Tag Archives: data centers

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 26, 2015

Tech coalition including Microsoft, Apple, and Google presses attack on the Patriot Act;  Who’s in charge, here? The White House, or an advertising company in California?  9 compelling reasons to keep your old PC instead of upgrading;  These Are the 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Five free apps for dealing with hardware problems;  USB 3.1 set to reach desktops;  10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster;  Kano OS made free for Raspberry Pi 2;  Router hack is injecting ads and porn into random websites;  New York threatens action if RadioShack sells data;  Fan TV’s New App Is A Must-Have For Cord Cutters;  Bill Gates recommends these essential readings;  Google awarded patent for their smart contact lens;  Who Has the Fastest Web Connections? (Hint: Not the U.S.);  Router Password Decryptor (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New York threatens action if RadioShack sells customer data – New York’s attorney general said his office will take “appropriate action” if personal data on millions of RadioShack customers is handed over as part of a just-concluded bankruptcy sale. The names and physical addresses of 65 million customers and email addresses of 13 million customers were among the assets listed as part of the sale, which concluded this week but has yet to be approved by a bankruptcy court. “When a company collects private customer data on the condition that it will not be resold, it is the company’s responsibility to uphold their end of the bargain,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement.

As the Snowden leaks began, there was “fear and panic” in Congress – Minutes after the first NSA leak was published, the phones of US lawmakers began to buzz, hours before most of America would find out over their morning coffee.

Run this Installer Hijacking Scanner app to see if your older Android phone is at risk – Half of all Android phones still run Android 4.2 or older. If they also buy from third-party app stores, they could be vulnerable to a hijacking app. This scanner will tell you if your phone is at risk.

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

Five free apps for dealing with hardware problems – From bad memory to missing drivers, PC hardware can exhibit aggravating problems that you’ll need to troubleshoot. Here are five apps that can help.

9 compelling reasons to keep your old PC instead of upgrading – Few can withstand the siren song of the latest and greatest gear, the deep allure of a new and shiny gadget—but that doesn’t mean that tossing your old computer in the trash and picking up a fresh PC is necessarily a smart idea. While gamers and hardcore video editors always stand to gain extra performance out of fresh firepower, more casual users might be better off saving their cash and sticking with the PC you already own. Here’s why.

10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster – There’s a reason that unboxing videos and the phrase “new car smell” are firmly ensconced in the public groupmind. New stuff is exciting! New stuff is (theoretically) better! New stuff is just plain cool. But new stuff also costs an arm and a leg—at least if you’re talking about a new PC. And you might not even truly need a new PC to accomplish what you’re looking to do. Fortunately, there are a slew of ways to breathe new life into an older PC that’s starting to feel a little pokey. Even better: Most are outright free, a couple of (still low-cost) hardware upgrades aside. Sure, these tweaks and tips aren’t as thrilling as booting up a brand new PC for the first time—but they’ll let you continue to get the job done with the gear you already have.

BitDefender, Kaspersky top list of best Windows 8.1 antivirus software – In sales, they say that you’re only as good as your last month’s figures. Ditto for antivirus software. And right now, BitDefender, Kaspersky, and Qihoo 360 are the best in the business. AV-Test, one of the two leading antivirus testing houses, released its February antivirus ratings for Windows 8.1 PCs early Wednesday, assessing the 27 or so available antimalware packages on protection, performance, and usability. The results shouldn’t surprise you: The bigger names in the industry rose to the top, while at the bottom—as usual—sat Microsoft.

The Beastgrip Pro Turns Your Phone Into A Mobile Video Rig – The Beastgrip Pro is a rig system for your phone that lets you take better photos and video by adding stability, mics, lights, and lenses. Nearly every aspect is modular or expandable. Depending on what you need to shoot, you might put your phone on a tripod for smoother shots, add a directional mic for better audio during interviews, or swap out lenses to capture wide-angle footage or to get better distance shots without hurting quality as with digital zoom. Every mount or thread uses a common photography standard, making it a great option for getting kids started with video using second-hand gear or for using your phone as an emergency on-shoot backup. Beastgrip’s rig is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, coming in at $70 for the main rig and $105 if you want the Depth of Field adapter and wide-angle lens.

