanDuel and DraftKings.

Games and Entertainment:

This Is the Best Selling Video Game of 2015: It earned over $750 million in 24 hours – Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is no longer the biggest entertainment launch of 2015. Bethesda’s Fallout 4 sold 12 million copies and generated over $750 million in its first 24 hours at retail on Nov. 10. Those numbers obliterate the over $550 million in 72 hours that Activision-owned developer Treyarch earned with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.


NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 returns with new $200 price – NVIDIA’s Shield Tablet is back, refreshed post-recall and sweetened with a $100 price cut over the original model. The Android slate was already one of the cheaper ways to get a performance tablet, but now NVIDIA has trimmed both the range and the specifications to a single unit at $199, dubbed the Shield Tablet K1.


NBC streaming service SeeSo to launch free public beta – NBC is preparing to launch SeeSo, its own streaming video service with a focus on comedy TV shows and movies, no ads, and priced at just $4 a month. Basically like a mini Netflix or Hulu service that only offers one specific genre of entertainment. In order to let viewers try out SeeSo, and in turn test the demand for the service, NBC has said it’s launching a one-month free trial in the form of a public beta.

10 Games Every Xbox One Player Needs – The Xbox One games that you’ll find in this list are titles that will let you: engage in hyper-violent combat; race fast cars down beautiful, winding roads; hop inside mechanical behemoths; solve murders; and more. Microsoft’s console has a little something for nearly every type of gamer. If you’re ready to discover what the PCMag staff considers the best Xbox One games, click through the slideshow. You can watch video clips of the games in action, and read our pithy words regarding what makes each title one that’s worth owning.

Xbox One now supports button remapping for standard controllers too – Last week, the Xbox One was treated to a big new software update that not only introduced backwards compatibility with over 100 Xbox 360 games, but also improved the console’s dashboard interface, making it easier to navigate. Even better, however, is that the update introduced a feature that, until now, was exclusive to Microsoft’s new Xbox One Elite controller: total button remapping. This customization option allows users to swap button functions, like switching the X and B buttons, or A with the left trigger, for example, and is now available on the console’s standard controller.


Green Man Gaming under fire for potentially unauthorized sales – In this day and age, when you want the best deal, you don’t need to drive around to multiple stores to check their prices. You just hop online, browse your favorite sites, and in a few minutes, you’ve found the lowest price. Sure, there’s a chance that you’ll stumble onto a site that you’ve never heard of, but as long as you stick to the big names, you won’t have any trouble getting your order filled. However, what happens when one of the big sites starts showing signs of questionable practices.

Off Topic (Sort of):

More than a billion PCs are over three years old, and there’s little reason to replace them – There are over a billion PCs in use today that are more than three years old (according to Intel, I’ve not personally counted them, but I assume they have their finger on the pulse), and around half of those it is claimed are four to five years old. While that sounds like a massive opportunity for the OEMs to cash in on an upgrade wave, the truth is that there’s little reason for people to spend the money to replace a working PC. There’s a dirty little secret that PC makers don’t want you to know, and it’s this – take a middle-of-the-road PC from three years ago and put it next to a brand new middle-of-the-road PC and you’ll be hard-pressed to see any difference.

Anonymous just might make all the difference in attacking ISIS – Anonymous’ key message on Twitter is: “Make no mistake: #Anonymous is at war with #Daesh. We won’t stop opposing #IslamicState. We’re also better hackers.” That last sentence is key. What Anonymous is talking about is a cyberwar against ISIS, one that is not restricted by any of the laws that could hamper a cyberattack undertaken by U.S., French or Russian governments. And, to Anonymous’ credit, they are indeed better hackers. This could be very effective. While governments bomb and soldiers attack on the ground, it’s essential that ISIS’ recruitment and funding be killed. If DDoS and other shutdown tactics make social media useless to the terror group, it will find it far more difficult to fund terror and recruit replacements. Let’s take a look at Anonymous’ prospects for weakening ISIS in these areas.

Thales shows watch app for plainclothes cops at French security show – French defense contractor Thales Communications & Security wants to take the smart watch back to its “Dick Tracy” origins with an app for plainclothes cops and security services.


Grow your own insects at home, then eat them to live – Bugs may very well be the future of food and Livin Farms wants to help you grow your own. The Desktop Edible Insect Hive is a device with a small footprint designed to allow you to raise your own food. However, this food would be mealworms — rich in protein and a sustainable source of food, but mealworms. “Insects give us the opportunity to grow on small spaces, with few resources,” Katharina Unger, the founder of Livin Farms, said in an interview with Fast Co. “With their benefits, insects are one part of the solution to make currently inefficient industrial-scale production of meat obsolete.” This device provides one possible solution to the growing problems surrounding factory farming, which is responsible for around 9 percent of emissions. But until lab-grown meat goes to mass market, insects are a viable option.


Australian Police Are Actively Trying to Arrest Motorized Picnic Table Riders – Australia is known for being pretty chill, as a nation. It’s an outdoorsy, laid-back kind of place. So this group of mates cruising around Perth on two motorized picnic tables is peak Aussie. The Western Australia Police posted a short clip on Facebook of the nine offenders motoring their creations down an alarmingly busy road, and said they are seeking the men for “failure to wear proper protective clothing,” but that they could also be charged with driving an unlicensed vehicle and drunk driving, the last of which is a little preemptive.


A Gift Guide For The Cyclists You Care About – Does someone you care about bike to work even as winter sets in, with all of the associated cold and damp? Upgrade their commute with some great digital technology and plain cool hardware. Show the bike enthusiast or commuter in your life that you really do care – both that they get places in style but also that they do it safely. From turn signals to light-up jackets, make sure that your gift recipients are the coolest and safest bikers on the road. We hope that you’ll bike safe and follow traffic rules. Please remember that as great as smart devices are, they are not a replacement for good common sense and situational awareness.

DJI is updating its drones so they won’t fly in restricted airspace – By default, starting in December, users of DJI-brand drones will not be able to enter into, or take off from, areas like prisons or power plants. The company says the system — called Geospatial Environment Online, and powered by a company called AirMap — will also be constantly updated with new information on restrictions, which will prevent drones from entering zones with shifting security needs, like stadium events or wildfire areas. DJI will be letting people bypass the system if they so choose, but only on one condition: users must have a verified account with the company, including a credit card, debit card, or phone number, although the system will be free. The company says users will not allow the system to be turned off in certain areas with national security concerns, such as Washington, DC.


This Subreddit Captures That Awkward Moment People Realize They’re on Camera – All of us are probably guilty of a photobomb or two, but some of us take this art to the next level. This subreddit captures that really awkward moment that people realize they’ve been caught on live TV. The gif that started it all features a policeman brusquely strolling toward the camera, realizing he’s live on air and freezing like a rabbit caught in the headlights before crab walking out of the frame:

Do IT pros work too much? Survey says ‘Yes’ – More than 600 IT pros made their collective voice heard in a new survey conducted by Spiceworks. You’re working longer hours and there’s no end in sight. The people who work the longest hours won’t surprise you.

Coffee drinking linked to lower mortality risk—again – In a fresh-brewed study involving more than 200,000 people, researchers found that drinking coffee—regular or decaf—is associated with an overall lower risk of mortality. Drinking between three and five cups a day perked up survival rates the most, lowering the risk of premature death by up to 15 percent compared to coffee abstinence, researchers reported Monday in Circulation. Though the study reveals only a correlation—not a potential cause for the life-upper—it follows decades of studies that found specific and general health benefits of coffee drinking, particularly lower risks of cardiovascular disease, liver diseases, diabetes, and overall mortality. Plus, the study’s large size helps parse other health factors, particularly smoking, that may conceal coffee’s protective effects.

Something to think about:

“Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.”

–       Josh Billings


Windows 10 Threshold 2 – Still waiting for Windows 10 or need to clean install or make a backup copy? You can create your own Windows 10 installation media using either a USB flash drive or a DVD with this download.

This installer will download Windows which is actually about 4 GB.

Before you begin install make sure you have:

Sufficient data storage available on a computer, USB or external drive for the download.

A blank USB or DVD (and DVD burner) with at least 4 GB of space if you want to create media. We recommend using a blank USB or blank DVD, because any content on it will be deleted.

If you will be installing Windows 10 for the first time, you will need your Windows product key.

Editor’s Note: While Microsoft offers a 32 bit and 64 bit download, both will let you choose Home or Pro editions as well as 32 or 64 bit. Be sure to select your language as English is NOT the default. Downloading it and burning it only to see it’s Croatian is a bummer (or so I am told) .

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Encryption Is Being Scapegoated To Mask The Failures Of Mass Surveillance – Well that took no time at all. Intelligence agencies rolled right into the horror and fury in the immediate wake of the latest co-ordinated terror attacks in the French capital on Friday, to launch their latest co-ordinated assault on strong encryption — and on the tech companies creating secure comms services — seeking to scapegoat end-to-end encryption as the enabling layer for extremists to perpetrate mass murder.

There’s no doubt they were waiting for just such an ‘opportune moment’ to redouble their attacks on encryption after recent attempts to lobby for encryption-perforating legislation foundered. (A strategy confirmed by a leaked email sent by the intelligence community’s top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, this August — and subsequently obtained by the Washington Post — in which he anticipated that a “very hostile legislative environment… could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement”. Et voila Paris… )

Speaking to CBS News the weekend in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said: “I think this is going to open an entire new debate about security versus privacy.”

“We, in many respects, have gone blind as a result of the commercialization and the selling of these devices that cannot be accessed either by the manufacturer or, more importantly, by us in law enforcement, even equipped with search warrants and judicial authority,” added New York City police commissioner, William J. Bratton, quoted by the NYT in a lengthy article probing the “possible” role of encrypted messaging apps in the Paris attacks.

Congressman: To stop ISIS, let’s shut down websites and social media – US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) has a plan to stop terrorists: shut down websites, including social media networks.

Barton today asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler if the commission can shut down websites used by ISIS and other terrorist groups. Barton didn’t name any specific sites but said that “we need to do something” because of the terrorist attack in Paris.

“ISIS and the terrorist networks can’t beat us militarily, but they are really trying to use the Internet and all of the social media to try to intimidate and beat us psychologically,” Barton said. Addressing Wheeler during an FCC oversight hearing held by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Barton continued:

Isn’t there something we can do under existing law to shut those Internet sites down, and I know they pop up like weeds, but once they do pop up, shut them down and then turn those Internet addresses over to the appropriate law enforcement agencies to try to track them down? I would think that even in an open society, when there is a clear threat, they’ve declared war against us, our way of life, they’ve threatened to attack this very city our capital is in, that we could do something about the Internet and social media side of the equation.

