Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 21, 2016

Microsoft surprises everyone by releasing a new $37 Nokia phone;    Ransomware’s next target: Your car and your home;  This Tool Lets You Check If Your Personal Info Is on the Dark Web;  The essential macOS Sierra upgrade guide;  Opera’s free VPN is now available in its main desktop browser;    SanDisk reveals world’s first 1TB SD card;  10 Beyond-Basic Photography Tips;  The CW prepares to launch subscription-free streaming – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft surprises everyone by releasing a new $37 Nokia phone – No, this is not an extremely late April Fool’s Day prank. Microsoft really did just reveal another phone that bears the Nokia brand name. The new Nokia 216 is exactly what you’d expect from a budget phone. It sports a 2.4-inch QVGA display, VGA front and rear-facing cameras, integrated FM radio tuner, and an impressive 24 days of standby time. It comes in three colors: white, black, and a sort of robin’s egg blue. And yes, it still has a headphone jack.


Consumer Reports: iPhone 7 camera does not outperform iPhone 6s – Apple is advertising major improvements in the cameras on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the second telephoto camera on the 7 Plus is new for Apple. However, Consumer Reports initial testing shows the performance for the main cameras are about the same.

Ditching Microsoft Office? Tips on how to switch to LibreOffice – Breaking up with Microsoft doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow this advice from those in the know.

Opera’s free VPN is now available in its main desktop browser – VPNs or virtual private networks are services that re-route your traffic through different countries. They’re good if you want a little more anonymity or are trying to find your way around geoblocks, but they usually cost money. Not in Opera’s latest browser, though. After testing out a built-in VPN in the beta version earlier this year, the company is now rolling out the same service on its main software stream. That means if you download the latest version of the browser, Opera 40, you get a free VPN with unlimited data. We’ve tested the software and it’s quick and easy to use.



5 awesome Android widgets for a more useful home screen – Whether you’re looking to speed-dial friends or quickly scan documents, these widgets will help you get stuff done.

macOS Sierra is now available to download – After a summer of beta versions, Apple has just released the final version of macOS Sierra. macOS Sierra is the major update of OS X El Capitan — yes, OS X is dead, long live macOS. Other than the name change, this year’s update brings many neat improvements over El Capitan, making it a polished update from day one. It’s available in the Mac App Store as a free download. If you don’t see the update right away, don’t panic as it could take a few minutes due to App Store propagation.

The essential macOS Sierra upgrade guide – Mac users everywhere are full of anticipation as they await the next release of macOS Sierra, the latest version of the OS they rely on each day. There are a few hours to go until the release (traditionally though not exclusively at around 10am PDT) so please take a moment to review this upgrade guide.

You can now save drafts of your photos on Instagram – Instagram is now letting users save drafts of their photo edits so they can come back to them later. You know the situation: you just spent 15 minutes perfecting the shadows and highlights on your next Instagram post, only to realize you’re late for work and need to rush. Now the Instagram app will prompt you to either discard or save your photo draft if you leave the editing screen. Up until today, you had to use some serious tricks to save your work.

Blockchain: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about the blockchain, the innovative technology that powers Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies.

SanDisk reveals world’s first 1TB SD card – SanDisk today showcased its upcoming 1TB SDXC card prototype at a European trade show for photo and video professionals. The Western Digital subsidiary, which just two years ago debuted the first 512GB SD card, said doubling the capacity of its Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card was necessary to address the increasing demand for high-resolution content, such as 4K and 8K videos, virtual reality and 360-degree videography. SanDisk’s 512GB SD card sells for $345.77 on online retail sites.

Canary Flex is a small, smart outdoor security camera – Canary has launched a new security camera product called the Canary Flex; it is small, smart, and can be used outdoors, withstanding things like rain and wind to stand ever vigilant over your home. The camera sits idle, and starts recording when it detects movement. If something particularly odd — at least in the camera’s estimation — comes into view, it’ll fire off a push notification to its owner. Overtime, Flex will better understand what kind of things are worth sending notifications about and which ones are, while unusual, of no particular interest or importance.


Samsung: just 25 percent of Note 7s in US have been exchanged – Samsung has just announced that it has shipped 500,000 replacement Galaxy Note 7 devices to US retailers and carriers. They’ll be available beginning tomorrow to owners of the original, fire-hazard Note 7 for in-store exchanges. This first batch of replenishment stock is intended exclusively for exchanges; Samsung hasn’t yet said when Note 7 retail sales will officially resume — but VentureBeat claims the relaunch will come in late October. In another update, Samsung now says 25 percent of Note 7 devices have so far been exchanged in the United States.

Mobile productivity: These are the three apps Ed Bott can’t work without – What handful of mobile apps are essential to your daily work life? We asked our writers and editors to name the iOS or Android productivity tools they can’t live without. These are Ed Bott’s favorites.

Google Trips: This iOS, Android app gives you all your travel data plus offline access – Google has created a smart travel app that makes it easier to plan trips and search for information when on the go.

How to Take a Screenshot on Any Device – No matter what your platform, here’s how to take a picture of what’s on your screen.

10 Beyond-Basic Photography Tips – You don’t have to be a pro to really love photography. If taking pictures is your passion, consider these tips and ideas to help expand your skills and bring new perspective to your work.

Google’s New Messaging App Allo Is Surprisingly Addictive – Allo is more than just a messenger, it’s the future of Google Search.


Data-stealing Qadars Trojan malware takes aim at 18 UK banks – Sophisticated malware has been discovered, capable of tricking users into giving away admin rights to their entire system, as well as stealing their bank details.


Hackers hijack Tesla Model S from afar, while the cars are moving – Chinese hackers have attacked Tesla electric cars from afar, using exploits that can activate brakes, unlock doors, and fold mirrors from up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) away while the cars are in motion.

Ransomware’s next target: Your car and your home – Cybersecurity researchers have demonstrated how vulnerabilities in everyday connected devices can allow hackers to hold whole areas of your life to ransom.

This Tool Lets You Check If Your Personal Info Is on the Dark Web – It’s pretty hard to know when your data might have been compromised. Over the last few years, an industry of threat intelligence firms has popped up that offer to monitor criminal forums, paste sites, and Tor hidden services for stolen intellectual property or customer information. Now, one of these companies is letting anyone monitor the dark web for a limited amount of their own personal information. On Tuesday, Terbium Labs announced it was opening up its “Matchlight” product to the general public, allowing users to keep tabs on five different pieces of info for free.