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USB 3.1 set to reach desktops – The emerging USB 3.1 standard is set to reach desktops as hardware companies release motherboards with ports that can transfer data twice as fast as the previous USB technology. MSI on Wednesday announced a 970A SLI Krait motherboard that will support the AMD processors and the USB 3.1 protocol. Motherboards with USB 3.1 ports have also been released by Gigabyte, ASRock and Asus, but those boards support Intel chips.

Kano OS made free for Raspberry Pi 2 – To quicken the development of Kano OS and its innards, the team behind the creation of the “fast, fun, friendly OS” have made it free to Raspberry Pi 2. This software works with games, web browsing, a video app, and lots of tools for software development. This system comes with a toolset of utilities for Raspberry Pi and the OS itself and is aimed at developers – though you could very well make your own tiny console with it if you do so wish.

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Google will finally improve Chrome scrolling using a Microsoft invention – Google is finally adopting a standard that supports both mouse and touch navigation for its Chrome browser. If you’ve used a copy of Chrome on a Windows tablet recently then you’ll probably be familiar with the poor scrolling performance and general touch support, and it’s something Google will now address across all of its versions of Chrome. Google revealed today that it plans to support Pointer Events, a standard that was first introduced by Microsoft in Internet Explorer. Google has traditionally focused its efforts on supporting Touch Events, a method used by Apple in its Safari browser. Microsoft, Mozilla, and Opera have all adopted Pointer Events, and Google says that feedback from the web community has led to the change in heart.

Amazon’s On-Demand Services Marketplace Launches Monday – Amazon’s Angie’s List competitor, called “Amazon Local Services,” has been rebranded as “Amazon Home Services” ahead of a larger launch happening Monday, sources familiar with the plans tell TechCrunch. The site, which previously featured only a limited number of service offerings in a handful of select markets, has also recently expanded to include a much larger number of categories of services as well as additional cities around the U.S.

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Security:

This router hack is injecting ads and porn into random websites – A new strain of malware is using routers to inject ads and pornography into websites, according to a report from Ara Labs. Once a router is compromised, the malware will load third-party content onto almost any website visited by the user. The attack alternates between loading ads and directly loading content from pornographic websites like adultyum.info and adultcameras.info. In both cases, it’s functioning as a basic adware attack, redirecting targets as a pay of generating paid traffic for a client. “Due to the nature of this scheme, there is no technology that is going to detect this automatically,” Ara said in a statement. The following video shows the clean, ad-based version of the attack. (Ara Labs described the other as “too graphic to publish.”)

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Microsoft blacklists latest rogue SSL certificates, Mozilla mulls sanctions for issuer – Microsoft has blacklisted a subordinate CA certificate that was wrongfully used to issue SSL certificates for several Google websites. The action will prevent those certificates from being used in Google website spoofing attacks against Internet Explorer users. Microsoft’s move, taken on Tuesday, came after Google reported that the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a certificate authority (CA) trusted by most browsers and operating systems, issued an intermediate certificate to an Egyptian company called MCS Holdings. The company then used it to generate SSL certificates for Google-owned websites without authorization.

Company News:

Facebook announces Messenger Platform and Businesses on Messenger – Today at the annual F8 developer conference, Facebook announced its new Messenger Platform as well as Businesses on Messenger to expand its traditional messaging application.

Mozilla Extends Its Default Google Search Blockout, Signs Up Yandex In Turkey – Mozilla last November made waves when it swapped out Google as the default search engine in its Firefox browser in the U.S., replacing it with Yahoo, and put Yandex in for Google in Russia at the same time. Today Mozilla announced an expansion of that strategy: Yandex will now also be the default search option in Turkey, once again replacing Google. Yandex is known as the Google of Russia, partly because of the appearance of its search product, and partly for its position as the leading search engine in the country — albeit with a more modest dominance; its market share is just under 60% right now, and 75% among Firefox users.

Facebook sued for alleged theft of data center design – Facebook is being sued by a British engineering company that claims the social network stole its technique for building data centers and, perhaps worse, is encouraging others to do the same through the Open Compute Project. BladeRoom Group says it contacted Facebook in 2011 about using its technique, which involves constructing data centers in a modular fashion from pre-fabricated parts. It’s intended to be a faster, more energy-efficient method. What happened next isn’t clear, since much of the public version of BRG’s lawsuit is redacted. But it claims Facebook ended up stealing its ideas and using them to build part of a data center in Lulea, Sweden, that opened last year.