Wheeler answered, “I’m not sure that our authority extends to picking and choosing among websites, but I do think there are specific things that we can do,” with Barton interrupting to ask, “Do we need on a bipartisan basis to give additional authority to shut sites down?”

Brandis warns of even less privacy for Australians – Islamic State has declared war and made life harder for liberal democracies, and as a consequence, Australians will have to accept further limitations on their privacy, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said on Wednesday morning.

Asked if Australia was at war, Senator Brandis told the Nine Network: “Absolutely. ISIL have declared war on us.”

“We would be fools not to take them at their word and to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our civilisation,” he said.

Senator Brandis said Australians may have to “calibrate their attitudes” on privacy.

“There will be occasions in which we will have to accept greater limitations, greater impediments to personal privacy,” he told the Seven Network.

Under Brandis’ tenure as Attorney-General, Australia passed legislation that mandated the collection and storage of call records, assigned IP addresses, location information, billing information, and other customer data stored for two years for warrantless access by law enforcement.

Pointing up    Time for Australia to put the boots to these bastards!


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – November 16, 2015

How to delete anything from Facebook;  Google, Verizon, and Sprint are Offering Free Calls and Texts to France;  The best non-Instagram photo editing apps;  Google wants to add ‘not encrypted’ warnings to Gmail;  New Chrome exploit threatens Android with complete control hack;  How to securely wipe an Android smartphone or tablet;  The best hidden features in Windows 10’s major update;  Windows 10 disk images let users skip wait for November upgrade;  Snapchat Now Sells Selfie Lenses For $1;  YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Gaming, YouTube Kids: What’s the difference?  Walmart’s $10 Smartphone Has Better Specs Than the Original iPhone;  Five Windows 10 privacy settings that have been falsely vilified;  BitLocker encryption can be defeated with trivial Windows authentication bypass;  Gmail Android App Bug Lets You Send Emails Pretending To Be Someone Else;  Badware in the firmware all over the place;  Watch This Guy Explain Bitcoin to Judge Judy;  Video: Repairing stuff with adhesives.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google, Verizon, and Sprint are Offering Free Calls and Texts to France – A number of brands have royally bungled their responses to disasters, but every so often a company does solidarity right. This is the case with Google and a handful of other telecommunications companies such as Verizon and Sprint, which are all offering free international calling and/or text messaging to France so that families can check in on loved ones in the aftermath of the terror attacks that claimed over 120 lives in the French capital. Google’s timely response was particularly commendable, with the organization tweeting just a few hours after the initial attacks that they had made calls to France on Hangouts and Project Fi free for the duration.

How to delete anything from Facebook – I like to periodically go through my Facebook account and delete everything that’s older than a couple of years. The reason — I just don’t think it’s necessary to keep a running record of the stupid stuff I say in passing on social media, and it seems like more of a liability than a tool I’ll one day use to reminisce. In performing these purges, I’ve found that Facebook makes it (unnecessarily) complicated to find and delete older data from your profile. So here’s a handy guide on how to delete everything from Facebook.

How to securely wipe an Android smartphone or tablet – Getting rid of your current Android smartphone or tablet, but want to make sure that all your data has been securely deleted. Here’s what you need to know.

4 ways to save a web page on an iPhone or Android phone – Instead of bookmarking a URL that might disappear tomorrow, try saving a web page—permanently—to your Android or iOS handset.

Five to Try: YouTube Music and Apple Music put their own unique spin on the streaming formula – Music launches lead the week, but there are other Android app releases worth exploring too.

10 apps that already support awesome Android 6.0 Marshmallow features – Android 6.0 Marshmallow is just starting to show up in the world, but some developers are already busy adding support for the neat stuff in Google’s latest release. Some important Marshmallow features like granular permissions and Google Now On Tap just work without developer action, but that’s not the case for everything. Here are 10 apps that are already updated to take advantage of Marshmallow’s coolest features.

Windows 10 disk images let users skip wait for November upgrade – Microsoft this week posted links to disk image files in .iso format for Windows 10’s first upgrade, giving users a way to install the latest version of the OS without waiting for the company to push the code via Windows Update. With a disk image, users can create installation media — such as a flash drive or DVD — for one-off or multiple-device migrations to Windows 10, or to reinstall the operating system over a corrupted copy. The .iso files — which for the English edition were sized at 2.8GB for the 32-bit version, 3.7GB for the 64-bit version — can also be used to boost Windows 10 from July’s original RTM (release to manufacturing) to November’s 1511, the in-OS label Microsoft has applied using its new yymm release dating identifier.

The best hidden features in Windows 10’s major update – Microsoft’s first major Windows 10 update debuted yesterday with some new features and changes. Most of the additions are obvious, but there are a few hidden away. Here are several Windows 10 features you might not have discovered yet.

The latest Windows 10 update makes activation way easier than before – Activating your copy of Windows 10 has gotten far less tedious in Microsoft’s first major update for the operating system. You no longer have to start by upgrading from a previous install of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to get Windows 10 properly activated under Microsoft’s free-for-a-year policy. Now, the company will recognize any valid activation key from those prior versions (or Windows 8) and grant you a “digital entitlement” that makes your install of Windows 10 fully legitimate.

YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Gaming, YouTube Kids: What’s the difference? – YouTube decided to spin off individual apps dedicated to its popular genres of video, music, gaming and kids, while still keeping the main apps too. All of the apps are free, but with a $10 monthly YouTube Red subscription you’ll get rid of ads and unlock special extra features, which I’ll outline below. And remember, YouTube Red and Google Play Music subscriptions are interchangeable, so if you pay for one service, you get both. Each app has its own tricks and tools for the optimal experience. Let’s break down the differences and why you’d want to use each.

Walmart’s $10 Smartphone Has Better Specs Than the Original iPhone – Walmart is now selling a TracFone-branded LG smartphone that costs $9.82 (it also ships free if your online order total tops $50). Now, there are a few reasons why you may not want such a smartphone—for one, it’s running an outdated version of Android that may make it vulnerable to hackers—but there’s no denying that it represents something pretty special.

You can check out Walmart’s page here  –


The best non-Instagram photo editing apps – Instagram may be the most popular photo-based social network, but it’s not the best app for editing your pictures. Here are five free photo editing alternatives to spruce up your pics — even if they don’t end up on Instagram.

Costco Black Friday 2015 ad includes $230 15.6-inch Acer Chromebook among laptop deals – The warehouse giant emphasizes higher-priced notebook specials over bargain portables and tablets, though it is offering $300 off a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 bundle.


Best Buy adds more Black Friday 2015 PC deals, including $130 Acer Windows 10 laptop – Best Buy is trying a new wrinkle in the fight for Black Friday mindshare. The electronics retailer released its ad earlier in the week, but is now a back with a “wait, there’s more” approach, adding 300 more deals. While none are for Apple Macs or iPads, staples of its Black Friday ads, there are a handful of new PC specials. Most notable is a Windows 10 laptop at a low, low price. The Acer One is a 10.1-inch notebook with Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of built-in storage for $129.99, or $70 off today’s price.

Analyze battery usage with Windows 10’s Battery Saver – Battery Saver enables you to drill down on specific apps to determine their impact on battery life. Here’s how it works.

Snapchat Now Sells Selfie Lenses For $1 – Snapchat recently launched selfie lenses after acquiring Looksery. Every day, a new lens is added and an old one is removed from the current lineup of seven. The company now also showcases around 30 other lenses that you can buy for 99 cents and keep forever. As a reminder, here’s how you activate selfie lenses. When you’re using the front-facing camera, long press on your face to turn on selfie lenses. Then, you can press on a lens at the bottom to preview it, and then shoot a snap. Lenses range from rainbow vomit to scary monster faces.


Facebook Ups Its Sticker Game As The First Paid Packs Arrive For Messenger – In a move that may seem trivial, but could be indicative of the future, you can now buy paid-for stickers inside Facebook Messenger. Facebook itself isn’t leading offering stickers directly, but it is working closely with a third-party — Singapore startup PicoCandy — to offer a selection of new emoji and sticker packs, some of which will cost $0.99 or $1.99.


PowerPoint gets ‘Designer’ slides, new Morph tool – PowerPoint presentations aren’t hard to make, but they’re rarely attractive. Microsoft aims to change that, and has introduced two new tools as part of its effort: Morph and Designer. The tools have arrived first for Office 365 subscribers, with Morph offering seamless animation and Designer using smart image analysis to automatically suggest attractive, professional slide designs.


Microsoft’s Office Insider program lets you test tomorrow’s Office today – Insider builds for Windows and Android are now available for Office 365 subscribers, but Mac users will have to wait a few months.

5 Secrets for Writing the Perfect Out-of-Office Email – Heading out on vacation? Writing an effective out-of-office automatic reply is as much an art as it is a science.

Beagle sensors monitor a home’s health quality – Sensors that monitor the inside of one’s home or office are nothing new, but most of them focus on security, not health. While there are indoor health monitoring devices, they usually come as a single device, which needs to be placed in a centralized region in the building or house. Beagle is different, serving as a home quality system composed of a base station and various sensors that can be added on to it. Beagle sensors are able to monitor various aspects of one’s home, including the temperature and air quality (namely, CO2 levels), air pressure, outdoor noise, humidity, light levels, and indoor noise. The sensors are puck-shaped and about router-sized, and can be placed wherever the desired monitoring is needed.


Five Windows 10 privacy settings that have been falsely vilified – Headlines shout about Windows 10 privacy settings as though they’re a matter of life and death. But are they really? Mark Kaelin doesn’t think so.

How to create and deliver tweetstorms the easy way – Want to create a multi-paragraph rant on Twitter, but find the service’s native apps too limiting? Try these web apps instead.

Report: Facebook AI could alert parents when sharing kid pics – Facebook could be working on a feature that would alert parents when they share a photo of their children on the social network. The feature seems to be geared toward safety, making parents aware, when applicable, that anyone can see the shared images of their children. This is part of Facebook’s larger work with deep learning and artificial intelligence, something that has been used to create other photo-centric features.


FBI denies paying $1 million to unmask Tor users – The accusation that the FBI paid university researchers $1m to break the anonymous browsing service is “inaccurate” — but which part, exactly?

Pointing up     There are lessons from Toronto’s infamous ex-Mayor Rob Ford’s school of truth in this one – I’m telling you the truth – you’re just not asking the right questions. 

New Chrome exploit threatens Android with complete control hack – A security researcher, speaking at the PacSec conference in Tokyo, has revealed his discovery of a critical exploit in the latest version of Chrome for Android that could allow an attacker to gain total control of a user’s device. Even the latest phones running the most up-to-date version of Android can fall victim to the hack, which is carried out when a user visits a website that has a line of malicious code.

