Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 11, 2015

How Secure is Your Android? Mobile Antivirus Apps Tested;  Take Google’s Security Checkup, Get 2GB Of Free Google Drive Space;  3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference?  Facebook’s Free Mobile Internet App Now Available in India;  3 power tools to supercharge your browser bookmarks;  Facebook takes on Craigslist with ‘For Sale Groups’ ;  DARPA: Nothing on the Internet is secure, including cars;  Amazon’s Newest Tool Lets Anyone Host Giveaways Online;  Samsung smart TVs inserting ads into third-party apps;  Target pulls the plug on its digital video service;  Atari reboots Asteroids;  It’s Time To Rethink Our Smart Things;  Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How Secure is Your Android? Mobile Antivirus Apps Tested – Most of us will never see our Android antivirus apps spit out a warning because most of us will never encounter malware on our phones. So how can you tell if your Android antivirus is actually protecting your phone against the malware that sometimes sneaks onto Google Play or is installed by an overbearing spouse? Independent testing lab AV-Test is here with the answers.

Wickr uses purr-fect cat GIFs to teach us about online security – Staying safe online is getting more difficult. Wickr’s guide to online security teaches us how to be safe, using something we can all understand: cat GIFs.

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Facebook’s Free Mobile Internet App Now Available in India – Facebook is making good on its goal to deliver Internet access to “the next 5 billion people” around the world who currently don’t have it. The Internet giant this week launched its Internet.org app in India, offering free basic Web services to millions of people in the second-most populous country on the planet. The app is now available in six different Indian states —Tamil Nadu, Mahararashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana —offering residents access to more than three dozen Web services.

Take Google’s Security Checkup, Get 2GB Of Free Google Drive Space – To give you a bit of extra motivation to check on your security settings in Google, the company is giving away 2GB of permanent Drive space to anybody who goes through its Security Checkup within the next week. I just went through the process and it’s pretty straightforward (or as a Google spokesperson told me, “my mom could understand this – and that’s often not true with online security!”). While working your way through the wizard, you’ll check your recovery information, recent activity, account permissions and passwords, as well as your two-factor authentication settings.

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New app to be launched later this year in the UK that tracks children’s phone use – An app that can see almost everything that children are doing on their smartphones, along with their location will be launched in the UK later this year for parents. Does this present a privacy issue?

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Dropbox has made a Chrome plugin that lets you directly add Dropbox content to Gmail – In an effort to rival Google’s own Google Drive cloud hosting platform, Dropbox has developed a Chrome plugin which seamlessly merges with Gmail and allows a user to add Dropbox content directly to emails. The plugin is fairly straight forward. After installing it from the Chrome Web Store, it adds a circle button with a dropbox icon next to the ‘send’ button. Pressing that will open up an interface somewhat similar to Dropbox’s web file browser and allow you to select the files you’d like to add to the email.

3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference? – For average consumers, ‘3G’ and ‘4G’ are two of the most mysterious terms in the mobile technology dictionary, but they’re used relentlessly to sell phones and tablets. If you’re shopping for a new phone, the answer isn’t clear-cut, and you shouldn’t always go for the higher number. Our primer will help explain which technology to pick.

Google Injects Health Facts Into Knowledge Graph – Google notes today that one in 20 searches performed using Google products is health-related. In a blog announcing Knowledge Graph’s medical injection, Google product manager Prem Ramaswami says U.S. users will shortly start to see “relevant medical facts” alongside their search results when they ask about “common health conditions”. Detailing “common health conditions” appears to be just the start. Google’s longer term mission sounds more akin to becoming a de facto global medical encyclopedia. So Google adopting a health-focused mantle also inevitably tramples on the turf of existing online health info portals like WebMD.

3 power tools to supercharge your browser bookmarks – The web has changed in fundamental ways over the years—like when sites started turning into full-blown apps—but one thing that hasn’t changed is our reliance on bookmarks. If you just need a list with stuff organized into folders then the standard bookmarks manager in your browser of choice will do just fine. But if you want to take your bookmarks to the next level with a sleeker visual look, annotations, or notes, then check out these three bookmark power tools.

Facebook takes on Craigslist with ‘For Sale Groups’ – Maybe because they’re trying to get in on the Etsy racket, or maybe just because they can; either way, Facebook is now making it much easier to sell things via Groups. Today, the social giant is announcing a new feature for Groups, which will allow users to sell items in a more streamlined way, with posts that are more easily manageable and professional looking. The feature was spotted previously, with Facebook saying they were trialing it for some groups who were noticed to have been actively selling anyway.

Streamus transforms YouTube into a simple, ad-free music streaming service – No, I haven’t found a way to get YouTube Music Key for free. What I’m talking about is a Chrome extension called Streamus that hooks into YouTube and offers as much music streaming as you can handle. Streamus doesn’t play videos and doesn’t require you to have a tab open. Instead, the extension just grabs the audio from the videos to let you listen to as much music as you want. If you ever do want to see the video, however, you can right-click any song to view it on Google’s video site.

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Amazon’s Newest Tool Lets Anyone Host Giveaways Online – Amazon announced a new self-service tool this morning that allows customers to host giveaways on its website. Anyone is eligible to run these sorts of promotions on the platform, though in Amazon’s case, the feature will likely attract authors, marketers, brands, bloggers, sellers and others looking to raise awareness about themselves, their products, or those who want to engage their audience using promotions.

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iPin turns your smartphone into a smart laser pointer – The newest smart accessory to surface for smartphones is the iPin, a tiny dongle of sorts that plugs into your smartphone and functions as a laser pointer, allowing you to point at things from across the room or drive your pets crazy. In addition to the laser pointer functionality comes presentation control, which makes giving presentations easier by combining the pointer and remote into one device — your smartphone. Users can swipe through presentation slides using their handset’s display, while their laser pointer appears on secondary screens for the audience.

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File storage service Rapidshare to shutter in wake of legal woes – In a message posted to its website Tuesday, Rapidshare said it will stop active service on March 31. “We strongly recommend all customers to secure their data. After March 31st, 2015 all accounts will no longer be accessible and will be deleted automatically,” the message said. It did not say why it is shutting down. However, legal troubles related to copyright infringement have plagued the company for years.

Flipboard aims for more users with jump to the Web – Popular mobile news app Flipboard has finally made the jump to the Web with a website you can access from any browser. Starting today at flipboard.com, you can pick topics and read stories in a format optimized for the desktop, but with that magazine feel that’s made the apps so successful on smartphones and tablets. With the addition of the website, it’s now possible to track stories all day as Flipboard syncs across all your devices. Flipboard already had 40 million users per month on mobile (iOS|Android), but that number is likely to grow now that there’s a more convenient way to try it out.

Security:

Microsoft fixes Internet Explorer’s dangerous memory problems – The Internet Explorer patches are part of the company’s routine monthly release of security and bug fixes for its software products, called “Patch Tuesday.” Microsoft Office and both the desktop and server editions of Windows are also getting fixes in this batch. Overall, Microsoft issued patches to cover 56 different vulnerabilities, which are bundled into nine separate security bulletins.

DARPA: Nothing on the Internet is secure, including cars – We are probably mostly aware of how the Internet has certain holes when it comes to security and privacy. But when the man in charge of hardening the US Department of Defense’s computer networks and the Internet in general says that there is no real security on the Internet, people better take heed. Everything that we connect to the world-wide network can be open to attack, and these days, that almost literally means everything, from smartphones, to thermostats, to doorbells, and yes, even cars. To prove the point, Kaufman subjected reporter Lesley Stahl’s “smart car” to the test. It was a piece of cake to hack the car and gain control of its functions, even going so far as taking over braking mechanisms. In a real-world scenario, this is can be very frightening.

Snapchat Partners With Three Non-Profits To Launch A ‘Safety Center’ – The Safety Center — which can be found at snapchat.com/safety — is primarily targeted at parents and teachers who know little about the service, but there is also information for users, such as its community guidelines. Snapchat said it has partnered with three non-profits — ConnectSafely, iKeepSafe, and UK Safer Internet Center — for this project.

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Tinder-like apps are a security risk to businesses, says IBM – Lovestruck and horny employees are putting their employers and co-workers at risk by using dating apps that are severely vulnerable to hackers, according to a new report by IBM.

Samsung smart TVs inserting ads into third-party apps – People with smart TVs from Samsung have been complaining that the electronics maker is inserting Pepsi ads during the playback of their own, locally-stored movies. “Every movie I play, 20-30 minutes in it plays the Pepsi ad, no audio but crisp clear ad. It has happened on 6 movies today,” one reddit user wrote. The user was posting on a subreddit for Plex, a third-party app on Samsung smart TVs that lets you play movies on your TV that are stored on your computer or on a Network Attached Storage device. Several other redditors reported the same experience.

Company News:

Apple is investing $850 million to build a giant solar farm that will power its new headquarters – Apple CEO Tim Cook told an audience at the Goldman Sach’s Technology and Internet conference that the company is very focused on making environmentally responsible decisions. As proof, he offered up a piece of news. Cook says Apple is investing $850 million to build a brand new 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey, California. The energy produced there will be used, at least in part, to power Apple’s new headquarters. “We know at Apple that climate change is real,” said Cook. “The time for talk has passed and the time for action is now.”

Target pulls the plug on its digital video service less than 18 months after launch – One of the rules of business is to stick to what you know, and it turns out Target didn’t know the digital video space as well as it hoped. Or perhaps it’s fairer to say Target didn’t know the space as well as established heavyweights like Apple iTunes, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Google Play, or even rival Walmart (which acquired Vudu five years ago). Either way, the number-two retail chain in the U.S. has decided to end all services offered on Target Ticket effective March 7, 2015, the company announced on its website.

Yelp gobbles up Eat24, jumps into food delivery business – Yelp, the go-to site for crowdsourced reviews on nearly every sort of consumer-focused business, is jumping into food delivery. The company said Tuesday that it paid $134 million for food ordering and delivery app Eat24. Eat24, which has relationships with 20,000 restaurants in 1,500 US cities, is already integrated into Yelp’s network. That integration lets Yelp users see menus and order takeout directly from the site.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix’s ‘Bloodline’ gets its first trailer – As we’ve previously mentioned, Netflix will be releasing another original series called ‘Bloodline’ on March 20, and ahead of that debut is the series’ first trailer. Netflix released the trailer on its YouTube account on Monday, and during its two or so minutes, we’re given a decent enough look at show, with the focus being mostly on the family and its drama. The trailer is wrapped up neatly with the series’ hook: “We’re not bad people, we just did a bad thing.”

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Anki announces the next generation of its A.I. racing game, and it’s awesome – Anki Drive — a racing game with Hot Wheels-style robot cars powered by your smartphone — was the No. 2-selling toy on Amazon this holiday season; the company sold out of its inventory 10 days before Christmas. It’s a novel concept: you steer a car using your own smartphone, racing against the A.I. or friends who are racing using smartphones and cars of their own. But since the day the game launched in 2013, players have asked for a modular version that let them build their own tracks. It was easier said than done: designing a track that can be easily reassembled took the company more than two years.

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Atari reboots Asteroids as a base-building survival game for PCs. Yes, seriously – Yes, Atari is indeed working on a reboot of a 30-plus year old arcade game where you play as a triangle. Or, actually, Atari is publishing said reboot. Today, we got the first official details on Asteroids: Outpost, “where players mine, build and defend their base and grow their fortune as they go ‘from rocks to riches.'”

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Holy supercut! Awesome video shows Batman’s onscreen evolution – The video not only offers up a great visual representation of Batman through the years, but gives a glimpse at how the Caped Crusader evolved as a character over time. The somber, brooding character in “The Dark Knight Rises” is certainly a long way off from Adam West’s Batman in the 1966 movie who says with a heavy dose of comic relief, “Somedays, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” It’s a great supercut tribute to a superhero who’s been with us for more than 75 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

3D Robotics Opens Its Flight Control App For Drones To Developers – 3DR pilots can use the app to program flights, circle around waypoints and use the company’s Follow Me mode and “dronie” feature to take photos and videos of themselves. The software also features a building mapper for creating 3D scans of large structures. This new version makes planning missions a bit easier — especially when it comes to inserting new waypoints into existing plans, which was quite a hassle in the old version. Next week, 3D Robotics will also integrate support for Droneshare, its site for tracking and sharing flights and pilot rankings (until now, this was only available in the DroidPlanner beta versions).

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400-year old pollution found in Andean ice cap – A group of scientists have announced that they’ve found some extremely old pollution this week, picked up in an ice cap in the Peruvian Andes. Traces of air pollution, they suggest, date back to over 400 year-old mining operations that happened hundreds of miles away. Researchers suggest that this is the first clear evidence of human-made air pollution in South America from any time before the Industrial Revolution. Pollution here likely originated in what’s now Bolivia – in the Potosí mountaintop silver mines.

Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content – Rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement. The result is a situation where lies spread much farther than the truth, and news organizations play a powerful role in making this happen.

Watch Jon Stewart’s very first Daily Show episode – The news broke earlier this evening, with little warning: Jon Stewart will be stepping down from The Daily Show later this year. He’s been such an integral part of the media landscape, it’s almost hard to remember there was a time when the comedian wasn’t on our TVs every night, but it’s true. And while his hair may be a different color and the set design changed, one thing’s for certain: Stewart knew what to do with The Daily Show from the very beginning.

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It’s Time To Rethink Our Smart Things – The television can talk to the fridge which in turn can tell the washer to turn on. You can connect your watch to your coffee machine and send music from your electric lawnmower to a speaker in your pool. It took years for these systems to come to fruition but with the advent of always-on low-energy processors and new wireless standards, your things can now be constantly in touch with each other. What does that mean? It means your TV can see you naked, your Xbox can hear your conversations, and your Dropcam can spy on your neighbors. We live in an era of endless monitoring. We are watched from birth to death and, while most of us in the U.S. will never bump up against it, there is an apparatus in place that could feasibly create a detailed dossier on us in seconds.

Australian police seize 3D-printed gun parts and knuckle dusters in raid – Police have arrested an Australian man for alleged possession of a number of 3D-printed weapons and enough parts to make four separate handguns, in addition to other charges.

Something to think about:

“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

–       John Locke (1632 – 1704)

Today’s Free Downloads:

BlackBeltPrivacy Tor+WASTE+VoIP – Tor enables anonymous browsing, aiding proxy and censorship avoidance. WASTE enables chat, file transfer and support.

We have bundled…

MicroSip: enables *FREE* PC to PC calling with no account sign-up and no middleman server.

WASTE: enables chat, file transfer and support.

Tor: enables anonymous browsing, aiding proxy and censorship avoidance.

As with all versions of Tor – do not rely on this for strong anonymity.

A usability enhanced Privacy Pack.

An installer for: Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Win7 32/64, Win8 32/64.

Features:

*** NOW WITH “”” Serverless, Accountless Pc 2 Pc calling via MicroSip VoIP

Simple to use. Choose your Tor mode from the installer and go…

Streamlined Installation Package.

Integrates seamlessly into an existing Firefox as a new profile. All traces removed on uninstall

Your Tor only Firefox Profile is automatically set up for you, including its plugins.

5 Modes, Standard / Censored Client, Bridge, Relay and Exit – chosen by you.

As a result, you benefit from ALL firefox fixes provided you run the latest version.

NoScript is provided. JavaScript is switched off for you by default, giving you a choice of what content you view.

ABE Application Boundary Enforcement is also switched on by default.

Friendly support provided, via WASTE darkNet().

No additional configuration necessary for server, client, darkNet() or Firefox

Optional Relaying, bandwidth restricted. 0->200Mb or 0->500Mb per day – its your choice.

Regularly updated – we ensure you get the best out of Tor.

*** NOW UPDATED : includes Tor: 0.2.5.10.

*** NOW UPDATED : WASTE updated to 1.8 beta ( build 25 )

NOTE: Screen shots may differ due to our continuous development cycle.

NOTE : PAD Files Available.

WARNING : The NULLNET that WASTE initially connects to is semi-dark..

WARNING : Please complete darkLock() and then enable encryted chats for maximumsecurity.

THANK YOU to our users and reviewers. We hope we can keep you happy.

*** Works Great with other Products in the BlackBelt series

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Box hands cloud encryption keys over to its customers – Box has been talking for more than year about letting its customers manage their own encryption keys, allowing them to store data in the cloud while maintaining control over who gets to access it.

This isn’t a straightforward problem to solve, because Box’s whole business is built on making it easier to share data and collaborate. The strictest security controls could eliminate the reason 44,000 companies are paying Box.

Today, Box says it has a new product that gets the job done. Called “Enterprise Key Management (EKM),” the service puts encryption keys inside a customer’s own data center and in a special security module stored in an Amazon data center. The Box service still must access customer’s data in order to enable sharing and collaboration, but EKM makes sure that only happens when the customer wants it to, Box says.

When asked if the service would prevent Box from handing data over to the government, a company spokesperson said, “Unless the customer provides authorization to Box to provide the content that’s asked for, Box is prevented from sharing the content. When customers use Box EKM we are not able to provide decrypted content because we don’t have the encryption keys protecting the customer’s content.”

NSA wins key ruling in years-old phone and Internet spying lawsuit – The Electronic Frontier Foundation sustained a notable blow in one of its oldest ongoing surveillance-related lawsuits—its motion for partial summary judgment was denied on Tuesday, while a counter motion filed by the National Security Agency was granted.

The case, known as Jewel v. NSA, was originally brought by the EFF on behalf of Carolyn Jewel, a romance novelist who lives in Petaluma, California, north of San Francisco. For years, the case stalled in the court system, but it gained new life after the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013.

Despite the NSA’s victory in its partial summary judgment, there are a number of issues left to be adjudicated in Jewel.

After months of silence from feds on flying phone surveillance, EFF sues – The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit Monday in order to learn more about the United States Marshals Service’s use of airborne cell-site simulators.

The San Francisco-based advocacy group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the USMS’ parent agency, shortly after the revelations came to light in November 2014. However, the DOJ has not produced any responsive documents and has long exceeded the 30-day deadline as defined under the FOIA law.

In the suit, which was filed in federal court in Washington, DC, the EFF asks the court to compel the DOJ to immediately produce the documents. The DOJ did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Last fall, The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Marshals Service (USMS) was using small, fixed-wing Cessnas equipped with so-called DRTboxes—“dirtboxes.” The devices are receivers that spoof a cell tower to gather data from citizens’ phones below. The purpose of such collection is to target and spy on criminal suspects, but the data from any nearby citizen’s phone is also collected by such devices.

