Tag Archives: Apple

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 22, 2015

How to disable video autoplay on Twitter;  Chromebooks get integrated Chromecast support;  Customize Android voice commands with MyVoice;  Apple will replace faulty 3TB hard drives;  Facebook’s new photo app won’t launch in Europe;  Samsung makes big trucks transparent in the name of road safety;  Microsoft flip-flops on Windows 10 for Insiders promise;  Get serious about Android anti-theft with Cerberus;  Hackers had access to security clearance data for a year;  The best PC games of E3 2015;  Uber says no guns in cars, changing policy;  Your Bank Should Be More Like Your Waiter And Less Like Your Landlord;  Get any Xbox One game free when you buy an Xbox One;  Louisiana governor vetoes license plate reader bill, citing privacy concerns;  MyPermissions Cleaner for Chrome (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to disable video autoplay on Twitter – Twitter yesterday introduced what it calls “a more streamlined consumption experience” where videos, GIFs and Vines will autoplay as you encounter them on your timeline and across Twitter. This new autoplay feature is enabled by default. And in my case, the Twitter app for iOS was set to autoplay videos whether I was on Wi-Fi or a cellular connection. Thankfully, you can disable autoplay on the desktop and disable it or restrict it to only when you are on a Wi-Fi network on the iOS app.

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Twitter’s Overhaul Will Let You Follow Events Rather Than People – With its CEO on the way out, Twitter is planning big changes this fall to make the social network more accessible to newcomers. In a BuzzFeed profile, company executives detail an upcoming initiative called Project Lightning that will lead to an increased focus on surfacing interesting content around live events.

Customize Android voice commands with MyVoice – The most appealing things about MyVoice is that it only adds to the built-in voice control system, instead of installing a third-party system. This means that the service will be more reliable. And the fact that it can customize commands makes it pretty remarkable. How do you use this fantastic app? It’s simple. Let’s take a look.

Chromebooks get integrated Chromecast support, no browser needed – You’ll still need the Google Cast Extension installed but Google has added Chromecast controls directly into the platform’s system tray for streaming windows or your desktop.

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Apple will replace faulty 3TB hard drives in affected older iMacs – Apple has identified a problem in the hard drives of specific older iMacs. 3TB hard drives for 27-inch Macs that were sold between December 2012 and September 2013 could “fail under certain conditions”. Mac users affected by the problem are eligible for a special replacement program where the faulty hard drive will be switched out for free. This isn’t the first time iMacs have had this kind of problem. In 2011 Apple replaced faulty HDD’s from the manufacturer, Seagate.

Twitter Product Pages Zero in on Shopping – Twitter is getting into the shopping game by tweaking its service to organize content around products. It’s also opening up collections for a few key partners, which will allow those browsing Twitter to check out a number of product recommendations focused on a particular topic.

Facebook’s new photo app won’t launch in Europe because of facial recognition – Earlier this week, Facebook launched Moments, a new photo-sharing app that uses facial recognition technology to dig up forgotten snaps of friends from your camera roll. It’s a neat trick, but not one that Facebook’s European users will be able to try out: the social network has said that Moments won’t launch on the continent due to worries that European regulators will object to its use of facial recognition.

Microsoft flip-flops on Windows 10 for Insiders promise – Microsoft promising a free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and 8.1 users is definitely a great thing, but it seems that Redmond still can’t its strategy pinned down. It once sent confusing messages regarding Windows 10 updates for those running on non-genuine (read: pirated) copies of the operating system. Now it’s muddling the waters again for their own testers, at first saying the Windows Insiders who have been testing Windows 10 will get the update for free, backtracking on that position, and then ambiguously confirming it again.

Surplus food for the homeless is just an app away – On-demand smartphone apps are known for addressing the whims and desires of the comfortable. It turns out they can also serve the greater good.

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Feeding Forward CEO Komal Ahmad shows off surplus food collected from the Bite Silicon Valley food-tech conference in early June. Leftovers gathered at this event fed more than 4,279 people at eight different shelters and food banks.

Get serious about Android anti-theft with Cerberus – One of the most frequent questions I receive is what to do when a phone is lost or stolen. The short (and simple) answer to that query is to prepare for the eventuality. That means either setting up your device via the Google Device Manager or another, similar type of service. If you don’t take this one (mostly) easy step, you might well find yourself out of luck. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to another anti-theft service, Cerberus. This app/service isn’t free (there’s a one week trial… after that, it’ll cost you 4.99 EUR). Once you take a look at this service, you’ll quickly realize that it’s worth every penny.

Heinz in hot sauce after ketchup bottle’s QR code links to porn site – Technically Incorrect: Heinz allows a domain for a promotion to lapse and who should slip into it instead? Oh, no.

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The offending bottle.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Why big open-source projects are fleeing SourceForge’s free software hub – SourceForge is in trouble. The download-hosting site retreated after public outcry, removing the junkware it inserted into downloads of the popular GIMP image editing tool without the developers’ permission. But SourceForge has still lost the trust of the open-source community after the junkware-wrapping scandal—and now more open-source projects are leaving SourceForge for greener pastures like GitHub and FossHub.

Security:

Game-over HTTPS defects in dozens of Android apps expose user passwords – Researchers have unearthed dozens of Android apps in the official Google Play store that expose user passwords because the apps fail to properly implement HTTPS encryption during logins or don’t use it at all. The roster of faulty apps have more than 200 million collective downloads from Google Play and have remained vulnerable even after developers were alerted to the defects. The apps include the official titles from the National Basketball Association, the Match.com dating service, the Safeway supermarket chain, and the PizzaHut restaurant chain. They were uncovered by AppBugs, a developer of a free Android app that spots dangerous apps installed on users’ handsets.

Matchlight finds breaches faster by scouring the dark web for stolen data – Matchlight detects data breaches faster, more accurately, and in a way you might not expect. TechRepublic spoke with Terbium Labs about how Matchlight works.

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Hackers had access to security clearance data for a year – Hackers who breached a database containing highly personal information on government employees with security clearances had access to the system for about a year before being discovered, The Washington Post reported on Friday. The database in question contains applications for security clearances, which ask for information on all aspects of a person’s life including social security numbers, passport numbers, names of former neighbors, and information on family members. It also asks about, over the past seven years, any contact with foreign nationals and problems with drug or alcohol abuse, debts or bankruptcy, imprisonment and run-ins with law enforcement

Company News:

Uber says no guns in cars, changing policy – Uber, the ride-hailing company based in San Francisco, has reworked its legal policies to include a ban on firearm possession by its drivers and passengers. “We seek to ensure that everyone using the Uber digital platform…feels safe and comfortable,” the new policy reads. “Uber and its affiliates therefore prohibit possessing firearms of any kind in a vehicle.” Those found violating the rule may lose access to Uber’s services.

The FCC is slapping AT&T with a $100 million fine for misleading unlimited data customers – The FCC is fining AT&T after an investigation concluded they misled millions of unlimited data customers by throttling their data and failing to adequately notify users of their plan’s limitations.

Apple Says “We Hear You Taylor Swift”, Will Pay Musicians During Free Trial – Apple’s Eddy Cue has just announced that Apple Music will change its plan and pay royalties to artists even during its three-month free trial for users, following Taylor Swift’s public complaint about the policy. She had planned to withhold her hit album ‘1989’ from the service in protest. We’ve learned that Apple made this decision to change its policy today. Apple had planned to offer users a three-month free trial of its upcoming streaming Apple Music service that launches June 30th. However, it had negotiated deals with the major labels to not pay rights holders royalties during these trials and instead pay a tiny bit more in royalty rates afterwards.

Report: Nokia CEO Talks Mobile Comeback – Nokia isn’t done with mobile phones just yet. After selling its handset business to Microsoft last year, the Finnish company is officially looking to make a comeback in the mobile space. But it’s not planning to go at it alone. Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri reportedly told the German website Manager Magazin that his company is looking to find “suitable partners” to help with the effort. Suri’s comments aren’t all that surprising, given that rumors about Nokia’s mobile ambitions have been swirling for months.

Verizon ordered to finish fiber build that it promised but didn’t deliver – New York City officials today ordered Verizon to complete fiber builds that the company was supposed to finish a year ago. If Verizon doesn’t comply, the city can seek financial damages. In a 2008 agreement with New York City, Verizon committed to extend its FiOS network to every household across the five boroughs by June 30, 2014,” said the announcement of an audit released today by the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). Verizon’s FiOS fiber network delivers Internet, TV, and phone service to areas traditionally served by Verizon’s copper landlines and DSL Internet.

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Apple Store Stops Selling The Original iPad Mini – Apple’s original iPad mini, the only non-Retina iPad still on sale, was quietly removed from Apple’s online store last night, as noted by 9to5Mac. Comparing the iPad section of the store between this morning and yesterday reveals that the first-gen iPad mini has been dropped from the comparison chart, too, leaving the iPad mini 2 and 3, as well as the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 as the current tablet options available to purchase new.

Games and Entertainment:

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is beautiful, brutal, and seriously ambitious – Yes, great video games should be more than just graphical eye candy, but in the case of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it’s hard to ignore its aesthetic charms. The Dawn engine demo shown at the first annual PC Gaming Show—which included a list of flashy effects like depth of field, global illumination, volumetric lighting, air density, and exquisitely rendered cucumbers—was but a tease for what the actual game looks like in motion. Mankind Divided was easily the best-looking thing I saw at this year’s E3—and in a show filled with graphical heavyweights like Dice’s Star Wars: Battlefront, Sony’s Uncharted 4, and Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, that’s high praise indeed.

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Dark Souls III is faster, weirder, and far more beautiful – I myself am not one really of those converted, barring flirtations with Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne. But after watching Miyazaki play through about 20 minutes of Dark Souls III, I think this might be the point where I jump in. The stage I saw was called Wall of Lodeleth, and its gothic medieval setting is instantly evocative, with ash-covered dragon corpses and jagged spires silhouetted against a hazy sun. The Souls games have never been the most technically accomplished, but stylistically they achieve a lot with a little; combined with Dark Souls III’s smoother performance on Xbox One, it’s the most striking entry in the series to date.

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New trailers: Peanuts, The Leftovers, Kung Fu Panda 3, and more – This was a big week for comedy and animation. It’s a nice change. There are so many serious, dark, and gritty trailers that fill up every other week that it’s good to have a little time away from them. Don’t worry — there’s still some of the dark stuff down below, but for the most part, you’re in for a fun week.

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Get any Xbox One game free when you buy an Xbox One – From June 21 to June 27, anyone buying an Xbox One from participating US retailers will get any game of their choosing for free. The only proviso is that the game must cost $59.99 or less and must be on optical media. This offer even covers the brand new $399 1 terabyte Xbox One that includes a 3.5 mm headset jack on its controller and already comes bundled with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Sony says it has “no plans” for Xbox One-style backward compatibility on PS4 – Microsoft is enabling Xbox One owners to play their older Xbox 360 games on its latest console, but Sony says it does not intend to offer similar backward compatibility on its PS4.

The best PC games of E3 2015 – Forget Xbox. PlayStation? Pfah. PC gaming is the real cutting-edge of gaming, and here at PCWorld we covered more than fifty titles prepared to grace computer screens. Even crazier, that wasn’t even all of them. Heck, AMD even announced its new flagship Radeon Fury X graphics card at E3 this year. In such a swelling sea of games, it’s good to highlight a chosen few that stood out from the rest. These are the PC games that got us personally excited at E3 2015, in no particular order.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch John Oliver Take on Internet Trolls on Last Week Tonight – John Oliver took on Internet trolls on this week’s Last Week Tonight with the help of some “vintage AOL ads.” The Internet was supposed to change the world, but it has become a place where you can see “glamour shots of cats” and “angora show bunnies” or rickroll your entire audience with a clip of Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” (twice). It’s also become a place to say horrifying things to complete strangers and dabble in revenge porn, according to Oliver.

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Our Favorite Quotes About Technology – We polled the PCMag staff for some of their favorite tech quotes, and these are their top picks.

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Devs Use Minor Updates To Resurrect iOS Apps On The Slide, Study Finds – App updates are a strategic tool used by developers to revive waining interest in their software and spark downloads. That’s one of the conclusions from a study by a group of Italian academics looking at how app developers use updates to attract attention, and how effective this strategy is on Android vs iOS.

California high school installs security system to pinpoint gunfire – A high school in Newark, California, has become the first in the country to install a high-tech system designed to pinpoint the location of gunfire. It’s called ShotSpotter, and it’s already in use across several cities across the US, including New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Oakland, Minneapolis, and more. And that’s what it’s designed for — even wealthy cities like New York have only deployed the system in high-crime precincts that see frequent episodes of gunfire.

In Sweden, blood donors get a text whenever they save a life – Blood donation rates have risen 25 percent among high-income countries, but centers have seen a steep decline in new volunteers. Centers across the world are trying to figure out how to raise awareness about the importance of giving. So, Sweden looked to social media to solve its issue, crafting a system that texts donors, telling them when their blood has been used to help another. The notification system has already been quite effective in spreading a positive message about giving blood. Donors have tweeted images of the SMS messages they’ve received. It starts with a simple “thank you” after donation and then gets pretty personal when a follow-up notification says your blood has been used to help another.

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OneGo Will Offer Unlimited West Coast Flights For $1,500 A Month – Here’s an unusual pricing plan for air travel — instead of paying for each trip, hand over a $1,500 monthly fee and fly as much as you want. So what do you actually get for that $1,500? Unlimited direct flights (economy class) on major airlines like America, Delta, United and Virgin America, plus perks like Gogo WiFi membership and enrollment in TSA Pre for faster security screenings. There are some constraints — the flights have to be booked seven days in advance, and you can’t have more than four open reservations at a time. You can also pay extra for things like last-minute booking, unlimited flight changes and more open reservations.

