Tag Archives: Apple Watch

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 8, 2015

How to use Google to sync all your passwords;  Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family;  Google needs to fix what ails Chrome;  Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  How to use your smartphone less and be happier;  Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you?  Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator;  Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft;  Stop the inbox insanity!  Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild;  Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off;   Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy;  You can now subscribe to Showtime online;  CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company;  Rdio launches new curated stations;  This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids;  PaperScan Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to use Google to sync all your passwords – Securely store your passwords with Google and forget about the need to pay for a password manager.

Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family – Users over the age of 50 have an especially difficult time keeping their identities and bank accounts safe, as they may find that all of the practical sense they have developed over the years to spot scams in real life just don’t translate on the internet. Scammers know how vulnerable older generations can be on the web, and they take advantage of unsuspecting victims everyday. This can cause stress not just for seniors, but also for their entire family unit. Younger generations may also be fearful of how vulnerable their parents or grandparents are to internet fraud.

Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you? – Android tablets and Chromebooks are taking on all sorts of overlapping forms. Here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the ever-expanding maze of options.

Say goodbye to the keyboard: Tablets are now the only work device for four in ten workers – Who needs a keyboard, anyway? Nearly half of workers are doing all their work on a tablet, a proportion that’s set to rise rapidly. According to research from analyst firm IDC, tablets are now 40 percent of business users’ only enterprise device, a figure that rises further when two-in-one hybrid devices are added into the mix. While the majority of tablet users in enterprises currently still have at least one other work device, such as a desktop PC or notebook, according to Marta Fiorentini, IDC senior research analyst, standalone tablets’ share is set to increase.

How to use your smartphone less and be happier – Nine hours. That’s how much time college students spend on their phones each day, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. It’s not entirely surprising. Whether you’re waiting in line for coffee or out “watching” fireworks overhead, it seems like everyone has their phone out in some capacity. It’s as if we prefer the confines of a pocketable screen with the world only in peripheral. So let’s learn to be healthier about our smartphone habits — here are 10 tricks to help with that.

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? – The days of Windows being a system hog are gone. So modest are the requirements for Windows 10, you may be able to run it on machines that shipped with Windows Vista eight years ago. But just how low can Windows 10 go when it comes to PC specs? Since Microsoft released the OS for testing last year people have been loading Windows 10 onto hardware dating back to 2003 – eons ago on the PC refresh timescale. Here are the low-end and long-in-the-tooth machines that proved capable of running Windows 10.

Stop the inbox insanity! These 4 email managers can sort, organize, and delete for you – Email managers let you weed out junk mail, triage messages, and turn them into tasks.

Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy – Jumping from a multi-display desktop setup to a laptop can be a bit of a letdown, particularly if you’re rocking more than two displays. Fortunately, someone’s working on a way to double or triple your mobile screen space. The product is called Sliden’Joy, and it can clip a second and third display onto your laptop’s existing display. Or third and fourth, if you happen to be one of the select few who plunked down big bucks for a dual-screen laptop. Their pixel-packing panels come in three different sizes: 13, 15, and 17 inches. Sliden’Joy will come in several different finishes, too, so there ought to be one that’s a good fit for your notebook of choice. A single display (presumably the 13-incher) will run €199 (about $220), while dual-display packs start at €299 (about $330).

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Hooks, The App That Lets You Get A Notification For Almost Anything, Lands On Android And Apple Watch – Hooks, the app that sends you push notifications triggered by things that are important to you, has a new version for Android, as well as the now almost obligatory Apple Watch app. Previously, the latest version of Hooks was iOS only. Apple’s smartwatch platform seems particularly suited to a service that lets you pick from 100 or so ‘channels’, consisting of 1 million-plus user created alerts, to keep you updated on anything from the latest tweet, news article or sports score, or something more specific such as a change in stock price or the current bitcoin exchange rate.

Rdio launches new curated stations, brings them to more countries – Rdio has already offered curated stations in the United States, Canada, and UK, but now users can listen in from Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. A major perk of Apple’s Beats 1 station is its widespread availability, and this seems to be Rdio’s answer to that.

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Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – I go through phases with my writing. Sometimes I feel like every second sentence needs to start with “but,” then I start using “however,” which becomes “nevertheless,” and on and on it goes until the bad habit stops. For times like those, it’s handy to use a word frequency tool to understand how often I’m using problem words. Here are two ways to get that done. One is easy and the other is a little advanced.

Tinder clone for Apple Watch uses heartbeat to determine matches – Imagine an alternate way of using dating app Tinder, where instead of looking at profiles on your smartphone and swiping right or left, you simply glance at your Apple Watch and the app know if you’re attracted to someone based on your heart-rate changes. That’s the idea behind design agency T3’s concept “Hands-free Tinder.” T3 built its app with the use of Apple’s recently released Watch SDK for detecting a user’s heartbeat. They claim to be releasing the app “soon,” but unless it’s really a cooperation with Tinder, a name change seems likely.

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Google needs to fix what ails Chrome – Google Chrome has been (and still is) the single most popular browser on the planet. But recent issues with memory usage and stability have caused trust in Google’s go-to tool to wane.

Security:

Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild – Researchers sifting through the confidential material stolen from spyware developer Hacking Team have already uncovered a weaponized exploit for a currently unpatched vulnerability in Adobe Flash, and they also may have uncovered attack code targeting Microsoft Windows and a hardened Linux module known as SELinux. The exploits can be used to surreptitiously install Hacking Team surveillance software, or other types of malware, on vulnerable computers with little or no indication anything is amiss. If the exploits leaked from the colossal Hacking Team breach are limited to two or three unpatched vulnerabilities in Flash, Windows, and SELinux, the resulting damage will be much less severe than it might have been. Still, with 400 gigabytes of data to digest, there may yet be other surprises to find.

Hacking Team used shockingly bad passwords – One of the biggest hacks of the year — not just in scope and size, but impact — is over. As reporters and interested parties sift through the debris of the attack that left Hacking Team crippled, a big question remains. How was someone able to walk in and swipe what appears to be the company’s entire cache of corporate data? The company used weak passwords.

Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator – Palo Alto Networks found three variants of the malware, which it calls Gunpoder, masquerading as emulator applications used to play Nintendo games. Gunpoder apps can do a variety of invasive actions, including collecting bookmarks and browser histories, sending itself to other people over SMS, showing fraudulent advertisements and executing other code. And users get to pay for that data-stealing capability. When a Gunpoder app is launched, it asks users to buy a lifelong license for the emulator for US$0.20 or $0.49, payable through PayPal or Skrill.

Antivirus maker Avira is building a secure web browser – From the department of straightforward naming comes Avira Browser. Like most of the new custom browsers you’ve seen pop up, it’s based on Google’s open source Chromium code. That means it looks and functions very much like Chrome (for better or worse). Want to see what Avira Browser is all about? It’s currently a beta app, and unfortunately it’s not as easy to try as clicking a download link. You’ve got to create an account on Avira’s beta site, verify your email, and then apply to the Avira Browser beta. If you’re thought to be a worthy test pilot, they’ll send a link your way in a few days.

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Lizard Squad hacker draws suspended sentence for online attacks – A teenager who is apparently a member of the Lizard Squad hacker group has received a two-year suspended sentence in Finland in connection with various cybercrimes including attacks against U.S. university servers. The seventeen-year-old, known as “Zeekill” and “Ryan,” was charged with 50,700 counts of hacking and other offenses including credit card fraud, according to a Lizard Squad Twitter account and Finnish news reports. In a Twitter post, Lizard Squad gloated that “Zeekill got a suspended sentence for 2 years. 0 time spent in prison.”

Company News:

Samsung Electronic’s Earnings Guidance Points To Another Disappointing Quarter – Another quarter, another lackluster earnings guidance from Samsung Electronics. Heralded as Apple’s arch rival in “The Great Smartphone War” just two years ago, Samsung’s performance has declined as competition from a bevy of other Android makers cuts into its market share. The company said today that its Q2 2015 earnings will likely miss expectations. Its operating profit is expected to be 6.9 trillion won (about $6.13 billion), a four percent decline from a year ago, and below analysts’ expectations for 7.2 trillion won. Consolidated sales slipped eight percent to 48 trillion won, below forecasts for 53 trillion won.

Gartner: No help for the PC biz from Windows 10 – Windows 10 won’t help the struggling PC business out of its multi-year slump in 2015, researcher Gartner said today. But it might next year. “The release of Windows 10 on 29 July will contribute to a slowing professional demand for mobile PCs and premium ultra-mobiles in 2015, as lifetimes extend by three months,” said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement Tuesday. “However, as suppliers and buyers adjust to new prices, Windows 10 could boost replacements during 2016.” From Gartner’s perspective, the mere appearance of Windows 10 will result in delayed replacement PC purchases as enterprises and other large organizations put plans on hold as they begin evaluating the OS.

Jolla splits business, refocuses efforts on software – Its been a little over two years since the birth of Jolla. The company was created shortly after then-CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, dismantled the Meego team and decided to pioneer Nokia’s future with Windows Phone. While things didn’t fair so well for Nokia, the ex-Nokia staff that formed Jolla has slowly and steadily solidified its small place in the mobile world. Today, Jolla has announced that they will refocus their efforts on their Sailfish OS licensing and development business and create a new company dedicated to hardware.

AMD preannounces lower revenue due to poor demand for its APUs – AMD warned Monday that its second-quarter revenues would fall by 8%, due to a lower demand for PCs than it had previously expected. AMD said previously that revenue could fall by as much as 3%. AMD specifically blamed weaker-than-expected demand for its APUs, which combine a CPU and a graphics chip and make up its A-series product line. The company had already slashed A-series APU prices in late 2014 to help move product. In the second quarter, AMD said, it expects channel sales and channel inventory reduction efforts to be in line with the company’s plans.

Uber wants to buy Tesla’s entire first batch of self-driving cars – It’s no secret Uber is excited about our future of self-driving cars. The company’s business model revolves around drivers using their own vehicles to transport goods and people, but for Uber those drivers represent a significant expense. Self-driving cars, assuming the legislation will reach a point where drivers are no longer required, will eliminate that expense. Uber made partnerships in recent times to work on autonomous driving technologies, and more recently the ridesharing service’s CEO has expressed a lot of interest in Tesla’s future self-driving vehicles.

Sony not looking to exit mobile market, says CEO – Sony Mobile has been struggling to compete in the smartphone market, but the company’s CEO has revealed that it is in the process of turning things around with a long term strategy and won’t be exiting the space. Ever since inexpensive, feature-packed smartphones started making their way to the market, traditional high-quality device makers such as HTC and Sony have found it hard to sell their own devices, especially in emerging markets which are responsible for high volume sales.

Games and Entertainment:

You can now subscribe to Showtime online – Showtime is now offering an online subscription, allowing customers to watch its shows and movies without also getting cable. The subscription is being offered through a few different apps and sites, including Showtime’s iPhone and iPad apps, the Apple TV, Roku, Hulu, and PlayStation Vue. The subscription costs $10.99 — although some services, like Hulu, are offering it for less — and grants access to Showtime’s back catalog, its currently screening films, and even some of its live feeds.

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Sony just rolled out a big UI update to its PS Now game streaming service – PlayStation Now, Sony’s “Netflix for gaming” service that rolled out last year, hasn’t changed dramatically since it launched. The company added a much-needed subscription option earlier this year to help fix the otherwise crazy pricing structure PS Now had for game rentals, but there otherwise hasn’t been much in the way of updates to speak of. That changes today — a major user interface update has just been pushed out to PlayStation Now on the PS4. The update was included in last week’s PS4 software update, but Sony is just now turning it on.

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Australian online video subscriptions jump sixfold in six months – The arrival of Netflix, Stan, and Presto has seen the number of Australians subscribing to video-streaming services jump from 315,000 at the end of 2014 to 2 million by the end of June, according to Telsyte.

Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off; here are all the best deals – Dozens of games are marked down for the duration of the event, which begins today and ends July 13, including Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and more. Check out a breakdown of this week’s Deals With Gold and Ultimate Game Sale offers below. All deals are good through July 13 and require an Xbox Live Gold subscription except where otherwise noted.

Excellent! Harry Shearer returning to ‘The Simpsons’ – The voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers and a ton of other Springfield regulars signs a new deal that will keep him on the show for at least four more seasons.

Off Topic (Sort of):

CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company – We all know telecoms are evil. But as an individual, there’s rarely a way to fight back. Enter CrowdSuit, a new company that aims to help phone customers seek legal redress against phone companies even when they cannot file class action suits. Telecoms increasingly are including a contract provision that prevents customers from filing class action lawsuits against them. Because the cost of an individual lawsuit is often greater than the damages a customer would receive if they won a suit on an issue like throttling, it’s not worth it for them to sue alone. As a result, no one sues, and the telecoms get a free ride. In some states just filing a lawsuit would cost $70, and the amount customers could win by filing would be far less than that.

This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids – Earlier this year the BBC announced that it planned to give one million students across the UK a programmable microcomputer, called the BBC Micro Bit, to help them learn the basics of coding. Now four months later, the design of the device has been finalized, ahead of its scheduled rollout date in October. The Micro Bit features two buttons, an array of programmable LED lights, and an in-built motion sensor. Users can connect their microcomputer to bigger devices by Bluetooth or USB, or to the similarly tiny Raspberry Pi through it’s input-output rings.

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This Is Apple and Google’s Next Big Battleground – For most of my 35-year technology career, fights over operating systems have dominated the landscape. First, it was MS-DOS againt the original Apple II OS. Then it shifted to Microsoft’s Windows vs. the Mac OS. Today it’s between Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Google’s Android and Chrome OS. These wars have become ideological, with fanboys and devout followers in each camp. But there’s another fight brewing, too — the battle over artificial intelligence, or AI.

Russian government issues guide to avoiding hazardous selfies – Technically Incorrect: It may seem like common sense not to stray too near an approaching train while taking a selfie. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

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Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft – Life vests are effective, but bulky. They’re not the sort of thing you haul around with you wherever you go. The Kingii on Indiegogo wants to save your life by being attached to your body at all times when you’re enjoying a day at the ocean or the pool. The 4.9-ounce Kingii (pronounced “kin-gee”) is worn on the wrist. A lever triggers a carbon dioxide cartridge to inflate an orange, balloon-like float. The float pulls you back up to the surface of the water, whether you’re out surfing or taking a dip in a pool. Cartridges can be swapped out to make the wristband reusable. The Kingii appears to be going gangbusters on Indiegogo. The initial $65,000 funding goal has been engulfed by over $445,000 in pledges with 23 days left to run. However, $400,000 of that comes from one anonymous backer.

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10 Spectacular Building Demolitions – In this roundup, we pay tribute to the bold men and women who bring down buildings for a living by sharing incredible footage of them at work. These are some of the most ambitious, technically difficult, or just plain cool to look at building demolitions ever caught on tape.

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Study hints kids are future cord-cutters – The television industry has been scrambling to stave off the pressure it feels from services like Netflix and the subscribers it is losing to them. Its efforts may prove to be in vain, however, at least according to a recent study. Miner & Co. Studio conducted research and has found that 57-percent of kids prefer watching videos on their tablet or smartphone rather than on a television. In addition, a common parental discipline might be driving kids further away from television, causing them to associate it with punishment.

Something to think about:

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

–      Muhammad Ali

Today’s Free Downloads:

160WiFi – 160WiFi provides a free WiFi hotspot. No hidden cost, no function limit, and never waste your money on those expensive ones that won’t work.

Enjoy Wi-Fi anywhere. 160WiFi offers the greatest choice of available Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere like home, office, airport and so on.

Secure. 160WiFi is safe to use. With strong password security, It allows no one to connect to your wireless hotspot without your permission.

Save money. 160WiFi can turn your computer into a wireless router, allowing your phone or other portable devices to connect the hotspot to surf the internet for free. This cut the data usage of your phone and save much money.

Easy to use. Download, install and connect – only a few clicks.

Features:

Totally free and secure, fully used; No advertising, no annoying pop-ups

Turn laptop/desktop (with a working wireless adapter) into WiFi hotspot in seconds

Easily Manage your computer on the connected Android, iOS and other portable devices

Save cellular data & avoid overcharges

Handy network speed detection

Easy to use, no need of advanced configuration

PaperScan Free – PaperScan is a powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on one idea : making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

You have many different scanners or plan to buy new scanner? PaperScan is simply universal while most of the scanning applications are dedicated to one scanner or one protocol.

With PaperScan you can control any scanner ( TWAINor WIA)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senate advances secret plan forcing Internet services to report terror activity – The Senate Intelligence Committee secretly voted on June 24 in favor of legislation requiring e-mail providers and social media sites to report suspected terrorist activities.

The legislation, approved 15-0 in a closed-door hearing, remains “classified.” The relevant text is contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, a committee aide told Ars by telephone early Monday. Its veil of secrecy would be lifted in the coming days as the package heads to the Senate floor, the aide added.

The proposal comes as the Islamic State and other terror groups have taken to the Internet to gain converts across the globe, including in the United States. The FBI issued a public warning in March about American teens being susceptible to the Islamic State’s online recruitment tactics. And the Brookings Institute estimated in March that there were as many as 70,000 pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts. Twitter has removed tens of thousands of these terror propaganda accounts, which violate its terms of service.

FBI chief: Strong encryption lets bad guys ‘communicate with impunity’ – The director of the FBI has called for a “robust” debate over the use of encryption, but has admitted there may be no easy way to protect both security and privacy.

FBI chief James Comey warned that the increasing use of strong encryption will make it harder for law enforcement to access email or other digital conversations.

“There is simply no doubt that bad people can communicate with impunity in a world of universal strong encryption,” he said in a post for the Lawfare blog, and warned this will have an impact on public safety.

Apple’s and Google’s encryption plans have not gone down well with US law enforcement, and the agency’s director says the companies are leading us down a dark path.

He wrote: “That tension is vividly illustrated by the current ISIL threat, which involves ISIL operators in Syria recruiting and tasking dozens of troubled Americans to kill people, a process that increasingly takes part through mobile messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, communications that may not be intercepted, despite judicial orders under the Fourth Amendment.”

Thanks to the Edward Snowden revelations about pervasive internet snooping by US and UK intelligence agencies, tech companies have been turning to encryption to protect their customers’ conversations. This has led to claims from law enforcement that important sources of intelligence are ‘going dark’.

Top Security Experts Say Government Limits On Encryption Present Risks –  A group of top cybersecurity experts reported today that giving law enforcement special access to encrypted data for investigations would pose “major security risks.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab report included input from cryptography expert Bruce Schneier and researchers from MIT, Stanford University, Columbia University, Cambridge University, Johns Hopkins University, Microsoft Research, SRI International and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Since October, U.S. law enforcement officials have called for a special door that would allow government agencies to access encrypted data that could help them in investigations. The report tells us that a backdoor for the government and law enforcement also provides an opening that could be exploited by hackers.

