Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 14, 2016

How to get free home phone service from Google;  Using a thing made by Microsoft, Apple or Adobe? It probably needs a patch today;  Run Android apps on your Windows PC;  Confide brings self-destructing messaging to iMessage;  The Best Password Managers of 2016;  WeConnect is an app to support addiction recovery;  15 neat hidden features in iOS 10;  Simplenote: So simple, it just works – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to get free home phone service from Google – You’ll almost never see it promoted — and hardly anyone outside of hardcore tech enthusiasts knows it even exists — but Google has a free home phone service just waiting to be utilized. And all you need is a simple little box to tap into its power. Plain and simple, having a home phone can be a nice convenience — something that makes life just a little bit easier. And if said service is free to use, why the hell not? Here’s what you need to get started:

Windows 10 Anniversary Update rollout may not be done until early November – Microsoft is notifying Windows 10 users that the Anniversary Update may take three months to roll out. Here’s why.

Run Android apps on your Windows PC – Android’s application ecosystem has proven to be versatile and developer-friendly, after a bit of a slow start. You are free to develop an app for Android and publish it to the Play Store with just a few basic restrictions. This has led to a plethora of really cool Android apps, some of which aren’t available on iOS or other platforms. Running Android apps usually requires an Android smartphone or tablet — obviously! — but what if you currently use iOS or another mobile OS, and want to try out Android without actually getting an Android device? Well, fortunately, with a little leg work, you can run Android apps on a regular old Windows PC. There are a few different ways to go about it, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

The Best Password Managers of 2016 – A password like “123456” or “monkey” is easy to remember, but it’s also easy to crack. With the help of a password manager, you can have a unique and strong password for every secure website.

iOS 10 reviewed: There’s no reason not to update – iOS 10 offers a lot of new stuff for users, including several redesigned apps, a new design for notifications, an improved Control Center, and more. But it’s also got a lot of under-the-hood changes for developers in the vein of iOS 8: it opens up notifications, the UI for making and receiving voice and video calls, the Maps app, and Siri, and it re-imagines Messages as a sort of platform-unto-itself complete with its own branch of the App Store. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s dive right in.

15 neat hidden features in iOS 10 – After months and months of beta, iOS 10 is finally here — and it’s a huge update. In particular, Apple has tucked away many little features that you won’t see right away. If you want to impress all your friends with your mad iOS skills, here is a list of some of these features.

Five security settings in iOS 10 you should immediately change – The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system comes with some privacy improvements. Before you do anything like customizing your phone, loading new apps, or syncing your data for the first time, you should take a few steps to lock down your device and protect your privacy. Here are the important tweaks to get you started.

How to install Tonido to enable cloud access to your desktop – One of the easiest ways to access your desktop files and folders from the cloud is Tonido, says Jack Wallen. See why self-employed IT pros, in particular, might like this option.

This PC Is the Size of a Pack of Gum (And it’s Really Good) – Ever thought that a stick PC that functions as a full desktop when you plug it into a TV is a good idea, but that the Intel Atom processor really is too low-powered for your needs? If so, then Intel’s latest Compute Stick is what you’ve been waiting for. In addition to a more powerful Core m3 chip, it comes with better connectivity, double the memory and storage, and, of course, a higher price. The base version of this year’s Compute Stick$129.99 at Amazon goes for $129, but the upgraded model we tested runs $379.99. That’s not too bad, and well worth it if you’re planning on getting things done.


Twitter’s reworked character limit tipped to arrive September 19 – Twitter gives you 140 characters to say whatever it is you need to say. This is a very restrictive limit, yes, but one that is ultimately good for the service, many users argue. That’s why past notions of raising the character limit resulted in swift outcries against doing so, and why Twitter’s May announcement was received with a mixed response. At the time, Twitter revealed something of a compromise: while it is keeping its 140-character limitation, it is tweaking which things count toward that character count. Assuming a new tip is correct, Twitter will be kicking off this change on September 19th.

Twitter can now alert you when someone you follow starts live streaming – Twitter is increasing its focus on live streaming today with the launch of a new Notification button on its app that lets you subscribe to be alerted when someone you follow starts live-streaming. When you receive the alert, you can immediately join the broadcast with just a tap. The feature works both for alerting users to new streams from Periscope, as well as for content from Twitter’s live streaming partners, such as the NFL.

Confide brings self-destructing messaging to iMessage – Confide, the confidential messaging app that launched back in 2013, has today announced an integration with iMessage in iOS 10. As part of iOS 10’s new iMessage features, which incorporates apps right within the iMessage application, Confide users will be able to send self-destructing messages direct from their texts. Confide for iMessage will support text and pictures, using Confide’s familiar wand functionality, where users can only see the text over which they drag their finger. Confide for iMessage requires that both users already have the app.

How to combine WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack in one window – A helpful Chrome app called All-in-One Messenger uses the power of web apps to bring together all your new messaging services.

WeConnect is an app to support addiction recovery – Keeping close, quantified track of personal progress is absolutely imperative for one group of people: recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. And it’s this often isolated segment of society that the startup behind the WeConnect app is aiming to help. Their app-based support platform includes context-sensitive notifications to encourage timely communication within support groups; a dashboard view that structures the user’s day with activities they view as beneficial to their wellbeing (such as prayer or meditation); and ongoing tracking of their personal progress at attending recovery program meetings — including using geofencing to determine they really attended a particular meeting and even how long they spent there.

Microsoft Outlook’s mobile app just added Sunrise’s best features – When it acquired calendar app Sunrise, Microsoft promised that its features would eventually come to Outlook. That moment arrives today with a big update to Outlook on Android and iOS that delivers several of Sunrise’s best features to the Outlook calendar. That likely won’t satisfy hardcore Sunrise users still upset the app is going away — and after a last-minute stay of execution on August 31st, Sunrise is finally dying today. But the new features in Outlook are robust enough that most users will want to give the calendar another look.

Simplenote: So simple, it just works – If you’re looking for a simple note keeping tool, one with a minimal feature set that still manages to get the job done, Jack Wallen might have just the app for you.

YouTube gets its own social network with the launch of YouTube Community – Confirming earlier reports that YouTube was planning to introduce more social networking features to its service, the company announced this morning the launch of YouTube Community, which allows video creators to better engage viewers using text, GIFs, images and more. The goal with the new features is to help keep creators from departing to competing platforms by offering more tools for connecting with their audience, beyond the videos themselves. YouTube has been testing the new service over the past several months with a handful of creators in order to gain feedback. Today, it’s launching the service into public beta with this group of early testers, and will make it available to a wider group of creators in the “months ahead,” it says.


Using a thing made by Microsoft, Apple or Adobe? It probably needs a patch today – Microsoft is wrapping up the summer with a dump of 14 bulletins for various security vulnerabilities in its products, while Apple and Adobe are following up with fixes of their own. The September edition of Patch Update Tuesday sees fixes released for critical issues in Windows, Windows Server, Internet Explorer, Edge, Flash Player, iOS, Xcode, and the Apple Watch.

The World Anti-Doping Agency says it was hacked by Russia – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced today that Russian hackers gained access to its database and viewed information on athletes involved in this year’s Olympic games. The agency claims the state-sponsored group Fancy Bear is behind the attack, although it doesn’t clarify how that attribution was made. The attackers reportedly relied on spear phishing emails to gain access to the database and eventually used credentials specifically made for the Rio Olympic games.

ORWL PC: The most secure home computer ever – ORWL’s secure PC is hardened against physical attacks, using technology you might find in a bank’s ATM.


The ORWL features Skylake-based Core m3 or Core m7 CPUs and 8GB of RAM.

ClixSense data breach exposes personal information of million of subscribers – This week, ClixSense, a website which offers users cash in return for completing surveys and watching ads, admitted to a data breach in which an attacker was able to gain access to the firm’s database. The unknown attacker was able to use an old server which the company was no longer using — but was, at the time, still networked — to gain access to the main database. After gaining entry, the cybercriminal was able to copy “most, if not all” of the ClixSense users table, changed account names to “hacked account” and deleted a number of forum posts — as well as set user account balances to a zero balance.

Company News:

Viacom, Hasbro, and others fined $835,000 for ad tracking on children’s websites – Today, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an $835,000 settlement with Viacom, Hasbro, Mattel, and Jumpstart over online tracking on children’s websites. The Attorney General’s investigation found that websites for Barbie, Dora the Explorer, and other popular children’s brands were tracking users to serve ads. While common on the web, ad tracking is forbidden for sites directed at children under 13 by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (or COPPA). As part of the settlement, each company has agreed to withdraw third-party trackers, as well as conducing regular scans and vetting vendors to ensure they’re in compliance with COPPA in the future.

Facebook loses bid to dismiss teen’s revenge porn lawsuit – Facebook will have to head to the courtroom after losing a legal effort to reject a revenge porn case brought against it. The 14-year-old victim, who isn’t being identified because of her age, sued Facebook in a Belfast, Northern Ireland, court after her former partner spammed a naked photo of the teen on a “shame page” on the social network from November 2014 to January 2016. The incident is the latest example of the struggle that social networks face in handling online harassment.

Pandora is almost ready to launch its music subscription service – Pandora is getting closer to becoming the latest company to jump in the $10-a-month, all-you-can-eat music streaming world. The radio service has signed licensing deals with Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Merlin Network for its upcoming subscription music services. This leaves Warner Music Group as the sole major label that hasn’t signed on for the service.

2 million fake accounts later, Wells Fargo drops sales quotas for its employees – On Tuesday, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf released a statement promising that the bank would eliminate product sales goals for its employees after thousands of employees were found to have opened fake accounts using real customer names and identification in order to boost internal sales numbers. Stump did not go so far as to say that the practice of cross-selling financial products would end at Wells Fargo, but The Wall Street Journal reported that the company would put a temporary hold on the practice.

Adblock Plus finds the end-game of its business model: Selling ads – Eyeo GmbH, the company that makes the popular Adblock Plus software, will today start selling the very thing many of its users hate—advertisements. Publishers who place the ads will do so knowing that they won’t be blocked by most of the 100 million Adblock Plus users. The software extension’s default setting allows for “acceptable ads” to be shown, and more than 90 percent of its users don’t change that default setting.

OpenText to buy Dell EMC’s enterprise content division – Canadian enterprise information management vendor OpenText has agreed to buy Dell Technologies’ EMC Enterprise Content Division for US$1.62 billion, in a deal that allows both companies to focus on their core missions.

Netflix Urges FCC to Ban Data Caps – “Data caps…and usage-based pricing discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband,” Netflix says.

Games and Entertainment:

The Best PC Games of 2016 – If the personal computer is your video game machine of choice, check out this curated game selection that will help you buy only the most entertaining titles on the Windows platform.

Don’t call it a comeback: The rebirth of the video game demo? – Free game demos still exist, of course, but they’re not quite so compulsory for publishers, and they can be downright difficult to find on modern consoles. A couple of recent news stories have shown that the humble old game demo might still have some life left in it, though.

FIFA 17 Demo arrives tomorrow with ‘The Journey’ experience – FIFA 17 will be launching on September 27, but some gamers will get a chance to experience the game ahead of that launch with “FIFA 17 Demo.” The demo launches starting tomorrow and brings with it a limited experience for ‘The Journey,’ a game mode we’ve previously detailed, as well as “Own Every Moment.” As well, EA Sports says there will be four single-player Skill Games included with the FIFA 17 Demo, as well as a trio of new multiplayer Skill Game, and more.

Xbox One S Battlefield 1 bundles detailed ahead of October 21 launch – Microsoft will release Xbox One S bundles featuring Battlefield 1 and either 500GB or 1TB of storage starting on October 13. The bundles will initially rollout in Europe on that date, and will be followed on October 21 in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The 500GB console bundle will be available in white and “Storm Grey Special Edition” colors, while the 1TB console will be available as the Xbox One S Battlefield 1 Special Edition Bundle.


Video Games Are So Realistic That They Can Teach AI What the World Looks Like – Thanks to the modern gaming industry, we can now spend our evenings wandering around photorealistic game worlds, like the post-apocalyptic Boston of Fallout 4 or Grand Theft Auto V’s Los Santos, instead of doing things like “seeing people” and “engaging in human interaction of any kind.” Games these days are so realistic, in fact, that artificial intelligence researchers are using them to teach computers how to recognize objects in real life. Not only that, but commercial video games could kick artificial intelligence research into high gear by dramatically lessening the time and money required to train AI.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Edward Snowden: I should be pardoned on moral grounds – Sure, Edward Snowden may have broken the law. But morally and ethically, he did the right thing, he told the Guardian in an interview published Tuesday.

Sex toys and the Internet of Things collide—what could go wrong? – It was only a matter of time before the Internet of Things caught up with sex toys and led to products like apps that remotely control vibrators from an Apple or Android device via a Bluetooth connection. And now, one of those apps is accused of being a little too connected to its users. Standard Innovation—the maker of the We-Vibe vibrator and accompanying app—is the subject of a federal privacy lawsuit. The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims the We-Vibe vibrator app chronicles how often and how long consumers use the sex toy and sends that data to the company’s Canadian servers.

Carbon Health wants to put medical data in one place for patients and their many doctors – For all the high-tech advances in healthcare when it comes to drugs and devices, doctors, their back offices, pharmacies, labs that conduct health tests and insurance providers aren’t exactly in easy communication about or with the people in their care. And patients don’t have a single, easy place to interact with doctors and track their own medical data. That’s a hard thing to believe in a post-mobile and post-social era. Carbon Health, which presented on stage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield today, is aiming to change all of this with a platform that serves as a sophisticated electronic health records system and billing platform for even the smallest private practice.

Spotify Original Series Looks to Get Out the Young Vote – Clarify will encourage young people to vote, and discuss things like student debt, the economy, civil rights, and guns.

LinkedIn’s founder offers $5M to see Trump’s tax returns – LinkedIn founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Reid Hoffman is offering to donate up to $5 million to charity if Donald Trump releases his income tax returns. Hoffman made his offer Monday in a post on Medium calling attention to a veteran’s crowdfunding effort challenging Trump to release his returns. If the Republican nominee releases his returns before the final presidential debate on October 19, the CrowdPac effort launched by Marine Corp veteran Pete Kiernan will donate the money raised to a handful of veterans groups.

Science shows that drunk people don’t know how drunk they are – We now have solid scientific evidence that people are completely unable to determine how soused they are when drinking with a group. A team of social scientists recently completed a study of bar and club hoppers in Cardiff, Wales and discovered that most had incredibly inaccurate notions of their drunkenness and the dangers of drinking. But the researchers also learned something non-obvious and intriguing about how people estimate their levels of inebriation.

Something to think about:

“You can question somebody’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or patriotism.”

–       Barack Obama

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senators want to revive ‘dead’ anti-encryption bill, leak shows – A controversial bipartisan bill that would prevent tech companies from using strong encryption isn’t as dead as was once thought.

The bill, which critics argue would have outlawed end-to-end encrypted apps and services because it ensured that companies must turn over readable data to law enforcement, had no support from the Senate, where the bill was raised because it would “undermine the foundation of cybersecurity for millions of Americans”.

It also had no support from the Obama administration, or even the intelligence community, which the bill aimed to help.

Tech companies were also vehemently against the bill’s efforts to compel companies to decrypt data at a court’s request.

The bill was eventually declared dead. But that isn’t going to stop Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) from fighting to get it back on the table.

Google’s become an obsessive stalker and you can’t get a restraining order – Google isn’t just interested in tracking you, or even very interested. Google tracks you with the defiant zeal of an obsessive stalker.

What’s curious is that the American state seems almost as keen on the unfettered collection and use of location data as Google itself.

Phones incorporated GPS silicon long before the iPhone launched – by 2007 it was a standard feature of Nokia’s mid- and high-end S60 devices. Curiously, the original “Jesus Phone” launched in 2007 with Google Maps installed – but without GPS. GPS was one of the original missing features, along with MMS and video recording.

We’ve generally been aware that smartphones track us. Concerns first surfaced in April 2011, when an app illustrating the iPhone’s location record made it easy to see.

What’s changed is that the collection and use of this location data now appears to us to be much more aggressive. Google simply doesn’t care about being discreet any more. It doesn’t care that users might think it is creepy. But the historical records show that Google always was pretty hardcore about location data.

Police union resists body cams, judge orders Boston cops to wear them – Boston cops on Monday reluctantly launched a six-month body cam pilot program after a state judge told the police union that making the decision to wear them “is a non-arbitrable management right.”

As many as 100 of the city’s 1,500 patrol officers are being assigned a camera after a judge set aside the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association’s (BPPA) edict that its union members not wear them until the demand is included in the union membership’s contract.