FBI really doesn’t want anyone to know about “stingray” use by local cops – If you’ve ever filed a public records request with your local police department to learn more about how cell-site simulators are used in your community—chances are good that the FBI knows about it. And the FBI will attempt to “prevent disclosure” of such information.

Not only can these devices, commonly known as “stingrays,” be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones. Last fall, Ars reported on how a handful of cities across America are currently upgrading to new hardware that can target 4G LTE phones.

The newest revelation about the FBI comes from a June 2012 letter written by the law enforcement agency to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It was first acquired and published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December 2014—similar language likely exists between the FBI and other local authorities that use stingrays.

As the letter states:

In the event that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension receives a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552) or an equivalent state or local law, the civil or criminal discovery process, or other judicial, legislative, or administrative process, to disclose information concerning the Harris Corporation [REDACTED] the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will immediately notify the FBI of any such request telephonically and in writing in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels.

French law allows websites to be blocked sans court order – France is cracking down against extremists and child abusers, and as part of it the nation has unveiled a new law that gives its law enforcement’s cybercrime general directorate the power to order an ISP to block a website sans a court order. The ISPs will have 24 hours to obey the request, and will be reimbursed for whatever costs this could result in. Likewise, the ISPs will also be able to appeal the decision if they feel it was an inappropriate order, something that may or may not be honored depending on the specific circumstances.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 10, 2015

Protect yourself from hackers and the NSA;  Don’t count on antivirus software alone to keep your data safe;  Grading The Privacy Of Smartphone Apps;  Microsoft is giving away 100GB of OneDrive storage;  A beginner’s guide to all things automation;  Google Talk reaches end of life next week;  PiPO X7, the $128 Windows 8.1 mini-PC;  Why you should never Google tech-support numbers;  The Best CPU for the Money – AMD vs. Intel Budget Shootout;  Your Samsung SmartTV isn’t spying on you;  New Facebook porn Trojan;  Auslogics Disk Defrag (free);  Auslogics Browser Care (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Protect yourself from hackers and the NSA – Everybody’s talking about hackers and the NSA stealing our data. Here’s how to do something about it.

Don’t count on antivirus software alone to keep your data safe – Don’t be mistaken: antivirus software is a crucial part of any security arsenal and every day malware scanners the world over detect and throttle millions of malicious software strains. This is not a category of software that we should live without. Here’s the dirty little secret of cyber security, though: nothing is 100 per cent secure. The key is to make things so difficult for attackers that they decide to move on to easier targets.

PrivacyGrade: Grading The Privacy Of Smartphone Apps – We’re a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. We have assigned privacy grades to Android apps based on some techniques we have developed to analyze to their privacy-related behaviors. Learn more here or browse our analyzed apps.

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Facebook’s DeepFace AI can recognize you in nearly any photo – The more time goes by the more obvious it becomes that Minority Report was as good at predicting the future as the psychics it featured. Facebook is boasting that its DeepFace AI system is now powerful enough to spot users in the 400 million photos uploaded to the social network every single day. Sci-fi paranoia aside, Facebook claims the program, which has been learning for years, is actually for increasing privacy. Facebook is no stranger to problems regarding privacy, so to get people to believe that DeepFace will truly benefit users instead of profiting off of them, Zuckerberg and company will have to prove it.

Microsoft is giving away 100GB of OneDrive storage for free for 2 years – If you want extra space for your OneDrive account, Microsoft is giving away 100GB for free for two years if you sign up to receive promotional emails from the company. Because of Microsoft’s initiative to have its products on every major platform, you can grab OneDrive apps for iOS/OS X and Android; Windows 8 and above has OneDrive functionality built in. If you want to grab the offer, hit the source link below but be aware as it looks like this offer may only be for those in the US.

A beginner’s guide to all things automation – At the most fundamental level, smart home products are just trying to make your life simpler. Now, not every device succeeds at that, but the particularly well-executed few really will work wonders. We’ll start with just one smart home product here that’s especially well-suited for beginners, but there are a lot of excellent devices out there that can help automate all sorts of functions in and around your home. And, if this captures your interest, we’ll show you how to take your automation savvy to the next level.

PiPO X7, the $128 Windows 8.1 mini-PC: Unboxing and first impressions – A few days ago I received the PiPO X7 and I’ve since had a bit of a chance to play around with it. I’ve found there are a lot of things to like, especially considering the price, but there are some issues I need to investigate further. While you wait on my full review, here’s the unboxing and my first impressions of the device.

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Imgur kills its Pro subscription, now lets all users store an unlimited number of images – Image-sharing service Imgur has long offered a “pro” tier that gives users unlimited uploads; community features like commenting, voting, and sharing; access to a wide variety of analytics tools; and more. Now, instead of charging $23 per year (or $2.95 a month) for those features, Imgur has announced that everyone using the service will be upgraded to Pro, for free.

Google Talk reaches end of life next week – Over the last year, Google has been integrating Google Talk, Voice and SMS functionality into the Hangouts app. These apps have been slowly moved to the Hangouts app on Android and iOS already, but the desktop users still had the option to use Google Talk. Now, Google has started notifying Gtalk users that the company will be cutting off access to the service on February 16, and that they will need to install the Hangouts app for Chrome to use the IM service. Although Hangouts provides better features than Google Talk on mobile, the lack of a proper desktop client will leave many users disappointed.

Microsoft allows anyone to test Office 2016 desktop apps – Microsoft is planning to release Office 2016 later this year, but it’s letting anyone test a preview copy a little early. Over at Microsoft’s Connect site you can simply sign-up and acknowledge a non-disclosure agreement to get access to the Office 2016 bits. There’s not a huge amount of new changes from Office 2013, but the next version does include a darker theme and Clippy-like helper.

Know the odds of your plane crashing with ‘Am I Going Down?’ – ‘Am I Going Down?’ is an iOS app that tell you the chances of your plane crashing after you enter your flight details. The premise might sound a little stupid, or even like some kind of joke in poor taste, but it is in fact a serious attempt to ease the very real fears that some people have of flying. After being given the various parameters, the app uses math based on real data to show you the figures of how unlikely it is that your flight is going to crash.

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Unlock Windows 10’s hidden, powerful GodMode tool – GodMode. The mere mention of the omnipotence-granting tweak should bring a smile to the face of veteran Windows tinkerers, and yes, the legendary hidden feature still works in the Windows 10 Preview. GodMode essentially unlocks a centralized table of contents for all of Windows’ far-flung features and customization options, drawing all your options together into a single interface and sorting them by tweak types. Once you’ve basked in its glory, you’ll be hooked for life.

TechSpot: The Best CPU for the Money – AMD vs. Intel Budget Shootout – Given how little has changed in the world of CPUs, you might expect buying a new processor to be fairly straightforward. For us, the choice seems clear: Intel has proven to offer superior core performance with considerably greater efficiency. However, many enthusiasts argue that AMD offers better overclocking on its more affordable processors and therefore delivers a better bang for your buck. We’re putting the AMD FX-8320E against Intel’s Core i3-4360 and the slightly more expensive Core i5-4430 to see which processor offers the best value for budget builders.

Security:

Why you should never Google tech-support numbers – Need help from HP? Or Dell? Or just about any other computer or device maker? Don’t fall into this trap.

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Can you spot the real HP support number? Surprise: Every single one is a third-party company itching to charge you money.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

How to Create an Anonymous Email Account – The Internet doesn’t make it easy to go completely anonymous. Here’s how you can stay hidden even when emailing.

Your Samsung SmartTV isn’t spying on you – Over the weekend a scary article was written about Samsung SmartTV sets that suggested they were listening to your every word. That these TV sets were collecting information about you – that was the news – that they were taking down everything you said in your living room, sharing that information with 3rd-party systems. This information comes from Samsung’s privacy policy, and one single sentence that seems to be a “smoking gun” that lets everyone know how evil Samsung is. Be sure you read the rest of the paragraph before you have a heart attack.

Scammers Now Targeting Anthem Data Breach Victims Via Email And Phone – A one-two punch for the victims of the Anthem data breach: individuals who were impacted by the massive cyber attack on the health insurance provider which affected up to 80 million Americans, are now being warned that they’re being targeted by scammers who are trying trick the victims into revealing additional personal information. Scammers are running email phishing campaigns, and even placing phone calls to affected customers, Anthem says. The phishing emails have been crafted so they appear to be from Anthem, and include a “click here” link that purportedly takes customers to a credit monitoring website.

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New Facebook porn Trojan doesn’t come with a happy ending – What’s this? A random post dangling genuinely free porn in your Facebook feed? Think twice before clicking on it, because there’s no happy ending in sight if you do.

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9 ways to lock down your iPhone or Android device before it goes missing – You know that icy stab of panic when you suddenly realize your Android phone or iPhone isn’t where it should be? Don’t have that feeling. Read this instead.

Company News:

Qualcomm fined $975 million by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators – Chip maker Qualcomm has been fined 6.088 billion yuan ($975 million) by the Chinese government after it was decided the company had violated anti-monopoly laws. Regulators from the country’s National Development and Reform Commission reached the decision to fine the American chip maker after more than a year of investigation. Qualcomm says it will not dispute the huge fine.

Netflix is coming to Cuba – Now that their country is dissolving years of sideways feelings with the United States, Cubans are poised to see a flood of new technology and media. There might be no better way to get caught up with movies and TV than on-demand programming, which is exactly how Netflix sees Cubans spending their evening. Starting today, Netflix is available in Cuba, but it won’t be the same Netflix you or I might see. In a statement, Netflix says what’s available in Cuba is ‘curated’.

Microsoft announces $10.75 billion debt offering – Microsoft has announced that they will be offering $10.75 billion of senior unsecured notes with the offering expected to close on February 12th, 2015. Microsoft says that they will be using the proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.

Facebook Takes Internet.org And Its Free Mobile Data Services To India – The app isn’t available to the full Indian population yet, since Facebook partnered with operator Reliance to offer free access to Internet.org sites in an initial six states: Tamil Nadu, Mahararashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana. That’s the first step on a path to “provide internet access to more than a billion people in India who aren’t yet connected,” Facebook said in a statement.

Google buys offline photo-sharing app Odysee – Detractors of Google’s social layer, Google+, can agree that its one redeeming quality is photo storage and sharing, where Google has done an incredibly good job of making sure your media looks good, and is easily accessible. To that point, Google has acquired Odysee, an iOS and Android app that has some interesting features for private photo sharing. The team at Odysee, in announcing the acquisition, also say they’re joining the Google+ team.

Games and Entertainment:

Better Call Saul smashes record with highest cable debut ratings – As we noted recently, the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul premiered on Sunday night following the return of The Walking Dead, and in doing so it smashed through previous records to become the highest-rated cable series debut ever. The series hit a 3.4 adults 18-49 rating among its 6.9 million viewers, blasting through the previous record while confirming those raving early reviews that kept rolling in. For those curious, The Walking Dead’s return did pretty well, too.

Xbox One accessory adds hard drive case, USB ports by attaching to console – Collective Minds’ “Xbox One USB Hub and Hard Drive Enclosure” adds three USB 3.0 ports as well as a bay for a 2.5-inch hard drive in an add-on that attaches directly to the left side of the console. An owner of the accessory simply has to buy an appropriate 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, install rails to its sides, slide it into the accessory’s bay (hidden by a removable cover) and attach it to the console for more storage space.

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Sling TV now open to all – Dish Network kicked off its steaming TV service called Sling TV a while back with an invitation only launch. The invitation only soft launch has now ended leaving the streaming offering open to anyone who wants to sign up. Sling TV gives subscribers access to fifteen different channels for streaming entertainment including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, CNN, HGTV, and Cartoon Network among others. The subscription fee for the channels is $20 per month.

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Evolve pre-release impressions: Finding balance in asymmetry – The developers at Turtle Rock have the unenviable task of pumping up one character so he’s precisely competitive with four others, with the knowledge that a miss to either side could easily ruin the entire game. So far, those developers seem to have done a pretty good job. In my early play-testing with pre-release versions of the game, both the monsters and the hunters have their strengths and exploitable weak points. More importantly, both sides are thrown into play situations that make the four-on-one skirmishes fresh and exciting.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

ISIS is a virus that Anonymous plans to cure: Hacktivists hammer ISIS with #OpISIS – The hacktivist group Anonymous is putting the hurt to the online ISIS terrorist presence with Operation ISIS, knocking out more than 1,000 social media accounts spreading jihadist propaganda and militant recruitment websites. There are people who don’t like Anonymous one bit and haters are gonna hate, but surely it’s hard for anyone to think that bringing the hammer down on ISIS militant recruiting websites or banning jihadist propaganda-spewing social media accounts is a bad thing.

This Drone Can Save Lives And Fly Indoors Without Crashing Constantly – A building is on fire. There might still be people inside. Traditionally, we’d send in a firefighter to scout — but that puts more lives at risk. There has to be a better way, right? We could send in a robot, but the vast majority of modern robots will fail miserably the second they go up such a dastardly foe as, say, a flight of stairs. We could send in a drone to fly about, but drones are notoriously hard to handle indoors. If any of its propellers clip a wall, it’ll go spiraling to the ground in no time flat. Worse yet: if it clips a human, many drone propellers are plenty capable of breaking skin. Now you’re stuck in a burning building and being attacked by the thing meant to help save you. Meet the GimBall, a damned brilliant (and I don’t use that word too often) spin on the standard drone.

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NoFlyZone Lets You Establish A No-Fly Zone Over Your Property – If your first reaction to a drone flying over your house is getting out your M16 for some target practice, you can now opt for a less violent option. NoFlyZone.org lets you establish a no-fly zone over your property and a number of drone hardware and software firms have already promised to honor your request. Among the partners in this effort are EHANG (the company behind the Ghost drone), Horizon Hobby, DroneDeploy, YUNEEC, HEXO+, PixiePath and RCFlyMaps. As you have probably noticed, most of those are relatively unknown brands (or, as in the case of HEXO+, haven’t launched yet).

Watch Google’s New Small Dog Robot Take A Kicking And Keep On Ticking – Google purchased Boston Dynamics last year, which means it now owns the company’s ongoing robotics projects, including BigDog. Today, the Google subsidiary posted videos of a smaller dog-like robot, aptly named Spot, which weighs around 160 lbs, has an electric powerhouse and can operate both indoors and outside. The robot, as you can see from the clip, can walk, trot and climb across all types of terrain, and can even survive attempts to destabilize it by unfeeling humans eager with their kicks.

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Drones waiters to serve patrons in Singapore restaurants – A Singapore restaurant will soon deploy a fleet of drones they’ve been testing in-house to improve service to its customers. Each drone is capable of carrying about five pounds, which means they can easily deliver pub fare for two — say, a couple of pints and a whole pizza. Deploying drones will allow the restaurant to make better use of its staff, who will still do the actual order taking and handing off — the drones will simply cart orders from the kitchen out to the dining area.

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Cooler Master demonstrates how to use Nutella as thermal paste – Over the years, you’ve probably tried a number of different thermal compounds on your CPUs, from pre-applied pads to all kinds of goop in syringes. But have you ever tried Nutella? Cooler Master has, and they’ve even posted a video of it being put to use. Even under a full load, the Nutella kept Cooler Master’s test processor running at a reasonable 50° Celsius. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use Nutella as a permanent solution. Eventually, it’s going to dry out and you risk damaging your processor. There are plenty of other odd thermal compounds you could use, too, and Daniel Rutter’s had fun testing them over the years.

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NASA shows off moon phases from the far side – NASA was able to create the far side of the moon phases videos using data gathered from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to create the detailed an accurate maps. Check out the NASA video below to see for yourself.

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Something to think about:

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

–    Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), Unpopular Essays (1950), “Outline of Intellectual Rubbish”

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Browser Care – This unique tool lets you take back full control of all browsers installed on your PC. Clean up, speed up and keep your web browsers well-maintained for top performance!

Remove unwanted toolbars or plugins

Change hijacked home page to the page you want

Set your preferred search engine as default

Clear cache to unclutter your drive and speed up your browser

Manage all installed browsers from one place

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Auslogics Disk Defrag – Get the best performance out of your expensive hardware investments, improve your PC’s performance and stability.

Disk fragmentation leads to system slowdowns, PC crashes, slow startup and shutdown and sometimes to system failures.

Auslogics Disk Defrag is designed for fast optimization of today’s modern hard disks. Get the maximum performance out of your expensive hardware investments. And it’s absolutely FREE.

Hard disks are by far the slowest component in your computer. CPU and memory work much faster than hard disks because they do not have moving parts. Therefore fragmented disks often become a bottleneck of the system performance.

Besides causing slowdowns, fragmentation makes the hard drive disk heads move frequently when reading files which leads to freeze-ups and system crashes. It is important to keep your disks defragmented and optimized as much as possible.

Features:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in only a few minutes

Useful disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

In Historic Ruling, UK Surveillance Secrecy Declared Unlawful – The United Kingdom’s top surveillance agency has acted unlawfully by keeping details about the scope of its Internet spying operations secret, a British court ruled in an unprecedented judgment issued on Friday.

Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, was found to have breached human rights laws by concealing information about how it accesses surveillance data collected by its American counterpart, the National Security Agency.

The ruling was handed down by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a special court that handles complaints related to covert surveillance operations conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In its 15-year history, the tribunal has never before upheld a complaint against any intelligence agencies.

The legal challenge was brought by human rights groups, including Privacy International and Liberty, following disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The groups alleged that GCHQ was unlawfully obtaining data through the NSA’s online spying program PRISM, which collects data stored by Internet giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The groups also focused on GCHQ’s role in obtaining private communications swept up by the NSA directly from internet cables, known as so-called “upstream” collection.

Obama asks Germany to ‘give us the benefit of the doubt’ on NSA surveillance – President Barack Obama has had to justify some truly terrible things during his tenure. He took office five years into a war based on shaky and ultimately false information, running a country that had begun running secret surveillance programs and condoned interrogation that amounted to torture. Various parts of his administration proceeded to aggressively prosecute whistleblowers and continue surveillance, stonewalling Congressional investigations into past misconduct.

Obama has harshly criticized many of these missteps, but he’s also started referring to them in a strangely understated, slightly paternal manner, like someone’s uncle wearily explaining a political bumper sticker he’s been trying to scrape off for years. On the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” tactics, for example:

“We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

Back in 2013, leaked documents showed that US surveillance agencies had been tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone since 2002, a revelation that was less than well-received in Germany. A year and a half later, the issue is still on the table, but Merkel seemed to have softened in a meeting today. “If we look at the sheer dimension of the terrorist threats, we are more than aware of the fact that we need to work together very closely,” she said. “The institutions of the United States of American have provided us and still continue to provide us with a lot of very important, very significant information that are also important to our security.”

