Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – July 25, 2016

Prisma is now out on Android;  Would You Pay a Subscription for Windows?  Tricks that ransomware uses to fool you;  11 Secret Codes That Unlock Hidden Features on Your Phone;  Redbox is giving streaming another shot;  Pokemon Go Already on the Decline in U.S.;  Microsoft cuts Xbox One price to $249;  More than half the world is still offline – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Prisma is now out on Android – Prisma, the sensationally popular iOS photo manipulation app that’s been second only to Pokémon Go in terms of summer hype, has now arrived on Android. The Google Play Store has been plagued by sketchy knockoffs of this excellent new app, so it’s a welcome relief to have the authentic app now up and running. Prisma’s makers say they’ve ported over all the iOS functionality, so there shouldn’t be any difference in user experience or capabilities. With more than 400 million pictures “prismed” and over 10.6 million installs on iOS, Prisma is arriving on Android having barely been able to sustain its popularity among iPhone users.


Google Play starts showing apps’ actual download sizes: No more guessing games – Google Play now displays the actual storage space a whole app or an upgrade will take up, so you don’t accidentally download anything too big. If an update is only 2.91MB, it will show that exact figure right there in each app’s detail box. That will give you the chance to reconsider your download or to free up some space before getting a particularly large game or VR experience. Besides displaying more accurate file sizes, Google also tweaked its Play Store algorithm to make updates even smaller.

Digital advocates call DMCA copyright restrictions unconstitutional – The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the government, arguing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has outlived its usefulness in protecting copyrighted material from pirates and stifles free speech.

A Jim Hillier article: Would You Pay a Subscription for Windows? – Speculation surrounding the possibility of Microsoft introducing a subscription based option for Windows 10 has been doing the rounds for quite some time. We even wrote about it way back in 2014: Subscription Based Windows OS – Is It On The Cards? Now, it seems, Microsoft has taken the first step in this direction by offering a subscription based Windows 10 option to enterprise consumers. On Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed that it will be offering Windows 10 Enterprise E3, a special enterprise tier of Windows 10, which will cost $7 per user per month.

11 Secret Codes That Unlock Hidden Features on Your Phone – The USSD protocol allows you to access hidden features you didn’t know about right from your smartphone’s dialer. But there is some trickiness you’ll need to know about.

This simple tool tells you if Amazon Prime is worth it (or not) – Amazon Prime is pretty great, but is it worth $99 per year? That varies depending on how you use Prime, of course, but there’s now a really simple way to figure it all out. Slice is an app for iOS and Android that tracks shipments for you based on shipment confirmation emails. It’s new tool, My Amazon Report, breaks down exactly how much you are (or aren’t) saving on shipping costs.

How to customize the Bubbles, Ribbons, and Mystify screen savers for Windows 10 – If you’re a fan of traditional Windows screen savers, these simple HTA apps are for you. They’ll make it easy to access and configure three screen savers that dropped off the map with Windows 10.

iPhone 7: All the rumors on its release date, specs, design and features – As July turns to August, it means that summer is winding down — and that new iPhones are imminent. With an announcement expected during the first or second week of September, we’re now officially in the homestretch — less than 8 weeks away from the big day when rumors turn to vapor or crystalize into reality. Here’s an updated rundown of the things we may see with the iPhone 7.

Verizon will cut off unlimited data users who use too much unlimited data – Verizon is forcing heavy data users to get off its unlimited plan or get off the carrier’s network entirely.

9 Chatbots You Can Talk to Right Now on Facebook Messenger – You want to talk to bots instead of people? These are the most useful you’ll find on Facebook.


Tricks that ransomware uses to fool you – Ransomware quite often targets businesses (for example hospitals) rather than individuals. Corporations have more valuable data and more money for ransom (ransom increases from roughly $500 per computer to $15,000 for the entire enterprise). Cyphort has examined different variants of ransomware to help users get an idea of what might be coming down the Internet pipeline. So keep an eye out for these characteristics before your network is taken hostage.

Is Computer Security Becoming a Hardware Problem? – In a new piece for the Communications of the ACM, Paul Kocher, chief cryptographer at semiconductor firm Rambus, argues that current computing devices are similarly vulnerable: “Today’s computing devices resemble the Silver Bridge, but are much more complicated. They have billions of lines of code, logic gates, and other elements that must work perfectly. Otherwise, adversaries can compromise the system. The individual failure rates of many of these components are small, but aggregate complexity makes vulnerability statistically certain.” To Kocher, this is a scaling problem. While the complexity of our machines increases exponentially, the development of new, reliable security schemes has not kept pace. Instead, security engineers take comfort in the complexity itself.

Company News:

Nintendo’s Stock Plummets Because It’s Not Making Enough Money Off of Pokémon Go – Earlier last week, Nintendo was basking in a dewey post-Pokémon Go glow, its stock doubling in value because of the game’s wild success. But what goes up must come down—thanks, Newton—and after the market closed on Friday, Nintendo revealed in a press release that “the game’s financial impact will be ‘limited’ and that it doesn’t expect to revise its annual forecast higher based on ‘current conditions,’” according to Bloomberg.

Your privacy at risk: Verizon reportedly close to purchasing Yahoo’s Internet business  – A major report suggests that Verizon may be about to buy Yahoo’s internet business. It’s unwelcome news for anyone concerned with privacy, but a potentially great move for Verizon’s bottom line.

Redbox is giving streaming another shot – After unceremoniously putting the old kibosh on it Instant service back in 2014, your friendly neighborhood DVD dispenser Redbox is ramping up to give streaming another go. The movie distributor, whose vending machines have become a supermarket mainstay across the US, is taking another shot at Netflix with a small beta roll out for “a small subset of [its] customers” From the sound of things, this is all still very early stages. No definite pricing or timing, but the Redbox Digital app has been published in the App Store, and screen shots reveal a UI pretty on-par with what’s offered up by Netflix and its ilk, albeit with a download option entered into the mix, along with a cast button to stream it to compatible devices.


Cyanogen Inc. reportedly fires OS development arm, switches to apps – Cyanogen Inc. seems to be in trouble. A report from Android Police cites “several sources” that say the three-year-old Android software house will be laying off 20 percent of its workforce. One source said the company would “pivot” to “apps” and away from OS development.

PonoMusic Taking a Break While it (Frantically) Switches Providers – Neil Young’s high-definition song store is down for a number of weeks, as its music service provider, Omnifone, was recently acquired.

Games and Entertainment:

SurveyMonkey: Pokemon Go Already on the Decline in U.S. – Has Pokemon Go peaked in the United States? Probably. Is it still going to mint a lot of money and have millions of players running around parks? Probably.

Microsoft cuts Xbox One price to $249 – Microsoft is cutting the price of its Xbox One console to $249. The new price marks the third price cut in less than two months, ahead of the new Xbox One S launch on August 2nd. 500GB versions of the Xbox One are now $249, and this includes bundles with games like Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Quantum Break, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Rare Replay. Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon will be selling Microsoft’s Xbox One console at the new $249 price point immediately, and the software giant says the consoles will be available at $249 “while supplies last.”

‘Gears of War 4’ will have plenty of PC-specific features – The history of Microsoft-backed Xbox One games coming to the PC isn’t exactly stellar. When Remedy’s Quantum Break reached Windows, it was saddled with limitations that were partly dictated by the Universal Windows Platform’s own limits, such as frame rate issues and an overall lack of features. You shouldn’t run into those problems when Gears of War 4 rolls around, though. As part of a Eurogamer interview, The Coalition has revealed that the cover-based shooter will have ample PC-specific features. You’ll get much deeper video settings that include dynamic resolutions, so your ultra-wide display won’t go to waste. It’ll also take advantage of many-core PC processors, higher-resolution textures and UWP’s recently unlocked frame rates, offering a distinct visual advantage to playing on a brawny computer.


Sonic Mania is a new game straight from the Sega Genesis era – It’s hard to remember the last decent Sonic the Hedgehog game — most would agree Sega’s once iconic series took a drastic turn downhill following the Sonic Adventure titles on the Dreamcast. With each disappointing games’ release in the years that followed, all fans asked for was a Sonic title that played like the originals from the early ’90s: 2D graphics and fast gameplay. It may have taken them over 15 years, but it looks like Sega has finally gotten the point.

That new ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ series is hitting Netflix – That Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot you backed last year – you remember the one, right? Jonah Ray, Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt all signed on and you threw your screen like an angry Fry from Futurama meme (helping the project reach $5.7 million on the crowdfunding service). It’s finally got a home. The 14 new episodes of the show will be, perhaps unsurprisingly, arriving on Netflix, which has long served as a second (or, like, fourth or fifth) home for older episode of the series.

‘This is the Police’ Is Like ‘SimCity’ for Dirty Cops – This Is the Police is part comic book, part SimCity, and part crime noir detective story. The city in the game is full of robberies, purse snatchings, false alarms, domestic murders, and the slow, steaming simmer of a pending race war. A mentally-ill kid breaks into a museum, draws dicks on all the paintings, and threatens to kill himself in a toilet stall—and all that’s before lunchtime. As police chief, players manage rosters of cops and detectives, dispatching senior officers to attempted murders and junior beat cops to chase teenage vandals. The game plays mostly in an overhead map of the city itself, letting players click on incoming emergency calls, hire new blood, and take reports from homicide detectives.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This short documentary shows how astronomers hope to find the next habitable planets – Just a couple of decades ago, the very idea that there were other planets orbiting stars throughout the universe was something that belonged to science fiction. However, recent research has shown not only are there other planets out there, but that they’re extremely common. The short documentary The Search for Earth Proxima outlines the breakthroughs that have led us to these discoveries, and how a group of astronomers plan to look for habitable planets in our neighborhood.


NASA releases new video showing the globe age one year – Last year around this time, NASA released the first image of Earth taken by the EPIC camera on the DSCOVR satellite. Since then, that camera has captured a full year of our planet from its location at Lagrange Point 1 about one million miles away. Compiling over 3,000 images, NASA put together a video showing a sunlit Earth age one full year.


Beer Is Getting Nutrition Labels and It’ll Probably Bum You Out – The last thing you probably want to think about before starting a weekend in July is how many calories are in your favorite beer. But it will soon be something you can’t easily avoid. The Beer Institute—the trade association representing more than 3,300 US brewers—recently released voluntary guidelines directing beer makers to list nutrition information right on the label. And multiple major brewers have agreed to do just that. In fact the six largest brewers in the country, which collectively produce more than 81 percent of beer sold in America, have all agreed to the new label standards.

Machine learning is about to change how corporations are run – When you’re a big acquisition-hungry corporation like Google, sometimes you make mistakes — you pay billions for bug-riddled Nest technology, for example. But really, you’ve got accept such losses as inevitable when you’re pursuing the big, infrequent pay-offs that only modern technology can provide. Increasingly, it’s becoming clear that the $500 million acquisition of DeepMind, which signaled to many observers the true beginning of AI as a major technology industry, is one such winning investment. Not only can Google rent out the company’s services for enormous profit, competing with other major machine learning entrants like Amazon for a quickly growing market share, but it can also use DeepMind’s insights to improve its own competitive advantage.

More than half the world is still offline – While it may seem like half the world is chasing Pokemon right now, the other half is not even on the Internet. About 3.9 billion people, or 53 percent of the population, will still be offline at the end of this year, the International Telecommunication Union estimates. Even in Europe, the most connected region, 20.9 percent of all people aren’t online. In Africa, the least connected continent, 74.9 percent are offline. Those figures are part of the annual statistical report from the agency, which is part of the United Nations.

Federal regulators says car makers “cannot wait for perfect” on automation – On Friday, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Mark Rosekind told an audience in Detroit, Michigan that car makers “cannot wait for perfect” when it comes to developing and deploying self-driving car technology. The Wall Street Journal reported that Rosekind said automation would “save people’s lives” in a time when auto fatalities have been up 8 percent since 2014. Rosekind’s comments come after a man using Tesla’s autopilot system fatally crashed into a left-turning truck in Florida.

Something to think about:

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

–     Franklin D. Roosevelt

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Apple’s Touch ID blocks feds—armed with warrant—from unlocking iPhone – A Dallas, Texas man accused of prostituting underage girls was secretly ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone using his fingerprint, according to federal court documents that are now unsealed.

It’s rare that we see a case demanding that a phone be unlocked in that manner, but we should expect more as the mainstream public begins embracing fingerprint technology. Ever since 2013, when Apple popularized this form of unlocking technology, legal experts have predicted that these types of government demands would slowly become more common. Experts also warned these demands are probably not a breach of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.

As an aside, some courts don’t necessarily think that compelling a suspect to reveal their computer passcode is a constitutional violation. A Philadelphia man accused of possessing child pornography has been behind bars on a contempt charge for more than seven months for refusing to divulge his password. The man’s attorney claims it’s a constitutional violation to compel his client to assist the authorities with their prosecution. A federal appeals court has tentatively agreed to hear the case in September as the suspect (who has not been charged with a crime) remains in prison.

Judge Orders Yahoo to Explain How It Recovered ‘Deleted’ Emails in Drugs Case – A judge has ordered Yahoo to present a witness and provide documents explaining how the company handles supposedly deleted emails.

The move comes in the appeal case of a drug trafficker who was convicted, in part, because of emails Yahoo provided to law enforcement that conspirators believed had been deleted.

Defense lawyers in the case claim that six months of deleted emails were recovered—something which Yahoo’s policies state is not possible. The defense therefore speculates that the emails may have instead been collected by real-time interception or an NSA surveillance program.

United States Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James, from a San Francisco court, granted the defense’s motion for discovery in an order filed on Wednesday.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – July 22, 2016

Windows 10: The smart person’s guide;  Firefox to start blocking Flash content in August;  Android June 2016 Security Bulletin: What you need to know;  No-cost decryption tools released for two ransomware programs;  The 10 step guide to using Tor to protect your privacy;  The 5 best budgeting apps for tracking and planning your financial life –  and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Lab Tested: The Best Security Suites of 2016 – Just what products and programs do you need to ensure your PC’s security? Antivirus is essential, to protect your system against all kinds of malicious products, not just viruses. And a firewall, to prevent network-based attacks probing for vulnerable computers. If your email provider doesn’t filter out spam, you need an antispam tool. If you have small kids, you may want a parental control system. And of course, if anything should happen to the PC, you’ll be glad you backed up your data. If you don’t install protection, you could lose your data to ransomware, or lose your credit card to a data-stealing Trojan. But wow, finding the right products for all of these distinct purposes could be a pain.