Games and Entertainment:

Fan TV’s New App Is A Must-Have For Cord Cutters – As a cord cutter, one of the ongoing challenges is figuring out which shows and movies are available for streaming on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu and others, and which are only available as paid downloads. A company called Fan TV is today introducing a new mobile application that will go a long way to help address this problem, by allowing you to search and save shows and movies you want to watch later – as well as get alerted to when they arrive on your preferred services.

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5 Reasons You Need to Check Out Cities: Skylines – Cities: Skylines, a PC game by a totally different studio (interlopers!) that’s singlehandedly revitalizing the city-building genre. And not in a “Look, here’s something more clever than SimCity!” way, so much as a “Hey, why not just do SimCity old school?” one. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why.

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PlayStation 4 Gets Suspend And Resume, External HD Backups On March 26 – The Suspend/Resume function means you won’t have to save to stop the action, and it’s much more convenient now that it survives the PS4’s Rest Mode, which puts the console into a low-power, stasis-like state. Previously, games could be temporarily paused like this, but only while you exited to the menu to quickly check on something else. Another anticipated new feature coming with Yukimura (PS4 software version 2.50 if you want to get technical) is the ability to back-up and restore console HDD content to an external USB drive. That means you can fully back up the system, including everything from settings, saved data an screenshots to games, patches and downloads.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bill Gates recommends these essential readings to TED 2015 attendees – Although Gates was not a speaker at this year’s TED 2015 event, he was invited to attend and was asked by the team to recommend a list of books for the conference attendees. Naturally, Gates obliged and created a list with books that focus on health, business and the world. In no particular order, here is the list that Bill Gates put together for the attendees at TED 2015.

Business Adventures by John Brooks

The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin

On Immunity by Eula Biss

Making the Modern World by Vaclav Smil

How Asia Works by Joe Studwell

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff

For a full description of each book, head over to Gates’ site where he has a short synopsis of each book.

Google awarded patent for their smart contact lens – Remember the Google X skunkworks project that saw the company imagining contact lenses that could monitor your glucose levels? Sounded weird, and more like some means to an end for a bigger project. Then we found Google had a partner in Novartis, and the contact lens that could monitor your health seemed a bit closer to reality. It’s now even closer to being on your eye, as Google has been granted a patent to manufacture the lenses, which have multiple layers and their own chipset.

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The father of all humans lived 239,000 years ago – By sequencing the genomes of 2,636 Icelanders — the largest set ever obtained from a single population — researchers were able to identify that genetic mutations play a role in everything from Alzheimer’s disease to liver disease. The Icelandic data also suggest that humanity’s most recent common male ancestor, the “father” of us all, would have lived between 174,000 and 321,000 years ago. The estimate for the most recent common male ancestor contradicts some past findings. A 2013 study from the University of Arizona estimated that the age of the father of all humans is about 340,000 years old. But the Icelandic analysis indicates he probably lived about 239,000 years ago — a number that’s much closer to the estimate for humanity’s most recent common female ancestor, who lived about 200,000 years ago.

FTC hits back; Google investigation integrity questioned again – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is coming out against statements made last week by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), as well as new claims that Google had used its political ties to the Obama administration to obtain a favorable outcome in the FTC investigation into alleged anti-trust and unfair internet search practices. The FTC states that such claims are unfounded and undermine the integrity of its investigation, while the WSJ is giving weight to the idea that anti-trust investigation might not have had much integrity on the FTC’s part at all.

Who Has the Fastest Web Connections? (Hint: Not the U.S.) – Global average Internet connection speeds remained above the 4 Mbps threshold for broadband in the fourth quarter of 2014, increasing 0.7 percent to 4.5 Mbps, according to the latest report from Akamai. Despite a 12 percent decline, South Korea held its first-place position with a 22.2 Mbps average connection speed, followed by Hong Kong (16.8 Mbps) and Japan (15.2 Mbps). Sweden, Switzerland, and The Netherlands all landed in the 14 Mbps range, with Latvia (13 Mbps), Ireland (12.7 Mbps), the Czech Republic (12.3 Mbps), and Finland (12.1 Mbps) bringing up the rear. At 11.1 Mbps average connection speed, the U.S. did not break the top 10.