EU Parliament blocks Microsoft’s new Outlook apps over privacy concerns – Access to Microsoft’s new Outlook apps has been blocked for members of the European Parliament because of “serious security issues.”

Microsoft launched new Outlook apps for iOS and Android just over a week ago. The new apps are basically a rebranded version of a mail app made by Acompli, a company Microsoft bought in December for a reported US$200 million.

Access to the apps though was blocked on Friday by the Parliament’s IT department, DG ITEC, in order to protect the confidentiality and privacy of its users, according to an email seen by the IDG News Service.

“Please do not install this application, and in case you have already done so for your EP corporate mail, please uninstall it immediately and change your password,” it said.

The apps will send password information to Microsoft without permission and will store emails in a third-party cloud service over which the Parliament has no control, DG ITEC added in a message on the Parliament’s intranet.

Microsoft’s new Outlook app basically acts as an email inbox for Exchange, Outlook, iCloud, Google and Yahoo mail accounts.

Twitter calls out US, Russia, Turkey in latest transparency report – Social network Twitter has published its latest transparency report, and singled out the US, Turkey and Russia, for dramatically increasing the number of requests on user information over the last six months of 2014.

The number of government requests on Twitter user information rose 40 percent overall during that period, to 2,871 individual requests, the company reported Monday.

The US was again the most active country in seeking information, logging 1,622 requests on nearly 3,300 accounts. US requests were up 29 percent compared to the first six months of 2014, but Twitter’s compliance with those requests rose only 8 percent. Interestingly, Russia, which had never requested Twitter user information before, logged 108 information requests during the last six months of 2014. Turkey’s requests were up over 150 percent to 356. The company said it didn’t provide information to any of Russia’s requests, nor Turkey’s.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 6, 2015

Why a dumb security video will help you work smarter, not harder;  10 of the most useful Google Now cards for professionals;  10 easy ways to ruin your smartphone;  Android tweaks that bring a taste of iOS 8;  How to recover lost photos from your camera or phone;  Dropbox paves a smoother path from Web to desktop;  Raspberry Pi 2 hands-on;  Why Evolve OS could win you over to Linux;  Skype fails: 5 of the worst problems and how to fix them;  Review: Intel’s Broadwell mini PC;  Autoruns for Windows (free);  Netflix, Hulu and more are dominating traditional TV;  Anthem hack: Seven ways to protect yourself right now.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2 Why a dumb security video will help you work smarter, not harder – The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) released a new video on Thursday afternoon, “Recognise. Report.” And it is, to reflect a word that cropped up more than once in people’s responses on Twitter, cringeworthy. Information security professionals should indeed cringe at this crass portrayal of the problems we face. But information security professionals are not the target audience, nor are the clever people who read this column. No, this video is meant to be a conversation starter, and the target audience is the vast number of ordinary citizens in offices, factories, and workshops across this vast brown land. People whose knowledge of anything cyber extends no further than whatever they’ve seen on TV news and in bad movies. You know the ones.

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10 easy ways to ruin your smartphone – One minute you have an indispensable high-tech tool… and the next minute, you have a doorstop. Avoid the cost and inconvenience of a damaged smartphone by following a few best practices.

10 of the most useful Google Now cards for professionals – Google recently added support for 40 new apps in its Google Now service. Here are the Google Now cards that professionals should pay attention to.

YouTube TV tips: 6 ways to bring the streaming video site into your living room – If you know where to look, YouTube can be a treasure trove of longform content, from concerts and stand-up specials to full-length movies and documentaries. And with the right tools, you can even string shorter YouTube videos—such as comedy skits, educational videos and late-night TV bits—into marathon viewing sessions. Best of all, none of it costs a dime, so it’s a great way for cord cutters to round out their video options. For this week’s column, I’ve rounded up a handful of tips to make the most out of YouTube:

This quirky new video service streams cult classics, schlocky gems, and more for free – Ever wish you could watch the Weird Al Show again? A new streaming service called ShoutFactoryTV is bringing the cult classic and several others to smartphones, set-top boxes, and the web. ShoutFactory’s library isn’t huge, and much of it’s forgettable, but dig around and you’ll find a few gems, including old Jackie Chan films, episodes of Abbott & Costello, and some classic Twilight Zone. The service also includes plenty of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and a fair share of B-movies with no parody attached).

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How to recover lost photos from your camera or phone – Your precious photos disappeared before you could move them to your PC or cloud storage. Here’s how to get them back.

Android tweaks that bring a taste of iOS 8 – iOS 8 brought a lot of fancy new stuff to the iPhone, some of which seem like a good idea for any mobile platform. But rather than gnash their teeth in envy, Android users can still get some of those benefits on their smartphones as well. No, we won’t be theming Android to make it look like Apple’s smartphone. There are a lot of those already out there. What we will do here is to take a look at some of those nice features and show how Android lovers can them too.

Dropbox paves a smoother path from Web to desktop – On Thursday, Dropbox announced a new “Open” button that will arrive soon and should make things considerably easier. The button will appear when a user previews a file on the web that also exists in a Dropbox folder on their PC. Instead of opening it in their browser, it will open it in the native application on their computer. The WebSocket protocol is among the technologies powering the new capability, which will appear in the next version of the Dropbox desktop app rolling out to users over the next few weeks. The new version is also available now as a download on the Dropbox site.

Raspberry Pi 2 hands-on: Is the souped-up board ready to take on the PC? – The Pi’s co-creator Eben Upton said the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is the first Pi with the power to be used as a household PC, so we decided to test how it stands up as an everyday computer. We tested the Pi 2’s performance when browsing the web, opening documents, checking email and cloud storage, watching video and other tasks regularly carried out on a PC.

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Web browsing: Raspberry Pi 2 – Model B – The most widely-used piece of software on PCs is typically the browser, so it’s reassuring the Pi 2 can navigate the web with relative ease. Raspbian’s Epiphany web browser took just over five seconds to load initially but afterwards started in a relatively nippy 2.3 seconds.

How to Take a Screenshot – If you need to take a screenshot or (or 10), this is the tutorial you need. We run down everything you need to know about capturing screenshots, no matter the platform—Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and other mobile operating systems. Most of the tips require nothing more than the operating system itself—they’ve all got built-in methods of capturing a screen. But there’s a wealth of third-party software tools that will take your screen-grab game up a notch. We’ll even show you some of the tools that make it simple to take an image within the Web browser, arguably the most used software on any desktop or laptop PC anyway.

JustWatch Debuts A New Search Engine For Cord Cutters – The idea, explains co-founder and CEO David Croyé, is to help people figure out where to watch a movie or show without having to log into every service provider you’re using and perform a search. With JustWatch, the search engine shows you whether a piece of content is available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or elsewhere. And if it’s available for rent, it lets you know where you can get it for the best price. In addition, JustWatch includes a feature that heavy streaming media consumers will appreciate: it updates every day to let you know if your favorite provider has added new content. (For now, this feature is limited to movies, but will expand in time.)

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Skype fails: 5 of the worst problems and how to fix them – Skype is an essential business and communications tool, but it can also be a pesky one. Here’s how to get its more annoying features under control.

Why Evolve OS could win you over to Linux and me away from Ubuntu – In 2014, a new distribution appeared out of nowhere, one that cut straight to the heart of the matter and promised to deliver a Linux distribution like no other. That distribution is Evolve OS. For the longest time, the distribution was in a state of limbo, and the best you could do was download an alpha and hoped it would run. All of that changed last week when the beta of Evolve OS was finally released, and the distribution could finally be tested against what’s considered the gold standard of user-friendly Linux distributions. It not only fared well, it crushed the competition. What’s underneath the hood will not concern the new user — but what will is the complete lack of a learning curve. Any user could hop onto Evolve OS and feel right at home.

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The Budgie desktop in action.

Download your YouTube videos in their original resolution – YouTube is a great medium for sharing your videos with friends, family or the world in general. However, if you want to post your videos elsewhere, you’ll need to keep copies on your hard drive. If you don’t have backups, you could download them from YouTube, but you’ll get lower-resolution copies of your videos. As a solution, the Digital Inspiration Blog recommends skipping YouTube’s video downloads and using Google Takeout instead. Here’s how:

Microsoft Research Brings Image Autocomplete, Video Support To Its ICE Photo Stitcher – A few years ago, Microsoft Research’s Computation Photography Group launched its free Image Composite Editor (ICE), a tool for stitching together panorama photos and creating gigapixel images. With the launch of ICE 2.0 today, the group is taking a major step forward, and if you’re into this kind of photography, it’s definitely worth checking out. The highlight of the updated Windows-only application is Image Autocomplete. Chances are that your images don’t line up perfectly when you stitch them together, so you end up with some rather ugly empty areas around the edges. With autocomplete, the software identifies patterns in the image and then uses that knowledge to fill in the gaps.

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Potheads Finally Have Their Dating App – Attention love-seeking stoners. A Denver company has come up with a dating app that you need in your life. It’s called High There! and designed like Tinder: users create profiles and swipe through the photos of potential dates, except this version is clearly aimed at fans of ganja.

Review: Intel’s Broadwell mini PC is a next-generation Ultrabook in a box – This review will serve three purposes then. We’ll evaluate the Broadwell NUC as a standalone piece of technology. We’ll look at Broadwell U and the kind of performance improvements and power usage reductions it delivers relative to equivalent Haswell U processors. And we’ll take a broader look at the kinds of technology you can expect in your next laptop.

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FiftyThree Makes Popular Creativity App ‘Paper’ Free Of Charge – Originally, FiftyThree let you get a taste of Paper’s smooth interface for free but charged money if you wanted access to more tools for doodling, making presentations, or early drafts of design work. You could pay for these tools individually, or all at once for $7.99. The price for this bundle of “essentials” eventually fell to $3.99, and with today’s update, every toll will be available as soon as you open the app.

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Talk to your modem – A local IP address may let you communicate with a modem through a router – Those of use with separate modems and routers (some Internet connections have the two functions combined into a single device) are likely to focus on the router and ignore the modem. But, like a router, a broadband modem is a computer with a web based user interface. And, like any device with a web interface, the modem has an IP address.

Twitter’s plan to boost growth: Videos, messaging, and timelines for people who don’t use Twitter – Twitter is creating an experience for you, even if you don’t have a Twitter account.

Security:

Still using Adobe Flash? Oh well, get updating: 15 hijack flaws patched – People still using Adobe Flash should update the plugin after the Photoshop giant patched 15 remote-code execution holes in its screen-door software. If hackers aren’t already exploiting all these holes in the wild, they soon will be. The remote-code exec bugs allow miscreants to hijack vulnerable Windows, OS X and Linux computers, simply by luring victims to websites booby-trapped with malicious Flash files. Adobe said the February 5 patch batch addresses 18 CVE-listed vulnerabilities in its sadly ubiquitous plugin.

Anthem hack: Seven ways to protect yourself right now – Anthem’s hack and issues around organization accountability with PII is cause to protect ourselves from identity theft and more, including security freeze, fraud alert, and account recovery.

Thousands of WordPress sites affected by zero-day exploit – Thousands of websites are at risk of being exploited by a previously undisclosed vulnerability in a WordPress plugin, which researchers say could be used to inject malicious code into websites. The flaw exists in Fancybox, a popular image displaying tool, through which Sucuri researchers say malware or any other script can be added to a vulnerable site. WordPress, which comes in two main flavors — a hosted version and a downloadable self-hosting version — has already removed the plugin from its repository. But researchers warn that with more than half-a-million users of the plugin at risk, users should remove the plugin from their own sites.

Internet lobs $$$s at dev of crucial GPG tool after he runs short of cash – Werner Koch is looking at a big payday after pulling in over $150,000 to fund the continuing development of his crucial open-source GNU Privacy Guard encryption tools. Koch, 53, is a leading light in the free software movement: in 1999, he released GPG, which uses the OpenPGP standard to safeguard the communications of millions of people around the world from eavesdroppers and other miscreants. It also provides protection for much of the multibillion-dollar technology industry. Last year, Koch launched a funding drive to raise $137,000, enough to pay his salary and that of a co-developer working on GPG, but as of November had raised less than $8,000 towards this. But when he told ProPublica that he may have to give up on the project, the news went viral and funds have been pouring in.

Company News:

Verizon sells three states’ worth of FIOS to Frontier – In a $10.5 billion deal, Verizon just sold three states’ worth of wireline subscribers to Frontier. Customers in California, Texas, and Florida will soon be Frontier customers, rather than Verizon FIOS users. Via their announcement, Verizon says “at the end of fourth-quarter 2014, these operations served approximately 3.7 million voice connections; approximately 2.2 million high-speed data customers, including approximately 1.6 million FiOS Internet customers; and approximately 1.2 million FiOS Video customers.” Verizon’s reason for selling? To focus on the East Coast.

RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy, will now share its stores with Sprint – RadioShack has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, signaling the darkest chapter yet for one of America’s most storied specialty electronics chains. As part of the filing, RadioShack says it will sell off up to 2,400 of its US stores. Most other underperforming locations will close for good, but RadioShack’s brand will live on through a store-in-a-store agreement with Sprint and Standard General, who will be purchasing many of the retailer’s current shops.

BlackBerry wins a cool $860,000 from makers of Ryan Seacrest’s Typo keyboard – Back in January of 2014, BlackBerry sued the makers of the Typo, a hardware keyboard case for the iPhone. BlackBerry argued that the Typo violated its keyboard patents, and it’s not hard to see why the court eventually came down on BlackBerry’s side—the Typo is a clear imitation of the keyboard BlackBerry has been selling with its phones for years. The US District Court of Northern California ordered Typo to halt sales, and the injunction went into effect on April 15, 2014. However, Typo didn’t comply, and BlackBerry decided to pursue a contempt of court charge that the court has now upheld. Typo will pay BlackBerry an $860,000 fine plus other legal fees and costs.

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Uber Will Add Panic Button And Location/Journey Sharing In India On February 11 – Late last year, Uber announced plans for tighter safety measures in India following the rape of a passenger using its service in December. Now it has confirmed that two major features — an in-app panic button and journey/location sharing — will roll out to users in India on February 11. The company went public with the launch date after Times Of India reported that the Mumbai transportation department was considering a ban on its service over its apparent approach to safety. Authorities are reportedly “not happy with Uber representatives’ responses during various meetings held to consider measures for passengers’ safety.”

Twitter Reports Better Than Expected Q4 Profit, Weak User Growth – Following the bell today, Twitter released its fourth-quarter earnings report, revealing that it earned $0.12 per share on an adjusted basis on revenue of $479 million during the period. The company’s per-share profit is based on adjusted net income of $79 million. The company also reported that its tally of monthly active users rose to 288 million, up from a sequentially preceding count of 284 million. The figure is up 20 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Alibaba’s Financial Affiliate Takes 25% Stake In India’s One97, Owner Of Paytm – Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba Group affiliate, announced today that it will take a 25 percent stake in India’s One97 Communications as part of a strategic agreement. Ant Financial runs Alipay, China’s largest online payment service, while One97 oversees Paytm, India’s leading mobile payment platform. Alipay Wallet, Ant Financial’s mobile payment app, currently claims 190 million users, while Paytm says it has more than 23 million users.

Games and Entertainment:

Warning! Bogus Razer Comms game chat app comes loaded with malware – Gamers looking for voice chat software should be careful what they click on. Security firm Malwarebytes recently came across a new bit of malware that is pretending to be the installer for Razer Comms, the voice chat system from Razer. Malwarebytes didn’t say how it came across the fake chat app, but security-conscious gamers shouldn’t have a hard time protecting themselves from this scam. The Razer Comms malware is basically an imitation site with a malicious download. Here’s how it works.

February update for Xbox One brings game hubs, updates to controller, party chat and TV – The February update for Xbox One has started rolling out, and Major Nielsen has detailed what users can expect from the new features being added to the console, it’s a bumper package.

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Soon you’ll be able to control Assassin’s Creed with your eyes – The next Assassin’s Creed game will feature a new twist: you’ll be able to control it using your eyes. The game will utilize the Steel Series Sentry eye-tracking device — which is made with video games in mind — and it sounds like the feature will be used primarily to control the game’s camera. Tobii calls it a control input that’s “complimentary” to the mouse and keyboard. When you look somewhere on the screen, the game’s character will do the same. And if you look away from the game, it will pause automatically.

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I got addicted to ‘First Person Lover,’ and you could too – This free 3D online advergame is hard to stop playing, and yes, a bit corny. Crave’s Michael Franco finds out what it’s like to blast people with “love pushes” and a “kiss gun.” The concept? The world has been taken over by hate and a series of “hate harvesters” have been planted around the city. Your job is to “liberate” the haters by shooting them with things like your kiss gun and love-bubble blaster. Liberating them involves shooting them until their clothes come off, and then zapping them with your “love glove” until they get “filled with love” and dressed in an outfit from the Bjorn Borg collection. You also need to destroy the hate harvesters. Corny? Certainly. But is it fun? You bet.

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Looking Glass Founders unveil Ultima Underworld: Ascendant – Most old school PC Gamers will fondly remember the Ultima Underworld series of Fantasy RPG games, and many have been asking for an updated version. Whether you want to call it a reboot, a modernisation, or a comeback, one thing is for sure – gamers want to see this series transported to the modern era. Looks like the original creators of these games have the same desire, and have started a Kickstarter Campaign to bring their latest concept into modern reality. It’s called Underworld Ascendant.

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Netflix, Hulu and more are dominating traditional TV – It’s no secret that many are gravitating towards Netflix, Hulu and similar services to get their entertainment fix, and traditional cable viewership has suffered as a result. The introduction of Sling TV, a streaming television service from Dish Network, is likely to further entice consumers away from traditional pay-TV subscriptions, but so far video on demand and similar services have done a well enough job on their own. According to a new report that looks at Nielsen data, traditional television viewership in the US has dived.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Comcast insults another customer, changes woman’s name to Super Bitch – Comcast’s customer service employees are making a habit of giving cable subscribers bad names. Not long after one man received a bill addressed to “Asshole Brown,” another Comcast customer has been insulted by way of the monthly bill. This time, Mary Bauer picked up the title “Super Bitch” after repeatedly calling the company to try and resolve problems with her cable reception. Bauer turned to Comcast for months in hopes of fixing the service disruptions and degraded picture she was experiencing. Thirty-nine technicians visited her home over a six-month period to get things working, and ultimately Bauer said they made things right.