BitLocker encryption can be defeated with trivial Windows authentication bypass – Domain-joined Windows computers that use BitLocker should be patched as soon as possible. When domain-based authentication is used on Windows, the user’s password is checked against a computer that serves as domain controller. However, in situations when, for example, a laptop is taken outside of the network and the domain controller cannot be reached, authentication relies on a local credentials cache on the machine.

CoreOS open sources Clair, the vulnerability scanner for your containers – Container-friendly Linux vendor CoreOS has spent the last six months developing a scanning tool that checks for vulnerabilities in containers, and it’s open sourcing the code for the whole community. Dubbed Clair, the software analyzes each container layer for known vulnerabilities in Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Debian. The code creator then receives a report if a flaw is spotted, along with a link to the latest software database(s) where a fix can be found. The need for such a tool is clear, Polvi said. The firm’s own data showed that well-known vulnerabilities like Heartbleed were found in 80 per cent of the Docker images stored on Quay, CoreOS’ hosted container repository service.

Gmail Android App Bug Lets You Send Emails Pretending To Be Someone Else – An unusual bug in Gmail’s Android app allows anyone to make their email look like it was sent by someone else, and might open the door to dangerous phishing emails. The flaw was discovered by independent security researcher Yan Zhu, who reported it to Google at the end of October. The bug only works within the regular Gmail Android app. To take advantage of it, you simply change your display name in the account settings, then your real email address will be hidden, and the receiver won’t be able to reveal it.

Beware of ads that use inaudible sound to link your phone, TV, tablet, and PC – Privacy advocates are warning federal authorities of a new threat that uses inaudible, high-frequency sounds to surreptitiously track a person’s online behavior across a range of devices, including phones, TVs, tablets, and computers. The ultrasonic pitches are embedded into TV commercials or are played when a user encounters an ad displayed in a computer browser. While the sound can’t be heard by the human ear, nearby tablets and smartphones can detect it. When they do, browser cookies can now pair a single user to multiple devices and keep track of what TV commercials the person sees, how long the person watches the ads, and whether the person acts on the ads by doing a Web search or buying a product.

Intel Security’s 2016 Threat Prediction report flags ransomware as biggest emerging security risk – IMAGINE a hacker stealing your personal information or taking over your computer and holding it ransom until you deliver them a requested amount of money. This is the harsh reality many Australians will face next year with the growing cybersecurity threat known as ransomware gaining momentum. The warning comes as part of Intel Security’s 2016 Threat Predictions report, which reflects the insights of 33 cyber security leaders from within the company. (recommended by Mal C.)

Conficker is back – and it’s infecting police body cams – A US IT security company says it found copies of the Conficker malware infecting police body cameras. Florida-based iPower reports that body cameras it received from supplier Martel Electronics were loaded with 2009’s baddest botware. Researchers Jarrett Pavao and Charles Auchinleck found that when plugged into a PC, the Martel cameras attempted to execute the Worm:Win32/Conficker.B!inf variant. While any PC running an even remotely up-to-date antivirus package would be able to detect the Conficker attempt, unguarded machines could still be infected. What’s worse, iPower says the malware was present in the cameras before it received the units.

Badware in the firmware all over the place – This is really no surprise: embedded system vendors aren’t good at carrying out quality assurance on their firmware images, and their embedded Web server software is what you’d expect from something written in the last 20 minutes of Friday afternoon. And it’ll be no surprise to The Register’s readers that the bugs land in all sorts of stuff, from SOHOpeless broadband devices to CCTV cameras and VoIP phones.

Pointing up    I don’t mean to discourage you – but, these few news items above don’t begin to touch on the reality of the current security nightmare. For additional information take a look at the The US-CERT Cyber Security Bulletin – Vulnerability Summary for the Week of November 9, 2015.

Company News:

Hulu reportedly in talks to sell a chunk of itself to Time Warner – The rumored discussions are focused on the possibility of Time Warner investing $1.25 billion in Hulu in exchange for a 25-percent stake.

Evernote’s Freshly Minted COO Linda Kozlowski Is Leaving The Company – Evernote made a name for itself as the platform where you could store your ideas and notes for life, and beyond. But the same permanence does not apply to the people who work there. We’ve confirmed through multiple sources that Linda Kozlowski, Evernote’s COO, has put in her notice and will be leaving the company by the end of this year. It’s the latest in a series of recent twists and turns at the popular startup: this year has seen Evernote appoint a new CEO, face layoffs, close offices, and kill off products.

Tim Cook insists Apple is ‘open’ after black teens asked to leave store, report says – CEO says it’s unacceptable that the teens were asked to leave an Apple store because they “might steal something,” according to a memo published by Buzzfeed.

Apple’s App Store Gets A Smarter Search Engine – A number of mobile app developers and industry observers recently noticed a significant change in the way the Apple App Store’s search algorithms are returning results. Developers say that, following a series of shifts that took place beginning on November 3, app search results now appear to be more intelligent and far more relevant – especially among the top results – than in previous months. This new change is focused more on how apps are returned when users type in keywords to find an app – something that’s becoming a more common way to find apps in a crowded app store featuring over a million mobile applications. According to studies, at least half of iOS apps are found through search.

FanDuel And DraftKings Fight Back, File Lawsuits Against NY Attorney General – After NY’s Attorney General ordered DraftKings and FanDuel to cease and desist all operations in the state, the two companies have responded, filing lawsuits seeking an injunction against the order.

Apple Confirms It Will Open A Retail Store In Singapore, Its First In Southeast Asia – Apple has confirmed that it will open its first retail store in Southeast Asia, located in Singapore, as the U.S. phone maker begins to increase its efforts in the region’s fast-growing smartphone market.

Facebook to use Safety Check feature more often in wake of criticism – The social network’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the status tool will be used more often during human disasters, following outcry over the company not activating it during the bombings in Beirut.

Games and Entertainment:

SteamOS gaming performs significantly worse than Windows, Ars analysis shows – With this week’s official launch of Valve’s Linux-based Steam Machine line (for non-pre-orders), we decided to see if the new OS could stand up to the established Windows standard when running games on the same hardware. Unfortunately for open source gaming supporters, it looks like SteamOS gaming comes with a significant performance hit on a number of benchmarks.

Fallout 4 shipped $750 million worth of copies at launch – Ever since Destiny showed that modern day, big budget games can make an obscene amount of money during launch day, we’ve come to expect popular titles to help construct Scrooge McDuck-style money vaults for game developers and publishers. Fallout 4 is obviously a popular, bid budget title, and it was no surprise that Bethesda would make out like bandits when the game finally hit tangible and digital shelves. It turns out Bethesda made out not like bandits who robbed a bank, though, but bandits that robbed a chain of them. Bethesda’s nuclear post-apocalyptic opus shipped a staggering $750 million worth of copies on launch.

Welp, It Took a Whole Day to Get ‘Fallout 4’ Nude Mods – Welp, Fallout 4 has only been out for three days, but the game already has its first nude mods. Believe it or not, it’s not unusual for modders to create nude mods for games soon after or even on the day of release. If you want to find out how they do that, and why, in April we interviewed the owner of Lustful Illumination, who creates nude mods for many video games. Sadly, all the nude mods here are for the women in the game only. Modders: please step it up and allow me to play as a naked dude. It’s only fair.


Watch ABC streaming app said to be getting exclusive series – With more of the US’s major TV broadcasters getting serious about their future in the world of streaming media, it seems one strategy that’s starting to surface is offering original shows and content exclusively for subscribers and/or mobile apps. CBS just recently announced such a move, with a brand-new Star Trek series coming exclusively to their All Access digital subscription service in 2017. Now, according to Variety, ABC is looking to do something similar, with a new show planned for their Watch ABC app.


Halo 5 drives Xbox One to the top selling spot in October – While Sony continues to lead the overall sales battle with Microsoft, the power of big exclusives was apparent in October. According to Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg, who leads the Xbox games marketing team, the Xbox One outsold the PlayStation 4 in the US in October. While we don’t have concrete sales figures—NPD doesn’t publicly publish the data that Greenberg references—Microsoft says that Xbox One sales were 81 percent higher than in the same month last year. The reason, of course, is Halo 5.

AMD’s Radeon Fury graphics cards claw back marketshare from Nvidia’s GeForce lineup – AMD is still playing catch-up with Nvidia, but in trying times like these any gain still counts as a gain over its more dominant rival.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Video: Repairing stuff with adhesives – In this quick video I address some of the most commonly asked questions with regards to adhesives.


The best places to install smoke detectors (and how to make them less annoying) – Installing fire detectors in your home is vital to home safety. But chances are you don’t have enough smoke detectors in your home. The one-and-done approach isn’t enough for the typical family household. Find out how many smoke detectors you need, where to place them and what kinds are available.

Microsoft Invented Google Earth in the 90s Then Totally Blew It – Terraserver could have, should have been a product that ensured Microsoft would remain the world’s most important internet company well into the 21st century. It was the first-ever publicly available interactive satellite map of the world. The world’s first-ever terabyte-sized database. In fact, it was the world’s largest database for several years, and that Compaq was—physically speaking—the world’s largest computer. Terraserver was a functional and popular Google Earth predecessor that launched and worked well before Google even thought of the concept. It let you see your house, from space. So why aren’t we all using Terraserver on our smartphones right now?


Steam Controller configured to allow disabled gamer play Skyrim with one hand – The Steam Controller, as well as the new Xbox One Elite controller from Microsoft, are truly revolutionary for disabled gamers in that they allow complete button re-mapping and customization, letting those who don’t have full use of their hands reach and use the controls necessary to play a game. The Steam Controller especially allows levels of customization never seen before, and one user demonstrates this by creating a layout for playing the hit game Skyrim with one hand, fulfilling a request from another disabled player.

Watch This Guy Explain Bitcoin to Judge Judy – Hey, did you watch Judge Judy on Thursday? No? First of all, what the hell, because Judge Judith Sheindlinis a salty, problematic treasure and you should cherish every moment of 90s daytime TV detritus before she retires. Secondly, you missed a spiky-haired dude mumble his way through an explanation of Bitcoin while testifying. On a show that thrives on petty criminality and outsized drama, this was an inevitable occurrence. Because, just like Judge Judy itself, those two things encapsulate a lot of what goes on in the world of Bitcoin pretty much every every day.


Screengrab: YouTube

World’s first floating wind farm will be near Scotland – While Morocco busies itself with building the largest concentrated solar farm in the world, Scotland is focusing on a similar record of its own — the world’s first ever floating wind farm will be located off the Scottish shores, using ocean winds to generate power for those in the nation. The wind farm will be located 25 kilometer offshore, with production being slated to start in 2017.


Ford’s Active Noise Control works like noise-canceling headphones – Ford has detailed its Active Noise Control system, likening it to conventional noise-canceling headphones in its functionality. The system, which will debut in the Ford Mondeo Vignale, uses sound waves to cancel out other intrusive sounds, such as noise coming from the engine or wind. In due time, the auto maker will roll out this technology in some of its other models, though the company did not elaborate on those plans.


