Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 29, 2015

Windows 10 begins its rollout to 190 countries;  Your Complete Guide to Microsoft Windows 10 ;  Windows 10: Nine things you need to know;  3 tips for a hassle-free Windows 10 upgrade;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  10 things Windows 10 does better than Windows 8;  The Best FREE Antivirus for 2015;  How to lock and unlock your USB ports;  How to really delete a file in Windows;  How to recycle your phone for cash;  Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores;  Play GTA V (and anything else) in your browser thanks to Windows tool;   Most Android phones at risk from simple text hack;  PS4 gets a mini keyboard and mouse this November;  Critical vulnerability in Apple App Store, iTunes revealed;  How to lock and unlock your USB ports;  12 Ways Tech Can Land You in Jail… Or Worse.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 begins its rollout to 190 countries – The day has finally arrived. Microsoft has opened the floodgates and started the ball rolling to bring Windows 10 to desktops, laptops, and tablets everywhere. And by everywhere, we mean a whopping 190 countries. Naturally, Microsoft is in a very celebratory mood, though some might think it’s a bit too early to party. Nonetheless, there is no stopping the latest version of Windows from making or breaking the company’s legacy, setting its tone for the next 10 years or so as Microsoft navigates the waters of a mobile-centric world.

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Your Complete Guide to Microsoft Windows 10 – Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10 beginning at 12 a.m. ET Wednesday morning. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Windows operating system before installing it.

Windows 10: Nine things you need to know – Have burning questions about Microsoft’s operating system? Here are some answers.

3 tips for a hassle-free Windows 10 upgrade – If you’ve got a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC, you’re eligible for a free upgrade, and there’s a lot to love about Windows 10, from new features to under-the-hood tweaks to a much-needed interface revamp. Before you upgrade, however, there some things you can do to make your migration to the next chapter in Windows history as seamless as possible.

8 Windows 10 settings you should change right away – Before you do anything else, change these Windows 10 settings!

10 things Windows 10 does better than Windows 8 – Fixing the Start menu is just the beginning. Windows 10 brings many other good changes, and we show you the best ones here.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Windows 10, Microsoft’s back-to-basics re-embracing of the PC, is already brimming with handy new features, and with all the new goodies comes with a legion of new tweaks and tricks—some of which unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found.

Walmart selling $100 tablet with free Windows 10 upgrade – Windows 10 is the next big thing, and those wanting to try it on a small tablet should check out the Nextbook Flexx 8 for $99.99 at Walmart.

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Download: Windows 10 ISOs – If you need to download Windows 10 ISOs, Microsoft has now opened up the download page and you can find the download links after the jump so that you can begin installing the OS.

Windows 10 alternatives that won’t disappoint – This gallery highlights various OSs that are, for most users, adequate replacements for Windows 10. Many of the options featured here can be used in VirtualBox, if you prefer to give it a spin without dual-booting or formatting your system.

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Google’s Chrome OS

How to lock and unlock your USB ports – External flash and hard drives can be used to deliver malware or steal sensitive files. Here’s how to control who can use them.

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Amazon Prime Music Arrives in the U.K. – More than a year after launching in the U.S., the streaming service is expanding to Britain, where members can access tens of thousands of albums from chart toppers to classic artists.

Next-gen Android One phone launches in India for $176 – The Lava Pixel V1 offers a solid value for the price, combining mid-range hardware with the latest Android software updates from Google.

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Meet the $329 Phone Everyone’s Been Waiting For – OnePlus, a rising smartphone star in China, released a new, top-of-the-line product this morning. It’s a smartphone called the OnePlus 2—an admittedly clever bit of mathematical marketing—and it’s billed as the “2016 Flagship Killer.” Translation: Dear Samsung, Apple, Lenovo, Huawei, and LG: We’re comin’ for ya.

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How to really delete a file in Windows – On modern PCs, a file doesn’t actually go away when you hit the Delete key. The bits on your storage drive that represent that file simply get flipped to a hidden state, and they’re tagged to be written over by other bits later. This requires less time and processing power than scrubbing every deleted file off your hard drive. Gradually, bits from other files overlap the old file and eliminate it. This process could take seconds or weeks, depending on how much you use your drive and what kinds of files you’re putting on it. While Windows doesn’t have a built-in utility to truly delete a file, there are several free third-party tools.

How to recycle your phone for cash – Even if you’re not in the market for a new device, owners of ancient, cracked, and broken electronics that won’t even turn on can still cash in on this promise of recompense. Here are some practical tips about the different ways you can convert your phone into at least a little bit of cash — pointers that typically apply to big-ticket electronics, too, like digital cameras and laptops.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands. The part of the phrase in [brackets] can be replaced with any similar term you choose. If Google Now doesn’t get your spoken commands right, you can correct it by saying “No, I said…” and trying the phrase again.

Security:

Most Android phones at risk from simple text hack, researcher says – The flaw, says researcher Zimperium, exists in the media playback tool built into Android, called Stagefright. Malicious hackers could take advantage of it by sending to an Android device a simple text message that, once received by the smartphone, would give them complete control over the handset and allow them to steal anything on it, such as credit card numbers or personal information.

Google pledges a speedy Stagefright security fix for Nexus devices – That still leaves the vast majority of the Android ecosystem unprotected unless the carriers and manufacturers apply Google’s fix.

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Critical vulnerability in Apple App Store, iTunes revealed – A critical flaw has been discovered in Apple’s App Store and iTunes invoice system which could result in session hijacking and malicious invoice manipulation. Revealed this week by security researcher Benjamin Kunz Mejri from Vulnerability Lab, the persistent injection flaw, deemed critical, is an application-side input validation web vulnerability. In an advisory, the researcher said the vulnerability allows remote attackers to inject malicious script codes into flawed content function and service modules.

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – Cybercriminals want your money, just like any other criminals. Installing free antivirus software lets you lock out the bad guys without paying a cent.

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Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores – The latest antivirus scores from the Madgeburg, Germany-based testing lab AV-Test ranks Windows Defender as the worst-performing anti-malware app out of the 22 most common consumer products tested. Windows Defender, baked into the latest versions of Windows, scored just 9.5 points out of a total of 18.

How to disable Windows 10’s Wi-Fi Sense password sharing – Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi Sense feature is a powerful tool that takes the headache out of managing Wi-Fi connections on the run. With Wi-Fi Sense enabled, Windows 10 will automatically sign you into open Wi-Fi networks, as well as private networks that your Outlook.com, Skype, and Facebook contacts have logged into—so you won’t have to manually sign into the network when you visit your buddy’s house. As convenient as Wi-Fi Sense is, however, not everyone’s thrilled with it. Windows 10 enables Wi-Fi Sense by default, but you can disable it. Here’s how.

Company News:

Intel, Micron debut 3D XPoint storage technology that’s 1,000 times faster than current SSDs – Intel and Micron today unveiled their all-new memory technology called 3D XPoint (pronounced “cross-point”). This is a new class of memory that can be used both as system memory as well as nonvolatile storage. In other words, 3D XPoint can be used to replace both a computer’s RAM and its solid-state drive (SSD). The companies claim that 3D XPoint is a major breakthrough in memory process technology, the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989. It’s said to be extremely fast and durable, up to a thousand times faster (both in read and write speeds), and it will have higher endurance than existing NAND Flash memory currently being used in SSDs.

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Razer Buys Android-Based Game Console Maker Ouya – Razer purchased Ouya’s software assets, including its content catalog and online retail platform. As part of the deal, Ouya’s technical team and developer relations personnel will be joining Razer. Financial terms of the deal, which closed on June 12, were not disclosed. The acquisition does not include Ouya’s hardware business.

Twitter’s user growth skids to a stop – Twitter has been a slow-growth company for a while. The company on Tuesday warned investors that it’s essentially a no-growth company. “We do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth in [monthly active users] until we start to reach the mass market,” Twitter CFO Anthony Noto told analysts during the company’s second quarter conference call. “We expect that will take a considerable period of time.” Shares plunged more than 11 percent in after-hours trading.

Nokia jumps into virtual reality market with 360-degree Ozo camera – Nokia Technologies plans to return to the consumer market, focusing on virtual reality rather than the cell phones that made it famous. The Finnish company — what was left of the former cell phone giant after Microsoft bought its handset division last year — on Tuesday night unveiled Ozo, a next-generation camera for capturing 360-degree video and audio. Unveiled at an entertainment industry event in Los Angeles, the orb-shaped camera is designed for professional content creators rather than consumers.

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GoDaddy launches in Australia to target small businesses – After using Australia as a pilot market, GoDaddy has formally launched locally and has appointed Tara Commerford as the Australia and New Zealand country manager.

LinkedIn brings back simple, instant contact exports following user outrage – After dabbling with something new and far slower, LinkedIn is once again making it easy to grab a list of your contacts from the social network. This weekend, the company said it is reverting to its previous contact download process, which delivers all the data in CSV format. LinkedIn says it decided to go back to its old ways following user outrage over a new system that took 24 to 72 hours to prepare a download.

Games and Entertainment:

Play GTA V (and anything else) in your browser thanks to Windows tool – If your laptop doesn’t have the muscle to run a game like GTA V at anything approaching acceptable levels of quality, you might not need any beefy hardware in the first place. The developer of an app called Instant Webcam has adapted the underlying tools to make it possible to stream a game to any web browser, and it works “way better than it should.” The program is called jsmpeg-vnc, and it’s available for free and it’s open source.

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Final ‘CoD: Advanced Warfare’ DLC Arrives Aug. 4 – The fourth and final add-on pack for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Reckoning, arrives Aug. 4 on Xbox, with other platforms to follow. The DLC features new maps with the Exo Grapple mechanic for fast-paced multiplayer combat. The intense charts lead players from New Baghdad to South Korea in four very different scenarios:

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King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember review: An old classic gets a terrific new start – It’s a little friendlier and a lot more talkative than the King’s Quest games of yore, but this is an excellent sequel to/re-imagining of a long-dormant classic.

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The Witcher 3’s final free DLC is a New Game Plus mode – Already put 100+ hours into The Witcher 3? Tracked down every question mark on the map, looted every barrel, completed every Witcher Contract? What’s a monster-slayer to do when everything’s already been done? Wipe the map clean and start it all over again, obviously. CD Projekt Red confirmed today that The Witcher 3’s final piece of free DLC will be a New Game Plus (NG+) mode.

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PS4 gets a mini keyboard and mouse this November – Which input method is superior for gaming? If you’re talking about first-person shooters, then the answer is an obvious one: keyboard and mouse wins. I’m sure some gamers out there will argue against that, but the accuracy offered by this combination can’t be matched by thumbsticks on a typical console controller. Now PS4 (and PS3) owners will have the opportunity to experience such control because they are getting the option of a keyboard and mouse setup from Hori. It’s called the Tactical Assault Commander, and consists of a mini keyboard and mouse configuration.