The Psychology Of Notifications – In his famed experiments, Ivan Pavlov trained his dogs to associate mealtime with the ring of a bell. Pavlov found he could elicit an involuntary physical response in his dogs with a simple jingle. Every time his bell rang, the dogs began to salivate. Today, the beeps, buzzes, rings, flags, pushes and pings blasting from our phones prompt a similar response. They are the Pavlovian bell of the 21st century, and they get us to check our tech incessantly. What makes an effective trigger? How can you be sure that the notifications you’re sending are welcome and lead to higher engagement instead of driving users away? Below are a few tenets of notifications that engage users, instead of alienating them.

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Your Guide to the Koch Brothers, America’s Favorite Dark Money Billionaires – With their recent pledge to spend $889 million on the 2016 presidential election, it’s time to recognize a weird truth about American politics: The Koch brothers, namely Charles and David, with an assist from David’s twin William, have a financial influence on par with the two major political parties. Who are the Koch brothers? What is a Kochtopus? And should we all start preparing to live on boats by 2025? If you live in the United States, and you aren’t planning to move to Mars before 2016, pay attention.

This train absolutely decimating untouched snow is our simile of the day – All aboard the pain train.

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Police officer checks dashcam the professional way: dancing – What’s the best way to see if your dashcam is working? For one Missouri police officer, the answer is jazz hands. Or something.

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Windows 8 failed at nearly everything it set out to accomplish – Windows 8 was nearly a complete failure on every front; it cost two high-ranking executives their jobs, failed to secure Microsoft’s mobile future and failed to build a truly successful app store.

8 predictions Arthur C. Clarke got right decades ago (pictures) – “2001” author Arthur C. Clarke brought us some frightening visions of the future that have yet to come to pass. But he also nailed an awful lot about 21st-century life.

Something to think about:

“I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

–        Jacob Marley’s ghost to Scrooge in Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Autoruns for Windows v13.0 – This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and when you start various built-in Windows applications like Internet Explorer, Explorer and media players. These programs and drivers include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. Autoruns reports Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond other autostart utilities.

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WildFire CD Ripper – WildFire CD Ripper is pulling out the data (music) directly in digital format from an Audio CD; this kind of software is in general known as a CD Ripper or a CDDA utility. The resultant audio file can be a pure WAV file (useful for making compilation audio CDs) or the ripped audio data can be compressed using an audio encoder.

Here are few supported encoders:

Lame MP3 encoder

Internal MP2 encoder

APE lossles audio format

Ogg Vorbis encoder

The Windows MP3 encoder (Fraunhofer MP3 encoder)

NTT VQF encoder

FAAC encoder

Windows WMA8 encoder

Additionally, WAV files on the hard drive can be converted to a Compressed Audio File (and vice versa). WildFire CD Ripper also supports numerous audio file tag formats like the ID3V1 and ID3V2 tags, which can be automatically inserted as part of the ripping procedure.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

White House Report Sees Potential, Pitfalls Of Big Data – A new report released by the White House today outlines the potential and pitfalls of big data in our lives. While there is tremendous economic and social promise from big data, there is also equal prospect for abuse, especially when it comes to privacy and personal data protection.

President Obama plans to file several pieces of legislation in the coming months around consumer privacy and protection, data breach reporting and protection of school children’s data.

Last January, the president asked John Podesta, counselor to the president, to lead a working group to look into the implications of Big Data. At the same time, the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology was also looking into the matter on a more technical level. Both teams have filed initial reports, Podesta explained at a White House briefing this morning.

Canada’s new backward-looking terror law: Stephen Harper’s tough new anti-terror bill is almost certainly unnecessary – Bill C-51 would allow a judge to impose up to a year of house arrest on someone who has neither been convicted nor charged with any crime. The judge could also require that the target wear an electronic bracelet.

The only requirement in the bill, introduced Friday in the Commons, is that police produce satisfactory evidence this person “may” commit a terrorist offence.

That’s tough. Not as tough as the anti-terror laws of, say, Britain or North Korea.

But in Canadian terms, tough.

The bill would also authorize the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to engage in illegal acts and so-called dirty tricks.

Canada: Tories’ anti-terror bill undermines values it’s meant to protect – When a prime minister announces one of the most draconian anti-terrorism bills in his nation’s history — and does this not in the national legislature, but at an election-type campaign stop in a riding his party hopes to hold in a looming election — Canadians should be worried about the democratic stability of the country.

In introducing this new legislation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper again said that “we are at war with the Islamic State” — language U.S. President Barack Obama has explicitly warned against on the grounds that it will likely lead to overreaction. But overreaction, it seems, is exactly what Harper is hoping for. He appears to be trying to raise the level of fear in order to railroad through measures that will violate the very democratic values they are purportedly meant to protect.

There are many troubling aspects of the Tories’ anti-terror bill, but perhaps none more so than the undoing of the essential separation between intelligence gathering and police investigation.

The law would effectively turn CSIS into a police force that can engage in acts that would otherwise be a violation of the Charter and the Canadian Constitution. All CSIS need do to use these new powers is secure a “disrupt threat” warrant from a judge, which would allow the agency to take a broad variety of actions to reduce any real or perceived threat to the security of Canada. And that doesn’t just include traditional ideas of terrorism. It also means perceived threats to economic or fiscal stability, critical infrastructure or the security of other states. These broad new powers evoke the latitude one finds in a war measures law.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 5, 2015

What is Net neutrality? Godzilla helps explain;  This is huge: FCC chairman’s strong net neutrality proposal turns the Internet into a public utility;  Tech Companies Praise The FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan;  YouTube is testing a way to view videos from multiple angles;  What Is Bloatware and Why Is it on My Phone?  The ultimate guide to how and where to use Apple Pay;  Windows 10 updated, 18 improvements included;  People Who Use Emojis Have More Sex;  New spyware steals pictures and data from iOS devices;  How to create a Bitdefender Rescue CD;  Create free presentations without PowerPoint;  Hackers steal tens of millions of customer records from the US’ second-biggest medical insurer;  Inside the Dark Web ;  Ashampoo Droid Optimizer (free);  6 Lethal Selfies You Need to Learn From.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

This is huge: FCC chairman’s strong net neutrality proposal turns the Internet into a public utility – U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler just pulled out the big gun in the net neutrality battle: In an op-ed published on Wired, Wheeler announced a proposal to invoke the agency’s Title II authority, which would allow the FCC to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, similar to phone service. And he did so in strong, no-nonsense terms:

“Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband.”

What is Net neutrality? Godzilla helps explain – Net neutrality is a boring name for an important issue that could forever change the future of the Internet. So here’s a video that teaches you about Net neutrality the easy way — with toys!

What Is Bloatware and Why Is it on My Phone? – When your phone is running out of storage, you likely check your apps folder to clear out the games and other assorted apps you never use anymore. But that’s when you discover a bunch of weird apps you not only never use, but never even downloaded. And worse yet: YOU CAN’T DELETE THEM! At first you’re like “WTF, phone?” But then you’re filled with other, more direct, questions. Such as:

Confide for business users lets you share sensitive docs that then disappear – Emails and most other digital communications have a nasty habit of lingering, as the Sony hacks recently proved, leaving little besides face-to-face conversations as an untraceable alternative. Confide, however, has created a Snapchat-style app for the enterprise world, and the technology just got a key update. The latest version of the company’s namesake app, released on Wednesday for Android and iOS, lets users share sensitive documents and photos using a patent-pending and screen shot-proof process including end-to-end encryption. Once the item has been viewed, it disappears forever. “The minute you hit send, the message gets encrypted — not even we could read it,” said Jon Brod, Confide cofounder and president.

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Windows 10 updated, 18 improvements included in the latest patch – Microsoft has pushed out a new patch for Windows 10 users and this one comes packed with updates that fix everything from the Start menu not launching to better battery life.

Microsoft Releases “Universal” Touch-Friendly Office Apps For Windows 10 – Microsoft today released early builds of its Office suite designed for Windows 10, software that is designed to accept touch input and work across tablets and phones. Office 2016, the desktop edition of Office, will also ship this year. You can snag the new apps in the Store, or here, here, and here.

Pixie is a ‘Location of Things’ key-fob doohickey that helps you find all your things – A package of four Pixie Points currently sells online for $40 and should ship sometime this summer. You attach the tags to anything you want to track—your wallet, your car keys, Mr. Fluffypaws—and each item immediately joins a closed, private network based on the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol. When one of your items goes missing, you can fire up your Android or iOS app to locate the errant Pixie Point with up to 1 foot accuracy.

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YouTube is testing a way to view videos from multiple angles – Concerts, sports games, and even podcasts could get more dynamic on YouTube thanks to a new feature the company is testing out. YouTube today began experimenting with a way to let viewers change cameras during a video, something that requires additional production from videomakers. So far there’s only one video you can try it out on, a live performance of artist Madilyn Bailey, though YouTube is taking requests from others that want to help test the feature.

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Fieldwire Offers A Task-Management App For The Construction Industry – Even as other industries adopt technology to improve productivity and make them more efficient, there are some like construction that are still locked into old, mostly manual processes for project management. A startup called Fieldwire wants to change that, with a mobile-first collaboration platform that is targeted at construction workers. Fieldwire is made up of a website and mobile app that enables project managers and foremen to create a list of tasks and rank them based on priority. As things change, they are able to very quickly reorganize those tasks, which helps to make workers more productive.

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Google has reached an agreement with Twitter to start embedding Tweets in search results – Unlike Bing, Google has largely avoided social integration in its search results. This may be changing soon, however, as Google is reportedly going to start embedding tweets in the near future.

BeeLink’s Pocket and Mini PCs take a cue from Intel – As Windows PCs shrink ever-smaller, Beelink is the latest brand to get on board. According to Liliputing, the company is preparing a couple of pocket-sized PCs, along with a diminutive desktop that looks a lot like Intel’s NUC kits. The Pocket P2 is the smallest of the bunch, and seems nearly identical to the Compute Stick that Intel showed off in January. It runs Windows 8.1 has an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. Intel’s Compute Stick has the same specs (though the chipmaker is also planning a low-powered Linux variant), so it’s unclear whether this is just the same product with Beelink branding. There’s no word on pricing or release date, but Intel has said that its Compute Stick will arrive in March, priced at $149 for the Windows version and $89 for Linux. We’d expect these devices to land around then in the $150 to $200 ballpark.

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The ultimate guide to how and where to use Apple Pay – Here’s everything you need to know about Apple Pay and its ins and outs, plus an up-to-date list of Apple Pay-ready stores and apps. The latest? A whole bunch of self-serve kiosks.

Brag: For those who think Facebook and Instagram aren’t narcissistic enough – Technically Incorrect: Brag is a new social network that allows you to be who you really are: a desperately egotistical, self-centered narcissist who just wants to show off all day. And who wants to be proud of it.

Create free presentations without PowerPoint – Everybody likes to make fun of PowerPoint, but when it comes to expressing your ideas, making your pitch, and so on, the slide deck remains one of the most effective tools. Good news: There are plenty of PowerPoint alternatives, some of them free, some of them capable of adding considerably more pizzazz to your materials. In addition to the obvious PowerPoint clones — Google Docs, OpenOffice Impress, Zoho Show and so on — make sure to check out these three free outliers:

People Who Use Emojis Have More Sex – Match.com’s annual Singles in America survey — which polled 5,675 (non-Match using) singles whose demographics were representative of the national population according to the U.S. Census — found that people who have more sex, tend to use emojis more.

Security:

Hackers steal tens of millions of customer records from the US’ second-biggest medical insurer – Hackers have stolen tens of millions of customer and employee records from Anthem, the second-largest health insurer in the United States, after they were able to break into a database containing personal information for around 80 million people. Anthem says the hackers were able to obtain names, birthdays, addresses, and Social Security numbers, but it does not appear that medical information or financial details were taken.

New spyware steals pictures and data from iOS devices – The spyware, called XAgent, is delivered via a phishing attack using a technique called island hopping. In that, the phones of friends and associates of the true target are first infected and then used to pass on the spyware link. It’s based on the assumption that the target is more likely to click on links from people they know than from strangers. Once installed, XAgent will collect text messages, contact lists, pictures, geo-location data, a list of installed apps, a list of any software processes that are running and the WiFi status of the device. That information is packaged and sent to a server operated by the hackers. XAgent is also capable of switching on the phone’s microphone and recording everything it hears.

As Flash 0day exploits reach new level of meanness, what are users to do? – The breakneck pace of the exploits is creating fatigue among end users, and one presumes, among engineers inside Adobe. No sooner is one patch rolled out than an exploit targeting a new vulnerability becomes available. What’s more, Research from Cisco Systems found the recent Flash exploits were being served on more than 1,800 domains. The persistence, speed, and abundance are only some of the ingredients underscoring the viciousness of these latest campaigns. Researchers from security firm Invincea found evidence online crooks may be exploiting Flash zerodays to install crypto ransomware on vulnerable computers.

Detecting zero-day hack in one millisecond with ‘power fingerprinting’ – A company claims its tech can detect a zero-day hack in one millisecond by monitoring the ‘power fingerprint’ of a system or device; in testing with the DOE, it detected Stuxnet even before it became active. Dr. Jeffrey Reed, PFP Founder and President, said that it is “practically impossible for malware to evade his technology.” Besides testing with DOE, the company has contracts with the Army, Air Force, Department of Homeland Security and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

How to create a Bitdefender Rescue CD – Bitdefender Rescue CD is a free tool that scans and cleans your computer whenever you suspect a malware threat is affecting its operation. Bitdefender Rescue CD works without loading the operating system and can be set up either on a CD/DVD or on a USB flash drive.

Company News:

Microsoft reportedly buys Sunrise, the best calendar app for iPhone and Android – Microsoft has purchased Sunrise, the maker of one of the best — if not the very best — calendar apps for iOS and Android, according to TechCrunch. It reportedly paid at least $100 million for the company. Microsoft has recently been working to revamp its mobile apps and reach out to other platforms, and Sunrise will clearly play a big part in that. This is actually the second time now that Microsoft has scooped up one of the best iOS apps: it previously purchased Acompli and then rebranded it as Outlook. Just like that, Microsoft made Outlook one of the best email apps you can get. Sunrise has not confirmed the acquisition, and there’s no detail yet on what will happen to the app under Microsoft.

HomeLight Raises $3M More To Help Homebuyers And Sellers Find Real Estate Agents – HomeLight, a startup to help those trying to buy or sell their homes find the right real estate agent, has raised $3 million in new funding. The startup, which launched in November 2012, analyzes home sales data to determine an agent’s strengths and weaknesses. It then uses that information to deliver recommendations when you search based on things like city, neighborhood, property type and price range. Co-founder and CEO Drew Uher has said that he created the service after he and his wife tried to find a real estate agent when buying their first home. It was a painful process, because there was no good place to research agents. The service covers 38 U.S. markets, with records for over 2 million agents.

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Under Armour buys two fitness apps, builds trove of health data – Under Armour is shelling out $560 million to buy two fitness apps, giving it access to a mountain of data about health enthusiasts that it hopes will help it to sell more sportswear. The maker of hoodies, running shorts and other athletic wear will pay $475 million to buy MyFitnessPal, an app that helps people lose weight by letting them record what they eat and count calories. It’s also paying $85 million for Endomondo, an app from Denmark that lets people track their activity, whether that’s running or doing gymnastics.

Micromax overtakes Samsung to become India’s largest smartphone vendor – The latest figures from industry analysts at Canalys reveal that Samsung – which had been India’s largest smartphone supplier – is now in second place in the country’s smartphone space, with 20% of the market. As in China, Samsung’s lead in India has been eroded by a domestic brand. As Reuters reports, during the last quarter of 2014, Micromax grabbed 22% of the Indian smartphone market which, as a whole, grew to a total of 21.6 million sales – an increase of 90% year-on-year. India is now the world’s third-largest market in the world for smartphone sales, and around a quarter of these devices cost less than $100.

BT strikes deal to buy UK mobile operator EE for $19B – BT said it has agreed to acquire mobile operator EE in the U.K. for £12.5 billion (US$19 billion), reflecting growing consolidation in the country’s mobile market. The British telecommunications giant said it will pay a combination of cash and new BT ordinary shares issued to both Deutsche Telekom and Orange.

Games and Entertainment:

Google acquires maker of Toontastic storytelling app – Google has acquired Launchpad Toys, maker of the popular kid-friendly storytelling app Toontastic, the startup announced on Wednesday. Launchpad Toys offers a few kid-friendly mobile apps, including augmented reality app TeleStory, but Toontastic has proven to be its most popular child-focused mobile program. Toontastic is a storytelling app that allows kids to create their own cartoons and tell a story. The app is designed for Apple’s iPad, and as the company puts it, is essentially a modern-day puppet show. Once those shows are put on, they can be recorded and shared with others. Now that Google owns Launchpad Toys, the company has made Toontastic — a previously paid app — free. In addition, all of the app’s playsets are now freely available.

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Report: Apple plans iTunes streaming option at $7.99/month – We’ve been speculating on it for some time, but with good cause. Apple’s iTunes business model is dated and tired, which is evident by so many reports of digital sales giving way to streaming music. Some sort of iTunes streaming was expected — necessary, even — so the speculation was much less wishful thinking and much more giddy expectation. Details are starting to emerge about Apple’s latest streaming offering, suggesting we’re getting just about everything we want, even cross-platform streaming for Android users.

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Rockstar has shipped 45 million copies of Grand Theft Auto V – As IGN reports, Rockstar Games revealed on an earnings call this week that it has now shipped 10 million copies of the game on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, less than three months since it was re-released for the new generation of consoles. That means that the company has now shipped over 45 million copies of GTA V, although it should be noted that this number relates specifically to shipments of the game to retailers, and not sales to customers. Even so, that’s a hugely impressive figure – and Rockstar can look forward to it growing even further, when it launches the delayed PC version of the game next month.

