Tag Archives: Android phones

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 31, 2015

Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide;  Can your old PC run Windows 10?  14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life;  What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security;  New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless;  KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket;  Google Translate app adds 20 more languages;   6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV;  How to do a clean install of Windows 10;  Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide;  Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts;  Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver;  Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles;  Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360;  Man shoots down drone hovering over house;  Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia;  Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide – Security Checkup was designed to walk users through all the security tools available to them, one by one, while asking them which ones they would like on or off. Initial steps include logging out from devices that haven’t been used for Facebook access in awhile as well as email alerts for attempted logins from unfamiliar devices or apps. This is not to be confused with Privacy Checkup, a step-by-step guide published to the platform last September.

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Google Translate app adds 20 more languages – Designed for both iOS and Android, the Google Translate app is adding 20 new languages. You’ll be able to translate to and from English with Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. For Hindi and Thai, you’ll be able to do one-way translations from English.

6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV – Being able to watch the news is one of the biggest reasons people stay tethered to an expensive pay-TV subscription. In a recent Comscore survey, 58 percent of subscribers said the news was important to their viewing habits—more than any other TV category. But nowadays, you don’t need a cable TV package to stay informed. If anything, streaming video is a better way to keep up with the news, offering more choices and broader perspectives compared to the big cable-news networks. And in many cases, you don’t have to pay a dime. Read on for the best ways to watch the round-the-clock news without a big channel bundle.

Cloud storage alternatives: Three ways to sync your own data securely and privately – Cloud storage is convenient, but you can remove any concerns about security or other issues if you do what they do yourself.

Yahoo unveils Livetext, allowing people to text using silent videos – Yahoo on Wednesday unveiled a new video texting app, called Livetext, which the company hopes can revive its relevance for smartphone users. The twist for this service is that the videos don’t have sound. The app will be available for free Thursday on phones running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where it’s available now.

Can your old PC run Windows 10? – For a modern operating system with an vast range of capabilities, Windows 10 is an incredibly lean and mean operating system. To find out just how lean though, I decided to install Windows 10 on a few ancient PCs to see how well it runs. The actual experience might surprise you.

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The “Vista Capable” machine

Windows 10 guide to downloading and loading from a USB stick – Today upgrades to Windows 10 begin to be unleashed by Microsoft for all the most modern computers, including yours. Microsoft is releasing this operating system upgrade for free for most users – assuming they’ve got a Windows operating system from the past couple of generations — if you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you should be safe. Today we’re having a peek at how simple it is to load Windows 10 to your computer using a disk image (ISO file) downloaded from Microsoft to a USB stick.

How to do a clean install of Windows 10 – If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can install Microsoft’s new Windows 10 OS completely for free. If you choose to follow this method Windows 10 will bring along all of your data, apps and most of your system settings from your older OS. Which can adversely affect performance. This post will show you how to change that and get a clean install of Windows 10 onto your computer. This is possible to do both after you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and before, when your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8.

Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts – Windows 10 is available and as with any OS if you want to get the most out of it you need to know a few keyboard shortcuts. Here are the Windows 10 shortcuts that will make your life easier, both the new entries and old favourites from earlier iterations of the OS.

Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide – Are you seeking a new laptop, hybrid or tablet on which to run Windows 10? We asked the leading PC vendors to identify suitable products in a number of categories.

How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free – Windows 10 brings a lot of good stuff to the table, but it also takes away some key functionality that Windows 7 users might miss. In Windows 10, you have to say goodbye to Windows Media Center and with it, the ability to play DVDs natively. Microsoft said in May it would have a native solution for DVD playback to make up for those who lost it. Originally this app was supposed to show up later in the year, but Microsoft’s solution is already available. In my tests, however, the app doesn’t work perfectly. Luckily, there are other options.

The big three record labels threaten to boycott YouTube, according to reports – According to the New York Post, Universal, Sony and Warner are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with YouTube’s monetization efforts. The labels reportedly feel the site isn’t serious when it comes to monetizing their content. Another gripe stems from how the Google-owned site retains complete control over everything from ad policy to the sales channel. The report says the big three could even go “nuclear,” meaning they could resort to pulling their music catalogs from the site.

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. Of course, bug fixes are always welcome, but they’re not terribly exciting. However, as we’ve previously reported, Microsoft is planning a further, larger update to be released this October. This update will focus heavily on improving stability too, but it will also mark the arrival of several key features that the company has already announced.

14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life – College is filled with all sorts of confused, eager folks like you. It can be difficult to find your footing, socially. You’ll have the dorm, the quad, and the cafeteria. But surely there is more! Well, lucky for you, there is, college face. Thanks to technology, the entire world is just a few taps away.

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College is nothing without friends. Here’s 14 ways to find your social footing on and off campus.

Mozilla blasts Microsoft for making it harder to switch to Firefox in Windows 10 – Microsoft has altered Windows 10 so that users have to explicitly set a default app for applications like mail, calendar, or web browsers. The change means the setup installers for Chrome and Firefox can no longer set themselves as the default browser during the install process. Mozilla isn’t happy with this change, and the company is calling on Microsoft to reverse what it calls an “aggressive move to override user choice on Windows 10.”

Microsoft to offer a free 90 day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise – Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most secure OS to date and offers improved security and device management options for large corporations.. In order to entice more corporate customers, Microsoft is now offering up a 90-day trial for Windows 10. Those running Windows 10 Enterprise as an Insider should also be aware that the preview will end on October 1, with notifications of the impending closure starting in September. After that, customers must either register for the 90-day evaluation or purchase the full product to continue using it.

Security:

There’s (Almost) Nothing You Can Do About Stagefright – Move over Heartbleed, there’s a new ominously named digital threat that has the potential to engulf hundreds of millions of people. It’s called Stagefright, and the information security community fears that 950 million Android phones are at risk of succumbing to the exploit. While most Android hacks at least require victims to make some kind of mistake, like getting tricked into downloading malware, the Stagefright vulnerability could already be on nearly a billion Android phones regardless of what users do.

Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles – A security researcher has posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how a device he made can intercept wireless communications to locate, unlock and remotely start GM vehicles that use the OnStar RemoteLink mobile app. Samy Kamkar, who refers to himself as a hacker and whistleblower, posted the video today showing him using a device he calls OwnStar. The device, he said, intercepts communications between GM’s OnStar RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service.

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Samy Kamkar stands next to a Chevy Volt that he used to demonstrate how he could hack into the GM’s OnStar mobile app in order to unlock and start the car. Credit: Samy Kamkar

New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless – Another day, another critical Android vulnerability. This time, it might be slightly less serious than Stagefright but still enough to be worrisome. Popular security Trend Mirco came upon this vulnerability in Android’s mediaserver component that, when given a malformed MKV media file, could render the device unresponsive and completely silent, practically locking out the user from his or her device. The one slight good news is that this exploit requires installing a malicious app or visiting a suspicious website, which, sadly, isn’t that hard to get users to do.

Researchers develop astonishing Web-based attack on a computer’s DRAM – Millions of Web users could be vulnerable to an attack on their computer’s DRAM via the Web, a surprising development that expands on a bug that has increasingly worried computer security experts. It has been known for several years that densely packed memory cells on computers are vulnerable to intentional interference. But a new research paper details how an attack could be conducted over the Web, dramatically increasing the danger to users.