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40 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in August – If you have doubts about the constant rotation of titles, check out the blog What’s On Netflix Now? which is doing a great job of tracking not only the movies and shows Netflix says are going, but the ones that disappear without warning. (Yes, that means more than 40 are probably leaving the service in August. C’mon, Netflix. Not cool.) This coming month, say good-bye to several Bruce Willis classics.

Off Topic (Sort of):

12 Ways Tech Can Land You in Jail… Or Worse – When we unbox a new gadget or download an app, we often hastily discard or dismiss the accompanying pages of dry documentation and fine print. But those pages may come back to haunt us as a lawsuit if they’re not properly heeded. Here are a few examples of how tweeting, jailbreaking, and even getting spam can put people on a precarious legal ledge that in some cases may cost them their lives.

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Facebook shares its diversity training course with all – Facebook on Tuesday launched a new page called “Managing Unconscious Bias,” which features a training course and several informational videos aimed at improving diversity in the workplace. The training course, which was developed by Facebook, educates would-be employers and job-seekers on the realities of bias in the hiring process. The training was previously provided to Facebook employees.

Nike’s developing an ice hat to keep your head cool – Feel too hot after your summer runs but don’t like pouring water on your head? Nike’s developing an alternative, a yet-unnamed ice hat of sorts that will chill your head more effectively, and without the mess. It’s more of a shrouded helmet than a hat, featuring a large hood-like component with a neck piece and face mesh. It is being developed in conjunction with Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton, and its design goal is to reduce an athlete’s overall body temperature by rapidly cooling down one’s head.

The Distiller App: A Portal to the World of Whiskey – Summertime is here, which means a slower pace of life, less stress and more time for the things we enjoy. Since I enjoy fine whiskey and technology, I came across an appropriate blend (pun intended) of the two in the form of a free mobile app called “Distiller.”

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Image: Distiller

A Visual History of Microsoft Windows – Whether you fiddled with MS DOS in the early days or only just snagged a Windows 8 laptop for the school year, most modern PC users have experienced Windows in one way or another. Before you grab your free Windows 10 update on Wednesday, take a trip down memory lane, and remember what your Windows desktop used to look like.

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E-ink traffic signs debut in Australia – The same technology used on the display of your Amazon Kindle is now appearing in traffic signs in Sydney, Australia. While e-ink may not have the same visual punch as the OLED display on a smartphone, the technology is great for its low power consumption and easy visibility in various lighting conditions. That’s probably the exact reason the Australian Road and Maritime Services (RMS) has gone with e-ink in traffic signs used for special events, which need to be updated frequently and easily seen by drivers.

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Musk, Woz: Let’s Hold Off on the Killer Robots – Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and professor Stephen Hawking are among the 1,000-plus artificial intelligence and robotics researchers who endorsed an open letter warning against the technology. While autonomous weapons make the front line safer for soldiers, they may also lower the threshold for going to battle, and likely result in more human casualties, according to the FLI. “The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting,” the letter said.

Something to think about:

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.”

–     H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Today’s Free Downloads:

PortExpert: CyberSecurity at your finger tips – PortExpert gives you a detailed vision of your personnal computer cybersecurity. It automatically monitors all applications connected to the Internet and give you all the information you might need to identify potential threats to your system.

Features:

Monitor of application using TCP/UDP communications

User-friendly interface

Identifies remote servers (WhoIs service)

Allows to open containing folder of any applications

Allow to easily search for more info online

Automatic identification of related service : FTP, HTTP, HTTPS,…

Capability to show/hide system level processes

Capability to show/hide loopbacks

Time freeze function

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Avast. The world’s #1 antivirus – With more than 230 million users, Avast is the most trusted security & antivirus in the world. You are now just a few clicks away from protecting your PC for free.

Only Avast has Home Network Security – For the first time ever, you can protect your home network devices, such as routers and wireless devices, from hacker attacks.

More exciting features:

Avast Browser Cleanup – Remove annoying browser toolbars or extensions, and restore your hijacked search browser.

Avast Software Updater – Easily update your important software to increase the overall security and condition of your PC.

Avast Remote Assistance – Remote Assistance lets you help or be helped over the Internet.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is a tool designed help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including; registry errors, file permissions, issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Updates, Windows Firewall and more. Malware and poorly installed programs can modify your default settings resulting in your machine working badly – or worse. With Tweaking.com Windows Repair you can restore Windows original settings fixing many of these problems outright.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repairs section as always been completely free for both personal and business use. We offer a Pro version. adds features like automatic updates, an enhanced drive cleaner, memory cleaner, speed tweaks and more. This allows you to support future development and get something in return!

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including:

Unhide Non System Files

Repair problems with .lnk (Shortcuts)

File Association

WMI

Windows Firewall

Internet Explorer

Windows Installer (MSI)

Hosts File

Policies Set By Infections

Icons

Winsock & DNS Cache

Proxy Settings

Windows Updates

CD/DVD Missing/Not Working

Reset Registry and File Permissions

Register System Files

Remove Temp Files

and more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Activists Flood Congress With Faxes to Protest Cybersecurity Bill – Internet activists opposed to a controversial cybersecurity bill are trying to get Congress’ attention the old-fashioned way: by flooding its fax machines.

The nonprofit group Fight For the Future has set up eight phone lines to convert emails and tweets protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into faxes that will be sent to all 100 U.S. senators. Supporters can fax their own messages via FaxBigBrother.com or with the hashtag #faxbigbrother.

NSA will lose access to ‘historical’ phone surveillence data Nov. 29 – The U.S. National Security Agency will lose access to the bulk telephone records data it has collected at the end of November, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced Monday.

Congress voted in June to rein in the NSAs mass collection of U.S. phone metadata, which includes information such as the timing and location of calls. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court then gave the NSA 180 days to wind the program down.

The Director of National Intelligence had been evaluating whether the NSA should maintain access to the historical data it collected after that 180 days is up. It’s now determined that access to that data will cease on Nov. 29.

After that date, the NSA must receive approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA Court, to request the data from phone companies on a case-by-case basis.

Even former heads of NSA, DHS think crypto backdoors are stupid – Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and a former federal prosecutor, made some surprising remarks last week, coming out strongly against cryptographic backdoors that could be provided to the government upon request.

“I think that it’s a mistake to require companies that are making hardware and software to build a duplicate key or a back door even if you hedge it with the notion that there’s going to be a court order,” he said to the crowd at the Aspen Security Forum.

Obama won’t pardon Snowden, despite petition – U.S. President Barack Obama won’t pardon National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, despite strong public support for it, the White House said Tuesday.

A petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling for Obama to pardon Snowden has nearly 168,000 signatures, but that’s not enough to sway the president, said Lisa Monaco, Obama’s advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism.

Obama has pushed for surveillance reforms “since taking office,” Monaco wrote on the WhiteHouse.gov petition site. “Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” she added.

Monaco’s response to the petition doesn’t mention that nearly all of the surveillance reforms endorsed by the Obama administration were proposed after Snowden began leaking information about NSA surveillance programs in mid-2013.

Groups urge Obama to oppose cyberthreat sharing bills – U.S. President Barack Obama should oppose legislation intended to let businesses share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies because the bill would allow the sharing of too much personal information, a coalition of digital rights groups and security experts said.

The coalition of 39 digital rights and privacy groups and 29 security experts urged Obama to threaten to veto the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that may come to the Senate floor for a vote by early August. CISA would protect from customer lawsuits those businesses that share cyberthreat information.

“CISA fails to protect users’ personal information,” the coalition said in a letter to Obama, sent Monday. “It allows vast amounts of personal data to be shared with the government, even that which is not necessary to identify or respond to a cybersecurity threat.”

The groups compared CISA to the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a cyberthreat sharing bill that the House of Representatives approved in 2013. CISPA failed to become law after Obama threatened to veto it.

Backers of CISA and similar bills say the sharing of cyberthreat information is necessary for businesses and government agencies to respond to ongoing attacks.

WordPress on national security demands: “We wish we could tell you more” – The company behind popular web blogging software WordPress said it has not received a single national security order in two years, according to its latest transparency report.

That’s a decline from the demands it received in the second half of 2013, which Automattic confirmed it received between zero and 249 demands.

The software maker was critical of the government’s rules it was obliged to follow when reporting its figures. Following the Edward Snowden leaks, the Justice Dept. allowed companies to disclose how many national security requests — including gag orders and warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — as a show of good faith. But companies are still obliged to report in numerical ranges, which the software maker — and other firms — have criticized.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 30, 2015

Has your router been hijacked? – there’s an easy way to find out;  The programs with the most security vulnerabilities in 2014 were not the ones you think;  10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity;  This trick can quickly fix many mysterious hardware failures;  Photos: The 10 best consumer drones you can buy right now;  Vine Boosts Video Quality to 720p;  Popular hotel Internet gateway devices vulnerable to hacking;  British users can sue Google in UK over “secret tracking”;  You can now play Super Mario 64 in your browser;  Tumblr Adds ‘Buy, Pledge, Get Involved’ Buttons;  BlackBerry posts second straight earnings gain;  Fast & Furious expansion for Forza Horizon 2 available for free;  Amazon unleashes unlimited storage for $5 a month;  How “standby” modes on game consoles suck up energy;  Four tips that can enhance your Netflix experience.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Has your router been hijacked? You might not have any idea how to answer that question. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out… and it’s both fast and free. The security experts at F-Secure just announced the launch of their Router Checker tool. It’s a dead-simple way to find out whether or not your DNS is working the way it should. There’s no app to download and install, it’s just a website that you visit with any modern, standards-compliant browser. Current versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera should all work just fine. Click the start now button, and Router Checker tests to see if DNS requests sent from your device are being routed as they should be or whether they’re being hijacked by a third party.

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The programs with the most security vulnerabilities in 2014 were not the ones you think – Summary:Google Chrome, Oracle Solaris and Gentoo Linux all beat Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in having the most vulnerabilities last year, according to Secunia, while IBM software took 40 percent of the Top 20 places.

Ed Bott: Six surprising facts about who’s winning the operating system and browser wars in the U.S. – The United States government has given the public access to its massive analytics database, and the results are fascinating. What share does the Mac really have? Is Windows 8.1 a hit or a miss? Who’s winning the browser wars? I’ve dug deep to get the answers.