Doctors Could Use Snot Instead of Blood for Diagnostics—Why Don’t They? – Nasal mucus carries many substances that are also used in blood and urine tests, sometimes in greater concentrations.

Something to think about:

“Where facts are few, experts are many.”

–     Donald R. Gannon


Belarc Advisor – Free Personal PC Audit (Version 8.5b) – Belarc Advisor The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, network inventory, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, security benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server.

Operating Systems: Runs on Windows 10, 8.1, 2012 R2, 8, 2012, 7, 2008 R2, Vista, 2008, 2003 SP2, XP SP3. Both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows are supported. Our professional products also run on all other versions of Windows and on the Macintosh OS X, Linux, and Solaris operating systems.

Browsers: Runs on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and many others.

License: The license associated with this product allows for free personal use only. Use on multiple PCs in a corporate, educational, military or government installation is prohibited. See the license agreement for details.

The personal system screenshot below, shows only a small portion of the data collected by this excellent application. Just purchased a new computer? Then, run Belarc Advisor to make sure you got what you paid for.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

A Look at France’s New Surveillance Laws in the Wake of the Paris Attacks – After the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January, France passed its controversial “Intelligence Bill,” allowing it to increase its surveillance powers. Now, in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks that have left Paris in mourning for the second time this year, it’s worth re-examining how the law might be put into action as intelligence-gathering accelerates.

The legislation, which was passed by French parliament in May, drew such strong opposition from the public that France President François Hollande referred it to the nation’s Constitutional Council, which finally gave it the go-ahead in July. It has been likened to the US Patriot Act, and though French Prime Minister Manuel Valls chafes at the implication, it’s easy to see the basis for the comparison.

Like the Patriot Act, the French law allows the government to monitor phone calls and emails of terrorism suspects without obtaining a warrant. It also requires internet service providers to collect metadata, which is then processed by an algorithm to detect strings of suspicious activity—a page taken right from the NSA’s playbook.

Google wants to add ‘not encrypted’ warnings to Gmail – Google is getting ready to alert Gmail users when messages are received in the clear instead of encrypted, in response both to slow adoption of encryption by some hosts, and apparent hostility to encryption in some countries.

Seven countries – Tunisia, Iraq, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho – should be regarded as dangerous places to send e-mails to, according to Google’s research.

In all of those cases, “STARTTLS stripping” – forcing the sending machine to skip encryption and degrade the communication to plain text – results in more than 20 per cent of messages arriving without protection.

Most of them are in the twenties, from Lesotho (20.25 per cent) to Iraq (25.61 per cent), but Tunisia is a standout: it degrades e-mail communications back to clear text in 96.13 per cent of cases.

As readers will remember, the world is just catching up with the idea that e-mail security is lagging far behind our use of encryption for other services.

Google’s multi-year project, published by the Association for Computing Machinery, comes to a similar conclusion: there’s a long tail of servers managed that aren’t keeping up with the need to encrypt.

If You Want Tech Freedom, Congress Needs To Change A Law – Freedom is critical to the economic engine of Silicon Valley, but laws are not often written to preserve it.

A federal decision in October let consumers unlock cell phones, tinker with their tablets and hack into some aspects of their connected vehicles’ software — as long as they don’t break other laws.

Unfortunately, this decision has to be renewed every three years, through a long and arduous process. It’s time for that to change.

Thanks to the aging Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), consumers can’t “circumvent” software or other “technological measure[s]” in devices they have already purchased, even to diagnose or repair the software, unless the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights and after an enormous public rulemaking, blesses that category of software and devices with a DMCA exemption. If not, even innocuous hacking of software in your cell phone, connected car, connected tractor, medical device or tablet could make you a criminal.

Where cops can track your location without a warrant – Cell site location data can provide police with a rough idea of a suspect’s location during a given time period, or even in real time, and its use in cases like Davis’ has become a rallying cry for activists around the country. Multiple robbery cases have already turned into major circuit court battles over such data, resulting in a range of decisions governing how it can be used. And that broad legal patchwork has turned into something even more complicated, as various lower courts across the country have also made rulings governing how and when the data can be obtained. The result is that a Texas cop doesn’t need a warrant for some data, while a Montana cop does; Indiana police need the information in certain circumstances, but there are no protections for the information in Wisconsin.


Turkey blocks access to Reddit under controversial censorship law – The Turkish government has officially blocked access to Reddit. Users first reported last night that they were unable to access the social media site, and as of Saturday the ban still appears to be in effect. It’s not clear how long the block will remain in effect.

An official government site confirms the ban with a generic message that reads, “After technical analysis and legal consideration … administration measure has been taken for this website.” The note is dated November 13th.

According to the statement, Reddit was taken down under Turkey’s controversial internet censorship law, known as Internet Law No. 5651. Under the law, Turkish Supreme Council for Telecommunications and IT (TIB) can ban websites and block internet content for a handful of reasons, including anything involved with pornography, prostitution, drugs, terrorism, illegal file sharing, sexual abuse of children, and “crimes against” Mustafa Atatürk, the first president of Turkey. The TIB doesn’t require court authorization to ban sites on these grounds, and it can do so even if it has just a “suspicion” that such activities are occurring.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 13, 2015

The Edward Snowden guide to practical privacy;  Firefox finally comes to iOS;  Battery myths that need to die;  Microsoft building data centers in Germany that US government can’t touch;  Five super-easy IP traffic monitoring tools;  Hobbled Cortana arrives in Canada, Australia, Japan, and India;  First Impressions Of YouTube’s New Music App;  Google’s new About Me page helps you control how your personal info is shared;  Who makes the best home-security camera?  Appeals court allows NSA bulk phone spying to continue unabated;  Roku is Launching a New Streaming TV Box That Will Only Cost $25;  Apple Apologizes For Alleged Racist Incident;  10 Games Every Sony PlayStation 4 Player Needs;  Hack to cost UK’s TalkTalk up to $53 million;  Google Input Tools (free);  From Australia to Mexico, 34 Countries Ranked on Quality of Life;  Windows 10 November Update: features, fixes.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Edward Snowden guide to practical privacy – If you want to limit how much governments and companies know about you and your private life, then use Tor, download specific apps and plug-ins, encrypt your hard drive, and use a password manager. Those are among the tips provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in an interview with “digital bodyguard” Micah Lee. The interview, published on The Intercept, is interesting in that it provides a practical guide for protecting your privacy from the very mass surveillance that Snowden revealed in his huge leak of US government documents. The guide covers everyone from the typical concerned citizen to someone who may be handling highly sensitive documents. Here are the highlights:

These Are the Governments That Request (and Block) the Most Facebook Content – The requests for user data and the blocking of content by governments have increased significantly since last year. Facebook on Wednesday released its biannual Global Government Requests Report for the first half of 2015, detailing the number of times governments have asked the company for information on its millions of users and also asked for certain content to be blocked. The report, which covers 93 countries and encompasses the period from January to June this year, shows the U.S. far outstripping the others with 26,579 requests for user data — of which Facebook provided 17,577 or just under 80%. India and the U.K. were second and third in that regard, with 6,268 and 4,489 requests, respectively.

Windows 10 November Update: features, fixes, and enterprise readiness – The Windows 10 November update is available now to everyone running Windows 10. This first major update has a handful of visible features, a variety of bug fixes, and even some enterprise features. Microsoft’s message to businesses is that if they were following the traditional policy of waiting for the first Service Pack or major update to Windows before deploying it, this is it: time to take the plunge. It’s also the time for gamers to make the switch too—in parallel with this release, Microsoft is rolling out the new Xbox Experience, which is based on Windows 10, and gives the dashboard a big shake-up.


Hobbled Cortana arrives in Canada, Australia, Japan, and India – Users of Windows 10 in Canada, Australia, Japan, and India will be able to make use of Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, from today. However, Cortana will not be as capable in these geographies as it is in Microsoft’s native US, and for Canadian and Indian users, Cortana will only be available in English.

Microsoft admits Win 10 tries unauthorized install on Win 7/8 pcs – Microsoft says that the fault lies in a bug in the automatic update codes that went out to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users back in August. This issue left error code 0×80240020 in the log files when the attempts failed. Microsoft says that the bug has now been fixed. This is the second issue that cause upgrades to Windows 10 that users didn’t specifically approve. A previous update ticked the upgrade to Win 10 box and Microsoft called that an accident.

Google’s new About Me page helps you control how your personal info is shared – People concerned about how much information is out there about them on Google have a new way to control what everyone can see. Without any fanfare, Google has begun rolling out an About Me page to make it easier for people to control what others can see about them across Google services.

Mac App Store authentication error causing ‘damaged’ software – An increasing number of Mac users are getting messages today when trying to open apps purchased from OS X’s App Store that the software is “damaged” and can’t be opened. It seems the issue started appearing as early as Wednesday evening, and can affect a range of popular apps, including Acorn, Tweetbot, 1Password, and Byword. As the error message states, users are getting around the issue by deleting and re-downloading the apps, but it doesn’t seem to work for everyone.


Patch Tuesday Windows security update rendered Outlook unusable for many – Users of Microsoft Outlook for Windows reportedly ran into numerous problems on Wednesday, after Microsoft issued a buggy—but critical—security patch. As noted by ZDNet, users reported that the program became crash-prone after installing update KB3097877, particularly when loading HTML messages. In some cases users would see only a black screen when trying to log in. The problems reportedly occurred in all versions of Outlook on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, but Windows 10 appeared to be unaffected.

Let Disk Usage & Storage Analyzer zero in on what’s eating up your Android device’s space – Every once in awhile you come across an app and wonder, “Why haven’t I been using this all along?” That’s what happened when I discovered Disk Usage & Storage Analyzer for Android. This tool will easily keep track of what is gobbling up precious space on your mobile device. Anyone that has found their smartphone dangerously full knows how helpful an app like this can be. Yes, Android has a built-in tool for this purpose, but it’s not exactly helpful. If you want to really get granular and interact with files, you need Disk Usage & Storage Analyzer.

Five super-easy IP traffic monitoring tools – For system admins, one of the most important tasks is keeping an eye on the network. When things go bad in your world, a rogue ne’er-do-well could be the cause. Whether that malicious entity is a hacker, a compromised system, or a bad piece of hardware, it’s essential to sniff out the issue. To that end, you need the right tools. One of the first tools you might turn to is an IP traffic monitoring tool. The good news is that there are tons of these tools ready to serve you. The bad news… some of them are a bit complex. That’s why I thought I’d find the easiest IP traffic monitoring tools and list five of them for your network monitoring pleasure.