The procrastinator’s guide to free Windows 10 upgrades – The year-long free upgrade offer for Windows 10 ends in a matter of days. If you’re on the fence, it’s decision time. Here’s how to streamline the upgrade process to make it fast, simple, and nearly foolproof.

Windows 10: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide covers must-know Windows 10 details, like features, system requirements, upgrade options, and Microsoft’s Windows-as-a-service strategy.

How to get out of Windows Safe Mode – Safe Mode is a useful tool, but it’s not a desirable working environment. If your PC only boots into that limited environment, here’s your way out.

Firefox to start blocking Flash content in August – Firefox will begin retiring Adobe Flash on August 2 with the release of Firefox 48. In 2017, probably with Firefox 53, Flash plug-ins will require the user to actively click-to-play. In Firefox 48, Mozilla will enable a new Firefox plug-in blocklist by default. Initially the blocklist will be small, mostly containing URLs of Flash SWF files that have been identified by Mozilla as supercookies (i.e. cookies that are very hard to shake off) or fingerprinting files (i.e. they scan your system and create a unique fingerprint, again usually for tracking purposes).

BBC iPlayer Radio app now available in the U.S. – BBC does radio well, and now Americans can experience the full effect of the UK broadcaster’s audio content expertise with the iPlayer Radio app for iOS and Android. The app contains all of BBC’s radio feeds, including Radio 1 through 6, as well as the World Service. It also has offline support for BBC podcasts, and curated collections of past content. The app was originally released for iOS back In 2012 (and on Android in 2013), but the native app experience was limited to UK-only listeners. Today marks the first time it’s been available to people in the U.S.

Periscope adds tweet embeds, replay highlights to its list of features – Periscope has signaled a significant update to its live streaming platform today, announcing three new features that users will almost certainly get some mileage out of. The first is the ability to watch replay highlights from streams you missed. Now Periscope will automatically create highlight “trailers” covering the broadcasts you missed over the last day and put them in your home feed, meaning you don’t need to watch entire streams just to get caught up.

WhatsApp beta update brings voicemail and call back options – WhatsApp is bringing even more features for its users, and those taking part in its Android beta testing can get access to the newest ones as of today. Chief among the new features being tested is voicemail, a welcomed addition considering how many people have replaced their phone’s voice and texting services with feature-rich dedicated apps like WhatsApp.

The 5 best budgeting apps for tracking and planning your financial life – Whether you want to save more, pay down debt, or become a better investor, there’s a financial management app that can keep you on course.

6 Gadgets to Keep Your Home Safe From Intruders – Summertime, and the living is easy — especially for burglars. While you’re out of town chasing the sun, it’s easier for thieves to case your house for a quick plunder. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, burglaries are around 10% more likely in the summer than in the winter, a number that makes sense when you think of people leaving windows and patio doors open to let in the fresh air. Unfortunately, they also give bad guys good opportunities to get in and out. Technology will rarely stop a bad guy from breaking into your place. But are six ways that smart home devices can either scare them off or alert you to a burglary in progress.

Review: 4 mini-PCs give you full power in a very small package – There is a new generation of mini-PCs out there — small, inconspicuous but powerful. They offer a number of advantages for businesses over laptops or more traditional desktop systems.


Microsoft ordered to fix ‘excessively intrusive, insecure’ Windows 10 – A French regulator has issued Microsoft a formal warning over Windows 10, saying the operating system collects excessive amounts of personal data, ships that information illegally out of the EU, and has lousy security. The warning comes from the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), an independent data privacy watchdog with the power to levy fines against companies. The CNIL has been investigating Windows 10 since its launch and has now drawn up a damning list of criticisms.

This amazing search engine automatically face-swaps you into your image results – Ever wonder what you would look like with long, wavy hair? I think you’d look great. But how can you try on a few looks without spending a fortune at the salon, or hours in photoshop? I’m glad you asked. All you need is a selfie and Dreambit, the face-swapping search engine.


Best indoor digital TV antennas: Our top picks for cord cutters – Ready to cut the cord? You’ll need a quality antenna to pick up digital broadcasts. Here are our recommendations.

KickassTorrents resurfaces online, as all piracy sites do – The alleged founder and operator of the most popular torrenting site in the world, KickassTorrents (KAT), has been apprehend by the US authorities and the site’s domains seized. However, as we learned with the campaign to stop The Pirate Bay, you just can’t keep a good pirate site down. We’ve already spotted at least two clones of KAT, including one created by IsoHunt ( — a fairly limited mirror), and a second located at

Smartwatch shipments drop 32 percent in the second quarter – According to new numbers posted by IDC, smartwatch shipments are down for the second quarter of this year, marking the first drop of its kind. And it’s not insignificant falloff – moving from 5.1 million a year ago to 3.5 million this quarter. That’s a 32-percent decline. The culprit seems pretty clear for the research firm. IDC lays the blame squarely at the Apple’s feet.


The 10 step guide to using Tor to protect your privacy – Here are 10 easy steps to show you how to use the Tor network to mask your browsing habits.

Android June 2016 Security Bulletin: What you need to know – The Android Security Update for June 2016 includes a number of critical issues. Jack Wallen has the highlights, and shows how to find out if your device is up to date.

Free your files! No-cost decryption tools released for two ransomware programs – Security researchers have released tools this week that could help users recover files encrypted by two relatively new ransomware threats: Bart and PowerWare.

Snowden designs device to warn when an iPhone is ratting out users – Working with renowned hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang, Snowden has devised the design for what the team is calling the “Introspection Engine.” For now, it’s aimed only at iPhone 6 models, but eventually the pair hopes to create specifications for a large line of devices. Once built, the “field-ready” accessory would monitor various radio components inside the phone to confirm they’re not transmitting data when a user has put the device into airplane mode. The hardware is designed to be independent from the mobile device, under the assumption that malware-infected smartphones are a fact of life in high-risk environments.

GOP delegates suckered into connecting to insecure Wi-Fi hotspots – A Wi-Fi hack experiment conducted at various locations at or near the Republican National Convention site in Cleveland, US, underlines how risky it can be to connect to public Wi-Fi without protection from a VPN. The exercise, carried out by security researchers at Avast, an anti-virus firm, revealed that more than 1,000 delegates were careless when connecting to public Wi-Fi. In its day-long experiment Avast saw more than 1.6Gbps transferred from more than 1,200 users. Some 68.3 per cent of users‘ identities were exposed when they connected, and 44.5 per cent of Wi-Fi users checked their emails or chatted via messenger apps. The researchers scanned the data, but did not store it or collect personal information. Avast learned the following about the Republican National Convention attendees:

Maxthon browser is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – You may have installed the Maxthon browser on your mobile devices. If so, here’s why you should remove it. Immediately.

These figures show cybercrime is a much bigger menace than anyone thought before – The first official cybercrime figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest one in 10 adults have been victims in last 12 months — a much higher figure than previously thought.

Company News:

PayPal ticks up 2% on earnings, Visa partnership – PayPal reported earnings after the bell on Thursday, showing $2.65 billion in revenue for the quarter, when analysts were expecting $2.6 billion. Adjusted earnings per share was also in line with Wall Street estimates at 36 cents. Shares ticked up 2 percent in after-hours trading, in part because of a Visa announcement that was timed with earnings.

eBay shares up 5% after beating earnings expectations – eBay reported second quarter results after the bell on Wednesday and saw its stock rise over 5% in initial after-hours trading. The company beat expectations, posting earnings at an adjusted 43 cents per share, when analysts were forecasting 42 cents. The company also brought in $2.23 billion in revenue, compared to the $2.17 billion expected by Wall Street. Investors were also pleased to see the company raise its full year guidance. eBay expects between $8.85 billion and $8.95 billion in revenue for 2016.

AMD beats Q2 expectations – AMD on Thursday reported a net loss of $40m for the second quarter, or 5 cents a share, on revenue of $1.027bn. The semiconductor maker posted a non-GAAP operating income of $3m. The second quarter earnings report beat Wall Street expectations, which predicted a loss of 8 cents a share on revenues of $951.6m.

Troubling signs for companies using Twitter for marketing – The largest Twitter profiles are suffering from a “massive” decline in new followers and interactions, reports Quintly in its first semi-annual report.

Reddit is still in turmoil – It’s been one year since Reddit revolted. When the company cracked down on revenge porn and subreddits containing offensive content last summer, the backlash was swift and ultimately led to the ouster of interim CEO Ellen Pao.

Games and Entertainment:

Nintendo NES Classic Edition a great deal. Numbers prove it – The Mini NES isn’t the only place you can get some of these classic video games — but it’s far and away the best overall value.

Here’s what classic games will actually look like on the HD NES Classic Edition – New trailer shows improved color matching, sharpness over previous official downloads.


Catch ’em all for longer: Quick tips to reduce Pokemon Go battery drain – Nintendo is working on a fix, but there are things you can do in the meantime to help.

Nvidia announces the new Titan X, an absurdly powerful $1,200 graphics card – While the recently released $599 GTX 1080 impressed by outperforming last year’s $999 Titan X, the new card goes all-out with Nvidia’s latest Pascal architecture, 12GB of GDDR5X memory, and 3,584 cores at 1.53GHz delivering a quoted 11 teraflops of performance. The new Titan X, which Nvidia calls “the biggest GPU ever built,” has 12 billion transistors in total — and you’ll be paying about $100 per billion. The card will be available on August 2nd in the US and Europe for $1,200, with an Asia release forthcoming.

Hulu’s universal Windows app quietly appears on Xbox One – Mere weeks after Microsoft tested the waters of the Xbox One’s newfound capability to run universal Windows apps with retooled Blu-ray player software, it looks like a much more notable service is ready to take the plunge, too. Late yesterday, users on the Xbox One subreddit noticed a new version of the Hulu app available in the console’s store, with support added for Windows Phones, the Surface Hub, and even Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset.

Netflix Users Waste Ton of Time Searching for Something to Watch – Unless you have a list of shows already queued up, you’re spending upwards of 57 minutes a day searching.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tech reacts to Trump’s RNC speech – Trump’s RNC speech was long, so we here at TechCrunch cut it down for you with 10 quick reactions from investors, executives, and engineers.

Twitter reacts swiftly to Donald Trump’s acceptance speech – Trump’s usually hyperactive Twitter account was, naturally, radio silent, but others had their say on social media during the GOP presidential nominee’s acceptance speech.

Fact check: Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention – Donald Trump does not exactly have a record in public office that can be used to assess his likely performance going forward. Nor does he really have a policy platform in a traditional sense. And his nomination acceptance speech, delivered Thursday night in Cleveland, is the biggest, most important speech he’s given yet. “I will present the facts plainly and honestly,” Trump said. But did he? We counted dozens of factual claims in the speech, and fewer than half scored as true or almost true. But there were also plenty of falsehoods, misleading or disputed claims, or baseless accusations.

The 7 steps of Elon Musk’s “Master Plan” – Why did Tesla buy SolarCity? To make your solar panel roof battery power your self-driving electric pickup truck. Elon Musk just revealed the second phase of his “Master Plan” and we broke it down so you can see the future too.

Smart Stitches Can Monitor Wounds as They Heal – Tiny sensors and electronics on threads create smart sutures that can monitor wounds as they heal.


You booze, you lose: Study confirms direct link between alcohol and cancer – Newly published research has found even moderate consumption of alcohol carries risk of seven types of cancer.

Tweeting trolls: Without tools, Twitter will remain a cesspool of abuse – We have no real tools to effectively manage the flow of information, and by shutting down the third-party client ecosystem, trolls have been enabled to run rampant.

Heinz reveals the secret way to get ketchup out of a bottle – Technically Incorrect: The company says only 11 percent of people know this secret.

Something to think about:

“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”

–    Donald Trump

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EFF declares anti-piracy DMCA unconstitutional in new legal showdown – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a lawsuit claiming that a controversial anti-digital-piracy law in the US is unconstitutional.

Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – which became law 18 years ago – has long been controversial due to its heavy restrictions on what people are allowed to do with software. It was originally intended to protect the movie industry from piracy.

But the expansion of software – and corresponding digital protections – into an enormous range of devices including cars and medical devices has put increasing pressure on the law.

Although the law does include a safety valve in the form of a review by the Copyright Office every three years in which it receives proposals for exemptions, the EFF argues that it has failed to keep pace with the modern world. And that disparity has effectively made the law unconstitutional.

The EFF brings the lawsuit in Washington, DC on behalf of two plaintiffs: a computer scientist and a security researcher.

Petition urges Apple not to release technology for jamming phone cameras – More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition asking Apple not to deploy technology that would allow third parties like the police to use it to disable cameras on user phones under certain circumstances.

Apple received a patent for the infrared technology in June but bagging a patent does not necessarily mean the company is going to use the technology in its new devices.

There is considerable anxiety that the technology, which appears to be designed to prevent people from recording copyrighted and prohibited material, could also be used by the police to remotely disable cameras that could be recording misconduct by law enforcement.

“The release of this technology would have huge implications, including the censoring of political dissidents, activists, and citizens who are recording police brutality,” according to the petition.

WSJ Reporter: Homeland Security Tried to Take My Phones at the Border – On Thursday, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter claimed that the Department of Homeland Security demanded access to her mobile phones when she was crossing the border at the Los Angeles airport.

The case highlights the powers that border agents purport to have, and how vulnerable sensitive information can be when taken through airports in particular.

“I wanted to share a troubling experience I had with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in the hopes it may help you protect your private information,” Maria Abi-Habib, a WSJ journalist focused on ISIS and Al Qaeda wrote in a post on Facebook. (Abi-Habib confirmed to Motherboard that the Facebook account was hers, but declined to comment further.)

Abi-Habib says she had arrived in town for a wedding, when an immigration officer approached her, and took her aside from the main queue. This by itself was not unusual, Abi-Habib writes: because of her job, she has reportedly been put on a list that allows her to bypass the usual questioning someone with her travel profile may encounter.

But things changed quickly, and Abi-Habib was escorted to another part of the airport.