The experts argue such special access points “pose far more grave security risks, imperil innovation on which the world’s economies depend, and raise more thorny policy issues than we could have imagined when the Internet was in its infancy.”

Former A.G. Eric Holder says Snowden deal is possible – The “possibility exists” for the U.S. Department of Justice to cut a deal that would allow surveillance leaker Edward Snowden to return to the U.S., a former attorney general said in a media interview.

Snowden, who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, “spurred a necessary debate” about the collection of U.S. telephone records, former Attorney General Eric Holder told Yahoo News.

The DOJ, however, hasn’t changed its official position on Snowden, a spokesman said. The DOJ wants Snowden to return to the U.S. from Russia and face criminal charges, the spokesman said by email.

Holder, who left the DOJ earlier this year, filed espionage charges against Snowden in 2013.

Holder declined to give Yahoo News details about what a possible deal with Snowden would look like.

NSA officials have reportedly considered a plea deal for Snowden, including some jail time. But Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s lawyers, rejected the possibility of pleading guilty to a felony.

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Filed under downloads, Free Software Downloads, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News, Online Safety, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 1, 2015

Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “just follow the damn Constitution”;  Speak up: Android gets more hands-free with additional voice commands;  Facebook change will give you control over data sharing with apps;  Microsoft will try to guess your age using machine learning and a picture;  The Best Security Suites for 2015;   These are your free Games with Gold for May;  Tesla Energy is Elon Musk’s battery system that can power homes, businesses, and the world;  How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click;  Steam to get its first adults-only rated game;  Apple Watch Sport costs $85 to manufacture;  6 Reasons to Try Microsoft’s Edge Browser;  How to Bet on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Online;  Test labs out AV vendor for using rival’s engine.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Security Suites for 2015 – When you sit down at your computer, security is probably the last thing on your mind. You want to check your email, catch up with friends on social networks, play some games, or maybe buy some goodies online. The problem here is that you actually need security. You have three main choices. You can cross your fingers and hope for the best (good luck with that). You can spend hours scouring the Web for information, researching a collection of separate security utilities that will keep you safe. Or you can check PCMag’s reviews of all-in-one security suites and select one that has the features you need, integrated into a single application. Guess which course I recommend? I’ve rounded up a collection of top-notch suites, varied enough that one should be just right for you.

Facebook change will give you control over data sharing with apps – Users are getting greater choice over what information is shared with websites and apps when they log in using their Facebook ID. A new version of Facebook Login, which begins its wide roll out this week, will present users with a prompt to “Edit the info you provide.” Clicking that will let users grant or deny access to different types of information. The login now also highlights who will see content posted by the app in Facebook, for apps that request the ability to do so.

Speak up: Android gets more hands-free with additional voice commands – Google has continued to evolve its voice commands beyond simple search for some time. The hands-free “OK Google” command has moved from a simple query function to one that can control phone settings, create calendar reminders and launch apps. You can say, for example, “OK Google, open Maps” without touching your phone or tablet, if it supports and is configured for the always listening feature. It’s not just Google’s own apps such as Maps, Search and Chrome that can be opened by voice though; with the most recent version of Android and supported apps, third-party software can be accessed as well.

How to turn on data compression in Chrome on your phone or tablet – Chrome for Android can save you precious mobile data if you turn on its data compression feature. It routes your web browsing through Google’s proxy servers, which will feed you smaller, more compressed images and other bits of data than the traditional route. Google says going through its own pipes is faster, which is always nice if you hit a less-than-stellar Internet connection. Here’s how to turn it on: touch the Menu Button (the three vertical dots) and then touch Settings. Scroll down and select Data Saver and toggle the option to On.

6 Reasons to Try Microsoft’s Edge Browser – Windows 10 Bug ArtInternet Explorer’s more modern and fast successor, previously code-named Project Spartan, is now Edge, and one of its most notable new features is extensions. Edge also maintains Spartan innovations like page markup, reading view, and Cortana integration. It’s also a Universal Windows app, meaning one application runs on PCs, phones, tablets, and whatever other Windows-running devices emerge.

Exploring Windows 10 Build 10074, in pictures – It wouldn’t be a Microsoft Build conference without a, well, new build of Windows 10. Meet Build 10074 of Windows 10, which continues making over the look and feel of Microsoft’s latest operating system. Two new additions stand out in the latest build: the new Start menu, which may include new Windows 7-style Aero Glass effects, and a more full-featured, intelligent Cortana digital assistant. We’ll walk you through all the notable changes in the following slides.

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Windows 10 pricing after first year remains up in the air – Microsoft has bold ambitions for Windows 10: To power 1 billion devices by 2018. To achieve that goal, the company for the first time will let most users update to the new version at no charge for one year after Windows 10’s release, slated for later this summer. After that, however, Microsoft doesn’t know what it will charge customers to upgrade — or how it will deliver upgrades in the future. Joe Belfiore, vice president of operating systems, said Thursday the company’s primary concern is getting the operating system onto a critical mass of devices as quickly as possible. How will people get their hands on Windows 10 after the first year? “I don’t know, ” Belfiore said at a press event during Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference in San Francisco.

Microsoft will try to guess your age using machine learning and a picture – Microsoft has created a new website that takes an old carnival game and attempts to use machine learning to guess your age; you can try it out right now. If you head on over to how-old.net you can upload a picture of your face and the algorithms will attempt to guess your age. When Microsoft built the site, they were only expecting 50 people to use the tool but the webpage ended up attracting over 35,000 users when it was first launched.

How to Bet on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Online – Every spring, a group of very expensive horses with very ridiculous names heads to Louisville, Kentucky to try to earn a lot of money for their already wealthy owners and top stud privileges for themselves. This year marks the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, the main jewel in U.S. thoroughbred horse racing’s annual “Triple Crown.” While some may be content to partake in the julep-soaked, floppy hat-adorned festivities for the fun of it, the real excitement comes from the possibility of winning some cash money.

Google Apps Marketplace apps: Three things every admin should know – When you add a Google Apps Marketplace app to your Google Apps account, you save people time and increase security. People don’t have to remember an additional login–and app access and data are more likely to remain under organizational control. That convenience requires a bit of periodic work by a Google Apps administrator. Here’s how to review your Marketplace apps data access settings, check which apps are used, and discover new Marketplace apps to add.

How to Find a Comic Shop on Free Comic Book Day – Whether you’re a comic book diehard looking to explore a new series, an old school fan looking to get back in the game, or a newbie who wants to get your feet wet with a few print titles after seeing Marvel’s acclaimed Daredevil Netflix series, there’s no better time than Free Comic Book Day. There’s one problem, though: You have to find a comic book shop. The stores aren’t nearly as commonplace as they were in the 1990s, but technology makes locating comic book shops easy. The following tech tools—available on desktops, smartphones, and tablets—will help you locate a store.

Tablet Shipments Continue to Slip – The first quarter of 2015 wasn’t exactly a huge success for the tablet market, according to new figures from IDC. Worldwide tablet shipments suffered a year-over-year decline for a second consecutive quarter from January through March, the research firm said Thursday. Tablet and 2-in-1 device shipments fell to 47.1 million, a 5.9 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. That comes after the tablet market notably faced its first year-over-year decline in shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014.

How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click – For 2015, Google is playing around with the ability to mute noisy tabs with one click. Instead of switching to the tab and scrolling around the page to find the offending video or audio, a new hidden feature lets you silence the noise by clicking on a tab’s speaker icon. Here’s how it works.

Security:

Behold: the drop-dead simple exploit that nukes Google’s Password Alert – Less than 24 hours after Google unveiled a Chrome extension that warns when user account passwords get phished, a security researcher has devised a drop-dead simple exploit that bypasses it.

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Test labs out AV vendor for using rival’s engine – Chinese anti-virus vendor Qihoo 360 has been caught cheating on benchmarking tests by submitting versions running A-V engines from rival Bitdefender. The company has been reprimanded by established testing outfits VirusTotal, Av-Comparatives, and AV-Test which withdrew its 2015 certifications. In a joint statement [PDF] the AV testing outfits say Qihoo “cheated” by turning off its engine and flicking on BitDefender’s, a setting state that is the opposite of what customers receive by default. “According to all test data this would provide a considerably lower level of protection and a higher likelihood of false positives,” the statement says.

Company News:

Europe stays on the offensive with new probe into US tech giants – Google, Amazon, Skype, WhatsApp, and Netflix are all on notice. If the probe is given the go-ahead, it would become the latest example of the EU’s combative attitude towards US tech giants. In recent months, criticism of US companies has intensified both within the EU and from European politicians. In February, Barack Obama responded by accusing the EU of protectionism, arguing that it was attacking US tech companies because it simply “can’t compete.” The EU, meanwhile, argues that the single digital market is about protecting consumers and boosting the digital industries in Europe.

Apple may pay ‘material’ amount of tax back to Ireland – Apple has given investors the heads up that it may be forced to pay a “material” amount of tax back to Ireland if the European Commission finds the company guilty of striking up special tax deals with the Irish government. The tech giant said in its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it may be required to pay up to 10 years’ worth of tax if the European Commission rules against Ireland.

Apple and IBM will give 4 to 5 million iPads to Japanese seniors – IBM and Apple said today that they would be working with Japan Post, the country’s postal service, to deliver four to five million iPads outfitted with IBM software to seniors in Japan by 2020. The initiative will be a part of an existing Japan Post service called Watch Over in which post deliverers check in on senior citizens and report their status to family members for a monthly fee equivalent to about $8.40, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple and IBM will run a pilot program in the second half of this year.

LinkedIn Q1: Revenue beats street but weak outlook sends stocks plunging – The social network for professionals reported a net loss of $43 million, or 34 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 57 cents per share on a revenue of $638 million, up 35 percent year-over-year. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 56 cents per share on revenue of $636 million. As for the outlook for the current quarter, LinkedIn offered revenue guidance far below estimates, in the range of $670 million and $675 million, with projected earnings of 28 cents per share. Analysts had expected earnings per share of 74 cents on revenue of $717.5 million. As a result, LinkedIn’s shares tumbled 25 percent in after market trading.

Grooveshark shuts down after settlement with record companies – The settlement between owners Escape Media and the record companies was made ahead of a jury trial for award of damages.

Games and Entertainment:

These are your free Games with Gold for May – Xbox Live Gold subscribers can get some cool games for free this coming May, thanks to Microsoft’s promotional giveaways. First up, Xbox One users will get be able to download Castle Storm, the definitive edition. This is a fun little game that combines a few genres into one 2D package, and after reviewing it last year, we gave it a strong score. Those of you trying it out might find yourselves reminded of classic platformers, Angry Birds, RPGs and tower defense games. It has a $15.00 ERP but Gold subscribers will be able to get it free starting on the 1st of May. Meanwhile Pool Nation FX will continue to remain free for another month.

Review of Zen Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron pinball – The first thing you’ll notice is that Zen Studios is releasing Age of Ultron as a standalone table for $2.99, whereas the original Avengers table is only available within a 4-pack of tables and costs $10. I’ve always believed that it’s better to release tables individually in order to give customers a choice, so this was nice to see.

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Powerful DirectX 12 game demo points to a way out of Uncanny Valley – The inability to emulate human emotions in CG characters is one aspect that makes them so creepy, but a demo showed off at Build 2015 may point to a way out of the uncanny valley.

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This is a screen grab from Square Enix’s Witch Chapter 0 demo, which simulates crying.

Streaming Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC is awesome – Ever since Microsoft announced its plans to bring Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 back in January, I’ve been dying to try it. While the Xbox One dashboard has been updated to support the new feature, the Xbox one app for Windows 10 isn’t quite ready yet. At its Build developers conference in San Francisco this week, Microsoft is demonstrating Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs to the public for the first time. I got a chance to try it, and it’s as awesome as I had hoped.

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Steam game devs can now ban you from their game ‘because nobody likes playing with cheaters’ – In a surprise move today, Valve has announced that game developers can now ban Steam gamers if they find players misbehaving or cheating within their games. The initiative, called “Game Ban,” will allow game developers to identify cheaters within their games and then ban them permanently if they wish to do so.

Steam to get its first adults-only rated game – Controversial shooter Hatred will be released for PC via Steam this June, which developer Destructive Creations claims makes it the first game with the Adults Only rating to appear on the digital distribution service. Speaking to Eurogamer, the developer said that the game’s release date of June 1 was chosen so that it would “not interfere with the launch of the biggest game coming out from its native Poland at that time.” Hatred was rated Adults Only in North America by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, meaning that it won’t be coming to consoles without the developer making some changes. All three major console manufacturers–Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo–have a policy that forbids the publishing of Adults Only-rated games on their platforms.

New update for Xbox 360 adds support for larger external hard drives – The Xbox 360 hasn’t been the main focus of gaming news since the Xbox One was released back in 2013. Outside of the monthly Games with Gold promotion, you’ll be hard-pressed to catch many headlines regarding the decade-old console. However, the Xbox 360 has just picked up an update that owners started receiving this morning. Xbox 360 users that opted in to the new preview program have had the chance to experience much of what this update has to offer, which includes:

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tesla Energy is Elon Musk’s battery system that can power homes, businesses, and the world – Tesla has finally taken the wraps off Tesla Energy, its ambitious battery system that can work for homes, businesses, and even utilities. The system breaks down into two separate products: the Powerwall is a home battery system, that comes in a 10 kWh version for $3,500, or a 7 kWh model for $3,000. The unit is about three feet by four feet in size and six inches thick, and comes with integrated heat management and  can fit either on the inside or outside of the wall of your home. The system is connected to the internet — Elon Musk said that the system can be used to create “smart microgrids” — and can be used as a redundancy system, or potentially allow a home to go off the power grid entirely. “The whole thing is a system that just works,” Musk told reporters during a briefing this evening.

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Elon Musk just gave the best tech keynote I’ve ever seen – Here’s what I loved about Musk’s presentation. First of all, it was short, clocking in at about 20 minutes. Musk didn’t waste anybody’s time. He used that time to present a problem of critical importance (eliminating humanity’s use of fossil fuels), explained how it can be addressed, and offered a plausible solution in the form of a new product — one that’s priced within reach of a lot of people and available to order. Amazingly, all of those things are actually pretty rare to see in one show. Tesla’s presentation was inspiring, and Musk wasn’t selling some fancy sci-fi trinket that has the benefit of Star Trek nostalgia. Dude was selling a battery. But aside from all the technical details I enjoyed, what I liked most was Musk’s humble tenor.

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Older folks react to Mortal Kombat X fatalities – Reaction videos are all the rage anymore: we’ve seen videos of kids reacting to old cameras and gaming systems, older folks reacting to Google Glass, and a bunch between. The newest reaction video again goes with the older folks among us, and eschews hardware for a dose of video game fun. Mortal Kombat X, that is. These perhaps unsuspecting gents and ladies are shown the latest installment’s various fatalities, and we all get to enjoy their reactions.

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Apple Watch Sport costs $85 to manufacture, say analysts – You might be interested in buying an Apple Watch (unless you already have). Once you strap that thing on your wrist, you’ll undoubtedly — at some point — wonder how much it costs to make. You spent upwards of $350, but what did Apple spend on parts and such? Curiosity gets the best of us from time to time, and analysts are no different. IHS Technology recently tore the Apple Watch apart, and attempted to find how much it costs to manufacture. Their ‘guess’? $83.70.

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This is how absurd you look taking a call on your Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: An encounter with a friend is interrupted by his Apple Watch going off. Oh, the silliness.

11 Amazing Images From the Final Days of NASA’s Messenger Probe – Ever since entering Mercury’s orbit on March 18, 2011, Messenger has given project scientists (and by extension, humanity) an unprecedented up-close view of the tiny, rocky planet. But that will all come to an end today when—at precisely 3:26 p.m. ET—Mercury’s surface will receive one more crater when Messenger crashes into the planet’s surface due to a dwindling supply of propellant and the effects of solar gravity. Unfortunately—from a voyeuristic vantage point—the Earth will not get a clear shot of the impact. But space p0rn aficionados, do not despair! Over the past month, the probe has dutifully added to its library of more than 270,000 images with some beautiful close-ups of the planet’s surface. Here we present some of the most inspiring, beautiful, mysterious, and illuminating images from Messenger’s final days.

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Site-blocking legislation targeted at ‘arrogant’ Australian infringers – Rights holders and their advocates have argued that while the site-blocking legislation won’t stop piracy, it will send a message to Australians illicitly downloading with ‘arrogant impunity’.

Something to think about:

“Some days are just bad days, that’s all. You have to experience sadness to know happiness, and I remind myself that not every day is going to be a good day, that’s just the way it is!”

–       Dita Von Teese

Today’s Free Downloads:

AdwCleaner – AdwCleaner is a program that searches for and deletes Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers from your computer.

By using AdwCleaner you can easily remove many of these types of programs that intefere with your computers normal operations and get a better user experience particularly while browsing the web.

AdwCleaner specializes in removing:

– Adware: Programs which have been installed that are running unwanted advertisements on your system.

– PUP’s or Potentially Unwanted Program

– Toolbars

– Hijacker Home page, browser and advertisment hijackers.

For help using AdwCleaner check out our Malware removal guides or ask for help in our Majorgeeks Support Forums.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA is so overwhelmed with data, it’s no longer effective, says whistleblower – A former National Security Agency official turned whistleblower has spent almost a decade and a half in civilian life. And he says he’s still “pissed” by what he’s seen leak in the past two years.

In a lunch meeting hosted by Contrast Security founder Jeff Williams on Wednesday, William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the US government’s mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.

That, he said, can — and has — led to terrorist attacks succeeding.

Binney said that an analyst today can run one simple query across the NSA’s various databases, only to become immediately overloaded with information. With about four billion people — around two-thirds of the world’s population — under the NSA and partner agencies’ watchful eyes, according to his estimates, there is too much data being collected.

“That’s why they couldn’t stop the Boston bombing, or the Paris shootings, because the data was all there,” said Binney. Because the agency isn’t carefully and methodically setting its tools up for smart data collection, that leaves analysts to search for a needle in a haystack.

Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “just follow the damn Constitution” – Despite the best efforts of law enforcement to convince a Congressional subcommittee that technology firms actually need to weaken encryption in order to serve the public interest, lawmakers were not having it.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who described himself as a “recovering computer science major,” provided one of the most forceful counter-arguments. (He is just one of four House members with computer science degrees.) Lieu also is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves and served for four years as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

“It is clear to me that creating a pathway for decryption only for good guys is technologically stupid, you just can’t do that,” he said, underscoring that he found Conley’s remarks “offensive.”

He argued:

It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want a an out of surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.

Then you make another statement that somehow these companies are not credible because they collect private data. Here’s the difference: Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.

And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this. Because the NSA, your colleagues, have essentially violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen for years by seizing all of our phone records, by collecting our Internet traffic, that is now spilling over to other aspects of law enforcement. And if you want to get this fixed, I suggest you write to NSA: the FBI should tell the NSA, stop violating our rights. And then maybe you might have much more of the public on the side of supporting what law enforcement is asking for.