The union had brought litigation (PDF), which ended Friday with a decision (PDF) by Douglas Wilkins, a Suffolk County Superior Court judge. He ruled it was up to Police Commissioner William Evans, not the union, as to whether the Boston Police Department would become the latest agency to deploy body-worn cameras (BWCs). “[T]he court sees no defensible distinction between the non-delegable decisions regarding uniform, weapons, duties and assignments and the other in this case to wear BWCs as part of the standard equipment and mission of officers participating in the Pilot Program,” he wrote.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – September 12, 2016

System Restore – A Layman’s Guide;  How to remove your login password from Windows 10;  US government: Stop using the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 right now;  Should I take the free iPhone 7 deal or lease my next phone?  You can remove Cortana from Windows 10, but it’s tricky;  Nine Android alternatives to the iPhone 7;  5 audiophile myths, totally busted;  Cord cutting is a bigger bargain than ever;  – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Jim Hillier: System Restore – A Layman’s Guide – I peruse a lot of articles on tech sites, not only to help further my own education but also to keep an eye on what others are writing about. Although some tech sites are spot on with their information, it never ceases to amaze me just how many are spreading bad advice and misinformation. I recently came across one such article discussing System Restore which included the following closing statement:

Everyone should think of System Restore first when they start having problems with their computer.

In my humble opinion, that is patently bad advice. System Restore should always be the last resort, not the first response. There are several very good reasons for this:

How to use Windows 10’s Projecting To This PC feature to create a wireless multiple-monitor configuration – The Anniversary Update includes a new feature that lets you use Wi-Fi to project the display from a Windows 10 phone or computer to your Windows 10 PC. Here’s how to set it up.

How to remove your login password from Windows 10 – Because not everyone needs to run his or her PC like Fort Knox.

You can remove Cortana from Windows 10, but it’s tricky – Just turning off Cortana is easy. Removing her completely is hard. We’ll show you how to delve cautiously into the Windows registry.

US government: Stop using the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 right now – Amid more reports of fires and exploding devices, the CPSC is asking Note 7 owners to immediately stop using the faulty device.

How to repair Windows’ master boot record and fix your bricked PC – Your PC won’t work if Windows’ MBR is corrupted or erased. Luckily, it can be fixed.

Facebook photo-sharing app Moments expands to web, adds support for full-res photos – Facebook Moments, the company’s private photo-sharing application which took the place of mobile photo sync late last year, is now expanding beyond the confines of your mobile phone and your personal network. While previously, the app allowed you to share your photos with select Facebook friends, the new version allows you to share a web link to your private album with anyone – even those you’re not connected with on the social network. They can then join the album, and proceed to add their own photos. This makes Moments more useful at larger events where not everyone may be connected on Facebook, such as baby showers, weddings, parties, and more.

How to install a Chrome extension to your desktop from your smartphone – Sometimes it’s stunning how handy Google makes it to use its software—it really, really is. If you have a smartphone you can now remotely install Google Chrome extensions to your desktop PC. This is similar to the way you can remotely install Android apps to your phone from your PC (just in reverse). Even better, this method works on any smartphone. I tested it on an Android phone, a Windows 10 Mobile phone, and an iPhone. In each case, it worked exactly the same way.

SafeZone guides you to safe spaces in crises – The five person crew that developed Safe Zone wanted to do something more meaningful than creating just another geo-based social app. The app uses the MapQuest API to show users a map to a safe zones (currently with a focus of police stations or hospitals) in the event of a crisis. The user only has to tap a single button and a map display comes up that shows the nearest safe zone and directions to it. The team is looking to add another feature that would connect users immediately to 911 emergency services, too.

Raspberry Pi: how it sold 10 million in 4 years – Even for only $35 a pop, 10 million units sold is no joking number. Especially for something that’s been going on for four years, where it has had the possibility of going out of fashion or being displaced by something newer or even better. But that is exactly the momentous achievement that the Raspberry Pi is able to brag about today. But what is all the fuss about an electronics board that doesn’t even come with case? And how exactly did the Raspberry Pi gain that much attention, users, and loyalty? We take a look back in time to find out.

Raspberry Pi … in less than two minutes – Wondering what’s possible with a Raspberry Pi? Find out in less than two minutes!


Faster, longer-range Bluetooth 5 to reach devices soon – A new version of the Bluetooth wireless spec will be coming to devices soon, giving users faster connectivity among devices over longer distances. The new version, Bluetooth 5, is a big upgrade over Bluetooth 4.2, the current specification. In a clear line of sight, the range of Bluetooth 5 could stretch to 400 meters, said analysts at The Linley Group in a research note this week. That means users could connect a smartphone to a Bluetooth speaker that may not even be visible. Final Bluetooth 5 specifications will be disclosed by the end of this year or early next year, the Linley analysts said.

$400 Chinese smartphones? Apple and Samsung shrug off cheap rivals, raise prices anyway – With new Chinese flagships entering the US market in the $400 range, you’d think this would spur competition in the rest of the high-end market. You’d be wrong.

Apple iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 6s: Should You Upgrade? – Apple’s newest smartphones, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus bring some significant upgrades over the 6s lineup. Both devices lose the headphone jack, but they gain waterproofing and dual speakers. Under the hood, the camera, processor, and battery life have all been improved. So, if you’re the owner of a perfectly good iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, should you upgrade? Let’s take a look at the major similarities and differences to help you decide.

Should I take the free iPhone 7 deal or lease my next phone? – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint are all running promotions offering new and existing customers a free iPhone 7 with 32GB of memory. Sounds like a great deal. But is it really as good as it sounds? In this edition of Ask Maggie, I explain who should consider taking advantage of these promotions and who would be better off sticking with one of the device upgrade programs offered by the carriers or Apple.

Sorry, iPhone 7 Plus Does Not Have a Telephoto Lens – The iPhone 7 Plus has the same camera as the iPhone 7. And it’s got another rear camera. Apple kept referring to it as a telephoto camera. But it’s not. Its field of view is roughly half that of the standard camera, delivering a full-frame equivalent of 56mm. If you’re old enough to have shot with a manual focus 35mm SLR, there’s a very good chance that your first lens was a 50mm or 55mm prime. Both fall into the standard-angle category. Apple can call the lens telephoto all it wants, but it ain’t.

Nine Android alternatives to the iPhone 7 – No headphone jack, no physical home button, no mind-blowing physical upgrades … there are quite a few reasons to be unhappy with the iPhone 7. If you’re not excited about upgrading it might be time to think about jumping ship to an Android device. Here are nine Android phones that have features that match or beat the iPhone 7. Different phones will suit different users, so be sure to check out the full list to discover the best one for your needs.

Facebook isn’t just fighting ad blockers, it’s fighting the underlying causes of blocking – Many have interpreted Facebook’s move to “block the blockers” as a sign that Facebook is prioritizing its relationship to advertisers over users. It’s actually far more subtle. Facebook is trying to find — and own — the middle ground that neither advertisers nor publishers have been able to inhabit successfully.


Securing the human operating system: How to stop people being the weakest link in enterprise security – A company can spend all the funds it wants on the latest cybersecurity technology, like firewalls, threat detection, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, but there is one security risk that can’t blocked from entering the company networks: the employee. And the problem is only going to become trickier to solve because people are becoming more connected than ever, offering hackers additional opportunities to find that one weakness that allows them access.

Infographic: Businesses are more concerned about security of mobile devices and employee data than cyberwarfare – A recent survey by Tech Pro Research indicates that everyday breaches scare businesses more than hackers, and threats posed by mobile devices and employee data top the list.


Image: Erik Underwood/TechRepublic

Crafty GovRAT malware targets U.S. gov’t employees – A tough-to-detect malware that attacks government and corporate computers has been upgraded, making it more aggressive in its mission to steal sensitive files, according to security firm InfoArmor. Last November, InfoArmor published details on GovRAT, a sophisticated piece of malware that’s designed to bypass antivirus tools. It does this by using stolen digital certificates to avoid detection. Through GovRAT, hackers can potentially steal files from a victim’s computer, remotely execute commands, or upload other malware to the system.

911 could face its own emergency: Hackers – A network of hacked smartphone, commandeered remotely to call 911 over and over again, may sound farfetched, but the researchers found it plausible based on how much malicious software already exists to target phones. They also point out that repeated phone calls from a hacked phone can’t be blocked by the current system. The researchers shared their findings with the US Department of Homeland Security, according to The Washington Post. DHS did not respond to a request for comment. The agency has previously warned of the dangers of a denial of service attack on emergency response infrastructure.

FBI arrests alleged members of Crackas With Attitude for hacking US gov’t officials – The FBI has arrested two men believed to be part of the “Crackas With Attitude” group which hit the headlines last year after leaking information on thousands of government officials to the public. On Thursday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed the arrest of two alleged members of a hacking group which took responsibility for targeting the communications and online accounts of thousands of US government figures. The first alleged member of the Crackas With Attitude group is Andrew Otto Boggs, also known as “Incursio,” a 22-year-old from North Carolina. The second alleged member of the group to be collared by law enforcement is 24-year-old Justin Gray Liverman, also known as “D3f4ult,” who was arrested in Morehead City, North Carolina.

Company News:

HP is buying Samsung’s printer business for $1.05 billion – HP is buying Samsung’s printer business for $1.05 billion in a move aimed at “disrupting” the dusty and stale printing industry. The deal will see Samsung’s Printing Business Unit spun out independently, with HP picking up full 100 percent ownership in the business. The companies estimate it will take one year to close, pending the usual regulatory scrutiny, and, upon doing so, Samsung will make a reciprocal investment of between $100 million and $300 million into HP’s business. Samsung’s printer divisions employs around 6,000 people — around 1,300 of whom are in R&D — with 50 sales offices across the world and a production base that is located in China. In addition to that business, which recorded nearly $1.8 billion in revenue last year, HP will also get its hands on a “compelling” portfolio of around 6,500 printing patents.

Seagate sued by angry staff following phishing data breach – Seagate is trying to fend off a lawsuit brought against the company by its own employees after falling for a phishing scam which exposed the sensitive data of staff. The electronics maker is the focus of a class-action lawsuit, originally filed in July through the Northern California District Court, which accuses Seagate of malpractice and a lack of regard for employees affected by the negligent handling of data. In March this year, Seagate HR was duped into handing over W-2 forms and the personally identifiable information (PII) of the company’s current and past employees.

Samsung Shares Fall After the Galaxy Note 7 Is Recalled – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s shares fell to their lowest level in nearly two months on Monday after the tech giant told customers to switch off and return their new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to fire-prone batteries. Investors had wiped 15.9 trillion won ($14.3 billion) off the South Korean firm’s market capitalisation as of 0303 GMT, as a series of warnings from regulators and airlines around the world raised fears for the future of the flagship device.

Dell swings layoffs axe at 3,000 EMC people – Dell is to trim the workforce following its $60bn-plus buy of storage titan EMC, with between 2,000 to 3,000 heads expected to roll. But if sales don’t track to management expectations, sources told us to expect more. A Bloomberg report claimed Dell will seek out $1.7bn in cost savings in the next eighteen months – but it will seek to beef up sales by several times that amount, minimising the need to thin out more. A Dell spokeswoman gave us the same line Bloomberg carried: “As is common with deals of this size, there will be some overlaps we will need to manage and where some employee reduction will occur.

Amazon expected to open 100 pop-up stores to demo Echo, Kindle, more – Despite helping to revolutionize online shopping, e-commerce giant Amazon is going to continue its push into the physical retail environment. Shortly after the news that Amazon will be opening more physical bookstores in new cities across the US comes word that the next year will see 100 or so pop-up stores come to shopping malls around the country.

Amazon said to be negotiating streaming rights for live sports – As Amazon has already become a major player in the streaming video market, it’s now looking to move beyond just offering TV shows, movies, and original series. A new report from Bloomberg says the company want to challenge broadcast TV by offering coverage of live sporting events, including soccer, golf, tennis, and auto racing. The paper’s anonymous sources say Amazon has begun talks into acquiring the licenses needed to stream such events.

Google rumored to tap Huawei for its next Android tablet – Online leak suggests that the manufacturer of the Nexus 6P phone will be creating the tech giant’s new tablet for release later this year, but will it retain the Nexus name?

Games and Entertainment:

5 audiophile myths, totally busted – I’m an audiophile who loves music and audio gear more or less equally. That said, I think anyone who from time to time really savors music is an audiophile, or might become one at a future date. To clear the air a bit for up an coming audiophiles, I’m going to bust a few audiophile myths. Here we go.

9 reasons why PC gaming is a better value than consoles – This may come as some surprise to you, but we here at PCWorld are pretty big fans of PC gaming. Shocking, I know. And so please, all ye console believers, factor in whatever amount of bias you’d like to the following statement: PC gaming is the most affordable it’s ever been—and for a lot of people it’s also the best value, for a multitude of reasons. The announcement of Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro just drove that point home. Here’s why.

The best graphics cards for PC gaming – In the market for a new video card? These are the best graphics cards that PC gamers can buy today.

Cord cutting is a bigger bargain than ever – About 18 months ago, I tried to dispense with the notion that it’s hard to save money by cutting the cable TV cord. You’ll have to forgive me for essentially writing that column all over again, but cable-TV cheerleaders still haven’t listened to reason. They continue to argue that the costs of streaming-video services add up, to the point that cable TV remains the more economical choice.

This week in games: Mass Effect Andromeda on display, Deus Ex gets DirectX 12 – Plus: Interplay’s up for auction, Shadow Warrior 2 decapitates dozens of people, and The Walking Dead Season 3 targets a release date. This is gaming news for September 5 through 9.

The FCC wants to replace your cable box with apps – The Federal Communications Commission is overhauling its plan to open up the cable box. Now, the regulatory body wants cable companies to keep doing what they’re doing already, but more so: Making apps and putting them on as many platforms as possible. Cable companies with 400,000 subscribers or less would be exempt from the proposed rules.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stunning Data Visualizations — From 1870 – Visualizing information isn’t new! Thanks to and the Library of Congress, here are some pioneering data visualizations from the US census in 1870. The geology of the US, with sumptuous hand-shading that puts most computer-generated maps to shame:


MIT researchers develop camera that can read books without opening them – You’ve almost surely heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but what if you could read a book through its cover? Because that’s basically what researchers from MIT and Georgia Tech are able to do with a new imaging system that can read individual pages without opening the cover. In a new study published on Friday, the researchers detail their system that can read the text on a stack of up to nine pages without the need to flip through them. While it sounds like X-ray vision, the technique is called terahertz radiation, where the imaging process can pass through layers of paper, but is reflected differently by ink.

Mercedes-Benz Vans Vision Van is all electric and carries drones – Mercedes-Benz Vans is showing off its vision for the future of delivery vehicles. The van concept is dubbed the Vision Van ad it is part of the Mercedes-Benz Vans future initiative called adVANce meant to expand the growth strategy and develop new business models for the automaker. A major investment has been made into the initiative of 500 million euros over the next five years to develop digitalization, automation, and robotic vans along with other innovative solutions.


Inside the Morbidly Fascinating Autopsy Handbook that Changed Medical History – Over the course of his career, Vesalius performed countless public autopsies and dissections, mainly on executed criminals or unclaimed bodies. He accumulated his vast knowledge and observation of human anatomy into an illustrated masterpiece entitled De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, or “On the fabric of the human body in seven books.” A hand-colored and abridged version of the seven-volume Fabrica is currently on display at Cambridge University Library, as part of the “Lines of Thought” exhibition celebrating the 600th anniversary of the Library’s founding. On Friday, Cambridge released a short film about the stunning Renaissance work and its critical impact on medical history.


Tesla makes Autopilot safer, smarter with major update – Tesla’s Version 8 software update is coming, and along with it some major enhancements to the company’s Autopilot functionality. Autopilot, available on all Model S and Model X cars manufactured since October 2014, is a term that aggregates a suite of features cumulatively enabling the cars to self-steer and adjust their speed on many driving circumstances, relying on a combination of imaging, sonar and radar sensors. Now, with Version 8, the cars will make even greater reliance on the radar sensor built into the car’s bumper.

Something to think about:

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

–      Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987),  The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

You Need to Care About Facebook Censoring an Iconic Vietnam War Photo – Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of nine-year-old Kim Phúc fleeing from a napalm attack during the Vietnam war is one of the most iconic pieces of photojournalism in existence.

The importance of Ut’s 1972 photograph cannot be underestimated. The image was instrumental in exposing to the rest of the world what was happening in Vietnam. Some argue, including Ut himself, that this photograph alone was a turning point in the conflict. The photograph galvanized opposition to the war.

But this week, Facebook decided that the image breached the social network’s terms of service. Facebook banned a user who published the photograph, and then subsequently ordered a newspaper to also remove the photograph from its Facebook page, sparking uproar over the social network’s control of media.