End-to-end encryption: What does the government really want to do about it? – During scrutiny of the Investigatory Powers Bill in the House of Lords last week the government took a rather vague stance on whether end-to-end encryption would be allowed to be used in the UK, suggesting that while it did not want to ban it, it wanted tech companies to have some way of decrypting those communications.

While some tech companies do have the ability to decrypt their customers conversations – largely because they need to analyse it themselves so they better-targeted their customers with advertising, not all can.

Companies such as Apple and Whatsapp offer end-to-end encrypted communications to customers, which means only the sender and the recipient are able to read it. This worries police who say they need access to all communications to stop criminals plotting in secret. But privacy campaigners warn that undermining encryption would hurt security online and damage UK businesses – and that criminals would simply use encrypted services overseas.

When questioned by Labour and Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords, Earl Howe, defence minister and deputy leader of the House of Lords said: “If we do not provide for access to encrypted communications when it is necessary and proportionate to do so, we must simply accept that there can be areas online beyond the reach of the law, where criminals can go about their business unimpeded and without the risk of detection. That cannot be right.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – July 20, 2016

How to remove malware from your Windows PC;  Microsoft Launches YouTube-Like Stream Video Tool for Business;  How to safely access and navigate the Dark Web;  Mini computers that fit in the palm of your hand;  How to Access Your Wi-Fi Router’s Settings;  Flaws found in security products from AVG, Symantec and McAfee – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to remove malware from your Windows PC – Is your computer running slower than usual? Are you getting lots of pop-ups? Have you seen other weird problems crop up? If so, your PC might be infected with a virus, spyware, or other malware—even if you have an antivirus program installed. Though other problems such as hardware issues can produce similarly annoying symptoms, it’s best to check for malware if your PC is acting up and we’ll show you how to do it yourself.

How to safely access and navigate the Dark Web – Is your business data on the Dark Web? Learn how to find out if you’ve been compromised in this step-by-step guide to accessing the underbelly of the internet.

Microsoft Launches YouTube-Like Stream Video Tool for Business – Sharing video at work is about to get a lot easier, thanks to Microsoft. The software giant on Monday introduced Stream, a new tool that lets you upload, share, and discover videos in the workplace. Anyone with a business email address can sign up now; it’s free during this preview period. At this point, the service is pretty basic, letting you drag and drop videos you want to upload, then organize them into channels like you would on Slack. You can, for instance, create channels for specific teams, groups, or topics.


Plex’s new universal Windows app powers up media playback with key Windows 10 features – Plex has a very nice universal Windows app built specifically for Windows 10, but only for PCs and tablets for now.

5 awesome Google Keyboard features you probably don’t know about – Google’s official Android keyboard used to be the basic option, something you’d replace with a more capable app as soon as possible. Maybe you haven’t been paying attention, but that’s no longer the case. The Google Keyboard has stealthily become a fantastic input method with a series of impressive updates. However, many of the coolest things are hidden in the settings or just not obvious. Here are the five coolest features of Google Keyboard you probably don’t know about.

Mini computers that fit in the palm of your hand – It wasn’t that long ago that a computer was something housed in a huge beige box that weighed as much as an engine block and took up half your desk. Now you can get a powerful computer that can fit in the palm of your hand.


Chromebooks: Tips and tricks to make offline use practical – Google recently announced that Chromebook sales have surpassed MacBooks. But before you run out and buy one make sure you know what the latest Chromebooks can do when not online.

6 ways to take charge of the stock Android keyboard – There’s a growing list of customization options available on the “stock” Android keyboard. You can change the color of the keypad; you can also create your own background using an image from your camera roll. Read on for more.

How to Access Your Wi-Fi Router’s Settings – Your router stores the settings for your home Wi-Fi network. So if you want to change something, you have to log into your router’s software, also known as firmware. From there, you can change the name of your network, the password, the security level, create a guest network, and set up or change a variety of other options. But how do you get into your router to make those changes?

The Best Wireless Routers of 2016 – With the gaggle of connected home products, smartphones, smart TVs, and other mobile devices ruling our lives, it’s more important than ever to outfit your home or business with a wireless router that can handle the increased demand for Wi-Fi connectivity. We guide you through choosing a router that will handle your current and future wireless networking needs, and offer our top picks to get you started.


Deezer finally opens its music streaming to all in the US – Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, YouTube Red, and even Tidal. Those are just some of the biggest names in an already saturated music streaming market in the US. So why not add one more? That is exactly what French company Deezer is doing, finally opening its doors to anyone and everyone in the US willing to tack on another subscription to their monthly expenses. Of course, the service has its own perks and unique features to try and make that worthwhile.

Want a Verified Twitter Account? Now You Can Apply – Dying for a little blue check mark next to your Twitter name? Now it could be easier to get one. For the uninitiated, verified Twitter accounts — denoted by a blue badge icon — are reserved for celebrities and other public figures and organizations like Kim Kardashian, Oprah, Justin Bieber, NASA, the FBI, and, of course, PCMag. Until now, Twitter has been pretty opaque about how users can get their accounts verified, and there was no way to apply. Today that’s changing.

Seagate unveils hard drives with up to 10TB capacity – Seagate today announced a new line of hard drives with up to 10TB of capacity for desktops computers, network-attached storage (NAS) and surveillance systems. The high-capacity drives, dubbed the Guardian Series, represent a 2TB increase over the capacity of previous Seagate hard drives in the consumer and small business category.


Flaws found in security products from AVG, Symantec and McAfee – Hundreds of security products may not be up the job, researchers say, thanks to flawed uses of code hooking. The research is the handiwork of EnSilo duo Udi Yavo and Tommer Bitton, who disclosed the bugs in anti-virus and Windows security tools ahead of their presentation at the Black Hat Las Vegas conference next month. The pair say 15 products including AVG, Symantec, and McAfee are affected. Scores more may be vulnerable thanks to their use of Microsoft’s Detours, code Redmond says is used for “re-routing Win32 APIs underneath applications [and] is licensed by over 100 ISVs and used within nearly every product team at Microsoft.” The researchers did not specify if Microsoft’s enhanced mitigation experience toolkit (EMET) is affected. Attackers would already need access to a system to reap the benefits of the vulnerabilities and neuter the security platforms running on the target system.

Oracle security update patches record 276 vulnerabilities – Oracle’s latest patch update was released on Tuesday, containing a record 276 fixes for vulnerabilities across an array of Oracle software. According to the tech giant’s security advisory, the July Critical Patch Update (CPU) includes security fixes for 84 products in total, including Fusion Middleware, MySQL, Java and Enterprise Manager software. As noted by Qualys, in 2015 Oracle fixed an average of roughly 161 vulnerabilities per update, and in 2014, the average was 128 fixes. What makes things worse is that out of the 276 vulnerabilities in the July update, 159 can be exploited remotely without authentication, most often over a vulnerable network and without any requirement for user credentials. In total, 19 of these security issues have been assigned CVSS scores of 9.8 — and considering the top danger rating is 10, it cannot get much worse. In addition, many of the flaws have a score of 9 or above.

Software flaw puts mobile phones and networks at risk of complete takeover – A newly disclosed vulnerability could allow attackers to seize control of mobile phones and key parts of the world’s telecommunications infrastructure and make it possible to eavesdrop or disrupt entire networks, security experts warned Tuesday. The bug resides in a code library used in a wide range of telecommunication products, including radios in cell towers, routers, and switches, as well as the baseband chips in individual phones. Although exploiting the heap overflow vulnerability would require great skill and resources, attackers who managed to succeed would have the ability to execute malicious code on virtually all of those devices. The code library was developed by Pennsylvania-based Objective Systems and is used to implement a telephony standard known as ASN.1, short for Abstract Syntax Notation One.

How a healthcare hacker is pressuring victims to pay up – TheDarkOverlord claims to have stolen 10 million patient records and is selling them on the black market. But in the meantime, the hacker has also been trying to extort his victims with the promise that the data will never be sold, if a ransom is paid.

Delilah malware secretly taps webcam, blackmails and recruits insider threat victims – Delilah malware taps computer and webcam to get dirty little secrets, then blackmails victims into becoming an insider threat and coughing up a company’s secrets.

OurMine is now hacking into Minecraft accounts – The same hacking group that took over Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter account has now found a way to break into accounts connected to the hit game Minecraft.

Report: 80% of businesses can’t properly manage external cyber attacks – A new report by the Ponemon Institute shows that cyber attacks are costing companies $3.5 million per year, but the majority of businesses don’t have the proper strategies to manage these threats.

Company News:

Windows surprisingly strong in Microsoft’s $20.6B fourth quarter – Microsoft posted revenue of $20.6 billion (£15.7B) in the fourth quarter of its 2016 financial year, a decline of 7 percent year on year. Operating income was $3.1 billion (£2.4B), compared to a $2.1 billion loss in the same quarter last year. Net income was also $3.1 billion, as compared to a $3.2 billion loss, and earnings per share were $0.39. The full 2016 financial year figures were revenue of $85 billion (£64.9B), down 9 percent year on 2015, operating income of $20.2 billion, up 11 percent, net income of $16.8 billion, up 38 percent, and earnings per share of $2.79, up 42 percent. Those 2015 losses were substantially a result of the $7.6 billion write-down of Nokia’s assets. 2016 also included a further, final Nokia-related write-down but this one was a mere $950 million.

Yahoo reports another big loss and Tumblr write-down – Yahoo’s latest earnings report leaves no doubt the internet company is stuck in a downward spiral. The company managed to beat Wall Street’s limited expectations for revenue in the April to June quarter. But after subtracting commissions paid to its partners, Yahoo said its revenue fell 19 percent from a year earlier, while its loss widened to $440 million from last year’s $22 million. The company reported $1.3 billion in GAAP revenue for the second quarter compared to $1.24 billion for the same period last year, however, the cost of revenue more than doubled from $200 million last year to $466 million this year. Yahoo also reported that it’s writing down $482 million in charges related to the declining value of Tumblr, the social-blogging service that Yahoo acquired for $1.1 billion in 2013.

EMC shareholders approve Dell merger – EMC’s shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the company’s merger with Dell, bringing the two companies one step closer to creating the largest privately held technology company. About 98 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the merger, EMC reported, representing about 74 percent of EMC’s outstanding common stock. The deal, which is still contingent upon regulatory approval from China, is expected to close within the expected timeframe and under the original terms. Dell announced in October that it would acquire EMC, in a deal valued at the time at $67 billion.

Wearable maker Fitbit must face lawsuit over sleep-tracking claims – A proposed class-action lawsuit accusing Fitbit of misrepresenting the ability of its wearable fitness products to track sleep can move forward, a federal judge has ruled. The San Francisco federal lawsuit claims that Fitbit materially misrepresented on its packaging the ability of the Flex product to track users’ hours slept, times woken up, and sleep quality. The suit alleges false advertising, unfair trade practices, fraud, and a host of other claims.

Pokemon Go pushes Nintendo market cap to $42 billion – Love it or hate it, one of the most popular mobile games to launch in a very long time is Pokémon Go from Nintendo. The game has players wondering around their city and getting exercise in many cases all while trying to catch Pokemon and level their characters up. Nintendo has ridden the wave of popularity that Pokemon Go has generated quite literally to new heights with shares soaring another 14% in trading on Tuesday.

Games and Entertainment:

The Best Gaming Monitors of 2016 – Whether you’re a serious PC gamer or a casual after-hours warrior, your hardware can mean the difference between victory and defeat. To get the most out of the latest first-person shooter (FPS), sports, racing, and other fast-action games, you’ll not only need a gaming PC with a powerful graphics solution, you’ll also need a monitor that can display the action without subjecting you to blurred images, flicker, tearing, and other motion artifacts. In this guide, we’ll help you choose a display that will give you an edge over your opponents while delivering a smooth, immersive gaming experience. We highlight the factors to consider when choosing a gaming monitor, and give our current favorites.

Original Dead Rising titles will be re-released on Xbox One, PS4, PC – We recently learned that Dead Rising 4 is in the works, but for those who are new to the series and want to see how it all began, Capcom has you covered. The developer confirmed today that the original Dead Rising will be coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC, while Dead Rising 2 and its spin off, Off the Record, will be getting the same treatment, only without a PC release. Capcom confirmed the existence of these re-releases after a PS4 trophy list for the original Dead Rising was leaked.

Microsoft’s slimmed-down Xbox One S launches August 2 – When tech companies say a product will launch in a particular month, rather than on a specific date, it usually winds up meaning the end of the month—but not with the Xbox One S. Microsoft’s new slimmed-down version of the Xbox One will hit the streets on August 2, the company announced today, in a launch that coincides with the release of the big Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Unlike the powerful Project Scorpio console slated for holiday 2017, the Xbox One S largely features the same basic technical capabilities as the original Xbox One, but in a package that’s 40 percent slimmer than the original.


How to level up fast on Pokémon Go: love the weaklings, love the grind – Play Pokémon Go for any length of time, and you soon internalize its rigid hierarchy. On the top are the elites — the rare and high-powered pokémon — and on the bottom, the commoners — low-level and of little interest to most players. However, unlike many people, I can’t get enough of these weaklings. I go absolutely wild for Weedles, I cater only for Caterpies, and I’d rather pick a Pidgey than a Pidgeot. And why? Because these are the pokémon that you need to succeed.

Rise of the Tomb Raider hits PS4 with VR support on October 11 – Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming to the PlayStation 4 on October 11, Square Enix announced today, and it’ll be bringing PlayStation VR support with it. We heard last summer that the PS4 version of the game would be arriving in time for this year’s holiday season, and mid-October gives enough time to target those early Christmas shoppers. The October 11 release will be for Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, and it’ll bring with it a new story chapter dubbed “Blood Ties,” all the DLC that has already been released, and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This angry man wants Pokemon Go players to get off his lawn – Technically Incorrect: A highly amusing (in its way) sign outside an apartment building demands that Pokemon Go players think about their life choices.


Lying scientists and the lying lies they tell – When you read academic papers, you aren’t looking for treachery and deceit behind the stolid prose. Don’t be so trusting: universities can be a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Here’s help.

Twitter finally bans Milo Yiannopoulos, one of its most notorious trolls – Twitter has permanently suspended Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at the conservative news outlet Breitbart and one of its most notorious trolls. The expulsion of Yiannopoulos, who counted more than 300,000 followers on the service, comes just one day after he urged on a hateful mob that harassed ‘Ghostbusters’ actress Leslie Jones to the point that she quit Twitter.