Then let me just conclude by saying I do agree with law enforcement that we live in a dangerous world. And that’s why our founders put in the Constitution of the United States—that’s why they put in the Fourth Amendment. Because they understand that an Orwellian overreaching federal government is one of the most dangerous things that this world can have. I yield back.

Airbus to sue NSA, German spies accused of swiping tech secrets – European aerospace giant Airbus is promising legal action over claims its top blueprints were stolen by German spies and given to America’s intelligence agencies.

“We are aware that as a large company in the sector, we are a target and subject of espionage,” the company said in a statement to the AFP newswire.

“However, in this case we are alarmed because there is concrete suspicion of industrial espionage. We will now file a criminal complaint against persons unknown on suspicion of industrial espionage.”

The threat comes after days of speculation in the German press over reports that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) – the German foreign intelligence agency – has been spying on German and European companies for the Americans since at least 2008.

Report says top US psychologists collaborated with torture program architects – Members of the American Psychological Association, the largest association of psychologists in the United States, “secretly coordinated” with the George W. Bush administration on the CIA’s torture program, according to a new report and emails released today. The report, written by a group of health workers and human rights activists, suggests the APA worked with top government officials to establish ethical guidelines that would allow the program to continue while shielding its architects from legal fallout.

The group behind the report analyzed emails from a now dead behavioral science researcher working with the RAND Corporation and involved in national security organizations. According to the report, the emails show how the association collaborated “with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations that comported with then­ classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.” Despite the close contact, according to the report, “there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the US intelligence community.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 27, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–      Marcia Angell

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Features:

Free and Open-source

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

No reboot needed

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

Supports many Linux distributions

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

Persistence

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

SmartClean & SmartDownload

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

And a lot more!

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

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

File integrity : tells you if your ISO is corrupted

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

Intelligent format : can format disks bigger than 32 GB

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

Also works with .IMG files (experimental)

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

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

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

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

Features:

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

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

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

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

Users can choose to let it start with Windows

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

an use a global configuration file for network environments

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 24, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

Pointing up  A sickening abdication of responsibility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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A development screenshot from Project Elysium – Paranormal Games

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–    Richard Feynman

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 15, 2015

Deterrence will keep a lid on cyberwar;  Hands on: What a $149 Chromebook is actually like to use;  14 Chrome browser extensions for a streamlined experience;  How to clean a touchscreen;  The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Revamped Skype for Business rolls out for Office 365;  Five free (or nearly free) FTP clients;  These 3 free apps make you even smarter than you already are;  The five biggest changes in Ubuntu 15.04;  7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out;  Lease an Apple Watch for less than $50 a month;  TSA Agents Fired For Scheming To Grope Attractive Male Passengers;  4K Is Cool, But Do You Need It on Your Phone?  Windows and Office get four Critical updates for Patch Tuesday;  Get 9 EA games for $5, support charity;  Maine Police Pay Ransomware Demand in Bitcoin;  EU regulators set to file antitrust charges against Google.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Deterrence will keep a lid on cyberwar, former spy chief says – Major sponsors of cyberwarfare forces are reaching a state of deterrence resembling the mutually assured destruction in nuclear weapons standoffs, former U.S. national intelligence director Dennis Blair said Tuesday. All nation states would suffer if countries engaged in cyberattacks against civilians, and world leaders including those in China and Russia are reluctant to unleash such forces, Blair, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who oversaw U.S. intelligence from 2009 to 2010, told a news conference in Tokyo.

Hands on: What a $149 Chromebook is actually like to use – If you’re more of a power user (and let’s face it, if you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that you are), you might be willing to pay a little extra in order to get a nicer and/or more powerful system. If cost is a concern, though — or if you’re looking at buying Chromebooks for kids or even in bulk for schools — the prospect of an entry-level laptop at $149 might be just the ticket. Even if you’re not in the market for such a system, it’s interesting to see what kind of Chrome OS experience $149 can buy.

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

How to clean a touchscreen: All you need is a simple cleaner and a special cloth – Thanks to your greasy fingers, touchscreens get dirty quicker than old-fashioned monitors. Here’s how to clean off the schmutz.

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14 Chrome browser extensions for a streamlined experience – From preserving privacy to decluttering browsers, there are a number of useful extensions out there waiting to be downloaded.

Five free (or nearly free) FTP clients – The cloud may be taking over as the de facto online storage solution, but the need for FTP (file transfer protocol) clients remains a standard need for business. Back in the 90s there were few options for FTP clients─you used one and you were happy. Now, however, when FTP’s popularity has waned, plenty of options are available. But are their solid affordable entries to fill this need? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Let’s take a look at some of the best options to see whether one of them could meet your FTP needs.

Google Play’s New Program “Designed For Families” Will Highlight Pre-Approved, Kid-Safe Apps – Google today announced a new developer program called “Designed For Families” which will allow app publishers to opt into an additional review in order have their apps labeled as being “family-friendly.” The new designation will eventually make its way to Google Play, though the company is not yet revealing the specifics around how this group of apps will be made discoverable once there. Google explains that its app marketplace features a number of developers, like PBS Kids, Tynker and Crayola, whose apps offer high quality, age appropriate content, and offer user interfaces and features that both educate and entertain young kids.

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Revamped Skype for Business rolls out for Office 365, quietly bumping off Lync – As it signalled last November, Microsoft pulled out its older Lync client and rereleased it as Skype for Business on Tuesday. The new software will roll out as part of the April release of Skype for Business. And the online version of the app, known as Skype for Business Online, is making its way to your browser right now, Microsoft said; everyone should see it by the end of May.

HBO says Periscope could be a tool for ‘mass copyright infringement’ – HBO isn’t happy with everyone who used Periscope to rebroadcast Game of Thrones, but it’s even less happy with Periscope for not having the tools to stop them. According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has sent takedown notices to Periscope for recordings that include Sunday night’s premiere of Game of Thrones. It’s also taken a dig at Periscope for what it implies is a hands-off attitude toward piracy. “In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications,” HBO says in a statement.

Pointing up   So here’s my question – do the executives of companies like this lie awake at night constructing bullshit controversies? Controversies that always seem to revolve around restricting, restricting, restricting. Here’s some midweek advice for HBO, it’s executive and board – Nobody, I mean nobody, gives a tinker’s damn what you think.  Get stuffed!

The five biggest changes in Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet – You can’t judge a book by its cover, or a Linux by its interface. If you glance at Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet, you won’t see a lot different from Ubuntu 14.10. Don’t let first impressions fool you. Underneath that slick Unity 7.x interface, there’s a lot of changes.

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Brain games: These 3 free apps make you even smarter than you already are – Plenty of people think all of our devices are making us dumb. Maybe that’s because some people can’t be bothered to look up from them while they’re walking down the street. And maybe they’re right. But there are plenty of apps out there that claim they can make you smarter, whether that means helping you recall words faster or improve your reading comprehension. I took a look at three popular titles to see how well they work. So, am I any smarter? Read on to find out.

7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out – Looking to get in shape for summer? Fitness may be its own reward, but these seven apps can sweeten the deal by prodding, encouraging and even paying users to roll off of that couch and unleash their inner gym bunnies — or just move a bit more. No pressure.

4K Is Cool, But Do You Need It on Your Phone? – As Techblog.gr reports, Sharp’s new IGZO display has a resolution of 840-by-2,160 pixels, or 806 pixels per inch (ppi). For those keeping track, that’s about twice the resolution of the iPhone 6 Plus $299.00 at Verizon and Galaxy Note 3$19.99 at Amazon. But that huge bump in resolution probably won’t make too much of a difference for most people, according to Wired. You’d need super-excellent eyesight — or a magnifying glass — to even notice subtle differences in very detailed graphics and tiny text.

How to use Miracast to mirror your device’s screen wirelessly on your TV – Ever since the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the finalization of the Miracast wireless display standard at CES 2013, we’ve seen a plethora of Miracast-enabled devices and receivers, from Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 to Amazon’s Fire TV stick. Users can now wirelessly mirror the display of their Miracast-certified phone, tablet, or laptop to any Miracast-capable receiver like a TV, projector, or monitor. What you see on your device is exactly what will be displayed on your TV.

This company will let you lease an Apple Watch for less than $50 a month – The Apple Watch has made an impressive debut over the past week despite being a first-generation device with average reviews. While the device has yet to hit store shelves, one company is going to allow its customers the chance to lease the new device for less than $50 a month. Naturally, this is a fairly clever idea for those that want to “own” the latest tech, but don’t want to actually pay the high prices associated with owning the latest and greatest.

Opera Mini browser gets fine-tuned for speed and looks – The browser’s update adds a refined menu, a private-browsing mode, and a scalable interface that allows for support on tablets and smartphones.

A revamped Microsoft Delve looks like a corporate mashup of Facebook and LinkedIn – Delve has leaped beyond curating documents to curating everything about you and your job. There’s even a blog and mobile apps.

Security:

Windows and Office get four Critical updates for Patch Tuesday – Summary:It’s another Patch Tuesday, with this month’s update including a slew of security fixes in a cumulative update for Internet Explorer. The most important patch on the list blocks an Office exploit that’s already being used in “limited attacks” in the wild.

TSA Agents Fired For Scheming To Grope Attractive Male Passengers – According to police, officers were called to the airport by a TSA supervisor in March following an internal investigation. The TSA first received an employee tip in November 2014 that a security screener was groping men. The TSA told police that a male security screener would signal to a fellow agent when he saw a passenger he thought was attractive. The other agent would then indicate the passenger was female, instead of male, causing the scanning machine to record an “anomaly” in the genital area. A TSA investigator caught the agent in action in one instance on Feb. 9.

Android Security Apps Continue to Improve in Latest AV-Test Report – The biggest takeaway from these results is just how positive they seem. Previous AV-Test Android software reports showed overall improvement and this new one continues the trend. 18 products, almost two-thirds, received a flawless 13-point score, up from 15 products last round. Each app earned certification and detected over 95 percent of malware samples, with the average score being the essentially perfect 99.69 percent. Tested apps can score up to six points for protection, six points for usability, and one point for extras. See the full results in the chart below.

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29 million US health records exposed by data breaches between 2010 and 2013 – Approximately 29 million health records were affected by data breaches between 2010 and 2013 in the US — 67 percent of which were stored electronically, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today. These data breaches involved unencrypted information that could be identified and tied back to individuals. And what’s worse is that the study indicates that these data breaches are on the rise.

Is the darknet to blame for Aussies falling victim to identity theft? – According a survey by credit bureau Veda, more than 772,000 Australian’s identified with identity theft in the past 12 months alone. Head of Cybercrime Fiona Long said the alarming statistics demonstrate the growing concern of identity theft for government departments, businesses and individuals. A 2014 report from the Attorney-General’s Department shows the price of fraudulent identity credentials ranges from around $80 for Medicare cards, $350 for driver’s licences and up to $30,000 for a legitimately issued passport with fraudulent details. The same report showed personal fraud including credit card fraud, identity theft and scams cost Australians approximately $1.6 billion each year. Ms Long said those concerned about identity theft can take a number of steps to ensure their information remains secure. (recommended by Mal C.)

Australians too trusting, fall for social media scams: Symantec – Symantec’s latest internet security report showed that Australia ranked as the seventh most targeted country globally when it came to social media scams in 2014.

Maine Police Pay Ransomware Demand in Bitcoin – In an effort to keep their computer files from being destroyed, a group of cooperative police departments in Maine paid a $300 ransom demand—in bitcoin. There is no official word on who carried out the attack; the FBI could only track the bitcoin payment to a Swiss bank account.

Web app attacks, PoS intrusions and cyberespionage leading causes of data breaches – The findings are based on data collected by Verizon Enterprise Solutions and 70 other organizations from almost 80,000 security incidents and over 2,000 confirmed data breaches in 61 countries. Humans were again the weak link that led to many of the compromises. The data shows that phishing—whether used to trick users into opening infected email attachments, click on malicious links, or input their credentials on rogue websites—remains the weapon of choice for many criminals and spies.

Is Your Company Ready for a Cyber Attack? (Hint: Nope) – Last year saw “far-reaching vulnerabilities, faster attacks, files held for ransom, and far more malicious code than in previous years,” Symantec Intelligence revealed in a new report. Symantec tipped a 23 percent increase in the number of online breaches in 2014. “However, attention shifted during the year from what was being exfiltrated to the way attackers could gain access.” Specifically, the news focused on how hackers were exploiting specific bugs, like Heartbleed, Shellshock, and Poodle. But while major breaches captured headlines, Symantec said that “60 percent of all targeted attacks [in 2014] struck small- and medium-sized organizations. These organizations often have fewer resources to invest in security, and many are still not adopting basic best practices like blocking executable files and screensaver email attachments.”

Company News:

EU regulators set to file antitrust charges against Google – Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, will reportedly announce formal charges against Google tomorrow. The European Union has long had a contentious relationship with Google. Its parliament approved a resolution last year calling for the breakup of the company’s search and advertising business. Google is seen by many EU members as a far too powerful gatekeeper to the world’s information, with a 90 percent market share of search activity in Europe. If it’s found to have violated the EU’s antitrust laws, the company could face penalties of over $6 billion.

Intel Up 2% After Reporting Flat Year-Over-Year Revenue Growth – Intel reported its first-quarter financial performance today following the bell, including revenue of $12.8 billion, and per-share profit of $0.41. The street had expected $12.9 billion in revenue, and $0.41 in per-share profit. Intel is up around 3 percent in after-hours trading. The company expects to generate $13.2 billion in the second quarter leading to a gross margin of 62 percent and a tax rate of around 20 percent. Those figures are improvements on the company’s most recent quarter, when it had a gross margin of 60.5 percent and a tax rate of a far steeper 25.5 percent.

Box acquiring online 3D content editor Verold – Verold’s online 3D ambitions garnered attention from tech titans from e-commerce to software, inking deals with the likes of Amazon, Pearson Education and Autodesk, among others.

Nokia agrees to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion – Nokia has announced its intention to acquire telecoms equipment company Alcatel-Lucent for €15.6 billion ($16.6 billion). The deal will solidify Nokia’s ambitions to become a major provider of networking equipment that competes with market leader Ericsson, following the sale of its mobile hardware division to Microsoft. Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent plan to close the deal in the first half of 2016. The new company is expected to use the Nokia brand, but will retain Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs name for its R&D activities.

Shopify files for dual US-Canada IPO – Shopify has filed an F-1 form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and a preliminary prospectus with the regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories of Canada.

Microsoft acquires mobile BI vendor Datazen – Microsoft has purchased cross-platform, mobile business-intelligence vendor Datazen Software, a Toronto-based company, for an undisclosed amount.

Games and Entertainment:

Get 9 EA games for $5, support charity – The Humble Origin Bundle 2 serves up a great mix of oldies and not-so-oldies, all of them definitely goodies.

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GTA V PC failing to install because of Windows username problem – Today is the day many PC gamers have been waiting 18 months for: GTA V has finally been launched for Windows, complete with a brand new Rockstar Editor for creating your own videos. However, there is a problem, and it not only stops the game from being played, it can’t even be installed. Rockstar has acknowledged that there is an issue relating to the Windows username being used. It turns out only a subset of possible characters in the username is supported. If you have unusual characters in your Windows username, it’s likely the game won’t download, install, and ultimately allow you to play.

May Xbox One update may enable game streaming to other PCs – We know the Xbox One will eventually allow streaming games to other devices, but thanks to a preview build of the console’s OS, it looks like that feature may be coming as soon as next month. Yesterday the first preview build of the May Xbox One update started rolling out to previewers, and a number of eagle-eyed members have spotted an interesting addition in the Settings pane: the option to allow game streaming to other devices.

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You can finally play Hearthstone on your phone – Blizzard’s addictive digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is finally available on smartphones. The free-to-play game — which debuted on PC and made its way to tablets last year — has been redesigned for your iPhone or Android device, cramming a whole lot of information onto a much smaller screen. The smartphone version should be available in both the App Store and Google Play at some point today. Like all versions of the game, your progress carries over from one device to the next through your battle.net account, though for new players this is a great time to jump in: Blizzard just released Blackrock Mountain, Hearthstone’s latest expansion.

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You want Game of Thrones? Pay for it – downloading is theft – There are several side effects to the return of Game of Thrones. One is the pleasure viewers take in it. Another is abuse heaped on me for not being a total fan of the series. And a third is theft. According to a recent report in The Guardian, “The prospect of the return of Game of Thrones has prompted a huge surge in Internet piracy, with fans making more than 100,000 illegal downloads per day of episodes of the show.” It’s the most pirated show in the world, with more than seven million episodes downloaded between February of last year and April of this year. The countries where the illegal downloading takes place makes for an interesting list. Brazil was the No. 1 country, followed by France, the United States, Canada and Britain.

Explore the original Wipeout inside your browser – It’s very likely that the genre-defining, futuristic racing series Wipeout is gone forever: after developer Studio Liverpool (formerly Psygnosis) shut down in 2012, the franchise has been on hiatus. The PS Vita classic Wipeout 2048 could go down as the last Wipeout ever released — but thanks to one fan there’s a way to relive the thrill of hurtling down a Wipeout track from the comfort of your browser.

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Guitar Hero returning with new guitar, mobile support – After a five-year break since its last console release, Activision is betting that gamers are ready to hop back on a rhythm game bandwagon that went from oversaturated to “all but dead” in record time. Guitar Hero Live will bring a newly designed guitar controller, curated song streaming, and a joint focus on consoles and mobile devices when it launches jointly on consoles and mobile platforms this fall.

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The new Gutiar Hero Live controller, featuring two rows of fret buttons.

Mortal Kombat X Review: it has begun – This is the Mortal Kombat you’ve been waiting for. Gone are the sweeping orb-like arenas of the 2000s, gone are the overly-complex schemes of the Kombat episodes of the lost era. Mortal Kombat X is a blood-stained dream come true: everything that made the original Mortal Kombat series a hit mixed with the graphics and technical finesse of today. While I’ll always be a fan of the original lineup, even the new characters are fun to play and interesting to learn about – imagine that!

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The Brilliant Design of the Soda Can, Explained – ​It’s incredible that we take some of life’s little engineering marvels for granted. Take the aluminum can, the trusty cylindrical container that keeps your Diet Coke fresh and portable. As YouTube’s “Engineerguy” Bill Hammack explains, the can’s brilliant design is a cylinder because it contains the best parts of a sphere (its surface area) with a cuboid-shaped design that makes the can sturdy and stackable. There’s a lot to take in in this 11-minute video, but it’s well worth a watch.

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Swarm robots poised to fly amid acquisitions and military investment – The military is going miniature, and that means big investments in small flying machines that will eventually operate in swarms.

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MIT’s Picture language could be worth a thousand lines of code – Now that machine-learning algorithms are moving into mainstream computing, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is preparing a way to make it easier to use the technique in everyday programming. In June, MIT researchers will present a new programming language, called Picture, that could radically reduce the amount of coding needed to help computers recognize objects in images and video. It is a prototype of how a relatively novel form of programming, called probabilistic programming, could reduce the amount of code needed for such complex tasks.

