Tag Archives: Amazon Prime

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – May 25, 2015

Who’s That? Facebook Messenger Adds ‘Caller ID’;  Boat safely with the help of the US Coast Guard mobile app;  14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure;  iOS 9 will work with your old iPhone;  Tips for buying used and unlocked phones;  How your iPhone can help you in a medical emergency;  5 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Don’t Know About;  Meet OneClip, Microsoft’s cross-platform universal clipboard;  Here’s the 1 Trick to Getting People to Like Your Photos;  2.8 million victims squared up by malicious Minecraft;  Database of 4 million Adult Friend Finder users leaked for all to see;  Watch a robot sew a grape’s skin back on;  Google patents kids toys with hidden microphones, cameras;  IC3 urges social media users to beware: scams and fraud are surging;  These 20 deep, absorbing PC games will eat days of your life;   Russia threatens to block Google, Facebook, and Twitter if they don’t turn over blogger data;  IceCream Media Converter (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Boat safely and keep others informed with the help of the US Coast Guard mobile app – Boating season kicks off this weekend and while many recreational boaters do not have advanced navigation and communications equipment, they do have a smartphone. Install the USCG mobile app to stay informed and improve safety.

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Who’s That? Facebook Messenger Adds ‘Caller ID’ – Do you have so many friends on Facebook that sometimes you forget who they are? Me neither, but some people are super popular and need a reminder about whether they’re talking to Matt from work, Matt from college, or Matt from the bar last weekend. For those folks, Facebook is adding “caller ID” for Facebook Messenger. Now, when someone contacts you on the chat app, Facebook will display a larger photo and identifying information.

How your iPhone can help you in a medical emergency – The Health app on your iPhone can be of help in a medical crisis. But you need to make sure your medical data stored in the app is accessible to a doctor or hospital. Here’s how to do just that.

iOS 9 will work with your old iPhone – Apple’s next iPhone and iPad software tipped to focus on quality, will work on older devices. Word this week is that the next operating system suite for Apple mobile and desktop machines will be aimed at delivering a highest-quality experience to the user. Not that Apple products with iOS or OS X didn’t promise this before, but this round it’s suggested that every product released over the past several years will be getting onboard with the same top-notch quality experience, working well top to bottom.

Tips for buying used and unlocked phones – Summary:You can save money and pick up some quality hardware if you know where to shop and what to avoid. Matthew Miller has the details.

5 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Don’t Know About – Every year when my Amazon Prime membership is about to auto-renew, like the tens of millions of other members, I take a step back and wonder if the $99 per year price is worth it. So what keeps me re-upping my subscription? There’s a slew of other Amazon Prime benefits that, when all added up, are worth much more than the shipping savings alone. Here are five of the lesser-known Prime perks:

Google’s new ‘Literata’ font makes ebooks beautiful – You expect different fonts in the books you read than on the Web pages you read, and so it is common for some fonts to only be found in books — they’re tailored for the long-form reading experience, and altogether visually pleasant. Apple will reportedly be switching up its system fonts for better readability, and Google is doing something similar with its Google Play Books specifically. The Internet giant has unveiled a new font specifically for ebooks, and it’s called “Literata”.

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See all 38 new Emoji here, before Unicode approves – The newest batch of proposed Emoji have been released (in proposal mode) this morning. These 38 new images include such gems as Drooling Face, Raised Back of Hand, and Croissant. The list includes notes about proposed popularity, including suggestions based on Google searches. Imagine how popular a Selfie Emoji will be with Google hits at 233,000,000 in text and 138,000,000 in images. People want these tiny representations of complex ideas, and they want them now. Immediately! Before they have to resort to words!

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Ed Bott: With build 10122, Windows 10 finally starts coming together – Summary:It’s not a release candidate, but the latest Windows 10 preview has plenty of interesting new features and apps to explore. Here are some first impressions on what’s improved and what’s still missing in action.

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Meet OneClip, Microsoft’s cross-platform universal clipboard – Microsoft is working on a new app called OneClip and the app lets you copy contents from any device to another, regardless of the platform and we have gotten our hands on the new product.