How the way you type can shatter anonymity—even on Tor – Security researchers have refined a long-theoretical profiling technique into a highly practical attack that poses a threat to Tor users and anyone else who wants to shield their identity online. The technique collects user keystrokes as an individual enters usernames, passwords, and other data into a website. After a training session that typically takes less than 10 minutes, the website—or any other site connected to the website—can then determine with a high degree of certainty when the same individual is conducting subsequent online sessions. The profiling works by measuring the minute differences in the way each person presses keys on computer keyboards. Since the pauses between keystrokes and the precise length of time each key is pressed are unique for each person, the profiles act as a sort of digital fingerprint that can betray its owner’s identity.

What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security – Windows 10 has a lot of security features built-in for businesses, but they aren’t all ready out of the box yet.

Company News:

Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver – Uber, at least until autonomous cars dot the landscape, needs drivers. It has already hawked its driving perks at teachers, stay-at-home moms, poor college students, and anyone else who wants extra money and has a decent car. Now the ridesharing company has partnered with Life Reimagined, an AARP non-profit subsidiary, to dangle its driving “partnerships” at the organization’s members. Uber will be making appearances at some Life Reimagined events, among other things, targeting “Americans over 40”.

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Groupon Launches Its Own Food Delivery Business, Groupon To Go – Following its acquisition of food delivery service OrderUp earlier this month, Groupon is today announcing its own nationwide delivery and takeout service, Groupon To Go. The program is initially available in Chicago, where it has been in pilot testing with 500 restaurants since March, but the company says it will expand to other metro regions throughout the year, including Boston and Austin this fall. While there are now a number of on-demand food delivery businesses on the market, a big differentiator for Groupon’s service is that it claims it will save its customers up to 10 percent on every order.

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MasterCard and Samsung extend partnership in Europe for Samsung Pay – Samsung and MasterCard have been working together on Samsung Pay for about a year now. Last year MasterCard announced that it would provide tokenization services for Samsung Pay. These tokenization services allow for secure transactions and a fast connection to banks in the US. Samsung and MasterCard have now announced that they have extended their partnership in Europe.

Huawei is now the third largest vendor of phones, leaving Microsoft behind – Huawei is now the third largest vendor of smartphones if a report from Strategy Analytics is to be believed. The spot, previously held by Microsoft after its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, was taken by Huawei after strong sales of over 30 million devices in 2015, garnering it 7% of the total market. The company was, however, preceded by Samsung and Apple, as the largest and second largest, with 20.5% and 10.9% of the global marketshare, respectively.

AT&T refuses to pay $100 million FCC fine, suggests $16,000 max – AT&T was hit with a massive $100 million fine by the FCC several weeks ago in response to its throttling of unlimited data customers, but now the carrier is asking that decision to be reversed. Even if it cannot get the commission’s verdict set aside, it’s asking that the fine be capped at a much lower amount. What does AT&T think is reasonable? $16,000 max. So, that’s 0.016% of the original fine.

LinkedIn Beats Analyst Estimates With $712M In Q2 Revenue – LinkedIn’s earnings today beat analyst expectations in dramatic fashion, sending the stock up as much as 14 percent in extended trading after it released its second-quarter results. The company reported earnings of 55 cents per share and revenue of $712 million. Analysts estimated that the company would bring in 30 cents per share on $680.3 million in revenue.

Sony Posts $780M Profit On Strong PlayStation And Sensor Businesses – The Japanese firm posted quarterly revenue of $14.5 billion, down a mere 0.1 percent year-on-year. Back in February, the firm announced a major restructure with a focus on entertainment and its financial results reflected that. Sony said that increased business for its music division — which saw income jump 173 year-on-year to $256 million — devices business which sells camera sensors for smartphones — up 164 percent to $244 million — and games division — up 350 percent to $157 million — were the stellar performers.

Games and Entertainment:

Exploding Kittens, the most-funded game in Kickstarter history, is now shipping – Exploding Kittens holds the record for the most backers in Kickstarter history (219,382 — a record is still reportedly holds, at least according to whatkickstarterprojecthasthemostbackers.com). It’s also the #1 most funded game and #4 most funded project of all time with $8.78 million (just above Ouya and just below the original Pebble). The game was scheduled for release in July, and with just one day to go, Exploding Kittens is now shipping.

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Dying Light: The Following expansion pack brings dune buggies – Techland has taken the wraps off its upcoming expansion pack for Dying Light, and it is said to be a big one. Dying Light: The Following will bring with it dune buggies (image after the jump), as well as what are referred to as other “bold game-changers” by the developer. To get an idea of the size of the upcoming expansion, its producer Tymon Smektala said that the new map is as big as all of the game’s previous maps in one, meaning gamers are in for something huge.

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Blizzard teases new World of Warcraft expansion reveal on August 6 – The reveal is set to happen at Gamescom 2015, which runs between August 5-9. Blizzard has given us an exact date and time of August 6 at 9am PDT (noon EST). It forms part of a World of Warcraft special event that is being streamed live from the show in Germany. After that, a World of Warcraft developer chat is set to happen on August 9 at 8am PDT (11am EST) where there will be further discussion about the new expansion.

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Angry Birds 2 Review: riddled with potential and purchases – Today we’re having a peek at the next big release from Rovio, the game called Angry Birds 2. The name is a strange one, coming from a company that’s actually releasing its THIRTEENTH Angry Birds game this week, but it is a return to the basics… in a sense… anyway. No seasons here, no special characters or cross-brand relationships. Just Angry Birds and their popping of Pigs. And a whole lot of extras. Lots of extras. So many extra features that you’re going to get confused at what you’re looking at.

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Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360 – Sony has now sold 25.3 million PS4 since launch and is predicting 16.5 million will sell this financial year. That means by the end of March 2016 there will be 38.8 million of them in homes around the world. As you’d expect, Sony is seeing healthy income from its gaming products, with console, software, and peripheral purchases all contributing to the Game & Network Services division’s $2.365 billion sales total for the quarter. This will be helped further by that new model PS4 that’s cheaper to manufacture.

Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia – Titanfall, the hit mech-based first-person shooter originally released for Xbox and PC last year, is probably the last title you’d expect to go free-to-play, but that’s what’s happening. But don’t expect it to be showing up on your smartphone or tablet, where free-to-play games are a dime-a-dozen. Instead, Titanfall will be getting a special PC release just for the Asian market, where the free-to-play genre is huge, thanks to a partnership between the game’s makers and Japan’s Nexon.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Meet Aquila, Facebook’s unmanned Internet drone – At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but carries no passengers—and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight. Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

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Smart Sniper Rifle Vulnerable to Hacks – Almost anything with an integrated computer can be hacked—including a smart sniper rifle. Married security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger spent a year hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. During next week’s Black Hat convention in Las Vegas, the couple will show off techniques that allow an attacker to take control of the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection.

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Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put ‘hole in head’ of driver – Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it’s now on YouTube.

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Man shoots down drone hovering over house – A Kentucky man thinks it unacceptable when a drone floats over his property. So he shoots it down. Then the drone’s owners come calling.

KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket – These days, fastfood chains are thinking up of unusual and sometimes bizarre marketing stunts to appeal to today’s mobile generation? Remember the Pizza Hut projector box in Hong Kong? Or how about KFC’s Bluetooth keyboard food tray? It seems that the latter is at it again. Its Canadian branch will soon be celebrating its 60th anniversary and to honor that memory, it is going to help their devoted customers make their own memories. How? By turning their boring chicken buckets into instant photo printing machine.

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Ask Cortana anything: Snarky answers to 59 burning questions – Cortana spits out funny responses on topics ranging from Siri to Surface to Steve Ballmer. She makes jokes and explains her Halo-inspired lineage. Here are 59 of the funniest answers we’ve found while goofing around. (Screenshots were taken from Windows Phone 8.1, rather than Windows 10, hence the stark interface.) And remember: Cortana may be one of the standout features of Windows 10, but before long she’ll spread her wings beyond Microsoft’s garden, landing in iOS and Android later this year.