Something to think about:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

–     Richard Feynman

Today’s Free Downloads:

HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

It automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https”. It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking, and some forms of censorship.

HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using a clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS.

DeepSound – DeepSound is a steganography tool and audio converter that hides secret data into audio files. The application also enables you to extract secret files directly from audio files or audio CD tracks.

DeepSound might be used as copyright marking software for wave, flac, wma, ape, and audio CD. DeepSound also support encrypting secret files using AES-256(Advanced Encryption Standard) to improve data protection.

The application additionally contains an easy to use Audio Converter Module that can encode several audio formats (FLAC, MP3, WMA, WAV, APE) to others (FLAC, MP3, WAV, APE).

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Router Password Decryptor – Router Password Decryptor is the FREE tool to instantly recover internet login/PPPoE authentication passwords, wireless WEP keys, WPA/WPA2 passphrases from your router/modem configuration file.

Currently it supports password recovery from following type of router/modems:

Cisco

Juniper

DLink

BSNL

In addition to this, it also has unique ‘Smart Mode’ feature (experimental) to recover passwords from any type of Router/Modem configuration file. It detects various password fields from such config file (XML only) and then automatically try to decrypt those passwords.

It also has quick link to Base64 Decoder which is useful in case you have found Base64 encoded password (ending with =) in the config file and automatic recovery is not working.

It is very easy to use tool with its cool GUI interface. Administrators & Penetration Testers will find it more useful to recover login passwords as well as wireless keys from the router configuration files.

It is fully portable and works on both 32-bit & 64-bit windows platforms.

Features:

Instantly decrypt and recover login/PPPoE/WEP/WPA/WPA2 Passwords from Router/Modem Config file

Supports Cisco/Juniper/DLink/BSNL modems/routers

Also has Smart Mode feature to recover password from any config file

Useful for Admins & Penetration Testers

Simple & elegant GUI interface makes it easy to use

Supports quick Drag & Drop of Router config file

Right click context menu to quickly copy the Password

Sort feature to arrange the displayed passwords

Save the recovered password list to HTML/XML/TEXT/CSV file

Fully Portable, does not require Java or .NET

Includes Installer for assisting you in local Installation & Uninstallation.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech coalition including Microsoft, Apple, and Google presses attack on the Patriot Act – Advocacy groups, major tech companies, and a coalition of huge firms including Google, Microsoft, and Apple have sent a letter to the Obama administration urging it to decisively end the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata, which expires June 1st as part of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Obama has already urged Congress to develop a new framework for handling metadata, proposing that telecom companies hang onto the records and only hand them over when law enforcement receives a court order. That proposal was made a year ago. If Congress wants to keep allowing the government to access these records — and, yeah, it probably does — it’ll have to act within the next several months.

“There must be a strong, clear, and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA Patriot Act, including under the Section 215 records authority and Section 214 authority regarding pen registers and trap & trace devices,” the companies write in the letter, which was sent today and signed by nearly four dozen groups. “Any collection that does occur under those authorities should have appropriate safeguards in place to protect privacy and users’ rights.” Other signatories of the letter include Wikimedia, Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Silent Circle, the ACLU, and CloudFlare. The text of the letter is below:

Who’s in charge, here? The White House, or an advertising company in California? – Google and the White House manage to hook up more than the majority of married couples, having met up once a week for the past five years.

That’s the latest indicator of the powerful internet giant’s worrying cosy relationship with the Obama administration, pulled from logs requested by the Wall Street Journal.

The disclosure comes hot on the heels of last week’s revelations that US watchdog the FTC very nearly pursued an antitrust lawsuit against Google for unfairly burying rivals in its search results, but ultimately gave up the chase. Google denies any wrongdoing.

The relationship between the rich California corporation and the Obama administration has been going on for some time, and has resulted in a string of troubling situations – a few of which we documented in a report over the weekend.

The Journal today highlights that as the FTC neared its decision not to prosecute Google for abusing its dominant search and online advertising position, its senior executives had a sudden run of meetings both with the watchdog and the White House.