Harassment of Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones shows Twitter needs to change – Leslie Jones, the star of the new “Ghostbusters” reboot and a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” announced she was leaving Twitter after trolls bombarded her with racist comments. “I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart,” Jones tweeted before going silent on her account, where she’d spent the last several days battling trolls.

Terrible excuses for Melania Trump’s plagiarism, ranked – When Melania Trump apparently plagiarized first lady Michelle Obama in a speech at yesterday’s Republican National Convention, for example, she could probably have brushed it aside with a quiet non-statement. But in its trademark fashion, the campaign has responded with a series of increasingly belligerent justifications, proceeding from merely vague to downright bewildering. Some would (and do) argue that this is a brilliant form of misdirection, taking attention away from the virulent xenophobia that was on display yesterday at the convention. But unlike blatantly ugly sound bites, plagiarism is lazy and unethical behavior that the campaign can’t spin as bluntly pragmatic or bravely iconoclastic or “politically incorrect.” A mortal sin at least shows motivation and initiative. A venial one is just sad. And it’s only gotten worse.

How’s this for irony? US Navy hit with $600m software piracy claim – A German software developer has accused the United States Navy of illegally copying $596m worth of its product. Bitmanagement Software GmbH claims that the Navy has copied “hundreds of thousands” of copies of its 3D modeling and tracking software BS Contact Geo without paying. They have filed suit [PDF] in the US Court of Federal Claims asking for damages of “not less than $596,308,103.” Designed for 3D meetings, training, and collaboration, Bitmanagement touts the BS Geo software “uniquely enables interactive collaboration among multiple users in one virtual environment simultaneously, with high-quality graphics that appear crisp and sharp even on simple computers.” According to Bitmanagement’s claim, it first began working with the Navy on a pilot program in 2011 that called for 38 copies of the software to be installed.

Something to think about:

“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.”

–    Wilson Mizner

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

WikiLeaks under ‘sustained attack’ after announcing release of Turkey docs – WikiLeaks on Monday said its site is under an ongoing attack after announcing it would release a trove of documents detailing Turkey’s political power structure.

“Our infrastructure is under sustained attack,” read a tweet sent by WikiLeaks, perhaps best known for the release of classified government and military documents.

The document-leaking organization said earlier Monday it was preparing to release 300,000 emails and 500,000 documents related to the failed Turkish coup Friday. WikiLeaks went on to suggest that the Turkish government might be behind the attack on the organization.

“We are unsure of the true origin of the attack. The timing suggests a Turkish state power faction or its allies,” WikiLeaks said in a subsequent tweet. “We will prevail & publish.”

FBI accused of using outdated IT to foil FOIA requests – The FBI is using antiquated computer systems to deliberately foil requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, a new lawsuit alleges.

Ryan Shapiro, a national security researcher and Ph.D. candidate at MIT, has been studying the Freedom of Information Act for years with a particular focus on noncompliance by government agencies. He already has multiple FOIA lawsuits in motion against the FBI, and earlier this month he filed a new one.

In it, he describes numerous attempts to obtain information over the past two years, and the FBI’s frequent response that it can’t locate what he’s looking for.

“When it comes to FOIA, the FBI is simply not operating in good faith,” Shapiro said via email. “Since the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI has viewed efforts to force bureau compliance with FOIA as a security threat.”

The FBI has established “countless means” of foiling FOIA requests, he alleges, including a process by which searches fail “by design.”

Google’s latest transparency report shows record government data requests – Google saw a record number of data requests from law enforcement agencies worldwide during the second half of 2015 as the request total passed the 40,000 mark for the first time. That’s up from 35,365 in the first half of the year and 30,140 one year previous, according to the tech giant’s latest transparency report.

Google’s transparency report is an important resource since it provides a glimpse at how international governments and states are trying to use and access our data. And also, importantly, it is an indicator as to how much information Google — one of the world’s biggest holders of internet data — gives up in these cases. It is fairly high level in detail, but it is definitely a start and Google’s efforts have triggered similar reports from other consumer tech companies, including Twitter, Facebook and chat app Line, which handle potentially sensitive user data.

“Google is proud to have led the charge on publishing these reports, helping shed light on government surveillance laws and practices across the world,” the company said in a blog post.

In more detail: the U.S. led the pile with the highest number of data requests. The American government made 12,523 requests for data from 27,157 Google users, with Google providing some form of data — not necessarily the full request — in 79 percent of cases. That total is up from 12,002 requests in the first half of 2015.

WhatsApp blocked once more in Brazil for failing to hand over user data – One of the wonderful things about end-to-end encryption in messaging apps is, as long as it’s implemented correctly, nobody but you or the person you’re chatting with should be able to see those messages. Unfortunately for WhatsApp, judges in Brazil don’t seem to understand how that works. Yes, Brazil’s at it again, as the office of Judge Daniela Barbosa Assunção de Souza in Rio De Janerio has ordered five carriers to block WhatsApp until it turns over data associated with a criminal case.

Bulk data collection only lawful for fighting serious crime, says Europe’s top court – The European Court of Justice has issued a preliminary ruling on a data retention case brought by UK MPs and privacy rights groups seeking to challenge the government’s data retention regime under DRIPA.

The advocate-general’s opinion, published today, suggests governments may be able to apply general metadata retention obligations without falling foul of EU law — but it sets the bar for doing so at combating serious crime, and places renewed emphasis on respecting fundamental privacy rights.

The AG’s opinion is not legally binding but is highly influential, feeding into the deliberations of the ECJ judges who will pass final judgement — and whose opinion will undoubtedly influence and shape European legislation in this area.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – July 18, 2016

How to secure your computer and online accounts in 10 simple steps;  Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights;  For privacy and security, change these Android settings right now;  2 ways to control Windows 10 automatic updates;  Google Search power-user tips and tricks;  How to remove your email address from Windows 10’s login screen – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights – Players of Pokemon Go are not only giving up their right to act like sane human beings in public, as they walk around, zombie-esque, reaching into the phones held in front of their faces, they are also likely to be waiving legal rights if they don’t take a very close look at Niantic Labs’ Terms of Service for the game.

How to secure your computer and online accounts in 10 simple steps – Data breaches, hacks, and vulnerable software makes it easier than ever for a hacker to get access to your data. These simple steps can help mitigate it happening in the first place.

For privacy and security, change these Android settings right now – It only takes a few minutes from the very first time you power on your Android phone to lock it down for your security and privacy. Each version of Android comes with a host of features, though they vary between devices. Before you customize your phone or tablet, such as downloading new apps or syncing your data for the first time, these settings need to be checked.

After one year, 10 lessons learned for Windows 10 – It’s been a busy year in Redmond, with Windows 10 delivering three major releases to 350 million active users. Here’s a look back at some major milestones and stumbles along the way, and new predictions about when Windows 10 will hit its ambitious goal of a billion devices.

2 ways to control Windows 10 automatic updates – Previous Windows versions let you update manually or automatically. But Windows 10 updates whether you want it to or not…unless you know the trick.

A Jim Hillier article: Add ‘Copy To’ & ‘Move To’ to Windows Right-Click Menu – Do you remember the old “Copy to” and “Move to” options which were once part of the Windows right-click context menu? For some reason, beginning with Vista, Microsoft decided to do away with these two options. I remember, years ago, using a freeware tweaking tool to add the “Copy to” and Move to” options back in. Anyway, it’s something which I’ve always found useful and, while there are still freeware tweaking tools around that will add these options for you, it’s very easy to do manually via a simple registry hack.


Amazon Video now lets you download movies and TV straight to Android SD cards – One of the big advantages of Amazon’s video streaming service has always been the ability to download its content on mobile devices. That way, if you’re taking a flight, or just want to save on battery, you can watch films and TV shows without having to connect to the internet. Now, Amazon has made a small but significant tweak to this feature, adding the ability for Android users to download content directly to their SD cards. This means that users that want to download, say, the whole of Mr Robot season one, won’t have to juggle their files, moving them about from main to removable storage as they run out of space. Instead, they’ll just go straight into the latter. The feature is available on Android tablets and smartphone from today in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan.

Google Search power-user tips and tricks – One of the essential skills of the 21st century is mastering how to carry out effective Google searches. Take some time out from your day to learn a few tips and tricks that will make your more effective.

36 Secret Tips Every Evernote User Should Know – What are the tips and tricks that will make you an Evernote master? We’ve got them here for you.

5 essential Google Drive extensions for Chrome – As the heart of Google’s productivity suite, Drive is the tool you access most. So why not make it easier to get to when you need it? These Chrome extensions will let you save emails, upload images, and create new Google documents all without leaving your current browser tab.

How to remove your email address from Windows 10’s login screen – The Anniversary Update adds a nice little feature that makes it easy to hide your email address on Windows 10’s sign-in screen.

Five iPhone battery-saving tips that really work (and five that are useless) – There are countless iPhone battery saving tips floating about on the internet, but which ones actually make an appreciable difference, and which aren’t worth the effort? I’ve done the real world testing to sort the wheat from the chaff.

If Microsoft can’t install Windows 10 on your PC, it’ll give you a new one – Terms and conditions apply, but if the company’s stores can’t perform a same-day upgrade on your Windows 10-compatible PC, it’ll give you a new Dell notebook.

iOS 10 is a total mess – With about two months to go until iOS 10 is released, the current beta shows an operating system full of bugs and strange user interface changes.

Kim Dotcom: Megaupload is Coming Back on Jan. 20 – The previous Megaupload topped out at around 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors. Can Kim Dotcom regain his old site’s popularity?


Pokemon GO: giving hackers direct access to your phone – On sign up, you will be asked to provide your Google login. Apps commonly use existing credentials rather than creating their own to speed up installation and make sign up easy. However, in the case of Pokemon GO, Niantic Labs, the app’s developers, offer no clear limitation to what the app has access to. Upon reading the Privacy Policy, the Emsisoft team were shocked to find that the app had full access to all aspects of a player’s Google account, including the ability to send and read emails, access edit and delete documents in Google Drive and Google Photos and access browser histories and location information. There is no mention of what Niantic Labs intends to do with the data it accesses, but users should be aware that full access to a user’s personal data is a huge security risk.

Fake Pokémon Go app on Google Play infects phones with screenlocker – Badware purveyors trying to capitalize on the ongoing Pokémon Go frenzy have achieved an important milestone by sneaking their fake wares into the official Google Play marketplace, security researchers said Friday. Researchers from antivirus provider Eset report finding at least three such apps in the Google-hosted marketplace. Of the three, the one titled “Pokemon Go Ultimate” posed the biggest threat because it deliberately locks the screen of devices immediately after being installed. In many cases, restarting an infected phone isn’t enough to unlock the screen. Infected phones can ultimately be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android Device Manager.

OurMine claims credit for attack on Pokemon Go servers – Having trouble logging in to Pokemon Go this weekend? You’re not alone. A hacking team called OurMine has spent the past several hours hitting Pokemon Go’s login servers with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, leaving some players frustrated and unable to log in to the game. The group said it would not stop the attack until representatives from Pokemon Go contacted them.

Ubuntu Forums hacked again, 2 million users exposed – Canonical’s Ubuntu Forums have been hacked, and the attacker has managed to access and download part of the Forums database, containing usernames, email addresses and IPs for 2 million users.

Company News:

SoftBank is reportedly bidding to buy chip giant ARM for $31 billion – SoftBank is bidding to buy chip giant ARM, one of the world’s most influential technology companies, according to multiple media. UK-based ARM designs chips for many of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Apple and Samsung, it has licenses with more 300 tech firms and has shipped over 60 billion chips based on its tech to date. The Financial Times reported that Tokyo-based SoftBank is offering a 43 percent premium on its closing price last week (£17 in cash for each share) in a transaction that could be worth £23.4 billion, or around $31 billion. That would make it the largest acquisition of a Europe-based tech firm to date. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both confirmed a bid via sources, but neither reported a price.

Snapchat applies for patent to serve ads by recognizing objects in your snaps – Snapchat has filed a patent application for a system of advertising using object recognition to serve users sponsored filters. The technology outlined by the company would identify items in users’ pictures, and then offer them image overlays from brands related to these objects. It’s the visual equivalent of buying advertising space based on keywords in Google searches — but instead of looking for textual data in searches like “headphones” or “shoes,” it’s looking for the objects themselves. The patent application was filed in January last year, published by the US patent office earlier this month, and first spotted by Business Insider.

Comcast expands $10 low-income Internet plan – Comcast’s Internet Essentials program that provides $10-per-month Internet service to low-income families has been expanded to make about 1.3 million additional households eligible. Comcast created Internet Essentials in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 and has decided to continue it indefinitely even though the requirement expired in 2014. Comcast says the 10Mbps plan has connected more than 600,000 low-income families since 2011, for a total of 2.4 million adults and children, and provided 47,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each.

Games and Entertainment:

The Best PC Fighting Games of 2016 – PCMag’s favorite PC fighting games are highlighted below. This isn’t a hastily crafted roundup designed to simply appease the Google gods. Uh-uh. You’ll find links to in-depth reviews, as well as summaries for those of you who are pinched for time. And rest assured that all these reviews are penned by fighting game fans. It’s all love.

Netflix debuts ‘Flixtapes’: shareable mixtapes for streaming video – If you grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, you likely remember mixtapes. If you didn’t, a mixtape is like the physical form of a playlist; a collection of songs from different artists, usually grouped by a theme or mood, recorded on a single audio tape that could be shared between friends and romantic interests. Well, Netflix has just updated that ancient practice with a new feature called “Flixtapes” — a shareable playlist of movies and TV shows for, well, Netflix.

Star Wars VR game Trials on Tatooine comes to Steam for free – You’re only about a day away from being able to experience the world of Star Wars in virtual reality. At the Star Wars Celebration, currently being in London this weekend, Lucasfilm announced that it was releasing the VR game experiment Trials on Tatooine on Steam on Monday, July 18th. The best part is that it’s completely free, assuming you have a HTC Vive headset.