Google admits it has huge influence in Washington as it tries to deny having influence – Last week, a Wall Street Journal report suggested Google tampered with an FTC investigation that was looking to see if the search giant was engaging in anti-competitive practices. While the FTC ultimately decided not to bring a lawsuit against Google, reports published by the WSJ indicated the commission was deeply divided on whether it should sue — and another report exposed the close ties that Google has with the Obama administration. The implication was that Google used its influence in the White House to ultimately sway the FTC’s decision in its favor — something that Google is now vigorously denying in an unusual post today on its public policy blog.

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

Most popular US web browsers, according to the federal government – We finally have some clear, objective data on which web browsers and operating systems are the most popular in the United States. Thanks to the federal government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP), we now know that over the last 90 days, and 1.39-billion web visits to more than 37 government agencies, Google Chrome is the most popular web browser with 34.7 percent of all visitors.

5 secret Chrome app launcher tips and tricks that speed up everyday tasks – The Chrome app launcher is more than a glorified version of the Windows start menu. It packs a surprising amount of Google-y power that can speed up a wide variety of tasks on a Chromebook—and Windows, if you install the Chrome launcher.

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Tumblr Adds ‘Buy, Pledge, Get Involved’ Buttons to Mobile App – Tumblr is spicing up its mobile app with the introduction of new buttons that appear within posts whenever you link to particular sites. The new buttons—Buy, Pledge, and Get Involved—only seem to appear on Tumblr’s mobile apps right now (as in, you won’t notice them if you’re browsing through your favorite Tumblr blogs). They also only appear whenever a Tumblr post links to a particular site—Etsy, Artsy, Kickstarter, or DOSomething.org.

This trick can quickly fix many mysterious hardware failures – Every now and then something breaks on your computer. Maybe you get a bad system update from Microsoft or cosmic rays flip the wrong bit on your system. Whatever the cause, often your problem has nothing to do with hardware, but lies within the software powering it, instead.

Microsoft’s Lumia 530 will soon be available for just $29 off-contract in Australia – If you’re looking for a low-cost smartphone in Australia, the perfect opportunity to buy may be just around the corner, as Big W will soon be selling the Lumia 530 for just $29, with a free cover.

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Vine Boosts Video Quality to 720p – Vine’s six-second looping videos will soon be a bit crisper. The Twitter-owned company today announced a new high-quality format for all clips created and uploaded on its apps and website. Rolling out first on iOS, the videos will reach Android users soon, though no official launch date has been announced.

Photos: The 10 best consumer drones you can buy right now

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DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

Periscope vs. Meerkat: Which Is the Livestreaming App For You? – With Thursday’s public release of Periscope, Twitter is trying to torpedo its live-streaming competition by launching its own app that lets users send video to viewers around the world at the tap of a touchscreen. In development for more than a year but bought by Twitter earlier this year, Periscope offers a nearly identical service to Meerkat, the wildly popular ephemeral video app that launched on Feb. 27. But in this battle for live-streaming dominance, Twitter and Periscope currently have a huge advantage: it owns both the seas and the ports.

Pointing up   What’s really needed here is a dedicated application specifically designed to record/stream every encounter one might have with the police. Every encounter.

Security:

Popular hotel Internet gateway devices vulnerable to hacking – The affected devices, designed to manage visitor-based networks, are manufactured by a company called ANTlabs and are used by both low-cost and luxury hotels around the world, according to researchers from security firm Cylance. The researchers discovered that multiple ANTLabs InnGate models contained a misconfigured rsync service that listened on TCP port 873 and gave unauthenticated attackers full read and write access to the device file system.

AT&T’s plan to watch your Web browsing—and what you can do about it – If you have AT&T’s gigabit Internet service and wonder why it seems so affordable, here’s the reason—AT&T is boosting profits by rerouting all your Web browsing to an in-house traffic scanning platform, analyzing your Internet habits, then using the results to deliver personalized ads to the websites you visit, e-mail to your inbox, and junk mail to your front door. AT&T charges at least another $29 a month ($99 total) to provide standalone Internet service that doesn’t perform this extra scanning of your Web traffic. The privacy fee can balloon to more than $60 for bundles including TV or phone service. Certain modem rental and installation fees also apply only to service plans without Internet Preferences.

British Airways confirms frequent flyer hack – The airline has confirmed thousands of frequent flyer accounts have been accessed.

G20 world leaders’ personal information leaked in ’email error’ – Australian G20 organisers have been left red faced after it was revealed an email autofill error led to a leak of passport details for 31 world leaders, including Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and more.

Thousands of Uber accounts are allegedly being sold on the dark web – Thousands of Uber users account credentials could have been compromised, and are up for sale from unscrupulous sellers. At least two separate vendors on dark web marketplace AlphaBay are hawking active Uber accounts, Motherboard reports. Once purchased, these accounts let buyers order up rides using whatever payment information is on file. Those accounts can also show trip history, email addresses, phone numbers, and location information for people’s home and work addresses.

Slack Got Hacked – Slack, the super-slick team chat-room service, is getting popular fast. Word around the rumor mill is that they’re currently raising funds at a $2.8 billion valuation. And in the words of the late, great Biggie Smalls: Mo Money, Mo Problems. In the case of startups, success can make your databases a juicy target for hackers. And sure enough: Slack got hacked.

Puush calls for password change after malware hit – Online screenshot-sharing service Puush is warning its users to change their passwords after it emerged that the platform had been infected with malware.

Company News:

British users can sue Google in UK over “secret tracking” – The UK’s Court of Appeal has confirmed an earlier landmark High Court decision that a group of British consumers using Apple’s Safari browser to access Google’s services can sue the US company in the UK. Google has always argued that the appropriate forum for such cases is in the US, so this sets an important precedent for future legal actions against foreign companies operating in the UK. The UK Court of Appeal’s ruling clears the way for the group known as “Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking” to proceed with its claim for compensation. The group alleges, “Google deliberately undermined protections on the Safari browser so that they could track users’ internet usage and to provide personally tailored advertising based on the sites previously visited.”

Google turns to GIFs (oh, and facts) to slam FTC snark – Weaponized GIFs are apparently the new way to make serious points more flippant online, with Google smacking back at News Corp. criticism that the search giant had made a habit of hanging around the White House. Google had been accused of chasing undue political influence, with the News Corp. owned Wall Street Journal suggesting it was sneaky maneuvering that saw Google escape FTC censure over activities contrary to the public interest. Key to the accusations was a count of the number of times Google had visited senior officials since President Obama took office.

BlackBerry posts second straight earnings gain – BlackBerry’s turnaround continues, as the company reported a second straight quarter of profit on Friday, along with expectations of sustained profitability throughout the coming year. “Our financial viability is no longer in question,” CEO John Chen declared in a conference call, even as he admitted the company is only halfway through a long transition. He also predicted sustained profitability in the current fiscal year that started March 1. Profits for the quarter that ended Feb. 28 were 4 cents a share, up from 1 cent a share for the previous quarter.

Sony’s SmartEyeglass augmented-reality glasses on sale in 10 counties – Just after Sony unveiled its SmartEyeglass augmented-reality glasses a few months ago, it was quickly labeled by tech media and critics as dorky, unfashionable, and tacky. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), Sony has decided to press ahead in the wake of the Google Glass experiment and release the headgear in 10 countries, starting this week. Labeled as a Developer Edition, the SED-E1 SmartEyeglass will set lucky purchasers back a steep $840. Just don’t expect people to jealous of how cool you look while wearing it.

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UK investigation finds Huawei isn’t a security threat – Huawei, along with ZTE, has previously been a source of concern for western governments, many of whom have expressed worry that the Chinese company could be performing surveillance for the Chinese government. That has led to use of its hardware being banned in some places, and probes into whether Huawei hardware has been compromised. Back in 2013, Huawei revealed that it would be launching an R&D facility in the United Kingdom, and that resulted in an investigation into the matter. It has been quite a while since then, and the result is in Huawei’s favor.

Not to be outdone, Amazon unleashes unlimited storage for $5 a month – Amazon this week laid down the gauntlet: Unlimited cloud storage for individuals for $5 a month ($59.99 per year). Amazon’s Unlimited Everything Plan allows users to store an infinite number of photos, videos, files, documents, movies and music in its Cloud Drive. The site also announced a separate $12 per year plan for unlimited photos. People who subscribe to Amazon Prime already get unlimited capacity for photos. Both the Unlimited Everything Plan and the Photos Plan have three-month free trial periods.

Games and Entertainment:

These 20 deep, absorbing PC games will eat days of your life – Far too many games these days are built to be played in small bursts: brief encounters, designed for a world with too few hours in the day and too many digital distractions. And that’s fine! Blasting through a few rounds of Call of Duty multiplayer, or playing a few run-throughs in Spelunky, is a wonderful way to spend a few minutes. But sometimes, you want something more—something meatier. Whether you’re looking for an entertaining way to blow a long weekend or simply want to wrap your head around a satisfyingly complex experience, these 20 deep, intricate, and just plain great PC games will hold you for hours and hours and hours on end.

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Pointing up   Skyrim, shown above, cost me $60 three years ago. The best entertainment dollars I’ve ever spent – 2000+ hours of game play later, and I’m still finding new challenges. The open world concept makes this game essentially never ending.

Fast & Furious expansion for Forza Horizon 2 available for free – Here’s a deal for Xbox gamers that will appeal to fans of either the Fast & Furious movie series or the Forza racing game series. As a way to promote the release of the new Furious 7 movie next week, a Fast & Furious-themed expansion for Forza Horizon 2 has just been released on both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles. The best part of all? It’s completely free, even if you don’t already own the full game.

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How “standby” modes on game consoles suck up energy – First, this should go without saying, but don’t leave your consoles sitting on and “idle” on the home menu when you turn the TV off. That draws about 33W of power on the Wii U, 92W on the Xbox One, and a whopping 130W on the PS4. Leaving your PS4 sitting on the menu like this all year would waste over $142 in electricity costs. Here’s a system-by-system breakdown on how those standby modes shake out, power-wise, and how to avoid what can be a significant drain on your power bill.

Half-Life 2 gets a visual makeover in this awesome mod – Half-Life 3 is one of the most anticipated (yet unconfirmed) sequels in modern PC gaming history with rumors dating back several years now. Still, there’s no solid evidence that Valve is working on the title. In the meantime, perhaps a trip down memory lane with a remastered version of Half-Life 2 will suffice? You may remember Half-Life fan Filip Victor’s first graphics mod in 2009. Since that, he’s been working on a revision that features improved lighting and environmental effects while maintaining the look and feel that made the original so special.