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Lawless Lawmen:

Dozens Arrested During Protests Across U.S. Against Police Violence – Protests took place in more than a dozen American cities Tuesday as racial tensions continue to mount in the wake of deadly police shootings.

Dash Cam Video Shows Police Car Ramming Into Suspect – The footage shows an officer speeding up as he runs over a man armed with a rifle in Marana, Arizona. The police chief, though, said the officer’s actions may have prevented the suspect from shooting himself or others, an assertion the man’s attorney rejects.

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Chicago To Pay $5.5 Million In Reparations To Police Torture Victims – The package, which was negotiated with numerous stakeholders, also includes a public recognition of the torture committed by Burge and counseling services for victims and their families. Burge was fired in 1993 after a police review board determined that officers under his command had tortured more than 100 suspects, many of them black men, since 1972. Among the methods used: mock executions, electrical shock, and burning, investigators found. Under the agreement announced Tuesday, the city of Chicago will create a permanent memorial recognizing the victims of torture.

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This is what evil looks like.

Lawyer representing whistle blowers finds malware on drive supplied by cops – An Arkansas lawyer representing current and former police officers in a contentious whistle-blower lawsuit is crying foul after finding three distinct pieces of malware on an external hard drive supplied by police department officials. According to court documents filed last week in the case, Campbell provided police officials with an external hard drive for them to load with e-mail and other data responding to his discovery request. When he got it back, he found something he didn’t request. In a subfolder titled D:\Bales Court Order, a computer security consultant for Campbell allegedly found three well-known trojans, including: Win32:Zbot-AVH[Trj], a password logger and backdoor – NSIS:Downloader-CC[Trj], a program that connects to attacker-controlled servers and downloads and installs additional programs – Two instances of Win32Cycbot-NF[Trj], a backdoor.

Lawmaker scraps bill making it illegal to film cops within 25 feet – A Texas lawmaker is scrapping his proposal to limit the public’s ability to film the police within a 25-foot radius. Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican, says the bill was too controversial. It was pending its first state committee hearing in the wake of two high-profile police incidents captured on camera by onlookers. One showed a South Carolina officer shooting a fleeing man in the back and another was of California officers beating a suspect.

Something to think about:

So….How’s Your Day Going?

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Today’s Free Downloads:

Glarysoft Quick StartupMajorGeek says: Managing your startup can actually be rather difficult. Do I need this, do I need that? What is this and that? With Quick Startup you can look at Startup, scheduled tasks, plug-ins, application services and Windows services. You can then disable or enable them, read or leave a comment or click to find out what is known about anything you’re not sure of. There are not a lot of comments yet but as startup programs go, this one is easy to use and well thought out regardless of your skill level with computers.

Free startup manager to disable or delay auto-start programs to speed up system boot times.

Features:

Browse all startup entries in an elegant list view.

Security risk rating for startup entries.

Get detailed information about individual startup entries.

Add, edit or delete startup entries.

Comment on program entries.

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Windows 10 Manager 0.1.5 Beta – Windows 10 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 10. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.Windows 10 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 10. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.

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Avira Rescue System 2015.04.13 – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

A scorecard of the Harper government’s wins and losses at the Supreme Court of Canada – In one of starkest examples in Canadian history of two branches of government openly turning against one another, the red robed members Supreme Court of Canada have spent months systematically shooting down virtually every issue the Conservatives hold dear. Court boosters say the Tories simply have a fondness for unconstitutional legislation. Harperites, meanwhile, allege that they are the target of a weird vendetta from their down-the-street neighbour. The National Post takes a look at the highlights.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 9, 2015

US cops have killed more people in the last month than British police have killed since 1900;  If you called anyone overseas from 1992-2013, the DEA probably knew about it;  Think Windows’s Built-In Antivirus Will Keep You Safe? You’re Wrong;  3 fast, easy ways to find the perfect animated GIF;  Taplet for iOS pulls still images from videos;  How to manage your online reputation for free;  Spring cleaning: Back up your phone;  7 new hardware technologies you’ll see in Windows 10 PCs;  5 Reasons You Should Buy the Apple Watch;  Periscope for iOS update brings simplified blocking;  5 Reasons You Should Not Buy the Apple Watch;  iOS 8.3 now available, fixes a ton of bugs and issues;  Skype’s real-time translator now speaks Italian and Chinese;  Spring cleaning for your Gmail;  Your ultimate ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 cheat sheet.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to manage your online reputation for free – Just a few years ago, much of what we did was soon forgotten. But thanks largely to social media, now we do. Misspelled Tweets, Facebook rants after you’ve had a bad day, and unflattering photos posted by your friends have made it difficult to manage your online reputation, especially when it’s archived for posterity. And it’s not just about keeping a lid on the past or your online mistakes — it’s also about making yourself look confident, capable, and Internet-savvy. There are plenty of companies that will help you clean up, protect and build a professional online rep for a price, but you don’t need that. Here’s how to manage your online reputation all by yourself (for free).

Spring cleaning: Back up your phone – It’s not exactly cleaning per se, but in the spirit of organization, now is a good time to go through your devices and make sure you’re up to date on your backups. After all, what’s the point of diligently backing up your iPhone or Android device, only to find that you’re a few months (and several hundred photos and text messages) behind when you need to do an emergency restore?

7 new hardware technologies you’ll see in Windows 10 PCs – Some new features that make for easier hardware handling are already available, but not yet in Windows PCs, which still make up the vast majority of desktop and laptop machines. For example, Apple’s MacBook and Google’s Chromebook Pixel have set the stage for USB Type C ports and its associated reversible cables to be used in Windows PCs later this year. Meanwhile, the new Windows Hello feature—which will allow users to unlock a Windows 10 device by recognizing a face, iris or fingerprint—could bring 3D cameras and more sensors to PCs.

3 fast, easy ways to find the perfect animated GIF – You need an image that will simultaneously display your encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and wit. But if you’ve never tried diving into the world of the GIF, where do you start? Should you create your own with Photoshop or Gimp? Nah—all you need to do is bookmark some great online repositories and simple tools that make it painless to get your GIF on.

5 Reasons You Should Buy the Apple Watch – The Apple Watch goes on sale soon. Here are 5 reasons you want one.

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5 Reasons You Should Not Buy the Apple Watch – The Apple Watch goes on sale soon. Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t buy one.

Periscope for iOS update brings simplified blocking – Periscope has pushed out a new update for its iOS app, and with it comes some new features, not the least of which is the ability to more easily block viewers while you’re streaming. As expected, the update also brings a few bug fixes in tow, such as that caching issue that was presenting the wrong user profile picture, as well as the problem that prevented some from watching broadcasts that were being heavily watched by others. We’ve the full change log after the jump!

Twitter is dropping the ‘Discover’ tab – Twitter’s Discover tab is gone. Today, the microblogging platform announces they’re retiring Discover, and will be transitioning Trends to the Search page. Trends is also getting a bit of attention in this process, signaling to us Twitter is keen to streamline our experience a bit. With Trends, Twitter will now provide a little context to hashtags you’re not immediately familiar with. The change is coming for both iOS and Android, and via an app update that’s already rolling out to all users.

iOS 8.3 now available, fixes a ton of bugs and issues – Having been in beta for what seems like forever, Apple has released iOS 8.3. In many regards, iOS 8.3 closely mirrors the OS X fixes behind the scenes, with WiFi and Bluetooth fixes inbound. In fact, this update is absolutely ripe with little tweaks and fixes — a pleasant side effect of Apple’s new iOS beta program, no doubt. Much of the ‘fixing’ seems to hit Safari, but Apple has also improved app launching, Messages, and Control Center. the full changelog is below.

Taplet for iOS pulls still images from new or existing videos – Take a video on your iPhone or iPad, and there’s bound to be at least one still image you’d like to extract. Someone made a funny face, or the bat-ball impact is just too cool to pass up. You could feed that video into some sort of expensive desktop software to extract stills, but that’s not fun. Enter Taplet, an app that aims to snatch still images from your videos for you, and let you use them as you please.

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OS X Update Brings New Photos App, Diverse Emoji to Mac – Say goodbye to iPhoto and Aperture, Mac users. Because Cupertino’s replacement—simply called Photos—has arrived. Apple on Wednesday released a free software update for users running OS X Yosemite (v10.10.3), which includes the new Photos app first released to developers back in February, and a number of other goodies. That includes more than 300 new, racially diverse Emoji characters that we first got a peek at earlier this year, along with the usual bug fixes.

Skype’s real-time translator now speaks Italian and Chinese – Microsoft has been trialling its Skype Translator software that automatically translates voice calls between people, and it’s getting a language update today. While the initial version only supported English and Spanish, today’s update brings Italian and Chinese (Mandarin). “As you can imagine, Mandarin is a very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator,” explains Microsoft’s Yasmin Khan. “With approximately 10,000 characters and multiple tones, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master, along with Arabic, Japanese, and Korean.”

Facebook launches standalone Messenger for web browsers – There’s now a web browser version of Facebook Messenger to go along with the standalone smartphone apps the company is making everyone use. No, Facebook the website isn’t taking away your ability to chat with friends. After the controversy that surrounded divorcing the two central features on mobile, Facebook is adamant that Messenger isn’t leaving Facebook.com anytime soon. Instead, Messenger for the web — which you’ll find at Messenger.com starting today — focuses solely on simple conversations and leaves the other parts of Facebook that can be distracting to the primary site.

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Spring cleaning for your Gmail – Spring cleaning month is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you should stop optimizing the tech in your life. Gmail can be a source of stress if you don’t have a good system in place for responding to email, or the ability to easily locate contact information. Fortunately, these changes are just a few clicks away. Here’s seven tips to make Gmail work at its best for you.

Security:

Think Windows’s Built-In Antivirus Will Keep You Safe? You’re Wrong – It’s true that Windows 8 and 8.1 come with antivirus protection built in, but you can’t rely on it to protect you against malware attack. Results from independent labs and our own hands-on tests show that you really need a third-party antivirus utility.

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Diving into the Dark Web: Where does your stolen data go? – If your sensitive data is stolen online, where does it go — and who sees it? One security team found out.

Review: Anonabox or InvizBox, which Tor router better anonymizes online life? – These devices are, to varying degrees, effective ways to hide from unwanted attention of all sorts. That is, they’ll work short of a state actor looking to use a giant datacenter dedicated to performing all manner of de-anonymizing attacks by using the Tor takeover conspiracy model of the week, zero-day malware, or people’s own simple mistakes against them. But these routers all follow slightly different approaches. Anonabox is a stunningly hands-off product that has no user interface other than its lengthy Wi-Fi password; InvizBox provides hands-off privacy with the addition of an administrative interface to apply fixes and leverage moderately more complicated Tor capabilities; and PORTAL promises to provide everything—including pluggable protocols for Tor to help it get past the most persistent state-funded nastiness.

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Hands on (literally): the two Tor “travel router” contenders, Anonabox (left) and InvizBox (right), are ready to conceal your Internet wanderings. Sean Gallagher.

Pinterest, Yammer scramble to patch login thievery headaches – Pinterest has patched a vulnerability that meant its iPhone app leaked passwords to other surfers on the same network. An earlier version of the Pinterest iOS app fails to validate the server certificate, potentially allowing a suitably positioned attacker on the same network to steal login credentials related to the photo sharing-focused social networking website. The vulnerability might be exploited in an open Wi-Fi environment to run man-in-the-middle attacks using an invalid cert, according to bug finder Han Sahin of Dutch security firm Securify. In response, Pinterest acknowledged the problem and said that it had already developed a fix.

Company News:

YouTube Confirms Plans For An Ad-Free, Subscription-Based Service – Confirming reports from last fall, YouTube announced today its plans for an ad-free, subscription-based service by way of an email sent out to YouTube Partners. The email details the forthcoming option, which will offer consumers the choice to pay for an “ads-free” version of YouTube for a monthly fee. The additional monetization option requires partners to agree to updated terms on YouTube’s Creator Studio Dashboard, which notes that the changes will go into effect on June 15, 2015.

Report: Google ‘GMeet’ to Revamp the Teleconference – First discovered by Google+ user Florian Kiersch, the Web giant appears to be developing a new teleconferencing solution dubbed GMeet, or Google Meeting. Kiersch managed to nab some screenshots of the new service (pictured), which show that it will let you schedule a new meeting, join one that’s already in progress, and see a schedule of your meetings for that day. Google appears to be testing the service internally at the moment, as Kiersch said it’s only available to people who work at the company. Based on the leaked screenshots, it appears GMeet will be an Android app, but Kiersch said it will also be available on the Web through a Chrome extension.

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You can now buy a BMW from Amazon Japan – You can order just about anything from Amazon. Computers, lawnmowers, diapers, wine. On their Japanese site, though, you can even order yourself a brand new BMW. No, not a Matchbox car, an actual BMW that you can drive. By drive, I don’t meant using a remote control. While this particular BMW is, in fact, battery powered, it’s not an RC you can race around inside your house. It’s the BMW i3, the company’s popular compact EV.

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Google search might soon hook you up with local home services – Google seems to be trying to get more and more personal, suggesting things that go beyond our digital personas, perhaps not to everyone’s liking. The latest unconfirmed convenience that Google Search users might soon have at their fingertips would be connection to local home service providers, like plumbers, carpenters, and electricians. This would seem to be the next step to Google embracing almost every aspect of our lives, after it started helping us find the best nearby car insurance through Google Compare.

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FCC fines AT&T a record $25 million for customer data thefts – The Federal Communications Commission is handing AT&T a $25 million fine, the largest-ever amount for a privacy-related issue, for a series of data breaches that gave out personal information for nearly 280,000 customers and contributed to international trafficking of stolen mobile phones. The breaches occurred during 2013 and 2014 at AT&T call centers in Mexico, Colombia, and the Philippines, all serving customers in the US. AT&T has agreed to a settlement and to making several changes to its security practices.

Zynga CEO Mattrick leaves abruptly, replaced by founder Pincus – Zynga CEO Don Mattrick has abruptly left the company, to be replaced by his predecessor, company founder Mark Pincus, the company announced Wednesday. The company said in a statement ahead of its planned first-quarter conference call in May that Mattrick, who joined after leading the Xbox video game group at Microsoft, is leaving Zynga and its board of directors after less than two years at the helm.

Games and Entertainment:

Your ultimate ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 cheat sheet – With Season 5 of “Game of Thrones” starting Sunday, we’ve created a GIF-filled refresher course on who did what to whom, where and sometimes why. Plus, photo clues and a video recap.

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Watch the first trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Yesterday, Square Enix officially unveiled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the latest entry in the long-running cyberpunk series. Today you can finally see what the game looks like in action thanks to the very first trailer. Mankind Divided takes place in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, and once again stars augmented hero Adam Jensen; this time around he’s out hunting other mechanically augmented humans, who have been dubbed terrorists. Eidos Montreal will once again be developing the game, using the studio’s all-new Dawn Engine. No word yet on a release date, but the next chapter in the Deus Ex franchise will be coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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New fan-made Star Trek TV show brings back original cast members – Currently, there are two fan-made Star Trek projects nearing release and both of them are vying for the chance to bring Star Trek back to TV. Star Trek: Axanar is a full length feature film about the four-year war with the Klingons that takes place in the Star Trek established canon’s past. Star Trek: Renegades is a fan-made television pilot that takes place 10 years after the events of Star Trek: Voyager.

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Xbox One Gets Over-The-Air TV Powers In The U.S. And Canada – Xbox One owners have a new way to get TV on their console: The game machine supports over-the-air TV now for those in the Xbox One Preview program, and in the coming months for everyone else, provided that you also pick up an $80 Hauppauge WinTV-955Q TV tuner and an HDTV antenna. Xbox is also working with Hauppauge to make it even cheaper to get on board, with a $60 tuner panned for availability sometime in the “next few month” and made available across the U.S. and Canada. Provided you get the right kind of HDTV antenna, and are within range of over-the-air broadcast stations, you’ll be able to use the tune and antenna hardware plugged into your Xbox One to get both OneGuide and MiniGuide overlays on the console showing you programming information.

“Game of Hyrule” video makes a gorgeous mix of fantasy – You’re probably tired, maybe even sick, of the numerous renditions of the now iconic Game of Thrones opening sequence. We’ve got Starcraft versions, or one that’s entirely done inside Minecraft’s blocky world. But from time to time, something comes up that’s so brilliant that it does give you goosebumps and shivers down your spine. Especially if it pays homage to a well-loved fantasy world. That’s exactly what video sketch group Megasteakman accomplished when it rendered Zelda’s world of Hyrule into a very short Game of Thrones tour.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

US cops have killed more people in the last month than British police have killed since 1900 – A total of 111 people were killed by police in the United States in March of 2015. Since 1900, in the entire United Kingdom, 52 people have been killed by police. Don’t bother adjusting for population differences, or poverty, or mental illness, or anything else. The sheer fact that American police kill TWICE as many people per month as police have killed in the modern history of the United Kingdom is sick, preposterous, and alarming.

Super-light drone mimics a butterfly – Automation and robotics company Festo has designed a super-light drone aircraft that looks and moves like a butterfly, which is rather hypnotic to watch all by itself, but it gets better. You can unleash multiple butterfly drones and they flutter around as an interconnected group. The artificial insects (called eMotionButterflies) rely on a number of technologies to get airborne and stay there. First, there are the light plastic wings. Each one is controlled independently by a tiny servo. This allows the robot to maneuver in the air without any complicated fins of spinning blades. It’s not as precise as a quadrocopter, but it’s certainly more elegant. The hardware controlling the butterfly is also extremely compact.

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AIG wins approval to fly drones to help process claims – The FAA gives AIG approval to use unmanned aerial vehicles to examine disaster sites, assess risk and get claims rolling.

Drones to the rescue: How one South African project is using big data to outfox rhino poachers – A project to protect South African rhinos is using crowdfunding to help fund the purchase of drones used to defeat poachers.

U.S. Teens’ Social Media Activity Is Diversifying, Says Pew – Anyone in tech can tell you that Actual Teens are hallowed ground. Where teens’ tastes wander, the industry froths itself into a frenzy attempting to follow. For teens are a bellwether of dollar valuations to come. So what are American Teens keen on right now? A new report by the Pew Research Center delves into the tech that matters to the kids that matter.

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Rand Paul sells “NSA spy cam blocker” as presidential bid fundraiser – Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced his intent to run for United States president in 2016 on Tuesday, although the video of the announcement is currently offline due to a copyright claim filed on behalf of the song it used. In the meantime, supporters can access an online store full of Rand-branded merch. There, next to political-support knickknacks like yard signs and bumper stickers, shoppers can find a heretofore uncommon accessory in the political-fundraiser category: a “webcam blocker.” Or, more specifically, an “NSA spy cam blocker,” which retails for $15 and comes with a giant “RAND” logo.

