Tag Archives: Android smartphones

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 16, 2015

11 simple steps to secure your PC and online accounts;  90% of security incidents trace back to PEBKAC and ID10T errors;  False Positives Sink Antivirus Ratings;  Digital music revenue overtakes CD sales;  A simple Google search can find your lost Android phone;  Google releases a new handwriting app for Android;  50 Best Free iPhone Apps for 2015;  14 Google Calendar Tricks You’re Probably Not Using;  How to Break Bad Habits With Tech;  IKEA releases its line of wireless charging furniture;  Why you should be using mobile shopping apps;  EU’s three gripes with Android: What you need to know;  How to Save Stories To Read Later On Your Phone;  How Google Could Threaten the Web;  In-flight Wi-Fi is “direct link” to hackers;  Mystery solved: Why do knuckles crack?  Binge-watch ‘Orphan Black’ for free this Friday.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

90% of security incidents trace back to PEBKAC and ID10T errors – 90% of security incidents are still caused by PEBKAC and ID10T errors, according to Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report. Phishing attacks are a prime example of how the problem exists between keyboard and user as the DBIR said it takes a mere one minute and 22 seconds after a phishing email is sent before the first victim clicks on the tainted link.

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11 simple steps to secure your PC and online accounts – Data breaches, hacks, and vulnerable software makes it easier than ever for a hacker to get access to your data. These simple steps can help mitigate it happening in the first place.

A simple Google search can find your lost Android phone – This new feature lets you do a simple Google search to recover your Android phone. Simply, go to the main Google search webpage in a browser and type in “find my phone.” The first result will be a map of your phone’s exact location, like the bar last night. Then, through a drop-down menu, you can ring your phone directly from the browser if your phone is still nearby. You’ll need the Google app’s latest version installed before you can try to search for your Android phone, and you need to make sure that your phone and your browser are both logged into the same Google account for the search to work properly.

50 Best Free iPhone Apps for 2015 – Not everything in life is free, but many great iPhone apps are. And when you can find good software for free, take it. This list of the 50 best free iPhone apps highlight apps that we at PCMag think have shown outstanding performance, have been well received by a variety of technology users, and are truly “free.” No gimmicks, no membership required or in-app purchase necessary. Free. Period.

Tip: WinDirStat can help you free up storage space for GTA V (or anything else) in a flash – WinDirStat is a free tool—donations accepted!—that scans your drive, then explains where all your storage is being consumed with some gorgeous data visualization, separating the culprits into different blocks to provide a quick, at-a-glance summary. Clicking on one of the blocks lets you dive deeper and truly see where your storage is tied up—but in this case, I was looking for major offenders anyway.

Google releases a new handwriting app for Android – If you ever wanted to draw an emoji, now is your chance. Google has released Google Handwriting Input for Android, which supports printed and cursive writing in 82 languages, as well as hand-drawn emojis….

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How to Break Bad Habits With Tech – Yes, there’s an app for “that,” almost no matter what “that” might entail, but when it comes to busting your bad, bad habits, don’t overlook the possibilities. With some help from software—and by applying some of your own willpower, an aspect that can’t be overlooked or ignored—it’s possible to better yourself. Even if all you do is correct one practice or pattern that is bugging, governing, or ruining you and those around you on a regular basis. With some of these tools and tips, you can try positive, go negative (start paying for your habitual crimes!), or a little of both.

Tinder integrates Instagram to show you’re well-rounded – If you’re trying to lure in new connections on Tinder, hawking your life through carefully filtered and selectively framed Instagram photos is one way to do that. The service hasn’t been entirely friendly toward Instagram, however, in that it didn’t offer support for such and users would have to put a link to their Instagram profile in their Tinder profile. Users requested a bit more than that, though, and Tinder has decided to listen, adding an option to embedded your Instagram photos directly in your Tinder profile for all to see.

Why you should be using mobile shopping apps – The truth is, there are certain categories of mobile apps that are created to make life easier. And when you are working in a mad-dash pace five days a week, every second you can get back from daily duties adds up by the end of the week. And yet there are still those that believe the shopping app is below them. Get this … Forbes believes that shopping apps will be the single fastest growing category of mobile applications in 2015.

Microsoft Band is officially on sale in the UK, priced at £169.99 – The Microsoft Band is now available to buy in the UK – its first market outside of the US – priced at £169.99, and includes guided workouts developed with leading UK health provider Nuffield Health.

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14 Google Calendar Tricks You’re Probably Not Using – If you consider yourself a true 400-pound orangutan of organization, a profit of productivity, a caballero of collaboration, then take a look through our slideshow of 14 neat little tricks that you can do inside Google Calendar. There will definitely be some you didn’t know.

Twitter’s new front page advertises news sources, tech reporters, and butts – Twitter has a new login page that collates images from its most popular users to keep you informed about important topics like world politics, movie gossip, tech news, and — apparently — spandex-clad butts….

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Dormi Turns Android Smartphones Or Tablets Into A Video Baby Monitor – A number of companies today leverage the ubiquity of smartphones in order to offer parents “connected” baby monitoring systems that can be accessed from anywhere. Often, as with devices like NapTime or Evoz, these include a monitor and camera of some sort and an accompanying mobile app. But a startup called Dormi has historically offered a different take – instead of selling new hardware, the company allows you to re-use old Android smartphones or tablets in order to remotely monitor your baby’s room. Now its system has received a long-anticipated update, with the much-requested addition of video monitoring.

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IKEA releases its line of wireless charging furniture – IKEA has launched its Wireless Charging collection of furniture, which has built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers for compatible mobile phones. In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.

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How to Save Stories To Read Later On Your Phone – Sometimes, it feels like our phones buzz with notifications from our favorite news apps at the most inconvenient moments — it’s hard to open a notification about Iranian nuclear developments when we’re headed into a meeting or chasing down the bus. Luckily, there are a few great apps that will help you save important stories for reading later in the day when you’ve got some downtime, even if you don’t have a data signal (say, on the subway).

Security:

New York Times columnist falls prey to signal repeater car burglary – Last week, the New York Times columnist Nick Bilton took to Twitter to let the world know that two kids broke into his car before his very eyes. What made the break-in a little more remarkable was the fact that, according to Bilton, the perps used an electronic device to simply unlock his Toyota Prius, rather than doing things the old-fashioned way with a slim jim, coat hanger, or brick. This isn’t the first time that signal repeaters have been linked to car burglaries in California. In 2013, we reported on a similar spate of thefts in Long Beach, CA, that left local police ‘stumped.’ And it’s not the only way of gaining entry to a supposedly secure car; The Register has previously covered devices that can eavesdrop on the signal between a BMW and its remote, allowing miscreants to program a blank remote for later use.

IBM makes decades worth of cyber-threat data public – IBM’s X-Force Exchange aims to be one of the largest and thorough catalogs of vulnerabilities in the world, helping companies to defend against cyber-crimes in real-time.

Neighborhood Watch program to add wireless security cams to its wetware network – The Neighborhood Watch program is about to augment its wetware network of watchful eyes with a hardware network of wireless IP security cameras. The objective? Reduce false alerts to local authorities, improve emergency response times, and reduce crime rates. It all starts with the rollout of a new safety system that will use wireless, battery-powered cameras to monitor participating neighborhoods.

Bitdefender Box review: Trying hard to be antivirus for the Internet of Things – My smart home has more than 40 devices connected to the Internet: Multiple computers, tablets, and smartphones; 10 IP security cameras; a control panel for my Vivint home-security and automation system; a satellite TV tuner with a DVR; a Roku video-streaming box; four Sonos nodes; and more. Bitdefender tells me its Box can protect all of them, and with enough confidence that I can run my PCs, tablets, and smartphones without local antivirus or anti-malware. All I need besides Box is a lightweight agent on those devices (Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS are all supported).

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False Positives Sink Antivirus Ratings – What’s the big deal about false positives? Well, depending on the prevalence of the file affected, the consequences can be epic. Some years ago McAfee erroneously quarantined an important Windows file (they’ll never live that down!). More recently, Panda identified its own files as malware. Even without major fiascos like these, if your antivirus visibly makes mistakes, you’ll lose faith in it. AV-Comparatives offers a detailed report on false positives encountered by each product in this test, including prevalence data for the legitimate samples. This simple file-detection test has its limitations, as noted in the full report. Even so, it’s a good sign when a product aces this test, and a high rate of false positives may be cause for worry. How did your antivirus stack up?

In-flight Wi-Fi is “direct link” to hackers – Airplanes with in-flight Wi-Fi are vulnerable to hacks by passengers and could be targeted by a “malicious attacker” on the ground, a US report has warned. The threat appears to come in two forms, the GAO said. The first is from intrusion into avionics systems by passengers using in-flight Wi-Fi. “Four cybersecurity experts with whom we spoke discussed firewall vulnerabilities, and all four said that because firewalls are software components, they could be hacked like any other software and circumvented,” the report said. It described theoretical methods by which committed hackers could access any aspect of an airplane’s control system.

Company News:

Europe opens antitrust investigation into Android – The European Commission has been examining Google’s Android operating system for nearly three years, and it is now ready to launch a formal investigation into claims of unfair app bundling. Google services and apps like Maps, Chrome, and YouTube are often bundled with Android devices, and competitors have complained that it’s giving Google an unfair advantage. Regulators previously questioned telecom companies and phone manufacturers, to see whether Google forces them to bundle apps or services at the expense of competitors.

EU’s three gripes with Android: What you need to know – Did you know there are really two main versions of Android? The one Google controls is under fire for potential antitrust practices. Here’s why.

Facebook-backed Internet.org loses some Indian partners over net neutrality – A project by Facebook-backed Internet.org to offer people access to select online services without data charges has run into trouble in India, after the program was criticized by net neutrality activists. A number of companies that had partnered with Internet.org to offer content or services had by Wednesday either quit the alliance or were readying to leave. The Internet.org program does not meet its stated objective of providing free and unfettered Internet access to all, according to the activists.

Netflix Adds 4.9M New Members In Q1, Sending Shares Up More Than 10% – Why’s Wall Street so excited about flat revenues and an earnings miss? Netflix reported that its subscriber base grew to a total 62.3 million. That figure includes 2.3 million new domestic subscribers, and 2.6 million non-domestic subscribers.

Online marketplace Etsy prices IPO at $16 a share – Online crafts marketplace Etsy priced its initial public offering at $16 a share on Wednesday, at the high end of its expected range of $14 to $16 a share. The Brooklyn, NY-based company raised $267 million by selling 16.7 million shares, valuing Etsy at $1.8 billion, the firm announced Wednesday. Founded in 2005, the website derives its revenue from listing fees and commissions on the sale of items such as handmade jewelry, crocheted wool booties and antique mother of pearl silverware.

Yahoo may be readying new Messenger to battle Snapchat, Periscope – You probably don’t use Yahoo Messenger. It’s tired, really. As a simple chat app, it’s fine, but we want more than that. In an age of sending each other more than words, Yahoo is way behind. Instead of dropping messaging, Yahoo may be priming a revamp to Messenger, one that reportedly combine live and recorded video sharing. This app is meant for mobile, though it’s not clear if Yahoo is also readying the app for your desktop as well. If the report is accurate, we’ll see this new Messenger by the end of Q2 2015.

AT&T, but not Verizon and Comcast, sue FCC over net neutrality – AT&T made no secret of its opposition to the FCC’s net neutrality order, but it was reported last month that trade groups rather than individual ISPs would lead the legal fight against the FCC. That has mostly been the case so far, with AT&T but not other big ISPs like Comcast or Verizon filing suit. Lawsuits have been filed by four consortiums representing cable, wireless, and telecommunications companies. One small provider in Texas called Alamo Broadband sued the FCC as well.

Games and Entertainment:

Binge-watch ‘Orphan Black’ for free this Friday – Send your clone to work and stay home for Season 1 of the cult-fave show, streaming free of charge courtesy of Amazon.

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Sling TV channel guide: All the programming, and all the restrictions, all in one chart – Sling TV is cheaper than bloated cable- or satellite-TV bundles, but it’s no less confusing. I’m about to fix that for you.

Hearthstone goes fully mobile; now available on iOS and Android smartphones – Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now available in the App and Google Play stores, and it comes with all of the features that the bigger versions of the game have, including the recently launched Blackrock Mountain expansion. But the handset version of the game will also feature a new interface designed to make card-playing easier on smaller screens. Blizzard is also celebrating the expanded availability of the game by offering mobile players a free Classic card pack once they complete a game on their mobile phones.

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Digital music revenue overtakes CD sales for the first time globally – Global revenue from music downloads and subscriptions has overtaken sales of physical formats for the first time. In 2014, digital revenue grew nearly 7 percent to $6.85 billion, while physical sales — of which CDs make up the vast majority — fell 8 percent to $6.82 billion. These figures, from a report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), also reflect the growing popularity of digital music streaming, with revenue from services like Spotify growing 40 percent to $1.57 billion.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bruce Schneier: Metal Detectors at Sports Stadiums – Fans attending Major League Baseball games are being greeted in a new way this year: with metal detectors at the ballparks. Touted as a counterterrorism measure, they’re nothing of the sort. They’re pure security theater: They look good without doing anything to make us safer. We’re stuck with them because of a combination of buck passing, CYA thinking, and fear. There’s no evidence that this new measure makes anyone safer. A halfway competent ticketholder would have no trouble sneaking a gun into the stadium. For that matter, a bomb exploded at a crowded checkpoint would be no less deadly than one exploded in the stands. These measures will, at best, be effective at stopping the random baseball fan who’s carrying a gun or knife into the stadium. That may be a good idea, but unless there’s been a recent spate of fan shootings and stabbings at baseball games — and there hasn’t — this is a whole lot of time and money being spent to combat an imaginary threat.

Watch the SpaceX rocket landing (now in video form) – Before we’d only had tiny glimpses of the near-landing bit of the Falcon 9 rocket. Now we’ve got a fully operational video from off the starboard bow. This video shows how the rocket flew in at great speed, nearly – so very, very nearly – landing on the “Just Read The Instructions” autonomous sea craft. But with a final blast, it fell to the wayside. Time to try, try again, of course, as Elon Musk suggests they’ll be approaching an 80% success rate by the end of this year.

