Tag Archives: Ashley Madison

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 14, 2015

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New;  Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater;  Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out;  Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models;  How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That;  When your computer reboots itself over and over again;  How to restore ringtones to iPhone;  Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10;  PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US;  Tumblr now has its own fashion line;  The difference between antivirus and anti-malware;  Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack;  This week in games;  How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron;  Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use;  GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots;  6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume;  10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps (free);  FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New – Forget overpriced schools, long days in a crowded classroom, and pitifully poor results. These websites and apps cover myriads of science, art, and technology topics. They will teach you practically anything, from making hummus to building apps in node.js, most of them for free. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to master a new skill, expand your knowledge, or eventually boost your career. You can learn interactively at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. It’s hard to imagine how much easier it can possibly be. Honestly, what are you waiting for?

Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out – The newest Apple TV adds some long-awaited features to a device that hasn’t been updated since 2012, a lifetime in the world of streaming media. While Google’s first connected media platform, Google TV, didn’t catch on, Android has still become a powerhouse for media hubs thanks to the Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices. Roku was one of the first dedicated media hub brands, and it’s gained in popularity thanks to an easy-to-use interface and hundreds of content channels. There’s also a slew of sticks you can just plug into the back of your HDTV, as well as smart HDTVs with built-in apps. A lot has changed in three years.

How to quickly jump to often-used Windows app subsections in Windows 10’s Start menu – I don’t dive into Windows 10’s Settings app that often, but when I do it’s usually to check two or three things, such as Windows Update or my Wi-Fi settings. An easy way to jump to a particular section of the Settings app is to search for it with Cortana in the taskbar. But if repeatedly typing “Wi-Fi” or “Windows Update” sound tedious, there’s a far easier way to jump to oft-used parts of the Settings app. Instead of searching or navigating the Settings app manually, you can pin sections to the Start menu. This tip isn’t just for the Settings app, however—you can also use it in a limited number of other Windows apps such as Mail and OneNote. For our example here, however, we’ll stick with the Settings app.

wps_clip_image-23921

Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models – The impedance specification is ignored by most headphone buyers, but it might be one of the most important. Not that anything catastrophic will occur with an impedance mismatch, but you might not get the best sound quality from a headphone with impedance that’s too high or too low for your music player or home amplifier.

5 tips for getting started with Slack – Started as side project for a video game company, Slack quickly moved front and center and took off as word of mouth spread among the tech companies that were using it. One of the company’s mottos is “Be less busy,” and many have heralded Slack as the product that could end reliance on email. If you’re planning on deploying Slack within your organization, here are some pointers to help get you going.

Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater – Turns out, Sony’s “waterproof” Xperia devices might not be so waterproof after all. After talking up the waterproof capabilities of its Xperia devices for years — even running marketing campaigns showing people happily using its devices underwater — Sony now says that they should not be submerged. As XperiaBlog first reported, Sony recently revised its support page on water and dust protection to warn people against taking a swim with their gadgets. “Remember not to use the device underwater,” the site says.

Supporting causes on Facebook is about to get a lot easier – You’re perhaps familiar with the idea of changing your Facebook profile picture to support a specific cause or event: gay marriage, cancer research, your mate’s stag do, and so on. Facebook has noticed the trend and wants to help – the social media behemoth is testing out a new feature that lets you set a temporary profile picture that expires after a set number of hours, days or weeks. The idea is that the picture automatically reverts back to the original profile image without you having to remember to change it – your rainbow-coloured portrait will only appear for as long as it’s relevant, in other words.

When your computer reboots itself over and over again – Something is rotten in the state of your Windows PC. Here’s how to deal with a computer that keeps rebooting.

Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10 – Microsoft will launch Office 2016 for Windows on Sept. 22, and has now detailed how it will deliver updates and upgrades with a cadence and rules similar to Windows 10.

wps_clip_image-12409

How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That – It’s called EnLighten and it uses a phone’s GPS location and real-time traffic-signal information provided by the municipality to determine when a driver is stopped at a red light. It can then show on the phone’s screen a countdown in seconds of when the light will change and will also sound a chime when the light turns green to remind the driver that it’s time to get going. The iOS and Android apps work in a dozen or so U.S. cities and also have a dual timer for traffic lights with separate left-turn signals. But the EnLighten iPhone app can sync with the dashboard of BMWs with ConnectedDrive and the BMW Apps feature, provided you’re driving in Portland or Eugene, Oregon or Salt Lake City, Utah). It offers extra features, such as timing traffic lights so that you potentially don’t have to stop or even prevent an accident.

wps_clip_image-17958

How to restore ringtones to iPhone – Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. This time we have a reader whose custom-made iPhone ringtone library has seemingly disappeared. But that doesn’t mean those tones are gone for good! Here are the steps you can take to track them down on your Mac, then restore them to your iPhone.

Security:

The difference between antivirus and anti-malware – It seems like a simple question, right? What’s the difference between antivirus and anti-malware? But ask a security professional, and he answers as if it’s the riddle of the Sphinx. You just want a simple answer to a simple question. Is that too much to ask? The truth is, the answer to this question is a little complicated. But we’ve broken it down like a lumberjack chopping redwood into mulch. We’ll tell you what viruses and malware are, which types of threats antivirus and anti-malware companies fight, and how they do it. So look no further. The answer…is in the link.

PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US – Before you get all riled up, this isn’t yet another Android vulnerability like Stagefright. This is your run of the mill malware installed through social engineering or carelessness, but one that has far graver ramifications than other ransomware. Discovered by researchers from security company ESET, the Android/Lockerpin.A ransomware goes the extra mile to actually change your device’s PIN code in such a way that trying to reset the PIN will lock the user, and ironically the attacker too, from the device completely, with no recourse other than a factory reset.

Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack – Security research group CynoSure Prime were able to find out the most common passwords that were used on Ashley Madison, a site which helps married people cheat on their partners, which suffered a massive data breach earlier this year when it was targeted by hackers. The list of the 100 most commonly-used passwords was first posted on Ars Technica.

Website hackers hijack Google webmaster tools to prolong infections – Hackers who compromise websites are also increasingly verifying themselves as the owners of those properties in Google’s Search Console. Under certain circumstances this could allow them to remain undetected longer than they otherwise would be, researchers warn.

Company News:

Security company litigates to bar disclosure related to its own flaws – FireEye is a publicly traded security firm that regularly finds and reports vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. But when security researcher Felix Wilhelm found five critical flaws in FireEye’s Malware Protection System, the company went to court to obtain an injunction barring the disclosure of some of the technical details. The move is generating howls of protest among security professionals, who argue that FireEye of all companies should know better than to stifle the free flow of vulnerability information.

Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use – Facebook is riding the wave of mobile adoption in Africa to help meet its goal of connecting businesses with people in emerging markets. Sixty percent of all Internet users in Africa are now active on Facebook and 80 percent of them access the site on mobile devices, according to statistics shared by the social network this week. According to the African Union’s first session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and ICT last week, 84 percent of the continent’s population is covered by mobile networks.

Microsoft buys popular Android lock-screen app maker – Microsoft has added to its stable of Android apps with the acquisition of Double Labs, the makers of the Echo Notification Lockscreen, a popular app on Google’s mobile platform that helps users control the notifications they see.

Tumblr now has its own fashion line – Tumblr now has its own line of clothing featuring an eclectic array of apparel adorned with artwork from ten of the social network’s artists/users. The line isn’t limited to just clothing — there’s a backpack, for example (as well as a kimono); it’s unisex and designed to look the same as the Tumblr collective, at least in spirit. Half a dozen Tumblr users have also been selected to show off the new product line. The new Tumblr wear is said to be in celebration of Tumblr’s 10th New York Fashion Week participation.

wps_clip_image-14144

Google hires ex-Hyundai America CEO to lead self-driving car project – Google has hired a new CEO for its self-driving car project. John Krafcik, who worked at Ford and was President and CEO of Hyundai’s American operations before joining automotive price-comparison site TrueCar, will take the position in late September. In a statement, the veteran of the automobile industry said that Google’s technology “can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today.” Krafcik has a background in automobile manufacturing, having worked on two “lean production” manifestos during his time at MIT, but a Google spokesperson told Automotive News that his hiring did not indicate the company would start producing cars itself.

Brad Smith will decide privacy policy, IP issues and more as Microsoft’s new president – If you’re interested in Microsoft’s stance on privacy or public policy, Brad Smith is the one to watch. The former general counsel at Microsoft, Smith will also become the company’s chief legal officer.

Etsy to test same-day deliveries as Amazon threat grows – Google offers product deliveries, and is working on expanding them. Amazon does and is doing the same. And then there’s Etsy, the website where all manner of crafts and creativity are offered. The service soon will face steep competition from Amazon, which is reportedly looking to start its own similar crafts marketplace, and in light of that it isn’t surprising Etsy will start testing its own same-day deliveries. The testing will take place in certain regions of New York City, the same place that Amazon and other services are and have been testing same-day and one-hour delivery services. This test is done in partnership with Postmates, and will also include next-day deliveries. Most appropriately, this delivery service will be called “Etsy ASAP”.

Etsy will now help designers find manufacturers – Six months after Etsy completed an IPO that valued it at $3.5 billion, the craft marketplace is expanding. The company is introducing Etsy Manufacturing, a new service that will link Etsy sellers — who often make items by hand — with small manufacturing companies. The operation is designed to help both sellers who’ve found success but have little time to fulfil larger orders, and smaller manufacturers, some of whom have lost business to huge manufacturers in countries where labor is cheaper.

Games and Entertainment:

How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron – We’re not talking about facial recognition devices, police body cams, or other security measures likely zeroing in on fans. Instead, employees from San Jose-based Zebra Technologies had recently finished scanning the NFL uniforms of the 49ers and of their opponents—the Dallas Cowboys. All of a sudden, an on-the-field de facto surveillance society was instantly created when Zebra techies activated nickel-sized Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chips that were fastened inside players’ shoulder pads. Every movement of every player now could be monitored within an accuracy level of all but a few inches.

wps_clip_image-29248

Blizzard’s Final Starcraft II Expansion Lands November 10 – In case you were not tuned into the finals of WCS Europe earlier today, Blizzard, a popular gaming company, announced that the final chapter of its Starcraft II will touch down on November 10. The third iteration, called Legacy of the Void, will at once be a computer game, and Blizzard’s statement regarding the long-term viability of Starcraft proper as an esport. Starcraft II’s predecessor, Starcraft, proved a long-lived esports product popular the world around. Its successor has done even better.Regardless, here’s the new film. It’s worth a view.

wps_clip_image-26701

New Apple TV gets touch remote, Siri voice control, games and an app store, starts at $149, coming in October – The new box, still simply called “Apple TV,” was unveiled at the company’s September 9 event in San Francisco, sharing the stage with a new big-screen iPad and new iPhones. It’s a complete overhaul of the current device, which has been around since 2012. “We believe the future of television is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when introducing the device. The new Apple TV will be available in two versions: $149 for the 32GB model, and $199 for the 64GB model, and both start shipping to the US and dozens of other countries in October. The current Apple TV box remains on sale at $69. UK and Australian prices for the new model have not yet been announced, but $149 and $199 convert to £95 and £130, or AU$210 and AU$285.

wps_clip_image-23343

This week in games: Fallout 4 teaches the value of Strength, Ubisoft builds a theme park – It’s a short week, which I guess means nothing at all really happe—Wait, Ubisoft is opening a theme park? And there was a new Fallout 4 video and the first Tribes update in two years? I present your gaming wrap-up for the week of September 7-11.

Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume – To ensure your resume stands out (for the right reasons), there are a few things you’ll want to avoid and some you’ll definitely want to include, says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink. “Basically employers want to see where candidates have earned, learned, and contributed.” Whether to include things like an objective statement, list of skills, and education will depend on your level of experience and industry — but here are six simple things you should always include on your resume, no matter what:

What porn site statistics can tell us about the worldwide console wars – First, the obvious disclaimer; YouPorn viewing statistics are not a perfect analogue for console popularity. It’s possible (and maybe even likely) that the userbase for one system or another is more or less likely to use their console to surf for porn. And it says nothing about whether they’re more likely to use the console for, you know, actual games. Still, YouPorn statistics seem to bear some resemblance to overall console popularity worldwide. Overall, YouPorn’s stats show 51% of visits coming from PlayStation, 39% from Xbox, and 10% from Wii systems. That’s decently close to the 50%/29%/20% split for PS4/XB1/Wii U sales in our latest analysis.

wps_clip_image-25819

GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots – The GoPro line of action cameras, especially when paired with drones, have yielded a massive library of photos and videos that would have been otherwise impossible to take using commercial equipment. But when paired with a weather balloon, things get even more dramatic. In 2013, a group of five students from Arizona did just that and launched the GoPro into the atmosphere. Sadly, they lost track of the camera during after its reentry. Good thing they recovered it two years later in good condition because the footage it had stored is truly a sight to behold.

wps_clip_image-15501

Australian police get McLaren and Aston Martin supercars – You wouldn’t want to get into a high-speed car chase with one of these bad boys: the NSW Police Harbourside Local Area Command has just added a McLaren 650S and an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante to its official fleet. However, the two supercars aren’t for regular policing, nor will they be a permanent fixture on Sydney’s streets. They have been loaned to the force for just a few weeks by a local dealership, which will cover all the costs of the vehicles except for fuel. Both cars have been given a NSW Police makeover, with blue-and-white decals declaring their law enforcement affiliation. Underneath, the AU$450,000 McLaren 650S is a brilliant, eye-catching yellow, while the $500,000-plus Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is a suave silver. The cars made their police debut on September 12 at the annual Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance, a day that pays tribute to the sacrifices of officers killed on duty.

wps_clip_image-17477

The McLaren 650S on loan to the NSW Police. NSW Police Harbourside LAC

The LAPD has a Tesla now – At a press conference today, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the lease of 160 battery electric vehicles and 128 plug-in hybrids for the city’s vehicle fleet. “Today, we take another step toward becoming the most sustainable city in America,” the mayor told reporters. “This year, Los Angeles will become home to the largest city-owned fleet of pure battery electric vehicles anywhere in the country, and we will save taxpayer dollars along the way.” The city’s fleet already includes 23 electric scooters and three fully electric motorcycles, but this is the first major move into electric cars. The mayor has set ambitious environmental goals for the fleet, requiring that electric vehicles constitute half of the light duty fleet by 2017, and 80 percent of the city’s fleet purchases by 2025.

wps_clip_image-31206

10 automakers vow to make automatic emergency braking standard – The NHTSA, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have announced that ten auto makers plan to offer automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. This is the latest step major car manufacturers are taking to bring more advanced safety technologies to a larger customer base, something that will eventually lead to such technologies being common on the road and, hopefully, a subsequent decrease in the number of crashes and deaths that happen. The auto makers are comprised of well-known car companies, including Audi, BMW, GM, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Toyota, Tesla, Volvo, and Volkswagen. Furthermore, the IIHS and US Department of Transportation says that other makers of lightweight vehicles and truck manufacturers should also consider making automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard in their vehicles.

Something to think about:

“Fine, go to those Bangalore Infosys centers, but just for the hell of it go three miles aside and go look at the guy living with no toilet, no running water … The world is not flat and PCs are not, in the hierarchy of human needs, in the first five rungs.”

–    Bill GatesThe Financial Times, Nov. 1, 2013

Downloads:

10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps – 10AppsManager is a freeware that will allow you to easily uninstall and reinstall the default, built-in, preinstalled Windows Store apps in Windows 10. While you can always manually uninstall or reinstall the Store apps, the process is not so easy for the preinstalled apps. It is easy to uninstall or reinstall 3rd-party apps, but not the default preinstalled apps. What this tool from our TWC stables does, is automate the process and let you carry out the operations in a click.

wps_clip_image-18197

WebBrowserPassView – WebBrowserPassView is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords stored by the following Web browsers: Internet Explorer (Version 4.0 – 11.0), Mozilla Firefox (All Versions), Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. This tool can be used to recover your lost/forgotten password of any Website, including popular Web sites, like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and GMail, as long as the password is stored by your Web Browser.

After retrieving your lost passwords, you can save them into text/html/csv/xml file, by using the ‘Save Selected Items’ option (Ctrl+S).

wps_clip_image-22533

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs – On a stage in a ballroom in the Walter Washington Convention Center on September 10, the heads of the United States’ intelligence community gathered to talk about the work their agencies perform and the challenges they face—or at least as much as they could in an unclassified environment. But the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency also had one particular mission in mind as they took the stage at the Intelligence & National Security Summit, an industry event largely attended by government officials and contractors: stopping the poisoning of the public debate around their missions, and especially around the issue of encryption, by unreasonable haters.

CIA Director John Brennan suggested that negative public opinion and “misunderstanding” about the US intelligence community is in part “because of people who are trying to undermine” the mission of the NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies. These people “may be fueled by our adversaries,” he said.

FBI Director James Comey referred to the backlash against his lobbying for backdoors into encrypted communications provided by the technology industry as “venom and deep cynicism” that are making a rational discussion about what could and should be done nearly impossible.

wps_clip_image-13230

The directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA, NGO, DIA, and NRO stand for a group picture. Sean Gallagher.

Apple, in refusing backdoor access to data, may face fines – This week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Dept. served Apple with a court order in a case “involving guns and drugs,” demanding it provide real-time access to iMessage, Apple’s proprietary service for sending messages between iPhones.

Apple refused — not because it necessarily wanted to, but because it couldn’t comply. The iPhone and iPad maker reportedly told the feds that the service is encrypted, making it impossible for the company let alone the feds to access the data they demanded, unlike phone companies which, under US wiretap laws, are required to comply.

The criminal case is under seal in an unidentified U.S. federal court.

Apple’s defiance comes at a time when the FBI is pushing for access to user data in the wake of the claims that the U.S. government had access to Silicon Valley systems through its PRISM surveillance program. In response to allegations it was complicit in spying on Americans, Apple quelled fears by revealing its iMessage texting and FaceTime calling services were encrypted and unable to be wiretapped, and said even it “cannot decrypt that data.” Around the same time, the company proceeded to offer device encryption, forcing feds to go directly to the suspect in question to get access to some user data.

Plan to shift internet’s control panel away from US government gets tentative thumbs-up – The plan to shift control of the top level of the internet away from the US government to domain name overseer ICANN has been given a tentative thumbs-up by the internet community.

A public comment period on the proposal for the IANA functions contract closed earlier this week with 159 submissions received. Just under half the comments came from individuals, but governments, the technical community, business groups, and civil society all sent in comments.

The vast majority of the comments were supportive of the plan overall, which will hand control over to a new affiliate of the current contract owner, ICANN, and two new groups set up to ensure that the contract is run effectively. In addition, a process to pull the IANA functions was identified as a last resort.

The proposal was pulled together from three different proposals covering the three main technical jobs that are being considered. Despite most commentators agreeing with the proposal, there were significant concerns over key aspects of the plan.

The same five issues were identified repeatedly from stakeholders as diverse as Google, the Internet Society, US Council for International Business (USCIB), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and others:

1 Comment

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 28, 2015

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10;  A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5;  4 overblown Windows 10 worries;  Free or discounted software licenses, cloud resources for students;  How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches;  Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone;  How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity;  Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake;  Seven essential mobile apps for students;   Instagram supports landscape & vertical photos;  NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season;  The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps;  FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more;  Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings;  Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story;  BitTorrent patches flaw;  25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10 – The Windows 10 privacy agreement doesn’t mean Microsoft is secretly stealing the data from your hard disk. Where do people come up with these crazy ideas? There is apparently a growing and very vocal population of people who believe that Windows 10 is basically a 1984 telescreen come to life. They are convinced that with Windows 10 Microsoft has built a spying apparatus not seen since the height of the Cold War, scraping up every detail of your life and feeding it back to Redmond for who knows what nefarious purposes. They’re going to need lots of tinfoil. They’re also either wildly misinformed or deliberately agitating. Unless, of course, they’re just crazy, which is entirely possible based on some of what I’ve read.

4 overblown Windows 10 worries – There are a lot of alarms going off about Windows 10’s effect on your security and privacy. We look at the four top concerns to find out whether they’re true or not, and tell you what you can do about them.

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches – Despite the many highlights of Windows 10—Cortana, virtual desktops, windowed Windows Store apps, the revamped Start menu, DirectX 12, among others—there are still some annoyances with the new operating system. Windows 10 can reset your default browser if you upgrade; updates are now mandatory; and behind the scenes, the new OS is a file-sharing machine. Those are just a few of Windows 10’s notable headaches, but the good news is there are fixes for all these problems. Even better? Most are really easy to implement. Let’s dig in.

Free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources for students and educators – Get ahead of the class by using these offers for free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources available to university students and educators around the world. Many of the biggest names in IT provide free or heavily discounted access to software for students, in the hopes of converting them to paid customers after graduation. Students and educators, check out these available options.

Seven essential mobile apps for students – I’ve cut through the clutter and put together a list of educational apps that have something to offer students in middle school, high school and college. You’ll be able to use them with your Android or Apple device, and often your desktop browser. Some of them are so handy, it almost makes me want to go back to school again. I said “almost.”

A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5 – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook now all have their own digital assistants that they’ve been pumping tons of cash into. There are lots of smaller companies also looking to break into this space (which I’ll soon look at separately) but these tech titans clearly have the upper hand at the moment. In a lot of ways most of these services struggle in similar areas where the technology isn’t quite where it needs to be, but each of these assistants definitely have their own flavor with some being clearly being better than others.

Chrome is getting more aggressive about silencing autoplay videos – Chrome is getting more aggressive about that least popular web feature: autoplay video. A new post from engineer François Beaufort laid out Chrome’s new approach, which will block playback as long as a given autoplay video is in a background tab. The browser will still load the video as soon as the tab is opened, but it won’t start it until you visit the page itself, hopefully preventing the usual surprise when a late-loading video starts up in the background. Under the new setup, that video won’t play until you click back to the relevant tab.

Instagram stops being a square, supports landscape & vertical photos – Instagram has finally gotten with the times and dropped its requirement that photos be in a square format. The social network has updated both its iOS and Android apps and now allows users to post photos in landscape and vertical orientations, in addition to the classic square. The same size change is applied to videos too. This will likely be a welcome change to Instagram users, who for years already have been taking photos and video on devices with rectangular screens.

wps_clip_image-25378

Microsoft Snip lets you quickly annotate and add audio to screenshots – If taking screenshots is part of your job, Microsoft is aiming to make it easier with a new tool called Snip. Available as a free beta, Snip lets you cut out a portion of the screen, annotate it with a drawing tool or voice notes, and then save or share the results. It’s unclear if Microsoft is planning to charge for the app, which was first spotted by The Verge. While Snip is hardly the only screen capture tool for Windows, its simplicity (and the fact that it’s free) makes it worth considering. If you don’t need the more extensive options of tools like Greenshot and PicPick, Snip could be a more efficient option.

wps_clip_image-10832

LG’s full-sized tablet keyboard rolls up for easy travel – The latest Bluetooth keyboard for tablets offers full-sized keys and yet rolls up into a stick resembling a big Tootsie Roll. LG makes it and it’s appropriately named the Rolly keyboard. Bluetooth pairing starts immediately once the keyboard is unrolled and LG says it can be paired with two mobile devices via Bluetooth 3.0. That feature can’t be used simultaneously of course; even though you can pair with two devices, the Rolly only works with one at a time.

wps_clip_image-9814

How to quickly shut down Windows 10 – It must be a point of pride in Redmond that even after all these years, you still have to click “Start” to shut down your computer. Granted, the Start button is no longer labeled that way, having evolved into a Windows-logo button back in Vista. But that’s still what it’s called, and still how Microsoft refers to it. So even in Windows 10, you have to click “Start” to shut down your PC. Then you click Power, and finally Shut Down. I’ll never understand why Microsoft has steadfastly refused to add a one-click Shut Down button to the desktop. Fortunately, there are faster ways to turn off your computer.

Adobe aims to bring Photoshop to mobile masses with upcoming app – Photoshop is so well known that the product name is synonymous with photo editing. But the software itself is a success only on personal computers, not smartphones or tablets. Photoshop’s maker, Adobe Systems, hopes that will change in October at its Max conference for developers and creative professionals when it introduces a new Photoshop app for editing photos on Apple’s iPhones and iPads initially and Android-powered devices later. The free software, called only Project Rigel for now, is designed to bring a more accessible interface to what can be a dauntingly complex program on PCs.

wps_clip_image-8768

Twitch meets Periscope with new streaming app Mirrativ – Move over Periscope, there’s a new live-streaming app vying for our attention. Launching today, Mirrativ (a portmanteau of mirror and narrative) lets you broadcast whatever is happening on the screen of your smartphone or tablet. It combines untethered mobile broadcasting, screen sharing and social interactions into one single app. You can use Mirrativ in beta on Android starting today, with iOS following in the coming weeks.

Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley outs pretty and cheap Obi Worldphones – Just to be clear, it’s Obi Worldphones, not Obi Wan. Terrible pop culture references aside, this news isn’t something you see everyday. John Sculley, who, at one point in time, lead one of the world’s biggest tech companies, has co-founded and announced two new smartphones. While some already point out their rather alluring design, these Obi Worldphones are two things that no iPhone will ever be: Android and affordable. Just because you were the former CEO of Apple doesn’t mean you have to forever drink their Kool-aid, right?

wps_clip_image-28799

Microsoft delivers Windows 10 PC build 10532 to Insiders – Windows 10 Build 10532 is available as of August 27 to those in the Fast Ring. In this latest build, Microsoft has improved context menus to give them “a modern look and feel” in the latest test build. The company also has enabled sharing in the Windows Feedback app, so that testers can share feedback via Twitter, Facebook and other channels. Microsoft simultaneously is rolling out test Build 10532 of its Edge browser, which includes new canvas blend modes, pointer lock, asm.js on by default and more.

Security:

How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity –  Ad blockers – software or browser extensions that filter all HTML elements that are expected to contain ads – can do more than just hide annoying ads. They can optimize your online experience in multiple ways, including decreasing your risk for encountering malware. We lay out the advantages of using an ad blocker and give you a few recommendations on which ones we like.

Tor security concerns prompt largest dark market to suspend operations – Administrators of Agora, the largest online black marketplace operating on the Tor anonymity network, decided to temporarily suspend the website because of possible attacks based on recent methods of exposing Tor Hidden Services.

BitTorrent patches flaw that could amplify distributed denial-of-service attacks – BitTorrent fixed a vulnerability that would have allowed attackers to hijack BitTorrent applications used by hundreds of millions of users in order to amplify distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The flaw was disclosed earlier this month in a paper presented at the 9th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies by four researchers from City University London, Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences in Friedberg, Germany and cloud networking firm PLUMgrid.

Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake – There’s a good chance that most men on Ashley Madison never even had the opportunity to cheat. That’s because most women on the site were actually fake. According to an analysis of the Ashley Madison data dump from Gizmodo, just about 12,000 of the 5.5 million female profiles on the now-infamous adultery site belonged to actual, living breathing women.

Company News:

Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone – This week Facebook reached a milestone, one that includes 1-billion people having used the social network in a single day. This isn’t an average number – as Mark Zuckerberg said in an announcement today – but it is rather important. Facebook has millions of users log in every day, and billions of people using the social network every month, but here for the first time in the website’s history 1-billion people used Facebook in a single day.

Life360 Acquires Chronos To Add “Quantified Self” Tracking To Its Family Locator App – Life360, the maker of mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone that help keep families connected, has acquired Chronos Mobile Technologies, a startup behind a number of mobile apps that passively collect data from users’ smartphones in order to highlight trends and connections between various behaviors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Chronos had closed on a small seed round from Maven Ventures, Draper Associates and Major League Baseball earlier in 2015.

Report: ‘Dozens’ of Amazon Fire Phone Engineers Get the Axe – Lackluster Fire Phone sales have reportedly prompted Amazon to lay off “dozens” of engineers at Lab126, a division of the company that focuses on Amazon’s hardware development, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s unclear exactly how many people were let go since they must sign non-disclosure agreements into order to get severance, the Journal said, but the division employs about 3,000 workers.

CenturyLink to deploy broadband to rural areas in 33 states – Telecom carrier CenturyLink will roll out broadband to 1.2 million U.S. homes and businesses in rural areas, using US $506 million from the Federal Communications Commission. The six-year project, expected to start early next year, covers rural areas in 33 states, including large parts of the Midwest, West and Southeast, in addition to other areas. States included in the deployment include Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Google rejects antitrust charges, digs in for a long fight – Google has responded to European Union regulators’ claims that its search results violate antitrust law, saying its search results are focused on “improving quality” and are not anti-competitive. “Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” wrote company general counsel Kent Walker in a Google blog post. “Economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents, and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive.” The blog post accompanies Google’s formal legal response that was filed today. European Union antitrust regulators formally charged Google with anticompetitive conduct in April.

Facebook Finally Cracks Down On Video Piracy – Facebook didn’t get to be one of the largest video streamers on the web without making a few enemies. Unfortunately, up to this point, a lot of those enemies were the people actually creating cool video content for the site. Today, Facebook is trying to rectify its poor management of controlling video piracy on its site and appease video creators who have been getting kind of pissed off at the site with a series of new updates.

SoundCloud faces lawsuit over alleged failure to pay royalties – Contentions regarding SoundCloud and the payment of royalties has been long-running, and now the audio streaming service is facing a lawsuit from Performing Rights Society for Music, more commonly referred to as PRS. The entity advised its members recently that it has sought for SoundCloud to “recognize their responsibilities” repeatedly; PRS states SoundCloud requires a license to operate in Europe and the United Kingdom. PRS went further and issued a press statement advising that it has “no choice” in the matter, and that after a half a decade of failed negotiations, it must proceed with a lawsuit.

Amazon Prime’s streaming video service to launch in Japan – With Netflix having already announced that they’re launching in Japan on September 2nd, Amazon has decided it’s not going to wait for its rival to gain a lead in the local market for streaming video services. The US internet shopping giant has announced it will be debuting its Prime Video service in Japan sometime this fall. Like Netflix’s service in the country, it’s still not clear what kind of programs will be available for streaming, however Amazon has promised the lineup will include popular US movies and TV shows, their award-winning originals, plus native Japanese content.

Games and Entertainment:

NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season – It’s getting a little easier to watch pro football online or over-the-air without an expensive cable TV bundle, but you’ll still have to make a few sacrifices.

wps_clip_image-18939

FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more – Want to try out FIFA 16 before it hit store shelves? You’re in luck, as Electronic Arts has announced that a free demo for the upcoming professional soccer game will arrive starting September 8 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The FIFA 16 demo will let you try out the standard Kick-Off mode, as well as FIFA Ultimate Team Draft, FIFA Trainer, and new skill games. Featured in the demo are 10 high-profile teams from the around the world, as well as two women’s teams–including the World Cup-winning US Women’s National Team.

wps_clip_image-4682

EA Sports

The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps – Some of the most downloaded and highest-grossing video games in leading app stores use casino motifs for their designs, raising questions about the potential dangers of gambling apps.

wps_clip_image-5828

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is taking it to the Max…the IMAX – That’s correct, December 18 returns to a galaxy far, far away will come at you at the largest format possible for over a month, likely at a theater near you. A lot of high-profile movies get the IMAX treatment these days and since those tickets cost more for a premium experience — IMAX screens are an important part of increasing a movie’s box office take. The other gimmick used to convince you to see a film in theaters instead of waiting for it to stream is 3D, though thankfully The Force Awakens will spare us that.

wps_clip_image-7699

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate ships on PC a month after consoles – Publisher Ubisoft will release Assassin’s Creed Syndicate on PC a month after it launches on consoles, to help ensure the build is shipped without major bugs or glitches. The action adventure title, which follows the story of brother and sister assassins in Victorian London, is scheduled for launch on PC from November 19. That equates to about a month delay from the PS4 and Xbox One release date, which is October 23. Previously, Ubisoft had given the PC build a “Holiday 2015” release target.

wps_clip_image-802

Divinity: Original Sin II preview: An ambitious sequel to one of the biggest, best RPGs of 2014 – When talking about last year’s excellent Divinity: Original Sin, I’m fond of saying, “Imagine the game you’d get if, instead of dying off in the early 2000s, the isometric CRPG genre had kept evolving through 2014.” Now imagine that the same company came back afterward and pitched a sequel twice the scope. That’s Divinity: Original Sin II.

wps_clip_image-30581

Watching Is the New Doing – YouTube Gaming makes it a breeze to find and watch an endless supply of gaming livestreams and videos, but it’s a bit rough around the edges.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Psychology Of Insecurity – Why do we keep reading about a litany of breaches? Don’t cyber pros understand they are looking after our most sensitive personal data? Yes they do, but to understand their actions demands a more detailed examination of the psychology of security from the perspective of the security professional. It is time to recognize the psychology of our insecurity. We need a stronger mandate than regulation and the occasional public shaming of a clueless leader of an organization chartered with guarding vital information. We need infrastructure that is secure by design. There is no army of “cyber experts” big enough to pick through the haystack of alerts, trying to find the attack that actually penetrated the enterprise.

Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings – The widespread presence of mobile devices, namely smartphones, have brought about new issues in regards to etiquette, and though over the years a general shape about proper usage has formed, many still bicker about what is appropriate and what isn’t. Pew Research recently surveyed a bunch of Americans to find out their opinions on smartphone usage in public, and found that while most people are fine with phones being used when a person is in public, only a small percentage think it is okay to use the phone during a social gathering, whether you’re at the restaurant or just talking to someone.

25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind – In his lifetime, Einstein changed the world, describing the workings of reality better than anyone since Isaac Newton and revealing the capabilities of the atom bomb. In 1999, Time named him Person of the Century. Here are 25 of Einstein’s most telling quotes; each will take you inside the mind of the legend.

Iowa starts testing smartphone-based digital driver’s licenses – Over a year ago, we heard about the state of Iowa’s initiative to develop digital driver’s licenses that could eventually replace the plastic cards used through the US. The digital licenses would feature the same information as the physical versions — photo, address, date of birth, etc. — but be stored on a user’s smartphone. Well, Iowa has now announced that it’s beginning a test program, known as the Mobile Driver License (mDL), for a number of different situations, but limited to employees of the states’ Department of Transportation.

wps_clip_image-12968

HandUp, A Startup Focused On The Homeless, Launches Donation Gift Cards For Those Living On SF’s Streets – Since HandUp launched, the site has raised $886,000 so far for homeless people, mostly in San Francisco. On the site, moms are asking for funding for diapers. A veteran named Adam is raising a few thousand dollars for dental work. Another mother named Gladys, who lost both of her sons to unsolved homicides, is raising money to fix the van she lives in. Social workers and case managers at HandUp’s partner organizations make sure that clients are able to get what they asked for. But one of the most commonly requested features from donors was gift cards that people could give out directly on the street to people they pass by every day.

wps_clip_image-28791

Should police have the capability to take control of driverless cars? – There have already been plenty of ethical questions asked, like whether a driverless car should decide who lives or who dies during an accident scenario. One question often posed is whether a driverless vehicle could choose to ram a school bus full of kids or sacrifice the driverless vehicle’s occupants during a mishap. Now the Rand Corp. is thinking about how law enforcement officials should deal with driverless cars. A recent study (PDF) by the group ponders whether a cop should have the ability to remotely control a vehicle to pull it over.

Why We Look – We look because it’s there. We humans look towards violence in order to define it, to decide where we must run (or if we should stand and fight). We are fascinated by suffering. There is a cognitive bias towards the terrible. Many complain that there is not enough “happy” news. The problem is that there is happy news all around us, we just don’t notice. A baby smiling or someone offering someone else a spot on the bus doesn’t go viral because most humans experience little kindnesses and forget them. But we don’t forget violence.

Adobe says stop using ‘Photoshop’ as a generic term – When a company’s product so thoroughly corners a market that it becomes well-known even by those who have never used it, the company faces a problem: generic use of that product’s name. You’re likely to hear the term “dumpster” used generically, for example, as it is now a genericized trademark due to its common usage. Other trademarks have suffered the same fate — yo-yo, for example, and aspirin. Adobe doesn’t want its popular photo-editing software Photoshop to suffer the same fate, but it may be too late to stop it.

Something to think about:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”

–   Albert Einstein

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story – The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

An Electronic Frontier Foundation FOIA request on a different matter revealed the strategy in 2011, but it wasn’t made public until last year, when privacy researcher Chris Soghoian saw evidence of the operation in the documents and tweeted about it. That spurred both the AP and The Seattle Times to complain vocally about the FBI’s behavior.

“The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale,” AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser wrote in a letter to then-AG Eric Holder last year.

Germany trades citizens’ metadata for NSA’s top spy software – In order to obtain a copy of the NSA’s main XKeyscore software, whose existence was first revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency agreed to hand over metadata of German citizens it spies on. According to documents seen by the German newspaper Die Zeit, after 18 months of negotiations, the US and Germany signed an agreement in April 2013 that would allow the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutz—BfV) to obtain a copy of the NSA’s most important program and to adopt it for the analysis of data gathered in Germany.

This was a lower level of access compared to the non-US “Five Eyes” nations—the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—which had direct access to the main XKeyscore system. In return for the software, the BfV would “to the maximum extent possible share all data relevant to NSA’s mission.” Interestingly, there is no indication in the Die Zeit story that the latest leak comes from Snowden, which suggests that someone else has made the BfV’s “internal documents” available.

2 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 20, 2015

Ripping CDs and movies for personal use is once again illegal in UK;  UK government releases plan to jail online pirates for up to 10 years;   Stop pesky HTML5 videos from auto-playing;  These 4 Gadgets Will Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly;  Photos: 9 apps that can help people with disabilities;  Virtual reality for beginners: Everything you need to know to wrap your head around VR;  Pocket for iOS updated with text-to-speech feature;  Save the world using your PC or phone;  Microsoft will support Windows 10 till 2025;  Hacking Attacks on Ashley Madison Could Mean Trouble for Millions of Would-Be Cheaters;  Windows 10 to be sold on USB sticks;  Microsoft to spoofed Skype users: Change your account passwords NOW;  Google might soon help you find anyone from a plumber to a painter;  Amazon Looks to Turn India into Firm’s Biggest Market Outside the U.S.  10 Games Every Xbox One Player Needs;  Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs is now available for everyone;  GoPro captures road rage as alleged victim fights back (and wins);  The Pocket Guide to Fighting with Idiots on the Internet;  Are the Ten Commandments really the basis for our laws?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Ripping CDs and movies for personal use is once again illegal in UK – Today’s ruling quashes the 2014 regulation that made it legal to make personal copies of performances for private use as long as the person doing so has lawfully acquired the content and doesn’t distribute it to anyone else. That regulation allowed people to make backups or play songs or movies in different formats but didn’t allow selling copies or sharing them with family and friends. But the High Court ruled last month that the regulation hadn’t been enacted properly. The personal use exception wasn’t immediately thrown out because other remedies could have been considered, but today’s ruling takes it off the books.

These 4 Gadgets Will Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly – Long promised to be the next big thing, smart home gear hasn’t just arrived, some of it has already departed for the clearance racks and the deal-a-day websites. The problem with a lot of these products? They’re technology for the sake of gadgetry — meaning they do something kind of cool, but that’s about it. For smart home devices to be truly innovative, they must solve a problem facing consumers. One of those problems ripe for solving: Utility bills. Here are four ways smart home devices can give you a better handle on how your home uses energy and water, saving not only money, but also precious resources.

Inbox by Gmail adds some extra smarts to the snooze button – Google’s email app now looks at message content to predict just the right time to pop messages back into your inbox

snooze inbox

Stop pesky HTML5 videos from auto-playing with this helpful Firefox add-on – This nifty add-on helps you silence pesky auto-playing audio and video that you come across on the web–as long it’s not Flash-based.

Intel’s Skylake chips: What you need to know about the next big CPU change – Move over, Broadwell: the sixth generation of Intel Core i-series CPUs are almost here. Here’s how it will — and won’t — affect your PC and Mac buying choices.

Sideclick is back to make streamer remote controls more useful – The $21 attachment adds volume and other television controls to Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Google Nexus Player remotes.

wps_clip_image-23396

Meet Voat, the website that wants to be the anti-Reddit – With all the drama surrounding Reddit, from debates over free speech to its messy game of musical chairs among executives, it’s understandable some users might want to leave. Now they’ve found a place to go. It’s called Voat (rhymes with goat), and it says it’s fixed all those things people don’t like about Reddit.

Photos: 9 apps that can help people with disabilities – It’s easy to how powerful a simple technology can be. Here are nine apps to help make day-to-day tasks much easier for people with disabilities.

wps_clip_image-25360

HearYouNow is a personal sound amplifier for people trying to listen in specific types of environments, like in a loud restaurant or during a meeting. You can choose to focus on conversations happening near you, or those further away, and it’s easy to replay the last 20 seconds of a conversation. Available for free for iOS.

Pocket for iOS updated with text-to-speech feature – Pocket, the wonderful app that lets users save articles and other content for reading later on, has updated its iOS app with a text to speed feature. With this feature, busy users can have their saved articles read to them while they do other things the same as an audio book. It’s a handy feature, one that makes it easier to work through one’s saved articles while driving to or from work or while doing other things that require your attention to be (mostly) elsewhere.

Virtual reality for beginners: Everything you need to know to wrap your head around VR – Virtual reality has the potential to change the world, but you’ll need to understand the radical new technology before you embrace it.

Save the world using your PC or phone – Volunteer computing is a way for people to get their computers or phones to link up to solve complicated modeling and calculations to aid in research projects. What’s being volunteered is your machine’s spare processing power. When multiple computers are a part of the same project, these separate machines act in concert to serve as a supercomputer.

wps_clip_image-32255

SETI@home in action on a Mac. Ariel Nunez/CNET

Microsoft starts the countdown to Windows 10 release with ’10 reasons to upgrade’ – Microsoft has released a new video series to promote Windows 10 that highlights 10 features of the OS and why you should upgrade when it arrives later this month.

wps_clip_image-25099

Windows 10 to be sold on … wait for it … USB sticks – Microsoft has confirmed scuttlebutt that had been flying around for a number of weeks now: Windows 10 will be sold on USB Flash drives. Over on Amazon.com, pre-order pages show that the operating system will be available on media other than DVDs. A release date has now been tagged for 30 August with the drive retailing in the US at $119.99 for the Windows 10 Home version and $199.99 for Windows 10 Pro.

Windows 10 — download full version, before release date (RTM build 10240) – Yes, you can get the Windows 10 “RTM” build, right now, for download, even before the release date. Build 10240 is the final, full version. It’s available for update, but you can also get hold of the ISOs (even though Microsoft doesn’t want you to). As before, this is an Insider Program thing only. You did sign up for the program, like I told you, right?

Microsoft will support Windows 10 till 2025 – With the move to Windows a a Service, Microsoft had left some questions unanswered about the support and lifecycle of the OS. The company has now updated its product page to indicate 10 years.

Save your money and download Microsoft’s free eBooks on Windows 10 – Not only is Microsoft giving away it new Windows 10 operating system for Free, the company is also giving away 100’s of Free eBooks covering a wide range of Microsoft technologies-including Windows 10.Let’s take a closer look.

Microsoft Will Release Cortana For Android In “Next Few Weeks” – Following an apparent leak of Cortana for the Android platform, Microsoft released comment indicating that it is in fact testing its digital assistant for the Google platform, and will cut it live in short order. So all that cross-platform talk wasn’t a charade. Expect Cortana to land on Android and, later, iOS.

Security:

0-day attacks exploiting Flash just got harder thanks to new defenses – A string of weaponized attacks targeting Adobe’s Flash media player—including three in the past 10 days—has kept software engineers scrambling to fix the underlying vulnerabilities that make the exploits so dangerous. Fortunately, they have also been busy making structural changes to the way the program interacts with computer operating systems to significantly reduce the damage that can result not only from those specific attacks but entire classes of similar ones. At the moment, the defenses are fully implemented only in the Flash version included in Google Chrome, having made their debut earlier this week. One of the two mitigations is available in other versions of Flash, and the remaining one is expected to be added to other browsers in August.

UCLA’s Health System Was Hacked and Now 4.5 Million People May Have Had Their Personal Data Stolen – The University of California, Los Angeles, announced today that their health system had been hacked sometime in the past ten months, potentially compromising the personal data of 4.5 million people. UCLA Health first noticed the security breach in September 2014, when the system detected “suspicious activity” and the FBI was called in to investigate. At that time, it didn’t appear that hackers posed a threat. Then, in May 2015, the healthcare provider realized hackers had accessed their internal system, which contained privileged information like names, addresses, social security numbers, and medical records that may have been stolen.

Microsoft to spoofed Skype users: Change your account passwords NOW – An unknown number of frustrated Skype customers have been pestered by spoof messages on the Microsoft service for weeks, but the company is yet to close what appears to be a gaping hole in its software. Instead, Redmond has advised Skype users to change their account passwords. But complaints are building up about the lack of communication coming out of the Microsoft camp regarding what seems to be a Skype security flaw. The problem first appeared late last month. One Skype user, posting in a thread that now runs to 22 pages long, said:

Hacking Attacks on Ashley Madison Could Mean Trouble for Millions of Would-Be Cheaters – KrebsOnSecurity — the Internet security blog run by former Washington Post cybercrime reporter Brian Krebs — says the hackers, calling themselves the Impact Team, are demanding that Avid Life Media (ALM), a Canadian company that owns Ashley Madison as well as Established Men (which promises to set successful men up with “young, beautiful women”) to take the two sites down permanently. If ALM doesn’t comply, the hackers say they will continue releasing “all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails,” Krebs reports.

Email Spam Rates Dip Below 50 Percent – Despite what your email inbox might be telling you, overall spam rates have dropped below 50 percent for the first time in 12 years. In June, the rate of unwanted emails reached 49.7 percent—1.8 percent less than the month before, which fell 0.6 percent from the month before that. According to the latest Symantec Intelligence Report, the last time the security firm recorded a similarly low spam rate was in September 2003.

Company News:

Amazon Looks to Turn India into Firm’s Biggest Market Outside the U.S. – Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is planning to invest as much as $5 billion to turn India into its biggest market outside the U.S., the Economic Times newspaper reports. Last year, the online behemoth, which entered India in 2013 with a website that offers a platform for local retailers to sell their goods online, committed itself to investing $2 billion in its Indian operations as it sought to capitalise on the country’s expanding middle class, a significant section of which is going online at a rapid rate.

wps_clip_image-30545

Google might soon help you find anyone from a plumber to a painter – It appears Google is about to enter the growing home services market. The search giant has snatched up roughly 20 employees from Homejoy, a startup that focused on pairing house cleaners with apartment-dwellers and homeowners. Google confirmed the hires to our sister site, Recode, just hours after Homejoy announced yesterday that it was closing shop for good at the end of the month. Google has yet to announce any foray into home services, but Buzzfeed reported earlier this year that the company was working on a service that would connect local plumbers, cleaners, painters, and other workers with homeowners.

Apple files patent for targeted ad system that checks what you can afford to buy – I am seeing a lot of praise on social networks recently for the introduction of Apple Pay across Apple’s mobile devices because it’s so convenient not having to take your wallet out to pay, especially if you own the Apple Watch. But Apple having access to your bank account and spending habits has opened up a new way to advertise to individual users: targeted adverts based on what you can afford. Apple has filed a patent that would allow it to enable such a system. Rather than having adverts appear based on your browsing and buying habits, Apple can now track how much cash you have in your bank account, on your credit card, or in pre-paid credit. It can then better select the ad to show you based on whether you can afford what the ad is attempting to sell.

Yahoo Files To Spin Off Its Alibaba Stake As “Aabaco Holdings” – Yahoo is moving forward with plans to spin off its Alibaba assets, as outlined in a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Basically, Yahoo is tossing its Alibaba stock and a minor part of its operations into a new corporate entity. The spinoff will be a public company called Aabaco Holdings, and it will own 384 million shares of Alibaba, which is about 15 percent of the total.

Microsoft is reportedly signing up Foxconn to build Lumia phones in India – After huge cuts to its phone division last week, it seems Microsoft may be planning to outsource at least part of its handset manufacturing, and is said to be close to a deal with Foxconn in India.

T-Mobile reaches settlement with FCC over 911 outages – Back in mid-March, Verizon settled with the FCC over 911 service outages that happened in April of last year. Verizon wasn’t the only wireless carrier that was swept up into some 911 outages, however, and now T-Mobile has followed in the carrier’s footsteps with its own FCC settlement. The big difference, though, is how much it will pay to settle the matter. While Verizon settled for $3.4 million, T-Mobile will be paying $17.5 million to settle the legal matter.

Huawei sales rise 30 percent in H1 2015 – Chinese technology giant Huawei has revealed a 30 percent rise in sales for the half year, with smartphones in the mid- and high-end markets contributing to its continuing high rate of growth.

Games and Entertainment:

10 Games Every Xbox One Player Needs – If you’re ready to discover what the PCMag staff considers the best Xbox One games, click through the slideshow. You can watch video clips of the games in action, and read our pithy words regarding what makes each title one that’s worth owning.

wps_clip_image-4974

Sunset Overdrive puts you in the role of a downtrodden garbage collector who works for Fizzco, a corporation that launches an energy drink that ultimately turns its customers into mutants.

Xbox One game streaming to Windows 10 PCs is now available for everyone – The impending arrival of Windows 10 is bringing a bunch of welcome new features for Xbox One players. Xbox’s Larry Hryb said in a blog post today that an update rolling out over the next few days will bring players the ability to play Xbox One games on their Windows 10 PCs and tablets by streaming them over their home networks. The feature, which was announced in January, lets players bring games to other rooms of their house without having to move their console. It was previously made available to about 5 million testers of Windows 10.

wps_clip_image-2740

Stardock releases Sorcerer King, its new strategy fantasy game – Stardock today announced that Sorcerer King is available now and ready to challenge strategy gamers across the globe. In Sorcerer King players must build a kingdom and raise a force powerful enough to challenge the Sorcerer King who’s all but destroyed their world. Gamers are able to purchase Sorcerer King for $39.99 at http://www.sorcererking.com.

wps_clip_image-25533

Judge Approves $60M Settlement in Student-Athlete Video Game Lawsuit – It’s not going to make any student-athletes (or former student-athletes) rich, but a federal judge’s approval of a $60 million settlement as part of a class-action lawsuit filed against the NCAA and Electronic Arts is still fairly monumental. As part of the settlement, any student-athlete on the roster of a Division 1 men’s football or men’s basketball team—whose team was included on any Electronic Arts video game released between May 4, 2003 and September 3, 2014—may file for a claim as part of the settlement. More than 20,000 student-athletes filed for a claim based on the original July 2 deadline. That deadline has since been extended to July 31 for interested parties. The maximum amount that any individual player will be able to earn is $7,200, and they might receive it as early as September (depending how appeals to the settlement go).

image

This week in games: Duke Nukem lives, Doom runs inside Doom, and more – Plus: Just Cause 3 turns into a Choose Your Own Adventure and someone’s making a new Warhammer 40,000 action-RPG.

wps_clip_image-30468

Android TV, like Google TV, still too ahead of its time – Name five devices that run on Google’s Android TV operating system. If you managed to do that without hurriedly running to a Google search, you are a rare breed. Ask the average user, even someone who is a longtime Android user, and you will probably get a blank stare.

Off Topic (Sort of):

CNN, Fox, other news networks still think we’re all technology idiots – While the endless filler and sometimes mind-numbing commentary that comes with 24-hour news networks provide plenty of subject matter worthy of eye-rolling criticism, it’s hard to find any subject that is approached with a deeper level of maddening condescension and downright idiocy than when a breaking technology-related story unfolds. Watching CNN and others last Wednesday was just the latest example in this continuously absurd area of mainstream journalism.

After Washington Post rolls out HTTPS, its editorial board bemoans encryption debate – Opinion: The national daily displays staggering naivety and hypocrisy in just 530 words.

The Pocket Guide to Fighting with Idiots on the Internet – The rules of the flame war are always changing. The spats of today aren’t at all similar to those our forefathers fought before modems; a changed arena requires a different tact. You can’t approach a fight on Twitter like you would one on the street, though ultimately it pays to be a total prick in both situations. But that shouldn’t be too hard should it, prick face? Let’s begin:

Which of the 11 American nations do you live in? – Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government. Woodard lays out his map in the new book “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.” Here’s how he breaks down the continent:

wps_clip_image-4410

Cyber-security’s dirty little secret: It’s not as bad as you think – New research from the Global Commission on Internet Governance has reached a surprising conclusion: cyberspace is actually getting safer. The report [PDF] starts from a simple enough premise: while we are constantly told that incidents of cyberattacks and online security threats are increasing, are they growing relative to the expanding size of the internet? In other words, while 10 homicides in a small town of 1,000 is terrifying, 100 in a city of 10 million would be considered low. The second is still 10 times the first. Having pulled data on the number of domain names from dot-com operator Verisign, volume of online activity from Cisco, and search activity from Google, author Eric Jardine, then mapped a wide variety of cybersecurity issues onto the expanding internet and found that things are actually getting better.

Spotify’s new map shows musical tastes of a thousand cities – Have you ever wondered what other people in your city are listening to? If so, Spotify’s newly created Musical Map will be of particular interest. The map uses Spotify’s glut of data to create playlists based on the listening habits of users across 1,000 cities around the globe. The map presently includes cities in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. Clicking on a city will pull up a link to a playlist on Spotify that was created to show what kind of music is popular in the region.

wps_clip_image-30953

GoPro captures road rage as alleged victim fights back (and wins) – Technically Incorrect: A video of a motorist getting angry at a motorcyclist depicts an instance of a man getting more than he bargained for. Almost 9 million YouTube viewers have checked it out.

wps_clip_image-18327

Are the Ten Commandments really the basis for our laws? – I was thinking about this recently. People seem to accept that our laws are based on the morals of the Old Testament laid out in the Commandments, but as a proper skeptic, I decided to take a look myself. Why not go over the Commandments, said I to myself, and compare them to our actual laws, as well as the Constitution, the legal document framed by the Founding Fathers, and upon which our laws are actually based? So I did.

Something to think about:

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”

–      Julius Caesar

Today’s Free Downloads:

Yawcam – Yawcam is a shortening for Yet Another WebCAM software, and that’s exactly what it is 😉 More precise Yawcam is a webcam software for windows written in java. The main ideas for Yawcam are to keep it simple and easy to use but to include all the usual features.

Features:

Video streaming

Image snapshots

Built-in webserver

Motion detection

Ftp-upload

Text and image overlays

Password protection

Online announcements for communities

Scheduler for online time

Time lapse movies

Run as a Windows service

Multi languages

Yawcam is freeware. However, if you enjoy using Yawcam and would like to help support its development, please consider making a donation.

Limitations: Requires Sun Java Runtime Environment installed.

wps_clip_image-4178

WhoCrashed Free Home Edition – WhoCrashed reveals the drivers responsible for crashing your computer.

Whenever a computer running Windows suddenly reboots without displaying any notice or blue screen of death, the first thing that is often thought about is a hardware failure. In reality, most crashes are caused by malfunctioning device drivers and kernel modules. In case of a kernel error, most computers running Windows do not show a blue screen unless they are configured to do so. Instead these systems suddenly reboot without any notice.

WhoCrashed shows the drivers which have been crashing your computer with a single click. In most cases it can pinpoint the offending drivers which have been causing misery on your computer system in the past. It does post-mortem crashdump analysis and presents all gathered information in a comprehensible way.

Normally, debugging skills and a set of debugging tools are required to do post-mortem crash dump analysis. By using this utility you do not need any debugging skills to be able to find out what drivers are causing trouble to your computer.

wps_clip_image-1534

Lastpass  – The Last Password You’ll Have To Remember.

Lastpass is a freeware password manager that will surely make your browsing a lot easier and much more secure.

Generate strong passwords, knowing you’ll only have to remember one.

Log into your favorite websites with just one click

Access and manage your important data from multiple workstations seamlessly

Share logins with your friends and let others share logins with you

The Universal Windows installer installs browser extensions for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. It also allows you to easily create a LastPass account and import your existing passwords. It’s the best way to install LastPass on Windows. The 64 bit installer includes 32 bit IE installer.

Supports Internet Explorer 8+, Firefox 2.0+, Chrome 18+, Safari 5+, Opera 11+.

wps_clip_image-10960

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Hacking Team apparently violated EU rules in sale of spyware to Russian agency – Newly released e-mails from Hacking Team, the now-embattled Italian spyware firm that sold what it claims is lawful intercept software to companies and governments, definitively show that it sold its Remote Control System surveillance software to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the successor agency to the KGB.

Officially, Hacking Team sold its wares to a company called “Advanced Monitoring,” whose corporate parent has a license to work with the FSB, as recently as August 28, 2014. That would put the Italian firm in violation of the July 31, 2014 European Union regulation that forbids selling such technology, whether directly or indirectly, to the Russian military.

It also seems odd that Hacking Team would sell on one side of the Atlantic to Western agencies like the US Army while also selling to the FSB. In its most recent human rights report, the United States Department of State refers to Russia as a “highly centralized, increasingly authoritarian political system.”

The report also notes, “There were allegations government officials and others engaged in electronic surveillance without appropriate authorization and entered residences and other premises without warrants.”

Hacking Team still refuses to say exactly when or why its relationship with its Russian customers stopped.

UK.gov will appeal against DRIPA-busting verdict, says minister – The government has announced it will appeal a High Court judgment which has ruled its DRIPA surveillance legislation unlawful.

The High Court judgment, which was delivered this morning, ruled that the “emergency” DRIPA surveillance legislation rushed through Parliament last year is unlawful.

Responding to the High Court verdict, security minister John Hayes declared: “We disagree absolutely with this judgment and will seek an appeal.”

This may be only the second time in history that the High Court has disapplied primary legislation, a fact which Financial Times legal blogger David Allen Green considers of “huge historical significance.”

Hayes stated that metadata, also known as communications data, “is not just crucial in the investigation of serious crime. It is also a fundamental part of investigating other crimes which still have a severe impact, such as stalking and harassment, as well as locating missing people.”

image

Home Secretary Theresa May: Every free citizen’s nightmare

UK government releases plan to jail online pirates for up to 10 years – The UK government has launched a consultation paper on plans to increase the maximum sentence for online pirates from two to 10 years of imprisonment.

The proposed changes to the penalty have been outlined in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Intellectual Property Office’s ‘Changes to penalties for online copyright infringement’ paper (PDF). Under the proposal, this could could mean the penalty for infringing on the rights of copyright holders online will be equivalent to offences relating to the copyright infringement of physical goods.

Currently under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, online pirates only can receive a maximum of two years imprisonment whereas the maximum sentence for the infringement of physical goods of 10 years.

The consultation follows recommendations made in the independent review released in March, the ‘Penalty Fair?’ report (PDF), which saw calls from the creative industries to harmonise online and offline copyright infringement offences, as they suggested online offences should be not seen as less serious than its physical counterparts.

2 Comments

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