First Impressions Of YouTube’s New Music App – Today YouTube launched an official music app. With YouTube Music, you’ll get a new experience, designed to make discovering music on YouTube easier. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, considering the popularity of music videos on the site, which boasts access to a potential audience of over 1 billion people around the globe.


Twitter Doing More With GIFs, Introduces Feature Called “ScratchReel”– Twitter tweeted out a new toy for you to play with for video called “ScratchReel.” Basically, it lets you scrub a short GIF back and forth for cool effects.

Who makes the best home-security camera? We test 6 new models to find out – A boom in wireless security cameras is inspiring a movement in DIY home surveillance. Follow our buying guide and read our reviews to find the best option for you.


Firefox finally comes to iOS – At long last, Firefox has come to iOS. Rather unusually, this is the first version of the Firefox browser that does not use the Gecko layout engine, instead using iOS’s built-in WebKit-based layout engine. The app is available as a free download from the App Store.

Walmart Black Friday 2015 ad includes $29 Android tablet, $399 iPad Air 2  – The retailing giant will also have plenty of bargain Android tablets available for as little as $29, along with a $199 Windows 10 laptop.

Office Depot, OfficeMax Black Friday 2015 ad includes $90 Windows tablet, $95 Chromebook deals – The office superstore chain will be selling a Toshiba Windows 10 laptop for as little as $119.99 and a Lenovo desktop as low as $169.99.

Bluetooth to Get Significant Speed, Range Boost in 2016 – The leading Bluetooth organization tipped four times better range and a 100 percent increase in speed.


Hack to cost UK’s TalkTalk up to $53 million – TalkTalk Telecom Group in the U.K. expects the financial impact of a recent cyber attack to be up to £35 million (US$53 million) but said the people affected may have been far less than had been earlier expected.

Gmail Will Soon Warn Users When Emails Arrive Over Unencrypted Connections – Gmail already defaults to using HTTPS for the connections between your browser and its servers, but for the longest time, the standard practice for sending email between providers was to leave them unencrypted. If somebody managed to intercept those messages, it was pretty trivial to snoop on them. Over the last few years (and especially after the Snowden leaks), Google and other email providers started to change this and today, 57 percent of messages that users on other email providers send to Gmail are encrypted (and 81 percent of outgoing messages from Gmail are, too). Gmail-to-Gmail traffic is always encrypted.

Now cybercriminals are using video ads to plant malware – Cybercriminals have been delivering malware through online display ads for years, but they appear to be making headway with a new distribution method: video advertisements. Both methods of attack, known as malvertising, can have a broad impact and are a major headache for the ad industry. A single malicious advertisement, distributed to several highly trafficked sites, can expose tens of thousands of computers to malware in a short time. Some ad networks and publishers have taken steps to vet their ads more thoroughly, but criminals are constantly on the lookout for weaknesses. An attack detected about two weeks ago shows how cybercriminals are showing more interest in creating malicious video ads.

Mac ransomware is nothing to worry about—for now – Security researchers say a second experiment showing how easy it is to write ransomware for Apple Macs isn’t surprising, so it’s likely that hackers will eventually target Apple computers with it.

India triples content banning on Facebook as governments increase user data requests – Facebook’s transparency report for the first six months of the year has seen India restrict more than 15,000 pieces of content, as globally, governments continue to increase requests for user data.

Self-encrypting drives are hardly any better than software-based encryption – If a laptop using a self-encrypted drive is stolen or lost while in sleep mode, the security of its data can’t be guaranteed.

Company News:

Alibaba Hit $14.3B In Total Sales On Singles’ Day, With 69 Percent Made On Mobile Devices – Alibaba Group reaped $14.3 billion in sales during Singles’ Day, a 54 percent increase from last year’s tally of $9.3 billion. The most significant number from yesterday’s annual shopping bonanza, however, is not how much Chinese consumers spent, but what devices they used to make purchases from Alibaba’s marketplaces. According to the company, which runs China’s largest e-commerce marketplaces, more than half, or 69 percent, of gross merchandise volume (or total sales) were made on mobile devices like smartphones, compared to 42.6 percent last year.

HomeAdvisor parent company IAC makes bid to acquire Angie’s List – IAC said the combination of Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor would create a home services platform with more than $700 million in revenue. But Angie’s List has rebuffed the offer.

Apple Apologizes For Alleged Racist Incident – Apple has apologized for an alleged incident of racism at an Australia store. Footage from a store in Australia made the rounds on social media Tuesday, BBC reports, showing six black school children being asked to leave the store for fears of shoplifting. In the video, a staff member at the Apple store says, “”These guys are … just a bit worried you might steal something…I need to ask you to leave our store.” The store manager reportedly apologized to the boys and to their school.

Fossil to buy fitness band maker Misfit for $260 million – Fossil Group on Thursday said it will acquire Misfit, a wearable-tech startup focused on fitness trackers, for $260 million. The deal weds Fossil’s fashion and watch-making know-how with Misfit’s technology, and underscores the growing importance of wearable products. It’s an area that has drawn heavy hitters from both sides, including tech giant Apple and luxury watchmaker Tag Heuer. Fossil could tap into Misfit’s resources to build fitness trackers that are more aesthetically appealing.

Will GM be the first US automaker to import a car built in China? – According to sources close to General Motors, the domestic automaker giant is planning on bringing a new midsize Buick crossover to the US market. Unlike other crossovers, though, this one will be a direct import from China, making GM the first American manufacturer to import a car from the Middle Kingdom. The Wall Street Journal reports that Buick will import between 30,000 and 40,000 units of the Buick Envision to the United States each year.

Games and Entertainment:

Roku is Launching a New Streaming TV Box That Will Only Cost $25 – Roku’s new device will be the among the cheapest streaming TV devices yet—if buyers snag it before it sells out during Black Friday weekend. The company unveiled the Roku SE on Nov. 11, a limited-edition set-top box that will cost $25 on the shopping holiday. The box officially launches on Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 26, and will be available through the weekend while supplies last.


Fix New Xbox One Experience issues with this guide – Today, Microsoft released the New Xbox One Experience, and while it seems to be going smoothly for most, there are some people that are plagued with issues ranging from voice controls not working to being unable to sign into your account. Don’t worry though, Microsoft is already addressing these issues. To go along with the update, Microsoft has published a page of troubleshooting tips for the New Xbox One Experience. Thankfully most of the issues that the troubleshooting tips address are relatively minor, and the fixes are pretty easy.

Minecraft tipped to make Wii U debut – It looks like the mega-popular game Minecraft is about to make its debut on a new platform: Nintendo’s Wii U. A listing for the game has been found on the website for PEGI, the video game ratings association for Europe, complete with a release date of November 12th, which happens to be today. While it’s not clear if the latest version of Minecraft really will be available in the next few hours, what is scheduled for today is a Nintendo Direct livestream announcement.


‘Fallout 4’ Released Yesterday, But Modders Are Already Making Cool Stuff – Judging by the mods that are already out there, Fallout 4 is likely to get the same kind of support from the modding community. It’s only been out for a day, and modders are making little tweaks to the wasteland. Cruising through the modding website and community NexusMods, these are the Fallout 4 mods that caught our eye so far:


10 Games Every Sony PlayStation 4 Player Needs – “Greatness Awaits” has served as PlayStation 4’s tagline since Sony launched the console in late 2013, but little did the gaming populace realize that it also referred to the long, long wait for high-quality, next-generation titles. That’s not to say that PlayStation 4 has a bad library, but many of the console-exclusive games that people desire—Street Fighter V$59.96 at Amazon, Uncharted 4: Thief’s End—are slated to appear next year. That said, if you plan to buy PlayStation 4 this holiday season, there are a handful of excellent titles worth picking up.

The failure of the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility – The Xbox One has received the “New Xbox One Experience” today with a huge system update that overhauls the interface, puts the system on a Windows 10 backbone, and adds backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games. Adding backwards compatibility is great news (that sort of started with the release of Rare Replay, not the system update). The list of backwards compatible games isn’t. The list blows. Let’s look at exactly why.

Off Topic (Sort of):

True or false? Battery myths that need to die – Battery technology may not have changed much in the last couple decades, but common knowledge is even worse. Many people believe the limitations of nickel-based batteries that were prevalent in the early ’90s still apply to the more modern lithium ion and lithium polymer technologies we use today. Here are some common battery myths.

Google Self-Driving Car Pulled Over For Going Too Slow – The internets lit up today when someone posted a photo of a cop talking to someone in a self-driving car. Yep, it got pulled over. Why? According to Google, it was going too slow. According to the original poster, the Mountain View police officer didn’t get the memo on these things patrolling the streets, so of course wanted to know why the thing was going so damn slow:


4 ways humans will live and collaborate with robots – Humans and robots have a precarious yet unavoidable relationship. This was one idea underpinning Minds and Machines, the opening topic of the Next: Economy event on Thursday in San Francisco. The set of talks covered automation and how it will or won’t affect various aspects of our lives. Here are four takes on the relationship between humans and robots.

Chattanooga just discovered the dark web, and it is freaking out – It must be sweeps week in Tennessee, because Chattanooga’s WTVC pulled out all the stops for a series about why you should be afraid of the internet. “Computer gurus say there is a place they can go to dig up some of the internet’s oldest websites,” says WTVC’s Calvin Sneed, and — wait. What is this story about? “And visit chat rooms you cannot access through a normal Google search.” Old websites? Exclusive chat rooms? Co-anchor Kim Chapman steps in to raise the stakes even higher. “Chattanooga police say that part of the internet can also be a crime-ridden place that many people don’t even know exists.” Hope you’re sitting down, Tennessee, because the internet exists, and your children might be using it. Take it away, WTVC reporter Hannah Lawrence!


From Australia to Mexico, 34 Countries Ranked on Quality of Life – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), makers of the Better Life Index (not to be confused with the World Happiness Report) have put together an interactive chart showing how 34 countries fare against each other across 11 categories. The categories, deemed essential by the OECD for measuring quality of life, are housing, income, jobs, the quality of the country’s community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance. Unsurprisingly, Scandinavian countries rank highly on the chart. Australians, however, have beaten pretty every country for providing the best balance across all categories, save for work-life balance and income.


Dubai firefighters get jetpacks to battle skyscraper fires – Being a firefighter in Dubai just got a lot more interesting. The city is home to many skyscrapers, and battling fires that result high up in these skyscrapers is not easy when you’re on the ground. To remedy that situation, the city will equip its firefighters with jetpacks, enabling them to get to upper levels much more quickly than they would using traditional methods. The jetpacks can handle weights up to 265lbs, and are able to take off and fly vertically, meaning they’ll take a firefighter up to the higher level, but there won’t be any zipping around like Iron Man. Operation can be performed using a remote control or a pilot.