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How Google Could Threaten the Web – Since most people have their sights set on Google, the crusading antitrust folks in Europe now have their sights set on the dominant search engine. There’s certainly some “not invented here” schadenfreude in some of the EU’s antitrust actions. Europe has come down hard on Microsoft, Apple, and now Google, all American companies. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Man flies gyrocopter to US Capitol to protest government corruption – US Capitol Police in Washington, DC have detained a man after he flew a personal gyrocopter through restricted airspace and landed it on the West Lawn of the Capitol building. The strange incident led authorities to close off nearby streets and briefly put the Capitol on lockdown. Reports indicate that police arrived immediately after the pilot, 61-year-old Doug Hughes, touched down. Hughes is a US postal worker from Ruskin, Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and orchestrated the stunt as his own attempt to protest government corruption and urge lawmakers to advance campaign finance reform.

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Best Boss Ever Aims to Raise Minimum Worker Pay to $70K per Year – Bet you wish Dan Price was your boss right about now. The founder of Gravity Payments told employees on Monday that over the next three years, he plans to make the minimum salary paid to staffers at the Seattle-based credit-card payment processing firm a cool $70,000 per year. Per The New York Times, that means “even the lowest-paid clerk, customer service representative, and salesman” working for Gravity Payments will make nearly $20,000 more a year than the median household income in the United States, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2014.

Mystery solved: Why do knuckles crack? – For the first time, an MRI video has been taken of cracking knuckles, answering once and for all what makes the audible pop.

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Chess grandmaster caught cheating with smartphone chess app – The cheating claim was made by his opponent, Tigran Petrosian, during the sixth round of the Dubai Open. Nigalidze had been making very frequent and long trips to the toilet after playing his moves, which made Petrosian suspicious and led to a search of the bathroom. A smartphone was discovered hidden in some toilet paper in a bin with a chess program loaded on to it. We don’t know which chess app he was using (yet).

Something to think about:

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.”

–     Edward R. Murrow

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Port Scanner – Free Port Scanner is a small, fast, easy-to-use and robust port scanner. You can scan ports on fast machines in a few seconds and can perform scan on predefined port ranges. This tool uses TCP packets to determine available hosts and open ports, service associated with port and other important characteristics. The tool is designed with a user-friendly interface and is easy to use.

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GlassWire 1.0.43 Beta – GlassWire displays your network activity on an easy to understand graph while searching for unusual Internet behavior that could indicate malware or violations of your privacy. Once unusual network activity is discovered you’re instantly alerted with detailed information so you can protect your computer, privacy, and data.

Features:

Network Monitor – Visualize your current and past network activity by traffic type, application, and geographic location, on an easy to use graph. GlassWire lets you see what applications are sending out data over the Internet and shows you what hosts they are communicating with.

Internet Security – GlassWire adds extra Internet security to your computer or server by visualizing all past and present network data in an easy to understand graph. Instantly see every application or process communicating over the Internet, then dive in deeper to see who or what your computer is communicating with.

Bandwidth Usage Monitor – Keeping track of your daily, weekly, or monthly bandwidth usage is easy with GlassWire. Go to the usage tab to see what apps, traffic, or hosts are using the most bandwidth.

Internet Privacy Protection – GlassWire shows all your network activity on an easy to use graph to help protect your Internet privacy. Easily see what apps are sending out data to the Internet and what host in what country they are communicating with. When you visit a website click the graph to see every server that your computer communicated with while that web page loaded.

Remote Server Monitoring – GlassWire installs easily on servers so you can monitor their network activity on your local computer via our remote access feature. Go to GlassWire’s settings and choose “remote server” to logon to your server after you have installed GlassWire on your local computer and remote server.

Discreet Alerts – We specifically designed the GlassWire alert system so it wasn’t annoying to users. GlassWire alerts appear briefly and then disappear into the background.

Network Time Machine Use the sliders to go back in time and analyze past network activity on the graph. Check your bandwidth usage by day, week, and month in detail with resolved hosts.

Universal Media Server – Universal Media Server is a DLNA-compliant UPnP Media Server. It is based on PS3 Media Server by shagrath. It is actually an evolution of the “SubJunk Build” of PMS. UMS was started by SubJunk, an official developer of PMS, in order to ensure greater stability and file-compatibility.

To see a comparison of popular media servers, click here.

Because it is written in Java, Universal Media Server supports all major operating systems, with versions for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

The program streams or transcodes many different media formats with little or no configuration.

It is powered by MEncoder, FFmpeg, tsMuxeR, AviSynth, MediaInfo and more, which combine to offer support for a wide range of media formats.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The DEA is spending millions of dollars on spyware – The Drug Enforcement Agency has been spending millions on spyware tools to take over suspects’ phones, according to an exclusive report from Motherboard. Government records show the agency paying $2.4 million for a “remote control system” that could be implanted in a suspect’s phone. Once the phone is infected, the spyware can record texts, emails, passwords, and even nearby conversations through the onboard microphone. The use of spyware by law enforcement is controversial, and while officials typically need a warrant before deploying the programs, some agencies have ignored that requirement in the past. The source of the spyware is even more controversial.

New Zealand Spy Data Shared With Bangladeshi Human Rights Abusers – Secret documents reveal New Zealand’s electronic eavesdropping agency shared intelligence with state security agents in Bangladesh, despite authorities in the South Asian nation being implicated in torture, extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses.

Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, has conducted spying operations in Bangladesh over the past decade, according to the documents. The surveillance has been carried out in support of the U.S. government’s global counterterrorism strategy, primarily from a spy post in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, and apparently facilitated by the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Bangladesh spying, revealed on Wednesday by The New Zealand Herald in collaboration with The Intercept, is outlined in secret memos and reports dated between 2003 and 2013. The files were obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The FBI informant who mounted a sting operation against the FBI – A new documentary, (T)ERROR, reveals the weaknesses and bungling behind a terrorism investigation that relied on informants. One of the domestic spies, Saeed Torres, warned the FBI that the target of its investigation “ain’t going to throw rice at a wedding, believe me.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 25, 2015

Chicago police are running a horrifying CIA-style black site out of a warehouse;  Arrange your iOS home screen any way you like with Makeovr;  Microsoft rolls out free Office for students, worldwide;  Microsoft kills off Google and Facebook chat for Outlook.com;  How to turn your old phone into a basic PC for cheap;  Reddit bans nude images posted without consent;  How to Clean Out and Organize Your Computer;  Six awesome Android apps to get your creative juices flowing;  Monitor battery status with these five free apps;  Forge, the sketch app for brainstorming, lands on iOS;  Tips: How the iPhone 6 Plus and Android phones can do real work;  Feds say skin cancer apps are deceptive;  Tweaking.com – Technicians Toolbox (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Chicago police are running a horrifying CIA-style black site out of a warehouse – A remarkable report from Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian has revealed in detail the existence of an interrogation facility used by Chicago police to detain and hold people in secret. The report describes how police have used a “nondescript warehouse” to keep detainees out of booking databases, beat prisoners, shackle them for “prolonged periods,” and keep them from legal counsel for up to 24 hours — including even children as young as 15. As The Guardian’s report demonstrates, it’s not just weapons from the war on terror that are flowing to police departments across the country: it’s tactics and attitudes, too. “I’ve never known of any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours,” retired DC homicide detective James Trainum told The Guardian. “That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist.”

Pointing up       A chilling illustration of the Boiling Frog.

Microsoft rolls out free Office for students, worldwide – In 2013, Microsoft said it would offer Microsoft Office 365 to U.S. students for free, provided their schools licensed the software for faculty and staff. Now, that offer is being extended worldwide. Microsoft said Tuesday that the offer for free Office is being extended anywhere Office is available: from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, or dozens of countries around the world. As before, the school must license Office in order for its students to be eligible.

How to Clean Out and Organize Your Computer – Deep cleaning your computer of unwanted files and streamlining your folder system can not only free up storage space, but improve your computer’s performance. From decluttering tips to apps that do your organizing for you, here’s how to spruce up your computer and make sure it stays that way.

How to turn your old phone into a basic PC for cheap – Your old smartphone has a greater destiny than your junk drawer. Believe it or not, you can turn it into, say, a mini-PC or media streamer. Assuming it packs both USB On The Go support (OTG) and a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) compatible port, there’s a ton of additional functionality lurking under that its hood. Heck, you can even use a smartphone with a broken screen for this. Without further ado, here’s how to transform your old smartphone into the brains of an Android-powered PC.

Arrange your iOS home screen any way you like with Makeovr – Tired of the same, boring home screen grid layout that’s been around on iOS since its inception? You’re going to want to read this.

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The process for adding a home screen icon to your iOS device.

Monitor battery status with the help of these five free apps – Don’t get caught short with a powerless device. These apps make it easy to monitor and conserve battery life.

Reddit bans nude images posted without consent – Several months after reddit found itself at the center of a controversy involving stolen celebrity nude photos, the site has changed its policy regarding nudity. As of March 10, any photos posted without permission of those photographed will be banned. The change was announced today in a short statement signed by executives and “the reddit team,” which also mentions new hires and other changes. It alludes to reddit’s failure to act promptly when unruly users in a few subreddits continued to post links to nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and other celebrities. The statement reads:

Google Chrome Experiments launches their 1000th experiment – It’s a landmark day for Google’s Chrome Experiments as they’ve reached 1000 submissions today. Google has curated a collection of user-made games, art, and creative coding it calls Chrome Experiments. These experiments look like games, but each one uses outside-the-box design and coding to create an entirely unique user experience. Launched in 2009, it started with only a handful of games. Now Google has reached its 1000 experiments! To honor the occasion, they have created a unique way to interface with the entire collection of experiments titled Experiment #1000.

Microsoft opens up OneDrive storage for developers to integrate into apps – Microsoft is opening up its cloud storage service, OneDrive, to developers today so they can start integrating it directly into applications. A new OneDrive API will include support for Windows, iOS, Android, and the web, with the full features of OneDrive available directly within apps. “The OneDrive API is a major step toward making the platform more accessible and powerful, but this is only the beginning,” says OneDrive program manager Ryan Gregg. “We are working on a lot of other improvements and features that we will release throughout the year.”

Microsoft kills off Google and Facebook chat for Outlook.com – Microsoft is revealing today that it plans to kill off Google and Facebook chat from its Outlook.com email service “within the next couple of weeks.” In an email to Outlook.com customers, Microsoft says it’s removing Google Talk integration “due to Google’s decision to discontinue the chat protocol used by the Google Talk platform.” Microsoft will also be discontinuing support for Facebook chat in Outlook.com, but the company has not revealed why it’s killing off the social network’s chat integration.

Six awesome Android apps to get your creative juices flowing – Form virtual pottery throwing to music making, these Android apps do wonders to get you out of your mental rut and try something new. Whether it’s humming a ditty into the mic or literally sketching up a mini-masterpiece, there’s likely an app for this, that, and everything else. What follows are examples of Android apps that can help get the creative juices flowing. Spend a few minutes with these and you may unlock a side of you that you didn’t know existed.

Stardock announces Start10, a Windows 10 Start menu replacement – Stardock, the company behind the popular Start8 application, has announced Start10 that brings new Start menu customization options to Windows 10 including the ability to use a Windows 7 styled menu.

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Scout gets IFTTT channel, runs away with DIY home security crown – Home security doesn’t have to be expensive any more. In fact, you can get peace of mind for a few hundred bucks upfront, and never pay another dime. It’s one of the benefits of the ‘Internet of Things’ we keep hearing about. DIY home security is probably best realized with Scout, which lets you migrate between connected monitoring and home-grown security. Already one of the better options around, Scout just got a lot better with a new IFTTT channel.

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Forge, the sketch app for brainstorming, lands on iOS – Drawing apps for iOS are easy to come by, with Paper by FiftyThree or Adobe’s Sketch being the most notable and identifiable apps. Those ask that you use them to completion, though, and provide you with the tools necessary to finish works of art. What if you just want a sketching app, though? Those do the trick, but a new app, Forge, is made for it. Rather than creating something that looks like a painting, Forge is meant for brainstorming.

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New ‘Pebble Time’ Smartwatch Hits Kickstarter – Pebble is returning to its roots today with the Kickstarter launch of its new Pebble Time smartwatch. The next-gen wristwatch features a new color e-paper display and microphone, as well as a thinner, curved design. Like its predecessors (the Pebble and Pebble Steel), the Time syncs with Apple and Android smartphones; users will need an iPhone 4s or newer running the latest iOS, while Android owners must be updated to Android 4.0 or higher.

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How to deal with difficult SD cards that refuse to write data – SD cards can be pricey, but they also pack a lot of storage into a small form factor—if you don’t get one that refuses to work with PCs. If you do, here’s how to fix the issue.

Tips: How the iPhone 6 Plus and Android phones can do real work – Tablets do a nice job standing in for laptops at work, especially when paired with a good keyboard. What some don’t realize is the same is true for smartphones with a large display. The biggest iPhone is particularly good for occasional work tasks if you do it right. The advantage the phone has over other types of mobile devices is that the phone is always with you. This is reason enough to give some thought to using it for work, and with a little preparation it can be a full work system.

VMSave preserves your deceased loved one’s voicemail greeting – Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things in the world. A new service saves the voicemail greetings of those who’ve passed away so you can listen to them forever.

Security:

The NSA’s SIM heist could have given it the power to plant spyware on any phone – The stolen SIM keys don’t just give the NSA the power to listen in on calls, but potentially to plant spyware on any phone at any time. Once the stolen keys have bypassed the usual protections, the spyware would live on the SIM card itself, undetectable through conventional tools, able to pull data and install malicious software. If the NSA and GCHQ are pursuing that capability, it could be one of the biggest threats unearthed by Snowden so far.

Glad you’re not on the Anthem hacker hit list? Not so fast – millions more affected – US health insurer Anthem now says that the recent security breach that exposed the personal data of tens of millions of its customers also affected people who never did business with the firm. That’s because Anthem’s database included data not just for customers of Anthem-run Blue Cross Blue Shield healthcare plans, but also for customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans run by other companies outside of the fourteen states in which Anthem operates. Reuters reports that in addition to the 70 million Anthem customers who were affected by the breach, Anthem now estimates that between 8.8 million and 18.8 million customers of other companies’ health plans may also have had their data compromised.

FBI “close” to identifying Anthem hackers, as dozens of state-sponsored groups identified – As many as 78.8 million people may have been affected by the health insurance hack that hit the company earlier this year. That also includes up to 18.8 million customers of non-Anthem plans, the company said. It comes as the FBI confirmed Tuesday it has more than 60 different state-sponsored cyber-threat groups on its radar.

Snowden’s favourite Linux – Tails – rushes sec-fix version to market – Tails, the secure live-boot Linux made famous by Edward Snowden, has had a major revision release to Version 1.3. The new version, released after testing since February 12, combines various security fixes with new apps and simplified install, the developers say. The developers want to kill off the previous version, Tails 1.2.3, as soon as possible, with a list of 14 security issues covering everything from the Tor browser and its network security services (NSS) through to a sudo privilege escalation bug.

Kaspersky Labs Launches Online Bootcamp To Eye Security Startups – More signs that security is rising up the investment agenda: another security-focused accelerator program has launched, hoping to put a clutch of security startups through their paces — this one with backing from veteran security firm Kaspersky Labs, via its educational arm Kaspersky Academy. The incentive here is for Kaspersky to get proximity to new business ideas, and the participating VC firms to improve their security-related deal flow — given they can always step in and invest in any of the early stage businesses that catch their eye.

Feds say skin cancer apps are deceptive – The Federal Trade Commission charges several promoters of supposed melanoma-detection apps with deceptive marketing and says they must provide evidence to back up their claims.

Company News:

Google Tests Live Chat With Businesses From Search Results – Google is testing out a service that incorporates live chat with businesses right into search results, via a new link that shows whether a business is currently available, and immediately launches a chat via Google Hangouts (on either desktop or mobile) if they are. The service resembles Path Talk’s direct messaging platform with local businesses, but incorporates its service right into the business listing search result card it shows on Google.com, which also shows you details including price level, address, map location, phone number, opening hours, ratings and reviews.

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HP gives a bleak forecast as split approaches – Hewlett-Packard has lowered its financial outlook for the year after another quarter of declining sales and profit. CEO Meg Whitman is trying to get HP in shape before the company splits itself in two later this year. One half will sell PCs and printers and the other will focus on back-end business products.

Google Acquires Facebook Marketing Startup Toro – Toro, a startup that helps developers promote their apps on Facebook, just announced that it’s been acquired by Google. The announcement does not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Toro had raised $1.5 million in funding from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, SV Angel, General Catalyst, Keith Rabois, Chris Dixon, Bill Tai and Guitar Hero co-creators Charles Huang and Kai Huang. A Google spokesperson confirmed the news and said Toro will be joining the mobile ads team.

Games and Entertainment:

You got TV in my video game: Telltale, Lionsgate partner for episodic hybrid – Telltale is going a bit outside of its traditional adventure game box for its next foray into interactive storytelling. The studio behind episodic gaming hits like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and The Wolf Among Us has teamed up with film and TV studio Lionsgate (Orange is the New Black) to develop a “Super Show” hybrid combining a traditional TV show with episodic adventure gaming. Each episode of the Super Show will “combine one part of interactive playable content with one part of scripted television style content,” as Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner put it in an announcement interview with Entertainment Weekly. The hybrid episodes will be released together in a package that can be played/watched in either order, though the second portion you experience will be altered based on your experience with the first.

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A scene from Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us

Homeworld Remastered puts you in command of the most stunning space battles ever – Homeworld, a space-based strategy game first released in 1999, is one example of this. Whoever’s call it was to make the spaceships emit colorful light trails in their wake made a pretty amazing decision, because it helped solidify one of the most distinctive art styles in the history of gaming. Homeworld rendered space warfare as gorgeous, balletic battles, with every movement made by your fleet etching rainbow lines against a backdrop of psychedelic nebulae. At least, that’s how I remember it looking. And that’s how Homeworld Remastered Collection, a new re-release of Homeworld and Homeworld 2 that’s out tomorrow, looks. It brings the two games up to date in meticulous detail, while also including the original versions so you can see how far we’ve come. As it happens, we’ve come a long way.

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Grand Theft Auto V for PC delayed again, now expected in April – The game had originally been scheduled for PC release on January 27 – already over two months later than its launch on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – but the games developers said that they needed “a few extra weeks of testing and polish to make it as good as can be”, promising to release it on March 24. Rockstar now says that GTA V for PC will go on sale on April 14th (still 2015, we presume), both in retail stores and as a digital download. Anyone who has already pre-ordered the game will get an extra $200,000 of in-game cash for use in GTA Online.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Cybergeddon: Why the Internet could be the next “failed state” – That day is not yet nigh, but logic suggests the status quo can’t continue forever. The recent rash of major breaches of corporate networks, including the theft of personal information from the health insurer Anthem and the theft of as much as a billion dollars from over 100 banks are symptoms of a much larger trend of cybercrime and espionage. And while the issue has been once again raised to national importance by the White House, it could be argued that governments have done more to exacerbate the problem than address it. Fears of digital warfare and crime are shifting budget priorities, funding the rapid expansion of the security industry and being used as a reason for proposals for new laws and policy that could reshape the Internet.

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You Asked: How Do Driverless Cars Work? – Even though they’re barely on the road, self-driving cars have been talked about so much that they already seem like they’re last year’s model. Google has been working on one for years. Apple is allegedly, possibly, working on one, too. And there’s even speculation that everyone from Uber to Tesla could join the race, too. But before you give up the wheel, get familiar with the technology driving autonomous vehicles.

Instagram account exposes congressman who blew public funds on private flights and concerts – An Illinois congressman was found to have used taxpayer and campaign funds on private plane travel, concert tickets, and other lavish expenses after the Associated Press cross-referenced his Instagram account against his flight records. Republican representative Aaron Schock, who is already facing several ethics probes, reportedly spent more than $40,000 on private air travel from 2011 onwards, and took his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry show in June last year, a $1,928 expense that he listed as a “PAC fundraising event.”

Fresh honey is on tap at these amazing beehives – Amateur apiarists, check out this sweet little creation. It’s a revolutionary new beehive system that literally puts honey on tap in your backyard. The Flow Hive offers an easier — and much gentler — way to collect honey. Put a container under the tube, turn the handle, watch the liquid gold flow. There’s no smoker required and no protective suit is necessary. It looks so safe you could probably do it in the nude if you were so inclined.

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Gerbils replace rats as historical plague spreaders – It would appear that our hatred of rats for the past several hundred years may be due to a bit of mistaken identity. Scientists this week have published a paper which suggests that it wasn’t so much rats that spread the bubonic plague across the planet, but gerbils. Your best buddy, the gerbil – the one you’ve got in a plastic tube cage sitting in your living room right now. He may have been guilty this whole time! All these hundreds of years, keeping silent for his ancestors, the real-deal spreaders of plague.

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Here’s how to make mini ‘rockets’ out of tea bags – DIY guru DaveHax is back with another one fun but pointless project. Here, he makes miniature “rockets” out of nothing more than a standard tea bag. Remember, safety first.

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The big deal about “big data”—your guide to what the heck it actually means – On the surface, “big data” sounds like it ought to have something to do with, say, storing tremendous amounts of data. Frankly it does, but that’s only part of the picture. Wikipedia has an extremely long, extremely thorough (and, overly complex) breakdown of the term, but without reading for two hours, big data as a buzzword refers to the entire process of gathering and storing tremendous amounts of data, then applying tremendous amounts of computing power and advanced algorithms to the data in order to pick out trends and connect dots that would otherwise be invisible and un-connectable within the mass

Something to think about:

“The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for.”

–      Oscar Wilde

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweaking.com – Technicians Toolbox – Tweaking.com – Technicians Toolbox is a collection of powerful tools to help both the technician and home users. Portable version also available.

Many of the tools have been built with making certain repair, cleanup and tasks easier, faster and better.

More and more tools will be added to the program over time. Many of the tools have so many options, control and features that they could have been full programs on their own. But the goal was to have everything in one spot.

Here are just some of the tools in the program. Also note that the program has full Unicode support!

Quick Tools (Windows Built-in Tools)

Take A Screen Shot

Check Disk (chkdsk) At Next Boot

Run As System Account

Netstat

Network Information

Static IPv4

TCP & UDP Stats

IP Subnet Calculator

IP Address Scanner

Manage Windows Users

Manage Users

Create New Windows User

User Account Properties

Manage Groups

Create New Windows Group

Group Properties

Bulk Manage Users Tool

Delete, Move Or Rename Locked Files At Bootup

Svchost.exe Lookup

Process Information

Windows Services

Windows Services Safe Mode

Windows Shutdown Timer

CPU Monitor

Drives Monitor

Memory Monitor

Network Monitor

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Tails – Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.

Tails comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.

It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to:

use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship;

all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network;

leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly;

use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.

 

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Report: Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Police Operating Domestic Black Site – Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Police Department is operating a CIA-style black site on the city’s West Side, according to an explosive new report from The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman. The facility, an otherwise plain warehouse known as Homan Square, also houses military-style vehicles, according to Ackerman.

The Guardian reports that the CPD detains mostly poor, black and brown people at Homan. Once at the site, detainees are allegedly beaten by police, shackled for hours and denied access to counsel. There is no booking at Homan Square, so details about who has been detained at the facility are scarce. “Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are,” Ackerman wrote. “Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts.”

One detainee, 44-year-old John Hubbard, died in an interview room at Homan. There are no official records — or a coroner’s report — concerning Hubbard’s official cause of death, or why he was detained in the first place.

European Lawmakers Demand Answers on Phone Key Theft – European officials are demanding answers and investigations into a joint U.S. and U.K. hack of the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile SIM cards, following a report published by The Intercept Thursday.

The report, based on leaked documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, revealed the U.S. spy agency and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, hacked the Franco-Dutch digital security giant Gemalto in a sophisticated heist of encrypted cell-phone keys.

The European Parliament’s chief negotiator on the European Union’s data protection law, Jan Philipp Albrecht, said the hack was “obviously based on some illegal activities.”

“Member states like the U.K. are frankly not respecting the [law of the] Netherlands and partner states,” Albrecht told the Wall Street Journal.

Sophie in ’t Veld, an EU parliamentarian with D66, the Netherlands’ largest opposition party, added, “Year after year we have heard about cowboy practices of secret services, but governments did nothing and kept quiet […] In fact, those very same governments push for ever-more surveillance capabilities, while it remains unclear how effective these practices are.”

Former FBI Director Defends Metadata Collection – The current practices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court are effective and don’t need to be changed, according to former FBI director Robert Mueller.

“Yes, it’s worthwhile. Metadata of telephone companies is terribly helpful,” Mueller said, speaking Tuesday morning at an American Bar Association breakfast held at the the University Club in Washington, D.C.

Mueller cited the example of the Boston Marathon bombing as evidence that bulk collection is important, saying that analysis of metadata was able to rule out potential associates of the Tsarnaev brothers. “They had additional IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices],” Mueller said, adding that bulk collection helped prevent a second attack.

Metadata collection, he said, “is tremendously helpful in identifying contacts.”

The FISA court’s bulk metadata collection program has come under intense scrutiny in light of disclosures made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Congress now has until the end of May to decide whether to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the bulk collection program.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 19, 2014

The 12 scams of Christmas;  EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition 8.0;  Android power! 2014’s top tips, tricks, and buying advice;  Seven tips for securing your Facebook account;  A few good reasons to partition your SSD or hard drive;  Misfortune Cookie crumbles router security;  Google Rips MPAA;  Xbox One To Get Pandora, Vevo, Popcornflix And More Apps This Week;  Plex for PlayStation Arrives;  Sony hit with second employee lawsuit over hack;  Reaction to the Sony Hack Is Beyond the Realm of Stupid.

The 12 scams of Christmas – This year, cybercrime has evolved to new and more sophisticated levels — far beyond the days of phishing emails by “lawyers” who need to transfer millions of dollars to your account on behalf of a long-lost African uncle. So, what do you need to keep an eye out for as Christmas approaches?

4 Things Every Single Person Can Learn From the Sony Hack – Reporting around the Sony hack revealed the company and its employees did little to keep passwords and other sensitive data secure. Here are four things we can all learn about data security from the Sony hack.

The Sony Hack Is Not an Excuse to Pass Bad Cybersecurity Laws – “This will be a case study I can guarantee will be both used and misused in everything from legislation to cybersecurity sales pitches.” Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been warning of a ” Cyber Pearl Harbor” for years now. The Sony hack isn’t it, but it’ll do, for freaking-out purposes anyway.

Seven tips for securing your Facebook account – Facebook can be a tricky beast when it comes to keeping your account private and secure. Here are seven tips to help you tame it.

Android power! 2014’s top tips, tricks, and buying advice – Whether you’re shopping for a new gadget or ready to make your current device do more, this guide has everything you need to make this holiday season count.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

iOS productivity apps discounted in App Santa promotion – Several dozens apps, including many popular productivity applications, have been discounted up to 80% as part of an annual Christmas promotion. Here’s a look at what’s available.

Microsoft to discount Xbox Music by 50 percent in one-day promotion – The discount is part of Microsoft’s 12 Days of Deals. The Xbox Music Pass streaming-music service normally costs $99.90 a year, but it will go for $49.90 on Friday.

Organize and listen to your own music on the cloud – As an avid music fan, I spend ages getting my personal music collection just right, picking and choosing from CDs, vinyl and digital files to make a library that’s uniquely my own. But once all that hard work is done, it’s nice to be able to stream any of those tracks across devices — even when I’m away from my main computer. Here’s a guide on how to organize your music and choose a cloud streaming service to listen to tunes wherever you are.

Tell Antivirus Researchers What Matters To You – The researchers at AV-Comparatives have released a survey to find out just what users consider important. The survey starts with some general demographic questions, including your primary browser and operating system. It asks how you chose your current security solution (I checked “Recommended by a computer magazine.”) And it lists almost three dozen security vendors, asking which you primarily use. With the basics out of the way, now comes your chance to influence next year’s tests. To start, you pick a dozen vendors whose products you’d like to see tested. Don’t see your favorite? There’s a write-in option.

A few good reasons to partition your SSD or hard drive – So why would you want to make additional partitions? It’s not like making folders. Creating and resizing partitions is a hassle. One reason is to have multiple operating systems. If you want to run two versions of Windows, or Windows and Linux, partitions help separate the environments. Another reason, and the reason why I’ve partitioned my drive, is to separate system and data for backup purposes.

Keep encrypted files encrypted when you back them up to the cloud – You keep selected files or folders encrypted on your internal drive. But are they protected when you use an online backup service?

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Digital Camera – Whether you want a simple camera you can slip into a pocket, one with interchangeable lenses and plenty of controls, or something in between, here’s what you need to know to zoom in on the perfect camera.

Still Not On Inbox By Gmail? They Just Gave All Users 10 Invites Each – While Google has given users a slow trickle of friend-to-friend invites since launch, they just dumped a 10-pack of invites onto the laps of anyone and everyone who has already made their way past the front door. If you’ve got a friend on Inbox who has told you they were out of invites, get to pestering — they’ve got more now.

Instagram makes teens and celebrities angry by killing millions of spambots – A crackdown on spam Instagram accounts has triggered a cataclysm in the world of low-grade social media celebrities. The event, which began today after the photo-sharing service made good on its promise to start deleting millions of fake accounts, has been dubbed the “Instagram Rapture” after the follower counts of apparently popular Instagrammers were savaged. Rapper Tyga saw his followers drop from 5.5 million to 2.2 million, while Ma$e committed Instagram’s version of seppuku, deleting his account after freefalling from 1.6 million followers to around 100,000.

Microsoft’s 6000mAh Portable Power phone charger is finally available to buy for $49 – The Microsoft Portable Power DC-21 is a mobile battery pack that allows users to charge their devices on the move. The unit contains a rechargeable 6000mAh battery, and can connect to most smartphones – not just Lumia devices – via the USB-to-microUSB cable. Once it’s been fully charged from the mains, Microsoft says that the Portable Power can retain its full charge for months; even six months later, it will retain 80 percent of its power from a single charge.

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Skype Translator is the most futuristic thing I’ve ever used – Truly, this is transformational technology. It’s not often that I use something that leaves me excited, something that makes me say “wow” not out of cynical sarcasm but because I’m genuinely impressed. But Skype Translator did it. Whether you call it a Star Trek Universal Translator or Babel fish, Microsoft is building it, and it’s incredible.

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In video calls, you can both see the translation and hear it.

Fedora 21: Linux fans will LOVE it – after the install woes – Review As has become par for the course with Fedora, the latest – Fedora 21 – has arrived months behind schedule. To its credit, it’s well worth the wait. This release marks the start of the Fedora.next project. The big change is that Fedora 21 is available in three flavors: cloud, server, and workstation. All three build on the same base, adding packages relevant to the use case. For this review I tested both the server and workstation, primarily the latter since that’s the flavor targeted at desktop users. The cloud flavor is available preconfigured for OpenStack, Amazon AMIs and Atomic images meant for Docker containers.

Microsoft is pushing an update out for Windows 10 to prep for FBL_Awesome – Microsoft has said today that it is pushing out another update for Windows 10 that will prepare your build for the next release of the OS, which will arrive in late January.

Viber calls out ESET for flagging them, ESET responds with a digital uppercut – Whenever a user would try to install Viber, NOD32 would return a pop-up saying that a “potential threat” has been found (with what NOD32 appears to suggest is a toolbar that Viber tries to install into IE) and asks the user whether or not the user would want to proceed. This action appears to have annoyed the Viber team, prompting them to post an image of the pop-up with an overlay of “#EsetSucks” in big red text, alongside a tweet saying that the software is buggy and that users should uninstall it.

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What Viber wasn’t expecting, however, was for ESET to respond, and the response was as classy as it can get. ESET tweeted back its own image, this time, however, it was an image of the Viber installer’s source code showing silent downloads and silent statistics being sent back to Viber, and a message from ESET saying that their users’ privacy comes first. Oh, and they also included an “#esetDOESNTsuck” hashtag at the end of their tweet.

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Security:

Misfortune Cookie crumbles router security: ’12 MILLION+’ in hijack risk – Infosec biz Check Point claims it has discovered a critical software vulnerability that allows hackers to hijack home and small business broadband routers across the web. More than 12 million low-end SOHO routers worldwide are affected by the bug, dubbed Misfortune Cookie, we’re told. At least 200 different models of devices from various manufacturers and brands are vulnerable, it’s claimed, including kit from D-Link, Edimax, Huawei, TP-Link, ZTE, and ZyXEL. Anything connected to the network – PCs, phones, tablets, printers, security cameras, refrigerators, or any other networked device – is at risk from attack within that LAN, if a vulnerable router is compromised.

This Little USB Necklace Hacks Your Computer In No Time Flat – Quick! The bad guy/super villain has left the room! Plug in a mysterious device that’ll hack up their computer while an on-screen progress bar ticks forward to convey to the audience that things are working! It’s a classic scene from basically every spy movie in history. In this case, however, that mystery device is real. Samy Kamkar — developer of projects like that massive worm that conquered MySpace back in 2006, or SkyJack, the drone that hijacks other drones — has released a video demonstrating the abilities of a particularly ridiculous “necklace” he sometimes wears around.

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Microsoft begins war against fake phone tech support scams – Microsoft has launched its first US lawsuit against companies offering phoney phone support for its products and says it plans further operations in the UK and India to stamp out the scammers. Fake tech support calls have been around for a few years now. A caller will claim to be calling from Microsoft technical support saying that a virus has shown up on their computer and offering to fix it for a fee. The “support’ usually costs hundreds of dollars and leaves the targtet computer either unchanged or with new malware added. The problem is widespread, and Microsoft says it has received 65,000 calls complaining about the scam since May of this year alone and estimates that such fraud brings in over US$1.5bn in illicit income every year.

Malicious Software Found on Coolpad Android Phones – Dubbed “CoolReaper,” the malicious software was discovered by enterprise security firm Palo Alto Networks, and allows Coolpad to control users’ phones and access data on the devices. As Palo Alto Networks explained, it is not uncommon for device manufacturers to install bloatware on top of Google’s Android OS; some mobile carriers also include apps that gather performance data. CoolReaper, however, appears to be taking that a step further.

Sony Hackers Used Widely Available Malware, Cybersecurity Experts Say – The malware that allowed hackers to break into and steal untold amounts of emails and data from Sony Pictures could have been carried out by almost anyone with financial backing to buy the right malware, cybersecurity experts said Thursday. Hackers carried out the attack using malware that was a “cut and paste” job, said Nimrod Kozlovski, a partner in JVP Labs, one of Israel’s leading venture capital firms with a focus on cybersecurity. Trojan-Destover, the malware used in the Sony attack, reused at least six components of previous malware, including two pieces of “wipers,” or data-erasing malware, used in attacks on Saudi Arabia in 2012 and South Korea in 2013. All the malware had to be only slightly tweaked before it could be used in the Sony attack.

How to train your staff on cyber security (and make it stick) – Getting your employees to take cyber security seriously can be a challenge. Use this hands-on approach to get them invested in securing crucial data.

Company News:

Google tipped in effort to build Android into future cars – According to unnamed sources that spoke to Reuters, Google is preparing to take its Android Auto to the next level, and will introduce a version of its software in the future that is built directly into cars. This embedded version of Android will have several perks over the current iteration, including doing away with the need to plug a smartphone into the infotainment center’s USB. The platform won’t be without its hurdles, however, and its embedded nature could be its undoing.

Google Rips MPAA For Allegedly Leveraging Local Government To Revive SOPA – Corruption in the American Hollywood style is something to behold. Today, Google published a short blog post alleging that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), alongside a number of film studios, funded what was essentially opposition research about the company. The resulting material was later fed to state attorneys general.

Flickr issues Wall Art apology, removes Creative Commons images – Not too long ago, Flickr introduced a new service for printing photos called Wall Art. At first it was a welcomed feature, allowing users to print their own photos using an integrated tool with a couple different printing options. The mood towards the feature turned sour a short while later, however, when Flickr revealed that Wall Art would no longer be limited to only one’s own images, allowing anyone to order prints from a massive library of others’ photos…with no compensation going to the photographer.

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Sony hit with second employee lawsuit over hack – Sony Pictures has been hit by a second lawsuit alleging it didn’t do enough to safeguard the personal information of employees that was lost in a major hack in late November. Central to the lawsuit, which was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is the assertion that “cybercriminals were able to perpetrate a breach of this depth and scope because Sony Pictures Entertainment failed to maintain reasonable and adequate security measures to protect the employees’ information from access and disclosure.” It follows a similar lawsuit on Monday filed in the same court by two former employees.

Boston Uber driver charged with sexual assault – An Uber driver who allegedly attacked a woman in Boston is charged with rape, kidnapping and two counts of assault and battery.

Apple ‘failing to protect Chinese factory workers,’ claims report – Workers in Chinese factories making Apple products are being poorly treated, undercover investigations by the BBC claims.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One To Get Pandora, Vevo, Popcornflix And More Apps This Week – Microsoft might have said that they’re done shipping their big Xbox One software updates for the year — but that doesn’t mean they can’t release a few new toys in the form of apps. The company has just announced five new apps that should be available to Xbox One owners just in time for Christmas.

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Steam’s holiday sale includes deals on Civilization, Dark Souls, and more – Valve has just kicked off its annual holiday game sale for Steam, which lasts from now until January 2nd, and it’s pretty big — Valve says that there will be more than 100 games featured throughout the next two weeks. Right now you can grab several blockbuster games for cheap, including Civilization: Beyond Earth for $29.99, Dark Souls II for $16.27, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes for $13.39, just to name a few. As always, you’ll want to check back regularly for new deals: there are new deals every 12 hours, and the featured sales will be changing every day.

Zynga’s Looney Tunes Dash Updates a Classic – Zynga’s latest mobile title, Looney Tunes Dash, drops some of the most beloved cartoon characters into a Temple Run scenario—then adds a twist. By combining the massively popular runner gaming category with one of the most recognizable cartoon brands, Zynga and partner Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment hope to reach a new generation of fans.

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GTA: Chinatown Wars released for Android, Online gets a Snow Day – The Grand Theft Auto universe is getting a couple of big additions this week, one in the form of a Holiday Fun update to Grand Theft Auto V, the other a platform-first. The platform-first is Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars, which will be coming to Android devices of all kinds. This game was previously released for Xbox and PlayStation consoles as well as iOS for iPhone and iPad. Now it comes to Android smartphones, tablets, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Nexus Player.

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Plex for PlayStation Arrives – Plex is bringing its new console-friendly app for accessing locally stored movies to Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PS4, just a few months after doing the same for Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners. The app is now available in Europe and Asia, with a launch in United States and elsewhere set to “happen in the near future,” according to Plex.

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D’oh! ‘MythBusters’ to take on ‘The Simpsons’ best stunts – Exploding toilets! Runaway wrecking balls! Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman will bust or prove “Simpsons”-inspired moments in their new season premiere in January.

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Only “MythBusters” would dare to re-create a wrecking ball stunt with Homer Simpson.

Duck Hunt Will Land On Nintendo’s Wii U on Christmas Day – Duck Hunt, the legendary fowl-hunting, gun-slinging game originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985, is coming to Nintendo’s newest console on Dec. 25. The game will be downloadable on the Wii U’s virtual console, which brings classic Nintendo titles to the system.

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Duck Hunt – Nintendo

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tech decisions: Putting the experts in perspective – Summary:In the spirit of Hanukkah, I thought I would deep-fry my fellow technology writers in the very industry from which I feed.

Pointing up   I’m rather biased – but, this article sums up my personal perspective on mainstream tech writers. That is – too many have absolutely no idea, in a larger sense, what they’re talking about. By extension, the worst of these are the “talking head” security experts, often seen on cable news channels following a newsworthy internet security event. 

Reaction to the Sony Hack Is ‘Beyond the Realm of Stupid’ – It’s been a big day for news surrounding the massive, ongoing Sony hack saga. First, major movie chains announced that they would not be screening The Interview after a nonspecific threat of violence from the​ Guardians of Peace, the hacking collective that attacked Sony. Then, the company announced it was canceling the release of the movie altogether. Now, the government is suggesting that it really is North Korea behind the attack. To help make sense of it all, I called up Peter W. Singer, one of the nation’s foremost experts on cybersecurity and cyber war, to get his take. Singer is the author of  Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know and Wired for War and is a strategist at the New America Foundation.

Should you trust ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ and ‘The Doctors’? Study says be wary – A new study looked into medical claims made by popular shows “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Doctors,” and concluded that viewers would be wise to take their advice with a grain of salt.

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Though they obviously mean well, you can’t always trust the advice you get from doctors on TV, a new study says.

Want to stay healthy and fight off the common cold? So how did Carnegie Mellon test the effectiveness of hugs? They intentionally exposed 404 individuals to the common cold virus, put them in quarantine, and watched what happened. Beforehand they’d interviewed all participants and documented the regularity of hugging in their lives as well as any “interpersonal conflicts.”  What they found was that regular hugging did form some kind of protective barrier against infection and then ongoing symptoms if infection did occur. So not only may it stop you getting sick in the first place, hugging can make the illness much less severe. And that’s true regardless of how much stress there is in your life.

Colbert Report set added to Google Business View – Most people are familiar with Google’s Street View, which allows users to take virtual tours of just about anywhere. Lesser known is the company’s Business View, which is exactly what it sounds like: a virtual look inside of businesses, allowing you to take a peek at a place you haven’t visited before you make the trip. This comes in handy for glimpsing a place ahead of visiting it in person, but is also an excellent way to explore places you’ll likely otherwise never experience.

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Something to think about:

“The public does not like you to mislead or represent yourself to be something you’re not. And the other thing that the public really does like is the self-examination to say, you know, I’m not perfect. I’m just like you. They don’t ask their public officials to be perfect. They just ask them to be smart, truthful, honest, and show a modicum of good sense.”

–       Ann Richards

Today’s Free Downloads:

Exact Audio Copy 1.0 Beta 4 – Exact Audio Copy is a so called audio grabber for audio CDs using standard CD and DVD-ROM drives. It works with a technology which reads audio CDs almost perfectly. If there are any errors that can’t be corrected, it will tell you on which time position the (possible) distortion occurred, so you could easily control it with e.g. the media player.

With other audio grabbers you usually need to listen to every grabbed wave because they only do jitter correction. Scratched CDs read on CD-ROM drives often produce distortions. But listening to every extracted audio track is a waste of time. Exact Audio Copy conquer these problems by making use of several technologies like multi-reading with verify and AccurateRip.

EAC now supports the AccurateRip plugin, which is included in the setup of the versions which support AccurateRip. The plugin called AccurateRip.dll is installed within the EAC directory and EAC should then recognize the plugin automatically.

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EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition 8.0 – EASEUS Todo Backup Free provides several of the key features from EASEUS Todo Backup Workstation to protect your PC.

Users are faced with the essential challenge: the need to secure their PC and important files, such as system, family photos, music, applications, personal data and financial documents. If you lose any files you like or need to go back to an earlier version, don’t worry, you can recover them in time. It is a complete free backup and recovery solution for home users.

Features:

System Backup and Recovery

Backup Schedule

File and Folder Backup

Incremental disk/partition backup

Backup Management to manage the backup tasks and plans

Disk Tools like clone disk, wipe disk

Backup to external hard drive, CD/DVD, NAS for double protection

Schedule backup ongoing indicator to timely notify whether your schedule is ongoing or not.

Backup network shared files

One-click system backup & recovery.

Support dynamic disk – back up and clone dynamic volume.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google Claims 2015 Will Be A “Moment” For Surveillance Reform – Google thinks that next year will be a big moment for surveillance reform. So much so that the company set up a special page on its Take Action hub asking individuals to sign something akin to a petition of sorts to “help make the Internet more secure for everyone.”

Why does Google think that 2015 will be big? The company notes that “[i]n June of 2015, we have a huge chance to protect Americans from mass surveillance when a key part of the USA PATRIOT Act is set to expire.” That’s correct. Google goes on to state that “we need to be ready to take action this coming year.”

The potential sunsetting of some portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, a key piece of law that supports parts of current American government surveillance, will be a political scrap. Google and other large technology companies will have some sway through both community organizing and purchased political clout.

Google’s political expenditures have skyrocketed in recent years to become among the highest in the country on a per-corporation basis. That spending growth, of course, fits under the larger rubric of tech going politics and politics going tech.

The Limits of Police Subterfuge – “The next time you call for assistance because the Internet service in your home is not working, the ‘technician’ who comes to your door may actually be an undercover government agent. He will have secretly disconnected the service, knowing that you will naturally call for help and — ­when he shows up at your door, impersonating a technician­ — let him in. He will walk through each room of your house, claiming to diagnose the problem. Actually, he will be videotaping everything (and everyone) inside. He will have no reason to suspect you have broken the law, much less probable cause to obtain a search warrant. But that makes no difference, because by letting him in, you will have ‘consented’ to an intrusive search of your home.”

This chilling scenario is the first paragraph of a motion to suppress evidence gathered by the police in exactly this manner, from a hotel room. Unbelievably, this isn’t a story from some totalitarian government on the other side of an ocean. This happened in the United States, and by the FBI. Eventually — I’m sure there will be appeals — higher U.S. courts will decide whether this sort of practice is legal. If it is, the country will slide even further into a society where the police have even more unchecked power than they already possess.

Activist group sues San Diego Police Department over “stingray” records – A legal advocacy group has sued the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and the city of San Diego in an attempt to force the release of public records relating to stingrays, also known as cell-site simulators.

Stingrays are often used covertly by local and federal law enforcement to locate target cellphones and their respective owners. However, stingrays also sweep up cell data of innocent people nearby who have no idea that such collection is taking place. Stingrays can be used to intercept voice calls and text messages as well.

Earlier this week, a local judge in Arizona ruled that a local reporter could not receive similar stingray documents from the Tucson Police Department because disclosure “would give criminals a road map for how to defeat the device, which is used not only by Tucson but other local and national police agencies.”

Australia: Note to data-retention law makers: The internet is not a telephone – Wednesday’s public hearing by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security (JPCIS) highlighted serious problems with the Australian government’s proposed laws for setting up a mandatory data-retention scheme — problems that should have been fixed long before things reached the committee stage.

I’m not talking about the problems we’ve discussed before. Problems like key definitions still missing, meaning that the law is “little more than a shell for such a scheme”, as the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of New South Wales wrote in its submission (PDF). Or problems like the proposed two-year retention period being longer than almost anywhere else in the world.

Kerri Hartland, deputy director-general of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), actually addressed that last issue, telling the committee that around 10 percent of ASIO’s requests for communications data are for periods of 12 months or more, and sometimes up to two years and beyond.

“Those cases relate to — 10 percent may seem [like a] small number — our most serious and complex cases. Typically, these relate to activities of hostile foreign nationals or nations engaged in spying and influence operations against Australia. It absolutely needs to be two years from our perspective,” she said, indicating that ASIO’s confidential submission had more detail.

Alas, without that confidential submission in front of us, who can say?

No, I’m talking about the fact that almost everyone involved still seems to think that the internet is a telephone.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 3, 2014

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop;  USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix;  Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach;  Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition);  Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus;  The best calendar apps and widgets for Android;  Real-time captioning comes to Google Glass;  Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview;  Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract; New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad;  Best mobile games of September 2014;  Tower Dwellers Hits Android;  Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella;  Would a curfew for men be good for society?  Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities;  Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws;  SoftPerfect WiFi Guard (free).

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop – Your computer contains important information, much of it private. The people who will repair it may need to alter Windows, which generally requires access to your password-protected administrator account. They’re probably honest, but you can’t count on that. And even if they’re honest, they may still wipe your hard drive out of necessity or incompetence. But with the right precautions, taking your PC on a service trip shouldn’t result in a disaster.

Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus – Facebook on Monday relaunched the Atlas advertising platform in an effort to expand its marketing reach across the Web. But not everyone is thrilled about it. Which is where ad-blocking plug-in Adblock Plus comes in.

Evernote everywhere? New collaboration tools hope to take over your workday – Evernote, with its new Work Chat messaging app and Context research tool, hopes to turn plain old chat into an enhanced communication medium. Whether these new features will woo workers away from established competition is a very open question.

Shop Amazon Smarter with These Quick Tricks – Many of us have shopped Amazon for years without really digging into some of its handier features. Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best calendar apps and widgets for Android – No matter how much you’d rather be playing games or checking fantasy sports stats, you have to manage your calendar. All of the following choices work with Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange, along with other cloud accounts, so you can keep all your appointments in one calendar app.

How to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview: Everything you need to know – Are you ready to walk on the wild side? Windows 10 is on the horizon, and even though it’s still roughly three-quarters of a year away from completion, Microsoft’s giving IT Pros and PC enthusiasts an early taste of what’s to come with the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Lots of things are sure to change going forward, from features to basic elements of the operating system. All that said, are you still curious? Can’t resist the lure of the bleeding edge? Just want to run away from Windows 8? Here’s how to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview right now.

Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview – So you’ve downloaded Microsoft’s Windows 10 Technical Preview. Let PCWorld show you around your new OS with our newbie’s guide to Windows 10, complete with tips and tricks.

Real-time, real-world captioning comes to Google Glass – The wearable head-up display’s potential for the hearing impaired, though, did not go unnoticed by a team of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology. They found a way to circumvent the limitation’s of Glass’ microphone to create an app that captions conversations in real-time. Captioning on Glass adds an Android smartphone to the mix. The speaker talks directly into the smartphone’s microphone; the free CoG Android app translates the speech into text using Google’s own speech recognition software and sends it to the free Captioning on Glass Glassware.

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Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition) – Here is a selection of the best Android phones currently available on the market. Whether you’re after a handset for personal use, or one suited to BYOD, there’s bound to be an Android handset here for you.

New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad – Buying a used phone from someone on Craigslist or eBay is never not sketchy, but thankfully Apple’s now rolled out a tool that could keep you from paying for stolen (and useless) property. The company has launched a new website that instantly checks to see whether Activation Lock — an anti-theft feature of iOS — is switched on for any iPhone or iPad. It’s part of iCloud, but you don’t need any type of Apple account to use it. You will need to access it from a desktop browser, though; mobile Safari bizarrely isn’t supported right now. That makes no sense, but oh well.

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Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract on Cricket Wireless – Cricket Wireless will be the first US carrier to offer Microsoft’s most affordable Windows Phone ever, the Lumia 530, and when it goes on sale tomorrow, it will cost just $49.99 with no contract.

ComputerCOP: internet safety software distributed by police turns out to be spyware – If your local police department offered you a piece of free software claiming it helps protect your kids online, that should be a good thing. In reality, saying ComputerCOP is safety software is like saying that a peeping Tom is someone’s personal night watchman. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has done extensive digging and discovered that nearly 250 law enforcement agencies in 35 US states have purchased ComputerCOP over the years, typically buying thousands of copies at a time.

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Roku hops on the screen mirroring bandwagon, adding feature for Android, Windows – Roku is striking back at Chromecast and Apple TV’s Airplay with screen mirroring for Android and Windows. The beta feature lets users beam video and audio from a phone, tablet or PC to the big screen. It’s available now for the Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick HDMI version, and requires a device running at least Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 or Android 4.4.2.

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Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities – The new service will let customers stream DVR’d TV recordings to PCs, Macs, iOS devices, and Android devices, even outside the home. It’s similar in function to Dish’s Hopper DVR, but because the recordings are stored in the cloud, it could eventually allow for new features such as unlimited tuners and unlimited storage, GigaOM reports.

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Lawyer wants to sue Google over celeb photo hack – With the recent celebrity photo hacking scandal, iCloud was quickly pointed to as a reason for us seeing far too much of those affected. Apple was quick to respond by pointing out the breach occurred by brute force, and not as a result of their lax security. Now, a lawyer representing some of the celebrities affected, is suing Google.

Security:

Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach – Data breaches seem to be a daily occurrence of late, with companies left and right reporting they’ve been hacked. The latest puts the info grab a little too close to home, though, as JP Morgan Chase reveal they’ve been compromised. The scope of the breach makes it the largest we’ve ever seen. According to the banking giant, about 76 million households were compromised. Seven million small businesses were also affected, according to the nation’s largest bank. Via a regulatory filing today, Chase says names, phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses were snatched.

USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix – In July, researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell announced that they’d found a critical security flaw they called BadUSB, allowing attackers to smuggle malware on the devices effectively undetected. Even worse, there didn’t seem to be a clear fix for the attack. Anyone who plugged in a USB stick was opening themselves up to the attack, and because the bad code was residing in USB firmware, it was hard to protect against it without completely redesigning the system. The only good news was that Nohl and Lell didn’t publish the code, so the industry had some time to prepare for a world without USB. As of this week, that’s no longer true.

Check the permissions: Android flashlight apps criticised over privacy – Security firm SnoopWall warns that torch apps are requesting more access to users’ data than they need.

Rising interest in IT security careers  – Demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing 3.5 times faster than the overall IT job market, and 12 times faster than the total labor market.

Company News:

Apple and Google could be in crosshairs of Australian tax inquiry – Major international companies such as Apple and Google could soon have their accounts put under the microscope in Australia as part of a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance.

Facebook apologizes for manipulating news feeds in psychology experiment – In June, Facebook researchers announced the results of a 2011 study that manipulated the news feeds of nearly a million user news feeds to see how positive or negative posts affected user behavior. The experiment only encompassed a tiny fraction of Facebook’s more than 1.3 billion users, but saw incredible backlash from users who hadn’t been asked if they wanted to partake in the study. Today, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer finally apologized in a blog post, and outlined plans for more structured research in the future.

Angry Birds maker Rovio lays off 130 staff and tries to ‘reignite growth’ – Layoffs affect 16% of Finnish firm’s workforce as it focuses on its games, media and consumer products businesses.

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Kim Dotcom parts ways with Baboom: ‘The music industry hates me’ Digital music company confirms it has ‘severed all ties’ with its own founder, as it plans full launch in early 2015.

Games and Entertainment:

Wasteland 2: 10 hours in the desert of death – Set decades after a nuclear apocalypse, Wasteland 2 is the sequel to the 1988 role-playing classic. After choosing a small group of differently skilled survivors, players must head out into the heat-blasted wilderness to investigate the murder of an important tribal leader. This is what happened in my first 10 hours.

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Tower Dwellers Hits Android After Successfully Defending on iOS – At first glance Tower Dwellers is just another tower defense game—after all, “tower” is right there in the name. However, this game has a fun twist on the traditional gameplay that allows you to mix and match abilities to create a custom fighting force that will (hopefully) stop the waves of baddies in their tracks. This game launched on iOS a few months ago, but it has now made its way to Android.

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Best mobile games of September 2014 – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in September 2014.

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This train has zombies on it, and you can shoot them – Sure you can go trick-or-treating with the kids on Halloween. Or maybe go see a scary movie. Or even attend an epic costume party. But if you really want to get in the mix — you know, get your heart pumping and your hands dirty — what you want to do is book yourself aboard the Zombie Train. On the train, you’ll be armed with a laser gun and have the chance to shoot your way through hoardes of zombies looking to board your compartment and eat your brains (or at least your packets of travel snacks). “The ZOMBIE TRAIN is the most unique train ride in North America,” says the attraction’s website. “Be among the first to ride through an apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies in Sacramento’s newest attraction, the Zombie Train! One part passenger train, one part zombie killing machine, this one-of-a-kind experience arms passengers with laser rifles to pick-off walking zombies along the tracks.”

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An Hour’s Worth of Bloodborne Gameplay That’s Kind of Amazing – An alpha tester just uploaded an hour’s worth of high-definition video of grueling hack-and-slash Bloodborne gameplay.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella and how Office needs to be dramatically better – In a 17 minute interview with Bloomberg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates gives his opinions on Bitcoin, mobile payments, Tim Cook, and that improving Office needs to be one of Nadella’s top focuses.

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Guy legally trolls Instagram by registering domain about magical duck – A Redditor registered the domain slutsofinstagram.com and, when Instagram sent him a cease and desist letter, responded by claiming the domain is for a fictitious fantasy tale about a duck named Slütsöf who travels throughout the land of Stagram. “Slütsöf in Stagram.” She has a goat brother named Whöresof. He responded to Instagram’s letter, though, claiming that the company doesn’t own the alpahbet, and any similarities to their service are simply unfortunate. It’s obviously a joke, but the Redditor kind of has a point.

Vicious great white shark battle caught on camera – Great white sharks don’t fight each other often, but when they do, it’s no-teeth-barred.

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Would a curfew for men be good for society? – Back in the early 70s, Golda Meir, the then prime minister of Israel, was faced with a government cabinet full of men discussing how best to curb a wave of violent rapes. The idea of banning women from the streets after dark was floated. Meir made a counteroffer. “Men are attacking women,” she said. “Not the other way around. If there is going to be a curfew, let the men be locked up, not the women.” Ultimately, the idea was dismissed as unworkable. But since then it has been seriously considered by a handful of communities around the world. This time, it’s Bucaramanga—a city in the Colombian state of Santander—that will be taking up Meir’s metaphorical baton. Next week—on Thursday, October 9—the city of just under 600,000 will experience its first “women-only” night as part of a campaign launched by the state governor’s office.

Crystal invented that can store, release, and replenish oxygen on command – In what sounds like the most efficient weapon that an alien race can threaten the human populace with, scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have invented a crystal that pulls oxygen from a room and even water. According to the researchers, only a bucket full of the crystalline material is needed for the effect to take place. The substance is a salt made from cobalt, and aside from rhyming, is capable of slurping up oxygen at 160 times the concentration of the air we breathe.

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Drone Captures Epic Footage of Iceland Volcano Eruption – If you want to capture close-up video of a volcano erupting, you better be prepared to risk your life. Unless, of course, you have a drone. The folks at drone company DJI recently took a trek to Iceland to capture the massive Bardarbunga Volcano erupting, and the footage is nothing short of amazing.

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Something to think about:

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

–    John Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

PCMark – With PCMark 8 you can test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is the complete PC benchmark for home and business.

What makes PCMark 8 different from other benchmarks? Real-world relevance.

With PCMark 8 you measure and compare PC performance using real-world tasks and applications. We’ve grouped these applications into scenarios that reflect typical PC use in the home and at the office.

This approach ensures that PCMark measures the things that matter, highlighting performance differences that will be apparent to end users and consumers.

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SoftPerfect WiFi Guard – SoftPerfect WiFi Guard is an essential tool for everyone running a small WiFi network and striving to keep it secure. Generally, modern WiFi networks are well protected, but there is a number of weaknesses that can compromise your WiFi password; this includes vulnerabilities in encryption and brute force attacks. As a result, someone can gain unauthorised access to your Internet and LAN, exploit them and stay unnoticed.

You may think: it’s ok, who cares, I have got an uncapped plan. But what about someone reading your personal emails, stealing private information or breaking the law online while using your Internet connection?

Here comes our little application that allows you to know immediately if your network is used without your knowledge. It’s a specalised network scanner that runs through your network at set intervals and reports immediately if it has found any new connected devices that could possibly belong to an intruder.

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Pointing up    SoftPerfect WiFi Guard running in my system tray.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA and me – James Bamford literally wrote the book on the National Security Agency, spending 30 years obsessively documenting the secretive agency in print. Today, for the first time, he tells the story of his brief turn as an NSA whistleblower.

(A very long but comprehensive article.)

Let slip the doges of war: Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws – After new national security surveillance powers were ushered through Australian parliament this week, one Senator has called on the internet to protest further national security reforms through mass meme power.

Senator Scott Ludlam has been an outspoken critic of the three tranches of anti-terrorism legislation that are currently making their way through the two houses of Australian parliament, backed by both major political parties.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 29, 2014

Fraud shop OVERSTOCKED with stolen credit cards;  The best way to completely wipe your Android device;  A Windows 8.1 mini-tablet for $81;  Back up your iPhone photos: Eight affordable (or free) cloud options;  Here’s How Much Access Facebook Employees Have to Your Account;  5 tips for Google Voice in Hangouts on Android;  Post-it Notes Get Digitized In A Clever New App From 3M;  Are you ready for 64-bit Android?  Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users?  How to change notification sounds on your Android phone;  Here are October’s free Games with Gold;  Yet another case of malvertising on The Pirate Bay;  U.S. Tops Yahoo’s List of Government Data Requests;  Display Driver Uninstaller (free);  BlackBerry’s Passport smartphone selling out;  Intel investing $1.5 billion in two Chinese chip firms;  Will that game play on your PC? Can You Run It tells you.

Fraud shop OVERSTOCKED with stolen credit cards – Infamous carding store Rescator.cc is so chock-full of stolen credit cards from recent high-profile breaches that it’s gutting its prices due to overstocking. The fire sale makes a mockery of the security in place at some of the world’s biggest retailers, many of which have in recent months been invaded by hackers who have made off with many millions of customer credit cards.

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The best way to completely wipe your Android device – A study from security software vendor Avast has suggested that the factory reset option built into the Android operating system isn’t effective in eradicating your personal data from old devices. The firm purchased 20 used Android smartphones on eBay and was able to recover more than 40,000 photos, 750 emails and text messages, and 250 contacts, along with the identities of four of the previous device owners, and even a completed loan application. To make matters worse, Avast employees were using readily available data recovery software to get the job done.

Back up your iPhone photos: Eight affordable (or free) cloud options – Even new handsets can break or go missing. Safeguard your precious photos with easy-to-use cloud services that deliver massive amounts of storage for low or no cost.

5 tips for Google Voice in Hangouts on Android – Now that Google has finally rolled Voice into the existing Hangouts app, there are a few settings you may want to adjust for a better calling and texting experience.

Want to Bend Your New iPhone? Apply 70–90 Pounds – Consumer Reports recently put the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and a handful of other competing smartphones to the test—a will-it-blend bit of destruction, if you replace a crazy-powerful blender with a big device that’s designed to test just how much pressure these smartphones can take before they give out.

Microsoft rolls out Groups feature to Office 365 users, but only on the web – If you’ve been trying to figure out out how to better work collaboratively with coworkers, Microsoft has a new tool for Office 365: Groups. But right now, it’s only for those using Microsoft’s Office 365 web apps.

The 64-bit Android question – Are you ready for 64-bit Android? Jack Wallen shares the information that’s important to those interested in jumping on the newest bandwagon to hit the Android trail.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Forget ‘airplane mode,’ devices are OK’d for inflight use in Europe – Airline passengers traveling on European airline flights will be able to leave their mobile phones and other gadgets on throughout the entire flight, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said Friday. European airlines can allow any kind of electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones to remain switched on for the entire trip without having to use the airplane mode. Switching to airplane mode was mandatory until now.

PiPO unveils the W4: a Windows 8.1 mini-tablet for $81 – Microsoft has been working with its hardware partners around the world to bring Windows devices to the very lowest price points, and in recent weeks, many examples of its efforts have been unveiled. But prices still haven’t reached rock-bottom yet, as Chinese manufacturer PiPO has shown with the unveiling of its latest Windows 8.1 tablet, the W4. The new device is officially a “concept” for now, but the company says it has been working with Intel on making it a production reality, and claims that at 499 CNY ($81 USD / £50 GBP), it will be the “most affordable Win8 tablet” so far.

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Vine update adds needed features for Android – Unlike Hyperlapse, Vine is giving Android some attention. An update rolling in today brings some iOS features with it, like the ability to choose videos from your device, and edit multiple videos down to a six-second clip. All in all, the update should make you want to use Vine much more.

Post-it Notes Get Digitized In A Clever New App From 3M – 3M should be applauded for doing more than throwing out some lame alternative to using your phone’s camera to snap photos of Post-it’s, slapping the brand name on it and calling it a day. Instead, the Post-it Plus app, as it’s called, is surprisingly clever. You can use the app to capture a photo of up to 50 square Post-it Notes at one time. These are then identified with little checkmarks on top of each note. Before creating your digital board, you can uncheck the notes you don’t want to save. After the image is captured, you have a viral Post-it board where you can arrange, refine and re-organize the notes just by tapping and dragging them around with your finger.

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Meet Ello, an ad-free social network that’s proudly pro-privacy (but with caveats) – A new social network is generating buzz for its hard stance against paid advertising and data collection. But how the site really works, when it comes to privacy, is a little more nuanced. Ello is open on an invite-only basis, so you’ll need to know someone who’s already in the club to get in straight away. Tens of thousands of people are on the waiting list, according to the site, and only small batches of people are being let in at a time.

Kano Ships Its First 18,000 Learn-To-Code Computer Kits, Fueled By $1.5M Kickstarter – Kano Computing, a startup that plays in the learn to code space by adding a step-by-step hand-holding layer atop the Raspberry Pi single-board microcomputer to make hacking around with code and learning about computational thinking child’s play, has shipped all the hardware kits in its first batch of crowdfunded orders and pre-orders.

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Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users? – Microsoft is widely expected to introduce its Windows 9 operating system at an event in San Francisco next Tuesday and rumors have been flying about what we can expect from the successor to Windows 8. The source behind the latest rumor? As spotted by BGR on Saturday, Indonesian tech site Detik earlier this week quoted Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro as saying that “the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it’s released.”

How to change notification sounds on your Android phone – How often have you been in a public place and heard a phone notification ding nearby, and reached for your own pocket, only to find out that it wasn’t from your phone? Spare yourself the unnecessary confusion and change your default ringtone and notification tone to something different.

Security:

Safe from Shellshock: How to protect your home computer from the Bash shell bug – Yeah, it sounds bad. But really, the impact on you at home should be minimal, especially if you take some basic precautions. Windows systems aren’t vulnerable whatsoever—though your router may very well be—unless you’re running a program like Cygwin.

Credit card breach that hit Jimmy John’s is larger than originally thought – Signature Systems says the breach of its point-of-sales system that hit 216 Jimmy John’s sandwich shops is actually 50 percent larger than originally thought. The company said Friday that an additional 108 restaurants that use its payment terminals were also hit. The additional locations are independent restaurants not part of the Jimmy John’s chain.

Here’s How Much Access Facebook Employees Have to Your Account (Answer by Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, on Quora) – I’m Facebook’s Chief Security Officer and I oversee data security at the company. Thanks for the question. We take our role as stewards of people’s information very seriously and have invested heavily in protecting the data trusted to us.

Yet another case of malvertising on The Pirate Bay – The Pirate Bay is famous for its tumultuous relationship with copyright advocates and law enforcement. And yet, despite police raids and numerous trials, the torrent site is still going strong with a new infrastructure, as detailed in a recent article published by Torrent Freak. From a security standpoint, The Pirate Bay has been involved in notorious malvertising attacks, most likely resulting in a large number of infections given the site’s high traffic.

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Ex-con Kevin Mitnick now selling zero-day exploits, starting at $100K – He says his firm will carefully screen potential clients and that he’d never sell to an entity such as the Syrian regime or a criminal gang. Then again, he’s not asking what clients intend to do with the high-end exploits.

Company News:

Report: Google taking tighter control of Android – Android is open source software, but if you want to run Google’s version of it, there are rules. Now it sounds as if those rules are getting a bit more stringent, as Google aims to tighten their grip on the platform just a bit. A new report details just how much more Google your Android handset might be.

Softbank in talks to buy Dreamworks Animation – Japan’s Softbank is in talks to acquire Dreamworks Animation, The Hollywood Reporter said late Saturday citing a source. The Wall Street Journal later reported the same news citing “people familiar with the matter.” Following a $32 per share offer from Softbank, the Dreamworks Animation board held an emergency meeting on Thursday, said The Hollywood Reporter. It said Nikesh Arora, a former Google executive and now head of the recently formed Softbank Internet and Media, met with Dreamworks on the offer.

Microsoft to open its “first flagship store” on New York’s Fifth Avenue – As The Wall Street Journal reports, Microsoft has been working on the launch of its NYC store for the last five years. David Porter, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s retail stores, told the Journal: “As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience. This is a goal we’ve had since day one – we were only waiting for the right location. And now we have it.” Microsoft intends for the new location to be “much more than just a Microsoft Store”, including an “experiential space” that will allow customers to do more than simply browse products on shelves.

Comcast seeks to fix awful customer service, admits “it may take a few years” – After months of getting bashed for treating customers poorly, Comcast today said it’s going to make improving customer service its “number one priority.” But the company admitted that “it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for.”

Pointing up  This past week I bumped up my broadband connection from 20 Mbps to 55 Mbps with my Internet service provider – Cogeco – which, it was agreed, would be implemented within 24 hours of ordering the change. The reality was somewhat different. After a necessary 3 follow up phone calls over 3 days = mission accomplished. 

No big deal right? Except, this transaction followed the exact pattern of  my previous speed bump up requests. In other words, in an 8 year period, 3 speed bump up requests had to be followed by persistent calls to insure compliance.

To sooth the savage beast in me, an offer of “first month free” was made and accepted. Still…

One mistake = it happens.

Two additional identical mistakes = a systemic problem.

Even so, with 10 years, or more, of outstanding customer service from these folks (minus these 3 anomalies) – Cogeco is still tops.

BlackBerry’s oddball Passport smartphone is actually selling out – BlackBerry never intended for the Passport to be a phone that everyone would want to buy, but it’s clearly got a lot of people excited. It’s already sold out at two online stores and has taken the number one spot in Amazon’s unlocked phones listing. Maybe it really is that weird square screen. Reviewers have been saying how good desktop websites look on it and how awesome the extra space is for productivity apps. BlackBerry was aiming the Passport at hard-working business types, and so far it looks like the hit the mark.

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Intel investing $1.5 billion in two Chinese chip firms – Intel is investing 9 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in two Chinese chip companies with an eye to boosting its presence in the country’s booming mobile phone market. The two fabless semiconductor companies develop mobile chipset platforms for smartphones, feature phones and other consumer electronics products, which support 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards, Intel said Friday.

Games and Entertainment:

Here are October’s free Games with Gold – First up, if you’re an Xbox One user you’ll be getting free access to Chariot, a new indie platformer game, with some very cute graphics. The game is part of ID@Xbox, the indie segment in the Xbox Store, and give you 25 levels of co-op “physics based gameplay”. Chariot has an ERP of $15, but if you’re a Gold subscriber you’ll get if for free.

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Will that game play on your PC? Can You Run It tells you – PC gaming rocks—but figuring out whether the latest game will even run on your system can be a pain. You already know the answer to the question if you have a dedicated gaming rig, but for anyone looking for gaming thrills on their standard issue laptop, things aren’t quite so simple. Finding the answer can be easy, though. Rather than digging through spec lists to try and figure out whether you’ve got a suitably beefy graphics card or processor, get some quick automated advice from the long-running website Can You Run It.

Review of CastleStorm: Definitive Edition for Xbox One – Zen Studios has released CastleStorm, an RTS/Action/Strategy mashup, for the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, so we take a look at whether you should storm the castle or walk on by to something else.

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Ryse: Son of Rome on PC adds 4K resolution, removes microtransactions – Crytek is treating Ryse: Son of Rome on PC like a Game of the Year edition that builds on the Xbox One release. That means as well as the base game Crytek has also included all four DLC packs that were released for the console version. So you get 12 new multiplayer maps, a new Survival Mode, and five skins for your character.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

A Wearable Drone That Launches Off Your Wrist To Take Your Selfie – “Oh man, this would make a great picture. I wish there was someone else here to take our picture for us so we didn’t have to take a selfie!” Has this ever happened to you? Of course it has. You’re a human being in the 21st century who reads tech blogs. The Nixie aims to solve that. It’s, as crazy as it feels to type this, a wearable selfie drone. A flying wristband, with a camera built in. When you’re ready for your close-up, it launches off your wrist, reorients to frame you in the shot, and then hovers back over for you to catch it. The bad news? It’s… still pretty conceptual. They have a long way to go (this thing looks about as fragile as can be right now) — but even as a concept, it’s damned cool.

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Classical musicians honor ‘Batman’ history with an incredible music video journey – The Piano Guys are probably having more fun than anyone else in the classical music business. The group — composed of a pianist, cellist, a videographer, and a music producer — has just released a music video that celebrates nearly 50 years of Batman. The video perfectly matches the group’s new “Batman Evolution” composition, which travels through the classic ‘60s TV show, Tim Burton’s 1989 take on the Dark Knight, and Christopher Nolan’s most recent trilogy. The result is not just some impressive piano and cello work (the two instruments alone were used to make every sound in the composition), but a music video that displays some incredible attention to detail.

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Using new Corvette’s valet-recording tech could be a felony in some states – Over the past few months, General Motors and its Chevrolet dealerships have been selling the 2015 Corvette with an interesting feature called Valet Mode. Valet Mode records audio, video, and driving statistics of the person in the driver’s seat when the driver isn’t around, thus keeping low-life valets from being too loose with their filthy mitts while inside a Corvette owner’s fancy car. Trouble is that in a handful of states, using Valet Mode might be considered a felony.

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Device allows completely paralysed rats to walk again – By electrically stimulating the severed part of the spinal cord, scientists are able to precisely control in real-time the limbs of a paralysed rat — and human trials are on the way.

As much as half the water on Earth is older than the sun – Earth is a very wet planet — the abundance of water is what sets our planet apart and makes life possible, but where did it all come from? A new study makes the claim that 30% to 50% of the water we’re drinking is older than the Sun itself. It kind of boggles the mind, but the models are consistent with what we know of the early solar system and how stars form.

See Which Parts of the Country Have the Most iPhone Users – Ever wonder if you live in iPhone country or Android country? Wonder no more: The blue areas of this map shows you the parts of the country where people are most likely to own an iPhone, whereas red areas denote Android fandoms. iPhone strongholds bracket the east and west coasts and grow patchy towards the nation’s interior. States like Texas, Oklahoma and New Orleans leaning heavily Android outside major cities, whereas California, New York and New Jersey have heavy iPhone-using populations.

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Something to think about:

“Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.”

–     Laurence J. Peter

Today’s Free Downloads:

Display Driver Uninstaller – Display Driver Uninstaller is a graphics driver removal tool that helps remove all remnats of AMD, NVIDIA and Intel graphics card drivers including old registry keys, files, folders and driver stores.

Intel, AMD and Nivdia drivers can normally be uninstalled with the Windows Uninstall Programs window. However, often the standard uninstall fails or does not completely delete the old video card drivers. This can cause issues installing new / updated drivers.

After running Display Driver Uninstaller the program will make it as if you are about to install a new video driver on a fresh, clean install of Windows.

Display Driver Uninstaller makes many system changes and the author has wisely built in a function to help you remember to create a new system restore point before running the cleaner so you can revert your system if have problems. However, make sure you familiarize yourself with how to use system restore prior.

So if you having issues installing a new driver or uninstalling an old one, Display Driver Uninstaller may do the trick for you.

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CCEnhancer – CCEnhancer is a small tool which adds support for over 1,000 new programs into the popular program CCleaner. The tool uses the winapp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs. The rules were sourced mainly from the Piriform Support Forum, with several sourced from other places around the internet.

Instructions:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program, but is instead downloaded by the program. Simply press ‘Download Latest’ and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

Editor’s Note:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program. Simply press “Download Latest” and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Discloses New Data On Government Requests For User Information – Microsoft today disclosed data concerning global government request for its users’ data, and information about their accounts in the first half of 2014. The total number of requests, and the number of accounts impacted were similar to the six month period that concluded 2013.

In total, between January and June of this year, 34,494 requests were sent to Microsoft, impacting 58,562 accounts. In the preceding six months, 35,083 requests dealt with 58,676 accounts. The United States, Germany, France, and Turkey were the leading request sources.

Microsoft is granting data less often:

Of law enforcement requests received, less than 3 percent resulted in disclosure of customer content data, while approximately 75 percent of requests resulted in disclosure of “non-content” data. Meanwhile, 22 percent were either rejected on legal grounds or no data was found, compared to 18 percent for the preceding six-month period.

The company also reported that the number of FISA orders that it received in the period landed between zero and 999. Between 18,000 and 18,999 accounts were potentially impacted.

The above data, of course, is only part of what governments around the world manage to extract about us without having to ask permission. Over the past year and a half, we, the global public, have learned extensively about governmental overreach into our data. Those disclosures, led by the leaks sourced to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have caused calls reform to sound out not only from the public, but also from some organs of government.

That technology companies can report the above has been struggle enough. It is not enough.

U.S. Tops Yahoo’s List of Government Data Requests – Yahoo today issued its latest transparency report, covering National Security Letters (NSLs), criminal data government data requests, and government removal requests it received in the first six months of 2014.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests are subject to a six-month delay so the available FISA data covers July 1 – Dec. 31, 2013. Data from the first half of 2014 will be revealed in the next report.

“At Yahoo, our users always come first,” general counsel Ron Bell wrote in a blog post, citing the company’s recent effort to secure from the government 1,500 pages of once-secret documents detailing Yahoo’s challenge to the expansion of surveillance laws.

“We are still pushing for the FISC to release additional materials from this case,” Bell said.

In the meantime, the bulk of the Web company’s data requests between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014 came from the U.S., which made 6,791 government requests for user data covering 12,533 accounts. Of those disclosures, 1,396 involved user content, while 4,240 did not. Yahoo rejected 382 requests, while no data was found regarding 773 requests.

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Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial – The non-denial denial is an art that takes many forms in official Washington.

The basic idea is that when you or your organization are accused of doing something that you did in fact do, you respond with what sounds like a denial, but really isn’t.

You issue a very narrowly-crafted denial involving a lot of hairsplitting, while avoiding the central claim. Or you dismiss the accusation as unworthy of response. Or you deny something else: You raise a straw man accusation and deny that; or – possibly best yet — you take advantage of a poorly worded question.

The press typically interprets it as a denial, and since you are a credible figure, it moves on.

And if the accusation against you is ever irrefutably proven, then you point out that you never really denied it. Since you didn’t technically lie, the press, again, moves on.

But the non-denial denial is fundamentally an act of deception.

So when and if the accused has to admit what they did publicly – i.e. by saying something to the effect of “I wasn’t lying because I carefully didn’t answer the real question” – they are de facto admitting that they were intentionally being deceitful. If they are public officials, that means they are admitting they betrayed their public trust.

CIA Director John Brennan had one of those moments last week.

Canada: Spy watchdog’s past oil ties spark concerns in civil liberties complaint case – A civil liberties group is objecting to Canada’s spy watchdog assigning Yves Fortier to investigate alleged spying on environmental activists, citing a conflict due to his former petroleum industry ties.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s lawyer has written to the Security Intelligence Review Committee asking that Fortier “recuse himself from any participation” in the matter since he once sat on the board of TransCanada Pipelines — the company behind the Keystone XL project.

Fortier, one of three review committee members, was recently appointed to lead an investigation into the association’s complaint that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service gathered and shared information about activists opposed to Canada’s energy policies.

The association filed the complaint with the review committee in February after media reports suggested that CSIS and other government agencies consider protests and opposition to the petroleum industry as possible threats to national security.

The complaint also cited reports that CSIS had worked with and shared information with the National Energy Board about so-called “radicalized environmentalist” groups seeking to participate in the board’s hearings on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would see Alberta crude flow to westward to Kitimat, B.C.

The groups included Leadnow, ForestEthics Advocacy Association, the Council of Canadians, the Dogwood Initiative, EcoSociety, the Sierra Club of British Columbia and Idle No More, the indigenous rights movement.

“None of these groups are criminal organizations, nor do they have any history of advocating, encouraging, or participating in criminal activity,” says the Feb. 6 complaint.

The CSIS Act is clear that “lawful advocacy, protest or dissent” cannot be regarded as threats to national security, the complaint adds.

Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights – The UK needs a digital bill of rights to protect citizens against the government’s “indiscriminate online surveillance”, world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee said on Saturday.

The Greatest Living Briton™ was speaking at the Web We Want Festival in London. He lobbied politicos in Blighty to take action in the run up to next May’s General Election.

“A trusted Web is crucial to the UK’s future – our tech sector has led the way out of recession, creating more jobs than any other industry in recent years,” Berners-Lee said.

“A Britain in which people no longer trust the Web as a safe and private place will be a Britain that is less free, less creative and ultimately less prosperous.

China blocks Instagram to stop spread of pro-democracy protest images – The nation of China is no stranger to internet censorship; in addition to the infamous Great Firewall of China, which has claimed numerous victims over the years — most recently the privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo — the country has also repeatedly cracked down on the free dissemination of information at opportune times.

This time around, photo sharing site Instagram has reportedly been blocked across the mainland in another opportune strike likely intended to prevent the spread of images from Hong Kong’s recent wave of pro-democracy protests.

The block was first reported by Greatfire.org, an independent anti-censorship blog, at 3:00 AM China Standard Time on September 28. All of Instagram’s IP addresses are currently down, and anyone attempting to access the site in China receives an error page.

The block on Instagram comes during the largest day for protests, with nearly 60,000 citizens from Hong Kong taking to the streets and protesting in favor of what they call “full democracy,” a concept which likely doesn’t include the censorship of internet sites.

Russia wants Facebook, Google, Twitter to comply with censorship laws – The great historical bastion of freedom that is Russia is once again going back in time. The country is now requiring Internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to store all Russian data locally, and to comply with censorship laws.

Comrade President Putin signed a law back in July that obliged all web services that are collecting data on Russian citizens to store said data in local datacenters. Of course this is not exactly good news for the likes of Twitter and Google who are storing data in much more open and democratic countries across Europe.

But this isn’t so bad. In light of recent revelations about the conduct of the NSA, GCHQ and others, many countries including the EU want their data to be stored locally and kept safe.

The grim part of the law is the part that follows: These Internet companies will have to, if they want to continue doing business in Russia, comply with the local censorship laws that require “bloggers” and other popular internet users to register with the government. They’d then be closely monitored to ensure that they don’t post “extremist calls”, hate speech, slander and obscene language – like criticizing Putin or calling for equal rights for the LGBT community.

There’s no confusion here: This is full-on state censorship and with the limitations imposed on foreign companies, it will be a lot easier to finally create a “Russian internet,” similar to what China has done to “protect” its citizens.

EU: This Is How We Would Improve Google’s Privacy Policy – Changes to Google’s privacy policy went into effect on March 1, 2012, but regulators in Europe are still pushing the search giant for changes. Now, they have outlined what Google can do to make its privacy policy more palatable to those across the pond.

The Article 29 Working Party, a collection of data protection agencies across the EU, released a six-page “list of possible compliance measures” this week that cover transparency, user controls, and data retention policies, including suggestions for making management tools more accessible.

On transparency, the EU wants Google to make its privacy policy “immediately visible and accessible,” so users don’t have to hunt around for it. If Google enters into any deals or acquisitions that affect this privacy policy, those changes must be clearly communicated. The EU also wants Google to avoid passive language (“we will” vs. “we may”), and all of this should be communicated in a “multi-layered approach” across Google services.

Meanwhile, “Google must provide users with more elaborate tools to manage their personal data and to control the usage of their personal data between all Google services,” the EU said. “This could be done by making the current dashboard more accessible (e.g. putting a link in the Google Profile popup) and to include all of Google services.”

Finally, Google must “define [its] retention policies” and keep EU data protection offices abreast of what’s going on.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 29, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 24, 2014

How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously;  Eight questions to ask before you buy your next smartphone;  Top free essential business apps for Android smartphones, tablets;  How to disable banner ads in Skype;  Top free, essential business apps for iPhone;  Craving a Cuddle? There’s an App for That;  Windows 7 faces Halloween deadline;  3 must-have app extensions for iOS 8;  How to remove bloatware from your rooted Android device;  College Campuses Get An “F” In Cybersecurity;  Facebook’s WiFi drones to begin testing next year;  UPS reveals plan to expand 3D printing locations;  Google’s Schmidt says Assange detainment is ‘luxury lodgings’;  Xbox One is now officially cheaper than PS4 in the UK;  The best apps for freelancers;  How Much Better Is Each New iPhone’s Camera? A court ruled that a swat raid on a barbershop was totally ridiculous.

How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously – Recently, BoingBoing ran an article about how some librarians in Massachusetts were installing Tor software in all their public PCs to anonymize the browsing habits of their patrons. The librarians are doing this as a stand against passive government surveillance as well as companies that track users online and build dossiers to serve highly-targeted advertising. It’s an interesting project and a bold stand for user privacy. But the good news is that if you want to browse anonymously, you don’t have to go to the library to use Tor. Connecting to the Tor network from your own PC is quick and painless thanks to the Tor project’s dead simple Tor Browser.

Pointing up  Quick tip: Don’t install add-ons (Tor is a version of Firefox and it will accept add-ons), since doing so will break anonymity.

Eight questions to ask before you buy your next smartphone – Wireless providers in the US make it easy to pay more than you should for a smartphone and an accompanying data plan. Here’s how to make sure you get the best possible deal.

Top free essential business apps for Android smartphones, tablets – What are some of the best, free business-related apps for Android devices on the market?

Top free, essential business apps for Apple’s iPhone – What are some of the best, free business-related apps for the iPhone on offer?

How to disable banner ads in Skype – Before the many updates to Skype post-Microsoft acquisition, simply disabling the promotions options in settings was enough to rid your conversations of unnecessary spam. However, a new banner ad has made its way to the conversation window. This ad wouldn’t be such a bother if it didn’t often cut into the video feed area when going full screen. Thanks to Reddit user N19h7m4r3, you can disable ads through just a few steps. Here’s how:

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The best apps for freelancers – The whole freelance, be-your-own-boss thing sounds liberating—until you realize you’re also your own business manager. You need to track your time and expenses. You need to make sure you get paid. Luckily, there are several apps that can make the business end of freelancing a whole lot easier.

10 Android features that still make it better than iOS 8 – Apple’s new iOS 8 may have blatantly appropriated some of Android’s marquee features—like the Notifications panel and support for third-party keyboards—but it still misses some of what Android users love about the mobile operating system. Your Apple-using friends may try to rub your nose in their shiny new version of iOS on their shiny new iPhone, so here are ten features that Android has that you can retort with. (And of course, don’t forget to remind them that Android L is coming soon, and that will have even more features to boast about.)

Windows 7 faces Halloween deadline – Microsoft is approaching the next cutoff date in Windows 7’s life cycle next month. Here’s what is and isn’t happening after October 31.

Craving a Cuddle? There’s an App for That – Released earlier this month, Cuddlr lets you find people near you who are down for a friendly cuddle sesh. It works like this — when you see someone who looks suitable, you send them a “cuddle request” and they have 15 minutes to accept. If they accept, you’ll both see each other’s location and you can send your potential cuddle buddy just one 140-character message to, perhaps, coordinate where to meet. You’ll also get real-time updates and walking directions so you can find each other. Not creepy at all.

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3 must-have app extensions for iOS 8 – With iOS 8, Apple introduced extensibility in the OS through apps with built-in extensions that can be used inside of other apps like Safari, Photos, the Notification Center, and more. Several app updates have been released that focus on further integrating iOS with extensions. Here are just three must-have apps with extension support in iOS 8.

Wear Tip Calculator Splits the Bill in Seconds on Android Wear – The last thing you want to do after a hearty meal is math. But how are you supposed to figure out the tip without delving into that mishmash of numbers and figuring out who ordered what? Easy—just use your watch and the aptly named Wear Tip Calculator.

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Polaroid Cube Review – Is the Polaroid Cube worth the cash? Absolutely. Even without apps, even without a viewing screen. Even without the ability to toss it down a mountain. You’ll be able to pick the Polaroid Cube up in Orange/Red, Blue, or Black (we’ve got Black) supposing you’re able to find those colors in a store near you. We’d recommend checking in with Photojojo first and foremost. Again, the Polaroid Cube itself costs $99 USD while accessories vary in cost. We’ll see more soon!

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How to remove bloatware from your rooted Android device – So, you’ve opted to root your Android device to enjoy new features and get rid of the bloatware installed by your carrier and the device manufacturer. You root the phone, only to find you still can’t uninstall those apps! Even with the rooted device, the Uninstall button never appears on the carrier-installed applications. What do you do? There are two options.

Microsoft Miracast dongle brings Chromecast-like streaming to the Windows world – Miracast was designed first and foremost to mirror what your screen displays, so it serves as a second, wireless monitor. (It also supports HDCP protected content, so you can “throw” a movie from your laptop to the dongle itself, playing the audio through the display’s speakers.)  That also means that while you can use it to wirelessly display YouTube videos, it can also be used to display a PowerPoint presentation, an Excel spreadsheet, or your PC’s desktop.

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Getting started with Talko – New iPhone app from Ray Ozzie lets you talk, text and share photos as well as tag and bookmark key parts of your conversations.

Security:

College Campuses Get An “F” In Cybersecurity – This obviously isn’t very welcoming news for campuses and their inhabitants. In order to assess the cyber security performance of American higher education institutions, BitSight Technologies conducted a study on the most recognized collegiate athletic conferences: the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12, and Ivy League. These schools represent a student popular of over 2.25 million and network footprint of more than 11 million IP addresses.

Kali NetHunter turns Android device into hacker Swiss Army knife – One of the tools we’ve leaned on heavily in some of our lab testing of software privacy and security is Kali Linux. The Debian-based operating system comes packaged with a collection of penetration testing and network monitoring tools curated and developed by the security training company Offensive Security. Today, the Kali developer team and Offensive Security released a new Kali project that runs on a Google Nexus device. Called NetHunter, the distribution provides much of the power of Kali with the addition of a browser-driven set of tools that can be used to launch attacks on wireless networks or on unattended computers via a USB connection.

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Free to download, ready to customize, NetHunter puts the power of a pen-tester’s Linux desktop on a Nexus phone or tablet.

The ‘Hacking’ Involved in Stealing Celebrity Nude Photos Isn’t Even Impressive – I talked to former hacker and leading internet security blogger Nik Cubrilovic about the process of stealing celebrity nudes, and to hear him tell it, the hacking skills required are pretty remedial.

Apple’s Touch ID still vulnerable to hack, security researcher finds – The Touch ID fingerprint reader on the iPhone 6 can be fooled by the same trick that unlocks the iPhone 5S — but it didn’t have to be that way, says security expert.

Company News:

Samsung gives up on Windows laptops and Chromebooks in Europe – Samsung has confirmed that it is ending sales of all of its laptops – including both Windows notebooks and Chromebooks – in Europe. The move comes as the PC market continues to struggle in the face of increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets, reducing users’ dependence on ‘traditional’ form factors, including notebooks and desktops.

Facebook’s WiFi drones to begin testing next year – Be it balloons, drones, sattelites or just plain laying cable under the surface, various companies are making an effort to digitally connect the world. Google and Facebook have both vowed to bring the Internet as we know it to parts of the world where connectivity is sparse or absent. Facebook is now laying out their plan of action, saying that they should be able to test drones by next year.

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EU tells Google to make more concessions or face charges in antitrust dispute – Google has to improve its settlement terms in an antitrust investigation over its search practices or face charges, following opposition from some quarters to the deal, the European Commission’s competition chief Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday. Some of the 20 formal complainants “have given fresh evidence and solid arguments against several aspects of the latest proposals put forward by Google,” Almunia, who is vice president of the commission responsible for competition policy, said in a speech of which the transcript was posted on the European Union website.

FTC shuts down Bitcoin mining rig maker Butterfly Labs – As Bitcoin rose in value and the popularity of cryptocurrencies spiked, companies began cropping up hawking pre-built PCs called mining rigs designed specifically for digital mining. One such company was Butterfly Labs, which was just recently shut down by the FTC over questionable business practices. A quick trot through the Internet will reveal customers less than happy with Butterfly Labs, reporting things like lack of communication and never receiving the product they ordered. The FTC caught wind of their troubles and took swift action, going so far as to call the folks behind Butterfly Labs “scammers”.

UPS reveals plan to expand 3D printing locations – As with Staples, 3D printing is available at UPS stores, something that has thus far been a pilot program. According to the company, it will be rolling out an expansion to almost 100 stores across the US, marking the highest number of printing locations available by a nationwide retailer.

Games and Entertainment:

Activision taps Rudy Giuliani in Call of Duty lawsuit – Back in July, former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega slapped Activision with a lawsuit over Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The reason? His likeness was used without permission, and he was shown committing “numerous fictional heinous crimes”, which apparently tarnished his reputation.

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Follow PCWorld’s Steam Curator page for great, hand-picked game suggestions – PCWorld covers a wide world of PC gaming news, previews, and reviews, but sifting through a sea of old articles is a headache when you just want to know which cool PC game you should buy right now. Enter Steam’s recent revamp. The ‘Discovery Update’ overhauled the interface and added a wealth of new tools, all designed to make it easier to help you find games you actually want to play—including the ability to follow “curator” pages of game recommendations from sources you trust. I think you see where this is going.

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League of Legends gamers face restricted ranked play over bad behavior – Most sane people know how to have fun and be a good sport, but there is always that one clueless guy who pops in and ruins something for everyone else. Riot Games has ramped up its penalties against those kinds of gamers, adding more restrictions in place for those who forget their manners.

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Nintendo releasing transparent versions of the 2DS – Two new versions of the 2DS have been announced for gamers across Europe. They both have transparent casings, but come in a choice of Transparent Red or Transparent Blue. There’s no word on whether these models will be offered outside of Europe, but they will be available as standalone products on November 7.

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Xbox One is now officially cheaper than PS4 in the UK – Amazon UK has all the deals listed in one place and the standard console with no games is priced at just £324.85. That’s £25 (US$40) cheaper than the official price. You can also select to buy the console with Call of Duty, Destiny, or pre-order it with FIFA 15, Halo, Forza Horizon 2, of GTA V and only pay the RRP of £349.99. So you’re basically getting a game for free. However, the best offer has to be the pre-order for the white Xbox One with Sunset Overdrive, which is listed at the new lower price of £329.99.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s Schmidt says Assange detainment is ‘luxury lodgings’ – On the eve of the release of the WikiLeaks founder’s new book, titled “When Google Met WikiLeaks,” the Google executive chairman goes on the offensive.

How Much Better Is Each New iPhone’s Camera? Here’s An Excellent Comparison – It’s easy to say that the iPhone’s camera has gotten better over time — that’s pretty much a given. But how much better? Lisa Bettany, co-founder of Camera+, decided to put it to the test. Eight generations of iPhone, lined up in a row… all taking the same photo. The results are pretty damn neat.

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Emma Watson urges UN to back feminism – 4chan trolls threaten to leak her ‘nude selfies’ – At the weekend, actress Emma Watson gave a well-argued and reasoned speech to the UN calling for better relations between the sexes. And lo, internet trolls have set up a website threatening to release nude photographs of the Harry Potter star. The website features a 4chan logo, a badly rendered snap of Watson apparently crying, and a countdown clock with about three and a half days left to run. Anonymous comments on a moron-infested 4chan.org board said Watson’s nude pictures would be leaked online when the countdown reaches zero.

This music video is shot in one-take and uses 14 different Apple devices – Brunette Shoot Blondes might not ring a bell, but the Ukrainian indie/electro/pop band is making waves with their new video “Knock Knock.” The new video uses 14 different Apple devices to tell a story.

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TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 2 – This is the second installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the invention of the transistor to modern day chips powering our connected devices.

Aireon unveils ALERT system for tracking, finding lost planes – Aireon is aiming to put an end to lost aircraft, announcing that it will have a free plane-tracking system in place in 2017. With the system, the location details on a plane that goes missing can be requested by rescue teams, helping to avoid future tragedies like the loss of MH370.

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Can the iPhone 6 Plus stop a 50-caliber bullet? – It will certainly let you watch videos in full HD, but how does the iPhone 6 Plus fare when it comes to stopping bullets? RatedRR takes a shot at the Plus to find out.

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Something to think about:

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

–      Hermann Hesse

Today’s Free Downloads:

Win Toolkit – Win Toolkit is a lightweight and easy to use application that was created in order to help you customize your Windows installation!

With this tool you can integrate Addons, Drivers, Gadgets, Language packs, Modified Files, Theme Packs, Tweaks, Silent Installers, Updates. You can also remove features such as Windows Media Player and customize Windows default services state.

Win Toolkit also comes with extra tools which helps you convert files, make ISOs, download the latest updates (thanks to SoLoR and McRip), and completely customize your images to tailor your Windows installation disk to your exact needs.

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Universal Media Server – Universal Media Server is a DLNA-compliant UPnP Media Server.

It is based on PS3 Media Server by shagrath. It is actually an evolution of the “SubJunk Build” of PMS.

UMS was started by SubJunk, an official developer of PMS, in order to ensure greater stability and file-compatibility.

Because it is written in Java, Universal Media Server supports all major operating systems, with versions for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

The program streams or transcodes many different media formats with little or no configuration.

It is powered by MEncoder, FFmpeg, tsMuxeR, AviSynth, MediaInfo and more, which combine to offer support for a wide range of media formats.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

After small victory in stingray case, Chicago man seeks more records – After successfully getting the Chicago Police Department to hand over records showing that it purchased cell site simulator devices, also known as IMSI catchers or stingrays, one local activist has now filed a second lawsuit in an attempt to better understand precisely how the stingrays are actually used.

The new lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by Freddy Martinez, a 27-year-old Chicagoan who works in the software industry.

Martinez’ earlier lawsuit resulted in three pages of invoices, dated 2009, showing that the department purchased an AmberJack upgrade (a model of stingray) and a StingRay II upgrade. While “StingRay” is a trademarked name and particular product of the Harris Corporation, it has entered the technical lexicon as a generic term, like Kleenex or Xerox.

As a result of the CPD’s disclosure of these documents, the agency has now filed for a motion to dismiss in the first lawsuit, and the two sides are set to meet in a Chicago court room on Wednesday. Martinez and his attorney will continue to press for more documents to be released.

The new suit specifically asks for, among other records:

All court orders for any instances in which Chicago Police deployed IMSI Catchers

All formal or informal policies, procedures, orders, directives, or other such records that pertain to when, why, where, how, and by whom IMSI Catchers may be deployed

All records discussing the constitutionality of deploying IMSI Catchers

“The public has a right to know the extent to which the police are secretly taking information from their cell phones and whether their Constitutional rights are being protected in the process,” Matt Topic, Martinez’ lawyer, said in a statement. “The Chicago Police Department has refused to produce a single document that would show the extent this is happening and with what Constitutional safeguards. This plainly violates the Freedom of Information Act and raises serious Constitutional concerns.”

A court ruled that a swat raid on a barbershop was totally ridiculous – It’s heartening to read the 44-page decision, which sarcastically insults the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Department for launching absurdly over-the-top operations to check licenses of barbershops in the area. At one establishment, Strictly Skillz, about ten cops—some with their guns drawn and faces covered—stormed in looking for contraband. Police cuffed the shop owners and forcibly removed the customers, but found nothing illegal going on in the shop.

This bizarre use of heavy-handed tactics is not unique to Florida. Earlier this summer, several exotic dancers in San Diego filed a lawsuit after being allegedly mistreated by local police, whose excuse for detaining and photographing them was that they were checking identification. Last year, a 12-officer team raided an animal shelter in order to put down a baby deer. There are far too many examples to mention, but federal agencies in particular seem to have recently caught the raid first, question later bug.

With the Strictly Skillz court ruling, barbers can proceed with a lawsuit against the cops for violating their Fourth Amendment rights. But as the law blog Simple Justice noted, there are various complicating factors and technicalities involved (aren’t there always). The main one is that the court didn’t broadly decree that a SWAT-style raid in the service of checking licenses is unconstitutional, just that this particular one was excessive in its forcefulness.

So it might be a minor victory, but I’ll take it. This ruling combined with the Senate hearing on police militarization from earlier in the month should give some police-reform advocates hope. Could the US finally be tilting away from SWAT raids and prisons as the answer to every societal ill? If so, it’s a change that’s a long time coming—and it’ll be longer still until we see departments across the country actually change their behavior.

The New Offensive On Canadian Government Spying – As parliament resumes in Canada, privacy advocates OpenMedia are hoping to stir up renewed public debate in the country, about the role of its spy agency, CSEC, in government surveillance.

Vowing to “stop illegal spying,” the group just launched a new video campaign designed to stoke concern about the Communications Security Establishment Canada’s shadowy mandate. The group alleges that said mandate allows for spying that is “secretive, expensive, and out-of-control.”

“Canada’s national spy agency can collect and analyze your private communication data without a warrant,” the video warns.”This could include your phone calls, your email, your internet data, and even wherever you go with your phone.”

The video is another phase of the organization’s campaign to raise awareness and exert pressure on the government over warrantless bulk data collection.

With the return of the Conservative party’s cyber-snooping legislation, under the guise of Bill C-13, OpenMedia cobbled together the Protect Our Privacy coalition to push Canadians to voice their views.

The group includes the usual suspects of Amnesty International, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and a slew of unions. It also includes some unlikely partners like the right-leaning Canadian Taxpayer Federation, the National Firearms Association, and several media groups.

The wider campaign by OpenMedia and its partners signals a growing concern and public debate surrounding privacy issues—a similar public dialogue to the one that Americans underwent shortly after the Edward Snowden leaks.

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