EU: Don’t use Facebook if you want to keep the NSA away from your data – In a key case before the European Union’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the European Commission admitted yesterday that the US-EU Safe Harbor framework for transatlantic data transfers does not adequately protect EU citizens’ data from US spying. The European Commission’s attorney Bernhard Schima told the CJEU’s attorney general: “You might consider closing your Facebook account if you have one,” euobserver reports.

The case before the CJEU is the result of complaints lodged against five US companies—Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype, and Yahoo—with the relevant data protection authorities in Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, supported by crowdfunding. Because of the important points of European law raised, the Irish High Court referred the Safe Harbor case to the CJEU.

California bill requires warrant for stingray use – A California state bill that would require a warrant to access all kinds of digital data passed its first hurdle after being approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

Among other sweeping new requirements to enhance digital privacy, the bill notably imposes a warrant requirement before police can access nearly any type of digital data produced by or contained within a device or service.

In other words, that would include any use of a stingray, also known as a cell-site simulator, which can not only used to determine a phone’s location, but can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 19, 2015

IoT: Silly and scary challenges ahead;  Obama administration sets record for censoring and denying transparency requests;  8 Gmail mobile app tricks for iOS and Android;  PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Streaming live TV compared;  Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for ALL users worldwide (including pirates);  4 tips for speeding up a slow iOS 8 device;  How to deal with misbehaving Android apps;  Hardware requirements for Windows 10 for desktop and phones;  Tutanota, An Open Source Encrypted Gmail Alternative;  Meerkat Now Lets You Easily Follow Users Via The Web;  AeroFS – cloud collaboration free for up to 30 users;  Make Games On Your iPhone With Playr;  System Mechanic Free;  Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook;  Avira Rescue System (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

IoT: Silly and scary challenges ahead – How many software updates does it take to change a light bulb? What happens when a blast furnace gets hacked? Security looms as the elephant in all of our IoT rooms.

8 Gmail mobile app tricks for iOS and Android – There’s more to the recently revamped Gmail app than a pretty Material Design. Read on for 8 new Gmail tricks, starting with…

4 tips for speeding up a slow iOS 8 device – Have an iOS device that is acting a little sluggish lately? Give these four tips a read, and then try them on your own device to see the results.

AeroFS makes cloud collaboration free for up to 30 users – When it comes to sharing data in the cloud, there’s more than one way to deliver security. There’s encryption, for instance, which is used by services such as Dropbox to keep data safe. There’s also technology such as Box’s new Encryption Key Management tool, which aims to give users additional control. AeroFS take another approach. Whereas most purveyors of cloud file, sync and share services ultimately still store users’ data on their own servers in data centers around the world, AeroFS’s private cloud offering keeps data on-premises. Targeting enterprise workgroups, the service is “like Dropbox, but behind your firewall,” in the company’s own words, and on Wednesday it became free for up to 30 users—and pledged to remain that way forever.

PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Streaming live TV compared – PlayStation Vue is the new TV service from Sony that starts at $50 per month. Its competitor Sling TV starts at $20 per month. Both use the Internet to stream numerous live TV channels as well as VOD, and both are free from long-term contracts. So how do they stack up?

Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for ALL users worldwide – Speaking to Reuters from the WinHEC conference in China, Microsoft’s operating system chief Terry Myerson said, “We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10.” This means that everyone running Windows 7 or 8.1, irrespective of whether you pirated the operating system or not, will be allowed to upgrade to a legitimate version of Windows 10.

Here’s how Windows 10 upgrade paths will work – Microsoft is promising a fairly painless upgrade path to Windows 10, provided users have been keeping their existing versions up to date. If you’re running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1 S14 (that’s the “Windows 8.1 Update” from last April), you’ll be able to get Windows 10 straight from the Control Panel’s Windows Update utility. In other words, you won’t have to mess around with installation disks, and all your files and programs will remain intact. Your data won’t be erased if you’re running an older version of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, but you’ll have to download an ISO and create an installation disk. It’s just a little more of a hassle.

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Here are the hardware requirements for Windows 10 for desktop and phones – Microsoft has officially started detailing the hardware requirements and capabilities of Windows 10 for desktop and mobile devices. The OS will scale from low-end to the most powerful hardware.