Today, Facebook has deleted a further post featuring the photograph by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who joined in on the swelling debate regarding the censorship of the photograph. Solberg was one of many politicians who decided to share the image in the wake of the original incident. (Update: After a flood of critical media posts, Facebook has allowed the image to be reposted.)

Whether or not you use Facebook, it’s important to be aware of the misjudgement and questionable censorship happening at scale

The entire debacle not only shows Facebook’s opaque and haphazard approach to removing graphic content—the company has said it’s too hard to distinguish between one of the most notable photographs of the 20th century and child pornography—but also shows how users cannot currently trust Facebook to deliver important or potentially-controversial news without the risk of censorship or bias.

Federal Judge: Hacking Someone’s Computer Is Definitely a ‘Search’ – Courts across the country can’t seem to agree on whether the FBI’s recent hacking activities ran afoul of the law—and the confusion has led to some fairly alarming theories about law enforcement’s ability to remotely compromise computers.

In numerous cases spawned from the FBI takeover of a darkweb site that hosted child abuse images, courts have been split on the legality of an FBI campaign that used a single warrant to hack thousands of computers accessing the site from unknown locations, using malware called a Network Investigative Technique, or NIT. Some have gone even further, arguing that hacking a computer doesn’t constitute a “search,” and therefore doesn’t require a warrant at all.

But a federal judge in Texas ruled this week that actually, yes, sending malware to someone’s computer to secretly retrieve information from it—as the FBI did with the NIT—is a “search” under the Fourth Amendment.

“[T]he NIT placed code on Mr. Torres’ computer without his permission, causing it to transmit his IP address and other identifying data to the government,” Judge David Alan Ezra of wrote Friday, in a ruling for one of the NIT cases, in San Antonio, Texas. “That Mr. Torres did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his IP address is of no import. This was unquestionably a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes.”

As obvious as that sounds, not everyone agrees. Previously, another judge in Virginia stunningly ruled that a warrant for hacking isn’t required at all, because a defendant infected with government malware “has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his computer.”

The ACLU Is About to Launch a Campaign Asking Obama to Pardon Edward Snowden – On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other prominent human rights organizations will launch a formal campaign asking President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden for revealing the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs.

The long-expected campaign will start just two days before Oliver Stone’s Snowden hits theaters. The hope is that Stone’s largely sympathetic portrayal of the whistleblower will further help Snowden’s image nationwide.

“I think Oliver will do more for Snowden in two hours than his lawyers have been able to do in three years,” Ben Wizner, Snowden’s lawyer and director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told me after a screening of the film at the Brooklyn Public Library.

“We are going to be doing both a mass signature campaign around the world and trying to get prominent individuals and organizations to join our call to President Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves office,” he said, adding that more information would be available after a press conference Wednesday.

Starting Wednesday, the groups will ask for signatures in support of Snowden at Much of the site is currently password protected, but the shell that is currently up confirms that both ACLU and Amnesty International will be involved. Facebook and Twitter accounts for the campaign have also been reserved, but none of the accounts have updated.

That civil liberties groups and Snowden’s legal team would formally ask for a pardon as Obama is set to leave office is no surprise. Wizner told New York magazine earlier this summer that his legal team would “make a very strong case between [June] and the end of this administration that this is one of those rare cases for which the pardon power exists.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 9, 2016

Should You Upgrade to an iPhone 7?  How to securely wipe your iPhone for resale;   The top Dark Web search engines;  How to stay online when traveling the world;  This USB stick will fry your unsecured computer;  Here’s how Box has redesigned its entire offering;  Catch all the Jaws movies and other flicks now online;  Stealing login credentials from a locked PC or Mac just got easier  – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 tip: Create a perfect background for your desktop or lock screen – Personalizing your desktop background or lock screen has always involved a guessing game: Will your favorite personal photo fit the screen, or will it be stretched and distorted? A hidden feature in the new Photos app guarantees success.

The top Dark Web search engines – Though the Dark Web can be a haven for illicit activity, the encrypted internet is also home to innovative startups and creative technologists. There’s also a ton of fascinating, and legal, content on the Dark Web, including Facebook’s Dark Web site, The New Yorker’s source protection site Strongbox, and tons and tons of cats. Dark Web sites, like those in this list, require the Tor browser to access, but just like the clearnet, thousands of sites are indexed by and accessed using search engines. Some search engines, like Grams and Helix, have slick design. Others, like Torch, are bare bones and return a variety of URLs, some legal and useful, some broken, some clearly illicit. This is a list of the most useful, popular, and interesting Dark Web search engines.

Apple iPhone 7: The smart person’s guide – The rumors are true. There is no headphone jack on Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphones. But, there are some new features worth noting. Learn the pros and cons.

How to securely wipe your iPhone for resale – If you’re planning on reselling – or giving away, if you’re a generous soul – your old iPhone now that Apple has announced the new iPhone, you need to do it in such a way that you’re not giving away your data to the next owner. Here’s how to do that.

Apple to release iOS 10 on September 13, macOS Sierra on September 20 – The latest version of iOS, available for iPhone 5 and up, promises a number of significant updates, including Siri’s integration with third-party apps for payments and messaging, better natural speech recognition and image search. The update will roll out to existing iPhone, iPad and iPod models next Wednesday, just ahead of the Friday retail launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Here’s how Box has redesigned its entire offering – Box’s web interface is getting a complete redesign, with new organization, search and preview capabilities. The company is launching a new desktop app to help Windows and Mac users access their files, and a desktop app for users of its Box Notes collaborative document editing service.

Cruising connected: How to stay online when traveling the world – Skyroam is a mobile hotspot with global Wi-Fi for travelers. But how does it stack up against carrier plans and other options? Read Teena Maddox’s hands-on review.

Google Adds Lyft, Gett Fare Estimates to Maps – About to order up an Uber, but curious if Lyft or another ride-sharing service is cheaper? Google can help you with that. In March, the Web giant added a ride services tab to Maps offering Uber fare estimates and pickup times, and now it’s showing two more options for those in the US: Lyft and Gett. This means you’ll easily be able to compare prices without having to download and open a bunch of different apps.

Raspberry Pi sales hit 10 million, on track to pass Commodore 64’s record – The $35 Raspberry Pi has sold 10 million units, putting it on track to usurp the Commodore 64 as the third best-selling personal computer in the world. Despite the co-creator of the British computer thinking they would sell no more than 1,000, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced today it has sold 10,000 times that figure. On average, more than two million Pi boards have been sold each year since the credit card-sized machine launched in February 2012, putting the system on course to pass the sales record of the 1980’s home computer, the Commodore 64 (C64), some time next year.

Setting up the Raspberry Pi just got a lot easier, thanks to PiBakery – While the credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computer can be carried in a pocket, when the board is used outside the home it’s often necessary to hook it up to a screen and keyboard. Given that lugging a flatscreen display around with you isn’t an option, one enterprising teenager has created a tool for easily setting up the Pi from a laptop. The PiBakery software simplifies the process of setting up a Rasperry Pi, for instance to use nearby Wi-Fi networks or to allow a laptop remote access to its desktop.


PiBakery’s simple drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to customize the Pi’s Raspbian OS. Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation

10 most productive tips for working with Google Keep – If you’ve been testing the waters of Google Keep and find it lacking, try out these ten productivity tips from Jack Wallen that will bring more power and efficiency to the Google note taking tool.

The 15 highest-performing PC components you can buy today – One of the PC’s greatest strengths is its extreme flexibility. There’s a vast selection of hardware out there, of all different shapes and sizes and makes and models—so much so that even if your budget’s not a concern, buyer’s paralysis very well could be. Fear not, fellow enthusiast. We’ve got your back. These are the 15 highest-performing PC components you can buy today. We’ve even done the homework to ensure they all work fine together if you’re looking to really splurge. (If, on the other hand, your means are a bit more modest, be sure to check out our guide to 10 killer PC upgrades that are shockingly cheap.)


Stealing login credentials from a locked PC or Mac just got easier – Snatching the login credentials of a locked computer just got easier and faster, thanks to a technique that requires only $50 worth of hardware and takes less than 30 seconds to carry out. Rob Fuller, a principal security engineer at R5 Industries, said the hack works reliably on Windows devices and has also succeeded on OS X, although he’s working with others to determine if it’s just his setup that’s vulnerable. The hack works by plugging a flash-sized minicomputer into an unattended computer that’s logged in but currently locked. In about 20 seconds, the USB device will obtain the user name and password hash used to log in to the computer.

This USB stick will fry your unsecured computer – A Hong Kong-based technology manufacturer,, has taken data security to the “Mission Impossible” extreme by creating a USB stick that uses an electrical discharge to fry an unauthorized computer into which it’s plugged. “When the USB Kill stick is plugged in, it rapidly charges its capacitors from the USB power supply, and then discharges — all in the matter of seconds,” the company said in a news release. To do that, the USB stick discharges 200 volts DC over the data lines of the host device. This charge/discharge cycle is repeated many times per second, until the USB Kill stick is removed. The company said its USB Kill 2.0 stick was created to test against “power surge attacks” and to prevent data theft via “juice jacking.”


Printers now the least-secure things on the internet – BitDefender’s senior threat analyst Bogdan Botezatu despairs of IoT security

Sophisticated Mac OS X backdoor uncovered – Security researchers have discovered a sophisticated strain of malware which has shifted across platforms in order to target Mac OS X users. This week, Kaspersky Lab security experts revealed the existence of Backdoor.OSX.Mokes, an OS X-based variation of the Mokes malware family which was discovered back in January. According to the team, the malicious code is now able to operate on all major operating systems including Windows, Linux and Mac.

Google Chrome Will Start Shaming Unencrypted Websites in January – Starting in January of 2017, Google’s Chrome browser will start flagging some websites that don’t use web encryption as “Not Secure”—the first step in Google’s eventual plan to shame all sites that don’t use encryption. In the last couple of years, the web has seen a tremendous rise in the number of websites that use encryption, which is displayed by that little green lock next to the site’s address and an extra “s” at the end of HTTP. The increase in the use of HTTPS web encryption has been part of a collective effort to improve security and privacy on the web, often under the banner of the campaign “Encrypt All The Things.”

Porn Sites Feel Exposed by Flash, Get It on With HTML5 – On Tuesday, porn site Pornhub said it would be ditching all Flash content from its site, opting instead for HTML5, the most recent version of the web language that offers more support for multimedia content. Since hackers have had a number of successes at compromising porn sites, it’s notable that one of the largest is taking this step, albeit when Flash is already on its last legs.

Company News:

Google given until September 20 to respond to EU Android antitrust charges – Google has been given another extension to respond to European Union charges its Android mobile operating system is in breach of the region’s competition law. The company must now send its response to the EC’s formal Statement of Objections by September 20 (via Reuters). The EC originally gave Google until July 27 to respond to the charges it issued back in April, but extended that deadline to September 7 after Google asked for more time. The company has now received a second extension although this is the final one, according to a commission spokesperson.

Google will acquire Apigee for $625 million – Google announced today that it intends to purchase Apigee, an API management platform that went public last year, for $625 million or $17.40 a share. The company, which helps customers build digital products with open APIs, has an impressive customer list including Walgreens, AT&T, Bechtel, Burberry, First Data and Live Nation.

Apple won’t disclose first weekend iPhone 7 sales — but claims it will sell out – Apple announced the forthcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus yesterday, revealing two new iPhones without a 3.5mm headphone jack but with some light new design elements, as well as water and dust resistance; beefed up storage and battery life; a dual-lens rear camera; a reworked home button; stereo speakers; and the customary CPU upgrade. Pre-orders for the two new iPhones start on Friday, with store availability from September 16. But, unlike in previous new iPhone release cycles, come Monday Apple won’t be saying how many handsets it’s shifted.

Wells Fargo fined $185 million for creating 2 million fake bank accounts – Employees at Wells Fargo created millions of fake bank accounts and credit card numbers over the past five years, federal regulators announced this week, in an illegal bid to boost their sales figures. The bank was fined $185 million for the practices on Thursday, including a record $100 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Wells Fargo has fired at least 5,300 employees who were involved in the scam, according to The New York Times. According to the regulators, employees created more than 2 million accounts that may not have been authorized by Wells Fargo customers, and covertly transferred funds to them from authorized accounts, racking up fees and other charges.

Pointing up Sure – as usual, low level employees hatched this whole scheme – \sarcasm

Games and Entertainment:

Nvidia’s faster, better GeForce Experience 3.0 launches with mandatory registration – Between the PlayStation 4 Pro reveal and all the iPhone news on Wednesday, Nvidia quietly rolled out a major upgrade of its own. The company pushed out GeForce Experience 3.0 yesterday—a comprehensive redesign of the popular software found on “tens of millions” of GeForce graphics card-equipped PCs, but one sure to rile some nerves at the same time. Let’s start with the good stuff first.

Sling TV’s streaming service for cord cutters hits Windows 10 – Dish Network’s streaming service for cord cutters, Sling TV, has made its way to Windows 10. The company announced today the launch of its on-demand TV service for Windows 10 PCs and tablets, through a new application live now in the Windows App Store. While Sling TV’s legacy PC software will continue to be supported, the new Windows 10 application has been designed to take advantage of features unique to that operating system. This includes support for touch, a vertical main menu on Sling TV, and Windows’ Live Tiles, which will now show “Favorites” and “Continue Watching” ribbons when Sling TV is pinned to the Start Menu. The new, responsive app can also adapt to different screen sizes and can be snapped to use only half the screen. And it works with Cortana, Windows 10’s built-in assistant. That means you can search for specific shows or channels by voice.

Catch all the Jaws movies and other flicks now online – Violence, struggle, and revenge—with a side of comedy—are all on the menu this week.

Your first look at the PlayStation 4 Pro hardware – Before I go off to try out the new HDR and 4K gaming capabilities of the just-announced PlayStation 4 Pro, we at Ars thought you might want to see the hardware itself that is being shown off here at the PlayStation Theater. Here’s a quick gallery of the new box that will be sitting underneath many of your entertainment centers this November—if you’re willing to shell out $400, that is. Click through for a good look at the width and height of the new hardware compared to other systems, along with a surprise refresh of the PlayStation Camera, which is now more cylindrical and less like Short Circuit’s Jonny 5.

Elder Scrolls Online gets 4K treatment on PS4 Pro – When it was announcing the PS4 Pro yesterday, one thing Sony focused on was the fact that some existing PlayStation 4 titles will be receiving updates to make them compatible with the Pro’s 4K and HDR technology. There are a few games slated to receive such updates, and Zenimax Online Studios has announced that The Elder Scrolls Online will be one of those titles making the jump to 4K when the PS4 Pro launches in November.


Pokémon Go becomes the fastest game to ever hit $500 million in revenue – Pokémon Go has achieved a number of records since its debut – the most downloaded app in its first week ever and the fastest to reach 50 million installs on Google Play, for example – but now you can add one more to the list: the fastest game to reach $500 million in revenue. According to a new report from App Annie, Pokémon Go has now surpassed $500 million in worldwide customer spending across iOS and Android, and is on track to hit a billion in revenue by year-end. The game reached the new milestone in just over 60 days, App Annie says.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Consumers have no right to buy a PC without an OS, European court rules – Bare metal buyers beware: PC makers have no obligation to offer you a machine without an OS, the European Union’s highest court has ruled.

When your driverless car crashes, who will be responsible? – The answer remains unclear – In the era of self-driving cars, insurance will be radically transformed, shifting to cover the tech that powers the vehicles. But when a driverless car gets in a wreck, who’s at fault?

Oculus VR animated short film ‘Henry’ wins an Emmy – Oculus Story Studio, the Facebook-owned unit crafting computer-generated short films for the social-networking giant’s VR headset maker Oculus, has won its first Emmy Award. The studio’s animated short film “Henry,” a nine-minute piece about a cute porcupine whose spiky exterior threatens to make his birthday party a lonely affair, won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Interactive Program, the company said Thursday.

FAA ‘strongly advises’ passengers not to bring Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on planes – In response to reports of explosive battery malfunctions in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a statement advising airplane passengers not to use, or even pack the smartphones during air travel. “In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices,” the statement reads, “the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.”

Google’s Project Wing drones will deliver Chipotle burritos at Virginia Tech – Domino’s is already launching a drone delivery service in New Zealand, but in the US, the commercial drone delivery industry is still in its trial phase. We’ve already seen a drone deliver a Slurpee in Nevada. Now, Google’s Project Wing will test out delivering Chipotle burritos at Virginia Tech. The temporary, experimental service will begin this month, Bloomberg reports. With a human pilot standing by to observe, the self-guided, unmanned aircrafts will take food from a Chipotle food truck to volunteer customers and lower it down with a winch.

Europe’s top court rules linking can infringe copyright if done for profit – Europe’s top court has ruled that knowingly posting links to copyrighted material can be an infringement of rights holders’ rights — even though the copyrighted material in question is being hosted elsewhere. People posting links in a for-profit scenario also have an obligation to have checked they are not infringing copyright, in the court’s view. The ruling pertains to a specific case involving a Dutch news website, GeenStijl, which repeatedly posted links to Playboy photos of a local TV presenter.

Hillary campaign gets $20M from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz – It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton is well ahead of her presidential opponent Donald Trump when it comes to fundraising from Silicon Valley — but the second-largest donation of the election season just pushed her financial lead even further. The $20 million infusion comes from Asana and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna. Several funds, PACs, and Democratic organizations supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign have received a combined donation of $20 million. In a post titled “Compelled to Act”, Moskovitz explains the donation, saying, “If Secretary Clinton wins the election, America will advance much further toward the world we hope to see,” which is one that of “increased tolerance, diversity and interdependence in the name of mutual prosperity.”

Something to think about:

“If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other.”

–   Donald Trump   Carl Schurz    (1829 – 1906)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Fighting ISIS, One YouTube Ad at a Time – Those pesky ads—they get in the way of your marathon YouTube sessions, not to mention they’re a drain on your computer’s resources. But thanks to Google, they may also be stopping ISIS.

A scrappy Google subsidiary called Jigsaw—more think tank than tech company—is experimenting with ads that redirect people searching for pro-ISIS content to YouTube clips of Muslim clerics pointing out ISIS’s hypocrisy, among other footage that paints ISIS in a negative light.

Jigsaw has more than 1,700 keywords that trigger the ads leading to anti-ISIS YouTube playlists, according to Wired. It ran a test campaign earlier this year that went swimmingly by online advertising standards: click-through rates surpassed 9 percent, compared to the average 2 or 3 percent that’s common for Google keyword ads.

Jigsaw, formerly known as Google Ideas, doesn’t promote its anti-ISIS effort. On its website, it instead highlights other projects, like a system that helps journalists analyze YouTube footage captured in conflict zones. But that under-the-radar approach is likely part of what makes it successful: unlike most Google ads, which are clearly labeled, the anti-ISIS campaign relies on authentic footage, the antithesis of propaganda.

The “plain hearing” doctrine now dictates when cops must hang up on wiretaps – The use of US court-sanctioned wiretaps is on the rise. According to the most recent figures available, the number of taps increased 17 percent last year over the previous year.

The latest federal Wiretap Report shows there were 4,148 non national security related wiretaps authorized in 2015. Not a single application was denied, the report notes. Of that total, 3,297 were granted an extension over the original time period authorized by the warrant.

Given all the access, just when should the cops hang up on the call they’re bugging? A federal appeals court recently provided the answer—introducing the “plain hearing” principle.

This guidance concerns when the cops know, or reasonably know, that the speakers on a call are outside the scope of the original warrant. The plain hearing principle is similar to the well-known “plain view” doctrine, which allows authorities to seize physical evidence unrelated to a warrant if it’s in plain view of the police during a search.

Canada-EU counter-terror data exchange is illegal, says top EU judge – An agreement to send Canadian authorities passenger name record (PNR) data for flights from the European Union cannot be entered into in its current form, a top European Union judge has said.

That’s because parts of the draft agreement are incompatible with EU citizens’ fundamental privacy rights, according to Paolo Mengozzi, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU, in a legal opinion issued Thursday.

His opinion, on a case brought by the European Parliament, is only advisory, and it still remains for the CJEU to make a final ruling on the matter.

But if the court follows his advice, it could disrupt the European Commission’s plans for a new directive on the sharing of PNR data among EU member states and with other countries.

Watchdog Finds UK Cops Snooped on Journalists’ Sources Without Approval – UK police acquired data to identify or determine journalistic sources without seeking judicial approval four times in 2015, according to a report from an independent oversight body published on Thursday.

In March 2015, a change was made to the law requiring all UK law enforcement agencies to seek authorisation when applying for communications data to identify or determine a journalistic source. But since that time, the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) found four cases where no authorisation was sought.

“In some of these cases the conduct took place on the day after the Code of Practice came into force or shortly thereafter,” the annual report, which scrutinises UK public bodies’ interception and acquisition of communications data, reads.

IOCCO is a body responsible for oversight of the UK’s interception powers, and is independent from the government and parliament. After IOCCO published a separate investigation into UK police forces’ acquisition of communications data to unveil journalists’ sources in February 2015, a provision to the Code of Practice was added, designed to protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

“In all but one of these cases the Commissioner determined that although the conduct was serious it was not wilful or reckless and it did not adversely affect any individual significantly,” the report continues.

The case determined as reckless was Police Scotland’s surveillance of a journalist investigating a botched murder case. In August, former police officer turned journalist Gerard Gallacher was awarded £10,000 in damages, after detectives collected the phone records of Gallacher and two police officers suspected of leaking information.

Mark Zuckerberg Has Been Blasted Over Facebook’s Censorship of the ‘Napalm Girl’ Photo – “Dear Mark Zuckerberg,” read the headline on the cover of Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper by circulation.

It was an open letter from Espen Egil Hansen, the paper’s editor-in-chief and CEO, accusing the Facebook founder and CEO of abusing power and threatening the freedom of speech.

It follows an uproar over Facebook’s decision to delete the iconic photo of a crying young girl running from napalm bombs during the Vietnam War, taken by Nick Ut. The photo was a part of a Norwegian author’s Facebook post about significant historical photos documenting the history of military conflicts.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 7, 2016

These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun to watch;  How to control your privacy in Chromebooks vs. Windows 10;  The 20 best free PC games;  HacBook Elite is an unofficial Mac laptop for $329;  How much it costs to charge a smartphone for a year?  Galaxy Note 7 recall costs expected to top $1 billion;  4 mind-mapping tools for better brainstorming;  Warner Bros. flags own site for piracy, orders Google to censor pages – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

It’s football season! These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun to watch – We’ve rounded up six of the best second-screen apps to enhance your football viewing. Take them for a spin when the season kicks off Thursday, September 8, and we’re sure you’ll be reaching for them along with your remote every week until the end of Super Bowl LI.

The Best Free Antivirus Protection of 2016 – Did you grab your free Windows 10 upgrade before the deadline expired? Or maybe you even paid for one. If so, you probably noticed that it boasts built-in antivirus protection in the form of Microsoft Windows Defender. If you stuck with Windows 8, you still have the same Windows Defender. But just because it’s included with the OS doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. The best free antivirus products outperform many commercial competitors. We’ve collected them here to help you choose which is right for you.

The Best Printers of 2016 – Picking the right printer can be tough, with so many features to choose from, and individual printers with almost any possible combination of those variations available. Here are some pointers to help you find both the right category of printer and the right model within that type, along with our top-rated reviews.

How to control your privacy in Chromebooks vs. Windows 10 – By default, both platforms collect a variety of data about your usage, but the way they go about it is often different. While Microsoft presents users with a long list of privacy-related toggles, Google’s controls are less granular. Both companies, however, make you jump through additional hoops to disable the kind of personalized ads that help them turn a profit. PCWorld recently broke down all the ways Microsoft grabs at your data in Windows 10, so it’s only fair we compare that to Google’s computing platform. Here’s how Chrome OS and Windows 10 measure up on privacy and data collection.

How much does it costs to charge a smartphone for a year? – How much does the electricity needed to charge a smartphone over the course of a year cost? Under a dollar? A few dollars? Tens of dollars? Hundreds of dollars? Let’s find out.

It’s Microsoft’s fault cheap Windows laptops don’t use better hardware – If you look at the low-end ($200-$300) Windows laptop market in 2016 you’ll notice that the hardware spec is mostly the same regardless of which brand name is on the casing. We get the same low-end processors, RAM limited to no more than 4GB (but usually 2GB), and those infuriating 32GB SSD/eMMC drives that are quite slow and way too small to be useful. You may think the spec is so limited because manufacturers have to hit a target price to retain a profit margin while still being able to sell in the $200 range. While that’s true, it’s actually Microsoft who is imposing a strict upper limit on the hardware available in this category of laptop.

iPhone 7: Why do we even care? – With tomorrow’s big Apple event about to use up more worldwide bandwidth than Netflix, David Gewirtz asks the one brave question we’re all afraid to utter: “Why do we even care?”

Facebook tests a Twitter-like feature to encourage more conversation – Facebook makes a habit of borrowing features from Twitter such as hashtags, a live feed, verification badges, and followers. Now, the company is testing a new feature that is about as close as Facebook could get to creating a version of Twitter. The new feature is currently dubbed “What friends are talking about” and is being tested with a small subset of users. It was first spotted by Mashable on Friday in Facebook for Android.

4 mind-mapping tools for better brainstorming – Mind mapping is a technique for visualizing and developing ideas. Unlike linear note taking, mind mapping mimics the way our brain radiates ideas and connects them through natural associations. That makes them ideal for brainstorming, planning complex projects, and writing everything from business plans to novel plots. In the pre-digital world, you had to do this on paper with colored pencils. But today there a many fantastic computer and web apps that do the heavy lifting for you. Here are four of our favorites.

HacBook Elite is an unofficial Mac laptop for $329 – Apple does not look kindly on any company attempting to copy their hardware, just look at how long Samsung has been in court facing off against Apple’s lawyers. But when a company decides to develop a laptop that runs OS X without first getting Apple’s approval, which we all know they’d never give… well, don’t expect that company to be around for very long. The creators of the HacBook Elite must know what’s going to happen, but they either know something we don’t or they simply don’t care. Whatever the case, you can now pre-order a HacBook Elite, which promises to run OS X out the box, and for as little as $329. That’s $570 cheaper than a MacBook Air, and nearly a $1,000 cheaper than the entry level MacBook or MacBook Pro.

wpsCF48.tmp launches The Balance, a personal finance website for everyone – In a quest to dismantle itself and become more relevant in the 21st Century, IAC-owned is launching another standalone vertical in the form of The Balance, a personal finance website tailored to today’s millennial. The Balance is focused on making personal finance easy to understand, no matter where you are in life. The site will launch with more than 34,000 pieces of content written by 70 writers, all organized under the topics of personal finance, investing, money hacks, career advice, and small business tips.

ComScore: Half of All Smartphone Time is Spent on Apps – There’s an app for everything, and it seems that more people are turning to their smartphone apps for information and fun versus their tablets or their computers.

Are you too fat? Samsung’s WELT smartbelt will have the answer when it hits waistlines in Jan – Samsung’s WELT has reached its Kickstarter funding target and will now ship to backers in January.


The WELT smart belt is designed to monitor your girth, steps taken, and time spent sitting. Image: WELT/Samsung

Google’s Fuchsia OS is out in the open and shrouded in mystery – Because Fuchsia is open-source, anyone can take a look at its code, even though Google isn’t saying much about its new operating system.

The Ultimate Guide to Car Connectivity – Whether it’s Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or another infotainment system, getting the right tech in your new vehicle is key. Here’s what you need to know.

Small businesses are fleeing to cloud computing and mobile apps, says new study – The mobile revolution has reached mom-and-pop shops. According to a new Intuit study, 64% of small businesses across the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK now run their operations in the cloud—up from just 37% in 2015. And 68% of these enterprises use mobile or web-based apps in their day-to-day business, compared to just half last year.

Why the advertising industry needs to embrace AdBlock – The advertising industry is wringing its hands and shaking its fist at the use and growth of ad-block technology, but I am not above temptation. I installed it. I love it and probably won’t ever fully abandon it. So instead of excoriating people for using them, it’s time we reflect on how we got here, what its inevitability means and whether this might even be a trend worth embracing.


Sophos Windows users face black screens after false positive snafu – Users of Sophos’s security software were confronted with a black screen on starting up their Windows PC over the weekend as the resulted of a borked antivirus update. The botched update meant that the Windows 7 version of winlogon.exe was incorrectly labelled as potentially malicious, resulting in chaos and confusion all around. The problem was limited to users running a specific version of 32-bit Windows 7 SP1, according to Sophos.


Russian internet giant hacked, leaking 98 million accounts – Russian internet portal and email provider has become the latest victim in a growing list of historical hacks. Breach notification site, which obtained a copy of an internal customer database, said the attack dates back to February 17, 2012. More than 98.1 million accounts were in the database, including usernames, email addresses, social account data, and passwords, the group said in a blog post. Unlike other major breaches, those passwords were stored in unencrypted plaintext, meaning anyone at the company could easily see passwords. The last time a breach on this scale was found using plaintext password storage was Russian social networking site, which saw 171 million accounts taken in the breach.

Nearly 800,000 Brazzers Porn Site Accounts Exposed in Forum Hack – Nearly 800,000 accounts for popular porn site Brazzers have been exposed in a data breach. Although the data originated from the company’s separate forum, Brazzers users who never signed up to the forum may also find their details included in the dump. Motherboard was provided the dataset by breach monitoring site for verification purposes. The data contains 790,724 unique email addresses, and also includes usernames and plaintext passwords. (The set has 928,072 entries in all, but many are duplicates.)

Hacker takes down CEO wire transfer scammers, sends their Win 10 creds to the cops – The director of SEC Consult’s Singapore office has made a name striking back at so-called “whaling” scammers by sending malicious Word documents that breach their Windows 10 boxes and pass on identity information to police. Whaling is a well-oiled social engineering scam that sees criminals dupe financial controllers at large lucrative organisations. Whalers’ main method is to send emails that appear to originate from chief executive officers, bearing instructions to wire cash into nominated bank accounts. It works. The FBI estimates some $2.2bn (£1.7bn, A$2.9bn) in losses have arisen from nearly 14,000 whaling cases in the seven months to May this year. Some $800m (£601m, A$1bn) in losses occurred in the 10 months to August 2015.

Company News:

Galaxy Note 7 recall costs expected to top $1 billion – Just as things were looking really good for Samsung with the launch of its popular Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, it all went wrong. Reports of Note 7 smartphones catching on fire while charging started coming in and then Samsung officially announced a recall on all of the Note 7 smartphones that had been sold. Analysts are now chiming in on what the recall is expected to cost Samsung, and the number is massive at $1 billion.

Intel is buying the computer vision company that powers Tango and DJI’s drones – You might not have heard of Movidius — even though we said it was a chipmaker to keep your eye on back in March. It makes computer vision chips that allow devices to see and respond to the world around them. It’s a capability that Intel is increasingly interested in, so Intel purchasing the company for an undisclosed amount. In a post about the acquisition, Movidius CEO Remi El-Ouazzane says that plan is combine his company’s expertise in on-device hardware with Intel’s cloud computing and AI. He also says that Movidius will “remain focused,” and a spokesperson for Intel tells us that all of Movidius’ 180 employees will be “integrated” into Intel’s Perceptual Computing group.

Dell Technologies posts Q2 results – The company reported revenue of $13.1 billion, an increase of 1 percent year over year, with a non-GAAP operating income of $752 million — up 32 percent from the previous year. Cash flow from operations for the quarter came to $1.9 billion. On a trailing 12-month basis, it was $3.2 billion, an improvement of 50 percent.

PayPal expands partnership with MasterCard – PayPal on Tuesday announced it’s expanding its partnership with MasterCard, positioning the digital payments provider to compete against other point-of-sale payment options. The deal, similar to one that PayPal struck with Visa in July, will make MasterCard a payment option within PayPal and allow Braintree merchants to use Masterpass. Additionally, consumers and small businesses will be able to instantly transfer funds from a PayPal account to a MasterCard debit card.

Google switches on new undersea cable for faster internet speeds in Asia – Google is speeding up its internet services in Asia once again. Fresh from expanding its data centers in the region — which are located in Singapore and Taiwan — last year, the company said today that it has switched on a new undersea cable that will quicken services like YouTube and its cloud computing platform. The cable connects Google’s facility in Taiwan with a location in Japan, which itself is connected to the U.S. via an undersea cable from the FASTER Consortium which has the honor of being the planet’s fastest fiber optic undersea cable. Google said the Japan-Taiwan cable supports speeds of up to 26 terabits per second.

Truckin’ USA: Volkswagen buys up stake in Navistar – The German automaker will supply engines to Navistar International Corporation, formerly known as International Harvester Company, Reuters reports. In exchange for those engines, Volkswagen will receive a 16.6 percent stake in the company. At VW’s purchase rate of $15.76 a share, the deal will be worth about $256 million.

Games and Entertainment:

The 20 best free PC games – There are innumerable free-to-play games available for the PC, and with that comes positives and negatives alike. The large selection means that there’s something to fit just about any taste, but the signal-to-noise ratio is truly atrocious. Instead of trudging through dozens of clones and halfhearted cash grabs, let us separate the wheat from the chaff for you. Today, we’re highlighting 20 of the best free games on the PC. There’s a lot to cover, so follow along, and something here is bound to strike your fancy.

Watch the evolution of stop-motion film in this 3-minute video – Stop-motion animation has been a mainstay in cinematic special effects for almost as long as movies have been around. Filmmaker Vugar Efendi recently posted a video that charts the history of the technique, and shows just how far it has come since it was first introduced over a century ago. Starting with 1900’s The Enchanted Drawing and running all the way up through 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings,short video is a fascinating look at how the technique has evolved over the years, and include some of cinema’s best-known moments, from King Kong atop the Empire State Building to the AT-AT attack in The Empire Strikes Back.


FOX Sports Go app arrives on Roku – Following its arrival on Apple TV on August 26, FOX Sports has announced the availability of FOX Sports Go on Roku devices, saying it is now available on both the set-top-boxes and Roku smart TVs. FOX Sports Go provides access to FOX Sports’ “full slate” programming, which amounts to more than 3,000 live events plus access to original content and studio content. All of this depends, though, on whether you have a pay-TV subscription already.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Warner Bros. flags own site for piracy, orders Google to censor pages – Warner Bros. ordered Google to remove several of its own Web pages from search results on the grounds they infringed the media giant’s copyright. A posting on the Lumen database of cease and desist letters revealed the bizarre requests, which were sent by monitoring company Vobile on behalf of Warner Bros. It asked for the official pages of Batman: The Dark Knight and The Matrix films to be censored by Google under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA.) A few days earlier,  according to TorrentFreak, Warner Bros. had requested that the official Web page for movie The Lucky One should be removed from Google’s search results in the same way. The takedown demands from the company went beyond erroneously targeting itself. It also told Google to remove legit movie streaming links from Amazon, Sky, and IMDb.

The UK Wants Swarms of Drones for Defence Missions – The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched a public competition this week to evaluate how swarms of tiny drones could be used in future warfare. The “Many drones make light work” competition, in partnership with government agency Innovate UK, calls for proposals on how lone drone operators could command UAS (Unmanned Air Systems) swarms in “contested environments.” The swarms would be tasked with jamming enemy communications, tracking targeted individuals, and area mapping.

Finally, a map of all the Knobs in Australia – Yes, Australia may be filled with such antipodean delights as several of the most venomous animals on Earth, but it’s hard to take the country seriously sometimes. Especially when you look at what places there are called. British mapmaker Strumpshaw, Tincleton & Giggleswick has designed a carefully curated map of ridiculous Australian place names. Expect to find such locations as Misery Knob, Yorkeys Knob, Big Knob and Wallaby Knob. Yes, they’re all real.

Take a digital dive into the grisly sunken remains of Henry VIII’s flagship – 3D technology is doing amazing things for archaeologists and palaeontologists. As we’ve seen, it allows precious and fragile artefacts to be scanned, recreated and shared so that others can study them all around the world. Now Swansea University, the Mary Rose Trust and Oxford University in the UK are getting in on the action, with a new website that shares artefacts salvaged from Henry VIII’s sunken flagship, the Mary Rose.

Something to think about:

“I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.”

–      Charles M. Schulz (1922 – 2000), Charlie Brown in “Peanuts” 

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Watch How Government Spyware Infects a Computer in This Leaked Demo Video – Just like any regular tech company, vendors such as Hacking Team or NSO Group, which sell software designed to spy on computers and cellphones, have to convince potential customers that their product is worth the thousands of dollars, or sometimes millions, that it costs.

For that, companies often set up controlled live demos, showing the potential buyers, usually police departments and intelligence agencies, how their technology works and just how great their spyware is. Unless you are a police agent, a middleman who resells this type of software, or you’ve worked in one of these companies, you’ve probably never seen one of these demos—until today.

Motherboard has obtained a never-before-seen 10-minute video showing a live demo for a spyware solution made by a little known Italian surveillance contractor called RCS Lab. Unlike Hacking Team, RCS Lab has been able to fly under the radar for years, and very little is known about its products, or its customers.


The video shows an RCS Lab employee performing a live demo of the company’s spyware to an unidentified man, including a tutorial on how to use the spyware’s control software to perform a man-in-the-middle attack and infect a target computer who wanted to visit a specific website.

German spies violated law, must delete XKeyscore database—watchdog – Germany’s spies seriously violated the country’s laws multiple times, according to a secret report from its federal data protection commissioner, Andrea Voßhoff.

The legal analysis, leaked to Netzpolitik, was made in July 2015 following a visit by data protection officials to Bad Aibling in southern Germany in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about surveillance activities there. Bad Aibling is jointly run by Germany’s intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), and the NSA.

As well as listing 18 serious legal violations and filing 12 formal complaints—the German data watchdog’s most severe legal instrument—the secret report said that the BND created seven databases without the appropriate legal approval. As a result, commissioner Voßhoff said that all seven databases should be deleted, and could not be used again.

Significantly, one of the illegal databases used the XKeyscore software, sometimes called the NSA’s Google. As Ars reported last year, it was known that the BND had a copy of this program, but the Netzpolitik leak appears to provide details of the huge scale on which it was used:

Activists to FBI: Show Us Your Warrant for Mass Hack of TorMail Users – Mass hacking is now one of the FBI’s established tactics for fighting crime on the dark web. In February 2015, the agency hit at least 4,000 computers all over the world in an attempt to identify visitors of a child pornography site.

But questions remain about another FBI operation from 2013, in which the agency may have hacked users of a dark web email service called TorMail even if they weren’t suspects of a crime. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is trying to unseal the court docket sheet containing the search warrant used to deploy malware against users of the service. If the ACLU were then to get access to the warrant itself, it may reveal the true scale of the FBI’s controversial hacking campaign.

TorMail was a site based on Freedom Hosting, a web host that provided easy-to-set-up Tor hidden services. In 2013, the FBI seized Freedom Hosting; according to media reports at the time, anyone visiting a Freedom Hosting site was met with a “Down for Maintenance” message. Researchers soon found that that page contained malicious code designed to de-anonymise users of the Tor Browser. The error page was also displayed to users of TorMail, one former user previously told Motherboard.

“The sealing of docket sheets with warrants authorizing the use of malware prevents … critical public debate from happening”

The Washington Post recently confirmed that the FBI used a “network investigative technique” or NIT—the agency’s term for a hacking tool—on the TorMail site. According to the article, the FBI had obtained a warrant to hack the owners of certain email accounts suspected of being involved in child pornography, and anonymous sources claimed that, with this approach, only suspects who had been linked to child pornography would be hacked.

But journalists, dissidents, and other individuals used TorMail too, and it seems that the error page was presented to every TorMail user—raising questions about how broad the operation really was.

Automated systems fight ISIS propaganda, but at what cost? – The spread of ISIS propaganda online has put social media companies in a tough position. Governments are urging Facebook, Twitter, and Google to more aggressively remove extremist content, in the hopes of reducing the terrorist group’s influence. But the companies’ self-moderation systems have struggled to keep pace, and terrorist material continues to spread online.

Now, a nonprofit organization has developed an algorithm that it says can automate the removal of terrorist-related content. But there are concerns that it could infringe on freedom of speech, and some question whether automated content removal would mitigate radicalization.

The algorithm, called eGLYPH, was announced in June by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a New York-based nonprofit organization that tracks extremist groups. eGLYPH uses so-called “hashing” technology to assign a unique fingerprint to images, videos, and audio that have already been flagged as extremist, and automatically removes any versions that have been uploaded to a social network. It will also automatically delete other versions as soon as users attempt to upload them.

Twitter may be cracking down on ISIS, but white nationalists are still thriving – Twitter has publicly touted its efforts to suspend accounts linked to ISIS, but according to a new study, white nationalists and neo-Nazis continue to use the social network “with relative impunity.” The study, published last week by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, found that major white nationalist groups have seen a surge in Twitter followers since 2012, while ISIS has seen its influence decline on the social network. The findings were first reported by Reuters.

The report analyzed 18 Twitter accounts operated by prominent white nationalist groups and leaders, with followers mostly based in the US. The analysis found that self-identified Nazi sympathizers and white nationalists had “substantially higher follower counts than ISIS supporters, and tweeted more often.” The median follower count for Nazi-linked accounts was nearly eight times higher than ISIS-affiliated handles, and their average count was more than 22 times greater.

“On Twitter, ISIS’s preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600% since 2012,” reads the study, which was authored by J.M. Berger. “Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day.”

Last month, Twitter announced that 360,000 accounts have been suspended for promoting terrorism since mid-2015, including 235,000 suspensions since February. Authorities in Europe and the US have called on Facebook, Twitter, and other major tech companies to crack down on ISIS propaganda and online recruitment, raising concerns that their efforts may infringe on free speech. Germany, in particular, has pressured social networks to more swiftly remove xenophobic content and other hate speech directed toward refugees. But Berger’s report says that policing white nationalist and Nazi content is more challenging, because the communities are “less cohesive than ISIS networks, and less concentrated on Twitter.”

“While the extreme violence of ISIS has understandably elevated concerns about the threat the organization presents, other extremist groups are able to watch its success and learn from its tactics, both on social media and offline,” the report says. “Studies of ISIS activity, while useful, examine only a fraction of the violent extremist landscape.”


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – September 5, 2016

Apple, Fox News, and ACLU join Microsoft’s fight against secret data demands;  Build yourself a $10 VR headset;  23 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  The best laptops you can buy right now;  Everything you need to know about wireless charging;  11 Sweet Hidden Features Inside Android 6.0 Marshmallow;  These 20 deep, absorbing PC games will eat days of your life;  OpenOffice, after years of neglect, could shut down – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to customize the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu using the “Pare It Down” technique – Microsoft tweaked the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu, making it easy to tailor it to suit your needs.

The best laptops you can buy right now – Our favorites, from budget-priced hybrids to upscale ultraportables to gaming laptops that skip the performance compromises.

11 Sweet Hidden Features Inside Android 6.0 Marshmallow – Nougat is here, but your phone could be stuck on Marshmallow for awhile. Make the most of it.

Are iPhone prices giving you heartburn? Consider your options – Since all four major carriers have done away with their device subsidies, US consumers for the first time are seeing how much their fancy phones actually cost. And it’s not pretty. While we’ve all been trained to lust for the latest Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy gadget, which cost a small fortune, the reality is that you can still get a pretty sophisticated, good-quality phone for a fraction of the price. In this edition of Ask Maggie, I spell out options for a frugal shopper.

Everything you need to know about wireless charging – No smart home would be complete without wireless chargers to keep the batteries your smart devices topped off. We’ll help you choose the right standard.

23 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and its cousin Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools—and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. (And we’re just talking about the Web version, the mobile incarnations are a whole other bag of magic.) Here, we present 23 cool things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. Click on through and experience just a little bit of the power of the everyday.

Build yourself a $10 VR headset – Want to get a VR (Virtual Reality) headset but don’t want to spend big bucks on one? Here’s how you can transform an iPhone or pretty much any Android handset into a cool VR headset.

OpenOffice, after years of neglect, could shut down – Many developers have abandoned OpenOffice to work on LibreOffice, a fork that got its first release in January 2011. While LibreOffice issues frequent updates, OpenOffice’s most recent version update was 4.1.2 in October 2015. That was the only OpenOffice release in 2015, and there were only two updates in all of 2014. LibreOffice got 14 version updates in 2015 alone. In July, OpenOffice issued an advisory about a security vulnerability that had no fix. The problem could let attackers craft denial-of-service attacks and execute arbitrary code. One of the workarounds suggested by the OpenOffice project was to use LibreOffice or Microsoft Office instead. A patch for that problem that can be applied to existing versions of OpenOffice was released in late August, but concerns about fixing future security problems remain.

How to install and configure the impressive BlackBerry Hub Android app – BlackBerry has done the unthinkable and added a universal inbox-style email app to Android–and Jack Wallen says it’s actually very good. Here’s how to use BlackBerry Hub.

Chrome for Windows gets Material Design and big battery improvements – Microsoft has been hammering Chrome’s battery performance in recent months, but Google is starting to hit back with updates to its browser. Chrome 53 has been released to the stable channel this week, and it brings CPU and GPU power consumption enhancements for video playback, alongside “big” performance and power improvements overall. We’ll have to test them fully in battery tests, but it’s encouraging to finally see Google making some solid efforts to improve its laptop battery consumption.

Here come ‘Awareness of Things’ gadgets – While nobody was paying attention, a wonderful new class of mobile gadget emerged. These devices aren’t wearables because you don’t wear them. They’re not “Internet of Things” devices because they don’t have IP addresses. And they don’t enhance the normal functionality of a smartphone like, say, Bluetooth earbuds or a tiny projector. Even more intriguing is that the actual functionality of these gadgets is very specific, but can be applied creatively to a huge number of jobs. I’m talking about tiny, inexpensive sensor-based devices that work with a smartphone to keep you informed about what’s going on with your projects, hobbies or other stuff. You might call them “Awareness of Things” devices. Here are five interesting examples.

Samsung will exchange US Galaxy Note 7 devices as early as next week – Following today’s announcement of a worldwide recall of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, Samsung has issued an official statement on how it will exchange devices for customers in the US. The US carriers have already halted sales and offered ways for customers who have already purchased the device to get refunds. Now Samsung has announced its own exchange program, which will provide customers with a new device as soon as next week. Note 7 customers taking advantage of Samsung’s exchange program will have two options, as detailed by Samsung’s press release:

Samsung now sells refurbished phones in the US – Late last month we heard word that Samsung may soon start selling refurbished smartphones in the U.S., and today that rumor has become official. As of now, you can buy a refurbished Samsung smartphone directly from the company itself rather than a carrier or third party. The devices are available through the Certified Pre-Owned online device store, which boasts that the phones are “rebuilt, refreshed, and covered” with the same one-year warranty you get on new smartphones.

From this point forward, all Intel and AMD CPUs are Windows 10-only  – Keep in mind as you plan your hardware purchases — AMD CPUs, APUs, and Intel CPUs are all Windows 10-only from this point forward. AMD GPUs will continue to support Windows 7 and 8 for now, though we don’t know when the company will terminate this.

App the vote: 8 mobile tools for tracking the election – This collection includes not only general-news apps from the likes of CNN, Fox News and The New York Times, but also election-specific news apps. Some promise non-partisan coverage, others make no such promises. And if you’re a poll junkie, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Five ways to find out which premium mobile apps have gone free – Some of the best apps for iOS and Android cost money. Developers know cost can be a barrier, and many of them occasionally offer their apps for free. Here’s how to get notified.


This data-stealing Trojan is the first to also infect you with ransomware – As if stealing your personal data wasn’t bad enough, one form of Trojan malware has now become the first of its kind by also infecting victims with ransomware, forcing targets to pay to regain access to their computer as well as compromising their credentials. Betabot, which steals banking information and passwords, has been around since March 2013. It disables antivirus and malware-scanning software on infected Windows machines before modifying them to steal users login credentials and financial data. But now, according to cybersecurity researchers at Invincea, Betabot is “breaking new ground”, becoming the first known weaponised password-stealing malware that also infects victims with ransomware in a second stage of attack.

A mystery user breached an email account on Clinton’s server – In 2013, an unknown user accessed an email account on Hillary Clinton’s private email server through Tor, the anonymous web surfing tool, according to new FBI documents.

Why identity protection is the next phase in security – Talk to any security expert, and sooner or later the line “It’s not a case of if you are hacked, but when” will be trotted out. It’s a good line because it is true and demonstrates how perimeter-style security has fallen by the wayside. But consider the implicit implications of everyone eventually being breached, not as a sysadmin or security specialist, but as a user of services, and you will realise what it means for your personal information. Whether today, tomorrow, or next year, eventually the personal information you have handed over to third parties is going to find its way online, and there is not a thing you can do to stop it.

Twitter hackers manage to reactivate banned accounts – Twitter has been known to ban accounts for several reasons, such as if they’re connected to known hacking groups or extremist organizations, and sometimes if the use is offensive/abusive. Once an account has been suspended, there’s really not supposed to be anyway to reverse the ban unless the social network itself decides to. That’s why is comes as a surprise that hackers have not only gained control of a handful of said accounts, but actually managed to reactivate them as well.

Hacking group OurMine takes control of Variety website, spams readers with email – The group of hackers going by the name OurMine managed to briefly take over the website for the entertainment new outlet Variety this weekend. If the name OurMine sounds familiar, it’s because the same collective was responsible for hacking social media accounts belonging to high-profile tech CEOs recently, including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and even Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. But unlike your typical hack that simply leaves the victim website defaced with a message of the hackers’ achievement, OurMine went a step further and managed to get control of Variety’s email system, in turn bombarding subscribers with dozens of copies of the same message.

Company News:

Softbank has completed its £24B cash acquisition of ARM Holdings – One of the biggest tech deals this year — and the biggest ever in the UK — has now closed. Today, Softbank announced that it has completed its acquisition of ARM Holdings, the semiconductor firm that it announced that it would acquire for £24 billion (around $32 billion in today’s currency, $31 billion at the time of the deal) in July, in order to make a big jump into IoT.

Apple’s top lawyer fires back at EU over tax ruling – After being told the company owes $14.5 billion in back taxes, Apple’s general counsel says the European Commission has its numbers wrong. That’s how Apple CEO Tim Cook and the company’s top lawyer this week described the European Commission’s reckoning of the taxes the company has paid in Ireland. In demanding this week that Apple pay $14.5 billion in back taxes, the Commission said the company, which is based in California but has offices in Ireland, paid just 0.005 percent taxes in that country in 2014. Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell denied that. “We paid tax at the statutory rate of 12.5 percent tax on profits relating to our activities in Ireland,” Sewell told a German publication, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, on Friday. “We don’t understand where the Commission’s figures are coming from.”

Pokemon GO gross revenue hits $440 million worldwide – Earlier reports of the demise of Pokemon GO may have been a little premature. According to app analytics firm Sensor Tower, the game has just passed $440 million in worldwide gross revenue. Instead of comparing it to other popular mobile games, Sensor Tower has taken a different approach this time around, putting Pokemon GO’s revenue up against some the summer’s biggest film

Kaspersky ‘terminates’ deal with security reseller Quadsys – Kaspersky Lab is the first big vendor to publicly rip up its contract with disgraced security reseller Quadsys in the wake of the hacking scandal that the company’s bosses recently admitted to. On 22 July, Quadsys owner Paul Streeter, MD Paul Cox, director Alistair Barnard, account manager Steve Davis and security consultant Jon Townsend pleaded guilty to securing unauthorised access to computer material, contrary to section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990. The five were charged in summer 2015 with hacking into a rival’s database to plunder customer information and pricing details.

Twitter Adds More Monetization Options for Periscope Videos – Twitter is building out more monetization options for Periscope via its Amplify platform. Unfortunately, Amplify isn’t just going to let Periscope publishers click a button and start accepting advertising of all kinds. Instead, Twitter has added Periscope as an option for brand partners interested in creating larger campaigns across Twitter and its properties. In the program’s big kickoff, Chase and Grey Goose will be sponsoring a series of Periscope broadcasts from Andy Roddick, all themed around this year’s U.S. Open.

Mercedes parent Daimler has plans for at least 6 electric cars – We’ve known for some time that German carmaker Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, has plans to unveil an all-electric vehicle before the end of the year. It turns out, however, that their plans are much more ambitious, as six electric models are said to be in the works, according to a new report from Reuters. Back in June, the company promised that a long-range Mercedes EV would be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Uber’s Didi Deal Under Antitrust Investigation in China – China’s commerce ministry is investigating the planned acquisition by ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing of U.S. rival Uber Technologies Inc’s China unit over anti-monopoly concerns, the ministry’s spokesman said on Friday. Shen Danyang told reporters the Ministry of Commerce would look to protect fair market competition and consumer interests in the deal, which will create a roughly $35 billion giant dominating China’s car-hailing market.

Games and Entertainment:

These 20 deep, absorbing PC games will eat days of your life – These majestic, long PC games demanded to be played for days, not hours—and your tenacity will be rewarded.

Duke Nukem 3D’s back in a remastered 20th Anniversary Edition with eight new levels – Let’s all pretend Duke Nukem Forever never happened, so then maybe we can be excited about this news.

YouTube disappearing from 50 Sony Bravia sets highlights why smart TVs suck – As I said at the beginning, this is a cautionary tale for any prospective TV buyer. Smart TVs are generally a bad buy, pure and simple. While those apps look enticing, they are restricted by the rather expensive hardware that runs them and Smart TVs are often lower down the priority list for updates by app developers. Accessories such as an Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku, however, don’t cost that much and are easily replaceable once they fail or also hit the limits of their internal capabilities. Sony’s 2012 televisions are only the latest victims of YouTube’s modernization. The original iPad and any other device older than the iPhone 4 famously lost access to YouTube in 2015 after the video site shut down its older developer programming tools.

Pokemon Go to introduce buddy system with next update – While the number of active users has been on a slight decline over the last few weeks, Pokemon Go still maintains a significant user base, and remains a big hit for developer Niantic Labs. We’ve known for a while now about new features coming to the game in the near future, including new Pokemon and gameplay mechanics, thanks to various data-mining attempts into the app’s code, but now Niantic has specifically announced an anticipated feature that will debut later this fall.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare multiplayer trailers released as beta details surface – Activision has launched new multiplayer-centric videos for the latest entry in the Call of Duty franchise, Infinite Warfare, while at the same unleashing a few details on when we can expect the multiplayer beta to take place. Just like Black Ops III before it, this beta will be exclusive to PlayStation 4 owners at first, eventually unlocking for Xbox One players at some later, undetermined point.


12 gorgeous PC games that will punish your graphics card – Don’t know what to play? No old favorites? Well, allow us to point you in the right direction when it comes to handing your computer a stack of heavy weights and saying “Lift this.” These 12 punishing PC games will bring even powerful rigs to their knees—but the eye candy is utterly delicious.

The Farming Simulation Competition Is About to Heat Up – Though there are a few imitators, the farming simulation genre is largely defined by the Farming Simulator series, which is developed by Giants Software. However, there’s a new farming simulation on the way, and it’s backed by a company that might give Giants some real competition. Pure Farming 17, as the upcoming game is called, is being developed by a studio called Ice Flames, and is being published by Techland, which will also support development. Techland is a Polish developer known for the Wild West shooter Call of Juarez and the zombie apocalypse games Dead Island and Dying Light (a personal favorite). They’re big budget games aimed at core players, so farming simulators are a little out of Techland’s wheelhouse.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Woman brilliantly fools a phone scammer – Technically Incorrect: Canada’s Dawn Belmonte gets a call from a man claiming she owes money. What happens next is not what you might expect.

Video: 3 invaluable tips from famous tech entrepreneurs – Running a small business requires optimism and wisdom. Here are three pieces of useful inspiration from a trio of successful tech entrepreneurs: Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.

Cutty Sark: Tour 147 years of sailing history – For over eight decades, the Cutty Sark sailed seas, moved cargo, and trained crews. Today it is a meticulously maintained museum ship in London. Here’s what it looks like inside and on deck.

Nope, printed books aren’t going out of style – As and Barnes and Noble launched their respective eBook readers in 2007 and 2010, there were many who rushed to predict that the printed book would soon be meeting an untimely end. New data from the Pew Research Center now suggests that your standard paper, ink, and glue novel has considerable staying power with consumers. Pew’s study surveyed readers, and found that while the total number of Americans who had read a book in the past year had dipped slightly (73 percent, down from 74 percent in 2012), the number of readers who read a printed book had essentially remained the same, at 65 percent. That number more than doubles the number of people who reported that they had read an e-book in the same time period (28 percent).

Something to think about:

“At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.”

–        Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Apple, Fox News, and ACLU join Microsoft’s fight against secret data demands – Dozens of US businesses, tech companies, and prominent rights groups have filed in support of Microsoft, which is currently suing the Justice Department over its use of gag orders.

The software giant announced that it filed suit against in April in an effort to strike down the government’s use of gag orders, which Microsoft argues is unconstitutional.

The company said in a legal filing that the government should not be allowed to prevent a company from telling a customer when their data has been turned over to investigators. These gag orders can be used in cases where national security is at risk, such as terrorism investigations, but often aren’t.

As of Friday, the deadline for filing amicus briefs in the case, more than 80 signatories have rallied behind the company.

Many of those who signed also include attorneys, law professors, and former law enforcement officials.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a brief earlier this year.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed its brief on Friday, commented in a blog post:

“When electronic searches are done in secret, we lose our right to challenge the legality of law enforcement invasions of privacy. The Fourth Amendment doesn’t allow that, and it’s time for the government to step up and respect the Constitution,” said senior staff attorney Lee Tien.

Apple and Mozilla were among other tech companies who also filed a brief with the court. The tech duo argued that the gag order provisions harms US businesses abroad, particularly in Europe, where disclosures are necessary.

Airbnb releases first transparency report on government requests for user data – Airbnb received 188 requests for users’ data from governments around the world in the first six months of this year, according to the company’s first-ever transparency report. The home-sharing company provided data in response to 82 of those requests.

Airbnb is publishing a transparency report as part of its Community Compact, an initiative to make the company more transparent to the public and to the local governments in the cities where it operates.

“We’re building a more transparent community and sharing data about our community with the general public,” Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty told TechCrunch. “We felt that this is an important first step. In the future, we’ll look to share additional sorts of data about our community.”

In releasing its transparency report, Airbnb is joining the growing cohort of tech companies that regularly publish information about the government requests they receive. Google, Facebook, Uber, and others make transparency reports available, but most of those companies receive a much higher volume of requests than Airbnb.

Google was hit with 40,677 requests in the second half of 2015, while Facebook received 19,235 requests during the same period. These companies hold troves of user data that is valuable to law enforcement, so it makes sense that they’d be slammed with requests. But Uber and Airbnb likely receive fewer requests because they don’t hold the same rich repositories of user communications, photos, and personal information. In its inaugural transparency report released in April, Uber said it received only 469 law enforcement requests over a six-month period.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 2, 2016

10 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10;  Windows 10 tip: Solve network problems with a one-click reset;  Everything you need to know about wireless charging;  Having Bluetooth connectivity problems? Try these quick fixes;  50 free Google Chrome browser extensions;  Android 7.0 Nougat: The smart person’s guide;  Dark Web: The smart person’s guide;  EVE Online to Go Free in November – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10 – As it turns out, there are all sorts of tricks hidden beneath the surface of the sprawling beast that is Windows. All it takes is a little digging. Here we present a list of 10 cool tips that will help you get a little bit more out of your Windows 10 experience. Or, at least, there are some things you may have not known about. Some have been available in Windows for a number of generations, while some are native to Microsoft’s most recent OS.

Report: Windows 10 Adding Blue Light Reduction Option – At this point, Microsoft is just testing the feature, but if it actually makes its way to Windows 10, you’ll likely be able to toggle it on from the Notification area of your PC or mobile device, according to WinBeta. From there, the feature will automatically adjust the color of your screen based on the time of day, and the location of your device, reducing blue light at night to help you sleep.

Windows 10 tip: Solve network problems with a one-click reset – The Windows 10 Anniversary Update includes a new feature that lets you see your network status at a glance. If there’s a problem, you can run a troubleshooter or do a complete reset, with a single click.

Windows 10’s new beta lets computers download updates from other PCs – Microsoft is trying to make it faster for people to download Windows updates by using the vast network of PCs around the world to deliver them. The feature works similarly to the BitTorrent file distribution system. Update files get split into chunks, and then Windows 10 will download each chunk from the device that can deliver it the fastest. Microsoft first introduced the feature with the major Windows 10 update last November, but it only allowed people to download updates from computers on a local network or from Microsoft’s servers.

50 free Google Chrome browser extensions – Here are 50 extensions that focus on privacy and productivity. With these you can take screenshots, secure your browser, keep your passwords safe, take control of your tabs, secure your connection, do more with Gmail, grab text out of images, and much more. All these extensions are free and are available to download from the Chrome Web Store.

Google Expands Android ‘Early Access’ Beta Program – Android owners can visit the Google Play Store and look for the link to “early access” at the end of the list featuring “top charts” and “games.” Then simply find an app you’re interested in, install, and follow the on-screen instructions. Keep in mind, though, that early access space may be limited. To see a list of unreleased apps you’ve downloaded, navigate through the menu to “My apps and games” then “Beta.”

Everything you need to know about wireless charging – No smart home would be complete without wireless chargers to keep the batteries your smart devices topped off. We’ll help you choose the right standard.

Samsung confirms it is recalling the Galaxy Note 7 after reports of explosions – Samsung has confirmed that it is recalling the Galaxy Note 7, its newest smartphone, following reports that some devices exploded. The device was launched less than a month ago to very positive reviews, but concerns about the battery in some units — which reportedly combusted while charging — have forced the company’s hand. Yesterday, Samsung confirmed it was investigating the issue, and now it has taken quick action to avoid potential tragedies. Samsung said it has sold 2.5 million devices so far, and it plans to replace them all “in the coming weeks.” It added that it is aware of 35 cases of faulty batteries, although it isn’t clear how many of that number had exploded.

You Asked: What Is a Chromebook? – They come in many different shapes, sizes, and price points, but they all share a few common characteristics. Most noticeably, they start up fast, have built-in virus protection, automatically update their software, and are generally inexpensive. For these reasons, Chromebooks have becoming increasingly popular with casual Internet users — people who just want to surf the Web — and in the education field, a market that Apple had once dominated.

Facebook Messenger adds live video to augment your messages – A good rule of thumb in software these days is that any social product without a video feature is going to get one eventually. Another good rule of thumb is that any feature developed by Snapchat is coming soon to a Facebook product near you. Enter “instant video,” a twist on Snapchat’s video calling feature that lets you share a live stream from inside a traditional text chat.

Facebook’s new algorithm will help save VR movies from shaky-cam – Facebook wants to make sure that any VR home movies shared on its social network won’t make people puke. That’s why the company is building a new video stabilization algorithm that will help smooth out all of the bumps and shakes that come from wielding a 360 degree camera.

5 ways Dropbox Paper could have an edge over Google Docs – From adding images and rich content to docs, to facilitating work with others, to tracking all changes, Dropbox Paper is a promising collaboration tool.

Having Bluetooth connectivity problems? Try these quick fixes – When researching a connectivity problem with his phone, TechRepublic writer Scott Matteson discovered there are tons of Bluetooth tips out there. Here are some that work.

Android 7.0 Nougat: The smart person’s guide – Learn what features and security enhancements Android Nougat has to offer, and why it’s important, in this resource guide about the seventh iteration of the Android platform.

Osmo Mobile turns smartphones into a motion tracking smart camera – If you are the sort who prefers to enjoy the moment rather than being focused on a camera or smartphone screen recording video and shooting images, the Osmo Mobile might be just the device for you. The Osmo Mobile smartphone holder turns your smart device into a smart motion-tracking camera. What that means is that you don’t have to choose between recording the happenings and participating. The DJI Go app that goes along with the Osmo Mobile device is designed to automatically keep the smartphone facing you as you move.

Intel quietly releases “Apollo Lake,” new low-cost chips for cheap PCs – Intel put most of its marketing and PR muscle for IFA this year behind Kaby Lake, the tweaked 4K-friendly version of its flagship Skylake architecture. But you’ll only see those chips if you’re buying midrange and high-end laptops—slower, lower-end stuff often comes with Celeron and Pentium chips derived from the lower-performance, lower-power Atom chips, and Intel has quietly announced some of those this week, too.

USB-C will soon output HDMI directly, no adapters needed – USB Type C, or USB-C for short, aims to be the end all and be all of connectors. Reversible in both orientation and flow, USB-C allows a single port to function as data conduit, charging channel, and even video output. The problem with the latter, however, is that it usually requires some adapter of sort. Soon, however, that will be a thing of the past. HDMI Licensing, LLC, the force behind the HDMI standard has announced a new Alternate Mode, or Alt Mode” that will allow USB-C devices, like smartphones and laptops, to output HDMI video to any compatible display, but this time with just a cable, without adapters or dongles.

How to track topics with Google Alerts and Inbox by Gmail – Combine Inbox bundles with Google Alerts to stay informed without overloading your email.

Apple will start pruning old, broken apps next week – If you have long had your eye on an old iOS or Mac app for some years now, you might want to install it before September 7th. That’s because, after that date, it has a chance to disappear, especially if it is considered ancient by Apple’s standards. The company has just revealed that it will be making an inventory of its App Store and will be removing apps that outdated, broken, or haven’t been updated in a long time. This is to make sure that actually usable apps aren’t buried beneath search results listing such “unworthy” apps.

Microsoft’s new business model for Windows 10: Pay to play – In the Windows 10 era, as Microsoft’s licensing revenue drops, the company’s finding creative ways to squeeze extra money out of customers, especially businesses.


Dark Web: The smart person’s guide – Nefarious profiteers use the encrypted internet to sell stolen data, drugs and weapons. Facebook and the UN use it to protect dissidents and journalists. This guide shines a light on the Dark Web.

Cybercrime and cyberwar: A spotter’s guide to the groups that are out to get you – Security threats can come from a variety of different individuals and groups. Here’s a field guide to the major players.

2012 Dropbox hack worse than realized, 68M passwords leaked – According to a recent report, a 2012 hack on cloud file sharing company DropBox put millions of users at risk. It also highlights the importance of good security hygiene for every employee.

Apple patches OS X to fix serious security flaw discovered in iOS – Apple has issued new security updates for El Capitan and Yosemite, as well as its Safari browser, fixing the same serious security vulnerability discovered in its iOS software last week. As with the urgent iOS 9.3.5 update, Mac owners should grab today’s OS X updates as soon as possible, fixing problems that could otherwise give malicious software access to your device’s kernel.

After Breaches At Other Services, Spotify Is Resetting Users’ Passwords – Popular music streaming service Spotify is actively resetting a number of users’ passwords. The company claims this is in response to data breaches of other websites, implying that the problem may be customers reusing passwords. “To protect your Spotify account, we’ve reset your password. This is because we believe it may have been compromised during a leak on another service with which you use the same password,” an email sent to a user on Wednesday reads. “Don’t worry! This is purely a preventative security measure. Nobody has accessed your Spotify account, and your data is secure,” it continues. It then prompts the user to create a new password by clicking on a link. Around six hours ago, users on Twitter reported receiving the same email.

So much for counter-phishing training: Half of people click anything sent to them – Security experts often talk about the importance of educating people about the risks of “phishing” e-mails containing links to malicious websites. But sometimes, even awareness isn’t enough. A study by researchers at a university in Germany found that about half of the subjects in a recent experiment clicked on links from strangers in e-mails and Facebook messages—even though most of them claimed to be aware of the risks.

“Foghorn” takes users out of phish-fighting with DNS “greylisting” – Clickers gonna click. Despite mandatory corporate training, general security awareness, and constant harping about the risks of clicking on unverified links in e-mails and other documents, people have been, are now, and forever will click links where exploit kits and malware lurk. It’s simply too easy with the slightest amount of targeted work to convince users to click. Eric Rand and Nik Labelle believe they have an answer to this problem—an answer that could potentially derail not just phishing attacks but other manner of malware as well.

This Phishing Service Lets Any Jerk Try to Steal Gmail Logins – One of the most effective ways of grabbing someone’s email or social media password is to just ask for it. Phishing, where a hacker sends a message pretending to be from a legitimate website and pressures the target to login, is still responsible for plenty of data breaches today. Well with one website, just about anyone can generate an authentic looking phishing page, send it to whoever they want, and potentially steal the victim’s login details; all with little to no training or technical knowledge.

Company News:

Box beats market expectations for Q2 – Box released its second quarter financial results for fiscal 2017 on Wednesday, narrowly beating market estimates. The cloud storage and content management firm reported a net loss of 14 cents a share, compared to 28 a share in the second quarter of fiscal 2016. The company reported record quarterly revenues of $95.7 million, an increase of 30 percent from the second quarter of fiscal 2016. Wall Street was expecting a net loss of 19 cents a share on revenue of $94.65 million.

Twitter adds new ways to monetize live video via Periscope – Twitter announced a new monetization option today, adding live Periscope content to its monetization options, which lets approved creators and brands earn a share of ad revenue on their media posts. Including live content produced via Periscope in the program is new, and the first partners to take advantage are Chase and Grey Goose, which are creating broadcasts with tennis legend Andy Roddick to coincide with the U.S. Open.

Apple’s Cook calls European tax ruling ‘total political crap’ – The European Commission’s decision to force Apple to pay Ireland billions in back taxes is “total political crap” and a reflection of anti-U.S. sentiment, company CEO Tim Cook said in an interview published Thursday.

Games and Entertainment:

Battlefield 1 beta impressions: Riding an armored train through the middle of hell – Battlefield 1’s open beta starts today and runs through…sometime soon. EA hasn’t exactly said when it ends, though it has specified it’ll last at least four days. My money’s on it ending on Tuesday, a.k.a. the day after Labor Day, but we’ll see. Regardless, anyone with a passing interest in Battlefield—active or lapsed—might want to hop over to Origin (I know, I know, save your sighing) and check it out. Having played for a few hours on Tuesday, I can say with confidence that this World War I-themed game is the most fun I’ve had with Battlefield in a long time.


NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2016 season – Watching sports without a big cable TV bundle has gotten a lot easier in the last year; NFL games are no exception. Thanks in part to new streaming options for cord-cutters, it’s possible to watch all your local NFL games without cable, along with all nationally televised games on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday nights. With the NFL season just a week away, now’s a good time to run through all the ways* that cord cutters can watch or stream NFL games, so you’ll be ready for kickoff:

EVE Online to Go Free in November – After more than a decade of gaming, EVE Online is going free. The game’s developer CCP announced today that starting in November, EVE Online will be a free-to-play game for all. Going forward, EVE Online will include two of what it calls “clone states.” The first, called the Alpha Clone State, will be a new base state for any user to train and use skills, and be saved for new users or those who are returning to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The Omega Clone State, on the other hand, will feature unlimited access to the game’s skills and other features and will act just as it does now for subscribers.


Plex goes after cord cutters with new DVR feature – Plex, a popular personal media player system that lets you stream from your own library, including music, photos, TV and movies, across devices, is today rolling out DVR functionality. The software will now allow you to watch and record their favorite programs, by pairing Plex with any digital antenna and an HDHomeRun digital tuner. This allows you to use Plex to watch TV on any device, including local news, sports, as well as content from the major networks, like ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, PBS and others.

8 Games You’ll Want to Buy in September – The fall video game rush comes early this year, as September features a beefy number of new titles. From Japanese RPGs to energetic sports games to handheld visual novels and side-scrolling action, this month features promising games across all platforms.

Why your home theater PC still can’t stream 4K Ultra HD video – Let’s say you’ve connected both a high-end gaming PC and an inexpensive streaming video-streaming box to your 4K television. Which one do you think would be capable of streaming 4K video from sources like Netflix? If you guessed the PC, you’d be wrong. The reasons why streaming services like Netflix and Amazon support 4K (and the emerging HDR format) on PC are complicated; but in large part, they trace back to copy protection and Hollywood’s desire to keep 4K locked down at all costs. And while premium 4K content is coming to the PC soon, you’ll probably need new hardware to see it.

Logitech announces $69.99 Prodigy gaming range with mouse, keyboard, and headset – Logitech is announcing the launch of its Prodigy gaming line today, which consists of a mouse, a keyboard, and a headset. All of them will cost $69.99 when they’re released later this month.


NVIDIA reveals ‘Vault 1080’ mod for Fallout 4 – NVIDIA recently unleashed a slew of new graphics cards, but judging from a new announcement on the NVIDIA blog, that isn’t all the company has been working hard on. NVIDIA announced today that it will soon be releasing a mod all its own for Bethesda’s Fallout 4, and just as you’d expect from a company that primarily deals in GPUs, this one is meant to push graphics cards a bit harder than the base game.

Off Topic (Sort of):

What you should know before buying a smart lock – Upgrading your locks isn’t as simple as swapping out light bulbs or plugging in a smart power outlet adapter. The installation is a little more hands-on, and the feature sets vary pretty significantly. And remember, these things aren’t cheap — most cost upwards of $200 or more. Bottom line: there are a few things you need to know before rushing out to the hardware store.

Caught in the act: How and why you should invest in a dash cam – No one gets into their car thinking they’re going to get into an accident—that, is until they do. Luckily, we now have dash cams, in-car technology that can be helpful to drivers in the event something goes wrong while they’re behind the wheel. If you don’t have one in your car already, you’ve probably heard about dash cams on the news when footage from a tense police encounter or from a foreign country like Russia has been featured due to an unusual situation. However, you likely won’t encounter meteorites and crashing airplanes as often as you will annoyingly aggressive drivers.

More people using drones to spy on cheating lovers – How do you discover if your suspicions of your lover’s infidelity are well founded? You can go through their phone and emails. You can follow them. How much more convenient, though, when you can get someone else to do the following for you. Or something else. More people are now using drones for the purpose, reports Bravo TV, which spoke with family-law specialist Peter Walzer of the law firm Walzer Melcher. It seems some people believe sending a buzzing object into the sky, camera attached, is the perfectly modern way to examine whether your dear heart is betraying you. There are a couple of kinks, however.

Is ‘Sexting Addiction’ a Real Thing? – Earlier this week, ex-congressman and documentary star Anthony Weiner wound up in the papers once more, his extramarital sexting back in the public eye for the third time in five years. Given all the story’s elements—Sex! Technology! Self-destructive behavior!—it was only a matter of time until Weiner’s woes became fodder for a bit of handwringing about the way we live now. Indeed, it only took a few hours for reporters to start asking if Weiner’s tale was a sign that sexting might actually be addictive. If your automatic reaction to that question is to roll your eyes, you’re not alone.

Wearable Monitoring Tech May Not Always Be Good for Your Health – There are plenty of reasons for caution as we rush into this new world of personalized healthcare—not least privacy and data security concerns—but the risk of overdiagnosis and unnecessary medical interventions should, perhaps, also cause us to pause before we strap the next generation of monitors to our chests and head out to work.

Governments and nation states are now officially training for cyberwarfare: An inside look – Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, and others are now running training exercises to prepare for the outbreak of cyberwar. Locked Shields is the largest simulation and TechRepublic takes you inside.

Something to think about:

“How easy it is for generous sentiments, high courtesy, and chivalrous courage to lose their influence beneath the chilling blight of selfishness, and to exhibit to the world a man who was great in all the minor attributes of character, but who was found wanting when it became necessary to prove how much principle is superior to policy.”

–       James Fenimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans, 1826

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

LEAKED CATALOGUE REVEALS A VAST ARRAY OF MILITARY SPY GEAR OFFERED TO U.S. POLICE – A CONFIDENTIAL, 120-PAGE catalogue of spy equipment, originating from British defense firm Cobham and circulated to U.S. law enforcement, touts gear that can intercept wireless calls and text messages, locate people via their mobile phones, and jam cellular communications in a particular area.

The catalogue was obtained by The Intercept as part of a large trove of documents originating within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where spokesperson Molly Best confirmed Cobham wares have been purchased but did not provide further information. The document provides a rare look at the wide range of electronic surveillance tactics used by police and militaries in the U.S. and abroad, offering equipment ranging from black boxes that can monitor an entire town’s cellular signals to microphones hidden in lighters and cameras hidden in trashcans. Markings date it to 2014.

Cobham, recently cited among several major British firms exporting surveillance technology to oppressive regimes, has counted police in the United States among its clients, Cobham spokesperson Greg Caires confirmed. The company spun off its “Tactical Communications and Surveillance” business into “Domo Tactical Communications” earlier this year, presumably shifting many of those clients to the new subsidiary. Caires declined to comment further on the catalogue obtained by The Intercept or confirm its authenticity, but said it “looked authentic” to him.

“By design, these devices are indiscriminate and operate across a wide area where many people may be present,” said Richard Tynan, a technologist at Privacy International, of the gear in the Cobham catalogue. Such “indiscriminate surveillance systems that are not targeted in any way based on prior suspicion” are “the essence of mass surveillance,” he added.

Sheriff’s Raid to Find Blogger Who Criticized Him Was Unconstitutional, Court Rules – AN APPELLATE COURT in Baton Rouge ruled Thursday that a raid on a police officer’s house in search of the blogger who had accused the sheriff of corruption was unconstitutional.

The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals argued that Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s investigation into the blog ExposeDAT had flawed rationale: the alleged defamation was not actually a crime as applied to a public official.

The unanimous ruling from the three-judge panel comes after police officer Wayne Anderson and his wife Jennifer Anderson were denied assistance in local and federal court.

“I love it when justice is tangible,” Jerri Smitko, one of the Andersons’ laywers, told The Intercept.

“With that piece of paper it says that what they did was unconstitutional — that’s a great feeling because you’re holding it in your hand and it’s vindication for people that they intended to oppress,” she added.

The raid was sparked by the sheriff’s investigation into who was behind the anonymous blog that accused local officials, including him, of corruption and fraud. Through a blog and a Facebook page called “John Turner,”ExposeDAT used public records to show conflicts of interest.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – August 31, 2016

Top 10 free troubleshooting tools for Windows 10;  Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems;  Here’s how much RAM your PC needs to run smoothly;  Here’s how surge protectors keep your gadgets safe;  Why your USB drive’s file format matters: FAT32 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS;  Google Cast gets built into Chrome;  How to Find Accessible Wi-Fi Hotspots;  9 things to check after installing wireless access points – and much more news you need to know.

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Top 10 free troubleshooting tools for Windows 10 – Into every Windows 10 user’s life a little rain must fall. Sometimes it comes down in buckets. Windows itself has many built-in troubleshooting tools, but they can be tricky to find and even trickier to harness in ways that’ll help you solve a problem—instead of simply sitting there looking pretty and/or perplexed. Here we introduce 10 tools you’re going to need, sooner or later, no matter how you use or abuse Win10. They’re free—either built into Windows, downloadable from Microsoft, or free as a breeze from a third party. Most of all, they get the job done … and done well.

Troubleshooting and repairing Windows 10 problems – The Anniversary Update to Windows 10, version 1607, has been rolling out for the past few weeks, and some early adopters are experiencing issues. Here’s Ed Bott’s guide to some specific fixes for known issues along with time-tested troubleshooting tools and techniques.

How to fix the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition webcam bug – Microsoft’s newest update to Windows 10 rolled out more than just features –it also inadvertently killed many webcams in the process. Good news: There’s a registry fix for that.

Here’s how much RAM your PC needs to run smoothly – Is there a case for more than 8GB of RAM? Sure there is, but the bang for the buck trails off beyond that point.

Here’s how surge protectors keep your gadgets safe – What can you do to protect your electronics from power surges? Use a surge protector that blocks it. Appliance Science looks at how these devices save your gadgets.

Why your USB drive’s file format matters: FAT32 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS – You have options when it comes to formatting a USB drive for use in a PC: FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS. We’ll explain what they are and how to choose the best file system for your needs.

Google’s new In Apps search lets you look through your Android apps for information – Google’s new In Apps search lets you look through your Android apps for information – Android users have a new way to look for information stored inside their smartphone apps, with a new Google search feature appropriately titled “In Apps.” The new feature, announced tonight, appears as an option inside Android’s Google app, and allows you to search for — among other things — contacts, photos, and videos across apps like Gmail, Spotify, and YouTube. In Apps searches work offline, meaning you won’t need a data connection to sift through your software for that address you forgot, and you’ll be able to tweak settings so that certain apps don’t appear in the search results.


Source: Google Blog

Google Cast gets built into Chrome – Google Cast—the protocol that powers Chromecast—previously worked inside of Chrome thanks to an extension released by Google. Buttons on YouTube, Google Music, and other sites allowed you to beam music and video to your TV or stereo system. Now you no longer need an extension to sling media across the room. Google has built the protocol directly into Chrome. Like all Chrome features, Cast support started in the “Dev” and “Beta” versions. Cast has finally hit the stable channel that most consumers use. The Cast buttons in website UIs will continue to work the way they always have, and if you click on the Chrome menu button, you’ll be treated to a new “Cast…” option that can beam an entire tab to your television.

When will your phone get Android Nougat? – Our continually updated list has all the latest details, announcements, and rumors to give you the best possible picture of when you’ll get Android 7.0.

How to delete photos from your Android device and retain them on Google Drive – If you need to free up local storage space on your Android device, and have lots of photos on your phone, learn how to delete those images without actually losing them.

Apple iCloud rises higher with new 2TB offer – For the modern computer user and knowledge worker, cloud storage is an inevitable fact of life. For mobile device users with very limited internal storage, it becomes a necessity. Apple’s iPhones have long been criticized by some camps for lacking a data storage expansion option and the company is unlikely to change its ways. Instead, it is now offering even more space on its iCloud storage service, up to 2 TB in fact, to give more room for your photos, videos, and files.

9 things to check after installing wireless access points – Whether you’re upgrading equipment or building out a whole new Wi-Fi network, use this checklist to make sure everything’s shipshape before you let users connect.

How to Find Accessible Wi-Fi Hotspots – You’re at a public place looking to get on the Internet through your trusty laptop. You may be indoors. You may be outdoors. Either way, you’re searching for a publicly accessible Wi-Fi network, or hotspot, through which you can hop online. Yes, you can always power up your laptop and search for a network. But that can be time-consuming. Instead, you can simply and quickly tap into a Wi-Fi finder app on your smartphone to see if any networks are nearby.

Fiber channel networking: The smart person’s guide – If your company needs a storage-area network (SAN) or an enterprise backup system, you’ll need to brush up on the subject of fiber channel (fiber optic) networking gear, which connects the components to your servers. This applies to storage arrays using traditional hard disk drives or all-flash arrays, along with traditional tape backup or disk-based backup. This guide is an entry-level summary about fiber channel networking.

Stop procrastinating: Signing emails is now a necessity – If employees don’t digitally sign all outgoing emails, Jack Wallen says your company and customer base is at risk. He explains why signing emails has reached critical importance.

4 worthy alternatives to Sunrise Calendar – At the end of the month, the sun will set on Sunrise, one of the most beloved calendar apps. That will leave a scheduling void for Android and iOS users who prized the app for its intuitive interface, third-party app integration, and support for Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, and iCloud. Though Sunrise leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, there are some worthy alternatives that can take its place. Here’s a look at four of the best.

Meet Intel 7th Gen Core, the 4K, VR-ready “Kaby Lake” processors – If we’re post-PC, nobody told Intel: the chip company has higher hopes than ever for the computer – albeit in a range of form-factors – running its new 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” Core processors, officially announced today. With headline 7th Gen vs 6th Gen improvements including swifter, less power-intensive media playback and processing, the ability to do serious gaming on the move, and broader support for next-generation interconnects like Thunderbolt and USB-C plus security features like Windows Hello, Intel sees Kaby Lake as more than just a speed bump.

Microsoft makes it easier to report hate speech on Xbox and other services – Microsoft has added new Web forms that allow users to report hate speech that can be found on Microsoft services like Xbox Live, Skype, and OneDrive.


Meet USBee, the malware that uses USB drives to covertly jump airgaps – In 2013, a document leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden illustrated how a specially modified USB device allowed spies to surreptitiously siphon data out of targeted computers, even when they were physically severed from the Internet or other networks. Now, researchers have developed software that goes a step further by turning unmodified USB devices into covert transmitters that can funnel large amounts of information out of similarly “air-gapped” PCs. The USBee—so named because it behaves like a bee that flies through the air taking bits from one place to another—is in many respects a significant improvement over the NSA-developed USB exfiltrator known as CottonMouth.

Poisoned Word docs deploy rogue web proxies to hijack your encrypted traffic – A new attack spotted and analyzed by malware researchers from Microsoft uses Word documents with malicious code that doesn’t install traditional malware, but instead configures browsers to use a web proxy controlled by attackers. In addition to deploying rogue proxy settings, the attack also installs a self-signed root certificate on the system so that attackers can snoop on encrypted HTTPS traffic as it passes through their proxy servers. The attack starts with spam emails that have a .docx attachment. When opened, the document displays an embedded element resembling an invoice or receipt. If clicked and allowed to run, the embedded object executes malicious JavaScript code.

Dropbox employee’s password reuse led to theft of 60M+ user credentials – Dropbox disclosed earlier this week that a large chunk of its users’ credentials obtained in 2012 was floating around on the dark web. But that number may have been much higher than we originally thought. Credentials for more than 60 million accounts were taken, as first reported by Motherboard and confirmed by TechCrunch sources. The revelation of a password breach at Dropbox is an evolution of the company’s stance on the 2012 incident — the company initially said that user emails were the only data stolen.

Officials blame “sophisticated” Russian hackers for voter system attacks – The profile of attacks on two US state voter registration systems this summer presented in an FBI “Flash” memo suggests that the states were hit by a fairly typical sort of intrusion. But an Arizona official said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had attributed an attack that succeeded only in capturing a single user’s login credentials to Russian hackers and rated the threat from the attack as an “eight on a scale of ten” in severity. An Illinois state official characterized the more successful attack on that state’s system as “highly sophisticated” based on information from the FBI.

BitTorrent client is found distributing Mac-based malware – Researchers at security firm ESET have been following a malware called OSX/Keydnap, which can steal passwords, and noticed that it was spreading through Transmission’s official site. Somehow, a version of the BitTorrent client containing the malware had been recently made available on the site, ESET said in a blog post on Tuesday. Transmission has already removed the download, according to ESET. But users who downloaded the client between this past Sunday and Monday should check for signs that their Mac has been comprised.

Free tool helps your IT team assess phishing risks – Duo Insight lets IT teams run internal phishing simulations to identify potential security weaknesses and make the case for investing in stronger solutions and more user training.

Company News:

Apple must pay Ireland $14.5 billion in taxes, rules European Commission – Europe’s competition chief has ordered Ireland to reclaim €13 billion (£11.1 billion/$14.5 billion) in back taxes from Apple. It comes despite the US treasury department warning last week that it would “consider its options” in such an eventuality. Speaking at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Margrethe Vestager said: “Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies—this is illegal under EU state aid rules.” The investigation, which started in 2014, has technically not found Apple guilty of wrongdoing. Rather it is a judgment that the so-called sweetheart tax deals Apple received from Ireland constitute illegal state aid. Because the commission can order recovery of illegal state aid for up to 10 years before first request for information, Ireland must now recover the unpaid taxes from Apple for the years 2003 to 2014, plus interest.

Apple responds to Ireland tax allegations (plus a few Brexit facts) – Apple responds to allegations from the European Commission which suggested that the company was receiving illegal tax breaks from Ireland. In this letter, penned by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company suggests that the EU is retroactively applying rules which should not apply to their taxation situation. Apple has their European base of operations in Ireland, having set that base up back in October of 1980, and has expanded throughout Ireland (and greater Europe) since. The European Commission suggests that Apple’s way of paying taxes in Ireland is “illegal under EU state aid rules.”

Apple sued over iPhone ‘touch disease’ – Owners of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Apple for failing to address the so-called “touch disease” that’s rendering some of the smartphones useless. The design flaw, which causes the screen on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to flicker and become unresponsive, came to light last week after repair specialists at iFixit said “a ton” of iPhone 6 Plus handsets have experienced the problem. The complaint filed in the US District Court for Northern California alleges that Apple concealed the defect and has refused to fix it for customers.

Google Is About to Take On Uber in a Big Way – Google is expanding a ride-sharing service that would directly compete with Uber and similar companies, the Wall Street Journal reports, the latest development in the two firms’ dissolution from partners to rivals. Google’s service, which will be available through the company’s Waze navigation app, would essentially work as a digital carpooling platform, linking paying ride-seekers with drivers headed in the same direction. The company has been testing the service on a small scale but is now ready to expand it more broadly across San Francisco, the Journal reports.

Microsoft sells MSN China portal, after announcing plans to shutter it – Microsoft has sold MSN China to Xichuang Technology, a company co-founded late last year by MSN China’s former general manager. That report comes from, which said that Microsoft announced the agreement to sell MSN China on the company’s official blog on Aug. 29, though the actual transaction was effective on Aug. 10. The report said no financial terms were disclosed, “though Microsoft said the two sides will continue to work closely together”.

Games and Entertainment:

10 BEST: Gaming Laptops – Purists will argue that you need a PC to truly play games, especially if you’re a fan of pushing the levels of graphics quality beyond the capabilities of a mobile phone or a mere gaming console. In this regard the gaming desktop is still the king, particularly when it comes to having the kind of components and horsepower needed to smoothly run 4K games and support virtual reality (VR) setups, such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, but sometimes you want something to tote around the house or over to your friend’s place. If that’s what you need, we’re here to help you choose the right gaming laptop.

Netflix in September: all the shows coming and going – It’s that time again — a new month is upon us and with it will come a refreshed Netflix library. Some movies and TV shows are on their way out, of course, and others are on their way in to fill the void. Depending on your tastes, the library refresh may be a good thing, but there are some losses that at least some viewers will certainly miss.

PlayStation Now streaming service available today on Windows PCs – You don’t need a PlayStation to play PlayStation games anymore: Sony’s Playstation Now subscription-based game streaming service is now out for PC, and you an grab the app and start playing some of PlayStation’s best legacy titles immediately if you’ve got a Windows machine. It’ll cost you, of course – but not as much as you would’ve paid for the games available individually. A 12-month subscription to PlayStation Now will run you $99.99 as part of a limited-time promotion to celebrate the PC launch. Normally, a PS Now subscription will run you more than double that.

Snapchat’s 8-bit Serena Williams game is interactive history – A new game from ESPN’s Discover channel sponsored by Gatorade highlight Snapchat’s efforts to distinguish itself as a marketing vector for brands, as well as its potential to expand beyond its media sharing origins with add-on apps and features that could end up with it resembling a more multi-faceted platform. Serena Match Point isn’t ground-breaking in terms of mechanics; input depends on a single tap, though you can vary the location of your tap to achieve different effects. But the 8-bit look of the game, paired with its faithful recreation of the scenes and, as Kotaku notes, set dressing of Serena Williams’ past 22 victories at major international pro tennis tournaments, definitely make it a worthwhile distraction.

Police Quest, Gabriel Knight, and other classic Sierra games are now on Steam – Steam just got a little more retro. A batch of classic games from revered publisher Sierra has been released on Valve’s digital store, and it includes some big names. You can grab all three entries in the Gabriel Knight series of point-and-click games, Roberta Williams’ horror adventure Phantasmagoria and its sequel, as well as collections bundling together titles from Quest for Glory and Police Quest. There are some notable omissions — including King’s Quest and Space Quest — and most of these games are already available on classic gaming service Still, for Steam users it’s a cheap and easy way to relive some classics, or experience them for the first time.

Fallout 4 Nuka-World expansion now available – The final Fallout 4 add-on, “Nuka-World,” is available now for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. With the expansion comes a foray into Nuka-World, which is split up into half a dozen distinct zones with their own perils and attractions. There’s a ton to do, according to Bethesda, though the map itself is a bit smaller than Far Harbor. The expansion brings new creatures, a trio of Raider gangs, and more.

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – Films starring Vera Farmiga, Morgan Freeman, and Mel Gibson appear in this week’s list of the most pirated movies on the Internet.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Privacy and privates: What you should learn from Anthony Weiner – There’s no such thing as safe sexting, but tons of people still send risque messages. What could go wrong?

Why calling screentime ‘digital heroin’ is digital garbage – The supposed danger of digital media made headlines over the weekend when psychotherapist Nicholas Kardaras published a story in the New York Post called “It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies.” In the op-ed, Kardaras claims that “iPads, smartphones and XBoxes are a form of digital drug.” He stokes fears about the potential for addiction and the ubiquity of technology by referencing “hundreds of clinical studies” that show “screens increase depression, anxiety and aggression.”

Chris Brown rants against LAPD in Instagram video, Facebook Live shows police outside his home – The social media network broadcasts a standoff after police respond to a call from “a female requesting help.” Meanwhile, Brown posts his version of events on Instagram.

Silicon Valley rains money on Clinton – People living in Silicon Valley, including San Francisco and Oakland, have contributed some $31.2 million to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Donald Trump, in contrast, is getting pocket change. Trump has raised just over $3 million from all of California, according to campaign finance data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. The totals are based on contributions of more than $200 from individuals. It is not surprising that Trump is doing poorly in Silicon Valley. In July, 150 Silicon Valley notables, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google, called Trump a “disaster for innovation.”

Orwell was right: Oliver Stone on what makes Snowden exciting – Oliver Stone wants you to know he’s not an activist. Sure, he directed and co-wrote the upcoming political thriller about Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who in 2013 revealed vast government surveillance systems. It’s just that Stone’s a little too cynical to believe a movie can influence the policies that drive US spy programs. Snowden,” scheduled for release on September 16, is a hard-charging race through 10 years of Snowden’s life, from his effort to join the Army (he broke both legs and got discharged) to his CIA training to his eventual belief that the federal government was abusing its power. The movie also chronicles Snowden’s relationship with longtime girlfriend Lindsay Mills, played by Shailene Woodley, who helped push him to question his government.

Something to think about:

“Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.”

–       Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC)


Emsisoft Emergency Kit – The Emsisoft Emergency Kit contains a collection of programs that can be used without installation to scan for malware and clean infected computers.


The malware Emergency Kit for infected PC´s

Award-winning dual-scanner to clean infections

100% portable – Ideal for USB flash drives

How it works:

The Emsisoft Emergency Kit contains a collection of programs that can be used without software installation to scan for malware and clean infected computers: Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner and Emsisoft Commandline Scanner.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner

The Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner includes the powerful Emsisoft Scanner complete with graphical user interface. Scan the infected PC for Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Dialers, Keyloggers and other malicious programs.

Emsisoft Commandline Scanner

This scanner contains the same functionality as the Emergency Kit Scanner but without a graphical user interface. The commandline tool is made for professional users and is perfect for batch jobs.

To run the Emsisoft Commandline Scanner, perform the following actions:

– Open a command prompt window (Run: cmd.exe)

– Switch to the drive of the USB Stick (e.g.: f:), then to the folder of the executable files (e.g.: cd run)

– Run the scanner by typing: a2cmd.exe

Next you will see a help page describing all available parameters.

The following parameter is an example of scanning drive c:\ with Memory, Traces (Registry) scan enabled, and archive support active. Detected Malware is moved to quarantine.

a2cmd.exe /f=”c:\” /m /t /a /q=”c:\quarantine\”

License: Emsisoft Emergency Kit is free for private use. For commercial use, please have a look at our Emsisoft Emergency Kit Pro page.

Will it run on my PC?

Unless you have a rather outdated PC from the late 90s, the answer is most likely yes, assuming that you’re using Windows 7, 8 or 10 – with the latest service pack installed. All features are fully functional on x64 systems too. While running, Emsisoft Emergency Kit uses about 200 MB of your RAM which is quite low considering the 10 million signatures that it must load. If your PC has at least 1 GB of RAM, this will be perfect.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

For law enforcement, the rule must be no implementation without representation – Last week it emerged that the police in Baltimore were working with a company called, appropriately enough, Persistent Surveillance, which deployed aircraft equipped with high-resolution cameras, recording entire regions of the city for hours on end for law enforcement to browse through. You should read Bloomberg Businessweek’s excellent write-up of the program if you’re curious. But the takeaway is that once again a powerful tool has been implemented against the public without its knowledge or consent — which rather defeats the point of having a voluntary, civilian police force, doesn’t it?

The tools ostensibly used to enforce the law are increasingly obscured behind a screen of private companies, non-disclosure agreements and obscure court orders binding the tongues of the few who could say what’s going on. It’s so lucrative to one side, and the capabilities so tantalizing to the other, that this seems unlikely to change.

Baltimore’s use of surveillance aircraft is a familiar story in many ways — other cities have employed the same strategy, the same company even, with varying degrees of disclosure. Class it with Stingray-type interceptors, facial recognition databases, big data efforts to classify and predict crimes, NSA surveillance, crypto back doors and the other dozen or two military-grade techs being deployed against us. And those are just the ones we know about — the known knowns, as they’re known.

WhatsApp policy changes prompt FTC complaints from privacy groups – Privacy groups in the U.S. have complained to the Federal Trade Commission that changes last week in WhatsApp’s terms and privacy policy break its previous promise that user data collected would not be used or disclosed for marketing purposes.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy have described the move as an unfair and deceptive trade practice, subject to an investigation and injunction by the FTC, in their complaint Monday.

WhatsApp said last week it will be sharing some account information of users with Facebook and its companies, including the mobile phone numbers they verified when they registered with WhatsApp. The sharing of information will enable users to see better friend suggestions and more relevant ads on Facebook, it added.

Messages, photos, and account information shared on the messaging app would not be shared on Facebook or any of the Facebook family of apps for others to see, WhatsApp said.

For Facebook, which paid US$22 billion for WhatsApp, the changes are an attempt by the social networking company to earn revenue from the platform.

Megaupload founder’s extradition appeal to be livestreamed – Kim Dotcom, founder of file-sharing service Megaupload, is a wanted man in the US on charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. In December of last year, a New Zealand court ruled that Dotcom could be extradited to his home in New Zealand to the US to face those charges.

This week, a New Zealand court began hearing Dotcom’s appeal against the extradition, which is expected to last eight weeks. On the first day, Dotcom requested that he be allowed to live-stream the proceedings. After expressing irritation that the request had not been made in advance, High Court judge Justice Murray Gilbert granted permission, with a caveat that the stream be 20 minutes behind real-time.

“It provides everybody in the world with a seat in the gallery of the New Zealand courtroom,” Dotcom’s lawyer, Ira Rothken, told the Associated Press.

The US prosecution believes that Megaupload cost copyright holders over $500 million in lost revenue. Dotcom’s lawyers argue that the German-born entrepreneur cannot be held responsible for the actions of Megaupload’s users.

The live stream for Kim Dotcom’s extradition appeal is due to begin tomorrow. Stay tuned to Dotcom’s Twitter feed for the link.

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