Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – October 30, 2015

Stop Google from tracking your voice;  Tor Project releases beta version of its anonymous instant messenger;  Microsoft Aces Antivirus Test;  TV tech terms demystified, part one: Screen size, resolution, and speed;  Google is merging Chrome OS and Android;  Facebook helps Tor project to get official recognition for .onion hidden sites;  Google Photos Will Hide Pics of Your Ex;  Microsoft’s radical Android launcher “Arrow” now public;  This is what a $50 Tablet looks like;  Three iOS 9 battery management tricks that will delight you;  This One GIF Explains How BitTorrent Finds Files;  Microsoft to users: You’ll download Windows 10, and you’ll like it;  Five apps perfectly suited for a one-person IT shop;  Spice Up Your Skype Video Messages With New Filters;  Disk wiping and data forensics: Separating myth from science;  Three baseline IT security tips for small businesses;  Everything you need to know about YouTube Red;  Google Play Games Now Lets You Record And Share Gameplay;  SystemRescueCd  (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Stop Google from tracking your voice – When you ask Google a question, these recordings are automatically saved to your Google account. While the recordings are only accessible by you, they may include some private information you don’t feel comfortable having in the cloud. There’s no reason to panic. It’s easy to access and delete recordings, and prevent Google from saving them in the first place. Here’s what you need to know:

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The Tor Project releases beta version of its anonymous instant messenger – The Tor Project has just released the beta version of Tor Messenger, a chat client that allows for anonymous, “off-the-record” chats based on Tor’s secure browsing system. The instant messenger is a beta release more than a year in the making, and promises to create a more seamless, accessible way for people to chat securely on the web, built on the instant messaging client Instantbird but routing all traffic through Tor. Similar instant messaging clients, like Pidgin and Adium, can be set up for encrypted chatting, but the Tor Project says Messenger takes the idea one step further, enforcing encrypted chats “out of the box” and disabling logging of information by default. The cross-platform client supports Jabber (XMPP), IRC, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, Twitter, and Yahoo.

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Facebook helps Tor project to get official recognition for .onion hidden sites – With the efforts from Facebook and the Tor project, it should become easier to browse securely via SSL on the so-called Darknet.

Microsoft Aces Antivirus Test – For years, Microsoft’s antivirus has been the sad sack in antivirus tests. Several labs have taken to calling Microsoft’s performance a baseline. If you can’t beat the baseline, you’re doing something wrong. That trend seems to be changing, though. In the latest test results reported by AV-Test Institute, Microsoft earned a respectable 14 points (out of a possible 18). That’s a lot better than its previous score of 9.5 points; 10 points is the minimum to pass this test. It seems that Microsoft is on a roll. Dennis Technology Labs certifies antivirus products at a number of different levels: AAA, AA, A, B, and C. For the first time, Microsoft managed AAA certification.

TV tech terms demystified, part one: Screen size, resolution, and speed – Don’t be befuddled by the alphabet soup of acronyms, spec charts, and feature lists you’ll encounter when shopping for a new TV. This guide series explains it all in plain language.

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Credit: Panasonic

Google is merging Chrome OS and Android – Google’s two operating systems will soon be one. Chrome OS is going to be combined with Android, and the combined OS could be revealed as soon as next year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that Chrome is essentially being folded into Android, because Android has emerged as the dominant operating system by quite a long stretch. Combining the two operating systems means setting up Android to run on laptops and desktop computers, which would require big changes, as well as supporting the Google Play Store. Chromebooks will reportedly receive a new name to reflect the new OS.

Google Photos Will Hide Pics of Your Ex – Google Photos will let you hide certain individuals from appearing under People.

Microsoft’s radical Android launcher “Arrow” now public – All the troubleshooting is done and what’s left is a home screen replacement app for your Android device that’ll make you wish the company had skipped over Windows for mobile devices and gone straight to Google for their software. While Google may have been catching up with Microsoft’s “most used apps” tray topper, here you’ll find the ability to select what you want for starters. This launcher also has a pull-up quick-select menu with settings and a set of apps – again, of your choosing.

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This is what a $50 Tablet looks like – While most tablets in the $50 range aren’t much more than glorified alarm clocks, the $49.99 Amazon Fire is a fully realized, functional slate with access to tons of content. It’s good for reading books, watching movies, running apps, or just browsing the Web. With a decent screen, a portable form factor, solid parental controls, and helpful technical support for newbies, there’s simply no other meaningful competition in this price range. That makes the 7-inch Amazon Fire our Editors’ Choice for budget tablets.

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Three iOS 9 battery management tricks that will delight you – iOS 9 includes new ways to keep track of the battery life on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Learn the ins and outs of using these management techniques.

Microsoft Integrates Skype With Office Online, Rolls Out An Office Chrome Extension – Microsoft today announced its plans to extend the social features of Office by integrating Skype into Office Online, allowing users to communicate by voice and video chat within Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Online documents, as well as in Outlook.com. With the integration, users will be able to see and chat with Skype contacts right from within their file, which Microsoft says will help teams better collaborate. In addition, Skype’s chat history will remain connected to the document, so you’ll be able to see where you left off after closing a file and later returning. Microsoft also rolled out a new Chrome browser extension, which makes it easier to quickly access or create new Office documents with a click on Chrome’s toolbar.

Spice Up Your Skype Video Messages With New Filters – Add balloons to video messages, change the appearance of your face, or go color negative to spook out your friends.

This One GIF Explains How BitTorrent Finds Files – While services like Popcorn Time have been simplifying BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, for end users, it’s becoming easier and easier to look at torrenting as an abstract streaming service rather than a tangle of users passing files between each other. The BitTorrent team has put together some visualizations that’ll help you imagine what’s happening here. The team is putting together a browser called Project Maelstrom, which can visualize torrent networks using data pulled from their popular µTorrent client and also promises to allow websites to leverage BitTorrent technology in users’ actual browsers.

Disk wiping and data forensics: Separating myth from science – Strongly held opinions about the proper method to wipe data from hard drives reflect bygone eras. Learn about disk wiping for modern platter hard drives, and securing data on solid-state drives.

Google’s Snapseed app can now edit RAW photos on Android – An increasing number of Android smartphones are now able to shoot photos in RAW, which gives users much greater flexibility when it comes to editing and retouching their shots after they’ve been taken. But finding a good app for editing RAW files on a smartphone isn’t easy, so Google’s updating one of its own to fill the void. The latest version of Snapseed, released today, offers full support for DNG RAW files. Google says the new Snapseed will help you “correct exposure after the fact” with far better results than you’d see from a JPG file, where mucking with the exposure too much can easily ruin an image. And you’ll also have much more control over white balance, color, and tone.

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Giphy Expands Beyond Messenger With Its New GIF-Sharing App – Giphy, the popular resource for finding and sharing GIFs, has rolled out a significant upgrade to its flagship mobile application today, which sees the app rebranded from an add-on utility for Facebook Messenger users, to a fully-featured, standalone app for finding and sharing GIFs across a number of channels, including social networks, text messages, Messenger, email and more.

Linksys launches new range extenders to terminate WiFi dead spots – Linksys has added a pair of new WiFi range extenders to its lineup of devices that includes the AC1200 Boost EX Range Extender RE6400 and the AC750 Boost Range Extender RE6300. Both of the devices are designed to expand your wireless network into areas of your home or office where signal strength is weak.

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Five apps perfectly suited for a one-person IT shop – You’ve broken out on your own to start a one-person IT shop. To do this successfully, you’re going to need a bit of help to make the daily grind, well, a grind. Since you’re an “army of one,” you can’t hire support staff to keep you organized, get you paid, keep an inventory… etc. To keep from losing your mind (or your shirt), you’ll need a few apps to pick up the slack. Fortunately, there are plenty of good ones available to keep your efforts moving forward.

Microsoft to users: You’ll download Windows 10, and you’ll like it – Microsoft really wants people to get on the Windows 10 bandwagon, so much so that the company plans to start automatically downloading its new operating system to some users’ computers next year.

Everything you need to know about YouTube Red – Google’s well aware that YouTube is a video powerhouse of viral hits, music videos and unique shows you cannot find anywhere else. Hoping to capitalize on its unstoppable success, Google created YouTube Red, a new paid monthly subscription service with several perks that make your viewing experience better. Here’s what you should know before you sign up.

Security:

Three baseline IT security tips for small businesses – Millions of small businesses are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks that can cost an average of $20,000 per attack. Here is some basic wisdom to help SMBs protect themselves.

Free website hosting service 000webhost has suffered a data breach which has placed the service’s security practices under scrutiny – 000webhost is a free web hosting service which supports both PHP and MySQL, catering for millions of users worldwide. On Wednesday, the firm told users in a Facebook message that the company had suffered a databreach on its main server. A hacker used an exploit in an old, unpatched version of PHP to upload malicious files and gain access to the service’s systems. Not only was the full database containing the usernames, passwords and email addresses compromised, but this information has been dumped online.

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Cryptowall ransomware revenue may flow to one group – Just one cybercriminal group may be collecting the revenue from Cryptowall 3.0, a malicious program that infects computers, encrypts files and demands a ransom, according to a new study.

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Cryptowall 3.0, which encrypts files on a computer and demands a ransom, may have generated as much as $325 million for its developers. Credit: Cyber Threat Alliance study

Company News:

Zuckerberg visits India to boost Facebook numbers amidst Internet.org hiccups – The social network has received fierce criticism for allegedly violating net neutrality, and if that isn’t bad enough, if media articles are to be believed, Internet.org doesn’t seem to be attracting many takers either.

Apple asks Supreme Court to overturn decision in ebooks antitrust case – As reported by Reuters, Apple filed a petition with the court on Wednesday, arguing that the most recent appeal ruling against the company would “harm competition and the national economy.” In its most recent letter to the court, Apple suggested that its actions were not anticompetitive, writing that a decision was “exceedingly important to the United States economy as it concerns the rules that will govern disruptive entry by dynamic companies into new or stagnant markets.” Apple has been set to pay out $450 million if the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, or if the lower court’s decision is upheld. That would be the conclusion to a battle that’s been unfolding since 2013, when Apple was found guilty of the conspiracy.

LinkedIn Earnings Beat Expectations With $780M In Revenue, Stock Jumps 9% – LinkedIn handily beat analyst expectations today with revenue of $780 million and earnings of 78 cents per share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 45 cents per share on about $756 million in revenue. LinkedIn shares promptly spiked as much as 8% in extended trading. In total, the company’s revenue grew 37% year-over-year, up from around $568 million in the third quarter last year.

Still fuming over HTTPS mishap, Google makes Symantec an offer it can’t refuse – Google has given Symantec an offer it can’t refuse: give a thorough accounting of its ailing certificate authority process or risk having the world’s most popular browser—Chrome—issue scary warnings when end users visit HTTPS-protected websites that use Symantec credentials. The ultimatum, made in a blog post published Wednesday afternoon, came five weeks after Symantec fired an undisclosed number of employees caught issuing unauthorized transport layer security certificates. The mis-issued certificates made it possible for the holders to impersonate HTTPS-protected Google webpages.

PayPal reports solid Q3, $2.26 billion in revenue – Wall Street was looking for revenue of $2.27 billion. The slight miss caused PayPal’s stock to drop nearly seven percent after hours.

Sony Records $280M Profit In Q2 2015 But Its Smartphone Struggles Continue – Sony’s financial turnaround continues with its Q2 2015 period. The Japanese company posted a slim net profit of $280 million (33.6 billion JPY) on revenue of $15.8 billion (1,892.7 billion JPY). Operating profit came in at $733 million (88 billion JPY). The firm didn’t quite hit the highs of the previous three-month period, when it bagged an eight-year high $780 million operating profit on revenue of $14.5 billion, but Q2 2015 is a big jump on the $785 million loss suffered one year prior, when it wrote down $1.5 billion from its struggling mobile division. That said, revenue for Q2 2014 was around half a percent higher.

Samsung’s Q3 results are in, lets company breathe a bit – Samsung has just posted its financial numbers for the third quarter in a year and finally the Korean manufacturer has some room to breathe. But probably not for long. Even though the numbers are still small and still somewhat disappointing, consolidated revenues and operating profits have gone up, mostly thanks to its semiconductor and display panel businesses. The bad news, smartphone sales are still lower than hoped. The worse news, Samsung expects that the next quarter, nay the next year, will be even more difficult.

Games and Entertainment:

Google Play Games Now Lets You Record And Share Gameplay – Twitch? Who needs it. Today, Google Play Games announced a new feature which will let you record and share your gameplay moments with others. No, it’s not for streaming hours of footage, it’s more for when you want to share yourself beating a level or getting a high score. You can then pop it onto YouTube Gaming to get those views and make that revenues.

Here’s what the team had to say:

Today, we’re launching a new feature on the Google Play Games app that lets you easily record and share with others your own best gaming moments from your favorite mobile games.

It’s simple. In the Play Games app, select any game you want to play, then tap the record button. You can capture your gameplay in 720p or 480p, and choose to add video of yourself and commentary via your device’s front facing camera and microphone. When you’re done recording, you can quickly edit and upload your video to YouTube.

Valve resurrects Halloween modes for Team Fortress 2 – Valve might not be good at trilogies, but they love community events. This year marks the seventh Halloween event for Team Fortress 2, and they’re making it a doozy. Instead of making just one new game mode, they’ve decided to bring back all six previous Halloween modes. They’re not just slacking off by re-hashing old content, there will be some new stuff to enjoy, as well.

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The 11 weirdest MMORPGs still online – The era of the massively multiplayer online game might be one of the strangest in PC gaming history. Some of the earliest online experiences were called “multi-user dungeons,” or MUDs, which allowed people to dial in to a server and explore a text-based world with other real people. That concept eventually mutated in 1997 with the release of Ultima Online, Richard Garriott’s transformation of his classic series into the MMORPG realm. A few others followed, but it was the release of World Of Warcraft in 2004 that really kicked the MMORPG craze into full swing. Blizzard managed to perfectly capture what millions of players wanted in an online world, and over multiple expansions it’s managed to dominate the market for over a decade in the face of some tough challenges.

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Sony Provides Sneak Peek at Upcoming PS4 Game Lineup – Sony kicked off this year’s Paris Games Week with a slew of PlayStation 4 announcements. Eight trailers—and one gameplay walkthrough—highlighted upcoming releases, from the Battleborn open beta to the multiplayer Vector. A number of established franchises are getting a boost from new iterations, like the Gran Turismo Sport beta, expected to begin in the spring.

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Gran Turismo Sport

Terrifying PC horror classic Outlast is getting a sequel – Spooky asylum hellhole Outlast is getting a sequel, developer Red Barrels announced today. There’s not much to the trailer, aside from a burning upside-down cross and a guy yelling scripture and/or pseudo-scripture about death, judgment, et cetera. Oh, and a release date of Fall, 2016. Check it out:

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20 terrifying PC horror games to play with the lights off – Horror games are a dime a dozen. Good horror games—well, those are much rarer. We’ve rounded up some of the best horror games ever made, running the gamut from big-budget extravaganzas released this very year to… text adventures. I’m serious. Turn out the lights, put on some headphones, make sure you’ve got a spare pair of underwear nearby, and enjoy these spine-tinglers.

How to watch the World Series live online – Can’t get to a TV for the Fall Classic? Here are your options are for streaming the games online.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cord-cutter Confidential turns one: What a crazy year it’s been – One year ago today, I kicked off my weekly Cord Cutter Confidential column by declaring there’s never been a better time to cut the cord. I’m happy to say that since writing that first column, living cable-TV-free has only gotten easier. Those who ditch the bloated cable bundle now have more choices and better programming than they did a year ago, as TV networks and service providers realize they must start appealing to this rapidly-growing audience. Let’s look back at some of the highlights:

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US govt drafts Google, Walmart, Amazon, BestBuy execs for drone registration system – The task force will help the FAA and DOT decide how to go about setting the new rules and procedures for registering private drones in the US. The registration will allow cops and Feds to track drones back to their owners when FAA rules are broken. The FAA said the task force will have until November 20 to decide what recommendations it should make on how to roll out drone registration. The group will gather to meet from November 3-5 to hash out the recommendations.

Students In India Held A Massive Celebration to Honor Bill Gates On His Birthday – Bill Gates, philanthropist and cofounder of Microsoft, turned 60 years old on Oct. 28. Gates is the wealthiest man in the world, and he along with his wife Melinda have put their fortunes towards starting numerous campaigns aimed at making the world a better place. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation runs various programs that seek to improve global health, eliminate poverty, and provide easier access to education among solving other issues impacting the world. In these photos, school children in Chennai, India honored Gates’ birthday by holding portraits of him during a celebration.

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Sit? Stand? Nifty new workstation lets you lie down on the job – The debate over the health impact of working at a computer continues to rage. Standing desk fans insist that being on their feet is the way to go for health and productivity, but for many of the rest of us, standing up for hours on end looks like an awful lot of hard work. The science isn’t exactly clear-cut, either. California startup Altwork has what may be the solution with its first product: the Altwork Station. While adjustable sit/stand desks have been done before, the Altwork Station takes things to the next level: it’s an integrated workstation combining seat, desk, and monitor stand, and it’s all electrically controlled to support not just sitting and standing but also a supine position: you lie back with your monitor or monitors above you. The keyboard and mouse stay affixed to your desk through the magical power of magnets.

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Watch a Soccer Player’s Punt Drop This Drone Out of the Sky – There are few things more satisfying for a shotgun-wielding technophobe than dropping drones out the sky. But rarely do you see a kill as dead-on as this one. That’s a ball kick from a Rosmini College soccer player in New Zealand that landed squarely on a passing DJI Phantom 3 drone. The quadcopter had been recording the match before being hit and spiralling down near the goalpost. It’s hard to tell just how high up the drone was when it got nailed. 75 feet? 100 feet? Either way, quite a shot.

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Hudway Glass gives you augmented reality nav on your windshield – Typically, when we are using a navigation device we are using it on a device built into the dash of our car or via something stuck to the windshield. A new device is on Kickstarter called Hudway Glass that aims to make looking at those navigation cues easier and safer while we drive. The device turns your smartphone into a head up display and holds it safely on the dash of your car. The device is designed to eliminate any issues with doubling of the image, lack of reflection during the day, image size, and other issues.

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Here’s How Airplane Wi-Fi Works – Nearly two-thirds of flights over the U.S. have on-board wi-fi these days, according to a survey by travel platform Routehappy. But how does in-flight Internet work, anyway? Watch the video to find out.

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‘C By GE’ Smart Bulbs Change Color Depending on Time of Day – Does the glow of your home’s lights make it difficult to wind down at night? Maybe things too are too dim during the day? GE has some new connected bulbs that can serve up the best lighting based on the time of day, all from your smartphone. Unlike other smart lighting solutions, you don’t need a hub to operate C by GE bulbs; just fire up the smartphone, connect via Bluetooth, and select your desired setting. A $50 starter pack contains two C Life bulbs and two C Sleep bulbs, GE said, which should last 20 years.

Something to think about:

“Lying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego, and lessens the frictions of social contacts.”

–     Clare Booth Luce     (1903 – 1987)

Downloads:

SystemRescueCd – SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions.

It comes with a lot of linux software such as system tools (parted, partimage, fstools, …) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It can be used for both Linux and windows computers, and on desktops as well as servers.

This rescue system requires no installation as it can be booted from a CD/DVD drive or USB stick, but it can be installed on the hard disk if you wish. The kernel supports all important file systems (ext2/ext3/ext4, reiserfs, btrfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

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RAM Disk for Windows – SoftPerfect RAM Disk is a free high-performance RAM disk application that lets you have a disk on your computer entirely stored in its memory. As the memory is much faster than physical hard disks, storing temporary data on a fast in-memory disk achieves a higher performance. Whatever your job is, read on to find out what a RAM disk can offer you.

SoftPerfect RAM Disk creates a virtual disk residing in the computer RAM accessible in Windows Explorer and other applications, allowing you to store any temporary information on this disk. Furthermore, Windows can be configured to use the RAM disk for temporary files, so that the system and most applications would use the fast in-memory disk for their temporary data. As Windows and other third-party applications often create a large number of temporary files for a short time only, using a RAM disk will extend your hard disk’s life by sparing it from excessive reading and writing.

Modern computers are equipped with at least 1 GB of RAM, and most of the time there is a lot of unused memory that could be used as a high-performance alternative to the slower HDD storage. This product lets you create any number of virtual RAM disks limited only by the memory available. You can also work with on-disk images and RAM disks associated with an on-disk file, that ensures your data is preserved between sessions.

Key features of the RAM Disk:

Any number of RAM disks. In practice, up to 26 disks due to the number of drive letters available.

Any RAM disk size on 64-bit systems. Up to approximately 3.5 GB on 32-bit systems.

Persistent RAM disks with an associated on-disk image.

Volatile RAM disks whose content disappears on shutdown.

Built-in disk image manipulation tools.

Five very good reasons to use the RAM Disk:

Higher PC performance. Provided you have got a sufficient amount of RAM, using a fast in-memory disk for temporary data will boost the computer performance.

Reduced file system fragmentation. The file system on your hard disks will be far less fragmented as the temporary files will never be written to the hard disk.

Reduced wear-and-tear of the physical disk. Because the temporarily files are not written to the hard disk, there will be fewer read/write cycles, which is especially important for prolonging the life of Solid State Drives (SSD) often installed in laptops.

Less junk on the hard disk. Many software applications create temporary files that remain undeleted although no longer needed. The contents of RAM disks is cleared every time the computer is restarted or switched off, so the unneeded files won’t clutter your HDD.