Dumb Cuneiform preserves your fleeting tweets in ancient symbols – Some tweets deserve to live forever. A new service translates your best Twitter compositions into characters from thousands of years ago to be preserved on tablets. Not the iPad kind, the clay kind.


20 unusual things you can clean in the dishwasher – If your dishwasher is just cleaning dishes, then it isn’t living up to its potential. There are many things you can safely wash in a dishwasher. Any of these listed items can go through a “normal” wash cycle, unless otherwise noted. And, of course, use common sense when cleaning nonconventional items in the dishwasher — if you plan to clean an item on this list, inspect it for any plastic components that might not withstand the heat of a normal wash cycle.

Something to think about:

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”

–     Booker T. Washington    (1856 – 1915)


Google Input Tools – Your words, your language, anywhere. Available for Google services, Chrome, Android devices, and Windows.

Online, offline, on the go – Whether at home, at work, or somewhere in between—communicate in the language you need, when you need it.

Personalized for you, by you – Google Input Tools remembers your corrections and maintains a custom dictionary for new or uncommon words and names.

Type the way you want – Get your message across in the language and style you want. Switching among over 80 languages and input methods is as seamless as typing.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Appeals court allows NSA bulk phone spying to continue unabated – The nation’s only successful challenge to the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone metadata surveillance program lasted just one day, as a federal appeals court is allowing the constitutionally suspect program to continue unabated.

The day-long constitutional victory Monday impacted a handful of American lawyers but was blocked Tuesday by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The government said it would have to shutter the entire program because it was technologically incapable of immediately sifting out the lawyers from the hundreds of millions of people the NSA was routinely spying on. So instead of shuttering the program altogether, the appeals court acquiesced to the government’s concerns and blocked enforcement (PDF) of the lower court’s Monday order.

The outcome means that not a single person has successfully convinced the US court system to halt the surveillance program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden divulged in the summer of 2013. There were plenty of constitutional challenges, too, but none resulted in a decision like Monday’s where a federal judge had ordered the NSA to immediately cease spying on the plaintiffs in a lawsuit.

NSA whistleblower: No software is ‘safe from surveillance’ – William Binney doesn’t have a membership card to the small group of which he’s a part — people who have spoken out against the National Security Agency, and been left relatively unscathed — but at least he has the next best thing, a valid passport.

The former National Security Agency official, who spent three decades of his life in espionage — and is said to have been one of the reasons why Edward Snowden took and handed thousands of classified documents to journalists two years ago — still talks about his time in the intelligence community.

“The biggest threat to US citizens is the US government,” said Binney in a Reddit “ask me anything” session on Wednesday.

Which in itself would be a bold claim if it weren’t for the most recent revelations, which we can thank his whistleblowing “successor” for.

Canada: Edward Snowden speaks to Queen’s students via Skype – Receiving astounding applause, Edward Snowden appeared on screen at Queen’s University stage via Skype as the keynote speaker for the Queen’s Model United Nations Invitational on Thursday night.

The security-agency whistleblower, who now lives in exile in Russia, first thanked the professors and students involved with organizing the conference, moderated by Dr. David Lyons, who directs the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queens. Then he thanked the online Twitter community for ensuring that he received the invitation to speak at Queen’s — something he had missed at first — as an example of the importance of public opinion.

“Too often, when we are engaging in society we don’t get to seem to get the right response. By working together, and if we amplify our voice… we can get results.”

Snowden, a hero or a criminal depending on your point of view, began to lay down a brief history of the “growing up in the shadow of the NSA (National Security Agency)” and coming from a family with deep roots in the U.S. military. “When I started working for the government, I was really a true believer,” said Snowden. “I swallowed propaganda entirely.”

Microsoft building data centers in Germany that US government can’t touch – Microsoft has launched a new kind of cloud service in Germany where user data is controlled by a “data trustee” operating under German law. Microsoft is unable to access user data without the permission of the data trustee or the customer, even if it is instructed to do so by the US government. If permission is granted by the data trustee, Microsoft will still only do so under its supervision. The idea behind the new data trustee-based cloud services is presumably to address European concerns that the NSA and other US agencies could demand access to any user data stored using Microsoft’s current cloud services.

According to Microsoft’s press release, the data trustee for the new German cloud offerings is T-Systems, a subsidiary of the giant telecom company Deutsche Telekom. Timotheus Höttges, Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, is quoted as saying: “Microsoft is pioneering a new, unique, solution for customers in Germany and Europe. Now, customers who want local control of their data combined with Microsoft’s cloud services have a new option, and I anticipate it will be rapidly adopted.”

Two new data centres are being built: one in Frankfurt am Main, the other in Magdeburg. Both will offer Azure, Office 365, and the Dynamics CRM Online cloud services from the second half of 2016. The two locations will be connected by a private network, separate from the Internet, in order to ensure that data never leaves Germany as it moves between them—for example, to provide automatic backups. Microsoft says the new offering is aimed particularly at European companies and organisations working with sensitive data, such as those in the finance and health sectors.

Tor Project: US government paid university $1m bounty to hack our networks – The Tor Project is claiming that researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) were paid a hefty bounty by the FBI to stage an attack last year aiming to unmask the operators of the network’s hidden servers.

“We have been told that the payment to CMU was at least $1 million,” the group said in a blog post.

In July 2014 the Tor Project revealed that it had been the victim of a six-month hacking campaign which sought to flood the network with relays that modified Tor protocol headers to track hidden servers. Within a week Tor updated its software and pushed out new versions of code to block similar attacks in the future.

The attack was limited in that it didn’t monitor entry and exit nodes to the Tor network, but could have been used to trace traffic patterns to hidden sites by the academics-for-hire. But the Tor Project is fuming that the FBI used the university to circumvent federal hacking laws.

“Such action is a violation of our trust and basic guidelines for ethical research. We strongly support independent research on our software and network, but this attack crosses the crucial line between research and endangering innocent users,” said the group.

“This attack also sets a troubling precedent: civil liberties are under attack if law enforcement believes it can circumvent the rules of evidence by outsourcing police work to universities. If academia uses ‘research’ as a stalking horse for privacy invasion, the entire enterprise of security research will fall into disrepute.”

The UK’s international snooping plan is probably going to end in failure, again – The UK government is making a dramatic expansion of its internet surveillance efforts, in the space of less than 18 months trying to bring international tech companies firmly under the remit of its spy legislation.

But the attempt is unlikely to succeed, like its other attempts to make overseas companies hand over their customers’ data and communications.

Because millions in the UK now use services like Apple’s iMessage and Whatsapp — which are based outside of the UK and use strong encryption — the UK government says there is a large, and growing gap, in the ability of law enforcement to intercept and read communications.

It has been trying to close this gap with updates to its internet surveillance regime.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 13, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 11, 2015

7 ways hackers can use Wi-Fi against you;  All Windows users should patch these two new ‘critical’ flaws;  Apple Music is available on Android right now;  10 cost-effective ways to quickly beef up your company security;  NSA: We Disclose 91 Percent of Security Bugs We Find;  Google giving away goodies to Chromecast, Chromebook, and Android TV owners;  Don’t Freak Out When a Smartphone App Asks for Permission;  Get more out of Android Marshmallow with these tips and tricks;  This free fix will stop Cryptowall 4 from holding your PC hostage;  Periscope Gets Better Maps, Skip Ahead And 3D Touch Shortcuts;  Trim Will Find Your Subscriptions, Cancel Those You No Longer Want;  Own a Vizio Smart TV? It’s watching you;  Here are the first 100+ backward-compatible Xbox 360 games;  10,000 historic phonograph cylinder audio recordings hit the web for free;  Zemana AntiLogger Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

All Windows users should patch these two new ‘critical’ flaws – Out of the dozen patches, four of the security vulnerabilities are considered “critical” and should be patched immediately.

7 ways hackers can use Wi-Fi against you – Wi-Fi — oh so convenient, yet oh so dangerous. Here are seven ways you could be giving away your identity through a Wi-Fi connection and what to do instead.


Image courtesy Thinkstock

Don’t Freak Out When a Smartphone App Asks for Permission – A study from the Pew Research Center published Tuesday found that Android apps in the Google Play store make 235 different types of permission requests between them. The knowledge that apps request permission to access your phone and, in some cases, personal data, isn’t a new revelation. But Pew’s study is a reminder of how important it is to read an app’s permission requests before installing it. If a simple app like a calculator is asking for something it shouldn’t need, like access to your location or contacts list, that’s a red flag it’s doing something it shouldn’t be doing.

Chrome to end support for Windows XP, Vista, and OS X 10.8 on April 2016 – If you use Chrome on an older operating system, your browser could stop getting updates in just a few months. Google’s official Chrome Blog announced that it will be ending support for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8 in April 2016. Chrome browsers on those operating systems will continue to work, but they will stop getting updates from Google.

Google giving away a batch of goodies to Chromecast, Chromebook, and Android TV owners – The rewards just keep on coming if you’ve bought into Google’s ecosystem. Here’s a roundup of the latest deals.

Get more out of Android Marshmallow with these tips and tricks – Learn how to mute notifications, change your default Web browser, customize the Quick Settings tray, and more on Android Marshmallow.

Apple Music is available on Android right now – It’s the day that Apple Music fans and Android users have been waiting for: Apple’s new streaming music service is now available to download from the Google Play store. This is Apple’s first major service to arrive on Android as an app, but the third overall, following the release of Move to iOS earlier this year, and the recent launch of the companion app for the Beats Pill+ speaker.

Google Maps is adding offline navigation and search starting today – Offline search and navigation was one of the biggest announcements at I/O this May — and now, nearly six months later, that feature is finally reaching users. Today, Google Maps will roll out a new offline mode allowing for driving directions and search. It’s designed to fit seamlessly alongside the online version of Maps, allowing data connection to drop in and out without interrupting the app itself. The new features will begin rolling out to Android users later today, and Google says the iOS rollout will follow “soon.”

Pre-Order the $99 Oculus-Powered Samsung Gear VR Now – The device works with Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phones, including the Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6, and S6 Edge.


Periscope Gets Better Maps, Skip Ahead And 3D Touch Shortcuts Including ‘Teleport’ – Some pretty notable updates for Periscope, the live broadcasting service owned by Twitter, just dropped today. Included among the new goodies for users of Periscope for iOS is teleporting, a feature courtesy of 3D Touch support that will transport you to a random part of the world and drop you right into a broadcast from there. In line with making the experience more global, Periscope’s world map for locating broadcasts has been updated to include more livestreams — it was previously capped at 250 — and also replays of streams from within the past 24 hours. That’ll massively ease discovery, and allow you to look back at breaking news events to get a more local, eyes-on-the-ground perspective.