Samsung makes big trucks transparent in the name of road safety – Back in 2009, Russian design house Art Lebedev introduced the dramatically titled Transparentius concept for improving road safety. It was remarkably simple: put a camera on the front of large, slow-moving trucks and connect it to video displays on the back, thereby informing trailing drivers whether it’s safe to overtake the big rig. That’s the exact same idea that Samsung is now pursuing with a new prototype truck. Making use of its abundance of outdoor displays, the Korean company has stitched together a video wall of four displays at the rear of the truck, which transmits video captured by a wireless camera at the front.

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Your Bank Should Be More Like Your Waiter And Less Like Your Landlord – The financial services industry in America is locked into a business model of exploitation. For far too long, this has gone largely unchecked and unquestioned, even when advances in technology mean it doesn’t have to be so.

Something to think about:

“You can’t help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”

–       H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Humour:

Q: How cold is it in Canada?

A: In Celsius:

+25: visiting Aussies put on sweaters (if they actually own one)

+20: visiting Floridians ask if somebody could please turn on the heat

+10: you start to see your own breath. Vancouverites begin shivering uncontrollably

0: water freezes; construction begins on backyard hockey rinks

-10: Vancouverites weep with cold; Maritimers put on T-shirts

-15: Manitobans host the last backyard cookout with ice cream for dessert; Maritimers go camping

-25: Manitobans do up the top button

-35: Ottawans think about digging out their mitts

-50: Prairie kids start saying “Cold, eh?” and elect to stay inside for recess

-60: Vancouverites disappear; Montrealers put on overcoats; Yukoners close the bathroom window

-70: Hell freezes over and the Leafs win the Stanley Cup (joking, joking!)

Source: Favourite Canadian Jokes | WhyGo Canada Travel Guide

Today’s Free Downloads:

MyPermissions Cleaner for Chrome – MyPermissions is a free, powerful way to scan, track and control how applications access your personal information online. Know what apps you’ve connected to on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram and more are accessing what data – and approve, remove or report them.

MyPermissions is a watchdog for your cloud accounts. We protect users from unknowingly sharing photos, documents, locations, contacts, emails, or any other sensitive information, and we give them their control back by making it easy for them to approve or revoke what apps access their data, and how.

MyPermissions covers several platforms including:

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

LinkedIn

FourSquare

Instagram

Dropbox

and more!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Louisiana governor vetoes license plate reader bill, citing privacy concerns – In a rare move against the advance of license plate readers, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) has vetoed a plan to acquire the scanners in the Bayou State. It had previously passed both houses of the Louisiana legislature overwhelmingly.

Many law enforcement agencies nationwide use these specialized cameras to scan cars and compare them at incredible speeds to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months, or even years.

In a signing statement Friday, Jindal wrote:

Senate Bill No. 250 would authorize the use of automatic license plate reader camera surveillance programs in various parishes throughout the state. The personal information captured by these cameras, which includes a person’s vehicle location, would be retained in a central database and accessible to not only participating law enforcement agencies but other specified private entities for a period of time regardless of whether or not the system detects that a person is in violation of vehicle insurance requirements. Camera programs such as these that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information belonging to law abiding citizens that unfortunately can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse.

For these reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill No. 250 and hereby return it to the Senate.

Australia: Dallas Buyers Club pirates to be asked about income, disabilities – The letter to be sent to alleged pirates of the film Dallas Buyers Club has been leaked, revealing questions around the pirates’ income and what other titles they have downloaded.

The letter, obtained by Mashable Australia, follows a Federal Court victory by Dallas Buyers Club LLC – the rights holders to the film of the same name – which won a case in April against several ISPs, including iiNet, to obtain the details of 4,726 alleged film pirates.

The win came with a catch however, with Justice Nye Perram ordering that he needed to approve both the draft letter to alleged pirates and telephone script before any action is taken.

If a person denies they are a pirate, that person may be compelled to “deliver up your computer for analysis”, the letter says.

“If you admit that you engaged in piracy and no settlement can be reached, then DBC and Voltage may commence proceedings against you for Copyright Infringement,” the letter reads.

ISP iiNet, the main defendant in the case, has offered free legal advice to people who receive the letter.  (recommended by Mal C.)

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 28, 2014

Facebook updates terms of usage;  Victoria’s Secret silently launches heart-sensing bra;  How and why to move your media to Google Drive;  Personalize the Windows Explorer Navigation Bar;  Your Christmas Gaming Guide;  Weather.com fixes web app flaws;  Scout Alarm review: DIY home security you’ll want;  Apple to wind down iPhone 5c production;  Microsoft fined $140 million in China;  Alibaba plans to invest more in India;  10 excellent movies to stream on Netflix over Thanksgiving weekend;  Aomei Partition Assistant (free);  10 killer Black Friday gaming deals.

Facebook updates terms of usage, lets users opt out of app usage tracking – Facebook has started notifying its users about the upcoming changes to its privacy policy which will be applicable starting January 1st and has now made it possible to opt out of app usage tracking.

Digital detox for smartphone addiction: There’s an app for that – Can’t stop checking your messages? Real life events like going to the cinema or taking your partner to dinner getting in the way of reading your emails? Then the solution to your problem could well be at hand, in the form of a digital detox that offers you time out from the online world. How do you do that? With an app, of course.

Personalize the Windows Explorer Navigation Bar – Want to find a favorite folder quickly? Here’s how to configure your favorites and libraries in Windows 7 and 8’s file managers.

Twitter Experiments With Engagement Stats Directly In Tweets – Want to know just how many people actually care about what you’re tweeting? A new Twitter experiment spotted by ex-Twitter platform head Ryan Sarver will show many you how users are clicking on the links in the updates you post, with a handy link directly in the expanded Tweet view in the iOS application. As usual with Twitter’s features, this is limited to a small sample pool of users at first, but could roll out more widely if deemed successful.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How and why to move your media to Google Drive – Did you know that moving videos and images to Google Drive not only improves access to the files but also reduces your on-site storage needs? Andy Wolber explains.

Victoria’s Secret silently launches heart-sensing bra – Wearable devices are in fashion. Don’t believe it yet? Just ask Victoria’s Secret. The famous lingerie retailer has just outed, albeit without much fuss or fanfare, a new bra named “Incredible” that incredibly has its own heart-rate sensor inside. Designed for athletes and women with active lifestyles, this bra will allow users to be updated of their heart’s status without having to wear conspicuous or uncomfortable straps. That said, you’ll still need to wear or at least attach some monitor of sorts to go with it.

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The Most Popular Enterprise Sync and Share Product Might Surprise You – 451 Research released a report this week with details on the enterprise sync and share market and what they found may surprise you. The report, which surveyed over 1000 IT pros in October and asked them about the sync and share tools in use in their companies, found that Dropbox was the enterprise leader by far with more than 40 percent of responders saying their companies used that. The next in line was OneDrive with just over 25 percent followed by Google in third with over 20 percent and Box in fourth with just under 15 percent. All the rest had less than 10 percent.

Your Christmas Gaming Guide – We have put together a large guide to gaming gifts for Christmas. So if you are wondering what to buy a gamer for Christmas, look no further. We’ve covered the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC.

Security:

Syrian Electronic Army hacks online analytics system, prominent websites affected – The Syrian Electronic Army has reportedly hacked an online analytics system, which has resulted in parts of many websites showing popups and redirecting users away from the website.

Weather.com fixes web app flaws – The Weather Channel has fixed a common web application security problem on its website that made nearly all links vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks. Wang Jin, a doctoral student at the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, found more than 75 percent of the web pages on Weather.com were vulnerable.

Scout Alarm review: DIY home security you’ll want – DIY home security — it seems like everyone is doing it. After being privately funded, Scout is ready to toss their hat into the ring as well. The interesting thing with Scout is that you get a bit more off-the-grid security, but still remain connected. In bridging the gap between modern hardware and software in new ways, Scout is aiming to become the new darling of the home security world. Is Scout worthy of praise, or is their system too clumsy and dated for a modern world?

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Siemens patches critical SCADA flaws likely exploited in recent attacks – Siemens released security updates for several of its SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) products for industrial environments, in order to fix critical vulnerabilities that may have been exploited in recent attacks.

ACMA hones in on malware with internet security portal – The Australian Communications and Media Authority has launched its Australian Internet Security Initiative portal to give internet service providers access to information about what IPs in their networks are infected by malware.

Company News:

European Parliament Backs Investigation To Split Google Search From Its Other Businesses – To be very clear, this is not an enforceable vote, in that it doesn’t directly give regulators the mandate to force Google to break up. What it will mean is that European Commission and state competition authorities now have been given a green light to ask these questions of Google, and potentially lodge antitrust investigations that could result in more enforceable calls for Google to change how it does business in Europe, or potentially break up.

Apple to wind down iPhone 5c production after fewer than expected sales – It seems Apple learned a thing or two after its experiment to bring a ‘low cost’ iPhone for the masses which wasn’t actually that much cheaper at all. Now the 5c will fade into history, very soon.

Microsoft fined $140 million in China over a similar issue that was investigated by the IRS – Microsoft has been fined in China roughly $140 million for cross-border tax evasion in that country which is quite similar to that which was investigated by the IRS.

Alibaba plans to invest more in India – E-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma has promised to invest more in India, where online sales are soaring, predicting that the internet will transform the country’s future.

GoPro flies towards consumer drone market – The wearable video camera creator is taking its business plans a step further by experimenting with consumer drones.

Games and Entertainment:

Space Age Is An Old-School Adventure Built For Mobile – Fans of adventure games will find Space Age’s $4 entry fee well spent. Whether you’re playing on a phone or tablet, the game’s touch controls are a perfect fit to the style of gameplay, and there’s not much else like it out there in the sea of free-to-play games and action-heavy premium titles on mobile today.

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10 excellent movies to stream on Netflix over Thanksgiving weekend – Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to gather on the couch and watch a good movie. While we’re sitting there, moaning in pain, having eaten too much yet again, and thinking about how miserable it was to travel, and how crazy our family members are, these 10 movies are a reminder that we’re not alone in the world. And, indeed, despite everything, there are many, many wonderful things about this time of year, and plenty of things to be thankful for. Like Netflix.

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Star Wars 7 trailers go unofficial: Watch the best fan-made – Leading up to the real-deal full-sized trailer for the 7th Star Wars film, a number of creators have made their own. Using all manner of Star Wars fan films, odd animations, and clips from earlier movies, these trailers aren’t 100% official, but they summon the feeling we’re all aiming to resurrect. Remember what it felt like when the first trailer for Episode I was released? Welcome back to the Dual of the Fates – with a lot more promise of greatness this time around.

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10 killer Black Friday gaming deals: Games, hardware, consoles, and more – Black Friday’s got some great gaming deals, provided you know where to look. We snagged the best deals we could find and threw them in here, from the R9 290X to the Alienware Alpha to Titanfall for $5.

Off Topic (Sort of):

‘Star Trek’ began filming 50 years ago – The crew of the Enterprise walked in front of cameras for the first time on 27 November 1964 — but the legendary TV show nearly didn’t make it to the screen.

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“The guy with the ears” and the captain who isn’t Kirk: Leonard Nimoy and Jeffrey Hunter in the long-lost “Star Trek” pilot episode “The Cage.”

Alien spotting: Eight space theories you won’t believe other people believe – In an age of social media and renewed interest in space exploration, 2014 has also been a good year for speculative alien and UFO spotting. Crave’s Eric Mack rounds up some of the year’s craziest bits of “evidence.”

Lego Christmas tree lights up Sydney – A 10-metre tall Christmas tree built out of Lego stands tall in Sydney, Australia to celebrate the holiday season.

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Something to think about:

“Facts have a cruel way of substituting themselves for fancies. There is nothing more remorseless, just as there is nothing more helpful, than truth.”

–       William C. Redfield

Today’s Free Downloads:

Aomei Partition Assistant – Partition Assistant is a comprehensive disk partition solution, which includes a Partition Manager and Extend Partition Wizard for Windows 7/XP/2000/Vista and Server 2008/2003/2000. Besides, the magic partition utility can support all hard disks recognized by Windows such as IDE, SATA, SCSI, Hardware RAID, USB external disks, Fire wire disks etc. Partition Assistant provides powerful and professional features to manage disk partition including:

Extend NTFS system partition without restarting computer.

Resize and Move partition to optimize disk space management.

Extend Partition Wizard help you step by step expand the size of your selected partition.

Merge two or more partitions into a larger one.

Split one partition into two or more.

Create, Delete and Format partition.

Convert file system from FAT to NTFS.

Wipe permanently sensitive data to anti-recovery.

Repartition by drag & drop mouse on a disk panel.

Partition Assistant is a partition magic alternative. It has been widely used by many companies as well as individuals all around the globe with fine reputation, and the Home Edition is absolutely free of charge for personal users. You will be amazed by its cool functions and would like to recommand to your friends after you try our top-notch technologies.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 28, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 21, 2014

Six browser plug-ins that protect your privacy;  12 surprising ways personal technology betrays your privacy;  Meet Flic, the iOS photo manager for lazy people;  Office 16: Public beta could start soon;  8 ways Google is tying Chrome OS and Android together;  $179 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablet coming to Walmart;  How to Set Up Apple Pay on Your iPhone or iPad;  Six been-around-the-block tips for working more efficiently in Excel;  Gmail Android App to Support Yahoo, Outlook Accounts;  What’s in the hidden Windows AppData Folder;  Staples probes potential theft of customer credit card data;  Apple could sell record 62 million iPhones this quarter;  GTAV Beta scam: don’t get fooled;  Talk like a modern technology marketer (humor);  What can we learn from netbooks?  Candy Crush Soda Saga Arrives on Facebook;  System Explorer (free);  Australian government warrantless data requests pass 500,000;  Tech industry on the offensive against government.

12 surprising ways personal technology betrays your privacy – Our great privacy fears tend to be centered around others invading our privacy, whether it’s Google reading email, the boss monitoring your computer use, or the NSA eavesdropping on phone calls. The problem is, we don’t think about the very technologies we voluntarily embrace and what kind of snooping they do, and they do a lot of tracking. Some of it can and is used for benign or helpful reasons, but that can be turned against you very fast. Here are 12 ways your personal technology is betraying your privacy.

