Tag Archives: Chrome extensions

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 – March 13, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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(BBC)

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–      Mathias Thurman

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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Screenshot from a personal system

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

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

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

Features:

100% geolocation aware

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

Wifi autoconnect

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

Light as a feather

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

Know your enemy

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

Watch their movements

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

Keep your data safe

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

No unauthorized access

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

Scan your hardware

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

Full auto updater

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few examples for understanding the chart:

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

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

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

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

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

the range of intrusive capabilities currently available to the Agencies;

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

the extent to which the capabilities intrude on privacy; and

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

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

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