Pixometer app offers a smarter way to read dumb meters – So you want to track your water, electricity or gas consumption, but you still don’t have a smart meter on your supply? Pixolus has a mobile app that makes it easier to keep track of meter readings, even with dumb meters. Just tell the Pixometer app which meter you’re going to read, point the phone’s camera at it, and let the optical character recognition software do the work. Once the app gets a lock on the numbers, it speaks the reading out loud and stores it, and the date, in that meter’s file.

How to deal with misbehaving Android apps – We’ve all experienced it — that one app that seems to cause never-ending problems. It’ll run for a while and then, out of nowhere, it starts freezing or force crashing. This becomes an even bigger problem when the app in question happens to be in the “must-use” category. What do you do? Do you continue suffering through the data loss and crashes? No, you don’t. This is business, and you can’t deal with apps that don’t behave as needed. To that end, what do you do? You read on and integrate these tips into your standard operating procedure. They may even save you from data loss and app crashes.

Meet Sirius, the open-source Siri clone that runs on Ubuntu – Sirius is an open platform anyone can use and contribute to, from universities to startups. It’s currently being tested on Ubuntu, and you can download and install it on your own Linux PC today… if you’re particularly adventurous. One big feature Sirius offers is the image recognition integration. For example, you could take a photo of the Eiffel Tower and ask “when was this built?” Sirius would analyze the image, determine it was the Eiffel Tower, and then go find out when the Eiffel Tower was built. The big commercial assistant programs don’t yet offer a similar feature. This University of Michigan video provides a good introduction.

Everything you need to know about DLNA: The de facto home-entertainment network standard – If you’ve ever watched the photos on your digital camera come alive on your TV or played the music files on your computer over your home theater system, you’ve brushed against the magic of DLNA. This widely integrated but little understood technology allows you to stream media files from a hard drive or memory card to other devices on your home network without your needing to know a whole lot about codecs, file formats, or even how your network operates.

Meerkat Now Lets You Easily Follow Users Via The Web – Live video broadcast app Meerkat is edging away from being so reliant on Twitter’s network to power its own: The company announced a new “light follow” feature that works via the web, making it easy for anyone to follow users quickly without following them on Twitter, and to then receive notifications via Meerkat on iOS whenever they go live with a stream.

Autodesk’s insanely fun Tinkerplay app lets you easily design your own 3D-printable action figures – Autodesk, makers of AutoCAD design software and the Spark 3D printing platform, want to make it easier for children of all ages to design their own 3D-printed items. The company recently released a new app called Tinkerplay that makes it easy to design your own army of killer robots. Tinkerplay lets you create your own toy from scratch or use the included character templates to customize a scorpion, ninja, or sea creature. Once the design is done you can create your own STL or .thing file to turn your 3D-printed dreams into reality. Tinkerplay is available for Android, iOS, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone.

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Tutanota, An Open Source Encrypted Gmail Alternative, Heads Out Of Beta – Germany based encrypted email startup, Tutanota, is taking its service out a beta next week — after a year of testing and almost 100,000 users signed up to send and receive secure email. Additional domains will also be offered in the new release, coming on Tuesday, including .com and .io options (in addition to the current .de option). Tutanota was founded at the end of 2011 with the idea of making secure email easier than extant options like PGP.  Its ease of use pitch means it’s doing encrypted email in the web browser and also offering iOS and Android apps.

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Security:

Mandrill warns attack may have exposed some data about email – Mandrill warned customers on Wednesday that some email-related data may have been exposed after attackers tried to lasso some of its servers into a botnet. Data doesn’t appear to have been stolen, but some customers should take some security precautions, wrote Brandon Fouts, general manager of Mandrill, which is a platform for managing transactional email that is owned by The Rocket Science Group.

Double FREAK! A cryptographic bug that was found because of the FREAK bug – Imagine that you just checked into a hotel. You’re in the lift on the way to your room, holding a key. You get to your room; you wave, swipe or turn the key; and the door opens. Assuming the door wouldn’t open until you presented the key, it certainly feels like security of a sort, doesn’t it? But what if your key isn’t unique? What if your key opens every other door in the hotel (or, for that matter, if every other key opens your door)? How would you ever know, just for starters?

