Tag Archives: Android tablet

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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Bethesda Softworks

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–     Anonymous

Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 15, 2015

Net neutrality rules go into effect: what happens now;  Create dynamic 3D animated avatars with your smartphone;  How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide;  Windows 10: The only major OS still trying to squeeze a buck from consumers;  Google’s Free App of the Week Promo Focuses on Kids;  Consumer group says Apple’s iPads are slower than a Surface Pro 3 or a $150 Android tablet;  Five unusual Android launchers to spruce up your phone;  How to take better photos in low light;  The latest joy: Selfies with police officers giving you a ticket;  How MajorGeeks Protects You and Why We Do What We Do;  Even with a VPN, open Wi-Fi exposes users;  Staying safe on public Wi-Fi;  This Tech Stock Is Up 4200% in Less Than 2 Months;  Playing games on the PC is making a comeback;  7 Steam Summer Sale Tips Every Gamer Should Know;  Online-Only Shows You Need to Watch Now;  Twitter tells us in which state people hate their jobs the most.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Net neutrality rules go into effect: what happens now – The rules prohibit broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Internet traffic and from charging website owners and providers of Web-based services for prioritized traffic. The rules also reclassify broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated telecom-style service, although the FCC voted to exempt broadband providers from many of those common-carrier rules. Here are four things to watch for as the rules go into effect and the lawsuits go forward:

Texas teacher fired for ‘black segregation’ Facebook post about McKinney video – An elementary-school teacher goes on Facebook to declare “blacks are the problem.” She is the second educator this week to be removed from her job for a Facebook posting.

Consumer group says Apple’s iPads are slower than a Surface Pro 3 or a $150 Android tablet – A consumer group conducted a tablet performance test in which Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 was 20% faster than the iPad Air 2, and the iPad mini 3 was beaten by a supermarket’s low-cost Android tablet.

Chrome Should Soon Be Easier On Your Mac’s Battery – Chrome already got a new feature that can disable crappy Flash ads and win you back some battery cycles, but there’s more in the pipeline. Per senior Chrome engineer Peter Kasting outlining future steps on Google+, we’re going to see changes to the way Chrome handles rendering of background tabs (i.e., the ones you aren’t immediately looking at), and eking out some minor but important gains in the CPU efficiency of searching with Google. There’s a lot more going on, most of which is designed to help Chrome match or approach CPU efficiency found in Safari.

Hidden Chrome on Android features will improve your mobile browsing – Chrome has a lot of hidden features, some of which take a bit more digging to find. Jack Wallen highlights four such features that will help improve your Chrome on Android experience.

Create dynamic 3D animated avatars with your smartphone – The researchers report that this technology “facilitates a range of new applications in computer animation and consumer-level online communication based on personalized avatars.” Indeed, imagine going into one of BioWare’s or Bethesda’s character creators and having the ability to upload your 3D face. No longer would gamers spend hours fine-tuning their avatar. The researchers were even able to show how an actor could manipulate multiple 3D facial renders in real-time.

The latest joy: Selfies with police officers giving you a ticket – In Sri Lanka, there’s a curious new selfie trend, one the world shouldn’t miss. And police say they like it.

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The selfie that apparently started it all. Dhada Selfie/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Windows 10: The only major OS still trying to squeeze a buck from consumers – Putting a monetary obstacle in the way of people who want to jump to Windows 10 hampers Microsoft’s vision for a service-centric, cloud-connected future for Windows. Consumers also love getting stuff for free.

How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide – The world of Linux is ready to welcome you, with a shower of free open-source software you can use on any PC: hundreds of active Linux distributions, and dozens of different desktop environments you could run on them. It’s a far cry from the one-size-fits-all, this-is-just-what-comes-with-your-PC vision of Windows. Everything from software installation to hardware drivers works differently on Linux, though, which can be daunting. Take heart—you don’t even need to install Linux on your PC to get started. Here’s everything you need to know.

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Linux Mint’s system settings.

Google’s Free App of the Week Promo Focuses on Kids – According to reports, Google’s new free app giveaway is limited to a weekly timeframe—or “free app of the week,” if you prefer the traditional phrasing. And it’s not just any ol’ Android app that’s getting the special, cheaper treatment. The free app of the week promotion only seems to apply to apps within Google’s recently launched Family section of the Google Play store—at least, right now. It’s unclear whether Google will be branching the promotion out to additional categories, or whether this free app release promotion is just timed to take advantage of the new Family section’s launch.

Five unusual Android launchers to spruce up your phone – One of the benefits of Android’s openness is that many of its parts can be replaced by third party apps and services. One of those parts is the homescree and app launcher, the very first piece of software the user meets when using their smartphone. After the lock screen, of course. You might have heard of launchers like Nova, Apex, Go, or even Google’s own Google Now, but here are five more that you won’t usually read about in the news unless they have a major update or release.

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The seven “Prime Directives” of repairing and upgrading tech – Over the years I’ve built up a set of rules that I keep in mind when fixing things. I call them the “Prime Directives,” not because I’m a huge Star Trek fan, but because they’re important, and bad things tend to happen when I violate them.

Twitter Serving Up Ads Based on the Apps You Install – The tool “enables app advertisers to reach users based on the categories of apps they have installed on their device, or in which we think they have interest,” Twitter product manager Deepak Rao wrote in a blog post. “One of the biggest priorities for mobile app marketers is to reach the people who are most likely to use and love their apps. Today’s launch is the next step in our journey to help these advertisers connect with the right customers on Twitter – while providing users with the most relevant and useful ad content.” As Re/code noted, Twitter first announced plans for this in November, and is rolling it out now.

How to take better photos in low light – Low-light photography doesn’t always mean taking photos at night. There are plenty of situations where your eyes may be able to adjust to lower light easily, such as in a restaurant, but your camera has trouble seeing as well as you do. Wherever you may be, taking images in low light doesn’t have to be tricky. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making photos in challenging lighting conditions.

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The original image on the left lost a lot of detail in the shadows. By shooting raw, you can recover much of this lost detail with a simple slider and end up with the photo on the right. Lexy Savvides/CNET

Facebook’s SSD findings: Failure, fatigue and the data center – ​SSDs revolutionized data storage, even though we know little about how well they work. Now researchers at Facebook and Carnegie-Mellon share millions of hours of SSD experience

Security:

How MajorGeeks Protects You and Why We Do What We Do – There have been some articles written lately about download sites and we’d like to take a minute to respond to some of what we have been reading. Sites like HowToGeek wrote an article here that was actually very kind to MajorGeeks considering what and who we are up against. So, let us fill you in on how things work differently at MajorGeeks.

Pointing up    MajorGeeks has been my recommended download site for many years precisely because of the issues raised in this article.

US officials reveal second massive hack: security clearance forms grabbed – The recent hack of government data, at least according to those who know of the matter, is far worse than previously revealed. At least 4 million people were comprised, it was originally reported, but a recent letter to the OPM indicated that every single federal employee might have had some data stolen, including former federal workers. Now a second hack has been disclosed by sources, and it is said to have involved the theft of data related to intelligence employees and military personnel.

Even with a VPN, open Wi-Fi exposes users – By now, any sentient IT person knows the perils of open Wi-Fi. Those free connections in cafes and hotels don’t encrypt network traffic, so others on the network can read your traffic and possibly hijack your sessions. But one of the main solutions to this problem has a hole in it that isn’t widely appreciated. This gap in coverage may only be a matter of seconds, but that’s enough to expose valuable information like logon credentials. Try running a network monitoring tool like Microsoft’s TCPView for Windows or Little Snitch for Mac before you establish your Internet connection and see what happens in those first few seconds. The information may be protected by encryption, but it can carry details about your system configuration that could be used to identify it—or provide clues for an attacker.

Staying safe on public Wi-Fi – Stuck without a data connection on the road? Free public Wi-Fi is one of those little luxuries that can make travelling easier, but you do need to exercise caution in how you use it. Here are some tips on what to look out for when using public Wi-Fi, whether you use a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

US Navy is looking to buy zero-day and other exploits online – It’s no secret that security researchers and cyber criminals often buy and sell exploits online. Researchers usually sell their findings back to companies in bug-bounty programs, while criminals usually sell their knowledge to other criminals who can then exploit the unpatched vulnerability. But there’s also a third kind of exploit buyer out there, and that’s governments, who use these exploits for their own cyber-attacks. That’s seemingly the case here, where the US Navy actually posted an ad saying they were buying exploits found in popular software.

Company News:

This Tech Stock Is Up 4200% in Less Than 2 Months – The stock of a Chinese technology company has risen just over 4,200% since it went public just 56 days ago. The amazing run, Bloomberg notes, is equivalent to the past 11 years of gains in Apple’s shares. It also gives the company, Beijing Baofeng Technology Co., an almost unbelievable valuation of 715 times earnings. That’s 46 times Apple’s P/E of 15. Janus Capital’s Bill Gross, a legendary bond investor, recently said that the technology-heavy Shenzhen market, where Beijing Baofeng is listed, would be a great trade for short-sellers, who bet that shares will go down.

Rough sailing ahead for Twitter after CEO’s departure – Can Twitter finally give Wall Street what it wants now that its embattled CEO Dick Costolo is stepping aside after months of disappointing investors? While tech’s other heavy hitters, including Facebook — with nearly a billion more users than Twitter — and Google, constantly tinker to improve their products, Twitter ‘s momentum has stalled, some analysts believe.

After years of silence, Amazon releases first transparency report – Despite it being known best for its online retail business, its cloud services power millions of apps, sites, and services around the world. But the news couldn’t come soon enough. Amazon is the last major technology company in the Fortune 500 to disclose how many times governments have come knocking on its door, demanding customer and user data. Amazon, known by insiders for being notoriously secretive, was at no point under a legal obligation to report its numbers, but had faced mounting pressure in the face of transparency reports becoming an industry norm. Schmidt said the report, which covers the six months starting January 1 and ending May 31, will be released biannually.

By the numbers:

Amazon received 813 subpoenas, of which it fully complied with 66 percent;

Amazon received 35 search warrants, of which it fully complied with just over half;

Out of the other 13 other court orders it received, Amazon fully complied with just four;

Amazon received 132 foreign requests, of which it fully complied with 82 percent;

Amazon complied with the one removal orders (like user data) it received

Amazon disclosed that it had received between zero and 249 national security requests, such as a court order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Alibaba to launch Netflix-like streaming service in China – Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba has announced its plans to create its own media streaming platform. Alibaba will be calling the new platform TBO, Tmall Box Office. TBO will run licensed domestic content from China was well as foreign content. The service even has plans to create its own in-house programs, as Netflix did with House of Cards. Competition is heating up as Chinese companies are in a bit of a spending war with each other, trying to gain market share in the emerging market of media streaming technology.

This Country Is Logging Almost 1M Uber Trips Per Day – Uber has expanded rapidly in recent years, but like many tech companies, its main focus in the years to come will be China, according to a leaked letter from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to investors. Uber is available in 11 Chinese cities, which cover about 14 million people who are taking almost 1 million trips per day.

Uber to invest over $1B in China, expand to 50 more cities – In a letter to investors, CEO Travis Kalanick calls the ride-hailing service’s growth in the country “remarkable and unprecedented.”

With payroll in arrears, online antivirus seller shuts doors – The sudden shutdown of a computer tech support call center has left some of its employees wondering if they will be paid. EZ Tech Support, based in Portland, Oregon, took calls from people who had advertising software installed on their computers that warned of possible security and performance problems. The programs implored people to call the company’s number, which was displayed amid warnings.

Amazon to have select Prime items shipped from merchants – If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you may find many more items eligible for the service’s free two-day shipping option in the near future. That’s because the internet retailing giant is testing a program that has Prime items shipped directly from the independent merchants selling who sell them. Normally, only items sold directly by Amazon, or merchants’ items that are stored in Amazon’s warehouses, are eligible for the Prime two-day shipping option. This change benefit both customers and sellers.

Games and Entertainment:

Playing games on the PC is making a comeback – Video game consoles have long dominated the video game industry, offering a seemingly cheaper and more consistent experience. But not for long.

7 Steam Summer Sale Tips Every Gamer Should Know – It’s that time of year again. The Steam Summer Sale is back, and that means more than a week of constantly reloading the Steam store to see what games you can pick up for a few bucks each. It’s easy to go nuts during the sale, so here are some tips on how to get the most during the event.

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Look out, Twitch! YouTube Gaming is coming this summer – Launching this summer in the US and UK, gaming.youtube.com will be a portal just for games—bascially the “Twitch” portion of YouTube. There will be game pages for “over 25,000” titles showing info about the games and a list of streamers playing them. There will also be channel pages for streaming personalities and companies. Searches from gaming.youtube.com will be sectioned off from the rest of the site, too—YouTube’s blog post (which we received an advance copy of) says that “typing ‘call’ will show you Call of Duty and not Call Me Maybe.” And of course, there’s also chat.

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Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, Doom—Bethesda opens up with both barrels – We knew in advance that we’d be hearing more about Fallout 4 and Doom from Bethesda at their “E3 showcase” Sunday evening, but the best laid plans of mice and mutants gang aft agley—a brief technical mix-up the day before also told us that we’d be getting a look at Dishonored 2 as well. But there didn’t need to be any surprises—those three AAA games themselves were enough to warm any gamer’s heart. Especially if you like Fallout.

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Watch all the new footage of Doom from E3 – E3 2015 got off to a chainsaw-intensive start Sunday when Bethesda showed tons of footage from Doom, its forthcoming sequel to the genre-defining franchise. We took a long look of the single-player campaign that showed off many of the game’s best-loved weapons, including the shotgun, the rocket launcher, and (of course) the chainsaw. We also saw a glimpse of the multi-player campaign, which players will be able to mod heavily using a new tool called Snapmap. Check it out:

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The new Fallout mobile game, Fallout Shelter, is available right now – The creators of Fallout 4 have released a new mobile game associated with the Fallout franchise. In Fallout Shelter, you make your own nuclear shelter, or vault. As the overseer of said vault, you will then need to maintain the underground base, keeping your residents happy. The game has a 2D-animation look playing off the Pip-Boy characters of the Fallout series. The game looks like a cross between SimTower and the base management system in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The game is free on iOS tonight. It won’t have paywall timers and won’t require an internet connection to play.

Online-Only Shows You Need to Watch Now – Netflix isn’t alone in creating great TV that doesn’t require rabbit ears, cable (beyond the modem), or hell, even an actual TV. Streaming video has quickly become a natural setting for scripted drama and comedy. With Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Yahoo Screen, and more, you can watch at your own pace, or binge watch all at once.  The bottom line? You don’t need a TV to watch quality scripted television.

Off Topic (Sort of):

In the Future, Employees Won’t Exist – Contract work is becoming the new normal. Consider Uber: The ride-sharing startup has 160,000 contractors, but just 2,000 employees. That’s an astonishing ratio of 80 to 1. And when it comes to a focus on contract labor, Uber isn’t alone. Handy, Eaze and Luxe are just a few of the latest entrants into the “1099 Economy.” Though they get the most attention, it’s not just on-demand companies that employ significant contract workforces. Microsoft has nearly two-thirds as many contractors as full-time employees. Four trends are converging to make contracting more attractive for both employers and workers, and reshaping how businesses and employees look at the traditional full-time model.

Twitter tells us in which state people hate their jobs the most – Technically Incorrect: An analysis of an entire year’s tweets shows that there’s a geographical split between those who say they like their work and those who say they don’t.

Parrot unveils 13 new minidrones, including a drone-powered boat – Drones aren’t always huge and hugely expensive. Parrot has been selling a line of minidrones for the last few years, and today it has revealed 13 new ones. That’s not 13 individual types of drone, but 13 “versions” of three different types. There are new flying and rolling drones, as well as one that takes to the waves for the first time.

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1980s Amiga has been running the AC and heat in 19 schools for 30 years – The Grand Rapids Public School district took a big step into the future back in the 1980s when it used money from an energy bond to purchase a Commodore Amiga computer. The Amiga, which replaced a computer the size of a refrigerator, was set up to control heat and air conditioning at the district’s 19 schools. It has been doing that job tirelessly for the last 30 years. How long do you think you could keep a modern laptop working? Four or five years? Maybe? The Amiga uses an unusual 1200-bit modem and a wireless radio signal to communicate with the 19 buildings.

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Talk techie to me: RealDoll wants to make sex dolls that move, chat – RealDoll is reportedly working with robotics experts to make a more lifelike and unintentionally creepier love doll. Hopefully it won’t dump you for the Roomba.

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Something to think about:

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

–      Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

RogueKiller 

MajorGeek says: We don’t really need a review here. If you’re a tech, you know what this tool does and it’s already in your toolbox. For the rest of you, Roguekiller is a popular, effective tool to remove some stubborn malware but be warned; you better know what you’re doing. While a lot of more well-known tools will simply scan and delete for you, this tool will show you everything it finds that is a possible problem. You need to know what to remove and what not to remove. In the second screenshot below you will see where it found 7 potential PUP’s on a clean install of Windows 7. If someone told you to download this and you’re not a knowledgeable computer tech, run. Run as fast as you can and get a new ‘friend’. A program like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware would serve you better. I’m not knocking RogueKiller, it’s excellent; in the right hands. If you don’t believe me, simply read the comments below.

RogueKiller is an anti-malware program written in C++ and able to detect and remove generic malwares and some advanced threats such as rootkits, rogues, worms…

Based on generic ways to find malwares by their behaviour (heuristics), on classic anti-malware analysis (signature finding) and on undocumented hacks, RogueKiller can find/remove most of the basic malwares (rogues, trojans, …) and some advanced threats like ZeroAccess or TDSS that behave more like rootkits.

Here’s a little summary of what RogueKiller is able to do:

Kill malicious processes

Stop malicious services

Unload malicious DLLs from processes

Find/Kill malicious hidden processes

Find and remove malicious autostart entries, including :

1: Registry keys (RUN/RUNONCE, …)

2: Tasks Scheduler (1.0/2.0)

3: Startup folders

Find and remove registry hijacks, including :

1: Shell / Load entries

2: Extension association hijacks

3: DLL hijacks

4: Many, many others …

Read / Fix DNS Hijacks (DNS Fix button)

Read / Fix Proxy Hijacks (Proxy Fix button)

Read / Fix Hosts Hijacks (Hosts Fix button)

Restore shortcuts / files hidden by rogues of type “Fake HDD“

Read / Fix malicious Master Boot Record (MBR), even hidden behind rootkit

List / Fix SSDT – Shadow SSDT – IRP Hooks (Even with inline hooks)

Find and restore system files patched / faked by a rootkit

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Audio Switcher – Easily switch between ANY sound device on your Windows PC with this incredibly small and lightweight application. Using this application allows you to switch output OR input sound devices at the click of a button, or the press of a key.

Features:

Change Windows Default Audio devices without opening Control Panel

Full Global Hot Key support which allows you to change the default audio device with the press of a key

Favorite Devices – Only your “favorite” devices will show up in the Tray Icon Menu.

Quick switch: Click on the notification icon once and it will cycle through your favorited devices! Great if you have two devices you switch between often.

Settings support for closing to tray, starting minimized to tray and running at start up (using a registry key)

Optional: Periodically check for updates

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Russia and China cracked Snowden’s files, identified U.S., UK spies – Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies have reportedly decrypted files of former U.S. National Security Agency contractor and leaker Edward Snowden, and have identified British and U.S. secret agents.

MI6, the U.K.’s secret intelligence service, has withdrawn agents from overseas operations in hostile countries, according to a report in the Sunday Times of London, citing U.K. government officials and Western intelligence agencies.

The report contains some apparently contradictory information. Although The Sunday Times quoted a U.K. Home Office official saying that Snowden has “blood on his hands,” it also quoted a government source saying that there was no sign that agents have been hurt.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s aides, however, confirmed that Snowden’s files are in the hands of Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, according to the report.

Pointing up    It’s barely conceivable – just enough to shore up the convictions of the poorly informed. Just remember; liars lie. And, both the U. S. and the U. K. have proven to be A+++ liars in this matter.  Who would publicly admit that their very own ultra/ultra – secret/secret – futuristic/futuristic – encrypted/encrypted – impossible to break/impossible to break – encryption system is worthless?

More right wing extremist nonsense parroted by a mainstream media which continues to fail massively in it’s primary function – as it has for years.

Right to be forgotten applies to all Google domains, rules French privacy authority – Google must respect the European Union’s ‘right to be forgotten’ court ruling on all its sites, not just those it says target EU countries, the French data protection authority has ruled, giving the company 15 days to comply.

The French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) ordered Google to remove the affected search results on all its domains, including google.com, or face a fine of up to €300,000 (about $337,000). So far, Google has only removed such results from those of its sites it says target EU users, including google.fr or google.de. French residents need only click the “Use Google.com” link on the google.fr homepage to have access to unfiltered search results.

The dispute began over a year ago, when the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) gave people the right to request removal of search results for queries including their names, if the results are inadequate or irrelevant.

This means that E.U. residents who want to remove a search result displayed on a search of their name can ask a search engine to delist it. The search engine must review the request and grant it if the proper conditions are met. If the search engine does not comply, they can lodge a complaint with their local data protection authority.

Germany drops investigation into claims the NSA tapped Angela Merkel’s phone – The German government has dropped a formal investigation into allegations that the NSA had been tapping chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for several years. German federal prosecutor Harald Range said in a statement on Friday there was insufficient evidence to continue the investigation, The New York Times reports.

Back in 2013, German newspaper Der Spiegel ran a report claiming the US had been monitoring Merkel’s phone since 2002, based on internal NSA documents it had obtained. The White House responded by assuring Merkel she was no longer being monitored, but the report suggested the surveillance had gone on for more than a decade.

Range noted that while the NSA documents did contain a phone number that could be traced back to Merkel, there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest there had been an “authentic” order from the NSA to tap the phone. He also said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Merkel’s phone had actually been tapped.

What The U.K. Surveillance Powers Review Says On Encryption And Hacking – An independent review of U.K. surveillance powers conducted by QC David Anderson published its findings this week. Among its recommendations the report calls for judges to sign off interception warrants, and for a new law to govern surveillance powers — replacing the problematic patchwork of outdated and amended legislation that currently exists with stricter and more coherent oversight.

The report also supports continued use of “bulk data collection” (aka mass surveillance) by U.K. intelligence agencies — so long as “strict additional safeguards” oversee its usage and minimize privacy impacts.

Anderson writes:

…if the acceptable use of vast state powers is to be guaranteed, it cannot simply be by reference to the probity of its servants, the ingenuity of its enemies or current technical limitations on what it can do. Firm limits must also be written into law: not merely safeguards, but red lines that may not be crossed.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 15, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 28, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

prynt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–      Fyodor Dostoevsky

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

Features:

Synchronize: Synchronize files and folders, FTP

Backup: Backup of files and complete folders

Compare view: Control what will be synced in which direction

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

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

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

Limitations: Requires Microsoft .Net Framework installed.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 7, 2015

The top 10 Windows and Mac downloads for 2014;  Start here: the best apps for all your new devices;  Pono Player hands-on: believe the hype;  These 6 Apps Will Help You Tell Amazing Stories With Just Your iPhone;  Man tweets ‘joke’ that he hit cyclist, gets fired;  The first things you should do with that new Android phone;  Protecting yourself on social networks;  Microsoft makes its Office for Android tablet preview apps available to all;  How to save a webpage as a PDF or MHT file;  Razer Unveils Its $100 Android-Powered Gaming Console;  AOL halts malicious ads;  Travel safely with your tech;  Over 2,300 MS-DOS games now completely free to play at Internet Archive.

Plus 26 additional newsworthy items:

The top 10 Windows and Mac downloads for 2014 – You, Download.com nation, got more than 630 million apps from our site in 2014. So, what had you downloading in droves? In a word, security — and no surprise, since this year brought Heartbleed and Shellshock; credit card and personal info stolen from Home Depot, Target, and JPMorgan; celebrity iCloud photo hacks; and much more. If you haven’t updated your protection yet, read our take on the best security options for your needs. Many of you found utilities on our site to clean up your computers — another way to sweep for unwanted programs, as well as to free up hard drive space and improve system performance. Read on to see the year’s most-downloaded apps for Windows and Mac, as well as 2014’s most popular newcomers.

Microsoft makes its Office for Android tablet preview apps available to all – The Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint previews for your Android tablet are now available to download from the Google Play store, even if you don’t have an invite.

How much free storage space does your smartphone really have? – The box might say that your smartphone comes with 16 gigabytes, 32 gigabytes or whatever of storage space, but how much actual free storage space will you have on your shiny new smartphone?

Start here: the best apps for all your new devices – This year we’ve picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into below for the very best Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Kindle books, console games, and for your Mac and PC. They’re not the only ones you’ll ever need, but they’re enough to get you started.

Travel safely with your tech: How to prevent theft, loss and snooping on the road – When you travel, a whole fleet of electronics come with you. Smartphone and laptop are a given, but there’s a good chance you’re also toting a tablet, and maybe a cellular hotspot or dedicated GPS. All of them are juicy targets for bad guys. Here’s how to make sure your devices’ travels are just as safe as your own.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10: ISOs of new ‘consumer preview’ January build to be available at launch – Perhaps learning from previous feedback on the update process, Microsoft has listened and will be offering full ISOs alongside the next build update for Windows Insiders. It’s unclear when the next Windows 10 build will be pushed to the fast ring, or if it will in fact be called the ‘consumer preview’ but it’s likely to happen on or around January 21, which is when Microsoft will talk about the consumer features in Windows 10.

These 6 Apps Will Help You Tell Amazing Stories With Just Your iPhone – You’ve just come back from holiday vacation, and you’re looking for an easy way to share your incredible trip with all your friends. Sure, there’s Facebook and Instagram — but these six iPhone apps, recently highlighted by Apple, are purpose-built for the task and create beautiful-looking photo and video stories to boot.

How to save a webpage as a PDF or MHT file – You don’t need to be online to read a webpage. You can save one, with formatting and images, to local storage and read it later offline.

ZTE attacks US prepaid phone market with massive $200 phablet – ZTE sees big promise in the U.S. prepaid handset market, and is releasing a 6-inch smartphone with high-end specs, all for $200 when bought without a contract. The phone has a 6-inch high-definition display, 4G LTE connectivity, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 3200 mAh battery that will last an entire day, according to the company.

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Pono Player hands-on: believe the hype – It’s a true testament to the high-quality audio delivery of the Pono Player that we’re able to suggest that it’s all that it’s cut out to be at a tech convention. We’re at Showstoppers during CES 2015 and it’s loud – not deafeningly loud, but loud enough that it’s not an optimal environment for listening to tunes. This device delivers sound that’s next-level. With a pair of Sennheiser Momentum headphones plugged in, this music player brings a depth to music we simply did not expect. This device isn’t cheap. It’s going on sale on the 12th of January (that’s this next Monday) for $399. It’s also going to require that you purchase albums and individual music tracks direct from Pono. That’s also going to cost you around $25 per album – sometimes a few dollars more.

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Sony’s new Walkman: Impressive sound at an insane price – Sony’s new Walkman the ZX2 is designed to play high quality audio, but at $1,120 it’s not for the casual listener.

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How to install Microsoft fonts in Linux office suites – If you open a Microsoft Office document in LibreOffice or OpenOffice, you’ll need Microsoft’s fonts installed on your Linux system to see the documents as they were intended to look.

Facebook’s WhatsApp tallies 700M monthly active users – One of the world’s most popular mobile messaging services continues growth three months after Facebook acquisition.

Man tweets ‘joke’ that he hit cyclist, gets fired – Technically Incorrect: A UK stockbroker says that his tweet about hitting a cyclist with his car was merely a joke. Twitter users and his employers don’t find it funny.

You don’t need to back up Windows to the cloud – I love cloud-based data backup. It’s easy, automatic, and it stores your data far from your home or office. A single fire or flood can’t destroy both the PC and the backup. But to my mind, backing up Windows itself to the cloud doesn’t make sense. The advantages of online backup disappear when you have to restore Windows as well as your library data.

10 apps to swap – Not happy with your apps? Here are 10 you might want to exchange for another.

The first things you should do with that new Android phone – Tap in to Google’s services and some of the best Play Store options for getting the most out of that new device.

Security:

AOL halts malicious ads served by its advertising platform – AOL.com said Tuesday it has stopped malicious advertisements being served by its advertising platforms after being alerted by a security company. Cyphort, which specializes in detecting malware, found on Dec. 31 malicious ads being served on the U.S. and Canadian versions of the news site Huffington Post. The malicious advertisements redirected users to other websites that attacked their computers and tried to install malware, according to a blog post from Cyphort. Nick Bilogorskiy, [cq] Cyphort’s director of security research, said AOL.com was notified on Saturday and the attacks stopped on Monday. Cyphort’s logs showed the attacks started in late October.

Protecting yourself on social networks – We all love to spend time (some would say waste time) fooling around on Facebook, Twitter, and other services. We also use these sites for serious, professional reasons. But like almost everything else on the Internet, they’re inherently dangerous. Hackers can use social media to discover your private information and to deliver spam or malware. You can be stalked and bullied through social media. It can ruin your reputation, your career, and your life. So you need to protect yourself. Follow these rules and your online social life won’t become anti-social.

Take precautions when using public Wi-Fi networks – When you take your laptop to a library or café, you take a risk. But if you know what you’re doing, you can minimize that risk.

Company News:

FTC Closes Its Yelp Investigation Without Taking Action – One of the biggest and most influential review platforms in the world, Yelp has constantly been hit with claims that it manipulates reviews so its advertisers get higher rankings. This led to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in early 2014 after 2,045 complaints were filed against the company. Now Yelp says the FTC has closed its investigation into Yelp’s business practices and decided not to take action. This is the second time that the FTC has investigated Yelp’s business practices, with the first one also being closed without any further action.

Motorola will re-enter the Chinese market with a new smartphone, the Moto X Pro – Motorola is going back to the Chinese market in style with the Moto X Pro, a 6-inch smartphone with a Quad HD display, 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805, front-facing stereo speakers, a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 3,220 mAh battery pack. It’s basically the Nexus 6, though it will run pure Android without Google’s location services given that Google many of Google’s services are banned in China.

Report: Verizon may be planning to buy AOL – Verizon may be in the process of acquiring digital media company AOL, the Bloomberg news service has reported. Verizon is interested in AOL’s digital advertising unit, which it could incorporate into the mobile video service offered by its Verizon Wireless subsidiary, anonymous sources familiar with the talks told Bloomberg. As an alternative to an outright acquisition, the two companies may also be considering starting a joint venture that would bring the digital advertising capabilities to Verizon’s cellular network customers, according to the report.

Games and Entertainment:

Razer Unveils Its $100 Android-Powered Gaming Console, Razer Forge TV – The Razer Forge TV is a micro-console, 4×4 inches and selling for $100, and Razer hopes it will give the company three new routes into your living room: as a platform for hardcore PC gaming, for Android gaming, and for Android-based entertainment services via Google Play. The Razer Forge TV is due out in Q1. The Razer Forge TV has all the features you would expect from a gaming console aimed at serious gamers: designed for up to four simultaneous players, it has quad-core processing (Qualcomm Snapdragon 805; Quad-Core Krait 450 CPU – 2.5 GHz per core); a high-end graphics engine (Adreno 420 GPU — which had also made its debut around the last Google I/O); wireless and network connectivity; 16 GB of internal storage and 2 GB of RAM.

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Over 2,300 MS-DOS games now completely free to play at Internet Archive – In 2013, the Internet Archive kicked off a major effort to store and host hundreds of classic video games for free play via your Web browser, and after a late 2014 addition of classic arcade games, the site’s Software Library exploded over the final week of 2014 with its biggest update yet: 2,334 MS-DOS games, all playable through a standard browser. “Some of [the games] will still fall over and die,” longtime IA curator Jason Scott wrote on his personal blog when announcing the new game selection on Monday, but our cursory tests have shown off remarkably functional MS-DOS games in our web browser; they all run via the Em-DOSBOX emulator, an offshoot of the same emulator that powers many antiques sold at archival games sites like GOG.com.

Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition out on PS3 and PS Vita today – The PlayStation Blog has announced that the critically acclaimed first person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition will be available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita today.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The Internet of Things now has a gun – TrackingPoint is on hand at CES showing its new 338TP precision-guided firearm (pictured), which “allows even novice shooters to make mile-long shots with greater precision than the most skilled marksmen in the world — even on targets moving 30mph.” Look, I’m not trying to get into a discussion on gun rights or ethics or any of that. That isn’t my point. Right now, the Internet of Things is a technology story, but like all technological advancements it very quickly and necessarily becomes a culture story, a social story, and / or human story. This is just a reminder of the future ahead.

Pointing up   Nice! Putting automated killing – “allows even novice shooters to make mile-long shots with greater precision than the most skilled marksmen in the world — even on targets moving 30mph.” – into the hands of civilians. What could go wrong?

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Pointing up   But hey, American ingenuity has you covered.

Bulletproof baseball hat shields your noggin with casual style – The basic black BulletSafe hat is going for a $99 pledge. The project’s modest $3,500 funding goal has been exceeded to the tune of more than $8,300 with 20 days left to run. While the obvious market for the hat is with police and security professionals, some backers appear to be regular people who are concerned about safety in an increasingly unpredictable world. Another backer plans to wear the hat on the shooting range as an extra measure of protection.

Ford Has Big Plans For Autonomous Cars And The Future Of Driving – At its CES keynote today, Ford announced its Smart Mobility initiative, a set of 25 experiments ranging from big data analytics to a car swap service that let you swap your Mustang in for a minivan for the weekend. The company also talked about its plans for autonomous cars. Ford CEO Mark Fields noted four trends for the auto industry’s future: Increasing urbanization, and its constituent clogging of roads; a growing global middle class; air quality, or what you could call a lack thereof in many parts of the world; and finally, changing consumer sentiment, with shifts in the global economy seeing youths, for example, have different buying patterns than their parents.

FishBit Monitors Your Aquarium Health To Cut Down On Floaters – FishBit allows you to monitor your tank ecosystem, with the user providing info about tank capacity, fish makeup and more. Real-time notifications alert tank owners to problems, and the app allows them to actually take action via the connected power strip to turn on lights and activate other devices to respond to and address those issues.

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Google handled 345 million copyright takedowns in 2014 – Piracy news site TorrentFreak reports that Google removed 75 percent more URLs in 2014 than it did the previous year. Google doesn’t tally up annual totals, but it does release weekly reports on DMCA notices, and TorrentFreak took it upon itself to add up the weekly reports. Most of the takedown requests are honored. Google has a longstanding tradition of supplying DMCA takedown notices to Chilling Effects, a website that archives such requests.

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Google’s transparency report.

Watch Bill Gates drink water from human waste – Apparently it tastes delicious and could revolutionize sanitation in the poorest areas of the world. Gates isn’t one to shy away from good ideas, and his attention has also turned to the Janicki Bioenergy Omniprocessor. This machine takes in large quantities of untreated human waste and turns it into electricity, drinking water, and ash. You can see Bill Gates drinking the water it produces in the video below. A few minutes earlier that water was human waste.

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Something to think about:

“Follow the grain in your own wood.”

–      Howard Thurman

Today’s Free Downloads:

F-Secure Rescue CD – If your computer no longer starts due to malware corrupting the operating system, or you suspect the security software has been compromised, you can use the F-Secure Rescue CD to securely boot up the computer and check the programs installed.The Rescue CD can also be used for more advanced repair and data recovery operations.

The Rescue CD contains Knoppix (a derivative of Linux), an operating system that runs completely from the CD and allows access to your computer’s Windows operating system and hard disks.

Note: the Rescue CD cannot scan encrypted disks.

You can also download the Rescue CD updates to a USB drive (minimum 256 MB of free space) using a healthy computer with Internet access. You can use this USB drive to fix a computer that cannot connect to the Internet. Instructions on how to do this are included in the Rescue CD User’s Guide.

Prospector Lite – Automate your searching on eBay, Half and RSS feeds – one click to replay all your searches, another click to see the items listed since your last update. With Prospector, you can do this and more.

If you’re a power buyer, reseller or collector, Prospector will save you time and help you find the best items.

For long term searching, Prospector lets you:

Organize your searches and customize your results.

Encode your strategies, set up filters, and save everything for easy replay.

Search comprehensively and consistently, every time.

For short term searching, Prospector provides unique tools to help you uncover more items of interest.

Drastically reduce your search time. Find better faster. Prospector makes it easy!

Features:

Save and organize an unlimited number of searches.

Powerful filter options let you cut the noise.

See the search results as you like.

Customizable toolbar for short-term shopping and research.

Comparison shop across your favorite sites.

Automatic searches with email notification.

Add notes and highlighting, archive listings.

Hide items from future views.

Latest Listings feature lets you see the items listed between your search updates.

Extra search tools for casual browsing and discovery.

High productivity Watch lists.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Going postal: Reporter sues government for spying from USPS network – Sharyl Attkisson, the former CBS investigative reporter who published her claims of government intimidation, electronic surveillance, and cyber-attacks in a book last fall, has begun the process of taking the government to court over the hacking of her personal and work computers, as well as her home network.

In the process, Attkisson’s attorneys have begun to reveal the details of forensic investigations by computer security experts. In legal filings against the government, the attorneys disclosed which government agency’s network was the source of at least some of the hacks: the US Postal Service.

In an administrative claim filed on January 5­ under the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act and a complaint filed with the District of Columbia Superior Court, Attkisson’s attorneys gave an initial summary of their accusations against the US Justice Department, which they claim directed the surveillance of Attkisson as part of an ongoing Obama administration campaign against journalists and government employees acting as their confidential sources. Attkisson and her family have named outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, and “unknown named agents” of the Department of Justice and US Postal Service as defendants in the suit, seeking damages that could total approximately $35 million.

Ex-Microsoft Bug Bounty dev forced to decrypt laptop for Paris airport official – Paris airport security went one step further than simply asking a security expert to power up her laptop – they requested she type in her password to decrypt her hard drive and log into the machine.

Katie Moussouris, chief policy officer at HackerOne, and best known as the woman behind Microsoft’s Bug Bounty Program, was en route back to the US from the CCC hacking conference. She complied with the request in order not to miss her flight.

The computer never left her possession and the security agent never fully explained the request, according to Moussouris, and there’s no question that HackerOne customers’ vulnerability reports were exposed – no exploits were stored on the device.

Nonetheless, the incident at Charles de Gaulle airport has sparked a lively debate among privacy and security advocates. Moussouris has put together a blog post explaining her experience:

With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalizing Online Speech – On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “desperately sad day for our country.” A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK’s soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell:

The following day, Ahmed was arrested and “charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.” The police spokesman explained that “he didn’t make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.” The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted “of sending a grossly offensive communication,” fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.

As demonstrators demanded he be imprisoned, the judge who sentenced Ahmed pronounced his opinions “beyond the pale of what’s tolerable in our society,” ruling: “I’m satisfied that the message was grossly offensive.” The Independent‘s Jerome Taylor noted that he “escaped jail partially because he quickly took down his unpleasant posting and tried to apologize to those he offended.” Apparently, heretics may be partially redeemed if they publicly renounce their heresies.

Criminal cases for online political speech are now commonplace in the UK, notorious for its hostility to basic free speech and press rights. As The Independent‘s James Bloodworth reported last week, “around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online.”

‘We see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border,’ says Homeland Security – For eight years, the US Border Patrol has been using military Predator drones to keep an eye on the US-Mexico border — but a new report from the Department of Homeland security suggests it may not have been worth the trouble. The report, first dug up by Cyrus Farivar at Ars Technica, takes a skeptical look at the cost of flying the drone missions, and finds no plausible metric to justify the expense.

The Border Patrol had been hoping for an additional $443 million to expand the program, but the report puts that request in serious jeopardy. “We see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border,” said DHS Inspector General John Roth in a statement, “and there is no reason to invest additional taxpayer funds at this time.”

FTC chair worries about IoT privacy in CES speech – US Federal Trade Commission chair Edith Ramirez has used CES 2015 to explore the downside of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The IoT could improve global health, modernize city infrastructures, and spur global economic growth,” Ramirez said in a speech (PDF) at the gadget-fest, before adding “Connected devices that provide increased convenience and improve health services are also collecting, transmitting, storing, and often sharing vast amounts of consumer data, some of it highly personal, thereby creating a number of privacy risks.”

Ramirez worries that “The introduction of sensors and devices into currently intimate spaces … allows those with access to the data to perform analyses that would not be possible with less rich data sets, providing the ability to make additional sensitive inferences and compile even more detailed profiles of consumer behavior.”

She’s also concerned that data from IoT devices could “be used in ways that are inconsistent with consumers’ expectations or relationship with a company”, such as offering different grades of service and different products to punters based on profiling. Garden-variety p0wnage is also on her mind, especially because of the sensitivity of personal data.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 7, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 7, 2014

Microsoft’s next surprise is free Office for iPad, iPhone, and Android;  British Spies Are Free to Target Lawyers and Journalists;  Wiper app now lets you make free encrypted calls;  10 Great Tech Gifts Under $50;  50 resources for using an iPad, Android tablet in class;  This Easy iPhone Trick Will Save You Tons of Photo Space;  A Gentleman’s Guide to Not Being a Total Slob;  Home Depot Hackers Also Snagged 53 Million Customer Email Addresses;  These 3 Smartphone Apps Tell You When to Have Sex;  Microsoft warns of super-sized Patch Tuesday next week;  Australians at risk of IS cyber attacks;  Windows 10 will have four patches released on Tuesday;  Apple blocks WireLurker iPhone malware apps;  Showtime to join HBO, will stream content in 2015;  Where Did Soul-Sucking Office-Speak Come From? 11 deliciously old-school PC games that ooze retro appeal;  USB Image Tool (free).

Google and Mozilla told to limit browser’s ability to watch users – Researchers warn that web sites and apps communicating via WebRTC may have broader access to computer microphones and cameras than users realise.

Microsoft’s next surprise is free Office for iPad, iPhone, and Android – Microsoft’s Office suite for iPad, iPhone, and Android is now free. In a surprise move, the software giant is shaking up its mobile Office strategy to keep consumers hooked to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. Starting today, you’ll no longer need an Office 365 subscription to edit documents or store them in the cloud. The move comes just days after Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with Dropbox to integrate the cloud storage service into Office across desktop, mobile, and the web. You can now download Office for iPad and store all your documents on Dropbox without paying Microsoft anything at all. Microsoft is also releasing a brand new iPhone app today, alongside a preview of Office for Android tablets, all with Dropbox integration.

Wiper app now lets you make free encrypted calls – Secure messaging is a big deal to many, with ephemeral services like Snapchat a popular choice. Still, that service has been violated many times, leading some to search for a new path forward. The last time we talked about Wiper, the service was new, and pretty amazing. For a messaging platform, the encrypted app-to-app pipeline and ability to clear the chat on both ends is special. The company has recently released version 2.0 of their app, bringing the encrypted platform full circle.

Battery-Draining Bug Delays Android Lollipop Rollout – Battery-draining bugs have reportedly delayed the full rollout of Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop. The next-gen operating system launched on Monday with the Nexus 9 tablet, and was expected to hit the Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play Edition devices shortly thereafter. But thus far, Nexus owners are still waiting. Some reports are pointing the finger at a problem with the beta version of Lollipop on Nexus 5 that caused a severe battery-drain issue.

Odysee Automatically Saves Your Mobile Photos And Videos To Your Home PC – A new application launching today called Odysee offers a different way for consumers to back up photos and videos from their smartphones. Instead of backing up to the cloud, which can be both pricey and sometimes even insecure, with Odysee, content is backed up to your home computer. For free! Well, it’s free until next year when the $5/year pricing plan kicks in.

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50 resources for using an iPad, Android tablet in class – Summary: Seeking tips for using mobile devices in class? Check out these articles, how-to guides and tutorials.

10 Great Tech Gifts Under $50 – You’re not a fancy pants! And that’s okay! So, when it comes to buying gifts for your non-fancy-panted social circle, there’s no reason to go super nuts. When it comes to tech gifts, there’s a number of very cool (but also very affordable) items that will keep your peoples connected and modern.

Getting started with the new Google Maps – In July of this year, Google added voice commands and elevation information to the Maps app, but the design remained the same. This time, the update to version 9.0 — rolling out over the next few days — brings you a Material interface (for Android Lollipop), and a couple of new features. These new Maps features include the ability to make restaurant reservations, and also how to find the quickest and cheapest commute with the help of Uber. Here’s how to use each:

This Easy iPhone Trick Will Save You Tons of Photo Space – We’ve all been there: Running low on iPhone storage space, scrambling to delete photos we can live without to record new memories. Well, Apple’s newest iOS update gave us a handy new way to get more storage out of our iPhones without upgrading the hardware.

Xamarin offers free app-building tools to students – Xamarin has launched a new program designed to get its popular mobile app building platform into the hands of America’s students, because children are our future or something like that. Xamarin’s platform theoretically makes it fly-simple to write an app once in C# and quickly and easily adapt it for Macs, PCs, iPhones and Android devices, with 90% of the work already done for you. That last 10% of custom work is what makes it feel like a native app, which is a huge differentiator when building for mobile.

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Mobile app development platform Xamarin now includes a free offering for students.

Not everyone needs to learn to code – Many are suggesting that everyone learn computer programming, and that coding be a core component of our educational system. Here’s a more measured approach.

Pointing up     What a terrific idea – teaching computer programing to students who can barely read and write! The need to focus on core education continually gets lost in utopian nonsense, such as this, pushed out as reality.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Not Being a Total Slob – Style: not everyone has it. But just because your fashion sense leaves something to be desired doesn’t mean all hope is lost. You don’t have to max out your credit card at Barney’s or hire a personal shopper. With the help of a few choice apps you can get the basics of selecting outfits, grooming, and how to handle a few life emergencies smoothly.

These 3 Smartphone Apps Tell You When to Have Sex – A small fluorescent object in your pocket tells you when to have sex in order to create children. It may sound like a dystopian future a la Aldous Huxley, but it’s actually a helpful way of figuring out when to have sex in order to conceive.

Security:

Home Depot Hackers Also Snagged 53 Million Customer Email Addresses – Remember that Home Depot hack? The one where 56 million credit cards were stolen? Of course you do. Hell — if you’re anything like me, you’re probably still in the middle of updating your various accounts to point to the replacement credit card. Alas, things are a bit worse than previously believed.

Australians at risk of IS cyber attacks – Australia has flown 144 sorties on Islamic State extremists, but it’s believed IS had already struck first, launching a cyber-missile on Australian computer systems. It’s thought the Middle Eastern extremist group is now holding computers, and not just people, hostage. Detected by international cyber-crime company checkpoint ThreatCloud, the Cryptolocker attack was created by the Syrian electronic army – with the beneficiary IS. But it’s not clear how IS got the hack program from their sworn enemies.

Microsoft warns of super-sized Patch Tuesday next week – It’s getting close to security update time in Redmond yet again, and Microsoft has given notice that Windows and Office users can expect another nice, big pile of fixes on November’s Patch Tuesday. The software giant gave advance notice of no less than 16 security bulletins to be addressed on November 11, five of which have been flagged as “critical.” Nine more are marked as “important” and the remaining two are considered “moderate” risks.

Windows 10 will have four patches released on Tuesday – On Tuesday of next week, Microsoft will push out four patches that will apply to the Windows 10 technical preview and it is advised that you install these items to keep your machine secure.

Hackers use DRAFT emails as dead-drops for running malware – Sneaky hackers are using Gmail and Yahoo! drafts to control compromised devices, with the tactic designed to make detection of malware-related communications more difficult to pick up in enterprise environments. Attacks occur in two phases. Hackers first infect a targeted machine via simple malware that installs Python onto the device, enabling simple attack scripts to run. Using Gmail (or Yahoo! Mail), hackers then use draft emails to run command and control prompts on these compromised systems, allowing them to siphon data from infected devices.

Apple blocks WireLurker iPhone malware apps – Apple has blocked the suspect apps behind the WireLurker malware discovered targeting iPhone users in China, effectively minimizing the likelihood of casual infections. The exploit made headlines yesterday for its supposed virulence, watching out for iOS devices being connected to compromised Macs and then grabbing data from them. According to Apple, however, the issue has already been addressed for the most part, while a little common-sense could prevent anyone still at risk from succumbing.

Cisco patches serious vulnerabilities in small business RV Series routers – Cisco Systems released patches for its small business RV Series routers and firewalls to address vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to execute arbitrary commands and overwrite files on the vulnerable devices. The affected products are Cisco RV120W Wireless-N VPN Firewall, Cisco RV180 VPN Router, Cisco RV180W Wireless-N Multifunction VPN Router, and Cisco RV220W Wireless Network Security Firewall. However, firmware updates have been released only for the first three models, while the fixes for Cisco RV220W are expected later this month.

Google digs deep in the world of manual hijacking – In Google’s study, the firm gets up close and personal with hijackers that target not businesses, not governments, but you.

Company News:

Twitter Will Open Hong Kong Office To Target Advertisers – In Asia, Twitter is up against rivals like Sina Weibo and the ubiquity of messaging apps like Line, WhatsApp, and WeChat. But the region is still an important one for the microblogging platform, a point it underscored today by announcing plans to establish an office in Hong Kong. Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific, the Americas, and emerging markets, Shailesh Rao, told WSJ that the office, which will open in early 2015, will focus on selling advertising to companies based in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Lenovo’s 2014 Q2 saw upswing in profits, new record – Lenovo’s second quarter financial report is in, and in it we see profits on the upswing, with the company hitting a 7-percent revenue increase over the same quarter last year. With its numbers, Lenovo managed to take top slot in the PC+Tablet category and saw a record number of shipments across its tablets, PCs, and smartphone at 35.6 million units. Said Lenovo’s CEO and Chairman Yuanqing Yang on the company’s new #1 slot, “In May, we set this as a two year goal, but achieved it in two quarters.”

AOL Q3 Beats The Street On Sales Of $626.8M, Falls Short On Income Of $121.8M – AOL this morning reported its earnings for Q3, a mixed result that saw it beating estimates on sales but only matching on earnings, and missing on operating income (OIBDA) as the company continues with its turnaround strategy based around more savvy ad technology in the face of Google domination of market share, and display sales, and works through sales declines as a result of shuttered brands like Patch. AOL Platforms, where its ad tech business resides, was actually the only division that saw a rise in revenues over a year ago, up 44 percent. The company reported revenues of $626.8 million, EPS of $0.52 and adjusted operating income of $121.8 million. Analysts were expecting sales of $623 million, EPS of $0.52 and OIBDA of $125 million.

Games and Entertainment:

Halo’s 20GB day-one patch reduced to a still huge 15GB download – Last month developer 343 Industries issued an apology relating to Halo: Master Chief Collection, which is due for release on November 11 for the Xbox One. The apology was warranted because anyone choosing to purchase the game was also committing to a 20GB day one content update. The good news is that 343 has managed to shave 5GB off the size of the download. That still means it’s big at 15GB, but the reduction could shave an hour or two off the download time depending on your connection speed.

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Showtime to join HBO, will stream content in 2015 – The promise of HBO without a cable subscription has many excited for what’s on the horizon for non-cable TV service. Not to be outdone, CBS is now saying Showtime will join the streaming fracas in 2015. In the company’s third quarter earning’s call, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves was more than on the fence about Showtime’s streaming-sans-cable aspirations in 2015, saying it’s “fairly definitive”. In the hopes we won’t take it lightly, Moonves also called what’s coming “over the top”.

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How the Hell Did NFL Blitz Ever Get Made? – NFL Blitz’s gameplay started with the words “Deadly long-range passes. Linebackers without conscience. A wretched assault on the senses of fair play. No refs, no rules, no mercy.” This is the story of the most violent football game ever made.

Call of Duty didn’t kill Titanfall: it was already dead – It’s an absolute tragedy, the number of players that are playing Titanfall right this minute. It should be a good indicator that the game is in dire need of players that the game has been reduced to $19.99 for both PC and Xbox One – a good deal, by any measure. Unless you consider the possibility that you might not have enough players online to play the game. Is this Call of Duty’s fault? Not by a long shot. Attempting to find a game that wasn’t Attrition for the past several months (on PC, anyway) has been a mess.

Pixar is making ‘Toy Story 4’ – Toy Story is coming back for another installment, and original film director John Lasseter is on board to direct. The film will be released on June 16th, 2017. This is likely to be exciting, if trepidatious news for fans of Pixar and the series: Pixar has increasingly relied on sequels for big hits, while creating great new properties has been put on the back burner. It’s likely that Pixar’s move toward sequels is in part a result of being owned by Disney, which would rather see Pixar continue to mine its most successful properties — of which Toy Story is perhaps the biggest.

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11 deliciously old-school PC games that ooze retro appeal – What makes PC gaming glorious? Sure, the performance that’s possible only with a high-end graphics card in a roomy desktop is a big draw—“Can it run Crysis?” is a meme for a reason. But there’s also PC gaming’s willingness to embrace the classic gameplay of the consoles of yesteryear.

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Microsoft expands Upload to the web and Xbox 360 – The Upload feature found on the Xbox One is now available on the web and there’s even a new Xbox 360 app, which users can download to access all the uploaded gaming clips on Microsoft’s platform.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt will get 16 pieces of free DLC – The Witcher 3 will receive a hefty amount of downloadable content. Sixteen different pieces, to be exact. What is surprising is that 16 pieces of planned DLC for The Witcher 3 will be completely free. For everyone. Forever. It doesn’t matter which version of the game you purchase, or whether you pre-order, you’ll still get the same sixteen pieces of DLC. These aren’t all huge story-pieces of course, though I’d expect a few of those to be announced before this is over. Right now we’ve heard of four DLC bits: three costumes and a quest. In a joke at DLC’s expense, one of those costumes even includes the legendary horse armor of yore.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The Memory Hole Collects the 90s Home Movies That Were Too Weird for TV – The Memory Hole is a place of horror and wonder. When you’re inside the Hole it’s easy for minutes to turn into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into years. It’s a place where you can find a man blasting baloney with a homemade flamethrower, satan vacuuming the rug with his tongue, and a guy shooting a stack of pumpkins with a cannon. Also, toast.

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Screengrabs from the Memory Hole collection via their YouTube channel.

Facebook’s Ebola stand: Zuckerberg donates, wants you to also – The world’s biggest Social Network is getting pumped up about fighting Ebola. To do this, Mark Zuckerberg has released a video outlining how Facebook is teaming up with UNICEF to help provide people in affected and nearby countries by sharing information on Facebook. They’ll be helping people prevent, detect, and treat Ebola by providing internet connectivity in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Zuckerberg himself also donated $25 of his own dollars to fight Ebola while Facebook’s internet service will cost millions more.

Where Did Soul-Sucking Office-Speak Come From? – How did we get to the point where people are constantly spouting nonsense about “deliverables,” “drill-down,” “catch-up,” “moving forward,” and “quick wins”?

Scientists find young star with small planets orbiting – How did we come to encircle the sun? Why do we orbit as we do, and why are other planets circling the big orange globe with us? Those are questions we may understand to some degree, but a new finding may shed light on how it all really began. A young star has been discovered with some very small planets beginning to form around it, with their orbit already being decided. It may not be the birth of our universe, but it’s very similar.

Something to think about:

“And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make”

–      Paul McCartney

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinUtilities Free – WinUtilities is a multi-functional system performance and optimization suite for Microsoft Windows. This collection of tools lets you supercharge your PC’s performance, enhance its security, tweak and optimize its settings, and customize and personalize your screens.

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BeeDoctor – MajorGeek says: There are a lot of choices in all-in-one suites and here is the latest called BeeDoctor. It includes a cleaner, speedup tools, an uninstaller and optionally can download and install Avira Antivirus. At the time we reviewed this, the program is completely free, very simple to use and seems a bit more geared towards the casual user who has no interest in more advanced features like registry tinkering, monitoring, process and service management, startup and so on. As a new program, we expect to see more of these sort of tools added in later.

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USB Image Tool – USB Image Tool can create images of USB flash drives and MP3 players, that are mounted as USB drives. It allows you switch between images with different music styles on your MP3 Player or to make an exact backup image of your USB Stick.

Features:

create image files of USB flash drives

restore images of USB flash drives

compressed image file format

show USB device information

manage favorite USB images

command line utility

USB Image Tool works with any device, that implements the USB Mass Storage protocol. This includes flash drives, card readers and a lot of other devices, like digicams, cell phones and mobile music players.

USB Image Tool supports the globull secure mobile work environment.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Justice Department Wants Wider Hacking Authorities for the FBI – Privacy and technology groups are sounding the alarm on an obscure government rule with major implications for law enforcement hacking.

Hiding behind the nondescript title “Proposed Amendment to Rule 41″ of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure is a dangerous increase in authority for federal investigators to use invasive hacking techniques to spy on computers and access data, according to testimony submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and others to a regulatory panel in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

The rule change would allow law enforcement agents to get warrants to search and seize electronic materials from any jurisdiction, “if the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means” or in the case where a network of infected computers spreads across multiple districts.

“The likely effect would be for far more remote searches of far more machines,” said Joe Hall of the Center for Democracy and Technology. The ACLU described it as “a game changer in degrading online security [that] could green light systemic constitutional violations.”

British Spies Are Free to Target Lawyers and Journalists – British spies have been granted the authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged attorney-client communications, according to newly released documents.

On Thursday, a series of previously classified policies confirmed for the first time that the U.K.’s top surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters (pictured above) has advised its employees: “You may in principle target the communications of lawyers.”

The U.K.’s other major security and intelligence agencies—MI5 and MI6—have adopted similar policies, the documents show. The guidelines also appear to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in “sensitive professions” handling confidential information.

The documents were made public as a result of a legal case brought against the British government by Libyan families who allege that they were subjected to extraordinary rendition and torture in a joint British-American operation that took place in 2004. After revelations about mass surveillance from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden last year, the families launched another case alleging that their communications with lawyers at human rights group Reprieve may have been spied on by the government, hindering their ability to receive a fair trial.

In a statement on Thursday, Reprieve’s legal director Cori Crider said that the new disclosures raised “troubling implications for the whole British justice system” and questioned how frequently the government had used its spy powers for unfair advantage in court.

Why the Constitution Can Protect Passwords But Not Fingerprint Scans – Cellphone fingerprint passcodes weren’t on James Madison’s mind when he authored the Fifth Amendment, a constitutional protection with roots in preventing torture by barring self-incriminating testimonials in court cases.

Yet those tiny skin ridges we all share were at the heart of a Virginia court case last week in which a judge ruled that police, who suspected there was incriminating evidence on a suspect’s smartphone, could legally force the man to unlock his device with its fingerprint scanner. While the Fifth Amendment protects defendants from revealing their numeric passcodes, which would be considered a self-incriminating testimonial, biometrics like fingerprint scans fall outside the law’s scope.

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