Six browser plug-ins that protect your privacy – Some plug-ins go beyond mere filtering, promising full-on privacy protection against cookies, trackers, third-party scripts and widgets, and other unwanted invasions. In this roundup I chose six products: AdBlock, Adblock Plus, Disconnect, DoNotTrackMe, Ghostery and Privacy Badger. There are dozens of other, similar, tools, but these represent a good cross-section of what’s available. They’re also among the most popular picks in the Chrome and Firefox extensions libraries.

Office 16: Public beta could start soon, with Android and touch versions to follow – The next version of Microsoft Office is reportedly on track for a spring 2015 launch, but Microsoft may offer a public beta much sooner. According to the well-connected Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may launch a public test version of its desktop productivity software “any time now.” The company may also launch an Android tablet version of Office within a couple of months, and launch a touch-optimized Windows Store version in the spring.

Facebook sues lawyers of man who claimed to own the social network – Facebook says when Paul Ceglia claimed to own at least half of the world’s largest social network, at least one of his lawyers figured out he was lying. That’s the crux of a lawsuit filed by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company against DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest law firms, and several other lawyers connected to Ceglia and his claim that he owned 84 percent of Facebook.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

8 ways Google is tying Chrome OS and Android together – Chrome OS and Android are two separate and distinct operating systems, but the lines are beginning to blur, to the benefit of people who’ve gone all-in on Google.

$179 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablet coming to Walmart – The E Fun Nextbook will feature a quad-core Intel Atom processor and include a detachable keyboard when it becomes available in time for the holiday shopping season.

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Spotify’s Family plan offers separate accounts for everyone in your house – Tired of sharing your Spotify account with everyone at home, but don’t want to bother creating a second account? Pretty soon you won’t have to thanks to Spotify Family.

Meet Flic, the iOS photo manager for lazy people – People have been calling Flic the Tinder of photo apps, and that’s the perfect description: Use gestures to quickly clear out your Camera Roll and keep only the photos that matter.

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Six been-around-the-block tips for working more efficiently in Excel – Just because a tip has been used for a long time doesn’t mean it isn’t new to you. Learn a few of Susan Harkins’ old but reliable tips for working more efficiently in Excel.

Build polished business dashboards with these five web-based apps – Dashboards provide an effective way to present a focused look at selected data. Here are five tools that let you tap different data sources and quickly put together a custom dashboard.

Apple Pay: Your full list of stores, apps, and banks supporting it – Now that iOS 8.1 is here, so is Apple Pay! The update, which launched about 90 minutes ago (at the time we publish this article), brings in Apple Pay. For those with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you’ll get the ability to make purchases at several point-of-sale terminals via a myriad of banks (likely yours). For those without an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, Apple Pay is still usable. To help, we’ve put together a list of apps and stores where you can use Apple Pay.

How to Set Up Apple Pay on Your iPhone or iPad – Apple Pay, the newest “next big thing” out of Cupertino, hits shopping carts across the U.S. Monday both online and in stores. Paying with a swipe of your smartphone? That sounds like the stuff of the future. Or the stuff of Android phones since 2011. Or the stuff of Japan as far back as 2004. Regardless, it’s still a welcome leap for the 42.4% of American smartphone users who own an iPhone. Here’s how to set up Apple Pay, the company’s new cashless, cardless way to pay.

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Skype for Windows Phone Gets Snapchat-Like Drawing Feature – The Microsoft-owned chat service on Monday unveiled a new version of its Windows Phone app, complete with a brand new Snapchat-like drawing feature to help you harness your inner Picasso. With the latest version of the app, you can now draw on a blank canvas or add some silly additions to a photo, then share your masterpieces with friends.

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Google rolling out new anti-piracy search algorithm – Google will begin rolling out a change to its search algorithm that the media giant says will “visibly affect” rankings of piracy sites globally. The Mountain View, California company promised to do this in 2012. But at the time, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and others said the changes to its search algorithm had “no demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy.” Google said the latest global algorithm changes, to roll out this week, will work.

Office Mix now lets PowerPoint users create on the fly – Microsoft wants to deliver a new wave of apps that are intuitive, intelligent, and mobile- and cloud-friendly—and its latest move is with Office Mix, a PowerPoint add-on aimed at teachers, for recording presentations and making them more interactive. Office Mix, launched in May, now lets presenters create “mixes” while they are giving their presentations live, by adding a new control panel that contains only the most essential features for building “mixes” without sacrificing the screen real estate for the slides the audience is seeing.

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Apple making 64-bit support mandatory soon – Your shiny new iPhone is about to get apps that work with it properly. Via the Apple Developer page, we find that starting early next year, all apps must have 64-bit support. Those apps must also be built with the latest Apple developer environment, and utilize the latest iOS SDK. It’s a push toward the future, but not one that should come as a surprise. Apple did the same thing with iOS 7, which was more a push for visual upgrades.

What’s in the hidden Windows AppData Folder, and how to find it if you need it – You know about Documents and other libraries. But some important data files are stored in the difficult-to-access AppData folder. Here’s what you need to know.

Report: Gmail Android App to Support Yahoo, Outlook Accounts – Support for Yahoo, Outlook, and other email providers within the Gmail app means you’ll soon be able to get all your mail without switching apps. Just like you can switch between different Gmail accounts within the email app, you’ll be able to move from Gmail to Yahoo to Outlook without leaving the Gmail app.

Security:

Staples probes potential theft of customer credit card data – Staples said late Monday that it is investigating a “potential issue” involving its customers’ credit card data in what could be the latest US retailer to fall victim to a payment card system security breach. The office supply chain announced it was working with law enforcement officials after security reporter Brian Krebs reported that “multiple banks” had identified patterns of payment card fraud that suggested data had been stolen from several locations in the Northeastern US.

FYI: OS X Yosemite’s Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you’re searching for – There’s growing disquiet over Apple’s desktop search app Spotlight, which sends queries for things back to the company’s servers to process. Spotlight phones home in OS X Yosemite, version 10.10, and it is enabled by default: it can be switched off, but with Apple insisting that it now takes people’s privacy seriously, the software has raised some eyebrows. It appears Spotlight sends queries, along with your location, back to Apple over the internet so the company can suggest related things from the web using Microsoft’s Bing engine. Apple says it needs to see your queries so it can improve Spotlight’s algorithms for suggesting things.

Apple clarifies Spotlight Suggestions data collection practices – Responding to concerns that Apple was automatically collecting user location and search query data through its latest Mac operating system, the company issued a statement Monday clarifying its customer data collection policies.

Chinese Big Brother launches nationwide attack on iCloud – The Great Firewall of China is the man-in-the-middle attack point targeting Chinese iCloud users by redirecting them to a fake iCloud site to hoover up usernames and passwords.

China again blames US for disrupted cybersecurity talks – China claimed on Sunday the U.S. has derailed cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries and that it doesn’t tolerate hacking. The statement came a day after Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign affairs, held discussions on Saturday in Boston with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on topics that included cybersecurity.

One of the most convincing phishing attacks yet tricks you with Dropbox sharing – Dropbox’s file storage service was used for a tricky phishing attack, although the service was quick to shut it down, according to Symantec. The security vendor said it detected a batch of phishing emails advising recipients that they’ve been sent a large file and included a link to Dropbox-hosted page. “The email claims the document can be viewed by clicking on the link included in the message,” wrote Nick Johnston of Symantec in a blog post. “However, the link opens a fake Dropbox login page, hosted on Dropbox itself.”

Cloud security: Think you’re blocking staff access to certain sites? Think again – Stopping staff using certain web services may be in decline outside regulatory environments, but even where it is being attempted it may be falling well short of its aims.

Company News:

Dish loses 7 channels in contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting – Dish Network customers lost access to CNN, Turner Classic Movies, and a handful of other channels late Monday as the result of a contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting. Turner Broadcasting, which licenses the channels for distribution to subscription services, pulled the channels from Dish’s lineup upon the expiration of its current deal with the satellite service after the two companies were unable to negotiate renewed distribution terms. Other channels removed from Dish include Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN en Espanol, Headline News, and truTV.

App Store Downloads Top 85 Billion, Revenue Up 36 Percent Year-Over-Year – Apple CEO Tim Cook announced today during the company’s FY Q4 2014 earnings call that Apple’s cumulative App Store downloads have now topped 85 billion up from 60 billion around a year ago. The number was announced alongside news of Apple’s massive quarter, and its record-breaking sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices.

Apple could sell record 62 million iPhones this quarter, analyst says – In an investors note released Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster forecast iPhone sales for the October-through-December quarter of anywhere from 56.7 million to 62.7 million. That range compares with overall Wall Street estimates of 60 million and some investor expectations as high as 63 million. The last quarter of the year is Apple’s first fiscal quarter, so these numbers actually mean Apple would start fiscal 2015 on a high note.

Lenovo tipped to make a bid for BlackBerry this week – Either Lenovo is very serious about stepping up its mobile phone business or it is getting very desperate. Aside from setting up a third mobile business to target China specifically, rumors are resurfacing that Lenovo is eying to buy BlackBerry out of its woes. Or perhaps the two moves are one and the same, which doesn’t make sense either. Whatever Lenovo has planned, we might very well know this week as sources close to the matter tip that Lenovo will be making an offer to buy BlackBerry sometime this week.

Qualcomm pushes 4K video streaming with prototype TV dongle – Qualcomm has a plan to liberate 4K video from high-end smartphones, and it involves a Chromecast-like prototype TV dongle. Qualcomm primarily sees the device as a way for users to beam homemade 4K video to their televisions, but it could eventually be used to stream 4K content from online sources such as Netflix. The dongle could also double as a wireless dock for phones and tablets, mirroring the display onto the big screen.

Yahoo’s Mayer set to outline her plan as criticism mounts – Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will defend herself and her strategy at a third-quarter investor conference call Tuesday, according to a new report. After Yahoo announces its third-quarter results that day, Mayer will take to the company’s earnings call to outline her plan for growth and announce that Yahoo is planning to make a major acquisition or two, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the chief executive’s plans.

Apple eyes $5 per month for Beats Music, report says – That’d be a substantial cut. Right now, Beats Music streaming costs $10 per month, in line with most other streaming services.

Games and Entertainment:

GTAV Beta scam: don’t get fooled – Over the past several weeks there’ve been an increased number of scams and phishing schemes showing up related to Grand Theft Auto 5. So very many of them have appeared, in fact, that RockStar Games are getting involved with massive warnings. What better way to continue fueling your own hype machine than by piggybacking on the mini-hype machines others are attempting to use to piggyback on you?

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343 Industries apologizes for Halo’s 20GB day-one content update – On November 11 Microsoft and 343 Industries will launch the Halo: Master Chief Collection for Xbox One. It brings together the first four Halo games, multiplayer modes, and additional content, as well as unlocking access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. However, there’s a feature of the release that not all gamers are going to appreciate, and it takes the form of a day-one 20GB content download. 20GB is a lot of data, but an amount most gamers will be able to cope with hopefully without incurring a charge. But let’s not forget those who have chosen to purchase a digital copy of the game. Come release day they’ll be waiting for 65GB of data to download.

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Xbox One to get custom backgrounds and many more features with November update – Microsoft has published a list of updates that are coming to the Xbox One as part of the November update and they include personalization, TV enhancements, IE updates and more.

‘Candy Crush Soda Saga’ Arrives on Facebook – Game maker King today launched a new reason to ignore your family and friends: Candy Crush Soda Saga. The sister title to everyone’s favorite time waster, Candy Crush Soda Saga is set in the familiar Candy Kingdom, but boasts new graphics, games modes, candy combinations, and gameplay mechanisms. Designed to be played alongside the original game, this installation promises fresh challenges for even those players who’ve managed to fight their way to the end of the original Candy Crush Saga.

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Pokémon teams up with manga horror legend Junji Ito to ruin your childhood – One of the world’s finest creators of comic book horror has teamed up with The Pokémon Company for a special “scary” collaboration.

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Lionsgate streaming service to join HBO and CBS in 2015 – The studio behind The Hunger Games is set to join CBS and HBO in their efforts to add a streaming service to the masses. This is Lionsgate Films, and they’re being joined in their efforts by Tribeca Enterprises. This service will be launched in the first half of next year, and it’ll be called – oddly enough – “Tribeca Short List.” This service will include John Wick, Crash, Monster’s Ball, The Hurt Locker, Juno, Ender’s Game, and Snitch. And don’t forget The Expendables – and a whole lot more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Talk like a modern technology marketer (humor) – Made-up words were in abundance during this fall’s software conference season. Your dauntless reporter traveled the world to bring back the latest in tech marketing speak. If you want to sound like you’re current with today’s dubious jargon, here’s a quick primer to get you all caught up.

DDoS Attacks: Legitimate Form of Protest or Criminal Act? – A basic premise of a democratic society gives its citizens rights to participate in debate and effect change by taking to the streets to demonstrate. In the U.S., this is enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the First Amendment. But what happens when we all effectively live, work, shop, date, bank and get into political debates online? Because online, as Molly Sauter points out in her book The Coming Swarm, there are no streets on which to march. “Because of the densely intertwined nature of property and speech in the online space, unwelcome acts of collective protest become also acts of trespass.” Sauter argues that distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are a legitimate form of protest. Or at least one that needs to be examined in a larger context of lawful activism, rather than hastily and disastrously criminalized under the Patriot Act.

Man falls into sea on live TV while possibly taking selfie – A man lifts his cell phone in front of his face to take the perfect shot. And then, a YouTube-worthy calamity.

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Professor Wozniak takes on new role at Australian university – Sydney’s University of Technology has a new teacher, with Steve Wozniak taking on his first ever adjunct professorship and being dubbed “the coolest person in the universe” in the process.