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Amiibo Gold and Silver edition Mario starts new wave – Two new editions of the first wave of Nintendo Amiibo figurines have appeared: Mario Gold Edition and Mario Silver Edition. While no details have been shared by Nintendo officially, both editions were found on Nintendo’s webpage – so they’re on their way! Both editions are very likely set to function the same as their predecessors, tapping in to functionality with the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS for cross-platform play. And don’t expect the Gold and Silver re-paints to stop here, either.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Tech Companies Praise The FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced this morning that he will invoke Title II and reclassify consumer broadband access as a telecommunications service, something that is anathema to Internet providers. As you might expect, the usual rollout of commentary is currently descending in the inboxes of anyone even tangentially related to the issue. I won’t bore you with all of the mess, but a few notes for tone are worthwhile. Keep in mind that the market generally expects large Internet providers to sue over the FCC’s plan. Those firms have said as much, and do not appear to be very good at poker.

Inside the Dark Web – If our popular culture is to be believed, most people assume there’s a place online where the worst of the headlines you read about drugs, money laundering, murder for hire, and vast child pornography rings are born. It’s called many things, though “Dark Web” is the most dramatic. Although it’s true that this Dark Web exists, it’s much larger and more diverse than merely these illegal activities. What’s more, the same technology that makes it possible for such marketplaces to operate in secret is also protecting political dissidents overseas and hiding everyday Internet traffic from surveillance. It may be that this digital back alley is the path toward a more secure Internet.

Mysterious Apple van spurs self-driving cars rumors – Apple is seemingly looking to improve its Maps offering by using cars with special cameras attached to them and driving around. Either that or it’s testing a self-driving car. The news comes from the residents of Concord, CA where a mysterious black van, reportedly registered to Apple, has been roaming the streets. On top of the van there are a number of cameras, and in all likelihood a LiDAR system.

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Flee from the sun at the speed of light in this humbling video – “Riding Light” traces the movement of a photon traveling away from the sun in a film that translates the speed of light into a human perspective.

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New Horizons probe has a 1 kilobit per second data connection from Pluto – As the New Horizons probe nears Pluto, it’s more than 30 times farther from the sun than Earth is. That means its signal strength is very low and only the most powerful 70-meter Deep Space Network dishes can pick up the data stream. The maximum data rate one of the probe’s antennas can send to Earth is 1 kilobit per second. Its optical camera, known as the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) takes 1024 x 1024 resolution images, each of which are 2.5 megabits (0.3125 megabytes) uncompressed. To send that one image back to Earth takes 42 minutes.

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License to Shrill: Nancy Grace and Getting Pretend Angry – Nancy Grace is a vigilante who does not want justice; she wants to hold the megaphone. She doesn’t want to find the boy; she wants to be seen marching through the woods. She is the opponent of Bad, only because the implication then is that she is the champion of Good. She doesn’t care; she has Liked the “Cares” page on Facebook. It is an affectation, an opportunity, a platform, a trademark. She is in business because people are simultaneously fascinated and frightened by disasters. It is the canker sore they rub their tongue over. It is the human experience writ large—the devastation, the anxiety, the moments of fleeting hope. Her show is an emotional fantasy camp, both a mildly threatening departure from comfort and a moment to feel righteous.

6 Lethal Selfies You Need to Learn From – Take a selfie or die trying? If you’re not careful, taking a selfie could be the last thing you do. It’s about situational awareness. Selfies are more dangerous than traditional photography because you’re snapping something behind you. If you’re driving, you’re not paying attention to the road or sky ahead. If you’re standing, you’re more likely to stumble or be surprised because all of our internal balance and proprioception mechanisms work poorly when we’re walking backwards. Take this story as a lesson about when you shouldn’t be taking selfies.

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Something to think about:

“Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”

–      Bill Gates

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ashampoo Droid Optimizer – Laggy smartphone? Battery always empty? Launching apps takes forever? Boost your smartphone performance and free memory at the click of a button.

Features:

Terminate foreground and background apps automatically

Empty the system and application cache

Clear your browsing history for better privacy

Find and delete big files fast and easily

Carry out cleaning tasks automatically

Conserve energy and enhance your battery life

Manage all installed apps

Learn about your apps’ critical permissions and expose spy apps

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Wise Auto Shutdown – Wise Auto Shutdown allows you to easily schedule your computer to shut down, log off, restart, sleep, and power down at any time you want. After you start the task, Wise Auto Shutdown will run in the background and a double-click will get the main interface back from the tray to the desktop. Certainly, Wise Auto Shutdown will remind you of your choice five minutes before it carries out the automatic task.

Features:

Easy to use: Wise Auto Shutdown has only one main interface and all its features are on the main interface

Able to finish various tasks: Wise Auto Shutdown can finish various tasks such as shutdown, restart, logoff, sleep and close power

Various ways to specify time: You can specify the time in different ways to execute your task, for example, daily, at a specific time, or some time later

A warm and timely reminder: Wise Auto Shutdown will remind you five minutes before it executes your task

Silent running mode: Wise Auto Shutdown will run silently in the background. And you just need to double click the icon on the tray if you want to view its main screen

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Congress Takes Up Email Privacy Reform. Again – Two related bills, one apiece in the upper and lower chambers of Congress, were introduced today aimed at reforming email privacy. They mark another attempt by the nation’s legislative body at reforming the requirements that the government must meet to read your digital missives.

Current protections are minimal. As TechCrunch previously reported, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the government can read your email with a mere subpoena if a letter is more than 180 days old or has been opened.

Why those two requirements? Think back decades to a time when storage was expensive.

Storage is now ubiquitous and nearly free. The old rules, which made little sense before, make zero now. So it is time to reform the ECPA. That’s to say that it has long been the time to reform the ECPA, making every day the correct time to finally get the damn job done.

The House bill has more than 220 co-sponsors, the EFF notes, a towering initial tally. The bill also has bipartisan support in both chambers. Last time we did this, however, the bills did not manage to secure a floor vote. Congress’s arcanity is strange to behold.

Western Spy Agencies Secretly Rely on Hackers for Intel and Expertise – The U.S., U.K. and Canadian governments characterize hackers as a criminal menace, warn of the threats they allegedly pose to critical infrastructure, and aggressively prosecute them, but they are also secretly exploiting their information and expertise, according to top secret documents.

In some cases, the surveillance agencies are obtaining the content of emails by monitoring hackers as they breach email accounts, often without notifying the hacking victims of these breaches. “Hackers are stealing the emails of some of our targets… by collecting the hackers’ ‘take,’ we . . .  get access to the emails themselves,” reads one top secret 2010 National Security Agency document.

These and other revelations about the intelligence agencies’ reliance on hackers are contained in documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents—which come from the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters agency and NSA—shed new light on the various means used by intelligence agencies to exploit hackers’ successes and learn from their skills, while also raising questions about whether governments have overstated the threat posed by some hackers.

Germany’s BND muscles in on metadata mass surveillance – Germany’s external spy agency saves tens of millions of phone records every day, according to leaked files that expose its NSA-style mass surveillance programme for the first time.

The Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, collects metadata on 220 million calls every day, with at least some of this data passed onto the NSA.

Moreover, the information hoovered up includes records of phone numbers involved in a call or text message, the time of a communication and the length of a call (but, crucially, not the content of a communication).

BND carries out surveillance of international communications sent by both satellites and internet cables that pass through one of several key locations, Die Zeit Online reports.

US anti-backdoor bill: If at first you’re shot down in flames – try, try again – Lawmakers in the US are making an effort to revive legislation that would ban government agencies from demanding backdoor access to hardware, websites and software.

Under the proposed Secure Data Act, developers cannot be forced to insert security holes into devices and code. The FBI, for one, would like to use such flaws to hijack phones and other gadgets, view their contents and snoop on their owners – hackers would like to use these vulnerabilities, too.

The bill is sponsored by Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), and was reintroduced into the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Last year’s attempt, which died at the subcommittee stage, can be found here, and sought to “prohibit federal agencies from mandating the deployment of vulnerabilities in data security technologies.”

“Congress has allowed the administration’s surveillance authorities to go unchecked by failing to enact adequate reform,” the trio said in a statement this week, announcing the reintroduction of the bill to the House.

“With threats to our homeland ever prevalent, we should not tie the hands of the intelligence community. But unwarranted, backdoor surveillance is indefensible.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 4, 2015

13 best privacy tools for staying secure;  Here’s how to block ‘whitelist’ ads from AdBlock Plus;  Five top widgets to speed up tasks on Android;  OS X utilities to make your Mac better, faster, and more productive;  9 typing tips every Android and iOS user should know;  The best open-source software for serious Linux users;  5 Hidden Facebook Tricks You Need to Know;  Study: Facebook Can Cause Depression;  Serious bug in fully patched Internet Explorer;  Boxed Wholesale app: Warehouse shopping without the annual fee;  Staples to buy Office Depot for $6 billion;  Obama Says Terrorism Is Not an Existential Threat;  Comodo Firewall – FREE.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

13 best privacy tools for staying secure – From encrypted instant messengers to secure browsers and operating systems, these privacy-enhancing apps, extensions, and services can protect you both online and offline.

Over 300 businesses now whitelisted on AdBlock Plus, 10% pay to play – Since 2011, AdBlock Plus, a popular browser plugin that blocks online ads, has kept a “whitelist” of websites that are allowed to serve ads despite the presence of the AdBlock Plus plugin. In an e-mail to Ars, AdBlock Plus Communications Manager Ben Williams wrote that currently, the browser extension has granted a pass to “over 300 sites/entities” out of “over 1,500 applicants” to the company’s whitelist. That’s up from October 2013, when AdBlock Plus allowed the ads of 78 sites or entities out of 777 applicants.

Here’s how to block ‘whitelist’ ads from AdBlock Plus – Eyeo, the maker of the AdBlock Plus browser extension, is being roasted for accepting money to “whitelist” some ads, letting them pass through the software’s filter mechanism—but there’s an easy way to tweak it to block all ads. Eyeo is dealing with the aftermath of an article by the Financial Times, which reported this weekend that not only Google, but also Microsoft, Amazon and advertising network Taboola are among the companies paying to stop having their ads their ads blocked. In response, users have blasted the company and have vented frustration with the software on social media and elsewhere.

9 typing tips every Android and iOS user should know – Wish it were a little easier to type in ALL CAPS on your Android or iPhone, or ever get stumped while looking for the em dash? What about typing letters with accent marks, or dealing with cumbersome URLs? Or maybe you’re just hankering for an alternative to tapping on a slippery glass screen. Read on for 9 ways to make typing on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device a little easier, from how to turn on “caps lock” to a simple shortcut to the exclamation mark.

Five top widgets to speed up tasks on Android – Android’s widgets have always been a great differentiator over iOS. But widgets don’t just have to be giant, scrolling notification bars with news or sports scores. They can be small and focused, getting you to a specific file, contact, or even a book without having to launch the app and potentially start from scratch. Here are a few that you may want to try on your own to supercharge your smartphone or tablet productivity.

17 Tips to Help You Master Microsoft OneDrive – Files stored with OneDrive can also now be as big as 10GB, up from 2GB. (Dropbox file size is unlimited.) But…so what? Lots of storage, you install the software to sync your files (or just turn it on in Windows 8), so you set it and forget it, right? You shouldn’t. There’s a lot more to OneDrive than that. Check out our list of tips in the slideshow. You’ll get the scoop on exactly what you need to take full advantage of a service that could be named Windows Live SkyFolderShareMeshDrive… but thankfully, is not.

How (and why) to use Google Drive as a powerful note-taking tool – Don’t overlook Google Drive as a potential go-to note-taker even though it’s generally designed as a word processor. The productivity suite has some key advantages that the note-taking not-quite-competition fail to offer, at least as a singular package. First of all, all of your docs (or notes in this case) are saved in Google Drive, which has the best search capabilities around, hands-down. That makes it easy to find the note your looking for in a flash. Evernote’s search is good, but not as good as Google’s. You also can use Drive’s excellent collaboration feature to write and share notes with others in real-time—an especially useful scenario if you’re doing a group project with colleagues or classmates.

The best open-source software for serious Linux users – Everyone has their personal favorite programs, but some users are more serious about their software than others. One such group includes the people at LinuxQuestions. These are Linux experts who are kind enough to answer newbies’ endless questions. So when they pick out their favorite Linux distributions and open-source programs, I take their opinions seriously. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that I always agree with them. Without further ado, here are the most important results from the recent LinuxQuestions annual survey.

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Boxed Wholesale app: Warehouse shopping without the annual fee – Boxed Wholesale brings bulk shopping to your mobile device — it’s available for Android and iOS — the idea being to give you the same savings as a big-box store, but without the membership fee. Or the long drive. Or the exhausting Saturday afternoon. (Also not included: free food samples. Which, considering my impulsive nature, is maybe a good thing.) In other words, there are savings to be had, even if not every item is available at the absolute lowest price. Ultimately you’re getting the convenience of bulk shopping from the comfort of a handheld app. I’m not saying you’ll want to give up your Costco membership, merely that Boxed can save you a lot of time stocking up on things you use regularly.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Google Now is about to get even more powerful with third-party app data – The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is rolling out an update today that will allow third-party apps to integrate directly with Google Now. Apps like Airbnb, eBay, Lyft, and numerous others will directly deliver information without you having to actually open up the app. For instance, if you were previously searching for a charming bungalow on Airbnb, Google Now might later produce a card about that cute little place to remind you to book that weekend getaway you’ve been on the fence about. Google told the Journal that the update will introduce over 40 new cards.

Eero wants to create mesh network for your home WiFi needs – However the FCC rules on Net Neutrality (we hear you’ll like the outcome), we’re sure most people consider their home Internet a utility. Connectivity is crucial to thriving in society, as we’ve migrated our physical existence to the digital world. That’s why poor WiFi, especially at home, is rage-inducing. A new startup, Eero, wants to change all that. Their small hardware, when positioned strategically around the home, cobbles together a range extender, repeater, and router into one device. By connecting more than one Eero, you’re creating a mesh network, scalable to your wants and needs.

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Windows 10 Pricing: Some questions answered, more info coming soon – There seems to be a lot of confusion out there surrounding the “free upgrade” that Microsoft promised for Windows 7 and 8.1 users at the January 2015 press conference, here’s what we know so far.

OS X utilities to make your Mac better, faster, and more productive – There’s little doubt that OS X 10.10 ‘Yosemite’ is a fully-featured operating system that helps you to get a lot done, but by adding a few extra utilities will allow you get an awful lot more from the platform with very little extra effort.

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Twitter’s Instant Timeline gives new users a feed full of content – Think back to when you created your Twitter account — it was a lonely timeline and you were prompted to follow a bunch of accounts in order to change that. This resulted in following friends and maybe a bunch of others randomly, then picking through them over time, getting rid of some, following others, until you were getting the tweets you really wanted. Twitter isn’t satisfied with this new-user experience, and so has addressed it with a new feature called Instant Timeline, something that does exactly what its name suggests.

Study: Facebook Can Cause Depression – Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that being envious of your Facebook friends can lead to depression, a finding that should give some of us pause. Based on a survey of 700 students, the study found that users who engage in “surveillance use” – “brows[ing] the website to see how their friends are doing compared with their own lives” – versus simply using the site to contact friends and family can experience symptoms of depression. In short, hate-viewing photos of your friend’s fancy vacation or scrolling through your friends high-price purchases brings you down.

Five apps for keeping your receipts in order – Managing your receipts isn’t the tedious, time-consuming chore it once was. Tom Merritt looks at five apps that can make tracking expenses a snap.

China now has over 500 million mobile Internet users – According to Chinese authorities, China now has 557 million unique mobile Internet users. That’s an 11.4% increase over the previous measurement a year or so before. This is an important metric to keep in mind as the smartphone and tablet market booms in China, but equally important for commerce. The same report also notes that China had roughly 649 million Internet users total, and that online-to-offline businesses (those where you buy in-app but receive physical goods or services) is growing in a big way.

How to set up your dSLR for beginners – Just got your hands on your first digital SLR? Here are some tips to help set up your camera for beginner photographers.

5 Hidden Facebook Tricks You Need to Know – More than 1 billion people regularly use Facebook, but that doesn’t mean they’re all well-acquainted with the social media site. It’s constantly being refreshed, and between profile redesigns, new apps and privacy changes, it’s hard to keep up. Here are five tricks to make sure you’re on top of your Facebook game:

FCC to propose treating ISPs as public utilities – The FCC might be heating up the old net neutrality debate again come Thursday. The agency is expected to propose the rules that would determine how business around the Internet will be treated in the years to come. In this latest version, FCC chair Tom Wheeler is expected to adopt President Obama’s stance to treat broadband providers the same way telecommunications companies are treated and to regulate them as public utilities, giving government more weight over the deals between broadband providers and content providers, much to the chagrin of many in the industry.

The Net Neutrality Fight Is Already Over and Regular People Won – All the phone calls, comments, and general backlash have spurred new competition that will make the FCC’s decision almost irrelevant.

Backblaze releases drive reliability data – Big players know which drives are junk and which aren’t, but they keep the data secret. But now Backblaze, with over 100 petabytes of capacity, is giving consumers a treasure trove of drive reliability data today.

Security:

Serious bug in fully patched Internet Explorer puts user credentials at risk – A vulnerability in fully patched versions of Internet Explorer allows attackers to steal login credentials and inject malicious content into users’ browsing sessions. Microsoft officials said they’re working on a fix for the bug, which works successfully on IE 11 running on both Windows 7 and 8.1. The vulnerability is known as a universal cross-site scripting (XSS) bug. It allows attackers to bypass the same origin policy, a crucially important principle in Web application models that prevents one site from accessing or modifying browser cookies or other content set by any other site. A proof-of-concept exploit published in the past few days shows how websites can violate this rule when people use supported versions Internet Explorer running the latest patches to visit maliciously crafted pages.

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New Adware Found In Google Play Apps With Millions Of Downloads – A new report from security firm Avast out this morning reveals the discovery of a new form of malware on the Google Play store, which begins to display advertisements disguised as warning messages to end users when they unlock their Android smartphones. What’s interesting about this malware – or adware, as it’s better known – is that some of the applications where it was discovered already have a large number of installs. For instance, a card game app called Durak has 5 to 10 million installs, according to the data on Google Play. The apps are available in English-speaking countries and in other language versions as well, and have been downloaded by millions of users, assuming Google Play’s own data on app installs is accurate.

Malicious ads on major sites compromise many computers – Attackers who slipped malicious advertisements onto major websites over the last month have potentially compromised large numbers of computers. Several security vendors have documented attacks involving malicious advertisements, which automatically redirect victims to other websites or pages that silently attack their computers and install malware. The malicious advertisements redirected users through several domains before finally dumping them on pages hosting an exploit kit, an attack tool that scans for software vulnerabilities.