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You can now play Super Mario 64 in your browser – Super Mario 64 is still an amazing game, but nearly 20 years after it first launched on the Nintendo 64, it looks pretty dated. But with a little love, it can look amazing. Computer science student Erik Roystan Ross recently decided to remake the first level of the game while experimenting with the Unity game engine, and the results are impressive — the game looks almost as good as more recent games in the series, like Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U. And you can even play the remake in your browser right here — but don’t expect to see the rest of the game rendered in HD. “I currently do not have any plans to develop this any further or to resolve any bugs, unless they’re horrendously game-breaking and horrendously simple to fix,” says Ross.

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This week in games: 3 reasons why mods are the best part of being a PC gamer – Plus Halo comes to PC…sort of, and somebody breaks their Rainbow Six: Siege NDA in order to show you dudes fighting on an airplane. This is all the gaming news for the week of March 23.

Four tips that can enhance your Netflix experience – We love binge-watching our favorite TV show and movies on Netflix as much as you do. These tips will help improve your viewing experience.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Apple’s Tim Cook speaks out against discriminatory ‘religious freedom’ laws – Apple CEO Tim Cook has used the editorial pages of The Washington Post to condemn laws that allow businesses to refuse service to homosexuals or other groups on the grounds of “religious freedom.” Calling the legislation “something very dangerous happening in states across the country,” Cook says these laws “rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

Tech Titans Blast New Anti-Gay Law In Indiana – It’s hard to believe, after how far the gay rights movement has come, that we’re still doing this. But here we are. Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a bill that allows private businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian consumers, according to CNN. The “Restoration of Religious Freedom Act” is meant to allow businesses and corporations to cite “religious beliefs” as a defense, should they be sued by a private party for discrimination. This of course means that Gov. Pence and the state of Indiana are prioritizing the religious beliefs of a company or corporation (after all, corporations are people!) over the basic human rights of a gay person. Right on queue, tech industry titans have swooped in to decry the move, led by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Watch the Samsung Galaxy S Evolve Before Your Very Eyes – The Samsung Galaxy S has come a long way since it first launched in 2010. With its latest versions — the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge — set to go on sale on April 10, take a look at how the Android-powered iPhone rival has changed over the years:

Evolution of the  Galaxy S

Researchers demonstrate quantum entanglement, prove Einstein wrong – For the first time, quantum entanglement of a single particle has been observed by researchers — an event that Albert Einstein believed to be impossible under the contemporary quantum mechanics definition of physical reality, calling it “spooky action at a distance”. According to theory, quantum entanglement occurs when a pair of particles remains connected over distance in such a way that actions performed on one particle also have an affect on the other.

10 Reasons Why Building a Gaming PC is Awesome – Building a gaming PC can be time-consuming and stressful. There are a thousand things that could go wrong, and any one of them could wind up costing hundreds of dollars. And yet we do it anyway. Why? Because building PCs is totally awesome.

Cry-Baby of the Week: A Woman Fired a Gun Into Mcdonald’s Because They Messed Up Her Order – It’s time, once again, to marvel at some idiots who don’t know how to handle the world:

ElecFreaks Is Selling (And Giving Away) A DIY VR Drone – A new 3D-printed drone called the ELF VR Nano is available for pre-order on Indiegogo and for download on Thingiverse. That’s right: you can either buy the product and receive pre-printed parts or you can simply print it yourself. It’s one of the purest open source hardware plays I’ve seen in a long while and it just goes to show how cool it is to be able to print your own plastic parts at home. You can pick up a kit now for $65 on Indiegogo or simply print out the parts yourself for free. DIYers will also have to buy the motors and electronics but with the ubiquity of DIY manufacturing tools that’s far easier than it sounds these days.

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Living Without Cable: My Experience with Cutting the Cord – It’s been a month since I disconnected my AT&T U-verse TV service. It’s not the first time, but something I’ve done half a dozen times over the last several years. What’s different about this time and why I’m compelled to write about it is the fact that I have no intentions of going back. Cutting the cord sounds trendy enough but the reality is, there’s quite a bit of thought and consideration that goes into it, and there will be some compromises.

Something to think about:

“Religions are, for the most part, bad—but religion is not”

–   Kurt Gödel

Today’s Free Downloads:

Multi-Monitor Viewer – With Multi-Monitor Viewer you can view the contents of any of your monitors inside a typical application window.

Working on a PC with multiple monitors, in an extended desktop, while in general it can be a very rewarding and interesting experience, it might end up being a nightmare when it happens that you cannot actually have physical eye contact with one or more of your monitors. The typical scenario of such a case is when you need some of your monitors to face your audience during a presentation. There is no easy way to view what your audience sees without moving yourself in a proper position in space in order to establish eye contact with the presentation monitor.

Multi-Monitor Viewer is a software that allows for viewing the contents of any of your monitors inside a typical application window, making browsing the contents of your monitors super easy.

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Turn Off the Lights for Firefox – Turn Off the Lights for Firefox is a browser extension that lets users obscure everything on their screen except the Flash or HTML5 video they’re watching, minimizing distractions and making for a more pleasant viewing experience.

A lamp icon is displayed in the browser menu bar or in the omnibox, and users click on the gray lamp icon to make the area surrounding the video fade. Clicking outside the video restores the rest of the screen. Users can adjust the opacity of the screen blocking and select a color other than black if desired.

Available for IE and Chrome.

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Vivaldi Snapshot – MajorGeek says: Vivaldi is a new browser from the founders of the original Opera Web Browser in 1994.

Vivaldi has an interface, if I had to compare, similar to Google Chrome. By default you have you forward, back, refresh and home keys next to the address bar. New tabs open with the simple + tab and close with the X tab. It has a tiny sidebar that has quick links to bookmarks, mail (not available yet), downloads, contacts and notes. Towards the bottom left, just above the status bar, there is the options gear icon which would make more sense if brought up to the top right or even the sidebar where people would look for it first.

You can look at the bottom and you will find the option to show or hide images as well as show only cached images to speed up browsing. On a web page you’re having difficulty reading? Just slide the bar to zoom in or out and reset. Between those 2 features you can go nuts changing how a page renders 15 different ways from filters, including grayscale and intensify, to 3D to fonts. This is great for anyone having difficulty reading a webpage or just to have a little fun.

Vivaldi enters a crowded and vocal browser market. People tend to love what they love for a long time. The name Vivaldi does not exactly roll off the tongue but so far they got a really good thing going here. I had some difficulty rendering pages in 3D and a few other very minor annoyances but you want to keep in mind that this is still in its early stages so let the developers know your thoughts. So far it’s done a lot of downloads and is well received on MajorGeeks. Who knows, it could be the next big thing?

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Inquiry Launched into New Zealand Mass Surveillance – New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog is launching an investigation into the scope of the country’s secret surveillance operations following a series of reports from The Intercept and its partners.

On Thursday, Cheryl Gwyn, New Zealand’s inspector-general of intelligence and security, announced that she would be opening an inquiry after receiving complaints about spying being conducted in the South Pacific by eavesdropping agency Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB.

In a press release, Gwyn’s office said: “The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.”

This month, The Intercept has shined a light on the GCSB’s surveillance with investigative reports produced in partnership with the New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, and Sunday-Star-Times.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 14, 2015

Facebook brings Amber Alerts to news feeds;  Actually, Windows 7 is still supported for another 5 years;  How to Make Your Android Battery Last Longer;  Tor Browser Bundle (free);  UK PM makes Apple CEO Tim Cook a global privacy champ;  HP Stream 11 Review;  Five free Android apps for tracking your time;  Verizon Vehicle turns your old ride into a connected car;  Patch Tuesday included one “critical” and seven “important” patches;  New “Skeleton Key” malware allows bypassing of passwords;  Adobe patches critical Flash security vulnerabilities;  A $10 USB charger with built-in wireless keylogger means more security headaches;  Google enters domain hosting business;  Cord-cutting trends and predictions for 2015;  Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man;  Obama revives call for immunity to companies sharing threat data;  Advanced SystemCare 8 Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Cory Doctorow – What David Cameron just proposed would endanger every Briton and destroy the IT industry – David Cameron says there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read” — and no doubt many in his party will agree with him, politically. But if they understood the technology, they would be shocked to their boots.

UK PM makes Apple CEO Tim Cook a global privacy champ – Cameron’s fighting talk puts Apple’s Tim Cook in the firing line, transforming the human rights-supporting CEO into a poster child for privacy in a frightened age. Experts are already warning Britain’s unpopular PM that his proposals are unworkable, saying he is “living in cloud cuckoo land.” Independent computer security expert Graham Cluley told The Guardian: “It’s crazy. Cameron is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that this is a sensible idea, and no it wouldn’t be possible to implement properly.” Experts condemn the plans as “idiocy,” “ill thought out” and “scary” and warn they undermine consumer security, the tech industry and British business.

Pointing up   Cameron, is a “walking/talking poster child” for the notion that intelligent people (I assume that he’s bright), are equally at a loss for common sense as the rest of us. Truth is – this man (just like his compatriots who are tasked with high level technology decision making), is a techno-moron. That in itself should scare the hell out of you – no matter the country you live in.

Under the hood of I2P, the Tor alternative that reloaded Silk Road – On the surface, I2P (which originally was an acronym for “Invisible Internet Project”) is similar in many ways to the Tor Project’s anonymizing service. Like Tor, I2P encapsulates and anonymizes communications over the Internet, passing Web requests and other communications through a series of proxies to conceal the location and identity of the user. Like Tor, I2P also allows for the configuration of websites within the network that are concealed from the Internet at large. Called “eepsites,” these equivalents to Tor’s hidden services can only be reached by using the anonymizing network or a portal site that connects to the I2P proxy network. But there are some significant differences between Tor and I2P beneath the surface, from the technologies they are based on to how the networks are implemented.

Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

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Facebook brings Amber Alerts to news feeds to boost child safety – Through the new arrangement, NCMEC will be able to post Amber Alerts in the news feeds of Facebook users who are within range of a search area. The alerts will include key information on the missing children, including photographs and physical descriptions, as well as descriptions of the alleged abductors.

How to Make Your Android Battery Last Longer – Along with the usual battery-drainers — Wi-Fi, GPS and video streaming — Android phones come with some unique energy gluttons, such as live-updating home screen widgets. However, Android phones let you fine tune how your battery is used to a level not possible with iPhones. Here the key ways you can extend your Android phone’s battery life without having to change the way you use the phone (too much).

Actually, Windows 7 is still supported for another 5 years – Contrary to headlines you may have read today, Microsoft isn’t dropping support for Windows 7 today. The operating system is still supported and will continue to receive security updates for at least another five years. Today is the last day of Windows 7’s “mainstream support” period, with the operating system now entering “extended support.” But the implications of this for most of us are negligible.

Microsoft BUILD 2015 registration opens January 22 – Microsoft has announced that registration for BUILD 2015 will open on January 22nd which is one day after their Windows 10 event that takes place in Redmond, Washington.