This week in games: CS:GO implodes, Overwatch adds a sniper mom, and Pokémon Go to the polls – Plus: System Shock Remastered hits its Kickstarter goal, Beastmen come to Total War: Warhammer, and more. This is your gaming news for the week of July 11 – 15.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Activists Release Nearly 100 Years of TIME Magazine Issues For Free – Activists have downloaded nearly 100 years worth of TIME magazine issues from the publication’s paywalled digital archive and dumped them all online for anyone to grab for free. “It was possible and seems worthwhile,” Michael Best, a freedom of information activist who obtained the files, told Motherboard in an online chat. In a statement published along with the files, Best wrote, “They’re a useful research tool with a lot of historical news and cultural information. They should be freely viewable online as they would in a well-stocked library, however most libraries lack this complete a collection of TIME Magazine back-issues.”

Too much big data running through my brain – Big Data by all accounts is supposed to help humans perform better by augmenting our limited brain power. Computers, after all, have the ability to crunch data with lightning speed, something humans just haven’t been built to do. Conventional tech wisdom states that the more data you have, the better the outcome — even if that sounds counter-intuitive. That’s the thinking behind the NSA hoovering up as much data as they can get their hands on. With more data should come deeper understanding, but what happens when there’s too much data and it surpasses our human ability to understand it in a given moment?

Sorry, there’s no more porn with your Starbucks latte – Starbucks said Friday it would soon add porn-blocking filters to its public, in-store Wi-Fi. The move follows McDonald’s, which disclosed this week that it had blocked the hamburger-eating public from accessing Wi-Fi-enabled porn at its restaurants. The group Enough is Enough and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have been putting pressure on companies that provide free Wi-Fi to the public to block porn sites.

If you’re worried that stupid people have more kids, don’t be (yet) – It’s a common perception that less-educated people have more children. The idea causes much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over the possibility that human populations might become stupider over the course of generations. But it’s actually pretty difficult to confirm whether there really is a reproductive trend that would change the genetic makeup of the human population overall.

Research Confirms Dating Apps Are a Sad Game – Tinder and other dating apps have totally upended the modern romantic experience, yet we don’t really know how they work or how other people use them. We share stories of IRL meetups with friends, and guess at how other people behave on the app. Why didn’t this person respond to my carefully-picked emoji? Why did this other person flood me with an unending stream of inane messages for a week, only to disappear? Here’s why: dating apps are a sad, pointless game people play while mindlessly watching Netflix and drinking too much wine for a Tuesday night. And now research confirms it, thanks to a massive study that looked at 19 million messages between 400,000 hetero people on a dating app that couldn’t be named due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Live streaming to take off at political conventions – With presidential candidates looking to reach more viewers, especially younger voters, both the Republican and the Democratic national conventions this summer will be live streaming their events. Live streaming, while not a new technology, has become a hot communication tool and people heading up to the conventions are seeing it as a way to reach potential voters who might not watch the events on television or read about them in print or online.

Something to think about:

“I’m a very stable person. I’m so stable you wouldn’t believe it. I’m not a fast trigger. I’m the exact opposite of a fast trigger, but nobody’s going to push us around.”

–     Donald Trump

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google Search will offer state-by-state guide to voter registration – After months upon months of political ads, debates, and news stories flying at us from every direction, the general election will finally be decided later this year. Yet, living through nearly two years of endless political commentary and talking heads analyzing nearly every word each candidate has ever said will all be for nothing if you aren’t registered to vote when time comes in November. Google has announced today that it’s going to try to make the process of registering to vote at least a little easier for those who want their voices to be heard.

Is Twitter success of Trump and Clinton propped up by botnets and fake followers? – Trump and Clinton have one thing in common: a massive contingent of zombie Twitter followers. The data suggests large numbers of followers may have been purchased.

GOP convention sponsors have second thoughts as online activists notch win – Hewlett-Packard, which donated $1 million in funds and tech equipment to the past two Republican National Conventions, abruptly said it would snub this year’s GOP gathering in Cleveland.

Apple, which committed computers and iPhones to the last two Republican conventions, also sent its regrets. Motorola, which donated more than $600,000 during the 2012 RNC, took the same path.

The series of cancellations caps a remarkable victory for ColorOfChange and Credo Action, online activist groups that began pressuring some of the biggest corporations in the country to withdraw from what’s shaping up to be the most contentious political gathering in nearly half a century. Using social media, online petitions and calls, the two groups targeted 30 major companies, prompting half to cancel or curtail their participation in the event, where Donald Trump is expected to be named the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

In a blast of emails and tweets, the organizations warned companies that Trump’s divisive campaign and tactics would tarnish their well-polished brands. Did the companies want to be associated with a candidate who has repeatedly attacked women, immigrants and minorities? they asked corporate leaders.

UK surveillance bill includes powers to limit end-to-end encryption – The UK government has explicitly confirmed that a surveillance bill now making its way through the second chamber could be used to require a company to remove encryption. And even, in some circumstances, to force a comms service provider not to use end-to-end encryption to secure a future service they are developing. The details were revealed during debate of the Investigatory Powers Bill at a committee session in the House of Lords this week.

This cements concerns over the phrasing of a clause in the bill that refers to the ‘removal of electronic protection’, which critics, including from the technology and security industries, have long been warning risks outlawing the use of strong encryption in the UK.

The government’s counter argument has been that there should be no safe spaces for terrorists and criminals to operate online, i.e. where their communications are definitively out of the reach of security and law enforcement agencies.

How to circumvent Turkey’s social media block – Access to several social media sites was blocked for over an hour in Turkey today during a reported military coup. Although internet traffic appears to be flowing normally again, Turkey’s government frequently responds to political events by blocking certain websites or throttling traffic.

“We saw the throttling of connections from Turkey to Twitter and Facebook just after the reports of the coup in Turkey,” Doug Madory, the director of internet analysis at Dyn Research, told TechCrunch. “We did not see any problems with YouTube, but I have also seen others report problems accessing that website.” Livestreaming services like Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live appeared unaffected by the block.

Overall, internet traffic in Turkey may have dropped by half, according to CloudFlare data. CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince tweeted, “From CloudFlare data, appears there’s about a 50% drop in Internet traffic coming out of Turkey.”

Turkish censorship of social media has been relatively easy to circumvent in the past — users could use DNS services like Google Public DNS to evade the blocks. But Turkey has become more sophisticated in how it blocks its citizens from accessing social media, according to Madory.

“This time Turkey appears to be restricting bandwidth when accessing social media. This represents a more sophisticated censorship technique that is harder to detect,” Madory said. “Users should still be able to circumvent it using a VPN, but the average user in Turkey may still not have that technology readily available.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – July 15, 2016

10 compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 10;  Google quietly brings forgetting to the U.S.;  10 tips to help you beat smartphone addiction;  4 tools that will make your sloppy emails seem smart;  New Locky ransomware version can operate in offline mode;  OneDrive starts cutting free storage down to 5GB – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 – The deadline cometh. July 29 looms, and after that, Windows 7 and 8 users will no longer be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. If you’ve been waiting for Microsoft to polish out the operating system’s initial bugs, it’s time to make the leap. This article’s more for the fence-sitters—the folks who haven’t decided whether to stick with what they know or embrace Microsoft’s new-school operating system. There are some very valid reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10, to be honest. But Windows 10 is the best Windows yet, and most people should claim the free upgrade while there’s still time. Here’s why.

Google quietly brings forgetting to the U.S. – If you are worried about your online privacy, it might be of interest to you that Google has quietly brought its Google forget program to the U.S. It has made it quite simple, for the most part. Simply go to to see the history of your searches, YouTube viewing and everything else you do on Google platforms, and then be guided through the process of trimming that history. But be careful. Privacy restrictions bring with them good and bad, and some consumers who become gung ho about deleting activity may find the usefulness of their web surfing drop off.

10 tips to help you beat smartphone addiction – Smartphone addiction is a real thing! We obsessively check our smartphones when we’re talking, working, walking, and driving, even though we know we shouldn’t. We just can’t help it! But you know what they say: recognizing you have a problem is the first step to fixing it, so congrats on reading this far. Here are 10 tips you can use to help you kick your smartphone addiction, reclaim your place in the real world, and possibly even venture outside without a phone glued to your hand (thanks a lot, Pokemon Go).

How to create a custom folder to access the Windows 10 GodMode tools you need – Don’t settle for GodMode overload in Windows 10 when a few shortcuts will do. Follow these steps to build your own custom toolset.

4 tools that will make your sloppy emails seem smart – Clean up clutter, correct grammar, improve tone, and just generally make a better impression with these apps and extensions.

OneDrive starts cutting free storage down to 5GB – Last November, Microsoft advised OneDrive users that some big changes would be coming eventually — that OneDrive storage would be decreasing from 15GB to 5GB, that Office 365 users wouldn’t be getting unlimited storage, and the 15GB of camera roll storage would be removed. Microsoft gave its users a chance to opt out of this change; those who missed the memo are now receiving warnings that their OneDrive allotment is about to be slashed.

Early Look at Skype for Linux and Chromebooks – Skype for Linux is no longer an afterthought for Microsoft as the company introduces new versions of Skype for Linux Chromebooks and the Chrome web browser.

Confirmed: Only Microsoft Edge will play Netflix content at 1080p on your PC – Microsoft claims that Edge does something Chrome, Firefox, and Opera can’t: Stream 1080p Netflix content on your PC. Turns out it’s true.

Google Proposal for ‘Professional Women’ Emoji Accepted – The company petitioned the Unicode Consortium in May to add 13 new “working emoji” that cover new jobs and build more gender equality into these tiny icons. Unicode has since agreed to launch 11 of Google’s proposed emoji, with representations for men and women (and support for varying skin tones). That’s not all. Unicode is also retrofitting 33 existing emoji with selectable male and female versions. If you want to send a friend female runner, you can. A man or a woman getting their hair cut? Done. A female weightlifter? Let ‘er rip.


Maxthon MX5 review: Rough-and-ready browser offers paid features for free – Maxthon’s fifth-generation MX5 Web browser includes a number of key features, such as password management, that you might end up paying for on other browsers.

Quick glossary: Internet of Things – When history is written sometime in the distant future, the Internet of Things (IoT) could very well be designated as the technological culmination of the Information Age. By combining technologies ranging from simple sensors to super computers crunching big data results, the IoT changes the way we work, play, interact, and measure whatever reality we choose to create from this point forward. But to comprehend the true power of what we are creating, we should become familiar with at least some of the terms involved in IoT. This list of 27 concepts and technologies will help you grasp the vocabulary behind the Internet of Things and the ideas supporting an interconnected, all-things-networked world.

Android Pay launches in Australia – Google is continuing the expansion of Android Pay in Asia Pacific after the mobile payments service went live in Australia today, its most significant launch in the region to date. Android Pay initially landed in Asia with a launch in Singapore last month, and today it is in Australia, which has a population of around 22 million people. According to data from Kantar, Android represented around 64 percent of smartphones sold between March and May this year, with iOS on 36 percent, so Australia should represent a good-sized market for Android Pay. (Singapore, by contrast, is heavily skewed towards iOS and a population of just five million.)


Messenger on Android gets Instant Articles – Facebook Instant Articles, the articles from participating publications that load instantly when clicked, have made their way to Messenger. The social network opened up Instant Articles to all publishers a few months back; it only makes sense that they’d expand them to cover Messenger, too, as they’ve done today. Kicking them off are Instant Articles on Android, but they’ll be coming to iOS in future weeks, too.

Five ways you can run Windows programs on a Mac – There are a number of ways that you can run your favorite Windows applications on your Mac – and some won’t cost you a penny.

Facebook activates Safety Check after truck attack kills dozens in Nice, France – Tool for informing contacts on the social network that you are safe is turned on after a truck rams a crowd in Nice, France, killing at least 73 people.


New Locky ransomware version can operate in offline mode – The creators of the widespread Locky ransomware have added a fall-back mechanism in the latest version of their program for situations where the malware can’t reach their command-and-control servers. Security researchers from antivirus vendor Avira have found a new Locky variant that starts encrypting files even when it cannot request a unique encryption key from the attacker’s servers because the computer is offline or a firewall blocks the communication.

Famous iPhone Hacker ‘Geohot’ Shows Us How Easy It Is To Hack a Computer – What does hacking really look like? We wanted to find out, so we asked famous hacker George Hotz, better known for his moniker “Geohot,” to show us. We visited Hotz as part of VICELAND’s CYBERWAR series, and got him to demonstrate how he would hack into a computer that was running vulnerable software. As part of the demo, Hotz explains how his exploit works. An exploit is nothing more than a custom program that takes advantage of a vulnerability or bug to give a hacker control over another computer. And in just a few seconds, he uses it to get complete, unfettered access to our computer.


A surge of Pokemon Go-related apps is out to steal your data – Since the game launched last week, a swarm of unofficial apps has emerged and is trying to capitalize on the title’s success. And many are hungry for your personal data. These unofficial apps have been offering cheats, tips and even songs from the hit game. But in exchange, they demand permission to access sensitive data on your phone, said Chad Salisbury, a security engineer with RiskIQ, which monitors mobile malware. If permission is granted, the apps can collect contacts lists, photos and even login credentials to social media accounts. They can even take control of a phone’s camera and microphone. RiskIQ has detected 172 unofficial Pokemon Go-related apps. Salisbury estimated that over half of them suspiciously gather more user information than they need.

FBI says its malware isn’t malware because ‘we’re the good guys’ – Another tale from the “twisted and illogical” department…

Drupal calls on users to patch critical remote code execution vulnerabilities – The Drupal content management system (CMS) powers at least one million websites, and comes after WordPress and Joomla in popularity. However, the CMS is popular with business users thanks to e-commerce functionality, and approximately nine percent of the world’s top 10,000 websites run the Drupal system. On Wednesday, Drupal’s security team revealed that a “critical” remote code execution vulnerabilities have left at least 13,000 websites at risk due to the use of specific, vulnerable modules.

Company News:

Google under fire again from Europe’s antitrust regulator over AdSense, comparison shopping – After years of battles in Brussels and beyond, search giant Google has come under yet more fire from antitrust regulators in Europe concerned about the its dominance in online advertising. Today, the European Commission announced that it has sent further Statements of Objections to the company, accusing it of abusing its dominant position in search in areas like comparison shopping services and also by restricting the possibility of third party websites displaying search results from Google’s competitors, ads that would directly compete against Google’s own AdSense for Search product.

