Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – September 4, 2015

10 Favorite Windows 10 Universal Apps for PCs and Phones;  Build a Windows 10 PC for $495;  3 things you should know before you buy your next laptop;  Skype mobile apps updated with redesign, more features;  The 10 Best Budget Laptops of 2015;  Google now helps you easily look up details for 900 illnesses;  Google Docs Has a New Killer Feature;  Despite reports of hacking, baby monitors remain woefully insecure;  My favorite Windows 10 tweak: GodMode;  Privacy Concerns Raised Over Kids’ Apps And Websites;  Photos: 10 brain buster apps to raise your mental game;  Google patches 29 vulnerabilities in latest Chrome release;  6 Video Games You’ll Want to Buy in September;  30 percent of Australians still pirate online material;  HDClone 6 Free Edition;  Microsoft wants you to Snip your next screenshot;  Microsoft, US face off again over emails stored in Ireland;  DisableWinTracking (free);  Bad tech movies you might want to watch this weekend.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Our 10 Favorite Windows 10 Universal Apps for PCs and Phones – Windows 10 lets you get apps that run on differing device sizes from phones to high-powered desktop PCs. Here are the best of these apps we’ve found.

Google Classroom Launches Chrome Extension So Teachers Can Instantly Share Links With The Entire Class – Google calls Classroom a “mission control for teachers,” allowing them to access all of Google Apps for Education within one central place. Teachers can use the product to chat with students, help students with their work and keep track of the daily goings on in the classroom. Today, the product is introducing something really nifty that will allow a teacher to share a link with students immediately without them having to give out a URL. If all of the students happen to be using a Chrome browser and are logged in, a teacher can jump on over to a webpage, click the extension and pick a class to share it with. An alert will pop up to the entire class, no matter where they’re located, and the page will load.

3 things you should know before you buy your next laptop – A couple months back I reviewed, then bought, an Asus ZenBook UX305 — a thin, lightweight laptop that, at first glance, seemed an ideal replacement for my aging, slowing, increasingly problem-ridden Samsung Series 9. Though it was already a very solid deal at $699, I decided to take the leap when the Microsoft Store put it on sale for $599. Now that I’ve had the chance to live with it and really make it part of my workday, I have a few regrets — and I’m going to distill those into three things you should strongly consider when shopping for your next laptop.

The 10 Best Budget Laptops of 2015 – The saying goes, “dirt-cheap laptops are dirt cheap for a reason.” While this might have been true a couple of years ago, times have changed, and for the better. These days, laptop manufacturers are inventing new ways to outsell each other, including aggressive price cutting. Now we’re seeing full-size and ultraportable notebooks that run powerful-enough processors to take around the house or at work or school, as well as full-featured chromebooks and hybrid systems that give you both laptop and tablet functionality in one device.


Build a Windows 10 PC for $495 – Quite a few readers have been asking for an outline spec for a PC that can run Windows 10 and get stuff done but which won’t break the bank. Here you go. It’s actually possible to build a pretty decent PC for under $500. Could you buy cheaper from an OEM? Sure you could, but I doubt that you could buy much better for the money. Also, because you know everything that went into the system, you can diagnose problems or carry out upgrades much easier than you could on a big-box OEM PC.

Skype mobile apps updated with redesign, more features – Skype has introduced version 6.0 for both Android and iOS, and both updates are big — the apps have been overhauled, with the starting point of that overhaul being redesigns. Skype says the newest version is both more intuitive and more natural than the last version, and building upon that are new features that expand its usefulness for mobile users. Skype 6.0 for iOS is available now; the Android update is rolling out, so you may have to wait a little longer.


Google now helps you easily look up details for 900 illnesses – A new Google search feature is making it easier to find details on more than 900 different health conditions. These include everything from common conditions like pink eye to tropical diseases like dengue fever. Along with adding 500 more diseases to this search feature, Google is also making design improvements to the information boxes. Now if you search specifically for a disease’s symptoms, the symptoms will show up in the box first. There’s also an option to print out a PDF of the information so patients can bring it to a doctor.

Google Street View app makes spherical photos useful – Several years ago Google introduced their own take on spherical photo capture in Android. They pushed this functionality to Street View, their own real-world-capture system for Google Maps. Now they’ve made it accessible and user-friendly for all people with mobile devices with a new Street View app from Google Maps. This app allows you to capture, share, and view your own spherical photos in as simple a way as has ever been delivered on a mobile device.


Google Docs Has a New Killer Feature – Welcome back to the feature war. On Wednesday, Google will unveil a spate of new functions to Google Docs including voice dictation (Google’s calling it voice typing) which should be very nifty if it works as advertised. Not only can you speak what needs to be typed, Google can translate what you say into 40 languages. A caveat: “We’re not sure it can handle the Boston accent yet,” said Ryan Tabone, director of product management for Google Docs. To use the feature, a user needs to click on a microphone button and go. Microsoft Office does not have this yet, although since Microsoft has translation and speech recognition capabilities of its own, it’s probably just a matter of time.

Google for Education preps to go back to school with ‘superpowers’ – Google is bringing what could be arguably its greatest superpower to Docs through a new function called “Research.”

My favorite Windows 10 tweak: GodMode – I like GodMode for two reasons. First, it’s easy to do (there’s no registry editing or messing around with system files, and there’s no chance that the wheels will fall off your system). Secondly, it brings a myriad of different settings and options and puts them all in one place so I no longer have to go searching all over the operating system for them. This feature has existed in previous version of Windows, dating back to Windows XP, but if you’ve recently switched up to Windows 10 you might find it a useful aid in finding things within the new operating system.

Photos: 10 brain buster apps to raise your mental game – If it’s been a long summer of sun-soaking and sloth and you’re ready to get your brain energized again, these mobile apps can get the neurons firing.


Can You Escape – Break out of rooms by solving puzzles and finding objects that will come in handy in the next room you get trapped in. It’s free and available for iOS and Android.

Microsoft wants you to Snip your next screenshot – Microsoft released a free app for capturing, annotating, and explaining screenshots. While the name is a bit confusing, Snip is not the same thing as the improved Snipping Tool that comes free with Windows 10. The Snipping Tool will capture screenshots, but it does not have any annotation features. Snip, on the other hand, is a free tool developed through a Microsoft Garage project that allows users to capture screenshots and then annotate them (Figure B). With the Snip app, users can draw on their captured screenshots using a software pen, which is available in various colors and sizes.


Chrome 45 frees up memory faster, reloads most recently used content – Google has taken user feedback about Chrome becoming a sluggish memory-hog seriously: The latest release speeds up browsing and is more aggressive at memory management.

Privacy Concerns Raised Over Kids’ Apps And Websites – Given the sophisticated tracking technologies embedded into so many digital products and services as a matter of course, it should come as no surprise that a global privacy audit of children’s websites and apps has highlighted big concerns about the collection and use of kids’ data.


Google patches 29 vulnerabilities in latest Chrome release – Google has patched 29 security flaws, many of them deemed critical, in the latest update to the Chrome browser. On Tuesday, Google pushed Chrome 45 for Windows, Mac and Linux to the stable channel and for public release. As part of the Chrome 45.0.2454.85 update, 29 bugs have been fixed, and a number of improvements have been made. The most critical issues fixed in this update were three cross-origin bypass problems, which netted researchers $7500 in each case. In addition, a bug bounty hunter earned $5000 for a use-after-free vulnerability in Skia.

Despite reports of hacking, baby monitors remain woefully insecure – Disturbing reports in recent years of hackers hijacking baby monitors and screaming at children have creeped out parents, but these incidents apparently haven’t spooked makers of these devices. A security analysis of nine baby monitors from different manufacturers revealed serious vulnerabilities and design flaws that could allow hackers to hijack their video feeds or take full control of the devices. The tests were performed by researchers from security firm Rapid7 during the first half of this year and the results were released Tuesday in a white paper. On a scale from A to F that rated their security functionality and implementation, eight of the devices received an F and one a D.

Android ransomware uses XMPP chat to call home, claims it’s from NSA – A new variant of mobile ransomware that encrypts the content of Android smartphones is putting a new spin on both how it communicates with its masters and how it spurs its victims into action. The updated version of Simplocker masquerades on app stores and download pages as a legitimate application, and uses an open instant messaging protocol to connect to command and control servers. The malware requests administrative permissions to sink its hooks deep into Android. Once it’s installed, it announces itself to some victims by telling them it was planted by the NSA—and to get their files back, they’ll have to pay a “fine.”


Check Point

Shopperz adware takes local DNS hijacking to the next level – Shopperz, also known as Groover, injects ads into users’ Web traffic through methods researchers consider malicious and deceptive. In addition to installing extensions in Internet Explorer and Firefox, the program creates Windows services to make it harder for users to remove those add-ons. One service is configured to run even in Safe Mode, a Windows boot option often used to clean malware. Moreover, Shopperz creates a rogue Layered Service Provider (LSP) in Windows’s network stack that allows it to inject ads into Web traffic regardless of the browser used.

The shadiest characters in the world of top-level domains – A number of top-level domains are used almost entirely to support botnets, spam campaigns and phishing, researchers have revealed. On Wednesday, a team from enterprise security firm Blue Coat unveiled the result of months of research into today’s top-level domains (TLDs). Domains are no longer limited to .com, .org and country of origin; instead, website operators can choose from a wide selection including .link, .edu, .mil, .review and .work, among others. However, the use of many TLDs is far from legitimate; instead, the researchers say over 95 percent of websites in ten different TLD “neighborhoods” are considered suspicious — and in two domains, .zip and .review, every link analyzed related to malicious use.

Even encrypted medical record databases leak information – A new study from Microsoft researchers warns that many types of databases used for electronic medical records are vulnerable to leaking information despite the use of encryption. The paper, due to be presented at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security next month, shows how sensitive medical information on patients could be pilfered using four different attacks. Researchers discovered the sex, race, age and admission information, among other data, using real patient records from 200 U.S. hospitals.

Latest security flaw to destroy all business? ‘Sanity check’ your cybercrime statistics – The difficulty telling fact from fiction in cybercrime news has been getting worse over the past few years. For decision makers, this means a “sanity check” on reported stats should be in your everyday toolkit.

Company News:

Apple, Google, Other Silicon Valley Tech Giants Ordered To Pay $415M In No-Poaching Suit – United States District Judge Lucy Koh today approved a $415 million settlement in the Silicon Valley no-poaching case. The dollar figure comes after a previous $324 million settlement was rejected as being too low. More than 64,000 workers are part of the case. The suit stems from a secret agreement among large tech firms like Google, Apple and Intel to not poach employees from one another. The effect of that sort of arrangement depresses employee mobility, and, therefore, wages. Perhaps the victory that results here on behalf of the working portion of Silicon Valley is moral, but it still feels light. The dollar figure, before taxes and the like, is just under $6,500 apiece. The amount is based on the individual base salaries between 2005 and 2009 of the workers listed in the suit.

Amazon snaps up Elemental to boost video on  AWS – Amazon will acquire Elemental Technologies in a bid to enrich the video capabilities of its AWS cloud service, the company announced Thursday. Elemental makes software to help media and entertainment companies take live and on-demand video intended for traditional purposes such as cable, satellite or over-the-air broadcast and reformat it for digital distribution to PCs, smartphones, tablets and TVs. The Oregon company was founded in 2006. Amazon Web Services plans to use the technology in new integrations and infrastructure offerings, it said. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year; terms were not disclosed.

Google sued over Waze’s alleged theft of map information – Google has more litigation on its hands. Waze, the GPS navigation app Google acquired in 2013, is being accused of stealing proprietary mapping information from a Washington, DC-based rival called PhantomAlert prior to its acquisition. The search giant’s purchase of Israeli-based Waze for $1.3 billion was a blockbuster mapping scoop that let Google tap into troves of important Waze data, which crowdsources mapping errors and traffic accidents to improve its product. Now, this lawsuit calls into question the underlying motivations with which Google bought Waze in the first place.

Double the performance, triple the battery: Intel looks to Skylake to revitalize PC business – According to Intel, there are hundreds of millions of computers out there that were state-of-the-art in 2010, and are now due for an upgrade. With the introduction of its new Skylake processor family on Tuesday – along with a slew of allied technologies – the company hopes laptop and desktop owners, both consumer and corporate, will be persuaded to open their wallets for a new system.

Games and Entertainment:

30 percent of Australians still pirate online material: Choice – 30 percent of Australians still download, stream, or watch pirated TV shows or movies online, despite government action, according to the Australian consumer advocacy group, Choice. Choice conducted a survey of 1,010 people from July 2 to 15, via iView — the free internet TV service from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) — as a follow up to the same survey it conducted in 2014. “The most frequent pirates are also the biggest consumers of paid and unpaid legal content and many exhaust the legal options before infringing online,” Choice said. “This doesn’t make piracy excusable, but it sure suggests that the best way to battle online piracy is to start making content more available and less expensive.”

Popcorn Time users sued again, this time for streaming 2015’s Survivor – The same law firm that sued 11 Popcorn Time users for watching Adam Sandler’s The Cobbler has fired another salvo, this time at users who viewed the 2015 film Survivor. The latest lawsuit targets 16 Comcast subscribers in the state of Oregon, Ars Technica reports. Both lawsuits were filed by the same attorney, Oregon-based Carl Crowell, who told Ars that he’s only seeking the statutory minimum of $750 from each anonymous defendant.

6 Video Games You’ll Want to Buy in September – September is here, and it arrives with several major video game releases in tow. It’s easy to get blindsided, as this month features some of the biggest game releases of 2015. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help narrow the scope of September’s releases to a few choice gems, for the sake of both your wallet and your sanity.


TV fans drop the remote, pick up their smartphones instead  – Consumers are embracing video-on-demand TV and video services like never before and together these are now responsible for every third viewing hour of the day. If that seems a lot, it’s worth point out that figure is for viewing as a whole worldwide – the figures for teenage viewing suggest that nearly two thirds of teens total TV and video viewing is now done on a mobile device. That statistic is from the latest Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media Report for 2015 which also highlighted the huge growth in the number of consumers watching video on a mobile device with 61 percent saying that they watch on their smartphones today. This is an increase of 71 percent over the previous survey in 2012.

Bad tech movies you might want to watch this weekend – Odds are if you’re watching this, you know something about tech, and if you know something about tech, watching movies about tech can be a big problem. Why? Hollywood doesn’t always do its research. Nevertheless, a bad movie can also be a fun movie. Here’s our count down of our top four worst tech movies.

Off Topic (Sort of):

eBay seller who sued over negative feedback dinged $19k in legal fees – When Med Express sued Amy Nicholls for giving negative feedback on eBay, she didn’t back down and remove the feedback. Instead, she lawyered up, acquiring pro bono counsel with help from Paul Levy at Public Citizen, who’s been called “the Web Bully’s worst enemy.” Med Express founder Richard Radey quickly backed down and apologized, but it didn’t sit well. “Problem is, I don’t believe a word of what he says,” Levy told Ars in 2013. Radey had a history of such lawsuits. Levy sought sanctions and attorneys’ fees. That battle has, at long last, been won. A Medina County, Ohio, judge ruled (PDF) this week that Med Express and Radey must pay $19,250 to Tom Haren and Jeffrey Nye, the two Ohio lawyers who represented Nicholls and one other defendant. Levy worked on the case pro bono and sought no fees.

14-year-old added to police database for using Snapchat to send naked selfie – A 14-year-old boy has been added to a UK police intelligence database for using Snapchat to send a naked picture of himself to a female classmate he was flirting with from his bedroom. She saved the image and shared it with others, which is how the case came to light. Although the boy was not arrested or charged, the incident was nonetheless recorded as a crime of “making and distributing an indecent image of a child,” even though it was of himself. As The Guardian reports, “the [database] file remains active for a minimum of 10 years, meaning the incident may be flagged to potential employers conducting an advanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, such as for those who work with children.”

Starfish-killing robots headed to Great Barrier Reef – Roboticists at QUT develop a robot aimed at destroying invasive starfish, thereby saving the life of the Great Barrier Reef. First trials of this robot in the sea have been completed in Queensland’s Moreton Bay. More trials are set to take place later this month. While just a few robots will be deployed at first, this device’s creator sees great potential for a whole horde of them, all with the same goal. “The COTSbot becomes a real force multiplier for the eradication process the more of them you deploy,” said Dr Matthew Dunbabin from QUT’s Institute for Future Environments.


Phones with ultra high-res 4K screens are serious overkill. Seriously – A 4K smartphone seems like an inevitable evolution in the industry, as engineers continue to improve the performance of shrunken internal components like camera sensors and computing processors. Phone-makers that implement the newest advancements snare bragging rights and lure buyers with claims of their products’ superiority. But before you take a stance one way or another, let’s consider what we already know about 4K resolution on TVs and current state-of-the-art resolution (2,560×1,440 pixels) on smartphones — and the niche segment where 4K might actually make a real difference.

Something to think about:

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

–       William Arthur Ward


DisableWinTracking – Uses some known methods that attempt to disable tracking in Windows 10.


HDClone 6 Free Edition – The Free Edition is real freeware without any obligation to buy. It is intended for temporary and free use cases. For more frequent or professional use, we recommend you to use one of the higher Editions, as they offer higher speed, broader hardware support and further options for regular and professional usage.

HDClone cre­ates phys­i­cal or log­i­cal cop­ies (clones) and file im­ages of hard disks and oth­er mass stor­age me­dia. HDClone is a per­fect tool for back­ups and cre­ating cop­ies of en­tire soft­ware or operating system in­stal­la­tions. A spe­cial Safe­Rescue mode makes HDClone an in­valu­able tool for res­cu­ing de­fec­tive hard disks and oth­er me­dia. HDClone works in­de­pen­dent of par­ti­tion­ing scheme, file system, and operating system. It also works with pro­pri­e­tary for­mats which would oth­er­wise be in­ac­ces­si­ble.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Feds say they’ll now get warrants before using cell-tower simulators – The fight against cell tower simulators, commonly known as Stingrays, just scored a major victory. Today the Justice Department issued a new policy for the simulators, which requires a search warrant before any such device can be deployed, effective immediately. The legal status of the cell-site simulators is still uncertain, and the new policy won’t have the force of law, but it’s still expected to radically change the way federal law enforcement deploys the devices.

There are still some exception to the warrant requirement, but they’re expected to be tracked and monitored significantly more rigorously than in the past. The relevant section of the new policy reads:

The use of cell-site simulators is permitted only as authorized by law and policy. While the Department has, in the past, appropriately obtained authorization to use a cell-site simulator by seeking an order pursuant to the Pen Register Statute, as a matter of policy, law enforcement agencies must now obtain a search warrant supported by probable cause and issued pursuant to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or the applicable state equivalent), except as provided below.