Less noise and heat from the hard disk because the system will use the hard disk less intensively.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EU Parliament calls for charges against Snowden to be dropped – In a 285 to 281 vote, the European Parliament has called on member states to drop criminal charges against Edward Snowden, saying he is an “international human rights defender” who must be protected as a whistleblower. In a statement, the Parliament asked that countries “grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties.”

A very similar version of the vote was reportedly set to be tried last year, but ultimately could not be agreed on.

The vote came alongside a broader resolution passed by the Parliament, which gauged the responses from EU member countries following the Snowden leaks. According to the Parliament, not enough progress has been made to curb mass surveillance in the wake of the leaks.

The organization also cited concerns about new laws that have increased “surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies.” France passed a controversial surveillance law in April, and the UK and Netherlands were also named by the Parliament. The resolution also praised a ruling from earlier this month that invalidated Europe’s controversial data-sharing agreement with the United States.

Australia: Government accessed 820,000 customer records in 2014-15 – More than 820,000 customers had their account details revealed to law-enforcement, emergency services, and national security agencies by telecommunications providers during 2014-15, according to a report published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

In its 10th annual ACMA Communications Report 2014-15 [PDF], tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, the ACMA revealed that 824,841 customers had their details revealed by carriers and carriage service providers (CSPs) during the year under Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, with the majority of these for enforcing criminal law: 584,029 customer records were handed over for this purpose during 2014-15.

“Customer information provided by telecommunications carriers and CSPs to law-enforcement and national security agencies is protected under Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act,” the report says.

Petition calling for strong encryption will get White House response – The White House will respond to a call for strong encryption protections after a petition organized by activists received more than 100,000 signatures. The petition asks that the Obama administration endorse support for privacy and “[r]eject any law, policy, or mandate that would undermine our security.”

The petition, started by Access Now and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was based on the White House’s We The People platform. Today, the petition reached its goal of 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the threshold for a direct response from the White House. (It’s unclear when, exactly, that response will be made.)

The statement from the administration will come at a contentious moment in the political battle over cryptography. Law enforcement officials have been lobbying for “backdoor” access to tech companies’ products, with FBI director James Comey suggesting that encryption has become an unnecessary hurdle to law enforcement. But privacy activists argue that adding such systems necessarily makes it more likely that criminal hackers will break in.

EFF: We found 100+ license plate readers wide open on the Internet – Law enforcement agencies around the country have been all too eager to adopt mass surveillance technologies, but sometimes they have put little effort into ensuring the systems are secure and the sensitive data they collect on everyday people is protected.

Earlier this year, EFF learned that more than a hundred ALPR cameras were exposed online, often with totally open Web pages accessible by anyone with a browser. In five cases, we were able to track the cameras to their sources: St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Kenner Police in Louisiana; Hialeah Police Department in Florida; and the University of Southern California’s public safety department. These cases are very similar, but unrelated to, major vulnerabilities in Boston’s ALPR network uncovered in September by DigBoston and the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

After five months of engagement with these entities, we are releasing the results of our research and the actions these offices undertook in response to our warnings.

NSA can keep illegally spying on Americans into November – The NSA can continue its illegal spying on Americans for one final month after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that wanted it shut down immediately.

The New York Appeals Court declined to block the surveillance program, which is due to be overhauled by the end of November, because the US Congress had already approved a “transition period” for the spying system.

“That orderly transition requires that the government retain the tools it has been using to investigate threats of foreign terrorism until new tools may be put in place,” said Judge Gerard Lynch in his opinion [PDF].

“Congress has balanced privacy and national security by providing for a 180‐day transition period, a decision that it is uniquely suited to make. Congress’s decision to do so should be respected,” he argued, with the backing of the two other appeals judges.

Since that transition period is going to end next month, the court decided not to weigh in on the topic of whether the NSA program – in this case, the use of section 215 of the Patriot Act to store records of all phone calls in the United States – was constitutional or not.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – October 28, 2015

Security trumps privacy as Senate passes controversial cyber bill;  The Art of Data Wiping on Mobile Devices;  Ransomware victims: Just pay up, grin, and bear it – says the FBI;  The best bloatware: 14 pre-installed apps that actually come in handy;  Clean up your Droid’s act for free with the first-rate Droid Optimizer;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  How to Squeeze More Life From Your Aging Laptop;  How to hold Skype chats with people who aren’t Skype users;  Netflix: ‘Beasts of No Nation’ has millions of views;  Will your phone soon be free? DataWind announces $15 smartphone;  11 secrets you didn’t know about your new Surface Book;  15 spooky, scary Halloween games for your Android phone;  AIG will insure your drone against damage and liability;  15-year-old arrested in connection with TalkTalk hack;  Wireless Network Watcher free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Security trumps privacy as Senate passes controversial cyber bill – The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, known as CISA, could make it easier for the government to abuse citizens’ civil liberties, opponents say.

Clean up your Droid’s act for free with the first-rate Droid Optimizer – There are many apps that advertise to keep your Android device running fresh-out-of-the-box smooth. Some deliver, some don’t. Here’s what separates the good from the bad: a well thought-out interface, no intrusive ads, and maybe an extra feature or two. Droid Optimizer is at the top of my list of optimizers, because it has a very well thought-out interface, there are no ads, and it offers all the standard features. But does it work?

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Image: Jack Wallen

The best bloatware: 14 pre-installed apps that actually come in handy – Bloatware. Usually it’s the annoying, pre-installed apps on your mobile device that take up precious space. But some bloatware out there isn’t that bad. Here are 14 pre-installed apps that you’ll be glad come already loaded onto your phone.

This free app helps eliminate the Live Photos you don’t want – iOS offers a way to remove the life from live photos, but on a photo-by-photo basis, making Lean an important tool for batch editing.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Windows 10, Microsoft’s back-to-basics re-embracing of the PC, is already brimming with handy new features, and with all the new goodies comes with a legion of new tweaks and tricks—some of which unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Others, though, simply let you mold some of Windows 10’s new features into the shape you see fit. 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, given Microsoft’s new “Windows as a service” mentality, though we plan to update this article over time.

Windows 10 shares your files with the internet… here’s how to turn it off – By default, a Windows 10 update will use your bandwidth to share files on your PC with other PCs.  This walk-through shows how to disable that feature–or tone it down a bit.

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Image: Microsoft News

Windows 10 comes to the Xbox One 12th November – Let that sentence sink in for just a bit longer. Windows, an OS mostly associated with desktop and laptops, will be running on a gaming console. A few years ago, that concept might have been unthinkable. But with Microsoft’s push to put Windows 10 on every device it can get its mitts on, that is the reality facing Xbox One owners in little over two weeks. Xbox’s Phil Spencer announced that the major update will hit consoles starting November 12, bringing a revamped Windows 10 interface and much more.

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How to Squeeze More Life From Your Aging Laptop – Looking to squeeze another year out of your aging portable? The common ailments below can be cured for $150 or less. And if you’re not sure what the trouble is, these sites can help diagnose the problem for free. Tech Support Guy lets you pose questions to volunteer tech experts; iFixit features repair guides that show how to take gadgets apart, upgrade them, and put them back together; and CCleaner is an app that speeds up your computer by getting rid of junky, unneeded programs.

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Illustration by Peter Arkle

How to hold Skype chats with people who aren’t Skype users – Recently, Microsoft added a new feature to Skype that lets anyone join a conversation even if you aren’t a Skype user. Personally, I’d be hard pressed to find someone I know without a Skype account. Nevertheless, it’s a good feature to have ready just in case. The new Skype feature is available now for U.S. users, but you have to activate it first. There may be a more official way to get it working, but here’s how I did it. These instructions are for the Windows desktop version of Skype but will work similarly on Skype for the web.

InFocus Kangaroo nano PC is as small as a smartphone and costs just $99 – This guy spent $99 on that little box you see next to his left hand, but it’s not an external hard drive. It’s actually a Windows 10 PCmade by Infocus called the Kangaroo. What makes the Kangaroo stand out is its docking connector. For starters, InFocus is offering a single “base unit” that features two USB ports (one 3.0, one 2.0) and an HDMI port. It’s not much, but since the base unit has built-in Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac WiFi you won’t need to waste either on a keyboard, mouse, or network adapter — though you could always hook up a docking station if you decide you need the extra ports. There’s another unique piece of hardware on the Kangaroo: a fingerprint reader. For just $99, then, Infocus is offering you a Windows 10 PC that you can stuff into a pocket, comes with an Atom x5-Z8500 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and supports Windows Hello for secure, easy logins.

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11 secrets you didn’t know about your new Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 – We’ll tell you about the buttons you might miss, the settings worth seeking out, and some other hidden tricks.

HTC Slashes The Price Of Its Action Camera – HTC cut the price of the Re camera to just $50 from $200, making it one of the least expensive action cameras on the market. It’s a capable little camera with decent image quality. Yet it’s hard to recommend even at this low price since its ecosystem of mounts and accessories pales in comparison that of GoPro or Sony. This price cuts comes as HTC is weathering a financial storm. The company is in trouble and is clearly grasping at straws. It’s unclear at this time if the Re’s price cut is a fire sale or an aggressive price cut to better compete in the crowded action camera market. Worth the money? You would be hard pressed to find a better camera for $50.

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Will your phone soon be free? DataWind announces $15 smartphone – Could the era of the free smartphone be around the corner? Yesterday, Canadian-UK company DataWind announced a 999 rupee ($15) linux-based smartphone, to be launched in India towards the end of December. If the launch goes according to plan, customers will get a year’s worth of free internet along with the phone, which will use a Linux-based operating system. If you wanted proof that the phone industry is going to rapidly emulate the PC one in terms of becoming rapidly commoditised, you can’t get it better than this.

Here’s what Samsung’s giant 18-inch super tablet looks like – The latest rumored specs for the Galaxy View claim it will have an 18.4-inch screen, a 1080p display at 120 pixels per inch, a 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 SoC, 32GB of storage, stereo speakers, 2GB of RAM, a microSD slot that supports cards up to 128GB, and a 5,700 mAh battery. The View is expected to come in a Wi-Fi only model, as well as a 3G and LTE version. As for pricing, the Wi-Fi model could cost around $600 based on a recent leak.

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A leaked image of the Galaxy View.

Stock Trading Was Expensive And Ugly. Robinhood’s App Makes It Free And Pretty – Robinhood steals stock trading from rich guys in suits and gives it to normal people who couldn’t afford to pay $7 per transaction. The zero-fee stock trading app is bonafide hit. Less than a year after launch it has hundreds of thousands of users, over $1 billion in transactions, $66 million in funding, and an Apple Design Award. In fact, it’s the first finance app to win that award.

US government says it’s now okay to jailbreak your tablet and smart TV – The US Library of Congress today issued a set of exemptions to an infamous provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), establishing a victory for consumers who like to tinker with devices without running afoul of copyright law. The exemptions were far-reaching, extending from movie and television files used in an educational context for criticism to installing third-party software — in other words jailbreaking — tablets and smart TVs.They will however only last for three years.

Europe Agrees EU-Wide Net Neutrality Rules And End To Mobile Roaming Fees – European politicians have agreed to end mobile roaming charges in the region by mid 2017, with significant cuts to fees by next summer. MEPs also voted to bring in EU-wide net neutrality rules — which will come into force from April 30, 2016. The latter issue has stirred up much controversy in the region, with critics attacking what they perceive to be big loopholes in the rules — and dubbing the legislation a threat to the open Internet. The vote took place in the European Parliament this afternoon, and was passed without amendments.

Twitter fails to nab new tweeters – Twitter and its new CEO Jack Dorsey still face plenty of challenges as they work to convince more people to spend time on the microblogging site.

Security:

15-year-old arrested in connection with TalkTalk hack – Last week, the UK telecom TalkTalk was hit with a cyberattack, and a short while later it revealed that a ransom had been made by an individual claiming to be behind the hack. The cyberattack was described as being “significant and sustained,” though later on it stated the attack wasn’t as bad as previously feared. Now a teenager has been arrested by law enforcement in Northern Ireland in connection to the cyberattack. According to Reuters, an unnamed 15-year-old boy was arrested on Monday in connection with the TalkTalk hack. According to a statement given by the Metropolitan Police, he was arrested “on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act offenses.” He is to be interviewed about the matter at the County Antrim police station.

Ransomware victims: Just pay up, grin, and bear it – says the FBI – Firms that fall victim to infection from file encrypting ransomware should simply pay the ransom, Joseph Bonavolonta, an assistant special agent with the FBI, told delegates to Boston’s Cyber Security Summit 2015, adding that developments such as CryptoWall are essentially unbreakable. “To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom,” Bonavolonta said, the Security Ledger reports. Bonavolonta comments sparked a heated debate on the topic within Spiceworks online community for IT pros forums. Options for those unlucky enough to get their systems infected with ransomware boil down to reverting to back up systems, contacting a security expert, or paying crooks. Of course paying crooks simply perpetuates the scam but in cases where the data can’t be recovered it may be only immediate option.

Unpatched browser weaknesses can be exploited to track millions of Web users – Over the past decade, there’s been a privacy arms race between unscrupulous website operators and browser makers. The former wield an ever-changing lineup of so-called zombie cookies that can’t be easily deleted and attacks that sniff thousands of previously visited sites, while browser makers aim to prevent such privacy invasions by closing the design weaknesses that make them possible. Almost as soon as one hole is closed, hackers find a new one. Over the weekend, a researcher demonstrated two unpatched weaknesses that Web masters can exploit to track millions of people who visit their sites. Taken together, the attacks allow websites to compile a list of previously visited domains, even when users have flushed their browsing history, and to tag visitors with a tracking cookie that will persist even after users have deleted all normal cookies.

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What’s Patch Tuesday? – We’re two weeks out from Patch Tuesday. Chances are, an IT admin and/or CISO spent the day battening down the hatches while his staff furiously tested and rolled out patches. Chances are also that by this time, only two weeks later, the patches are wearing thin and the system is vulnerable. While the monthly patching system has served as a reliable security fix for years, cyber criminals are finding ways to penetrate the system, exploiting vulnerabilities in a matter of days, if not hours. Since this month is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we thought we’d share some of the problems we’ve discovered with patches.

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The Art of Data Wiping on Mobile Devices – Electronics sellers, especially of handheld computing devices, must exercise vigilance in removing their personal files before putting them in the online market. We can show you how.

Company News:

China is becoming Apple’s most important market – Apple may bring in the bulk of its revenue in The Americas, but China — now Apple’s second largest market — is quickly turning into its most crucial one. Apple has just released its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015, and revenue from China has grown to $12.5 billion, up from $5.7 billion year-over-year, a 99 percent jump. After not including China in the initial launch countries for the iPhone 6 last year, Apple managed to ship the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus on day one, and the results were immediately clear. Apple sold 13 million iPhones on its opening weekend, beating the record 10 million iPhones sold a year earlier.

Apple’s Q4 2015: iPads are still the only dark spot in a $51.5B quarter – Apple broke quarterly records, with $11.1 billion in profit and $51.5 billion in revenue, compared to $8.5 billion in profit and $42.1 billion in revenue in Q4 of 2014. Its gross margin was 39.9 percent. These results beat Apple’s guidance for the quarter, which predicted revenue between $49 billion and $51 billion and profit margins between 38.5 and 39.5 percent. The company predicts that it will make between $75.5 and 77.5 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, with profit margins between 39 and 40 percent.

Huawei ships 27 million smartphones in Q3 – Chinese hardware manufacturer Huawei has announced its results for the third quarter of 2015, with its Consumer Business Group reporting total shipments of 27.4 million smartphones for the three months to September 30, a jump of 63 percent year on year. The company attributed its rise in smartphone shipments to increased interest in mid- and high-end devices, which accounted for 33 percent of total shipments — an increase of seven percentage points quarter on quarter.

Alibaba Beats Expectations As Revenue Increases 32% To $3.5B In Q2 2015 – Alibaba’s latest Q2 2015 earnings have dropped and the company, which was expected to have a difficult quarter, has beaten expectations with $3.488 billion in revenue and adjusted earnings per share of $0.57. The Chinese firm said revenue increased 32 percent year-on-year to beat analyst expectations of $3.39 billion, as polled by the Wall Street Journal. Beyond revenue and EPS, GMV (gross merchant volume) is an important indicator for Alibaba as it represents total sales out across its marketplace and other e-commerce services. The company warned of a slowdown last month, but it logged a decent 28 percent year-on-year increase to reach $112 billion in GMV during the quarter.

Cisco Beefs Up Security, Buys Lancope For $453M – As HP downsizes its own holdings in network security, another IT giant is ramping up: today Cisco announced that it would acquire Lancope, which focuses on behavior analytics, threat visibility and security intelligence to detect malicious activity on corporate networks. Cisco is paying $452.5 million in a cash and equity deal, with the Lancope team becoming part of the Cisco Security Business Group.

Apple Pay is expanding to Australia and Canada with American Express – Apple today announced an expansion of its mobile payments service Apple Pay in two new countries, Australia and Canada, for owners of American Express cards. CEO Tim Cook broke the news on Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings call today, saying the company wanted to bring Apply Pay to more “key global markets.” Apply Pay, which lets users make payments either online or in-store using iPhones and iPads with a fingerprint sensor, has been available in the US since its launch in October 2014. The service was extended to UK users in July of this year, and Apple is now increasing the speed of the rollout. Following Australia and Canada, American Express plans to bring Apple Pay to card owners in Spain, Hong Kong, and Singapore starting in 2016.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix: ‘Beasts of No Nation’ has millions of views – Beasts of No Nation is an important movie for Netflix — it is the company’s first official foray into theatrical feature films, and though it stumbled with its limited theatrical release, the film itself has done very well on the streaming service. According to Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, the movie has been streamed more than three million times already. That’s a particularly impressive figure in that Beasts of No Nation premiered on October 16.

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Just Cause 3: an apolitical game about destroying a dictatorship – Just Cause is arguably the prototypical destruction game series. It’s a sandbox in which “chaos” is an actual, quantifiable value, accrued by protagonist and professional revolutionary Rico Rodriguez. It’s a shooter where your target is not other human beings, but the entire national infrastructures of totalitarian regimes. The ideal mission ends with walls, oil tanks, and guard towers crashing down in a fiery chain reaction, while Rico floats away using his limitless reserve of parachutes. So Just Cause 3, a new installment coming out in December, is going to be judged mainly by one metric: how well it can keep the explosions coming.

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Sony teases PS1/PS2 backwards compatibility in PS4 customer survey – Microsoft’s big Windows 10 update for the Xbox One is just around the corner. This will bring a host of new features to the console, including backwards-compatibility with 360 games. While Xbox One owners are excited, people are wondering what Sony has in the works for their flagship console. Sony isn’t sitting by quietly though. It seems that they’ve got some plans in the works.

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The 11 best trailers from PlayStation’s Paris Games Week showcase – Sony made quite a big deal out of its press conference for Paris Games Week. In addition to announcing a release date for No Man’s Sky and spending ample time on its PlayStation VR (née Project Morpheus) headset, the company showed off dozens of new trailers for upcoming games. Here are some of our favorites.

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Horizon Zero Dawn

15 spooky, scary Halloween games for your Android phone – Looking for scares you can take anywhere? Grab these games and get ready.

Off Topic (Sort of):

AIG will insure your drone against damage and liability – AIG is one of the largest insurance companies in the world that writes polices to insure all manner of things for individuals and business. The company has announced that it has a new insurance product aimed directly at people who operate drones. The new product is insurance that will protect you from the financial loss associated with a damaged drone or damaging persons or property while operating your drone.

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Drone carrying drugs, hacksaw blades crashes in Oklahoma prison – A drone carrying drugs, a cell phone, hacksaw blades and other contraband was discovered crashed in an Oklahoma prison yard on Monday morning. Officers patrolling the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester noticed the drone lying upside down inside prison grounds at about 9 a.m. having apparently crashed after hitting razor wire that guarded the facility.

Dad who shot ‘snooping vid drone’ out of the sky is cleared of charges – A father who shot down a drone that was hovering over his family home in Kentucky has been cleared of all charges. Dad-of-two William Merideth thought the quadcopter was spying on his daughters in their yard in Hillview, and blasted the gizmo out of the sky with a shotgun. That earned him the title “Drone Slayer” from pro-privacy quarters. Merideth was arrested shortly after in July, and charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. He appeared before the Bullitt County District Court on Monday this week, and after a two and a half hour hearing, Judge Rebecca Ward dismissed the case against him. “I was in my right to protect my family and my property,” said Merideth. The judge agreed, telling the court: “He had a right to shoot at this drone.”

Ditch The Faux Hoverboard And Commute With Gi FlyBike, A Foldable Electric Bike – Forget electric skateboards and faux hoverboards. One startup is trying to convince commuters to stick to the good old-fashioned bicycle. Meet the Gi FlyBike, a folding electric bike that can travel up to 40 miles on one charge. The bike, which is now available on Kickstarter, will also be for sale on Amazon Exclusives, the e-commerce company’s online store featuring “up-and-coming brands.” Started by three friends from Argentina, Gi FlyBike was conceived after a public transportation strike left the entire country without transportation. So how does an electric bike work? While riders still pedal, they are assisted by an electric engine that will propel them to a maximum speed of 15 mph. The motor also works on hills and rough terrain, meaning riders aren’t limited to the street.

The Futility of Modern Fears – From an evolutionary perspective, our fear instincts make a lot of sense. They’re a method of threat detection, allowing us to identify and react to the poisonous snakes and the hungry bears and the dozens of other death-mongers that surrounded humans when we lived outdoors. But in our cozy modern-day lives, fear sometimes seems to do more harm than good. Instead of living a glorious, post-fear existence in the comfort of our sheltered lives, needless fears plague us. Meanwhile more useful fears—like being frightened of texting and driving—refuse to take root. What role does fear have in a world where we’re usually pretty safe? And why, exactly, are we still so afraid?

Mystery space junk will reach Earth next Friday the 13th – A small payload of mysterious space junk is hurtling toward Earth, and it’ll be arriving on the most apropos of days: Friday the 13th (of November). What is the junk composed of? That’s not entirely known, but it does have a name: WT1190F, which, of course, looks like everyone’s favorite text exclamation. That’s purely coincidental, according to the researchers, as is its arrival date.

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A Big Change Is Coming to Elevators, And It Matters More Than You Think – Think back to the last time you were in a lobby jam. You know, that pileup of people all waiting for an elevator. Someone has already hit the “Up” button. But as the seconds pass, they seem like minutes, then hours. Another person steps forward and jams their thumb into the already-lit button ten more times. As if that actually does anything. Soon enough, that move of frustration mixed with desperation may accomplish something. But it’s not what you think.

September 2015 sets new ‘hottest month’ record – The planet is getting warmer, and no amount of arguing is changing that fact. Enter 2015, a year full of record-breaking months, not the least of which is September. According to the latest NOAA report, September followed the trend set by February, March, May, June, July and August before it, and is now officially the hottest among all Septembers to have ever been recorded. That’s not the only significant part of the news; September also saw the largest rise above average for any month ever recorded over the last 100+ years.

Facebook teaches employees empathy with throttled Internet – When consistently using high-speed Internet services, it can be easy to forget just how terrible truly slow Internet speeds are. Facebook has been targeting emerging markets, and has released apps for those markets that use very little data. Still, to help its employees properly sympathize with the Internet experience had in rural India, the social network has introduced “2G Tuesdays”, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Something to think about:

“Trust me, you can dance”

–   Vodka

Downloads:

Wireless Network Watcher – Wireless Network Watcher is a small utility that scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network.

For every computer or device that is connected to your network, the following information is displayed: IP address, MAC address, the company that manufactured the network card, and optionally the computer name.

You can also export the connected devices list into html/xml/csv/text file, or copy the list to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other spreadsheet application.

System Requirements And Limitations:

This utility works on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

This utility can only scan a wireless network that you’re currently connected to. It cannot scan other wireless networks.

In rare cases, it’s possible that Wireless Network Watcher won’t detect the correct wireless network adapter, and then you should go to ‘Advanced Options’ window (F9), and manually choose the correct network adapter.

Although this utility is officially designed for wireless networks, you can also use it to scan a small wired network.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Discarding Democracy: A Return to the Iron Fist – In a year marked by an explosion of terrorist violence, autocrats’ use of more brutal tactics, and Russia’s invasion and annexation of a neighboring country’s territory, the state of freedom in 2014 worsened significantly in nearly every part of the world.

For the ninth consecutive year, Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual report on the condition of global political rights and civil liberties, showed an overall decline. Indeed, acceptance of democracy as the world’s dominant form of government—and of an international system built on democratic ideals—is under greater threat than at any point in the last 25 years.

Even after such a long period of mounting pressure on democracy, developments in 2014 were exceptionally grim. The report’s findings show that nearly twice as many countries suffered declines as registered gains, 61 to 33, with the number of gains hitting its lowest point since the nine-year erosion began.

This pattern held true across geographical regions, with more declines than gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Eurasia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and an even split in Asia-Pacific. Syria, a dictatorship mired in civil war and ethnic division and facing uncontrolled terrorism, received the lowest Freedom in the World country score in over a decade.

The lack of democratic gains around the world was conspicuous. The one notable exception was Tunisia, which became the first Arab country to achieve the status of Free since Lebanon was gripped by civil war 40 years ago.

By contrast, a troubling number of large, economically powerful, or regionally influential countries moved backward: Russia, Venezuela, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Nigeria, Kenya, and Azerbaijan. Hungary, a European Union member state, also saw a sharp slide in its democratic standards as part of a process that began in 2010.

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Senate passes controversial CISA cybersecurity bill – In a 74 to 21 vote, the Senate has voted to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, a bill that privacy advocates have long argued will quietly give the government invasive spying powers. The House has already passed similar legislation, and the two versions will now enter a conference committee, to be reconciled before being sent to President Obama.

A series of amendments for the bill were introduced Tuesday that would have altered some of the most controversial parts, but those were ultimately voted down.

“This vote will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of Internet our children and our children’s children will have, but what sort of world they will live in,” Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group, said in a statement.

Under the bill, companies would be encouraged to silently share “security” information with the Department of Homeland Security and, ultimately, other government agencies. But civil rights groups and tech companies have argued that the terms of such agreements are vague, and give broad leeway for companies to share information with the feds without accountability.

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California Supreme Court should force cops to give up LPR data, case argues – Two civil liberties groups filed their opening brief with the California Supreme Court late Monday, forcefully arguing that the millions of automated license plate reader records gathered automatically by police throughout the Golden State are not records of investigation.

If the court agrees, such data could be released to anyone as part of the state’s public records process. Such a decision would represent a sea change in how automated license plate reader (ALPR, or LPR) data is shared with and scrutinized by the public.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California originally brought their case against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in an attempt to obtain one week’s worth of all LPR data. When the agencies refused, the organizations filed suit and lost at both the local and appellate levels.

The lower courts found that the LPR data can be withheld as it does constitute an investigatory file. But the EFF and the ACLU argue:

The Court of Appeal is incorrect: the vast data collection possible with ALPRs is fundamentally different from license plate checks by human officers, and that difference cannot be ignored. Human officers cannot possibly check as many plates per minute as an ALPR system, let alone check the license plate of every car that passes on the streets of Los Angeles. For this reason, an officer manually checking license plates must choose one vehicle to check over others—even if just on the basis of mere suspicion or a hunch. But because ALPRs lack these human limitations, they can collect, check, and store data on every plate that comes into view. ALPRs are untargeted, indiscriminate and comprehensive in a way that human officers can never be. When this Court addressed the investigatory records exemption in Williams and Haynie, it could not have contemplated an application of § 6254(f) that would cover such a vast collection of data.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 26, 2015

How to Avoid Having Your Posts Show Up in Facebook’s New Public Search;  How Much Data Tracking Is Acceptable in the Car?  The 59 Best Productivity Apps for 2015;  When Facebook Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself;  Amazon’s $50 Fire tablet reviewed: Surprisingly, it doesn’t suck;  10 Linux GUI tools for sysadmins;  11 times you should not be posting to Instagram;  Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast;  Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature;  Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget;  Tech’s dirtiest little secret: Sometimes we agree to go backward;  Here’s How to Make Your Facebook App Stop Draining Your iPhone Battery;  Halo 5: Guardians Review: A Mediocre Story With Terrific Multiplayer;  UK Internet provider TalkTalk hit by ‘significant, sustained cyberattack’;  The 13 movie-streaming sites you probably don’t know about;  10 amazing microscopic GIFs;  FCC to turn the tables, publish telemarketers’ numbers.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Avoid Having Your Posts Show Up in Facebook’s New Public Search (There’s even a way to undo your past public transgressions) – Facebook is making all of the public posts on the social network easily searchable. The idea is to make it easier for people to follow conversations unfolding in real time, like on Twitter. But, luckily for those who don’t want to have their every thought be a contribution to the public town square, there’s an out. Just follow these steps:

How Much Data Tracking Is Acceptable in the Car? – We know—and mostly accept—that the trade-off for being constantly connected via computers and portable devices is that we’re also constantly being tracked by search engines, social media, and marketers. While there are ways to avoid such tracking, it’s a time-consuming chore for consumers to stay vigilant and keep up with the persistent changes to the privacy policies of websites and apps. As a result, most consumers see protecting online privacy as a mild annoyance and never do much, if anything, about it. But somehow people feel much more sensitive about being tracked when it comes to their cars, even when there’s a financial incentive.

The 59 Best Productivity Apps for 2015 – With the right productivity apps and services at your fingertips, you can increase your efficiency and get more done. People seem obsessed with productivity these days, but few actually think about what it is or what it means. To me, “productivity” is highly personal, but ultimately, it’s about achieving goals. It’s about making the most of your time so that you have time and energy left over to do more.

Your PC stuck in Windows 10 “reschedule or upgrade now” limbo? Here’s a fix – The fix comes in the form on an update to a third-party utility called GWX Control Panel, an excellent utility that has previously allowed users to opt out of and avoid the nags to upgrade to Windows 10.

Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget – What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck? That single, simple sentence cuts to the core of what people on the hunt for a new graphics card are looking for: The most oomph they can afford. Sure, graphics cards are complicated pieces of modern technology, powered by billions of transistors and countless other types of intricate hardware, but people just want to crank the detail settings on Far Cry and just plain play. Answering the question can be a bit trickier than it seems. Raw performance is a big part of it, but factors like noise, the driver experience, and supplemental software all play a role in determining which graphics card to buy, too.

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PCWorld’s graphics card testing rig.

When Facebook Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself – Every time you log in to Facebook, every time you click on your News Feed, every time you Like a photo, every time you send anything via Messenger, you add another data point to the galaxy they already have regarding you and your behavior. That, in turn, is a tiny, insignificant dot within their vast universe of information about their billion-plus users. It is probable that Facebook boasts the broadest, deepest, and most comprehensive dataset of human information, interests, and activity ever collected. (Only the NSA knows for sure.) Google probably has more raw data, between Android and searches–but the data they collect is (mostly) much less personal. Of all the Stacks, I think it’s fair to say, Facebook almost certainly knows you best.

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CloudReady has a Chrome OS platform ready for your non-chromebook hardware – If you’re looking to get Chrome OS on non-chromebook hardware, Neverware has just the solution for you. Jack Wallen shows you how to get this exciting, Linux-based, operating system up and running.

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Back in the world of Chrome OS, only running on standard hardware –  Image: Jack Wallen

10 Linux GUI tools for sysadmins – If you’re a system administrator, it’s reached a point where Linux has become a must-know. This is especially true when you’re working in a larger environment. Many organizations have migrated from Windows, where everything is managed with a point-and-click GUI. Fortunately, Linux has plenty of GUI tools that can help you avoid the command line (although every serious sysadmin should become familiar with the commands). What are some good GUI tools that can simplify your Linux sysadmin tasks? Let’s take a look at 10 of them.

11 times you should not be posting to Instagram – A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. We were catching up, when our food came. It looked delicious. I picked up my fork to dig in, when my friend reached out her arm to stop me. “No!” She practically yelled in my ear. “First, let me Instagram it!” Excuse me? I was so shocked that I just stared at her as she took 48 photos from different angles before lowering her arm and oh-so-generously allowing me to partake in my now slightly-cold meal.

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When you’re driving

Twitter Moments, now with a side dish of advertisements – Twitter introduced a new feature call “Moments” on October 6, and now, less than a month later, the service has announced that it will be adding advertisements to Moments. They’ll be called “Promoted Moments”, and they’ll kick off starting tomorrow with ads for the movie Creed. These Promoted Moments are akin to Promoted Tweets, and are the latest way by which Twitter is looking to get advertisers on board with its platform.

Amazon’s $50 Fire tablet reviewed: Surprisingly, it doesn’t suck – Amazon’s new Fire tablet is, remarkably, even cheaper than the competition, and sacrifices little despite its low price. At £50 ($50) it’s one of the cheapest tablets you can buy from a big-brand manufacturer, and it’s perfectly capable and pleasant to use. Oh sure, it’s not exactly what you’d call a looker, the low resolution display is merely adequate, and you won’t be able to run all of your favourite Android apps without a little work thanks to Fire OS, Amazon’s forked version of Android that lacks the Play Store. But if you end up with one of these in your Christmas stocking—and I expect that’s where a lot of these will end up—you should thank Santa, rather than curse him for not bringing you a PS4.

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Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast – Of course we had to pit the Surface Book vs. the MacBook Pro. It’s like Ford vs. Chevy, or Coke vs. Pepsi. Each side has its diehard fans, plus others who just want to know which is better. Microsoft claims its new Surface Book is “twice” as fast as its equivalent MacBook Pro. Well, we ran some benchmarks, and hate to say it, but Microsoft lied. The Surface Book isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast. Read on for the details.

BlackBerry’s first Android phone ships November 6th for $699 – The device is being sold in the US, UK, and Canada, with pricing at $699, £559, and CA$899, respectively. In the US and Canada, the device starts shipping November 6th, and in the UK the Priv will ship “starting the week of November 9.” The Priv has a 5.43-inch 1440p AMOLED display with curved edges on the left and right of the screen. Internally, there’s a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a non-removable (and massive) 3410mAh battery. There’s also an 18MP rear camera with OIS and phase detect auto focus, and a 2MP front camera. For a carrier, it looks like you’ll need a GSM provider as Blackberry says the device is “Not compatible on Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular.”

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Facebook At Work Signs Up Its Biggest Business Yet: 100,000 Workers At The Royal Bank Of Scotland – After months of pilots, Facebook today is announcing its biggest customer yet: the Royal Bank of Scotland, which plans to have 30,000 workers on its FB@Work network by March of next year, and its entire workforce of 100,000 using the platform by the end of 2016. The deal signals a new phase for Facebook at Work. It demonstrates Facebook’s ambitions to scale this B2B service just as it has its consumer product (which now has 1.5 billion monthly active users on desktop, 1.3 billion on mobile). And it demonstrates how enterprises are taking Facebook’s effort seriously.

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Tech’s dirtiest little secret: Sometimes we agree to go backward – The technology world talks incessantly about progress, but even with some of the best products we sacrifice great features in the name of progress. Here’s why, and some big examples.

Here’s How to Make Your Facebook App Stop Draining Your iPhone Battery – Facebook has released an update to the iOS version of its app that should make the social network less of a battery hog. Earlier this month various users pointed out that Facebook’s app was consuming considerably more battery power than most other popular apps, even when it wasn’t actually being used more. The fixed version of the app is available in the App Store now.

Security:

12 new malware strains discovered each minute – G DATA researchers discovered a 64.8 percent spike of new malware strains as compared to the first half of 2014. This averages out to 12 new strains per minute. In all, the total number of malware strains this year is expected to be well above the level of 2014, with the U.S., China and France hosting the most malicious and fraudulent websites.

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Microsoft doesn’t see Windows 10’s mandatory data collection as a privacy risk – In the run-up to the launch of Windows 10 earlier this year, users noticed that Microsoft’s operating system would be collecting more data on them by default than it had in the past, including information about their location and what they’re typing, and sending it off to Microsoft. Understandably, some folks were concerned about the privacy implications of such a move, especially given disclosures around government surveillance, and the fact that Microsoft previously hadn’t built this kind of data collection into its operating system. Those concerns weren’t helped by Microsoft, which was slow to clarify exactly what it takes from users and how to disable much of that collection.

UK Internet provider TalkTalk hit by ‘significant, sustained cyberattack’ – UK phone and broadband provider TalkTalk may have once again left its customers exposed to hackers. TalkTalk warned its 4 million customers on Thursday that attackers could have gained access to their names, addresses, credit card and bank details, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and TalkTalk account information. This is the latest chapter in an increasingly familiar story of an sophisticated attacks on companies ranging from Target to Home Depot and Carphone Warehouse. For TalkTalk, it’s the second hack in the past 12 months, following an incident last December. Even when customers aren’t directly affected, they could see costs increase because the severity of attacks can drive up the cost of cybertheft insurance.

Joomla patches serious SQLi flaw – Joomla, a popular content management system, released patches on Thursday for a vulnerability that can allow an attacker to get full administrative access to a website. Joomla versions 3.2 through 3.4.4 are vulnerable, and the latest version is 3.4.5. The SQL injection flaw was found by Asaf Orphani, a researcher with Trustwave’s SpiderLabs, and Netanel Rubin of PerimeterX. SQL injection flaws occur when a backend database executes a malicious query when it shouldn’t. The type of vulnerability is one of the most prevalent ones within web applications.

Valuing A Data Breach Victim – In the relentless world of public breach reporting, there’s a fixation on the number of accounts affected; the higher the number, the larger the impact. But from a victim’s perspective, does it make a difference if your information was included in a breach alongside 10,000 or 50,000,000 others? From a criminal ecosystem perspective, the number of victims per successful breach is largely irrelevant. Apart from the original hackers, where obtaining a million records is more efficient than just a thousand and, consequently, where basic multipliers are at play, the rest of the cybercrime world is oriented toward timeliness and completeness of the stolen data.

Company News:

Bing finally shows a profit – Microsoft said Thursday in its fiscal first quarter earnings call that Bing had achieved profitability. Search contributed more than $1 billion to Microsoft’s first quarter that ended September 30, said Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood. More interestingly, nearly 20 percent of Microsoft’s search revenue in September was driven by Windows 10 devices, executives said. By building Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant powered by Bing, directly into Windows 10, Microsoft is automatically increasing the number of Bing searches.

Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature – We should have probably seen this coming a mile away, especially considering how people love suing Apple for almost every consumer misstep it makes. The latest class action suit filed against it by William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips on behalf of all other disgruntled iPhone and iPad users relates to the new Wi-Fi Assist feature added and enabled by default on iOS 9. The feature, which silently uses cellular data when Wi-Fi quality is poor, has allegedly caused the plaintiffs more than $5 million in data charges.

Judge: Pintrips Doesn’t Infringe Pinterest Trademarks – A pin, is a pin, is a pin, right? The company Pintrips, which runs a little Web and mobile app that allows you to save flights from travel sites by “pinning” the ones you’re most interested in to a (digital) personal trip board, certainly hopes so. It was sued by Pinterest, the much larger pin-themed social network, back in 2013 for alleged misuse of Pinterest’s trademark. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, however, ruled in Pintrips’s favor for every issue Pinterest raised. According to him, the act of “pinning” is a pretty universal action anyone can undertake—Pinterest doesn’t own, and can’t own, the concept of pinning one thing to another.

Pandora Loses More Than A Third Of Its Value As It Battles Apple Music For Listeners – Shares of online radio service Pandora tanked about 36 percent on Friday. The sharp decline comes after the company reported a loss of almost $86 million yesterday. The call was the company’s first report on earnings after the June 30 launch of Apple Music, and Friday’s dive shows investors were not pleased with how the Oakland, California, company stacked up against the fledgling streaming service. Pandora’s loss comes as Apple says its music service has gained 6.5 million paid subscribers, and 8.3 million people are still using the free three-month trial.

Toshiba to sell image sensor operations to Sony: Reports – Toshiba is reportedly preparing to sell its image sensor operations to Sony in a deal estimated at around $165 million. The move would mark Toshiba’s effective withdrawal from producing image sensors used for smartphones and other devices, Kyodo News said. The step comes as the Japanese engineering conglomerate attempts to restructure itself after a damaging billion-dollar accounting scandal. The reported deal, estimated around 20 billion yen, could include sales of production facilities in southern Japan and lay-offs of thousands of workers, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. The move could give Sony a firmer position as global leader in image sensors used in smartphones and other camera-equipped electronics, the Nikkei business daily said. Sony is used as a supplier for image sensors in Apple iPhones.

Games and Entertainment:

Halo 5: Guardians Review: A Mediocre Story With Terrific Multiplayer – The games—mostly first-person shooters staged in the 26th century that star a super-soldier battling theocratic aliens—have sold north of 65 million copies. Altogether that makes Halo Microsoft’s second-bestselling video gaming franchise, just shy of phenom Minecraft, which it purchased last November. Halo 5 is also the first new installment for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, which arrived in tandem with Sony’s PlayStation 4 two years ago, but hasn’t kept pace. The game’s forever-visored paragon, the Master Chief, is basically Microsoft’s Mario, and Microsoft needs a win.

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Microsoft sets sights on gamers with low-end Surface Book – This new version of the most basic Surface Book laptop, spotted Thursday by TechRadar, adds a separate Nvidia GeForce graphics chip rather than relying on graphics tech integrated directly into the model’s Intel Core i5 processor. Separate graphics chips cost extra but help endow video games with lavish landscapes and snappy performance. Until now, the GeForce option was available only on higher-end Surface Book models. This low-end, gamer-friendly Surface Book, which includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, costs $1,699 (£1,100 or AU$2,350). That’s $200 more than the same model without the GeForce chip.

Xbox beta app for Windows 10 gains new social features – On Friday, Microsoft announced a handful of new features for the beta app, including some bolstered social sharing tools. Highlights include a new Facebook friend finder feature that looks through your Facebook friends for any with Xbox Live accounts and lets you add them as  Xbox Live friends. The idea here is to make it easier to find people to play with. All you have to do is go to the app’s settings and link your Facebook account with your Xbox Live account.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate review: Something old, something new – There’s no denying that Victorian London is a popular video game locale. In fact, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is just the latest of multiple titles set in the period that were released in this year alone. It’s fitting that Syndicate explores such well-worn territory, as many of its gameplay mechanics are borrowed from other games or previous entries in Ubisoft’s flagship series. But while it’s hard to shake the feeling of having seen it all before—of having played it before—the lack of innovation in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is easily forgiven when you’re having so much fun.

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The 13 movie-streaming sites you probably don’t know about – Netflix has now become its own verb (we netflixed that last night), and everyone knows about Amazon and Vudu. Even Hulu has become a force to be reckoned with. But those are not the only options for streaming movies and other content. We searched the web for other services that show everything from mainstream releases to off-the-wall material, sometimes without costing a penny. Note: You’ll encounter dozens of shady-but-free sites on the web offering large collections of movies (including films that are still in theaters). The services listed here are all legitimate and legal.

Brave Enough to Watch These 14 Blood Curdling Streams!? – Here are 14 terrifying films you can stream to your TV or device and which will scar your soul for life! (Some picks for wimps too!)

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19 questions you might be asking after seeing ‘Steve Jobs’ – You’ve just seen “Steve Jobs”, the new movie about the life and times of Apple’s divisive co-founder. The filmmakers have said the movie is a “painting, rather than a photograph”. So, how much is real and how much is made up? The movie is based on Walter Isaacson’s in-depth Jobs biography and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s meetings with key figures in Jobs’ life. Despite depicting many real people and events, the movie plays fast and loose with the details. Here are answers to some questions you might be left with after watching “Steve Jobs”.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Keep up with the latest in drones: 9 Twitter accounts to follow – As drones become part of business, a host of questions have emerged about where and how they can be used and regulated. Follow these nine Twitter accounts for the latest in drone news.

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Photos By Drones –  Image: Twitter

Fallout Beer may be the strangest Fallout 4 tie-in yet – Bethesda has teamed up with Carlsberg UK to create a “light coloured pilsner lager, with a refreshing zesty hoppy taste and a floral aroma.” With so many names to choose from, we can only wonder how they came up with “Fallout Beer” for this Wasteland tie-in product. The beer in Fallout was called “Gamma Gulp” for a couple of games, which would have been a nice throwback. But I guess it’s better than just calling it “beer” as they have in the last couple of games.

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A brief history of Popcorn Time, the piracy service everyone’s watching – Most of us think of Netflix when we think of streaming movies and TV shows, but over the past year and a half, a competitor has emerged: one that’s almost as easy to use, doesn’t charge a thing, and — you guessed it — steals everything it streams. That new service is called Popcorn Time, and it’s become known as the “Netflix for pirates.” What’s going on behind the scenes, however, is a lot more complex, not to mention illegal in much of the world. To get all of those movies, Popcorn Time reaches out to groups of people sharing films and TV shows over torrent networks. It then begins to download the video you want to stream and at the same time shares that video with other people. This means when you click play, you’re both downloading pirated content and sharing it with others.

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This 11-year-old is selling cryptographically secure passwords for $2 each – We now live in a world where a New York City sixth grader is making money selling strong passwords. Earlier this month, Mira Modi, 11, began a small business at dicewarepasswords.com, where she generates six-word Diceware passphrases by hand. Diceware is a well-known decades-old system for coming up with passwords. It involves rolling actual six-sided dice as a way to generate truly random numbers that are matched to a long list of English words. Those words are then combined into a non-sensical string (“ample banal bias delta gist latex”) that exhibits true randomness and is therefore difficult to crack. The trick, though, is that these passphrases prove relatively easy for humans to memorize.

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10 amazing microscopic GIFs – No matter how good your eyesight is, you’re missing a lot as you scan the world. There are invisibly small things that can be both fascinating and disturbing, but you can also get a different perspective on the expected and mundane elements of life. So here are 10 GIFs of the world at high magnification.

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Face mite – Bad news, everyone. You have face mites.

FCC to turn the tables, publish telemarketers’ numbers – Telemarketers and robocallers aren’t as big of a problem as they used to be, but they’re still around, and they’re still managing to call just as you sit down for dinner. The FCC has served on the front lines in the battle against them, and now it is planning to turn the tables, so to speak, and put telemarketers on the defense. The Commission has revealed plans to publish such spammers’ phone numbers, making it easy to blacklist them. In a report published on Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission revealed it will publish weekly data on telemarketers and robocallers derived via complaints from the public. Among the data will be the number with which the spammer or unsolicited company calls, with the idea being that developers and others can use the data for aiding consumers in blacklisting the numbers.

Prison phone companies fight for right to charge inmates $14 a minute – The Federal Communications Commission is about to face another lawsuit, this time over a vote to cap the prices prisoners pay for phone calls. Yesterday’s vote came after complaints that inmate-calling companies are overcharging prisoners, their families, and attorneys. Saying the price of calls sometimes hits $14 per minute, the FCC has now capped rates at 11¢ per minute. Those are the kinds of prices that the two major inmate calling companies, Global Tel*Link (GTL) and Securus Technologies, want to keep charging. Both vowed to take the FCC to court over the decision.

Something to think about:

“Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions.”

–     Evan Esar     (1899 – 1995), Esar’s Comic Dictionary

Downloads:

Stellarium – Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.

Features:

Sky

default catalogue of over 600,000 stars

extra catalogues with more than 210 million stars

asterisms and illustrations of the constellations

constellations for 20+ different cultures

images of nebulae (full Messier catalogue)

realistic Milky Way

very realistic atmosphere, sunrise and sunset

the planets and their satellites

Interface

a powerful zoom

time control

multilingual interface

fisheye projection for planetarium domes

spheric mirror projection for your own low-cost dome

all new graphical interface and extensive keyboard control

telescope control

Visualisation

equatorial and azimuthal grids

star twinkling

shooting stars

eclipse simulation

supernovae simulation

skinnable landscapes, now with spheric panorama projection

Customizability

plugin system adding artifical satellites, ocular simulation, telescope configuration and more

ability to add new solar system objects from online resources…

add your own deep sky objects, landscapes, constellation images, scripts…

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OpenedFilesView v1.61 – View opened/locked files in your system (sharing violation issues) – OpenedFilesView displays the list of all opened files on your system. For each opened file, additional information is displayed: handle value, read/write/delete access, file position, the process that opened the file, and more…

Optionally, you can also close one or more opened files, or close the process that opened these files.

This utility is especially useful if you try to delete/move/open a file and you get one of the following error messages:

Cannot delete [filename]: There has been a sharing violation. The source or destination file may be in use.

Cannot delete [filename]: It is being used by another person or program. Close any programs that might be using the file and try again.

When you get one of these error messages, OpenedFilesView will show you which process lock your file. Closing the right process will solve this problem. optionally, you can also release the file by closing the handle from OpenedFilesView utility. However, be aware that after closing a file in this way, the program that opened the file may become unstable, and even crash.

System Requirements: This utility works properly on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003/2008, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. On 64-bit systems, you have to use the 64-bit version of OpenedFilesView. Older versions of Windows (NT/9x/ME) are not supported. Also, you must have administrative privilege in order to run this utility.

Known Issue: If you try to run the 64-bit verion of this tool directly from a zip file, you may get the following error message:

The application was unable to start correctly (0xc000007b). Click OK to close the application.

In order to solve this issue, you have to manually extract the content of the zip file into a folder, and then run it from there.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA dodges another lawsuit because nobody can prove agency is spying on them – Plaintiffs are having trouble taking down the NSA in court for a simple reason: they can’t prove that the spy agency’s wide-reaching surveillance programs actually targeted them. Judges in several courts — including the Supreme Court — have repeatedly ruled that it is not enough to assume that these programs were highly likely to have caught a certain organization’s data in its dragnet.

The latest case to fall victim to this line of reasoning is a case brought forward by the ACLU, Wikimedia, The Nation, Amnesty International, and a few other organizations. In a court’s ruling, US District Judge TS Ellis III writes that the “plaintiffs’ argument is unpersuasive, as the statistical analysis on which the argument rests is incomplete and riddled with assumptions.” He continues on to note that, without the proper context, it’s unclear whether or not Wikipedia is large enough to have come under the NSA’s policies — despite the fact that it’s one of the largest sites on the internet.

The judge ultimately decided that the case rested on “the subjective fear of surveillance,” noting that the plaintiffs “have not alleged facts that plausibly establish that the NSA is using Upstream surveillance to copy all or substantially all communications passing through those chokepoints.” He added, “In this regard, plaintiffs can only speculate.” Since the 2013 Supreme Court case Clapper v. Amnesty International sided with the NSA on just those same grounds in a 5–4 decision, the US District Court also decided to follow that precedent and dismissed the case.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 26, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – October 23, 2015

Next Windows 10 update to roll out early next month;  Hands-free car systems still distract drivers, study says;  How to log in to Windows 10 with a local account;  Facebook Expands Search To All 2 Trillion Posts;  Five tools to beef up your tech emergency toolkit;  Google Chrome for iOS now supports Split View multitasking;  Instagram releases new app for mini video loops;  Your guide to Wi-Fi Sense – Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi Sense feature;  Send photos and videos straight to the cloud with Camra;  BlackBerry Priv briefly appears for pre-order at a whopping $749;  The Best Headphones Under $50;  YouTube Red: How, When, and Why;  LanDroid: The handiest mobile networking tool ever;  How to get to Android Marshmallow’s hidden file manager;  Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Apple iPad Pro: Battle of the Big Tablets;  For privacy and security, change these iOS 9 settings immediately;  Apple fixes 49 security bugs in iOS 9.1;  Jack Dorsey Is Giving Away Nearly $200 Million of His Twitter Stock to Employees;  New Witcher 3 patch out today;  First Episode of Telltale’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Game Now Free;  Canada: Liberals planning swift overhaul of controversial Anti-terrorism Bill C-51.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Hands-free car systems still distract drivers, study says – Distracted driving is a serious epidemic in the United States. To reduce accidents caused by distraction, many states have laws requiring drivers to use hands-free technology behind the wheel. However, a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that many current voice-based systems are still a distraction. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, looked at the use of smartphones and in-car infotainment systems while driving.

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Facebook Expands Search To All 2 Trillion Posts, Surfacing Public Real-Time News – Facebook is ready to challenge Google and Twitter for control of real-time news search and the news itself. Starting today with a rollout to US English language users, Facebook Search will return anything you’re allowed to see from its 2 trillion posts. That includes public posts by all people and Pages, not just your friends and Pages you Like as before. The personalized results will be broken up to highlight posts from trusted news sources, followed by people in your network, lists of the most popular links or quotes about a topic, and then strangers. Similar to how Twitter Search works, this move unlocks all the news and chatter shared on Facebook around big news stories and live events, but with a more human focus.

Firefox will fight back against intrusive advertisers – With its Firefox Web browser, Mozilla plans to take a significant step in the fight against intrusive online advertising. Firefox for years has had a “private browsing” mode that keeps no record of which websites you’ve visited. When Firefox 42 arrives on November 3, that mode will add a tracking protection option designed to block advertising technologies that record people’s online activity. That means people won’t see the same ad following them around different websites, some ads will disappear altogether and analytics services won’t work for websites trying to understand the demographics of their readers.

How to log in to Windows 10 with a local account – Windows 10 fully embraces its identity as a universal operating system. This includes Microsoft strongly suggesting you use a connected Microsoft account to log in to your computer, so you can fully take advantage of Windows 10’s new connected features (such as settings syncing). But there are some downsides to using a Microsoft account — for one thing, you must use a password, which can be a bit frustrating if you’re the sole user of your PC, and your PC is bolted to your desk. Luckily, Windows 10 does still give you the option of using a local account, which is easy to set up.

Next Windows 10 update to roll out early next month – As PC users have had a few month now to get used to Windows 10, it’s already nearing time for Microsoft to release the first big update to the new operating system. As it turns out, such a release is only a few short weeks away, according to analyst Paul Thurrott. The update is said to be codenamed Threshold 2, and will include a number of bug fixes, as well as some adjustments to the overall user interface that were intended to be included in the initial release of Windows 10. For those already eager to download the Windows 10 Fall Update, Thurrott says it’s expected in early November, likely within the first week of the month. This will give desktop users at least a full month with the latest version of Windows 10 before the recently confirmed Windows 10 Mobile arrives in December.

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Your guide to Wi-Fi Sense – Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi Sense feature — which is designed to make it easier to share network credentials without giving up your Wi-Fi password — isn’t my favorite thing. But it can be a convenient way to get credentials around quickly, assuming you trust your Outlook, Skype, and Facebook contacts.

Five tools to beef up your tech emergency toolkit – What applications do you carry with you at all times? I’ve covered this topic once before, but it’s important enough to revisit. Why? Because you can never have enough emergency apps to carry with you in the field. As you might expect, everyone has different needs and every emergency calls for a different tool. That’s why you need to have a variety of tools on hand to cover nearly every issue. In this take on the emergency apps, we’ll examine some tools that, although you may not always use, they will prove irreplaceable when the time comes to fire them up.

LanDroid: The handiest mobile networking tool ever – There are tons of Android tools for network admins, but none are as comprehensive and easy to use as LanDroid. Jack Wallen introduces you to this free must-have tool.

Instagram releases new app for mini video loops – Instagram has launched a new video app called Boomerang, which will produce GIF-style clips at the click of a button. Boomerang takes a one-second burst of five photos to create a mini video loop which can be shared to the main Instagram app and Facebook. Boomerang doesn’t require users to be logged in, or to even have an Instagram account, according to TechCrunch. The controls are simplistic, one shutter button when you open the app, and another screen to share the looping video you’ve just created.

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Send photos and videos straight to the cloud with Camra – Sure, you can manually offload images to your computer or a cloud service, but that’s a hassle — and something you rarely remember to do until it’s too late (e.g., your phone is producing “storage low” messages). Enter Camra [Android|iOS], an app that doesn’t save photos and videos to your phone, but rather sends them directly to the cloud. In other words, images shot with Camra don’t take up residence on your device, meaning you don’t have to worry about running out of space. Well, space on your device, anyway: Camra gives you 5GB of cloud storage for free, or 99 cents monthly for 100GB (a pretty competitive rate). There’s also a $9.99 prepay option that nets you a full year.

YouTube Red: How, When, and Why – This morning YouTube revealed a subscription service that’ll encompass not only all of the video content they have to offer, but music from Google as well. With YouTube Red, users will pay a monthly fee to be able to view the vast majority of YouTube content without advertisements, and offline, too. This service ties in with Google Play Music – and YouTube Music Key – as they’ll soon all be offered under the same umbrella, for the same monthly fee, all at once.

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Monitor your data usage in Windows 10 – Because Windows 10 is a universal operating system, Microsoft has built in some data-monitoring tools for users with a limited data connection. Desktop users probably don’t need to concern themselves with network data usage, but tablet and laptop users may find these tools helpful.

Google Chrome for iOS now supports Split View multitasking – The feature works best on the iPad Air 2, mini 4, and presumably the upcoming plus-sized iPad Pro; older models let you slide a browser view in temporarily, but you can’t use another app at the same time. This iOS update isn’t only focused on the iPad — it also contains support for Autofill, meaning you’ll be able to use stored information like credit card numbers on mobile as well as desktop. You can get the update right now.

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The Best Headphones Under $50 – You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get high-quality sound flowing into your ears. Here’s what to look for in a pair of budget-priced headphones or earphones, along with our top-rated picks.

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Twitter Hints That It May Re-Enable Politwoops, The Service That Tracks Politicians’ Deleted Tweets – According to remarks made by Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday, it seems as if Twitter may be reversing its earlier decision to ban Politwoops, a service that tracked politicians’ deleted tweets, holding them accountable for things they wished they hadn’t said on the micro-blogging service. Developed by the Open State Foundation, Politwoops operated dedicated accounts in 30 countries around the world prior to Twitter’s ban, including one in the U.S. run by a government transparency group called the Sunlight Foundation. In May, Twitter banned the U.S. version of Politwoops, then proceeded to shut down the remaining countries later this summer, saying that the service violated Twitter’s developer agreement, and that everyone on Twitter should have the same rights to privacy…even politicians.

BlackBerry Priv briefly appears for pre-order at a whopping $749 – BlackBerry is getting ready to launch its first Android smartphone, the Priv. We now know all the specs and even a possible price with rumors that official pre-orders may kick off on Friday.

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(Image: BlackBerry)

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Apple iPad Pro: Battle of the Big Tablets – When Apple unveiled the iPad Pro, its resemblance to Microsoft’s Surface lineup raised some eyebrows. With Redmond’s Surface Pro 4 now available, we wanted to see how the two devices really compare. Let us count the ways.

How to get to Android Marshmallow’s hidden file manager – Did you know you can browse your phone’s file system on Android Marshmallow without downloading a separate app? We’ll show you how.

Security:

Apple fixes 49 security bugs in iOS 9.1; kills jailbreak – The company, which released the software on Wednesday for iPhones and iPads, detailed the flaws in its updated security documentation. Two of the fixes were credited to PanguTeam, a well-known jailbreak team based out of China, which earlier this month released the first jailbreak tool for devices running iOS 9. Jailbreaking (similar to “rooting” for Android phones) allows a user to gain access to more features on a iPhone or iPad, but it comes with additional security risks. It’s not illegal but it will void a user’s warranty.

For privacy and security, change these iOS 9 settings immediately – The minute you download and install iOS 9, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, you should take note of these privacy and security steps to lock down your device. iOS 9 comes with a number of security and privacy improvements. Before you do anything like customizing your phone, loading new apps, or syncing your data for the first time, these settings need to be checked — and if necessary, changed.

Hacker alleges Fitbit smartband could be a malware carrier [UPDATE: Fitbit responds] – PCs, smartphones, and tablets are fair game to hackers these days. And we’ve also started to see cars with sophisticated infotainment systems and controls also getting hacked. But how about the innocent little whose sole purpose is to keep your body healthy? Well, now they’re getting hacked as well. And worse, they might be used to make other computers unhealthy. Fortinet researcher Axelle Apvrille reveals that the Fitbit is one such wearable that easily succumbs to a hack in just 10 seconds and can then spread the malware to computers it syncs with.

German surfers blitzed by widespread malvertising campaign – German surfers are under attack from multiple directions this week because of a widespread malvertising campaign. Users of eBay.de and subscribers of ISP T-Online.de were confronted with tainted ads after cybercrooks succeeded in pushing malicious traffic through rogue systems. The attacks began after hackers circumvented reputable ad networks, including German ad-serving technology platform MP NewMedia, before assaulting top publishers and ad networks, security firm Malwarebytes reports. The malign ad campaign is being funnelled through doppelgänger systems. “We spotted two bogus ad servers which bear the same structure that was inspired by the legitimate German platform they were abusing: www1.mpnrs.com/deliver2/deliver2?,” Jérôme Segura, a senior security researcher at Malwarebytes, writes in a blog post on the attack.

Attackers hijack CCTV cameras to launch DDoS attacks – We’ve reached a point that security researchers have long warned is coming: Insecure embedded devices connected to the Internet are routinely being hacked and used in attacks. The latest example is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack detected recently by security firm Imperva. It was a traditional HTTP flood aimed at overloading a resource on a cloud service, but the malicious requests came from surveillance cameras protecting businesses around the world instead of a typical computer botnet. The attack peaked at 20,000 requests per second and originated from around 900 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras running embedded versions of Linux and the BusyBox toolkit, researchers from Imperva’s Incapsula team said in a blog post Wednesday.

Google and Yahoo tighten spam filtering – Google and Yahoo are expanding their use of a successful system for identifying spam. The move is part of years-long effort to implement a series of checks designed to figure out if an email really has been sent by the domain it purports to come from. Email spoofing has long been a problem since its easy to forge the “from” address, making it more likely the receiver will believe it came from a legitimate source.

Company News:

Microsoft reports falling revenues, slowing Surface sales in latest quarter – Microsoft’s revenue was down during the first quarter of its 2016 fiscal year, the company reported today in an earnings release. Revenue came in at $20.4 billion, down 12 percent year over year, while income came in at $5.8 billion, down just 1 percent from the same time last year. Net income was at $4.6 billion, a 2 percent increase. Declines came from a number of categories, but one of the notable dips was in Surface hardware. While Surface revenue had been climbing quickly over the past year, it’s now fallen to $672 million, down from $908 million in the same quarter of 2015.

Amazon earnings beat estimates with huge surge in cloud sales and profit – The company reported net revenue of $25.4 billion and net income of $79 million, or $0.17 a share. That means revenue grew 24 percent compared with the same period last year, while income swung positive from a net loss of $437 million, or $0.95 a share, in the year-ago quarter. AWS reported $2.1 billion in revenue and $521 million in profit. That’s a 78 percent rise in revenue and 432 percent rise in profit over last year. Overall, AWS now accounts for around 8 percent of Amazon’s total revenue, but nearly half of its total profits, which puts it close to matching the performance of its entire North American e-commerce division. The results beat Wall Street estimates, which had Amazon at a loss of $0.13 a share on revenue of $24.9 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Thompson Reuters. Investors responded with enthusiasm, sending shares sky rocketing more than 10.5 percent to nearly $564 a share. Amazon stock has been up more than 80 percent over the last 12 months.

Alphabet Beats Q3 Expectations With EPS Of $7.35 And $18.68B In Revenue, Stock Jumps 9% After Hours – Today following the bell, Alaphabet reported its third-quarter financial performance, including revenue of $18.68 billion in revenue, and adjusted per-share profit of $7.35. Analysts had expected the company to earn an adjusted $7.21 on revenue of $18.53 billion. The company’s revenue ticked up 13 percent compared to its year-ago quarter. Cash flow sits at a strong $6 billion. Up over a point in regular trading, Alphabet is up over 9 percent after hours following its earnings beat. The news that the Alphabet board authorized a repurchase of up to $5.1 billion of its class C shares certainly doesn’t hurt.

Jack Dorsey Is Giving Away Nearly $200 Million of His Twitter Stock to Employees – Dorsey tweeted Thursday that he’s giving roughly one third of his Twitter stock back to the employee equity pool, meaning it can be dispersed throughout the company to employees. Dorsey has roughly 22 million shares of stock, according to an SEC filing, and said in his tweet that he has giving back exactly 1 percent of the company. That’s roughly $200 million in stock. This is also the second week in a row Dorsey has given away millions in stock. Last week, when Square filed documents indicating it plans to go public, Dorsey said that he would donate 40 million shares to charity.

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Pandora and record labels reach $90 million settlement over pre-1972 songs – Pandora has reached a $90 settlement with record labels over the music service’s use of recordings created prior to 1972. Specific terms of the settlement are confidential, but it offers “a nationwide resolution for Pandora’s use of the plaintiffs’ pre-1972 recordings.” Those plantiffs are a mix of major and independent record labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Capitol Records, Warner Music Group, UMG Recordings, and ABKCO Music & Records. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Pandora last year on behalf of the labels, seeking royalties for Pandora’s use of many classic tracks.

Xiaomi loses top spot to Huawei in massive China smartphone market – Xiaomi has been knocked from the top of China’s smartphone market by Huawei, according to new research, a setback for a company that was often feted as “the Apple of China.” Research company Canalys called it a “remarkable feat” by Huawei, best known outside China for its network equipment, and one that puts Xiaomi under tremendous pressure to maintain its growth rate elsewhere in the world. Xiaomi caught the world’s attention two years ago when it hired Hugo Barra, a former Google executive who managed the development of Android, to help it expand overseas.

Games and Entertainment:

New Witcher 3 patch out today, see full patch notes here – CD Projekt Red is pushing out a new patch for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that addresses a long list of items across the main game, its new Hearts of Stone expansion, New Game Plus, and more. The patch, 1.11, is scheduled to launch on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 later today. In addition to clearing up bugs, including issues related to the Skellige’s Most Wanted quest, the new Witcher 3 patch improves technical performance in a number of in-game regions across platforms. The full Witcher 3 1.11 changelog is available here [PDF]. Alternatively, you can click through the images in the gallery below to see the complete patch notes.

The new ‘Force Awakens’ trailer, this time with Brooklyn accents – How do you make a great trailer even better? On the latest episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Kimmel’s crew gives the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer a New York remix.

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NBC SeeSo and the beginning of the end for traditional TV channels – NBC will soon begin doing its part with SeeSo, the comedy-focused streaming service it announced last week. When it launches in January, SeeSo will offer a mix of NBC broadcast shows such as Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, more than 20 original series (Community creator Dan Harmon, for instance, is on board for an “animated adventure”), and syndicated programs such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Kids in the Hall. NBC plans to charge $4 per month for the service, with no commercials. An invite-only beta arrives in December.

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Rainbow Six Siege hands-on: The most interesting next-gen shooter yet flirts with MOBAs – Rainbow Six Siege was originally supposed to release last week. Instead, Ubisoft delayed the game to December and brought me into their office to play five tense, swearing-filled hours. Seriously, I swore a lot. There’s not much new to look at, given the game’s already gone through both an alpha and beta that were about as open as either could possibly get while still being called closed. We did check out the game’s new “singleplayer” mode, as well as what I think is the full roster of Operators you can play as. Oh, and the game crashed quite a few times, which makes me glad it was pushed back. Here are my impressions.

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Activision Blizzard’s new Esports division brings former ESPN CEO on board – There’s no denying that the Esports market is growing, and quickly. Last year’s League of Legends Championship was watched by 27 million people on ESPN. To put that in perspective, the final games of both the World Series, and NBA Finals both drew smaller crowds. (23.5 million, and 18 million, respectively). So when ESPN’s former CEO decides to break into the Esports world, it’s really not a big surprise. Today Activision Blizzard announced that Former CEO of ESPN Steven Bornstein will take on the role of Chairman of the company’s Esports division. What’s more, former MLG (Major League Gaming) co-founder Mike Sepso will serve as the Senior Vice President of this new division.

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First Episode of Telltale’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Game Now Free – The sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones is still months away, but Telltale has been helping us pass the time with its adventure game based on the beloved television series. Now the game is a little more accessible for everyone. Telltale this week made the first episode of Game of Thrones — Iron From Ice — free to download on all platforms, including PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, and Android. Each episode is normally $5, so you’re getting a pretty sweet deal, but Telltale is obviously hoping you’ll get addicted to the game and pay to continue.

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Ashes of the Singularity hits Steam, letting you benchmark DirectX 12 at home – DirectX 12 is a Windows 10 exclusive and up until today that’s meant…nothing. We’ve heard about DirectX 12. We’ve tested DirectX 12. But there hasn’t been any upshot to your home rig yet, because there weren’t any games built on DirectX 12. Until now. Stardock launched Ashes of the Singularity on Steam Early Access this morning, which makes it the first DirectX 12 game and game-based benchmark to hit the storefront—and thus the first that’s easily accessible by you at home.

Plex overhauls its home theater PC software with new Plex Media Player – Plex is hitting reboot on its software for living room PCs. The new app is called Plex Media Player, and it’s a complete break from the previous Plex Home Theater desktop software. By abandoning its old code, Plex is promising faster development, more features, and better codec support. Plex was previously based on XMBC/Kodi, another popular program for home theater PCs, but is switching to the open-source MPV as its backbone.

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As Netflix plans on invading India, Eros stands in its way – For movie-streaming and new-production-house-on-the-block Netflix, India is the holy grail that will allow it to propel its customer base from the existing 65 million to hundreds of millions of movie-crazy customers. Towards this purpose, the company plans on spending a staggering $6 billion this year alone on content. However, there remains one obstacle in its plans for world domination: Eros, a little known Indian company globally, but one that has in just a few decades become the number one distributor and producer of local films in India, especially in Hindi cinema, or Bollywood, as it is often called.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch: Tesla on Autopilot Suffers Near-Collision – The vehicle maker last week rolled out a software update that added an Autopilot functionality to newer Tesla vehicles. It’s not completely autonomous, but allows cars to steer, switch lanes, and manage speed on their own. “The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car,” Elon Musk said during last week’s announcement. One Tesla owner learned that the hard way. Using his hands to film the experience (watch below) instead of holding the wheel of the car as advised, the driver felt his car veer toward oncoming traffic.

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White dwarf “Death Star” found destroying a planet – A report from NASA this week shows a star literally ripping a solar system apart. Evidence was found by Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and crew on the NASA Kepler K2 mission. It would seem that several rocky objects – some the size of Texas – are in “death spirals” a white dwarf star. Data suggests that the largest object spins around the star extremely quickly, reaching a full rotation once every 4.5 hours.

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Enjoy 45 minutes of slow-motion Apollo rocket launches – Step back into the ’60s with a video full of gorgeous slo-mo footage of massive Saturn V rockets carrying Apollo missions into space.

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ePint mug glows to celebrate your team’s score – It’s football season, and you’ve probably had your fair share of beer to go alongside it. The ePint mug wants to complement those two things, bringing them together at appropriate celebratory times. The ePint is an Internet of Things beer mug designed with a frosted outer shell and integrated lights. It glows a bright colorful color, has a built-in bottle opener, and lights up when your team scores, among other things.

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This Warehouse Lab Shows How We Can Grow Plants Underground – Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, the cofounders of the Lowline, have been working since 2011 to build the world’s first underground park inside an abandoned trolley terminal in New York City’s Lower East Side. The Lowline Lab contains an installation of Ramsey’s innovative solar technology, which funnels sunlight from rooftops in the area into the warehouse at an intensity that is strong enough to support plant life. The lab houses some 3,500 plants, including mosses, ferns, herbs, and even strawberries and a miniature pineapple.

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Everything to know about the search for extraterrestrial life at a glance – A new infographic from Space.com details some of the highlights in our quest to know whether we’re alone in the universe.

Something to think about:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

–      Muhammad Ali

Downloads:

Farbar Recovery Scan Tool Download: BLEEPINGCOMPUTER REVIEW -Farbar Recovery Scan Tool, or FRST, is a portable application designed to run on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 in normal or safe mode to diagnose malware issues. It is also possible to run FRST in the Windows Recovery Environment in order to diagnose and fix boot issues.

If you are using Windows XP and have boot issue, the system should boot to the Recovery Environment using a PE Boot CD and then you can run FRST

This program will display detailed information about the Windows Registry loading points, services, driver services, Netsvcs entries, known DLLs, drives, and partition specifications. It will also list some important system files that could be patched by malware.

Note: There are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Farbar Recovery Scan Tool available. Please pick the version that matches your operating system’s bit type. If you don’t know which version matches your system, you may try both of them. Only one of them will run on your system.

Firewall 3.0 – Firewall extends the default Windows embedded firewall behavior, allowing you to handle outgoing connections, and displaying (almost) real-time information about the current connections.

This enables your firewall protection and will make your Windows Firewall very easy to use, you can reset firewall rules and add rules by clicking shields on the main interface. You can use the buttons as well such as Webcam Monitor etc.

Firewall Features:

Elevates UAC Protection

No PayPal Donations SPAM

Easy To Use 100% FREEWARE

100% Spyware Free

Very Lightweight

Patches embedded Windows Firewall with Security fix

Disable any Webcam Hardware

Added Windows Firewall skin

Icons & Sound Effects plus Taskbar

All Software Bugs fixed Auto Activation – New Feature!

Webcam Driver Immunizer

Windows 10 Pro Full Compatibility

Detects hidden UAC Security risks which can bypass Windows firewall

Web Protection for Firefox

Blocks most Zer0-day exploits such as Webcam access etc.

Sets the firewall to block both inbound and outbound connections

Firewall Monitor

Enables the Windows firewall outbound connections logging (disabled by default)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canada: Liberals planning swift overhaul of controversial Anti-terrorism Act, or Bill C-51 – The controversial security bill rammed through Parliament by the Conservative government in the spring is expected to be overhauled without delay by the new Liberal government, say party officials and other sources.

Proposed legislation to add new measures and repeal some existing parts of the law, now known as the Anti-terrorism Act of 2015, or C-51, is already being drafted and is to be tabled early in the new parliamentary session. Consultations with the public and various experts are planned before the replacement legislation is put to a final House vote.

Apple to Feds: Good Luck Breaking Into a Locked iPhone – Accessing data on a locked iPhone running the latest version of iOS would be “impossible,” according to Apple.

Following a U.S. Justice Department request for access to a seized, but locked, iPhone, Cupertino told a judge that the request “would be impossible to perform” on newer devices, Reuters said.

That’s because Apple beefed up security starting with iOS 8, turning encryption on by default. So if a phone running iOS 8 or 9 is locked, even Cupertino can’t get in.

“On devices running iOS 8 and later versions, your personal data is placed under the protection of your passcode,” Apple says on its website. “For all devices running iOS 8 and later versions, Apple will not perform iOS data extractions in response to government search warrants because the files to be extracted are protected by an encryption key that is tied to the user’s passcode, which Apple does not possess.”

“It’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession,” according to Apple.

CISA blowup: ‘Web giants sharing private info isn’t about security – it’s state surveillance’ – There were sharp words on the floor of the US Senate on Wednesday as lawmakers debated the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) and its amendments.

The bill, proposed by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would allow internet giants and other companies to share people’s personal information with the US government so it can be analyzed for signs of lawbreaking – be it computer related or not.

In return, the companies would get legal immunity from angry customers, although legal action is unlikely because the businesses and the government don’t have to reveal what they have shared, even with a freedom of information request.

The proposed legislation has been criticized by internet rights groups, and also by technology firms. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others published an open letter calling for the legislation to be rewritten, and since then Apple, Salesforce.com, Yelp, and Wikipedia have joined them in opposing the draft law.

Feinstein said organizations won’t be forced to reveal citizens’ private lives to Uncle Sam: it won’t be mandatory for businesses to hand over people’s private records, she claimed.

“If you don’t like the bill, you don’t have to do it,” Feinstein said.

“So it’s hard for me to understand why we have companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft and others saying they can’t support the bill at this time. You have no reason, because you don’t have to do anything, but there are companies by the hundreds if not thousands that want to participate in this.”

Her colleague Burr said on the floor that he couldn’t understand the opposition to CISA. Businesses against the new law will put their users at risk, he said, because by not sharing people’s personal information, they will not be given intelligence and heads up on attacks from the Feds.

“When the companies who are against this get hacked, they are going to be begging to cooperate with the federal government,” he opined.

Security researchers face wrath of spy agencies – Researchers tasked with revealing attacks by intelligence agencies are being harassed, locked out of tenders, and in some cases deported, Kaspersky researcher Juan Andrés Guerrero-Saade says.

Retaliation by the unnamed agencies is in direct response to news of prominent advanced-persistent threat campaigns that have coloured information security reporting over recent years.

Those reports are forcing researchers to reveal malware attacks by government spy agencies.

Specific details on the harassment is tightly-held, although some may occur in Eastern Europe and Asian nations.

Guerrero-Saade told Vulture South researchers have spoken about their ordeals in private information security circles. Other stories circulate as industry rumour.

“In many places intelligence services tend to be more civilised than in others — you would be lucky to deal with them in the US versus wherever else, Latin America, Asia, or Eastern Europe where they take very different tactics, ” Guerrero-Saade says.

“You can definitely see these threats to livelihood[s] where it can be as simple as patriotic notions … all the way to ‘you have already made it clear where you stand and it’s going to be next to impossible for you to get a security clearance’ and to work in a large sector of countries where a large amount of anti-malware work is being done.

“I think it is easier to imagine situations where blackmail, compromise, and threat of livelihood is an issue, and it has been an issue for certain researchers for obvious reasons aren’t going to speak up.”

WikiLeaks Publishes Dozens of CIA Director’s Alleged Email and AIM Contacts – As promised, the secret-spilling organization led by Julian Assange released more information obtained by the teenage hackers who allegedly broke into the email account of CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday.

The new release consists of two documents, a preface and an executive summary report on the US government’s strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as a long list of Brennan’s email and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) contacts.The list has almost two hundred AIM handles, and more than 1,000 email addresses.

On Wednesday, WikiLeaks published a first batch of documents from Brennan’s account, none of them classified. The group, however, also published an unredacted draft of Brennan’s Standard Form 86, a form that every government employee with a security clearance has to fill. The form contains loads of personal data on the applicant, as well as his family. In this case, the form contained Brennan’s social security number, as well as that of some of his family members.

Some have questioned the value of publishing such personal details.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – October 21, 2015

AVG reveals Top 10 performance-killing Android apps;  Researchers find 256 iOS apps that collect users’ personal info;  How to back up Gmail to your computer or local drive;  Irish privacy watchdog to investigate Facebook over spying allegations;  Clean out junk files in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10;  7 super-quick Windows 10 tricks you probably didn’t know about;  Hackers sweet talked their way into the CIA director’s email account;  Chrome now lets you mute individual tabs;  5 Reasons to Replace Your Router Right Away;  Dell Black Friday 2015 ad leaks with $149 Windows 10 laptop, $99 desktop deals;  Plan Your Pit Stops on Google Maps;  Facebook now notifies you if you’re the target of a state-sponsored attack;  HTTPS errors: What to do when your PC freaks out;  Halo 5 comes with 9GB day 1 patch;  The Best Tune-Up Utilities for 2015;  Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has two day one patches;  Spybot Anti-Beacon (free);  What you say on Twitter pinpoints how much money you make;  A short, crucial explanation of the USA Patriot Act and USA Freedom Act.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Irish privacy watchdog to investigate Facebook over spying allegations – Ireland’s High Court ordered the data protection commissioner to investigate allegations that Facebook gave US intelligence agencies bulk access to users’ personal data

Hackers sweet talked their way into the CIA director’s email account – The hackers who found their way into CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email account didn’t use sophisticated coding skills. They just wheedled their way past his service providers’ customer service agents to take command of all his accounts. It’s a striking reminder that even high-ranking members of the US government’s intelligence community are only as secure as their weakest safeguards.

Researchers find 256 iOS apps that collect users’ personal info – Researchers said they’ve found more than 250 iOS apps that violate Apple’s App Store privacy policy forbidding the gathering of e-mail addresses, installed apps, serial numbers, and other personally identifying information that can be used to track users. The apps, which at most recent count totaled 256, are significant because they expose a lapse in Apple’s vetting process for admitting titles into its highly curated App Store. They also represent an invasion of privacy to the one million people estimated to have downloaded the apps. The data gathering is so surreptitious that even the individual developers of the affected apps are unlikely to know about it, since the personal information is sent only to the creator of the software development kit used to deliver ads.

AVG reveals Top 10 performance-killing Android apps – Android devices run on a wide gamut of hardware configurations, ranging from the humble “basic” call and text handset to the flagship powerhouse. But despite even the biggest of computing muscle available, Android smartphones and tablets are still beset with performance problems, from using up too much CPU, eating up too much storage space, or draining your battery faster than you can charge. Security firm AVG has just revealed which apps are guilty of those crimes for this year’s second quarter and the results are rather surprising.

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How to back up Gmail to your computer or local drive – Over the years, your email collects a lot of important information you don’t want to lose. And that means you may not want to trust it to a big corporation in the cloud.

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Chrome now lets you mute individual tabs – Last year, Google updated Chrome to show you which of your tabs was making noise by displaying a small speaker icon. Taking it a step further, the latest version of Chrome (version 46) will let you mute those pesky tabs individually.

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Clean out junk files in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 – Software has a way of accumulating on your Windows machine, and for the sake of security, system performance, and disk space, it’s a good idea to clear out junk files every so often. Sometimes Windows may make you do an in-place upgrade (which happens frequently for members of the Insider program). This means that the operating system is completely re-installed, but you keep your files and installed programs. A side-effect of this process is a lot of leftover files that you may never use again, including an archived copy of the old Windows build that you just upgraded from. If you find yourself doing one of these upgrades, or if you just want to check for stuff you can get rid of, there are a few easy things you can do that don’t require installing special software.

More Quick-Loading ‘Instant Articles’ Coming to Facebook – Get ready for more Facebook Instant Articles in your News Feed. The social network today rolled out the feature more broadly on iOS and said it will arrive on Android later this year. Look for the lightning bolt in the top right corner of stories in your News Feed; these are Instant Articles and should load much faster than links taking you to third-party sites.

Google for Work to woo more businesses with freebie offer – The deal especially puts Microsoft Office 365, ​arguably the biggest threat to Google Apps, in the crosshairs as the war between the two gets more heated.

Plan Your Pit Stops on Google Maps – Heads up, drivers: Google Maps for Android is getting a handy new navigation feature aimed at helping you save time and money. Rolling out over the next few weeks, the feature lets you check out gas prices and add detours to your route without having to exit the navigation screen. When you’re in driving navigation mode and you need to find a gas station or restaurant, just tap the magnifying glass at the top right corner of the screen.

Google Photos Hits 100 Million Monthly Active User Milestone – Google Photos broke free of Google+ in May, and in the five months since, it has amassed 100 million monthly active users, the team shared today. That puts it on par with Snapchat, which was around 100 million the last time it shared numbers. During its hardware event last month, Google shared that 50 billion photos had been uploaded already, which is equally impressive. The idea is that Google wants to store every photo and video you’ve ever taken and let you manage them in an easy way.

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Cortana will let you send texts from your Windows 10 PC – Microsoft is unifying its mobile and PC platforms with Windows 10, and now we’re starting to see new features that really take advantage of the new operating system. Microsoft is releasing a new preview of its Windows 10 Mobile software today that allows Cortana to send texts from your PC. If you use a Windows 10 Mobile device then Cortana will notify you of any missed calls, and you can reply straight from your PC. The actual message will be sent as a text from your phone, but this integration means you don’t have to pick up your phone to send messages each time. You can type or speak “text” into Cortana and you can send a text to any contact as you would normally do from your phone.

15 simple, yet powerful Excel functions you need to know – Power users love to talk about how powerful and awesome Excel is, what with its Pivot Tables, nested formulas, and Boolean logic. But many of us barely know how to find the Autosum feature, let alone use Excel’s functions to create powerful formulas. If that’s you, here are 15 handy Excel functions that will get you well on your way to spreadsheet mastery.

FoxType checks your writing for a polite tone – Whenever you write an email or IM to someone you don’t know very well, you want to be as polite as possible. This will help keep the lines of communication open while you get to know their etiquette preferences and sense of humor. To help you out, the Politeness Web tool from FoxType Labs can be used to check the tone of the language you’re using, and point out any trouble areas.  Here’s how:

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FoxType Politeness tool. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

7 super-quick Windows 10 tricks you probably didn’t know about – You might think you know all the Windows 10 tricks by now, but you’re wrong — partly because Microsoft is continuing to drop new builds (Build 10565 went out to Windows 10 Insiders on Monday), and partly because most of Windows 10’s little tricks haven’t been publicized. Here are several ultra-fast tips that you probably didn’t know about:

Dell Black Friday 2015 ad leaks with $149 Windows 10 laptop, $99 desktop deals – Last year, Dell was the first major tech company to see its Black Friday ad leaked. That was on November 3. This year, Dell is again the first major tech company to see its ad surface online, but the leak has come two weeks earlier than in 2014. With the shopping “holiday” more than a month away, and Halloween still more than a week away, we already have a taste of the type of computer deals yet to come.

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HTTPS errors: What to do when your PC freaks out – The other day a curious thing happened to me. I booted up my PC as usual, fired up my browser, and tried to login to Gmail. Instead of looking at my inbox, I saw a warning that my attempt at an HTTPS secure Internet connection had failed. It wasn’t just a single browser or website problem either. Every browser on my system was affected—even the Dropbox and OneDrive desktop utilities wouldn’t connect. Uh-oh! Was I being targeted by bad guys or government snoops? Of course not. This problem is quite common and can usually be fixed with a few simple strategies. If it ever affects you, or is affecting you right now, here’s what to do.

Giphy launches a super simple GIF creator for the web – As a denizen of the internet, I frequently find myself wanting to turn YouTube videos into GIFs, but I’ve never been very good at doing it on my own. Fortunately, the internet’s overwhelming love for GIFs has resulted in the creation of some pretty simple GIF creators, and Giphy is releasing a brand new one this afternoon.

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The Best Tune-Up Utilities for 2015 – Computers have changed the way that the world works and plays, so when our machines no longer let us use Word and Netflix with the same speed and efficiency to which we have become accustomed, we often ponder buying new hardware. Fortunately, you can get often that fresh-out-the-box performance without plunking down several hundred dollars, thanks to a relatively inexpensive tool: a PC tune-up utility.

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Google encroaches on Microsoft turf with “free” Apps for Work promo – Who can resist the allure of free? Especially when you consider enterprise deployments that ultimately involve hundreds if not thousands of dollars per annum. Knowing too well that line of thinking, Google has cooked up a way to entice businesses away from their pricey Microsoft and IBM enterprise agreements (EA). Google will allow such customers to use Apps for Work for free while they are bidding their time for the EA to run its course, giving users some time to get familiar with the new Google work environment at no extra cost.

5 Reasons to Replace Your Router Right Away – When emails don’t send, websites won’t load, or videos stutter, people are first to point their finger at their Internet provider. If a lengthy call to tech support doesn’t fix things, their poor computer catches the blame next. But in many cases, their wireless router may have been the offending device all along. The best way to fix your ailing wi-fi is to learn the basics of how wireless Internet works, then apply those lessons to your personal setup. But if you’re using an older router, it might be time for an upgrade.

Security:

Facebook now notifies you if you’re the target of a state-sponsored attack – Facebook is now issuing warning messages to users if it strongly suspects that an account is being targeted by a hacker working for a nation state. The message (pictured above) also recommends that users turn on “Login Approvals,” which means accounts can only be accessed using stronger two-factor authentication. “These types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others,” reads a message from Facebook security chief Alex Stamos. “We strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts.”

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F-Secure launches stress test to detect security holes in enterprise networks – F-Secure has launched the Cyber Security Stress Test to assist businesses in organizing their security strategies and finding weak points which can be plugged before cyberattackers have the chance to exploit them. Announced on Monday as part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the security firm said the free questionnaire could help “companies and employees learn more about the kinds of weaknesses that can expose them to costly data breaches and other risks.” The 20-page questionnaire is aimed at IT professionals and covers a range of topics including endpoint protection, network security as well as company roles and policies.

Western Digital’s hard drive encryption is useless. Totally useless – The encryption systems used in Western Digital’s portable hard drives are pretty pointless, according to new research. WD’s My Passport boxes automatically encrypt data as it is written to disk and decrypt the data as it is read back to the computer. The devices use 256-bit AES encryption, and can be password-protected: giving the correct password enables the data to be successfully accessed. Now, a trio of infosec folks – Gunnar Alendal, Christian Kison and “modg” – have tried out six models in the WD My Passport family, and found blunders in the software designs.

Support scams that plagued Windows users for years now target Mac customers – For years, scammers claiming that they’re “calling from Windows” have dialed up Microsoft customers and done their best to trick them into parting with their money or installing malicious wares. Now, the swindlers are turning their sights on Mac users. Researchers at antivirus provider Malwarebytes spotted a Web-based campaign that attempts to trick OS X and iOS users into thinking there’s something wrong with their devices. The ruse starts with a pop-up window that’s designed to look like an official OS notification. “Critical Security Warning!” it says. “Your Device (iPad, iPod, iPhone) is infected with a malicious adward [sic] attack.” It goes on to provide a phone number people can call to receive tech support.

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With goal of universal HTTPS, Let’s Encrypt reaches important milestone – A nonprofit effort aimed at encrypting the entire Web has reached an important milestone: its HTTPS certificates are now trusted by all major browsers. The service, which is backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, Cisco Systems, and Akamai, is known as Let’s Encrypt. As Ars reported last year, the group will offer free HTTPS certificates to anyone who owns a domain name. Let’s Encrypt promises to provide open source tools that automate processes for both applying for and receiving the credential and configuring a website to use it securely.

Privacy watchdogs give EU, US three months to negotiate new Safe Harbor deal – European data protection authorities have given the European Commission and national governments three months to come up with an alternative to the Safe Harbor agreement swept away two weeks ago by a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Ex-US federal agent to spend over 6 years behind bars for Silk Road Bitcoin theft – As reported by Reuters, ex-agent Carl Bates admitted to charges of extortion, money laundering and the obstruction of justice which has landed him a sentence of six and a half years. Force was accused of secretly soliciting payment during the US government’s investigation of Silk Road. Silk Road, once the premium underground marketplace for the illegal purchase of products including weapons and drugs, was closed down by federal agents in 2013. Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the trading post, was sentenced to life imprisonment in May for operating the website.

Company News:

Yahoo enters deal to display Google search results – Yahoo disclosed the details of a new search deal it’s formed with Google after releasing its third-quarter earnings results today. Under the terms of a new arrangement effective October 1st and lasting until the end of 2018, Google will provide Yahoo with search ads, algorithmic search, and image search services for both desktop and mobile. And according to a regulatory filing, Yahoo will also get to decide which search queries to send to Google and will not have to meet a minimum requirement of queries.

Yahoo Shares Fall On Q3 Profit Miss, Recover Mildly On News Of Google Search Deal – Today following the bell, Yahoo reported its third quarter financial performance. Not discounting traffic acquisition costs (ex-TAC), Yahoo’s revenue for the period totaled $1.23 billion. The company earned $0.15 per share during the quarter, using adjusted metrics (non-GAAP). Yahoo’s aggregate revenue grew 7 percent from $1.15 billion in its year-ago quarter. Discounting for traffic acquisition costs, Yahoo’s revenue fell from $1.09 billion a year ago to $1.00 billion in its most recent quarter.

VMWare Beats Expectations With $1.02 EPS, $1.67B In Revenue – At a time when there are a lot of questions about the company’s future, VMWare beat analyst expectations with $1.02 in non-GAAP earnings per share compared to expectations of $1. The company reported $1.67 billion in revenue, up 14 percent year-over-year, beating expectations of $1.66 billion. The numbers were about in line with what the company reported when the Dell/EMC deal was announced.

Google acquires panoramic imaging startup Digisfera – Digisfera, a company that specializes in panoramic image technology, has been acquired by Google. Digisfera announced the acquisition on its website, and Google has likewise since confirmed that it bought the startup, though it hasn’t disclosed the terms of the acquisition. Says Digisfera, it is “excited” to join Google’s Street View team, hinting at Google’s planned uses for the team.

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Tesla shares drop after Consumer Reports raises reliability questions – Issues include squeaks and rattles (something that may be more noticeable thanks to the car’s lack of engine noise) as well as problems with the clever door handles, but more serious problems include electric motors that have to be replaced. Overall, Consumer Reports found reliability was down compared to 2014. Older cars in particular appear to be having the most problems. This was enough to make Consumer Reports remove its coveted recommendation from the Model S, news of which had immediate impact on Tesla’s share price.

Amazon Is Hiring an Insane Number of Workers for the Holidays – Amazon will hire 100,000 workers this holiday season, the Associated Press reports. This is a 25% increase from last year, when the company hired 80,000 new employees for the holidays. Retailers Walmart, Target, and Macy’s are all adding about the same amount of jobs as they did in 2014 — 60,000, 70,000, and 85,000 respectively. Others, including Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, and Toys R Us, are hiring fewer holiday workers.

Jawbone wins injunction in legal battle with rival Fitbit – In latest round between the wearable tech rivals, judge rules that five Fitbit workers must return data they took from their former employer Jawbone.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox wireless controller adapter for Windows 10 now available for $24.99 – Microsoft first revealed its Xbox wireless adapter for Windows earlier this year, and now the company is releasing it worldwide today. It’s designed primarily for Windows 10 PCs, tablets, and laptops, and it simply lets you use up to eight Xbox One controllers with your machine wirelessly. If you dislike cables then it might be worth the $24.99, but Windows 10 also supports Xbox One controllers using a Micro USB cable. Microsoft also packages the adapter with a new Xbox One controller which features a 3.5mm stereo headset jack in a separate $79.95 bundle. The new wireless adapter is perfect for Windows 10 as Microsoft is allows the bundled Xbox app to stream games from an Xbox One console to your PC or laptop. Microsoft’s Xbox wireless adapter is available today for $24.99.

Halo 5 comes with 9GB day 1 patch – There’s no doubt that Halo 5 is one of the most highly-anticipated titles of the year. If you’re excited about picking it up, popping in the disc, and playing straightaway, though, you’re in for a little disappointment. As is the trend these days, Halo 5 is getting a day 1 patch, and it’s a doosey: according to 343 Studio’s Josh Holmes, you can expect a 9GB download once the game drops. So what’s in the patch? Holmes states that the download includes multiplayer map content. Specifically, for the Arena multiplayer mode and 12v12 Warzone modes.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has two day one patches – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will have two day one patches, but they aren’t anywhere close to as large as rumors say they are. Community manager Gabe Graziani confirmed on Reddit that the upcoming action-adventure game will have two launch patches, together totaling just over 1 GB. We actually have two patches that will be available on Day 1,” he wrote. “The first patch (titled 1.10) will be 541MB, the second (titled 1.11) will be 534MB.” Garziani’s comments came in response to rumors that Syndicate’s launch update would weigh in at a whopping 18 GB. But this won’t be the case. “Not sure where 18 GB came from,” he said. “Neither of the patches you will need to download are anywhere near that big.”

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The PS4 finally has an official Twitch app – Given how Twitch has become the go to platform for broadcasting game playthroughs and viewing such, you’d think it would be one of the first things the latest gen PlayStation 4 would have in its roster. While the PS4 did have the basic ability to broadcast and watch PS broadcasts, that was the full extent of Twitch’s presence. Now, owners are finally freed from the shackles of the PS web browser with the new Twitch PS4 app that will allow them to watch any Twitch stream at their convenience.

What’s new at Amazon for November 2015 – A new season of “Vikings,” plus Amazon’s original series “The Man in the High Castle” arrive on Amazon Prime alongside a bunch of other titles. Check out the full list right here.

Off Topic (Sort of):

New York Times giving away Google Cardboard ahead of VR app – Consider this news something we never thought we’d read about in 2015: The New York Times, as in the newspaper, is going to release it own virtual reality app in the coming weeks. The content itself will be made up of documentary-style short films, but in order prepare readers for the new experience, the NY Times will be shipping Google Cardboard to subscribers who have the paper delivered to their homes. The app itself is called NYT VR, and is set to launch on both iOS and Android on November 5th. Over 1 million NY Times print subscribers will receive their free Google Cardboard headset during the weekend of November 7th and 8th.

This new Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster captures grand galactic decay – If you managed to snag tickets to a Sunday AMC IMAX 3D screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night, you’re going to be rewarded for your diligence with a poster that transcends convention. The theater chain is giving specific groups of customers Star Wars prints designed by British illustrator Dan Mumford, and it revealed the first print of four on Twitter this afternoon. It’s a gorgeous, distinctive piece of work, one that suggests just how much the galaxy has changed in the years between The Force Awakens and the other films in the series. Daisy Ridley’s Rey and adorable droid-ball BB-8 gaze out at a grand, ruined ship embedded in the sand, cast in red and orange light.

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(AMC Theaters / Dan Mumford)

New Indian tech could help rural communities bridge digital divide – The Pruthvi chip, made by Bangalore-based Saankhya labs, can make use of unused TV bandwidth to provide long-range Internet access to rural areas.

What you say on Twitter pinpoints how much money you make – Scientists analysed almost 11 million tweets from different job titles across Twitter. They analysed Twitter users with jobs such as factory cleaners and packers, earning approximately $27,679 per year, through to production managers and directors earning over $78,000 per year. The scientists mapped Twitter users to their income based on their use of certain types of language. Users perceived as ‘religiously unaffiliated and less anxious’ appeared to have higher earnings. These higher income users were found to have “significantly more followers” and get retweeted more often.

Something to think about:

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

–      Maya Angelou

Downloads:

Spybot Anti-Beacon  – Spybot Anti-Beacon is a standalone tool which was designed to block and stop the various tracking (telemetry) issues present in Windows 10. It has since been modified to block similar tracking functionality in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 operating systems.

Anti-Beacon is small, simple to use, and is provided free of charge. It was created to address the privacy concerns of users of Windows 10 who do not wish to have information about their PC usage sent to Microsoft. Simply clicking “Immunize” on the main screen of Anti-Beacon will immediately disable any known tracking features included by Microsoft in the operating system.

If any issues occur with your PC while using Anti-Beacon, undoing the changes made can be done by clicking the “Undo” button in the main window. This will re-enable all tracking services. If you experience any issues using Anti-Beacon or have any suggestions/recommendations, please be sure to let us know on the forum thread relating to this tool.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CISA Sponsors Hope to Pass Controversial Anti-Hacking Bill ‘In a Matter of Days’ – The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, the most important and sweeping cybersecurity bill ever considered by Congress, was introduced on the Senate floor Tuesday and will move forward, with a vote expected sometime later this week.

We posted a brief rundown of CISA here (and have covered the bill in depth over the course of the last year), but essentially it encourages private companies to share “cyber threat” information with the federal government. The information can be passed to local and federal law enforcement, and can be funneled to the National Security Administration “in real time,” according to the bill’s language. Companies that participate would have liability protections, meaning that if they pass information to the government they aren’t supposed to, you cannot sue them.

“Sharing information about cybersecurity threats is clearly a worthy goal and I would like to find ways to encourage more of that responsibly,” Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, one of the few outspoken critics of the bill, said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Yet if you share more information without strong privacy protections, millions of Americans will say ‘That is not a cybersecurity bill, it is a surveillance bill.'”

Canada: ‘We’re back,’ Trudeau tells allies abroad – Justin Trudeau, fresh off confidently guiding his Liberal party to a convincing election win, delivered a message Tuesday to those who may have felt the country has lost its way after a decade of Conservative rule.

“Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years,” Trudeau told a boisterous rally in Ottawa.

“Well, I have a simple message for you: on behalf of 35 million Canadians, we’re back.”

Both at home and abroad, Trudeau faces several pressing priorities and a raft of longer-term promises.

The immediate issues for the prime minister-designate include a major international conference on climate change, a military mission in the Middle East he has pledged to end and the still-churning refugee crisis enveloping Europe.

On the horizon domestically loom keystone promises from his party’s successful campaign: lower taxes for the middle class, the legalization of marijuana, and a slate of democratic reforms including a new electoral system to replace the venerable first-past-the-post regime under which he swept to power.

Tech-Backed Bill Expanding Privacy Rights To EU Citizens Sails Through House – Tech companies today are celebrating the passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that will expand privacy rights to non-U.S. citizens.

The bill, known as the Judicial Redress Act, sailed through the House on a bipartisan, voice vote. If passed by the Senate, the measure will expand some of the privacy rights enjoyed by American records to citizens in allied nations, mostly in the European Union.

The Judicial Redress Act would allow EU citizens to seek records certain government agencies have on them and, as its name implies, seek redress if those companies misuse that information. American citizens already have these rights in all countries where citizens would gain new protections under this bill.

U.S. law provides little privacy rights for non-citizens, and the landmark vote comes under heavy pressure from the EU. The European Court of Justice recently struck down the 2000 “Safe Harbor” agreement that has allowed  companies like Facebook to use personal data from EU citizens. If Congress does not pass this bill, the EU will not pass a new safe harbor agreement and it will be increasingly difficult for American tech companies to operate in those countries.

The vote comes as tech companies face criticism abroad for their compliance with American surveillance agencies. In the wake of the disclosures about the NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the companies have increasingly pressed lawmakers to pass substantial reform to surveillance.

“Today, the House took one small step toward repairing America’s tarnished image on data privacy,” said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom. “Since the Snowden disclosures, our government’s inaction on surveillance reform has provoked an international crisis — one that could lead to a European blockade of American Internet companies.”

In Hacking Team’s wake, FinFisher spyware rises in popularity with government users – The notorious FinFisher spyware is rising in popularity with government agencies across the world and 32 countries have been identified as users.

FinFisher is a sophisticated spyware suite sold exclusively to government agencies and police forces. The user-friendly software is able to remotely control any computer it infects, copy files, intercept Skype calls and log keystrokes, among other functions.

Developed by Munich-based FinFisher Gamma Group, the software is touted as a way to “help government law enforcement and intelligence agencies identify, locate and convict serious criminals.”

However, a data breach which took place in August last year placed scrutiny on the secretive firm’s business practices and clients. Stolen files placed on the web suggested FinFisher was being used for activities beyond tracking criminals — such as spying upon high-profile Bahraini activists. It is believed that dissidents, law firms, journalists and political opposition in Bahrain and from Ethiopia have also been monitored through FinFisher.

Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto, is well-known for research into global security and human rights issues. In a fresh investigation tracking users of the spyware suite, Citizen Lab said 32 countries contain at least one government entity who is “likely” using FinFisher.

A short, crucial explanation of the USA Patriot Act and USA Freedom Act – A little over a month after the events of September 11th, 2001, an Act of Congress called the USA Patriot Act was signed into law by then President George W. Bush. Despite its controversial expansion of government power pertaining to domestic surveillance, law enforcement, and border security, President Obama signed an extension of what were key provisions in 2001. That extension expired this past summer, but parts of the extension were renewed for another four years under a new name, the USA Freedom Act.

Arguments for the continuation of the Patriot Act typically pivot on the belief that citizens who aren’t committing crimes have nothing to fear, but the role and impact of national government surveillance is more complex. With the USA Freedom Act in its first year, I invited The Verge’s Colin Lecher to explain the original law, how it has evolved, and in what ways it could effect the average person, like you and me.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – October 19, 2015

9 reasons why users still struggle with online security;  Five portable antivirus and antimalware tools to carry with you at all times;  10 (mostly free) must-have Windows 10 apps for power users;  13 phone behaviors that are totally inappropriate in the workplace;  11 Reasons to Stop Looking at Your Phone;  Turning a crappy old Windows PC into a full-fledged Chromebook;  How to disable Windows 10 Start menu ads;  20 New Ways Facebook Is Eating The Internet;  Google removes Chrome’s instant voice search;  How to build a PC: A step-by-step, comprehensive guide;  Get the Android Marshmallow Quick Start Guide free;  Flash’s latest critical vulnerability has been patched;  Malicious adware’s latest trick is replacing your whole browser;  Court rules Uber’s app legal in London;  Court rules that Google book scanning is fair use;  Online ad industry, battling ad blockers, admits it messed up;  Alan Turing: The man behind the myth;  5 Thought Experiments That Will Melt Your Brain;  CyberLink PhotoDirector 5 (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

9 reasons why users still struggle with online security – When it comes to online security, experts and users don’t always agree on the most effective ways to stay safe, according to a new report from Google. The company surveyed 294 users and 231 security experts (participants who worked five or more years in computer security) to better understand the differences and why they exist. Here’s what they found.

Five portable antivirus and antimalware tools to carry with you at all times – Let’s face it: One of the primary Windows admin tasks is keeping machines free of infection. It’s inevitable. End users will open files, install cutesy apps, and go to sites they shouldn’t go to. When they do these things, their machines get infected. When their machines get infected, you could wind up fighting a losing battle—unless you have the right tools. But sometimes the antivirus tools installed on the machine just aren’t enough. When that time comes, you’ll be glad you have one (or more) tools on your USB drive to help you out. I’ve found five such tools that could certainly get you out of a serious pinch. All these tools are portable and work like champs.

13 phone behaviors that are totally inappropriate in the workplace – You might work in a casual, trendy, millennial-laden office where hoodies and Birkenstocks are the definition of business casual, but that doesn’t mean you should add your boss on Snapchat. Even the “cool” offices have to decide who (and who not) to promote, so you can be sure somebody is taking note of how often you text during meetings. Here are 13 breaches of smartphone workplace etiquette that could end up costing you your job:

10 (mostly free) must-have Windows 10 apps for power users – Apps not only make using your Windows 10 device easier by giving you better ways to do the things you want to do, they can also make the experience a lot more fun. While there are plenty of built-in apps on Windows 10 devices, there’s a whole host of free or almost-fee apps that are guaranteed to make you more productive. These essentials tools will allow you to work with, share and annotate documents; back up your important data; organize and personalize your desktop; work with photos and text, and socialize and stay in touch with coworkers, friends and family.

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How to disable Windows 10 Start menu ads – The latest “Fast Ring” Windows 10 build features ads in the Start menu. If you’re not into such things polluting your Start menu, here’s how you can make them go away.

If you forget your Windows admin password, try this – That Windows admin password is pretty important. If you lose track of it, though, all is not lost. You just have to wiggle in through the virtual back door.

Turning a crappy old Windows PC into a full-fledged Chromebook with CloudReady – CloudReady is a fork, of sorts, of Chromium OS, the open source code that Chrome OS is based on, and it promises to turn old PC hardware into nearly fully functional Chromebooks, complete with the features of Chrome OS’ management console. It’s not the first distribution of Chromium OS aimed at regular old PC hardware, but it certainly appears to be the best supported, and it’s actually being tested against hardware that real schools and businesses buy. Cloudready is primarily aimed at those schools and businesses, but, as of earlier this month, individuals can take it for a spin for free. We installed it on an old Dell Latitude E6410 to see what it was like and to talk about what a real Chromebook gives you that CloudReady doesn’t.

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Dell’s old Latitude E6410 becomes a modern Chromebook. Andrew Cunningham

How to build a PC: A step-by-step, comprehensive guide – Want to build a huge, hulking full tower PC with unrivaled top-of-the-line hardware? Go for it! (If you can convince your significant other to OK the expense, that is.) Or maybe you prefer a smaller PC you can tuck under your desk or next to your home entertainment center? That’s possible too, and you can customize your itty-bitty rig with no-compromise components or aim for a more affordable small-form-factor system that’s still capable of playing games just fine. When you’re building your own PC, the choice is yours.

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The raw components may look like a mess, but turning them into a neat, clean build doesn’t take much extra time at all.

11 Reasons to Stop Looking at Your Phone – The science is in. Spending too much time staring down at your phone can inflict very real physical, social, and intellectual damage.

Get the Android Marshmallow Quick Start Guide free from the Play Store – Google just published its Quick Start Guide, a free eBook that anyone can grab from Google Play. The 62-page guide details the new features in Marshmallow, such as Google Now On Tap. It also has standard advice about how to connect your Google services, share content, and the latest accessibility features. You’ll need to have the Google Play Books app to read it on your phone or tablet.

20 New Ways Facebook Is Eating The Internet – Facebook never, ever, ever wants you to leave. That’s why it’s replicating features from other apps and pulling content like videos and news articles inside its app. The more time you spend on Facebook, the more it accomplishes its “open and connected” mission, and the more money it makes by showing you ads. Here’s 20 new ways it’s assimilating the Internet, in GIFs and photos.

Not always listening: Google removes Chrome’s instant voice search – One of the most useful hands free features in Google’s Chrome browser is gone: You’ll have to hit a button to do an “OK Google” voice search.

Facebook fixing the app that drains your iPhone’s battery – Assuming you’re an iPhone user who uses Facebook, chances are you’ve had some relatively sizable battery drain going on. The app has been discovered to be a large drain on iPhone users’ batteries, particularly those that are using iOS 9 as of this month. Reports from several sources suggest that Facebook’s app isn’t becoming inactive properly, thereby continuing to drain the device of power as it would when called upon to be active as normal. According to Facebook, this battery drain problem should be resolved soon.

iPhone 6S, 6S Plus land in fast-growing India market – Apple’s new iPhones will now battle for consumers in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone region. Starting Friday, the iPhone 6S is available in India with a starting price of 62,000 rupees ($955). The iPhone 6S Plus starts at 72,000 rupees ($1,109). The new iPhones kicked off with a midnight sale at an Apple Store in Mumbai. A late Thursday tweet by Apple CEO Tim Cook thanked “all our customers in India who queued at midnight for the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus!”

Security:

Malicious adware’s latest trick is replacing your whole browser – On Friday, infosec celebrity Swift on Security pointed out a new piece of adware called the “eFast Browser.” It does the kind of malicious crap that we’ve all seen quite often over the years: throwing pop-up and pop-under ads on your screen, putting other ads into your web pages, pushing you towards other websites with more malware, and (of course) tracking your movements on the web so that nefarious marketers can send more crap your way. But what’s nefariously intriguing about this software is that it isn’t trying to hijack your current browser, it’s straight-up replacing it. According to PCrisk, eFast and its ilk try to get on your computer by burrowing themselves into the installers for free software from dubious sources on the web. It should be relatively easy to avoid installing it and, fortunately, should also be relatively easy to uninstall if you’ve found it on your computer.

Report: Dow Jones suffered second, more serious hack – On October 9, Dow Jones revealed that it had been hacked and data belonging to about 3500 customers had been compromised as a result. According to a new report, a Russian hacking collective has breached Dow Jones in what appears to be a separate attack; the information comes from unnamed sources “familiar with the matter.” The hackers’ intent was to steal data for trading purposes, according to the sources. Three federal agencies are reportedly investigating the matter.

Flash’s latest critical vulnerability has been patched – Yesterday, Adobe issued a new security bulletin warning of a new vulnerability in Flash, this one affecting the latest version of the plugin. The vulnerability left Flash open to exploits through which hackers could gain access to a machine, or that could cause the computer to crash. As with some other recent Flash vulnerabilities, the issue affected Linux, Windows, and Mac users, spreading the risk all around.

Company News:

Appeals court rules that Google book scanning is fair use – It’s legal to scan books—even if you don’t own the copyright—the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit held today. The Authors’ Guild sued Google, saying that serving up search results from scanned books infringes on publishers’ copyrights, even though the search giant shows only restricted snippets of the work. The authors’ group said that Google’s book search isn’t transformative, that the snippets provide an illegal free substitute for their work, and that Google Books infringes their “derivative rights” in revenue they could gain from a “licensed search” market.

Court rules Uber’s app legal in London – London’s High Court ruled Friday that Uber’s app is not a fare meter and therefore does not break the law, a significant victory for the ride-hailing service facing legal challenges around the globe. Uber has long argued its GPS-reliant app isn’t the same thing as a “taximeter” that black cabs use to dictate the cost of a journey based on distance and wait time. Only licensed black cab and minicab drivers are permitted to use the meters to calculate fares in Britain’s capital.

University of Wisconsin-Madison wins $234 million from Apple in patent suit – A jury has decided that Apple must pay the University of Wisconsin-Madison $234 million for infringing one of its patents, Reuters reports. The final figure is much lower than the maximum damages set for the trial, and also lower than the $400 million the university had asked for, but it’s still one of the largest sums Apple has been ordered to pay in a patent trial. Apple is a big target for patent lawsuits, but cases are volatile and can drag on for many years through appeals. Earlier this year, for example, Apple lost a $532.9 million judgement to a patent licensing company, but the award was later voided. Even when Apple wins, its awards are not guaranteed. The company’s high-profile case against Samsung still isn’t over; in May, a federal court downsized Apple’s $930 million victory.

Steve Ballmer says he’s made investment in Twitter – The former Microsoft CEO opens a new, verified Twitter account and reveals he’s acquired a 4 percent ownership stake in the microblogging company. This would make him the third biggest investor in Twitter, with a greater stake than new Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who owns around 3 percent. The San Francisco-based microblogging company’s biggest shareholder is co-founder Evan Williams, who owns around 6.8 percent.

Tinder Owner Match Group Files To Go Public – Match Group, a spinoff of IAC that owns properties like Tinder and OKCupid, has filed to go public. The Dallas-based company is reporting trailing twelve months revenue of $1 billion ending June 30 this year, and revenue of $483.9 million for the first half of 2015. It had net earnings of $49 million in the first half of 2015, and trailing 12 month net earnings of $177.5 million. In 2014, it generated $888.3 million in revenue and $148.4 million in net earnings — so the company isn’t necessarily growing that quickly. The company says it has 59 million monthly active users, and about 4.7 million paid members, using its dating products as of the end of the third quarter this year.

Adobe to undo Lightroom change after customer wrath – It’s rare for major software companies to perform such abrupt U-turns, but Adobe decided to heed the advice of customers who didn’t like a significant new alteration.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch: Live-Action Fallout 4 Trailer – In preparation for next month’s launch of Fallout 4, Bethesda has released a live-action game trailer. With elements of the original computer-animated preview released in June, the new clip features a real Pip-Boy (personal information processor) wearing a Vault 111 jumpsuit, and his German Shepherd sidekick. In a post-apocalyptic world darkened by nuclear war, the pair wander a ravaged Boston, where survivors face angry zombies, armored soldiers, and the occasional android.

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‘Minecraft: Story Mode’ Arrives on iOS, Android – Episode One of the new adventure game, dubbed The Order of the Stone, is now available for all platforms except Wii U. That includes PC, Mac, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, and iOS. Mojang says the Wii U version is coming at some point “later on.” Set in the world of Minecraft, Story Mode “is like a playable television show based on your favorite game, where YOU are the star, and your choices and actions decide how the story is told,” according to the game’s description.

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Yoshi’s Woolly World reviewed: A warm, woolly platforming hug – Don’t let the cutesy visuals deceive you: Yoshi’s Woolly World is as challenging a platformer as anything to have come from Nintendo. This is a game that unashamedly plays on nostalgia, almost tricking you into thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s not a lot new to see or do within its delightfully bright and fluffy world. And sure, some occasionally obtuse level design and frustrating checkpoints mean that it doesn’t quite reach the glorious heights of its genre-defining forebears. But even with its problems, Yoshi’s Woolly World is so cute, and so mechanically refined—in that way only Nintendo platformers can be—that it’s so very hard not to be taken in by its charms.

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Tales from the Borderlands: Finale shown off in trailer – In a trailer released today, Telltale Games showed off Tales from the Borderlands – Finale: The Vault of the Traveler, the final installment of its game series. The game won’t be arriving for download until October 20, at which point it will drop for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, Mac OS X, and PC. The next day, October 21, it will be released for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. Finally, on October 22, the game will be released for Android and iOS, covering the gamut of gaming devices.

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Revisiting ‘Pirates of Silicon Valley’, the original Steve Jobs movie – This 1999 TV movie about the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft starred Noah Wyle as Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall as a calculating Bill Gates. Does it hold up today?

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Noah Wyle is an uncanny Steve Jobs (left) and Anthony Michael Hall is a steely Bill Gates in 1999’s “Pirates of Silicon Valley”. Turner Network Television.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Online ad industry, battling ad blockers, admits it messed up – After years of stuffing Web pages with ads, Web surfers are increasingly blocking them with free tools. The Internet Advertising Bureau is calling for better practices to stop alienating Web users. From one perspective, it could be argued that the online advertising industry is getting what it deserves. After years of having Web pages stuffed with ads, surfers are increasingly blocking them with free tools. The other perspective is that ads, like them or not, pay people to create content, which other people like on the Web. Since finding paying subscribers is hard, ads are a key source of online revenue for publishers. In a frank post on Thursday, a senior executive of the largest online advertising trade group admitted that the surge in online ads over the years—and the accompanying performance issues—have alienated many.

Amazing shot of pollen-covered honeybee eye wins Nikon competition – The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition lets us see the world up close. This year’s winner turned his lens on the eye of a honeybee.

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US government will reportedly require all drone purchases to be registered – The US government plans to make it a mandatory requirement that all drone purchases, including those made by consumers, be formally registered. NBC News reports that the Department of Transportation will announce the new plan on Monday, with hopes to have this drone registry implemented by the holidays, when drones will likely prove a popular gift. The Obama administration and DoT have yet to announce any such press conference for Monday.

Scoot Unleashes New Four-Wheeler Quad Cars On San Francisco Streets – Scoot, the San Francisco-based electric scooter ride share network, has teamed up with Nissan to create a four-wheeled two-seater enclosed vehicle onto the streets of San Francisco. Starting today, Scoot members have the option to rent one of these adorable little cars to get them anywhere in the 7×7. Known as the Scoot Quad, this is an all-electric vehicle that you can turn on with the push of your smartphone. Just 10 of these little vehicles are ready to hit the road – a paltry amount compared to the 400 some odd scooters in the network.

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Usher releases an interactive video on Tidal targeting police brutality – In an effort to show the stark realities of police brutality, Usher has created a visual experience called “Don’t Look Away” that details multiple high-profile incidents of police abuse against minorities in recent years. Centered around Usher’s new single “Chains” featuring Nas and Bibi Bourelly, the video uses your webcam to automatically stop playing if you look away or switch tabs that show the details of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, and others.

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This cheap camera can see details the naked eye can’t – A team of researchers from both the University of Washington and Microsoft Research have managed to build a camera capable of hyperspectral imaging, or photography that can capture parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that humans can’t see with the naked eye, such as near-infrared light. This kind of technology isn’t new, but to find it in a camera means it’s going to be very, very expensive. But the researchers have managed to build it as a smartphone accessory that costs no more than $50.

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Alan Turing: The man behind the myth – The nephew of Second World War codebreaker and father of computer science Alan Turing on what he discovered about his uncle when writing a new biography.

5 Thought Experiments That Will Melt Your Brain – Thought experiments help scientists find which questions they should be asking, even if they don’t yet have the tools to answer them. Many thought experiments delve into things like advanced physics principals (Schrödinger’s famous cat, for example), but there are also several which don’t require a PhD. Here are five mostly math-free thought experiments to melt your brain just a little (some of which science has caught up with, some of which still prompt debate). They may be fun to opine on, but keep in mind that these bits of rhetorical whimsy may have very real ramifications should science ever catch up.

Something to think about:

“A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.”

–    Mark Twain

Downloads:

CyberLink PhotoDirector 5 – PhotoDirector 5 is a unique photo editor that provides a streamlined photography workflow – efficient photo management, complete adjustment and creative editing tools, PhotoDirector lets you adjust your images in a non-destructive environment and provides all you need to turn your RAW images to works of art.

Photo Editing Redefined: PhotoDirector is the only modern photo editor that delivers editing, collection management and high-quality adjustments, fast import and export, HighDPI support, 2K and 4K video slideshows

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Manage Photos with Ease: Rich 16-bit color depth and faster decoding of RAW files, intelligent tagging, Auto-stack groups of shots, 64-bit display technology

Pro-Quality Adjustments: Adjust white balance, tone, curves, levels, hue, saturation and sharpness and more, use a brush, selection tool or gradient masks for regional adjustments

Creative Photo Editing: Get the perfect look with tools to smooth skin, whiten teeth and brighten eyes, take off extra pounds with the Body Shaper, remove unwanted people or objects from your photos with Content-Aware removal

The Most Creative Way to Manage, Adjust and Edit Photos in One Intuitive Application

PhotoDirector is a unique application that combines all the features you need for photography in a single workflow – efficient photo management, complete adjustment and creative editing. With native 64-bit support, PhotoDirector enhances your photos in a non-destructive process, and RAW support for popular DSLRs and 4K Ultra output, PhotoDirector is all you need to turn your photos into works of art.

Intuitive and easy to use for Windows, Mac and Tablet

PhotoDirector presents a simple UI design that beginners to advanced users will enjoy. NEW HighDPI support for PC and Mac version ensures PhotoDirector looks great on today’s new high resolution monitors. The FREE PhotoDirector Mobile companion app lets you snap photos everywhere & edit anytime on Windows 8 tablets.

Nondestructive Editing Environment

PhotoDirector provides a nondestructive editing environment for you to experiment without the fear of damaging the original image. All adjustments that you make are actually simulations, so the original image is completely preserved.

In this time limited offer, this free application is available through WindowsDeal.com.

From the site:

WindowsDeal.com. is your software discount provider. You will find the best deals at the lowest prices. We feature top rated products on a regular basis as well as software giveaways.

By downloading this software you will be automatically registered to our free newsletter, you can unsubscribe at any time.

There’s a bit of a process involved – all leading to this.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How Much of Your Data Is Microsoft Sharing With the Feds? – What type of data is Microsoft handing over—or refusing to hand over—to law enforcement and the feds? Check it out for yourself on Redmond’s new Transparency Hub.

There you’ll find law enforcement requests, national security orders, and content removal demands; it currently has data covering the first six months of 2015.

Based on its analysis, the company said little has changed in the number of requests for customer data since the second half of last year: The total number of law enforcement requests grew from 31,002 to 35,228. But only 3 percent of those resulted in the disclosure of content.

“Microsoft does not disclose customer content without a court order or warrant,” the tech titan said, adding that the volume of requests rejected for not meeting legal requirements doubled to 4,383.

For the first time, Microsoft is publishing its content removal requests—most of which involve the removal of links from its Bing search engine.

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Germany will make telcos share customer data with the police – Even as the European Union attempts to tighten privacy laws, law-enforcement interests have won a battle in Germany: A new law forces communications service providers there to once again make data about their customers’ communications available to police.

On Friday morning, the German parliament approved a law requiring ISPs and mobile and fixed telecommunications operators to retain communications metadata for up to ten weeks.

The country has had an on-again, off-again affair with telecommunications data retention, first introducing a law requiring it in 2008 to comply with a European Union directive.

The German Federal Constitutional Court overturned that law in March 2010 after finding it conflicted with Germany’s privacy laws, prompting the European Commission to take the country to court in May 2012 to enforce the directive.

Google, Facebook and peers criticize CISA bill ahead of Senate consideration – A trade group representing Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other tech and communications companies has come down heavily against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, a controversial bill in the U.S. that is intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats with the government.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association claims that the mechanism CISA prescribes for the sharing of cyberthreat information does not adequately protect users’ privacy or put an appropriate limit on the permissible uses of information shared with the government.

The bill, in addition, “authorizes entities to employ network defense measures that might cause collateral harm to the systems of innocent third parties,” the CCIA said in a blog post Thursday.

CISA, which would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share cyberthreat data with the government, is due for consideration by the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks.

Critics of the bill are concerned that the provisions of the bill could be used by companies to hand over customers’ personal data to government intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency. Cyberthreat information-sharing may not have prevented several recent attacks on government agencies, according to experts.

A personal note:

If you are a Canadian, like me, please get out and vote today in the most important election in generations. It’s time to put a stop to the “Lost Decade” forced on this country by the criminal gang who refer to themselves as the Harper Government.

2 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – October 16, 2015

10 tips for spotting a phishing email;  How to set up Google’s Chrome browser the right way;  New free movies available in November;  Skype Now Lets Anyone Join A Chat Even If They Don’t Have An Account;  5 Tech Tips To Keep Your Digital Identity Safe While Traveling;  Five tools for working with text files;  5 Steps to Charge Your iPhone Faster;  Yahoo updates email apps with third-party account support, no passwords;  Amazon Trade-In: Fair value for your iPhone or scam?  Hands on with Paper, Dropbox’s answer to Google Docs;  Why do websites take so long to load?Microsoft will pay $200 for your old laptop, or $300 if it’s a MacBook;  New zero-day exploit hits fully patched Adobe Flash;  JetBlue adds free Wi-Fi, says it can handle streaming video;  Blizzard’s Overwatch Beta Begins Oct. 27;  Radio wave gun zaps drones out of the sky – and it’s perfectly legal;  Avast Free Mobile Security;  Cybercrime bazaars: What’s for sale in the online underworld?  Acer’s first Windows 10 smartphone ships with a keyboard and mouse.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 tips for spotting a phishing email – Every day countless phishing emails are sent to unsuspecting victims all over the world. While some of these messages are so outlandish that they are obvious frauds, others can be a bit more convincing. So how do you tell the difference between a phishing message and a legitimate message? Unfortunately, there is no one single technique that works in every situation, but there are a number of things that you can look for. This article lists 10 of them.

Skype Now Lets Anyone Join A Chat Even If They Don’t Have An Account – Microsoft announced today, detailing a new feature that will allow users to invite anyone – even those who don’t have a Skype account – to use the service via the Skype for Web interface. Invitees won’t have to create an account or download an app, but can instead join a chat as a guest simply by clicking a link. As a part of this rollout, Skype is introducing unique links that can be used to invite others to chats. The links can be shared however you choose – in email, via apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter or WhatsApp, or anywhere else that makes sense. In the case of those without Skype accounts, they’ll be able to sign in to a chat as a guest by typing in their name then clicking “Join.”

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5 Gmail helpers that make your inbox more productive – The best intentions for a productive workday are usually derailed by email. The pervasiveness of the problem has even prompted some nations to call it an “epidemic.” But it email doesn’t have to be the enemy. With Gmail’s built-in features and some assistance from third-party tools, you can not only get your workflow back on track but transform your inbox into a productivity powerhouse. Here are five you should start using with your Gmail account immediately.

5 Steps to Charge Your iPhone Faster – Constantly tethered to a wall, trying to give your iPhone extra juice? Here are some tricks that will speed up the charging process.

Amazon Trade-In: Fair value for your iPhone or scam? – I mailed in a mint condition iPhone 6 for Amazon credit only to see the value degraded by the online retail giant. And it’s happened more than once and with increasing frequency.

Acer’s first Windows 10 smartphone ships with a keyboard and mouse – Open the box for just about any smartphone on the market, and you’ll generally find a charger, a charging cable, some reading material, and maybe a set of earbuds. Acer’s Jade Primo, on the other hand, comes with a keyboard and mouse. A full-sized keyboard and mouse, just like the ones you’d receive in the box with one of Acer’s Revo or Aspire desktop computers. Why would they bother including PC accessories with a smartphone? Because the Jade Primo runs Windows 10, and it’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor that can handle that slick Continuum feature we’ve told you about before.

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Five tools for working with text files – Although text files are undoubtedly useful, they are somewhat limited when it comes to function. Thankfully, a number of utilities can convert, edit, or manipulate them. This article lists five such tools.

How to set up Google’s Chrome browser the right way – Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers in the world, second only to Internet Explorer by most measures. Why? Lay credit at the feet of Chrome’s vibrant extension catalog, popular app platform, and deep integration with Google services. It’s a fantastic browser, but just as with Firefox there’s an ideal way to get the most out of Chrome. Here’s how to set up Chrome the right way.

Yahoo updates email apps with third-party account support, no passwords – Yahoo has just announced a big update to its email apps on all platforms, including desktop, iOS and Android. Among the changes are a refreshed user interface, the ability to use multiple email accounts, including non-Yahoo services, brand new mobile apps, and the elimination of passwords for more secure sign-ins. The new iOS and Android apps are rolling out globally to their respective app marketplaces, and Yahoo says today’s changes are about making email easier and faster to use.

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Online ad industry, battling ad blockers, admits it messed up – From one perspective, it could be argued that the online advertising industry is getting what it deserves. After years of stuffing Web pages with ads, Web surfers are increasingly blocking them with free tools.

Hands on with Paper, Dropbox’s answer to Google Docs – Today Dropbox took the wraps off of Paper, its new collaborative editing software. It builds on the company’s acquisition of Hackpad, which led to the introduction earlier this year of a beta product it then called Notes. After we wrote about Paper earlier today, a person with early access to the web app invited us into the beta. We’ve spent the past few hours making documents, adding comments, and trolling each other with animated stickers, and have some early thoughts to share.

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Microsoft will pay $200 for your old laptop, or $300 if it’s a MacBook – Microsoft has launched a promotion called Easy Trade Up designed to get people to switch to new Windows 10 machines. If you buy a qualifying computer from the Microsoft Store for over $599 until October 20th, the company will give you a rebate after you send in your old laptop or all-in-one — you’ll get $200 for a Windows computer, and $300 for a MacBook. Your trade-in computer has to be under six years old and in working order with a minimum display size of 11.6 inches. The offer is running in the US, UK, Canada, India, Brazil, France, Germany, and Taiwan.

There’s a new Popcorn Time-like free music streaming site, and RIAA sues – That didn’t take long. The Recording Industry Association of America is suing a new music piracy site for the truly lazy only days after its debut. Aurous is a Popcorn Time-like player that allows pirates to stream from an overseas library of pirated music. Popcorn Time, on the other hand, performs a similar service for movie pirates—and its users are in the crosshairs of the movie industry. The recording industry is asking (PDF) a federal judge to shutter the Aurous service.

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Why do websites take so long to load? – There are a few obvious reasons why a page might be slow to load. It could be graphics-heavy or bogged down with animation, auto-loading videos, or other bells and whistles. Ads, particularly those of the auto-play video variety, can slow down load time considerably. Or hey, it might even be a problem with your internet connection. But there’s a hidden issue that may be causing delays. The JavaScript code might be outdated, unnecessarily bulky, or even gaming the analytics.

Live GIF Turns iPhone 6s Live Photos Into Shareable GIFs – It was only a matter of time — and frankly not that much time — before a developer stepped in to make it super simple for iPhone 6s/6s Plus users to spread their Live Photos all over the Internets as animated GIFs. After all, what’s the point of having clips of your cat/kid doing cute stuff if they’re mostly languishing on your camera roll, rather than helping populate Giphy et al? Live Photos, for those in need of a quick primer, is a photo feature specific to Apple’s latest smartphones which let users snap a picture and simultaneously record a short video clip.

These jailbreak hacks will make your iPhone 6 more like an iPhone 6S – If you want the iPhone 6S’s new features but aren’t buying the new phone, you’re kind of in luck: a jailbreak was released for iOS 9 this week, and some of the first hacks for it bring 3D Touch and Live Photos to all iPhones.

California launches site to help victims of revenge porn – California is ramping up its war on revenge porn by giving victims new tools for fighting back. State Attorney General Kamala Harris said Wednesday that her office has partnered with tech companies and law enforcement agencies to create an online resources hub to help people remove unauthorized explicit photographs or videos of themselves from the Internet. The hub will also help tech companies develop policies to prevent posting of exploitative images, as well as educate local law enforcement on how to investigate and prosecute revenge-porn cases.

Security:

New zero-day exploit hits fully patched Adobe Flash – Adobe officials have confirmed this vulnerability affects Flash version 19.0.0.207, which was released on Tuesday. The vulnerability has been cataloged as CVE-2015-7645. The company expects to release a fix next week. Attackers are exploiting a previously unknown vulnerability in fully patched versions of Adobe’s Flash Player so they can surreptitiously install malware on end users’ computers, security researchers warned Tuesday. So far, the attacks are known to target only government agencies as part of a long-running espionage campaign carried out by a group known as Pawn Storm, researchers from antivirus provider Trend Micro said in a blog post published Tuesday.

Hackers siphon off $31 million from British bank accounts – Crime agencies from across Europe partner with the FBI to investigate and shut down the spread of Dridex banking malware.

Cyberattacks will cost U.S. health systems $305 billion – Cyberattacks over the next five years will cost U.S. health systems $305 billion in cumulative lifetime revenue. Accenture estimates that one in 13 patients – roughly 25 million people – will have personal information, such as social security or financial records, stolen from technology systems over the next five years.

Perch turns phones, tablets, laptops into home monitors – Even before houses started getting smarter, home monitoring systems were already a thing, at least for those with something worth keeping an eye on. Whether for keeping an eye on the kids to keeping watch over valuables, such systems usually required some camera and computer combo to be installed, either by professionals or DIY. Today, however, most households have spare smartphones or tablets lying around unused. With Perch, you can put them to work again, to create an easy to use, and cheaper, home monitor.

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Researchers use Siri and Google Now to silently hijack phones from a distance – You may already be aware that allowing Siri or Google Now to run on your lockscreen is a security risk. A pair of researchers have just shown why: they can hijack your phone from a distance thanks to your virtual assistant. The duo who developed this incredible new attack work for France’s National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (abbreviated ANSSI in French). It’s an incredibly novel approach: they exploited the wire in earbuds/headphones and turned it into an antenna that could receive silent transmissions and feed instructions to Siri and Google now.

5 Tech Tips To Keep Your Digital Identity Safe While Traveling – Every few weeks it seems there is another major security breach that makes its way to front-page news. In the wake of these increasing security breaches, more consumers have been looking for ways to protect their online privacy and security. One area that specifically presents a whole host of security concerns (both physical and digital) is travel. You aren’t just a prime target to get your wallet stolen, but you’re also at risk to have your online identity compromised. Fortunately, there are myriad methods to keep you safe and secure while traveling.

Company News:

AMD announces quarterly loss of $197 million, its fourth straight loss – On Thursday, the ever-struggling AMD announced its fourth straight quarterly loss—at $197 million—putting total losses for the first nine months of 2015 at $557 million. Over the last 17 years, the company has sustained a total net loss of nearly $8 billion. As part of the earnings release, the company also announced a new joint venture with Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics for assembly and testing. The Chinese company has acquired an 85 percent share in AMD’s two facilities Penang, Malaysia, and Suzhou, China facilities, which will net AMD around $371 million. The new venture seems like yet another desperate move on the part of the chipmaker that once saw itself as a scrappy underdog to Intel.

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Microsoft teams up with PC makers to launch ‘PC Does What?’ campaign – Microsoft is partnering with Intel, HP, Dell, and Lenovo in a big marketing push to get consumers to buy new PCs with Windows 10. All five companies are contributing to a new campaign called “PC Does What?,” that’s designed to target consumers who have four- or five year-old computers. Intel claims there are around 500 million old machines out there, and naturally all of the companies involved want consumers to upgrade. The marketing campaign will launch initially on October 19th in the US and China, which is around 50 percent of the entire PC market.

iOS App Store Revenue Now 80 Percent Higher Than Google Play, Thanks To China – The move to larger-screened iPhones has led to China becoming Apple’s most important market, according to a new report from App Annie analyzing the impact the country has had on App Store revenues in the region since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last year. According to the analytics firm’s findings, China led all countries in absolute growth in the third quarter of this year versus the prior quarter, in terms of both iOS app downloads and revenue. Meanwhile, Google Play still leads in sheer number of downloads thanks to growth in emerging markets like India and Southeast Asia, though iOS is still tops when it comes to revenue. In other words, the Asian app economy is impacting both the iOS App Store and Google Play, but it’s pushing the two down different paths.

JetBlue adds free Wi-Fi, says it can handle streaming video – In-flight Wi-Fi has a reputation for being painfully slow and overpriced, but JetBlue says its new Wi-Fi service is both fast and free. As of this week, JetBlue’s “Fly-Fi” satellite Internet service is installed on all 150 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. The airline aims to install Fly-Fi on 60 E190 planes—the rest of its fleet—by the end of 2016.

Games and Entertainment:

New free movies available in November – There’s a service out there that’s free and legal and has lots of awesome movies including “Glory” and “King Kong.”

Blizzard’s Overwatch Beta Begins Oct. 27 – Almost a year after its unveiling, Blizzard’s Overwatch beta officially begins on Oct. 27. Interested gamers can sign up online. “We’re aiming to accomplish two primary goals with our public beta test,” Blizzard said in a blog post: get “tons of top-notch feedback” on the gameplay, and “hammer the heck out of our tech” by stress-testing the server infrastructure and measuring system variety. In an effort to cover as many bases as possible, Blizzard will split participants into two factions, each with different objectives and deployment schedules. A Closed Beta group forms the core crew, while a number of Beta Test Weekends will include wider teams of players “when it’s time to break out the big guns.”

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Amazon’s 2015 Fire TV: Finally, Amazon gets the streaming box right – A year and a half later, well after the launch of the simpler, cheaper, and more modest Fire TV Stick, the Amazon Fire TV returns with new hardware and new features. And the whole package once again revolves around the same trifecta of promises: voice, power, and gaming. This time, at least, two of those promised boosts are backed by more than numbers, with the “voice” part receiving some Alexa-flavored love and the “power” part being proven by some incredible streaming-content speeds, not to mention 4K compatibility. These boosts all come for the same price as last year’s model: $99. Still, any Fire-branded device comes with the caveat of Amazon’s weird app universe and Fire OS’ interface design. This year’s Fire TV is no exception, but for once, something with the “Fire” brand finally offers some clear advantages compared to the competition. Are its interface and connectivity tradeoffs worth it?

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Cord cutters will be disappointed with the New Xbox Experience – Microsoft is preparing to introduce a major revamp to its Xbox One software, and they’ve made a preview version available to garner feedback about the changes. The company has made lots of positive user-interface improvements on the gaming side, but I can’t say the same about the video side. To its credit, Microsoft is doing lots of great stuff for cord cutters on the Xbox One, including an official over-the-air TV tuner, a broadcast DVR (coming next year), and a solid app selection. But the so-called New Xbox Experience makes navigating these TV features needlessly complicated.

NBCU Debuts “SeeSo,” A New Subscription Streaming Service For Comedy Fans – The number of niche video streaming services continues to grow in the shadow of major players like Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Hulu. Today, NBCUniversal tossed its hat into the ring with the debut of “SeeSo,” an over-the-top, ad-free subscription based streaming service that will focus exclusively on comedy. The service, which will soon be available on the web, on mobile, and other connected devices and streaming media platforms, will cost $3.99 per month. It will feature shows like “Saturday Night Live,” the U.S. and U.K. versions of “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” NBC’s late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, “The Kids in the Hall,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” plus stand-up specials and over 20 original series.

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YouTube Gaming debuts Android gameplay streaming, paid subscriptions – Just as was promised last month at the Tokyo Game Show, the YouTube Gaming service has been updated with the impressive new feature of allowing gameplay from Android devices to be broadcast live to viewers. This is the latest move in YouTube’s attempt to keep up with rival game broadcasting service Twitch, which is most popular on PC and consoles. The best part is that YouTube Gaming doesn’t require any additional hardware or apps, as Android device users can simply start broadcasting with a single tap.

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NVIDIA GeForce Experience splits from standard GPU drivers – Starting on December 1st, 2015, NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience will require that you provide an email address to download game-ready drivers. For the less enthusiast-based crew of gamers out in the wild, standard drivers will still be available through the GeForce Experience website from NVIDIA. In addition to this, GeForce Experience will have a big jump in quality for GameStream experience – straight up to 4K.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Science Points to the Single Most Valuable Personality Trait – Research is pointing to conscientiousness as the one-trait-to-rule-them-all in terms of future success, both career-wise and personal. What is it? Basically, it’s being “efficient, organized, neat, and systematic”: Conscientiousness is the state of being thorough, careful, or vigilant; it implies a desire to do a task well. Conscientiousness is also one trait of the five-factor model of personality, and is manifested in characteristic behaviors such as being efficient, organized, neat, and systematic. It includes such elements as self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, self-organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement.

Cybercrime bazaars: What’s for sale in the online underworld? – Intel Security has published a study that aims to shed light on the business deals, negotiations and pricing involved in the hidden underworld of the cybercrime economy. The Hidden Data Economy report (PDF), follows years of close work with law enforcement and ongoing monitoring of online platforms, communities and marketplaces where stolen data is hidden and sold. The report contains details of what is available on the cyber black market, including PayPal accounts, credit/debit card data and more. Bank log-in details prices vary from $190 (£120) for an account worth $2,200 (£1,500) to $1,200 (£800) for one worth $31,000 (£20,000). Average estimated price for stolen credit and debit cards ran at between $5 and $30 in the United States; $20 and $35 in the United Kingdom; $20 and $40 in Canada; $21 and $40 in Australia; and $25 and $45 in the European Union.

Radio wave gun zaps drones out of the sky – and it’s perfectly legal – US biz Battelle boasts it has found a way to rid our skies of annoying drones without breaking the flying machines’ hardware. And here’s the solution: DroneDefender, a shoulder-mounted weapon that sends pulses of radio waves to disrupt communications between the drone and its operator. The electro-magnetic cannon, which has a range of about 400 metres, causes the flying bot to enter a manufacturer-set safety mode, which typically either lands it or returns it to its starting point. “We were very adamant about not doing damage,” Alex Morrow, technical director on the product, told The Register. “The device uses proprietary electronics to create a signal that’s disruptive to the drone and breaks the link between the drone and its controller. There’s no damage to the drone.”

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16 Oct 2015 at 00:55, Iain Thomson

China to consume nearly 30% of the world’s flash, 21% of DRAM – Chinese domestic DRAM and NAND flash consumption is dramatically increasing with the rise in popularity of Chinese PCs and smartphones, according to a new report from TrendForce. China this year will purchase $12 billion worth of DRAM and $6.67 billion worth of NAND flash, representing 21.6% and 29.1% of the global revenues for those markets, respectively. According to TrendForce’s smartphone shipment report for the third quarter of this year, seven of the world’s top 10 smartphone vendors hail from China. Chinese smartphone vendors also need greater amounts of memory as the majority of them produce Android devices, which require more mobile DRAM than Apple’s iOS devices, the report states.

Mind your analytics – or get ready for ethical hot water – It’s no secret that the implications of big data extend far beyond organizational benefits into the societal and ethical realm, but market researcher Gartner predicts that the improper use of big data analytics will cause half of all business ethics violations by 2018. Organizations could suffer loss of reputation, wasted resources, competitive weakness and even legal sanctions as a result, Gartner said. The best-known example in this area may be the oft-told case of Target’s pregnancy-prediction algorithm, which led the retail giant to deduce that a 15-year-old girl in Minnesota was expecting a baby. It wasn’t until the girl began receiving coupons for baby-related items that her family caught on.

Evolve Heated Hoodie keeps wearer warm with USB battery – Winter is coming, and for those in the colder regions of the land, that means snow and ice and layers upon layers of clothes. Depending on where you live, the temperature might get exceedingly cold, but piling on a sweater and then a hoodie and then a winter jacket is cumbersome, uncomfortable, and looks ridiculous. Enter the Evolve Heated Hoodie, which is a simple hoodie that uses a battery power bank to warm up from the inside out. The heated hoodie has a single flexible heating panel built into the back, and another panel built into the chest region. They are powered by a standard power bank with a 2.1a output over USB…meaning that portable battery you picked up for emergencies could probably keep your jacket warm.

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Watch This Self-Steering Tesla Model S Drive Itself (And Us) Down The Highway – For months now, Tesla has been saying that their cars would soon pick up a whole new trick: autopilot. Later this week, the first of those features will hit Tesla’s fleet — but we’ve already taken them for a spin. We went hands-on (hands-off?) with a pre-release version of the autopilot software, letting the car steer itself down the highway at 70 miles per hour. One big thing to make clear: these features don’t turn the Model S into a full blown self-driving car. You won’t be punching in your destination and laying back for a nap; instead, these features are meant more to make your long highway commutes less painful. Elon Musk says he sees full automation coming within about 3 years; this is just a big first step. So what can it do for now?

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Online US fantasy sports wagering is booming, but it’s at a crossroads – The major topic that stood out at the gambling industry’s biggest trade show—the G2E Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas over two weeks ago—was the future of online fantasy sports wagering. It’s a $3.7 billion-a-year business already and is expected to reach nearly $18 billion in wagering by 2020, Eilers Research says. But because so much money is being made—and there are so many questions about its authenticity—many leaders in the betting industry and politicians are questioning the legality of the fantasy sports wagering business.

Something to think about:

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

–      Franklin D. Roosevelt

Downloads:

Avast Free Mobile Security – Much of your life is on your mobile devices – banking information, private messages and photos – so protect everything for free with Avast.

Security for data and devices – Not only do you get world-class hacker protection, but you’re also protected against privacy loss and identity theft. With Avast Free Mobile Security, you can back up personal data and track your phone or sound an alarm if it’s lost or stolen.

Lock specific apps – Add an extra layer of security by locking personal apps like Amazon, Facebook, or WhatsApp.

Filter incoming calls and SMS – Block specific numbers from calling or messaging you.

Remote lock and wipe – If your phone can’t be found, lock it and completely wipe it clean so thieves can’t take advantage of you.

Pointing up   The list of features is so extensive that it would take 3 full pages just to list them all. I encourage you to check this one out.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How the NSA can break trillions of encrypted Web and VPN connections – For years, privacy advocates have pushed developers of websites, virtual private network apps, and other cryptographic software to adopt the Diffie-Hellman cryptographic key exchange as a defense against surveillance from the US National Security Agency and other state-sponsored spies. Now, researchers are renewing their warning that a serious flaw in the way the key exchange is implemented is allowing the NSA to break and eavesdrop on trillions of encrypted connections.

The cost for adversaries is by no means modest. For commonly used 1024-bit keys, it would take about a year and cost a “few hundred million dollars” to crack just one of the extremely large prime numbers that form the starting point of a Diffie-Hellman negotiation. But it turns out that only a few primes are commonly used, putting the price well within the NSA’s $11 billion-per-year budget dedicated to “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities.”

“Since a handful of primes are so widely reused, the payoff, in terms of connections they could decrypt, would be enormous,” researchers Alex Halderman and Nadia Heninger wrote in a blog post published Wednesday. “Breaking a single, common 1024-bit prime would allow NSA to passively decrypt connections to two-thirds of VPNs and a quarter of all SSH servers globally. Breaking a second 1024-bit prime would allow passive eavesdropping on connections to nearly 20% of the top million HTTPS websites. In other words, a one-time investment in massive computation would make it possible to eavesdrop on trillions of encrypted connections.”

Google, Facebook and peers criticize CISA bill ahead of Senate consideration – A trade group representing Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other tech and communications companies has come down heavily against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, a controversial bill in the U.S. that is intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats with the government.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association claims that the mechanism CISA prescribes for the sharing of cyberthreat information does not adequately protect users’ privacy or put an appropriate limit on the permissible uses of information shared with the government.

The bill, in addition, “authorizes entities to employ network defense measures that might cause collateral harm to the systems of innocent third parties,” the CCIA said in a blog post Thursday.

CISA, which would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share cyberthreat data with the government, is due for consideration by the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks.

Critics of the bill are concerned that the provisions of the bill could be used by companies to hand over customers’ personal data to government intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency. Cyberthreat information-sharing may not have prevented several recent attacks on government agencies, according to experts.

Fallout from EU-US Safe Harbor ruling will be dramatic and far-reaching – In the wake of last week’s dramatic judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which means that transatlantic data transfers made under the Safe Harbour agreement are likely to be ruled illegal across the EU, there has been no shortage of apocalyptic visions claiming that e-commerce—and even the Internet itself—was doomed. Companies are already finding alternative, if imperfect, ways to transfer personal data from the EU to the US, although a very recent data protection ruling in Germany suggests that one approach—using contracts—is unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny. But what’s being overlooked are the much wider implications of the court’s ruling, which reach far beyond e-commerce.

The careful legal reasoning used by the CJEU to reach its decisions will make its rulings extremely hard, if not impossible, to circumvent, since they are based on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. As the European Commission’s page on the Charter explains: “The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU brings together in a single document the fundamental rights protected in the EU.” Once merely aspirational, the Charter attained a new importance in December 2009: “with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Charter became legally binding on the EU institutions and on national governments, just like the EU Treaties themselves.”

By anchoring its ruling in the principles underlying the Charter, the CJEU has cleverly ensured that it cannot be overturned simply by bringing in new laws, since those laws must themselves comply with the Charter.

No change in US law, no data transfer deals – German state DPA – The data protection authority at the German federal state of Schleswig Holstein has declared that any and all data protection workarounds for the transfer of data to the US after the European Court of Justice’s Schrems v Facebook judgment are going to be illegal.

In its first declaration on the post-Schrems legal landscape, the influential DPA says in a written opinion (in German) that only a change in US law can make US companies compliant with European legislation and has advised companies to adjust their business relationships accordingly.

It has warned businesses and governmental bodies that they may be fined up to €300,000 for the transfer of personal data to the US “without a legal basis”.

UK refuses Assange safe passage to hospital – The UK government on Wednesday denied WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange safe passage from Ecuador’s embassy in London to a nearby hospital to diagnose shoulder pain. The 44-year-old Assange has been granted asylum from Ecuador, and he has been holed up at the embassy there since 2012 as Swedish authorities wish to question him about an alleged sexual-assault.

The British decision, announced by the Public News Agency of Ecuador and South America, came as Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño told state TV that the UK should honor the request to enable Assange to “benefit from the right of asylum that we have granted him, as should be done in a respectful international relationship.” Assange has been at the embassy for three years because he fears he eventually could be sent to the United States and face charges related to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks if he were to leave the embassy’s grounds.

Security service access to personal data? Sure, why not? says Romania – Amid intense global debates about surveillance and online privacy, Romania has decided to give its state authorities access to personal data, such as phone-call metadata, equipment IDs, and localization.

Under a controversial new law, dubbed ‘Big Brother’ by the local media, state authorities in Romania will soon have a right to access citizens’ data stored by telecoms and internet providers.

The act was signed by Romanian president Klaus Iohannis last week, after being successively passed by the two chambers of the country’s parliament in September. Now, it just needs to be published in the Official Journal of Romania to come into effect three days later.

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