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Apple would rather you didn’t queue at its stores for its new products – It’s a familiar sight: Apple unveils a new product, and excited fans flock to its retail stores ahead of launch day, eager to be among the first people to get their hands on the new device. Indeed, it’s a sight that many other companies look upon with jealous eyes, wishing their customers were similarly keen to buy their products – but it seems that Apple isn’t quite as happy about it as one might imagine. In fact, Apple’s head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, would much rather customers place orders for its new devices through the company’s website, rather than turning up at its stores.

NASA anticipates finding evidence of alien life in 10 to 20 years – If you’re hoping humans will discover other living beings in the universe during your lifetime, you might be in luck. Speaking yesterday at a panel in DC, NASA researchers touched on the topic of alien life and finding evidence of such, and what they had to say was largely inspiring: it’ll eventually happen, and the first stages of that likely within the span of the next 20 years. The prospect is exciting, not the least of which is due to the leaps in space travel humans are likely to make in that same time span.

Something to think about:

“The fact that our government collects so much information about us — where we live, our economic status, so many unbelievable little details about our lives — but it doesn’t track its own behaviour when it kills, either justifiably or otherwise, is incomprehensible.”

–       D. Brian Burghart

Today’s Free Downloads:

New Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit version is out – Did you know that the majority of new malware is delivered via the web through a process known as a drive-by download attack?

The scenario is quite simple: you browse to a website and malicious code is downloaded to your computer automatically without your knowledge or approval.

Contrary to some beliefs, you do not need to browse to shady websites for this to happen. In fact, all websites are a potential source of infection either because they can get compromised or because they host a malicious advertisement.

Anti-Exploit protection is about being proactive and not giving the bad guys a single chance to compromise your system. Some pieces of malware can be cleaned up more or less easily but other types like ransomware can’t.

Anti-Exploit is the perfect complement to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for a defense in depth in a world where cyber criminals are constantly pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to compromise your machines.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit comes in two flavours: The free or the premium version and both can be downloaded here.

Existing users can install the new version on top of the previous one or wait for a program update. More details and change log can be found in our forums here.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

If you called anyone overseas from 1992-2013, the DEA probably knew about it – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under approval from the top echelons of the Department of Justice, ran a secret, extensive phone metadata bulk collection program for over two decades, amassing billions of records, according to a new report published Tuesday in USA Today.

This database had previously been revealed to a lesser extent earlier this year, but neither its operational details nor its scope had been revealed until now.

For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.

Federal investigators used the call records to track drug cartels’ distribution networks in the USA, allowing agents to detect previously unknown trafficking rings and money handlers. They also used the records to help rule out foreign ties to the bombing in 1995 of a federal building in Oklahoma City and to identify U.S. suspects in a wide range of other investigations.

As Ars reported in January 2015, the DEA had previously revealed some information about this database in a three-page partially-redacted affidavit that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use “administrative subpoenas” to obtain business records and other “tangible things.”

So, the DEA simply “began ordering telephone companies to turn over lists of all phone calls from the USA to countries where the government determined drug traffickers operated, current and former officials said.”

Phone Surveillance Revelation Should Prompt Reassessment Of NSA Spying – Does evidence of a decades-old surveillance program throw out the case many public officials have made for the modern surveillance state?

Since Edward Snowden first leaked documents about secret National Security Agency (NSA) programs, government officials have defended them in the name of September 11 and national security. Again and again, we heard that these programs were built in the wake of that tragic day to “connect the dots” so no event like that would ever occur again. They addressed issues of national security, not day-to-day policing.

But a new report from USA TODAY suggests that the precursor of this program was implemented almost a decade earlier — fighting drug cartels, not terrorism.

The report says the United States began keeping secret records of billions of Americans’ calls to international numbers in 1992. The program, which the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration led, spanned more than two decades and affected calls to as many as 116 countries, even if the callers were not suspects in crimes.

Google ordered by German authority to change privacy practices – A German data protection authority has ordered Google to change how it handles users’ private data in the country by the end of the year.

The administrative order was issued on Wednesday by the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Johannes Caspar, in order to force Google to comply with German data protection law and give users more control over their data.

Google started combining existing policies for various services when it changed its privacy policy in 2012, despite the concerns of European Union data protection authorities. At least six authorities then started formal investigations into the new policy; Hamburg was one of those six.

The Hamburg data protection commissioner originally issued its order against Google in September last year, but Google decided to oppose it. Its objection was overruled by the authority.

The company is now obliged to make the necessary changes in order to process data of German users on a valid legal basis, Caspar said.

US drug cops taken to court to ensure all dragnet snooping records are destroyed – Campaign group Human Rights Watch is suing Uncle Sam’s anti-drug squads – the US Drug Enforcement Administration and others – after it emerged the g-men were secretly monitoring Americans’ international phone calls.

The activists claim the collection of telephone conversation records is unconstitutional, and causes “irreparable harm” to people. Human Rights Watch is being represented by the EFF, which has previously taken the US government to task over blanket surveillance operations. Together they filed a lawsuit in California on Tuesday against the DEA, the FBI, the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the United States of America for good measure.

Human Rights Watch’s general counsel Dinah PoKempner said her organization “works with people who are sometimes in life or death situations, where speaking out can make them a target,” adding: “Whom we communicate with and when is often extraordinarily sensitive – and it’s information that we wouldn’t turn over to the government lightly.”

From the early 1990s, the DEA kept logs on virtually all telephone calls from the US to as many as 116 countries. The agency wanted to track the trafficking of illegal substances, and wound up gathering masses of information on innocent citizens – which is upsetting privacy campaigners.

FBI would rather prosecutors drop cases than disclose stingray details – Not only is the FBI actively attempting to stop the public from knowing about stingrays, it has also forced local law enforcement agencies to stay quiet even in court and during public hearings, too.

An FBI agreement, published for the first time in unredacted form on Tuesday, clearly demonstrates the full extent of the agency’s attempt to quash public disclosure of information about stingrays. The most egregious example of this is language showing that the FBI would rather have a criminal case be dropped to protect secrecy surrounding the stingray.

Relatively little is known about how, exactly, stingrays, known more generically as cell-site simulators, are used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, although new documents have recently been released showing how they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. Worse still, cops have lied to courts about their use. Not only can stingrays be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Typically, police deploy them without first obtaining a search warrant.

The US Gov Can Download the Entire Contents of Your Computer at Border Crossings – Hundreds of thousands of travelers cross US borders every day. And none of them—save the precious few with diplomatic immunity—have any right to privacy, according to Department of Homeland Security documents recently obtained by MuckRock.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Privacy Impact Assessment for the Border Searches of Electronic Devices outlines the finer points of border officials’ authority to search the electronic devices of citizens and non-citizens alike crossing the US border. What becomes clear is that this authority has been broadly interpreted to mean that any device brought into or out of the country is subject to the highest level of scrutiny, even when there is no explicit probable cause.

Based upon little more than the opinion of a single US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer, any device can be searched and its contents read. With approval from a supervisor, the device can be seized, its contents copied in full, or both.

Canada: A welcome warning on privacy rights: Editorial – In the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, advertisers target consumers by scanning their irises as they walk by. The scans are connected to data files of private information so complete that the advertiser can actually address passing pedestrians by name.

We’re not there yet. But Bell Canada’s so-called “Relevant Advertising Program” certainly gives cause for concern. Luckily, it alarmed the privacy commissioner of Canada as well, after he received an unprecedented 170 complaints about the program.

And this week Daniel Therrien issued a welcome report slamming the telecommunications giant for not seeking consent from each of its customers to create personal files that Bell used to help advertisers target them. He also threatened to take Bell to Federal Court if it did not comply with his recommendation.

In all, it was a much-needed shot across the bow of Bell and other companies that might infringe on customers’ privacy rights.

And it worked. After fighting the privacy commissioner for a year on the issue, Bell promised to obtain consent. It claimed it was doing so because it is “dedicated to protecting customer privacy.”

In fact, Bell’s targeted advertising program was downright creepy in how deeply it invaded customer privacy to sell information to third-party advertisers.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 17, 2015

Online privacy nihilism runs rampant in US, survey says;  Hertz installs cameras and microphones in rental cars;  Here’s what Facebook will (and won’t) allow in your posts;  Skype for Business now available in preview form;  10 iPad apps you should be using;  Fun Fit app pits you against Facebook friends;  How to watch March Madness (even without cable);  The best apps for following March Madness on your Android phone or tablet;  Microsoft announces Office 2016 preview;  Brute force box lets researchers, Cops, pop iDevice locks;  What to do if someone steals your IP address;  Apple plans TV service with around 25 channels;  The Best iPhone Games of the Week;  Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review;  The 11 funniest hacker attacks;  Fujitsu has a cool liquid answer to hot spots in smartphones;  Snowden tells tech bigwigs: It’s up to you to thwart mass surveillance.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Online privacy nihilism runs rampant in US, survey says – A majority of Americans have not altered their online behavior in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations detailing widespread US government electronic surveillance activities, according to a Pew Research Center survey published Monday. Not everybody is a privacy nihilist, however, as some Internet users are taking limited precautions, the nationwide study said. Thirty-four percent of respondents who said that “they have heard about” the spying programs have taken what the study described as “simple steps” and have done at least one of the following: altered the social media privacy settings, avoided some apps, used social media less, spoke more in person, deleted social media accounts, or “have not used certain terms in search engine queries they thought might trigger scrutiny.”

Pointing up     And because you don’t care – you get the following outrage. Better get use to fishbowl living!  Still, if you have nothing to hide…

Hertz installs cameras and microphones in rental cars – The company has been installing cameras and microphones in its NeverLost navigational systems. They’re not in all their rental cars. They’re only in the NeverLost 6 version, introduced last year. But clearly the presence of them might make one or two drivers wonder about their capabilities. A report in Fusion added to the consternation. Hertz told Fusion that around 1 out of every 8 of its cars had the cameras installed. But no, no, the company wasn’t actually going to use them. Was this because it sensed that this might be seen as a painful intrusion. Not quite. A Hertz spokeswoman told Fusion: “We do not have adequate bandwidth capabilities to the car to support streaming video at this time.” So it’s only the tech that’s holding Hertz back from keep tabs on its renters?

Here’s what Facebook will (and won’t) allow in your posts – You might have heard news that Facebook is changing up their rules a bit, releasing an update to their ‘Community Standards’ guidelines. Those rules are in place to safeguard the Facebook community at-large against content that is widely regarded as offensive or distasteful. But you’re not one of those people, right? We hope not, but some algorithm might not be able to pick up on your humor or purpose. Rather than leave things to chance, let’s clarify what can and can’t be posted to Facebook.

Three contact manager apps better than the one that came with your phone – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: your smartphone’s contacts app isn’t the best contact manager around. A wide variety of third-party apps is available, making it easier than ever to keep track of all those names and numbers. And just like your list of contacts, these apps are constantly being updated—some of them much improved since last time I looked at them.

Microsoft announces Office 2016 preview for IT professionals and developers – Microsoft has announced the launch of a new preview of Office 2016 for IT pros and developers, which you can sign up for right now – although the company points out that it’s not yet feature-complete.

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Skype for Business now available in preview form – Microsoft has just announced that it is releasing the first public preview of Skype for Business. The new program is designed to replace Lync and unify Microsoft’s offerings for the enterprise.

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Intel doesn’t want Curie wearable computer making fashion statements – The Curie, slated to ship in the second half of the year, was first shown at CES in the form of a button-sized computer on Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s suit. The almost invisible Curie had technology that could read heart rates, and transfer the data wirelessly using Bluetooth. Blending technology discreetly into wearables is Intel’s goal with Curie, which will go into a wide range of tiny coin battery devices that can run for days and months without a recharge. The wearable computer is for non-technical customers, such as companies outside of the IT industry, that want to plug and play technology into devices, clothes and accessories.

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10 iPad apps you should be using – Summary:Looking for apps for your iPad that you’ll actually end up using? These 10 apps are a good place to start.

YouTube Debuts A New Resource Site For Music Artists – The website aims to be more of guide to various resources available to music artists promoting their work on YouTube, and includes tips about how to get discovered, how to engage fans, and how to generate revenue, among other things. It also points artists to the newly launched “Cards,” which are interactive overlays that video publishers can use for a variety of purposes, including to help with raising funds via a crowdfunding campaign, selling merchandise, promoting upcoming shows, and more.

How to watch March Madness (even without cable) – Games will be streamed online and through the NCAA March Madness Live app. There’s even a trick to gain access to the games without a cable subscription.

The best apps for following March Madness on your Android phone or tablet – With these free apps you’ll be able to stream the game, follow your bracket, and catch all the scores from your phone or tablet. You’re on your own for bracket advice, though it’s not like you’re going to pick anyone besides undefeated Kentucky to win it all, anyway.

HTC new Fun Fit app pits you against Facebook friends – The latest tool in HTC’s quest to pump you up is Fun Fit, a fitness tracking app that turns you and your Facebook friends into zany animal avatars. It stores all the usual exercise information, like your number of steps, calories burned, and minutes that you work out daily. Fun Fit tries to be a little more, well, fun, by displaying your profile and any friends you drag in as cute animals. It works on most modern phones (not just HTC models), like the Galaxy Note 4, Nexus 6, and Galaxy S5. Fun Fit also compiles your records by day, week, and month for longer-term comparisons.

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Apple Watch apps you’ll want to use – Anyone who understands technology will know that while Apple may have created the Apple Watch, it will be developers who truly make it “smart.” Developers will be the people who create solutions that mean a few seconds’ exposure to the connected intelligence on our wrists may make a positive difference to our lives. There’s a huge amount of activity going on already, so things look interesting. Here are just a few apps you’ll want to use if you buy yourself an Apple Watch.

Here’s How Microsoft Will Fit Windows 10 Inside Inexpensive Devices – Microsoft detailed its efforts today to reduce the footprint of Windows 10, a forthcoming operating system that the software company hopes will run across devices of every screen size. Fitting Windows onto smaller devices, however, is a challenge, given that the operating system isn’t known for having a diminutive footprint. Windows 10 has two chief methods built into it to reduce its size. Already out in the market in Windows 10 build 9879 is the ability to compress its system files, shrinking the disk space needed to hold the operating system by 1.5 gigabytes for 32 bit builds, and 2.6 gigabytes for 64 bit editions.

Security:

Brute force box lets researchers, Cops, pop iDevice locks – Apple fans have more reason to update to iOS 8.2 with the discovery of a device used in the computer repair industry that automates password exploitation. The IP-Box tool exploits CVE-2014-4451 to conduct unlimited password guesses against iOS devices on 8.1 and below for iPhones and iPads. A barrage of PINs are entered by resetting the phone which thanks to the since-patched vulnerability bypasses Cupertino’s rate-limiters and settings to nuke personal data after a set about of failed attempts. Attacks against four-digit PINs take a maximum of 17 hours with each attempt taking about six seconds to complete. The total time could be reduced by prioritising the most likely passwords a target user may pick, or by selecting a pre-defined option to test date of birth combinations.

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Yahoo’s new on-demand password system is no replacement for two-factor authentication – In an effort to simplify authentication for its services, Yahoo has introduced a new mechanism that allows users to log in with temporary passwords that are sent to their mobile phones. If this sounds like a two-factor authentication system where users need to provide one-time codes sent to their mobile phones in addition to their static passwords, it’s not. Yahoo already had that option. Instead, the new log-in mechanism, which is based on what Yahoo calls on-demand passwords, still relies on a single factor, the user’s phone number.

What to do if someone steals your IP address – Neither your ISP nor anyone else can actually tell what you are doing on the Internet. But they can follow the activity of your public IP address—the one your router uses to access the Internet. And if someone else uses that address for unsavory purposes, you could become a prime suspect.

Company News:

eBay launches high-end auctions with Sotheby’s – eBay is taking another step into high-end auctions. Delivering on a partnership announced last summer, eBay is today launching a new area of its website built specifically for the auction house Sotheby’s. The section provides a much cleaner and more informative experience than you’d find elsewhere on the site and allows visitors to register for online access to live auctions. While browsing items up for auction at Sotheby’s, you’ll be able to quickly skip from one item to the next and read information about each piece. There will also be editorial content interspersed, targeted toward new collectors.

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Pinterest valued at $11B after latest round of funding – Pinterest has raised $367 million in its latest round of financing, giving it a valuation of $11 billion and making the social discovery site one of the most valuable venture capital-backed startups. The makers of the visual bookmarking tool confirmed the financing Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is looking to raise as much as another $211 million, a spokeswoman said, for a total of $578 million raised in the Series G round.

Verizon Cloud now live in Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore – Summary:Verizon Cloud has debuted in Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong as part of the company’s aim to be an end-to-end cloud solutions provider for large, small, and medium-sized corporations.

Nintendo Announces Plans to Expand Into Mobile Gaming – You may soon be able to play iconic video games like Super Mario Bros. on your smartphone, according to an announcement by the game’s parent company, Nintendo, on Tuesday. Nintendo said it would partner with mobile gaming company DeNA Co. to develop “gaming applications” for smartphones and other non-console devices, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple plans TV service with around 25 channels after falling out with Comcast: WSJ – Apple’s long-rumored online TV service could be announced as soon as June, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company is reportedly preparing to offer a service with around 25 channels from broadcasters like ABC, CBS, and Fox and launch it this September across all iOS devices and the Apple TV. The bundle could include the likes of ESPN and FX, and Apple is said to be pushing for a large on-demand library, but it will likely leave out a lot of smaller networks. Recode said last month that Apple was in talks with broadcasters to offer bundles of content.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review – To suggest that Final Fantasy Type-0’s international release was “long awaited” would be a gross understatement. The original game (pre-HD)’s demo was first released in August of 2011, back before the first whispers of an 8th-generation console release. Originally titled Final Fantasy Agito XIII for its non-HD PSP release, this game was eventually re-named Final Fantasy Type-0, so named for its original approach in battle in the Final Fantasy universe. Here we’ve got Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, a game that’s been in development since mid-2012 for release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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Battlefield: Hardline review impressions: Crossing the thin blue line – Battlefield Hardline, a cops vs. robbers spin on the military shoot ’em ups, actually shakes up the series’ tried-and-true formula so much that it barely even feels like Battlefield anymore. Hardline’s singleplayer campaign is an entirely different beast. You play the part of Nick Mendoza, a rookie cop who lands in Miami’s Vice department. Yes, like the TV show. And that’s important, because Hardline is itself taking cues from TV. The entire campaign is set up like an episodic TV show, right down to a Netflix-style “Next Episode” overlay in between missions.

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The Best iPhone Games of the Week – Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Flying Cars Could Be a Reality By 2017 – Though it’s not exactly what The Jetsons predicted, AeroMobil’s flying car may hit the road—er, sky—as soon as 2017. During an appearance at this week’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik said the company hopes to release its first model within three years, The Verge reported. Vaculik described three “prisons” of modern commuting, which he apparently likened to a communist regime: the traffic prison, airport prison, and prison of bad infrastructure. AeroMobil is based in Slovakia, formerly a part of the old USSR’s Czechoslovakia client state.