John Oliver’s all-dog Supreme Court on ‘Last Week Tonight’ is hilarious and free for anyone to remix – Comedian newscaster John Oliver has aired some hilarious and incisive sketches so far throughout the first season of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. But there’s a new top dog among them: last night’s bit featuring an all-animal Supreme Court. Inspired by Keyboard Cat, the sketch — which features dogs as the nine justices, a duck as an assistant, and a pitch-perfect pecking chicken as a stenographer — is meant to mock the absurdity of the US Supreme Court’s refusal to allow its proceedings to be televised, despite permitting audio recordings.

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What can we learn from netbooks? – From 2007 to 2009, we saw the rise of the low-powered, dirt-cheap netbook. Today these clunky computers are frequently mocked — but they did teach us a lesson.

Monica Lewinsky joins Twitter – Describing herself as a social activist, public speaker and contributor to Vanity Fair, Lewinsky decides now is the time to enter the fray of immediacy.

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Something to think about:

“Only sick music makes money today.”

–      Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844 – 1900)

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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WinMend Folder Hidden – WinMend Folder Hidden is a file / folder hiding tool. While ensuring the absolute system safety, this application can quickly hide files and folders on local partitions and/or on removable devices. The hidden files / folders will be safely hidden whether the drive is accessed in another operating system on the same computer or reinstalled on another computer.

You can set a password for this application. Hidden data can be displayed and unhidden only when the user enters the valid password. The data is completely invisible to other programs or on other operating systems.

Features:

Safety First:

The hiding technology will never damage any file data. It is safe and reliable.

High-Speed Hiding and Unhiding:

Whether it’s a file of dozens of GB, or a folder containing a lot of files, the file or the folder can be hidden and unhidden instantly.

Removable Drives Are Supported:

Files and folders on removable drives such as USB drives hidden by WinMend Folder Hidden are invisible not only in the computer where the hiding was completed, but in any computer.

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

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

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australian government warrantless data requests pass 500,000 – Requests from government agencies for Australian telecommunications customers’ phone, internet, and address data surpassed 500,000 in the last financial year, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The figure was revealed in the ACMA’s annual report (PDF) released this month. It says that there were 563,012 authorisations granted to government agencies for access to telecommunications “metadata” in the 2013-14 financial year.

Under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, government agencies can force telecommunications companies to hand over details about their customers, including address, phone number, IP address, call data, SMS data, and other held information without a warrant for the purpose of enforcing the law.

The ACMA recorded that total disclosures amounted to 748,079 for the financial year including to law enforcement for a range of reasons, such as to avert a threat to life, assist the ACMA, or enforce the criminal law of a foreign country.

The number of requests by far exceeds the more than 300,000 requests made in the 2012-13 financial year reported by the Attorney-General’s Department in its Telecommunications (Interception and Access) report last year. The report for this year has yet to be tabled in parliament.

Tech industry on the offensive against government – In 2008 the U.S. government threatened Yahoo with daily $250,000 fines if it refused to comply with its demands for user data. What was Yahoo to do? Without any relief from the (secret) courts it had either to comply or commit corporate suicide. And we didn’t find out about it until just a few weeks ago.

Things have changed a lot. The biggest companies in the business are taking on the national security state. It began with court maneuvers by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Facebook to protect their reputations with customers by allowing them to disclose aggregate information about the extent of their compliance with government information requests.

The FISA court has permitted some, though not enough disclosure. The numbers these companies actually released don’t prove a lot, because the court would not allow them to disclose all important categories of government requests. The important part is that it shows the companies are taking their customers’ interests seriously and are working to protect them to the greatest extent possible. Assume this is the norm, such as in this recent letter from Facebook to the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) telling them that they are obligated to follow Facebook’s terms of service the same as everyone else, and they are not permitted to use fake profiles in investigations.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 21, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 17, 2014

FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won’t Decrypt Phones, We’ll Force Them To;  Whisper accused of monitoring users’ locations even after they opt out;  The best SSDs of 2014: A buyers guide;  All you need to know about Apple’s new iPads, iMac;  Speed up Chrome on Android with this handy hack;  Twitter Introduces New Way to Listen to Audio;  Which size Apple device is right for you?  Microsoft rolls out Skype 5.6 for iPhone; Windows 10: The biggest problems, gripes, and missing features so far;  Top free iOS, Android apps to learn how to program;  Firefox Hello adds video chat to Mozilla’s browser;  OS X Yosemite is now available to download;  Google reports $16.52 billion in revenue;  Drupal releases patch for serious SQL injection flaw;  CBS Announces Its Own Live TV And Streaming Service;  Steam’s biggest free weekend ever lets you play 10 top PC games for nothing;  Right Click Enhancer (free);  Free game alert: Steal a no-cost copy of Payday: The Heist for today only;  Court Limits Police ‘StingRay’ Cell Phone Tracking for the First Time.

FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won’t Decrypt Phones, We’ll Force Them To – Everyone is stoked that the latest versions of iOS and Android will (finally) encrypt all the information on your smartphone by default. Except, of course, the FBI: Today, its director spent an hour attacking the companies and the very idea of encryption, even suggesting that Congress should pass a law banning the practice of default encryption. It’s of course no secret that James Comey and the FBI hate the prospect of “going dark,” the idea that law enforcement simply doesn’t have the technical capability to track criminals (and the average person) because of all those goddamn apps, encryption, wifi network switching, and different carriers.

Whisper accused of monitoring users’ locations even after they opt out – Anonymish social network Whisper is tracking some users’ location even after they opt out of tracking, according to a new report. The Guardian reports that Whisper built a tracking tool enabling it to pinpoint users’ location to within 500 meters, an ability it has used to monitor messages sent from the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, among other targets. “A team headed by Whisper’s editor-in-chief, Neetzan Zimmerman, is closely monitoring users it believes are potentially newsworthy, delving into the history of their activity on the app and tracking their movements through the mapping tool,” the report says. “Among the many users currently being targeted are military personnel and individuals claiming to work at Yahoo, Disney and on Capitol Hill.”

All you need to know about Apple’s new iPads, iMac – With a fresh coat of gold paint and a Touch ID sensor, Apple beefs up its tablets. The new iMac also packs more pixels than an Ultra HDTV. Bridget Carey wraps up the highlights from Apple’s announcement.

The best SSDs of 2014: A buyers guide – When I sat down to write this article, I thought it would be straightforward: “Write an SSD guide,” my editor said. “Make some recommendations!” he said. What could be simpler? It turns out, quite a bit — but the good thing about getting hip-deep into a product segment is that I get to wade back out and describe the thinking process that ought to go into choosing an SSD. This guide is written for those of you who bought a small SSD back in 2008-2010 and are now looking for an upgrade, as well as those who are hopping in for the first time and are looking for a basic primer.

Pro tip: Speed up Chrome on Android with this handy hack – If you’re looking to squeeze out as much performance from Chrome on your Android device, Jack Wallen has two simple hacks that’ll bring you a much improved experience.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter Introduces New Way to Listen to Audio – Twitter has created a new way for users to play audio inside tweets, announcing Thursday that they have teamed up with Soundcloud to bring a full catalogue of music and other recordings to Twitter. Embedding audio inside tweets is nothing new, but this freshly developed audio card allows a user to additionally “dock” a music card inside the app while continuing to scroll through the timeline while listening simultaneously.

Get your phone into the holiday spirit with these great Halloween apps – Whether you want to blast the undead or practice pumpkin carving with your little goblins, there’s plenty of ways to ramp up your Halloween spirit with Android apps. We’ve dug up both spooky and cute games, wallpapers, and apps that should put you in the Halloween spirit. Most are either free or just a couple of bucks, well worth the cost for some spooktacular delight.

Microsoft rolls out Skype 5.6 for iPhone, now optimized for every display size – Microsoft has released an updated version of its Skype app for iPhone, with improvements to optimize the UI to display more conversations and messages on the larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

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Firefox Hello adds video chat to Mozilla’s browser – Eager to infuse the Web with the communications interactivity of mobile apps, Mozilla on Thursday announced a video chat service called Hello. The technology, built into the beta version of Firefox, lets people set up free video or audio calls with others using Firefox. Mozilla will gradually enable the feature in coming weeks.

Dictionary.com launches new app for word nerds – One dictionary, one would think, is much like any other dictionary: a useful resource, to be sure, but with little variance in general functionality. But Dictionary.com is working hard to prove that not all dictionary apps are created equal. The service, which originally launched in 1995, is celebrating Dictionary Day this year by giving its iPhone app a massive overhaul. Possibly the new feature that users will notice first is that the app is consolidating all its premium dictionaries.

Which size Apple device is right for you? – With so many different sized iPhones and iPads, how do you pick the device for you needs and hand size? We have a handy guide to help you.

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OS X Yosemite is now available to download – Apple’s latest desktop operating system, OS X Yosemite, is now available to download from the Mac App Store. It’s a free update, and it delivers a whole host changes, most notably a revamped visual style that’s a lot more colorful than the OS X you’re used to. In fact, the Yosemite makes your Mac’s operating system look a lot more like iOS than traditional OS X, and it brings the two operating systems together in a few more ways too.

A visual tour of OS X Yosemite’s changes – When the first Yosemite Public Beta was released, we ran through a bunch of apps and compared them side-by-side with their Mavericks iterations to show just what had changed, and by how much. Apple continued to tweak the look of the interface throughout the beta period, addressing a few of our initial gripes. Below is a comprehensive visual tour of Yosemite’s new changes. Many of these screenshots are similar to what shipped with the Public Beta, so we’ll be sure to highlight those elements that have changed significantly since then.

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Windows 10: The biggest problems, gripes, and missing features so far – Two weeks in, and already 1 million people have joined the Windows Insider Program to try out the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Solid usage doesn’t mean that everyone loves Windows 10, however — in fact, using Windows 10′s built-in feedback tool, thousands of testers have made it very clear that Microsoft’s new OS still has lots of irksome bugs and misses many much-needed features. Here’s an excerpted list of what people think of Windows 10 Technical Preview so far.

Apple Built A SIM Card That Lets You Switch Between AT&T, Sprint, And T-Mobile – Whoaaa — here’s an interesting bit that went unmentioned in today’s Apple announcement: Apple has seemingly built a SIM card that lets you jump between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile without having to swap it out (or, more annoyingly, track down/purchase a new SIM card when you want to switch carriers). Instead of swapping the card, you just pick a new carrier through the device’s on screen settings. As it should be!

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Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 RC is available to download now – Back in July, Microsoft rolled out its Release Candidate (RC) for Visual Studio 2013 Update 3, and revealed that it was already working on the next update to its suite of developer tools. Today, the company announced that Update 4 RC is now available to download.

Microsoft updates Windows App Studio Beta with 9 new languages and Windows Phone 8.1 – Microsoft has released an update for the Windows App Studio Beta to enable localization in nine new languages and the ability to sideload apps on Windows Phone 8.1 for testing. Windows App Studio was launched by Microsoft last year, to introduce new developers to Modern Apps on Windows and Windows Phone. The relatively easier process to develop apps with App Studio was received well and managed to bring 55,000 new apps to the platform.

Kid-Friendly Osmo iPad Accessory Coming to Apple Stores – The evolution of children’s toys, from Matchbox cars to smartphone-controlled droids, continues with the learning-enhanced Osmo product for iPad. Developed last year by a pair of ex-Googlers under the working title of Tangible Play Inc., Osmo uses a reflective mirror that clamps over an iPad’s camera to turn the surface in front of the screen into an interactive play area.

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Top free iOS, Android apps to learn how to program – No matter the age, learning a programming language is a marketable skill. Here are mobile apps to assist you.

Security:

Drupal releases patch for serious SQL injection flaw – Drupal, which is a volunteer open-source project whose software is used by websites such as The White House and the Economist, said all of 7.x releases prior to 7.32 are affected, according to an advisory. Administrators should update to version 7.32. If that is not possible, a patch is available for the “database.inc” file that fixes the problem.

Got a Mac? Prevent OPSEC leakage by cleaning hidden OS X files from USB drives – If you have a Mac, and if BadUSB or the code released at DerbyCon to make BadUSB work didn’t scare you off from using thumb drives, then you might want to start using a free app like CleanMyDrive. Why? Because OS X has been accused of leaking data and metadata that “really shouldn’t be there” as it copies “hidden” files to USB drives. F-Secure’s Sean Sullivan related the following “true story” that involves “unknowns.”

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‘The Snappening’: stolen Snapchat photos site defaced, details of site owner published – Owner of TheSnappening.org photo site, Mudit Grover, took the stolen Snapchat images and the site down. But within hours, attackers identifying themselves as “Team Danny” allegedly took over the domain and published Grover’s personal details.

Utterly crazy hack uses long-distance lasers to send malware commands via all-in-one printers – If you saw it in a movie, you’d never believe it’s true. But it is. Researchers have developed Morse code for transmitting data via pulses of light sent to a scanner via a laser.

Company News:

Google reports $16.52 billion in revenue, profits stutter as ads move to mobile – Google posted mixed results for its third quarter this year. Revenue was $16.52 billion, not excluding traffic acquisition costs, a 20 percent rise over the same period in 2013. But its profit of $3.72 billion was down slightly from the same period in 2013, when it reported $3.76 billion in profit. Analysts were expecting the company to generate earnings per share of $6.53, but Google reported an EPS of $6.35. The stock was down a little, about 3 percent, based largely on that miss.

CBS Announces Its Own Live TV And Streaming Service, CBS All Access – The new subscription-based service will begin offering live streams from 14 of CBS’s largest markets (and soon, more), plus full seasons of 15 prime time TV shows after they air, as well as past seasons of 8 popular series (e.g., The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Survivor, etc.). The service also includes free access to over 5,000 “classic” TV shows from its back catalog like Star Trek, Cheers, MacGyver,Twin Peaks, and CSI:Miami, and access to exclusive special events like the The Grammy Awards, The Academy Of Country Music Awards, The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more.

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AMD plans to cut staff by 7% – AMD’s new chief is making her mark quickly: By the end of 2014, the chipmaker will cut worldwide headcount by about 7 percent in a restructuring plan it hopes will put it on the path to improved profits. The layoffs will start immediately, and come just a week after AMD appointed former chief operating officer Lisa Su as the company’s CEO. She replaced Rory Read, who held the post since August 2011.