Ex-RadioShack worker charged with stealing customer’s racy cell phone pics – A former RadioShack worker is being charged in a California state court with accusations that he stole racy pictures from a woman’s iPhone that was brought in for a cracked screen repair. The victim, a 28-year-old San Francisco woman who took her phone in for servicing, noticed that her device had texted as many as 17 photos of herself that were housed on the phone. She called the police.

Raptr service powering AMD’s Gaming Evolved app hacked, passwords and user info stolen – Hey, Radeon owners: It’s time to change your password if you use the AMD Gaming Evolved software to optimize your PC games, chat with others, earn rewards, or record and stream your gameplay. The Raptr gaming service that powers AMD’s app was hacked, Raptr CEO Dennis Fong admitted in a forum post last week. The baddies may have snatched both personal info and hashed passwords for Raptr users.

BMW patches flaw that could let hackers unlock car doors – BMW has released a patch for a flaw affecting 2.2 million vehicles, which could allow hackers to remotely unlock doors.

Company News:

Staples to buy Office Depot for $6 billion – Staples is scooping up Office Depot to the tune of $6.3 billion. Combined, the two companies own around 4,000 stores and see annual sales of more than $35 billion. But the two have been hit by greater competition from online retailers such as Amazon as well as chains such as Target and Wal-Mart, which also sell office supplies and consumer electronics.

Samsung hires ex-Googler to make SmartThings smarter – SmartThings is a company that takes everyday things and makes them… well… smart. Samsung acquired this company this past August and since then, they’ve been growing rather quickly. This week the folks at SmartThings – owned by Samsung – have announced that they’ve hired ex-Google woman Dora Hsu. With Samsung’s SmartThings, Hsu will be working as Chief Platform Officer, working on the developer platform product and engineering team, developer relations and evangelism, and certification programs, leading the lot, taking charge, and all that good stuff.

Amazon falls in 2nd place to Alibaba in drone race – Amazon’s Drone delivery program will catapult the world fully into the 21st century! I remember that day quite clearly. Waking up, turning on the computer for the latest tech news, and seeing THE Amazon headline. You know the one I mean: Amazon announces delivery by drones. The future had finally come at last. We still didn’t have the flying cars we were promised as children, but this drone thing was very cool indeed. Seems like China has beat Amazon to the Punch.

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ARM just introduced the processors that’ll power smartphones in 2016 – ARM has just released a suite of new CPU and GPU designs that’ll make 2016’s mobile devices faster and — more importantly — more power-efficient. The core of the new processors ARM is introducing is the new Cortex-A72 mobile CPU — it’s rated at 3.5 times faster than the current generation Cortex-A15 that started shipping in late 2012 in the Nexus 10, and it uses 75 percent less energy than the A15 under identical workloads. Another big piece of the new ARM lineup is its new Mali-T880 mobile GPU — the company says it’ll provide about 1.8 times the graphics performance while reducing energy consumption by 40 percent (compared to the current Mali-T760 GPU). As to why you’ll need all this graphics and processing power, ARM spent a lot of time focusing on two fronts: gaming and 4K video.

Amazon reportedly looking to create hundreds of physical stores – Amazon might be looking to massively expand its physical presence in the US by buying at least some of the chain of brick and mortar RadioShack locations. The report comes from Bloomberg, and is quoting “people familiar with the matter” going on to state that the company may end up buying hundreds of stores across the country. However, seeing as they are only one of the bidders, Amazon may still scrap its plans before actually going all in.

10 million handsets don’t lie: Motorola is doing really, really well overseas – The company saw exponential growth in the last quarter and now that it’s officially under Lenovo’s wing, it seems like things could only go up from here.

Games and Entertainment:

February’s Hottest Video Games – February means Valentines Day, and if you significant other is a gamer, we’ve got some great gift ideas. The month of love and affection is upon us. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, where most of us feel forced into buying loved ones useless baubles and unhealthy candies. If your special someone is a gamer, you can do better. If not, there’s no harm in treating yourself to the gift of a game, right?

New Nintendo 3DS XL Review: A Big Upgrade For Now, And For The Future –  The New Nintendo 3DS XL doesn’t exactly have a name that rolls off the tongue, but it does reflect that what you’re getting is hardware that’s very similar to its predecessor, albeit with some fresh paint and new features that really do help make a big difference in very specific areas. The result is a handheld console that feels as though it has ‘graduated,’ in terms of both user experience, as well as fit and finish.

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Star Wars Humble Bundle summons the Dark Forces – Today Humble Bundle brings heat with a number of Star Wars-themed games for PC, Linux, and Mac. The team behind Humble Bundle have successfully high-fived the folks who own the rights to these games – previously called LucasArts – and are pushing cash to charity. Users are asked to pay $1 or more – hopefully a lot more – to gain access to a number of rad games from Star Wars history. And what’s that – at least one super classic title – Dark Forces, the original 3rd-party Dash Rendar-like character first person shooter back from the dead.

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Teenage coders behind Tampon Run take their feminist game to the App Store – There’s no known antidote to the toxicity of Gamergate, but one good way to recuperate is by directing your attention to the teenage creators behind a game called Tampon Run. Sophie Houser, 17, and Andrea Gonzales, 16, met during a summer program run by the non-profit Girls Who Code. For their final project, the New York City high school students built a game to try to de-stigmatize menstruation by letting players shoot tampons (not guns) at their enemies. The game brought so much attention to its precocious creators (and the taboo subject) that the pair is launching a new-and-improved mobile version in the Apple App Store today.

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Sony adds five PS3 games to PlayStation Now streaming subscriptions – Effective today, PlayStation Now subscriptions include access to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, God of War II HD, Red Faction: Armageddon, Galaga Legions DX, and Arcana Heart 3. The additions mimic PS Now’s existing mix of big-name console exclusives with smaller, sleeper gems that PS3 owners might have missed the first time around, bringing the service’s selection up to 109 games. In an announcement blog post, PlayStation Now Director of Marketing Peter Jamshidi also promised that Sony will “add games to the service each month” going forward.

‘The Walking Dead’ mid-season premiere: watch the first 2 minutes – The Walking Dead’s return is only a handful of days away, and to keep us anxious for the debut have been a series of painfully sparse teaser trailers. Now that we’ve scored glimpses and peeks at what the rest of the season will hold, AMC has decided to ramp up its cruel teases by releasing some footage: exactly two minutes from the start of the return’s first episode. There’s nothing about the footage that can be considered spoiler-worthy (unless you haven’t caught up with all the available episodes yet).

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Windows 10 Xbox app to start receiving monthly updates, new features soon – The new Xbox app for Windows 10 will receive updates on a monthly schedule, just like the Xbox One, and it’s expected to see its first batch of new features in the near future.

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PSA: Xbox Previewers might want to stay away from the latest update for now – Those of you in the Xbox Preview program might want to stay away from the latest update for a few days as numerous users are reporting a number of significant problems with this latest preview build. Folks enrolled in the Preview program for Xbox One know that getting pre-release software often comes with unforeseen problems. But this latest update, which is now being pushed to users, seems to have an unusual number of problems with it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

California becomes first state to convict someone for operating a revenge porn website – A California jury has convicted the operator of a revenge porn website in what the state believes is the first conviction of its kind nationwide. The operator, Kevin Bollaert, was found guilty in a San Diego court last night on 21 counts of identity theft and six counts of extortion for his operation of the website UGotPosted, which was active during 2012 and 2013. The website allowed visitors to anonymously post private nude photos of others without the subjects’ knowledge. In addition to operating UGotPosted, Bollaert also operated a separate website that allowed victims to pay to have their photographs removed. According to the Associated Press, Bollaert charged up to $350 to have images removed and is said to have earned tens of thousands of dollars in the process. He reportedly now faces up to 20 years in prison.

The Fakers – With offices in a handsome skyscraper overlooking Chicago’s Millennium Park, the financial research firm says its executives have degrees from an impressive array of Ivy League universities. It boasts of a strong reputation that’s helped land big name subscribers in the nearly 20 years the company’s been in business. In reality, though, it’s probably not a great place to look for a job, or even a stock tip, for one simple reason: Altman Research doesn’t actually exist. Its website was created by Career Excuse, a service which, for a fee, provides job-seeking customers with verifiable references from nonexistent companies. While the companies have phone numbers, websites and mailboxes manned by Career Excuse, they don’t conduct any actual business, besides verifying the great work done by employees they’ve never really had.

Harper Lee will release her first book since To Kill a Mockingbird this summer – Lee’s new novel will follow Jean Louise “Scout” Finch in the mid-1950s, 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird and at a moment when the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum. According to the publisher’s announcement, “She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.” The 88-year-old Lee’s original novel is universally considered a landmark in modern American fiction, so a sequel is huge news for readers. And it performs incredibly well to this day, selling 750,000 copies a year. The author, for her part, has stayed mostly silent since the novel’s publication 55 years ago, coming out of seclusion to mark the book’s 50th anniversary in 2010.

Astronaut shares NASA photo spotlight with his dogs – When astronaut Leland Melvin sat for his official NASA photo, he decided to let his dogs Jake and Scout in on the action. Considering Melvin’s extraordinary life story full of career obstacles, such an endearing staff photo just seems to make sense. In fact, when Melvin tweeted photos of his dogs sitting patiently beside him and then jumping up to give him some affection, the images were tweeted and retweeted thousands of times.

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Dogs are man’s best friends in any galaxy. NASA

Here’s what Coca-Cola’s low-fat, low-sugar, high-protein milk tastes like – All of the buzzy promo speak sounds nice, but when it comes to something as healthful and natural as milk, Coca-Cola has a lot of trust to rebuild — at least for me. It’s numerous controversies, including the unforgettable “Coming Together” ad campaign, a laughable attempt to respond to soda’s connection to the obesity epidemic. I want to drink a healthier milk; I’ll pay more for it. But it’ll take awhile to get past that aftertaste.

Something to think about:

“Never compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.”

–       Anne Lamott

Today’s Free Downloads:

Comodo Firewall – FREE Comodo Personal Firewall – Secure your system against internal attacks such as Trojan viruses / malicious software and external attacks by hackers. Comodo Internet Security and Comodo AntiVirus are also available.

User-friendly single click interface will allow or block access to the Internet offering complete immunity to attacks and total protection of your personal information. Real time traffic monitoring enables you to react instantly to threats and identify bandwidth bottlenecks. Silent Security Technology means no needless alerts with out-of-the-box protection against hackers, Trojans and other unknown threats. Comodo Personal Firewall is the powerful and effective, easy to manage barrier that keeps hackers out and personal information in. Comodo Personal Firewall helps you connect in a secure way to the internet and global networks. Total peace of mind is FREE!!

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Dropbox 3.2.3 RC / 3.0.5 – Dropbox is a useful tool that will enable you to instantly store your files online and share them.

It can also synchronize the files from your offline directories and online storage.

Features:

Synchronization:

Once installed, any file you drop into your Dropbox folder will synchronize and be available on any other computer you’ve installed Dropbox on, as well as from the web. Also, any changes you make to files in your Dropbox will sync to your other computers, instantly.

Backup:

Let’s say you accidentally delete that 8 page report that you were supposed to have for a meeting tomorrow. A handy Dropbox feature is the ability to undelete files or pull up any previous versions of it.

Sharing:

You can also share files and folders with whomever you choose, whether it be music with buddies, docs with colleagues or photos with grandma, even if they’re not Dropbox users.

Speed:

We obsess over speed, and it shows. Dropbox is very smart about the way it handles files. For example, if you make a change to a huge file, dropbox will only update the piece of the file that changed.

Security:

All files are transported over SSL and encrypted using AES-256 (banks use this too)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

White House to mandate deletion of irrelevant private data collected by surveillance agencies – The White House is expected to place new limits on government surveillance today with a set of rules that will offer some additional protections around privacy and transparency, according to The New York Times. The biggest change is reported to be a requirement that intelligence agencies delete any private information from US citizens, such as an email or phone conversation, that has been collected incidentally and is not relevant to national security. Such information from foreigners must be deleted within five years.

The new rules are also reported to address National Security Letters, which allow the FBI to secretly compel companies to hand over information such as subscriber details, billing records, and other data in the name of security. Though it comes far from the overhaul that opponents of NSLs are hoping for, the Times reports that the FBI will be required to end the mandated secrecy around NSLs after three years or at the conclusion of an investigation, whichever comes earlier. Exceptions can reportedly be made if a “midlevel” officer at the agency provides written justification for the period of secrecy to continue.

Obama Says Terrorism Is Not an Existential Threat – In an interview this week, President Obama said that terrorism does not pose an existential threat:

What I do insist on is that we maintain a proper perspective and that we do not provide a victory to these terrorist networks by overinflating their importance and suggesting in some fashion that they are an existential threat to the United States or the world order. You know, the truth of the matter is that they can do harm. But we have the capacity to control how we respond in ways that do not undercut what’s the — you know, what’s essence of who we are.

He said something similar in January.

On one hand, what he said is blindingly obvious; and overinflating terrorism’s risks plays into the terrorists’ hands. Climate change is an existential threat. So is a comet hitting the earth, intelligent robots taking over the planet, and genetically engineered viruses. There are lots of existential threats to humanity, and we can argue about their feasibility and probability. But terrorism is not one of them. Even things that actually kill tens of thousands of people each year — car accidents, handguns, heart disease — are not existential threats.

But no matter how obvious this is, until recently it hasn’t been something that serious politicians have been able to say.

China Will Force Users Of Web Services To Register Their Real Name From March – China began cracking down on VPN services last month, and now the country’s internet regulator has turned its attention to domestic websites and services. New regulations announced by the Cyberspace Administration of China today [link in Chinese] require users of social media, websites, forums, and other online services to register their real name and official ID from March 1.

This policy has been implemented before — Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo enforced real names in 2012 in a bid to control the spread of so-called ‘harmful’ rumors — but these reforms are potential far more sweeping.

Rumors spread by fake accounts have “polluted the Internet ecology, harmed the interests of the masses and seriously violated core socialist values,” the administration claimed in an announcement, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal further reports that internet companies themselves will be required to implement the regulations and track users. Based on previous examples, that could prove tricky since enforcing such processes requires dedicated staffing and resources — not something which companies have prioritized in the past.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 3, 2015

Take These 4 Steps Before Making Your House a Smart Home;  7 smartphone rules changed this week;  How to unlock your Android device with your face;  Microsoft to support Raspberry Pi 2 with a free version of Windows 10;  Office Online vs. Office 365: What’s free, what’s not;  Photos: A closer look at the Raspberry Pi 2;  Xprt provides free tech support on your iPhone;  Build your own home media center: Customising Kodi;  Yet ANOTHER Flash 0-day vuln patch looming;  Ransomware attack freezes backups;  Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are paying to get around Adblock Plus;  These Are the 50 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2015;  Macrium Reflect FREE Edition.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Take These 4 Steps Before Making Your House a Smart Home – Companies selling smart home products are quick to say how easy it is to connect their devices to the Internet. And while most of the time they’re correct, they are sidestepping a big, thorny pitfall: namely, your home’s wireless network. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been working on turning my house into smart home, and have learned that nothing is more important — and infuriating — than my house’s Wi-Fi. Here are four lessons I’ve learned so far:

How to unlock your Android device with your face – Android provides a plethora of ways to unlock your phone—a PIN, a password, a pattern gesture, or a typical, insecure swipe. But did you know that you can unlock your Android phone with your face? Here’s how to set it up.

7 smartphone rules changed this week – Federal regulators have been throwing their weight around lately, and mostly to good effect for consumers and users of mobile technology. The net effect of their recent activism adds up to a whole new set of rules and protections for all of us. Here are the ramifications of seven new rules.

Facebook’s new Privacy Policy gives it more reach – Facebook changing its privacy policies is nothing new, but once in a while it manages to hit a nerve that causes privacy advocates and governments agencies to take notice. Especially when Facebook does so rather silently. That might be the case last weekend when the social networking giant made some modifications to its Privacy Policy change that, though still in plain English, is somewhat ambiguously worded in such a way that it can be open to interpretation and abuse. By Facebook, of course.

Office Online vs. Office 365: What’s free, what’s not, and what you really need – Free Office Online is a great deal, but paying for an Office 365 subscription gives you some hard-to-beat perks. We’ll help you decide which way to go.

Microsoft to support Raspberry Pi 2 with a free version of Windows 10: A full Windows PC for just $35? – It’s not clear exactly what version of Windows 10 will be available, but Microsoft is handing it out for free to the Maker community through its Windows Developer Program for IoT later this year. With the pricing of the Raspberry Pi 2 and Microsoft’s free copy of Windows 10, you could have a full PC for just $35 later this year. We’ll have to wait to hear more information from Microsoft on how Windows 10 will function on the Raspberry Pi 2, but the company says it’s planning to reveal more “in the coming months.” It’s likely that this version of Windows 10 will only run modern universal apps, as the Raspberry Pi 2 includes an ARM-based processor.

Photos: A closer look at the Raspberry Pi 2 – The next version of the Raspberry Pi launched today – with a quad-core processor, 1GB of memory and the promise of running six times faster than previous models. Despite the improvements the Pi 2 is compatible with both the hardware and software of earlier models, as well as sharing the $35 price tag of the less-powerful, first-generation model B+. Speaking at the launch of the board, Eben Upton, co-creator of the Pi, said the improvements raised performance to the point where the machine could be used as a general-purpose PC.

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Use Chartcube to analyze spreadsheet data on your iPad – Chartcube promises a new way for seeing and sharing spreadsheet data on an iPad. Democratizing spreadsheet data so middle managers and their managers can use it for actionable business information has been a challenge since the dawn of the PC spreadsheet. Chartcube transforms spreadsheet data into a visual and interactive “cube” with just a few taps. This shows an example of a Chartcube:

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Why do BYOD smartphones and tablets get remotely wiped? – Do you BYOD? If you do then be aware that you could find your smartphone or tablet wiped without warning for one of a number of reasons. Plenty of people – one every three minutes is the claim made by one report – wake up or walk into a meeting or try to contact a friend or family member only to find their device wiped. But why are these devices being wiped? Here are some of the common – and not so common – reasons:

Build your own home media center: Customising Kodi – Want to build one PC to rule all your living room media needs? In part two of our guide, we go hands-on with media software Kodi, taking you through Blu-ray functionality, media management and customisation.