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Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show – The original trio behind popular U.K. TV show Top Gear will be back sooner rather than later as they signed a deal with Amazon. Amazon Prime members in the U.K. will be able to stream the new car show starting in 2016. Prime members in the U.S., Japan, Austria and Germany should get the new show, too, as the company talks about a “global TV deal.”

Something to think about:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–      Apple Inc.

Today’s Free Downloads:

RoboCrypt – RoboCrypt is an encrypted data backup application for Windows, combining the functionality of freely available utilities to backup data.

The application uses TrueCrypt, freely available to create and utilize encrypted backup files and/or volumes. The application also uses the available utilities from Microsoft (Robocopy, VShadow, and PowerShell) to allow you to backup data and optionally use Microsoft Volume Shadow Services for snapshot backups and PowerShell to send notification emails upon backup completion.

This program has been designed to work with Windows XP/Server 2003/Vista/7/8.x/Server 2008. A help file in PDF format is included to give more details on how the program works.

Below are some key features with RoboCrypt :

Uses TrueCrypt to create an encrypted file or volume backup destination

Uses Microsoft Robocopy with user control over the major data copy functions to backup data

Uses Microsoft VShadow to create Volume Shadow Services snapshots of data to allow for backup of open files (ie. servers)

Uses Microsoft PowerShell to create summary emails that can be sent to notify a system administrator of a completed backup

RoboCrypt can check current data size vs projected data backup size to warn users of data overflow to the encrypted destination

Right-clicking on a folder in Windows Explorer can allow a user to use the RoboCrypt One-Time Backup feature to backup data to a currently defined data set.  This is for a quick backup of critical data if there is not enough time for a full backup

Encryption of saved TrueCrypt passwords and email account username/passwords

File date/time modification functionality will allow the user to define files that should have the dates and times modified to the current date/time to force the file to be backed up with Robocopy

Ability to run a pre-process or post-process around the data backup

Ability to verify backed up data using CRC32, MD5, or SHA-1 methods

Windows Task Scheduler can be used to schedule an automated backup of a system daily, weekly, etc.

Command-line options allow custom icons to be created for automated backups with RoboCrypt.  Command-line options are explained in the included help file.

Multiple language support included by copying and modifying the included English.rlf file (standard text file)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Germany orders Facebook to let users choose fake names – Facebook’s policy of forcing users to use their real names on the social network has been under fire for some time now from privacy advocates and those in the LGBT community who feel discriminated against. But now a privacy watchdog in Germany has said that is unacceptable in the country, and ordered Facebook to begin allowing users under pseudonyms. The Hamburg data protection authority ruled that the network’s real name policy is in violation of Germany’s privacy laws.

GAO To Congress: Revisit Privacy Concerns Over Facial Recognition Technology – Today, Senator Al Franken announced a new report by the GAO on the use of facial recognition technology. Franken has been on the side of looking into the privacy implications on that type of tech and says today that the report shows that there needs to be a set of federal standards in place before widely adopted.

Franken said in a release:

Over the past several years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of facial recognition technologies, and it has profound implications for consumer privacy. Facial recognition tracks you in the real world—from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike. Last year, I asked the government’s independent investigative agency to examine the privacy implications of the commercial use of facial recognition technology.

The newly released report raises serious concerns about how companies are collecting, using, and storing our most sensitive personal information. I believe that all Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, which is why it’s important that, at the very least, the tech industry adopts strong, industry-wide standards for facial recognition technology. But what we really need are federal standards that address facial recognition privacy by enhancing our consumer privacy framework.

Companies like Facebook and Google use face-recognition technology to tag you in photos, for example, but as you could imagine, this technology could be used for nefarious things if it’s in the wrong hands (like The Terminator, with the wrong intentions). This unofficial Glass app was an example of something that got Franken and others riled up.

After publishing secret spy docs, German news site investigated for treason – A well-known German political and tech news website has received (English translation here) a nearly unprecedented letter from the German Federal Public Prosecutor, saying that two of the site’s top editors are being investigated for treason after having published secret government documents earlier this year.

Netzpolitik.org’s two earlier articles (one in February and another in April) detailed the proposed surveillance expansion of social networks by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an intelligence agency.

“We don’t know if we should cry or not,” Markus Beckedahl, the site’s editor-in-chief, told Ars from Berlin. He was specifically named as one of the targets of the investigation, along with Andre Meister, another top editor. A third target, named “Unknown,” was also mentioned in the letter.

Opponents focus on defeating CISA cyberthreat info-sharing bill – Opponents of a U.S. Senate bill intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats may have stalled a vote on the legislation. Recent news reports had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing for a vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) before a four-week summer recess starting Aug. 10, but a spokesman for the Kentucky Republican said Thursday there were no immediate plans for a vote. CISA would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share information about cyberthreats with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but opponents of the legislation say it would allow businesses to share personal information about customers. DHS could then pass that personal information on to the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, critics say.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 27, 2015

Enable or Disable what Google tracks;  Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search;  Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN;  Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam;  9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know;  Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff;  Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone;  Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website;  How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities;  Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating;  Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast;  Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called gross hypocrisy;  Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation;  Twitter launches Highlights;  LinuxLive USB Creator (free).

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Google Person Finder and Facebook Safety Check provide relief in Nepal Quake – Tragedy struck Nepal as a 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused damage throughout the capital, Kathmandu. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, endangering climbers. Sadly, Google executive Dan Fredinburg lost his life in the avalanche. To help with the recovery and relief efforts, Google and Facebook are stepping up to the plate, reminding the public of their respective Person Finder and Safety Check features which can be used to check on friends and family from half way around the globe.

Enable or Disable what Google tracks about your online presence – Browser preferences for privacy are all well and good, but Google takes it a step further by saving your online presence online, to enable or disable certain tracking options requires a few steps.

Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search – Last week, we showed you how to find your Android phone with a simple Google search. Now Google is introducing new features that allow you to push data to your phone through your desktop browser. You can send directions from the web to your phone; just type “send directions” into Google and a drop-down menu should pop up allowing you to “send directions to [your] phone.” Then, Google Maps will automatically open on your phone, and you’ll be ready to navigate away from your desktop.

Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN to change your country and see more – There may be some risk, but if you’re interested you can check out the Netflix movie selection in countries around the world.

Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam – What if you could get your webcam or a spare iOS or Android device to work like Dropcam? You can do just that with Camio, a cloud-based service that transforms smartphones, tablets and PCs into smart monitoring devices, complete with live streaming, motion detection, alerts, and more. Where it truly shines, however, is in the cloud recording department and the various ways in which it allows you to access your recordings.

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9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know – After unboxing the new smartwatch, we linked it up to an iPhone 6, and started exploring. Apple products are usually quite intuitive, and the Apple Watch is no exception, but there is a bit of a learning curve since everything has to be displayed on a tiny screen. Our slideshow features several videos that walk you through the basics of your Apple Watch—from changing the watch face to customizing notifications and setting an alarm. Check them out, and let us know in the comments if there are any other features you’d like to see in action.

Microsoft adds Apple Watch support to Skype for iPhone – The Apple Watch seems to be the next big thing, and a whole slew of apps are falling in line to provide support for the device – this time, another one from Microsoft: Skype for iPhone.

Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff – Twitter seems to be taking a cue from Facebook. The company announced on Thursday a feature called Highlights that — like Facebook’s News Feed — is designed to draw on a user’s information to deliver relevant content and keep people from becoming overwhelmed.

Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating – The wait is over. Debian 8.0—“Jessie”—will be released on April 25, after a nearly two-year development cycle for the next release of this long-standing Linux distribution. Microsoft is even throwing Debian a birthday party, complete with cake. Sure, it’s basically just an advertisement for Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform, but it’s still amusing.

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New version of Google Glass coming soon, says Luxottica CEO – The search giant is going forward with its connected-eyewear project, and it has partnered with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley for the next version.

GeniCan smart garbage can builds your next shopping list – A new smart home appliance has just cropped up, and it aims to make throwing out your kitchen waste a convenience. It’s called GeniCan, and it is a smart device that attaches to the top of your existing kitchen trash can. When an item is thrown away, the GeniCan scans the product and adds it to a growing shopping list for the next time you go shopping. It eliminates the need to write things down on a shopping list, and is joined by a few convenient features like finding coupons for the product (if available), and more.

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Five ways to bump up your Google mobile search ranking – This week Google altered the way it orders search results on phones to give preference to what it terms mobile-friendly websites. The change to Google’s algorithm means sites that haven’t been optimised to be easy to use and view on mobile devices could find themselves bumped down the mobile search rankings. Google offers a tool to allow sites to see if they pass its mobile-friendly test. Sites that fail appear to be falling foul of common gotchas – many of which are fairly simple to rectify. Here’s the approach you should take if you want to pass the test.

Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone – The modern smartphone is a wonder of modern technology, and in combination with the carrier network can allow you to make calls from the densest urban jungle to Mount Everest. But despite the amazing global coverage of the carrier networks, sometimes it just isn’t enough. This is when you need to rely on satellite coverage. And believe it or not, you can add satellite capability to your existing iPhone or Android smartphone. Yes, that’s right, you no longer need a dedicated satellite phone. What you need is a Thuraya SatSleeve. Just slide on the sleeve, and BINGO! You have a satellite phone. Yes, calls and data are going to cost you an arm and a leg (don’t be surprised if it adds up to several dollars a minute depending on where you want to use your handset).

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Google officially discontinues Nexus 7 tablet – If you’re in the market for an affordable, highly-rated, not-too-big-not-too-small tablet, your chances to buy the Nexus 7 are quickly running out. If you were planning to purchase one from Google directly, then your ship has already sailed. That’s because the company officially discontinued the 7-inch tablet on Friday, and is no longer selling it on the Google Store’s website. You can still find one from other places, but you better act fast.

Security:

Critical HTTPS bug may open 25,000 iOS apps to eavesdropping attacks – At least 25,000 iOS apps available in Apple’s App Store contain a critical vulnerability that may completely cripple HTTPS protections designed to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks that steal or modify sensitive data, security researchers warned. As was the case with a separate HTTPS vulnerability reported earlier this week that affected 1,500 iOS apps, the bug resides in AFNetworking, an open-source code library that allows developers to drop networking capabilities into their iOS and OS X apps. Any app that uses a version of AFNetworking prior to the just-released 2.5.3 may expose data that’s trivial for hackers to monitor or modify, even when it’s protected by the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol.

Google says Chinese Great Cannon shows need to encrypt web – The large DDoS attack on GitHub and Greatfire that occurred over March and April would not have been possible with encrypted web traffic, Google has said.

With ransomware on the rise, cryptographers take it personally – Some of the world’s leading cryptographers are concerned about the increasing number of malicious programs that hold computers and mobile phones to ransom, in many cases by abusing the encryption algorithms they designedd. The security industry is not doing enough and it’s going to get worse, they said

Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website – According to numerous reports yesterday, an unknown individual (or individuals) managed to get into the Tesla Twitter account, as well as the Twitter account belonging to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The hijackers claiming responsibility indicated they were known as “ripprgang” and, yes, they even posted a link to their own Twitter account—which isn’t filled with anything interesting, unfortunately, seeing as it has already been suspended as of this article’s writing.

Company News:

Hello?! Nokia Releases Official Statement Denying Reports It Will Return To Mobile – In a (short and somewhat terse) official statement today, Nokia noted “recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China.” It went on: “These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive. Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.”

Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast – First AT&T/T-Mobile, then Sprint/T-Mobile, and now Comcast/Time Warner have collapsed. This might also put AT&T/DirecTV in jeopardy. What all of these have in common is that they involved a service that’s essential for participating in the modern economy, and they totally failed to make the case that their mergers would make consumers’ lives better.

BitTorrent confirms layoffs: 40 workers rumored gone – BitTorrent has been putting a lot of work into growing, and it has seemingly been progressing well with its BitTorrent Originals entertainment effort and BitTorrent Sync, among other things. Sources have cropped up to reveal that things may not be going so well behind closed doors, however, and they claim that yesterday the company laid off “dozens” of employees. The move was said to be in an effort to focus on a smaller bunch of products, and to “streamline business operations”.

Microsoft CEO says Office has been downloaded 100 million times on iOS and Android – Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, revealed that Office has been downloaded more than 100 million times on iOS and Android, and reiterated plans to ensure that its products reach “every mobile device.”

Infosys buying digital commerce provider Kallidus in $120 million deal – Also doing business under the moniker Skada, Kallidus comes with a cloud-based digital commerce platform designed to link all of the e-commerce endpoints from the couch to the counter.

Games and Entertainment:

Solitaire Is Coming Back on Windows – The much-loved card game will once again be just a few clicks away when Microsoft’s next OS launches this summer. This means you’ll no longer have to go through the trouble of separately downloading it like you need to do on Windows 8. Microsoft previously admitted that Solitaire, along with Minesweeper and Hearts, have a “devoted following,” but decided not to pre-install them on Windows 8.

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Dungeons 2 review: Almost the Dungeon Keeper 3 you’ve been waiting for – Suffice it to say, Dungeons 2 is better than that pseudo-Dungeon Keeper racket. But that bar couldn’t be lower if the person holding the bar got stabbed in the gut by EA, fell down a conveniently placed flight of stairs into a basement, and then carried the bar six feet further down into a freshly-dug grave. Is Dungeons 2 any good not just in comparison, but on its own? Ah, now that’s the real question.

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Valve’s Launch Of Paid Mods Faces Backlash From Community – PC gaming giant Valve is facing vocal backlash from its community a day after giving developers of game modifications the ability to charge for their work on the Steam platform. Whereas digital stores typically take a fraction of the sales they process — say, Apple’s 30% on app sales an in-app puchases — Valve has decided to take 75% from each sale of paid mods. That amount is then split between Valve and the publisher or developer behind the original game. That split is one of the sticking points emerging as an issue in Reddit threads and posts on the Steam Community, but it’s certainly not the only one, as many understand it’s a prerequisite to get studios interested in letting others profit from the games they make.

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How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities – Adam Gazzaley is building a repertoire of games that could one day help us reduce or even reverse the impact on our cognitive faculties of disorders such as Alzheimer’s, or deficits caused by brain trauma. Gazzaley emphasised that although he is not against using medication for these types of deficits, 50 years of drug research later “and not one case has resulted in a high-level success story.” On top of this, high drug doses needed to target the underlying neural network inevitably have side effects, and treatment is not personalized—doses are often based on anecdotal evidence provided by the patient. It’s clear we need to look elsewhere for answers, at least until drug research finds a better solution or a complementary one.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation – The truth is, people will never achieve true privacy and anonymity online. Tracking is not only here to stay, it’s getting more pervasive and sophisticated. The technology now exists to track your movement across the web without even needing cookies. “Canvas fingerprinting” for example, is one of a number of cookie-less browser techniques that allow sites to uniquely identify and track visitors. In addition, Facebook and Google are becoming more savvy about correlating individuals’ activities on multiple devices, getting a single view of a person’s online behavior across their smartphone, laptop and any other devices. Furthermore, as emotional a topic as tracking can be, few people change their online behavior because of it or even bother to read the legalistic-to-the-point-of-unfathomable privacy policies that sites post

The hottest gadgets of 1985 – Summary: It seems like only yesterday for the Gen-X crowd, but it was 30 years ago that some of the most influential innovations in consumer technology were introduced.