Trim Will Find Your Subscriptions, Cancel Those You No Longer Want – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Birchbox, Spotify, HBO NOW, newspapers, box of the month clubs, meal services, and more: The rise of subscription-based commerce means consumers now pay for a number of items on a recurring basis. But even a few dollars spent here and there have a way of adding up, and eating into your household’s budget. A new startup called Trim wants to help you better track all the subscriptions you pay for, and easily cancel those you don’t need. And it does all this over text messaging.

Tumblr launches instant messaging on Android, iOS, and the web – Tumblr users can finally carry on real time conversations with one another. Today the company announced that instant messaging launches today across Android, iOS (assuming you’ve got the latest versions of each app), and the web. But it’s not immediately available to everyone; Tumblr says it’s taking a “viral” approach to rolling out messaging. It’s giving the new feature to 1,500 users to start. Everyone those people message will also gain the new function, and the chain goes on from there. “You’ll receive the messaging feature when a friend who has it already messages you, passing it along,” reads a new support page with more specifics on messaging.

Fb Messenger’s Facial Recognition “Photo Magic” Reminds You To Send Friends Photos Of Them – We are busy and lazy, so we forget to send friends the photos we take of them. But Facebook Messenger‘s newest feature Photo Magic scans your newly taken photos with facial recognition, and immediately notifies you with an option to send pics to friends that are in them. The test is rolling out in Australia today on Android and later this week on iOS, before reaching other countries if people enjoy it. Chief Messenger David Marcus says it will be available in the US soon.


Try these 15 PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts for masterful slide creation – A good PowerPoint presentation has a lot to do with what you see on that deck, and how it was put together. These keyboard shortcuts will make it all easier.

Easily share a web page on your next tech support call with Shove for Chrome – No matter how little you think you know about computers, if you read tech news sites you inevitably become somebody’s PC support line. The worst calls are the remote ones where a family member on the other side of the country regularly needs help. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, here’s a tool you can install on your friend or family member’s PC to make remote help easier.


Amazon Echo to be sold at over 3,000 US retail stores – With Black Friday quickly approaching in the US, and thus the onslaught of the holiday shopping season, Amazon has just announced that its Echo, the internet-connected speaker and digital assistant, is making a formal move from the online marketplace to the physical retail environment. Amazon says that in the near future over 3,000 stores will begin selling the Echo, including Home Depot, Staples, Sears, BJ’s, P.C. Richard & Son, Brookstone, RadioShack, and Fred Meyer locations.

T-Mobile’s Binge On frees Netflix and Hulu from data caps, but not YouTube – T-Mobile USA will exempt a list of video streaming services from monthly data caps with Binge On, a feature that could let some subscribers watch more clips and shows without buying a more expensive plan.


So You’ve Been Breached – Breaches happen the way Hemingway said you go bankrupt: gradually then suddenly. There is no telling where and when a hacker can enter your servers and there is no telling when or where all of your customer’s private information will appear – whether neatly packaged for sale on the dark web or splashed on a torrent site. All that is clear, however, is that breaches affecting millions of people are now commonplace and smart companies are getting hit all the time. We are getting punched full of holes as surely as if we were orbiting the Earth through a field of space debris. And, according to experts, the pace is not letting up.

10 cost-effective ways to quickly beef up your company security – Is your company security a bit on the lean side due to a budgetary shortfall? Here are some affordable ways to prop up that weak security and protect your data.

This free fix will stop Cryptowall 4 from holding your PC hostage – Known as Cryptowall 4, the ransomware infects Windows machines, encrypts files, and demands users cough up crypto-cash to unlock their documents. The new variant, thought to have been developed by Russian hackers, emakes it even harder to crack the files by scrambling file names. Romanian antivirus firm Bitdefender said Monday it has developed a “vaccine” that can prevent a user from becoming infected with the malware. The tool, which can be downloaded for free from its site, does not undo the damage if the malware has already infected a machine, and only applies to the latest Cryptowall 4 malware.

Apple and Google remove third-party Instagram app that stole hundreds of thousands of passwords – Third-party app InstaAgent was found to be storing users’ Instagram usernames and passwords in an unencrypted form, before sending them on to unknown servers by iOS developer David L-R, who posted his discovery on Twitter late last night. Google responded quickly to the revelation, removing the app from its Play Store, but Apple took a little longer to kill any mention of InstaAgent from the App Store, finally removing it a few hours after the first tweets indicated its malicious intentions. While Instagram warns against using third-party apps to access your profile for precisely this reason, InstaAgent promised extra features for its users, including the ability to see who was viewing your profile.

Official Premier League Fantasy Website Pushes Malvertising – Soccer, or rather football aficionados in the UK may have had their computers infected whilst browsing the Premier League’s official fantasy website A malicious advert displayed on the sports portal which draws in over 16 million visitors per month according to SimilarWeb automatically redirected unsuspecting soccer fans to the Nuclear exploit kit. The Flash-based ad for a British yacht company was hosted on a highly suspicious server and distributed over https, making detection at the firewall or gateway much more difficult because it would encrypt the content of the page.


Own a Vizio Smart TV? It’s watching you – Vizio’s Smart TVs track your viewing habits and share it with advertisers, who can then find you on your phone and other devices. The tracking—which Vizio calls “Smart Interactivity”—is turned on by default for the more than 10 million Smart TVs that the company has sold. Customers who want to escape it have to opt-out. In a statement, Vizio said customers’ “non-personal identifiable information may be shared with select partners … to permit these companies to make, for example, better-informed decisions regarding content production, programming and advertising.”

Comcast resets passwords after logins posted to dark web, but denies breach – Comcast will reset passwords for about 200,000 customer accounts, after some valid user accounts were posted online. About 590,000 purported login and password combinations were put up for sale on a dark web marketplace over the weekend. But about one-third of those were active, working logins, the company confirmed. The broadcast and media giant denied it had fallen victim to a data breach. It’s not clear where the data came from. With a sizable minority of valid information taken, it’s possible that a third-party company may have suffered a data breach, leading to the leak of some valid information.

USB Killer ruins your computer in the name of security – Want to make your desktop or laptop more secure? There’s a new gadget you can buy that will help — by frying all of its USB ports. That’s the pitch for USB Killer, though the description is a bit more colorful on the IndieGogo campaign page. It’s billed as “an entirely new concept in the field of data security” that can “permanently stop data theft on any computer.” Well, any data theft that’s done through a USB port, anyway. It can’t do a damn thing to prevent wireless attacks, it can’t stop a remote attacker from breaching your system, and it doesn’t permanently scramble the contents of your hard drive. What USB Killer will do is permanently cook any port you plug it in to. Oh, and there’s a slight chance that it might also damage your system’s mainboard, but apparently that’s the price you pay for the ultimate in security.


New encryption ransomware targets Linux systems – The antivirus software company Doctor Web has issued an alert about a new form of crypto-ransomware that targets users of Linux-based operating systems. Designated as “Linux.Encoder.1” by the company, the malware largely targets Web servers, encrypting their contents and demanding a ransom of one Bitcoin (currently about $500). Many of the systems that have been affected by the malware were infected when attackers exploited a vulnerability in the Magento CMS. A critical vulnerability patch for Magneto, which is used to power a number of e-commerce sites, was published on October 31. Doctor Web researchers currently place the number of victims in the “at least tens” range, but attacks on other vulnerable content management systems could increase the number of victims dramatically.

With just a password needed to access police databases, the FBI got basic security wrong – Someone in the FBI’s own IT department is probably having a very bad week. Hackers earlier this month were able to access a US law enforcement arrest database, and posted screenshots to Twitter — including some high-profile arrestees, like hacker Jeremy Hammond, convicted for his part in the Stratfor leak. It wasn’t just that arrest database. The hackers, according to Wired, also gained access to a police file transfer service, and an instant messaging service for police, and a real-time intelligence-sharing platform, among others.

Three Men Indicted In U.S. Over Last Year’s Massive J.P. Morgan Hack – Three men were charged in a 23-count indictment in connection with the 2014 hacking of J.P. Morgan Chase and multiple other financial institutions. Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein were first arrested in Israel in July. The third man, Joshua Samuel Aaron, is a U.S. citizen who attended school in Florida and then lived in Tel Aviv and Moscow. The charges, first reported by Reuters, include computer hacking and wire fraud. 83 million household and business accounts were jeopardized in the J.P. Morgan breach last year. According to the indictment, the victims of the hack were in New York, Boston, Omaha, St. Louis and Charlotte.

Company News:

Alibaba sales hit $5B in first 90 minutes of ‘Singles Day’ promotion – An annual sales promotion on China’s biggest online shopping site is off to an spectacular start with $5 billion of goods sold in just 90 minutes. That’s equal to more than half of last year’s total sales volume of $9.3 billion for the entire day and close to the 2013 all-day total of $5.8 billion. Alibaba’s “Singles Day” is an attempt to get customers who are single to buy themselves gifts and has taken place for several years on Nov. 11, chosen for its numeric date of 11/11.

Microsoft Goes For Another Israeli Security Firm Buying Secure Islands – Israel is a small country with a thriving security startup industry, and Microsoft appears to be have a taste for them. Today it announced an agreement to buy Secure Islands, its third Israeli security firm in the last year. While Microsoft did not reveal a specific price, various reports peg the deal at between $77 million and $150 million. Microsoft made the announcement official in a company blog post this morning. Secure Islands gives Microsoft a way to secure data across services, including its Office 365 and Azure cloud products. It’s not exactly a big secret that security is top of mind for everyone these days with high profile breaches coming on a regular basis. Down 6% On 3rd-Quarter Earnings – reported third quarter earnings after the bell Monday. The Utah-based discount e-tailer reported a quarterly loss of 8 cents per share or $2.1 million, down from $1.6 million in profit last year. Overstock brought in $391.2 million in revenue, an 11% increase year-over-year, but beneath the Yahoo Finance analyst estimate of $401.6 million. A 9% increase in total orders coupled with a 2% in order size, contributed to the rise in sales. In a statement, CEO Patrick Byrne cited a change to Google’s search algorithm, which is negatively impacting growth. “While we work to adapt to Google’s changes, we are increasing our emphasis on other marketing channels, such as sponsored search and display ad marketing, which are generating revenue growth but with higher associated marketing expenses than natural search,” said Byrne.

Qualcomm details Snapdragon 820: Phones, drones and VR — There’s a lot riding on the Snapdragon 820; it’s fair to say Qualcomm hasn’t had the home-run success with the Snapdragon 810 that it might have hoped for. Questions about the chipset’s heat output, not to mention some high-profile defections from flagship device makers like Samsung, cast a shadow over the 810’s roll-out.


Google Offers Up Its Entire Machine Learning Library as Open-Source Software – Via its research blog, Google announced on Monday that it was releasing the second generation of its machine learning framework as an open-source library called TensorFlow. “The most important thing about TensorFlow is that it’s yours,” write Google Technical Lead Rajat Monga and Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean. “We’ve open-sourced TensorFlow as a standalone library and associated tools, tutorials, and examples with the Apache 2.0 license so you’re free to use TensorFlow at your institution (no matter where you work).”