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Screenshot by Craig Simms/CNET

Recycle that old Android device into a web-based security camera – There are so many reasons why you might need a security camera. There are also a lot of reasons why purchasing an actual security system might not be cost effective. So, if you’re looking for a simple way to get a single camera security system up and running, and you happen to have a spare Android device lying around, there’s an app that you need to look into called IP Webcam. The IP Webcam app uses your device’s built-in camera, adds a lightweight web server, and allows you to connect to the camera through that server. It’s simple and effective. Here are just a few of the things that you do through the web interface:

Kraftwerk wants to put a power plant in your pocket – kraftwerk’s fuel cells are powered by gas, the same gas you can get from lighter refills or camping gas. As such, you won’t have problems finding a way to refill the pack anywhere in the world. No more struggling with different power sockets or even USB ports. It only takes 3 seconds to refill, which will be enough to power iPhones, smartphones, tablets, and even GoPros. When full, it can charge an iPhone 11 times over, though usual USB charging rates apply. Now for the bitter pill. kraftwerk currently only exists as a Kickstarter campaign, having only finished prototyping last November. If all goes well, it will ship to backers in December. All early bird offers are gone, so the lowest you can pledge is $99 for one or $139 with 12 cartridges in the package. It is close to reaching twice its $500,000 funding goal, which goes to show how much appeal this idea has with today’s mobile users.

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Xprt provides free tech support on your iPhone – A new iPhone app called Xprt allows you to chat with tech experts and receive free tech advice directly from your phone. After launching the app and creating a free account, you’re given the option to get technical support from an “Xprt” or request computer shopping advice. The app will request some details about the issue you need help with, then place you in a chat with someone who can walk you through fixing the issue.

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Down go tablet shipments — for the first time ever – Total worldwide shipments of tablets and so-called 2-in-1 devices (hybrids of laptops and tablets) during the fourth quarter of 2014 hit 76.1 million units, declining by 3.2 percent compared to the 78.6 million tablets that headed to store shelves in the fourth quarter of 2013, IDC reported Monday. This was the first time that tablet shipments have declined since a wave of devices, including Apple’s iPad, ignited the market in 2010, IDC said.

Microsoft slashes $100 off Surface Pro 3 tablet price for limited time – The price cut is good through February 7, though the base configuration is the only version that retains its original price during the sale.

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The One Huge Thing Everybody Gets Wrong About Tablets – The news Monday that tablet sales dropped off for the first time last quarter are bound to accelerate the “tablets are dead” punditry we’ve seen around the web over the past few months. But the vast majority of commentators writing about tablets get one big thing wrong: The tablet market isn’t one big market, it’s many small ones.

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Security:

Trouble comes in threes: Yet ANOTHER Flash 0-day vuln patch looming – Adobe plans to patch Flash yet again after yet another zero-day vulnerability in the web video software leaves PCs prone to hijacking. An upcoming update to squash the critical bug makes it three patches in just two weeks for Flash. Adobe expects to release the Flash Player update sometime this week (beginning 1 February). Until then, uninstall Flash or enable click-to-play in your browser. And, we reckon, keep it that way.

How to Enable Click-to-Play Plugins in Every Web Browser – Most web browsers load Flash and other plug-in content as soon as you open a web page. Enable “click-to-play” plug-ins and your browser will load a placeholder image instead — click it to actually download and view the content. Click-to-play allows you to conserve download bandwidth, improve page load times, reduce CPU usage, and extend laptop battery life. This feature gained popularity with Flashblock for Firefox and is now built into modern browsers.

SaveMe Malware Infiltrates Google Play – Despite technological advancements, most of our online experience is built on trust. We trust that app stores like Google Play will weed out the baddies, and we trust security companies to keep us safe. In January, researchers at Lookout discovered a case where both of those assumptions proved false, when malware snuck onto Google Play disguised as a secure backup service called SaveMe.

Ransomware attack freezes backups with crypto key swap – Detailed by security consultancy High-Tech Bridge, the attacks start with an attack on a web site that yeilds acess to a database server. Once in, attackers change the encryption settings used by the database and store the key on an HTTPS server somewhere, an operation that apparently escapes some admins’ attention. To pull off the attack, the crims remove the key from the remote server, at which point the website operator notices their site is down. Not long afterwards an email demanding cash for access to the encryption key.

Hacker hijacks wireless Foscam baby monitor, talks and freaks out nanny – This is the third time news has circulated about some jerk hijacking a wireless Foscam camera/baby monitor and made his virtual intrusion known by talking. Please change the default password!

Over 99 percent of About.com links vulnerable to XSS, XFS iframe attack – A security researcher disclosed Monday over 99 percent of About.com’s topic links and domains are vulnerable to open XSS and Iframe Injection (XFS) attacks.

Sys admins, data scientists, analysts: How attackers’ sights have switched to the tech-savvy – With so many more routes into sensitive data, the pool of potential targets for computer criminals has widened to take in even those with considerable IT expertise, according to Darktrace director of technology Dave Palmer.

Company News:

Google’s U.S. Search Ex-Mobiles Drops Below 75% As Yahoo Makes More Firefox Gains – It may look like a drop in the ocean to some — especially given the caveats we detail below — but the numbers, published by StatCounter, show that Yahoo’s deal to take over as the default search option on Firefox is very slowly bearing fruit, with the company nearly tripling its market share on that browser in the U.S. in the last three months. Yahoo is now up to over 28% of all searches, versus just under 10% in November 2014. Google, meanwhile, is now below 64% of searches from the Firefox browser based on desktop, console and tablet (but not mobile handset) searches.

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are paying to get around Adblock Plus – Some of the web’s biggest companies have been paying to get around Adblock Plus, according to a new report from Financial Times. Microsoft’s Bing search ads and Taboola’s “recommended links” box are among the ads that are currently slipping through Adblock Plus’s filter, and FT confirms that it’s the intentional result of a paid deal between the makers of Adblock and the owners of the ads. According to FT sources, the companies have paid Eyeo (the maker of Adblock Plus) to be added to an official whitelist, which allows them to bypass the plug-in. Google has a similar deal, as has been previously reported.

Pointing up     Memo to self – remember to expand upon the definition of coercion in action.

Intel buys Lantiq for connected home networking – Intel acquired Lantiq, which makes broadband and networking gear, in a move that broadens its connected home efforts. With the move, Intel becomes the latest tech giant to hop on the connected home bandwagon. Samsung has said its appliances will be connected to the Internet and tied together. Google owns Nest and everyone from Apple to Microsoft has some kind of connected home play.

Alibaba And Lending Club Launch Financing Program For U.S. Businesses – Alibaba.com and peer-to-peer financing site Lending Club have inked a strategic partnership designed to get more U.S. businesses to buy inventory from the e-commerce giant’s wholesale marketplace. The two will offer a new financial service called the Alibaba.com e-Credit Line that will let American companies apply for credit lines of $5,000 to $300,000 through the site, which they can then use to make purchases there. The program will eventually expand beyond the U.S.

FCC commissioner calls out Dish for taking $3 billion in small business discounts – Dish is trying to cash in over $3 billion in discounts meant to help “very small businesses” during wireless spectrum auctions, but FCC commissioner Ajit Pai isn’t having it. According to The Wall Street Journal, Pai intends to petition commission chairman Tom Wheeler to investigate Dish’s eligibility for these discounts. Pai, who’s been protective over the FCC’s small business discounts in the past, says that allowing a large company like Dish to receive such a large discount “makes a mockery” of the program.

Sony sells its online gaming subsidiary, which will now also make Xbox One games – Sony Online Entertainment has been sold to a third-party investment firm, and the former Sony subsidiary will now make games for Xbox One, mobile and other platforms.

Google reportedly plans to take on Uber with ride-hailing service – Google plans to take on Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and all the other ride-sharing services by offering its own similar product, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company “most likely” has been working on the service in conjunction with its driverless car project, the publication said, and David Drummond — Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, who also serves on Uber’s board — recently notified Uber about the possibility it would launch such a product, Bloomberg said.

Games and Entertainment:

Fan remakes Resident Evil 2 in Unreal Engine 3 as a learning project – Typically, if you’re learning how to use a new game engine you’ll go through a few tutorials and create some simple games to help understand the concepts and workflow. Developer Rod Lima took that idea a step further and decided to fully recreate Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 in Unreal Engine 3. Lima saw the game remake as the perfect way to learn UnrealScript, the scripting language that Unreal Engine 3 relies upon. The finished project is of such good quality Capcom could pick this up and release it has a HD version of the game tomorrow.

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These Are the 50 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2015 – These are the biggest games for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS due this year. Highlights include Bloodborne, The Legend of Zelda, Halo 5: Guardians and Batman: Arkham Knight.

Madden’s simulation of the Super Bowl predicted the exact final score – EA Sports has been running Super Bowl simulations using Madden for more than a decade now with a respectable record of nine correct predictions and three false ones. However, this year it didn’t just pick the winning team, it also foresaw that the Patriots would be trailing in the third quarter only for Tom Brady to deliver a game-clinching pass to Julian Edelman for a final score of 28-24. Yahoo Tech notes that the simulator also got some of the finer details right, including the first team to score, Brady’s number of touchdowns — and was also only 27 yards off nailing the quarterback’s total passing yardage.

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Monopoly is being sold with real money inside – Toymaker Hasbro is celebrating the 80th anniversary of Monopoly’s introduction in France by replacing the fake money in 80 sets with real cash. The sets will be distributed among 30,000 specially branded editions of the game, with only one of these replacing every note on the board with real money (a total windfall of €20,580 or $23,348). Ten additional sets will contain €300 ($340) in twenties, fifties, and a single €100 bill while 69 other sets will offer €150 ($170) in tens and twenties.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Too much phone, tablet use may gimp kids’ development – Back in the days, our folks would tell us that watching TV would turn us into brainless zombies. Today, that might have some truth as well when it comes to heavy use of mobile devices. Boston University Medical Center researchers are now questioning the effects that these devices have, especially on children below 2 years of age, theorizing that a heavy dose of mobile could, in fact, be detrimental to social, emotional, and even mental skills that can only be learned through human-human interaction.

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School suspends boy for alleged Hobbit Ring invisibility threats – Technically Incorrect: In Texas, they do not take kindly, it seems, to fantasy threats from 9-year-olds. In this case, Aiden Steward allegedly threatened another child that he could make them disappear with his One Ring.

The 10 most common misconceptions about space – Space is a difficult concept to represent on film, and not just because of floating hair and upside-down camera angles. The concept of space, a low- or no-gravity environment with no atmosphere and all sorts of foreign dangers, is difficult to portray accurately and still complete an engaging story. Still, some of cinema’s most beloved “facts” have wormed their way into the popular understanding of space. This must be brought to a swift and merciless end.

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Consumers Vs. Data Science Bad Guys – It’s interesting as hell that, as the world continues to spew vitriol at the creepy collection and abuse of data by governments and big businesses, big data and data science companies are still kicking ass. Fortunately for these businesses, right now governments and Facebook are the bad guys, providing super useful and convenient cover. That will change. The emergence of location-based data gathered by our mobile phone providers, social data, behavioral data, Internet of things-generated data – combined with the use and abuse thereof – represents just the small beginnings of many nasty, uncomfortable problems that will fester over time. A war is coming. The good news? Consumers will win.

RadioShack through the ages: 8 adorable images from the fallen giant’s vault – RadioShack first opened its doors in 1921 to serve radio officers stationed on ships in Boston Harbor. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that RadioShack is on the verge of collapse. Intrigued? Then join me on a tour of vintage RadioShack moments. This first slide was shot in 1931 at a store in Boston. Then as today, customers visited RadioShack to listen to audio equipment before making a purchase.

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This first slide was shot in 1931 at a store in Boston.

‘Freedom Clip’ gets you past Keurig’s K-Cup rules – If you’ve recently purchased a Keurig coffee machine, you know that many third-party pods won’t work in your machine. Protected by DRM, Keurig tamped the cottage industry that popped up around their machines with their latest kit, to the dismay of just about everyone. A new add-on might get you around Keurig’s rules, though. The Freedom Clip snaps into your existing Keurig, and allows for those now-bootleg K-Cups to be used in your new Keurig machine. Next time you’re standing in front of your Keurig, thinking of so many curse words because you’re not enjoying your favorite non-Keurig K-Cup, keep this article in mind. Or, be pro-active and click the link below to get yourself a little freedom.

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Something to think about:

“Computer games don’t affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.”

–     Marcus Brigstocke

Today’s Free Downloads:

System Explorer – Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files. Portable version also available.

System Explorer is free, awards winning software for exploration and management of System Internals. This small software includes many useful tools which help you Keep Your System Under Control. With System Explorer You get also fast access to File Database which help you to determine unwanted processes or threats. System Explorer is translated into 21 languages and is available for download in installer and portable version.

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

File Backup:

Create a single backup file of one or more folders on your hard disk

Incremental and Differential backups.

Include and exclude filter ensures that you only backup relevant files.

Browse the backup file as a virtual FAT32 hard drive in Windows Explorer.

Files in use by Windows (such as Outlook .pst files) are backed up even when locked!

Multiple compression levels.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD)

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging:

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

Restore a partition to a different type. e.g. a logical partition can be restored as a bootable primary partition

Resize the restored partition. A hard disk upgrade can easily be performed by increasing the partition to fill the new disk.

Track 0 (The Master Boot Record) is saved with all backups.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD).

Disk image can be created whilst Windows is in use. A special driver ensures that the disk image represents an exact point in time and will not be affected by disk access that may occur during the backup process.

Verify images. Images (Backup files) can be separately verified or automatically verified before restore.

System files such as ‘pagefile.sys’ and ‘hiberfil.sys’ are not included in the image. This reduces the final backup file size.

Three compression levels can be selected to optimize between file size and speed.

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

Save your backup definitions as XML files and execute them with a single click from your desktop.

Includes VBScript integration and a VBScript generator for unparalleled control of the backup process.

Scheduling Features:

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.

Full logging of all backup operations. HTML log reports are generated and can be viewed using Reflect’s built in browser.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA still collecting Americans’ phone records data, despite not knowing the program’s worth – The US government continues to collect the phone records of millions of Americans, one year after a White House privacy board recommended the controversial program should shut down.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), whose recent efforts were to provide reform recommendations in the wake of the NSA surveillance leaks, said the Obama administration had made “substantial progress” in implementing its recommendations.

But the report said the government had fallen short of acting on one of the more controversial domestic spying programs, the bulk phone records collection program, which it said could be discontinued “at any time without congressional involvement.”

Instead the government has moved in the opposite direction by seeking legislation for new government access to phone records, the assessment report wrote.

The board said the program “raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties” and has “shown only limited value.”

Court tosses warrant where FBI cut Internet, posed as hotel repairmen – A federal magistrate is tossing a Las Vegas search warrant that led to the arrest of as many as eight people accused of running an illegal, online bookmaking operation last year from posh villas at Caesar’s Palace. The court found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s warrant application was “fatally flawed” and was “supplemented with material omissions.”

To obtain a search warrant, the authorities cut DSL access and posed as the cable guy, gathering evidence along the way that made up the basis for the bulk of a search warrant that resulted in the arrest of high-stakes gambler Paul Phua, his son Darren, and others.

Alleged online gambling ring broken up after agents posed as the cable guy.

Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ruled that the failure to mention that the original case was born from the “ruse” meant the judge who signed a search warrant this summer didn’t have all of the facts. Nowhere in the search warrant request, however, did the authorities mention that they allegedly saw illegal wagering on computers after posing as technicians who in reality briefly disconnected the DSL.

“The investigators’ suspicions that Phua was engaged in illegal sports betting at Caesars Palace may be borne out by the evidence recovered in the execution of the warrant,” Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ruled “However, a search warrant is never validated by what its execution recovers.”

Governments must realize limits of control on cloud data, encryption – Governments need to realize there are limits to how much they should exert control on issues that have global impact, such as cloud data and encryption.

The U.K. government, for instance, proposed a ban on data encryption that prevented digital communication from being monitored and read by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Prime Minister David Cameron said he would propose new legislation, if he won the next general election, in a a move deemed to potentially impact messaging platforms that encrypt their data, including apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, as well as Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime.

There are, however, already legislations that allow the government to monitor electronic communications for national security, said Rob Bratby, managing partner of Olswang Asia, where the Singapore-based lawyer advises on issues related telecom, media, and technology in the region.

He noted that the U.K.’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was designed to enable the government to conduct surveillance, including accessing an individual’s electronic communications, if they followed the correct processes and procedures. It sets the boundaries within which the government can listen to conversations and requires proper approval before it is allowed to do so.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 2, 2015

How to Hide Anything on Your iPhone;  Three Ways to Repurpose Your Old Smartphone;  Twitter Launches Vine Kids for G-Rated Videos;  10 common misconceptions about mobile device batteries;  Google Earth Pro now free;  Windows 10: The best tips, tricks, and tweaks;  The Pirate Bay Is Back;  Magic Actions – supercharge your YouTube experience;  iOS 8.1 tips and tricks;  Select users get voice calling on WhatsApp;  WhatsApp Web has privacy holes;  Intuit backpedals from TurboTax changes;  New Facebook tagging scam;  Amazon Prime to drop Doctor Who, other BBC shows;  The Diary Of A Cord Cutter In 2015;  Police stations becoming safe locations for Craigslisters;  My Drone Landed in Someone’s Yard—Is it Theirs Now?  Google Now Gets New Cards from 40 More Apps;  PartitionGuru (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Hide Anything on Your iPhone – The eyes may be the window to your soul, but your iPhone is the peephole into your daily life. Who you contact, which apps you use, which selfies you snap — it’s all right there. So if you care about your privacy, it’s worth taking some simple steps to protect it. Here are seven ways to keep digital snoops at bay.

Three Ways to Repurpose Your Old Smartphone – Most of us have old smartphones lying around, and while they might not be the latest and greatest anymore, the odds are also high that they’re functional and decently powerful. If you’ve been planning to ship them off to a used phone service but have never gotten around to it, there’s a better option: turning those old handsets into functional tools that complement your everyday life. There’s no shortage of apps to do this, and if you’re drawing a blank on what you can use them for, we’ve three suggestions.

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Example – Set it up as a HUD in your car

Delve into DIY security with these 23 connected cameras – Whether you’re serious about security or simply want to spy on a mischievous pet, these clever cameras are vying for a spot in your home.

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Google Earth Pro drops $399 subscription, now available for free – Google has recently revealed that it is dropping the paid subscription from Google Earth Pro, a more robust version of its Google Earth software. The Pro service will now be available for free, previously costing $399 per year. While the standard version of Google Earth has often been more than enough for casual map and globe users, the Pro version has seen use among professionals from scientists to businesses, who have been able to take advantage of advanced features previously not available for free. For those interested in getting started with Google Earth Pro, the software must be downloaded first, then users must request a key to register, which is no longer subscription based. Existing users will have no changes to their accounts, as their currents keys should continue without expiration.

10 common misconceptions about mobile device batteries – Users go to some strange measures to keep their batteries going and going and going. Yet much of what we hear about mobile batteries is simply not true. Let’s examine some of these misconceptions about the batteries that power the devices we depend upon day in and day out.

Use Magic Actions to supercharge your YouTube experience – The YouTube site has gone through many redesigns over the last few years. Each time, features are added and taken away, which may not suit your preferences. If you want to view videos with fewer distractions, or stop the new autoplay feature, Magic Actions for YouTube has you covered. Magic Actions is available for Chrome, Firefox (through the developer’s website) and Opera. After a quick install, check out these three notable features you don’t want to miss:

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Magic Actions Cinema mode – Bloom by Pogo on YouTube

Google Now Gets New Cards from 40 More Apps – Android users will now be able to learn that their eBay auctions are almost ending via a handy little Google Now card, to name one of the 40 new supported apps.

7 of the funniest Internet services you’ve probably never heard of – The Internet is a dark and scary place, but it’s a hilarious place too. With its nearly infinite possibilities, there’s no interest too niche for an underground community to rally behind. In the past, finding even the most basic services might have been a struggle depending on where you lived. But today, the Internet can provide almost anything, no matter how silly. In that spirit, here are seven of the funniest Internet services you may have never come across before.

Twitter Launches Vine Kids for G-Rated Videos – Twitter’s Vine app is home to some seriously entertaining videos — just don’t expect them all to be kid-friendly. Fortunately, now there’s an easy way to keep those inappropriate videos away from your kids’ eyeballs — without banning them from using the service. Enter Vine Kids. Launched on Friday, the new app offers up tons of adorable animated videos that are appropriate for young audiences. Your child can simply swipe left or right to watch a new Vine, and tap the screen to hear fun sounds.

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The Pirate Bay Is Back After Nearly Two Months Of Downtime – One of the Internet’s most targeted, and yet also most hard-to-kill sites is back again following a raid on its servers over seven weeks ago: The Pirate Bay resides once again at its familiar “.se” URL, offering a database that appears to be fairly intact, with torrents mostly in place up to its closure on December 9. The website, a famed destination for those seeking pirated material (but which also seeks simply to provide a portal for sharing of information via bit torrent technology, and ascribes content choice to users), went down after its servers were raided at a data center in Nacka station near Stockholm, Sweden.

Windows 10: The best tips, tricks, and tweaks – Despite still being very much an early preview, Windows 10 is already brimming with dozens of handy tweaks and tricks—and, because the operating is still in preview, a handful of those tricks unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found. Be warned: Some of these may break as the operating system evolves, though we plan to update this article over time.

iOS 8.1 tips and tricks – iOS is a powerful operating system, and iOS 8.1 has some amazing new features, but unless you make a habit of examining all the nooks and crannies, you’re bound to miss something. And when there’s no manual or tutorial, it’s easy for good stuff to remain hidden from view, which means you’re not getting the most from your investment. Whether you’re a novice or a complete power user, there’s bound to be something here that you’ve not come across before.

Betaworks Launches Idiot-Proof Livestream Broadcast App Upclose – Sick of hassling with Google Hangouts? Now you can start broadcasting video live to the world with just one-touch through Upclose, the newest app from Betaworks. Upclose lets you follow people to get notified when they’re on the air, discover who’s livestreaming now, and then comment on their broadcasts in a chat room with other viewers on the web or mobile. That’s it.

Select users get voice calling on WhatsApp – WhatsApp’s rumoured voice calling service might just be around the corner as a few users have started getting the functionality in the app already, as part of a testing program.

Raspberry Pi 2 Arrives: 6x Faster, An “Entry-Level PC” For $35 – Grab your screwdrivers, makers! There’s a new, more powerful Raspberry Pi in town… The just announced Pi 2, which goes on sale today, adds a quad-core chip and double the memory to support more intensive processing tasks. The Pi Foundation also reckons this sequel takes the Pi microprocessor “firmly into the PC space”, as they put it — in terms of power punch packed. “With the Pi 1, there were people using it as a PC but you had to make allowances for the fact it was a $35 PC,” says Pi creator, Eben Upton, in an interview with TechCrunch. “The big difference with the Pi 2 is it’s a PC. It’s not a PC which is pretty good considering it cost you $35. It’s a PC that’s pretty good.”

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How to take dreamy long exposure photos – Fast shutter speeds are great at freezing action in place, but slow the speed right down and watch as movement in a scene turns to smooth, abstract forms. Long exposure photography is a great technique to play with and lends itself particularly to clouds moving across landscapes, waves crashing onto rocky shores, or busy night-time city streets. It doesn’t even require expensive kit or hours of training to get started. Read through this guide to find out how you can create your own slow shutter masterpieces.

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‘Good enough’ speakers and headphones might be good enough after all – The Audiophiliac pondered this age-old question, and he now thinks good enough sound quality may be a good thing after all!

Security:

New Facebook tagging scam is in the wild, containing malware that can infect every device – Bogdan Botezatu of HotforSecurity reports that cyber criminals have created a malicious tagging scam, that starts with an alleged “video,” in which 20 friends are tagged in. Looking at the “video” in the Facebook post, it displays a goo.gl host, which is a URL shortening service, and not a video hosting website, which makes the post very suspicious. The webpage where users are redirected to reportedly does a thorough scan of the victim’s system. The page is apparently device-agnostic, and can serve malware to various devices like Android phones, PC’s, PlayStation consoles, TV sets, smart cars, and media players. Even so-called “dumb phones” are part of the action, as the criminals behind the scam will then redirect the user to an SMS fraud service that will try to lure the user into subscribing to a useless premium service.

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Google Now now SLURPS data from third party apps so YOU don’t have to – Google has inked deals with 40 third party app makers, allowing the ad giant to rifle through data from the likes of Lyft and Airbnb to serve up “relevant information” to its Android users. The firm said in a blog post on Friday that it would begin slurping the data from inside a number of apps for its Google Now service – a creepy, predictive search tech that Mountain View first unveiled in 2012. Google has become increasingly aware of the rich info locked away in other apps that – up until now – the data-scraping firm has been unable to deeply mine for its multi-billion dollar search and ad biz. Terms of the financial deals struck with the likes of Airbnb, Lyft, Pandora, Duolingo and the Guardian newspaper were kept secret.

Verizon to allow customers to disable “supercookies” – In a U-turn statement, Verizon Wireless says that it will soon allow users to completely opt-out of its mobile ad-targeting program, allowing them to delete previously unremovable customer codes, which have been unlovingly dubbed “supercookies”. This move was in response to the growing criticism of the service provider’s shady advertising practices, in particular the storage and tracking of uniquely identifiable user IDs or customer codes. Some privacy advocates, however, fear that this new policy still might not be enough to completely protect consumers.

US Army open sources security code to fight cyber attacks – The US Army recently posted a security code to GitHub with a goal of open-sourcing it to better understand when they come under cyber attack. Called Dshell, the code has been used for the past five years to analyze attacks on Department of Defense networks. The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) believes that the kind of cyber attacks launched on the government can be similar to those on the general public. Thus, they hope to get feedback from non-government users to better understand and prevent future attacks.

WhatsApp Web has privacy holes that could expose user photos – WhatsApp has just rolled out a new service called WhatsApp Web that allows users to sync the messaging app between their mobile devices and desktop, but the new web client has a couple of privacy pitfalls that indicate it’s not really ready for its close-up.

Atlassian resets some HipChat passwords after breach – Affected users of Atlassian’s HipChat service have had their passwords reset after a breach of the service resulted in a number of users’ personal information being accessed.

Company News:

AT&T, Verizon Win Big in FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction – Verizon Communications said it bought 181 licenses for $10.4 billion, which are in markets covering about 61 percent of the U.S. AT&T shelled out $18.2 billion for “a near nationwide contiguous 10×10 MHz block of high-quality AWS-3 spectrum.” T-Mobile, meanwhile, spent about $1.8 billion, but Dish was the third highest bidder at just under $13 billion (it will only pay about $10 billion thanks to a small business deal with the FCC), according to Fierce Wireless. US Cellular also spent about $338 million.

Intuit backpedals from TurboTax changes after upgrade uproar – Intuit backtracked yesterday, not only again apologizing for stiffing TurboTax customers by not telling them of changes in its business model but saying that it would offer partial refunds and free upgrades to its more capable editions. The fiasco over TurboTax — what tax forms it supported in its Q&A-like interview process — harked back to early January, when Consumerworld.org revealed that the desktop edition of TurboTax Deluxe omitted sections for forms required by the self-employed, investors and rental property owners.

Uber Sued In California For Fraud, Negligence Following New Delhi Rape – Nearly two months ago, a young woman was allegedly raped by her Uber driver in New Delhi, India. The incident led to the banning of the service in India and a full-scale investigation there, but the victim has brought her case over to the U.S. now filing a complaint with the Northern District Court of California. The charges raised in the complaint include negligence and fraud, and the victim (who is going by Jane Doe to protect her identity) says that it’s Uber’s hollow marketing tactics and disregard for customer safety that led to the events that unfolded on that December 5 night. One of the focal points of the complaint is Uber’s background check policies with regards to its riders.

Games and Entertainment:

First of 8 limited edition Street Fighter dioramas costs $90 – Hardcore Street Fighter fans, you have a lot of saving to do and some quick pre-orders to place this year. That’s because BigBoysToys HK has been given a green light by Capcom to create some very high-quality and limited edition dioramas for the series. The first depicts Ryu, will be released in March, and can be pre-ordered now through Play-Asia for an eye-watering $89.99. These are no ordinary dioramas, though.

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Amazon Prime to drop Doctor Who, other BBC shows on Feb 15 – If you’re a subscriber to Amazon Prime’s Instant Video service and a big Doctor Who fan, we’ve got some bad news for you. With an announcement to customers expected sometime this weekend, Amazon Prime will no longer have Doctor Who, nor most of its BBC shows, available for streaming beginning Sunday, February 15th. Sources say the reason is due to Amazon not getting exclusivity of the shows when it comes to streaming, meaning if rival services like Netflix can show it at the same time, Amazon doesn’t want it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Diary Of A Cord Cutter In 2015 – I know I’m late to the party by some accounts. Early adopters cut the cord years ago and haven’t looked back. For me, turning off cable TV was an idea I flirted with, yet I just kept renewing my package deal for some reason. But there has been no better time to finally sever ties with big cable, and their pricey television packages that have you paying for hundreds of channels when you only watch a handful of shows – many of which you’re probably already streaming on Netflix or Amazon.

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Richard Dawkins reads his (very NFSW) hate mail – Richard Dawkins is a famed evolutionary biologist and former Oxford professor who also founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. He’s a tenacious advocate for science and an outspoken atheist. A dogged proponent of atheism and an evolutionary biologist? It should come as no surprise he’s a divisive figure, and the aforementioned foundation like to poke fun at just how divisive he is by having Dawkins read his hate mail. It’s weirdly amusing, and very NSFW.

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Police stations becoming safe locations for Craigslisters – Despite the number of crimes surrounding online classified ads like Craigslist and its ilk, there is no stopping people from resorting to these services and transactions to make a quick buck or buy some rare oddity. And despite all that has happened, some still agree to meet in very shady locations or circumstances. So in the absence of some common sense, what are law enforces to do? Why offer to become the witnesses and the drop point of said transactions, of course!

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Insomniacs, now you can spray sleep right onto your skin – Mist melatonin on yourself until you slowly drift off to dream of a world filled with spray-on love, money and power, too.

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How to know where not to fly your drone – It’s easier than ever to get your hands on a ready-to-fly quadcopter to send buzzing around the skies. But there are definitely some guidelines you’ll want to follow before taking off.

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My Drone Landed in Someone’s Yard—Is it Theirs Now? – We’ve all been there before. It’s late at night, you’ve had a couple cocktails, and you want to pull out the ol’ drone for a spin. You know, night piloting. Then, before you know it, a tree jumps right into your quadcopter’s path, and it has crashed onto a nearby lawn in the dark. So, is your drone a goner? Well, that’s a complicated answer.

Eerie drone video flies over Auschwitz 70 years later – Even if you were not aware of its deeply grim and tragic history, a pall would still hang over the location. Recently, the BBC showed just how haunting Auschwitz-Birkenau remains, 70 years after that January day in 1945 by flying a camera-equipped drone over the empty buildings and grounds. Nowadays, the facility stands as a museum, a reminder of the horrors humanity is capable of inflicting on itself.

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iPhone sales take a big bite out of Android shipments – The holidays weren’t so jolly for Android smartphones, after all. Shipments of Android-running smartphones fell in the last three months of 2014 as consumers bought Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in record-shattering numbers. This marks the first decline in Android smartphones during the all-important holiday quarter compared to the previous three months, according to industry tracker ABI Research.

Something to think about:

“What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.”

–     Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Today’s Free Downloads:

PartitionGuru – PartitionGuru is a very useful, easy to use application specially designed to offer users a partition management and data recovery software.

In addition to partition management functions such as creating, deleting, formatting partitions, it also provides more powerful functions like recovering lost files, recovering lost partitions, clone partition to image file, partition clone, disk clone, quick partition etc.

LastActivityView – LastActivityView is a tool for Windows operating system that collects information from various sources on a running system, and displays a log of actions made by the user and events occurred on this computer.

The activity displayed by LastActivityView includes: Running .exe file, Opening open/save dialog-box, Opening file/folder from Explorer or other software, software installation, system shutdown/start, application or system crash, network connection/disconnection and more…

You can easily export this information into csv/tab-delimited/xml/html file or copy it to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other software.

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Predator - PREDATOR locks your PC when you are away, even if your Windows session is still opened.

It uses a regular USB flash drive as an access control device, and works as follows:

you insert the USB drive

you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)

you do your work…

when you’re away from your PC, you simply remove the USB drive:

– once it is removed, the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens

when you return back to your PC, you put the USB flash drive in place:

– keyboard and mouse are immediately released, and the display is restored.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canada’s New Anti-Terror Bill Is Everything You Hoped It Wasn’t – Under the broad anti-terror legislation tabled Friday, Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), will be given broad new powers to investigate and “disrupt” terrorist plots. Canada’s police services will be able to go after online terrorist propaganda.

When the bill was tabled on Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister vowed to prevent attacks like the ones that hit Ottawa and Quebec in October.

The powers included in Bill C-51 come with little new oversight or transparency. The core of the provisions will allow CSIS to disrupt attacks the organization believes may occur in Canada or abroad.

The government calls them “disruption warrants,” and they will let Canada’s spies do just about anything. According to the legislation those warrants authorize the spies to “enter any place or open or obtain access to any thing,” to copy or obtain any document, “to install, maintain or remove any thing,” and, most importantly, “to do any other thing that is reasonably necessary to take those measures.”

Pointing up   The legal consensus seems to be, once again, the Harper Government ™ has proposed legislation that on it’s face, overrides constitutionally protected guarantees. Should this legislative passed as written, there is broad agreement that it would fail a Supreme Court challenge.

As an indication of just how fascist the Harper Government ™ truly is – it, they, HE, has gone down to defeat in 5 of 6 Supreme Court challenges on constitutional issues in the past 18 months. 

This is a government which supplies each of it’s members with an enemies list. That in itself, is “facism” by definition.

This new legislation contains a proviso which would confer the power of arrest and detention on Canada’s spy agency – effectively creation a Stasi like secret police.

Even the U.S. government – a perpetrator of mass privacy rights violations, would tremble, I suspect, at an anticipated public backlash should such a scheme be seriously proposed as a solution.

In the meantime, Canadians, as is their practice, just sit back on their asses and politely watch a megalomaniac vomit on the heritage bought and paid for by the sacrifices of previous generations.

Individually, we continue to pay a price for the ruling classes political and economic “mistakes”  – which, in some cases, extend back generations.

Gmail, Facebook, Skype excluded from Australian data retention – Australian law-enforcement agencies will not have legal, direct, warrantless access to customer information for international companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other communications platforms under the mandatory data-retention legislation.

The legislation currently before the parliament will force Australian telecommunications companies to retain an as-yet-undefined set of customer data for a minimum of two years. It is expected that this will include call records, assigned IP addresses, email source and destination, and other such information.

Left out of the scheme will be third-party providers, such as internet cafes, universities, and other organisations that offer internet access to the public. The legislation has also been designed to exclude over-the-top players, including international companies such as Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

If, however, the telcos themselves provide over-the-top services such as email or voice over IP, then those services would be caught by the mandatory data-retention scheme, according to Attorney-General’s Department assistant secretary Anna Harmer.

The British army is allegedly training a group of ‘Facebook Warriors’ – Long ago, wars were fought on the basis of physical weapons and strength, however that’s not the case today. The Financial Times reports that the British army is expanding its digital armory of weapons by creating a group of soldiers referred to as the ‘Facebook Warriors’. This unit will be named the “77th Battalion” and will be tasked with fighting their adversaries on social media in a non-lethal way.

This will be accomplished via ‘Reflexive control'; an incredibly difficult technique initially used by the Soviets to spread news and information in a specifically designed manner to get your enemy to respond the way you want them to. The British army intends to do just that.

The 77th Battalion will roughly number 1500 warriors, including journalists and people with skill and experience regarding social media interaction. These ‘warriors’ will use Facebook and Twitter as their primary weapons to gather intelligence, spread falsified news and propaganda.

CIA Interrogations Took Place on British Territory of Diego Garcia, Senior Bush Administration Official Says – Interrogations of US prisoners took place at a CIA black site on the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia, a senior Bush administration official has told VICE News.

The island was used as a “transit location” for the US government’s “nefarious activities” post-9/11 when other places were too full, dangerous, insecure, or unavailable, according to Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff.

There was no permanent detention facility such as the CIA facility in Poland, he told VICE News in a wide-ranging interview. His intelligence sources indicated to him that the island was however home to “a transit site where people were temporarily housed, let us say, and interrogated from time to time.”

Wilkerson was Powell’s chief of staff at the State Department from 2002 to 2005, but he did not learn of the CIA’s activities on Diego Garcia until after leaving office. His information comes from four well-placed CIA and intelligence sources, including a veteran who participated in the renditions program, and a member of the Intelligence and Research Bureau at the State Department who was “very much plugged in to what was going on at the CIA.”

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