Someone Is Putting Malicious USB Sticks in Australian Mailboxes – Some people just can’t resist the urge to plug random USB sticks into their computers. Now, someone in Australia is taking full advantage of the public’s naivety when it comes to cybersecurity. On Wednesday, police from Victoria warned of malicious USB sticks being placed in citizens’ mailboxes. “The USB drives are believed to be extremely harmful and members of the public are urged to avoid plugging them into their computers or other devices,” the announcement reads. Those who plug the devices into their PCs are presented with “fraudulent media streaming service offers, as well as other serious issues,” the announcement adds.


A picture of the offending USBs. Image: Victoria Police

Raum turns the most popular torrents on the web into malware spreading weapons – According to InfoArmor, Raum is used to “weaponize” these torrents by inserting malware into the packages through both the uTorrent client and a “special infrastructure” which allows the threat actors to manage new seeds for torrents using a network of dedicated and virtual servers, alongside compromised devices. The cybercriminals behind the scheme use data analytics to identify trends on video, audio, software and other downloads which are popular through torrents. Once the group has identified the most popular — and therefore most likely to distribute malicious code — Raum is used to create malicious “seeds” — the systems hosting the full file for download — while “leechers” seek the file for download, execute, and potentially become compromised.

Hackers Hit ‘Some’ Cisco Customers With Leaked NSA Hacking Tools – Unknown hackers have used NSA hacking tools released online last month to breach some targets using firewalls, switches and routers made by Cisco Systems, according to the tech company. This is apparently the first real-world cyberattack leveraging an unknown vulnerability that was in the arsenal of the NSA elite hacking team for years until a mysterious group calling itself The Shadow Brokers dumped several of those NSA tools on the internet.

Over 554M data records breached, with identity theft most common – More than 970 data breaches were reported worldwide in the first half of 2016, up 15 percent from the previous six months, according to Gemalto’s Breach Level Index.

Company News:

Google’s October 4 “Pixel phones” Nexus event is official – Google has confirmed it will hold an event on October 4, where we’re expecting to see the next generation of Android Nexus smartphones. The event, which will take place in San Francisco, has been rumored for some time now, with Google predicted to make some significant changes to how it runs its own-brand smartphone program.

Google is Facing a $400 Million Tax Bill and a Criminal Case in Indonesia – Indonesia plans to pursue Alphabet Inc’s Google for five years of back taxes, and the search giant could face a bill of more than $400 million for 2015 alone if it is found to have avoided payments, a senior tax official said. Muhammad Haniv, head of the tax office’s special cases branch, told Reuters its investigators went to Google’s local office in Indonesia on Monday. Asked to respond to Haniv’s comments, Google Indonesia reiterated a statement made last week in which it said it continues to cooperate with local authorities and has paid all applicable taxes.

HP inkjet printers refuse to accept third-party ink cartridges after stealth firmware update – The inkjet printer market has been a ridiculously profitable racket for HP and its ilk for decades, and manufacturers have fought tooth and nail to keep it that way. HP launched the latest salvo in this effort earlier this month, when a six-month-old firmware update suddenly kicked in and locked out third-party ink cartridges. Multiple models in HP’s OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X were all affected, even though none of these models had seen a firmware update in the past six months. The consensus is that HP actually baked this response into the March 2016 update it released, but told no one it was coming. This ensured more people would adopt the firmware and report that it worked without incident.

Pointing up  Purchased an OfficeJet Pro last month – and, had this HP policy been in effect, I would not have bought this printer (love the printer though). Limiting a purchaser’s options in such a fundamental way, after the fact, seems like a class-action lawsuit in the making, to me. What’s next – Nissan telling you that you can only use a particular brand of gasoline (in which they have a financial interest, naturally), in their vehicles?  Is that a stretch to far? Maybe not.

BlackBerry “Argon” DTEK60’s existence leaked by BlackBerry – BlackBerry apparently isn’t done with Android smartphones yet. Or at least isn’t half done. If you remember the days preceding the announcement of the oddly named DTEK50, there were rumors about “Neon” and “Argon”, even a “Mercury” smartphones coming up. Well, “Neon” eventually became the DTEK50 we know today and, apparently, Argon is going to be the DTEK60 after all. That is according to a product page that was, funnily enough, “accidentally” published by BlackBerry itself. And even if BB takes the page down, the Internet now knows and will remember.

Facebook makes its dynamic ads more friendly to brick-and-mortar retailers – Facebook just announced some new features for its dynamic ads, aimed at making the format more appealing to businesses with brick-and-mortar stores. Facebook’s dynamic ads show you different products based on your activity and interests. Now, the company says it can incorporate data about local product availability, pricing and special offers into these ads. So instead of just showing you the product, the ad can direct you to a specific store where the product is available at a specific price. Then if the product sells out at local stores, the campaign can start featuring something else from the catalog.

AT&T AirGig to Test Broadband Over Power Lines – AT&T today announced new technology it says has the potential to deliver “low cost, ultra-fast multi-gigabit per second wireless internet speeds” using existing infrastructure — power lines. The technology “has the potential to transform Internet access globally, well beyond the AT&T footprint,” delivering speedy wireless connectivity to homes and wireless devices all around the world. It’s performed “extremely well” in AT&T’s internal tests, so the company is now gearing up to see how it works in the real world and plans to soon announce AirGig market trials in select cities and countries.

Games and Entertainment:

The state of 4K gaming: What you need to know, from pricing to performance needs – When we last updated this article in November 2015, you’d need to drop roughly $1,300 at least on just your graphics card, 4K monitor, and power supply to get your PC up to snuff. A whole new PC would of course cost far more. Has the lower price of 4K displays and the launch of a supercharged new generation of graphics cards taken ultra-high resolution gaming mainstream? We’ll tell you what you need to start PC gaming at 4K resolution.

How LG uses fuzzy math to label some of its LCD TVs as 4K – By replacing every fourth red, green, or blue subpixel with a white one, LG boosts the brightness of its 6100-, 6500-, and 6800-series models. The trick works, but it sacrifices resolution.

The CW prepares to launch subscription-free streaming – The CW is making a big move many of its peers are still too afraid to make: it is getting ready to launch subscription-free streaming across just about every major device, including Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, and Xbox, as well as on iOS and Android, and over AirPlay. Because it will be subscription-free streaming, you won’t need an applicable for-pay cable plan in order to sign in and access the content.


Gears of War 4 comes free with Nvidia’s GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 cards – Microsoft is teaming up with Nvidia to give away free copies of Gears of War 4. If you purchase a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 as a graphics card, part of a system, or inside a laptop then you’ll get a free copy of Gears of War 4. The promotion runs from today until October 30th, and as the game is Xbox Play Anywhere you’ll get a copy of the PC version and Xbox One variant for free. While graphics card game bundles are common on the PC side, it’s unusual to see Microsoft pairing up with Nvidia. Microsoft currently uses AMD chips inside its Xbox One, but there’s speculation the company may make the move to Nvidia in the future.

TV Shows Every Self-Respecting Geek Should Watch This Fall – A quick guide to the sci-fi/fantasy shows sure to get the nerd-rage/love as we start a new round of TV watching.

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – Films starring Chadwick Boseman, Tom Hanks, and Sheri Moon Zombie appear in this week’s list of the most pirated movies on the Internet.

Off Topic (Sort of):

MIT’s New Device Uses Wireless Signals to Detect Emotions – If you’ve ever dated an introvert you know that guessing someone’s emotions can be very risky. But soon, you may have more clues: A new device can detect people’s emotions using wireless signals. Designed by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, “EQ-Radio” measures heartbeat and breath to determine if someone is excited, happy, angry, or sad. “Our work shows that wireless signals can capture information about human behavior that is not always visible to the naked eye,” said MIT professor and project lead Dina Katabi. “We believe that our results could pave the way for future technologies that could help monitor and diagnose conditions like depression and anxiety.”


Here’s the full U.S. Federal Automated Vehicles Policy – The U.S. Federal Government noted yesterday that it would be releasing an autonomous vehicle policy designed to help guide the safe development of driverless tech, while also allowing flexibility so that companies can continue to innovate in this space. The full policy is now available, and viewable in full either via the embed below, or at the official website.

ABC News will stream the presidential debates on Facebook Live – ABC News and Facebook are teaming up to bring live streams of all the 2016 presidential debates online. The three debates will air live across eight TV networks as they typically do, but also on ABC News’ Facebook page. Viewers will be able to ask questions and make comments, which ABC says will be incorporated into the Facebook Live coverage. The debates will also be preceded by a new show called Strait Talk and then followed by another Facebook Live show hosted by Nightline co-anchor Dan Harris. The first debate is on September 26th in Hempstead, NY. This isn’t the first time Facebook Live has been involved in political moves this year.

Cops record themselves allegedly fabricating charges with suspect’s camera – In a US federal civil rights lawsuit, a Connecticut man has shared footage to bolster his claims that police illegally confronted the pedestrian because he was filming one of them. Authorities seized Michael Picard’s camera and his permitted pistol, and the officers involved then accidentally recorded themselves allegedly fabricating charges against the man.


New report details 3 reasons why messaging apps are taking over customer service – A recent report from Forrester explained that messaging apps will play a deeper and deeper role in how businesses interact with customers in the future. Here’s why.

Facebook, Google, other tech giants answer Obama’s refugee plea – President Obama says 51 US companies, including major tech players, will provide money, training and tech to help millions of refugees.

Microsoft wants to crack the cancer code using artificial intelligence – Cancer is like a computer virus and can be ‘solved’ by cracking the code, according to Microsoft. The computer software company says its researchers are using artificial intelligence in a new healthcare initiative to target cancerous cells and eliminate the disease. One of the projects within this new healthcare enterprise involves utilizing machine learning and natural language processing to help lead researchers sift through all the research data available and come up with a treatment plan for individual cancer patients. IBM is working on something similar using a program called Watson Oncology, which analyzes patient health info against research data.

Something to think about:

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.”

–     Christopher Morley (1890 – 1957)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Terence Crutcher’s shooting was absent from Facebook Trends – Facebook said 53,000 people were talking about Terence Crutcher’s death by police, but instead it showed me Trends about Xbox, a Game Of Thrones actor, and New Jersey’s governor, even though they all had less chatter.

[Update 3:45pm PT: As of rougly 2:45pm Pacific, “Tulsa Police Shooting” become a Trend on Facebook. But the fact that it took an entire day to appear, and four hours after TechCrunch published this story, demonstrates just how badly Facebook Trends needs to be rethought. This article has been revised.]

Facebook denies it’s a media company, and has tried to distance itself from editorial decision-making by firing all its human Trend curators. But its values and stance towards important social issues are coded into the algorithms and processes that surface trends, and they’re not doing the public justice.

Hopefully this incident will spur Facebook to re-examine how it chooses trends, the way the Ferguson protests inspired Jack Dorsey to get Twitter more involved with activism for worthy causes.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – September 19, 2016

Easily Uninstall/Reinstall Windows 10 Apps;  Got an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? Do these 10 things first;  12 Must-Have iPhone Apps;  20 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do;  How to tell if your Galaxy Note7 is safe to use;  Hack This: Become a Command Line Assassin;  A Simple Way to Secure Sensitive Information;  Xbox Play Anywhere launches, here’s how it works – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Jim Hillier: Easily Uninstall/Reinstall Windows 10 Apps – Windows 10 comes with a slew of pre-installed apps, the usefulness of which will vary from user to user. Most of the less useful apps, such as “Get Office” for example, include their own right-click uninstall option. However, some do not, and this is where third party removal tools can come in handy.

12 Must-Have iPhone Apps – Which apps are so essential that pretty much everyone will benefit from downloading them? Here are a dozen top-notch titles that deserve a home on your iPhone. Bonus: They’re all free!

Got an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? Do these 10 things first – After you inhale that new-iPhone smell, follow this setup guide to be up and running faster than you can say A10 Fusion.

20 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Part of its appeal lies in its pure portability, but there’s also the price: just $35 to wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO, Hulu, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV. Not to mention apps for music, working out, and catching up on sports. When the Chromecast was released in July 2013, it quickly sold out, and is still going strong. Sales have now topped 30 million. While the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

Windows 10 Redstone: A guide to the builds – Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update was rolled out, the company began work on the next two major updates to Windows 10, code-named Redstone 2 and Redstone 3. (Redstone 1 was the code name for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.) Redstone 2 will likely be fully ready in the spring of 2017. It’s not yet clear when Redstone 3 will be finished. We’re making it easy for you to keep track of when builds are available. What follows is a list of every preview build of Redstone 2, starting with the most recent. When Redstone 2 is finished and Redstone 3 builds become available, we’ll list those as well. For each build, we’ve included the date of its release and a link to Microsoft’s announcement about it.

How to tell if your Galaxy Note7 is safe to use – Samsung has created specific box markings and an IMEI lookup tool so you can tell if you have a non-explosive model.

Russia bans Pornhub, YouPorn—tells citizens to “meet someone in real life” – Two of the biggest porn sites in the world have been blocked by Russia’s media regulator, a decision which has apparently prompted uproar on the country’s social media. The regulator dropped the banhammer on Tuesday, applying rules which had previously been imposed by two separate regional courts. Any Russian citizen visiting PornHub or YouPorn is now redirected to a simple message telling them that the sites have been blocked “by decision of public authorities.”

Facebook ads still slipping past Adblock Plus via stripped-down code – It’s been a month since Facebook broke ABP’s last workaround, and the social network’s marketing messages are still getting through. Despite the fact that ABP’s browser extension gets the final say on what appears on your screen, it can’t build filters fast enough when Facebook has total control over the code it serves.

The Problem with Sexual Consent Apps – Not only are they far from sexy, which can hamper use, they miss the mark on discussing what consent actually is.

Here how the uninterruptible power supply keeps your gadgets going – A UPS can keep your gadgets and appliances working when the power goes out. How do they do this? Appliance Science looks at how Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSes) work.

We tear apart a hard drive and SSD to show you how they work – What’s inside your PC’s storage? We took a screwdriver to a dead hard drive and SSD to reveal the inner workings of these vital components.

Hack This: Become a Command Line Assassin – Using the command line is second-nature for me, almost as much so as using the regular old OSX/Windows GUIs. In developing software/programming, we wind up constantly using a lot of tiny utility applications that just don’t have graphical frontends, nor do they need them. To interact with these utilities, we use command-line interfaces, either those provided by an operating system—Terminal in OSX or just the command prompt in Windows—or something third-party, like Cygwin. Why should you the non-hacker care about this particular functionality? For one thing, it’s a slight window into how operating systems actually work. Moreover, there are a few fairly routine tasks that can really only be done via command prompt, and, beyond that, a much larger number of small, helpful utilities that you might like to employ in your regular day-today computing, especially those relating to automation.


Jim Hillier: A Simple Way to Secure Sensitive Information – I’m always on the lookout for innovative methods to secure sensitive data/information stored on the hard drive and USB drives. Recently, I came across SafePad, a simple text editor (similar to Notepad) which automatically encrypts all contained information. I can see multiple useful applications for this type of software: to store a list of account passwords, credit card or banking details– indeed, any sensitive or confidential information.

Michael Horowitz: A Defensive Computing term paper on privacy: VPNs, Tor and VPN routers – If I was in High School, tasked with a writing a term paper about online privacy, I might hand in homework that compared and contrasted Tor, consumer VPNs and VPN routers. Something much like the following.

Malicious smartphone apps turn your phone into tracking device – Four apps available on the Google Play Store were spying on users in secret, according to research released Friday by Mobile security company Lookout. Running a malicious code that Lookout has dubbed Overseer, the apps could track your latitude and longitude and collect information on who you were emailing when.

Chrome, Firefox Make it Harder to Get Your Pirate Bay Fix – Google and Mozilla are reportedly blocking direct access to The Pirate Bay’s download pages. The homepage and search results load without issue, but when trying to download an actual torrent, users are met with a warning message in Chrome (“The site ahead contains harmful programs”—pictured) and Firefox (“Reported unwanted software page!”). “This Web page at has been reported to contain unwanted software and has been blocked based on your security preferences,” Firefox says. “Unwanted software pages try to install software that can be deceptive and affect your system in unexpected ways. Chrome users are similarly told that “Attackers on might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on sites you visit).”


Blizzard hit with DDoS attack disrupting play for gamers – Blizzard Entertainment was hit with a denial-of-service attack on Sunday that knocked its servers offline. “We are currently monitoring a DDOS attack against network providers which is affecting latency/connections to our games,” Blizzard wrote in a tweet. runs many of Blizzard’s popular games, including Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and more. Gamers took to social media with frustration, as VentureBeat points out it was the third time Blizzard’s servers have gone down in a week.

Mozilla plans Firefox fix for same malware vulnerability that bit Tor – Mozilla officials say they’ll release a Firefox update on Tuesday that fixes the same cross-platform, malicious code-execution vulnerability patched Friday in the Tor browser. The vulnerability allows an attacker who has a man-in-the-middle position and is able to obtain a forged certificate to impersonate Mozilla servers, Tor officials warned in an advisory. From there, the attacker could deliver a malicious update for NoScript or many other Firefox extensions installed on a targeted computer. The fraudulent certificate would have to be issued by any one of several hundred Firefox-trusted certificate authorities (CA).

Company News:

Galaxy Note 7 lawsuits begin: man blames Samsung for burns – If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a global recall for Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. It seems the batteries have a high probability of exploding. If have heard about this issue, along with the ensuing news about the Note 7 being prohibited from use on an airplane, or an explosion causing a car fire, then you know it’s just a matter of time before a lawsuit is filed against Samsung. Well, that time has arrived.

Samsung offloads shares of Seagate, Rambus – Samsung Electronics sold its shares in partner firms ASML, Seagate, Rambus, and Sharp, the company said, to efficiently manage assets and focus on its core businesses. Partnerships with the companies will continue “unaffected” by the selling of shares, it added. The sales are to “efficiently manage past investments to focus on core business,” the company said in a statement. The South Korean tech giant sold 1.5 percent share of the Netherlands’ ASML, half of its total of 3 percent, or 6.3 million shares.

Google acquires location-based analytics firm Urban Engines – Google has acquired the two-year old startup Urban Engines to incorporate its location-based analytics into Google Maps. “Location analytics is an important focus for both Urban Engines and Google, and we’re excited to combine forces to help organizations better understand how the world moves,” said Urban Engines in a blog post. Google Maps has been improving and expanding its functionality, as Apple and other companies like Uber bolster their own mapping capabilities.

Oracle buys Palerra to boost its security stack – Terms of the deal were not disclosed but we will try to find out. Palerra was founded in 2013 (originally called Apprity) and raised $25 million with investors including Norwest Venture Partners and August Capital. Palerra’s business currently focuses on providing security automation for enterprise apps, covering not just data in the apps but as that data “moves across services and it offers several layers of protection across infrastructure and software services,” as we wrote about them last year. Given how many apps today integrate and exchange data by way of APIs, that makes for a significant business.

Lyft’s president says ‘majority’ of rides will be in self-driving cars by 2021 – Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer released a 14-page document today in which he predicts that by 2021, “a majority” of rides on its network will be in autonomous vehicles. Also by 2025, Zimmer says personal car ownership in US cities will be a thing of the past. The end of car ownership will change cities in “huge ways,” he said, echoing those experts and academics that predict streets and parking lots will be transformed into housing and open spaces with the mass adoption of autonomous vehicles. It will also change the daily experience of riding in a car, he said.

Logitech acquires Saitek, maker of simulation game controllers – Logitech has acquired Saitek, maker of simulation game controls. The Saitek website already sports the Logitech logo (the acquisition was made public on Thursday); while Saitek hasn’t issued any statements about the business move, Logitech says it is excited with “a whole list of reasons.” What are those reasons? Logitech says that Saitek’s products are “just great,” giving simulation gaming fans the kind of controllers they need for an immersive experience.

Fox files suit against Netflix for employee poaching – 20th Century Fox is looking to get an injunction against Netflix to prevent it from luring away employees under contract, according to a new lawsuit filed with an LA court. Recent Netflix hires Tara Flynn and Marcos Waltenberg were apparently the proverbial straws that broke the camel’s back, as both ex-Fox employees had contracts signed that tied the to the studio through at least 2016. According to the suit, Netflix allegedly knew about the agreements in place before pursuing the hires of both employees, with the specific intent of incentivizing them to break their contracts. Fox is looking for damages in addition to the injunction against any further poaching.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Play Anywhere launches, here’s how it works – With the launch of ReCore, Microsoft has started its Play Anywhere initiative. Users can now purchase a digital game on either Xbox One or PC (via the Windows Store) and have access to it on both platforms. Players can play on Xbox One and then move over to play on PC (and vice versa) and have their progress, including achievements, carry over. Play Anywhere gives players more freedom to play where and how they want, but how does it all work exactly?

The Best Documentaries On Netflix Streaming – Netflix has a solid selection of non-fiction films streaming (and one spectacular non-fiction series in Making A Murderer.) If you’re looking for a gripping story to occupy you for a few hours, these are our picks for the best documentaries on Netflix streaming. From psychological horror to true crime, video games and comics to conspiracy theories, these movies will give you a glimpse into corners of the world you may never have otherwise seen.

Two million people streamed the NFL on Twitter last night and loved it – More than 2M people watched the game on Twitter, compared to 48M who watched it on TV. The average user also spent 22 minutes watching on Twitter, compared to 25 minutes watching on TV (which is the only stat that is almost identical). More specifically, an average of 243,000 people were watching on Twitter at any given time, compared to an average of 15.4M watching at once on CBS and NFL Network (the two networks showing the game on cable). While the numbers seem low compared to cable, it’s actually a pretty big win for the network, which was able to show investors and the rest of the industry that at least some people will actually watch a live streamed game on Twitter.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The best inventions in food technology of all time – In this series we take a look at everything, large and small, that has changed the way we do things and significantly enhanced our lives. In part nine we look at technology advancements in food that we cannot live without.

Ted Cruz is Trying to Sabotage the Internet’s Governance Transition – Led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Republicans are working to sabotage the US government’s long-standing plan to transfer oversight of core internet technical functions, including management of the Domain Name System (DNS), to a nonprofit group of global stakeholders. Cruz and his GOP allies claim that the Oct. 1 transfer would undermine global internet freedom, imperil US national security, and violate federal law—and they’ve pledged to use the federal budget process to block the move. Cruz has even gone so far as to threaten federal employees working on the transition with prosecution and imprisonment.

New EU rules decree free, public 100Mbps Wi-Fi in every town in Europe – According to the president of the EU’s executive body, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU is in trouble. Between the refugees and the terrorists and the finances, Juncker says, the EU is facing an “existential crisis,” and what Europe really needs right now is… more internet. All the cool kids are online, Juncker implies, and internet access empowers people. While he’s also in favor of logging all border crossings and giving that information straight to Europol, he wants to permanently kill roaming charges and spread out internet connectivity via free public Wi-Fi, so that it reaches everywhere people spend their time. He wants to do this by 2020. To that end, he’s got a €120M grant laid out for municipalities to use for internet infrastructure, and the plan is to start writing checks by the end of this year.

Something to think about:

“I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.”

–    Alice Roosevelt Longworth  (1884 – 1980)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Why Obama should pardon Edward Snowden – Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has asked President Barack Obama for a pardon, and the ACLU, which represents Snowden in the US, agrees. The following essay by Timothy Edgar, which originally appeared on the blog Lawfare, supports that position. Edgar is the former director of privacy and civil liberties for the Obama administration’s national security staff, and is currently the academic director of law and policy at Brown University’s Executive Master in Cybersecurity program, and visiting scholar at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

Why President Obama won’t, and shouldn’t, pardon Snowden – A “pardon Snowden” campaign was launched Wednesday in conjunction with the Snowden film. Snowden himself made the “moral case” for why he should be pardoned, and Tim Edgar made a much more powerful case. I remain unconvinced. I don’t think the president will, or should, pardon Snowden.

I say this even though I agree with Tim about many of the upsides to Snowden’s theft and leak of documents from NSA databases. On the third anniversary of the Snowden disclosures, I wrote about how, despite their many costs, the disclosures strengthened the intelligence community. They forced the NSA to be more transparent and to better explain itself, demonstrated that the NSA was acting with the full knowledge and support of three branches, resulted in its authorities being strengthened and its collection practices barely narrowed (and in some respects expanded), and overall enhanced its domestic legitimacy going forward. I was not kidding when I said that “[t]hese are but some of the public services for which the US government has Snowden to thank.” This was not a new theme with me. I have made similar points for years.

Don’t just pardon Edward Snowden; give the man a medal – As Barack Obama’s second term comes to an end, an increasingly loud chorus of voices are calling for a dramatic final presidential act: the pardoning of Edward Snowden. Authoritarians are horrified by this, and, as usual, they are wrong. A pardon really isn’t enough. As I’ve argued before, Snowden deserves a medal.

I can hear the outraged naysayers already. “It was treason!” “He broke the law!” “He should have followed official channels!” They’ll probably point to the House Intelligence Committee report on Snowden, turning a wilfully blind eye to what Barton Gellman calls its “aggressive dishonesty.”

But whether you revere or despise Edward Snowden as a person, the cold hard fact is that America is a far better place because of Edward Snowden’s so-called “treason” — even if it was illegal. A certain apoplectic subset of the intellectual lazy seem unable to cope with the notion that an action can be simultaneously “against well-intended laws” and “good” — and yet, this is so, and the Snowden revelations act as a superb object example.

World’s largest internet exchange sues Germany over mass surveillance – The world’s largest internet exchange point is suing the German government for tapping its communications systems.

DE-CIX runs a number of critical exchange points – most of them in Germany, but with others in France, Spain and the United States – and has sued the German interior ministry over orders from the German security services to allow them to tap its exchange centers.

The goal of the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Leipzig, is to reach a “judicial clarification” over whether the German government’s actions are legal, the company said (in German), and “in particular, legal certainty for our customers and our company.”

According to DE-CIX, its customers – typically large ISPs from around the world – have pressured the exchange point to seek clarity over the legality of tapping its centers.

A recent paper by a German constitutional lawyer claimed that the actions of the German intelligence services (BND) were “completely illegal,” arguing that the degree of surveillance was “disproportionate” and failed to account for whether the communications covered German citizens or not.

News Orgs Sue FBI for Details on San Bernardino iPhone Hacking – The Associated Press and two other news organizations sued the FBI on Friday for details about who the agency worked with and how much it spent to hack the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone earlier this year.

The lawsuit, filed by the AP, Gannett (which owns USA Today), and Vice Media, “seeks records about the FBI’s contract with an unidentified vendor who provided a tool to unlock the phone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook,” the AP said.

The lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia under the US Freedom of Information Act.

“Understanding the amount that the FBI deemed appropriate to spend on the tool, as well as the identity and reputation of the vendor it did business with, is essential for the public to provide effective oversight of government functions and help guard against potential improprieties,” the suit argues, according to the AP.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 16, 2016

Microsoft is finally bringing desktop apps to the Windows Store;  Remix OS is now available as a simple-to-use Android emulator for Windows;  Five types of browser extensions every professional should have;  12 little-known tips and tricks for Apple Music;  6 tips to get the most out of Google Apps for Education;   The Best Web Browsers of 2016;  21 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life;   Hackers are shaping US election coverage with data leaks – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft is finally bringing desktop apps to the Windows Store – Microsoft’s Windows Store originally launched alongside Windows 8 nearly four years ago. Instead of listing existing desktop apps and useful Windows tools, the Windows Store has always been used as a way to push Microsoft’s new universal apps. Microsoft is finally changing the way the Windows Store works this week, allowing third-party developers to easily bring their existing desktop apps and games over to the universal app platform. Evernote, Arduino IDE, doubleTwist, PhotoScape, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro, Virtual Robotics Kit, Relab, SQL Pro, Voya Media, Predicted Desire, and korAccount are all available in the Windows Store this week, and many more are expected in the coming months

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update enhances the Settings tool – Windows is moving toward a more sensible and user-friendly Settings tool. And although progress has been slow, the Anniversary Update does include some promising improvements.

How to turn off Windows Defender’s enhanced notifications in Windows 10 – Windows Defender in the Anniversary Update loves to tell you what it’s doing. Here’s how to stop that.

How to tweak the Windows 10 Action Center to make it less annoying – The default settings for the Windows 10 Action Center can be irritating. Take a few minutes to customize it and reduce the annoyance factor.

Remix OS is now available as a simple-to-use Android emulator for Windows – Remix OS is basically a desktop version of Android, with floating windows and a start menu-style app drawer. So, it makes sense that creators Jide would make it as easy to use on a desktop. Enter Remix OS Player — a free, downloadable emulator of the OS for Windows. It’s always been fairly easy to get Remix OS on a Windows device by booting from a USB stick, for example, but with the Player you simply download it as .EXE.


The Best Web Browsers of 2016 – With new browser options like Edge and Vivaldi, the Web has become a much more interesting place. Here’s how the newbies stack up against your old favorites on features and performance.

Five types of browser extensions every professional should have – Google Chrome and Firefox both make installing extensions easy. With more and more work done online, these five types of extensions will save you time and effort.

5 more Firefox add-ons that boost browser productivity – Keep tabs on all your email accounts, track your web surfing, and more with these customizations.

Pandora launches Pandora Plus, an improved version of its $5 subscription service – As expected, Pandora has launched Pandora Plus, a rebranded and improved version of its $5-a-month Pandora One offering. It also has enhanced its free, ad-supported service, which the majority of its users take advantage of. The release of the updated services marks the beginning of a new era for Pandora, as the company will end 2016 with three tiers of service and an on-demand service to compete against Spotify and Apple Music.

12 little-known tips and tricks for Apple Music – Apple Music’s new look refreshes some old features, like For You, and adds few under-the-radar ones that make version 2.0 a whole lot easier to use. Yes, Connect is no longer taking up valuable space in your navigation bar, although it’s not gone altogether. Here are 12 tips that will help you get the most out of Apple Music in iOS 10.

Google Maps adds speed limits to Android app and Android Auto – We have all been cruising down the road at one time or another and wondered exactly what the speed limit was on the road. Often this thought comes to mind right after we see a police car. The problem is for a lot of the roads there are no speed limit signs or they are few and far between. Google has an update for its Google Maps app rolling out that will help us know what the speed limit is. Google Maps is now showing speed limit icons on maps on Android Auto and on the Android app.

6 tips to get the most out of Google Apps for Education – More and more educational organizations are moving to Google Apps for Education. Tim Burke of BetterCloud suggests a few best practices for Google Apps admins in the space.

Samsung’s replacement Note 7s will be in US stores by September 21st – Moments ago Samsung announcement a formal, CPSC-backed recall of the Galaxy Note 7 in the United States. And in a press release dealing with that news, Samsung also provided an update on when its new, replacement Note 7s (with safe batteries inside, hopefully) will reach retailers: they’ll be arriving by next week. “We confirmed that new Note 7 replacement devices will be available in the United States at most retail locations no later than September 21st, 2016,” the company said in a statement.

T-Mobile Warns: Don’t Download iOS 10 – Bricked iPhones, lost network connections, and porn are a few of the operating system’s unintended features.

21 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life – There are some “productivity” apps that will suck you in and never let you go. Day after day, you’ll return to them, enjoy them, and then wonder “Where the hell did the time go?” They’re the empty calories of the app world. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth downloading; just beware that these apps don’t suck … but they will suck time.


Remote hacker nabs Win10 logins in ‘won’t-fix’ Safe Mode attack – Security researcher Doron Naim has cooked an attack that abuses Windows 10’s Safe Mode to help hackers steal logins. The Cyberark man says remote attackers need to have access to a PC before they can spring this trap, which involves rebooting a machine into Safe Mode to take advantage of the lesser security controls offered in that environment. Once in Safe Mode, logins can be stolen and otherwise with defeated pass-the-hash lateral techniques can be used to compromise other networked machines.

Microsoft releases one of its biggest security updates this year – Microsoft released one of its biggest security updates this year, fixing 50 vulnerabilities in its products and 26 more in Flash Player which is bundled with its Edge browser.

Adobe fixes critical flaws in Flash Player and Digital Editions – Adobe Systems has fixed over 30 vulnerabilities in its Flash Player and Digital Editions products, most of which could be exploited to remotely install malware on computers.

Hackers are shaping US election coverage with data leaks – Hackers are becoming a major source for political leaks in this year’s presidential election. Tuesday’s leak of emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell has security experts worried that hackers are manipulating U.S. media outlets to influence this year’s election.

FBI director says tape is the best way to defeat webcam hacks – According to officials tasked with keeping the US homeland safe, tape should be the first supply atop everybody’s safety list. Today, that leftover tape can now help us stave off a webcam hack—at least an attack that secretly films unsuspecting computer users. That’s what James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, said Wednesday. In April, he told Americans that he puts tape on his webcam. Now it’s your turn.

Cybersecurity predictions for 2016: How are they doing? – We examine the frequency and scale of cyberattacks in the first half of 2016, and see whether security experts’ predictions were on the money at the start of the year.

Pokémon Go guide app with half a million downloads hacks Android devices – A rogue Pokémon Go helper application with over 500,000 downloads on Google Play had Trojan code that downloaded root exploits to take over Android devices.

Just how vulnerable is election technology? – This year’s electoral process has been unconventional, to say the least, and most voters are either polarized or frustrated (sometimes both) with how we got to this point. Now, as this volatile election approaches the final threshold of November, citizens are skeptical about whether our electoral system — particularly the technology used in it — is precise, unbiased or secure enough to produce a fair, accurate vote count. In fact, 66 percent of citizens think our electoral system is, in some ways, broken. But just how vulnerable is our election technology? Is it something we should be collectively worried about?

Company News:

Apple unit in Japan said to pay $118M to cover underreported tax – An Apple iTunes unit in Japan agreed to pay 12 billion yen ($118 million) in tax after local authorities determined it had underreported income, according to local media. Apple is one of many US technology companies that have benefited from stashing cash overseas. That maneuver lets the companies avoid paying hefty taxes they could face by bringing the cash back to the US. The report comes a little more than two weeks after the European Union hit Apple with a $14.5 billion tax penalty, ruling its deal with Ireland was illegal.

Twitter rolls out new features for businesses running customer service accounts – Twitter today is rolling out a series of new features designed to help users better connect with businesses offering customer support through their official Twitter accounts. Now those businesses will be able to clearly display on their profile if their account offers customer service, as well as which times those accounts are active. The business can now indicate if it offers service via a new Customer Support settings page on the Twitter Dashboard website. Once enabled, the business’s Twitter profile will read that it “Provides Support.” This option will also turn on the account’s ability to receive Direct Messages from anyone. In other words, the business will no longer need to request that customers follow them back so they can send a private message.

Apple shoots down rumor it’s buying Tidal – For months now we’ve been hearing rumors and industry talk about streaming music service Tidal looking for a buyer, with an acquisition by Apple being the most expected. However, in a rare case of addressing such rumors, Apple has come out and clearly stated that it has no plans to purchase Tidal or any other streaming service. That doesn’t mean the two companies didn’t have talks at some point, but it certainly looks like a deal won’t be reached anytime in the near future.

Volkswagen is founding a new cybersecurity firm to prevent car hacking – As cars become more computerized, the vehicles are facing a greater risk of being hacked. That’s why Volkswagen is founding a new cyber security company devoted to protecting next generation cars.

Uber Launches Self-Driving Vehicles in Pittsburgh – Uber on Wednesday launched its self-driving pilot program that allows some passengers to get to their destination in a vehicle that drives itself, marking the company’s first public test in the U.S. of the future of the technology.

Amazon will use stocking stuffers to take over your home – The e-commerce giant plans to seed the market with cheap, Alexa-powered electronics, and corner the smart home in the process.

Amazon plans mammoth wind farm in Texas – Amazon unveiled on Thursday its largest renewable energy project to date: a mammoth wind farm in Texas. When it opens next year, the west Texas farm will generate 1 million megawatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power nearly 90,000 US homes, Amazon said. The farm will include more than 100 turbines, each with a rotor diameter twice as long as the wingspan of a Boeing 747, the company said.

Games and Entertainment:

PSA: Grab all of Battlefield 4’s expansions for free through next week – Good things come to those who wait—and, in this case, “good things” means “All five packs of Battlefield 4 DLC, for free.” That’s right, all of it. Each pack has been given away separately at some point in the past, but with Battlefield 1 releasing next month, DICE and EA have made it easy on everyone and thrown all the deals together—but only for a short time. Grab them by Monday, September 19 if you want them. You need the base copy of the game too, naturally.

Battlefield 1 beta becomes largest EA beta of all time with 13.2m players – If you thought that maybe the market for first person shooters was beginning to narrow, Electronic Arts and DICE would like a word with you. The two companies announced today that its multiplayer beta for Battlefield 1, which ran for a little over a week, has become the largest beta in EA history, attracting a grand total of 13.2 million players.

New Resident Evil 7 details include trailer and demo update – With the Tokyo Game Show currently underway in, well, Tokyo, developer Capcom has used the event to reveal new details and media on Resident Evil 7 biohazard. The most exciting bit is that the “Beginning Hour” teaser demo that was first released in June on PS4 has received a free update that adds new areas to explore. Also neat is that the PS Plus requirement has been dropped, so now anyone can download the latest version of the demo at no cost. The “Twilight” update to the demo is available starting today, and once installed, “allows players to explore more of the mysterious, derelict mansion,” Capcom notes. In addition to new rooms are more items and clues to the game’s mysteries.

Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Collection arrives for PS4, Xbox One in November – Ubisoft has announced that Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection will be available for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 starting this upcoming November. According to the company, more than 100 million copies of Assassin’s Creed games have been sold thus far, marking a big milestone for the franchise ahead of November’s “The Ezio Collection” launch. The Ezio Collection will include Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, and Assassin’s Creed Revelations, among other things.

How to build a cheap but powerful gaming PC for $500 – This budget gaming PC might cost only $500 to build, but it’ll deliver excellent performance in any PC game you throw at it.

The Fifty Shades Darker trailer set a new record for views in its first day – In its first 24 hours of existence, the trailer for the sequel to last year’s Fifty Shades of Grey garnered more views than the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens did in its first day. The Fifty Shades Darker trailer was viewed more than 114 million times during a one-day time frame, according to Deadline. The Force Awakens trailer previously held that record with 112 million views.

Off Topic (Sort of):

A ‘Memory Hacker’ Explains How to Plant False Memories in People’s Minds – We tend to think of memories as perfect little time capsules—important records of past events that matter to us and made us who we are, as unchangeable as a dragonfly stuck in amber. Well, they’re anything but. I recently met with Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist who specializes in the science of memory. “I am a memory hacker,” Shaw told me. “I use the science of memory to make you think you did things that never happened.” Implanting a false memory, it turns out, is alarmingly easy to do.

You can now take a walk through 10 Downing Street with Google – The traditional home of the British Prime Minister has now been opened to the public — at least, in a digital fashion. Members of the public can now explore 10 Downing Street London after the traditional home of the British Prime Minister has remained off-limits to tourists for so long. While you may not be able to physically walk the halls or fondle the ornaments, you can, at least, wander around the buildings’ rooms and halls thanks to a new partnership between the UK government and Google.

Bayer Just Bought Monsanto, Here’s Why You Should Care – The $66 billion merger is the largest this year, and means Bayer now controls more than a quarter of all seeds and pesticides on the planet, according to the BBC. But what’s even crazier is that this is just the latest in a long list of big mergers of agricultural companies this year, meaning the options for where farmers buy their seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers are shrinking at lightning speed. If this all sounds vaguely threatening but you’re not sure why, it’s because there’s a chance these mergers could put additional pressure on farms, leading to higher food prices, or even threaten food security.

Something to think about:

“Passive acceptance of the teacher’s wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favour of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position.”

–     Bertrand Russell    (1872 – 1970)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech leaders, activists call for Obama to pardon Snowden – Tech luminaries Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, have joined a new campaign pushing for a pardon of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Other supporters of the campaign, launched Wednesday, are Harvard law professor and tech policy author Lawrence Lessig; tech investor Esther Dyson; noted cryptographer and MIT professor Ron Rivest; and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow.

The campaign, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, asks supporters to sign a letter asking President Obama to pardon the former NSA contractor. “Snowden’s actions … set in motion the most important debate about government surveillance in decades, and brought about reforms that continue to benefit our security and democracy,” the letter says.

The campaign has also attracted high-profile support from outside the tech community, with many backers coming from the liberal end of the political spectrum.

Lawmakers tell Obama not to pardon Snowden – U.S. lawmakers are trying to stifle any hope that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will receive a pardon. On Thursday, the House intelligence committee sent a letter to President Obama urging him to treat Snowden as a criminal.

The letter was sent amid calls from tech leaders and liberal activists for Obama to pardon Snowden. The campaign, supported by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and celebrities including actor Daniel Radcliffe, argues that Snowden sparked an important debate about government mass surveillance.

FBI makes new rules for impersonating reporters after fake news malware sting – After a controversial sting operation conducted by the FBI, in which agents impersonated the Associated Press to plant malware on a suspect’s computer, the agency says it has instituted new rules for when it can use the undercover practice.

The news came in a report from the Department of Justice inspector general, which acts as an independent watchdog for the agency. The report said that the FBI decided in June of this year to create a new “interim” policy, which requires top brass to sign off on any undercover operation where FBI agents impersonate journalists. The inspector general’s report called the new interim policy “a significant improvement.”

Facebook censored a live stream video posted by Dakota pipeline protesters – Facebook has admitted to censoring a video posted by activists protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, with the social network blaming the removal on its automated spam filter. The live stream video, published on Tuesday by the media collective Unicorn Riot, showed police arresting around two dozen protesters at a Dakota pipeline site. Unicorn Riot published a link to the live stream on its Facebook page, but the URL was blocked and other users were unable to share it. The link has since been restored, and a Facebook spokesperson apologized for the removal in a statement to Motherboard.

In a statement to Antimedia, a member of Unicorn Riot said that the video was censored “shortly before two of our journalists were arrested onsite,” adding that posts and comments that contained the URL “triggered popup security alerts.” According to the collective, Facebook’s debugger said that the link violated the site’s “community standards.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 14, 2016

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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


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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–       Barack Obama

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – September 12, 2016

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Image: Erik Underwood/TechRepublic

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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


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

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


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


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

Something to think about:

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

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

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – September 9, 2016

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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


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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–   Donald Trump   Carl Schurz    (1829 – 1906)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – September 7, 2016

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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


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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

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

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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