Uber And Lyft Join Forces With The White House To Offer Free Rides To Veterans – Just before Veterans Day, Uber and Lyft are teaming up with the U.S. government to offer free transportation to former military men and women who lack a way to get to jobs and interviews. Lack of adequate transportation is one of the major problems affecting the veteran population, particularly homeless veterans.

Games and Entertainment:

Here are the first 100+ backward-compatible Xbox 360 games – The full list, copied below, is dominated by downloadable Xbox Live Arcade titles and classic re-releases from even older systems. There are a few high-end retail best-sellers on there, though, including Fallout 3, Fable II, and the entire Gears of War series. Microsoft also promises that Xbox One support is “on the way” for more “fan favorites,” including Halo Reach, Halo Wars, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite, and Skate 3. Newly compatible titles will be announced “on a regular basis” starting in December, and users can send in specific requests for games they want added to the list using Microsoft’s online form.


Pixar’s going back underwater with first ‘Finding Dory’ trailer – There will undoubtedly be lots of swimming in “Finding Dory,” the highly anticipated upcoming sequel to the Oscar-winning 2003 animated feature “Finding Nemo.” Pixar released an official new trailer for “Finding Dory” on Tuesday, giving a sense of the adventures that Dory and company face this time around in the deep blue sea.


The new Tomb Raider lets Twitch viewers influence the gameplay – The just-launched Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One may be a largely single-player experience, but if you stream it on Twitch other people will be able to get in on the action as well. As part of a new feature, the new Tomb Raider will allow Twitch viewers to interact with the game they’re watching, influencing the gameplay at specific points.


Ultra-addictive space dots game Auralux returns with “Constellations” – One of the most addicting games on any platform, Auralux, is about to get a sequel. This game will be called Auralux: Constellations, and it’ll have the same gameplay mechanics at its base, but will work with ever-so-slightly modified graphics and the ability to play multiplayer. Therein lies the key to the expansion of this already-excellent game. Another completely separate game, this time coming with the ability to battle your buddies.


10 upcoming indie games you should be most excited about – The quality of indie games continues to skyrocket, and these are the ones you should be most excited about.


The Time Project

Fallout 4 review: Won’t set the world on fire, but might start a (tiny) flame in your heart – Fallout 4 goes down easy, but only because we’ve already played this exact game twice before.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10,000 historic phonograph cylinder audio recordings hit the web for free – Over 10,000 audio recordings from over 100 years ago have recently been digitized by the University of California, Santa Barbara since they began hosting their Cylinder Audio Archive online. And for the first time, all the recordings have been made available for easy search and download to us average non-collegent Joes and Janes.


Surgical simulators get Hollywood special effects – What’s creepy to one person can be lifesaving to another: Boston Children’s Hospital teamed up with Hollywood special-effects artists to create lifelike simulators to train surgeons on complex, high-stakes operations. Two new trainers are under development and were unveiled at the hospital’s Pediatric Innovation Summit in Boston. These will join Surgical Sam and other simulators.


Jawbone user data shows Indians sleep less than most westerners – The US-based wearables company has been compiling data on the sleeping and walking habits of its Indian Jawbone Up users, reporting that they rest and walk less than many westerners.

Overcoming our auto-petulance – We all are asked to do things we don’t want to do at work. If your reaction is to just not do them, you are in danger of harming more than just your career.


Sony Says Farewell to Betamax Cassettes – Yes, you read that right. Sony this week said it will finally stop producing Betamax cassettes in March 2016. Sony, which has been selling Beta cassette tapes in Japan for the past four decades, announced Tuesday that it will finally stop producing them in March 2016. So, this means if you’re still in possession of the vintage VCR, and a compatible video camera, you better stock up on some of the remaining cassette tapes pretty soon if you ever want to produce new content for your Betamax again.


10 reasons why IT support will cause you to lose your hair – Working in the world of PC support isn’t like working the average job or career. Yes, it’s incredibly rewarding. But it’s also challenging on numerous exhausting levels. During your career in IT or PC support, you will experience situations that might make you want to run straight for the unemployment line. What situations could do this? Let me lay out a few and see if some of them don’t send stripes of white cascading through your hairline.


The ITC does not have authority over the internet, according to Federal Circuit – The internet has one less regulator, thanks to a ruling passed down this morning from The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. According to the decision, the United States International Trade Commission does not have the authority to regulate information on the internet, blocking what many advocates saw as a major threat to the open web. Thanks to its broad powers, the ITC has become an increasingly popular venue for patent and copyright disputes, but its jurisdiction traditionally only extends to physical goods as they pass over borders. This latest case looked to change that, with potentially profound implications for data as it crosses international borders.

Foil vs. parchment vs. wax paper: Here’s when to use them – You probably know that foil is silver and parchment paper and wax paper are, well, waxy, but does your knowledge about them end there? These three kitchen staples have a variety of uses that can make cooking time much simpler. Here’s the difference and tips on how you should use them.


Something to think about:




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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: We Disclose 91 Percent of Security Bugs We Find – The good news: the National Security Agency (NSA) says it discloses more than 90 percent of the harmful, Web-based bugs its discovers. The bad news: the agency likely waits until it has used those vulnerabilities to its advantage before disclosing them.

In an infographic made public recently, the NSA shares how it collects security information and ultimately disseminates it to those affected. The government agency says it performs regular security checks on products like smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices, and reveals 91 percent of the vulnerabilities it discovers. The remaining 9 percent are either fixed in the time since the issues are discovered or are not disclosed for “national security reasons,” the agency says.

But as Reuters pointed out, that’s probably not the whole story. It cited current and former U.S. government officials, who said the NSA likely exploits these bugs as much as it can before making them public.

UN privacy head slams ‘worse than scary’ UK surveillance bill – The United Nations’ new privacy head has slammed the UK’s draft surveillance bill, calling it “worse than scary.”

Speaking at the annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Brazil, special rapporteur on privacy Joe Cannataci referred to the Investigatory Powers Bill as the “Snooper’s Charter” and accused the UK government of an orchestrated campaign to get hold of new mass surveillance powers that the evidence shows will not prevent terrorism.

The outspoken chief also accused “father of the internet” Vint Cerf of being “dumb” by claiming that modern privacy “may be an anomaly.” The claim that anonymity only occurred in modern time with the move to big cities was “pure, undiluted rubbish,” said Cannataci.

Giving a presentation at an open forum on the Right to Privacy in The Digital Age, Cannataci was highly critical of a number of recent efforts by countries to expand surveillance, including France’s new law created following the attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, but he focused in on the UK and the surveillance bill currently going through Parliament.

Tim Cook: UK crypto backdoors would lead to ‘dire consequences’ – IPB Apple boss Tim Cook has once again warned of what he says would be the “dire consequences” of opening up backdoors to allow spies to access our data.

He said it would be wrong for the UK government’s latest super-spy bid – the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, which landed in Parliament last week – to weaken cryptography.

Cook was speaking to the Daily Telegraph during a visit to London on Monday.

“It’s not the case that encryption is a rare thing that only two or three rich companies own and you can regulate them in some way. Encryption is widely available,” he told the newspaper.

“It may make someone feel good for a moment but it’s not really of benefit. If you halt or weaken encryption, the people you hurt are not the folks that want to do bad things. It’s the good people. The other people know where to go,” Cook added.

Facebook must stop tracking Belgian users in two days or be fined – $267K daily – A Belgian court yesterday gave Facebook 48 hours to stop tracking Internet users who do not have a Facebook account. If the US company refuses to comply, it faces fines of up to €250,000 (£177,000 or ~$267,500) per day.

“Today the judge… ordered the social network Facebook to stop tracking and registering Internet usage by people who surf the Internet in Belgium, in the 48 hours which follow this statement,” the Belgian court said according to AFP.

The judgment is a result of Belgium’s independent Privacy Commission taking Facebook to court for failing to comply with the country’s privacy laws, as Ars reported back in June. The Privacy Commission wanted Facebook to implement a number of changes to its operations, including refraining from “systematically placing long-life and unique identifier cookies with non-users of Facebook.” The commission always wanted Facebook to stop collecting and using user data through the use of cookies and social plug-ins unless it obtained an unambiguous and specific consent through an opt-in.

The demands were prompted by research carried out for the Privacy Commission, which found that Facebook tracked all visitors, even those who did not have an account or who had explicitly opted out of tracking. The court has now confirmed that the tracking cookie “is personal data, which Facebook can only use if the Internet user expressly gives their consent, as Belgian privacy law dictates.”

Weeks before NSA bulk phone spying ends, US judge (kinda) reins in program – US District Judge Richard Leon of the District of Columbia ruled Monday that a challenge to the program “will likely succeed in showing that the Program is indeed an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.” But in that decision, the judge said the program, because of the legal posture of the lawsuit, could continue unabated—but with a caveat. The authorities have to stop scooping up the telephone metadata on J.J. Little, a Los Angeles trial lawyer, and his boutique firm of a handful of lawyers now at the center of the case that is as old as the Snowden disclosure.

All of which means that, nearly 2.5 years following Snowden’s revelation, a handful of Americans have beaten the NSA’s spy program. But it would be foolhardy to suggest that it’s anything close to a victory. That’s because the program, which has successfully beaten multiple court challenges, has been spying on hundreds of millions of people, has been modified by Congress, and will expire in its original form on November 29.

Nevertheless, Judge Leon talked a tough game in his 43-page ruling in a case that ping-ponged to the appellate courts and back.

Supreme Court declines to decide whether you need a warrant to get cell site data – On Monday, the Supreme Court allowed the nationwide legal confusion to continue regarding a bread-and-butter privacy topic in the digital age: whether the constitution demands that the authorities need a probable cause court warrant to obtain cell-site location data records of suspects under investigation.

That’s because the justices, without comment, declined (PDF) to consider the case of Florida man Quartavious Davis who got a life term for several robberies in a 2010. Prosecution in that trial built its case with Davis’ mobile phone’s location data, which the police obtained without a warrant from mobile provider MetroPCS. The data linked the man to several crime scenes. The government’s position on the topic is that Americans’ mobile devices can be tracked without the Fourth Amendment’s probable case standard being met.

For the moment, there is no clear legal standard on whether a warrant is required. Two federal appellate courts have ruled that no warrant was necessary (PDF), but a third appeals court said that warrants are required. That divergence of views normally is enough to create a so-called “split” in the appellate courts, which would necessitate Supreme Court intervention to resolve the conflict. But the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of privacy, set aside (PDF) its decision two weeks ago and agreed to rehear the issue.


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

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.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – November 6, 2015

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)

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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.


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