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We are cruel. We always have been. The Internet did not make us so – Not that it asked me and not that it needs me and not that I expect it to do anything but mock me for my efforts, but I’m going to defend the Internet. Lately, humanity has been flattering itself that it was better and kinder before the Internet – as though we never slipped anonymous notes through locker doors in high-school hallways that were echo chambers in themselves, as if we never wrote on actual walls. To hear us now, you’d think no one ever ever crank-called late at night, dialled up even before dial-up to offer abuse, stared into other people’s windows through our own twitching curtains.

14 Animals Who Wore Cameras for Your Amusement (and Science) – If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like for a sea turtle swimming gracefully through the blue expanses, an eagle soaring through the mountains, or where your cat travels at night, technology makes it possible. Take a look through our slideshow to learn what it’s like to be a Hawaiin monk seal, a giant squid, and a menagerie of other critters. It will get you in touch with your wild side! Or something.

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Android mascot urinates on Apple in Google Maps Easter Egg – It’s a well-documented fact that Google loves Easter Eggs. However, this one hiding out in Google Maps is a spiteful little jab at Apple. It’s not exactly stealthily hidden for an Easter Egg. While a specific set of coordinates will take you right to the graffiti, you can also just punch up the New Islamabad Airport and head due East. You’ll stumble across it in no time.

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Mom allegedly attacks school official after daughter not allowed cell phone – In April, a Philadelphia school principal stumbled into a filmed contretemps with a parent who demanded that the school give him his daughter’s cell phone back. The school had confiscated it and said it would keep it for some weeks. Now footage from India has emerged, in which a mom is allegedly so upset that her daughter wasn’t allowed to have her cell phone at school that she attacks school director Jyoti Nagrani.

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Feds: 6 died as a result of overdosing from Silk Road-purchased drugs – The head attorney for Silk Road founder and convicted felon Ross Ulbricht has asked the judge that his upcoming sentencing hearing be postponed, according to a Friday court filing. Why does this lawyer, Joshua Dratel, want the date to be pushed back? Because, he argues, the defense needs adequate time to review the government’s latest revelation that six people died as a result of overdosing on drugs they purchased on Silk Road.

Pointing up   FYI – Acetaminophen Deaths: Data compiled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has linked as many as 980 deaths in a year to drugs containing acetaminophen. In addition, FDA reports of death associated with acetaminophen have been increasing faster than those for aspirin, ibuprofen and many other common over-the-counter pain medicines. Data obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 300 people die annually as a result of acetaminophen poisoning.

Something to think about:

“For all of life’s discontents, according to the pharmaceutical industry, there is a drug and you should take it. Then for the side effects of that drug, then there’s another drug, and so on. So we’re all taking more drugs, and more expensive drugs.”

–      Marcia Angell

Today’s Free Downloads:

LinuxLive USB Creator – LiLi USB Creator is a handy, easy to use application designed to enable you to create a bootable Live USB key with a Linux on it.

This software also offers an exclusive option of automatic virtualization to directly run Linux in Windows without any configuration nor installation.

Features:

Free and Open-source

LiLi is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anybody. All you have to do is to pick up a Linux in the list and give it a try.

No reboot needed

Are you sick of having to reboot your PC to try Linux ? No need with LiLi. It has a built-in virtualization feature that lets you run your Linux in Windows just out of the box !

Supports many Linux distributions

Wow ! Did you see that never-ending list ? They are almost all there : Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux …

Persistence

Having a Live USB is better than just using a Live CD because you can even save your datas and install softwares. This feature is called persistence (available only on selected Linux).

SmartClean & SmartDownload

SmartClean uninstalls properly any previous Live USB installs and SmartDownload lets you download any supported Linux in 2 clicks automatically selecting the best mirror to download it.SmartClean also lets you clean your USB key in one click.

And a lot more!

Intelligent processing : LiLi works with many Linux, even if they are not officially supported

Hidden install : LiLi hides the Linux install, your key stays clean

File integrity : tells you if your ISO is corrupted

Keeps your data on your USB device (format only if needed)

Intelligent format : can format disks bigger than 32 GB

Auto-Update : automatic updates when new Linux distributions are available

Also works with .IMG files (experimental)

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater – Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater is a a software updater for Adobe’s Flash Player. Flash is one of the key technologies of Web 2.0 – you can find it nearly everywhere. Commonly used technologies are always a main target for malware authors – Flash Player is not different. Adobe frequently releases security updates to fix the latest security vulnerabilities.

However, Flash Player’s out-of-box updater uses long time intervals between update checks. Most endusers do not bother to configure the internal updater – they run outdated Flash Player versions. That is an extremely underestimated security risk!

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater was developed to offer an easy to use application for inexperienced endusers who do not want to bother with updates. It can install updates with no user interaction required and thus keep your system secure without bothering you.

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater offers many features for single- and corporate users like automatical update checks with a custom time interval. Also, it allows corporate users to use a remote configuration and thereby avoid configuring every single client.

Features:

Even works if no Flash Player is installed on the system (offers download)

Works on Windows x86 and x64 (32-bit, 64-bit)

German, English and Spanish (automatically detects the system language)

Can work completely hidden (except notifications when updates are available)

Users can choose to let it start with Windows

Works behind a proxy server and with different administrator credentials (these are encrypted in the configuration file)

an use a global configuration file for network environments

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called “gross hypocrisy” – Yesterday, former CIA Director David Petraeus was handed two years of probation and a $100,000 fine after agreeing to a plea deal that ends in no jail time for leaking classified information to Paula Broadwell, his biographer and lover.

“I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life and continuing to serve our great nation as a private citizen,” Petraeus said outside the federal courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday.

Lower-level government leakers have not, however, been as likely to walk out of a courthouse applauding the US as Petraeus did. Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, called the Petraeus plea deal a “gross hypocrisy.”

“At the same time as Petraeus got off virtually scot-free, the Justice Department has been bringing the hammer down upon other leakers who talk to journalists—sometimes for disclosing information much less sensitive than Petraeus did,” he said.

The Petraeus sentencing came days after the Justice Department demanded (PDF) up to a 24-year-term for Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who leaked information to a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about a botched mission to sell nuclear plans to Iran in order to hinder its nuclear-weapons progress.

NSA spied on EU politicians and companies with help from German intelligence – Germany’s intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has been helping the NSA spy on European politicians and companies for years, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The NSA has been sending lists of “selectors”—identifying telephone numbers, e-mail and IP addresses—to the BND, which then provides related information that it holds in its surveillance databases. According to the German newspaper Die Zeit, the NSA sent selector lists several times a day, and altogether 800,000 selectors have been requested.

The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism “Memorandum of Agreement” on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA’s requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed.

According to Der Spiegel, investigators found that the BND had provided information on around 2,000 selectors that were clearly against European and German interests. Not only were European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians—including German ones.