Five free Android apps for tracking your time – If you’re an independent contractor or a small shop in need of an easy method of keeping tabs of work-related time, your tablet or smartphone and a free app might be all you need to ensure you’re billable time is up to date and ready for invoicing. Of course, not all time-tracking apps are created equal, but there are plenty of apps in the Google Play Store that offer all the features you need — and in some cases, more than you need. But which apps are best suited for the job? I tested a lot of them to find five I consider to be at the top of the list. Let’s dig in and see if any of my picks will suit your purposes.

Firefox Hello eases video chat by emphasizing permalinks over logins – In Firefox 35, users can assign a name to each conversation, and then return to it at any time from the Hello menu. So if you’re chatting with grandma, she can always reach you through that same link instead of having to create a separate link every time. In case someone’s taking a while to jump in on the video chat, starting a conversation now opens a separate window that shows you in the camera view. You can now navigate away from that window, and Firefox will alert you when the other person gets online. And while you don’t have to log in to use the service, signing in with a Firefox account lets you create a contacts list of other Firefox users. The latest update gives the option to import contacts straight from Google.

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HP Stream 11 Review: When entry-level computing isn’t so bad – With Chromebooks slowly gaining popularity for their ease of use and low price, Microsoft and HP both need entry-level Windows machines to take Google head-on, and to make sure that their premium products and services are not overrun by free options from Google. The HP Stream is one of the most interesting such devices to be launched recently – but is it any good? And how does Windows run on these low-end specs?

Verizon Vehicle turns your old ride into a connected car – Verizon Vehicle includes a variety of features: roadside assistance, automatic notification if your car is suspected to be in an accident, a vehicle locator (so you can’t get lost in a parking lot), stolen vehicle tracking, an SOS button for emergencies, and car diagnostics, among other things. Many (if not most) of these features are available from a modern car’s built-in systems, but Verizon’s targeting a potentially huge market: older cars with tech-savvy drivers. Sales kick off around April 10th, with availability in brick-and-mortar retailers expected toward the end of the year. The service will run $14.99 a month (hardware included) for the first vehicle and $12.99 for each additional one.

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Visual Studio Community 2013 is now available as part of Github Student Developer Pack – Student or not, you may be one of those who want to learn programming but cannot afford the high cost of the tools required. GitHub Developer Pack has you covered, and now includes Visual Studio 2013.

President Obama presses for high-speed Internet for rural Americans – President Barack Obama wants more Americans to have access to affordable broadband, no matter where they live. The president will deliver that message Wednesday from Cedar Falls, Iowa, according to Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council and an assistant to the president on economic policy. Zients on Tuesday discussed the president’s initiatives, including incentives to build out the needed infrastructure, coalitions of universities and municipalities to promote broadband, and an effort to eliminate laws that stifle competition.

Security:

Patch Tuesday included one “critical” and seven “important” patches, IE dodges the bullet – It’s that “time of the month” for Windows where patches get applied to plug vulnerabilities found in the OS. This time around eight were delivered and none affecting Internet Explorer.

Adobe patches critical Flash security vulnerabilities – Adobe patches nine vulnerabilities — four of which are considered “critical” — in order to protect against hackers who could exploit the bug to take control of an affected system.

New “Skeleton Key” malware allows bypassing of passwords – Dell SecureWorks has discovered a new piece of malware dubbed “Skeleton Key” which allows would-be attackers to completely bypass Active Directory passwords and login to any account within a domain. Interestingly, Skeleton Key does not actually install itself on the filesystem. Instead, it’s an in-memory patch of Active Directory which makes detection even more difficult. Even worse, this access is not logged and is completely silent and, as a result, extremely undetectable. Identifying the malware using traditional network monitoring also does not work due to the fact that Skeleton Key does not generate any network traffic. It’s not all doom and gloom though. The good news is that, in its current form, the malware does not survive a system reboot.

AMD plugs firmware holes that allowed command injection – Chip maker AMD has patched holes across its firmware lines that could allow hackers to inject malware. Czech programmer Rudolf Marek reported the holes in the Trinity, Richland, Kaveri, and Kabini silicon series ahead of a disclosure at the Chaos Communications Congress. AMD’s System Management Unit (SMU) firmware code within x86 processors did not run adequate checks prior to execution, allowing Marek to inject his own commands. Marek told attendees to ask their mainboard vendors to push the fixed AGESA to BIOSes. “Tell your vendors for a fixed AGESA (AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture),” Marek said during the talk aimed at encouraging more of the low-level security analysis. “This is the only way to push vendors to update BIOSes for older platforms.”

A $10 USB charger with built-in wireless keylogger means more security headaches – Think that keeping hackers out of your digital fortress is already hard work, or that that BYOD is a security timebomb waiting to blow up in your face? Well, here’s something new for you to worry about – a $10 USB charger that features a built-in wireless keylogger.

Corel software vulnerabilities let attackers execute malicious code on your PC – The vulnerable products are CorelDRAW X7, Corel Photo-Paint X7, Corel PaintShop Pro X7, CorelCAD 2014, Corel Painter 2015, Corel PDF Fusion, Corel VideoStudio PRO X7 and Corel FastFlick, the Core Security researchers said in an advisory published Monday. Other versions might be affected too, but they haven’t been checked, they said.

Company News:

Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe agree to settlement in employee-poaching lawsuit – Four of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Google and Apple, have agreed to a new settlement deal in an antitrust lawsuit over alleged agreements the firms had not to poach each others’ employees. Adobe, Intel, Google, and Apple reached an agreement on Tuesday four years after the lawsuit, which accused the companies of limiting job mobility, was brought against them by workers in the tech sector. The full cost of the new settlement has not yet been revealed, but in court documents seen last year, judge Koh said that a new settlement would have to total at least $380 million. The companies involved in the case have yet to comment on the agreement, but Reuters says a court filing to be published “imminently” will offer a detailed explanation of the new settlement.

Apple camera patent takes aim at GoPro’s market – The Apple Watch is coming in a few short months, but a new patent granted to Apple details it may work with more than an iPhone. The patent awarded to Apple is for a sports camera that can be mounted, much like a GoPro. The patent also tells us the camera will work underwater, and can be controlled remotely via a smartwatch. The camera patent includes another patent Apple has, which they purchased from Kodak in 2013. News of the patent sent GoPro investors scurrying.

Google enters domain hosting business with Google Domains – Currently only available to users in the US, Google is offering to host domain names from $12 a year, which will vary based on the top-level domain that users choose. According to Google, Domains will help users find, buy, transfer, and manage domains and directly connect with website builders including Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix. As part of signing up, features that will be made available to users include email forwarding, the ability to customise sub-domains, and access to management tools. Users will also be provided with private registration at no additional cost, Google said.

Tinder taps ephemeral messaging market with Tappy acquisition – It’s likely that Tappy’s expertise will be used to expand Tinder Moments, an update to the dating app released last June that lets users broadcast photos to matches. Using Moments, users can draw on their photos and add captions and filters — all in the hope that an extra flash of social media peacocking will attract the right date. Tappy’s engineers could expand this functionality (perhaps adding direct photo messaging) and maybe even help Tinder take its relationship with its users up a level — from dating app to social media messenger.

Apple and Ericsson in court over LTE wireless patent royalties – It’s been a while since we have seen a major lawsuit between major technology firms, but we have a new one today. Apple has filed suit against Ericsson over LTE patents that Apple claims aren’t essential to industry cellular standards. Apple alleges that Ericsson is demanding excessive royalties for the patents in question.

Sony reportedly open to sale of mobile, TV divisions – Among all the turmoil you’ve read regarding Sony recently, a larger narrative is taking place. The company’s ability to turn a solid profit has come under scrutiny the past few years, which prompted them to sell their VAIO brand. According to a new report, Sony is also entertaining a similar move for TV and mobile. They’re entertaining the sale of just about every segment they do business in, according to sources. That could spell trouble for Sony’s various arms, or signal a rebirth.

Games and Entertainment:

Rockstar Delays GTA V for PC Launch Until March – Lame news, PC gamers. Rockstar on Tuesday announced it needs a few extra weeks to finish up the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V. The PC version was originally scheduled to come out on Jan. 27 — more than a year and a half after the game’s original release. Now, Rockstar has pushed the launch back another two months — until March 24.

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Dying Light preview: Zombies are even more stomach-churning in virtual reality – I just spent the last twenty minutes or so playing Dying Light in virtual reality—alternately creeping through darkened streets attempting to avoid the walking dead and then sprinting terrified across rooftops trying to escape the throng behind me. I’m a little sweaty. I’m a little nauseous. And I’m a lot excited.

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Cord-cutting trends and predictions for 2015 – In 2014, pay-TV subscriptions recorded their first full year of decline, and studies show that more people are abandoning cable or never getting it in the first place. The shift to streaming has put pressure on TV networks such as HBO and Showtime, who are finally seeing the light and making plans to offer standalone online video services. Sony even announced a streaming-only TV service, and while it may not be cheaper than cable, it will do away with cable’s most unsavory practices. So what can we expect in 2015? Here are my predictions.

World of Warcraft may be going free-to-play – For over a decade, Blizzard’s epic fantasy adventure World of Warcraft has utterly dominated the MMORPG landscape. With over 12 million subscribers at its peak in 2010, it’s not even a competition. But while the cash it’s raked in from monthly subscriptions is enough to rival the economies of small countries, long-term growth can also be as important as short-term profits, and it looks like the next step for World of Warcraft might be growing into the world of free-to-play. The rumor first appeared after dataminers combed through the upcoming Patch 6.1 and found files referring to a new “Veteran Edition.”

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The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – Let us know what you think about the movies on our most-bootlegged film list. If you’ve seen those flicks and think they’re worth watching by any means possible, share your opinions in the comment section below. We’d love to hear them! If you have strong thoughts about piracy, on either side of the equation, let us know that, too. And remember, watching bootleg streams and Torrents is illegal, folks.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bloke in Belgium tries to trademark Je Suis Charlie slogan – An, er, enterprising individual has attempted to register the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” as a trademark in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The Benelux Trademarks Office told El Reg on Tuesday that it had received an application in Dutch to register the slogan just one day after the staff of Charlie Hebdo were murdered in an extremist attack last Wednesday. Many have been quick to condemn the attempt to cash in on the atrocity, although this is not the first such attempt, as T-shirts bearing the slogan were for sale in Paris just days afterwards.

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Local Motors 3D prints a car at the Detroit Motor Show – Local Motors is pioneering a 3D-printing technology in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory that squeezes carbon-reinforced ABS plastic through an ink-jet like nozzle so, bit-by-bit, an entire car chassis can be created. The carbon fiber gives the plastic a lot more strength. The company’s Strati concept took about 44 hours to be printed and consists of about 1,100 pounds of plastic, which costs about $5 per pound. The car’s battery has a range of between 40 miles and 60 miles depending on the driving conditions. Before the cars hit the street, they will have to pass safety crash tests.