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Stunning Loch Ness fireball illuminates shadowy monster’s home – The most famous photos ever taken on Scotland’s Loch Ness tend to feature fuzzy profiles of mythic creatures, or perhaps fuzzy, creature-shaped shadows, depending on your level of skepticism. But the above photo taken Sunday around 9 p.m. GMT shows another otherworldly feature over the Scottish lake with remarkable clarity. Local tour guide John Alasdair Macdonald, who runs thehebrideanexplorer.com, said he just happened to get lucky when he snapped the picture of a shooting star reaching fireball-level luminosity as the meteor streaked toward the ground.

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The 11 funniest hacker attacks – Black hat cyber-terrorists use their 1337 skills for all kinds of nefarious purposes, but sometimes they just want a good laugh. The prankster mentality has been a part of hacker culture since the beginning, and in this feature we’ll run down the eleven most hilarious times computers were compromised for lulz.

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Many of the best computer hacks reach out into the real world as well, as this illustrates.

Fujitsu has a cool liquid answer to hot spots in smartphones – Fujitsu has developed an approach to cooling smartphones that it claims can achieve five times greater heat transfer than metal or graphite sheets. One of the side effects of packing smartphones with ever more powerful components into smaller spaces is heat, which can be uncomfortable for the user and cause wear and tear on components.

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Would you trust Google to decide what is fact and what is not? – Summary:A Google research project is looking at ways to rank pages based on the accuracy of facts on each page. Could this ignite a firestorm of political and religious disagreement?

Something to think about:

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Today’s Free Downloads:

XnView Extended – XnView is an efficient multimedia viewer, browser and converter.

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XnView is provided as FREEWARE (NO Adware, NO Spyware) for private or educational use (including non-profit organizations).

If you enjoy using XnView, Don’t hesitate to help the developer with a small donation.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

A Steady Erosion Of Confidence In Government – Governments around the world are facing significant political turmoil and enormous economic stress as they struggle with an alarming and unprecedented array of public-policy crises.

And whether it’s water scarcity in Brazil, the rural electricity shortfall in India, the financial meltdown in Russia, or income inequality in the U.S., public-sector leaders often seem overmatched and overwhelmed at a time when solutions and answers are needed.

To make matters worse, government officials are being challenged by citizen, business, media and employee stakeholders to address critical issues in operations, governance and elections. The repercussions from these issues – which include transparency, accountability, budgeting, spending, regulation and bureaucratic performance – have steadily eroded confidence in public institutions and public officials.

Snowden tells tech bigwigs: It’s up to you to thwart mass surveillance – SXSW 2015 In a quietly arranged Q&A session at South by Southwest (SXSW) on Sunday morning, Edward Snowden told about thirty influential people from the tech world that the onus for thwarting mass surveillance was falling to them.

Snowden had previously spoken at SXSW with the American Civil Liberties Union, explaining to attendees the “massive scale” on which he believed the US Constitution was being violated by the spooks’ mass-surveillance operations.

His talk on Sunday morning, however, was more private and directed specifically at technology companies, with few other parties invited by the SXSW organisers.

The Verge spoke to Sunday Yokubaitis, president at Golden Frog, a global online services provider, who attended the gathering and described Snowden’s question-and-answer session as a “call to arms”.

Yokubaitis said that Snowden was encouraging a greater adoption of end-to-end encryption.

“The low-hanging fruit is always [the] transit layer,” the NSA whistleblower reportedly said. “It raises the cost. Every time we raise the cost, we force budgetary constraints.”

Tech companies’ responsibility for managing their users’ privacy has been a standard concern for users since before the revelations regarding global surveillance began to be published.

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EU Parliamentarians visit U.S. to talk data protection, mass surveillance – A delegation of 11 MEPs, all members of the Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE), are in Washington to discuss major issues. One of them is the renewal of the so-called Safe Harbor deal that regulates the transfer of personal data of EU citizens to the U.S.

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about U.S. government spying, the European Commission—the E.U.’s executive branch—gave the U.S. 13 demands that it wanted met in order for the Safe Harbor deal to continue. So far, however, no agreement has been reached. A summer 2014 deadline was postponed and the Commission now hopes to conclude talks on the deal by the end of May.

If that does not happen though, the deal could be suspended, which would have huge implications for U.S. tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, who use the agreement to process EU citizen data in the U.S.

Government Requests For Facebook Data Decrease In U.S. And UK, But Rise In India – The total number of requests from governments received by the world’s largest social network rose from 34,946 in the first half of the year, to 35,051 between July and December 2014.

Facebook is the de facto social media in most of the world, so it’s no surprise that the site is one of the first places that authorities turn to when they seek information about individuals. Facebook disclosed that it saw 14,274 requests from the U.S. government for information about users, 79 percent of those requests saw Facebook provide data. That figure represents a slight reduction on 15,433 requests in the first half of 2014.

India was the second highest government on Facebook’s list, with 5,473 requests made during the final six months of last year. That’s perhaps unsurprising — the country’s approach to censorship was highlighted when ISPs were told to block 30 websites, including GitHub in December.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 16, 2015

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out;  Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier;  Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop;  If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid;  Five commands Mac admins should know;  March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win;  Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption;  Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking;  PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP;  10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects;  Steam hits 1,000 Linux games;  Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans;  Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features;  Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits;  Smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid – Lenovo may have publicly buried bloatware, but it’s anything but dead. After the company’s Superfish scandal, we shopped Best Buy and found it alive and well on major vendors’ PC offerings. A little research should save you from the worst of it, though. Here’s what we learned.

What’s your pa$$word? Secure your organization by securing your accounts – The topic of password security has been spoken about continually for the past two decades. However, passwords continue to be a problem for almost every organization, and “password” and “qwerty” are still among the most common passwords in the world. Let’s go through seven basic facts about authentication and see if your accounts are as secure as they should be.

Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier – Sprint really, really wants you to ditch your current carrier and switch over to its network. And it’s prepared to pay a hefty price for your business. The company on Friday announced it will reimburse all of the costs to switch, including any early termination fees and remaining payments on your current plan, “no matter what is owed.” This means if you still owe money on your iPhone installment plan, Sprint will pay it — along with any fees you incur for breaking your contract.

Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google has finally announced the long awaited Android 5.1 update after its not-so-secret debut on Android One devices in the Philippines. This new build of Lollipop is rolling out to Nexus devices right now, but what’s in it? The official changelog was severely lacking in detail, but now that it’s hitting devices we can see all the tweaks to this version of Android. Let’s check it out.

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out – Free is always good. But when free equates to helpful and/or productive, free is outstanding. If you spend enough time on the Google Play Store, you will eventually come across apps that fit that category ─ free apps that actually improve your daily life in some way. But trudging through the muck and mire of the free games, shopping apps, and other (countless) apps that do nothing more than take up precious storage space can take a lot of time. That’s where I come in. I’ve spent plenty of time digging through the Google Play Store to come up with a list of solid free apps — all of which are must-haves in one way or another — that everyone should give a try. What are these apps? Let’s find out.

You can buy two of these Windows tablets for less than the price of Windows – How much did you pay for your last PC? I’m willing to bet it was a lot more than $48, which is how much this new Windows tablet will set you back. This is the Ployer MOMO7W, and yes, you really could buy two of them for less than the price of a copy of Windows 8.1. A full version is going for about $101 on Amazon right now. That’s insane, right? A Windows PC for less than half that price? How is that even possible?

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March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win NCAA tournament – March Madness? Not really. Microsoft’s Bing took the sane route and picked undefeated Kentucky to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, topping Duke in the title game. The real news, however, is that Microsoft’s Bracket Builder tool went live Sunday night. After crunching what it said were more than 9.2 quintillion combinations, Bing has picked a winner for every game in the tournament—and it will even handily export the bracket to the NCAA’s own tournament pool for you to compete against celebrities and other players.

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Facebook’s updated community standards explain what it will ban – The updated policy reiterates Facebook’s stance against harassment, but provides “more guidance on policies related to self-injury, dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation, nudity, hate speech, and violence and graphic content.” Facebook again stressed that its policies weren’t being radically altered. “While some of this guidance is new, it is consistent with how we’ve applied our standards in the past.”

New mobile app Graphiti can add style to pictures, websites – A new app for the iPhone lets you perform street art directly on pictures and live websites, then share the results with friends, with no worry of getting arrested for vandalism.

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Windows 10 to support peer-to-peer downloading of apps and updates – Peer-to-peer downloads will be optional, and if enabled they will support two modes: systems will be able to either retrieve updates from other machines on the same local network, or from both the local network and PCs on the Internet. It’s not immediately clear what technology is used for the peer-to-peer patching.

Pro tip: Five commands Mac admins should know – Mac admins are responsible for a great deal of equipment maintenance and end-user requests. Jesus Vigo goes over five commands admins can use to work smarter, not harder.

The master list of Google Easter eggs worth checking out (pictures) – Google tries hard to maintain a sense of humor through surprises tucked throughout its Web properties. Here are all the best Easter eggs you need to check out.

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YouTube Now Supports 360-Degree Videos – It’s not quite as immersive as some of the virtual-reality projects attracting investors, but YouTube’s addition of support for 360-degree videos could initially reach a broader audience. Out of the gate, YouTube’s new videos look pretty great even if you haven’t strapped a VR headset to your face.

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The Internet is for (Virtual Reality) porn…? – There’s a lot of excitement about virtual reality, but could the first breakout application be VR porn? At SXSW, it’s thought that porn will become a multi-billion dollar application within a year.

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking – Right now, as you kick back on your couch and daydream about your next smart home upgrade, you may not realize it, but you’re awash in data. From Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats to Bluetooth-accessible door locks to Z-Wave-connected alarm sensors to Zigbee-networked lightbulbs, there could be an array or wireless signals criss-crossing your house. Why do we need so many different technologies that essentially do the same thing?

Security:

New ransomware is sleazing around the internet owning gamers – Heads up, PC gamers. There’s a new strain of cryptographic malware called TeslaCrypt sleazing around the internet that wants to get it grubby little claws on your save files. It works the same way that CryptoLocker does: it snoops through the contents of your hard drive until it finds the files it’s after. Once they’re located, they’re taken hostage using strong encryption. The list of affected games is already pretty big: most Valve, EA, and Bethesda titles, WoW, League of Legends, Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft, and Day Z are all marked. Not even your Minecraft files are safe, for crying out loud. This digital vermin even goes after Steam, RPG Maker, Unity, and Unreal Engine files!

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Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption – Security and privacy are becoming more and more important as we transmit much more than just words via email. Yahoo is developing two new technologies to protect your data and create security solutions. Soon, any sensitive data that you send using email, from business documents to personal information, can be kept secure using an advanced end-to-end (e2e) encryption plugin for Yahoo Mail. And, if you forget your password, Yahoo has come up with a new solution for that as well. Yahoo is calling their new password retrieval system On-demand passwords.

BlackBerry announces SecuTablet, a modified Galaxy Tab S – While it may have the outward appearance of a standard Galaxy Tab S, this tablet is not meant for everyday consumers, and it’s $2,380 price tag makes that clear. The SecuTablet is built with a purpose of preventing sensitive data from leaking to the wild, and does so with voice and data encryption from a built-in Secusmart Security Card. But that doesn’t mean the tablet will be a boring, work-software-only kind of device. Typical entertainment and social apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter can be installed on the SecuTablet without worry of security compromises. This is where IBM’s software comes in, keeping secured apps and data isolated from personal items, including potentially malicious apps.

Company News:

Intel: PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP – Summary:The company’s recent results suggest a slowdown in firms leaving the ancient OS behind and upgrading to new systems. Why won’t they update?

Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features By Limiting Social Graph Access – Talk about timing: Twitter confirms they’ve bought Meerkat-competitor Periscope, and but a few hours later Twitter makes a move that kills off a few Meerkat features. Much of Meerkat’s success and draw lays in its tight integration with Twitter — something that many have noted could be an issue moving forward, be it that Twitter decides to get into live video themselves. Which, of course, they’ve just done. And now Twitter has begun to cut off off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph.

Facebook Buys And Shuts Down Shopping Site TheFind To Boost Commerce In Ads – Facebook today announced it has acquired personalized shopping search engine TheFind to help improve its commerce ads. TheFind had raised $26 million from Lightspeed and Redpoint since getting off the ground around 2005, but will now be shut down. Some, but not all, members of the team are joining Facebook.

Google wants Firefox users to set it as their default search engine – Google has started embedding a two-inch pop-up on searches made through the Firefox Web browser to combat Yahoo! being set as its default option.

Games and Entertainment:

The Greatest Gaming Tournaments in the World – “E-sports” is the term that has been coined to describe this new world of competitive gaming, and the stakes are high. Some tournaments have prize payouts into the six figures, and major stadiums get packed to the rafters with people watching the action. If you want to get involved in the tournament scene, the following list will help you get started. It runs down the biggest events around the globe and what competitors do to get the right to play there. Some are open to everyone, while others are the finish line for brackets that run for months beforehand.

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Steam hits 1,000 Linux games days after Valve’s big Steam Machine reveal – Steam’s love affair with Linux continues, and the infatuation is paying off in spades for Linux gamers. At the moment, there are 1005 games that support Linux and SteamOS on Steam. That’s out of 4817 total games for all platforms on Steam, or 20.8% of all the games on Steam. And that’s just games—not DLC items, software, demos, or trailers. But, if you expand the search to include everything, there’s 1856 items in the Linux + SteamOS category.

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‘Seinfeld’ streaming deal reportedly worth over $100 million could be nearing completion – According to the Wall Street Journal, multiple players are bidding for the rights to the sitcom. Naturally, Amazon and Hulu are strong contenders with Yahoo also throwing its hat into the ring. Netflix is noticeably absent from the list of top contenders with sources stating that they are not interested in the rights to Seinfeld. Netflix is most likely passing on the show having just acquired “Friends” last year for a hefty undisclosed sum. While there is no firm pricing for Seinfeld’s 180 episode, sources state that the contract could be worth north of $500,000 per episode.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects – The Raspberry Pi’s very existence can be chalked up to creativity. Ebon Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation created the $35 mini-PC to inspire students to learn computer science and enable tinkerers to dream up wild projects without breaking the bank. And they have! In honor of Pi Day—March 14, or 3/14—and the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 2, we’re basking in 10 of the most creative, surprising, and downright interesting Raspberry Pi creations crafted since the micro-PC’s launch. Even better, most of the creators share full details on how to replicate these crazy innovative projects in your own home. Let’s dig in!

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# 3 –  Picrowave: Why bother owning a traditional microwave when you can swap out some innards and create your very own Pi-powered food nuker? Developer Nathan Broadbent took his microwave apart, redesigned the touchpad, and added some new functions like voice control, a barcode scanner to access an online database of cooking times, a web-based interface for remote access, and auto-tweets for when the timer is done.

Take an incredible drone flight through the world’s biggest cave – Equipped with a DJI Phantom 2, a Canon 6D and a GoPro Hero 4 Black, photographer Ryan Deboodt has produced some stunning footage of Hang Sơn Đoòng, the world’s biggest cave.

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This Guy Turned A Quadcopter Into A Star Wars Speeder Bike And It’s Amazing – Okay, this is the last quadcopter-to-“Star Wars Universe”-thing we (or at least I) will post, I promise. BUT SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THIS THING. It is perfection. About 30 seconds into the video, I actually stood up and whooped.

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Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans – A poll by Reuters/Ipsos has found that more than 69% of Americans surveyed had no desire to buy the Apple Watch and 46% of those had heard nothing about Apple’s latest product. Polls show 3 percent (or 10 percent or 30 percent) will buy Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: Now that Apple has presented its watch, the largest question emerges: how many people will buy it. Can anyone know?

UK safety tests show smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones – Transportation safety agencies have long said that using a handheld device such as a smartphone is a dangerous distraction to drivers. You pay less attention to the road, and reaction times are greatly slowed. But what about the continually growing presence of wearables like smartwatches? Surely they must be much less distracting than a phone, and with their heavy reliance on voice controls, they should be about as distracting as standard timepieces, right? Well, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says just the opposite.

Cuba has allowed the launch of the country’s first free, public Wi-Fi – Cuba is taking small steps to loosen its grip on internet access in the country. Recently, a cultural center in Havana began rolling out access to free, public Wi-Fi — the first of its kind in Cuba. The country currently prioritizes its limited bandwidth for schools and businesses, but this is the first time the Cuban government has allowed a free, public Wi-Fi hub, AP reports. The cultural center is run by the Cuban visual artist Kcho, who has ties to the state government.

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(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fixing “Videogames” – Videogames are taking over the world. Videogames are bigger than movies, books, music, cars, mobile phones and sandwiches. Videogames are diverse, wonderful, causes for celebration. Videogames are art. Videogames are the tipping point of a 21st century revolution. Videogames aren’t some corner obsessive activity on the fringes of culture. Videogames make all the money. Videogames are going to win. And yet games don’t seem to be taking over the world. Games struggle to gain a wider acceptance equivalent to their footprint.

Something to think about:

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Pointing up   Thanks Delenn13

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView – After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder

Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache

Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page.

VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden at FutureFest: Mass Spying Isn’t Going To Stop the Next Terror Attack – It may come as a surprise, but Edward Snowden has defended spying as necessary; he just wants surveillance to have real oversight—and not to be conducted against all of us.

In a video interview broadcast at FutureFest in London, Snowden said it’s important to see that, “some of these programmes do serve purposes, so we see where to draw the line”.

And key to that is understanding the true purpose of mass surveillance: The targets aren’t terrorists, and it’s never stopped a terrorist attack. The attackers in the Charlie Hedbo, Canadian Parliament, and Australian shootings were all known to their governments, he noted. “They’re not going to stop the next attacks either,” he said. “Because they’re not public safety programs. They’re spying programmes.”

However, he noted that “they’re extremely valuable in terms of spying.” Spying has benefits, he said, giving governments information on everything from trade negotiations to foreign militaries. “Some of these things are valuable, and you want to retain these… but you have to have this debate in the public,” he said.

Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits – Despite the fact that no federal license plate legislation has been proposed, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has sent a pre-emptive letter to top Congressional lawmakers, warning them against any future restrictions of automated license plate readers. The IACP claims to be the “world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives.”

As the letter, which was published last week, states:

We are deeply concerned about efforts to portray automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology as a national real-time tracking capability for law enforcement. The fact is that this technology and the data it generates is not used to track people in real time. ALPR is used every day to generate investigative leads that help law enforcement solve murders, rapes, and serial property crimes, recover abducted children, detect drug and human trafficking rings, find stolen vehicles, apprehend violent criminal alien fugitives, and support terrorism investigations.

Sarah Guy, a spokeswoman for the IACP, told Ars that current state and local restrictions have made the police lobby group concerned at the federal level.