6 months on, Bleeping Computer will continue to have to defend libel lawsuit – A federal judge has recently allowed an ongoing libel lawsuit filed against a popular online forum to go forward. Bleeping Computer, the website, has characterized the lawsuit as “frivolous,” and has asked its readers to help defend its “freedom of speech.” The case revolves around numerous posts on the site concerning Enigma Software Group, which makes an anti-virus software known as SpyHunter. Those messages stem primarily from a September 2014 post, during which one of Bleeping’s moderators, “Quietman7,” wrote:

While there are mixed reviews for SpyHunter, some good and some bad, my main concern is the reports by customers of deceptive pricing, continued demands for payment after requesting a refund, lack of adequate customer support, removal (uninstall) problems and various other issues with their computer as a result of using this product.

Further posts described ESG as engaging in “deceptive pricing” and claimed that SpyHunter is a “dubious and ineffective program.”

As a result, ESG sued Bleeping Computer for libel in January 2016, seeking at least $75,000 in damages.

Tor shakes up exec board following Appelbaum withdrawal – In the aftermath of a scandal which saw one of the core members of the Tor project step down, Tor has replaced its entire board of directors in the hope of leaving such a past behind. The Tor project runs the onion router, a browser and relay-and-node system which helps mask your digital footprint. Used worldwide, the project is supported by a backbone of volunteers and donations and remains a thorn in the side of law enforcement seeking to break into the system to track criminal suspects. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit has not had an easy time in the spotlight recently. One of the project’s most prominent figures, security specialist Jacob Appelbaum, left his position in June after rumors of serious sexual misconduct emerged.

Google: YouTube has paid out over $2bn to rights holders – The internet giant defends its video platform, arguing it is a robust revenue stream for content creators that is legitimately fighting piracy.

Pokémon Go will soon get ads in the form of sponsored locations – After having become one of the most viral mobile applications of all time, Pokémon Go will soon include advertising, according to its developer. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic CEO John Hanke said that “sponsored locations” would provide a new revenue stream, in addition to in-app purchases of power-ups and virtual items. In other words, retailers and companies will be granted the paid opportunity to be featured prominently on the game’s virtual map, in the hope to drive customers inside their facilities. A Niantic spokesperson declined to provide further details about the amount of potential revenue split between ads and in-app purchases.

Games and Entertainment:

The 12 best PC co-op games to play with your friends – It’s good to have friends. That goes doubly so when you’re facing down a zombie horde or sneaking into a hostile spy base. Here we’ve rounded up 12 games that are better in every way to play with friends. Yeah, you could play some of them alone. Sure, you could (if you’re insane) play some of them with random Internet strangers who love to use profanity. But if you pair up with a partner or three you’ll have a much more rewarding experience.

Pokémon Go installed on more devices than Candy Crush, LinkedIn, Lyft, Tinder & more – The app on Monday topped Twitter’s daily users, and has people spending more minutes per day playing the game than browsing Facebook, reports have indicated. Now comes word that game has also topped Pandora, Netflix, Google Hangouts, and Spotify, in terms of daily active users, and is installed on more devices than many popular apps, like Candy Crush, Viber, LinkedIn, Clash of Clans, Tinder and others. The figures are based on tracking company SimilarWeb’s analysis of U.S. Android users. On Monday, July 11th, 5.9 percent of all U.S. Android owners played Pokémon Go, which was 46 percent more than the 4.1 percent who launched Twitter that day, the firm also reported. However, a handful of other apps are still beating Pokémon on this front, including Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat.

Five tips I shouldn’t have to tell you about Pokemon GO, but probably do – We’re past the stage where gamers emerged, blinking and squinting in the light, and well into Pokemon GO as a cultural phenomenon. Nintendo and Niantic’s augmented reality game hit just the right balance of cherished franchise and smartphone-powered location based play, demonstrated by just how many people are up off the couch and out in the streets searching for Pikachu and Pidgey. Problem is, some bad habits have developed along with the hunt…

3DMark Time Spy tested: We pit Radeon vs. GeForce in this major new DX12 benchmark – Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards go head-to-head in the first major DirectX 12 benchmark tool, 3DMark’s Time Spy.

Fallout Shelter arrives on PC at long last – We heard earlier this week that the PC launch of Fallout Shelter was imminent, and now it appears that Bethesda has made good on that promise, finally bringing its charming little mobile game to the PC masses. The launch coincides with the release of Bethesda’s version 1.6 patch, which has been revealed to be Fallout Shelter’s largest content update ever.


Nintendo is launching a mini version of its iconic NES console with 30 classic games – When you’re on a roll, why not make crowd-pleasing decisions. Nintendo, which has seen its market cap soar thanks to the Pokemon Go phenomenon, just announced that it will relaunch its iconic NES console. The NES Classic Edition will go on sale from November 11 priced at $59.99. There is a notable change however, the NES will come with 30 games pre-installed, including classics like Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3, The Legend Of Zelda, Punch Out, Final Fantasy, Donkey Kong, Bubble Bobble and more. It’ll also be a little smaller than the original model — Nintendo described it as a “mini replica” — and there will be an HDMI cable to keep with the times.


Nvidia’s VR Funhouse is a tech demo to test your PC’s limits – VR Funhouse is basically a collection of carnival-themed virtual reality minigames with advanced physics and visual effects built upon Unreal Engine 4. Nvidia warns that the game will run on low graphics settings even with a 980 Ti or 1070 card, or medium with a single 1080; you’ll need two 1080s running in SLI tandem, or one with a 980 Ti to serve as a backup physics card, for the best results. So yeah, this is a resource-heavy game even by VR standards. And of course, you’ll need an HTC Vive as well. If you have a Vive and a recent high-end Nvidia GPU, VR Funhouse is well worth checking out. It’s available now on Steam for free, and Nvidia also plans to open-source it later this summer so that developers can create their own games with the same technology.

Google Play Indie Games Festival kicks off in San Francisco this September – Competing as a game developer on the Google Play Store can be a tough proposition, especially as we see more and more professional game developers leave their big studios to start or join studios dedicated to mobile games. If you’re one of those small-time game developers, good news: Google has announced that it will be giving independent developers a chance to have their moment in the spotlight later this year, when it hosts the Google Play Indie Games Festival in San Francisco.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Huffington Post will broadcast 360-degree video from Republican and Democrat National Conventions – The Huffington Post will broadcast 360-degree video from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions on Monday, its first major use of the technology after parent company AOL bought virtual reality studio RYOT earlier this year. Reporters and producers from the new HuffPost RYOT team formed after the purchase will be in Cleveland and Philadelphia, capturing the events with “immersive” 360-degree clips, supporting updates and breaking news.

More than 100 tech industry leaders say Trump presidency would be ‘disaster for innovation’ – Although Donald Trump just lined up Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel for a Republican National Convention speech, a new open letter makes it clear that much of the tech industry remains concerned about the prospect of a Trump presidency. In the letter, posted today to Medium, luminaries of Slack, Facebook, Instagram, and several other companies and organizations say that “Trump would be a disaster for innovation.” Signers include high-profile names like Tim Wu, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Butterfield, Padmasree Warrior, Esther Dyson, and Ev Williams. Katie Jacobs Stanton, a former Twitter exec who is now the CMO of Color Genomics, published the letter.

Immerse yourself in whiskey with 360-degree video from Jack Daniel’s – A bit too much whiskey might have you walking in circles, but with a new 360-degree video from the Jack Daniel’s distillery, you can spin around as much as you want — totally sober — while getting a look at how the 150-year-old Tennessee whiskey is made.

$29.99 for the IT Security & Ethical Hacking Certification Training ($1,895 value) – Deal Alert – For a limited time, the bundle of courses is only $29.99 and jam-packed with over 48 hours of courses and 50 hours of advanced training.

Facebook post of murder-trial pic lands teen in jail – Technically Incorrect: A British teen goes to court to see his friend tried for murder. He takes pictures and posts one with a provocative caption. A judge is not impressed.

Something to think about:

“Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.”

–     Plutarch

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft wins major victory in legal fight over data center access – After years of arguments, Microsoft has won a major victory in its legal fight over US access to information stored in a company data center in Ireland. In a decision filed today by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, judges ruled that US investigators can’t use the Stored Communications Act to compel access to the data, as it is physically located outside of US borders. As a result, the court found that Microsoft has “no remaining lawful obligation to produce materials to the government.”

It’s a major victory for Microsoft, which has maintained that extraterritoriality was necessary to fulfill the company’s privacy policy to users. A number of outside groups made arguments in support for Microsoft’s case, including corporate partners and rivals like AT&T, Verizon, and Apple, as well as privacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union.

Microsoft argued that because the data was stored in Ireland, it was subject to Irish rather than US law, regardless of the company providing the infrastructure. That feature is central to Microsoft’s ambitions as a cloud provider, allowing the company to compete with local storage companies that are not otherwise subject to US requests. The nationality of the target of the investigation is still undisclosed.

Muckrock Is Building a Database of Excuses the Govt Uses to Withhold Public Info – In recent years, we’ve entered something of a golden era of government transparency—or at least, a golden era of journalists and interested citizens filing information requests with government agencies. Freedom of Information Act requests have increased greatly as the internet and services such as Muckrock, a tool that fills out sample language for information requests and then tracks them, have made filing easier. But there’s one major problem: Federal agencies use lots of different tactics to avoid actually releasing all sorts of documents, and few journalists actually know how to fight back against the system.

It’s not entirely their fault: Enforcement of different FOI “exemptions” varies by agency and often depends on which specific FOIA officer handles the request. At the state level, where a patchwork of “sunshine” laws govern what records are public well, things are even more of a mess.

“Even when public records laws are clear, the different exemptions are typically found in other bits of the legal code,” Michael Morisy, who founded Muckrock, told me. “A dairy bill might include an exemption for certain types of state dairy records or something, so what happens is you have a Swiss cheese situation—there’s holes everywhere.”

Dairy jokes aside, Morisy and Muckrock have decided to help journalists and other freedom of information champions navigate FOIA exemptions with a new project that will catalog every exemption cited by agencies in the United States, as well as ones that are hidden in a patchwork of FOI laws.

UK gov says new Home Sec will have powers to ban end-to-end encryption – During a committee stage debate in the UK’s House of Lords yesterday, the government revealed that the Investigatory Powers Bill will provide any Secretary of State with the ability to force communication service providers (CSPs) to remove or disable end-to-end encryption.

Earl Howe, a minister of state for defence and the British government’s deputy leader in the House of Lords, gave the first explicit admission that the new legislation would provide the government with the ability to force CSPs to “develop and maintain a technical capability to remove encryption that has been applied to communications or data”.

This power, if applied, would be imposed upon domestic CSPs by the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who was formerly the secretary of state for energy and climate change. Rudd is now only the fifth woman to hold one of the great offices of state in the UK. As she was only appointed on Wednesday evening, she has yet to offer her thoughts on the matter.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – July 13, 2016

12 steps to safer online banking;  Adobe deploys security update to fix 52 vulnerabilities in Flash;  Every version of Windows hit by “critical” security flaw;  Linux Mint 18: The best desktop – period;  3 hidden Android customization settings you need to try;  OK, Google: 160 valuable voice commands for Android – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Adobe deploys security update to fix 52 vulnerabilities in Flash – On Tuesday, the tech giant issued a security advisory which revealed a total of 52 vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash which “could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system,” according to Adobe. The update includes Flash security fixes across the Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, Linux and ChromeOS operating systems, as well as the Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 browsers. Adobe’s July patch update includes fixes for 33 memory corruption vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution in Flash Player, alongside a memory leak vulnerability and heap buffer overflow vulnerability.

Every version of Windows hit by “critical” security flaw – Microsoft has patched a security vulnerability found in every supported version of Windows, which if exploited could allow an attacker to take over a system. The software giant said in a bulletin posted Tuesday as part of its monthly release of security fixes that the the “critical” flaw could let an attacker remotely install malware, which can be used to modify or delete data, or create new accounts with full user rights. The “critical”-rated flaw affects Windows Vista and later — including Windows Server 2008 and later. Those who are logged in as an administrator, such as some home accounts and server users, are at the greatest risk.

12 steps to safer online banking – Gone are the days of balancing check books. The advent of online banking has made budget-keeping and bill-paying a convenient, if not automatic, transaction for adults managing their finances. Which is why it’s a prime target for cybercriminals. According to a recent study by Fiserv, 80 percent of U.S. households now do their banking online. The sheer number of customers is a likely attraction for threat actors. But what makes online bankers irresistible prey is that a breach results in direct access to their money—no need to bother with a ransom. That’s probably why more than 25 percent of malicious activity online is aimed at financial institutions.

Linux Mint 18: The best desktop — period – You could keep worrying about being forced to upgrade to Windows 10, or you could try the best of all Linux desktops: Mint 18.


3 hidden Android customization settings you need to try – If you’ve ever been annoyed by the clutter of icons along the top of your Android home screen, good news: There’s something you can do about it. Turns out there’s a trio of secret settings for customizing the Android user interface, and one of them will let you hide or reveal icons in the status bar. You can also rearrange the pull-down Android “quick settings,” as well as make a small but important tweak to the Android battery meter. You won’t find any of these settings by poking around the standard Settings screen. Instead, you’ll need to unlock the hidden “System UI Tuner” first. Here’s how to do it.

15 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life – College is filled with all sorts of confused, eager folks like you. It can be difficult to find your footing, socially. You’ll have the dorm, the quad, and the cafeteria. But surely there is more! Well, lucky for you, there is, college face. Thanks to technology, the entire world is just a few taps away.

Big GIFs welcome: Twitter increases maximum GIF size to 15MB on web – According to Twitter’s Help Center, the company has increased the maximum GIF size to 15MB on the web, a much-needed change from the original 5MB limit. Twitter didn’t mention this change on social media, nor did it make a big announcement about it. Rather, its Help Center page detailing image, video, and GIF-posting regulations reflects the change under the “size and file type requirements” section. “Photos can be up to 5MB; animated GIFs can be up to 5MB on mobile, and up to 15MB on web,” the page states. That means you’ll only be able to take advantage of the higher limit if you’re posting to Twitter from your computer—you’ll still have to live with smaller GIFs if you’re posting from your smartphone.