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4 Reasons You’re Not Sleeping (and What You Can Do About Them) – Unfortunately, getting good sleep is a struggle many of us face, and it’s not entirely a modern dilemma. Yes, blinking cell phones, bright alarm clocks, and dinging computers are relatively new in human history and may make the bedroom less relaxing and more taxing, but other factors can interfere with your sleep pattern, too. This month, get serious about getting more shut-eye. Here are some real solutions to the most common sleep obstacles.

Watch This Crazy Swedish Cartoon Meant To Teach Kids About Their Bodies – This video from a Swedish kids’ show is meant to teach children about their body parts. You won’t be able to get the tune out of your brain, and you won’t be able to un-see it, but it’s totally worth it.

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Everyone’s Angry About a Swedish Music Video Featuring Penises and Vaginas – Some people are obviously concerned about little kids being exposed to genitals, but others complained that the video promoted restrictive gender norms and transphobia.

Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man – Two Albuquerque, New Mexico police officers were charged Monday with suspicion of murder after cop body cams filmed them killing a knife-wielding homeless man who was camping in nearby city hills. James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man, died in March after he was shot by a shotgun, bombarded with shots of nonlethal bean bags and was the target of flash-bang grenades following an hours-long standoff with police. The police said they were dealing with Boyd because he was breaking the law by camping in the Sandia Mountains above the city.

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This is just one of 40 shootings, 27 of them fatal, by police officers in Albuquerque since 2010.

Pointing up    Unbelievable – a Brazilian death squad in America! Let’s see some old fashioned Western frontier justice that Americans seem to rave about. Hang each and every one of these bastards from the nearest tree!

Je Suis James Boyd!

A website called PuppySwap has an idea for you: Just trade your grown dog in for another puppy! – There are swap services for everything from housing to Lego sets, why not pets? Sounds great, right? No, I didn’t think so either. And it’s likely that most people who visit PuppySwap.ca won’t be too fond of the idea either — and that’s exactly the point. PuppySwap.ca is an ironic website launched by the Toronto Humane Society to bring to light the fact that each year thousands of dogs are turned over to shelters by people who simply weren’t in for the long haul.

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Something to think about:

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

–        George Orwell

Pointing up  This observation is especially applicable to the Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man report. A clear cut case of murder which will be defended by those who support brutality at every level.

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

How it works:

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

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

Features:

100% geolocation aware – Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

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

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

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

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

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

No unauthorized access – Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

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

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

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Advanced SystemCare 8 Free – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus – This generous mentality of mercy, forgiveness and understanding – like Obama’s decree that we Look Forward, Not Backward to justify immunity for American torturers – is reserved only for political officials, Generals, telecoms, banks and oligarchs who reside above and beyond the rule of law.

David Petraeus, the person who Feinstein said has “suffered enough,” was hired last year by the $73 billion investment fund KKR to be Chairman of its newly created KKR Global Institute, on top of the $220,000/year pension he receives from the U.S. Army and the teaching position he holds at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Let us all pause for a moment to lament the deep suffering of this man, and the grave injustice of inflicting any further deprivation upon him.

Obama revives call for immunity to companies sharing threat data – Dusting off a 2011 to-do list, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to propose legislation to protect companies sharing computer threat data with the government from prosecution, according to reports.

In 2011, Obama had recommended legislation that would provide for companies to voluntarily share cybersecurity information with the federal government and had proposed offering them immunity when sharing cybersecurity information with the Department of Homeland Security.

“At the same time, the proposal mandates robust privacy oversight to ensure that the voluntarily shared information does not impinge on individual privacy and civil liberties,” according to a brief circulated by the White House at the time. But Congress did not pass this and some other cybersecurity proposals outlined in 2011.

The hack in November of Sony Pictures and earlier breaches of the point-of-sale systems of retail giants like Home Depot and Target have however brought in a new sense of urgency to the measures.

DOJ report sheds light on FBI’s role in overseeing NSA’s PRISM surveillance – A declassified Justice Department report shows that the FBI conducts oversight on the NSA’s PRISM email surveillance program. Since 2009, the FBI has been ‘retaining copies of unprocessed communication gathered without a warrant to analyze for its own purposes.’ Regarding surveillance, Attorney General Holder spoke about monitoring homegrown terrorists and prosecuting former CIA Director Petraeus for pillow talk.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 5, 2015

Five ways to delete yourself from the Internet;  Are you using the most secure and private web browser?  The 10 Best Apps for Your New Windows Computer;  Call+ app expands free landline calling to 16 countries;  The 10 Best Apps For Your New Mac;  24 Great Free Apps and Tools to Help You Build Strong Habits;  Top 4 tech habits you need to break right now;  New “Strings” app lets you withdraw sent messages, and more;  Your Android device needs these 5 apps;  10 New Year’s resolutions for geeks;  Lizard Squad will help you attack any website, for a fee;  Netflix said to be shutting out international VPN users;  Patch My PC (free).

Plus 35 additional newsworthy items:

24 Great Free Apps and Tools to Help You Build Strong Habits – Habits. Good habits, it seems, are the crucial building blocks of a better, healthier, happier way of life. But where do good habits come from? How do you create them? Fortunately, there are tons of great tools and apps out there that want to lend a hand. Here’s a look at some of the best free tools and apps I could find for building stronger habits.

Five ways to delete yourself from the Internet – Finally ready to get off the grid? It’s not quite as simple as it should be, but here are a few easy-to-follow steps that should at the very least point you in the right direction.

Are you using the most secure and private web browser? – WhiteHat Security originally developed Aviator as the company’s in-house browser, but eventually released Aviator web browser in two flavors, OS X and Windows. It is billed as “the web’s most secure and private browser.” Users simply install the browser and it’s setup to maximize privacy and security safeguards by default. Unlike Chrome or Firefox, you don’t need to get add-ons or extensions to configure privacy and security. Those protections are built into Aviator, but since the browser uses open-source Chromium code, it does support “tens of thousands of extensions.” Do something good for yourself security-and-privacy-wise. If you haven’t tried Aviator yet, then I encourage you to “take flight” and start 2015 right.

The 10 Best Apps for Your New Windows Computer – From kicking back with a crossword to leaning in to an engrossing, international webcam chat — and whether they’re used with the touchscreen or the touchpad — these ten apps help Windows users get the most out of their new PCs.

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The 10 Best Apps For Your New Mac – Got a new Mac for the holidays? Then grab these apps. In the pre-iMac era, Apple computers suffered from a lack programs to choose from, but that’s not the case today. So, whether you just got your first Macbook or you’re upgrading to a Mac Pro, these ten apps will help you get the most out of your new Apple desktop or laptop.

One simple (and free) tool to help keep your Windows PC updated – This small – and free – utility can not only monitor over a hundred common applications for updates, but can also install those for you silently while you work. Applications it is compatible with range from commonly used products such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Adobe Flash Player to more obscure stuff such as ImgBurn and SandBoxie. And just in case that makes you worried about getting a ton of bloatware on your system, if Patch My PC detects any bloatware payload with an update, it silently remove that too. The tool is also portable, meaning that you can pop it onto a USB flash drive and run it on multiple systems. And it can also scan for missing Windows updates.

Call+ app expands free landline calling to 16 countries – About a month ago, an app called Call+ made a pretty tantalizing offer: unlimited free calls to a few countries, with fairly easy ways to earn call time for a bunch of others. If you liked the idea but didn’t need to call anyone in Brazil, China or Mexico, here’s good news: Call+ now gives you free calls to 16 countries. With most countries you can only call landlines for free, but some include mobile numbers. Using the free app, which makes it look as though calls are coming from your existing number, you can reach out and touch the following destinations:

These 5 iPhone Apps Will Make You Wildly More Creative – Sure, your iPhone can send texts, make calls and get the weather. But it can also help you realize your artistic ambitions, too. How? Check out these five apps, all recently highlighted by Apple as ways to be more creative using just your iPhone or iPad.

New Year’s Resolutions for Better Security in 2015 – One common theme with the breaches in 2014 was that basic security failed. JPMorgan Chase was compromised because a server did not have two-factor authentication enabled. Target was breached because a user fell for a phishing attack. We shake our heads over these mistakes, but hindsight is 20/20. We need to make sure we are doing whatever we can to protect ourselves, while at the same time demanding businesses and companies providing services step up and do a better job securing our data. Here is to a safe and secure year ahead!

Top 4 tech habits you need to break right now – It’s a brand new year, so why not start it off right by ditching the shackles of old habits and trying some new things to make your tech life easier? We know that old habits die hard and that’s why we’ve also included links to show you how to handle these common practices

Start the year off right with a clean PC – Unsavory detritus lurks in the vents and crevices of your computer hardware: Hair, dust, cigarette smoke, and pet dander can accumulate in your PC and also in your peripherals, even down between the keys of your keyboard. Some of it’s just gross. However, buildup on fans and other key components can increase the heat stress on your machine, potentially making it unstable and shortening the life of individual parts. That’s no way to start a new year. With thanks to Marco Chiappetta’s detailed rundown on how to clean a dirty PC, we’re adding information on how to clean peripherals as well.

Home networking explained, part 9: Access your home computer remotely – If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that I explained the LAN and WAN ports on a home router in part 1. And now, I need to tell you how you can use this information to remotely access your device at home. For example, if you know how to use Remote Desktop, a built-in feature of Windows, to control a computer in a different room of your home, how about doing that from somewhere away from home, and save yourself from having to pay for similar services such as LogMeIn or GotoMyPC? This post is part of an ongoing series. Check out the related stories for previous installments.

Your Android device needs these 5 apps – Android devices need a kit of essential tools just as much as contractors and tinkerers do. But instead of drills and hammers, they’re apps that are installed and consistently updated so that they’re always ready to use. Five apps in particular are so fundamentally crucial, it’s a surprise they haven’t been rolled into Google’s own suite yet. Best of all, the apps are free to download, so there’s nothing holding you back from these Android enhancers.

How to quickly update Android apps from within the Google Play Store – TechRepublic’s Android specialist Jack Wallen shows you how to quickly update your Android apps from within the Google Play Store.

8 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O earlier this summer – from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. And while the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

New “Strings” app lets you withdraw sent messages, and more – A new app has been released that helps you control the messages you send to your friends. It’s also supposed to reduce the instances of you accidentally sending improper messages.