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Instagram ‘highlights’ emails hitting your inbox soon – Instagram is getting on board with email. The popular social network started sending out “highlights” emails to some of its users this month. Like Twitter’s similar “best of” emails, the messages serve up a sort of recap of what’s been going on in your social network. More importantly for Instagram, the emails serve as a way to keep the photo sharing service at the front of users’ minds. An email here or there can help occasional users interact with the service without committing to opening the app every day or week.

Here’s the 1 Trick to Getting People to Like Your Photos – Researchers at Yahoo, in partnership with a professor at Georgia Tech, have published a new study analyzing how filters impact engagement on Yahoo’s photo-sharing site Flickr. According to the study, filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed than non-filtered photos and 45% more likely to be commented on. Photos with filters that project warm colors tend to drive more engagement than cooler filters (though we’re unconvinced anyone ever “likes” photos filtered with Kelvin, the overly orange tint available on Instagram)

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Multitask like a champ with PinTasking on pre-Android Lollipop devices – PinTasking makes switching between two frequently used apps on a KitKat or earlier device a breeze. See how simple it is to use this free Android multitasking app.

One year with the Surface Pro 3: The best computer I have ever owned – I bought my Surface Pro 3 in May 2014 and it quickly became my primary computer for my home office, while accompanying me on 20 out-of-town trips. It’s my only tablet, with an iPad Mini and Nexus 9 coming and going because they were redundant and offered less. I’ve used my Surface Pro 3 in a number of different ways and in different situations so let me take you through my last year of usage.

Security:

14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure: Often, open-source software is the most secure – The latest Edward Snowden leaks have shown that the oldest, least funded open-source technologies are still able to hold out against intrusions and exploits by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Open-source offers one major benefit over their closed-source counterparts: The code is public and available for inspection, and therefore can’t as easily include secret backdoors for surveillance. Here are some of those (as of yet) still secure apps, services, and technologies that can keep you safe online.

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OpenDNS aims to offer malware and botnet protection, and Web filtering to home users. This can help prevent gaining access to sites that are honeypots for hackers, or might put users at risk. And best of all, it’s free.

Database of 4 million Adult Friend Finder users leaked for all to see – E-mail addresses, sexual orientations, and other sensitive details from almost four million AdultFriendFinder.com subscribers have been leaked onto the Internet following a hack that rooted the casual dating service, security researchers said. The cache includes more than 3.8 million unique e-mail addresses of current and former subscribers, Australian security researcher Troy Hunt reported early Friday morning. The data, which is in the form of 15 Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, was first seeded to anonymous sites hosted on the Tor privacy network. It has since spread to sites on the open Internet. Links to sites hosting the data are easily found on Twitter and other social networking sites, (Ars isn’t publishing the locations).

2.8 million victims squared up by malicious Minecraft apps – ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko says a whopping 2.8 million users have downloaded malicious Minecraft Android applications. Stefanko found 30 malicious apps uploaded to the Google Play store over nine months masquerading as Minecraft cheats and tip guides. Stefanko says “… several of them were installed between 100,000 and 500,000 times and the total number of installations of all 33 scareware applications lies between 660,000 and 2,800,000.”

IC3 urges social media users to beware: scams and fraud are surging – 12% of the 269,422 complaints received in 2014 had a social media aspect, be it doxing, clickjacking or pharming. Here’s how to stay safe.

How one US Embassy staffer allegedly sextorted hundreds from his desk – An American staffer at the United States Embassy in London has been accused of running a sextortion scheme—amazingly, primarily from his heavily monitored, government-owned work computer. Despite this, the embassy’s network security protocol apparently failed to flag the man’s behavior. Ford faces federal charges of stalking, extortion, and computer fraud, among others. To be clear, he is not accused of extorting money. During his detention hearing, according to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, the native Georgian is suspected of harassing hundreds of women, primarily university students.

Canadian teen pleads guilty to 23 charges for online harassment, bomb threats – A Canadian teen has pleaded guilty to 12 charges this week related to online harassment and “swatting” families across the US and Canada in 2013 and 2014. He had previously pleaded guilty to 11 other charges, bringing the total to 23 counts of extortion, public mischief, and criminal harassment. His actions, outlined in detail by Tri City News, follow a pattern of threats, doxing, and swatting. He would threaten his victims, hack their social media accounts and tweet out personal information, and then call the police to demand a ransom, while claiming to have bombs or guns at the homes of his victims. He also admitted to a bomb hoax that shut down Disneyland’s Space Mountain last year.

Company News:

BlackBerry slashes smartphone workforce – BlackBerry is axing jobs across its smartphone business, as the ailing Canadian company attempts to coax out a profit amid dwindling demand. The job losses, confirmed by BlackBerry this week, are a result of moves to “consolidate our device software, hardware and applications business,” a spokesperson for the firm said, with a renewed focus on pushing software and licensing revenues rather than relying on handsets that have singularly failed to set enterprise or consumer markets alight.

Google patents kids toys with hidden microphones, cameras – If your laptop’s webcam staring back at you gives you the willies, Google’s newly patented connected kids toys will bring a whole new level of creepiness. The patent details “an anthropomorphic device, perhaps in the form factor of a doll or toy, [that] may be configured to control one or more media devices.” Joining the description is an illustration showing a stuffed teddy bear and bunny rabbit with embedded microphones, cameras, speakers, and motors. We’ve a copy of the illustration after the jump!

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Microsoft’s Salesforce.com acquisition falls through due to price disagreements – The buyout, had it gone through, would have been the largest software company sale in history. According to sources familiar with the talks, Marc Benioff kept raising the price and at point wanted as high as $70 billion for the company, placing it well above Microsoft’s $55 billion offer. This large gap between what Microsoft was willing to pay and what Salesforce was seeking is reportedly the main reason the companies failed to reach an agreement.

AT&T et al challenging net neutrality order on 1st Amendment grounds – In a statement of issues that AT&T intends to raise when the case moves further into the court process, the company said last week that it plans on challenging whether the FCC’s net neutrality order “violates the terms of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the First and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution.” The First and Fifth Amendment will be used to attack the FCC’s decision to reclassify both fixed and mobile broadband as common carrier services, as well as the FCC’s assertion of authority over how ISPs interconnect with other networks.

Games and Entertainment:

These 20 deep, absorbing PC games will eat days of your life – Far too many games these days are built to be played in small bursts: brief encounters, designed for a world with too few hours in the day and too many digital distractions. And that’s fine! Blasting through a few rounds of Call of Duty multiplayer, or playing a few run-throughs in Spelunky, is a wonderful way to spend a few minutes. But sometimes, you want something more—something meatier. Whether you’re looking for an entertaining way to blow a long weekend or simply want to wrap your head around a satisfyingly complex experience, these 20 deep, intricate, and just plain great PC games will hold you for hours and hours and hours on end.

Mario Kart: Fury Road is the best Mad Max mash-up yet – The ridiculously fun new version of Mad Max has only been in theaters for a week, but the hot takes, memes, and mash-ups are already popping up with a fury. If you loved Mario Kart 64 as much as I did, it hits all the right notes: a flying blue shell takes out a lead car, there’s a scene on Rainbow Road, and the sound effects — my god, the sound effects! Excuse me while I head home and blow some dust out of my Mario Kart cartridge.

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HBO’s Game of Thrones continues to smash piracy records – HBO seems to have one of the best problems that a television network could have. Their mega hit Game of Thrones continues to break internet piracy records, and the show gets more viewers from illicit methods than many other TV shows get legitimately. It must be some form of a compliment when fans of the show who don’t have HBO will do anything they can to catch the latest episode. And in fact it’s the latest episode that once has once again set a new piracy record.

Steam isn’t helping gaming grow on Linux, usage drops to less than 1% – The rise of Linux on the desktop is always just around the corner, right? Most recently it was Valve’s new focus on Steam-powered Linux gaming that was supposed to boost the open source OS to new heights. However, the most recent Steam Hardware & Software Survey shows a big drop for Linux. It’s now less than 1% of Steam systems. Linux didn’t have all that much to lose before, at least. The usage share prior to the April report (that’s the most recent, obviously) was 1.05% and now it’s at 0.94%. The top OS is Windows by a huge margin with total usage share of 95.81%. Even OS X is more than tripling Linux usage with 3.16%.

Virtual reality wants to rule video games. Here’s who’ll rule VR – Soon you’ll don a high-tech headset as easily as you reach for your controller. Watch for blockbuster launches in the year ahead, with Facebook and Valve leading the charge.

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55 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in June – Below we bring you the complete, official list of what will be leaving the service in June, direct from Netflix HQ. But first, a quick look at the geekiest flicks (and one mini-series) to cram in before they get the boot.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch a robot sew a grape’s skin back on – As you can see in the video below, the claw-like hands are used not just to lay a small piece of grape skin back on the piece of fruit, but to then use sutures to sew it back in place. While the video shows off what the Single-Site Wristed Needle Driver can do, it also notes that the piece of equipment is pending FDA 510(k) clearance and does not yet have a CE mark. The disclosure at the end of clip states that the Single-Site instruments can be used for hysterectomies and the removal of ovaries and gallbladders.

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Justice Department releases guidelines on domestic drone use – The US Justice Department is the latest to provide policy guidelines on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). On Friday it published its guidelines laying out how federal law enforcement agencies may (and may not) use the remote-controlled vehicles. So far, the FBI is the only agency within the department to use the drones in missions. In a five page document, the department says that UAVs may not be used to monitor any activities protected by the First Amendment, such as peaceful protests and demonstrations. In addition, law enforcement must “seek a warrant in circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy,” consistent with the Constitution.

NASA astronaut records stunning view as he flies across the night sky – Astronauts aboard the International Space Station don’t need to flick on the TV to help them fall asleep at night. They can just look out the window. This weekend, Commander Terry Virts, who’s been aboard the station since November, gave us Earthbound folk a look at just what we’re missing. A video posted to his Twitter account shows the absolutely surreal view from aboard ISS as it hurtles around the Earth at roughly 17,000 mph. As the stars slip below the horizon, they meet the rapidly-moving lights from the surface. It’s utterly stupendous.

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Do You Remember Your First Cell Phone? – The thought of having a phone without instant access to email, maps, Facebook, Instagram, and texts is a foreign concept, and a day without a phone is like a day without air. But it wasn’t always this way, of course. In the 90s and early aughts, all we wanted was a mobile phone with acceptable voice quality that didn’t weigh 5 pounds or cost $4 per minute. It was an amazing time to be alive.

Scientists Reconstruct the Life of a Bronze Age Sun-Worshipping Priestess – During the summer of 1370 BCE, a young woman died in Egtved, Denmark. She was between 16 and 18 years old, and her immaculate burial suggests she was from a high status family. Slim, blonde, and 5’3” tall, the girl has become known to history as the Egtved Girl—one of the most well-preserved human specimens from Bronze Age Europe. Except, as it turns out, the Egtved Girl was not from Egtved at all. According to a fascinating new study published this week in Scientific Reports, this teenager traveled widely during her short life, and she likely grew up near the Black Forest in Germany, some 500 miles away from where she was buried, as the crow flies.

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Reconstruction of Egtved Girl’s clothes. Image: Eigenes Wirk

Here’s what it looks like when your rocket launch aborts – A pilot’s eye view of what happens when a rocket launch goes wrong is not something most would like to experience, but SpaceX can help you live it vicariously. Elon Musk’s commercial space flight company has released capsule footage from the Dragon craft used in the launch abort system test completed successfully earlier this month, a vital backup should something go wrong when the ship starts taking human passengers up into Earth’s atmosphere and beyond.

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Watch: This Real-Life Hoverboard Is Almost Impossible to Believe – But it’s real, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

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Meditation can make you miserable, psychologist says – Technically Incorrect: Meditation and mindfulness may be milestones on the road to bliss, but you may also end up in a ditch of despair, says a brain expert.

Something to think about:

“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.”

–      Oscar Wilde

Today’s Free Downloads:

IceCream Media Converter – Meet IceCream Media Converter, one of the most powerful and user-friendly media conversion tools that supports major and popular audio and video formats. The program also allows you to download YouTube videos and convert them to AVI, MP4, MP3 and other formats. Its intuitive interface makes conversion of AVI, MKV, MP4, WMV, MP3, WAV, MPEG, WMA and other files to any audio and video format easy for everyone.

Audio and video formats supported:

flv, mkv, mp4, avi, swf, 3gp, flac, wmv, vob, rmvb, mov, m4v, midi, mp4, mpg, mpeg, m2ts, mts, mp3, wma, wav, m4a, m4p, cda, aac, aiff, ogg

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Farbar Recovery Scan Tool – Farbar Recovery Scan Tool, or FRST, is a portable application designed to run 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.

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.

Limitations: 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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA is getting ready to shut down bulk surveillance programs in response to failed Senate vote – After a late Senate vote after midnight on Friday, the NSA is starting to take moves to shut down its bulk surveillance programs. With the legal foundation of those programs, the Patriot Act, set to expire at the end of the month, lawmakers have been working to agree on which parts of the mass surveillance systems should stay and which should go. The Senate failed to pass a replacement bill, the USA Freedom Act, and another measure proposed by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) to extend the program as-is also did not pass.

County sheriff has used stingray over 300 times with no warrant – The sheriff in San Bernardino County—east of Los Angeles County—has deployed a stingray hundreds of times without a warrant, and under questionable judicial authority.

In response to a public records request, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) sent Ars, among other outlets, a rare example of a template for a “pen register and trap and trace order” application. (In the letter, county lawyers claimed this was a warrant application template, when it clearly is not.) The SBSD is the law enforcement agency for the entire county, the 12th-most populous county in the United States, and the fifth-most populous in California.

Stingrays, or cell-site simulators, can be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, but they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other phones within the vicinity. For years, federal and local law enforcement have tried to keep their existence a secret while simultaneously upgrading their capabilities. Over the last year, as the devices have become scrutinized, new information about the secretive devices has been revealed.

This template application, surprisingly, cites no legal authority on which to base its activities. The SBSD did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Cops don’t have to give man his own license plate reader data, court finds – A San Diego, California court has ruled that a tech entrepreneur will not be allowed to access his license plate reader (LPR) records from a regional government agency.

Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal handed down a six-page decision to Michael Robertson, finding that he does not have the right, under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), to access records of his own license plate as scanned by members of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

Judge Bacal found that the LPR records were exempt from the CPRA, under a provision of the law that protects “records of investigation,” and under a catch-all section if releasing such records is not in the public interest. As she wrote in the Statement of Decision:

Petitioner has not articulated how his LPR data will contribute to the public’ s understanding of the government. On the other hand, disclosure of the LPR data will be detrimental to the public’s interest. As explained above, the data is collected and used to investigate criminal-activity, and disclosure of that information can be used to hinder law enforcement’s efforts to identify and apprehend criminals and to protect ‘victims of criminal activity. The Court finds the public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The decision against Robertson, who has been involved in some high-profile legal disputes with the recording industry for over a decade, is the second one this month where courts have found that the petitioners do not have the right to access such data.

Russia threatens to block Google, Facebook, and Twitter if they don’t turn over blogger data – The Guardian reported last week that Russia is demanding Google, Twitter, and Facebook to hand over all data on any Russian bloggers who get more than 3,000 hits per day. Russia states that not doing so is a violation of its internet laws and websites found breaking these laws could be met with serious sanctions.

According to the Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal branch responsible for media oversight, the encryption employed by these companies does not allow Russia to block specific content that it deems inappropriate. This could potentially result in the blocking of these services entirely if they refuse to turn over the data and block posts by Russian bloggers that call for “unsanctioned protests and unrest”.

Critics of the Russian government are viewing this as a serious crackdown on freedom of speech. President Vladimir Putin has grown increasingly concerned with the openness of the internet and difficultly of regulating content. In the past, he has gone as far as calling the internet a project of the CIA.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 2, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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Example – Set it up as a HUD in your car

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

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

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

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

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Magic Actions Cinema mode – Bloom by Pogo on YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–     Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you insert the USB drive

you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)

you do your work…

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

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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