The NSA made a coloring book for kids – Last week we met Dunk, the NSA’s captivatingly weird Earth Day mascot, and now it looks like he’s not the only anthropomorphic creature in the NSA family. Dan Raile at Pando Daily went to the RSA security conference last week, and returned with a prize: an NSA-themed coloring book.

The book, America’s CryptoKids: Future Codemakers and Cokebreakers, tells the story of a team of talking animals, who, when they’re not spying on you, spend their time shredding on the guitar and playing friendly games of lacrosse. While also spying on you, of course.

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Austraalia: ACCC warns site-blocking Bill may be used to ‘intimidate’ VPN users – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has warned against rights holders ‘inappropriately’ threatening to block services that grant Australians access to geoblocked services like Hulu and HBO Now.

CIA couldn’t fully use NSA spy program as most analysts didn’t know about it – A newly-released document from the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) own internal watchdog found that the government’s controversial warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program was so secretive that the agency was unable to make “full use” of its capabilities even several years after the September 11 attacks. Initially, only top-level CIA officials were cleared on its use, rather than rank-and-file “CIA analysts and targeting officers.”

The document, a June 2009 report from the CIA Inspector General (IG) was released as part of a trove of 747 pages entitled the “Report on the President’s Surveillance Program” and was published on Friday by The New York Times as the result of victory in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice.

The CIA IG report, like the others, is redacted in many places, but provides some new material as to the specific history, play-by-play and internal evaluations of the program. In 2009, the government had previously published a far shorter unclassified version.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 28, 2015

6 DNS services protect against malware and other unwanted content;  Maldrone: Malware which hijacks your personal drone;  The 10 best widgets for your Android tablet;  Android essentials: 13 apps I can’t live without;  7 Hidden Roku Tricks for Streaming Success;  Twitter adds group messaging and 30s videos;  Wi-Fi triage: 5 common solutions to your wireless woes;  Apple rolls out iOS 8.1.3;  FCC to hotels on WiFi blocking: it’s illegal, don’t do it;  Xbox One and 360 Xbox Live Gold members ‘Deals of the Week’;  Microsoft pushes new firmware for Xbox One controllers;  YouTube drops Flash for HTML5 video as default; The best Android games of 2014;  CNET’s top tips on getting stunning travel photos;  The DEA has been spying on millions of US drivers for years.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

6 DNS services protect against malware and other unwanted content – While many (but not all) users are familiar with the concept of security software, there are more basic ways to protect unwary surfers from phishing sites, botnets, intrusive advertising and other unwanted visitors Since DNS servers are the middlemen between your browser and website content, there are many third-party DNS services that offer additional functionality for both users and network administrators. These tools can include:

Maldrone: Malware which hijacks your personal drone – AR drones, developed by French firm Parrot, are reportedly vulnerable to hacking due to a backdoor discovered by security researcher Rahul Sasi this week. As reported by Hacker News, the AR quadcopter helicopter drone — controllable via smartphone, tablet, Nvidia Shield console and Epson Moverio display, among others — is vulnerable to a newly-created malware strain, dubbed Maldrone. According to the researcher, Maldrone can be used to remotely hijack drones via entry through the backdoor. Developed for the AR drone’s ARM Linux system, the malicious code is able to kill a drone’s autopilot and take control remotely.

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The 10 best widgets for your Android tablet – Widgets have always been one of the key differentiators for Android. They really shine on a tablet, where you have a large screen to fill with news, weather, or useful utilities instead of icons. We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to glam up your screen with both good-looking and useful widgets from the Play Store. Whether you have a modest-sized Nexus 7 or big-screened Galaxy Tab S, they’ll add some zest to your home screen.

Android essentials: 13 apps I can’t live without – As someone who spends an absurd amount of hours staring at Android phones and tablets, I’ve given a lot of thought to what apps matter the most to me. There’s the stuff I keep around and use once in a while, sure, but what are the essential apps I need to feel like a device is mine — and to make it do what I need it to do? If I could install only a dozen apps on a device, which apps would I choose? I had to cheat a little and give myself a baker’s dozen — hey, a geek’s gotta eat — but after much contemplation, these are the Android apps I can’t live without.

YouTube drops Flash for HTML5 video as default – The slow death of Adobe Flash has been hastened — YouTube, which used the platform as the standard way to play its videos, has dumped Flash in favor of HTML5 for its default web player. The site will now use HTML5 video as standard in Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Safari 8, and in beta versions of Firefox. YouTube engineer Richard Leider said the time had come to ditch the aging Flash in favor of HTML5 as the latter, used in smart TVs and other streaming devices, had benefits that “extend beyond web browsers.”

7 Hidden Roku Tricks for Streaming Success – Whether you just got a Roku or you’ve had one for years, there’s more to know beyond the basics of watching Netflix and catching up with “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” on Crackle. We’ve put together seven ways for you to get more out of your Roku.

Wi-Fi triage: 5 common solutions to your wireless woes – Wi-Fi is the most wonderful home convenience—except for when it isn’t. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a mental checklist on hand for common issues that might be causing the problem when your Wi-Fi checks out. Everybody has their own favorite way of handling Wi-Fi problems, but here’s mine.

Prynt turns your smartphone into a Polaroid camera – This is Prynt, a case that fits around a number of smartphones (including the iPhone 6, 5c, and 5s and Galaxy S4 and S5). It doesn’t just make your phone look a bit like a point-and-shoot camera, it also hides a tiny portable printer than can spit out your photos in just a few seconds. It spits out 2 inch by 3 inch photos using the same inkless ZINK paper that portable photo printers like the LG PoPo and HiTi Pringo use.

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Apple rolls out iOS 8.1.3, requires less open memory for updates – Apple has just released iOS 8.1.3, their third iteration on the release of iOS 8. After a series of errors surrounding iOS 8 upgrades, this one fixes some minor problems. We’ll now need less space to update an iPhone or iPad device over the air, and iOS 8.1.3 fixes an issue where Spotlight failed to display app results. Thankfully, Apple also fixed their frustrating multitasking gestures bug on iPad (five-finger pinch to close, among others). The update is rolling out now.

Wickr Hides Private Photos With Cat Pics – Move over, Facebook and Instagram. Secure messaging app Wickr, which destroys messages after a set period of time, is getting even more social with the addition of a new photo feed. The new feature, dubbed Wickr Timed Feed (WTF), lets you create private feeds of photos that self-destruct after 24 hours (similar to Snapchat Stories). You can jazz up your photos with filters, graffiti, and stickers, then invite up to 151 friends to view and rate the photos. At this point, Timed Feed is only available on the Wickr iOS app.

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Twitter adds group messaging and 30s videos – Twitter may be the social network where you tell the world what you had for breakfast, but new private messaging features now allow you to share it on a need-to-know basis. The support for private conversations – added to Twitter today, along with new video features that streamline the sharing of clips – builds on the social service’s existing Direct Messages support, but expands them to an impromptu group of up to twenty people who needn’t be following each other. It’s the company’s response to wildly popular instant messaging clients like Facebook-owned Whatsapp.

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Snapchat Now Shows You Video From Comedy Central, Vice and More – Snapchat is adding a new portal for editorial content from a range of media partners, the company said Tuesday. The new feature, called “Discover,” will offer Snapchat users video content from National Geographic, Vice, Comedy Central and others, including TIME sister publication PEOPLE. The deal makes sense for the publishers involved, many of whom are looking for ways to put their content in front of younger users to build relationships as their income levels — and thus value to advertisers — increases. Most of Snapchat’s 100 million-plus monthly users are between the ages of 13 and 25, with many users checking the app multiple times a day.

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FCC to hotels on WiFi blocking: it’s illegal, don’t do it – Marriott may have dropped its WiFi-blocking efforts, but that doesn’t mean the FCC has forgotten about its petition and the WiFi-blocking habits of some other companies. In a warning issued today as an “FCC Enforcement Advisory”, the agency made it clear that it is not acceptable to jam others’ WiFi hotspots regardless of whether you’re an individual or a company, and it specifically pointed toward hotels as an example. In addition, the FCC called hotspot-jamming actions a “disturbing trend” that must stop.

The Bluewire Is A Bluetooth Headset That Can Record Your Calls – While there are plenty of headsets out there that give you a comfortable fit or decent sound quality compared to the earbuds that come with our phones, the Bluewire actually records conversations to a pre-installed MicroSD card – 1,000 hours of conversations, to be more precise. You don’t even have to actually have your conversation over the Bluewire headset. As long as it’s paired to your smartphone, it’ll record both sides of a conversation, even if it takes place over a different headset you find more comfortable or your in-car audio system.

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Facebook Continues To Dominate Social Logins, Expands Lead To 61% Market Share – Facebook is pretty much dominant across all business segments. It powers 72 percent of social logins on e-commerce sites, for example, and 76 percent on education and non-profit sites. The one small exception is media sites, where it “only” has a 55 percent market share. That’s not a bright spot for Google either, though, as it only owns about 21 percent of that market, too, while Twitter and Yahoo are relatively popular with 11 percent and 8 percent market share, respectively.

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Why Google Cardboard Is the Only VR Headset You Need – Using only your smartphone (either Apple or Android) and a simple headset, Cardboard has more than enough oomph to render a compelling virtual reality experience. And they’re affordable: most kits (like Dodocase, I Am Cardboard, or Knox Labs) cost less than $10. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, though, you can build one yourself from scratch (adding to its DIY, Michel Gondry-esque charm). As someone who has experienced many early VR technologies, I can honestly say that most people will find that Cardboard offers an experience on par with that of Oculus. And I’m not alone in that opinion.

CNET’s top tips on getting stunning travel photos – Your holidays can provide endless opportunities for brilliant photography, regardless of which part of the world you’ve chosen to jet off to. In the first part of my two-part travel photography guide, I took you through the kit you should consider taking with you. Now, I’m going to take you through some of the best tips you should keep in mind on vacation to help you come back with some glorious travel shots, instead of a boring bunch of holiday snaps.

Apple Pay Is Coming to Thousands of Laundry and Vending Machines – Next time you’re standing in front of a vending machine and cursing yourself for not bringing along cash or coins, your smartphone may be all you need. Apple Pay is coming to approximately 200,000 self-serve appliances like vending machines, laundry machines and parking pay stations around the country, USA Technologies announced Tuesday. The company builds cashless payment systems into retail devices; its ePort payment system boasts a Near Field Communication sensor that is now compatible with Apple Pay.

Security:

Regin malware and NSA’s QWERTY tool exposed as part of the same platform – For more than 10 years, the Regin malware has been infecting targets around the globe. Now there’s clear evidence that Regin and QWERTY — an NSA keylogger revealed by Edward Snowden — are being developed by the same people. Security experts all around the globe — from Symantec who discovered it to Fox IT who were called in to clean up a particularly nasty infection — said it was by far the most sophisticated piece of malware they’d ever seen. It seems safe to assume, then, that Regin isn’t just being developed and utilized by GCHQ or the NSA, but rather that it’s something that all members of the Five Eyes alliance are collaborating on. Just because the link has been exposed doesn’t mean the threat will go away any time soon. If Regin really has been operating in the wild for a decade, why would anyone believe that the NSA and their cohorts aren’t already using — or preparing to use — a vastly improved version of the malware?

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Highly critical “Ghost” allowing code execution affects most Linux systems – An extremely critical vulnerability affecting most Linux distributions gives attackers the ability to execute malicious code on servers used to deliver e-mail, host webpages, and carry out other vital functions. The bug, which is being dubbed “Ghost” by some researchers, has the common vulnerability and exposures designation of CVE-2015-0235. While a patch was issued two years ago, most Linux versions used in production systems remain unprotected at the moment. What’s more, patching systems requires core functions or the entire affected server to be rebooted, a requirement that may cause some systems to remain vulnerable for some time to come.

Marriott mobile app: providing backdoor access since 2011 – Hotel chain Marriott might find itself in more trouble than its 2014 FCC fine. A senior developer at the XDA Developers Forum has revealed that the chain’s mobile app might have allowed unauthorized people to gain access to private information, including names, addresses, contact numbers and credit card information. Though the app has said to have been plugged up now, the security flaw has been in existence for almost four years, exponentially increasing the possible ramifications and victims of this exploit.

Bug in ultra secure BlackPhone let attackers decrypt texts, stalk users – A recently fixed vulnerability in the BlackPhone instant messaging application gave attackers the ability to decrypt messages, steal contacts, and control vital functions of the device, which is marketed as a more secure way to protect communications from government and criminal snoops. Mark Dowd, a principal consultant with Australia-based Azimuth Security, said would-be attackers needed only a user’s Silent Circle ID or phone number to remotely exploit the bug.

Company News:

Apple posts $18 billion profit, the largest in its history – Apple just posted its first quarter results, and as expected, it was a big one. Led once again by record sales of new iPhones and holiday sales of iPads and Macs, Apple posted earnings of $18 billion on $74.6 billion in revenue, far above what it forecasted back in October, and marking the highest quarterly profit in its history. By product, Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones, 21.4 million iPads, and 5.52 million Macs. Those numbers were up big from the number of iPhones and Macs Apple sold during the same time last year, but down big for the iPad.

Microsoft Closes Down 9.25% After Its Earnings Report Fails To Impress The Street – Today, Microsoft shed tens of billions of dollars in value, after its earnings failed to impress the investing classes. Microsoft closed down 9.25 percent in regular trading. The company’s shares slipped after-hours yesterday by several points in the immediate aftermath of the report, which indicated that Microsoft had earned $0.71 per share on revenue of $26.5 billion. The latter figure represents a modest revenue beat.

Yahoo Reports Mixed Q4 With Mobile Revenue Of $254M, Total Top Line Of $1.18B – Today Yahoo reported its fourth-quarter financial performance, including revenue excluding the cost of acquiring traffic of $1.179 billion, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.30. The market had expected the company to report $1.19 billion in revenue, and non-GAAP earnings of $0.29 per share. Yahoo also announced that it plans to spin its remaining stake in Alibaba out into a new company. The plan has large tax advantages, and investors like a good savings.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One and 360 Xbox Live Gold members ‘Deals of the Week’ – This week, Xbox Live Gold members will be able to take advantage of great deals on some excellent titles. Although pricing is not concrete due to varying pricing in different regions, here are some of the more notable games in the bunch: Madden 15, Titanfall, NBA Live 15 and Dragon Age Inquisition. If those don’t interest you, be sure to check out the full list below.

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Microsoft pushes new firmware for Xbox One controllers in Preview program – Now that Microsoft is back on track with monthly updates for its Xbox One console, users should also be reminded to update their controllers with the new firmware that’s being released. Right now, only users in the Preview program can take advantage of the new features but, rest assured that after being beta tested the firmware will arrive on all devices.

Fantastic 4 reboot trailer: showing real promise – The same studio that brought you the X-Men movies is giving a bit of a reboot to the Fantastic Four. The first couple of Fantastic Four (or Fantastic 4, if you prefer) films didn’t do so hot – the actor who played Johnny Storm left the project to become Captain America with Marvel, if that’s any indicator – now it’s time to give the title a kick in the pants. Instead of continuing to roll with the same cast and the same plot, 20th Century Fox is bringing heat with a “re-imagining” of the team.

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Whatever Happened to the Mascots of Our Beloved 90s Platform Games? – When the industry began trending away from 2-D sprite-based graphics toward realistic 3-D polygonal models around ’96, side-scrolling platformers became essentially irrelevant. The platform mascots’ jump to 3-D, as it turned out, was perilous. Many that flourished in the eight- and 16-bit eras didn’t quite make it. Some faded away, some made sidesteps and found success elsewhere, and others died of humiliation. Now that it’s been nearly 20 years since that fateful transitional period, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at the most notable platformer mascots to see how they fared.

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Dying Light review impressions: Fresh zombies, coming in hot – Like every other game reviewer, we just got our hands on Dying Light review code yesterday. Seeing as how it’s a massive open-world game I assume lasts somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30 hours, we’re understandably not finished with the game yet. Not even close, really. But I’ve put in several hours with the game and I’ve got some initial opinions to share so you’re not buying it completely blind.

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The best Android games of 2014 – It was an excellent year to be an Android gamer in 2014. More developers embraced the platform—which means not only more games, but also timelier releases. We’ve pared down our list of favorites to just 15, and these are the essentials. They span an array of genres, styles, and price points, and deliver quick-fix fun and focused play experiences alike. Looking for the year’s biggest and brightest? Load up your phone or tablet with these amazing games, pronto.

Off Topic (Sort of):

GoDaddy’s puppy-mocking Super Bowl ad in the dog house – Technically Incorrect: Laughing at the Budweiser ads that feature cuddly puppies, the traditionally bawdy GoDaddy released a Super Bowl ad this morning. And then: trouble. Big trouble.

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Luna’s Smart Mattress Cover Can Help You Sleep Better – Luna co-founder Matteo Franceschetti presents a pretty appealing vision of what it can be like to go to bed: As you lie down, the lights, temperature (of both the bed and the room), and the music all adjust to a setting of your choice. Then as you fall asleep, they adjust again, perhaps turning off completely. Luna makes this possible through a smart mattress cover that’s now available for pre-order through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The planned retail price for Luna’s smart cover is $249, but it’s currently available for $179 through pre-order.

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The Fragility Of Our Connected World – A decade ago, one would have never predicted the sheer size and impact the Internet has made on our planet. Now, with everything including government, healthcare, commerce and financial services brokered through connected devices, the stakes are much higher. In light of recent news events, we’re left to wonder: What impact does global connectivity really have on our daily lives and the economy as a whole? What could happen if we’re left in the dark for too long?

White House drone crash was caused by drunk gov worker – Remember that drone discovered on the White House lawn? The Secret Service was looking into the matter and had said it wasn’t a safety risk, but concerns quickly spawned that such an incident could serve to further harm the already damaged reputation small-time drones have received — with all of it coming at the worse time possible as the FAA prepares to rule on drone usage regulations. This particular mystery has already come to an end, and while it was a harmless accident, the cause of it all further tarnishes the personal use of drones in some eyes.

Something to think about:

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

–      Fyodor Dostoevsky

Today’s Free Downloads:

YAC (Yet Another Cleaner) – MajorGeek says: YAC is short for “Yet Another Cleaner” but this is anything but just another cleaner. It is actually an all-in-one suite that can clean junk files, registry items, give you browser protection and scan for viruses and malware. The program itself actually works excellent and digs really deep but you might want to pay a little bit of attention if you want to clean up everything. It found some items in my registry that I had no idea were even there or how they got there like Conduit and a few others. The first run might take you a little longer so you can ignore problems that aren’t really a problem (for you) but after that you won’t need to do it again. This program digs deeper and found more issues and tweaks than anything else I have used in a long time. I was impressed and think you will be as well.

Update: YAC seems to fall under the love it or hate it category, then again most things do. The biggest complaint is how difficult it can be to uninstall by users of uninstallers like Revo or IObit Uninstaller. I was able to remove it under Windows default program removal without any issues but I understand the complaint.

YAC has one other thing that bothers me. It seems to hide itself really well and I really didn’t want it running in startup. Problem there is that you won’t find it in your startup and the service is actually called iSafeService and disabling that as a service is not an option. Again, the program needs to be a little more transparent and some of these ‘tricks’ feel a little sleazy to me but boy it works really well.

Pointing up     Oh baloney! It’s as common as fleas on a dog for an application to add services – especially an application that’s tasked with a security function. One always has the option of  setting a manual startup for a specific service.

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PureSync – The PureSync application was designed to be a file synchronizer and backup tool. PureSync lets you compare, synchronize and backup file, easy to use, but still many features, such as conflict detection and resolving, multiple backups.

Features:

Synchronize: Synchronize files and folders, FTP

Backup: Backup of files and complete folders

Compare view: Control what will be synced in which direction

Easy to use, clear user interface: E.g. there are wizard and tool tips, support for Drag & Drop of folders

Automatic synchronization and backups: Scheduler when a file has been modified

Special Foto-Sync for digital cameras: Copy e.g. only the new fotos from the camera-. Though fotos that have been sorted out but still at the camera are not copy again.

Limitations: Requires Microsoft .Net Framework installed.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The DEA has been spying on millions of US drivers for years – The United States Justice Department is tracking millions of vehicles nationwide as part of a secret intelligence-gathering program, The Wall Street Journal reports. The surveillance program is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s plan to build a database plotting the movements of vehicles around the country.

The program, which scans and records license plates, has been in place for years. A spokesperson for the Justice Department told the Journal that the license plate-reader program is “not new,” but where it was previously used to combat drug cartels and seize valuables, it is now being used to solve criminal cases like homicide and kidnapping. DEA documents obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act show the license plate-reader program dating back to 2008.

This isn’t the first time the US government has spied on its citizens, but now it seems the only prerequisite for being spied on is driving a car.

France wants to make Google and Facebook accountable for hate speech – The French government announced today a plan to hold web companies accountable for any extremist messages they may host, Bloomberg reports. French president Francois Hollande wants to introduce a law that would make companies like Google and Facebook “accomplices” in crimes of hate speech if users post content the government deems extremist.

In an announcement today, Hollande said, “We must act at the European and international level to define a legal framework so that internet platforms which manage social media be considered responsible, and that sanctions can be taken.”

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve plans to travel to the US to discuss this proposal with the heads of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter. The president will present a draft law next month.

No, Mass Surveillance Won’t Stop Terrorist Attacks – Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that while “Congress having oversight certainly is important … what is more important relative to these types of events is ensuring we don’t overly hamstring the NSA’s ability to collect this kind of information in advance and keep these kinds of activities from occurring.” Similarly, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spoke of his “fear” that “our intelligence capabilities, those designed to prevent such an attack from taking place on our shores, are quickly eroding,” adding that the government surveillance “designed to prevent these types of attacks from occurring is under siege.”

A recent poll demonstrates that their sentiments are widely shared in the wake of the attack.

But would more mass surveillance have prevented the assault on the Charlie Hebdo office? Events from 9/11 to the present help provide the answer:

Australian spookhaus ASIO could retain private data FOREVER – The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) has told the government it’s forgotten to set down how long ASIO is allowed to keep metadata handed over by telecommunications companies.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 requires that carriers hold data for two years. However, once that gets hoovered into ASIO, it could be retained forever.

Inspector-general Dr Vivienne Thom’s submission to the inquiry says there is no current law, nor any requirement in the bill, that limits ASIO’s capacity to hold telecommunications data.

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