The cameras scan at an extremely high rate, usually around 60 plates per second. Law enforcement policies vary widely concerning how long that information can be retained. Different agencies keep that data anywhere from a few weeks to indefinitely. Some cities have even mounted such cameras at their city borders, monitoring who comes in and out.

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Oakland Police Department

The Orwellian re-branding of “mass surveillance” as merely “bulk collection” – Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.

NYPD caught red-handed sanitizing police brutality Wikipedia entries: “Garner raised both his arms in the air” changed to “flailed his arms about.” – IP addresses linked to the New York Police Department’s computer network have been used to sanitize Wikipedia entries about cases of police brutality.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won’t be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD’s entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for “building community trust and justice” with the nation’s policing agencies.

As many as 85 IP addresses connected to 1 Police Plaza altered entries for some of the most high-profile police abuse cases, including those for victims Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, Capital New York said. Edits have also been made to other entries covering NYPD scandals, its stop-and-frisk program, and the department leadership.

One of the most brazen alterations concerned Eric Garner, who was killed by police last year during an arrest that was captured on video by an onlooker. The mobile phone video went viral, prompting widespread protests and a grand jury investigation. On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury agreed not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection to Garner’s death, despite the medical examiner ruling it a homicide. The same day as the grand jury announcement, the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia was altered from IP addresses traced to 1 Police Plaza. Those alterations can be seen here and here.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 13, 2015

Mind the PUP: Top download portals to avoid;  62% of the Top 50 Download.com applications bundle toolbars and other PUPs;  How to Clean Crapware From a New PC;  The easy answer to the laptop vs. desktop question;  10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity;  Apple Watch knockoffs hit Chinese shelves;  6 Things to Know About Your Work Email Rights;  Apple launches public beta for iOS 8.3;  Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $48;  CryptoLocker look-alike searches for and encrypts PC game files;  Use free e to ensure your Android device is charging properly;  Microsoft to introduce Skype for Business on March 18;  This USB Drive Can Nuke A Computer;  How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill;  7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep;  Rovio Launches New Bubble Shooter, Angry Birds Stella POP;  SoftPerfect WiFi Guard (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Clean Crapware From a New PC – A new Windows PC typically comes pre-installed with shovels full of crapware you don’t want. Here’s how to deal with it.

The easy answer to the laptop vs. desktop question: Use a docking station – You can have the power, upgrade options, and ergonomic advantages of a desktop without sacrificing the portability of a laptop.

Don’t Pull a Hillary: 6 Things to Know About Your Work Email Rights – Let us begin this discussion by first acknowledging the following: As an employee, you have entered into an agreement to rent your brain and body to a company in return for a salary. Your HR department may attempt to sugarcoat this sad fact of adulthood with free coffee in the break room or the occasional “Taco Tuesday,” but you are essentially just a replaceable tool your company uses to create a product or provide a service. It is therefore in your company’s interest to get as much out of their tools (i.e. you) as possible. And that often takes the form of monitoring of your digital behavior. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of universal hard-fast rules regarding privacy and employment.

10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity – While there are plenty of web-based tools and productivity tricks to help you power through tasks in your browser, you can step up and speed up your capabilities even more by grabbing some smart Chrome extensions. These add-ons add more functionality to Chrome for Windows and Chromebook users alike, enabling you to quickly save items to Google Drive, clip articles, or keep tabs on all your social media shares.

Windows 8.1 tablets hitting new lows, MOMO7W 7″ Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $48 – The device, which comes from China (to no surprise), is right at the bottom of the low-end tablets and features a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM. 16GB, HDMI out and SD card slot, and is powered by an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor. Just like the other entry level tablets, this one comes with a 1-year subscription to Office 365 which means for less than the price of a stand-alone sub, you can get a tablet too. Microsoft currently charges $99 for a one year subscription to Office 365.

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Apple Watch knockoffs hit Chinese shelves – If you are unable to afford a real Apple Watch, knockoffs from China are another option — and they also claim to be more “functional” than the original ones they imitate. One lookalike that’s already for sale on Alibaba’s e-commerce website Taobao.com, the “Airwatch A8 smart wearable watch”, looks hardly any different from the Apple Watch. But its functionality is more diverse. The “latest smartwatch in 2015”, as described by the seller, runs Android OS, can take photos and shoot video, and uses a SIM card for independent voice calling. It also comes preinstalled with popular Chinese apps like WeChat and QQ. The watch, which connects to iPhones as well as other Android-based smartphones via Bluetooth, is only priced at 478 yuan ($76). The official retail price for an Apple Watch Sport (38mm) is 2,588 yuan ($413) in China; five times more than the knockoff’s price.

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Apple launches public beta for iOS 8.3 – For the first time ever, Apple is inviting regular users to test out an upcoming iOS update. The company has launched a page where interested iPhone owners can sign up to trial iOS 8.3 before it’s released to all consumers later this year. Apple’s signup page, pictured above, suggests it’s gained valuable feedback by running a public beta of OS X on the desktop, and now it’s extending the program to cover iOS as well.

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Use Ampere to ensure your Android device is charging properly – Ever wonder if the USB cable or the AC adapter included with an Android device is faulty? Well, now you can check.

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Google releases Chrome extension that replaces blank tabs with works of art – Tired of staring at a white screen every time you open a blank tab in Chrome? Google has released a new extension that replaces Chrome’s utilitarian new tab screen with classic works of art. The extension can either be set to give you a new artwork each day or a new artwork each time you open a tab, all displayed in a way that covers the entirety of the screen.

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How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill – Summary:Think you can make a bajillion dollars creating an app? David Gewirtz shows you how to get started. He doesn’t guarantee you’ll make any money, but with this step-by-step guide, at least you’ll know where to begin.

Security:

Patch Flash now: Google Project Zero, Intel and pals school Adobe on security 101 – Hot on the heels of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday release, Adobe has published security fixes for its Flash Player browser plugin. The March 12 update for the internet’s screen door addresses 11 CVE-listed vulnerabilities. Adobe is listing the patch as a top deployment priority for Windows, OS X and Linux systems. Among the flaws are nine remote-code execution holes, which could be exploited to install malware or take control of a vulnerable system. Adobe said it has not received any reports of the flaws being targeted in the wild thus far – but we all know hackers love seizing these bugs to catch out people who haven’t updated.

Mind the PUP: Top download portals to avoid – We recently researched how many potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) come with the 50 most popular applications on Download.com. Since the results were quite disturbing, we decided to look into the habits of other popular download portals to see if they are any better, or whether it’s better to avoid download portals altogether. Most of them claim to have “clean and safe downloads” and many portals express this on their website. However, trusting any download portal at all is becoming a difficult task for most people due to the rapid growth of bundled PUPs and the software reviews on the sites that often don’t seem objective. We looked into the ten most popular download portals, downloaded their top ten most popular applications to see how many toolbars, adware, homepage hijackers and other PUPs come with them to see how clean and safe they really are.

62% of the Top 50 Download.com applications bundle toolbars and other PUPs – CNET’s Download.com is considered to be one of, if not, the most popular download portal(s) hosting a conglomerate of different software (free and paid). We recently discussed the top ten methods of how toolbars, adware, homepage hijackers and other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) can sneak onto your computer. Potentially unwanted programs are becoming a new epidemic that users must learn face to overcome on a regular basis. In fact, a recent Panda Security study shows that potentially unwanted programs are on the rise resulting in PUPs now comprising 24.77% of total malware infections. A lot of potentially unwanted programs are delivered by installers hosted on download portals such as Download.com. But what kind of programs are frequently bundled and should you look out for? And how many of Download.com’s apps actually contain PUPs? We researched both. First, here is a list of the most commonly bundled PUPs we see through Download.com:

CryptoLocker look-alike searches for and encrypts PC game files – Crypto-based “ransomware” has become a lucrative business for cybercriminals. Since the arrival of CryptoLocker on the scene last year, a number of copycat malware packages have appeared to compete in the cyber-extortion market, encrypting victims’ photos and other personal files with a key that will be destroyed if they don’t contact the malware’s operators and pay up. Recently, a new variant has emerged that seeks to raise the stakes with a particular class of victim by specifically seeking out files related to a number of popular PC games, as well as Valve’s Steam gaming platform.

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This USB Drive Can Nuke A Computer – Do not ever use a random USB flash drive. There are plenty software exploits that can ruin your computer or life. And with this flash drive, it can physically destroy your computer by blasting a load of voltage to the USB controller with negative voltage. Think Wile E. Coyote and an ACME Human Cannon. BOOM!

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Apple Pay potential security concerns emerge – Summary:A new report suggests that a lapse in verification between banks and Apple Pay allows identity thieves to use CVVs hacked from online stores to link stolen credit card data to an Apple Pay mobile wallet.

Company News:

Yes, Asus cheated: The FCC fined the router maker last year – In the FCC settlement, which you can read here, Asus “admits that its marketing of these intentional radiators violated the Commission’s rules.” The violations, as it turned out, weren’t limited to Asus routers. They also involved the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101, certain wireless routers, and related wireless products, such as Wi-Fi bridge/range extenders and wireless adapters, according to the FCC Enforcement Bureau. The settlement states that these devices emit radio frequency radiation that’s out of compliance with the FCC’s technical requirements and could interfere with authorized communications.

Microsoft to introduce Skype for Business on March 18, replacing Lync – In a video posted on Facebook this week, Zig Serafin (Corporate Vice President for Skype Business Services) invited users to watch its keynote – which will be live-streamed on March 18 at 10:00h ET, and live-tweeted via @skypebusiness – in which the new Skype for Business product will be officially launched.

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Docker scoops up Kitematic for smoother Mac compatibility – Docker has acquired Canadian startup Kitematic, maker of an open-source tool by the same name that makes it easier for developers to install and run Docker on Mac computers. Now a Docker product, the Kitematic tool remains open source and free, said Docker founder and CTO Solomon Hykes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Kitematic’s staff of three will join Docker’s team in San Francisco.

Ericsson unplugs 2,200 more staff – Ericsson’s move to focus on software is to hit another 2,200 jobs in Sweden, the telco vendor has announced. The cuts focus on roles in R&D and supply, the company’s statement says, but admin and sales roles will also be affected, along with external consultants. The vendor says R&D remains important, but reducing the number of product lines in its key market provided the impetus for slimming down in the home territory.

Lyft gets a lift with $530 million funding round – Lyft has raised $530 million in a new round of funding led by Japan-based e-commerce giant Rakuten. The new round brings Lyft’s total venture investment since its founding in 2012 to more than $860 million. In its announcement Wednesday, Lyft didn’t say what valuation its funding round was based on, but The Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported on the news, says the cash infusion came on a valuation of more than $2.5 billion.

Games and Entertainment:

Video Game Industry Enjoys Big Month – The video game industry had a terrific February with games, hardware, and accessories all enjoying sales increases for combine sales of $956 million for the month, the NPD Group reported Thursday. Growth in all three categories amounted to an 8 percent year-over-year sales increase from the same month a year ago, NPD analyst Liam Callahan said.

Rovio Launches New Bubble Shooter, Angry Birds Stella POP! – Get your slingshots ready, Angry Birds fans. Your favorite pink bird Stella is back for another adventure. Rovio on Thursday launched Angry Birds Stella POP!, a new puzzle game for iOS and Android devices, which marks the flock’s first foray into the bubble shooter genre. The game takes all the feisty characters from Angry Birds Stella on a journey of strategic bubble matching and popping.

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Frozen 2 announced by Disney – It’s officially time to start preparing for Frozen 2. While Elsa hasn’t confirmed her return to the role, Olaf and Anna have – Disney has confirmed that development is really, actually underway. This comes after denial from directors / writers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck suggesting that there’s no sequel – none so far – now Disney has confirmed the inevitable. This bit of information came in the same Disney shareholders call that gave us information about Star Wars VIII and Star Wars Rogue One, two more full-powered Star Wars movies on the way.

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Titanfall’s sequel won’t be a Microsoft exclusive – With its giant robots and fast, approachable gameplay, the original Titanfall was a refreshing take on the multiplayer first-person shooter. But it wasn’t available to everyone, launching exclusively on Microsoft platforms including the Xbox One, 360, and PC. That’s about to change: IGN reports that the sequel will be coming to the PS4 in addition to the PC and Xbox One. “It’ll be multiplatform,” Respawn CEO Vince Zampella said.

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Netflix Tops Amazon as U.S. Streaming Favorite – Let’s face it, there are a lot of ways to watch video at home: TV, cable, on-demand, rentals, and of course, streaming. According to the latest stats from Nielsen, Netflix is the most popular way to stream your favorite shows and movies, with about 36 percent of U.S. households subscribing. Quite a bit behind that is Amazon Prime Instant Video at 13 percent, with Hulu Plus pulling in at just 6.5 percent.

SteamOS Hits Major Milestone – Steam now boasts more than 1,000 gaming titles for Linux, and therefore, SteamOS. Everything from indie games to AAA titles are available from the service. Best yet, even more titles are regularly popping up, with 14 games launching this week alone. Steam launched its Linux efforts in early 2013 with just 50 games and took a year to hit 500 titles. Now the game count is at 1004 and climbs to 1835 if downloadable content like DLCs and expansion packs are included.

Off Topic (Sort of):

7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep – There might be a hidden reason you’re so grouchy. In our seemingly always-on society, there’s great temptation to shortchange sleep. But sleep is a vital driver of every physiological system in the human body, and when we’re deprived of shuteye, health and wellbeing can suffer in myriad ways. Here, 7 signs it’s time to start heading to bed a little earlier.

BBC will give every Year 7 student in the UK a free Micro Bit computer – The BBC launched a flagship initiative today that aims to get a new generation excited about technology. The Make It Digital campaign will provide students in Year 7 (that’s around 11 years old) with a small microcomputer that will allow them to learn the basics of coding. The microcomputer, nicknamed the Micro Bit, will be a standalone, entry-level coding device with an LED display that students can plug into any computer. It will be able to communicate with more advanced devices like the Arduino, Galileo, Kano, and Raspberry Pi, as well as other Micro Bits. The initiative is a response to what the BBC is calling a “significant skills shortage” in the UK’s digital fields.

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(BBC)

New Macbook parody video cuts through Apple’s reality distortion field – Apple’s reveal of the new, thinnest and lightest ever MacBook earlier this week was met with the usual “ooohs and aaahs” by the media and fans of Apple products. But it also managed to raise a few eyebrows, and quietly a lot of people must be thinking “$1,299 for that?” Then this parody video appeared, and it cuts right through the marketing and hits home exactly what the new MacBook is, while adding a healthy dose of humor along the way. You may want to turn the sound down a little before clicking play, though.

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Texas Is About to Let College Students Carry Guns on Campus – The Texas state legislature is moving forward on a bill that would reverse the strict ban on concealed weapons at state universities, allowing gun owners with concealed-carry permits to carry their firearms around campus. The legislation is expected to clear the state Senate next week, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has promised to expedite its passage. “Regarding the Second Amendment, our first priority is to pass campus carry this session,” he wrote in a recent Facebook post. “I am an avid gun owner, was endorsed by the NRA with an ‘A rating,’ and have a 100% voting record on second amendment issues for over 8 years.”

Non-invasive ultrasound restores memory in Alzheimer’s mice – A team of researchers at the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research have successfully restored memory function in mice using the drug-free, non-invasive technology to break down the neurotoxic amyloid plaques that cause memory loss and loss of cognitive function. “We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” said CJCADR director Professor Jürgen Götz. “The word ‘breakthrough’ is often mis-used, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach.”

Watch President Obama Read Mean Tweets About Himself on Jimmy Kimmel – With his approval rating hovering below 50%, there’s no shortage of Americans who take issue with President Barack Obama. The Commander in Chief faced the music on Thursday night when he appeared on the famed #MeanTweets segment of Jimmy Kimmel Live to read some of the more comical musings about his performance as President and his decision to wear “THOSE jeans.”

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Here’s How to Scientifically Train Your Mind to Be Happy – Training your mind to look for errors and problems (as happens in careers like accounting and law) can lead you toward a pervasive pessimism that carries over into your personal life. Why are lawyers 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression and more likely to end up divorced? They have trained their minds to seek out the bad in life because pessimists excel at law. Is there a way to get your mind out of these negative loops? Yes. You must train your brain to seek out the good things in life:

Something to think about:

“Before me were the CEO, the CIO, the CFO, the CTO and the vice presidents of sales, marketing, support and operations. I told them that I had been working in security long enough to know what sorts of things work. There’s the rule of least privilege, which enforces access controls based on granting only those privileges that any individual needs. There’s security awareness and the idea that changing employees’ behavior is one of the most crucial ingredients of strong security. There’s the acknowledgment that we’re only as strong as our weakest link. There’s the all-important realization that security is a process, not a point solution.”

–      Mathias Thurman

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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Screenshot from a personal system

Prey – Prey lets you keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and will help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. It’s lightweight, open source software, and free for anyone to use. And it just works.

How it works – Basically you install a tiny agent in your PC or phone, which silently waits for a remote signal to wake up and work its magic.

This signal is sent either from the Internet or through an SMS message, and allows you to gather information regarding the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally trigger specific actions on it. Next

Features:

100% geolocation aware

Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect

If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather

Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy

Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements

Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe

Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access

Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware

Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Full auto updater

Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Cory Doctorow: Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens –  Why spy? That’s the several-million pound question, in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Why would the US continue to wiretap its entire population, given that the only “terrorism” they caught with it was a single attempt to send a small amount of money to Al Shabab?

One obvious answer is: because they can. Spying is cheap, and cheaper every day. Many people have compared NSA/GCHQ mass spying to the surveillance programme of East Germany’s notorious Stasi, but the differences between the NSA and the Stasi are more interesting than the similarities.

Spying, especially domestic spying, is an aspect of what the Santa Fe Institute economist Samuel Bowles calls guard labour: work that is done to stabilise property relationships, especially the property belonging to the rich.

The amount a state needs to expend on guard labour is a function of how much legitimacy the state holds in its population’s reckoning. A state whose population mainly views the system as fair needs to do less coercion to attain stability. People who believe that they are well-served by the status quo will not work to upset it. States whose populations view the system as illegitimate need to spend more on guard labour.

How Easy It Is To Spy These Days, In One Graphic – Ashkan Soltani, a privacy and security researcher who has been working with the Washington Post on the Snowden files, has published a graphic that illustrates how technology has greatly reduced the barriers to performing surveillance.

Soltani included the graph in a paper published in the Yale Law Journal that explores how this situation erodes Americans’ privacy protections under the Fourth Amendment and what can be done to protect them.

The cost comparison involves the several location surveillance techniques of physical pursuit by foot and in vehicles, location tracking using a radio beeper, a GPS device, or a cell phone.

A few examples for understanding the chart:

Tracking a suspect using a GPS device is 28 times cheaper than assigning officers to follow him.

Tracking a suspect using cell phone data is 53 times cheaper than physical covert pursuit.

Tracking a cell phone is twice as cheap as using a GPS device.