Dark web drug market Evolution vanishes off the net, taking millions of dollars with it – Remember Silk Road? The infamous underground marketplace that made millions of dollars while its members bought and sold drugs and firearms was shut down in 2013, and its mastermind Ross “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht facing prison for the rest of his life. Well, nature abhors a vacuum. So it’s no surprise to see others attempt to take over where the Silk Road left off. As Wired reports, one of the sites – Evolution – that has attempted to take the place of the Silk Road has itself mysteriously vanished, and allegedly run off with members’ bitcoins worth more than $12 million.

Company News:

Target proposes $10 million settlement deal for customers after credit card hack – Target has agreed to pay $10 million to people affected by the breach of its systems in 2013 that saw 40 million credit and debit card numbers stolen. According to court documents, the retailer’s proposed settlement — which has yet to be approved by a federal judge — could pay individuals up to $10,000 in compensation. A court hearing to approve the proposal is scheduled for Thursday.

Yahoo Is Closing Its Office In China And Laying Off Hundreds Of Staff – Yahoo is bidding adios to China with the closure of its research center in Beijing — its only location in the country — as SCMP first reported. Hundreds of staff are expected to be laid off. The Beijing office originally ran Yahoo services in China, but with all of its consumers-facing activities in the country now shuttered — including its web portal, music service and email — the office effectively become a research center. Sources at the company told SCMP that, with wages two times higher in China than India and no specific services in China, the presence wasn’t particularly logical.

Appeals court revives Microsoft Xbox 360 console defect litigation – A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived a proposed class-action lawsuit against Microsoft that claims the Xbox 360 damages gaming discs, rendering them unplayable. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court had misconstrued the court’s own precedent when it ruled that Xbox owners in the US could not collectively sue Microsoft for damages. In the lower courts, Microsoft had successfully argued that individual proof by each person seeking damages was required. The court said Microsoft’s position was “inapt” because the “plaintiffs’ position is that the design defect itself breaches the express warranty.”

Tesla Scores Direct Sales Wins in NJ, Georgia – Tesla Motors passed important hurdles in its mission to sell directly to consumers in New Jersey and Georgia, where state legislators passed bills allowing the electric vehicle (EV) maker to open dealerships. A similar proposal moving through Georgia’s government would make way for five Tesla dealerships in the southern state.

Facebook Sued By Former Staffer Alleging Sex Discrimination, Harassment, Other Charges – The defendants in the suit are Facebook, a Facebook staffer named Anil Wilson, and 50 unnamed Facebook employees referred to anonymously as “defendant Doe.” The suit says that Wilson and Hong’s other coworkers regularly ignored or belittled her opinions at group meetings, asked her “why she did not just stay home and take care of her child instead of having a career,” and ordered her to organize parties and serve drinks to male colleagues, among other alleged actions. The suit also alleges that Hong was told that she was not integrated into her team at work “because she looks different and talks differently than other team members” and was subsequently replaced “by a less qualified, less experienced Indian male.”

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Music integrates with OneDrive to allow free storage of music – This update for Xbox Music and OneDrive will make it easier to access your content on nearly any device and shows Microsoft’s commitment to the music streaming service. Users can now simply open their OneDrive web folder or app, upload the music file from their hard drive and listen to it through the Xbox Music app whenever they want. An Xbox music pass subscription is not required, the process is completely free. People who already have the pass will get 100 GB free of OneDrive storage.

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Super Dungeon Bros hands-on: Like Gauntlet, but more metal – Super Dungeon Bros is (like Gauntlet) an isometric hack-and-slash game that sees you dungeon crawling alongside three friends in search of treasure. One important distinction is that players can choose any weapon they’d like in Super Dungeon Bros—you’re not constrained to having one warrior, one wizard, et cetera as per Gauntlet. In our demo, in fact, it was impossible not to double up. We had four players, but only three weapons to choose from (crossbow, sword, mace). The main addition in Super Dungeon Bros is an increased focus on co-op play.

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Can an epic strategy game make Zynga relevant again? – Times are hard for Zynga. The company exploded with the sudden rise of Facebook gaming, but has struggled to adapt as the industry has moved to mobile, and once-massive franchises like FarmVille have been left to wither. In early 2014 the company purchased NaturalMotion, the studio behind mobile hits like the charming Clumsy Ninja and CSR Racing, a game that at one point was making an estimated $12 million per month. The developer has been quiet since then, but recently unveiled its first post-Zynga project: Dawn of Titans, a strategy game that aims to turn massive fantasy battles into an experience you can play when you have a minute to kill.