Oracle sued over employee no-poaching agreement with Google – A former employee of Oracle has sued the company for allegedly conspiring with Google to prevent poaching of certain categories of managers from each other, in a bid to keep salaries low. Oracle’s restricted hiring agreement with Google was part of a bigger conspiracy by technology companies, located mainly in Silicon Valley, that prevented solicitation of each other’s managers, according to a class action complaint from Greg Garrison, who handled sales of Oracle’s Crystal Ball software from about December 2008 to June 2009.

Photo-sharing site Twitpic to shut down after all – After announcing it had found a mystery buyer, the company again announces its plan to shut down at the end of the month.

Wal-Mart’s e-commerce sales to hit $12.5 billion as investment continues – Wal-Mart’s digital reinvention revolves around leveraging the retailer’s unique assets instead of chasing Amazon.

Games and Entertainment:

Steam’s biggest free weekend ever lets you play 10 top PC games for nothing – Ten top PC games can be played in full on Steam this weekend, and the titles are being discounted if you want to keep playing when Monday rolls around.

Here Is ‘Hatred’, a Video Game Where You Do Nothing But Murder Innocent People – Many have pointed out that, over a decade ago, proponents of video games defended them against claims their violence inspired school shootings, and now threats are lodged to shoot up a school over video games. A game about slaughtering everyone for shits and giggles rolled out the red carpet for itself amid all that. Now, does that mean Hatred will lead to violence? Probably not. Violent video games? Ditto. Does that mean we don’t get to call Destructive Creations living garbage? Not in the slightest!

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A still from Hatred. Image: Destructive Creations

Microsoft gamifies the Xbox One Preview program – In a bid to make sure beta testers submit as much feedback as possible Microsoft is now adding some small game elements and a point system to its Xbox One Preview program. Other rewards may come soon.

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Sony unveils version 2.0 of PlayStation 4 OS, biggest update yet – Sony has announced a new system update for its PlayStation 4 console, one that will bring the OS to version 2.0. This update will bring new features, bug fixes, UI changes and more.

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‘Lord of the Rings: Legends’ Begins Its Quest on iOS, Android – There’s a new Lord of the Rings Game in town, and it’s got more than 100 characters from the LotR universe for you to discover and unite into the ultimate fellowship. Of course, there are orcs and other creatures to battle as you explore Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings: Legends is free-to-play and available on iOS and Android. Wondering how the in-app purchases work? Well, they aren’t bad.

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Free game alert: Steal a no-cost copy of Payday: The Heist for today only – You can get a copy of Payday: The Heist for free on Steam today, and you don’t even have to steal it. From now until 10AM Pacific on Friday, Overkill Software is letting you waltz into the vault and leave with the game at zero cost. It’s part of Overkill’s “Crimefest” promotion, which gave out rewards as more people joined the Payday 2 Steam group. The group reached its goal of 1.5 million members, so for 24 hours the original Payday is free to grab (and keep forever).

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s Schmidt Stands Firm On Not Applying Europe’s Search De-Listing To Google.Com – Google’s Eric Schmidt has held the line against extending European search de-listing requests to Google’s .com domain. As it stands, successful requests made by private individuals under the ruling for information to be de-indexed by Google in a search associated with their name are only implemented by Google on European sub domains, such as Google.co.uk or Google.de, not on Google.com. And that’s not about to change, according to comments made by Schmidt today — presumably unless Google is compelled to expand de-indexing to .com by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the future.

The US Is Trying to Get 10 Countries to Enforce Its Draconian Copyright Laws – The Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, has come under fire plenty of times already for its potential ability to rewrite global privacy and copyright laws. A newly leaked draft, however, suggests that certain types of pirates and counterfeiters will be a main target of the agreement.

Court rules parents can be held responsible for kid’s Facebook posts – Kids are notorious for saying dumb things, and now that communication has shifted towards a digital medium, those dumb things are often posted for everyone to see. If a new court ruling is any indication, parents may be held responsible for any legally dubious thing their child posts in the future, whether it is a fake threat or very real cyber bullying. Such is the case for two individuals in Georgia, where a court as ruled that they could be held responsible for a fake Facebook page operated by their son.

Saudi Arabia Beheaded 59 People So Far This Year — But Hardly Anyone is Talking About It – The string of beheadings of American and British hostages at the hands of the Islamic State has drawn horror and intense media scrutiny the world over, redoubling international determination to defeat the extremist group. But with IS dominating headlines, it is easy to forget that Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council and a close ally of America in the war against the Islamist fighters, is itself routinely carrying out the practice of beheading. Last month saw Saudi Arabia behead at least 8 people — twice the number of Western hostages who have so far featured in IS’s barbaric execution videos

Unplug While on Vacation? Never! – Most modern travel checklists include a passport, enough underwear to last the trip, a phone charger, an e-reader charger, a laptop charger, and a book—in case you lose one of your chargers. A new study from travel service Expedia and its business brand Egencia reveals the deep connection people feel toward their mobile devices: 94 percent of folks carry at least one gadget during a personal vacation, and 97 percent bring one or more on a business trip.

Something to think about:

“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

–      Chinese Proverb

Today’s Free Downloads:

Right Click Enhancer – A control panel for your right click menu on windows. Add most used applications and folder shortcuts in your right click menu. Manage these right click shortcuts by creating right click sub menus and putting them into these sub menus. Easily remove or disable right click menu entries added by other applications. Save valuable time by using right click tweaks that provides easy to use quick operations directly in your right click. Save time in copy paste operations by adding new folder shortcuts in send to menu. Add new file types into New menu to ease the operation of creating new files. Add templates files to new menu so you can get preformatted files upon creating new files and start working on it in less time.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny, easy and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 52 languages using Google´s services.

Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese-simp, Chinese-trad, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish

Integrates Google Dictionary, Translate, Search, Suggest, Wikipedia 5-in-1 without installing them.

Features:

Smart Translation

Translate selected text with a hotkey

Full-Text Translation

Text suggestions

Single click without selected text

Translate a web page

Open File to Translate

Multilanguage List

Wikipedia Search

Dictionary .NET is provided as freeware for personal use.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI director to citizens: Let us spy on you – In a post-Snowden plea for a policy more permissive of spying, FBI Director James B. Comey raised the specters of child predators, violent criminals, and crafty terrorists to argue that companies should build surveillance capabilities into the design of their products and allow lawful interception of communications. In his speech given at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, Comey listed four cases where having access to a mobile phone or laptop proved crucial to an investigation and another case where such access was critical to exonerating wrongly accused teens.

All of that will go away, or at least become much harder, if the current trend continues, he argued.

New Zealand cops raided home of reporter working on Snowden documents – New Zealand’s national police ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister. But authorities may have also taken source material concerning unrelated stories.

Court Limits Police ‘StingRay’ Cell Phone Tracking for the First Time – The  Florida Supreme Court has ruled that warrantless tracking of people’s location using their cell phone signal is unconstitutional, a move that could have far-reaching consequences and suggests that the most common use of police surveillance tools called StingRays is illegal.

First draft of ‘internet bill of rights’ revealed in Italy – An early version of the document puts anonymity, privacy, and net neutrality at the heart of Italian web users’ rights – but not everyone’s happy.

Australian spy agency spies on itself – You wouldn’t use an agency that didn’t realise it was spying on itself; and spying on its own is exactly what Australia’s domestic spy agency did.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) accidentally intercepted calls made by one of its own regional offices.

The interception was a breach of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, which allows ASIO to use listening devices and computer access.

The breach, which was revealed in the agency’s annual report, was self-reported by ASIO staff and blamed on a technical glitch.

ASIO deleted the intercepted information, and said processes have been put in place to prevent the error from occurring again.

4 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 26, 2014

FBI: Apple’s iPhone, iPad encryption puts people ‘above the law’;  Experts Say ‘Bash’ Bug Is a Major Vulnerability But Not a Major Threat;  How to do a “back to basics” security overhaul;  Laptop vs. tablets: how they compare for true productivity;  Amazon’s giving over $135 in paid Android apps away for free;  Switching from iOS to Android: The complete guide;  The 6 essential Windows software programs for any PC;  What’s the difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice?  Send self-destructing social media posts with Xpire;  Latest Firefox and Thunderbird updates plug CRITICAL SSL vuln;  What You Need To Know About Shellshock;  Final announced ‘Titanfall’ DLC now available for Xbox One, PC;  Looking for Work? GameStop Announces Holiday Hiring Surge;  Angry Birds Transformers Set for October Launch; Junkware Removal Tool (free).

FBI director blasts Apple and Google for offering encryption – Is it illegal to encrypt the data on your phone? Most would say the answer is a clear no, but Apple’s recent announcement that the company won’t be able to decrypt user data in iOS 8 apparently has a lot of law enforcement figures spooked. Today at FBI headquarters, director James Comey told reporters he was concerned by the move. “I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone,” Comey said. “The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense.”

Experts Say ‘Bash’ Bug Is a Major Vulnerability But Not a Major Threat – The threat posed by the Bash bug—it could theoretically remotely command computers and extract private information—is overblown, cybersecurity experts told TIME. Average computer users aren’t likely to be directly targeted by hackers, experts said. And for the vulnerability to be triggered, the attacker would need to deliver content to the user, and then get the user to execute Bash with that content, according to Kindlund. Normal web browsing, emailing or other common activities do not involve calling Bash. What average users should be worried about are more traditional hacking techniques, like phishing emails and links to malicious websites, said John Gunn of VASCO Data Security.

Security begins at home – how to do a “back to basics” security overhaul on your family network – My wife recently went back to work after spending a considerable amount of time away to look after our children. With her work and home IT needs now converging on our family network, this got me thinking about security in a whole new way. For over a decade now I’ve been responsible for maintaining security resources and advising Sophos customers and partners about security best practices. While I practice what I preach, it occurred to me that my family doesn’t get the equivalent level of attention. The old adage about the cobbler’s kids came surging to mind. So here’s a checklist of what I did.

Amazon’s giving over $135 in paid Android apps away for free – From now through Saturday September 27, Amazon’s giving away 27 premium apps away for free as part of a fall deal—a bundle that would normally sell for $135 in total. There are some apps you’ll definitely want to check out in this latest pack, including the OfficeSuite Professional productivity suite (normally $15), Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro, and games like Riptide GP2, Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode II, and Threes! (Trese Brothers Software’s Heroes of Steel RPG is there too, and while I haven’t played that game yet, the Trese Brother’s Star Trader Android game utterly rocks.)

The 6 essential Windows software programs for any PC – PCWorld senior editor Brad Chacos wrote an excellent story about the best software for a new PC. But if we’re talking the barest minimum, anyone with a Windows PC really, absolutely must have a program in each of the categories below.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Laptop vs. tablets: how they compare for true productivity – When the Surface Pro 3 launched, Microsoft made a bold claim: This is the tablet that can replace your laptop. Really? We set out to test Microsoft’s assertion for not just the Surface Pro 3, but for all tablets. We looked at more than 700 tablets and 2,000 laptops, digging into the specs that make a difference, like RAM and storage, display size, battery, and connectivity.

Switching from iOS to Android: The complete guide – iPhone die-hards may find flipping to Android a ghastly proposition, but for the less committed — likely with older iPhones — cheaper and larger Android phones with 4G are a tempting option. Here are 13 tips to help make the move.

Create Android keyboard shortcuts for words that you use frequently – If you’re looking for a way to make typing on Android a bit more efficient, Jack Wallen shows you how to take advantage of shortcuts on the built-in keyboard.

‘Today Calendar’ App Gets Updated With Android L Style – As the release of Android L fast approaches, developers are rolling out updated designs that jive with Google’s new design philosophy. The latest app to get prepped is Today Calendar, a popular replacement for the official Google Calendar app that can do everything Google does and more.

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Instagram Lets You #Selfielapse By Adding Front-Facing Camera Option To Hyperlapse – Instagram’s first update to its timelapse app Hyperlapse will let you create mini-travelogues of your face hurtling through the world. Hyperlapse now lets you capture timelapses with the front-facing camera to create what Instagram calls a #Selfielapse.

Hands on with Seek Thermal, the snap-on camera that gives your phone Predator vision – Whether you’re a hunter in the woods or a frequent camper who often gets up in the middle of the pitch black night to go to the bathroom, there are gadgets out there that can help. Not all of them are as affordable as the Seek thermal camera, however. This little apparatus plugs in to your smartphone and turns your regular ol’ phone or tablet into a military-grade thermal camera—and it only costs $200. I got to spend a few days tinkering around with it and was sincerely impressed by its capabilities.

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Working with Windows 8.1’s Credential Manager – Whenever you respond to a prompt that essentially asks you if you want Windows or Internet Explorer to remember your password, the operating system will then store your user credentials in an encrypted file scheme know as the Windows Vault. The GUI front end for this vault is called Credential Manager, and it’s designed to allow you to easily view and manage your network-based logon credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords). In this article, I’ll introduce you to the Windows 8.1’s Credential Manager and explain how it works.

Send self-destructing social media posts with Xpire – This free iPhone app lets you schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr that will self destruct after a time period of your choosing.

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What’s the difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice? – If you’ve ever wanted to know the major differences between LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, Jack Wallen lays them out to help you make a choice.

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Google: Android Devs must respond to customers – If you’ve ever reached out to a Developer of an app and been ignored, you’ll like this update to the Play Store. Now, those Devs who have paid users reaching out to them must respond within three days of receipt of the email. Google is also making it easier for Developers to reach out across the pond and sell their wares in Europe.

Security:

Latest Firefox and Thunderbird updates plug CRITICAL SSL vuln – Mozilla Firefox needs patching urgently following the discovery that the open source browser is vulnerable to SSL man-in-the-middle attacks. The critical bug arises because the Network Security Services (NSS) libraries parser built into the browser is capable of being tricked into accepting forged RSA certificate signatures. Man-in-the-middle attacks create a means for attackers to impersonate a bank or webmail provider, tricking surfers into handing over logon credentials that can be relayed to the genuine organisation.

First attacks using ‘shellshock’ Bash bug discovered – Within a day of the Bash bug dubbed ‘shellshock’ being disclosed, it appears that attackers are already looking for ways to use it for their advantage. Security researchers have found proof of concept code that attempts to exploit the serious bug discovered this week in Bourne-Again Shell, also known as Bash, which according to US CERT affects both Linux and Mac OS X.

What You Need To Know About Shellshock – Another week, another massive security vulnerability which is almost a household name. How bad is it? Really bad. According to Matt Harrigan of PacketSled, “It’s really pretty astonishing how bad this bug is and how long it went unchecked. To be clear, the scale of impacted machines includes anything that runs bash. This includes a ton of consumer products, wireless routers, handheld phones, etc.” What do you need to know about Shellshock and what can you do to ensure your machines aren’t compromised? Read on.

Meet Wedg, Another Post-Snowden Personal Cloud Device – As you’d expect for a pro-privacy device, Wedg’s makers are trumpeting the security credentials of their private cloud. They’re using AES and XTS-AES to deliver 512bit encryption, there’s built-in key management, 2-factor authentication on its mobile app, SSL connections, and they’re managing shared content and keys using GPG/OpenPGP. Sensitive user data is also sandboxed away from any third party apps within a secure zone on the device to prevent outside services accessing encrypted content. The project is open source, although the code has not yet been opened up.

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Disgruntled employees are increasingly e-sabotaging businesses, FBI says – Employees with an axe to grind are increasingly sticking it to their current or former employers by carrying out “computer network exploitation and disruption”, the FBI says.

Company News:

Samsung has more employees than Google, Apple, and Microsoft combined – Samsung loves “big.” Its phones are big, its advertising budget is big, and as you’ll see below, its employee headcount is really big, too. Samsung has more employees than Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined. We dug through everyone’s 10-K (or equivalent) SEC filings and came up with this:

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Google responds to News Corp, but it settles nothing – Today, Google issued an open response to an open attack laid down by News Corp. In an open letter to the European Commission, News Corp explained why they feel Google has too much power over the Internet as we see it. In their open rebuttal, Google explains all the ways that’s just plain wrong.

DirecTV Shareholders OK AT&T Deal – DirecTV stockholders today voted almost unanimously to approve the company’s proposed merger with AT&T. The final results indicated more than 99 percent of votes cast were in favor of the deal, which is still subject to government regulatory review and approval. AT&T in May announced plans to acquire DirecTV in a deal worth $48.5 billion. The move, according to AT&T, will provide more customers with mobile, broadband, and pay-TV service bundles.

Europe’s watchdogs give Google a shopping list of how to sort out privacy – The Article 29 Working Party has given Google a bunch of recommendations on how to brings its unified privacy policy into line with European law.

Tech Firms Desert Powerful Right-Wing Group After Climate Change Spat – After Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Monday that the company would no longer support the group, which opposes environmental regulations and has said climate change could be “beneficial,” Yahoo, Facebook and Yelp all issued statements indicating that, for unspecified reasons, their memberships in the group would be allowed to expire. Microsoft had already quit the organization in August, according to the liberal group Common Cause which monitors ALEC, after a Boston-based investment group raised questions about the company’s support in light of ALEC’s opposition to federal renewable energy programs.

Games and Entertainment:

Final announced ‘Titanfall’ DLC now available for Xbox One, PC – The third and final announced map pack for “Titanfall” will be released for Xbox One and PC on Thursday, developer Respawn Entertainment has announced. IMC Rising, which consists of the maps Backwater, Sand Trap and Zone 18, will cost $10 when it releases Thursday, though it is also part of the first-person shooter’s $25 “season pass,” which includes two other map packs. The newest map pack was announced just last month, shortly after the second map pack, Frontier’s Edge, was released.

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Asphalt Overdrive Revs Up on Android and iOS – Asphalt is one of Gameloft’s flagship franchises, and there’s a new installment in the series out today on iOS and Android. However, Asphalt Overdrive is a startling departure from past Asphalt games. This one isn’t technically a racer, but more of an endless runner that plays like a racer.

Valve adds a music player to Steam, could a Steam Music service be next? – Did you think Steam was all about games? Think again. Valve has just rolled out a new update for the Steam client and it now acts as a music player, too. By integrating a music player directly into Steam, Valve has removed that hassle. Any soundtrack you purchase through Steam, or which automatically gets bundled with a game, is now instantly playable. But Valve didn’t stop there. If you navigate to Steam’s settings page you can add new directories of music, so Steam Music Player can be used to play all your music.

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Angry Birds Transformers Set for October Launch – Angry Birds Transformers hits iOS and Android devices next month, giving mobile gamers a chance to step into the explosive shoes of Michael Bay. In the latest iteration of Rovio’s popular video game, everyone’s favorite furious fowl are disguised as robots. But this time you’re on your own—no help from the likes of Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, or Josh Duhamel. Just you and your bird-slinging animated friends fighting the evil Deceptihogs (get it?).

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Hands-on: New Total War game takes on Attila the Hun – Total War: Attila puts players in the fifth century, attempting to rebuff Attila’s campaign of terror and stave off the Dark Ages. Or not. You can also play as any number of “barbarian” tribes, attempting to hasten the fall of both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires and claim Europe/Western Asia for your own people. I’m not sure whether you can actually play as Attila, though the way Creative Assembly phrased things it sounds like the answer is no—he’s merely a threat looming on the horizon.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

FAA approves drone use by Hollywood, sets precedent – The squabble between those who want to use drones for purposes considered commercial and the FAA, which is working diligently to stamp out all such usage until it gets its regulations ironed out, has taken a new turn. As of today, the agency has approved the commercial use of drones by Hollywood, with some limitations.

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Seatylock: Stash a foldable bike lock under your butt – Lately, designers have been putting a lot of thought into building a better bike lock. Clunky chains and hefty metal u-shaped locks are starting to look like relics when you compare them to bikes with handlebars that double as locks or bikes with whole frames that double as locks. Now you have the opportunity to pledge for a bike seat that contains a nifty, foldable lock.

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The Seatylock in action protecting a bike.

Was Facebook & OKCupid’s research treating users like guinea pigs illegal? – A Maryland law professor says Facebook and OKCupid did not get ‘informed consent’ from users before conducting psychological experiments, making the research both unethical and illegal.

In 2014, who decides to ban a gay website from in-flight Wi-Fi? – If you were gay and a recent passenger on American Airlines, you might have used in-flight Wi-Fi provided by Gogo just like any other customer. In the course of finding somewhere to stay before you land, you might have navigated to misterbnb.com, a version of Airbnb where customers looking for a place to stay can be guaranteed the hosts are gay-friendly. Rather than getting the site’s homepage, however, your browser would have kicked you to an interstitial page telling you the site had been censored by Gogo. The given reason would have been the site had been categorized as “adult-and-pornography.”

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WikiHouse open source project: fast and cheap homes – We’ve seen examples of low-cost 3D printed houses (and an unrelated castle), and while they’re all interesting, they are out of the reach of most prospective home buyers. That could change with WikiHouse, a project that aims to provide the public with plans for cheap homes that can be built in a matter of days.

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Looking for Work? GameStop Announces Holiday Hiring Surge – The world’s largest video game retailer on Thursday announced plans to hire approximately 25,000 employees nationwide as it prepares for the holidays. GameStop said that’s about 47 percent more seasonal hires than it took on last year. The company is currently recruiting for in-store “Game Advisors” to help handle the holiday activity, as well as around 250 consumer electronic technicians for its refurbishment operation center, and warehouse personnel for its distribution centers based in Grapevine, Texas and Louisville, Ky. Head over to the career section of GameStop’s website to see the open positions and apply.

Something to think about:

“The Internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence”

–      Australian Senator Glen Lazarus

Today’s Free Downloads:

Junkware Removal Tool – Junkware Removal Tool is a security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) from your computer. A common tactics among freeware publishers is to offer their products for free, but bundle them with PUPs in order to earn revenue. This tool will help you remove these types of programs.

Junkware Removal Tool has the ability to remove the following types of programs:

Ask Toolbar

Babylon

Blekko

Claro / iSearch

Conduit

Crossrider

DealPly

Delta

Facemoods / Funmoods

Findgala

Globasearch

Hao123

iLivid

Iminent

IncrediBar

MocaFlix

MyPC Backup

MyWebSearch

PerformerSoft

Privitize

Qvo6

Searchqu

Snap Do

Swag Bucks

Wajam

Web Assistant

WhiteSmoke

Zugo

And many more…

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Calibre – Calibre is a one stop solution to all your e-book needs. It is free, open source and cross-platform in design and works well on Linux, OS X and Windows.

calibre is meant to be a complete e-library solution and thus includes library management, format conversion, news feeds to ebook conversion, as well as e-book reader sync features and an integrated e-book viewer.

Library Management – calibre manages your e-book collection for you. It is designed around the concept of the logical book, i.e., a single entry in your library that may correspond to actual e-book files in several formats.

E-book conversion – calibre can convert from a huge number of formats to a huge number of formats. It supports all the major e-book formats. The full list of formats can be found here.

The conversion engine has lots of powerful features. It can rescale all font sizes, ensuring the output e-book is readable no matter what font sizes the input document uses. It can automatically detect/create book structure, like chapters and Table of Contents. It can insert the book metadata into a “Book Jacket” at the start of the book.

Syncing to e-book reader devices – calibre has a modular device driver design that makes adding support for different e-reader devices easy. At the moment, it has support for a large number of devices, the complete list of which is here. Syncing supports updating metadata on the device from metadata in the library and creation of collections on the device based on the tags defined in the library. If a book has more than one format available, calibre automatically chooses the best format when uploading to the device. If none of the formats is suitable, calibre will automatically convert the e-book to a format suitable for the device before sending it.

Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form – calibre can automatically fetch news from websites or RSS feeds, format the news into a ebook and upload to a connected device. The ebooks include the full versions of the articles, not just the summaries. calibre has over three hundred news sources and the news system is plugin based, allowing users to easily create and contribute new sources to calibre. As a result the collection of news sources keeps on growing!

Comprehensive e-book viewer – calibre has a built-in ebook viewer that can display all the major ebook formats. It has full support for Table of Contents, bookmarks, CSS, a reference mode, printing, searching, copying, customizing the rendering via a user style sheet, embedded fonts, etc.

Content server for online access to your book collection – calibre has a built-in web server that allows you to access your ebook collection using a simple browser from any computer anywhere in the world. It can also email your books and downloaded news to you automatically. It has support for mobile devices, so you can browse your collection and download books from your smartphone, Kindle, etc.

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Pointing up   Although I’m not a big user when it comes to downloading audio books from my library, I do so occasionally. This free application has proven to be invaluable in increasing my range of options.

World Of Tanks – World of Tanks is a team-based massively multiplayer online game dedicated to armored warfare in the mid-20th century. Throw yourself into epic tank battles shoulder to shoulder with other steel cowboys to dominate the world with tank supremacy!

You’re about to set foot into a world full of epic tank battles, furious skirmishes, and high-octane excitement. We’re talking, of course, about World of Tanks, the premier multiplayer game for armored warfare.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI: Apple’s iPhone, iPad encryption puts people ‘above the law’ – Presumably doors, locks and windows, too? – FBI Director James Comey has complained that Apple and Google’s use of stronger encryption in smartphones and tablets makes it impossible for cops and g-men to collar criminals.

“There will come a day – well it comes every day in this business – when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper’s or a terrorist or a criminal’s device,” he apparently told a press conference.

“I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes. I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid,’ ‘How come you can’t do this thing.'”

Apple has made great play of its tweaked file encryption in iOS 8, which is designed so that Apple doesn’t hold people’s crypto-keys so it can’t be forced to give them up. The device owner’s passcode is used to create the encryption and decryption key in the iThing; decrypting the contents of a person’s iOS 8 phone or slab is no longer Apple’s problem.

Shortly after the change was made public, Google said it too would switch on a similar system by default.

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is above the law,” Comey moaned today.

“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Comey said the FBI was in discussions with Apple and Google about their crypto implementations, but didn’t give any details as to what Cupertino and Mountain View’s response was. It’s clear he’s not happy that the Feds can no longer get direct access to the handsets via Apple or Google, although data in iCloud is still up for grabs.

Australia: ASIO powers to spy over the entire Internet pass the Senate – The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) will soon be able to monitor every device on the internet, and copy, delete, or modify the data held on those computers with just a single warrant, under massive new powers contained in the anti-terror legislation that passed the Senate overnight.

The amended National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 will now need to return to the House of Representatives in order to pass, but with a government majority in the House, its passage is assured.

The legislation now expands ASIO’s powers to gain access to an unlimited number of computers or networks with a single computer access warrant, disrupt target computers, and use third-party computers not targeted in order to access a target computer.

Legal experts and privacy advocates have warned that the vagueness of the legislation would allow ASIO to effectively monitor the entire internet.

In a marathon Senate debate last night, Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam had attempted to move a number of amendments restricting ASIO’s new powers, however, the government was able to rely on votes from the opposition Labor senators to defeat the amendments.

Ludlam warned that the legislation would give ASIO the power to tap every device.

“These warrants will allow ASIO, or those working for ASIO, to modify these computers, to delete files, to install malware, to seek higher levels of user access and to impersonate people — not only on a particular specified device but, as I think we have well and truly established, on any device that it is connected to or is considered to be in a relationship with,” Ludlam said.

“The physical equivalent is if ASIO served a warrant to enter a particular house for a legitimate reason that also allowed them to enter any other house in the street or any other house in the country, actually, completely arbitrarily.”

Australia: Senators’ ignorance isn’t bliss with new surveillance laws – “The internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence,” said Senator Glen Lazarus on Thursday night. Hah! A former rugby player says something dumb, that’s always funny, right? No. This mix of ignorance, fear, and sometimes plain laziness infests so many of Australia’s lawmakers — and right now that’s dangerous.

The Senate was debating new national security laws for Australia. Those laws passed. They give the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) expansive powers to spy on all Australian internet users, and dramatically restrict freedom of the press.

As I read the transcript of the debate, what concerns me is not the passing amusement of Senator Lazarus, but how little effort was put into probing and challenging the government’s proposals more generally.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was up for it, of course, as was independent Senator Nick Xenophon and, to a lesser extent, libertarian Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party.

But where was the sustained pressure from Labor, the chief opposition party? Oh that’s right, the “bipartisan approach to national security” meant that they’d already agreed to it.

Where was any technologically literate critique from anyone other than Ludlam?

Where, indeed, were the rest of the senators? “I cannot believe that here on a Thursday night this chamber is virtually empty and yet we have seen already tonight penalties increase from one to 10 years [in jail] for various things,” said Greens Senator Christine Milne.

“Incredibly draconian legislation is being passed, and the minister responsible either cannot or will not answer and is smug because the opposition is going along with it.”

The responsible minister, Australia’s favourite Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC, was indeed smug.

When asked by Ludlam what kinds of things, specifically, ASIO would be empowered to do under a computer access warrant, Brandis’s reply was dismissive. “What ASIO would be empowered to do would be that which is authorised by the warrant, which is in turn governed by the terms of the act,” he said.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 19, 2014

Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot;  Google to encrypt data by default on new version of Android;  Major studios pressure Netflix to block VPN access;  No, a new feature in iOS 8 does not let you charge an iPhone in the Microwave;  Tracking social media mentions: 4 tools;  Alternatives to Google’s $100 Android One in Asia;  Amazon, Apple – families share apps and media across devices;  Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition: rubber bumpers, free replacements;  Get started making Android apps with these online courses;  Infographic: U.S. iPhone Repair Bills Top $10.7B;  Home Depot: 56 million cards compromised;  Meet the Master Boot Record;  Get DLC-Packed ‘Need for Speed Rivals’ Complete Edition on Oct. 21;  All The Best iPhone Parody Videos In One Place;  Distracted driving laws stretch to your smartwatch;  BitTorrent Sync (free);  The CIA’s secret journal articles are gossipy, snarky, and no longer classified.

Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot – Apple has updated its privacy policy as part of the rollout of iOS 8, announcing that devices with the latest version of the operating system installed can no longer be accessed by the company itself. Previously, as we reported in May 2014, if law enforcement came to Apple with a seized device and a valid warrant, it was able to access a substantial portion of the data already on an iPad or iPhone. But under the latest version of iOS, even that will be impossible.

Google to encrypt data by default on new version of Android – Encryption has been optional since 2011, but Android L, due out later this year, will include activation procedures for automatic encryption.

Major studios pressure Netflix to block VPN access – Gee, thanks Hollywood. In a bid to protect their rights at all costs—including the cost of consumers’ legitimate rights—major movie studios are reportedly pressuring Netflix to block VPN (Virtual Private Network) users from accessing its U.S. Site. The reason? The major studios are upset that up to 200,000 Aussies are accessing Netflix U.S. by using VPNs to hide their geographic locations, thus violating the studios’ content ownership rights.

Regular Facebook Users Are More Likely To Fall For Phishing Scams – Researchers at SUNY Buffalo have found that habitual Facebook users — those who are on the site more frequently than their peers — were more susceptible to phishing scams. How did they figure this out? By asking them about their habits and then surreptitiously creating a fake friend who then asked them for private information, including their student ID number and date of birth.

No, a new feature in iOS 8 does not let you charge an iPhone in the Microwave – Gullible iPhone users have fallen foul to a hoax that is trending on Twitter that claims you can “quickly charge” your iPhone in any “standard household Microwave” but it’s all fantasy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook to push real-time stories to the top of News Feed – Facebook on Thursday said it plans to take into account trending topics and when people like a story to determine what to show you and when to show it. How this will work: When someone posts a status update related to a topic currently trending on Facebook, the network will display the post at the top of your News Feed so you see it sooner. Same goes for types of posts that attract a slew of likes, comments, and shares when they’re first posted, but later drop off. That indicates that the update is timely and should be surfaced to the top of your feed.

Tracking social media mentions: 4 tools – People are talking about your brand– or at least you hope, right? If you’re trying to keep up with the chatter, there are more than a few ways to do that. Keep up with the chatter surrounding your brand with these 4 tools.

How to clean your Windows Temp folder – Windows temporary files can stack up and waste storage space. Here’s how to check for clutter and clean it out.

Alternatives to Google’s $100 Android One in Asia – The new Android One phones may cost just $100, but there are cheaper phones in the market that are equally competitive and offer similar value.

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You may have not heard of the Samsung Galaxy V, but its low price of $98 makes it the perfect entry level device in developing markets.

Amazon, Apple updates let families share apps and media across devices – As long as everyone can agree on an operating system, Apple and Amazon are making it possible for families to share their apps and media across devices, making it just as easy to share a digital book as it is to share a physical one. It allows families with multiple Macs and iOS devices to access the same apps, movies, TV shows, music, and books, even if they’re using separate accounts. It also lets children ask permission to buy an app remotely, letting parents approve or decline the purchase from their own devices.

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Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition: rubber bumpers, free replacements – Amazon has introduced a slew of new devices tonight, not the least of which is the Fire HD Kids Edition — a powerful tablet Amazon says it made “from the ground up” specifically for kids. Its child-centric aspects include both design, which is understandably robust with bumpers, and content, which includes Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.

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Facebook Won’t Budge On Letting Drag Queens Keep Their Names – Facebook will not be changing its real-name policy for the drag queen community. San Francisco drag queens met with representatives from the company yesterday afternoon to talk through a recent mass deletion of their personal profile pages. Facebook started deleting accounts of hundreds of members of the drag community last week after deciding these profiles were in violation of the policy.

Drag queens force Facebook to reevaluate real names – Facebook recently began cracking down on well-known San Francisco drag queens who use their performer names on the network instead of their birth names, going so far as to delete profiles, which has caused widespread outrage in the city’s LBGTQ community. Facebook reps met with some of the affected drag queens and city Supervisor David Campos Wednesday night, but it doesn’t look like the network will be changing its policy any time soon. That’s unfortunate. It isn’t just drag queens who eschew their birth names on the network. There are plenty of reasons you might want to use a different moniker or a variation on your given name. What if you have a stalker or a crazy ex?

Get started making Android apps with these online courses – Have you thought of building your own Android app? It’s not as insurmountable a challenge as you may think. There are many online free resources to get you started with the world of code. Others will cost money, but the fees are generally less than what you would pay to enroll in a university course or program. Better yet, most of these platforms offer an Android app to continue your work when away from the desktop.

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Infographic: U.S. iPhone Repair Bills Top $10.7B – It turns out a damaged iPhone can cost more than your pride: According to a new study, totaled Apple smartphones have cost Americans $10.7 billion since their introduction in 2007. About $4.8 billion of that damage happened in the last two years. Factor in Android, Windows, and BlackBerry handsets, and you’re looking at a whopping $23.5-plus billion in repairs and replacements over seven years.

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5 more killer features Windows 9 should steal from Linux – If the latest Windows 9 leaks are any indication, some of the operating system’s coolest new features will look a lot like what Linux users already enjoy: Like the virtual desktops Linux users have had since the 90’s, and a centralized notification center like the one available in GNOME Shell. But there are other great Linux features Microsoft should copy, too. And hey, I’m not just complaining here—Windows would legitimately be better if they stole these features.

Photos: Robots and drones – here’s what Intel’s answer to the Raspberry Pi can do – A walk through the electronics projects that people are cooking up using Intel’s $50 Edison board.

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Security:

Home Depot: 56 million cards compromised – Home Depot’s data breach has many consumers worried. If you’ve used a credit card at Home Depot since April of this year, there is a chance you have been compromised. According to Home Depot, 56 million cards were affected, which is the largest breach of 2014.

Large malvertising campaign under way involving DoubleClick and Zedo – Earlier today, we warned people that both The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post were affected by a malvertising attack. It appears that this is a much larger and ongoing campaign that is affecting a number of other popular websites. The reason this is really big is because it involves doubleclick.net (a subsidiary of Google for online ads) and Zedo (a popular advertising agency).

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BTW, if you’re not familiar with Malwarebytes’ free security application – Malwarebytes Anti Exploit – you can download it here – Malwarebytes.

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Malwarebytes Anti Exploit running on a personal system – protecting the 2 Browsers I’ve currently got running.

Healthcare.gov still lacks some basic security controls – Healthcare.gov lacks several basic cybersecurity controls — including strong passwords and consistent security patching — nearly a year after the troubled launch of the insurance-shopping website, a government auditor said. The website, a centerpiece of the 2010 insurance reform package the Affordable Care Act, does not have a complete system security plan in place, said a report released Thursday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Meet the Master Boot Record – MBR is short for Master Boot Record. Typically, the MBR is the first sector on a startup drive (or other partitioned media). Sometimes it’s referred to as Master Partition Table, because, among others, it contains the location of every partition on a hard drive. So, in essence it is the first code that gets executed after the BIOS has done its job. This is where malware comes into play. Being the first code to get executed gives you an advantage in the arms race between malware and anti-malware.

Company News:

Oracle Stock Drops 2.5% On News That Larry Ellison Has Relinquished His CEO Title – Today after the bell, Oracle announced that its long-time premier Larry Ellison is no longer its CEO. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd will take over the job in partnership with Safra Catz. Catz will manage finance and manufacturing, while Hurd will handle sales. Ellison will take on the titles of Executive Chairman of the Board and CTO. Hurd left HP under negative circumstances, including allegations of sexual harassment.

Chinese e-tailer Alibaba prices IPO at $68, raising $21.8B – The online shopping company set its stock price at $68 a share Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal, making for the largest US initial public offering ever. The company raised $21.8 billion from the IPO, a portion of which will go to investors like former CEO Jack Ma, Softbank and Yahoo. The additional capital will be critical to Alibaba’s plans to bolster its quickly growing and dominant business in China, as well as make inroads into other markets. That includes the US, where the e-commerce juggernaut’s path will take it toe-to-toe with major US players such as Amazon and eBay.

With Alibaba windfall, all eyes on Yahoo’s Mayer – The IPO promises to be one of the biggest events in Yahoo’s recent history. But after the expected multibillion-dollar windfall, the company’s going to be under intense pressure to improve performance.

Toshiba throttling down consumer PC efforts – Toshiba has always made solid PC hardware, but finding one of their devices may be a bit tough moving forward. Toshiba is announcing they are scaling down their consumer PC efforts, and pulling out of some markets entirely. The company is also cutting 900 jobs, or just over 20% of its non-manufacturing PC workforce.

Verizon, enemy of Open Internet rules, says it loves the “open Internet” – No company has gone to greater lengths than Verizon in trying to stop the government from enforcing network neutrality rules. Verizon is the company that sued to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order from 2010. Verizon won a federal appeals court ruling this year, overturning anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules and setting off a months-long scramble by the FCC to get enforceable rules into place. Verizon has also been spending money to press its case with lawmakers. “An analysis by San Francisco-based data firm Quid found that Verizon alone spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009,” NPR reported yesterday. As the FCC nears the end of its new rulemaking process, Verizon is trying to convince the public that it loves the “open Internet” after all.

Mysterious entity acquires TwitPic, saving it from death – TwitPic, the image-hosting company that two weeks ago said it would shut down after a trademark dispute with Twitter, has apparently been acquired, keeping its service alive. “We’re happy to announce we’ve been acquired and TwitPic will live on!” the company said Thursday in—and why not—a tweet. TwitPic said it will provide more details when it can disclose them. It didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ericsson quits modem business, cuts 1,000 jobs – The world’s biggest mobile network equipment maker will shutter its loss-making unit, in the process handing pink slips to about 1,000 employees.

Games and Entertainment:

It’s Not Enough To Make ‘Good’ Video Games Anymore – The sprawling but just OK Destiny proves that all the money in the world can’t make people like you. Mid-tier games find themselves unfairly marginalized for having a few nuts and bolts loose despite, generally, being a lot of fun. So, go on, embrace the mid-tier.

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Destiny

Get DLC-Packed ‘Need for Speed Rivals’ Complete Edition on Oct. 21 – Just in case you missed this big launch title for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One—or happened to overlook it on all the other consoles it was released for—Electronic Arts is taking its Need for Speed Rivals game and repackaging it into a brand-new release. The new iteration, dubbed Need for Speed Rivals Complete Edition, will arrive on Oct. 21. And, yes, it’s going to hit just about everyone: both major PlayStation and Xbox consoles and PC gamers.

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Shadowrun’s Dragonfall expansion tweaked, released as stand-alone Director’s Cut – Remember earlier this year when I said, “Dragonfall is the campaign [Shadowrun Returns] should’ve shipped with from the start.” Okay, maybe you don’t remember, but I swear I said it. Well, a lot of people must’ve felt the same way because Thursday, Harebrained Schemes released Shadowrun: Dragonfall as a standalone product, so those who just want to play the expansion can do so.

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8 Things Bungie’s Destiny Does Very Well – Destiny is an imperfect game, we know that much now. But it’s still a pretty good one as console shooters go. Bungie’s quasi-multiplayer sci-fi romp catches more balls than it fumbles, and whatever else you want to say about its hackneyed story or over-easy enemies or worshipful replication of Halo gameplay fundamentals, I keep coming back to play a little more.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Distracted driving laws stretch to your smartwatch – Thinking of smartwatches as sidestepping smartphones is a novel concept, but lawmakers in the UK are asking that we take a step back from that. The Department for Transportation there is asking drivers to think about how a smartwatches an contribute to distracted driving, just like a smartphone can. In fact, they’ll go after you all the same if you cause an accident.

One More Thing… All The Best iPhone Parody Videos In One Place – Whether you’re on Team Apple or Team Android, one thing remains true. When Apple releases a new iPhone, the tech media world goes nuts. And it’s not just about hands-on videos and analytical looks and bug reports and sales stats — fortunately, there are some hilarious people out there to remind us just how silly iPhone fever is. That said, we’ve compiled a few of the best parody videos on the internet for your viewing pleasure.

The Navy flew its new drone across the U.S. Wednesday night – The U.S. Navy’s new surveillance drone completed its first cross-country flight across the United States Wednesday night. The MQ-4C Triton took off from Northrop Grumman’s airfield in Palmdale, California, Wednesday evening and flew along the southern U.S. border and the Gulf of Mexico and Florida before turning north to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. It landed just before 8 a.m. Eastern time, about 11 hours after takeoff, according to Naval Air Systems Command. Northrop Grumman released video of the flight.

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Lens-less camera, costing pennies, brings vision to the Internet of Things – There’s a type of camera technology emerging with a view of the world similar to what a honey bee sees. The images appear blurry and hazy, but if you’re a bee, good enough for finding flowers and people to sting. It could also be perfect for the Internet of Things by making it cheap to add vision capability to just about anything. That’s the idea put forth by Rambus, a company that designs technologies and then licenses them, for its lens-less sensor. The sensor captures light and relies on computation to shape the data into an image that’s good enough to tell whether someone is in a room or a door has been left open. It can also be used to activate an optical lens if a higher-resolution image is needed.

3DPlusMe will 3D print you as a superhero starting tomorrow – Fancy yourself a superhero? Marvel and Hasbro have kicked off a new partnership with 3DPlusMe that will allow anyone to get their face 3D-printed on a superhero’s body…assuming they’re near one of the Walmarts or Sam’s Clubs that are participating.

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Geek Answers: Is it OK to pee in the ocean? – We hear a lot about the collective environmental impact that people can have — sure for you it’s just a shiny shell you picked up off the beach, but what if everybody did the same? Many a detention-shy youngster has had it pounded into their heads: everything you do to nature is, by definition, bad. Walking on grass? Bad for the grass. Tilling some soil? Bad for the bunny rabbits. But oddly enough, one of the more heinous activities in which a person could engage in regular society, public urination, might just be kosher. Though it might seem odd, taking the lazy way out and avoiding a sandy walk back to an outhouse really isn’t an unethical decision at all.

To mock Yelp, restaurant asks customers for awful reviews – A Richmond, Calif., restaurant is so fed up with what it calls Yelp’s “blackmailing” tactics, that it wants to become the very worst on the site.

Hamster-wheel standing desk: Embrace the rodent race – Why should hamsters have all the fun? Follow an Instructables guide for making your own standing desk with a human-size hamster wheel for exercise.

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Something to think about:

“The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself.”

–     James Thurber

Today’s Free Downloads:

BitTorrent Sync – Share directly from device to device. No cloud. No limits.

Sync uses advanced peer-to-peer technology to share files between devices. No cloud is required. This means there are no accounts, no file size limits, and transfer speeds are never throttled. You are free to share anything and everything you have.

Sync is a powerful and flexible application that equips users to get the job done. It is simple enough to share photos with friends, and powerful enough to sync terabytes of video between co-workers.

Sync is built from the ground up to ensure that you are in always in complete control of your files. Data is transferred directly from device to device. Files are never duplicated on to third party servers. Every connection is encrypted and secured against prying eyes.

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Carroll – Small utility allows you to set a different screen resolution for every user. After logon the screen resolution will be changed to the stored setting.

Carroll is started automatically for every user. At the first time, the application shows all available screen resolution. Select the desired screen resolution and click ‘Change screen resolution and restore with every logon’. Next time, Carroll changes the screen resolution automatically without displaying the user interface.

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Frogger Remake – Go old school with this remake of the classic Frogger game.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

AFTER LYING AND APOLOGIZING, BRENNAN QUALIFIES BOTH – CIA Director John Brennan today petulantly denied that he lied in March when he publicly insisted that the CIA had not improperly accessed the computers of Senate staffers investigating the agency’s role in torturing detainees.

Since then, an  internal investigation found the CIA had done just that, and Brennan was forced to apologize to Senate intelligence committee members.

In March, Brennan told Andrea Mitchell  at a Council on Foreign Relations event: “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth… We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do.”

But on Thursday, facing questions at an industry trade conference, Brennan carefully parsed his earlier statement, insisting that he had only been  denying the parts of Mitchell’s question that involved accusations of hacking with the intent to thwart the investigation.

CLAPPER DENIES LYING, ANNOUNCES NEW ETHICS POLICY – An unapologetic James Clapper bristled at accusations of misconduct in front of a trade group today, announced that he intends to continue serving as national intelligence director through the rest of the Obama presidency, and released a new “National Intelligence Strategy” that includes a “Code of Ethics” that seems disconnected from the reality of intelligence collection as revealed by Edward Snowden.

Speaking in public, but in a friendly setting, Clapper mocked the notion of intelligence collection without risk, the potential for embarrassment or invasion of privacy. He snidely called it “Immaculate Collection.” (see NBC video.)

Clapper also confirmed a report that, in commemoration of Constitution Day, he led his staff this week in two separate “re-administrations” of the oath of office to the Constitution, which he characterized as a good bonding experience, rather than an urgently needed recommitment to observing the constitutional rights of Americans.

“While we’ve made mistakes, to be clear, the IC [intelligence community] never willfully violated the law,” he insisted.

And he complained bitterly of being “accused of lying to Congress.”

THE CIA’S SECRET JOURNAL ARTICLES ARE GOSSIPY, SNARKY, AND NO LONGER CLASSIFIED – The CIA declassified a trove of articles from its in-house journal, articles that mock excessive secrecy and bad writing, dish on problematic affairs, and brag about press manipulation.

FRENCH CRIME DATABASE BREACHES PRIVACY RIGHTS, EU COURT RULES – The human rights court objects to storing data for 20 years in a criminal database when charges were dropped.

SNOWDEN’S NSA LEAKS HAVE GALVANISED THE STORAGE WORLD – Anyone following the fortunes of the world’s biggest technology companies will have noticed a trend: every one of them has gone potty for privacy.

This is not out of some sudden moral urge but because their futures depend on proving that they are good at protecting people’s personal data.

The Edward Snowden leaks, in particular the revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM project, which saw the intelligence agency hoover up data from servers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and many others, have brought about this predilection for privacy.

It is not just the average consumer the tech titans have to pander to either. Businesses have clear concerns about who can access their information and whether they have a Snowden-type character in their ranks.

Apple omits ‘warrant canary’ from latest transparency reports; Patriot Act data demands likely made – Apple has removed text from its latest transparency reports, which suggests that the company has received a top secret data demand.

These so-called “warrant canaries” can be issued ahead of a Patriot Act demand, because technology companies are not allowed to disclose whether or not they have received such an order. Apple, however, preemptively asserted it “never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act,” in its debut transparency report in November 2013.

That text has now been removed from its latest two reports, suggesting Apple has, in the second-half of 2013 onwards, received such an order.

Apple does add in its latest report covering the first-half of 2014 that, “To date, Apple has not received any orders for bulk data,” suggesting a broad-ranging warrant was not served.

Patriot Act requests are highly controversial. Section 215 particularly raises eyebrows, as it allows the National Security Agency to hand over “all tangible things,” including customer data and business records.

By going to the secretive Washington D.C.-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the government’s go-to court for surveillance requests, a Section 215 order can be filed in secret, and force a company, like Apple, to hand over data.

The “bulk metadata” program, which forced phone giant Verizon to hand over on an ongoing basis its entire store of phone call data, was authorized under Section 215. The program was first disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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

RedNightHawk to Writerdood – Right Back at Ya!

I make a point of recognizing the importance of reader comments by including the following as a Blog sidebar item – “Comments are an important feature of this Blog. So, please feel free to let me, and other readers, know what your views are.”

It’s simple really – often, through a reader’s comment, others can gather additional information, gain exposure to issues and debates, learn from the experience of other readers,………….

Yesterday, for example, I highlighted comments by Writerdood who had opened debate on Grady Winston’s latest guest article – Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android. In today’s post, you’ll find RedNightHawk’s thoughtful and occasionally provocative responses to Writerdood.

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imageLet me begin, by saying I’m not picking on you (Writerdood), you raised some excellent points and even managed to do it without the fanboy attitude that so often needlessly pervades these types of discussions.

“RIM has fallen and can’t get up…”

I’m not so sure about that. I went to a recent BlackBerry Jam event in my area, and they demonstrated they have a lot of ways for developers to launch their products on their new BB OS10 platform (Android developers can port their apps over, and many, many other development options are available). I was surprised how many different ways people could leverage their existing knowledge to get into BlackBerry development. Here’s an article about an iOS developer porting their game to the PlayBook:

Don’t get me wrong, I had just about given up on them after years of frustration with OS updates that featured ever so slight loosening of the Java reins (Java!), and corporate thinking that showed just how out of touch they were with the new smartphone realities, but the move to QNX (BB OS10) looks like they got the message loud and clear and are ready to introduce a viable alternative to Android and iOS. Much like Apple, they also have a very loyal fanbase (though they lost some of them due to years of letting them down). Developers also make more money on BlackBerry since more BlackBerry owners actually purchase apps, so they are getting some quality apps ready for the upcoming launch.

“What we’re missing is the functionality innovations – the leaps in operational use that allow users to do more things with their mobile devices.”
“Who will be the first to add infrared control as a standard in phones (allowing users to control their televisions without needing specific hardware)?”

Dammit. When I had a Palm PDA the infrared port was one of my favorite features on it. My laptop then also had an infrared port and it was nice to be able to communicate wirelessly long before the days of Wi-Fi. I do still miss it. That said, I don’t know if anyone will be willing to use the space in a modern day handset to add an IR port. With appliances becoming more and more connected, I would love to see a protocol to allow easy connection using existing hardware on the phone – Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi. So many things could be done if people had an easy way to make their own drivers for hardware so they could do things like connect their phone’s keyboard to their TV over Wi-Fi.

“Will NFC take off and become a desired utility (allowing users to make payments or upload data with a wave of their phone)?”

I’m not hot on the technology myself, but one of the lead BlackBerry OS developers is, and, as a company, they have invested pretty heavily in it being a selling point for their upcoming phones (and some current models). Apps have been made for payment and secured entry. Apple seems more intent on developing their own alternative and still haven’t equipped their phones with NFC ability. Some Android sets have it. It will be interesting to see how consumers embrace it (some people will, some won’t), and why.

“Will phones start to come stock with projectors?”

I’ve heard of a few of these, but definitely more of a rarity than something mainstream. I think this is an interesting thing – most people would say I have no need for a projector phone…but, the right app could likely make them think otherwise. A phone company that not only built the projector technology into their phone, but also paired it with well-made software that got people thinking about HOW they would use it (rather than if they would or not) would likely be able to sell it…by creating a market (more on this shortly).

As you said though, so many companies aren’t innovating.

Palm made devices I really liked – I would love to see a graffiti type app on some current touch screen phones since it’s still something I miss (I also had a nice folding keyboard that made it easy to travel with and setup a full-size keyboard on the go). But they reached a point where they were happy to sit on their laurels; where they not only stopped innovating, but stopped listening to their customers needs. By the time they started innovating again, it was too late. In the past, I’ve often compared RIM to Palm. This may be why you feel they’ve fallen and can’t get up, since they definitely went through a period where they weren’t paying attention to the right things. Apple now seems to be moving into that mode, as RIM moves out of it.

A few years back I’d read about VMware, the maker of the software that allows people to easily setup virtual computers on their existing OS and run a different OS on the virtual machine, working on a mobile version. That set off all sorts of daydreams for me about being able to have one piece of hardware that ran virtual machines which had different mobile OSes installed.

I think, as you mentioned, it’ll be interesting to see how the mobile space pans out in the next few years. It’s definitely becoming more volatile as once main players can quickly and easily lose their spot. This oddly enough makes the current main players both harder to unseat, and more vulnerable!

While companies like Samsung make 101 different types of phones, and ones like Apple make 1 type of phone (and keep old ones to sell off), what I’d like to see is a sort of build-your-own phone where you can custom order as if it was a PC or laptop (and let’s face it, nowadays the specs on phones are pretty close), choosing upgrades to the base RAM, processor speed, etc. and have an OS that can work with that.

Back to my earlier comment about how the right app might be able to sell projector phones to the masses. One of the reasons I liked the Palm PDA so much was that I used to use it to write – I could take it down to the waterfront and write using the stylus and graffiti, or take the folding keyboard and sit in a coffee shop and type, then I could later easily bring the files into my computer and work with them there.

Now, if you look at why more and more people are using smartphones, it isn’t because the hardware has gotten better (well, it sort of is – no one wants a laggy phone with a bad screen), it’s because they have an app or apps that make it necessary or desirable for them to have a tool that allows them to use the app where ever they are – it’s not enough to have a laptop because they need instant and convenient access to that app.

The app might be Facebook, allowing them to keep in touch with their friends and family more so than without the app, it might be a combination of being able to take a photo or video and quickly share it online, it might be YouTube, it might be a good music player, it might be some custom work software (dispatch, some of the waiter/waitress order taking software, etc.), or a combination of all of the above.

While you mention some hardware you’d like to see, I think a killer app that uses any new hardware will be the difference between people really feeling that the hardware is a selling point or not. And if there’s killer apps (more than one) for that hardware – more reasons to buy in, all the better.

This leaves a huge (and much less expensive) area for innovation as well if the phone companies actually start making those apps (which in some cases, the OSes, especially when they first came out, felt like killer apps – they made you excited about the possibilities of how you could use them, leaving you imagining what you could or would do with them).

P.S. In response to Grady’s question about Linux making a phone – I was discussing something with a friend a few weeks ago: I found it interesting that iOS is based on MacOS, which was derived/based on a Unix variation; Android is (as others have mentioned) a variation of linux, and QNX (RIM’s new BlackBerry base for the OS) is Unix like too.

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Filed under Apple, Blackberry Playbook, Connected Devices, Opinion, Point of View, Smart Phone