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How to create and distribute an instructional screencast video for free – Teaching somebody to do something on the computer is always tough. Words go a long way, and pictures are a big help, but nothing can beat the simple immediacy of a video. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to make and share an instructional video on your PC. Using easy, free software, you can record and publish a high-quality, annotated instructional video in a matter of minutes. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to get started right away.

Online hunt for love connections said to peak today – According to experts, January 4 is the No. 1 day in the year for people to go online in search of true love. Match.com insists that 5:52 p.m. PT today will see a positive frenzy of unhappy singles and marrieds leaping to their electronics and praying for a buzz. You’re apparently 15 percent more likely to meet someone special if you online date in January than in any other month.

New D-Link powerline kits promise true gigabit connection speed – D-Link unveils two powerline adapter kits at CES 2015, the DHP-701AV and the DHP-601AV, that could deliver connection speeds of 2,000Mbps and 1,000Mbps, respectively.

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10 New Year’s resolutions for geeks – Summary:It’s the beginning of the year and that means it’s time to write down a set of promises and plans by which we geeks will govern ourselves over the next 12 months. Can you keep all these through the year?

‘Works with Nest’ program gains traction with 15 new smart device integrations – Nest Labs kicked off its ‘Works with Nest’ program just six months ago, announcing partnerships with Mercedes Benz, Whirlpool appliances, and several newer companies, including LED bulb-maker LIFX and fitness tracker Jawbone. Now the company says one in 10 Nest customers are accessing ‘Works with Nest’ connections of one form or another, and that more than 5,000 developers are in different stages of working with Nest to connect their products.

Security:

Gogo Inflight Internet is intentionally issuing fake SSL certificates – For whatever reason, however, Gogo Inflight Internet seems to believe that they are justified in performing a man-in-the-middle attack on their users. Earlier this year, it was revealed through the FCC that Gogo partnered with government officials to produce “capabilities to accommodate law enforcement interests” that go beyond those outlined under federal law. It mentioned how it worked closely with law enforcement and directly baked spyware into their service. If that wasn’t bad enough, based on this revelation, Gogo is now intentionally attacking its user’s browsing sessions to remove any line of defense that a user may have, and based on their history, it cannot be trusted that it is being done for any legitimate reason. If you have used Gogo in the past, it is worth considering that all of your communications, including those over SSL/TLS, have been compromised and that you should consider resetting your passwords– at least on Google. If you intend to use Gogo in the future, do so through the use of Tor or through a secure VPN.

Pointing up   If I were to illustrate a few elementary hacking procedures on your computer, without your permission, that would make me a criminal. On the other hand,  Gogo Inflight Internet does it and hell, it’s just business – right? Arrest these bastards immediately!!! Really – arrest these bastards!!!

Lizard Squad will help you attack any website, for a fee – Lizard Squad has been in the headlines a lot lately, whether it’s been taking down Playstation Network, Xbox Live service, or allegedly aiding the Guardians of Peace’s hack of Sony. With all of the buzz surrounding the rebels without a cause, the group is now looking to cash in on its fame by selling its DDoS Attack Tool. Starting at $6 per month, buyers will be able to enlist Lizard Squad’s services for a singular targeted attack on a website/space. For instance, a $6 fee can be paid to take down a website for 100 seconds. If you want to make a bigger statement, a $130 fee can be paid to take a website down for eight hours. If you wanted to cripple a web entity, a lifetime option exists, ranging from $30 to $500 (likely dependent on complexity and the intended target).

The Real Cybercrime Geography – When Sony Pictures was the target of a recent cyber attack, computer experts were quick to speculate that North Korea was behind the digital infiltration. Things happen quickly in the digital world, and now many experts are doubting the original idea that North Korea walked around inside Sony servers in reprisal for “The Interview.”

US sanctions North Korea over Sony hack and classifies attack evidence: Security researchers doubting Pyongyang’s guilt not privy to FBI data, feds say – The US is lobbing fresh sanctions against North Korea as a response to the cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment even as President Barack Obama’s administration refuses to provide evidence of Pyongyang’s involvement. Pyongyang has denied involvement. On Sunday, it lashed out at the White House.

Study claims that most ‘dark net’ traffic is to child abuse sites – Research, conducted at the University of Portsmouth, reveals that more than 80% of “dark net” internet traffic is generated by visits to websites offering child-abuse material.

Newly published NSA documents show agency could grab all Skype traffic – A National Security Agency document published this week by the German news magazine Der Spiegel from the trove provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows that the agency had full access to voice, video, text messaging, and file sharing from targeted individuals over Microsoft’s Skype service. The access, mandated by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant, was part of the NSA’s PRISM program and allowed “sustained Skype collection” in real time from specific users identified by their Skype user names.

Kim Dotcom’s Mega to launch anti-spying call and chat service – “Mega will soon release a fully encrypted and browser-based video call and chat service including high-speed file transfers,” the entrepreneur known as Kim Dotcom said in a tweet. Kim Dotcom is positioning the service as a more secure way to chat and collaborate online free of government surveillance or spying, partly by virtue of Mega being based in New Zealand. Kim Dotcom has been teasing the app for some time, though now it appears nearly ready for prime time.

Company News:

Netflix said to be shutting out international VPN users – Due to international laws and different contracts with copyright holders based on country, Netflix’s digital content available for streaming can vary widely depending on your location in the world. It has long been a tactic of international Netflix users to rely on VPNs (virtual private networks) in order to get around the site’s regional locks and access content available in the U.S. Unfortunately for those subscribers, it appears that Netflix is cracking down on some VPN services and keeping their users out of its walled garden.

Twitter is building its own video service; wants to compete with YouTube – Twitter is rolling out new features left and right and it looks like the company has big plans for its video service even going as far as building a direct competitor to Google’s YouTube.

Apple’s 16GB iPhones are a big fat lie, claims iOS 8 storage hog lawsuit – The sueball was lobbed at Cupertino on behalf of owners of 8GB and 16GB iThings. It claims Apple does not do enough to warn people that their new iThing may not hold as much music, apps and video as expected.

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Snapchat’s privacy practices to be monitored for the next 20 years: FTC: No more saying that your secret sexy snaps can’t be saved – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved its final order with Snapchat, compelling the California startup to submit to an independent privacy monitor for 20 years and to not “misrepresent in any manner…the extent to which respondent or its products or services maintain and protect the privacy, security, or confidentiality of any covered information.”

Games and Entertainment:

Music streaming up by 54% in 2014 as digital sales continue decline – New evidence in the form of a report from Nielsen SoundScan has confirmed that 2014 saw a significant shift in the digital music market among U.S. consumers. While the last decade has seen a clear dominance of downloading digital music purchases, last year marked a notable decline in that trend as steaming services maintained their explosive growth. Nielsen’s report notes that digital sales dropped by 9%, to 117.6 million, while online streaming was up by 54% over 2013.

The 20 best games of 2014, as chosen by the Ars brain trust – So after much debate and discussion among the Ars editor brain trust, we’ve come up with this list of 20 games that we feel represent the best and most interesting titles of the year. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of titles with only a top few that really stand out above the rest as true classics. Still, these are the games we think people will look back on and remember when they think about the muddled past 12 months in gaming.

Sony offers discounts and subscription extensions after PSN outage during Christmas – PlayStation Plus members affected by the Christmas outage will receive a five-day extension and a once-off 10% discount in the PlayStation Store as a “thank you” for their patience.

10 Video Games That Were Ahead of Their Time – In this feature, we’ll spotlight 10 games that pushed the world of gaming forward ahead of schedule. Some were commercial successes, some were cult hits, and some were all-out flops. But they all helped predict where gaming would take us in the coming decades, and for that we salute them.

Off Topic (Sort of):

12 Hidden Messages Inside 1990s Tech Commercials – Comparing advertisements across the years is a uniquely poignant window into how society evolves. Think about it. Companies need to evolve their messaging in order to reflect changes in the wants and needs of consumers. Therefore, ads are as useful a milepost of how culture and society evolve over time as movies, music, or literature. Check out some of these retro commercials from the 1990s and see what lessons we learned about the technology of today.

11 Ways Old Journalism Was The Worst – In October of last year, Brookings published an essay by Robert Kaiser entitled “The Bad News About The News,” which was probably well-intentioned, but was also — I’m sorry to say — hilariously bloviated, self-important, and wrongheaded. It did, however, accidentally raise a few quite interesting points.

Mark Zuckerberg Picks Reading for his Personal Challenge, First Book Sells Out – Conspiracy theories aside, Zuckerberg’s personal challenge for 2015 will be—drumroll—reading an entire book every other week. That’s 26 books in all; not too shabby a deal for someone who likely doesn’t have all that much free time. And, no, Zuckerberg won’t likely be picking up the Game of Thrones series to plow through. He plans to place a particular emphasis on books that help him learn about “different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”

Geek Answers: Why are there 365.25 days in the year? – The easy and unsatisfying reply, but also the most accurate, is a simple non-answer: Why are there 365 days in a year? Because that’s just the way it is. Put differently, there’s no particular logical reason for there to be 365 days as opposed to 340 or 395; Jupiter has more than ten thousand days in its year, while Venus actually has less than one day per year. The “why” of this has to do with the planetary histories of each body, the hows and whys of its formation. The dynamics of a planet’s year and day are dictated eons before life could ever get a chance to arise and observe them.

Ancient Indian aircraft on agenda of major science conference – Indian Vedic myths tell of ancient pilots flying craft around the world and out of this world. But some think the myths were true, and that modern science has it all wrong.

Something to think about:

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to believe.”

–   Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988), misquoting Sir Walter Scott

Today’s Free Downloads:

Patch My PC – Patch My PC is a portable and reliable utility designed to check your system against the current version of Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Flash, Mozilla Firefox, Oracle Java, Apple Quicktime, and more!

When started PatchMyPC will scan for outdated software automatically. If software is outdated it will show as Red, if it’s updated it will show as Green, and if it’s not installed it will show as black.

There are also many optional updates that can be installed with PatchMyPC. You can install optional updates by checking the checkbox in the optional software. Optional software should only be installed if you want the software and it’s not currently installed.

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GhostBuster Portable – GhostBuster scans your registry for ghosted devices (hardware no longer connected to the PC) and then removes them with a single mouse click.

This application enumerates all devices, detects ghosted devices and removes them if they match selectable device types and/or device classes.

Ghostbuster does exactly the same when you right click a device in the Windows Device Manager and choose uninstall. The only difference is that GhostBuster does it in bulk for all filtered devices that are ghosted and thus saves a lot of time.

Ghostbuster removes devices by name, class or wildcard so it cannot be used to remove only one of two ghosted devices that share the same name, it will always try to remove all matching ghosted devices.