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U.K. Parliamentary Inquiry Calls For New Legal Framework To Govern Spy Agencies – In a report published today, the U.K. parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has called for a new single act of Parliament to govern how domestic spy agencies operate with the aim of improving transparency and public trust. It dubs its report “an important first step towards greater transparency”.

The 149-page report is the cumulation of a year long inquiry by the committee, set against the backdrop of ongoing revelations derived from documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (some of which have specifically pertained to the U.K. GCHQ spy agency), with the aim of examining the operations of the UK intelligence and security agencies — looking specifically at (in the committee’s own words):

the range of intrusive capabilities currently available to the Agencies;

how those capabilities are used, and the scale of that use;

the extent to which the capabilities intrude on privacy; and

most importantly, the legal authorities and safeguards that regulate their use

The committee claims to have found no evidence of U.K. government agencies seeking to circumvent the law, but does flag up what it says is a “lack of clarity in the existing legislation” — pointing to this as having “fuelled suspicion” about agencies’ activities.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 10, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About The Apple Watch;  iOS 8.2 rolls out bringing improvements and compulsory Apple Watch app;  The Apple Watch Compared To The Competition;  Minecraft update reduces security risks on PCs;  Google Rolls Out Android 5.1 Lollipop;  Samsung opens Milk Music to everyone via the Web;  What happens when a hard drive crashes;  Xiaomi solves Mi 4 malware dustup: device was counterfeit;  Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast vs. Amazon Fire TV;  New Xbox One bundle includes ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ at no extra cost;  Apple TV price cut to $69, £59 or AU$109;  Apple locks HBO Now for ‘Game of Thrones’;  Apple ResearchKit Turns iPhones Into Medical Diagnostic Devices;  The Best iPhone Games of the Week;  Heavy smartphone use linked to lazy thinkers, low intelligence.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Everything You Need To Know About The Apple Watch – Apple has finally revealed all regarding the Apple Watch, the wrist-based wearable it first introduced last September. Many of the Apple Watch’s particulars were already known, but here, for the first time, is a comprehensive look at what will no doubt become the world’s most popular smartwatch. Pre-orders will begin on April 10th. The device will start shipping on April 24th, and cost anywhere from $349 to $10,000 depending on style.

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9 facts you didn’t know you wanted to know about Apple Watch – According to Apple, it’s “everything a watch should be,” including very expensive and owned by models!

The Apple Watch Compared To The Competition – After nearly half a year of suspense, we finally have all the details about the Apple Watch, including when it’ll launch, how much it’ll cost, and what the user experience will be like. That means we can take a step back and look at how it compares to the rest of the smartwatch market. To make this a fair fight, we’ve taken the Apple Watch and put it up against premium smartwatches — other devices made from expensive-feeling metal and glass, with apps that communicate with those on your phone to keep you from spending all of your time staring at your iOS- or Android-powered pocket slate.

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Use This Ingenious Trick to Choose the Right Apple Watch Size – It basically costs a dollar to tell which one’s right for you.

iOS 8.2 rolls out bringing improvements and compulsory Apple Watch app – The iOS update, which is detailed below, also brought with it the Apple Watch app to iPhone which cannot be deleted, the app joins an array of compulsory Apple apps that can’t be deleted including Passbook, Tips, Stocks, Weather, Calendar, Clock, FaceTime, Contacts, iBooks, Compass, Maps, Health, Newsstand, Photos, Camera, Notes, Messages, Voice Memos, the iTunes Store, and the App Store.

Google Rolls Out Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google on Monday rolled out some “tasty additions” to its Android Lollipop mobile operating system, adding some new capabilities like multiple-SIM card support. Android 5.1 “improves stability and performance” in phones and tablets running Lollipop, Google Android Platform executive Dave Burke wrote in a blog post. In addition to supporting multiple SIM slots in phones, the 5.1 update adds Device Protection to phones and slates running Lollipop, meaning that “your lost or stolen device will remain locked until you sign in with your Google account—even if someone resets your device to factory settings,” Burke said.

Let Authy handle your Android two-step authentication – For those sites and services that support two-step authentication, having a single tool to handle that would be a boon for many users. That’s exactly what Authy is. With this easy-to-use app, you can enable two-step verification on any service that takes advantage of Google authentication (such as Gmail, Dropbox, Lastpass, and Amazon Web Services). So, if you’re hoping for an easier means for two-step authentication, let’s install Authy and see if it meets that need.

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Rocketbook digitizes notes, then erases them in the microwave – Try as we might, some of us cannot substitute writing on paper with writing on a display, no matter how sensitive the device and precise the stylus. Still, digital copies are the best way to store notes, and notebooks that digitize what one writes have been the long-running compromise, giving the best of both worlds. Rocketbook is one example of this, but with a twist: when writing with a specific pen, one can microwave the notebook for 30 seconds to erase the papers, making the same paper notebook reusable.

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What happens when a hard drive crashes – We’re all terrified of the day when our hard drive just stops working. Here’s what goes on inside the drive when disaster strikes.

Apple ResearchKit Turns iPhones Into Medical Diagnostic Devices – ResearchKit lets people take tests like saying “ahhh” to detect vocal variations, walking in a line, or tapping in rhythm to test for Parkinson’s Disease. Users will decide how to share their data and Apple won’t see it. And to advance its evolution, ResearchKit will be open source. ResearchKit will be available next month, and the first five tests built with it will become available today. They help people participate in tests for Parkinson’s, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and breast cancer.

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Samsung opens Milk Music to everyone via the Web – Samsung is bringing its free Milk Music streaming radio service to more users via the Web as promised in January. Until now, Milk Music has been available as an app only for Samsung’s smartphones, tablets, TVs and smartwatches, but starting Monday it will be available to anyone with a browser. Users will need to create an account on Samsung’s Web site to access the service .

Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast vs. Amazon Fire TV: Which streamer should you buy? – Which has the most apps? Which has the coolest features? Which one is the best? The most popular media streamers all have their merits, so we’ll help you decide which box is right for you.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook to close FriendFeed in April – A flash from the past is being shut down, Facebook has announced. It’s the now-dated social network FriendFeed, and the number of people still using it are dropping quickly, leaving little incentive for Facebook — which bought it more than a handful of years ago — to keep it around. Those still using the service will have a few more weeks to get any of their data off of it and say their final farewell, with the closure being scheduled to take place on April 9.

Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 CTP 3 Released – Microsoft has released a new Community Technical Preview of Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 and if you want to download the bits, you can find the link after the jump.

Security:

Xiaomi solves Mi 4 malware dustup: device was counterfeit – Yesterday, news surfaced that the Xiaomi Mi 4 came preloaded with malware. While we can handle a little bloatware, malware is just — no. Even more subversive than straight-up malware, some of the apps installed were disguised as Google apps. Security company Bluebox, who released the report, even suggested Xiaomi handed their handset off to a third party to get the malware installed, which is about as low as you can get. Now, Xiaomi has their say, and comfortably quashed any thought of malware on their devices.

Minecraft update reduces security risks on PCs – Minecraft is a very popular video game that lets players build just about anything they can dream up using blocks of all sorts of materials. What players can build in the game is only limited by their imagination and patience placing blocks. One of the drawbacks of Minecraft in the past was a potential to leave PCs with security vulnerabilities. These security issues were due to the Java run-anywhere code base that the game required. That particular Java code left PCs vulnerable to security exploits and adware. Those security vulnerabilities have now been reduced thanks to an update that landed over the last few weeks.

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A few small steps for man, a giant leap for online security – The online world is vast. Just follow these straightforward tips, which will make it harder for hackers, and keep you secure.

Cyberespionage arsenal could be tied to French intelligence – A collection of computer Trojans that have been used since 2009 to steal data from government agencies, military contractors, media organizations and other companies is tied to cyberespionage malware possibly created by French intelligence agencies. Researchers from several antivirus companies have found links between the malware programs, which they call Babar, Bunny, Casper, Dino, NBot and Tafacalou.

Company News:

Microsoft asks U.S. court to ban Kyocera’s Android phones – Microsoft has asked a court in Seattle to ban Kyocera’s DuraForce, Hydro and Brigadier lines of cellular phones in the U.S., alleging that they infringed seven Microsoft patents. The software giant has in its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington charged that some Kyocera phone features that come from its use of the Android operating system infringe its patents.

Google hires Twitter’s data guy – Google just hired one of the most important people at Twitter to join their team as Trends Data Editor. Not that Simon Rogers is going to make or break a company like Twitter, but the ability to do what he did for Twitter – and what he’ll be doing for Google – is really, really is an important role. Especially for the public, seeing how events explode in a virtual way, seeing that sort of thing clearly, and easily – that’s what Rogers does.

Intel Unveils First 14nm, Xeon D SoCs – Intel on Monday introduced its 14-nanometer Xeon D family of microserver processors, bringing System-on-a-Chip (SoC) capabilities to the company’s Xeon line of datacenter products for the first time. The first Xeon D products are the quad-core Xeon Processor D-1520, priced at $199, and the eight-core Xeon Processor D-1540, priced at $581. Both new SoCs are available today. Intel said Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Quanta Cloud Technology, Sugon, and Supermicro are among the companies designing microservers based on Xeon D.

Tesla’s China troubles lead to job cuts – Tesla has lofty goals, and it has grown its workforce steadily over the last year or so. Still, the Chinese market has proven problematic for the auto maker, and now those troubles are leading to job cuts. That doesn’t mean Tesla is giving up on the market — to the contrary, this “restructuring” is taking place so that the company can continue to operate there, at least according to the auto maker. It isn’t clear how many jobs are on the chopping block at this point.

Uber, Lyft, Sidecar asked by US lawmakers to use fingerprint checks of drivers – Eight members of the U.S. Congress have asked Uber Technologies, Lyft and Sidecar Technologies to adopt fingerprint-based background checks of their drivers, describing the procedure as “more comprehensive and harder to fake.” The ride-hailing companies have come under increasing pressure to better vet their drivers, particularly in the wake of reports of sexual and other assaults by drivers in some cities.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple TV price cut to $69, £59 or AU$109 – At the Apple Watch event today Tim Cook announced a price cut on the Apple TV box, bringing it down to $69 in the US and £59 in the UK. In Australia it stays the same at AU$109, due to a downturn in the Australian dollar. Since its debut in March 2012 the streaming box has sold for $99 in the US.

Apple locks HBO Now for ‘Game of Thrones’ – Attention cord-cutting “Game of Thrones” fans: If you want to watch the new season of the hit fantasy while it’s new, you better be an Apple fan too. Apple’s exclusive launch of HBO Now will last through the entirety of the new fifth season of “Game of Thrones.” That exclusive lasts three months, HBO said, and because HBO Now’s launch in early April precedes the season premiere April 12, a standard 10-episode season will run its course before owners of Roku, Google’s Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV will get a shot at subscribing.

New Xbox One bundle includes ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ at no extra cost – Halo fans who have yet to buy an Xbox One now have a compelling reason to do so: Microsoft is now offering “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” for free as part of a $350 bundle with its newest gaming console. According to a post on the company’s official Xbox Wire website, “The Master Chief Collection” will be available for free with the Xbox One bundle in the U.S. and “most regions where Xbox One is available.” The game will come as a digital download to consumers purchasing the bundle, though no additional details were provided.

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GTA Online Heists update details leaked online – GTA Online Heists is a new mode which will officially launch tomorrow as a free update. However, some users have already posted screenshots with several details indicating that they prematurely received the update overnight. These users claim that the download size is a hefty 4.8 GB on the Xbox One but is relatively smaller on the Xbox 360 weighing in at 1.2 GB. The long-awaited add-on includes five new heist missions along with an assortment of weapons, armored cars, costumes and masks. Nine achievements worth 250 gamerscore have also been added, amounting to a total of 1250 gamerscore. The missions include beating a heist without taking damage and spending in-game money on the new cars.

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ScreenStick is a stick-on joystick for tablets – Mobile gaming has become a sophisticated hobby over the years, and anyone who enjoys it quickly grows tired of on-screen digital controls. The solution is a mobile gamepad, of which there is no shortage, but they all come with the same design: a clip in which a smartphone or tablet is slid, positioning it above a standard gaming controller. ScreenStick is different, putting physical joysticks on your device’s display using suction cups for a more natural feel when holding the device.

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Xbox Live for Windows 10 will be free for online multiplayer gaming – Microsoft is finally bringing Xbox Live to Windows PCs and phones in a meaningful way with Windows 10, and with it comes the possibility of online multiplayer gaming using Microsoft’s gaming service. While Microsoft currently charges Xbox One owners to use online multiplayer gaming, the software maker has no plans to extend that to Windows 10 PCs or phones. Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, otherwise known as Major Nelson, confirmed the plans on Twitter last week in response to concerns over Xbox Live on Windows 10. “Not charging,” says Hryb, “Xbox Live Gold will not be required for online multiplayer gaming using our service on Windows 10 PCs and Phones.”

The Best iPhone Games of the Week – Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This is the first Apple Watch TV commercial – Apple is starting to air its first TV commercial for the Apple Watch. It features the usual array of floating products set to white backgrounds and mesmerizing music. There’s no voiceover here, you just see “the watch is coming” and the April 24th launch date alongside various features like fitness, mapping, timing, flight tracking, weather, Passbook, and even messaging or calls. The focus is very much on the changing bands throughout the 60-second ad, with a lot of different styles displayed. It’s bold, typically Apple, and you’ll likely see it a lot of times on your TV over the next few weeks.

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The Apple Watch Isn’t A Watch, It’s An iPhone Sales Engine – The Apple Watch is not a watch in the same way that the iPhone was not a phone — or at least not what we knew to be a phone at the time. “Watch” is not the device’s primary functionality, just as “phone” was not the iPhone’s primary functionality. iPhone was an honest-to-god computer in your pocket — and Apple Watch is an honest-to-god iPhone on your wrist. But there’s a big caveat: It’s an iPhone on your wrist that requires yet another iPhone in your pocket.

Samsung made a $30,000 high-tech dog house – Apple’s engineers are hard at work on an ultramodern car. Samsung’s? They just finished making a dog house. A really, really fancy dog house. Samsung is sponsoring the world’s biggest dog show, Crufts, this year. They look a bit odd next to a bunch of pet food and pet insurance companies, what with them not really being in a pet-related business. It’s one of the few things they’re not active in, really. To fit in with the likes of Purina and Orijen, Samsung engineers and designers whipped up this insanely modern dog house. It’s packed with technology to pamper the savvy pooch in your life. All that gadgetry comes at a price, of course: roughly $30,000.

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We have no self-control: America’s most powerful men explain why they’re scared of email – As two of Congress’ most senior representatives, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain sit on many of the most important committees overseeing the business of the United States government. Which has left observers all the more confused and disturbed that they seem to be doing so without use of arguably the most pervasive and influential written communication application in the world. The solution to vast intrusions into privacy, in the senior lawmakers’ eyes, is seemingly not to protect citizens from those carrying out surveillance but to simply opt out of using technology altogether. And that is far more disturbing that the use of personal email by a former secretary of state.

Solar airplane soars to start first-ever round-the-world trip – The Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Abu Dhabi on the first leg of an attempted 20,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe — an unprecedented journey for a sun-powered craft.

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Heavy smartphone use linked to lazy thinkers, low intelligence – The University of Waterloo has carried out a study of 660 people focusing on the cognitive style of participants combined with their smartphone habits. More specifically, they looked at the type of thinkers they are, ranging from very intuitive right through to very analytical. They also looked at verbal and numerical skills. The University stops short of claiming smartphones decrease intelligence, stating further research would be required for that. However, if you consider how many children carry a smartphone around today, it’s not hard to imagine how their ability to learn may be inhibited by the always available alternative brain in their pocket.

Pointing up    Lazy and stupid smartphone users – I don’t know much about. Ignorant, rude and crass smartphone users – I know lots about.

After taking phone giants’ money, these Republicans want to kill net neutrality – More than 30 members of Congress are rallying behind a bill that threatens the new rules introduced by the FCC.

Something to think about:

“Human rights do not stand in the way of security that is universal, durable and inclusive. Human rights are in fact the very key.”

–     Toronto Star

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Disk Defrag – Get the best performance out of your expensive hardware investments, improve your PC’s performance and stability.

Disk fragmentation leads to system slowdowns, PC crashes, slow startup and shutdown and sometimes to system failures.

Auslogics Disk Defrag is designed for fast optimization of today’s modern hard disks. Get the maximum performance out of your expensive hardware investments. And it’s absolutely FREE.

Hard disks are by far the slowest component in your computer. CPU and memory work much faster than hard disks because they do not have moving parts. Therefore fragmented disks often become a bottleneck of the system performance.

Besides causing slowdowns, fragmentation makes the hard drive disk heads move frequently when reading files which leads to freeze-ups and system crashes. It is important to keep your disks defragmented and optimized as much as possible.

Features:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in only a few minutes

Useful disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Anti-terror bill a setback for human rights in Canada – Want to feel more secure? Bill C-51, now being examined by a parliamentary committee in three weeks of truncated hearings, aims to establish criminal offences that infringe free expression, unprecedented intrusive intelligence powers, breathtakingly vast definitions of security, unbridled sharing of information and stunning levels of secrecy; all while doing nothing to enhance review, oversight and accountability of Canada’s national security agencies.

The message is that human rights have to give way to keep terrorism at bay. The relationship between the two is seen as a zero-sum game. More safety means fewer rights. Stronger regard for rights leads to greater insecurity.

It is time to turn that around. Human rights do not stand in the way of security that is universal, durable and inclusive. Human rights are in fact the very key.

Schneier on Security: Attack Attribution and Cyber Conflict – The vigorous debate after the Sony Pictures breach pitted the Obama administration against many of us in the cybersecurity community who didn’t buy Washington’s claim that North Korea was the culprit.

What’s both amazing — and perhaps a bit frightening — about that dispute over who hacked Sony is that it happened in the first place.

But what it highlights is the fact that we’re living in a world where we can’t easily tell the difference between a couple of guys in a basement apartment and the North Korean government with an estimated $10 billion military budget. And that ambiguity has profound implications for how countries will conduct foreign policy in the Internet age.

Immediately After Launching Effort to Scuttle Iran Deal, Senator Tom Cotton to Meet with Defense Contractors – In an open letter organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.

Tomorrow, 24 hours later, Cotton will appear at an “Off the Record and strictly Non-Attribution” event with the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for defense contractors.

The NDIA is composed of executives from major military businesses such as Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, ManTech International, Boeing, Oshkosh Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton, among other firms.

Cotton strongly advocates higher defense spending and a more aggressive foreign policy. As The New Republic’s David Ramsey noted, “Pick a topic — Syria, Iran, Russia, ISIS, drones, NSA snooping — and Cotton can be found at the hawkish outer edge of the debate…During his senate campaign, he told a tele-townhall that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels joining forces to attack Arkansas was an ‘urgent problem.’”

“Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.”

Pointing up   Each of the signatories to this letter should be arrested and charged with Treason. 

According to the U.S. legal code, the definition of treason is fairly specific: 

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

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