Yes, Windows 10 subscriptions are coming, at least for enterprise – Microsoft confirms it will offer Windows 10 as a monthly subscription for enterprises, again raising questions of how the model might be applied to consumers, and how Microsoft plans to monetize Windows over the coming years.

Skype for Business will live translate meetings into 40 languages – Microsoft is bringing the dream of the Star Trek universal translator to businesses later this year with the launch of a new beta feature that offers live captioning of Skype for Business meeting broadcasts in 40 languages.

17 Tricks to Master Google Photos – We’re not at a loss for services that automatically back up your photos and give you access to them on any device. Yahoo’s Flickr does it, Dropbox does it, Microsoft OneDrive does it, and Apple iCloud does it for iPhone. They’ve all got their fans, but Google Photos —launched just over a year ago—has already surpassed 200 million active users a month. If you’re not among those millions, it’s worth downloading the mobile app for some extra peace of mind. Google Photos offerings truly unlimited backup of all your photos. Every single one. The caveat is, they have to be less than 16 megapixels to qualify for that unlimited storage.

Google Play family library lets you share with up to 6 people – Google has finally taken the covers off its family library system for its Google Play services. In a nutshell, the system will make it easier for parents, guardians, or maybe even a group of friends, to share content purchased from the Google Play Store. They also share a single payment method, which might prove to be a headache in some cases. Of course, the feature does have the necessary controls to rein in the spending or to keep the wee ones from seeing some things they shouldn’t really be seeing just yet.

OK, Google: 160 valuable voice commands for Android – This diverse collection of voice commands will turn your phone into a powerful personal concierge — no tipping required.

4 essential tools for blocking digital distractions – Improve your productivity with safeguards against attention-grabbing websites and apps, a word processor that keeps you on task, and your own Pomodoro coach.

Amazon’s Prime Day off to another rocky start – It could be another #primedayfail for Amazon. The online retailer has reported some customers are having problems adding items to their shopping carts and missing out on deals that have been heavily advertised on TV.

Five apps for tracking the time spent on projects – Make sure you’re compensated for every minute you put in on a project. The apps on this list will help you account for how, where, and when you spent your time.

Peruse 19th Century NYC With This Street View-Like Tool – If you’ve ever wanted to see what Google’s Street View would’ve been like in the 1800s, now’s your chance. A new site called OldNYC delivers a Street View-like view of what the city looked like in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The site includes a map of New York City and a slew of dots that can be clicked on to see different images of that particular location. According to Business Insider, which earlier reported on the site, it was developed by Dan Vanderkam in collaboration with the New York Public Library, which has a collection of more than 80,000 photographs of New York City shot from the 1870s to the 1970s.


4 ways to reduce your chances of getting caught by malvertising – Malvertising is malware at its best, even catching security experts in its crosshairs. Learn how to fight back against these malware-infused ads.

MIT’s anonymous online communications protocol Riffle could beat Tor at its own game – Tor has been the go-to for anonymous communication online for years now — and that has made it one of the juiciest targets possible to the likes of the NSA and FBI. A new anonymizing protocol from MIT may prove more resilient against such determined and deep-pocketed attackers. The potential problem with Tor is that if an adversary gets enough nodes on the network, they can work together to track the progress of packets. They might not be able to tell exactly what is being sent, but they can put together a breadcrumb trail tying a user to traffic coming out of an exit node — at least, that’s the theory. A team of researchers led by MIT grad student Albert Kwon (with help from EPFL) aims to leapfrog Tor’s anonymizing technique with a brand new platform called Riffle.

How to safely access and navigate the Dark Web – Is your business data on the Dark Web? Learn how to find out if you’ve been compromised in this step-by-step guide to accessing the underbelly of the internet.

How to manage users’ risky tech habits – IT has a reputation for not always being sympathetic to users’ needs, but managers and CIOs can also find themselves managing users’ risky tech habits. So how can these situations be addressed constructively, without alienating management in other departments? Here are six common scenarios and some best practices for handling them.

Researchers create effective anti-ransomware solution – Are you willing to sacrifice a dozen or so of your files in order to save the rest from the grasping hands of modern crypto-ransomware? I believe that the answer from most victims would be a resounding “Yes!”, and this is just what CryptoDrop does. The anti-ransomware solution, which apparently works seamlessly with anti-virus software, was created by a group of researchers from the University of Florida and Villanova University:

Nation-backed malware that infected energy firm is 1 of 2016’s sneakiest – The malware contains about 280 kilobytes of densely packed code that, like a ninja warrior, cleverly and stealthily evades a large number of security defenses. It looks for and avoids a long list of computer names belonging to sandboxes and honeypots. It painstakingly dismantles antiviruses one process at a time until it’s finally safe to uninstall them. It takes special care when running inside organizations that use facial recognition, fingerprint scanners, and other advanced access control systems. And it locks away key parts of its code in encrypted vaults to prevent it from being discovered and analyzed.

Company News:

Facebook blamed for Palestinian attacks in $1 billion lawsuit filed by victims’ families – Families that lost loved ones from attacks committed by terrorist group Hamas are charging the social network for playing “an essential role” in their ability to operate.

Nokia and Samsung announce expanded patent licensing deal – Nokia and Samsung are cozying up together for the second time this year after the duo announced an expansion of the patent licensing deal that they agreed back in February. Under these new terms, the companies will share “certain additional patent portfolios” together going forward. The pair’s previous deal covered an unspecific set of patents, and this latest announce is equally as vague. But, Nokia — which massively expanded its patent trove with its $16 billion purchase of Alcatel-Lucent — was more specific on the financial outcome of this agreement, which it said will increase revenue from patent and licensing to around EUR 950 million, that’s about $1 billion, per year. Certainly a figure worth writing home about.

Pokemon GO estimated earnings top $14 million in less than a week – Since it seems like you can’t throw a stone without hitting three or four Pokemon GO players, it’s safe to say the game has turned out to be quite popular. Just how popular is it, though? If new estimates from SuperData Research are accurate, the answer to that question is “more popular than air itself.” The research firm estimates that Pokemon GO has already raked in earnings of more than $14 million, which is insane when you consider that the game has been available in just a handful of regions for less than a week.


Google granted more time to answer Android antitrust charges in EU – The European Commission has been investigating Google’s business practices around its Android mobile software, and now the search giant has an extra six weeks to respond to the commission’s allegations, according to a report Tuesday by Reuters. In April, the EU formally charged Google with antitrust complaints over Android, which powers four out of every five smartphones on the planet. The crux of the argument has to do with alleged business agreements that require hardware vendors to pre-install Google services, like Search and Maps, on their handsets in order to gain access to Google’s Play app marketplace. Originally, Google had until July 27 to respond to the formal charges, but now will have until September 7.

Warner Brothers fined for paying YouTube celebs to promote game – The FTC this week disclosed that the broadcast giant gave “tens of thousands of dollars” to a number of YouTube celebrities, including the hugely popular PewDiePie (who has a colossal 46 million subscribers and reportedly makes $7 million a year), to promote ‘Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor’ without making relevant disclosures. Rather than visibility labeling videos as promoted content (advertising), the FTC said that Warner Bros asked the celebs to put disclaimer information in the description box for videos, meaning that it wasn’t immediately obvious that this was a paid-for shill.

Cisco boasts 100 percent security coverage – Partnering with its rivals is one way Cisco is pushing the envelope of its 100 percent security strategy, wherein it aims to provide security to all workers, both on premises and off premises.

Microsoft debuts “Surface as a Service” program aimed at getting devices into the enterprise – Microsoft announced this morning a new program aimed at expanding Surface’s footprint in the enterprise, dubbed “Surface as a Service.” The initiative will allow businesses to lease Surface devices, alongside subscriptions to Office 365 and Windows 10. The company says this will allow customers to benefit from access to the latest hardware as well as faster device refresh cycles. Surface has been a growing business at Microsoft, the company also notes, having grown in the past year from generating $1 billion in revenue per year to $1 billion per quarter.

Games and Entertainment:

Pokémon Go expands to Europe starting with Germany – Pokémon Go isn’t a global phenomenon just yet as the game has only been available in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. But the game is preparing for its European launch. Pokémon Go is now available in Germany on the iPhone and Android — other European countries should follow soon.

‘Pokémon Go’ Tips and Tricks to Make You the Very Best, Like No One Ever Was – If you haven’t already, you’ll soon start to see people more glued to their phones than usual, perhaps taking bizarre, nonsensical routes down the streets, flicking their screens rapidly in a car park, or gathering around police stations, all the while endlessly muttering “gotta catch ’em all.” Pokémon Go, the new, extremely popular augmented reality game by Niantic Labs, is set for release in more countries in the very near future, right after the company has fixed its exploding servers. Given the game’s immense popularity, competition to become the greatest Pokémon Master of all time—like no one ever was—has never been tougher, and there are some key things you should know before setting off on your journey.

Cops warn Pokémon Go players: Please don’t trespass to catch ‘em all – Law enforcement agencies around the globe are reminding citizens to obey trespassing laws and follow common sense when playing Pokémon Go. The new crazy-popular mobile game has led to some frightening results in recent days, such as the location of a dead body and robberies of players in Missouri. On Monday, San Francisco Police Department Captain Raj Vaswani warned in one online posting for players to “obey traffic laws, please.” “Do not run into trees, meters, and things that are attached to the sidewalk; they hurt,” he said. “Do not drive or ride your bike / skateboard / hipster techie device while interacting with the app. Know where your kids are going when playing with the app, set limits on where they can go, so they don’t keep going trying to get that Pokemon.”


The Best HDTVs We’ve Tested – No matter your budget or the size of screen you want, here’s what to look for when you’re shopping, along with the top-rated televisions we’ve tested.

New Doom update adds Vulkan support, AMD claims substantial performance – A new patch for Doom has added Vulkan support, making the recent Bethesda game the first title to support that API. AMD GPUs pick up significant performance as a result, while Nvidia performance looks mostly flat.

Microsoft won’t force you to use Cortana on Xbox One – Microsoft is planning to bring Cortana to the Xbox One next month, but if you’re happy using the existing Kinect Xbox voice commands then you won’t be forced to enable the digital assistant. While early beta versions of Cortana for Xbox One were designed to disable Xbox commands once Cortana was enabled, Microsoft has pushed out an update that will allow users to disable the assistant and return to the old Xbox commands.

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – Films starring Ice Cube, Jeff Goldblum, and Ryan Gosling appear in this week’s list of the most pirated movies on the Internet.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The GOP’s Platform Draft Claims Porn Is a ‘Public Health Crisis’ – Want another sign that the Republican Party is, shall we say, a bit out of touch with much of America? Look no further than the Republican party’s latest platform draft. Among the provisions? A declaration that porn is a “public health crisis.” As the RNC platform draft indicates, the national Republicans are only too happy to amplify the idea that, even if it’s technically protected as free speech, porn should be derided as something destroying our hearts, minds, and genitals. Except there’s just one problem: whatever issues porn might be to blame for, they’re just one small part of our national crisis of sex education—a crisis the Republicans are largely responsible for.

TOS agreements require giving up first born—and users gladly consent – Here is the front door of a fictitious social networking site that study participants thought was real. All participants, US university students, agreed to terms that included demanding their first born as payment. The privacy policy they all checked off said their data would be shared with the NSA and employers. Most of the 543 university students involved in the analysis didn’t bother to read the terms of service before signing up for a fake social networking site called “NameDrop” that the students believed was real. Those who did glossed over important clauses. The terms of service required them to give up their first born, and if they don’t yet have one, they get until 2050 to do so. The privacy policy said that their data would be given to the NSA and employers. Of the few participants who read those clauses, they signed up for the service anyway.

Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Pass a Basic Test of Financial Literacy – Quick: If you take out a $1000 loan that has a 20% rate, how much will you owe a year in interest? Answer: $200. But if you got that wrong, you’re not alone. Nearly two thirds of Americans can’t calculate interest payments correctly, according to a new study. About a third said they didn’t even know how.

Engineering Explained gives a crash course on motor oil – If you’re not sure what all the numbers on the motor oil label mean, check out the Engineering Explained video below for a rundown. You’ll learn about SAE ratings, viscosity and the advantages synthetic oil have over conventional oil. For folks who like to put off oil changes, there’s also an interesting demo at the end of the video to show the different flow characteristics between new and used motor oil. After watching that, you may just want to get your oil changed on time all the time going forward.

6 Things Recruiters Look For in Your LinkedIn Profile – According to an eye-tracking study by The Ladders, recruiters spend six seconds on average looking at a resume. LinkedIn profiles get even less time. According to Heather Whaley, a principal with Hunt Executive Search, these six things stand out when scanning through profiles to fill positions:

Something to think about:

“Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.”

–    Albert Einstein 

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

For the first time, federal judge tosses evidence obtained via stingray – On Thursday, a US federal judge in New York delivered a crucial rebuke to the government’s warrantless use of stingrays.

In a 14-page opinion, the judge ruled that the government could not use its stingray to locate a drug suspect, asleep in his apartment. As a result of the ruling, the judge suppressed the evidence found in the man’s bedroom—a kilogram of cocaine—likely effectively ending the case.

In March 2016, a state appeals court in Maryland reached a similar finding, but this is believed to be the first federal ruling of its kind.

“This is the first federal ruling I know of in which a judge squarely ruled that the Fourth Amendment requires police to get a warrant to use a stingray, and suppressed evidence derived from warrantless use of the technology,” Nathan Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Ars.

As Ars has long reported, cell-site simulators—known colloquially as stingrays—can be used to determine a mobile phone’s location by spoofing a cell tower. In some cases, stingrays can intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity. At times, police have falsely claimed the use of a confidential informant when they have actually deployed these particularly sweeping and intrusive surveillance tools.

EU-US Privacy Shield now officially adopted but criticisms linger – The European Commission has formally adopted a new framework for governing personal data transfers between the EU and the U.S., replacing the prior Safe Harbor agreement which was invalidated last fall, and aiming to end nine months of uncertainty.

The EU-US Privacy Shield agreement is another attempt to bridge two distinct legal regimes, aiming to achieve ‘essential equivalence’ of European data protection laws in the US where EU law does not have jurisdiction, while also providing legal certainty for businesses operating in the two regions.

It’s a balancing act that some expert commentators suggest is impossible without substantial reform of US laws.

But in a press conference today the lead negotiators from the two regions spoke from a joint podium to assert that after some two and half years of talks they have delivered “a framework that protects privacy and creates certainty”, as US secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker couched it. She also dubbed it a “milestone for privacy”.

4,000 cyber attacks on users per month: Alphabet – Google parent company Alphabet has said it is notifying customers of the 4,000 state-sponsored cyber attacks that occur on users per month.

SVP of Alphabet’s Google unit and Alphabet board member Diane Greene mentioned the figure at a tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, on Monday while highlighting Google’s security prowess.

The internet search provider has led the way in notifying users of government spying, and previously said that it issues tens of thousands of warnings every few months, with customers upgrading their security in response.

Google’s privacy removal requests went from 30 million to 65 million in the space of 14 months between 2014 and 2015. The company continues to disclose government requests for data in six-monthly transparency reports, which now include a page on its HTTPS encryption efforts.

Sharing Your Netflix Password Is Now a Federal Crime: The decision says millions of people could be “unwitting federal criminals” – On July 5th , the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion which found, in part, that sharing passwords is a crime prosecutable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The decision, according to a dissenting opinion on the case, makes millions of people who share passwords for services like Netflix and HBOGo into “unwitting federal criminals.”


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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – July 11, 2016

How to secure your router and home network;  Facebook clarifies live video policy, will allow graphic video streams in some cases;  Here’s how fake telephone tech support scams work;  Facebook brings end-to-end encryption to Messenger;  Free Ransomware Decrypter Tools;  10 mobile security myths that need debunking – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to secure your router and home network – Many users don’t realize it, but their internet router is the most important electronic device in their home and is an attractive target for attackers.

Here’s how fake telephone tech support scams work – Interested in finding out how fake telephone tech support scams work? Well, grab a cup or glass of your favorite beverage, and prepare to be educated, entertained, and horrified.

Facebook clarifies live video policy, will allow graphic video streams in some cases – Facebook will allow violent or graphic video streams that document live, newsworthy events, the company announced Friday

‘Pokémon Go’ Led 11 Teens Right into an Armed Robbery – 11 people in Missouri have been victims of armed robberies carried out using Pokémon Go since Friday.

How to find out everything Google knows about you in the new My Activity dashboard – Google has consolidated the data it has on you into an easy-to-use interface to find, browse through, or delete your digital history.

5 handy mobile Dropbox features you need to try – Scan receipts directly from Dropbox, create and edit Office files, trade comments with collaborators, and more.Dropbox app with a passcode.

How to use Phone Companion to set up Windows 10 apps on your mobile device – Phone Companion takes the hassle out of setting up Windows 10 apps on smartphones and tablets. This illustrated walk-through explains how it works.

Walmart Pay vs. Apple Pay: Hardware age dictates all – Walmart has announced that its trial of Walmart Pay would go national. This is good news for Walmart shoppers who want to pay with a mobile device, but the news would have been very different had Walmart instead embraced NFC payments.

Amazon’s latest Prime Day tease: Budget Fire tablets for under $35 – As part of the online retailer’s Prime Day sale this upcoming Tuesday, the company is cutting the price on its $50 Fire tablet to under $35, an Amazon representative told CNET on Friday. In all, there will be more than 100,000 deals worldwide, making it the biggest Amazon sale yet. Deals will be available for new and existing Prime members, who pay $99 annually to join, in the US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Austria.

12 Things to Know About Amazon Prime – Ahead of this year’s Prime Day, here’s what you need to know about Amazon’s service.

Facebook brings end-to-end encryption to Messenger with ‘secret conversations’ – Facebook Messenger now has an encrypted messaging tool, but it doesn’t come close to covering all your conversations on the messaging platform.

Twitter Busts Tweet-Archiving Website PostGhost – You can make a case that politicians, being public figures, deserve to have their Twitter accounts scanned (and deleted messages archived). All verified users? Not so much.

How to run a DOS program in Windows 10 – There are some old DOS applications that you just can’t afford to lose (or games you still like), and Windows 10 lets you keep them. Here’s how.

10 reasons to reject Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade – The end of Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer is right around the corner. But while Windows 10 is great, there are valid reasons to reject it.

iOS 10: Will it be the rebirth or the death of the iPad? – iOS 10 is set to make a lot of iPads obsolete. Will this be the catalyst for a wave of upgrades, or will it be the beginning of the end for the iPad?

The 25 Weirdest Gadgets of All Time – From flying cars to wrist-mounted computers, these devices never got past the awkward stage. For every technology that became ubiquitous, however, there are dozens of examples of devices that never made it past the awkward stage. Here is TIME’s list of the 25 outright-weirdest gadgets of all time, from flying cars to wrist-mounted computers. This list was assembled, ranked and debated (at length) by TIME’s business and technology team. What did we miss?

The best Tech inventions of all time 5: Awesome machines – In this series we take a look at everything, large and small, that has changed the way we do things and enhanced our lives in some way. In part three we take a look at advancements in machinery that have helped us to be more productive in everything we do.


A Jim Hillier article: Free Ransomware Decrypter Tools – Security software companies have already developed a number of free tools to help users decrypt files which have been encrypted by Ransomware, however, these tools are generally fairly limited in their scope. A large part of the problem is that there are so many different Ransomware variations – currently more than 50 known Ransomware families and growing – and how quickly they are mutating. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for decryption tools to support every single type of Ransomware. So, the developers of these tools tend to concentrate only on a relatively small number of the most common strains. Here is a list of Ransomware decryption tools available for download from MajorGeeks: Ransomware Removal.

Cyber spies are still using these old Windows flaws to target their victims – ‘Dropping Elephant’ cyber-epionage group is using old and long-patched flaws as part of its campaign, but appears to be still finding some success.

10 mobile security myths that need debunking – Mobile devices have introduced plenty of legitimate concerns, but there are some misconceptions floating around that may lead companies to focus on the wrong issues–or to ignore the real risks.

The truth about bug finders: They’re essentially useless – Today’s popular bug finders catch only about two percent of the vulnerabilities lurking in software code, researchers have found, despite the millions of dollars companies spend on them each year.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is latest tech CEO to get account hacked – The last few weeks have seen a number of social networking accounts belonging to high-profile tech company CEOs getting hacked and making posts. First there was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, with his accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest getting breached. Then the same thing happened to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his Quora profile. The latest to join the club is Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, who saw his account on his own platform briefly compromised this weekend.

How to hack mobile devices using YouTube videos – A team from the University of California, Berkeley, and Georgetown University have developed the means to compromise a mobile device using hidden voice commands embedded within a YouTube video. In order for the device to be attacked, the intended victim needs to do nothing more than watch the YouTube content. The researchers say on their project page that the hidden voice commands used by the attack are “unintelligible to human listeners but which are interpreted as commands by devices.”

Company News:

Nintendo’s stock surges after Pokemon Go rocks iOS and Android devices – Shares in Nintendo were up 10 percent Friday on the Tokyo stock exchange, putting the company at its highest valuation ($23 billion) in more than two months, according to Reuters. While Pokemon Go is off to a good start it’s the promised arrival of future Nintendo games on mobile platforms that has investors excited. The company says it will release four more smartphone games in the financial year to end-March and that mobile gaming could lift its operating profit by a third to 45 billion yen or $450 million. A new Nintendo gaming console is due to arrive in March 2017.

Huawei sues T-Mobile, saying carrier violated wireless patents – Huawei has filed a lawsuit against T-Mobile US for what the Chinese telecom giant says are patent violations of its 4G wireless network services. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news of the suit. In the complaint Huawei said T-Mobile has been using Huawei’s patented network technology without paying for it, and that Huawei had offered to license its patents to the US wireless network but the two entities couldn’t come to a licensing agreement. T-Mobile isn’t the only company Huawei has filed suit against recently: Two months ago Huawei, which has swelled to become the world’s third largest smartphone maker, sued Samsung over its use of 11 standard-essential patents.

Snapchat sued over ‘sexually offensive’ content in its Discover channels – Snapchat is being sued for exposing minors to sexually offensive content on the Discover section it offers in tandem with media partners.

Games and Entertainment:

It took just one day for Pokemon Go to outstrip Tinder – The day after Pokemon Go launched in North America, the game was installed on more Android phones in the US than Tinder, and now it’s close to surpassing Twitter.

This week in games: Free PC games, free PC games, and more free PC games – Plus: Pokemon Go, new Overwatch characters, Halo Wars 2, and more. This is your games news for July 4 through 8.

The Best PC Games of 2016 – Whether you’re a longtime PC gamer or you recently migrated from consoles, this collection of top-notch titles in 14 categories will keep you entertained indefinitely.

These are the best-selling Nintendo consoles and games of all time – For many of us, the name Nintendo is synonymous with video gaming. And it’s little surprise why — the company has sold hundreds of millions of gaming consoles over the last 31 years, more than any other company. Here are our favorite pieces of Nintendo hardware and software, ranked in terms of total worldwide sales.

PC Gaming Is Still Way Too Hard – Here’s Motherboard’s super simple guide to building your first gaming PC:

Step 1: Have an unreasonable amount of disposable income.

Step 2: Have an unreasonable amount of time to research, shop around, and assemble parts for your computer.

Step 3: Get used to the idea that this is something you’re going to have to keep investing time and money in as long as you want to stay at the cutting edge or recommended specifications range for new PC games.

The details, of course, are much more complicated, but that’s the gist of what it takes to enter the holy kingdom of PC gaming. If it sounds like a bad deal, I agree, which is why the majority of people are better off with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, despite why the awfully self-titled “PC Master Race” might tell you.

Do You Really Need a Dedicated Graphics Card to Play Your Favorite Games? – I played today’s popular PC games with no dedicated video card, and I kinda liked it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

In matters of life and death, how should Facebook decide what you see? – Live streams of shootings in Minnesota and Dallas raise questions about the social network’s responsibilities.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki asks YouTube stars to speak out against racism and violence – After a week in which numerous killings across the country led to even more riots around race and gun violence in America, Wojcicki is calling on Google’s stable of YouTube-created celebrities to speak up and say something positive. It’s a pretty smart strategy. These YouTube stars (and Vine stars and Snapchat stars and Instagram stars) have more reach and influence — especially among young people — than almost any group or person in the world not named Justin Bieber. Wojcicki could raise her voice on these issues, but the message will likely mean a lot more coming from PewDiePie than a Silicon Valley tech executive. Wojcicki was careful not to tell YouTube creators what they should say, but the underlying message was one about unity.

The Legal and Ethical Ramifications of Letting Police Kill Suspects With Robots – Dallas police used a bomb robot to kill a suspect in what was “essentially a jury-rigged version of a drone strike”—where do we go from here?

Time management tips: How to create meetings that work – Meetings are a plague on modern business: bored staff can waste months of their lives nodding along when they could be doing something more productive. Research suggests the average employee attends a total of 60 meetings per month, and that 30 per cent of workplace time is wasted in the process. So what are the best time management tips for executives? ZDNet speaks to four experts who give their view on keeping meetings tight and workers productive.

Still a virtual reality skeptic? Here’s why you shouldn’t be – As VR becomes a force in the gaming world (and other sectors), I can’t help but draw the evident parallels between the emergence of 3D-console gaming and quasi-nascent VR. Though some remain skeptical about VR, it will become a widely adopted technology that can drive adoption of other technologies, just like 3D-gaming technology did.

Whatever happened to 3D printing? – Sam Cervantes is a quiet-seeming guy who speaks earnestly about his line of work. When I visited his Brooklyn 3D printer factory in 2013, workers in an assembly line were busy putting together Solidoodle printers. An army of assembled printers whirred as they lay down layers of melted plastic to make parts for the next set of machines.

Something to think about:

“The freedom of all is essential to my freedom.”

–   Mikhail Bakunin

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Europe OKs ‘Privacy Shield’ for Data Transfers to US – Europe today moved a step closer to implementing a “privacy shield” intended to protect data traveling between the US and the European Union.

EU member states ratified a privacy agreement that will require companies and governments to treat transatlantic data with the same privacy protections afforded to data within the US or Europe.

The moves comes after Europe’s high court in October ruled that an international agreement for the transfer of digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid. At the time, the so-called Safe Harbor deal ensured that 4,000-plus European and American tech and non-tech businesses would treat data moving between countries with the same privacy protections as inside the region.

Since then, both sides have been trying to hammer out a replacement deal. They announced a plan in February, which was accepted by the EU today. According to The Guardian, it goes into effect on Tuesday.

New ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Law Will Feed Russia’s Mass-Surveillance Machine – A sweeping anti-terrorism law signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin on Thursday will greatly expand the Kremlin’s ability to monitor and control digital communications, sparking an outcry from privacy and human rights advocates—including the country’s outspoken resident fugitive, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The so-called Yarovaya Law, named after the hawkish Russian lawmaker who championed it, “violates not only human rights, but common sense,” signaling a “Dark day for #Russia,” said Snowden.

Key among the new measures are provisions requiring Russian telecommunications providers to retain customers’ phone records for 12 months, and store the contents of calls and messages for six months. The retained data will most certainly be channeled into SORM, a nationwide mass-interception system that gives the Russian FSB and other police authorities real-time, warrantless access to data transiting the country.

In addition to human rights concerns, the data storage requirements are causing consternation among Russian telecom companies, who say that building out the capacity to retain data for that long will cost them upwards of $33 billion in investment. The law also forces companies to assist Russian law enforcement in decrypting customers’ encrypted communications, and penalizes those who refuse to do so.

UK Crime Agency Seeks Whatever Intel It Can Get From Internet Service Providers – The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) is seeking a wide range of intelligence from internet service providers to combat cybercrime, but exactly what they want to collect has been left largely open-ended.

“They don’t know what they want, but they want more data,” James Blessing, chair of the UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), told Motherboard in a phone call. “At the minute, they want more data, and they’re asking nicely.”

On Thursday at the ISPA Cyber Security Summit, Ben Russell, strategy manager at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, laid out different ways internet service providers could help the agency. These included sharing information on vulnerabilities and so-called “upstream intelligence.” A spokesperson from the NCA told Motherboard this could include subscriber information, IP addresses, and internet usage data, and could also encompass any other information “that would help law enforcement identify and disrupt the criminals responsible.”

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