Limitations: GhostBuster will NOT uninstall active devices and certain device types that are considered to be services, even if they’re ghosted. Requires Microsoft .NET Framework.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canadian ISPs required by law to notify users of illegal downloads – January 1st saw a new law, part of the Copyright Modernization Act, go into effect in Canada that requires internet service providers and website hosts to notify their users when copyright holders have detected illegal downloading. When an ISP now receives a letter of complaint from a copyright holder, they must forward it to the customer tied to the IP address associated with the download, or face fines of up to $10,000. The same applies to VPN (virtual private network) services, who must also record customer logs for a least 6 months.

The law also protects ISPs and website hosts in that they are not required to give over users’ personal information unless a lawsuit begins. But they must keep a 6 month record of who letters were sent to, again in the case of a lawsuit. This is bad for VPN services, as the aspect of anonymity is a key feature, and in order for them to comply, they must keep 6 months’ of access data, something that could be very expensive or difficult for small businesses.

Saudi Arabia’s Morality Police and ‘Ethical Hackers’ Are Targeting Online Pornography – Saudi Arabian authorities recently announced that they have hacked and disabled about 9,000 Twitter accounts associated with the publication of pornographic materials and arrested many of the handles’ owners. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (a.k.a. Haia, the Saudi religious police) organized the sting, sweeping up many Saudis and expats accused of organizing alcohol- and gambling-fueled parties. But in an apparent first for the Kingdom, Haia acknowledged that it did not act alone, instead relying upon a group of “ethical hackers” to access users’ accounts and personal information, leading to physical arrests.

Offshoring Data Won’t Protect It From The NSA – The natural reaction of many citizens, companies and governments is to try to get their data out of the United States and out of the hands of American companies.  The idea is a seductive one, even for Americans.  Offshoring money has been a popular strategy for tax avoidance.  Why not offshore data to a foreign company?

This offshoring of data to avoid surveillance is not just an idle notion.  As a privacy lawyer with experience in the intelligence community and the Obama White House, technology companies have asked me how they might pursue such a strategy.  It turns out that shifting user data abroad or into the hands of foreign companies is a very poor way to combat American surveillance.

If the Supreme Court tackles the NSA in 2015, it’ll be one of these five cases – Roughly a year and a half since the first Snowden disclosures, there’s already been a judicial order to shut down the National Security Agency’s bulk metadata collection program.

The lawsuit filed by Larry Klayman, a veteran conservative activist, would essentially put a stop to unchecked NSA surveillance. And at the start of 2015, he remains the only plaintiff whose case has won when fighting for privacy against the newly understood government monitoring. However, it’s currently a victory in name only—the judicial order in Klayman was stayed pending the government’s appeal.

Klayman v. Obama is only one of a number of notable national security and surveillance-related civil and criminal cases stemming fully or partially from the Snowden documents. In 2014, a handful of these advanced far enough through the legal system that 2015 is likely to be a big year for privacy policy. One or more could even end up before the Supreme Court.

NSA has VPNs in Vulcan death grip—no, really, that’s what they call it – The National Security Agency’s Office of Target Pursuit (OTP) maintains a team of engineers dedicated to cracking the encrypted traffic of virtual private networks (VPNs) and has developed tools that could potentially uncloak the traffic in the majority of VPNs used to secure traffic passing over the Internet today, according to documents published this week by the German news magazine Der Speigel. A slide deck from a presentation by a member of OTP’s VPN Exploitation Team, dated September 13, 2010, details the process the NSA used at that time to attack VPNs—including tools with names drawn from Star Trek and other bits of popular culture.

OTP’s VPN exploit team had members assigned to branches focused on specific regional teams, as well as a “Cross-Target Support Branch” and a custom development team for building specialized VPN exploits. At the regional level, the VPN team representatives acted as liaisons to analysts, providing information on new VPN attacks and gathering requirements for specific targets to be used in developing new ones.

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

New Barack Obama Survey Gas Card Scam

Regular readers of this site are aware, that some time ago I wrote “Now that Barack Obama has been officially nominated to carry the Democrats’ banner into the upcoming U.S. presidential election, be prepared for a deluge of spam scams perpetrated by cyber-criminals based on his popularity”.

Most of the scam emails I’ve seen, so far, are crafted around spicy, scandalous, and salacious stories.

So, for those of us who aren’t particularly enamored with salacious stories, or the web sites that seem to specialize in them, cyber-criminals have developed a different approach (still social engineering of course), to convince you to click on spam email containing enclosed links.

According to Trend Micro, a new email currently circulating, asks the recipient to participate in a survey with the sweetener being a chance to win a $500 gas card. We all love contests, and with the chance to win $500 in gas, who wouldn’t click on the link. Good old social engineering – it really works doesn’t it?

But here’s the downside; click on the link and you arrive on the Smileycentral.com, web site. Despite the view held by many, that this is a safe site, the fact is, this site is a distributor of malware under the best of circumstances.

The prominent “Always Free” button on this site, if clicked, will lead to a request that you download an ActiveX control which, when downloaded, will begin the process of installing the ADW_MYWEBSEARCH Trojan on your system.

In addition to this new email scam, there are a number of other Barack Obama related email scams currently making the rounds on the Internet, most of which purport to offer access to sex tapes “starring” Obama.

I know, you’re asking yourself – who could possibly believe this kind of nonsense?

The simple answer is this – cyber-criminals know that by sending out countless billions of this type of email, enough people will respond, by clicking on the embedded link, that it will produce millions of dollars in easy pickings.

Incredible as it may seem, billions (that’s right billions), of spam email messages are generated every hour through so called botnets; zombie computers controlled by cyber-criminals.

Until the U.S. election is over – 6 weeks from now –emails referring to Barack Obama should be automatically treated as a threat to your computer.

If you missed previous articles on Obama email scams checkout “Scam Email Trojan Alert – Another Obama Sex Tape” and “Barack Obama – His Transsexual Affairs”, on this site.

Follow the tips below to protect yourself against these and other threats.

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.

As an addition to your existing malware applications, download and install ThreatFire 3 (free from PC Tools), which blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior.

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.

Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.

Keep your computer protected. Install a security solution and keep it up-to-date.

Ensure your anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

If you are unsure if your software based protection is up to the task then checkout, “Free Windows Software You Can’t Afford Not to Have”, on this site.

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Scam Email Trojan Alert – Another Obama Sex Tape

Some time ago, on this site, I wrote “Now that Barack Obama has been officially nominated to carry the Democrats banner into the upcoming U.S. presidential election, be prepared for a deluge of spam scams perpetrated by cyber-criminals based on his popularity on the one hand, and our need to be titillated on the other hand, to leverage their malicious activities”.

One such spam email campaign is already in operation which provides a link purportedly leading to a video of Barack Obama disclosing his transsexual affairs. I know, you’re asking yourself – who could possibly believe this kind of nonsense?

The simple answer is this – cyber-criminals know that by sending out countless millions of this type of email, enough people will respond, by clicking on the embedded link, that it will produce millions of dollars in easy pickings.

So not surprisingly, today we have reports of another Obama sex tape email scam. Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, a well known developer and vendor of security software and hardware, reports on his Blog of another scam email that includes the wording “United States Senator for Illinois Barack Obama in 2007 was travel to Ukraine and have sex action with many ukrainian girls!” (sic)

According to Sophos, clicking on the enclosed link to view the video, will lead to the downloading and installation of the Mal/Hupig-D Trojan horse onto your computer.

As always, emails claiming that US presidential candidate Barack Obama was involved in a sex scandal, should be automatically treated as a threat against your computer.

Follow the tips below to protect yourself against these and other threats.

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.

Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.

Keep your computer protected. Install a security solution and keep it up-to-date.

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Filed under Email, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Barack Obama – His Transsexual Affairs

Come on now, do you really believe Barack Obama has had Transsexual Affairs? Since you ended up on this site, it’s likely you got here by way of a Google search on Barack Obama, and you couldn’t resist the temptation to check this out.

While doing the background work on this article, it came to my attention that other key words (other than sex), used in Google searches to define Obama, are “Muslim”, which he surely is not; and “Religious”, which it appears he is.

Don’t stop reading now because there’s no sex scandal on this page. You need to become aware of the very real dangers involved in following salacious search engine links and the consequences of clicking on embedded links in emails.

The reality is, we are all pretty curious creatures, and knowing this, cyber crooks are now exploiting our natural curiosity relying, more and more, on this aspect of social engineering to create an opportunity designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots on our computers. Malicious code that can lead to identity theft and the theft of your passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.

This can be accomplished by directing users’ to infected web search results; the seeding of malicious websites among the top results returned by these engines. When a potential victim visits one of these sites, the chances of downloading malicious code onto the computer by exploiting existing vulnerabilities, is extremely high.

Internet security specialists have known for some time that we can not rely on Internet search engine results to be untainted and free of potential harmful exposure to malware.

Email scams work essentially the same way. The cyber-crooks responsible for these scams are experts at using social engineering as the hook. They rely on the fact that we are indeed a curious species, and we do seem to have an unrelenting interest in scrutinizing the personal lives of politicians.

Now that Obama has been officially nominated to carry the Democrats banner into the upcoming U.S. presidential election, be prepared for a deluge of spam scams perpetrated by cyber-criminals based on his popularity on the one hand, and our need to be titillated on the other hand, to leverage their malicious activities.

Incredible as it seems, billions (that’s right billions), of spam email messages are generated every hour through so called botnets; zombie computers controlled by cyber-criminals.

One such new spam email campaign is already in operation which provides a link which purportedly leads to a video of Barack Obama disclosing his transsexual affairs. Isn’t that why you’re here?

Those that are gullible enough to follow this link will be enticed to download the file – Barack_Obama-videostream.v182.exe – which has been classified as a malware agent – BKDR_AGENT.ABTQ. So the reward in this case, for unwitting users’ who enjoy checking out scandalous content, is the installation of malware onto their systems.

Security experts agree that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous. To this point however, this type of dangerous behavior continues despite the warnings.

The Marshal Threat Research and Content Engineering (TRACE) report for the first half of 2008 has just been released, and unhappily it shows that “Cyber criminals are using ‘blended attacks’ to distribute malware and links to hacked websites via email on an unprecedented scale”.

Sustaining this conclusion, the IC³ (Internet Crime Complaint Center) recently stated that these types of attacks against Internet users are occurring with such frequency, that the situation can be called nothing short of “alarming”.

As I have pointed out in the past on this Blog, the following are actions you can take to protect your computer system, your money and your identity:

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.

As an addition to your existing malware applications, download and install ThreatFire 3 (provided free by PC Tools), which blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior.

In addition:

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer

Install a personal firewall on the computer

Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

If you are unsure then checkout “Free Windows Software You Can’t Afford Not to Have”, on this site.

6 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools