Tag Archives: Android phone

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 24, 2015

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself;  Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps;  5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer;  Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates;  Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it;  Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails;  Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results;  This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited;  Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions;  This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10;  Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website;  Android Smart lock: Should you be using it?  How to use two-factor authentication without a phone;  Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter;  Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million;  Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet;  Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello;  Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 (free);  Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself – The worst thing about having a phone or laptop stolen isn’t necessarily the loss of the physical object itself, though there’s no question that that part sucks. It’s the amount of damage control you have to do afterward. Calling your phone company to get SIMs deactivated, changing all of your account passwords, and maybe even canceling credit cards are all good ideas, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Full-disk or full-device encryption (that is, encrypting everything on your drive, rather than a specific folder or user profile) isn’t yet a default feature across the board, but most of the major desktop and mobile OSes support it in some fashion. In case you’ve never considered it before, here’s what you need to know.

Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it – How much does bloatware slow down your PC? It’s hard to say, but there are some indications that it can have a considerable effect. Microsoft sells a line of what it calls Signature PCs, computers that are free of third-party software. According to the product page, on average, the Signature PCs start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life than the same laptops with bloatware. In this article I’ll discuss the most common types of bloatware you’ll encounter, how to uninstall it and how to buy bloatware-free PCs. (Note that this article covers only Windows computers, and not Macs or other systems.)

5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer – There’s a lot of power contained within that little glass rectangle you carry around all day. We’ve got eight-core CPUs, multiple gigabytes of RAM, and batteries with thousands of milliampere-hours of capacity, but sometimes the experience doesn’t live up to the hardware’s potential. Things go wrong, settings get screwed up, and apps get greedy for resources. This can render a phone sluggish and kill the battery. That’s certainly a problem, but don’t worry, we can fix it in a few simple steps.

Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps – For some Windows 10 users, the problems keep coming. Though Windows 10 was free to download, updating the operating system is costing some dearly, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Some have blamed the way the new operating system downloads and installs updates. Prior to Windows 10, users could choose whether or not to install updates, depending on where they were in their billing cycle. But for many who breezed through the setup process, updates install in the background, often without user interaction. Other reports that have trickled in also blame Windows 10’s forced updates.

Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates – What’s in that update? For most Windows 10 patches, Microsoft isn’t telling. As highlighted by ExtremeTech, Microsoft has not provided patch notes for any of the Windows 10 patches it has released so far in an apparent shift in the company’s thinking. Instead of providing specific details about each patch as it has in the past, ExtremeTech notes that the release notes for Windows 10’s cumulative updates released so far merely state, “This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.” Not very helpful, is it?

Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails – Are there places in your home or office where your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t reach? You’re not alone. Because of Wi-Fi’s limited range — and old-school building construction techniques like thick plaster, brick or masonry walls — even the best Wi-Fi networks have dead zones. If you have that problem, you have several options. You can start drilling holes in your walls so you can run network cabling. You can try a Wi-Fi range extender (which might help, depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi and the efficiency of the extender). Or you can use a powerline kit, which routes data over your electric cables by piggybacking the data on top of the electrical current’s 60-hertz wave and then extracting the data at the other end.

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Samsung goes after iPhone users with Galaxy test drive promo – Samsung Electronics is offering U.S. iPhone owners the chance to test its latest Galaxy smartphones for 30 days for $1, as it hopes to make a dent in Apple’s dominance of the high end of the market. The promotion lets iPhone owners choose between the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge or the Galaxy S6 edge+ without any obligations with their existing carrier. After the month is up, they can simply return it. Or, if the phone feels right, go ahead and upgrade, Samsung said.

Eight advanced tips for Word headers and footers – Even a novice Word user can display page numbers in a document’s header of footer. The process is fundamental. Advancing beyond the basics is easier than you might think, and you might be surprised how many things you can do with a header or footer! In this article, I’ll highlight eight tips that will move you from basic user to advanced, at least with headers and footers.

This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited – We’ve pretty much all been there: you hand your phone to a friend to show them a picture. They look at the photo, they chuckle… and then they casually swipe to the next photo in your camera roll like it ain’t no thing. This app slaps their wrist in a mostly harmless way: by snapping a surprise selfie of your friend’s nosy-ass face when they try to swipe to your other pics.

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This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10 – Find it just too tempting? Here’s what to do. If right clicking on the app icon in the Start Menu and selecting uninstall doesn’t work, then the website Tech News Today has a handy step-by-step guide to making your computer Candy Crush-free.

Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet – While the rumored “iPad Pro” may be getting all the attention recently when it comes to extra-large tablets, Samsung seems to be working on something of their own. A new report says the company is working on a tablet known as codename “Tahoe” with the model number SM-T670, and featuring a huge 18.4-inch screen. SamMobile says its sourced have indicated the Android-powered device will be targeted for use in office, school, and living room environments, instead of as a standard personal tablet.

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Amazon Echo gets SmartThings support – Amazon’s Echo appears ready to learn a new trick: Working with connected smarthome devices through a SmartThings hub. Official SmartThings support hasn’t yet been announced but the SmartThings blog spilled the beans with a post that went live on Thursday and was later removed. ZatzNotFunny spotted the post — which received four comments before being pulled — showing that Amazon Echo integration with the SmartThings products is likely on the way soon. Google’s web cache still has the original post.

Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results – Back in May, Google and Twitter partnered to bring tweets into mobile search results. It was, and is, a pretty big deal for both companies. The relationship is apparently going well, as Google announced in a short update on its original blog post that it’d be including tweets within search results on desktop as well.

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Firefox moves toward cross-browser extensions with Chrome and Opera – Mozilla takes a giant step towards Firefox’s total compatibility with browser extensions from the Chrome and Opera extension ecosystems. The plan is to switch out the extension API used for Firefox with one by the name of WebExtensions. With this API, developers will be able to create extensions that work with multiple browsers at once, bringing Firefox back into the mix where once they were excluded. This is all part of Mozilla’s move toward a more user-friendly browser on all platforms.

Security:

Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions: Founder says the whole thing was just a BIIIIIIIIIIG misunderstanding. Right – Spotify will clarify its position on its wide-reaching terms and conditions. In a post entitled “SORRY”, company founder Daniel Ek said: “We have heard your concerns loud and clear. We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks.” In the post, Ek paints it as a misunderstanding of what Spotify was trying to do by hoovering up your photos, contacts, voice commands and location, and then sharing that information with advertisers and businesses.

Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website – Recent visitors to Plenty of Fish (pof.com), an online dating website with over 3 million daily active users, had their browsers redirected to exploits that installed malware. The attack was launched through a malicious advertisement that was distributed through a third-party ad network, researchers from security firm Malwarebytes said in a blog post Thursday. The malicious ad pointed to the Nuclear exploit kit, a Web-based attack tool that exploits known vulnerabilities in browsers and popular browser plug-ins like Flash Player, Java, Adobe Reader and Silverlight. If the attack is successful, the tool installs malware programs on users’ computers.

How to use two-factor authentication without a phone – The first time I got locked out of my email account — because I’d ingeniously decided to turn on two-factor authentication — was when I was in Barcelona. Naturally, I was panicking — this was a work trip, and I couldn’t access my work email. But after a few minutes of freaking out, I calmed down, figured out how to circumvent the whole “needs to have a phone” issue, and promptly disabled two-factor authentication on all of my accounts (not that you should do this — you should not, two-factor authentication is an important step in making your accounts secure). Here’s how to use phone-based two-factor authentication when you don’t have a phone.

Android Smart lock: Should you be using it? – Android Smart lock is a handy way to make gaining access to your device easier. But is this at the cost of security? Find out what Jack Wallen thinks about this issue.

Farewell To Flash: What It Means For Digital Video Publishers – It’s been more than five years since Steve Jobs wrote his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter citing the high level of energy consumption, lack of performance on mobile and poor security as the reasons his company’s products would not support Adobe Flash technology. Finally, it appears we’re getting closer to the curtain closing on Flash.

China group attacks India with Word exploit, then uses Microsoft’s WMI – A hacking group suspected of operating from China has had success stealing information from mostly Indian targets, often pertaining to border disputes and trade issues, according to FireEye. The gang specializes in sending targeted phishing emails to victims in the hope of gaining wider access to their networks, a practice known as spear phishing, said Bryce Boland, CTO for Asia-Pacific at the security firm. FireEye hasn’t give a name to the group, but has watched it since 2011, Boland said.

Company News:

Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million for 2013 data breach – On Tuesday, Target and Visa confirmed that they had reached a settlement in which Target would pay up to $67 million to Visa card issuers for a security breach in 2013 that left 40 million customer credit card numbers compromised. Visa brokered the deal and will pass the award on to the card issuers that work within its network. The settlement deal is considerably larger than the $19 million settlement that Target reached with MasterCard earlier in the proceedings. That settlement was not approved because MasterCard issuers rejected it for being too low.

Intuit puts venerable Quicken up on the block – The 32-year-old desktop software days are numbered, predict some customers, as Intuit pledges to find ‘reputable buyer’ for personal finance program.

After three-day shutdown, HP now effectively two companies – Hewlett-Packard doesn’t officially become two companies until Nov. 1, but the company has already separated its internal systems and is effectively operating as two businesses. “On August 1, we successfully split the operations and IT systems for the company. This was an incredibly complex process and the team executed very well,” CEO Meg Whitman said on HP’s quarterly earnings call Thursday. HP worked directly with 3,500 of its biggest customers and partners to prepare for the cutover, which involved separating 750 systems that handle 95 percent of its business.

Uber Plans To Go Public In 18-24 Months, According To Leaked Presentation – Uber could become a public company as soon as next year or 2016, according to a leaked document published in a report from Reuters. The news agency gained access to a presentation that Uber is showing to potential investors in China as part of a new funding round for its international business. (UberChina, the entity Uber created in the country, is separately reportedly seeking to raise a billion dollars to battle China-based rival Didi Kuaidi, which recently closed a $2 billion financing round itself.) The document broke out information for Uber China and Uber Inc., and forecasted that the latter — which is present in over 150 countries worldwide — will go public within 18-24 months.

Apple stands by Dre after apology for hurting women – After the rapper became an Apple employee following its $3.3 billion takeover of Beats, attention to his past violence has become the latest barb against the tech industry’s treatment of women.

Apple launches replacement program for faulty iPhone 6 Plus cameras – Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has the best camera of any iPhone (at least until we get new ones next month), but it’s not completely problem-free. Apple has announced an iSight Camera Replacement Program for iPhone 6 Plus models sold between the phone’s launch in September of 2014 and January of 2015. “A small percentage” of phones sold included a faulty part that could make pictures taken with the rear camera look blurry. The problem doesn’t affect the standard iPhone 6, so the 6 Plus’ optical image stabilization component could be at fault. The front-facing FaceTime camera is also unaffected.

YouTube Opens Studio In Bollywood – YouTube is planning to open a studio for film creators in Mumbai, India, the company said on Wednesday. Launching in partnership with renowned Indian film school Whistling Woods International, the new space will be at the center of Mumbai’s film and television production hub, Filmcity.

Games and Entertainment:

Overwatch and Battleborn: meet the new breed of cooperative first-person shooter games – This year’s Gamescom has been a special treat for fans of multiplayer games. Ubisoft has brought Rainbow Six Siege and the all-new For Honor for gamers to try out in Cologne, while DICE used the show to debut a massive 20-player dogfight mode in Star Wars: Battlefront. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm has been everywhere too, but it’s another title from the same company that I want to talk about today: Overwatch. It, along with Gearbox Software’s Battleborn, is establishing a new category of team-based shooter games, one where violence and gore are de-emphasized in favor of accessibility and cooperative fun.

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Real life first-person zombie shooter pops up on Chatroulette – Turns out, if you still use Chatroulette, the website that matches you and your webcam up with a random stranger, you may not always be shown someone doing something obscene. You might just get thrown into a real life first person shooter (FPS), with you in control of someone trying fight off zombies. That’s exactly what happened when random users were paired with the British film production crew Realm Pictures, who managed to create a live-action FPS that plays out in real-time right before viewers.

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Nvidia’s GeForce Experience app brings gameplay sharing to PC – When the PlayStation 4 debuted, one of the coolest features about the new hardware was the “Share” feature, which let players stream their gameplay live to another PS4 owner, and even let them take over the controls. Well, Nvidia is bringing that same functionality to PC games with an update to its GeForce Experience app. The software is being updated next month with beta access to the new GameStream Co-op feature, along with a few other tools for recording and broadcasting gameplay footage.

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Fallout 4 could be more successful than Skyrim, says Bethesda – Bethesda has said it believes Fallout 4 could be its most successful game release ever. Fallout 4 launches in November for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Bethesda has also revealed the Fallout Anthology for PC which bundles the first five Fallout games — 1, 2, Tactics, 3, and New Vegas — in a mini-nuke.

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Bethesda Softworks

Metroid spectacularly re-imagined in Unreal Engine 4 – Developer CryZENx brings a fully re-imagined Metroid Prime gameplay environment into existence with Unreal Engine 4. And boy does it look fantastic. What you’re going to see is a project – not an official game made for release. Here you’ll see some of the capabilities of the graphics environment Unreal Engine 4, complete with realistic lighting, shadows, atmosphere, and everything in-between. Just keep reminding yourself that while this isn’t a real game – it could indicate where Metroid could go, someday, maybe.

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‘Millennial Swipe Sim 2015’ Web Game Pokes Fun at Tinder – Is the Tinder obsession a bit too real for some of your friends? Send them a link to this brand-new Web game, and they might feel a little better.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The future of the tablet is the PC – Apple CEO Tim Cook once compared a tablet-laptop combo to mashing up a refrigerator with a toaster. The resulting Frankenstein device would do an equally lousy job of chilling your food and warming it up. That was three years ago. Today, these tablet-laptop hybrids — which blend the mobility and touchscreen friendliness of a tablet with the capabilities of a PC — are on track to becoming the fastest-growing computing category. Shipments of so-called 2-in-1 devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, for example, are expected to grow almost fivefold this year. That’s thanks in part to attachable or foldable keyboards and more-powerful hardware, such as Intel’s Core M microprocessors, that let slimmer, tabletlike devices hit speeds on par with midrange laptops.

DIY overhead control panel would make NASA proud – At one point in every geek’s life, he or she may have dreamed up of a super sophisticated computer setup that would rival or at least match those of, say, NASA’s mission control rooms or other sci-fi props. For some, wishing might be the extent of that dream. Others, however, try to make that dream a reality, even if they have to do it themselves. That is exactly what smashcuts proudly shared on Reddit and imgur. And the best part? He’s actually sharing how he did it.

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Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter – Apple and Pixar honcho Steve Jobs was known not just for his genius products (Hello, Mac, iPod, iPad, iPhone!), but also for his raging put-downs of subordinates and rivals. Why not put some of his molten-lava tongue lashings to good effect during your next job transition?

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“You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog sh!t for frosting.”

Cell phone video shows cop allegedly trying to force driver to buy fund-raising tickets (or else) – The police officer stopped the driver and brandished tickets to a show. “Either you buy these, or I take your car, because it’s unregistered,” the officer said. This, in some movies, would be called an offer you can’t refuse. In this movie, posted to Facebook by someone whose real name (per Facebook’s strict rules) is Rob Stay Faded, the officer continues: “Ten bucks each. Support your police department.” On Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the officer in the video, nine-year-veteran Matthew Zagursky, was taken off street patrol and dispossessed of his gun. Zagursky will continue working, pending the results of an Internal Affairs probe, which Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered Friday.

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Need to take down a drone? A munitions company offers firepower – Having grown up in a culture where very few people feel the need for guns (that Europe place), it’s hard to explain to my fellow Americans that it’s, well, possible. Instead, America has always enjoyed a deep fascination for and commitment to weaponry. This therefore fuels the imaginations of those manufacturing the weaponry to ever greater heights. Admire then, please, the wares of Snake River Shooting Products. This company has just released gun shells that it says are perfect for shooting down drones. In a press release, the company describes its wares like this: “The rounds are a 12 gauge 3″ shot shell solution aimed at defending against drone-based privacy concerns and terror!”

Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello – Windows Hello, the feature in Windows 10 that lets you use your face as your login password, so to speak, may seem like a mere novelty at first glance, and something that could potentially be readily fooled. Journalist Chris Griffin with The Australian wanted to find out for himself, so he brought in six pairs of identical twins to put Windows Hello to the test. The result? In each of the six cases, Windows Hello kept each twin from logging in as their identical siblings.

Something to think about:

“There are 3 kinds of people in the world . Those that make things happen, those that have things happen to them and the vast majority – those who stand around and wonder WTF happened.”

–     Anonymous

Downloads:

Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 – Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 has been released. This tweaking software adds several new tweaks for the new operating system. Those of you who have upgraded to Windows 10, would definitely want to use it to judiciously tweak your Windows 10 and personalize your computing experience. With judicious tweaking, it can make your system faster, more stable, personal and more secure with just a few mouse clicks.

While you may be able to access all these via the Windows 10 Settings app, the Registry Editor or the Group Policy Editor, Ultimate Windows Tweaker makes things easier for you by offering all useful tweaks from its single UI.

This tweaker is just 495 KB in size and includes over 200 tweaks. Like its predecessors, UWT 4.0 sports a clean minimalistic UI, offering links in the left panel, and tabs on the top, in some categories. Hover over any tweak and helpful tool tips will tell you what the tweak does.

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Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 – MajorGeek says: Destroy Windows 10 Spying is a portable app that can block anonymous data being sent, remove apps that can’t be removed the standard way and more. I liked that it can remove some of the Windows default programs that can be removed under Apps & Features, an annoyance I immediately discovered since I prefer to “slim” down windows.

Some of the domains we know send anonymous information back to Microsoft include:

vortex.data.microsoft.com vortex-win.data.microsoft.com telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net oca.telemetry.microsoft.com oca.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net watson.telemetry.microsoft.com watson.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net redir.metaservices.microsoft.com choice.microsoft.com choice.microsoft.com.nsatc.net df.telemetry.microsoft.com reports.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com services.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com sqm.df.telemetry.microsoft.com telemetry.microsoft.com watson.ppe.telemetry.microsoft.com telemetry.appex.bing.net telemetry.urs.microsoft.com telemetry.appex.bing.net:443 settings-sandbox.data.microsoft.com vortex-sandbox.data.microsoft.com survey.watson.microsoft.com watson.live.com watson.microsoft.com statsfe2.ws.microsoft.com corpext.msitadfs.glbdns2.microsoft.com compatexchange.cloudapp.net cs1.wpc.v0cdn.net a-0001.a-msedge.net statsfe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net sls.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net fe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net diagnostics.support.microsoft.com corp.sts.microsoft.com statsfe1.ws.microsoft.com pre.footprintpredict.com i1.services.social.microsoft.com i1.services.social.microsoft.com.nsatc.net feedback.windows.com feedback.microsoft-hohm.com feedback.search.microsoft.com rad.msn.com preview.msn.com ad.doubleclick.net ads.msn.com ads1.msads.net ads1.msn.com a.ads1.msn.com a.ads2.msn.com adnexus.net adnxs.com az361816.vo.msecnd.net az512334.vo.msecnd.net

You can block these yourself manually in your hosts file with 127.0.0.1 if you want. The program allows you to clear or view the hosts file in Notepad.

The program does the same thing but just in case you wanted to see where your information heads to or you wanted to update your hosts file manually. A log file will be left in the folder you run it from.

I took a huge chance and ran this on my clean Windows 10 installation. It did modify the hosts file exactly as promised and did remove the Apps it promised. IObit Uninstaller also spotted Destroy Windows 10 Spying running and removed leftover entries from the uninstall.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA preps quantum-resistant algorithms to head off crypto-apocalypse – The National Security Agency is advising US agencies and businesses to prepare for a time in the not-too-distant future when the cryptography protecting virtually all e-mail, medical and financial records, and online transactions is rendered obsolete by quantum computing.

Quantum computers have capabilities that can lay to ruin all of the public-key cryptographic systems currently in use. These capabilities, which aren’t known to be present in the classical computers of today, include the ability to almost instantly find the prime factors of extremely large numbers, using a method called Shor’s algorithm. Quantum computing is also believed to be capable of tackling other mathematical problems classical computers can’t solve quickly, including computing discrete logarithm mod primes and discrete logs over elliptic curves.

The difficulty of factoring and computing discrete log primes and elliptic curve discrete logs play an essential role in cryptographers’ confidence in RSA, elliptic curve cryptography, and other public-key crypto systems. When implemented correctly, most scientists and cryptographers believe that the crypto can’t be defeated with today’s computers before the end of the universe.

Canadians taking to spying on their spies – As Canadians settle in for the longest general election campaign since 1867, some uncomfortable incidents that had been ignored by commercial media outlets are gaining new exposure.

Allegations that Canadian spooks are spying on protesters have become a hot topic online. The result is that Canada’s online civil liberties movements are starting to gain traction offline, and are threatening to go mainstream.

To understand the events, some background is required. A number of pipeline projects are proposed or undergoing construction to increase the amount of oil that can be sent from Alberta west to the coast of British Columbia via pipeline. Current pipelines are at capacity and shipping the oil to the coast by train is a fantastically dumb idea because the trains keep derailing, causing all manner of havoc.

A veritable who’s who of Canadian protest and civil liberties groups became active in protesting against the pipelines, both online and off. It dragged on for years, and protests are still ongoing.

Information emerged that said one of Canada’s spy agencies – Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – allegedly spied on the protesters and then allegedly illegally shared information about the protesters with the National Energy Board (NEB). NEB is the government entity tasked with overseeing environmentally sensitive projects such as oil pipelines.

The NEB succumbed to industry capture years ago and now blatantly operates as nothing more than an extension of the energy companies themselves.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 7, 2015

10 Simple, Time-Saving Computer Tricks;  Microsoft vacates moral high ground for the data slurpers’ cesspit;  Why Windows 10 isn’t really free;  Best Buy fails to erase some returned devices before re-selling them;  A Week with Windows 10: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly;  Attention students and teachers: Check if you can get Office 365 for free now;  Send self-destructing messages with Kaboom;  Law banning secret filming of animal abuse on farms ruled unconstitutional;  Design flaw in Intel chips opens door to rootkits;  Hacker-friendly Chrysler hauled into court for class-action showdown;  Apple has new iOS 9 and watchOS 2.0 betas for you;  Meet RollJam, the $30 device that jimmies car and garage doors;  12 Tips All Diehard Xbox 360 Fans Should Know;  Pornhub is emulating Netflix with its new premium streaming service;  Mozilla urges users to update Firefox with file stealing exploit in wild;  Microsoft, Salesforce.com join $5.3 billion Informatica buyout;  Should Software Companies Be Legally Liable For Security Breaches?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 Simple, Time-Saving Computer Tricks – When I watch inexperienced computer users scroll a Web page using the down arrow on their keyboard or look for specific information in a PDF by running their eyes down each page, I realize just how many tiny tricks and tips there are that make more experienced computer users faster at what they do. Here are ten of those tricks that anyone can—and should—learn. Chances are you know some of them, but even if only a couple of them are new to you, it’s worth checking out the list and the video below.

Attention students and teachers: Check if you can get Office 365 for free now – Earlier this year, Microsoft announced it was giving away Office 365 subscriptions to New York City public school students, and later it opened up the program to students in dozens of countries around the world. Now, any qualified student or faculty member can get a free Office 365 Education plan, which gives you unfettered access to Word, Excel and Powerpoint, plus the ability to collaborate with others in real-time using those programs. Here’s how to get it.

A Week with Windows 10: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – It seems almost surreal to think that it has already been a week since Microsoft unleashed Windows 10 to the world. Or at least to those not privy to Insider previews. In that short span of time, a lot has already been said about the latest, and supposedly the last, version of Windows. As expected, not all of them are good, but not all of them are bad either. Here are some of the top five things you can expect to experience when your time finally comes to upgrade.

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How to stop Windows 10 from using your PC’s bandwidth to update strangers’ systems – By default, Windows 10 turns your PC into a server for distributing updates to other machines. Here’s how to make it stop.

Send self-destructing messages with Kaboom – Kaboom is a free app that only requires those who want to send self-destructing messages to download the app. Once downloaded, you can send text and picture messages, complete with a countdown timer that dictates when the message will disappear forever. Not sure how long you want a message to remain active? You can also set a message to expire after a number of views. The company behind the app, Anchor Free, claims the disappearing act also includes deleting the content from its servers once the message expires. You can download the app for free for either iOS or Android.

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

7 Apps to Help You Get Stuff Done Around the House – These seven apps can help you keep track of your various household chores and projects, so you can spend more time getting things done and less time keeping track of them.

Facebook gives businesses more ways to privately message users – Businesses using the site now have more ways to send private messages, through Messenger, to Facebook users who interact with businesses’ pages or ads. Previously, businesses could only respond to users’ messages in the way they were initiated, either through a comment or a private message. Now, if a user leaves a comment on a Facebook page, the page owner can respond privately through Messenger.

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Apple has new iOS 9 and watchOS 2.0 betas for you – Apple has released iOS 9 beta 5 for iPhone and iPad, as well as watchOS 2 beta 5 for Apple Watch, as it nears the final versions this fall. The new software, which requires either an Apple developer account or beta program membership in order to access, paves the way for features like WiFi Calling on the iPhone across more carriers, as well as smarter switching of WiFi and cellular data for faster browsing, while on the smartwatch there’s a new Time-Lapse face among other tweaks.

Microsoft’s New App Is PowerPoint for People Who Hate PowerPoint – If the idea of formatting a PowerPoint fills you with dread, then you might want to consider downloading Sway, a new presentation app from Microsoft out Wednesday. Rather than overwhelm users with nitpicky formatting options, Sway sits between the user and the slides like an eager designer, automatically selecting fonts, prepping layouts, cropping photos and placing them flush against the text. PowerPoint maestros may bridle at the prospect of losing control to an overweening algorithm, but that’s fine with the Sway team.

Best Buy fails to erase some returned devices before re-selling them – We’ve seen this happen a few times with Best Buy, that ubiquitous chain with 1,600 stores in North America, which boasts that “more than 70 percent of the [US] population lives within 15 minutes of a Best Buy store.” The most recent incident happened last week when Michal Urban bought an open box Apple TV from a Best Buy in Mission Viejo, California. The Apple TV was still logged in to several of the previous owner’s accounts, Urban told Ars. Urban provided us with screenshots showing logged-in accounts for iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now.

Google turns your Android phone into a Hangouts presentation powerhouse – Google is on a roll with adding new features to Slides—the company’s presentation software—on mobile. After introducing support for Airplay and Chromecast in June, Google just announced Slides support for Hangouts video calls on Android. Instead of sharing your PC desktop during a Hangouts call, the new feature allows you to display a presentation on Hangouts from your smartphone or tablet. As with the AirPlay and Chromecast features, this essentially turns your phone into a presentation remote control, allowing you to advance through slides, check your speaker notes, and even monitor your presentation pace with a built-in timer.

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Dual-booting Linux with Windows: What you need to know – Linux can run from just a USB drive without modifying your existing system, but you’ll want to install it on your PC if you plan on using it regularly. Installing a Linux distribution alongside Windows as a “dual boot” system will give you a choice of either operating system each time you start your PC. It’s the ideal way for most people to install Linux, as you can always get back to a full Windows system with a reboot.

iOS keyboard app Signily lets users type with sign language – Signly, a new keyboard app for iOS, offers something that almost no other app does: the ability for deaf users to type and communicate with sign language. The app comes from ASLized, a US nonprofit group, and was created with the help of deaf people, and uses American Sign Language (ASL). Typing is done with hand gestures making different signs, in a style similar to the default emoji on iOS. There are even options to change the hand’s skin color, much like the recent iOS update that did the same to face and hand emojis.

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An SSD upgrade is still the single best thing you can do for your PC – I can’t tell you exactly how much your PC will speed up with an SSD. But I can tell you it will be a lot.

Microsoft caught using Windows user’s bandwidth to seed Windows 10 – I knew something was fishy when my internet connection was far slower than normal. This has been happening over a few days, after contacting my ISP they did some digging and found that my uploads were far higher than normal. I checked my devices one by one and found the culprit was my windows box. Hogging bandwidth and causing huge slowdown. And this is on a fiber connection! Later I found out that this was because MS has decided to automatically opt in ALL windows users into distributing windows 10 to other users!  Absolutely disgusting!

500px Revamps Its App To Better Appeal To The Instagram Crowd – 500px, the online photo-sharing community that recently raised another $13 million to challenge Flickr and Getty, is today rolling out a significant change to its mobile application. Beginning with an update on iOS, the company has completely redesigned and rebuilt its app from the ground up, in an effort that’s focused on making its app appeal to a more mainstream consumer base.

Reddit bans racist communities, ‘quarantines’ other offensive talk – Reddit is removing several racist communities from its website, as well as other offensive discussion topics, part of an ongoing effort to clean up the most toxic content on its site. Among those now banned are the subreddits /r/CoonTown and /r/bestofcoontown—as well as others with even more racist names—and also content related to “animated” child pornography, said Steve Huffman, Reddit’s chief executive, in a post on Wednesday. Reddit is trying to strike a balance between honoring its heritage as a place for free-wheeling free speech while also restricting hateful or harassing content. It’s a tough balance, though, and some of its longtime users have criticized what they see as censorship of the site.

Microsoft releases DVD player app for Windows 10 — for $15 – Windows 10 excludes a few key features, including support for playing DVDs. Microsoft has now released an app to handle the task, though it doesn’t play Blu-ray discs.

Don’t pay! You can watch DVDs for free on Windows 10 – Watching a movie on a DVD may seem archaic in this streaming age, but you shouldn’t have to pay a fee to play a DVD on your computer. For many people, the Windows 10 upgrade doesn’t come with software to play a DVD movie. Microsoft is charging $15 for the program in its app store, but you don’t have to pay. Watch CNET Update below to learn what you can do about it:

Security:

Design flaw in Intel chips opens door to rootkits – A design flaw in the x86 processor architecture dating back almost two decades could allow attackers to install a rootkit in the low-level firmware of computers, a security researcher said Thursday. Such malware could be undetectable by security products. The vulnerability stems from a feature first added to the x86 architecture in 1997. It was disclosed Thursday at the Black Hat security conference by Christopher Domas, a security researcher with the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Waiting for Android’s inevitable security Armageddon – We’re on day who-the-heck-knows of the Android Stagefright security vulnerability, and there’s really no point keeping track of the days because no one’s going to fix it. The Android ecosystem can’t deal with security, and it won’t change until it’s too late. The Android ecosystem’s reaction to the “Stagefright” vulnerability is an example of how terrible things are. An estimated 95 percent of Android devices have a have a remote arbitrary code execution just by receiving malicious video MMS. Android has other protections in place to stop this vulnerability from running amok on your smartphone, but it’s still really scary. As you might expect, Google, Samsung, and LG have all pledged to “Take Security Seriously” and issue a fix as soon as possible.

Google, Samsung, LG promise monthly Android phone security updates – Good news, Android users! Your devices are about to get more secure, thanks to a new update program Google is kicking off. You’ll now be getting security updates on a monthly basis — not whenever your carrier gets around to approving them. Samsung and LG are on board, and Google expects other manufacturers to follow their lead. The first update will be delivered to Nexus devices (4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and the Nexus Player) this week. It features “fixes for issues in bulletins provided to partners through July 2015,” including the Stagefright exploit that set alarm bells off last week.

Windows patches can be intercepted and injected with malware – Researchers say Windows machines that fetch updates from an enterprise update server not configured to use encryption are vulnerable to an injection attack.

Russia blamed in Pentagon cyber-attack – A Russian cyber-attack in July saw the Pentagon pull the plug on the entire unsecured email and internet system for the Joint Staff, it’s been revealed. Described as a “sophisticated cyber intrusion”, the incident saw email accounts of around 4,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the Joint Chiefs of Staff compromised, though officials aren’t decided yet on whether it was sanctioned by the Russian government or the handiwork of an independent player. No classified documents or correspondence was taken, officials insist to CNBC. Nonetheless, it seems the haul has been well distributed.

Meet RollJam, the $30 device that jimmies car and garage doors – Serial hacker Samy Kamkar has devised RollJam, a $30 device that steals the secret codes so attackers can use them to gain unauthorized access to a car or garage. It works against a variety of market-leading chips, including the KeeLoq access control system from Microchip Technology Inc. and the High Security Rolling Code generator made by National Semiconductor. RollJam is capable of opening electronic locks on cars from Chrysler, Daewoo, Fiat, GM, Honda, Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen Group, Clifford, Shurlok, and Jaguar. It also works against a variety of garage-door openers, including the rolling code garage door opener made by King Cobra.

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Mozilla urges users to update Firefox with file stealing exploit in wild – A violation of the same origin policy within Firefox’s built-in PDF Viewer is being exploited, which is fixed in newly released Firefox versions.

Man-in-the-Cloud Attacks Want Your Dropbox, Google Drive Files – We’ve heard of man-in-the-middle and man-in-the-browser attacks. But Imperva researchers have now uncovered man-in-the-cloud attacks, and they’re coming for your Google Drive and Dropbox accounts. With a man-in-the-cloud attack, someone can compromise major file sync services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box (to name a few) without having to resort to stealing the user’s account credentials or somehow compromising the cloud provider’s servers. In this scenario, attackers just have to steal the synchronization token saved on the user’s endpoint machine.

Company News:

Pornhub is emulating Netflix with its new premium streaming service – Adult entertainment giant Pornhub — the flagship in the portfolio of online video conglomerate MindGeek — is launching a premium offering as a Netflix-style streaming service, one complete with ad-free HD viewing, faster playback, and exclusive content. This appears to be the site’s first step into the world of paid porn after years spent feasting on free (and often illicit) content. The service costs $9.99 per month, and it’s currently available within both desktop and mobile browsers. Pornhub is working on Android and Roku apps for release in the near future, and it’s also planning to augment the existing service with VR integration in 2016.

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IBM Buying Merge Healthcare For $1B To Bring Medical Image Analysis To Watson Health – IBM announced a huge deal today, agreeing to pay a billion dollars for Merge Healthcare, a medical imaging company it plans to fold into the Watson Health unit. Merge’s technology is in use in 7500 healthcare facilities in the US, according to information supplied by IBM. The firm processes billions of images such as x-rays, MRIs and CT scans with 30 billion images processed to-date, a number that is growing by the day. In fact, IBM researchers estimate that up to 90 percent of all medical data today is in the form of images.

Microsoft, Salesforce.com join $5.3 billion Informatica buyout – Data-integration giant Informatica has made itself a private company in a $5.3 billion deal that includes investments from Microsoft and Salesforce.com. The deal, said to be the biggest leveraged buyout this year, means Informatica’s stock ceased trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday. In exchange, Informatica stockholders are getting $48.75 per share in cash. It’s part of a trend in which companies have been taking themselves private to make themselves more competitive. Dell, Tibco Software, Riverbed and Compuware have all made similar moves.

Hacker-friendly Chrysler hauled into court for class-action showdown – Fiat Chrysler is facing a class-action lawsuit in the US after researchers proved they could wirelessly snatch control of the engine management systems in some of its vehicles. The lawsuit, filed in the southern district of Illinois, claims Chrysler knew the networking systems in its cars were insecure. The motoring giant offers a service called uConnect that connects vehicles and their internal Wi-Fi to the public internet via the cellular network, allowing people to check Facebook on the move, or whatever.

NVIDIA Soars 9% After Beating On Profit And Revenue, Credits Growth In Its Gaming And Auto Tech Divisions – NVIDIA shares were up nearly 9 percent in after-hours trading following its announcement of a beat in FY 2016 Q2 earnings Thursday. The computer component manufacturer managed to exceed street expectations on revenue with $1.153 billion while posting non-GAAP earnings of $0.34 per share, up 13 percent from a year ago. Analysts had looked for Nvidia to generate $0.20 per-share profit on top line of $1.01 billion.

Games and Entertainment:

12 Tips All Diehard Xbox 360 Fans Should Know – The 360 is the best-selling console Microsoft has made, the sixth best-selling in gaming history (right behind the PS2, Nintendo DS, Game Boy, original PlayStation, and Nintendo Wii). Which means there are a lot of 360 users still making do. There is obviously a lot of life left in the ol’ Xbox 360. To solidify that fact, I’ve put together 12 tips that keep me happy every day with mine. Implement them if the console remains your hub of fun and entertainment activity.

Classic iPhone game Spider finally has a sequel – 2009 was an exciting time for mobile games. The App Store was new, and game developers were still trying out strange and inventive ideas for touchscreen gaming, without having to worry about payment models or an over-flooded market. One of the best of that early wave of games was Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, where you played as a tiny spider, spinning webs to eat bugs while also exploring a sprawling house filled with secrets. It was an entirely unique combination of gameplay and environmental storytelling. Now, six years later, an eternity for mobile gaming, a sequel arrives: Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon, available today on iOS and Steam.

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HBO NOW Adds Support For Google’s Chromecast – HBO’s over-the-top streaming service may not be making money just yet, but it is rapidly expanding its footprint. Starting today, the service will support Google’s Chromecast for streaming from your mobile device to your TV, according to the update text in the iOS version that just arrived on the iTunes App Store. The Android app has not yet been updated, as of the time of writing, but will arrive later today.

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The Mad Max game has little to do with the movie, but could be just as good – Here’s an easy recipe for disappointment: take one of the awesomest, most refreshingly nuanced and thoughtful action movies of recent times, Mad Max: Fury Road, and turn it into a generic find-and-destroy open world game. That’s exactly what I envisioned when I first heard of the Mad Max game, which is set in the same universe and stars the same titular character, but is otherwise divorced from Fury Road. I’m glad to say I was wrong.

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World of Warcraft: Legion unveiled with teaser – Blizzard has announced the upcoming expansion to World of Warcraft, it is called Legion. The company showed off Legion at Gamescom in Germany earlier today, including releasing the first teaser for the expansion that includes a look at both gameplay and its different features (we’ve the video after the jump). Among other things, World of Warcraft: Legion will include a new level cap raised to 110, as well as a new hero class called Demon Hunter.

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Prison Break becomes the latest Fox series to be rebooted – Prison Break, a show about hot tattooed men learning how far they will go for the people they love as they writhe inside cages, is coming back for another escape. Deadline reports that the series, which limped off the air in 2009 after two incredible seasons and two mediocre ones, will return for 10 episodes. The first one is now being written by creator Paul Scheuring, with stars Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell returning as brothers who perpetually find themselves caught up in shadowy conspiracies. They will probably have to break out of something again. It could be fun!

Off Topic (Sort of):

Microsoft vacates moral high ground for the data slurpers’ cesspit – A funny thing happened while I was reinstalling Windows 8 over Windows 10 yesterday morning. There in front of me, halfway through the installation process, were two full, clear pages of privacy toggles. Every toggle was set to not send private information to Microsoft, or anyone else. In addition, Windows 8 created a local user account by default – and didn’t demand I maintain a constant, umbilical connection to Microsoft’s servers. Windows 8 was configured for maximum privacy. Now compare this to the indiscriminate data slurp that Microsoft calls Windows 10. It’s basically a clumsy, 3GB keylogger.

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Why Windows 10 isn’t really free: The subtle new world of built-in costs – Windows 10 isn’t really free. Realizing why and how it isn’t really free can help you understand why installing the operating system on 1 billion systems by 2017 is such a big deal for Microsoft—and why this version of Windows is very different at its core than Windows 7 and its predecessors. Let’s get the “free” part out of the way before we dive into that, though.

Should Software Companies Be Legally Liable For Security Breaches? – It’s a truism that all software has bugs and security holes. It’s another that license agreements invariably make software vendors immune to liability for damage or losses caused by such flaws. But, to my surprise, Black Hat’s founder and keynote speaker are arguing that software product liability, presumably mandated by governments, is inevitable. If they’re right, a seismic change is on the horizon.

Man films cop, who quickly unholsters his weapon for no apparent reason – In the most recent incident involving authorities, filming, and firearms, a new viral phone video from California depicts a bizarre situation where a local police officer unholsters his weapon at a man for no apparent reason. The video was taken by Don McComas (aka Ryan Jones), of Rohnert Park, California, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. The five-minute film was posted to YouTube on August 3, and it shows a Rohnert Park police SUV slowly approaching McComas on what appears to be a quiet residential street. In the YouTube notes, McComas wrote that it all started when he was out in front of his house, hooking up his boat to his car.

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Samsung will turn its TVs into giant credit cards – Samsung wants to make it easier for you to make purchases from the comfort of your couch. That’s why they’re bringing Samsung Pay integration to their smart TVs. Only 2014 and 2015 models will be receiving the upgrade. If that happens to include your Samsung set, you’ll soon be able to make payments with the greatest of ease. Link your Samsung Pay account to your credit card or PayPal account, and all you have to do to complete a transaction on your television is to enter a four-digit PIN.

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The One Thing Every Great Company Has In Common – Obscured in the valuation dust of the current unicorn stampede is a key question: What actually makes a great company great? What do the future Facebooks, Googles and Apples have in common — not to mention the current ones?

Something to think about:

“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”

–     Albert Einstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Belarc Advisor – Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, network inventory, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, security benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser.

While there are a lot of choices in system info tools, Belarc has the advantage of being around the longest. It’s a tool found in most techs toolboxes.

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Pointing up  I bought a new machine yesterday and Belarc Advisor got me up to date quickly on all facets of this new box. The graphic above illustrates just a small sample of the type of reporting this app is capable of. Highly recommended.

IP Camera Viewer – IP Camera Viewer lets you use any USB or IP camera is to keep an eye on your home, office, parking area or anywhere you need security.

View video from multiple IP cameras directly to your computer. Currently more than 2000 different IP camera models from leading camera manufactures are supported. It includes Axis, Canon, D-Link, Foscam, Panasonic, Mobotix, Pixord, Sony, Toshiba, Vivotek and many more.

You can send a request to our technical team if your camera or model is not listed in our application. Virtually all USB cameras work with IP Camera Viewer. You can control and view up to 4 camera feeds simultaneously. Get a live preview from multiple cameras with this light-weight application. IP Camera Viewer’s centralized camera and layout management allows you to view your cameras from multiple remote locations on a single screen. You can change the arrangement and preview layout of the cameras, for your security needs.

Make the live video clearer by adjusting camera image and video properties. It allows you to individually configure video properties such as resolution and frame rate for USB cameras. You can set image properties such as saturation, brightness, contrast for USB and IP Cameras.

What if your camera is mounted upside-down or its preview is tilted a bit? With IP Camera Viewer you can adjust the orientation of your camera preview. It helps you to adjust the coverage area by supporting many PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) enabled network cameras. IP Camera Viewer provides a digital zoom, even if it is not supported by your camera.

IP Camera Viewer allows you to set up a system that suits your needs. It’s absolutely free and ideal for both personal and business use.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dream of Internet freedom dying, Black Hat keynoter says – Today the dream of Internet freedom is dying as the global network becomes more centralized, regulated and globalized, according to Jennifer Granick, who delivered the opening keynote Wednesday at the annual Black Hat USA Conference in Las Vegas.

Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said we will have an Internet in 20 years that does not reflect the original dream of freedoms and global conversation.

“It will be a slick, stiff, controlled closed thing,” she told a packed Mandalay Bay Ballroom.

Granick said the hacker ethic that information should be accessible is dying along with decentralization, that was an original design element of the Internet, and the idea of a network that would allow free speech, while providing security and privacy.

Australia: Foxtel to launch legal action to block pirating websites – FOXTEL will be the first rights-holder to begin launching legal proceedings, with the company confirming it is receiving legal advice on how it can best put the new anti-piracy legislation into effect.

If Foxtel does launch a case in the coming months, it would be aimed at blocking websites such as The Pirate Bay, which Australians flock to to illegally download shows such as Game of Thrones, which Foxtel has the exclusive rights to in Australia.

A Foxtel spokesman told news.com.au: “The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill does nothing more than give copyright holders similar rights in relation to foreign websites which steal their content to those they would have if the sites were based in Australia.

“Because these pirate sites do not exist in Australia, rights holders are not able to take direct legal action against them.

“Similar laws exists in Europe, the UK, Singapore and many other jurisdictions.

“Foxtel and other rights holders are currently assessing what action can and should be taken to give effect to the legislation.” (recommended by Mal C.)

China Is Making a Massive New Move to Censor the Internet – China, long known for its strict Internet censorship laws, is now sending online censors to take posts at the country’s biggest online companies.

Key “network security officers” will monitor the work of key websites and Web firms for crimes such as fraud and the “spreading of rumors,” China’s Ministry of Public Security said in a statement. These officers would be a part of the roughly 2 million people employed by the government to monitor Web activity, as first reported by the BBC.

The ministry didn’t say which companies would be getting a new in-house police unit, the Wall Street Journal notes. It also wasn’t clear whether these new measures would apply to international companies as well as local tech firms operating in China.

Germany’s top prosecutor fired over Netzpolitik “treason” probe – Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas has fired the country’s top prosecutor, Harald Range, over the latter’s handling of the Netzpolitik.org “treason” investigation, turning what began as a battle over blogs, whistleblowing, and freedom of the press, into a full-blown political crisis. As the Deutsche Welle website reports, the dismissal was framed as an “early retirement.” Maas said: “I have told Federal Prosecutor Range that my trust in his ability to fulfill the office has suffered lasting damage and therefore in agreement with the Chancellery I will request his retirement today.”

On Sunday, Ars reported that Range was pausing the investigation. That was partly as a result of the growing public outcry over the suggestion that two journalists at Netzpolitik.org had committed treason for publishing leaks about Germany’s surveillance plans, but also because of growing political pressure. Last week, Maas indicated to Range that he doubted that publishing the leaked documents on Netzpolitik.org constituted treason. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Monday that she gave her “full support” to the Justice Minister, while refusing to say whether she still had confidence in Range—effectively siding with Maas.

Yesterday, Range hit back, accusing Maas of “an intolerable encroachment on the independence of the judiciary.” AFP reported him as saying: “The freedom of the press and of expression is a valuable asset. But this freedom, including on the Internet, is not limitless. It does not absolve journalists of the duty to comply with the law.” This framing turned the “treason” affair into an open battle between the German state and its judiciary, but with Merkel’s public support, Maas evidently felt in a strong enough position to remove Range without further discussion.

Tech industry objects to terrorist activity reporting section in US legislation – Powerful tech industry groups have asked the U.S. Senate to drop a plan to require Internet companies to report terrorist activity on their platforms, as the provision could potentially raise privacy issues for users.

Section 603 of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 would require Internet services companies, who obtain ”actual knowledge of any terrorist activity,” to provide to the appropriate authorities the “facts or circumstances” of the alleged activities.

Describing “any terrorist activity” as a vague and overbroad term, the Internet Association, Reform Government Surveillance and Internet Infrastructure Coalition have in a letter Wednesday warned that the provision could result in “overbroad reporting to the government, swamping law enforcement with useless information, and potentially raising First Amendment and privacy concerns for the user who posted the item.”

How the Arab Spring blew the lid off the commercial spyware – When Middle Eastern governments fell in the Arab Spring uprisings, one of the side effects was that hard evidence of dodgy practices by commercial spyware vendors was made public. Unfortunately, the result is putting us all at risk.

Documents uncovered when the Mubarak regime fell showed that the Egyptians had bought commercial spyware from the UK-based firm Gamma International, while in Syria, Blue Coat Systems was found to have been selling deep packet inspection equipment to the government.

The same was true in Libya, where after the fall of the Gaddafi dictatorship, documents were found showing that Amesys – a subsidiary of French conglomerate Groupe Bull – had sold the mad colonel’s government spyware that was tracking Libyan citizens both at home and abroad.

“All of this became evidence of what people knew all along – that there were sales of sophisticated malware that enabled governments that weren’t tech savvy to spy on their own citizens and on diasporas abroad,” explained security researcher Collin Anderson.

Carly Fiorina calls on Apple, Google to provide greater access for FBI – Republican presidential candidate and former tech-executive Carly Fiorina has called on Apple and Google to provide greater access to information about their users to the FBI and law enforcement in order to aid investigations.

Speaking Thursday in a televised debate in Cleveland organized by Fox News Channel, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said restrictions that prevent private companies and law enforcement from working together need to be changed.

“I certainly support that we need to tear down cyber walls, not on a mass basis but on a targeted basis,” she said in response to a question from a moderator.

“I do not believe that we need to wholesale destroy every American citizen’s privacy in order to go after those that we know are suspect or already a problem, but yes, there is more collaboration required between private sector companies and the public sector and specifically we know that we could have detected and repelled some of these cyber attacks if that collaboration had been permitted,” she said.

Law banning secret filming of animal abuse on farms ruled unconstitutional – Idaho’s pro-agribusiness law that barred the secret recording of livestock has been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge who ruled that the so-called “ag gag” law violated the First Amendment.

The decision, if it survives on appeal, threatens similar laws in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah. A North Carolina law takes force in January. Idaho’s law carried a maximum one-year jail penalty and up to a $5,000 fine for first offenders for filming or audio recording at a farm without the owner’s consent.

It was challenged by several animal-rights groups. Monday’s decision marks the first time one of these laws has been declared unconstitutional.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the group hopes the Idaho decision snowballs. “This Idaho decision is just the first step in defeating similar ag gag laws across the country,” the group said in a statement.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – August 5, 2015

Trust no one: How caller ID spoofing has ruined the simple phone call;   Want Windows 10 to stop tracking you? Now there’s an app for that;  Use Cortana to control your Android phone from Windows 10;  Tor users: Do not expect anonymity and end-to-end security;  LibreOffice 5: The best office suite today won’t cost you a dime;  12 obscure new Windows 10 features that eliminate everyday hassles;  Mac backup basics;  YouTube rolls out an updated video player;  How to install Windows 10 on a Mac;  BitTorrent Sync apps updated with productivity features;  Yahoo’s ads spread malware via hackers, vulnerable Flash;  Netflix Surges 8% To All-Time High;  Xbox One will get a TV DVR feature next year;  14 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks;  Why it’s time to prepare for a world where machines can do your job.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Trust no one: How caller ID spoofing has ruined the simple phone call – Caller ID is easy to spoof and it’s leading to a host of real threats, from account recovery fraud to marketing scams to malicious pranks resulting in SWAT teams showing up at a victim’s door.

Windows 10 doesn’t offer much privacy by default: Here’s how to fix it – Windows 10, by default, has permission to report a huge amount of data back to Microsoft. By clicking through “Express Settings” during installation, you allow Windows 10 to gather up your contacts, calendar details, text and touch input, location data, and a whole lot more. The OS then sends it all back to Microsoft so that it can be used for personalisation and targeted ads. That isn’t to say you should be happy about this state of affairs, however. If you’d like to retain most of your privacy and keep your personal data on your PC, Windows 10 can be configured in that way. Just be warned that there are quite a few toggles that need to be turned off, and you’ll lose some functionality as well (Cortana won’t work, for example).

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Want Windows 10 to stop tracking you? Now there’s an app for that – Some have said Microsoft does not respect its users’ privacy by default; others believe some of the hype is overblown. Perhaps the biggest critique is that upon setup, the process could offer more granular options, and report less data back to the software giant. All of the tracking mechanisms can be switched off through the various options at setup, and after the fact through the settings. But now there’s a lightweight, open-source app that aims to claw back your privacy.

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Windows 10 Tip: Customizing the Start menu – With Windows 10, Microsoft is offering new ways to customize the Start menu and for those of you who are new to the OS, we have a guide to help you get started making Windows feel a bit more personal.

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Windows 10 ‘Service Release 1’ expected to roll out next month – SR1 will be a maintenance update, focusing on adding polish and stability to the OS, so don’t expect any new features. As more people continue to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will gather more telemetry from the OS in action, and will no doubt use that data to help inform development of future maintenance releases.

Use Cortana to control your Android phone from Windows 10 – Cortana is now almost everywhere, thanks to Windows 10 bringing Microsoft’s smart assistant desktops and tablets. While there have been indications that Cortana will indeed come to Android smartphones, that might still be a long time coming. What if you wanted Cortana to let you control your smartphone, or almost anything else, hands-free and only using your voice? Good thing, then, that Android already has all the needed tools to make that happen and, with a bit of trickery, rope in Cortana into it as well.

12 obscure new Windows 10 features that eliminate everyday hassles – The amount of new goodies in Windows 10 is almost mind-boggling. Even if you’ve read PCWorld’s insanely detailed Windows 10 review, our look at Windows 10’s best new features, and our mammoth guides to the operating system’s best tips and tricks and hidden features, you still haven’t seen everything Microsoft has to throw at you. Case in point: These 10 awesome new Windows 10 features that fly under the radar. Between these and virtual desktop support, Windows 10 renders a decent chunk of our list of free PC programs that ease headaches obsolete. Let’s dig in.

How to install Windows 10 on a Mac – If you haven’t already heard, Windows 10 is pretty great and worth installing on your PC. Apple fans won’t miss out either, since the new operating system can be installed on your Mac as well. Following these instructions will install Windows 10 on your Mac in a dual-boot configuration, meaning you’ll have the option to choose which operating system (Windows 10 or Mac OS) to use each time you turn on the computer.

Mac backup basics – A Mac backup plan doesn’t have to be complicated. The easier a plan is to set up and follow, the more likely you are to use it and have a current backup when disaster happens.

LibreOffice 5: The best office suite today won’t cost you a dime – I’ve used LibreOffice as my main office suite since it forked from OpenOffice five years ago. Now its latest edition, LibreOffice 5.0, is better than ever. And, in my book, that means it’s the best standalone office suite available in 2015.

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YouTube rolls out an updated video player – You may have already noticed this morning that YouTube has rolled out a revised version of its video player for desktop users. The new video player looks very nice and you can see it in the image here or when you play any of the embedded videos on SlashGear. YouTube didn’t bother to toss up a PR to tell us all of what it changed leaving us to glean the details for ourselves.

The $169 Cloudbook is Acer’s idea of a Windows 10 Chromebook – Announced a month ago, Acer has officially launched the Windows 10 equivalent of Google’s Chromebooks, coming in at jut $169 and running full Windows 10.

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Epson’s new printers will make ink cartridges a thing of the past – Printer drivers, paper jams, running out of ink, it’s all the worst (though the advent of wireless printing makes things marginally less horrible). Epson is trying to do its part to make things a little better with its new line of EcoTank printers — despite the ridiculous name, they have the smart idea of coming with huge tanks of ink that should last about two years before they need to be replaced. Epson claims that these printers have about the same capacity of 20 sets of ink cartridges; when the tanks run low, you can top them off with a bottle of ink. Basically, the EcoTank is the Droid Turbo of printers: can’t come up with better ink / battery technology? Just make things bigger. These printers don’t come cheap, either — the least expensive EcoTank printer starts at $379.

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BitTorrent Sync apps updated with productivity features – The Bittorrent Sync mobile apps have been updated with features needed for productivity, not just file sharing. Among the changes is the ability to directly edit files and then sync those changes on other devices where the item is stored. There’s also the option to create different file types that are saved straight into the Sync folder for sharing to other devices or users. The changes have arrived for mobile users on multiple platforms as of today.

Security:

Security experts create worm that infects Mac firmware and is nearly impossible to get rid of – Apple’s Macs and OS X have traditionally been viewed as a safer, more secure alternative to Windows, but researchers have proven that’s not the case. Security experts created a worm that attaches itself to a Mac’s firmware and remains there no matter what. Ahead of a presentation on this type of attack, researchers created a proof-of-concept worm that can stealthily burrow itself into a Mac’s firmware. It’s then impossible to remove without re-flashing the device’s firmware, which can be difficult and is only for those who really know what they’re doing.

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Yahoo’s ads spread malware via hackers, vulnerable Flash – Yahoo was recently hit by hackers who used its advertisements to deliver malware to an unspecified number of visitors on several of its own websites, it has been revealed. The malware campaign carried on for a full 7-day week before Yahoo, having been alerted by the researchers who discovered it, took it down. Yahoo says it is investigating the matter, and though it has not revealed how many people were affected, it said through a spokesperson that the initial reports “grossly misrepresented” the scale of the attack.

Tor users: Do not expect anonymity and end-to-end security – The Tor network is similar to a door lock: It works well, until a determined individual wants to get in. Get details on what Tor is and what it is not.

EFF developing stronger ‘Do Not Track’ standards for web browsers – While a “Do Not Track” setting has become standard in most browsers today, including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, it’s commonly known that internet advertisers still have ways of tracking users. Advertisers profit from tracking the browsing history of users, and whether users have turned the Do Not Track setting on or not, many will ignore it altogether in their quest for data. That’s why the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced it’s building a stronger standard for the setting, aimed to protecting user privacy.

Battery Attributes Can Be Used To Track Web Users – A team of European security researchers has published a paper analyzing how the battery life of mobile devices could be used to track web browsing habits of Firefox users on Linux, using the HTML5 Battery Status API.

Company News:

Netflix Surges 8% To All-Time High On News Of New Price Target And Japan Launch Date – On a day the NASDAQ was down about 0.2 percent, Netflix hit a new all-time high during intra-day trading, hitting $122.78 and eventually closing at $121.00 per share, up 7.5 percent on the day. The video streaming service has seen its shares rise 143 percent so far in 2015. A stock split, Icahn cashing out, and and encouraging earnings reports have spurred investor’s attention in the company, as has its recently announced entry into Asian markets.

Netflix Announces Its New ‘Unlimited’ Maternity And Paternity Leave Program – A few hours after hitting its all-time stock price high today, Netflix has announced a new program for all employees. This is a pretty landmark perk, with the company showing both current and potential employees how much it cares. The company suggests parents can come back to the office either part or full time, then go back out as necessary during the first year. All paid of course. Yahoo doubled its maternity and paternity leave in 2013 to make it more competitive with Facebook and Google, and it has shown to be an important perk for all three companies. The talent is growing up.

Apple falls to third in China smartphone rankings, while Xiaomi vaults ahead – Xiaomi regained its position as China’s leading smartphone vendor in the second quarter, while Apple fell to third place despite increased sales of its iPhones. Xiaomi took 15.9% of the Chinese market in the April-to-June quarter, according to research firm Canalys, followed by Huawei, which had 15.7% and was the fastest growing vendor. It’s an impressive feat for both Xiaomi and Huawei. China is the world’s biggest smartphone market and competition is more fierce than ever, with Apple, Samsung and dozens of smaller local vendors all fighting for a bigger piece of the pie.

Accenture acquires US cybersecurity firm FusionX – Global consulting giant Accenture announced on Tuesday it has acquired FusionX, a Washington, DC-based cybersecurity firm. FusionX specializes in cyber attack simulation, threat modeling, cyber investigations and security risk advisory — services that Dublin-based Accenture plans to fold into its own suite of global security offerings.

Amazon responds to furor over limits on Prime sharing – Amazon has responded to an erupting controversy surrounding its popular Prime membership program, saying that a change it quietly made in regard to sharing accounts was meant to benefit customers, not restrict them.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games launches in November with 100 titles – Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra said that over 83 years’ worth of Xbox 360 games have been played on the Xbox One so far – and there will soon be plenty more titles to look forward to. He announced that all future Xbox 360 Games with Gold titles will have backward compatibility support on the newer console. Most importantly of all, he announced that Microsoft will make Xbox 360 backward compatibility available on the Xbox One this November for everyone – not just those on the preview program – with over 100 titles at launch.

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Xbox One will get a TV DVR feature next year – Microsoft announced the new feature on stage at Gamescom today, but the company is limiting it to only free-to-air TV. While the Xbox One can control and view content from cable boxes using a HDMI-in port, Microsoft has released digital TV tuners in Europe and the US to support free-to-air television. Mike Ybarra, head of platform engineering at Xbox, only mentioned recording free-to-air TV on stage, and Microsoft’s blog post reveals this is for free-to-air only. Microsoft is planning to enable the Xbox One TV DVR feature in 2016.

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Microsoft announces Halo World Championship with $1 million prize pool – We’ve seen plenty of Halo 5: Guardians in the lead-up to its October 27th release date. For Gamescom 2015, Microsoft focused on Halo’s history as an e-sport — and then took it a step further by announcing a World Championship with $1 million in prizes. That’s a significant boost from last month’s $150,000 pool but still a far cry from the $18 million Dota 2 International Championships. The focus will be on Halo 5’s more frenetic Arena multiplayer (instead of Warzone).

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stratolaunch aircraft will have a 385-foot wingspan – Paul Allen, Elon Musk and several other partners are teaming up to build an aircraft that will be the largest aircraft in the entire world when finished. The aircraft is dubbed Stratolaunch and if all goes well the partners plan to begin testing the aircraft in 2016. Stratolaunch is already under construction at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. The partners plan to use the giant aircraft to perform in air launches of satellite-laden rockets. By launching the rockets in the air rather than from the ground, inclement weather wouldn’t delay a launch and the rockets would save fuel since they would already be at altitude and speed before the launch started.

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Google And MIT Researchers Demo An Algorithm That Lets You Take Clear Photos Through Reflections – In a paper they will present at Siggraph 2015 later this month, Tianfan Xue, Michael Rubinstein, Ce Liu and William T. Freeman show how you can take a short video sequence with your phone and then let their algorithms do their magic. Reflections, rain drops and fences mostly disappear from the final image. The algorithms looks at the different images from the video and then figure out what’s an obstruction in the foreground and what’s part of the background. Others have tried this before, but none of their results are as good as what these researcher came up with.

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14 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks – Our brains filter through a constant tsunami of stimuli and piece the important parts together to recreate what we know as “reality.” And they do all this in damn-near real-time—which is really impressive if you think about it. But here’s the thing: a big chunk of what we consider “reality” actually consists of our brains making guestimates. We know this because researchers have devised ways to consistently fool our brains into seeing things they’re not really seeing—even when our brains know that’s not what they’re seeing. These little reality busters are known as “optical illusions.”

Why it’s time to prepare for a world where machines can do your job – For decades movies have warned of intelligent machines taking our lives while ignoring a more plausible near-future threat: that they will take our jobs. A growing number of economists and artificial intelligence researchers are recommending that societies prepare for a world where large numbers of jobs are automated. If they’re right, the disruption to labour markets would be significant: the jobs identified as vulnerable are held by swathes of the population including supermarket cashiers and shop assistants, waiters, truck drivers and office admins. All of these tasks have a high probability of being carried out by software within “a decade or two”, according to a study by the Oxford Martin School & Faculty of Philosophy in the UK.

Watch: man surfs with dirt bike, rides across ocean – If you thought GoPro’s video of a man flying like a superhero down a mountain and through a split rock was impressive, DC’s new video will blow your mind. Titled ‘Pipe Dream’, the video shows the successful conclusion of one man’s two-year pursuit: to surf with his dirt bike. He took to the waves in full motocross getup, helmet and all. He also blasted his way over the ocean on the motor bike, dumbfounding a few people in the process. Full video after the jump!

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Dear sexists, this is what engineers actually look like – Technically Incorrect: In response to criticism of an ad featuring a female engineer, the Twitter hashtag #Ilooklikeanegineer attracts pictures of the sort of people that some wouldn’t expect.

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Sugar changes the chemical structure of tea and coffee – Some people just can’t handle their coffee or tea black. It’s too bitter, they say. So, they put a little sugar in to get rid of some of the bitter bite. However, researchers have found that the additive isn’t masking the flavor of these favorite morning beverages — it’s changing the chemistry of the caffeine within these drinks in a fundamental way.

Something to think about:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

–       Isaac Asimov

Today’s Free Downloads:

Viber for desktop – Viber for Desktop lets you send free messages as well as make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country!

Free calls, text and picture sharing with anyone, anywhere!

    Free text, calling, photo messages and location-sharing with Viber users*

No registration, alias or invitations required

Instantly integrates with your own contact list

Best-quality mobile calls using 3G or Wi-Fi

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Global spy system ECHELON confirmed at last – by leaked Snowden files – Special Report: Duncan Campbell has spent decades unmasking Britain’s super-secretive GCHQ, its spying programmes, and its cosy relationship with America’s NSA. Today, he retells his life’s work exposing the government’s over-reaching surveillance, and reveals documents from the leaked Snowden files confirming the history of the fearsome ECHELON intercept project. This story is also published simultaneously today by The Intercept, as is – at long last – Duncan’s Register Christmas Lecture from last year.

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India nixes online porn ban following intense public outrage on social media – That didn’t take long. The world’s oldest Internet hobby is resuming in India, days after the country virtually banned Internet porn. Indians took to Twitter and other social-media sites blasting this weekend’s anti-porn move, and the government has listened.

IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Tuesday that websites that don’t display child pornography may resume streaming, according to local media reports. On Saturday, the Indian government initially ordered Internet providers to filter about 857 websites said to render pornographic material in a bid to protect morality. The government said the sites’ content was “immoral and indecent,” sites including things like Pornhub and Playboy.

“A new notification will be issued shortly. The ban will be partially withdrawn. Sites that do not promote child porn will be unbanned,” Prasad told India Today TV.

Senate heads toward vote on CISA cyberthreat info sharing bill – The U.S. Senate could take a preliminary vote as soon as Wednesday on a controversial bill intended to encourage businesses to share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies, despite concerns that the legislation would allow the widespread sharing of personal customer data.

Senate leaders are attempting to iron out compromise language to address privacy concerns in the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), but if no compromise is reached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will schedule a so-called cloture vote on Wednesday morning, said a spokesman for McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

A cloture vote would limit debate on the bill and move the Senate toward final passage, potentially before the Senate leaves for a four-week summer recess this weekend.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – June 17, 2015

10 Apps That Will Help You Survive the Summer;  Portal Lets You Quickly Transfer Big Files From PC To Phone;  Use Skype straight from the web–beta goes worldwide;  Facebook launches Moments: Makes privately sharing photos quick and easy;  Twitter’s auto-playing videos have arrived;  Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees;  23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  Box Integrates Into Office Online;  8 Cool Tricks for Google Hangouts;  There’s finally an official Raspberry Pi case;  The 5 Best Modern Video Game Remakes;  BitTorrent Shoot shares media across mobile devices in a snap;  FAQ: How Microsoft will update Windows 10;  Hack of cloud-based LastPass exposes hashed master passwords;  Teen shot dead after using app to track lost cell phone;  Retailers want to be able to scan your face without your permission;  How to use enterprise Wi-Fi security in SMBs;  Google Play Prepaid Vouchers Are Now Available In India;  33 must-see PC games revealed at E3 2015;  Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation;  RAMDisk (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

LastPass hack reinforces importance of using multi-factor authentication – Everything that’s important to you online depends on your willingness to use multifactor authentication. If you’re not sure what that means or how to do it, read this article right now.

Facebook launches Moments: Makes privately sharing photos quick and easy – As the summer kicks in gear, people are capturing moments with their smartphone cameras. With the new Moments app you can now quickly and easily share your memories with family and friends.

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(Image: Facebook)

Use Skype straight from the web–beta goes worldwide – Skype just became easier to access, around the world. As an alternative to downloading the Skype app or program, users can turn to their browsers for their communication needs using Skype for Web (beta). The web version isn’t just for checking instant messages. It’s designed to provide the same video and phone calls associated with the full app. As we noted when the beta first launched stateside, users will still have to install a plug-in before initially using the site, but that seems to be only a small hurdle.

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10 Apps That Will Help You Survive the Summer – Use your smartphone to help you and your family make the most of the season.

Portal Lets You Quickly Transfer Big Files From PC To Phone – Pushbullet, the company that makes a handy utility that moves notifications, links and files between devices, is out today with a new app called Portal, which focuses on file transfer alone. Launching first on Android where it’s able to more deeply integrate with the OS, Portal is designed to make it easier to move files – even large files – between your computer and your Android phone. To get started, you first download the Portal app from Google Play, then visit portal.pushbullet.com. Using the Android app, you’ll then scan a QR code that displays on the website in order to connect the two devices. Afterward, you simply drag a file to your web browser and it’s transferred to your phone.

BitTorrent Shoot shares media across mobile devices in a snap – BitTorrent has released a new app to share byte-heavy content like long videos and batches of photos between various mobile devices without ever having to make a detour at the cloud. Just like all things BitTorrent, this app is all about preserving your privacy. Content will go directly between mobile devices, bypassing the cloud entirely to keep anything shared beyond the reach of prying eyes (or a police warrant). The interface is incredibly simple. Choose to send files from your mobile device and Shoot creates a convenient QR code, granting recipients access with a quick scan. The service will run users a one-time fee of $1.99. BitTorrent is letting people try Shoot before they buy it. You can send three batches of photos or videos before buying Shoot. Receivers never have to pay for the service; they simply need the app installed on their mobile device.

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Twitter’s auto-playing videos have arrived – The auto-playing video. It’s okay if you don’t like it. Others feel the same way, so you’re not alone. The problem is that despite the large number of people who detest videos that start playing without permission, social networks are launching them anyway. Twitter’s auto-playing videos are now upon us, at least if you’re using iOS of the web (if you’re not, your day of reckoning is inbound). Twitter announced the feature’s arrival in a statement today, calling it a “new standard for viewability.”

Microsoft will finally make all Bing searches encrypted by default this summer – Microsoft has announced that starting this summer, all searches on Bing will be encrypted which will give users another layer of protection on the web but they are a bit late to the party.

Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees – Cinnamon is best known as one of the two default desktops for Linux Mint, which is fast approaching its next major update. Mint 17.2 will include the brand new Cinnamon 2.6, just released, when delivered later this year. So far, so standard – only Cinnamon is no longer just a Linux Mint desktop. Cinnamon is now available directly as part of Debian 8 and Fedora 22. Naturally, Cinnamon will work with many other distros as well, but its inclusion in the default installers for big names such as Debian and Fedora marks a turning point for Cinnamon: this really is no longer just an “alternative” desktop for a single distro.

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Multiple panels, individually configured, in the new Cinnamon

23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 23 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

How to create an insane multiple monitor setup with three, four, or more displays – The more displays your computer has, the better—but there are considerations to keep in mind as you move into extreme multi-monitor setups for enhanced productivity and gaming.

There’s finally an official Raspberry Pi case – Ever since the Raspberry Pi went on sale, people have been whipping up amazing little cases for them. Now, three years after the Model A was born, they’re finally making an official case. A sort of plastic Pi crust, if you will. How much does the official Pi case sell for? It’s every bit as big a bargain as the tiny computer it’s meant to protect. They’re going for £7 from the Foundation’s swag shop, which is just under $10 at today’s exchange rate. You’ll be able to order them from Raspberry Pi distribution partners around the globe soon, too.

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Box Integrates Into Office Online As The Cloud Company’s Bromance With Microsoft Continues – Box has integrated into Microsoft’s Office Online product, burrowing the enterprise file storage and sharing company deeper into the latter firm’s cloud productivity offering. Previously, Box integrated into Microsoft’s Office 365 product.  The integration allows users to open files from Box into Office Online, and have changes made to the document, or spreadsheet sync back to Box. Also coming later is a ‘share’ feature that will mimic how Box currently manages the function.

8 Cool Tricks for Google Hangouts You (Probably) Didn’t Know Existed – While mobile is most certainly what Google’s devs have in mind for Hangout’s future, let’s not neglect some of the cool things you can do in the desktop version right now. Check out our list of little-known treasures. There are definitely some cool things you didn’t know about.

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4) Video Chat

Google Play Prepaid Vouchers Are Now Available In India For Users Without Credit Cards – India is one of Android’s fastest-growing markets, but its extremely low credit card penetration rate is a challenge for Google as it goes after sweet, sweet app revenue. The tech giant is taking steps to make it easier for people to purchase from Google Play, however, and the latest is the launch of prepaid voucher cards. Google Play’s prepaid vouchers can be used to purchase any kind of digital content in the store, including apps, movies, and books.

Google yanks Chrome’s new visual bookmarks manager – Chrome will roll back to the older, tree-style version of the bookmarks manager. Google says it is not giving up and will continue to search for ways to improve Chrome’s native bookmark experience. For anyone who likes the new bookmark manager, Google will keep it as an extension in the Chrome Web Store.

FAQ: How Microsoft will update Windows 10 – Although Microsoft remains tight-lipped about some of the details of how it plans to keep Windows 10 up to date, enough information has surfaced for a fairly clear picture of the process.

Security:

Hack of cloud-based LastPass exposes hashed master passwords – LastPass officials warned Monday that attackers have compromised servers that run the company’s password management service and made off with cryptographically protected passwords and other sensitive user data. It was the second breach notification regarding the service in the past four years. In all, the unknown attackers obtained hashed user passwords, cryptographic salts, password reminders, and e-mail addresses, LastPass CEO Joe Siegrist wrote in a blog post. It emphasized that there was no evidence the attackers were able to open cryptographically locked user vaults where plain-text passwords are stored. That’s because the master passwords that unlock those vaults were protected using an extremely slow hashing mechanism that requires large amounts of computing power to work.

Pointing up   For years I’ve cautioned against the use of password managers – easy, convenient, and decidedly unsafe.

The following are 2 past articles on this issue.

Should You Forget About Password Safes and Write Down Your Passwords?

Be Safe – Write Down Your Passwords

SwiftKey hack can remotely take over Samsung mobile devices – Android users on Samsung mobile devices could be vulnerable to a new type of security hack. The security flaw was discovered by Ryan Welton from NowSecure. He detailed his findings at the Blackhat Security Summit in London. The hackable exploit arises from the pre-installed SwiftKey keyboard. As Swiftkey searches for updates to its language packs over unencrypted lines, via plain text, it is susceptible to malicious security apps from any spoofed proxy server. Using this as a keyhole, Welton could scale up the attack to basically take over a vulnerable mobile device while the user remains unaware. The bug affects over 600 million Samsung users, including those using the Galaxy S6.

Teen shot dead after using app to track lost cell phone – A Canadian teen leaves his phone in a cab. He tracks it down to three men in a car. They allegedly refused to give him the phone back. He is then shot dead. Just as you have to be careful when meeting people who might be selling phones on Craigslist, you have to gauge the situation if you choose to trace your lost or stolen phone. If there’s the remotest potential of danger, call the police.

Retailers want to be able to scan your face without your permission – After more than a year of discussions, all nine privacy advocates have stormed out of a government-organized “multi-stakeholder process” to sort out details around the best practices for facial recognition technology. The sticking point was that corporations apparently refused to concede that there was any scenario during which a person’s consent to scan their face was needed.

As the privacy group wrote in a statement released late Monday evening:

At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement—and identifying them by name—using facial recognition technology. Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise. The position that companies never need to ask permission to use biometric identification is at odds with consumer expectations, current industry practices, as well as existing state law.

How to use enterprise Wi-Fi security in SMBs – No matter what size your business, using WPA2 security is a good first step to protecting your Wi-Fi network. Don’t blow it by using the standard’s not-so-secure PSK mode.

Chinese snoops try tracking VPN users with fiendish JSONP trickery – Snoops are exploiting vulnerabilities in China’s most frequented websites to target individuals accessing web content which state censors have deemed hostile. The whole multi-stage attack relies on a JavaScript-related vulnerability, known as JSONP, first publicised in 2013. Privacy is compromised when surfers browse sensitive websites while logged into another mainstream website, even in a different tab or window. The upshot is that Chinese surfers who visit Baidu, for example, at the same time as visiting targeted non-government organisation, Uyghur and Islamic websites are exposing their surfing habits even if they are using a VPN. The snooping has been going on since at least October 2013, with the most recent attack discovered only a few days ago, reports security tools firm AlienVault.

Company News:

Amazon Uber-for-Prime crowd delivery rumored – Amazon is developing an “Uber for deliveries” known internally as On My Way, insiders say, hoping to bypass traditional methods with citizen couriers. The project would see Amazon build a footprint in physical stores, though only to temporarily gather order boxes so that a network of contract staff could pick them up and deliver them to customers. The goal, it’s said, is to trim Amazon’s growing costs related to getting orders to shoppers, as well as alleviating bottlenecks at high-demand periods such as Christmas.

Microsoft Opens A Branded Store On Indian E-Commerce Platform Snapdeal – Microsoft has launched its own branded store on Snapdeal, one of India’s top e-commerce sites, as it aims to grow its share of the country’s fast-growing mobile market. Microsoft already sells product via Amazon India, but its store on Snapdeal will be much like a mirror of its own site, complete with “exclusive products [and] offers.”

Apple Taps MobileIron To Help It Deploy iPad Apps Into The Enterprise – Apple is working with mobile device management shop MobileIron to help deploy applications into the enterprise. The collaborative effort is part of a larger enterprise push by Apple that has it working with IBM and a number of other firms that sell products into the enterprise.

Amazon to call on US Congress for fewer drone restrictions – Amazon on Wednesday will call on the U.S. Congress to embrace automated drone flights and come up with a set of simple, nationwide regulations that will allow its proposed Prime Air service to get off the ground. The company is one of several that is lobbying U.S. lawmakers hard to accept looser regulations for drone flights than those proposed recently by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Games and Entertainment:

33 must-see PC games revealed at E3 2015 – Between all the console talk and publishers rushing to reveal their hot new games ahead of the E3 press crunch, the annual “Day Zero” press conferences held by gaming’s biggest publishers before E3’s doors officially open don’t hold quite as much luster as they used to. But don’t let that dissuade you! Day Zero is chock full of info about the biggest games barreling down the pipeline in the coming months, and now that all the major consoles pack AMD hardware, the vast majority of those blockbusters are destined to grace PCs, too—even if publishers typically only hype up the console versions at E3. From Fallout 4 to Doom to Star Wars Battlefront—and plenty more in between—here are the big-name games you can expect to play on your computer soon.

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Super Mario Maker Will Let You Build Your Own Mario Levels This September – Nintendo is letting players take control of its Mario platform game building tools with Super Mario Maker, and now we know when it’ll be available: September 11, 2015. The “game” allows people to create their own levels in either Super Mario Bros 8-bit graphics, or more modern 3D style (albeit with the same mechanics underneath), and then play them instantly.

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National Geographic and Morgan Freeman helm ‘The Story of God’ TV series – National Geographic’s newest undertaking is a world away from its coverage of the animal kingdom. In partnership with Revelations Entertainment, its latest project is The Story of God. The series will be on air next year on The National Geographic Channel, and will see a global release in 171 countries in 45 different languages. Lending heavenly narration skills to the series is Morgan Freeman. At this time, it’s unclear whether he will be present in voice or figure as well. Either way, attaching his name was a smart move on Nat Geo’s part.

The 5 Best Modern Video Game Remakes – With a Final Fantasy VII remake coming, we look at other franchises that got the console treatment. Perhaps no game has more fans waiting for a remake than the legendary Final Fantasy VII from 1997. And they got their wish last night, when Square Enix announced it will be completely remaking it, starting with a PlayStation 4 version. To celebrate, let’s look back a few of the best video game remakes from the last couple of decades. If FFVII turns out half as good as these, fans will rejoice.

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With a Final Fantasy VII remake coming, we look at other franchises that got the console treatment.

New Xbox One dashboard puts Cortana on call – All your base is belong to Cortana! Whether it be your smartphone, your tablet, or your PC, Microsoft’s personal assistant is there to serve your every voiced need. And now, she’s on the Xbox One too! Microsoft has just demoed the latest dashboard experience and it showed off the new and improved interface. While things are arguably better for hunting down friends and remembering what game you last played, one of the most interesting new features is probably one that you hardly expected: Cortana.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stat nerds and reality clash in Donald Trump candidacy – Technically Incorrect: The boffins declare that the “Celebrity Apprentice” host is the worst presidential candidate since data was collected. Trump insists he’s the greatest.

Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation – A Columbia University team of researchers have created what is said to be the first ever engine that is driven by evaporation. The engine, in this case, is small and made of plastic and able to power LED lights and similar mild tasks when exposed to a plain puddle of water. The engine is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, and it could in the future prove to be an inexpensive and effective way to generate useable amounts of energy from commonly found bodies of water.

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Get excited for next month’s Pluto flyby with this beautiful teaser – The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006, and is currently hurtling toward Pluto at more than 35,000mph (nearly 60,000 km/h). It’s set to pass the giant ball of rock and ice on July 14th, and when it does it will give us the first real glimpse ever seen of the former planet. In anticipation of that historic moment, the National Space Society commissioned this beautiful video teaser (conveniently called New Horizons) by the man behind Wanderers, the space-themed short film that went viral late last year. Where Wanderers was all about the places our species might someday go, New Horizons is all about paying homage to the exploration we’ve already accomplished at a distance.

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The creation of the modern laptop – An in-depth look at lithium-ion batteries, industrial design, Moore’s law, and more. Pick up your laptop. Actually, scratch that—read this paragraph first, then pick up your laptop. You are holding one of the most advanced machines ever built in the history of humanity. It is the result of trillions of hours of R&D over tens of thousands of years. It contains so many advanced components that there isn’t a single person on the planet who knows how to make the entire thing from scratch. It is perhaps surprising to think of your laptop as the pinnacle of human endeavour, but that doesn’t make it any less true: we are living in the information age, after all, and our tool for working with that information is the computer.

This Range Rover Prototype Can Be Driven With A Smartphone App – There are remote control cars and then there are Remote Control Cars. This is the latter of the two. Range Rover UK developed a prototype system that allows a Range Rover Sport to be controlled remotely through a smartphone app. And not just the door locks. The vehicle can be driven from the app.

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Self-awareness (probably) isn’t unique to humans – You’ve likely heard it said that humans are distinguished by their self-awareness, but researchers are saying that such statements might be bull. According to recent research, humans likely aren’t the only creatures on this planet to possess self-awareness, with some animals possessing at least a primitive level of awareness of self. The key is mental simulation of an environment and the need for at least a low level of self awareness to do that, and signs that some animals are capable of such environmental simulation.

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The future of the Apple Watch: Three big questions – While the Apple Watch has generated tons of interest and become the world’s best-selling smartwatch, it’s still facing big questions in the long term. Here are the three biggest.

Something to think about:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

–      Leonardo da Vinci

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 8 Free – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

RAMDisk – RAMDisk is Freeware (up to 4GB disk size). It creates a virtual RAM drive, or block of memory, which your computer treats as if it were a disk drive. By storing files and programs into memory, you can speed up internet load times and disk-to-disk activities, accelerate databases and reduce compile times. Save and load features allow RAMDisk to appear as persistent storage, even through reboots.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden’s lawyer slams Times story claiming leaks ‘betrayed’ British spies – A Sunday Times article stating that British spies had been “betrayed” to Russian and Chinese intelligence services as a result of Edward Snowden’s mass-surveillance revelations to the press is “utter nonsense,” claims the whistleblower’s lawyer.

Robert Tibbo could not be more straightforward. “There was no possibility of interception. Zero,” says the Canadian lawyer from Montreal who has represented Edward Snowden in Hong Kong since June of 2013. That was when the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor leaked classified documents on America’s mass surveillance programs to members of the press. Mr. Tibbo’s client came under pressure after British sources revealed last weekend that spies were pulled out of operations because China and Russia have cracked Mr. Snowden’s files.

“He left this place [Hong Kong] with no data on him”, Mr. Tibbo claimed in a telephone interview from Hong Kong on Monday. He was one of the only two people, along with solicitor Jonathan Man, who had any knowledge of Mr. Snowden’s whereabouts in the city at the time. In an interview Mr. Tibbo was with Mr. Snowden when the whistleblower left Hong Kong for Russia.

“There was no data in a cloud. He passed the data on to the journalists and that was it. Any actual copy he had with him was destroyed [before he left Hong Kong], precisely to avoid it from being seized or intercepted. I was a witness to all of that. “The Sunday Times, a British newspaper owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, published a story last weekend claiming that Britain was forced to “pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries” as a result of China and Russia having cracked the “top secret cache of files stolen” by Edward Snowden. The article cited only anonymous sources identified as coming from Downing Street, the Home Office and security services.

The Sunday Times sends DMCA notice to critics of Snowden hacking story – The Sunday Times dropped a bombshell this weekend, reporting that the top secret files leaked by Edward Snowden have been obtained by the Russian and Chinese governments. The story claimed Western intelligence agencies were “forced into rescue operations” to mitigate the damage, and one UK government source claimed that Snowden had “blood on his hands.”

It would be a major blow to Snowden and the journalists who worked with him—if it were true. But the bold claims started falling apart shortly after it was published this weekend. The story is behind a paywall but available elsewhere. It’s based entirely on anonymous British officials and contains some glaring inaccuracies.

Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald immediately attacked it as “journalism at its worst.” Greenwald is a predictable critic, to be sure, but Times reporter Tom Harper was later questioned about his story on CNN and admitted he’s been unable to check out any of the far-reaching claims told to him by government sources. The reporter answered one question after another with some version of “I don’t know,” admitting he has no idea how any “hack” took place, how or when any foreign governments got the files, or if the files were encrypted at all. Harper simply maintained that the Snowden hacking story was the “official position of the British government.”

This morning, lawyers at Times Newspapers took a step to limit Greenwald’s criticism, sending a notice telling The Intercept that Greenwald’s story, which included a low-res image of the Times’ front page, violates their copyright. The Intercept quickly published the takedown notice, and on Twitter Greenwald made clear that his publication won’t be deleting his copy of the Times’ “humiliating headline.”

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EFF, ACLU appeal license plate reader case to California Supreme Court – Two privacy activist groups formally appealed on Tuesday to the California Supreme Court, in their attempt to compel two Southern California law enforcement agencies to release one week’s worth of license plate reader data.

In May 2013, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) had sued the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to gain access to the data as a way to better understand this surveillance technology. The groups lost in 2014 at the lower court level and last month at the appellate court.

Both agencies, like many others nationwide, use license plate readers (LPRs, or ALPRs) to scan cars and compare them at incredible speeds to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months, or even years. Handing over such a large volume of records by a California law enforcement agency is not without precedent.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – June 12, 2015

25 Android Apps Put to the Security Test;  Fake mobile phone towers discovered in London;  Which Android phone to get? Google has a tool for that;  This is how much time you’re spending on smartphone apps;  ‘Your PC may be infected!’ Inside the shady world of antivirus telemarketing;  U.K. Review Backs Mass Surveillance But Wants Judges To Sign Warrants;  Apple Says These Are the Best Apps of the Year;   Android TV hidden gems: The 10 best hard-to-find apps;  Surfing the Web On Your iPhone Is About to Get Way Better;  Twitter’s mobile app now supports landscape video recording;  Twitter adds sharing block lists to help limit harassment;  Vintage Ask toolbar is malware – and we’ll kill Jeeves, says Microsoft;  These are the first Oculus Rift games;  German parliament may need to replace all software and hardware after hack;  Court refuses to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules;  Teen discovers new planet 1,000 light years away;  Microsoft Hyperlapse Pro Preview (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The dangers of Android malware may be exaggerated, but you should still play it safe – Not everyone agrees that Android malware seriously threatens security. But taking precautions is still a good idea.

25 Android Apps Put to the Security Test – Sure there are plenty of great apps, but there plenty of dangerous ones, too. That’s why most antivirus software providers, having already faced the massive challenge of dealing with PC malware, also provide security software designed specifically for the protecting the little green robot that lives in your phone or tablet. Every few months independent testing labs AV-Test releases a report on the state of Android security software. While the institute’s latest findings aren’t quite as optimistic as they’ve been in the past, they still contain plenty of good news.

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Which Android phone to get? Google has a tool for that – Diversity is both a boon and a bane in Android. On the one hand, it means that buyers can choose from their manufacturer of choice, features of preference, or unique style. On the other hand, it also exhibits the so-called “irony of choice”, almost paralyzing some from choosing among dozens of options. Although Google has probably been long aware of the situation, now it is taking a more active approach. It has just launched a new “Which Phone” web tool that can help narrow down the choices based on your use cases.

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This is how much time you’re spending on smartphone apps – You’re devoting a whole lot of time to smartphone apps, and it’s likely more for play than work. At least that’s what recent statistics suggest. The amount of time people spend each month on smartphone apps was nearly 37 1/2 hours in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to market research firm Nielsen. That represented a 63 percent jump over the same period two years ago. It’s the latest illustration of just how much time people are spending on their smartphones.

Apple Says These Are the Best Apps of the Year – Apple announced the winners of this year’s Apple Design Awards this week at its 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). 12 apps for iOS and Mac ranging from the old-school hopper game Crossy Road to the slick stock trading app Robinhood were recognized for design, creativity, function and personality, according to a statement from Apple. Two of the honorees were student winners: jump-O, a minimalist puzzle game for iPhone and iPad, and Elementary Minute, a quiz game for iPhone and Apple Watch.

Twitter Gets Serious About Messaging, Will Remove DM Character Limit – Beginning in July, DMs will no longer carry the 140 character limit Twitter enforces for its public posts. Direct Message character limit removal probably makes a lot of sense to anyone who uses the feature regularly. Brevity is key in the public-facing stream of Twitter itself, since that’s the whole point of the “micro-blogging” platform. But in private, it just means you often have to break up longer thoughts over multiple messages, and doing so can actually be really annoying.

Twitter’s mobile app now supports landscape video recording – Praise the heavens, mobile video shooters, Twitter has finally gotten with the times and lets you record videos in landscape orientation from within their iOS and Android apps. When Twitter first made in-app video recording available earlier this year, it used square formatting, made popular by social apps Vine and Instagram. Twitter makes it easy to shoot video in the new orientation, just hold your phone like normal, rotate it 90 degrees to the right or left, and start recording!

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Twitter adds sharing block lists to help limit harassment – Microblogging service hopes the ability to block multiple accounts at once will help curb abuse and harassment on the platform.

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Skype’s modern Windows app is dead, long live Skype for Windows desktop – Microsoft-owned Skype has announced today that it will be merging its two Windows apps into a single offering by retiring the touch-based, Modern UI version, and instead moving forward with the traditional desktop app. The touch-friendly Skype app was made for Windows 8 devices, while Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs have always continued to use the desktop app. In anticipation of the debut of Windows 10, the modern Skype app will no longer work beginning July 7th, and users will need to switch to the desktop version.

Reddit Bans Five Harassing Subreddits, Its Trolls Respond Exactly As You’d Expect – Reddit, the hugely popular online community know as the ‘front page of the internet’, has dropped the hammer on five groups on its site judged to be in violation of its policy against harassing users.

The final version of Oculus Rift is coming soon (pictures) – After years of prototypes and updates, Oculus Rift is ready to debut a final version that anyone can buy in 2016.

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10 do’s and don’ts for successful podcasting – Whether you’re in the process of planning a new podcast or you’re already producing episodes, there are (as you might expect) a number of do’s and don’ts to consider. Although these are not hard and fast rules, they will make the entire process (from creation to publication) easier, more productive, and more enjoyable.

Surfing the Web On Your iPhone Is About to Get Way Better – The next version of Apple’s iPhone software will allow adblocking on the device’s Safari browser, according to Apple’s iOS developer library. It’s the first time Apple’s mobile browser will allow adblocking extensions, which over 100 million people already use on their desktops, Nieman Lab reports.

Security:

Hackers stole Social Security numbers, personal data from every single federal employee – Last week, Chinese hackers were pinned for a large-scale attack which compromised the personal information of millions of current and former government employees. The breach targeted the Office of Personnel Management, and incited outrage from security firms and public officials over the lack of security surrounding the incident. Now, the country’s largest federal employee union, the AFGE, has claimed in an internal letter that the Social Security numbers and personal information of every single federal employee – 2.1 million people – have been compromised. Additionally, the AFGE claims Social Security numbers and personal information of 2 million federal retirees have been similarly compromised.

Report: Hack of government employee records discovered by product demo – An OPM statement on the attack said that the agency discovered the breach as it had “undertaken an aggressive effort to update its cybersecurity posture.” And a DHS spokesperson told Ars that “interagency partners” were helping the OPM improve its network monitoring “through which OPM detected new malicious activity affecting its information technology systems and data in April 2015.” Those statements may not be entirely accurate. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the breach was indeed discovered in April. But according to sources who spoke to the WSJ’s Damian Paletta and Siobhan Hughes, it was in fact discovered during a sales demonstration of a network forensics software package called CyFIR by its developer, CyTech Services. “CyTech, trying to show OPM how its cybersecurity product worked, ran a diagnostics study on OPM’s network and discovered malware was embedded on the network,” Paletta and Hughes reported.

Vintage Ask toolbar is malware – and we’ll kill Jeeves, says Microsoft – Older versions of the Ask toolbar, the bane of many a computer user over the years, has been declared persona non grata by Microsoft, and Redmond says its security software will now kill it on sight. In a June 11 update to its Malware Protection Center site, Microsoft states that older versions of the toolbar, which set itself up as a browser’s homepage and redirected all searches through Ask’s engine, now contravene Redmond’s policies. The latest build is fine, but older Ask toolbars will be hunted down and deleted.

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‘Your PC may be infected!’ Inside the shady world of antivirus telemarketing – Consumer antivirus software has become a highly competitive business, in part because data breaches are in the news almost every week, and people feel a need to protect themselves. It’s also a huge market, with an estimated $4.9 billion in annual sales, according to Gartner. That’s drawn all types of players, some of whom specialize more in affiliate marketing than in security.

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Agents at EZ Tech Support had a job to do: upsell hapless consumers who thought they had a computer virus.

Security Firm Kaspersky Hacked – In an ironic twist of fate, security firm Kaspersky on Wednesday announced that it was hacked. “The bad news is that we discovered an advanced attack on our own internal networks,” the company’s chairman and CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, wrote in a blog post. “It was complex, stealthy, it exploited several zero-day vulnerabilities, and we’re quite confident that there’s a nation state behind it. We’ve called it Duqu 2.0.”

German parliament may need to replace all software and hardware after hack – Some parliamentarians are refusing help from German intelligence services, a report said.

Company News:

Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo Chooses To Step Down, Jack Dorsey Named Interim CEO, Shares Up 3% – After years of user growth struggles, Twitter just announced that its CEO Dick Costolo will be stepping down July 1st, though he’ll remain on the board. Twitter co-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey will be the interim CEO. A conference call with investors has been set for 2:15pm PST today to discuss the situation.

eBay, PayPal asked to explain robocall policies – The soon-to-be-split eBay and PayPal need to answer for changes they’re making to their user agreements, according to the New York state attorney general’s office. Those modifications would allow eBay and PayPal to use “autodialed or prerecorded calls or text messages” to contact their users. The communication could be used to collect debts, seek opinions or answers to surveys, or offer promotions. eBay’s new policy will take effect on Monday; PayPal will implement its changes on July 1.

BlackBerry might adopt Android for its next handset – According to new reports, BlackBerry might be looking to adopt Android for one of its next handsets. This could prove a good move and help showcase the company’s focus on enterprise device management.

BMW and Chinese tech giant Baidu are launching a self-driving car this year – As Google edges closer to the dream of self-driving cars, Chinese search giant Baidu is trying to beat it to the finish line. The Chinese company — which has been working on self-driving vehicles for the past few years — first announced it had entered a partnership with BMW in 2014. It seems that collaboration has already paid off: this week, Baidu senior vice president Wang Jin said that his company would launch of a new self-driving car with the German car manufacturer before the end of the year.

Uber launches iPhone game to attract new drivers – ‘UberDrive’ teaches players to navigate the streets of San Francisco and recruits them to drive for the company

Games and Entertainment:

Retail video game industry suffered abysmal sales slump in May – May marked another dark spot for the US retail video game industry. Sales of game software on discs resumed a downward spiral, falling 25 percent year over year to $212.3 million and dampening the few brief moments in the last six months when software sales were up year over year thanks to a popular new game release, according to industry watcher the NPD Group. Hardware sales, after months and months of keeping the retail industry afloat, fell 18 percent to $153.6 million due to a continued steep drop-off in sales of older gaming consoles, like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

These are the first Oculus Rift games – The Oculus Rift is coming, and now we finally know some of the very first virtual reality games we’ll be able to play on it. At a press conference today, Oculus unveiled the final consumer version of its VR headset, as well as some of the initial games that will be playable when it finally launches. Some we already knew about, some are new, but all look potentially very exciting. The list includes games like sci-fi flight sim Eve Valkyrie, atmospheric RPG Chronos, and Edge of Nowhere, an arctic survival game from Insomniac Games, the studio behind Ratchet & Clank and Resistance.

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Android TV hidden gems: The 10 best hard-to-find apps – Last week, Android TV went from a platform bereft of apps to a platform lousy with them. With devices like the Nexus Player and the Nvidia Shield Android TV, you can now venture beyond Google’s curated selection and browse the entire catalog of more than 600 apps. This newfound openness for Android TV, however, is a mixed blessing. While the full catalog has some great apps throughout, finding them involves sifting through a lot of junk. To spare you the trouble, I’ve dug deep into the Android TV app store to find these 10 hidden gems:

Everything We Love (and Hate) About The Witcher 3 After 160 Hours –  This is a lightly edited dialogue between TIME’s games critic Matt Peckham and assistant managing editor Matt Vella about playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The conversation took place over email over the period of several days.

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Steam’s holding a ‘monster’ summer sale until June 21st – Steam’s annual summer sale is a time-honored tradition at this point, and this year’s iteration is particularly monstrous. Users can take advantage of daily rotating deals and flash sales that switch up every 12 hours until June 21st, meaning there’ll be plenty of opportunities to find steals even if nothing seems especially purchase-worthy on your first click-through. The sale’s kicking off with deals on games like the Tales from the Borderlands series, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and Grand Theft Auto V. There’s also a gamified component to the sale: by playing the accompanying Monster Summer Game, users across the Steam community can work together to unlock even more deals.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Teen discovers new planet 1,000 light years away – Technically Incorrect: A 15 years old, a British school-kid finds something out there that no one had noticed before. How? By studying data.

Report: Airbus transport crash caused by “wipe” of critical engine control data – Reuters reported additional details today provided by individuals familiar with the investigation into the crash, stating that a critical part of the configuration data in three of the aircraft’s four ECUs—a file storing torque calibration parameters for each engine—was somehow “accidentally wiped” when the software was being installed. As a result, three of the aircraft’s engines automatically shut down in flight. Citing a safety document shown to Reuters, Tim Hepher reported that the pilot of the A400M would not have gotten an alert about the missing data until the aircraft was already at an altitude of 400 feet.

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A protoype of the Airbus A400M at the 2010 Farnborough Airshow. MilborneOne

Samsung unveils a transparent OLED TV, hides another one in a mirror – Soon, you’ll be able to mount a Samsung TV in your home without sacrificing valuable wall space that you could be using for shelves to show off your Amiibo collection (since you could hang it right over a picture window if you wanted to). Samsung claims their see-through OLED display is four times more transparent than competitors’ LCD-baesd designs. It’s also got a broader color gamut, higher contrast ratio, faster refresh rate (just 1ms), and uses much less power.

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See a diver high-five (high-fin?) a massive great white shark – A diver in the waters off the coast of Guadalupe Island gets out of the cage and exchanges a friendly slap with a massive shark that could easily eat your face.

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Court refuses to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules – In April, soon after the FCC passed strong net neutrality rules, the broadband industry sued to stop them. But, at least for now, the rules are safe: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has denied a request for a stay that would have temporarily halted the rules. Industry groups had hoped — quixotically — that a judge would prevent the rules from being implemented until the lawsuits were finished, but the rules will now officially come into effect tomorrow. Still, even as the lawsuits unfold, Republicans in Congress have been pushing legislation to stop the FCC. Most recently, the GOP has attempted to add a provision to a funding bill that would stop the commission from enforcing the rules. (This still requires the approval of both the House and Senate, as well as President Obama, who has supported the FCC’s rules.)

Something to think about:

Beyond Facebook:


Presently, I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles.

Everyday I go down the street and tell every passerby what I have eaten, how I feel, what I did the night before, and what I will do after.

I give them pictures of my friends, my family, my dog, and me gardening and spending time in my pool. 

I also listen to their conversations and tell them that I love them.

It works.

I already have 3 people following me – 2 police officers and a psychiatrist.


Thanks Joan   Smile

Today’s Free Downloads:

Windows 10 UX Pack 4.0 – Experience Windows 10 without modifying system files. Also you can read about the upcoming Windows 10 in our preview: 7 Plus 8 Equals 10.

Windows 10 UX Pack will give you Windows 10 UI improvements such as theme and some Windows 10 features without touching system files at all so it won’t have such risk to harm your system at all. In this package, you’ll have Windows 10 inspired themes and applications to make your system resembles Windows 10 as much as possible without modifying system files.

Features:

Instantly dress up Windows 7/8/8.1 to upcoming Windows 10 in one minute

Seamless installation and uninstallation giving user’s confidence and security in system

Easily configurable in single click with intelligence Metro UI design

UxStyle memory patching

Windows 10 Modern, Glass or Metro theme

Instant cursors, wallpaper/logon screen customization

Start Orb rebuilt from original resources with authentic orb from Windows 10 resources

Virtual Desktop from Microsoft

Revived start menu with Metro support

Metro UI desktop emulation with pre-configured gadgets

Aero’s auto-colorization feature

And much more

Limitations: Requires Microsoft .NET Framework

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Unreal Engine 4.8 – Unreal Engine 4 is now available to everyone for free, and all future updates will be free! You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. It’s a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed.

Unreal Engine technology powers hundreds of games as well as real-time 3D films, training simulations, visualizations and more. Over the past 15 years, thousands of individuals and teams and have built careers and companies around skills developed using the engine.

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Microsoft Hyperlapse Pro Preview – Microsoft Hyperlapse is a new technology that creates smooth and stabilized time lapses from first-person videos. Want to show your friends what you saw on that 12-mile hike you took last weekend or let them experience how it felt to fly down the mountain on your recent ski trip? With Microsoft Hyperlapse, you can time lapse those experiences, distilling them into easily consumable, enjoyable experiences.

Features:

Hyperlapse Pro Preview can take video from any camera and create a time lapse with a smoothly moving camera.

It works especially well with wide field of view action camera videos, such as GoPro.

Supports different speed up factors from 2x to 25x.

Hyperlapses can be output at different resolutions and framerates.

Takes advantage of multi-core CPUs and high-end GPUs for better processing speeds.

A step-by-step user interface makes it easier than ever to create hyperlpases.

Limitations: 64-Bit Only

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

U.K. Review Backs Mass Surveillance But Wants Judges To Sign Warrants – A long-awaited independent review of U.K. government surveillance capabilities, conducted by QC David Anderson and published today, has recommended that interception warrants should be signed off by the judiciary, rather than government ministers.

And while the review generally supports U.K. intelligence agencies having bulk interception and data retention (aka mass surveillance) capabilities — which stands in contrast to the U.S. Senate’s recent rowing back on this front in the USA Freedom Act — Anderson stresses these powers should be “subject to strict additional safeguards”, such as having judges sign off interception warrants.

The review recommends a new body, called the Independent Surveillance and Intelligence Commission (ISIC), be set up to judicially authorize all interception warrants.

Other safeguards recommended in the report are tighter definitions of the purposes for which data is sought — with Anderson specifying it should be “defined by operations or mission purposes” (as opposed to fishing expeditions); and the introduction of a new form of “bulk warrant” to limit the acquisition of data captured via mass surveillance to comms metadata.

Fake mobile phone towers discovered in London: Stingrays come to the UK – It has been suspected for some time that stingrays are being used in the UK: back in 2011, The Guardian ran a story to this effect, but the Metropolitan Police refused to comment. A 2014 article in The Times gave details about what is believed to be the legal framework that regulates their use.

As a post from Privacy International explained, following The Times’ report, “when someone is targeted by an IMSI Catcher, it is considered a ‘property interference’ under the Police Act 1997 Part III … a ‘property interference’ is designed to regulate the placing of bugs and breaking into someone’s home, not mobile phone interception.” This approach allows the use of IMSI catcher devices to be bundled up with other kinds of bugging in official reports, which means it is impossible to know exactly how many times they have been deployed.

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests about IMSI catchers, submitted by Privacy International and Sky News, were all refused. Asked by Sky News about the IMSI catchers discovered in London, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, would only say: “We’re not going to talk about it, because the only people who benefit are the other side, and I see no reason in giving away that sort of thing.” That’s the standard reply for all kinds of surveillance, but is as unsatisfactory here as it is elsewhere.

Belgian data retention law axed by constitutional court – A Belgian law requiring telecommunications operators and ISPs to store customer metadata for police investigations was axed by the Constitutional Court of Belgium on Thursday because it violates fundamental privacy rights.

Under the law, customer metadata such as call logs as well as location and Internet data had to be stored for one year for law enforcement to use when investigating serious crimes and terrorism.

The law went into effect in 2013 and was based on the now defunct EU Data Retention Directive that was invalidated by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) last year, also because it violated fundamental privacy rights.

The Belgian law was challenged by the League for Human Rights and the Order of French-speaking and German-speaking Lawyers shortly after it was introduced. They wanted the law annulled, arguing it was unconstitutional and violated European human rights.

If hackers can spy on you all then so should we – US Senator logic – CISA info-sharing bill tacked onto military funding paperwork – Following the cyber-attack during which dossiers on four million US government employees were stolen from Uncle Sam’s servers, staggering out of the smoldering blast crater is Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). And he’s not happy.

In his soot-covered hand is a copy of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), and this week, he angrily stapled it to another proposed law. Because that’s how people get things done in Washington.

The CISA legislation was written to allow technology companies to share information about their customers with the Feds for the purposes of national security and online threats, in exchange for partial legal immunity from citizens upset about this data handover. Critics say it’s a license to spy, whereas supporters say it will thwart the cyber-boogeymen.

CISA was due to be debated in the Senate later this year, but Burr has now added it as an amendment to the larger National Defense Authorization Act, which is primarily focused on military funding.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – May 22, 2015

NSA planned Google Play hack to target Android smartphones;  14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure;  How to prevent mobile malware in 3 easy steps;  How to restart your Android phone into safe mode;  The 20 best Android apps for kids;  Five precautions for avoiding malware when you download and install software;  30 Google Drive Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss;  Mileage trackers made easy;  The Best Free Antivirus for 2015;  9 malware defenders;  Your Secret Questions Are Just as Terrible As Your Passwords;  Google Will Retool Its Maps Service To Prevent Racist Listings;   The 20 best free Android games to play right now;  Ransomware rescue kit released to combat criminal enterprise;   Microsoft, Facebook, Google And The Future Of Voice Communications.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

NSA planned Google Play hack to target Android smartphones – The project, first published Wednesday by CBC News and The Intercept, sought to exploit the smartphone operating system for surveillance. Dubbed “Irritant Horn” by the NSA, the agency planned to hack and hijack the connections to app stores and direct users to spyware. That spyware would collect data and send it back to the NSA without the user noticing. The newly-released document shows how the NSA and its partner agencies in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, wanted to launch man-in-the-middle attacks, a process of tapping into the connection between a user and a server, to install the spyware implant.

14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure – From encrypted instant messengers to secure browsers and operating systems, these privacy-enhancing apps, extensions, and services can protect you both online and offline.

How to prevent mobile malware in 3 easy steps – Most malicious software is found in third-party app stores popular in a few countries that are loaded with pirated versions of software or trojanized applications. While Symantec automatically discovered and analyzed 6.3 million mobile apps in 2014, for example, there are only about 1.5 million apps in the Google Play store and fewer than that in the Apple App Store, according to AppFigures, meaning that two-thirds of applications from other sources make up the majority of data. Paying heed to the data, three simple steps are recommended for North American users.

How to restart your Android phone into safe mode – Safe mode is indispensable when it comes to troubleshooting pesky software problems on your computer. But have you ever wished that a similar feature existed on your Android device? It does, and it’s easy to use: Here’s how to restart your Android phone into safe mode.

The Top Tablets for Your Kids – The iPad is not the only tablet on the market that will appeal to your tech-savvy toddler, tween, or teen. There are a number of Android-based slates that won’t break the bank, Amazon has a kid-focused Kindle Fire, and toy manufacturers are turning their attention toward rugged tablets that can withstand a few drops, crashes, or throws. If the child in your life has been begging for a tablet, or keeps stealing yours, check out our list of the top tablets you should consider.

Learn by doing and exploring with the 20 best Android apps for kids – Whether it’s after school hours or during those long holidays, handing your child a phone or tablet doesn’t have to mean they’re frying their brain through dreaded “screen time.” Instead these educational apps and games show that they can investigate new concepts, practice math, and play games that will sharpen their skills. So check out our roundup of the 20 best selections for kids to get your child hooked on apps that will help them get excited about learning and develop those imperative problem-solving skills.

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Mileage trackers made easy – Tracking mileage can be tedious–but it’s also necessary, whether you need to report it to the IRS or file for reimbursement from your employer. And if your system involves scribbling odometer readings and meeting names on scraps of paper, I have good news for you: There’s an easier way. Here are three apps that make tracking and reporting your miles a whole lot easier.

Adblock Plus’ new Firefox-based browser eradicates ads on Android devices – ABP announced the new effort on Wednesday with an open beta that anyone can join. Unfortunately it’s not exactly a hassle-free process, and at this writing the browser was still awaiting approval from Google before appearing in the Play Store. When it does show up, you can get in on the beta by joining the ABP Browser Google+ community and then click the (at this writing, non-existent) Beta Opt-in button under the About section. The button will appear once Google approves the browser for Play.

30 Google Drive Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss – After almost a decade, Google Drive has come a long way in its own maturity. Anyone with a Google account—the kind you have for Gmail or any other Google service—gets instant instant access to the tools. Businesses, schools, and non-profits have the option of using Google Apps, a version of Google Drive with all the storage and tools, plus integration of Gmail, Calendar, Sites, and more under their own domain name. Drive—one of our Editors’ Choice suites—is a serious set of tools for serious (or fun) work, all entirely free. But it pays to know more than just the basics. That’s why we’ve put together these 30 tips for you on how to get the most out of Google Drive.

4 Gmail Labs features you should be using – To enable any Gmail Lab feature, click the gear icon in the top left of the Gmail pane. Go to Settings > Labs. Scroll down to the feature you want, select the Enable radio button, and click Save Changes. Should you run into trouble using any of these, you can get to your email by going to https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?labs=0, which disables these features so you can reach your inbox. Assuming you’re comfortable being Gmail’s guinea pig, here are four Google Labs features you should experiment with yourself.

Microsoft is rolling out a large update to Outlook.com: Clutter, themes, add-ins and more – Microsoft has announced today a major update to Outlook.com that will bring with it new features designed to improve productivity by delivering a refined inbox, improved collaboration and more.

Debunked: Your SSD won’t lose data if left unplugged after all – If you’re in a panic because the Internet told you that your shiny new SSD may lose data in “just a few days” when stored in a hot room, take a chill pill—it’s apparently all a huge misunderstanding, according to the man who wrote the original presentation all the fear is based on. In a conversation with Kent Smith of Seagate and Alvin Cox, the Seagate engineer who wrote the presentation that set the Internet abuzz, PCWorld was told we’re all just reading it wrong.

Firefox to get more ads via upcoming ‘Suggested Tiles’ – Firefox’s previous introduction of in-tab advertisements didn’t go over well with many users, but the outcry apparently wasn’t high enough to reverse things. Today Mozilla announced “Suggested Tiles”, which are advertisements that appear as tiles inside of a new tab. It differs a bit from the previous Directory Tiles (it is said to be a “complement” to them), and works by presenting content from advertisers that are personalized based on the user’s own activity. It is promised the ads are fully “user controlled”.

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Snapchat starts dabbling with music videos – Snapchat has been slowly but surely expanding its reach, adding in content from various partners in an effort to draw in more users and advertisers. Latest to give the mobile service a shot is Josh Legg, a musician who goes by the name Goldroom. Given that some of his fanbase has started increasingly using Snapchat as a communication medium, he has decided to partner with the messaging service and will release four music videos on it. The first video came out on Tuesday, and the last one is scheduled to be released tomorrow.

Court orders Popcorn Time websites be blocked by Israeli ISPs – With its nickname of “Netflix for pirates,” the app/service Popcorn Time has quickly become popular the world over among, well, internet pirates, and with new features like the ability to watch content in a web browser, media giants and copyright holders are quickly becoming concerned. Following a similar move in the UK last month, media companies in Israel have successfully petitioned a court to order the nation’s internet service providers block all Popcorn Time websites.

Google Will Retool Its Maps Service To Prevent Racist Listings – Google has confirmed that it is making changes to its Google Maps service to stop racist terms and other inappropriate words from displaying location search results. The issue blew up this week after searches for “n*****” or “nigga” were found to pull up the White House and other locations associated with African Americans and other ethnic minorities.

Security:

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – While you certainly get your money’s worth from the premium antivirus software, there are also some very good third-party antivirus tools that don’t cost a thing. We’ve rounded up a collection of totally free antivirus products that should serve you well. Your antivirus should definitely have the ability to root out existing malware, but its ongoing task is to prevent any nasty programs from getting a foothold. All of the antivirus programs in this collection offer real-time protection against malware attack. Some take the fight upstream, working hard to ensure you never even browse to a malware-hosting site.

9 malware defenders – Keeping your computer clean and secure requires more than removing viruses. Many pieces of malicious code are designed to circumvent antivirus protection. These applications can range from minor annoyances like potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) to advertisements (adware) to outright malicious software (malware and spyware) that can cripple your day-to-day usage. We tested some of the latest and greatest antimalware kits that can help you before your PC is compromised. These Windows apps will work in conjunction with your current antivirus software as an additional layer of protection.

Five precautions for avoiding malware when you download and install software – Downloading a program—especially one from an obscure publisher without a positive reputation—is something of a leap of faith. It’s a bit like letting a total stranger into your home. But if you follow these five steps, you should be okay.

Flawed Android factory reset leaves crypto and login keys ripe for picking – The researchers tested the factory reset of 21 Android smartphones that ran versions 2.3.x to 4.3 of the mobile OS and were sold by five manufacturers. All of the phones retained at least some fragments of old data, including contact data stored in the phone app and third-party apps such as Facebook and What’sApp, images and video from the camera, and text-based conversations from SMS and e-mail apps. In 80 percent of phones, the researchers were able to extract the master token Android uses to give access to most Google user data, such as Gmail and Google calendar.

Google, Samsung, and 16 others receive post-password certification – This morning, the plot to kill the password got a little stronger. 18 different companies received an official FIDO certification for 31 different products, ranging from physical devices to login services. They’re the first products to be officially certified under the specification, opening the door for interoperating services down the road. The services aren’t comprehensive enough to do away with passwords entirely, and not all of them have been deployed — but once they are, anyone using the systems will have a robust alternative to simply typing in a string of characters.

Your Secret Questions Are Just as Terrible As Your Passwords – Not only do we use awful passwords, but we can’t even remember the answers to our secret questions, Google finds.

Ransomware rescue kit released to combat criminal enterprise – Often infecting computers through phishing campaigns and malicious links, the malware locks systems and displays a message — often masquerading as police or an intelligence agency — and accuses the victim of illegal activities. The notice demands payment in a certain timeframe in order to provide a key to unlock a system and its files — which may or may not work. In order to combat this kind of criminal enterprise, security professional Jada Cyrus has compiled a rescue kit which is available for free online. Designed to help “streamline the process of responding to ransomware infections,” the ransomware response kit comes with instructions and decryption tools for different strains of ransomware.

Company News:

Uber is One Step Closer to Picking You Up in a Self-driving Car – Uber users are a step closer being chauffeured around town in driverless cars. The ride hailing service has started testing a self-driving car as part of plan to automate rides and eliminate the cost of drivers, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. The test car was recently spotted on the road in Pittsburgh, where Uber has opened a research lab. The car, with “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” emblazoned on the side, had what appeared to be equipment for autonomous navigation affixed to its roof.

HP’s profit slips 21% as services business stumbles – Hewlett-Packard has reported another drop in quarterly revenue and profit, with a notable 16% slide in its enterprise services business. The company said it’s on track to divide itself into two companies later this year, but made a last-minute change to its leadership plans: CFO Cathie Lesjak will move to HP Inc., the division that will sell PCs and printers, and not to HP Enterprise, as originally planned. HP has been trying to expand its business for a few years without success, and the split is a bold gambit to see if can perform better as two companies. Revenue slipped 7% in the quarter ended April 30, to $25.5 billion — its 15th straight quarter of declining sales.

Lenovo Q4: Revenue boost rides on record PC sales – Lenovo has taken a financial hit in Q4 FY2014/2015, but the firm’s fourth quarter financial report does show increased revenue and sales figures. The Chinese PC maker reported on Thursday Q4 net income of $100 million with earnings of $0.91 cents per share, falling 37 percent from $253 million in the third quarter of FY2014/2015 due to the closure of acquisitions as well as currency fluctuations. ( statement)

Report: Google prepping Android-based ‘Internet of Things’ operating system – The Information reports that Google is building an Android-powered operating system code-named Brillo that will run on low-powered devices with as little as 32 MB of RAM. Also, no screen would be required to run the software. By comparison, the typical Android smartphone has at least 512 MB of memory. The report says the operating system is the work of Google’s Android team, so it will carry some type of Android branding. It also could connect into Google’s Nest thermostats, which have demonstrated the capability to connect to Android Wear and Google Now.

Tech IPO Scorecard: Shopify Skyrockets 51%, While Baozun Rises A Slimmer 4.6% – Two tech companies went public today, both posting first-day gains. The Canadian Shopify popped a massive 51 percent, while Baozun picked up a slimmer 4.6 percent. While seeing your share price appreciate on your IPO day is always welcome, Baozun had to work harder to get its pop than Shopify.

Games and Entertainment:

The 20 best free Android games to play right now – Most new games that launch on the Play Store tend to be free, but too many feel like business models disguised as entertainment. Luckily, not every free game is like that. In fact, some of them are pretty excellent. Sure, some of these games have ads or opportunities to spend money, but those small annoyances are easily outweighed by great fun and long-lasting amusement. Looking for some worthwhile games to play that don’t cost anything and won’t lose steam after a few early minutes of fun? Here are 20 worth downloading right away.

The Witcher 3 gets a graphics-boosting PC patch as furor erupts over visual quality – One of the ugliest bits about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s launch has been the ongoing controversy about the “graphics downgrade” on PC. If you’re not familiar, Kirk Hamilton’s written a pretty excellent summary at Kotaku. Basically, in-game Witcher 3 doesn’t look quite up to snuff compared to a 2013 early gameplay trailer for The Witcher 3—and some argue it doesn’t even look as good as The Witcher 2 at times. The Witcher 3 isn’t exactly the graphics card-punishing beast we all expected (unless you activate Nvidia’s HairWorks option with an AMD Radeon graphics card, that is). To that end, CD Projekt released a patch today that should clear up some of your woes. Maybe. Here’s the full list of changes, most of them related to graphics and performance:

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YouTube launches 60fps live streaming in quest to take on Twitch – While the 60fps streaming isn’t just for gaming content, YouTube notes that it will mean “silky smooth playback for gaming and other fast-action videos.” The feature is available now as an “early preview,” and will work in any browser that supports HTML5. “We’ll also make your stream available in 30fps on devices where high frame rate viewing is not yet available,” the company explains, “while we work to expand support in the coming weeks.”

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Meet the new QuizUp, an addicting trivia game and social network – QuizUp is one of those games you can play for hours before realizing that you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole and can’t escape. It’s about to get worse: The popular trivia game just relaunched with a social networking facet that’s more Reddit than Facebook. QuizUp, which launched about 18 months ago and has racked up 33 million users, also rolled out a desktop version of the game and a refreshed design on Thursday. But it’s the social features that Plain Vanilla CEO Thor Fridriksson believes will set his game apart from other addicting trivia apps (cough, Trivia Crack, cough).

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Windows 10 headed to Xbox One after the summer – Microsoft plans to put Windows 10 on everything from PCs to smartphones and tablets. That Windows 10 love will spill over to your Xbox One gaming console as well getting just about every hardware device Microsoft fiddles with into the Windows 10 love fest. If you are looking forward to trying out Windows 10 on your Xbox One exactly when it will land for the game console is a bit clearer now after some details were offered from Phil Spencer.

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Hauppauge’s Xbox One TV tuner is now available in the US and Canada – The Xbox One has long been what some have considered a robust entertainment machine. Today, Hauppauge’s OTA TV tuner is getting a general release for those in the U.S. and Canada. The Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for the Xbox One is now available for $59.99 via Amazon and the Microsoft Store. For those interested in an antenna, Microsoft is also offering the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner plus a Mohu Leaf 50 antenna for $99.99 for a limited time.

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BBC’s Grand Theft Auto movie earns it a lawsuit – In case you hadn’t heard, the BBC is working on a Grand Theft Auto movie and it, by all accounts, is progressing nicely. Or was up until the moment Rockstar Games slapped the BBC with a lawsuit. The lawsuit was recently filed against the BBC by Take-Two Interactive, which is Rockstar Games’ parent company. The reasons revolve around trademark infringement, and according to a statement Take-Two tried to work things out with the BBC before resorting to the legal route. Apparently the talks did not go well.

Off Topic (Sort of):

An unapologetic history of plane hacking: Beyond the hype and hysteria – Controversy over a security researcher’s alleged hacking into a plane’s engine mid-flight raises serious questions as to why years of public research on airline hacking has gone ignored.

Caffeine may help men wake up in more ways than one (wink, wink) – Science can’t seem to make its mind up whether caffeine is good or bad for us. One week, we might get a study saying caffeine is more likely to cause aliens to plant their spawn in our chest cavities, and the next, we might get another saying the stuff can give us the ability to fly and walk through walls. Recently, caffeine got another line of chalk in the win column, thanks to a study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Researchers there found that men who drink approximately two to three cups of coffee a day may have a lower risk of erectile dysfunction.

Bin Laden Might Have Trained Terrorists With a Video Game – The SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden recovered video game-related books from the Al Qaeda leader’s bunker, according to documents released Wednesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But was bin Laden just a gaming enthusiast or was he using the material to train terrorists?

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Microsoft, Facebook, Google And The Future Of Voice Communications – All of a sudden, it seems like Facebook, Google and Apple are climbing all over each other to own the voice interaction, and specifically, the phone conversation. They’re in a race to compete in the most valuable part of “social” — as if they’ve forgotten, until now, just how much humans ultimately value one-on-one conversation.

This week’s YouTube hit: How to scare a charging bear – Technically Incorrect: On a snowy trail in the woods, a bear meets a Swedish man — and apparently meets its match.

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Einstein considered a bigger hero than Jesus, says study – It seems that the biggest hero in the world is Einstein. As Phys.org reports, he’s bigger than Mother Teresa. He’s bigger than Martin Luther King Jr. He’s bigger than Jesus Christ (he came in sixth). Isaac Newton also came in above Jesus. He was fifth. That must make up a little for having a failed Apple product named after him. Thomas Edison came in eighth. Yes, above Abraham Lincoln and Buddha. Could there possibly have been a more positive sign for science? Only if one of the “Mythbusters” presenters had streaked past Jesus. The students who responded to this survey were, on average, 23 years old. They came from 37 countries. They all had quite similar notions of who their heroes were. They had very different notions about their villains.

Tech nostalgia: The top 10 innovations of the 1970s – In the decade of all things “groovy,” modern technology was advancing at lightning speed. Here are the most important innovations of the 1970s.

Something to think about:

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

–       William James

Today’s Free Downloads:

TeamViewer QuickSupport – TeamViewer is the fast, simple and friendly solution for remote access over the Internet – all applications in one single, very affordable module. This is the complete TeamViewer with install and uninstall support.

Desktop sharing has never been easier: With TeamViewer you will be able to connect to the desktop of a partner anywhere on the Internet.

TeamViewer also works in the other direction: Show your own desktop to a partner over the Internet and illustrate your own developed software, presentations or solutions.

Remote Control without Installation – With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote Presentation of Products, Solutions and Services – The second TeamViewer mode allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Show your demos, products and presentations over the Internet within seconds – live from your screen.

NOTE: Free for non-commercial use only.

Features:

Remote Control without Installation: With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote Presentation of Products, Solutions and Services: The second TeamViewer mode allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Show your demos, products and presentations over the Internet within seconds – live from your screen.

File Transfer: TeamViewer comes with integrated file transfer that allows you to copy files and folders from and to a remote partner – which also works behind firewalls

Works behind Firewalls: The major difficulties in using remote control software are firewalls and blocked ports, as well as NAT routing for local IP addresses.

If you use TeamViewer you don’t have to worry about  firewalls:  TeamViewer will find a route to your partner.

Highest Security Standard: TeamViewer is a very secure solution. The commercial TeamViewer versions feature completely secure data channels with key exchange and RC4 session encoding, the same security standard used by https/SSL.

No Installation Required: To install TeamViewer no admin rights are required. Just run the software and off you go…

High Performance: Optimized for connections over LANs AND the Internet, TeamViewer features automatic bandwidth-based quality selection for optimized use on any connection.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New NSA documents reveal plans to deliver malware through the Google Play store – The NSA developed a plan to deliver malware through Google and Samsung app stores, according to newly published documents obtained by Edward Snowden and published by The Intercept. The documents details a program called IRRITANT HORN, which delivers malware by intercepting web traffic to and from mobile application servers. One slide details Samsung’s update protocol, while another pinpoints the Google Play servers in France, used to deliver updates to phones throughout northern Africa.

Once the path to those servers was established, the NSA could intercept traffic before it reached the servers, injecting malware to specific users through a man-in-the-middle attack. The files would appear to come from a trusted app store, but they would really be coming from the NSA. From there, the NSA could deliver tools from its extensive catalog of surveillance programs, including pulling a user’s contact list or reporting their location in near-real-time. Both Samsung and Google employ TLS encryption to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks like this, but cryptographers have been speculating for years that the NSA has found a way to break or circumvent those protections.

U.S. Senate leader to push for vote to renew NSA phone dragnet – The U.S. Senate on Thursday failed to move forward on efforts to extend the section of the Patriot Act that the National Security Agency has used to collect millions of domestic telephone records.

On Thursday, Senators were wrestling with three alternatives: Allow the Patriot Act’s records collection program to expire, extend the program with no new limits or pass a House of Representatives bill that aims to end bulk records collection but allows the NSA to search phone and business records in a more targeted manner.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said late Thursday he will push for a vote by the weekend to extend the Patriot Act’s records collection provisions.

Choose Deutsche Telekom for all your bargain spying needs – An Austrian newspaper has published what it claims is evidence that Deutsche Telekom spied on Vienna for German spooks for the miserly sum of just €6,500 a year.

On Tuesday, Peter Pilz publicly accused Deutsche Telekom of listening in on telephone and internet lines from Vienna, Luxembourg, Prague, Moscow and Ankara and passing the information on to the German national intelligence agency, the BND.

The document, secured by Pilz and published by Kronen Zeitung (known locally as “the Krone”), dates from March 2004. In it, Deutsche Telekom undertakes to pass on information “originating outside the Federal Republic of Germany” to the BND.

Last month, it emerged that the BND was happily turning over the fruits of its labours – including selectors such as IP addresses, emails and mobile phone numbers – to the United States’ National Security Agency.

U.S. proposes tighter export rules for computer security tools – The U.S. Commerce Department has proposed tighter export rules for computer security tools, a potentially controversial revision to an international agreement aimed at controlling weapons technology.

On Wednesday, the department published a proposal in the Federal Register and opened a two-month comment period.

The changes are proposed to the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international agreement reached in 1995 aimed at limiting the spread of “dual-use” technologies that could be used for harm.

Forty-one countries participate in the Wassenaar Arrangement, and lists of controlled items are revised annually.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is proposing requiring a license in order to export certain cybersecurity tools used for penetrating systems and analyzing network communications.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 24, 2015

3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC;  App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now;  Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus;  Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome;  How to Buy a Cell Phone;  Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money?  BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs (free);  Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price;  11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should;  Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  Cash register maker used same password non-stop since 1990;  10 easy ways to punch up your presentations;  Can We Secure the Internet of Things?  The 15 best Android games to play right now;  Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s;  Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home;  Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones;  Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Silicon Valley’s privacy efforts must be working, because our governments are freaking out – If you’ve ever wondered what a government has left in its last breath of an argument it’s already lost, it’s almost certainly going to have something to do with “national security.” Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are freaking out because they’ll no longer as easily be able to grab your data — with or without a warrant. In the past week, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned that encryption made it almost impossible to find criminals and terrorists. That was hot on the heels of one Manhattan district attorney saying iPhones will become the “device of choice” for terrorists. And if that wasn’t enough, the UK’s leading counter-terrorism official said tech companies are creating systems that are “friendly to terrorists.”

3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC – It really doesn’t take much to set up a solid backup protocol for your PC. Here are the basics, with pointers to more details.

Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus – After eight years of using AVG’s antivirus software, I’ve decided to switch to Avast! Antivirus. Read about the frustration that pushed me over the edge, and why I chose Avast as my free anti-malware protection… (recommended by Bob3160).

How to Buy a Cell Phone – If you thought choosing a cell phone was difficult before, it’s even tougher today. That’s a good thing, though, because it demonstrates how innovation in the wireless industry has skyrocketed. We’re seeing rapid progress across all fronts, including displays, data networks, user interfaces, voice quality, third-party apps, and even mobile gaming. So what should you be looking for when buying a cell phone? Here are some key points to consider:

Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money? Let’s find out – Google’s offering a different kind of wireless phone service with its new Project Fi program. So how good of a deal is it compared to traditional carrier plans?

Misunderstanding Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price – Google’s new mobile voice and data service may save you money, or it may not. Either way, it offers network redundancy and coverage advantages for work and personal use.

Never miss a word with Microsoft OneNote 2013’s synced audio notes – Did he really say that? With Microsoft OneNote’s Record Audio feature, you can quickly zoom to the relevant bit of information.

SwiftKey Beta gives its myriad settings an extreme makeover with the Hub – The predict-your-typing company also reveals it’s partnering with Dashlane in an effort to automatically enter your passwords on mobile.

Twitter Highlights lures lazy users with friends’ activity – Twitter has rolled out Highlights, a new feature aiming at summarizing some of the peaks from your timeline that you might have otherwise missed. The new tool automatically cooks up a summary of the most interesting things the people you’re following are tweeting, along with local trending topics, twice a day. For Twitter, meanwhile, it’s another way to try to maintain active users.

Garmin’s latest navigation device has a built-in dash cam – Garmin is known for its in-car navigation systems, but its latest GPS system may take the cake. The Garmin nüviCam LMTHD (fun name) has a built-in dash cam, which allows you to overlay directions right over the feed so you can keep an eye on the road at all times. It also has a number of features usually reserved for luxury vehicles like alerts when you’re coming too close to a car ahead of you, or if you’re drifting out of your lane. For $399, the Garmin NüviCam LMTHD may be the first stand-alone GPS worth buying in quite a while.

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11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should – You love Android—but how well do you really know Android? These power user tips dig deep into your system’s hidden crannies, and surface super-cool features you can really use.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Despite still being very much an early preview, Windows 10 is already brimming with handy new features, along with new tweaks and tricks—and, because the operating is still in preview, a handful of those tricks 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, though we plan to update this article over time.

Amazon Apple Watch app puts shopping on your wrist – Amazon has updated its iPhone app to support Apple Watch, turning the new wearable into a mobile voice-controlled shopping accessory. The new version of the app, released just as the first Apple Watch orders are shipping out, not only works as a scratchpad for the Wish List, but entire purchases can be carried out directly from the wrist. It’s one of around 3,000 Apple Watch apps already waiting for Apple’s new toy in the App Store today.

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App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now – It’s time to have a peek at exactly how many apps are being released to the Apple Watch at “launch” this week with the new App Store for Apple Watch. What is an “App Store for Apple Watch”, you might ask? It’s basically a category within the App Store on your iPhone or iPad. You can also access this category for the Apple Watch specifically through iTunes on your desktop computer. This “Apps for Apple Watch” section has not yet been released in its entirety to the full Apple software system. This is just the beginning. Imagine how awesome it’s going to be when these developers decide to bring their apps to Android Wear a few weeks down the line.

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Dropbox Notes beta arrives as Evernote competitor – Early this month, some Dropbox users spotted hints of a note-taking service that was in-progress, something that had seemed likely as an eventual product after Dropbox made some tweaks to how it showed up once in the public eye. Now the service has been made official, though it isn’t open to the public in general yet: it’s called Dropbox Notes, and it is in a private beta. Invitations are going out now, and those interested can sign up to (hopefully) get one.

Polaroid Zip pocket printer spits out prints from your smartphone – Polaroid launched a new tiny portable printer earlier this week without much fanfare, and it is targeted at the mobile photographers among us — those who can’t remember the last time they picked up a dedicated digital camera because they’ve been too busy cataloging their life with a series of stylish smartphone-snapped pics. It is called the Zip printer, and it is small enough to fit in your pocket, printing out physical photographs for those times you take a shot that is extra special.

10 easy ways to punch up your presentations – Ah the slide presentation. For some, it’s the best route to getting an audience involved with a talk/discussion/lecture, showing the audience what to focus on. But after awhile, it can become a bit… routine. If you fall back on the same old delivery, your audience will pick up on it and you may lose their attention. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to enliven your presentations and turn them into effective tools that will not only help you get your point across, but also transform the event into an active and memorable moment. Don’t believe me? Read on.

Your website is about to lose 50% of all traffic thanks to Google – Google has changed how search works. If your site is not mobile friendly, you could lose as much as 50% of your traffic starting today. The company announced changes today in how they crawl sites after warning that the change was coming for the last month. It’s being called mobilegeddon already. If your site is not mobile friendly — that is, if users have to tap and zoom, scroll around, and can’t really make out the text on a smartphone — Google will penalize the site by pushing it much lower in the search engine results.

OpenOffice development is looking grim as developers flock to LibreOffice – Development on the free productivity suite is down to just 16 people, and the support system for new contributors is sorely lacking.

Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May – Summary:Amazon and DHL are piloting a scheme that will see deliveries made straight to Audi owners’ vehicles – whether they’re there or not.

Security:

Cash register maker used same password – 166816 – non-stop since 1990 – Fraud fighters David Byrne and Charles Henderson say one of the world’s largest Point of Sale (PoS) systems vendors has been slapping the same default passwords – 166816 – on its kit since 1990. Worse still: about 90 per cent of customers are still using the password. The enraged pair badged the PoS vendor by its other acronym, labelling it a “piece of shit” and heaping scatological scorn on a bunch of other borked sales systems. Fraudsters would need physical access to the PoS in question to exploit it by opening a panel using a paperclip. Such physical PoS attacks are not uncommon and are child’s play for malicious staff. Criminals won’t pause before popping and unlocking.

Pointing up  A sickening abdication of responsibility.

Negligence – the failure to exercise that degree of care that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons that may be injuriously affected by the want of such care.

FTC hits retail firm for secretly tracking customers – In reports to retail clients, Nomi provided aggregated information on how many consumers passed by the store instead of entering, how long consumers stayed in the store, the types of devices used by consumers, how many repeat customers enter a store in a given period and how many customers had visited another location in a particular chain of stores. In the settlement with the FTC, Nomi is prohibited from misrepresenting consumers’ options for controlling whether information is collected, use or shared about them and their devices. Nomi is also prohibited from misrepresenting how it notifies consumers about its information-gathering practices.

Pointing up   It’s unfortunate, but predictable, that the NSA firestorm has managed to virtually obscure an equally repugnant attack on personal privacy. While the NSA has a defensible position relative to data collection for national security purposes (a position I don’t support mind you), these parasitic corporate money hungry voyeurs continue to slip under the radar of public scrutiny.

Potent, in-the-wild exploits imperil customers of 100,000 e-commerce sites – Criminals are exploiting an extremely critical vulnerability found on almost 100,000 e-commerce websites in a wave of attacks that puts the personal information for millions of people at risk of theft. The remote code-execution hole resides in the community and enterprise editions of Magento, the Internet’s No. 1 content management system for e-commerce sites. Engineers from eBay, which owns the e-commerce platform, released a patch in February that closes the vulnerability, but as of earlier this week, more than 98,000 online merchants still hadn’t installed it, according to researchers with Byte, a Netherlands-based company that hosts Magento-using websites.

Security researchers have developed a method for detecting NSA Quantum Insert-style hacks – Fox-IT has published free open-source tools to detect duplicate sequence numbers of HTTP packets, with different data sizes, that are the hallmarks of Quantum Insert. The utilities developed by Fox-IT are capable of exposing fiddling with HTTP packets but are no by no means perfect and might themselves be circumvented, as a blog post by Fox-IT explains.

Can We Secure the Internet of Things? – It seems that “Internet of Things” or “IoT” is the latest catchphrase; you hear it everywhere. Has the IoT simply evolved from existing technology? Is it revolutionary, breaking old ideas? Or is it just a fad? An all-star panel at the RSA Conference debated this topic. Afterward I caught up with panelist Jeffrey Greene, Director Government Affairs North America and Senior Policy Counsel for Symantec, to get some insight.

Company News:

Google grew both its revenue and profit in the first quarter of 2015 – Google just released its earnings statement for the first quarter of 2015, and the company had another healthy financial period — albeit one that just missed Wall Street estimates. The company pulled in $17.3 billion in revenue, up 17 percent year over year, while operating income of $4.45 billion represented a 26 percent increase over one year ago. That’s compared to the $17.5 billion in revenue Wall Street analysts were expecting; Google’s earnings per share of $6.57 also just missed expectations of $6.61.

Yahoo to take on Siri and Google Now (again) with Index – Yahoo is one company that definitely doesn’t have “quit” in its vocabulary. Predating but practically overthrown by Google and perhaps to some extent even Bing, Yahoo is always in search of new ways to generate income but without budging on its true calling. Under CEO Marissa Mayer, the company is hedging its bets on search. But it won’t be taking on Google directly, though of course it will do that as well. Instead, it is training its guns on Google Now, Siri, and Cortana. Yes, Yahoo will once again be entering the personal assistant arena. This time perhaps for real.

Comcast reportedly abandons acquisition of Time Warner Cable – Comcast is calling off its $45 billion dollar attempt to buy fellow cable provider Time Warner Cable, according to Bloomberg. The decision comes after recent reports that both the US Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission were preparing to turn against the deal after months spent looking into what it would mean for competition in the cable industry. Apparently Comcast saw the writing on the wall with the increased scrutiny from regulators and has walked away from a merger that would have combined the top two cable operators in the United States. An official announcement that the deal is canceled could come as early as tomorrow, per Bloomberg’s sources.

Median age at Google is 29, says age discrimination lawsuit – The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Robert Heath, a software engineer, was 60 when he applied in 2011 for a job at a rapidly growing Google. He wasn’t hired despite having “highly-pertinent qualifications and experience,” and being deemed by a Google recruiter as a “great candidate,” according to Heath’s lawsuit. The complaint was filed in U.S. district court in San Jose, California.

Games and Entertainment:

Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome – So you’re a big fan of the original Max, the Road Warrior, the nameless stranger, yes? Mad Max is a game based on a movie, a movie that resurrects the original Mad Max trilogy of films with a new lead actor and an alternate take on the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Have a peek at the latest trailer, the last trailer before launch, we hope, for Mad Max. This game will be coming out well after the movie, and it’ll include Dinki-Di dog food, just like it should. Just as Australian God intended.

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Steam Workshop lets game modders sell their work, starting with Skyrim – Valve is taking another step in turning its Steam Workshop into a full-fledged marketplace for people who make mods, maps, or in-game items. Today, it expanded the ways that creators can directly sell their work — and it’s starting with one of the gaming world’s most vibrant modding communities, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Valve and Skyrim developers Bethesda Game Studios first added support for Steam Workshop in 2012, but at that time, they could only be offered for free. Now, modders can set their own price when they upload an item. Relatively few have taken advantage of this so far. Of over 25,000 mods, 19 are being sold for between $0.49 and $5.99.

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Assassin’s Creed creator reveals his new game: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – Original creator of the Assassin’s Creed series and ex-Ubisoft Creative Director Patrice Désilets has unveiled Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, the first project to emerge from his indie studio Panache Digital Games. According to the studio’s website, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will be a third-person action and adventure game with survival elements. As is becoming increasingly common, the game will also be released in an episodic format. Each episode promises to “relive the greatest moments of mankind with a documentary twist.”

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Telltale is making Marvel video games – Telltale Games, the studio known for its story-focused adventure video games based on properties like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Jurassic Park, has a major new partner: Marvel. Polygon reports that the first Telltale Marvel game will hit unspecified platforms sometime in 2017; it’s not known which characters it will concentrate on, or how it’ll fit into various iterations of the Marvel universe.

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Acer unveils a new 34-inch Quad HD ultra-wide gaming monitor – and it’s quite a looker – Today, Acer announced a curved monitor that we suspect many buyers will want to stare at from every angle. But the XR341CKA isn’t all about style – although it certainly excels in that area. The 34-inch display features a 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio with Quad HD (3440x1440px) resolution and 178-degree viewing angles. It’s also the first curved monitor to feature NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, which the firm says “minimizes stutter and screen tear”. It will go on sale first in markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in August, priced around €1,399 EUR, but sales in North America ($1,299 USD) and China (8,999 CNY) won’t begin until September.

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The 15 best Android games to play right now – The Play Store is overflowing with games these days, and amid seemingly endless free-to-play grinds, it can be difficult to find the really fantastic, absorbing experiences worth pouring your time into. Luckily, we’ve been playing them for years, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction. Included within are our picks for the 15 most essential, can’t-miss Android games you ought to play right now. It’s a diverse mix of options: memorable adventures, addictive quick-hit affairs, and everything in between, spanning a wide array of genres and price points. Ready to find your next on-the-go gaming obsession?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s – How many times have your parents told you to “turn that noise down?” How often do you wonder who the heck Wiz Khalifa, Sia, and Mark Ronson are? It’s clear that, as we grow older, our musical tastes change. But how much exactly? That’s the question Spotify sought to answer with new research from the company’s Taste Profiles (internal tools for personalization) and Echo Nest.

New Phantom 3 sets a higher bar for consumer drones – Check out the latest addition to the most prolific line of consumer quadcopters on the market. Filmmakers rejoice, it comes with 4K.

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BMW 7 Series recognizes finger gestures, parks itself after you exit the car – Cars have been parallel parking themselves for years now, but BMW’s new 7 Series takes things to a new level. It can pull in to — and out of — parking spaces, and you don’t even have to be sitting in the vehicle while the magic happens. That’s right, the new 7 Series features remote control parking that you can activate from the fob. It’s like having your very own valet, except you never have to worry about tipping or finding a roach in the ash tray. It’s no ordinary fob, either. It’s BMW’s tech-packed Display Key, which features a touchscreen and lets drivers do things like adjust the cabin temperature and check fuel levels.

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Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones – How far is too far when it comes to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality? One of the developers putting this question to the test is Australia-based Paranormal Games. Project Elysium, its entry into the upcoming Oculus VR Jam 2015, treads some shaky moral ground by promising to create a “personalized afterlife experience,” reuniting people with loved ones who have passed on. Exactly how the developer hopes to do this isn’t clear at this point (it will be required to showcase screenshots by April 27, followed by video footage the week after to be eligible for the jam’s grand prize), although a screenshot from Project Elysium’s development does show a friend of the studio being transformed into a 3D model.

Pointing up   I love the notion that the software development industry is, in part, driven by a sort of “because we can” philosophy –but, sometimes I have to wonder!

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A development screenshot from Project Elysium – Paranormal Games

170-year-old champagne provides clues to past winemaking – Divers discovered bottles in a shipwreck off the Finnish Aland archipelago in the Baltic Sea in 2010. After tasting the bottles on site, the divers realized they were likely drinking century-old champagne. Soon after, 168 unlabeled bottles were retrieved and were identified as champagnes from the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (VCP), Heidsieck, and Juglar (known as Jacquesson since 1832) champagne houses. A few of the recovered bottles had been lying horizontal in close-to-perfect slow aging conditions. Discovery of these wines, likely the oldest ever tasted, unleashed a flood of questions. When were these wines produced? What winemaking processes were in use at the time? Where was the wine going when the shipwreck occurred?

Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home – An academic paper published by a team from the Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute has outlined the idea of something the researchers call Zensors. The idea behind Zensors is to use an Android phone and some fancy programming to make the dumb items in your home smart.

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Researchers use VR goggles to study effects of human ‘invisibility’ – Researchers have managed to make people feel as if they were invisible using VR goggles, and that’s not a bad thing…at least not in the context of the study. The researchers found that by making people feel as if they were invisible, any social anxiety they might have experienced by standing in front of a crowd was lessened. Though the study and research in general are still in their early stages, it could pave the way to treatments for social anxiety, and could also answer some interesting questions about how humans would act if no one could see them.

Something to think about:

“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.”

–    Richard Feynman

Today’s Free Downloads:

BlueStacks 0.9.26 Beta – BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs with instant switch between Android and Windows – no reboot is required. End consumers can now enjoy their favorite Android apps on Windows PCs. Android apps can appear either as icons on the Windows desktop, or within a full-blown Android environment.

BlueStacks helps PC manufacturers to ride the Android momentum by enabling Android apps on x86-based tablets, netbooks, notebooks, convertibles and AiO Windows PCs. With the new hybrid convertible form factors, BlueStacks completely eliminates the need to carry two devices. The end consumer benefits from getting both Android and Windows at the price of a single PC.

BlueStacks integrates seamlessly with Citrix and Microsoft software delivery infrastructure and with Citrix’s Enterprise App Store. With BlueStacks, enterprise IT can deliver Android apps securely and effortlessly to any end point running Windows.

The seamless user experience, simultaneous use of Android and Windows apps, and multi-touch enablement are built on ground breaking virtualization technology which requires zero configuration and is transparent to the end consumer.

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StudioLine Photo Basic – StudioLine Photo Basic is an easy-to-use yet powerful management and editing software for digital photos. Images can be imported from camera, scanner and all popular file formats.

The image archive is the central database where you conveniently categorize your images and add keywords and descriptions. Standard IPTC and Exif tags are fully supported. 30 professional image tools are included to improve exposure problems, red-eye effects, color tones, etc.

Photos can be printed, emailed or uploaded as web galleries. CD/DVD writing is included.

Limitations: After installation you’ll be able to test all functions of StudioLine Photo Basic for 30 days. To continue using StudioLine Photo Basic 3 as a home user at no cost, simply request the complimentary activation code. StudioLine Photo Basic is only “Freeware” for personal use. Business or other commercial use requires purchase of a license.

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Ghostery for Firefox – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. Ghostery for Chrome also available.

After showing you who operates behind the scenes, Ghostery also gives you the opportunity to learn more about each company it identifies, including links to their privacy policy and opt-out options.

Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

Ghostery also includes the optional, opt-in feature called Ghostrank, which sends Ghostery servers anonymous information about the trackers you encounter and where you encounter them. This allows us to create a more comprehensive list of detectable items, and helps us create a more transparent behavioral advertising ecosystem through our partnership with Evidon.

Ghostery is built and maintained for users that care about their online privacy, and is engineered with privacy as a primary goal. Ghostery use is anonymous. No registrations or sign-ups are required. The Ghostery plug-in does not place cookies into your browser. Neither the Ghostery application nor Evidon receives any data from Ghostery users unless the user opts-in to participate in Ghostrank. Ghostrank data itslef is anonymous, is NEVER used for advertising targeting purposes, and is only shared in aggregated, non-personal, statistical form.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation – The Australian government last month introduced legislation that would allow rights holders to get an injunction placed on internet service providers (ISPs) to force telcos to block specific overseas piracy websites from access by Australian users.

The move has been welcomed by rights holders, but faces opposition from Google, which told the parliamentary committee looking into the legislation that site blocking “is not the most effective means of stopping piracy”.

“A recent study of the piracy ‘ecosystem’­ in which the authors conducted a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of various anti-­piracy measures found that anti­-piracy efforts directed towards blocking access to pirated content have not been successful,” Google said in its submission.

Google said that more effective measures include providing legitimate content that is more attractive to consumers than piracy, and cutting off advertising to piracy websites. The introduction of site blocking could have unintended consequences, Google warned.

House passes second cyberthreat information-sharing bill – For the second time in two days, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that would give legal protections to companies that share cyberattack information.

The House on Thursday voted 355 to 63 to pass the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPA), which would protect companies from customer lawsuits after they voluntarily share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies.

The NCPA is similar in several ways to the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), which passed the chamber on Wednesday, despite concerns from some lawmakers that it would allow some customer information to wind up in the hands of surveillance agency the U.S. National Security Agency.

David Petraeus sentenced to probation for leaking government secrets – Former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine today for leaking classified government intelligence to his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. The sentence is the end of a drawn out, very public ordeal for Petraeus, whose fall from grace was precipitous.

The scandal started in 2012, when the FBI discovered — apparently by accident — that Petraeus, then CIA Director, was disclosing classified information to Broadwell. Petraeus soon resigned from the agency, and charges were filed against him by the Justice Department. Petraeus ultimately took a deal, pleading guilty to one charge of sharing classified information.

Pointing up   Break this down any way you like, but the truth is – Petraeus betrayed his country for sexual favours.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 26, 2015

Tech coalition including Microsoft, Apple, and Google presses attack on the Patriot Act;  Who’s in charge, here? The White House, or an advertising company in California?  9 compelling reasons to keep your old PC instead of upgrading;  These Are the 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Five free apps for dealing with hardware problems;  USB 3.1 set to reach desktops;  10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster;  Kano OS made free for Raspberry Pi 2;  Router hack is injecting ads and porn into random websites;  New York threatens action if RadioShack sells data;  Fan TV’s New App Is A Must-Have For Cord Cutters;  Bill Gates recommends these essential readings;  Google awarded patent for their smart contact lens;  Who Has the Fastest Web Connections? (Hint: Not the U.S.);  Router Password Decryptor (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New York threatens action if RadioShack sells customer data – New York’s attorney general said his office will take “appropriate action” if personal data on millions of RadioShack customers is handed over as part of a just-concluded bankruptcy sale. The names and physical addresses of 65 million customers and email addresses of 13 million customers were among the assets listed as part of the sale, which concluded this week but has yet to be approved by a bankruptcy court. “When a company collects private customer data on the condition that it will not be resold, it is the company’s responsibility to uphold their end of the bargain,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement.

As the Snowden leaks began, there was “fear and panic” in Congress – Minutes after the first NSA leak was published, the phones of US lawmakers began to buzz, hours before most of America would find out over their morning coffee.

Run this Installer Hijacking Scanner app to see if your older Android phone is at risk – Half of all Android phones still run Android 4.2 or older. If they also buy from third-party app stores, they could be vulnerable to a hijacking app. This scanner will tell you if your phone is at risk.

These Are the 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week –  It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found some apps actually worth downloading.

Five free apps for dealing with hardware problems – From bad memory to missing drivers, PC hardware can exhibit aggravating problems that you’ll need to troubleshoot. Here are five apps that can help.

9 compelling reasons to keep your old PC instead of upgrading – Few can withstand the siren song of the latest and greatest gear, the deep allure of a new and shiny gadget—but that doesn’t mean that tossing your old computer in the trash and picking up a fresh PC is necessarily a smart idea. While gamers and hardcore video editors always stand to gain extra performance out of fresh firepower, more casual users might be better off saving their cash and sticking with the PC you already own. Here’s why.

10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster – There’s a reason that unboxing videos and the phrase “new car smell” are firmly ensconced in the public groupmind. New stuff is exciting! New stuff is (theoretically) better! New stuff is just plain cool. But new stuff also costs an arm and a leg—at least if you’re talking about a new PC. And you might not even truly need a new PC to accomplish what you’re looking to do. Fortunately, there are a slew of ways to breathe new life into an older PC that’s starting to feel a little pokey. Even better: Most are outright free, a couple of (still low-cost) hardware upgrades aside. Sure, these tweaks and tips aren’t as thrilling as booting up a brand new PC for the first time—but they’ll let you continue to get the job done with the gear you already have.

BitDefender, Kaspersky top list of best Windows 8.1 antivirus software – In sales, they say that you’re only as good as your last month’s figures. Ditto for antivirus software. And right now, BitDefender, Kaspersky, and Qihoo 360 are the best in the business. AV-Test, one of the two leading antivirus testing houses, released its February antivirus ratings for Windows 8.1 PCs early Wednesday, assessing the 27 or so available antimalware packages on protection, performance, and usability. The results shouldn’t surprise you: The bigger names in the industry rose to the top, while at the bottom—as usual—sat Microsoft.

The Beastgrip Pro Turns Your Phone Into A Mobile Video Rig – The Beastgrip Pro is a rig system for your phone that lets you take better photos and video by adding stability, mics, lights, and lenses. Nearly every aspect is modular or expandable. Depending on what you need to shoot, you might put your phone on a tripod for smoother shots, add a directional mic for better audio during interviews, or swap out lenses to capture wide-angle footage or to get better distance shots without hurting quality as with digital zoom. Every mount or thread uses a common photography standard, making it a great option for getting kids started with video using second-hand gear or for using your phone as an emergency on-shoot backup. Beastgrip’s rig is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, coming in at $70 for the main rig and $105 if you want the Depth of Field adapter and wide-angle lens.

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USB 3.1 set to reach desktops – The emerging USB 3.1 standard is set to reach desktops as hardware companies release motherboards with ports that can transfer data twice as fast as the previous USB technology. MSI on Wednesday announced a 970A SLI Krait motherboard that will support the AMD processors and the USB 3.1 protocol. Motherboards with USB 3.1 ports have also been released by Gigabyte, ASRock and Asus, but those boards support Intel chips.

Kano OS made free for Raspberry Pi 2 – To quicken the development of Kano OS and its innards, the team behind the creation of the “fast, fun, friendly OS” have made it free to Raspberry Pi 2. This software works with games, web browsing, a video app, and lots of tools for software development. This system comes with a toolset of utilities for Raspberry Pi and the OS itself and is aimed at developers – though you could very well make your own tiny console with it if you do so wish.

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Google will finally improve Chrome scrolling using a Microsoft invention – Google is finally adopting a standard that supports both mouse and touch navigation for its Chrome browser. If you’ve used a copy of Chrome on a Windows tablet recently then you’ll probably be familiar with the poor scrolling performance and general touch support, and it’s something Google will now address across all of its versions of Chrome. Google revealed today that it plans to support Pointer Events, a standard that was first introduced by Microsoft in Internet Explorer. Google has traditionally focused its efforts on supporting Touch Events, a method used by Apple in its Safari browser. Microsoft, Mozilla, and Opera have all adopted Pointer Events, and Google says that feedback from the web community has led to the change in heart.

Amazon’s On-Demand Services Marketplace Launches Monday – Amazon’s Angie’s List competitor, called “Amazon Local Services,” has been rebranded as “Amazon Home Services” ahead of a larger launch happening Monday, sources familiar with the plans tell TechCrunch. The site, which previously featured only a limited number of service offerings in a handful of select markets, has also recently expanded to include a much larger number of categories of services as well as additional cities around the U.S.

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Security:

This router hack is injecting ads and porn into random websites – A new strain of malware is using routers to inject ads and pornography into websites, according to a report from Ara Labs. Once a router is compromised, the malware will load third-party content onto almost any website visited by the user. The attack alternates between loading ads and directly loading content from pornographic websites like adultyum.info and adultcameras.info. In both cases, it’s functioning as a basic adware attack, redirecting targets as a pay of generating paid traffic for a client. “Due to the nature of this scheme, there is no technology that is going to detect this automatically,” Ara said in a statement. The following video shows the clean, ad-based version of the attack. (Ara Labs described the other as “too graphic to publish.”)

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Microsoft blacklists latest rogue SSL certificates, Mozilla mulls sanctions for issuer – Microsoft has blacklisted a subordinate CA certificate that was wrongfully used to issue SSL certificates for several Google websites. The action will prevent those certificates from being used in Google website spoofing attacks against Internet Explorer users. Microsoft’s move, taken on Tuesday, came after Google reported that the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a certificate authority (CA) trusted by most browsers and operating systems, issued an intermediate certificate to an Egyptian company called MCS Holdings. The company then used it to generate SSL certificates for Google-owned websites without authorization.

Company News:

Facebook announces Messenger Platform and Businesses on Messenger – Today at the annual F8 developer conference, Facebook announced its new Messenger Platform as well as Businesses on Messenger to expand its traditional messaging application.

Mozilla Extends Its Default Google Search Blockout, Signs Up Yandex In Turkey – Mozilla last November made waves when it swapped out Google as the default search engine in its Firefox browser in the U.S., replacing it with Yahoo, and put Yandex in for Google in Russia at the same time. Today Mozilla announced an expansion of that strategy: Yandex will now also be the default search option in Turkey, once again replacing Google. Yandex is known as the Google of Russia, partly because of the appearance of its search product, and partly for its position as the leading search engine in the country — albeit with a more modest dominance; its market share is just under 60% right now, and 75% among Firefox users.

Facebook sued for alleged theft of data center design – Facebook is being sued by a British engineering company that claims the social network stole its technique for building data centers and, perhaps worse, is encouraging others to do the same through the Open Compute Project. BladeRoom Group says it contacted Facebook in 2011 about using its technique, which involves constructing data centers in a modular fashion from pre-fabricated parts. It’s intended to be a faster, more energy-efficient method. What happened next isn’t clear, since much of the public version of BRG’s lawsuit is redacted. But it claims Facebook ended up stealing its ideas and using them to build part of a data center in Lulea, Sweden, that opened last year.

Games and Entertainment:

Fan TV’s New App Is A Must-Have For Cord Cutters – As a cord cutter, one of the ongoing challenges is figuring out which shows and movies are available for streaming on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu and others, and which are only available as paid downloads. A company called Fan TV is today introducing a new mobile application that will go a long way to help address this problem, by allowing you to search and save shows and movies you want to watch later – as well as get alerted to when they arrive on your preferred services.

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5 Reasons You Need to Check Out Cities: Skylines – Cities: Skylines, a PC game by a totally different studio (interlopers!) that’s singlehandedly revitalizing the city-building genre. And not in a “Look, here’s something more clever than SimCity!” way, so much as a “Hey, why not just do SimCity old school?” one. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why.

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PlayStation 4 Gets Suspend And Resume, External HD Backups On March 26 – The Suspend/Resume function means you won’t have to save to stop the action, and it’s much more convenient now that it survives the PS4’s Rest Mode, which puts the console into a low-power, stasis-like state. Previously, games could be temporarily paused like this, but only while you exited to the menu to quickly check on something else. Another anticipated new feature coming with Yukimura (PS4 software version 2.50 if you want to get technical) is the ability to back-up and restore console HDD content to an external USB drive. That means you can fully back up the system, including everything from settings, saved data an screenshots to games, patches and downloads.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bill Gates recommends these essential readings to TED 2015 attendees – Although Gates was not a speaker at this year’s TED 2015 event, he was invited to attend and was asked by the team to recommend a list of books for the conference attendees. Naturally, Gates obliged and created a list with books that focus on health, business and the world. In no particular order, here is the list that Bill Gates put together for the attendees at TED 2015.

Business Adventures by John Brooks

The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin

On Immunity by Eula Biss

Making the Modern World by Vaclav Smil

How Asia Works by Joe Studwell

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff

For a full description of each book, head over to Gates’ site where he has a short synopsis of each book.

Google awarded patent for their smart contact lens – Remember the Google X skunkworks project that saw the company imagining contact lenses that could monitor your glucose levels? Sounded weird, and more like some means to an end for a bigger project. Then we found Google had a partner in Novartis, and the contact lens that could monitor your health seemed a bit closer to reality. It’s now even closer to being on your eye, as Google has been granted a patent to manufacture the lenses, which have multiple layers and their own chipset.

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The father of all humans lived 239,000 years ago – By sequencing the genomes of 2,636 Icelanders — the largest set ever obtained from a single population — researchers were able to identify that genetic mutations play a role in everything from Alzheimer’s disease to liver disease. The Icelandic data also suggest that humanity’s most recent common male ancestor, the “father” of us all, would have lived between 174,000 and 321,000 years ago. The estimate for the most recent common male ancestor contradicts some past findings. A 2013 study from the University of Arizona estimated that the age of the father of all humans is about 340,000 years old. But the Icelandic analysis indicates he probably lived about 239,000 years ago — a number that’s much closer to the estimate for humanity’s most recent common female ancestor, who lived about 200,000 years ago.

FTC hits back; Google investigation integrity questioned again – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is coming out against statements made last week by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), as well as new claims that Google had used its political ties to the Obama administration to obtain a favorable outcome in the FTC investigation into alleged anti-trust and unfair internet search practices. The FTC states that such claims are unfounded and undermine the integrity of its investigation, while the WSJ is giving weight to the idea that anti-trust investigation might not have had much integrity on the FTC’s part at all.

Who Has the Fastest Web Connections? (Hint: Not the U.S.) – Global average Internet connection speeds remained above the 4 Mbps threshold for broadband in the fourth quarter of 2014, increasing 0.7 percent to 4.5 Mbps, according to the latest report from Akamai. Despite a 12 percent decline, South Korea held its first-place position with a 22.2 Mbps average connection speed, followed by Hong Kong (16.8 Mbps) and Japan (15.2 Mbps). Sweden, Switzerland, and The Netherlands all landed in the 14 Mbps range, with Latvia (13 Mbps), Ireland (12.7 Mbps), the Czech Republic (12.3 Mbps), and Finland (12.1 Mbps) bringing up the rear. At 11.1 Mbps average connection speed, the U.S. did not break the top 10.

Something to think about:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

–     Richard Feynman

Today’s Free Downloads:

HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

It automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https”. It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking, and some forms of censorship.

HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using a clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS.

DeepSound – DeepSound is a steganography tool and audio converter that hides secret data into audio files. The application also enables you to extract secret files directly from audio files or audio CD tracks.

DeepSound might be used as copyright marking software for wave, flac, wma, ape, and audio CD. DeepSound also support encrypting secret files using AES-256(Advanced Encryption Standard) to improve data protection.

The application additionally contains an easy to use Audio Converter Module that can encode several audio formats (FLAC, MP3, WMA, WAV, APE) to others (FLAC, MP3, WAV, APE).

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Router Password Decryptor – Router Password Decryptor is the FREE tool to instantly recover internet login/PPPoE authentication passwords, wireless WEP keys, WPA/WPA2 passphrases from your router/modem configuration file.

Currently it supports password recovery from following type of router/modems:

Cisco

Juniper

DLink

BSNL

In addition to this, it also has unique ‘Smart Mode’ feature (experimental) to recover passwords from any type of Router/Modem configuration file. It detects various password fields from such config file (XML only) and then automatically try to decrypt those passwords.

It also has quick link to Base64 Decoder which is useful in case you have found Base64 encoded password (ending with =) in the config file and automatic recovery is not working.

It is very easy to use tool with its cool GUI interface. Administrators & Penetration Testers will find it more useful to recover login passwords as well as wireless keys from the router configuration files.

It is fully portable and works on both 32-bit & 64-bit windows platforms.

Features:

Instantly decrypt and recover login/PPPoE/WEP/WPA/WPA2 Passwords from Router/Modem Config file

Supports Cisco/Juniper/DLink/BSNL modems/routers

Also has Smart Mode feature to recover password from any config file

Useful for Admins & Penetration Testers

Simple & elegant GUI interface makes it easy to use

Supports quick Drag & Drop of Router config file

Right click context menu to quickly copy the Password

Sort feature to arrange the displayed passwords

Save the recovered password list to HTML/XML/TEXT/CSV file

Fully Portable, does not require Java or .NET

Includes Installer for assisting you in local Installation & Uninstallation.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech coalition including Microsoft, Apple, and Google presses attack on the Patriot Act – Advocacy groups, major tech companies, and a coalition of huge firms including Google, Microsoft, and Apple have sent a letter to the Obama administration urging it to decisively end the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata, which expires June 1st as part of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Obama has already urged Congress to develop a new framework for handling metadata, proposing that telecom companies hang onto the records and only hand them over when law enforcement receives a court order. That proposal was made a year ago. If Congress wants to keep allowing the government to access these records — and, yeah, it probably does — it’ll have to act within the next several months.

“There must be a strong, clear, and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA Patriot Act, including under the Section 215 records authority and Section 214 authority regarding pen registers and trap & trace devices,” the companies write in the letter, which was sent today and signed by nearly four dozen groups. “Any collection that does occur under those authorities should have appropriate safeguards in place to protect privacy and users’ rights.” Other signatories of the letter include Wikimedia, Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Silent Circle, the ACLU, and CloudFlare. The text of the letter is below:

Who’s in charge, here? The White House, or an advertising company in California? – Google and the White House manage to hook up more than the majority of married couples, having met up once a week for the past five years.

That’s the latest indicator of the powerful internet giant’s worrying cosy relationship with the Obama administration, pulled from logs requested by the Wall Street Journal.

The disclosure comes hot on the heels of last week’s revelations that US watchdog the FTC very nearly pursued an antitrust lawsuit against Google for unfairly burying rivals in its search results, but ultimately gave up the chase. Google denies any wrongdoing.

The relationship between the rich California corporation and the Obama administration has been going on for some time, and has resulted in a string of troubling situations – a few of which we documented in a report over the weekend.

The Journal today highlights that as the FTC neared its decision not to prosecute Google for abusing its dominant search and online advertising position, its senior executives had a sudden run of meetings both with the watchdog and the White House.

EU: Don’t use Facebook if you want to keep the NSA away from your data – In a key case before the European Union’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the European Commission admitted yesterday that the US-EU Safe Harbor framework for transatlantic data transfers does not adequately protect EU citizens’ data from US spying. The European Commission’s attorney Bernhard Schima told the CJEU’s attorney general: “You might consider closing your Facebook account if you have one,” euobserver reports.

The case before the CJEU is the result of complaints lodged against five US companies—Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype, and Yahoo—with the relevant data protection authorities in Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, supported by crowdfunding. Because of the important points of European law raised, the Irish High Court referred the Safe Harbor case to the CJEU.

California bill requires warrant for stingray use – A California state bill that would require a warrant to access all kinds of digital data passed its first hurdle after being approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

Among other sweeping new requirements to enhance digital privacy, the bill notably imposes a warrant requirement before police can access nearly any type of digital data produced by or contained within a device or service.

In other words, that would include any use of a stingray, also known as a cell-site simulator, which can not only used to determine a phone’s location, but can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 26, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 3, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Screenshot by Craig Simms/CNET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Something to think about:

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

–     Marcus Brigstocke

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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

File Backup:

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

Incremental and Differential backups.

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

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

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

Multiple compression levels.

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

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging:

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

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

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

Scheduling Features:

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.

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

wpsD3A5.tmp

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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