Specific exceptions follow for exigent circumstances as named in the Fourth Amendment, as well as circumstances where the pen register statute is more relevant than the traditional warrant requirement. Any applications granted under these exceptions are to be tracked and reported by the department components.

Journalists arrested on terrorism charges in Turkey for using crypto software – Three journalists working with Vice News have been charged with “engaging in terrorist activity” on behalf of ISIL (ISIS), because one of them used encryption software. A Turkish official told Al Jazeera: “The main issue seems to be that the [journalists’] fixer uses a complex encryption system on his personal computer that a lot of ISIL militants also utilise for strategic communications.” There are no details as to what that “complex encryption system” might be, but it seems likely that it is nothing more than the PGP email encryption software, or perhaps the The Onion Router (TOR) system, both of which are very widely used, and not just by ISIL.

The correspondent and cameraman for Vice News, who are both British, and their fixer, who is Iraqi but Turkey-based, were arrested last Thursday in Diyarbakir, located in south-eastern Turkey, and an important centre for the country’s Kurdish population. According to The Guardian, the Vice News journalists were covering “recent clashes between Turkish security forces and the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement, the youth wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).”

The new legislation could be blunted by re-designing messaging systems.

Exposing those tensions would not have endeared them to the Turkish authorities, and the real reason for their arrest may be to stop them reporting on this sensitive issue. What is particularly troubling, however, is that it seems the mere use of encryption software is enough for three journalists to be arrested on terrorism charges.

Microsoft, US face off again over emails stored in Ireland – A dispute between Microsoft and the U.S. government over turning over emails stored in a data center in Ireland comes up for oral arguments in an appeals court in New York on Wednesday.

Microsoft holds that an outcome against it could affect the trust of its cloud customers abroad as well as affect relationships between the U.S. and other governments which have their own data protection and privacy laws.

Customers outside the U.S. would be concerned about extra-territorial access to their user information, the company has said. A decision against Microsoft could also establish a norm that could allow foreign governments to reach into computers in the U.S. of companies over which they assert jurisdiction, to seize the private correspondence of U.S. citizens.

How Microsoft’s data case could unravel the US tech industry – Saying “no” to the government is never a good idea. But Microsoft had little option.

In a little under a week, Microsoft will again head to a Manhattan court in an effort to try to quash a search warrant, sought by the US Justice Department, in an international drugs-related case.

The warrant itself isn’t out of the ordinary, but it does contain a crucial facet: It is demanding data on an email account stored by Microsoft in a datacenter in Ireland.

Microsoft argued the search warrant goes way beyond the means of a traditional search warrant because it forces the company to hand over data it stores in another country, which in itself is subject to different laws and regulations.

This one case will determine — effectively — how far the US can use its own legal system to compel companies doing business within its borders to hand over data it stores overseas.

As one report put it, the case will determine whether data has a “nationality.”


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 2, 2015

Microsoft slips user-tracking tools into Windows 7, 8;  $15 PC makes the Raspberry Pi look expensive;  The Best Free Antivirus for 2015;  Instagram updates private photo messaging to be more like Snapchat;  How to liquid-cool your graphics card in 20 minutes;  LinkedIn rolls out revamped messaging service;  Wikipedia bans 381 user accounts for dishonest editing;  Intel Skylake: All the speeds, feeds, and prices, and which one is right for you;  Create a recovery drive for your Chromebook;  Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 to have built-in anti-malware feature;  Intel’s new Compute Stick packs 6th Gen Core M into dongle;  Pandora To Celebrate 10th Anniversary With Day Of Ad-Free Listening;  5 Sneaky Tips for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain;  New protein creates slow melting luxury ice cream;  Star Wars Battlefront beta coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC in October;  CBS will stream two regular season NFL games for free this year;  NSA bulk call records collection extended for last time;  54-propeller superdrone lifts off with a person inside;  Avast Browser Cleanup (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft slips user-tracking tools into Windows 7, 8 amidst Windows 10 privacy storm – Windows 10 is a deliciously good operating system, all things considered, but its abundant user-tracking has prompted many privacy-minded individuals to stay pat with older versions of Windows. Now, Microsoft’s providing those concerned individuals a reason to upgrade. No, the company’s not walking back its privacy-encroaching features. Instead, Microsoft’s quietly rolling out updates that bake new tracking tools into Windows 7 and Windows 8. Yes, really.

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – Free antivirus utilities do everything their commercial cousins do, and the best free ones do it better than many for-pay competitors. We’ve rounded up a collection of totally free antivirus products that should serve you well.


Oncam aims to revolutionise group video calling with new app – The Los Angeles, CA based Oncam app claims to be the first-of-its-kind, Wi-Fi free, group video calling app with broadcast built in. You can group video chat with up to six people while unlimited persons watch — a virtual “Meet the team” event. Oncam enables three types of live mobile communication: Private group video calls, live public group video calls, and drop-Ins. Private calls are limited to an invited guest list, while public calls are open to an unlimited amount of viewers that can participate via text. A video call can be scheduled in advance through push notifications to a caller’s Oncam followers. It is designed so that you can take advantage of free Wi-Fi or use your cell data plan to make calls to your network. You can host live public group video calls, which are viewable to all Oncam users – just like Google Hangouts on air.



Instagram updates private photo messaging to be more like Snapchat – On Tuesday, Instagram updated its in-app messaging feature, Instagram Direct, so that you could reply to a private photo message using a selfie or video taken on the spot. Direct messages are now also threaded so you can continue conversations and view the messaging history between you and your friends. In addition, Instagram Direct now lets you share a public Instagram photo directly with a friend.


Create a recovery drive for your Chromebook – As reliable as Chromebooks are, life happens. When things go awry, you’ll want to be able to get back up and running quickly. Naturally, your data is already safe and secure on your Google Drive (that’s part of the beauty of working with a Chromebook). But if your device starts misbehaving, and a powerwash isn’t doing the trick, or you decide to try installing Linux on that hardware and opt to go back, you’ll need a recovery drive to return it to a usable state. Fortunately, the Chrome OS developers have made this process incredibly simple. Let me walk you through the process.

Intel Skylake: All the speeds, feeds, and prices, and which one is right for you – We can’t test everything at PCWorld, but what we can do is provide a handy scorecard of the Skylake chips Intel is launching Tuesday at the IFA show in Berlin. We’ve already told you why Skylake is a “sixth-generation CPU”, what you need to know about Skylake, and even an early review of the i7-6700K, one of the high-end desktop Skylake chips Intel will ship this fall.

$15 PC makes the Raspberry Pi look expensive – The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little dev board, and it’s one of the best tech bargains around. But there’s a new alternative: one that costs less than half as much but still packs a ton of computing power.


Kinsa’s New Smart Ear Thermometer Will Tell You What To Do When You’re Sick – Kinsa, the maker of a smart thermometer that tracks the spread of illness, has today announced their second product in the form of the Kinsa in-ear thermometer. Unlike the first thermometer, which was a standard (though smart) stick thermometer, the new in-ear thermometer is completely wireless, and connects to the smartphone app via Bluetooth. The Kinsa portfolio of thermometers work like this:


Trusted Lets Parents Book Vetted Babysitters At The Last Minute – Trusted is launching a new service for parents in search of high-quality babysitters — particularly parents who need to find someone ASAP. CEO Anand Iyer compared the startup’s approach to the recently launched senior care service Honor. When you’re looking for a babysitters, Trusted lets you browse the available providers and book them from within the mobile app — you can schedule a session for the next week, the next day or even the same day. The company performs background checks on all of its babysitters and makes sure they’re CPR certified. In contrast to many of on-demand services, Trusted makes its child care providers actual employees, rather than contractors.

LinkedIn rolls out revamped messaging service with GIFs, emojis – LinkedIn’s social network has become a mainstay recruiting tool and the de facto platform for professionals, but the company’s messaging service never really caught on with users. So in hopes of turning things around, LinkedIn has completely overhauled its messaging service, giving it a cleaner, chat-like design and compatibility with ever-popular emojis, stickers and GIFs. The messaging service was also retooled to provide push and email notifications.

Intel’s new Compute Stick packs 6th Gen Core M into dongle – Intel’s Compute Stick was the surprise PC of CES 2015, a full computer packed into a TV dongle, and now it’s getting a new 6th-gen Core upgrade. Announced today, the new Intel Core M Compute Stick keeps the basic premise of its predecessor – essentially a headless laptop intended to plug straight into an HDTV or monitor – but gives it a Skylake performance boost for serious work and entertainment. The 4.5W 6th-generation Core M processor Intel is using is the same as will be powering some of the new breed of ultrabooks. That means support for things like 4K video playback, which should make the Compute Stick a better multimedia hub, not to mention a fair platform for some low-intensity gaming. The new chips have native H.265 transcoding, which will allow small-form-factor PCs to send 4K video in more bandwidth-sensitive ways to mobile devices.

How to liquid-cool your graphics card in 20 minutes – Closed-loop liquid cooling can be yours for cheap, but read this first to make sure you and your GPU are up for it.


Water cooling can tame even the Radeon R9 290 card.

Ex-Android and HTC employees launch Robin, a “cloud-first” smartphone – It’s not often a new Android OEM comes along, but today a company called “Nextbit” is taking the wraps off of its first ever phone: the Robin. The Robin is a high-end phone launching on Kickstarter for $349 (with discounts for early birds), but the real draw of the Nextbit Robin—according to the company—is the phone’s “cloud-first” software.


A studio is suing Popcorn Time users for illegally downloading a Pierce Brosnan movie – Popcorn Time, the Netflix-like streaming service that delivers pirated movies to users, has battled legal difficulties since it launched, and the pile of complaints leveled against it just got a little bit bigger. Indie studio Millennium Films and its affiliate Nu Image filed a lawsuit against Popcorn Time users in Oregon today, claiming they were responsible for more than 10,000 illegal downloads of the 2015 assassin movie Survivor, which starred Pierce Brosnan and Milla Jovovich. The studio argues Popcorn Time is no different than walking into a store and stealing a DVD.

Mozilla Relaunches Its Thimble Online Code Editor For Teaching HTML, CSS And JavaScript – Back in 2012, Mozilla launched Thimble, an online code editor for teaching the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Over time, though, things got pretty quiet around the project as other browser-based code editors like Brackets and full online IDEs like Nitrous took center stage. Today, however, Mozilla relaunched Thimble with a major redesign and a slew of new features.


Wikipedia bans 381 user accounts for dishonest editing – Editors of the English version of Wikipedia have blocked 381 user accounts for editing articles on the online encyclopedia despite being secretly paid to do so by various interests. The editors also deleted 210 articles created by the accounts. Most of these were generally promotional in nature and were related to businesses, people in business or artists. The articles had biased information, unattributed material and potential copyright violations, the Wikimedia Foundation that runs Wikipedia said in a blog post Monday. The foundation said it believed the edits were made by one coordinated group because of their similarity.


Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 to have built-in anti-malware feature – If the events of the recent months are any indication, malware on mobile devices, especially Android, is on the rise. As more users store important, sometimes private, data on their mobile devices, the temptation for hackers grow stronger, and so does the need for stronger security measures. Leveraging the unique position of being one the lowest level of the platform stack, Qualcomm is advertising the new Smart Protect feature on its upcoming Snapdragon 820 chip which provides real-time detection of malware that OEMs and security software makers can use to enhance their products.

After a quarter million iPhones hacked, a reminder ‘jailbreaking’ devices still not safe – For years, iPhone owners stripped their devices of Apple’s security settings, allowing the handsets to work overseas or run apps the company didn’t approve. Many users thought the practice, known as “jailbreaking,” was harmless. But it frustrated Apple, which said it left the devices vulnerable to hackers. Now, it turns out more than 225,000 of those phones have been hacked, according to cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks this week. Each was a jailbroken device, the firm added, supporting Apple’s years-long warnings.

Russian-speaking hackers breach 97 websites, many of them dating ones – Russian-speaking hackers have breached 97 websites, mostly dating-related, and stolen login credentials, putting hundreds of thousands of users at risk. Many of the websites are niche dating ones similar to Ashley Madison, according to a list compiled by Hold Security, a Wisconsin-based company that specializes in analyzing data breaches. A few are job-related sites. Batches of stolen information were found on a server by the company’s analysts, said Alex Holden, Hold Security’s founder and CTO. The server, for some reason, was not password protected, allowing analysis of its contents, he said.

Your brand new phone could still have malware – Security company G Data has identified more than 20 mobile phones that have malware installed despite being marketed as new, according to a research report. And it doesn’t appear the infection is occurring during manufacturing. “Somebody is unlocking the phone and putting the malware on there and relocking the phone,” said Andy Hayter, security evangelist for G Data. Many of the suspect phones are sold in Asia and Europe through third parties or middleman and aren’t coming directly from the manufacturers, Hayter said.

Company News:

Judge Lets Drivers’ Class Action Lawsuit Against Uber Go Forward – The lawsuit could set a precedent that reshapes some of the world’s most promising young companies.

Google, Netflix, Amazon team for one video format to rule them all – This week the Alliance for Open Media was launched in hopes of bringing a single open format to video streaming services worldwide. This single format would be adoptable by all, and given the members of the alliance that’ve announced their allegiance so far, this Alliance is going to be adopted by the biggest of the big. Founding members of the Alliance include Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix. If there were a group of technology leaders able to make this format happen, it’s this one.


Pandora To Celebrate 10th Anniversary With Day Of Ad-Free Listening – Our beloved Pandora is 10 years old this month. The music company has endured ups and downs but is set to celebrate that milestone anniversary on the 9th. It’s quite impressive. What started as the human genome project has become something much bigger, connecting artists to listeners 24/7. To give back, Pandora has announced “Listener Love Day,” a day of ad-free streaming for all US users. It starts at midnight ET on Wednesday September 9th and runs for 24 hours. Additionally the company has created a “mixtape” of the favorite songs over the years based on the thumbs up they’ve received on the service.

Apple and Cisco hook up for new enterprise partnership – A new partnership between Apple and Cisco should improve the experience for iOS users on crowded Cisco networks and deliver increased integration between Apple users and Cisco’s popular communication platforms. A little more than a year ago, Apple and IBM announced a new, wide-ranging global partnership that has resulted in the development of dozens of new, vertical-specific apps and enterprise integration services. Though neither IBM nor Apple have been particularly forthcoming with specifics about its partnership, the two companies have been fairly productive in developing new platforms and apps for its customers.

Microsoft and VMware cozy up, forgoing past rivalry – Microsoft’s new, more collaborative approach to the computing industry was on display at VMware’s annual conference in San Francisco Tuesday, when executives from both companies shared the stage to talk about new device management features in Windows 10.

Games and Entertainment:

Star Wars Battlefront beta coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC in October – Star Wars Battlefront, the much-anticipated shooter from Battlefield studio DICE, is getting a beta. EA announced on Tuesday that the beta will be held in “early October” for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. As part of the beta, you’ll get to try out Battlefront’s massive-scale 40-player mode, Walker Assault, on the Hoth map. The special Hero characters Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker will also be available to unlock. Check out the image below for a snapshot of what to expect. In addition, the beta will let you try out a Survival Mission on Tatooine where you’ll play as Rebels and must push back advancing Imperial forces.


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


Stylish stealth puzzler and noir adventure Calvino Noir puts you in the role of several actors in a play about revolution in 1930s Europe, inspired by Blade Runner.

CBS will stream two regular season NFL games for free this year – CBS has announced that it will livestream two upcoming regular season NFL games for the first time in 2015, for free and without the need for authentication, a subscription, or a cable provider. The move expands CBS’ online coverage of the sport, as the network will also stream four playoff games and the Super Bowl itself, live on its website, and on devices including Xbox One, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku players. The games in question will take place between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins on October 4th, and between the Carolina Panthers and the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. CBS isn’t the only source offering a regular season game for free — Yahoo has also agreed a deal with the NFL to stream an October 25th game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars online

Black Ops III pre-orders include Nuk3town multiplayer map – The next game in the Call of Duty franchise is Black Ops III set to launch on November 6. This game will certainly sell in droves with CoD being one of the most popular multiplayer shooters in the world. Black Ops III is set in the future with combat taking place in 2065 and features refreshed gameplay and a new momentum-based chained movement system to make for more exciting close quarters combat than fans have had in past generations.


Deadpool game arrives for Xbox One, PS4 in November – Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gamers will be getting the Deadpool game that was released back in June 2013, and it’ll be available starting November 17. This will be an adaption of that aforementioned game, and will be priced at $49.99 USD for both next-gen gaming consoles. GameStop made the official announcement on its Twitter page earlier today, and already has both games up for pre-order on its website.


5 Sneaky Tips for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Whereas past Metal Gear games had players sneaking through tightly designed levels in industrial warehouses or foreign jungles, The Phantom Pain gives Snake two huge regions to explore: Afghanistan and Angola. Metal Gear has never featured gameplay quite like this before, so here are some tips to help you stay out of sight and in control.

No connection? No Amazon device? Prime Video says no problem – Being member of Amazon Prime now means your movie won’t stop just because your mobile connection does. Prime members in the US, UK, Germany and Austria can now download movies and TV shows to mobile devices even if they’re using Apple iPhones and iPads or phones running on Google’s Android software, Amazon said Tuesday. The online retail giant previously allowed people who have a Fire tablet — part of the company’s own line of devices — to watch offline.

LG updates older smart TVs with webOS 2.0 features for free – After being stung by the stillborn Google TV promise a few years back, LG decided to go with its own platform instead. Acquiring webOS from HP, which the latter acquired from Palm, LG has put webOS on most if not all of its smart TVs and at least one smartwatch. Continuing its show of support and dedication to its exclusive platform, LG is rolling out a free upgrade to its older webOS 1.0 smart TVs, bringing in some of the features of webOS 2.0 to the screen.

Off Topic (Sort of):

54-propeller superdrone lifts off with a person inside – I’ve looked at little quadcopter drones and thought, “Gosh, if I could just shrink down to mouse size, that would be a lot of fun to ride around on.” YouTube user gasturbine101 apparently looked at a drone and thought, “I could harness the power of a million drones and use them as my personal flying chariot.” And he did, except it took just 54 propellers to get the job done. The Swarm is a manned superdrone, so named because it looks like a herd of little drones all strapped together to make one big flying machine. There’s a seat at the center for the operator to sit and control the device.


Video captures Texas cops shooting man with raised hands – A Texas broadcaster has published video captured from a viewer’s mobile phone that shows San Antonio police shoot and kill a man with his hands up. The video, published Monday, shows deputies shoot 41-year-old Gilbert Flores outside a house where police were responding to a domestic disturbance call. “He put his hands in the air and then he had his hands up for a few seconds and the cops shot him twice,” Michael Thomas, the man who filmed the video, told CNN.


Ride This One-Wheeled Gyro Skate They Call A “Hoverboard” – The mad scientist who started Hoverboard Technologies calls his vehicle an “earned experience.” That means it’s hard to ride. Despite the name, this hoverboard* doesn’t levitate. Instead, it uses gyroscopes like a Segway to help you balance with your feet on either side of one giant rollerblade-style wheel in the center.

Hover Gif

The music of bronze-age Celts revealed through 3D printing – Primitive music may not have been so primitive after all, as discovered by an archaeologist and Ph.D. candidate at the Australian National University College of Asia-Pacific. Billy Ó Foghlú, who believed that the bronze- and iron-age musical horns found in Ireland must have had mouthpieces, has 3D printed an object that vastly improves the sound of the instruments. His research has been published in the ancient Celtic culture journal Emania.

New protein creates slow melting luxury ice cream – Summer’s dialing down in some places, but the hot days aren’t behind us (in fact, they’re becoming something of a problem), and that means there’ll probably be another rapidly melting ice cream cone in your immediately future. Melted ice cream is a disappointment, as you likely know — you can pretend it’s a milkshake all you want, but deep down inside you know it’s a poor excuse. Future generation may not be able to sympathize with this issue, though, as researchers have recently discovered a protein that slows down how quickly ice cream melts.


Something to think about:

“Taint’t worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.”

–     Sarah Orne Jewett (1849 – 1909), The Country of the Pointed Firs, 1896


Avast Browser Cleanup – Get your browser back in shape! The brand-new Avast Browser Cleanup removes dangerous extensions and toolbars or fix hijacked searches. And it’s free! More than 200 million browsers cleaned so far.

Don’t let them fool you – Intrusive extensions often install themselves alongside otherwise legitimate programs. The chances are high that you don’t even notice.

Get rid of bad add-ons – Based on the huge amounts of data we process, we can easily determine if your browser is in danger.

Restore safe search settings – Some intrusive apps manipulate your search providers and even search results – and you may have no clue about it.

HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. Encrypt the web: Install HTTPS Everywhere today.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA bulk call records collection extended for last time – The U.S. National Security Agency’s controversial program for the bulk collection of domestic phone call records has been granted extension for the last time, according to documents released.

Under an order  by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the NSA is now allowed to continue collecting the data for a three-month period until Nov. 28. The permission was extended in June to Aug. 28.

The collection of phone records metadata, which did not include collection of information on the content of conversations, is one of many large-scale surveillance schemes of the NSA that were disclosed by former agency contractor, Edward Snowden. The disclosures led to demands for the reform of government surveillance to protect people’s privacy.

U.S. President Barack Obama approved as law in June the USA Freedom Act, legislation that reins in the program by leaving the phone records database in the hands of the telecommunications operators, while allowing only a targeted search of the data by the NSA for investigations.

While some provisions of the Act took effect immediately upon enactment, the ban on bulk collection of call records allowed for a 180-day transition of the program.

China intensifies Internet censorship ahead of military parade – As China prepares to celebrate a new national holiday, the country has been tightening its grip over the Internet by squelching online rumors, and cracking down on tools that can circumvent its censorship.

On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Public Security said it punished 197 people for allegedly spreading misinformation over local social media and messaging services.

The rumors covered controversial topics including the financial woes of the Shanghai stock market and the recent explosion in the Chinese city of Tianjin. One rumor, for instance, claimed that more than 1,300 people had died in the blast at Tianjin, when the official toll puts the figure at over 140.

The suspects involved deliberately attempted to mislead the public and create panic, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The crackdown comes as the country is about to celebrate a new holiday on Sept. 3, which will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II. In Beijing, the government will be holding a large military parade.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 31, 2015

Supercookies are back, and they’re as unappealing as ever;  Windows 10 Home patch lets you turn off automatic app updates;  10 Do’s and don’ts for every Android user;  Pro tip: Mirror your Android device on your PC with ease;  How to track your favorite sports teams with Cortana in Windows 10;  Vine’s Snap to Beat adds looping music to looping vids;  20 must-know keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10;  Livestream Your Phone’s Screen With Mirrativ App;  The 20 best Android apps for kids;  11 signs that your cellular data limit is too low;  App Shows Drone Pilots Where it’s Safe to Fly;  81% of healthcare organizations have been compromised;  Hulu is picking up the big movies Netflix is losing this month; Lara Croft GO: imagine Tomb Raider as a board game;  Giffiti Jazzes Up Photos With GIFs;  Uber Hires Security Researchers Behind That Crazy Jeep Hack;  Baby, We Won’t Drive Our Cars: The Future Of Automotive Transportation.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Supercookies are back, and they’re as unappealing as ever – Supercookies are back in force. But if supercookies are so great for consumers, why aren’t mobile carriers bragging about using them? Figure A explains how tracking headers work using a fictional character named Kavita.


Windows 10 Home patch lets you turn off automatic app updates – Cumulative Update 5 for Windows 10 Home corrects an issue that made it impossible to disable automatic app updates through the Windows Store.

How to track your favorite sports teams with Cortana in Windows 10 – The National Football League’s pre-season is in full swing, the World Series is just around the corner, and in a few months hockey and basketball will start up as well. If you’re a new Windows 10 use,r now is the perfect time to get ready for the sporting bonanza this fall by asking Cortana to track your favorite teams for you. With Cortana, you can keep up-to-date on the latest scores for your favorite teams, as well as team-specific news, all from your desktop. Here’s how to do it.


Tracking your teams starts in Cortana’s notebook.

20 must-know keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10 – Windows 10 has a bunch of new features that bring new keyboard shortcuts along with them. Here’s a list of the best keyboard shortcuts to know to make your time with Windows 10 more efficient.

10 Do’s and don’ts for every Android user – There are a lot of choices when it comes to making your Android phone all it can be, and a lot of nuance about which are the “best” choices to make. Everyone has an opinion about the best apps, home screen layouts, launchers, and so on. However, there are some enduring certainties that cannot be avoided. Here are ten “do’s” and “don’ts” for every Android user.


Example: Configure data usage limits

Pro tip: Mirror your Android device on your PC with ease – There are a number of reasons why you might want to be able to control your phone from your desktop. For some, it’s simply easier throughout the day to move the mouse to a window and control your Android device. Considering how often we interact with our smartphones on a daily basis, that could save some serious time. Regardless of why, you need to know how. Thanks to the creator of AllCast, and with the help of Vysor, mirroring your device has become incredibly simple.

Chrome will auto-pause select Flash content starting September 1 – The battle against Adobe Flash content on the web continues to move forward. Google has just revealed that starting September 1st, its Chrome browser will automatically pause Flash content on web pages. This option has actually been available for some time now for beta users, but Google says it will soon become the standard default setting for all users. The setting works by detecting and pausing Flash content that isn’t “central to the webpage,” or, in other words, advertisements.

Google begins advertising home services in search results – Google is starting to make it easier to find plumbers, locksmiths, cleaners, and other home service workers. It’s rolling out a new type of search ad today that’ll place listings for these services at the top of relevant search result pages, although only around the San Francisco Bay Area for now. The listings include a phone number for the business, customer ratings, basic details on their services, and a photo of someone who represents the company. The idea is that you can now just search for “lock repair” and immediately get a locksmith’s number, rather than having to look through search results — or, you know, turn to another competitor like Amazon.


Giffiti Jazzes Up Photos With GIFs – In the ever-escalating social media arms race, GIFs are the best way to get attention. Static photos are so 2013. But a new app called Giffiti (like graffiti with GIFs) lets you enhance your pics by overlaying animations. Announced by Nalin Mittal this month with a simple post on Reddit, Giffiti rocketed to the front page and hit #14 amongst U.S. Entertainment apps on iOS. Giffiti lets you upload a photo from your camera roll, then select from an array of simple GIF cutouts to overlay on top. You can move and resize them to your liking, and then save the finished product as a GIF or movie file so you can share it via text, social networks, or however you want. It’s reminiscent of another GIF app called PingTank.

Vine’s Snap to Beat adds looping music to looping vids – Anyone and everyone seems to be adding music capabilities to their services, whether they make sense or, as in some cases, not (hello, LINE). The latest to join the fray is Vine, but don’t be afraid, this isn’t a new music streaming service. Considering Vine’s nature of looping videos (do I hear GIFs?), “Music on Vine” takes on a different meaning, which is to say, looping sound clips. While that has always been possible to do manually, the new Snap to Beat tool makes its, well, a snap.

Livestream Your Phone’s Screen With Mirrativ App – According to The Wall Street Journal, the company’s live-streaming app, Mirrativ, lets mobile users broadcast what’s happening on their cell phone screen. Fire up the app, and you’ll be able to stream the contents of your phone’s screen to the world, whether that’s a mobile game, your photo editing or GIF-making skills, or a demo for your parents on how to set up their email. Before you get too excited, a few caveats: First, Mirrativ is still in beta, so the app—which only works on Android—is a bit limited. To prevent a system overload, DeNA will only allow live-streaming at certain times during the day. We recommend following them on Twitter to find out when you can start a stream.


Learn by doing and exploring with the 20 best Android apps for kids – Whether it’s after school hours or during those long holidays, handing your child a phone or tablet doesn’t have to mean they’re frying their brain through dreaded “screen time.” Instead these educational apps and games show that they can investigate new concepts, practice math, and play games that will sharpen their skills. So check out our roundup of the 20 best selections for kids to get your child hooked on apps that will help them get excited about learning and develop those imperative problem-solving skills.


YouTube Kids – This is Google’s first app directly targeted at the younger set. It presents a version of YouTube that’s free of all the violence, inappropriate language, and other weirdness that makes most school districts block it from their networks.

This New App Shows Drone Pilots Where it’s Safe to Fly – Called “B4UFLY,” the iOS version is out in beta Friday. The app lets drone flyers quickly check the status of local airspace, taking into account any special restrictions, nearby airports and other aviation rules. It’s similar to, though much simpler than, the process pilots of full-size aircraft undergo when planning a flight. The FAA’s B4UFLY beta is open to drone flyers who previously registered to be a part of the test. The agency expects the iOS app as well as an Android version to be available to the general public in “several months.”


11 signs that your cellular data limit is too low – Figuring out exactly how much data you need isn’t an exact science. Some months you need more (like when you’re road-tripping across the western United States), and other months you need none (like when you work from home for two weeks straight, and by “work from home” I mean “never leave your home except to walk the dog”). But if you frequently find yourself refusing to turn on your phone’s cellular data for fear of overage charges, you may want to consider upping your data limit. After all, man cannot live on 1GB of data alone.


Researchers find many more modules of Regin spying tool – Security researchers from Symantec have identified 49 more modules of the sophisticated Regin cyberespionage platform that many believe is used by the U.S. National Security Agency and its close allies. This brings the total number of modules known so far to 75, each of them responsible for implementing specific functionality and giving attackers a lot of flexibility in how they exploit individual targets. Regin came to light in November last year, but it has been in use since at least 2008 and antivirus companies have known about it since 2013. It is one of the most sophisticated malware threats discovered to date and has been used to target Internet service providers, telecommunications backbone operators, energy firms, airlines, government entities, research institutes and private individuals.

Fake EFF site serving espionage malware was likely active for 3+ weeks – A spear-phishing campaign some researchers say is linked to the Russian government masqueraded as the Electronic Frontier Foundation in an attempt to infect targets with malware that collects passwords and other sensitive data. Last October, researchers at security firm Trend Micro brought the campaign to light and said it was targeting US military, embassy, and defense contractor personnel, dissidents of the Russian government, and international media organizations. Last month, Trend Micro said the espionage malware campaign entered a new phase by exploiting what then was a zero-day vulnerability in Oracle’s widely used Java browser plugin. Separate security firm FireEye has said the group behind the attacks has ties to Russia’s government and has been active since at least 2007.

Business Email Scams: A Growing Threat – Targeting the head of a company has never been so profitable, according to a warning issued by the FBI in January which has now been revisited due to a 270 percent increase in victims detected / exposed losses. However, it’s not what you think – the criminals aren’t sending mails trying to fool the boss into signing up to a 419 “You’ve won millions, honest” fakeout. They’re pretending to be the boss, and asking other employees to wire money in a hurry. The emails are hard to detect and likely won’t be flagged by spam filters as they’re highly targeted. They’re also being sent from the supposed CEO to another employee, instead of the other way around.

81% of healthcare organizations have been compromised – Eighty-one percent of health care executives say that their organizations have been compromised by at least one malware, botnet, or other cyber-attack during the past two years, and only half feel that they are adequately prepared in preventing attacks, according to KPMG. According to the KPMG survey, the areas with the greatest vulnerabilities within an organization include external attackers (65 percent), sharing data with third parties (48 percent), employee breaches (35 percent), wireless computing (35 percent) and inadequate firewalls (27 percent).

Company News:

Twitter: We’re Upping Our Female Employees to 35 Percent in 2016 (Along With Other Changes) – According to a newly published post by the company, Twitter is committed to making its U.S. workforce more diverse by the end of 2016. First, it’s tackling its male-to-female ratio imbalance, saying it plans to increase the number of its female employees to 35 percent (up from 30 percent last year); increase women in tech roles to 16 percent (up from 10 percent); and ensure the percentage of women in leadership roles hits 25 percent (up from 21 percent). No, that’s not 50-50, but remember, we’re talking about the span of a couple of years here. Twitter is also promising to increase the number of underrepresented minorities that it employs, with the goal of bumping their numbers to 11 percent overall (up from 7 percent last year), to 9 percent in tech roles (up from 3 percent) and to 6 percent in leadership roles (up from 4 percent).

ITC clears Microsoft in 8 year old patent case, Lumias safe – It would have been a devastating blow if Microsoft was blocked from importing its next batch of Lumia smartphones even before its Windows 10 Mobile OS got out the door. That crisis, however, has been just averted when the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Redmond in a patent case that InterDigital brought against Nokia way back in 2007. According to the ITC, Microsoft did not infringe on InterDigital’s patents, which saves it from a potential import ban that could affect its Lumia smartphones.

Uber Hires Security Researchers Behind That Crazy Jeep Hack – Uber has hired the duo behind a spectacular hack earlier this year that involved taking remote control of a Jeep Cherokee. Wired writer Andy Greenberg experienced this firsthand. He wrote that he was driving on a St. Louis highway when Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek used a laptop 10 miles away to make the radio, air conditioning and windshield wipers go haywire. Then they cut the transmission entirely. (To be clear, this wasn’t just a terrible prank — it was a demonstration that had been arranged beforehand.) At the time, Miller and Valasek worked as security researchers at Twitter and IOActive, respectively. But Reuters reported today that the two of them have joined Uber, and the news was confirmed in tweets by Miller and Uber’s Raffi Krikorian.

NYC’s taxis now have their own Uber-like app – For all of its yelling and battling, the taxi industry has not been able to squash Uber, and consumers are better off for it. In NYC, the taxi industry now has its own Uber-like mobile app called Arro, and as with Uber, consumers can use it to see where nearby cabs are located, hail one using the app, see the driver’s details, and pay their fare using saved banking information. The makers of the app hail their offering as being superior to Uber’s own app, though, and the taxi industry — not surprisingly — is saying it is better in every way: cheaper, faster, and more. The app will be available to the public in the next couple of weeks.

‘Google is in denial’: Rivals throw down oral hearing challenge over antitrust case – A Microsoft-backed lobby group wants Google to defend itself at on oral hearing, saying its response this week to the European Commission’s antitrust charges shows the search company is in denial. More than five months after the EC filed antitrust charges against Google, saying it harmed competition by using its dominance in search to favour its own vertical search products such as shopping, the company yesterday responded in a blog post and a separate report to the commission.

Games and Entertainment:

Lara Croft GO: imagine Tomb Raider as a board game – Square Enix seems to have found a new distraction: turning existing popular game franchises into turn-based strategy games played over what feels like a diorama board set. It has happened before with Hitman and has now happened again with Tomb Raider. Or rather, “Lara Croft”, as she is marketed now. Lara Croft GO, which launches on mobile as well as Windows 10, is meant to bring players back to the classic roots of the Tomb Raider games. Somewhat interestingly, it makes more sense than with Hitman GO.


Rocket League sells 1 million copies on Steam – Rocket League, a new sports-action game that is essentially soccer with cars, has undoubtedly been one of the hottest games of summer. Now, Valve and developer Psyonix have announced that the beloved game has sold more than 1 million copies for PC on Steam alone since its release in July. As of the end of July, Rocket League passed 5 million downloads across PC and PlayStation 4. Sales on PS4 are a little tougher to quantify, as the game was free in July for PlayStation Plus owners. But whatever the case, the game is a success, and it will grow further with more DLC and a release for additional systems.


AMD explains the technology behind its smaller, faster GPUs – The Radeon R9 Nano, which chipmaker AMD announced this week, delivers high-end gaming in a card that fits in smaller, less power-hungry systems. At a chip conference earlier this week, AMD talked about the development of the new memory technology behind it.

Hulu is picking up the big movies Netflix is losing this month – Netflix ended its deal with entertainment network Epix today, a change that will soon take a raft of big-name movies — including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and World War Z — off the streaming service. But those movies won’t be homeless for long. A few hours after Epix parted ways with Netflix, the network announced a new deal with Hulu, an extensive multi-year agreement that will bring new movies from Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount to the Netflix rival. Epix movies will begin to appear on Hulu from October 1st. At launch, Hulu says it will feature a set of eye-catching blockbusters, including Star Trek: Into Darkness, Wolf of Wall Street, and Anchorman 2, with more movies appearing through each year of the deal. The move also makes Hulu the home of the James Bond, Star Trek, and Rocky movies.

G-Sync vs. FreeSync FAQ: How variable refresh rate displays make PC games super-smooth – Imagine games without stuttering or tearing. Games without ghosting. Two rival technologies both promise that—learn more about them here.

Off Topic (Sort of):

8 sci-fi ideas that might become science fact pretty soon (pictures) – We’re still not holding our breath for ubiquitous hoverboards or flying cars, but we could soon see a breathing woolly mammoth. Plus, seven other crazy things that sound impossible today.


RFID chips are shown here in a slide near a thick black line. That line is a human hair under magnification. These chips are technology from 2006. By 2026, “smart dust” chips like this could float around in the wind, constantly measuring the weather and other atmospheric conditions. We might even breathe them in and use them as biometric sensors some day.

From AMD Nano to Skylake, 11 reasons why August was awesome for hardware – The July 29 release of Windows 10 has resulted in an orgy of computing excess, as hardware manufacturers rush to release a glut of new graphics cards, computer processors, SSDs, routers, and more to coincide with the operating system’s launch. The riches started raining down in June, continued throughout July, and didn’t slow down one bit in August. From Intel’s cutting-edge new chips to fresh GPUs and Google’s entry into home networking, here’s a rundown of all the awesome PC goodies that made their debut in August.

Baby, We Won’t Drive Our Cars: The Future Of Automotive Transportation – Earlier this summer, Trinity had the pleasure of hosting a Transportation Tech dinner with some of the brightest minds in the space, including Uber’s lead data scientist, Lyft’s leader of operations strategy, RelayRides’ head of marketing, and the CEOs of ZIRX, MileIQ, Chariot, and Automatic. While the conversation led to many interesting conclusions, the discussion can be summed up in large part by one unifying insight:

“Transportation tech is not only changing how we get from A to B, it’s fundamentally altering the underlying infrastructure of our cities.”

This observation led to several bold predictions on what the future of transportation holds in store. Here’s a list of the Top 5:


The only way to avoid hangover is to drink less, study says – Whether you’ve ever been drunk or not, you may be familiar with the concept of the hangover. Those who have them look awful, behave like a sloth with a wart and drink gallons of water in an attempt to return to their more pleasant selves. There have been many tales told of how to prevent hangover. Scientists have often weighed in — the latest idea is that the best preventative measure is to drink pear juice. Beforehand, that is. Now a new study will relieve you of all your antidotes and hairs of the dog. For it concluded that the only way to prevent a hangover is to not drink so much.

Something to think about:

“There is no unique picture of reality.”

–     Stephen Hawking


EasyUEFI: The easy way to manage EFI/UEFI boot options – EasyUEFI is a handy and useful Windows software to manage the EFI/UEFI boot options. You can use it to create, delete, edit, clean up, backup and restore EFI/UEFI boot options, specifies a one-time boot entry for the next restart, or change the EFI/UEFI boot order without entering BIOS setup.

With EasyUEFI you can also build a bootable Windows PE image. After building the image file, you can use it to create a bootable USB flash drives or use 3rd-party burner software to burn it to CD/DVD. If you suspect your system is failing to boot because of a missing or corrupt EFI/UEFI boot option, then you can use this bootable media to fix this EFI/UEFI boot issue.

EasyUEFI is 100% clean, No ads, adware, spyware, trojans or any other malware bundled!



WinToFlash – There may come a day that optical drives are as hard to find as 5.25 floppy drives are today.

WinToFlash starts a wizard that will help to make USB bootable and pull over the contents of a windows installation CD or DVD and prep the USB drive to become a replacement for the optical drive. It can also do this with your LiveCD or DOS.

You don’t have to worry about scratches on the disc or misplacing your original media discs once you transfer their contents to the flash drive. The optical drive is quickly becoming a thing of the past, especially in office environments, as media is shifted to the cloud.

Read about all supported features on the Overview page.

Best video tutorial from user mullinsJ08


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Baltimore defense lawyers to review nearly 2,000 cases involving stingrays – This week, USA Today’s investigative team shined a light on the Baltimore police department and their use of stingrays. The paper found cops deployed the cell phone trackers in crimes as minor as harassing phone calls, and the authorities would often conceal the results of that surveillance from suspects and lawyers despite the fact that Maryland law “generally requires that electronic surveillance be disclosed in court,” according to the paper.

Evidently, the story found the right eyeballs. USA Today now reports that defense lawyers in Baltimore have pledged to examine nearly 2,000 cases involving police using stingrays. The lawyers plan to use their findings to approach judges and for “a large number” of criminal convictions to be overturned, the paper writes.

“This is a crisis, and to me it needs to be addressed very quickly,” Baltimore’s deputy public defender, Natalie Finegar, told USA Today. “No stone is going to be left unturned at this point.”

Rand Paul poses in front of NSA data center that he pledges to shut down – On Saturday, presidential hopeful and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) made an unusual campaign stop. Wearing his usual shades and messy curls, Paul posed with arms crossed in front of a controversial Utah data center belonging to the NSA. Alongside the photo, posted on Facebook, Paul made a bold campaign pledge: to essentially tear that data center down.

“I’m on my way to the airport, but we decided to stop by the NSA facility in Utah,” the caption on Paul’s Facebook page says. “When I become president, we’ll convert it into a Constitutional Center to study the Fourth Amendment! Bulk data collection must end!”


‘Harperman’ singer investigated for alleged conflict of interest – An Environment Canada scientist is under investigation for allegedly breaching the public service code of ethics by writing and performing a political song that criticizes the Harper government.

Tony Turner, a physical scientist who most recently was working on a study of migratory birds, has been put on administrative leave with pay over allegations that his participation in his song Harperman puts him in a conflict of interest, the union representing him said.

A recording of the song, uploaded to YouTube in June, accuses Conservative Leader Stephen Harper of muzzling scientists and suppressing freedom of the press, among other criticisms. It repeatedly tells Mr. Harper: “It’s time for you to go.”

Mr. Turner has worked for Environment Canada for almost 20 years and was just months away from retirement when he was put on leave.

Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said the opinions expressed in the song should not constitute a conflict because they don’t interfere with Mr. Turner’s ability to do research in his field.

“Public servants have the same democratic rights as every other Canadian. To imply that [Mr. Turner] doesn’t have the right to express himself through a folk song as a private citizen is really what’s at issue here,” she said. “It’s our belief that Mr. Turner hasn’t infracted any laws or policies – and certainly is not in a conflict.”


Pointing up    The criminal gang that refers to itself as “The Harper Government” steeps itself in bog water once again. Prior to the “normal” overreaction of the Harper Government to this type of freedom of speech, no one had heard of this video. That has now changed. Another fail for the “Harper Brats” who help to keep this seriously mentally ill man in power.

Appeals court overturns judge who would have stopped NSA data collection – The first major judicial ruling slamming the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has been overturned. In 2013, US District Judge Richard Leon ruled the program was likely unconstitutional, but held off on shutting it down until an appeals court could weigh in.

That’s finally happened, and the appeals ruling (PDF) shows the three-judge panel didn’t see things the same way as Leon.

The case is still relevant despite the fact that the new USA Freedom Act passed in June. The law prevents the NSA from running its own database, instead forcing the agency to get phone records from the telcos. But because the government’s database was allowed a 180 day period for an “orderly transition,” telephone records are still being collected, for now.

More importantly, today’s ruling in Klayman v. Obama will set a guidepost for future policy around surveillance. The three judges go to varying lengths to dismantle the plaintiffs’ claims, defend government secrecy, and support the spying program. They express skepticism that the activists even have standing, since they’re subscribers of Verizon Wireless, not of Verizon Business Network Services, the business entity that’s referred to in the document Snowden leaked.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 28, 2015

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10;  A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5;  4 overblown Windows 10 worries;  Free or discounted software licenses, cloud resources for students;  How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches;  Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone;  How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity;  Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake;  Seven essential mobile apps for students;   Instagram supports landscape & vertical photos;  NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season;  The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps;  FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more;  Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings;  Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story;  BitTorrent patches flaw;  25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10 – The Windows 10 privacy agreement doesn’t mean Microsoft is secretly stealing the data from your hard disk. Where do people come up with these crazy ideas? There is apparently a growing and very vocal population of people who believe that Windows 10 is basically a 1984 telescreen come to life. They are convinced that with Windows 10 Microsoft has built a spying apparatus not seen since the height of the Cold War, scraping up every detail of your life and feeding it back to Redmond for who knows what nefarious purposes. They’re going to need lots of tinfoil. They’re also either wildly misinformed or deliberately agitating. Unless, of course, they’re just crazy, which is entirely possible based on some of what I’ve read.

4 overblown Windows 10 worries – There are a lot of alarms going off about Windows 10’s effect on your security and privacy. We look at the four top concerns to find out whether they’re true or not, and tell you what you can do about them.

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches – Despite the many highlights of Windows 10—Cortana, virtual desktops, windowed Windows Store apps, the revamped Start menu, DirectX 12, among others—there are still some annoyances with the new operating system. Windows 10 can reset your default browser if you upgrade; updates are now mandatory; and behind the scenes, the new OS is a file-sharing machine. Those are just a few of Windows 10’s notable headaches, but the good news is there are fixes for all these problems. Even better? Most are really easy to implement. Let’s dig in.

Free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources for students and educators – Get ahead of the class by using these offers for free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources available to university students and educators around the world. Many of the biggest names in IT provide free or heavily discounted access to software for students, in the hopes of converting them to paid customers after graduation. Students and educators, check out these available options.

Seven essential mobile apps for students – I’ve cut through the clutter and put together a list of educational apps that have something to offer students in middle school, high school and college. You’ll be able to use them with your Android or Apple device, and often your desktop browser. Some of them are so handy, it almost makes me want to go back to school again. I said “almost.”

A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5 – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook now all have their own digital assistants that they’ve been pumping tons of cash into. There are lots of smaller companies also looking to break into this space (which I’ll soon look at separately) but these tech titans clearly have the upper hand at the moment. In a lot of ways most of these services struggle in similar areas where the technology isn’t quite where it needs to be, but each of these assistants definitely have their own flavor with some being clearly being better than others.

Chrome is getting more aggressive about silencing autoplay videos – Chrome is getting more aggressive about that least popular web feature: autoplay video. A new post from engineer François Beaufort laid out Chrome’s new approach, which will block playback as long as a given autoplay video is in a background tab. The browser will still load the video as soon as the tab is opened, but it won’t start it until you visit the page itself, hopefully preventing the usual surprise when a late-loading video starts up in the background. Under the new setup, that video won’t play until you click back to the relevant tab.

Instagram stops being a square, supports landscape & vertical photos – Instagram has finally gotten with the times and dropped its requirement that photos be in a square format. The social network has updated both its iOS and Android apps and now allows users to post photos in landscape and vertical orientations, in addition to the classic square. The same size change is applied to videos too. This will likely be a welcome change to Instagram users, who for years already have been taking photos and video on devices with rectangular screens.


Microsoft Snip lets you quickly annotate and add audio to screenshots – If taking screenshots is part of your job, Microsoft is aiming to make it easier with a new tool called Snip. Available as a free beta, Snip lets you cut out a portion of the screen, annotate it with a drawing tool or voice notes, and then save or share the results. It’s unclear if Microsoft is planning to charge for the app, which was first spotted by The Verge. While Snip is hardly the only screen capture tool for Windows, its simplicity (and the fact that it’s free) makes it worth considering. If you don’t need the more extensive options of tools like Greenshot and PicPick, Snip could be a more efficient option.


LG’s full-sized tablet keyboard rolls up for easy travel – The latest Bluetooth keyboard for tablets offers full-sized keys and yet rolls up into a stick resembling a big Tootsie Roll. LG makes it and it’s appropriately named the Rolly keyboard. Bluetooth pairing starts immediately once the keyboard is unrolled and LG says it can be paired with two mobile devices via Bluetooth 3.0. That feature can’t be used simultaneously of course; even though you can pair with two devices, the Rolly only works with one at a time.


How to quickly shut down Windows 10 – It must be a point of pride in Redmond that even after all these years, you still have to click “Start” to shut down your computer. Granted, the Start button is no longer labeled that way, having evolved into a Windows-logo button back in Vista. But that’s still what it’s called, and still how Microsoft refers to it. So even in Windows 10, you have to click “Start” to shut down your PC. Then you click Power, and finally Shut Down. I’ll never understand why Microsoft has steadfastly refused to add a one-click Shut Down button to the desktop. Fortunately, there are faster ways to turn off your computer.

Adobe aims to bring Photoshop to mobile masses with upcoming app – Photoshop is so well known that the product name is synonymous with photo editing. But the software itself is a success only on personal computers, not smartphones or tablets. Photoshop’s maker, Adobe Systems, hopes that will change in October at its Max conference for developers and creative professionals when it introduces a new Photoshop app for editing photos on Apple’s iPhones and iPads initially and Android-powered devices later. The free software, called only Project Rigel for now, is designed to bring a more accessible interface to what can be a dauntingly complex program on PCs.


Twitch meets Periscope with new streaming app Mirrativ – Move over Periscope, there’s a new live-streaming app vying for our attention. Launching today, Mirrativ (a portmanteau of mirror and narrative) lets you broadcast whatever is happening on the screen of your smartphone or tablet. It combines untethered mobile broadcasting, screen sharing and social interactions into one single app. You can use Mirrativ in beta on Android starting today, with iOS following in the coming weeks.

Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley outs pretty and cheap Obi Worldphones – Just to be clear, it’s Obi Worldphones, not Obi Wan. Terrible pop culture references aside, this news isn’t something you see everyday. John Sculley, who, at one point in time, lead one of the world’s biggest tech companies, has co-founded and announced two new smartphones. While some already point out their rather alluring design, these Obi Worldphones are two things that no iPhone will ever be: Android and affordable. Just because you were the former CEO of Apple doesn’t mean you have to forever drink their Kool-aid, right?


Microsoft delivers Windows 10 PC build 10532 to Insiders – Windows 10 Build 10532 is available as of August 27 to those in the Fast Ring. In this latest build, Microsoft has improved context menus to give them “a modern look and feel” in the latest test build. The company also has enabled sharing in the Windows Feedback app, so that testers can share feedback via Twitter, Facebook and other channels. Microsoft simultaneously is rolling out test Build 10532 of its Edge browser, which includes new canvas blend modes, pointer lock, asm.js on by default and more.


How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity –  Ad blockers – software or browser extensions that filter all HTML elements that are expected to contain ads – can do more than just hide annoying ads. They can optimize your online experience in multiple ways, including decreasing your risk for encountering malware. We lay out the advantages of using an ad blocker and give you a few recommendations on which ones we like.

Tor security concerns prompt largest dark market to suspend operations – Administrators of Agora, the largest online black marketplace operating on the Tor anonymity network, decided to temporarily suspend the website because of possible attacks based on recent methods of exposing Tor Hidden Services.

BitTorrent patches flaw that could amplify distributed denial-of-service attacks – BitTorrent fixed a vulnerability that would have allowed attackers to hijack BitTorrent applications used by hundreds of millions of users in order to amplify distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The flaw was disclosed earlier this month in a paper presented at the 9th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies by four researchers from City University London, Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences in Friedberg, Germany and cloud networking firm PLUMgrid.

Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake – There’s a good chance that most men on Ashley Madison never even had the opportunity to cheat. That’s because most women on the site were actually fake. According to an analysis of the Ashley Madison data dump from Gizmodo, just about 12,000 of the 5.5 million female profiles on the now-infamous adultery site belonged to actual, living breathing women.

Company News:

Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone – This week Facebook reached a milestone, one that includes 1-billion people having used the social network in a single day. This isn’t an average number – as Mark Zuckerberg said in an announcement today – but it is rather important. Facebook has millions of users log in every day, and billions of people using the social network every month, but here for the first time in the website’s history 1-billion people used Facebook in a single day.

Life360 Acquires Chronos To Add “Quantified Self” Tracking To Its Family Locator App – Life360, the maker of mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone that help keep families connected, has acquired Chronos Mobile Technologies, a startup behind a number of mobile apps that passively collect data from users’ smartphones in order to highlight trends and connections between various behaviors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Chronos had closed on a small seed round from Maven Ventures, Draper Associates and Major League Baseball earlier in 2015.

Report: ‘Dozens’ of Amazon Fire Phone Engineers Get the Axe – Lackluster Fire Phone sales have reportedly prompted Amazon to lay off “dozens” of engineers at Lab126, a division of the company that focuses on Amazon’s hardware development, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s unclear exactly how many people were let go since they must sign non-disclosure agreements into order to get severance, the Journal said, but the division employs about 3,000 workers.

CenturyLink to deploy broadband to rural areas in 33 states – Telecom carrier CenturyLink will roll out broadband to 1.2 million U.S. homes and businesses in rural areas, using US $506 million from the Federal Communications Commission. The six-year project, expected to start early next year, covers rural areas in 33 states, including large parts of the Midwest, West and Southeast, in addition to other areas. States included in the deployment include Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Google rejects antitrust charges, digs in for a long fight – Google has responded to European Union regulators’ claims that its search results violate antitrust law, saying its search results are focused on “improving quality” and are not anti-competitive. “Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” wrote company general counsel Kent Walker in a Google blog post. “Economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents, and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive.” The blog post accompanies Google’s formal legal response that was filed today. European Union antitrust regulators formally charged Google with anticompetitive conduct in April.

Facebook Finally Cracks Down On Video Piracy – Facebook didn’t get to be one of the largest video streamers on the web without making a few enemies. Unfortunately, up to this point, a lot of those enemies were the people actually creating cool video content for the site. Today, Facebook is trying to rectify its poor management of controlling video piracy on its site and appease video creators who have been getting kind of pissed off at the site with a series of new updates.

SoundCloud faces lawsuit over alleged failure to pay royalties – Contentions regarding SoundCloud and the payment of royalties has been long-running, and now the audio streaming service is facing a lawsuit from Performing Rights Society for Music, more commonly referred to as PRS. The entity advised its members recently that it has sought for SoundCloud to “recognize their responsibilities” repeatedly; PRS states SoundCloud requires a license to operate in Europe and the United Kingdom. PRS went further and issued a press statement advising that it has “no choice” in the matter, and that after a half a decade of failed negotiations, it must proceed with a lawsuit.

Amazon Prime’s streaming video service to launch in Japan – With Netflix having already announced that they’re launching in Japan on September 2nd, Amazon has decided it’s not going to wait for its rival to gain a lead in the local market for streaming video services. The US internet shopping giant has announced it will be debuting its Prime Video service in Japan sometime this fall. Like Netflix’s service in the country, it’s still not clear what kind of programs will be available for streaming, however Amazon has promised the lineup will include popular US movies and TV shows, their award-winning originals, plus native Japanese content.

Games and Entertainment:

NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season – It’s getting a little easier to watch pro football online or over-the-air without an expensive cable TV bundle, but you’ll still have to make a few sacrifices.


FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more – Want to try out FIFA 16 before it hit store shelves? You’re in luck, as Electronic Arts has announced that a free demo for the upcoming professional soccer game will arrive starting September 8 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The FIFA 16 demo will let you try out the standard Kick-Off mode, as well as FIFA Ultimate Team Draft, FIFA Trainer, and new skill games. Featured in the demo are 10 high-profile teams from the around the world, as well as two women’s teams–including the World Cup-winning US Women’s National Team.


EA Sports

The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps – Some of the most downloaded and highest-grossing video games in leading app stores use casino motifs for their designs, raising questions about the potential dangers of gambling apps.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens is taking it to the Max…the IMAX – That’s correct, December 18 returns to a galaxy far, far away will come at you at the largest format possible for over a month, likely at a theater near you. A lot of high-profile movies get the IMAX treatment these days and since those tickets cost more for a premium experience — IMAX screens are an important part of increasing a movie’s box office take. The other gimmick used to convince you to see a film in theaters instead of waiting for it to stream is 3D, though thankfully The Force Awakens will spare us that.


Assassin’s Creed Syndicate ships on PC a month after consoles – Publisher Ubisoft will release Assassin’s Creed Syndicate on PC a month after it launches on consoles, to help ensure the build is shipped without major bugs or glitches. The action adventure title, which follows the story of brother and sister assassins in Victorian London, is scheduled for launch on PC from November 19. That equates to about a month delay from the PS4 and Xbox One release date, which is October 23. Previously, Ubisoft had given the PC build a “Holiday 2015” release target.


Divinity: Original Sin II preview: An ambitious sequel to one of the biggest, best RPGs of 2014 – When talking about last year’s excellent Divinity: Original Sin, I’m fond of saying, “Imagine the game you’d get if, instead of dying off in the early 2000s, the isometric CRPG genre had kept evolving through 2014.” Now imagine that the same company came back afterward and pitched a sequel twice the scope. That’s Divinity: Original Sin II.


Watching Is the New Doing – YouTube Gaming makes it a breeze to find and watch an endless supply of gaming livestreams and videos, but it’s a bit rough around the edges.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Psychology Of Insecurity – Why do we keep reading about a litany of breaches? Don’t cyber pros understand they are looking after our most sensitive personal data? Yes they do, but to understand their actions demands a more detailed examination of the psychology of security from the perspective of the security professional. It is time to recognize the psychology of our insecurity. We need a stronger mandate than regulation and the occasional public shaming of a clueless leader of an organization chartered with guarding vital information. We need infrastructure that is secure by design. There is no army of “cyber experts” big enough to pick through the haystack of alerts, trying to find the attack that actually penetrated the enterprise.

Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings – The widespread presence of mobile devices, namely smartphones, have brought about new issues in regards to etiquette, and though over the years a general shape about proper usage has formed, many still bicker about what is appropriate and what isn’t. Pew Research recently surveyed a bunch of Americans to find out their opinions on smartphone usage in public, and found that while most people are fine with phones being used when a person is in public, only a small percentage think it is okay to use the phone during a social gathering, whether you’re at the restaurant or just talking to someone.

25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind – In his lifetime, Einstein changed the world, describing the workings of reality better than anyone since Isaac Newton and revealing the capabilities of the atom bomb. In 1999, Time named him Person of the Century. Here are 25 of Einstein’s most telling quotes; each will take you inside the mind of the legend.

Iowa starts testing smartphone-based digital driver’s licenses – Over a year ago, we heard about the state of Iowa’s initiative to develop digital driver’s licenses that could eventually replace the plastic cards used through the US. The digital licenses would feature the same information as the physical versions — photo, address, date of birth, etc. — but be stored on a user’s smartphone. Well, Iowa has now announced that it’s beginning a test program, known as the Mobile Driver License (mDL), for a number of different situations, but limited to employees of the states’ Department of Transportation.


HandUp, A Startup Focused On The Homeless, Launches Donation Gift Cards For Those Living On SF’s Streets – Since HandUp launched, the site has raised $886,000 so far for homeless people, mostly in San Francisco. On the site, moms are asking for funding for diapers. A veteran named Adam is raising a few thousand dollars for dental work. Another mother named Gladys, who lost both of her sons to unsolved homicides, is raising money to fix the van she lives in. Social workers and case managers at HandUp’s partner organizations make sure that clients are able to get what they asked for. But one of the most commonly requested features from donors was gift cards that people could give out directly on the street to people they pass by every day.


Should police have the capability to take control of driverless cars? – There have already been plenty of ethical questions asked, like whether a driverless car should decide who lives or who dies during an accident scenario. One question often posed is whether a driverless vehicle could choose to ram a school bus full of kids or sacrifice the driverless vehicle’s occupants during a mishap. Now the Rand Corp. is thinking about how law enforcement officials should deal with driverless cars. A recent study (PDF) by the group ponders whether a cop should have the ability to remotely control a vehicle to pull it over.

Why We Look – We look because it’s there. We humans look towards violence in order to define it, to decide where we must run (or if we should stand and fight). We are fascinated by suffering. There is a cognitive bias towards the terrible. Many complain that there is not enough “happy” news. The problem is that there is happy news all around us, we just don’t notice. A baby smiling or someone offering someone else a spot on the bus doesn’t go viral because most humans experience little kindnesses and forget them. But we don’t forget violence.

Adobe says stop using ‘Photoshop’ as a generic term – When a company’s product so thoroughly corners a market that it becomes well-known even by those who have never used it, the company faces a problem: generic use of that product’s name. You’re likely to hear the term “dumpster” used generically, for example, as it is now a genericized trademark due to its common usage. Other trademarks have suffered the same fate — yo-yo, for example, and aspirin. Adobe doesn’t want its popular photo-editing software Photoshop to suffer the same fate, but it may be too late to stop it.

Something to think about:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”

–   Albert Einstein

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story – The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

An Electronic Frontier Foundation FOIA request on a different matter revealed the strategy in 2011, but it wasn’t made public until last year, when privacy researcher Chris Soghoian saw evidence of the operation in the documents and tweeted about it. That spurred both the AP and The Seattle Times to complain vocally about the FBI’s behavior.

“The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale,” AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser wrote in a letter to then-AG Eric Holder last year.

Germany trades citizens’ metadata for NSA’s top spy software – In order to obtain a copy of the NSA’s main XKeyscore software, whose existence was first revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency agreed to hand over metadata of German citizens it spies on. According to documents seen by the German newspaper Die Zeit, after 18 months of negotiations, the US and Germany signed an agreement in April 2013 that would allow the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutz—BfV) to obtain a copy of the NSA’s most important program and to adopt it for the analysis of data gathered in Germany.

This was a lower level of access compared to the non-US “Five Eyes” nations—the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—which had direct access to the main XKeyscore system. In return for the software, the BfV would “to the maximum extent possible share all data relevant to NSA’s mission.” Interestingly, there is no indication in the Die Zeit story that the latest leak comes from Snowden, which suggests that someone else has made the BfV’s “internal documents” available.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – August 26, 2015

UK surveillance “worse than 1984,” says new UN privacy chief;  Major Android remote-access vulnerability is now being exploited;  How to reclaim your privacy in Windows 10, piece by piece;  Microsoft releases printable Windows 10 key shortcut list;  BitTorrent tracker blocks Windows 10 users;  Microsoft starts public test of Cortana app for Android;  Vysor Puts Your Android Device’s Screen On Your Desktop;  7 Voice-Activated Apps Waiting for Your Command;  Google Calendar is getting much smarter for business users;  Review: Metal Gear Solid 5;  Office 2016’s Windows release tipped for September 22;  How to encrypt and password-protect ZIP files the right way;  Microsoft App Turns Your Phone Into a 3D Scanner;  Until Dawn combines the best of horror films and games on PS4;  50 fascinating facts about Android;  32 killer games for Steam Machines and Linux;  Your guide to geeky TV this fall (pictures).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to reclaim your privacy in Windows 10, piece by piece – Windows 10 has deep cloud hooks and shares a lot of data with Microsoft in order to create a smart, seamless experience across devices. If you prefer to keep some privacy, here’s how to disable all of it.


BitTorrent tracker blocks Windows 10 users – Windows 10 is quickly gaining fans. Some of them, however, are growing distrustful of Windows 10’s privacy settings. Some BitTorrent sites don’t trust Windows 10 at all. So, at least one BitTorrent tracker, iTS, has blocked Windows 10 users from accessing torrents from their site. Others are considering banning Windows 10 users.

Cheat sheet! Microsoft releases printable Windows 10 key shortcut list – This handy guide lists every Windows key shortcut in Windows 10. It’s ready to print or view offline–and we made it better.

Microsoft starts public test of Cortana app for Android smartphones – Microsoft now lets anyone with an Android phone try out its app that brings the virtual assistant from Windows 10 to a non-Microsoft platform.

Vysor Puts Your Android Device’s Screen On Your Desktop – If you’ve ever wanted to play games or use apps from your phone on your desktop — web versions of messaging apps prove how convenient desktops are — then Vysor is a new service for Android owners that might well be up your alley. Created by Koushik Dutta, the prominent Android developer behind apps like AllCast, it is a Chrome extension that recreates a fully functioning version of your Android screen on your desktop, with mouse support for touch and hotkeys. It’s worth noting that the app is currently in beta — it leaked out via a Reddit thread — and it requires a USB cable for the connection.


7 Voice-Activated Apps Waiting for Your Command – More than just a gimmick, it’s a helpful, hands-free way to get things done. Whether you want to avoid distraction or are unable to manipulate a touch screen, a voice assistant can be your best friend. Some of the tasks voice-guided apps tackle are really specific (like ordering a pizza), but some can really save you, whether you’re taking a photo or going for a run. These seven examples show that sometimes if you speak up, you get exactly what you ask for.

Facebook’s New Moments App Now Automatically Creates Music Videos From Your Photos – Facebook Moments, the social network’s recently launched photo-sharing app that aims to address the problem of getting friends to send each other the photos they’ve been hoarding on their own phones, is expanding to video. The app received its first major update today since its mid-June debut, and will now automatically create a video of your shared photos which you can customize, personalize and share back to Facebook.

Twitter shutdown of apps for deleted tweets could give politicians new control – By effectively shutting down apps that showed politicians’ deleted tweets, Twitter is giving politicians more control over public speech, and at the cost of transparency, some digital media experts said.

Google Calendar is getting much smarter for business users – Google Apps users are going to start having an easier time managing their calendar. With an update rolling out this week, Google Calendar will begin automatically grabbing events that it detects in Gmail — like flights and hotel or restaurant reservations — and adding an entry for them. Those entries are supposed to stay updated, too, should there be a change in plans or a delay. Google says that basically any ticketed event should be detected.


Microsoft App Turns Your Phone Into a 3D Scanner – A new Microsoft Research project, dubbed MobileFusion, runs on off-the-shelf mobile phones, using the RGB camera found on most phones to scan objects of varying shape, size, and appearance. Without any added hardware or software, or even an Internet connection, MobileFusion provides real-time feedback during the capture process. “Everything happens on the phone itself,” Pushmeet Kohli, a principal research scientist with Microsoft Research, said in a statement.


Office 2016’s Windows release tipped for September 22 – The Windows version of Microsoft Office 2016 appears to be less than a month away, according to a leaked internal document. A screenshot from Microsoft’s employee intranet lists a September 22 release date for Office 2016 on Windows, reports. Microsoft released a Mac version for Office 365 subscribers in July, promising a standalone release in June.

Russia Reverses Ban on Russian Wikipedia After Only a Few Hours – A Russian communications watchdog agency told Internet providers to block access to the popular site’s Russian language material on Monday, after a provincial court ruled Wikipedia’s entry on hashish contained banned information, the Associated Press reports. Recent legislation in Russia has banned sites from carrying information about drugs, suicide and hate, leading critics to accuse authorities of censorship. The communications agency lifted the ban on Russian language Wikipedia after saying the entry had been edited to comply with the court decision. But users noted that the entry for hashish had only adjusted its title.

Intel introduces its smallest socketed form factor yet: the 5×5 – OK, it’s not going to to threaten high end discrete GPUs, but this kind of processor packed into the 5×5 form factor raises the bar on what a small system can do. Hitherto, mini-ITX was arguably the smallest system size that was credible for gaming or heavy workloads such as software development, graphics, and CAD. 5×5 will be able to serve many of those same markets, making it a compelling candidate for set-top-boxes and business workloads that push the limits of what the NUC can handle. Equipped with 35W processors and an M.2 drive, 5×5 systems should come in at around 1.5 inches tall for a total system volume of less than 1 liter. 65W processors and 2.5 inch SATA drives will increase the height, though the system volume should remain significantly smaller than a comparable mini-ITX device.


Google will upload mailed hard drives, USB drives to cloud for developers – While the vast majority of us common users can get by with cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive by simply uploading files via our local WiFi connection or from our phones, it’s not exactly the same situation for developers with terabytes of data that needs to be migrated to cloud storage in a hurry. Fortunately for them, Google now offers an “Offline Media Import/Export” service that will take mailed in hard drives, USB flash drives, and tapes and upload the data to the cloud, for a fee, of course.

How to encrypt and password-protect ZIP files the right way – You can protect the contents of a ZIP file, but unless you know the trick, you might as well not bother.


Major Android remote-access vulnerability is now being exploited – TeamViewer’s remote control plug-in, pre-installed by some phone OEMs and phone carriers for support, offers an exploitable backdoor for attackers (and even some legitimate apps) to gain root-level access to devices. Based on anonymized data collected from users of an app designed to check for a newly revealed vulnerability in many Android devices, Check Point discovered that one application in the Google Play store is exploiting the vulnerability to gain a high level of access to the Android OS, bypassing user permissions—and bypassing Google’s security scans of Play applications to do so. Update: A Google spokesperson told Ars that the offending app has been suspended in the Play store.


TeamViewer’s remote control plug-in, pre-installed by some phone OEMs and phone carriers for support, offers an exploitable backdoor for attackers (and even some legitimate apps) to gain root-level access to devices.

Advertising malware rates have tripled in the last year, according to report – Ad networks have been hit with a string of compromises in recent months, and according to a new report, many of the infections are making it through to consumers. A study published today by Cyphort found that instances of malware served by ad networks more than tripled between June 2014 and February 2015, based on monthly samples taken during the period. Dubbed “malvertising,” the attacks typically sneaking malicious ads onto far-reaching ad networks. The networks deliver those malware-seeded ads to popular websites, which pass them along to a portion of the visitors to the site. The attacks typically infect computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash, typically triggered as soon as an ad is successfully loaded.


Facebook ‘Spam King’ Pleads Guilty – When you give yourself the nickname “Spam King” and you get charged with spamming, you really have no option but to plead guilty. And that’s how the situation with Sanford Wallace played out in court this week. Wallace, 47, of Las Vegas pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of fraud and criminal contempt, admitting that he compromised the Facebook accounts of about 500,000 users and used them to send more than 27 million spam messages through the company’s servers in 2008 and 2009, according to Bloomberg. Wallace also admitted that he violated a court order to not access the social network. He was released on bond and is set to be sentenced on Dec. 7 in federal court in San Jose, Calif. He’s facing up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Court rules FTC can prosecute companies over lax online security – The Third Circuit US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission does have the right to prosecute firms who mishandle their customers’ data. Between 2008 and 2009, hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide – which runs hotels under the Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8, and Travelodge brands – suffered three computer intrusions. The hackers stole the personal information and credit card numbers of over 619,000 customers, causing at least $10.6m in thefts. In June 2012, the FTC filed suit against Wyndham, claiming that the firm had “unreasonably and unnecessarily” exposed their customers to risk. Wyndham has fought back in the case, claiming unreasonable government oversight.

Company News:

More Layoffs For Intuit As Company Continues Realignment – We first heard about the layoffs this morning, and Intuit also confirmed the layoffs to TechCrunch. In June, Intuit laid off 399 employees as part of a company realignment. Last week as part of its quarterly earnings, the company said that it would divest several business units, including Demandforce, QuickBase and Quicken. Accompanying layoffs are not uncommon as companies re-orient their strategies to focus on more successful products. Still, Intuit has had a tough run in recent weeks. Following its earnings report last week, the company’s stock fell sharply. Intuit also increased its cash dividend by 20%.

Dell creates new server division for ‘second-tier’ hyperscale customers – Dell has formed a new business unit to go after the “second tier” of hyperscale customers — those with similar needs to those of Google and Facebook but who aren’t quite as massive.


Intel invests in BlueData, forges big data partnership – Intel said Tuesday that it will invest in BlueData, which makes virtualization technology for big data deployments, and partner with the company. BlueData has a software platform called EPIC that allows enterprises to create Hadoop and Spark clusters in virtual environments. In theory, the combination of virtualization and big data tools should make it easier to deploy within data centers.

Uber and University of Arizona partner in self-driving car effort – Uber dreams of self-driving cars, and over the past year we’ve seen it take steps toward making those dreams reality. The company has already indicated that it is interested in Tesla’s future self-driving car, and it has teamed up with researchers to help develop autonomous driving technologies. Of the latter, Uber has recently expanded its research efforts in a new partnership with the University of Arizona, where it will work with researchers to increase self-driving efforts. In addition, Uber plans to test out autonomous cars in Tucson.

What’s behind smartphone market’s slowing growth? Look to China – Research firm predicts global shipments will rise around 10 percent this year, compared with more than 27 percent in 2014. One reason? Demand for devices in China is falling.

Ashley Madison users report extortion: more lawsuits filed – The damage caused by the Ashley Madison leak is growing, and some former users are reporting that others have attempted to extort them using information contained in the data dumps. Eight individuals residing in the United States have filed lawsuits against the infidelity website, and the service is facing similar legal action from users in Canada. The lawsuits cite a host of reasons for the legal action: violations of privacy, breach of contract, negligence, and more. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. lawsuits have been filed in Texas, California, Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia. All eight of them are seeking class-action status, and would as such represent about 37 million affected Ashley Madison users.

Games and Entertainment:

Until Dawn combines the best of horror films and games on PS4 – The best horror movie of the year might just be a video game. Though it’s available on the PlayStation 4, and you play it with a controller, Until Dawn is really as much a film as it is a game; borrowing from some of the biggest horror franchises around, like Saw to Evil Dead, it combines the tropes into a terrifying experience that’s both familiar and unique. But it’s that added layer of interactivity — the fact that you actually have some measure of control over the events — that makes Until Dawn something special. It’s a horror movie where you can actually tell those stupid teens what to do, in hopes that they’ll actually survive the night. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up making the same mistakes they would.


Review: Metal Gear Solid 5 is cliched, confused, and utterly brilliant – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain arrives under so much hype, expectation, and otaku-fever that it’s almost destined to fail. In true Kojima fashion, this is a polarising game, one where the highest of highs is offset with lowest of lows. It distorts much of what has made the third-person stealth action series so revered, replacing the heavily structured levels of old with an open-world setting that allows for a more flexible approach. The series’ latest iteration presents greater opportunities to succeed spectacularly and fail wretchedly. An RPG-like system of unlocking and upgrading weapons requires you think four or five moves ahead, while an AI-controlled “buddy” option provides the kind of obliging assistance that many would consider sacrilege in a game of this type.


Linux gaming rising: 32 killer games for Steam Machines and Linux – Sure, Valve’s embrace of Linux may have a wee bit to do with advancing the Steam Machine ideal, but any game released for “SteamOS” works just fine on other Linux distros, too. With Valve and its hardware partners recently announcing a full 15 upcoming Steam Machine PCs, here are a slew of killer PC games that’ve recently become Linux natives—including the previous two PCWorld Game of the Year winners.


Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

YouTube’s answer to Twitch finally launches tomorrow – Just before E3 this year, YouTube announced that it was getting into gaming in a big way, with its own stand-alone video site that would take on Twitch. Called YouTube Gaming, the service was expected to launch some time this summer — and it looks like tomorrow will finally be the day. The service is expected to go live on the web, as well as through mobile apps on both iOS and Android.

Hobbit “Five Armies” Extended Edition release dated with R-rating – The final installment of the “Extended Editions” of The Hobbit trilogy has been revealed this week. The Battle of the Five Armies will include 20 minutes of additional footage for the film itself, then will also include more than 9 hours of special features. This movie will also be rated R – this is different from the theatrical cut of the film which is rated PG-13. This new rating has been pushed to the film by the MPAA for “some violence.” As if there weren’t violence in the film in the first place.

The 50 Best iPad Games – The line between iPad games and iPhone games has become a lot blurrier of late. There have always been games capable of running on both of Apple’s wildly successful iOS devices, and usually with just a single purchase. But as iPhones$199.00 at Verizon get bigger and iPads$376.99 at Amazon get smaller, the differences between their apps are becoming much more arbitrary. The good news is that most of the huge and constantly growing iOS gaming library can be enjoyed on a tablet that doesn’t require a contract to buy at a reasonable price. And that library really is worth checking out.

Your guide to geeky TV this fall (pictures) – Shows with superheroes, zombies, unexplained phenomena and monsters are now so prevalent, you can watch one every night of the week. CNET’s Michael Franco gives his picks.


Fear the Walking Dead

Xbox One and Xbox 360 Free Games With Gold for September 2015 Revealed – Microsoft has announced September’s free Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles for Xbox Live Gold members. There are two free games each for Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners, including The Deer God, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Battlestations Pacific, and Crysis 3. Take a look at the full schedule below. Even if you don’t have an Xbox 360, it’s probably still worth picking up the last-generation games, as they could one day be made playable on Xbox One through backwards compatibility.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How I broke the internet without even trying – I have to apologise for breaking the internet. Yes, it was me. I’d have made my mea culpa sooner, but I didn’t realise how great a wrong I’d done. It was selfish of me to download ad-blocking software. I thought only of enhancing my own online experience. It never occurred to me that I would be the cause of so much trouble. The first hint that I was doing something wrong came when I visited a website and saw, where ordinarily an advertisement would have popped up, a plea that I consider either unblocking ads or making a contribution. Otherwise, I was told, the free internet was threatened. (recommended by Mal C.)

50 fascinating facts about Android – We’ve assembled 50 pieces of Android trivia for you to enjoy and bust out the next time you’re at a party about mobile operating systems.

Microsoft Offers Free Download Of “Start Me Up” To Celebrate 20 Years Of Windows 95 – Remember Windows 95? I mean, how could you not? Oh, you’re under 30? Yeah, then you probably don’t remember Windows 95. Its launch was a glorious day, it stood for the rise of graphical interfaces that we’ve come to known and love. Its launch also featured The Rolling Stones. Specifically, their song “Start Me Up.” You know, like the “Start” button. So schmart. Today, to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Windows 95, Microsoft is offering a free download of the song for anyone who cares to download it. If you don’t own the song already, now’s your chance.


How Linux was born, as told by Linus Torvalds himself – One of the most famous messages in all computing was posted exactly 24 years ago today, on 25 August, 1991:

Hello everybody out there using minix –

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and

professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing

since April, and is starting to get ready.

Many people have read that post by Linus Torvalds in the comp.os.minix newsgroup on Usenet, or at least heard about it. Many more are aware of how that (free) operating system ended up taking over vast swathes of the computing world, and becoming both “big” and “professional.” But what about before that famous moment? What were the key events that led to Linus creating that first public release of Linux?

Stephen Hawking theorizes escaping a black hole – Upon the event horizon of a black hole, suggested leading physicist Stephen Hawking this week, information may not be lost. While all matter is sucked into the hole, prevailing theories that all will be lost – are not quite as solid as they were before Hawking spoke. It was at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm this month that Hawking presented a new idea on how information may be able to escape a black hole – a flat, useless form, but released nonetheless.


VIDEO: Sony’s Drone Takes Flight – In a video (below), the drone is seen making a vertical lift-off, flying through sunny skies, and landing softly. Due out next year, the drones are expected to carry loads of up to 22 pounds, and fly more than two hours at a maximum speed of 106 mph, according to The Wall Street Journal. But don’t expect to walk into a local Best Buy to pick one up. The devices will not initially be on sale to the general public; the joint company will instead sell them to enterprise customers.


Cutting-edge 3D printer prints in 10 materials simultaneously – Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artifical Intelligence Laboratory have demonstrated that it’s possible to build a 3D printer that can print in 10 different materials at once in a single print, and they were able to do so for less than $7,000 using off-the-shelf components. Current multimaterial 3D printers are limited to three materials at one time and start at around $150,000.

Something to think about:

“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”

–      Peter F. Drucker


CurrPorts v2.20 – Monitoring Opened TCP/IP network ports / connections – CurrPorts is network monitoring software that displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer. For each port in the list, information about the process that opened the port is also displayed, including the process name, full path of the process, version information of the process (product name, file description, and so on), the time that the process was created, and the user that created it.

In addition, CurrPorts allows you to close unwanted TCP connections, kill the process that opened the ports, and save the TCP/UDP ports information to HTML file , XML file, or to tab-delimited text file.

CurrPorts also automatically mark with pink color suspicious TCP/UDP ports owned by unidentified applications (Applications without version information and icons)


Screenshot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK surveillance “worse than 1984,” says new UN privacy chief – The newly appointed UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci, has called the UK’s oversight of surveillance “a rather bad joke at its citizens’ expense,” and said that the situation regarding privacy is “worse” than anything George Orwell imagined in his novel 1984. Speaking to The Guardian, Cannataci said: “at least Winston [a character in Orwell’s 1984] was able to go out in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn’t be any screen, as it was called. Whereas today there are many parts of the English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell could ever have imagined. So the situation in some cases is far worse already.”

Cannataci is also concerned about the routine surveillance carried out by Internet companies as a key part of their business model. “They just went out and created a model where people’s data has become the new currency,” he said. “And unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without knowing or thinking too much about it.”

The mandate of the new post of UN special rapporteur on privacy is broad. Cannataci, who is a professor of law at the University of Malta, and uses neither Facebook nor Twitter, is empowered to review government policies on digital surveillance and the collection of personal data, and to identify activities that harm privacy protection without any compelling justification. He can also give his views on how the private sector should be addressing its human rights responsibilities in this field.

Feds’ cyberbullying reverses cops’ convictions for shooting unarmed people – In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced to six to 65 years in prison in connection to on-the-job deadly shootings of unarmed civilians. But recently, these five officers had their convictions set aside by a federal appeals court. Why? Federal prosecutors’ anonymous online comments posted underneath local news accounts of the officers’ ongoing 2011 trial “contributed to the mob mentality potentially inherent in instantaneous, unbridled, passionate online discourse,” the court said. In light of that, the appellate court found a fair trial wasn’t possible.

The New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week (PDF) that the prosecutors’ behavior, unearthed by the same forensic expert who helped identify the Unabomber, created an “air of bullying” that federal prosecutors were “sworn to respect.”

“Just as a mob protesting outside the courthouse has the potential to intimidate parties and witnesses, so do streams of adverse online comments,” the court ruled 2-1. “The online anonymous postings, whether the product of lone wolf commenters or an informal propaganda campaign, gave the prosecution a tool for public castigation of the defendants that it could not have used against them otherwise, and in so doing deprived them of a fair trial.”

FBI probed SciFi author Ray Bradbury for plot to glum-down America – Among the many things the FBI of the 1950s and 1960s thought was corrupting America’s youth and harbouring communism was, apparently, the science fiction scene.

Documents recently released under freedom of information laws, show the G-men took an interest in one of the era’s leading authors, Ray Bradbury.

Their interest was apparently sparked by Martin Berkeley (Wikipedia), an enthusiastic anti-Communist and testator to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), who told the FBI the author of Fahrenheit 451 was “probably sympathetic with certain pro-Communist elements”.

“He noted that some of Bradbury’s stories have definitely slanted against the United States and its capitalistic form of government”, the report adds.

“Informant observed that Communists have found fertile opportunities for development; for spreading distrust; and lack of confidence in America [sic] institutions in the area of science fiction writing”, the FOI document states.

Another informant complained that Bradbury had “ridiculed” both the US government and the HUAC hearings, and that Bradbury had signed a joint letter from the American Civil Liberties Union in 1953.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 24, 2015

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself;  Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps;  5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer;  Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates;  Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it;  Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails;  Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results;  This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited;  Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions;  This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10;  Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website;  Android Smart lock: Should you be using it?  How to use two-factor authentication without a phone;  Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter;  Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million;  Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet;  Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello;  Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 (free);  Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself – The worst thing about having a phone or laptop stolen isn’t necessarily the loss of the physical object itself, though there’s no question that that part sucks. It’s the amount of damage control you have to do afterward. Calling your phone company to get SIMs deactivated, changing all of your account passwords, and maybe even canceling credit cards are all good ideas, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Full-disk or full-device encryption (that is, encrypting everything on your drive, rather than a specific folder or user profile) isn’t yet a default feature across the board, but most of the major desktop and mobile OSes support it in some fashion. In case you’ve never considered it before, here’s what you need to know.

Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it – How much does bloatware slow down your PC? It’s hard to say, but there are some indications that it can have a considerable effect. Microsoft sells a line of what it calls Signature PCs, computers that are free of third-party software. According to the product page, on average, the Signature PCs start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life than the same laptops with bloatware. In this article I’ll discuss the most common types of bloatware you’ll encounter, how to uninstall it and how to buy bloatware-free PCs. (Note that this article covers only Windows computers, and not Macs or other systems.)

5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer – There’s a lot of power contained within that little glass rectangle you carry around all day. We’ve got eight-core CPUs, multiple gigabytes of RAM, and batteries with thousands of milliampere-hours of capacity, but sometimes the experience doesn’t live up to the hardware’s potential. Things go wrong, settings get screwed up, and apps get greedy for resources. This can render a phone sluggish and kill the battery. That’s certainly a problem, but don’t worry, we can fix it in a few simple steps.

Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps – For some Windows 10 users, the problems keep coming. Though Windows 10 was free to download, updating the operating system is costing some dearly, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Some have blamed the way the new operating system downloads and installs updates. Prior to Windows 10, users could choose whether or not to install updates, depending on where they were in their billing cycle. But for many who breezed through the setup process, updates install in the background, often without user interaction. Other reports that have trickled in also blame Windows 10’s forced updates.

Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates – What’s in that update? For most Windows 10 patches, Microsoft isn’t telling. As highlighted by ExtremeTech, Microsoft has not provided patch notes for any of the Windows 10 patches it has released so far in an apparent shift in the company’s thinking. Instead of providing specific details about each patch as it has in the past, ExtremeTech notes that the release notes for Windows 10’s cumulative updates released so far merely state, “This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.” Not very helpful, is it?

Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails – Are there places in your home or office where your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t reach? You’re not alone. Because of Wi-Fi’s limited range — and old-school building construction techniques like thick plaster, brick or masonry walls — even the best Wi-Fi networks have dead zones. If you have that problem, you have several options. You can start drilling holes in your walls so you can run network cabling. You can try a Wi-Fi range extender (which might help, depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi and the efficiency of the extender). Or you can use a powerline kit, which routes data over your electric cables by piggybacking the data on top of the electrical current’s 60-hertz wave and then extracting the data at the other end.


Samsung goes after iPhone users with Galaxy test drive promo – Samsung Electronics is offering U.S. iPhone owners the chance to test its latest Galaxy smartphones for 30 days for $1, as it hopes to make a dent in Apple’s dominance of the high end of the market. The promotion lets iPhone owners choose between the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge or the Galaxy S6 edge+ without any obligations with their existing carrier. After the month is up, they can simply return it. Or, if the phone feels right, go ahead and upgrade, Samsung said.

Eight advanced tips for Word headers and footers – Even a novice Word user can display page numbers in a document’s header of footer. The process is fundamental. Advancing beyond the basics is easier than you might think, and you might be surprised how many things you can do with a header or footer! In this article, I’ll highlight eight tips that will move you from basic user to advanced, at least with headers and footers.

This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited – We’ve pretty much all been there: you hand your phone to a friend to show them a picture. They look at the photo, they chuckle… and then they casually swipe to the next photo in your camera roll like it ain’t no thing. This app slaps their wrist in a mostly harmless way: by snapping a surprise selfie of your friend’s nosy-ass face when they try to swipe to your other pics.


This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10 – Find it just too tempting? Here’s what to do. If right clicking on the app icon in the Start Menu and selecting uninstall doesn’t work, then the website Tech News Today has a handy step-by-step guide to making your computer Candy Crush-free.

Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet – While the rumored “iPad Pro” may be getting all the attention recently when it comes to extra-large tablets, Samsung seems to be working on something of their own. A new report says the company is working on a tablet known as codename “Tahoe” with the model number SM-T670, and featuring a huge 18.4-inch screen. SamMobile says its sourced have indicated the Android-powered device will be targeted for use in office, school, and living room environments, instead of as a standard personal tablet.


Amazon Echo gets SmartThings support – Amazon’s Echo appears ready to learn a new trick: Working with connected smarthome devices through a SmartThings hub. Official SmartThings support hasn’t yet been announced but the SmartThings blog spilled the beans with a post that went live on Thursday and was later removed. ZatzNotFunny spotted the post — which received four comments before being pulled — showing that Amazon Echo integration with the SmartThings products is likely on the way soon. Google’s web cache still has the original post.

Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results – Back in May, Google and Twitter partnered to bring tweets into mobile search results. It was, and is, a pretty big deal for both companies. The relationship is apparently going well, as Google announced in a short update on its original blog post that it’d be including tweets within search results on desktop as well.


Firefox moves toward cross-browser extensions with Chrome and Opera – Mozilla takes a giant step towards Firefox’s total compatibility with browser extensions from the Chrome and Opera extension ecosystems. The plan is to switch out the extension API used for Firefox with one by the name of WebExtensions. With this API, developers will be able to create extensions that work with multiple browsers at once, bringing Firefox back into the mix where once they were excluded. This is all part of Mozilla’s move toward a more user-friendly browser on all platforms.


Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions: Founder says the whole thing was just a BIIIIIIIIIIG misunderstanding. Right – Spotify will clarify its position on its wide-reaching terms and conditions. In a post entitled “SORRY”, company founder Daniel Ek said: “We have heard your concerns loud and clear. We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks.” In the post, Ek paints it as a misunderstanding of what Spotify was trying to do by hoovering up your photos, contacts, voice commands and location, and then sharing that information with advertisers and businesses.

Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website – Recent visitors to Plenty of Fish (, an online dating website with over 3 million daily active users, had their browsers redirected to exploits that installed malware. The attack was launched through a malicious advertisement that was distributed through a third-party ad network, researchers from security firm Malwarebytes said in a blog post Thursday. The malicious ad pointed to the Nuclear exploit kit, a Web-based attack tool that exploits known vulnerabilities in browsers and popular browser plug-ins like Flash Player, Java, Adobe Reader and Silverlight. If the attack is successful, the tool installs malware programs on users’ computers.

How to use two-factor authentication without a phone – The first time I got locked out of my email account — because I’d ingeniously decided to turn on two-factor authentication — was when I was in Barcelona. Naturally, I was panicking — this was a work trip, and I couldn’t access my work email. But after a few minutes of freaking out, I calmed down, figured out how to circumvent the whole “needs to have a phone” issue, and promptly disabled two-factor authentication on all of my accounts (not that you should do this — you should not, two-factor authentication is an important step in making your accounts secure). Here’s how to use phone-based two-factor authentication when you don’t have a phone.

Android Smart lock: Should you be using it? – Android Smart lock is a handy way to make gaining access to your device easier. But is this at the cost of security? Find out what Jack Wallen thinks about this issue.

Farewell To Flash: What It Means For Digital Video Publishers – It’s been more than five years since Steve Jobs wrote his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter citing the high level of energy consumption, lack of performance on mobile and poor security as the reasons his company’s products would not support Adobe Flash technology. Finally, it appears we’re getting closer to the curtain closing on Flash.

China group attacks India with Word exploit, then uses Microsoft’s WMI – A hacking group suspected of operating from China has had success stealing information from mostly Indian targets, often pertaining to border disputes and trade issues, according to FireEye. The gang specializes in sending targeted phishing emails to victims in the hope of gaining wider access to their networks, a practice known as spear phishing, said Bryce Boland, CTO for Asia-Pacific at the security firm. FireEye hasn’t give a name to the group, but has watched it since 2011, Boland said.

Company News:

Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million for 2013 data breach – On Tuesday, Target and Visa confirmed that they had reached a settlement in which Target would pay up to $67 million to Visa card issuers for a security breach in 2013 that left 40 million customer credit card numbers compromised. Visa brokered the deal and will pass the award on to the card issuers that work within its network. The settlement deal is considerably larger than the $19 million settlement that Target reached with MasterCard earlier in the proceedings. That settlement was not approved because MasterCard issuers rejected it for being too low.

Intuit puts venerable Quicken up on the block – The 32-year-old desktop software days are numbered, predict some customers, as Intuit pledges to find ‘reputable buyer’ for personal finance program.

After three-day shutdown, HP now effectively two companies – Hewlett-Packard doesn’t officially become two companies until Nov. 1, but the company has already separated its internal systems and is effectively operating as two businesses. “On August 1, we successfully split the operations and IT systems for the company. This was an incredibly complex process and the team executed very well,” CEO Meg Whitman said on HP’s quarterly earnings call Thursday. HP worked directly with 3,500 of its biggest customers and partners to prepare for the cutover, which involved separating 750 systems that handle 95 percent of its business.

Uber Plans To Go Public In 18-24 Months, According To Leaked Presentation – Uber could become a public company as soon as next year or 2016, according to a leaked document published in a report from Reuters. The news agency gained access to a presentation that Uber is showing to potential investors in China as part of a new funding round for its international business. (UberChina, the entity Uber created in the country, is separately reportedly seeking to raise a billion dollars to battle China-based rival Didi Kuaidi, which recently closed a $2 billion financing round itself.) The document broke out information for Uber China and Uber Inc., and forecasted that the latter — which is present in over 150 countries worldwide — will go public within 18-24 months.

Apple stands by Dre after apology for hurting women – After the rapper became an Apple employee following its $3.3 billion takeover of Beats, attention to his past violence has become the latest barb against the tech industry’s treatment of women.

Apple launches replacement program for faulty iPhone 6 Plus cameras – Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has the best camera of any iPhone (at least until we get new ones next month), but it’s not completely problem-free. Apple has announced an iSight Camera Replacement Program for iPhone 6 Plus models sold between the phone’s launch in September of 2014 and January of 2015. “A small percentage” of phones sold included a faulty part that could make pictures taken with the rear camera look blurry. The problem doesn’t affect the standard iPhone 6, so the 6 Plus’ optical image stabilization component could be at fault. The front-facing FaceTime camera is also unaffected.

YouTube Opens Studio In Bollywood – YouTube is planning to open a studio for film creators in Mumbai, India, the company said on Wednesday. Launching in partnership with renowned Indian film school Whistling Woods International, the new space will be at the center of Mumbai’s film and television production hub, Filmcity.

Games and Entertainment:

Overwatch and Battleborn: meet the new breed of cooperative first-person shooter games – This year’s Gamescom has been a special treat for fans of multiplayer games. Ubisoft has brought Rainbow Six Siege and the all-new For Honor for gamers to try out in Cologne, while DICE used the show to debut a massive 20-player dogfight mode in Star Wars: Battlefront. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm has been everywhere too, but it’s another title from the same company that I want to talk about today: Overwatch. It, along with Gearbox Software’s Battleborn, is establishing a new category of team-based shooter games, one where violence and gore are de-emphasized in favor of accessibility and cooperative fun.


Real life first-person zombie shooter pops up on Chatroulette – Turns out, if you still use Chatroulette, the website that matches you and your webcam up with a random stranger, you may not always be shown someone doing something obscene. You might just get thrown into a real life first person shooter (FPS), with you in control of someone trying fight off zombies. That’s exactly what happened when random users were paired with the British film production crew Realm Pictures, who managed to create a live-action FPS that plays out in real-time right before viewers.


Nvidia’s GeForce Experience app brings gameplay sharing to PC – When the PlayStation 4 debuted, one of the coolest features about the new hardware was the “Share” feature, which let players stream their gameplay live to another PS4 owner, and even let them take over the controls. Well, Nvidia is bringing that same functionality to PC games with an update to its GeForce Experience app. The software is being updated next month with beta access to the new GameStream Co-op feature, along with a few other tools for recording and broadcasting gameplay footage.


Fallout 4 could be more successful than Skyrim, says Bethesda – Bethesda has said it believes Fallout 4 could be its most successful game release ever. Fallout 4 launches in November for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Bethesda has also revealed the Fallout Anthology for PC which bundles the first five Fallout games — 1, 2, Tactics, 3, and New Vegas — in a mini-nuke.


Bethesda Softworks

Metroid spectacularly re-imagined in Unreal Engine 4 – Developer CryZENx brings a fully re-imagined Metroid Prime gameplay environment into existence with Unreal Engine 4. And boy does it look fantastic. What you’re going to see is a project – not an official game made for release. Here you’ll see some of the capabilities of the graphics environment Unreal Engine 4, complete with realistic lighting, shadows, atmosphere, and everything in-between. Just keep reminding yourself that while this isn’t a real game – it could indicate where Metroid could go, someday, maybe.


‘Millennial Swipe Sim 2015’ Web Game Pokes Fun at Tinder – Is the Tinder obsession a bit too real for some of your friends? Send them a link to this brand-new Web game, and they might feel a little better.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The future of the tablet is the PC – Apple CEO Tim Cook once compared a tablet-laptop combo to mashing up a refrigerator with a toaster. The resulting Frankenstein device would do an equally lousy job of chilling your food and warming it up. That was three years ago. Today, these tablet-laptop hybrids — which blend the mobility and touchscreen friendliness of a tablet with the capabilities of a PC — are on track to becoming the fastest-growing computing category. Shipments of so-called 2-in-1 devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, for example, are expected to grow almost fivefold this year. That’s thanks in part to attachable or foldable keyboards and more-powerful hardware, such as Intel’s Core M microprocessors, that let slimmer, tabletlike devices hit speeds on par with midrange laptops.

DIY overhead control panel would make NASA proud – At one point in every geek’s life, he or she may have dreamed up of a super sophisticated computer setup that would rival or at least match those of, say, NASA’s mission control rooms or other sci-fi props. For some, wishing might be the extent of that dream. Others, however, try to make that dream a reality, even if they have to do it themselves. That is exactly what smashcuts proudly shared on Reddit and imgur. And the best part? He’s actually sharing how he did it.


Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter – Apple and Pixar honcho Steve Jobs was known not just for his genius products (Hello, Mac, iPod, iPad, iPhone!), but also for his raging put-downs of subordinates and rivals. Why not put some of his molten-lava tongue lashings to good effect during your next job transition?


“You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog sh!t for frosting.”

Cell phone video shows cop allegedly trying to force driver to buy fund-raising tickets (or else) – The police officer stopped the driver and brandished tickets to a show. “Either you buy these, or I take your car, because it’s unregistered,” the officer said. This, in some movies, would be called an offer you can’t refuse. In this movie, posted to Facebook by someone whose real name (per Facebook’s strict rules) is Rob Stay Faded, the officer continues: “Ten bucks each. Support your police department.” On Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the officer in the video, nine-year-veteran Matthew Zagursky, was taken off street patrol and dispossessed of his gun. Zagursky will continue working, pending the results of an Internal Affairs probe, which Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered Friday.


Need to take down a drone? A munitions company offers firepower – Having grown up in a culture where very few people feel the need for guns (that Europe place), it’s hard to explain to my fellow Americans that it’s, well, possible. Instead, America has always enjoyed a deep fascination for and commitment to weaponry. This therefore fuels the imaginations of those manufacturing the weaponry to ever greater heights. Admire then, please, the wares of Snake River Shooting Products. This company has just released gun shells that it says are perfect for shooting down drones. In a press release, the company describes its wares like this: “The rounds are a 12 gauge 3″ shot shell solution aimed at defending against drone-based privacy concerns and terror!”

Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello – Windows Hello, the feature in Windows 10 that lets you use your face as your login password, so to speak, may seem like a mere novelty at first glance, and something that could potentially be readily fooled. Journalist Chris Griffin with The Australian wanted to find out for himself, so he brought in six pairs of identical twins to put Windows Hello to the test. The result? In each of the six cases, Windows Hello kept each twin from logging in as their identical siblings.

Something to think about:

“There are 3 kinds of people in the world . Those that make things happen, those that have things happen to them and the vast majority – those who stand around and wonder WTF happened.”

–     Anonymous


Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 – Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 has been released. This tweaking software adds several new tweaks for the new operating system. Those of you who have upgraded to Windows 10, would definitely want to use it to judiciously tweak your Windows 10 and personalize your computing experience. With judicious tweaking, it can make your system faster, more stable, personal and more secure with just a few mouse clicks.

While you may be able to access all these via the Windows 10 Settings app, the Registry Editor or the Group Policy Editor, Ultimate Windows Tweaker makes things easier for you by offering all useful tweaks from its single UI.

This tweaker is just 495 KB in size and includes over 200 tweaks. Like its predecessors, UWT 4.0 sports a clean minimalistic UI, offering links in the left panel, and tabs on the top, in some categories. Hover over any tweak and helpful tool tips will tell you what the tweak does.


Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 – MajorGeek says: Destroy Windows 10 Spying is a portable app that can block anonymous data being sent, remove apps that can’t be removed the standard way and more. I liked that it can remove some of the Windows default programs that can be removed under Apps & Features, an annoyance I immediately discovered since I prefer to “slim” down windows.

Some of the domains we know send anonymous information back to Microsoft include:

You can block these yourself manually in your hosts file with if you want. The program allows you to clear or view the hosts file in Notepad.

The program does the same thing but just in case you wanted to see where your information heads to or you wanted to update your hosts file manually. A log file will be left in the folder you run it from.

I took a huge chance and ran this on my clean Windows 10 installation. It did modify the hosts file exactly as promised and did remove the Apps it promised. IObit Uninstaller also spotted Destroy Windows 10 Spying running and removed leftover entries from the uninstall.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA preps quantum-resistant algorithms to head off crypto-apocalypse – The National Security Agency is advising US agencies and businesses to prepare for a time in the not-too-distant future when the cryptography protecting virtually all e-mail, medical and financial records, and online transactions is rendered obsolete by quantum computing.

Quantum computers have capabilities that can lay to ruin all of the public-key cryptographic systems currently in use. These capabilities, which aren’t known to be present in the classical computers of today, include the ability to almost instantly find the prime factors of extremely large numbers, using a method called Shor’s algorithm. Quantum computing is also believed to be capable of tackling other mathematical problems classical computers can’t solve quickly, including computing discrete logarithm mod primes and discrete logs over elliptic curves.

The difficulty of factoring and computing discrete log primes and elliptic curve discrete logs play an essential role in cryptographers’ confidence in RSA, elliptic curve cryptography, and other public-key crypto systems. When implemented correctly, most scientists and cryptographers believe that the crypto can’t be defeated with today’s computers before the end of the universe.

Canadians taking to spying on their spies – As Canadians settle in for the longest general election campaign since 1867, some uncomfortable incidents that had been ignored by commercial media outlets are gaining new exposure.

Allegations that Canadian spooks are spying on protesters have become a hot topic online. The result is that Canada’s online civil liberties movements are starting to gain traction offline, and are threatening to go mainstream.

To understand the events, some background is required. A number of pipeline projects are proposed or undergoing construction to increase the amount of oil that can be sent from Alberta west to the coast of British Columbia via pipeline. Current pipelines are at capacity and shipping the oil to the coast by train is a fantastically dumb idea because the trains keep derailing, causing all manner of havoc.

A veritable who’s who of Canadian protest and civil liberties groups became active in protesting against the pipelines, both online and off. It dragged on for years, and protests are still ongoing.

Information emerged that said one of Canada’s spy agencies – Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – allegedly spied on the protesters and then allegedly illegally shared information about the protesters with the National Energy Board (NEB). NEB is the government entity tasked with overseeing environmentally sensitive projects such as oil pipelines.

The NEB succumbed to industry capture years ago and now blatantly operates as nothing more than an extension of the energy companies themselves.


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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 21, 2015

Run Android apps on Windows 10 PC with AMIDuOS;  The easiest way to wirelessly get videos from your PC to your tablet;  Pro tip: How to speech-to-text in Google Docs;  Google Photos Introduces “Rediscover This Day” To Help You Reminisce;  13 YouTube Tips for True PowerYOUsers;  Popcorn Time users are now getting sued by the movie industry;  Pro tip: How to personalize Windows 10;  Windows 10 upgrade left you low of storage space? Free up gigabytes with a few clicks;  Meet Kali Linux 2.0, a distro built to hammer your security;  Everything you say and do is public: five rules for living with the internet;  How to change Windows 10’s default apps;  10 tips for traveling IT workers;  Yet another Android app security bug: This time everything is affected;  Download this insanely fun GIF making app for iPhone right now;  Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple stocks hit the deck;  Uber background checks missed drivers’ criminal records;  Final Fantasy VII Comes To iOS;  Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 review;  10 Surprising Things Technology Will Make Obsolete by 2025.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Run Android apps on Windows 10 PC with AMIDuOS – Want to run your favorite Android apps on your Windows 10 desktop, laptop, tablet or 2-in-1 system? It’s easy with AMIDuOS. Getting up and running is simple. You download and install the utility, and then you’re ready to run Android apps. That’s all there is to it. No configuration, and no messing about. You have a 100 percent native Android operating system running on your Windows 10 PC or tablet (also supports Windows 7 and 8/8.1). As such, you’re getting the full Android experience, which includes multitouch and gesture support for pinch and zoom, a full-featured software keyboard, and even compass and GPS functionality, which allows you to run mapping and navigation apps.

The easiest way to wirelessly get videos from your PC to your tablet – We’ve already talked about how to access files from your PC on your mobile device using file explorer apps on Android. But if that approach felt like too much work, here’s a wireless way that’s even easier—and you won’t need to muck around with USB keys or external hard drives. The difference here is that we won’t be streaming the files; instead, we’ll have to download the files to our tablet first using BitTorrent Sync.

Popcorn Time users are now getting sued by the movie industry – Popcorn Time might be an extremely easy way to watch pirated movies and TV shows for free, but it’s not necessarily safe. The makers of the 2014 Adam Sandler comedy The Cobbler have sued 11 people for copyright infringement, specifically calling out Popcorn Time as their software of choice, TorrentFreak reports. The lawsuit, filed at a federal court in Oregon, are seeking statutory damages of up to $150,000, though it’s likely the defendants will receive settlement offers for considerably less.

Google Photos Introduces “Rediscover This Day” To Help You Reminisce – Google Photos wants to be home to all of your photos (and videos). Whether you have a thumb drive, CD, DVD or undeveloped film laying around, the team wants you to consider uploading them to the service. Why? Because that’s when they can make the “magic” happen. Right now, Google Photos will wade through all of your treasured visuals and turn them into animations and stories or drop effects on them. You get alerted on the web or through the apps via the Assistant. It’s a nice little notification to get that something has been created with zero effort.


13 YouTube Tips for True PowerYOUsers – The engineers making things run at the Google-owned site have their game locked down. But even within its vast, well-oiled ecosystem, there are features you’ve never even used. Here are 13 little-known tricks and features that even you, o’ veteran of the Internet, need to know.

Pro tip: How to speech-to-text in Google Docs – Sometimes I talk instead of type. I configure speech-to-text software to capture my voice, then just talk. I often end up with a bunch of text to edit. I find talking to be an excellent alternative to typing to capture not yet fully formed ideas. Fortunately, I write with Google Docs, so there are several tools I can use to turn my voice into text.

How to change Windows 10’s default apps – Not feeling the love for Windows 10’s default apps for music playback, web browsing, and so on? You can change them without breaking a sweat.

Automatically log in to your Windows 10 PC – Because Windows 10, like Windows 8, asks you to sign in with a Microsoft account, skipping the log-in screen isn’t as simple as simply deleting your password. Instead, you’ll need to dig into the User Accounts settings to get rid of this extra step. For obvious reasons, you should only disable the log-in screen if you are using a nonshared computer that is unlikely to end up in someone else’s hands (e.g., a desktop).

Pro tip: How to personalize Windows 10 – Just like the previous versions, Microsoft Windows 10 can be personalized for your individual taste. However, the procedures required to change the default look of Windows 10 are a bit different. Here’s a brief tutorial on how to do it.


Windows 10 upgrade left you low of storage space? Free up gigabytes with a few clicks – Are you finding that your hard drives feel a bit cramped following your Windows 10 upgrade? Here’s how to free up tens of gigabytes of free space with just a few clicks. What’s taking up the additional space on your storage device are the Windows 10 files that were downloaded to your PC before the upgrade, along with the previous operating system your PC was running. On my test systems these files have taken up anything between 12 and 35 gigabytes.

You should download this insanely fun GIF making app for iPhone right now – Giphy Cam couldn’t be much more straightforward. There’s no social network, no feed, no browsing. It’s literally just a camera, some filters, and a bunch of weird borders, backgrounds, and animations that you can add to your recording. Look through and you’ll find GIF standbys — like the falling “Deal With It” shades — and plenty of weirder stuff, like a strange band of cats. There really isn’t anything more to the app. It’s just a camera that lets you save an animation and share it elsewhere. Like here, for instance:

After Years Of Restraint, Facebook Tries Allowing GIFs In Ads And Page Posts – The social network started supporting GIFs in user posts starting in May, but hadn’t allowed businesses to try the hip graphic interchange format all the kids are Tumbling over. If Facebook’s smart, it will take a very aggressive approach to how the News Feed treats these posts in order to preserve the user experience. If they receive even a little negative feedback for being spam or being hidden, they should get banished from the feed. GIFs are the visual equivalent of shouting. You have to really care about the message or you’d prefer they just shut up.

Meet Kali Linux 2.0, a distro built to hammer your security – The latest release of the immensely popular Linux distribution designed for penetration testing, Kali Linux 2.0 launched at DefCon 23 in Las Vegas last week. Kali is the successor to BackTrack, and is a Debian-based Linux distribution that includes hundreds of penetration-testing tools pre-installed and ready to go. Just boot it from a USB drive or live DVD and you’ll have a penetration-testing—or “hacking”—environment with all the tools you might want just waiting for you to fire them up.

Intel’s Compute Sticks stick it to Windows To Go, Chromecast – The Intel Compute Stick (ICS) is perhaps best thought of as the mutant offspring of a Raspberry Pi on steroids and Google Chromecast. The offspring emerges as a tiny computer CPU, RAM and storage on a small motherboard contained within a reasonably well finished case. Protruding from the case is a HDMI male adapter ready to plug into any display boasting its female counterpart. The ICS is a full working PC with Windows 8.1 for Bing a quad core Atom processor Z3735F running at up to 1.83 GHz, 2 GB memory, 32 GB of on-board storage, b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth and a microSD card slot.


Report: Android-powered BlackBerry Venice coming to all four carriers in November – We have the best evidence yet that the rumored BlackBerry Venice is real and will come to all four major U.S. carriers this fall. Prominent leaker Evan Blass took to Twitter to drop two big hints. The first appears to be promotional material that shows a BlackBerry device running Android and accessing the Google Play Store. The other tease is for BlackBerry’s email app and secure data transfer tool.


7 truly annoying iOS features, and how to make them stop – Nope, you’re not the only one who’s ever barked “stop it!” to your iPhone or iPad because it was being, well, a little too helpful. Luckily, you can tweak or turn off many of iOS’s most nagging and intrusive features.

10 tips for traveling IT workers – Travel is increasingly a part of the modern IT worker’s life, whether you’re a junior analyst or a CIO. These tips from one IT road warrior will make your trips go more smoothly.


Everything you say and do is public: five rules for living with the internet – Yesterday hackers made good on a threat, publishing the data belonging to over 30 million accounts from adultery dating website Ashley Madison. The impact this breach could have on millions of marriages — not just of celebrities and politicians but people typically out of the public spotlight — could be historical. While the implications of a data breach like this have been analyzed in the past, the lessons have been largely ignored. Take this moment to consider the five laws of your life online. Like laws of the state, whether or not you choose to learn these laws is irrelevant, as you will be tried by them regardless.

Yet another Android app security bug: This time ‘everything is affected’ – Yet another potentially serious security flaw has been revealed in Android. This time the problem involves the mobile operating system’s ability to run more than one app at once – as opposed to its handling of multimedia messages, which was the crux of a cyber* of vulnerabilities last month. The latest security blunder opens the door to criminals who want to spy on device owners, steal login details, install ransomware, and so on, it is claimed. We’re told the vulnerability can be exploited to show a spoofed user interface, controlled by an attacker, when someone starts an app: the owner will not be aware that they are typing into another program masquerading as a legit application.

Vulnerability in enterprise-managed iOS devices puts business data at risk – A vulnerability in the iOS sandbox for third party applications, like those installed by companies on their employees’ devices, can expose sensitive configuration settings and credentials. The flaw was discovered by researchers from mobile security firm Appthority and impacts apps deployed on iOS devices through mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EEM) products. These products allow administrators to automatically push applications, configuration settings and data access rules to enterprise mobile devices.

China arrests 15,000 for Internet-related crimes – China’s efforts to clean up the Internet have resulted in 15,000 arrests related to cybercrimes, authorities revealed on Tuesday. The country’s Ministry of Public Security has been cracking down on illegal Internet activities, and plans to increase enforcement even more, it said in an online post. The ministry has so far investigated 7,400 Internet crimes, resulting in the large number of arrests. It’s unclear during what period the investigations took place, but the ministry cited a case that went as far back as last December. The alleged crimes include hacking attacks, cyber fraud, and the promotion of gambling.

Now Ashley Madison hackers reveal ‘CEO’s emails and source code’ – Updated Another load of internal files swiped by hackers from Ashley Madison have been leaked online – and they apparently feature the CEO’s emails and the website’s source code. The 18.5GB leak includes, it is claimed, archives of internal company emails, including one folder labeled Noel Biderman – the chief exec of Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent. A torrent of the archive was published on the website of Impact Team, the Ashley Madison hackers. “Hey Noel, you can admit it’s real now,” the gang said in a message announcing the second archive.

Ashley Madison hack: A savage wake-up call which is only the beginning – If you’re playing poker, misdirecting other players can sway the game in your favor. In Ashley Madison’s case, calling the bluff of the hacker who broke into the website didn’t work out as well as expected. The resulting witch hunt may kill careers and destroy marriages, but it can serve to remind us all of an important lesson.

In defense of the cheating scumbags caught up in the Ashley Madison hack – You’re probably finishing up your coffee, blasting some music out from your cheap Apple headphones, and strategizing how your day will pan out. Just be thankful you’re not the poor bastard who woke up this morning with a plastic bag full of his underwear thrown in his half-awoken face, as his partner stomped around the bedroom with kids crying in the background. A lot of people today are going to have a very bad day — perhaps a life-changing day. In case you missed it (“How could you?” which is incidentally what thousands of spouses said to their partners this morning), here’s what you need to know.

Flash’s fall from grace continues as Amazon swings ad banhammer – After Apple’s anti-Flash stance on iOS extended to Android and YouTube dumped Flash for HTML5, Flash’s fate for web video was pretty much sealed. Web advertising, however, was an area Flash still dominated, at least for desktops. Now Amazon has made the first move in what may become a trend for advertising platforms. The company says it will no longer accept Flash ads on and the Amazon Advertising Platform beginning Tuesday, September 1.

Company News:

Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple stocks hit the deck – Thursday was a rough day on Wall Street for many of the biggest names in the tech industry, as stocks dipped across the board. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 2.06 per cent, and the Nasdaq 100 Index was down 2.8 per cent, on the day Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Apple all saw their share prices dip – wiping $49bn off the five giants’ total market value. According to Bloomberg data, it was their worst day since January 2013.


Twitter shares have tumbled back to their original IPO price – Twitter’s stock price continues to slide, closing today at the $26 strike price at which it went public. It closed its first day of trading around $45, a mark it has not matched since May of this year. While the company has continued to grow its revenue at a healthy pace, it has struggled to turn a substantial profit and frightened investors with its lack of user growth. CEO Dick Costolo stepped down earlier this year, and has been replaced by co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey. But it’s unclear if Dorsey will stay on as the permanent chief, adding to overall worries about the company’s health.

HP profit slides 13 percent as split nears – Hewlett-Packard has reported another quarter of declining profits and revenue, with its massive corporate split now less than three months away. Revenue for the quarter ended July 31 dropped 8 percent to $25.3 billion, while profit was down 13 percent to $854 million, HP announced Thursday. It’s the sixteenth quarter in a row that HP’s revenue has declined, as the company continues to battle an ongoing shift from PCs to tablets and smartphones, and from on-premise IT equipment to the cloud. delivers above Q2 targets, outlook strong – published better-than-expected second quarter financial results after the bell on Thursday. The tech giant reported non-GAAP earnings of 19 cents per share on a revenue of $1.63 billion, up 24 percent year-over-year (statement). Wall Street was looking for earnings of 18 cents per share with $1.60 billion in revenue. Subscription and support revenues jumped by nearly the same amount on an annual basis to $1.52 billion. Professional services and other revenues totaled $113 million, up 32 percent year-over-year. For the current quarter, Wall Street is looking for non-GAAP earnings of 18 cents per share with $1.68 billion in revenue.

Uber background checks missed drivers’ criminal records, prosecutors say – Amid growing concerns over Uber passengers’ safety, prosecutors in California allege that the background checks the company conducts on drivers failed to weed out 25 drivers with criminal records, including convictions for murder, assault, sex offenses and child abuse. The charges were included in an amended complaint filed Wednesday by the district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the ride-hailing service’s hometown.

Intuit reports mixed bag on Q4 earnings; divestitures on deck – Intuit published its fourth quarter and full year financial results Thursday after the bell. The tax and accounting software company reported fourth quarter loss of $130 million, and earnings of 5 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings saw a loss of 5 cents per share on revenue of $696 million. Wall Street was expecting a loss of 12 cents per share on revenue of $738.9 million. The company scored a win on earnings, but fell short on revenue. For the full year, the company reported $4.19 billion in revenue. At the end of the fourth quarter, Intuit had about $1.7 billion of cash and investments.

Games and Entertainment:

Final Fantasy VII Comes To iOS – If you were cheesed off when Square Enix launched a mobile version Final Fantasy XIII for gamers in Japan only, then we’ve got some news for you. Final Fantasy VII, a true classic in the series, has now landed on iOS — and it is available for all worldwide. Priced at $15.99, the title requires a whopping 4GB of space on your device (but it will take up 2GB) and supports iPhone 5s or later, gen-3 iPad/iPad mini 2 upwards running iOS 8.


Telltale’s Back to the Future games coming to PS4, Xbox One – Telltale Games, the makers of some of the very best episodic gaming series, including The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and The Wold Among Us, appears to be about to re-release its hit Back to the Future: The Game on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 consoles. While the developers have yet to officially announce it, the game is already listed on Amazon’s US and Canadian sites, complete with the final boxart. The game has a release date of October 13th, just two months before the original Back to the Future movie’s 30th anniversary.


Nvidia GameStream Co-Op pipes PC games to your far-flung friends – Not content to simply release its new GeForce GTX 950 graphics cards today, Nvidia is also announcing a new feature called GameStream Co-Op for its GeForce Experience PC software. This will allow GeForce users to stream PC games to other laptops and desktops over the Internet, including fairly low-powered machines that don’t have Nvidia graphics cards inside. The guest PC can then watch the live stream, take over the main controls from the host, or commandeer a second controller for same-screen multiplayer games such as Trine, Portal 2, or Rocket League.


Nintendo 2DS Price Drops to $99.99 – Looking for a new handheld gaming device on the cheap? Nintendo has you covered. The gaming giant on Thursday announced that its 2DS system is getting a price drop. Beginning Aug. 30, the Nintendo 2DS will be available for $99.99, down from the current suggested retail price of $129.99. Even at the new price, the system will come with a digital version of Mario Kart 7.


HBO Now Rolls Out For Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick – As of today, you can watch all HBO series, movies and documentaries for $15 per month with either Amazon’s $99 Fire TV setup or the even more affordable Fire TV Stick that retails for $39 bucks. HBO launched Now exclusively with Apple earlier this year, and brought the service to Google Cast and Chromecast just a couple of weeks ago. To be clear, Amazon Fire Tablet owners have had access to HBO Now since July, but expanding to the Fire TV devices will reach a much larger group of “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” enthusiasts.


Apple TV drops to fourth, behind Amazon’s Fire TV – Sales of the Apple TV, which hasn’t had a significant update in three years, drop behind streaming-TV box players Roku, Google and — for the first time — Amazon.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 review: Bringing more oomph to budget gaming PCs – In the wake of the newly-released $150 AMD Radeon R7 370 (essentially a slightly tweaked, slightly faster version of the older R9 270, which is also still available) Nvidia had to do something to even the score in the crucial, high-volume sub-$200 graphics card market. Meet that something: The $160 Nvidia GeForce GTX 950. This new addition brings some much-needed additional firepower to the sub-$200 GeForce lineup, complementing—but not replacing—the GTX 750 Ti, which will still be sticking around. Will the GTX 950 appeal to people looking to game respectably at 1080p resolution without breaking the bank? Let’s dig in.


Off Topic (Sort of):

10 Surprising Things Technology Will Make Obsolete by 2025 – Looking outside your window, you could be forgiven for coming down with a case of the future-blahs. On the surface, 2015 doesn’t look anything like the flying car super future we were promised. But the fact of the matter is we’re surrounded by the future. We just don’t GADZOOKS all day long because we’ve watched its slow, incremental development. It’s crazy easy to take our modern miracles for granted. We don’t have a crystal ball, but if eyeing current trends, we can make some educated guesses about how things will go down. Check out our list of 10 common things that might be gone by 2025. To be sure, we may be proven completely wrong on some of these.


Car Mirrors

9 awesome photos of school computer labs from the 1980s – During the 1980s, public school systems and universities across the United States threw themselves headlong into the PC revolution, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in computer systems, accessories, and software. Tech companies eager for new customers were happy to oblige, and a new educational market was born. Soon it became common for most schools (some of which were perpetually under-funded) to assemble their expensive new computers in one place for group instruction. And thus was born the computer lab. In the slides ahead, we’ll take a trip back in time to visit some of these formational learning grounds of the 1980s.


Apple Lisas at University of Michigan (1983)

Don’t have time to drink your coffee? Chew it with Go Cubes – Nootrobox — a company that makes “nutrients for your brain” — has come up with a way to turn cold-brew coffee into chewable coffee cubes called Go Cubes. The company launched an Indiegogo campaign seeking $20,000 (about £13,000) to help make the Go Cubes, which it calls “the future of coffee,” a buzzing reality. The Go Cubes come in three flavors — classic drip, mocha and latte — and each bite-size cube contains the equivalent of a half a cup of coffee.

Keep calm and carry on: no asteroid coming, says NASA – A lot of things go viral on the Internet these days, from cat photos to stupid videos to inspiring stories. Sadly, misinformation is just as easily, or even more easily, spread these days thanks to the wide reach of the Net. The most recent scare play on the fears and imagination surrounding a favorite doomsday scenario in recent years, at least before the zombies came. But NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program is reassuring that public that no giant asteroid is coming to destroy a good chunk of the earth any time soon.


Report: ‘vaping’ is 95% healthier than cigarette smoking – Public Health England (PHE) has made what is claimed to be the first official proclamation of electronic cigarettes’ superiority to regular cigarettes. The findings suggest e-cigarettes are 95 percent less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes. Only nasal sprays, oral products (nicotine gum, etc.), and patches are rated as more safe. Cigars are one level higher than e-cigarettes in terms of danger, followed by pipes, small cigars and, finally, cigarettes. Of course, electronic cigarettes are not without their risks, and from a health standpoint, completely giving up smoking in all forms would be ideal.

Ford patents self-driving “lounge” car – The primary motivation for self-driving cars has mostly been for safety, taking stressful manual processes out of the equation and keeping error-prone humans away from the wheel. But if humans won’t be driving anymore, there won’t be much left for them to do right? Well, why not take advantage of the situation to do a bit of socialization? In a patent for an “Autonomous Vehicle with Reconfigurable Seats”, Ford is suggesting exactly that, with front seats that can be moved to transform the cabin into a more comfortable lounge.


U.S. senator to push proposal for mandatory drone geofencing – U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is to introduce a proposal that aims to make geofencing of drones mandatory soon, following a number of reports of close shaves between the unmanned aircraft and regular planes. The geofencing of drones would use GPS and other technology to impose geographical limits on their movement.

Something to think about:

“There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.”

–      Plato


OPSWAT Gears – Gears allows you to monitor and manage multiple device types and numerous application types. While most network monitoring solutions utilize Windows Security Center and WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) to provide limited, Windows-only application status information, Gears utilizes OPSWAT’s OESIS Framework, a development toolkit that enables detection, assessment and remediation of Mac OSX and Windows third party applications, to provide much more extensive and detailed information.

Gears provides an increased reassurance of device health via two methods of detecting infections. Gears looks at the history of threats detected by the antivirus products installed on a device, helping you identify threats that either cannot be remediated by the installed antivirus or that the user is repeatedly downloading. In addition, Gears utilizes OPSWAT’s Metascan® technology to scan devices daily for running threats. By using as many as 40 commercial anti-malware engines from vendors like ESET, AVG, Microsoft, Bitdefender, Symantec, F-Secure, Kaspersky, McAfee and others, Gears can identify threats in your network that aren’t detected by the installed antivirus.

Remotely uninstall conflicting antivirus applications, peer to peer (torrent) software and much more to maintain device compliance and performance. If an unwanted application is installed on a machine, Gears enables automatic or manual uninstallation, with no interaction necessary on the endpoint. This feature, which is powered by OPSWAT’s AppRemover technology for uninstalling applications, also extends to global uninstallation of unwanted applications so that you can easily restore compliance across your network. No other network monitoring solution offers this!

Gears provides more visibility into more endpoints and devices on your network and more of the applications installed on those devices than other network monitoring solutions. Easily manage Windows and Mac devices, monitor the status of protection applications such as hard disk encryption, third party patch clients, antivirus, firewall and more, and receive alerts about potentially unwanted or compromising applications like public file sharing.

Once the Gears Client is present on a device, automatic updating will ensure that each device always has the latest version of OPSWAT’s software and can be correctly monitored and managed. You’ll never have to worry about tracking down each device for an update, and the Client will continue to detect new 3rd party software applications released in the market and installed on the device.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Jeb Bush wants “a new arrangement with Silicon Valley” to ease crypto – Jeb Bush, one of the leading Republican presidential candidates, told a national security forum that Washington, DC needs a stronger link to Silicon Valley.

“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and NSA doing its job,” Bush said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”

Group fights gov’t claim that “essentially all telephone records are relevant.”

The former Florida governor’s statement puts him not only at odds with rival Republican candidates like Rand Paul, but also against a number of government committees and federal judges.

“If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job—while protecting civil liberties—to make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst,” Bush said in South Carolina at an event sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, according to The Intercept.

Bush claimed that there was “no evidence” that the bulk collection by the National Security Agency violated civil liberties, despite the fact that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and others have done just that.

Ex-Prez Bush, Cheney sued for email, phone spying during Olympics – Ex-US president George W Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and senior law enforcement officials have been named in a class-action lawsuit for authorizing blanket phone, email, and text message surveillance of Utah citizens during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

In 2013 the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI and NSA had done a deal with telco Qwest Communications for blanket surveillance coverage for Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics. Then-mayor Ross “Rocky” Anderson has now taken up the case and has filed the class action suit.

“This is the first time anyone knows of that a surveillance cone has been placed over a specific geographical area in the United States,” he told The Register on Thursday.

“What was so alarming was that they were reading the contents of the text messages and emails.”

Anderson, who served two consecutive terms as mayor between 2000 and 2008, said he had spoken to a source who had been a very senior staffer in the NSA at the time. He explained how the agency had performed blanket collection of metadata during the event, but that individuals had also been targeted to have their phone calls recorded and emails read.

Warrantless airport laptop search dooms Iran arms sales prosecution – Federal prosecutors asked a federal judge in Washington on Tuesday to dismiss the government’s prosecution of a South Korean businessman accused of illegally selling technology used in aircraft and missiles to Iran.

The move comes three months after a judge ruled that the government unlawfully seized and searched the suspect’s computer at Los Angeles International Airport as Jae Shik Kim was to catch a flight home in 2012. The government decided not to appeal and said it was “unable to continue prosecuting this matter.”

As we previously reported in this case, the authorities who were investigating Kim exercised the border exception rule that allows them “to seize and search goods and people—without court warrants—along the border and at airport international terminals. US District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia noted that the Supreme Court has never directly addressed the issue of warrantless computer searches at an international border crossing, but she ruled the government used Kim’s flight home as an illegal pretext to seize his computer.” Authorities then shipped it 150 miles south to San Diego where the hard drive was copied and examined for weeks.

Google ordered to remove links to stories about ‘right to be forgotten’ request – Google has been ordered to remove links to news articles reporting on the company’s earlier removal of links in response to a “right to be forgotten” request in Europe.

The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office issued the order this week, giving Google 35 days to remove the links. Google has the right to appeal the order to the General Regulatory Chamber.

The order puts a “meta” spin on the controversial right to be forgotten ruling, which lets people request that Google remove links to information about them from its search results on its European sites.

The ruling, issued last year, established a mechanism for people to ask search engines to remove links to information they consider to be irrelevant or not in the public interest, though without removing the actual content from the Web.

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