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PlayStation’s Vue Live Streaming Cord-Cutter TV Service Launches In The U.S. – PlayStation is officially debuting its live streaming video service in the U.S. today, launching PlayStation Vue in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia with pricing beginning at $50 per month. The on-demand and live-streaming video service includes content partners like Fox News, AMC and Turner Broadcasting and offers channels like CBS, Discovery, Animal Planet, Syfy, Food Network and many more, depending on the package you select.

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Make Games On Your iPhone With Playr – Aside from the money-making behemoths like Candy Crush Saga, one of the most interesting trends in mobile gaming is the rise of flash-in-the-pan viral hits like Flappy Bird and Timberman. These games takes seconds to learn, days to master, are free or cost a few bucks each, and are basically disposable after the initial rush of hype. I know plenty of people who’ve gone through a number of those games and have said things to the effect of “I bet I could make a game like that.” For nearly two years, 18-year-old Chris Galzerano has been working on Playr, an app that lets anyone do just that.

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New Microsoft Store promotion offers 3 free months of Sling TV – If you purchase an Xbox One from Microsoft Store, whether it be online or from a physical location, you will also receive a three month subscription to Sling TV for free. Sling TV allows users to watch live television using your existing internet connection and a built-in app for Xbox One. The service currently starts at $20 a month and features networks like AMC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 Extreme Selfies That Will Make Your Stomach Churn – Voluntarily putting your life and limb in jeopardy is always interesting. At least, that’s the conclusion a growing number of people have come to as they do their part to expand the art of the selfie to unforeseen heights. Click through our slideshow and check out 20 selfies captured in unnecessarily precarious situations.

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Here you can see Mr. Wanted standing at the very tippy top of a spire.

Memory in the flesh – A radical 1950s scientist suggested memories could survive outside the brain — and he may have been right.

Pointing up  Fascinating!

Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook – I knew something was up by the time I saw a fourth toilet paper-related post on Facebook, all from different, unconnected friends. Just to be sure this was a real phenomenon, I went over to Twitter. Sure enough, a search for #toiletpaper delivered a considerable number of results. It seems the great over-or-under debate is alive on social media, but this time some new evidence has entered the fray.

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New genetic map of the UK shows which invasions created Britain’s DNA – Britain has a long history of invasions: over the past two millennia, various armies from the Romans to the Anglo-Saxons conquered the bulk of the British Isles. A new genetic analysis of the country has revealed which invading force had the greatest impact on its DNA. Britons share the most DNA with people from France and Germany — countries which were home to the Angles and Saxon that moved into the British Isles after Roman rule collapsed in the 4th century. And despite broad similarities, the UK can be split into 17 distinct genetic groups that correspond to modern regions, according to a paper published in Nature that analyzed genetic data from more than 2,000 individuals in the UK and more than 6,000 across Europe.

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Bioprinter 3D-prints living cartilage nose in 16 minutes – While traditional 3D-printers build objects using layers of plastic, we’ve seem some great strides in 3D-printing like lattices emerging from amorphous, resinous goo. Now bioprinters are entering the ring with their ability to create 3D models from biological materials. There’s no need to wait for an ear to grow on the back of a mouse; this bioprinter from the ETH Zurich Cartilage Engineering and Regeneration Group can print a nose from biopolymers and living cartilage cells in only 16 minutes. Best of all, no mice are harmed in the process!

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10 career risks you should be willing to take – Career in a rut? Sometimes you need to take a chance or two to get things moving in the right direction.

Something to think about:

“I was headed down a bad road after I had been kicked out of Yale. I had been arrested twice for DUI when I was 22-years-old. I was in jail in Rock Springs, Wyoming, overnight, on a DUI charge—second one in a year. And that was a wake-up call, in effect.”

–      Dick Cheney

Today’s Free Downloads:

System Mechanic Free – System Mechanic Free is a complete suite of powerful system repair and maintenance tools. The 7 core tools included in System Mechanic Free are designed to boost speed, fix problems, and instantly improve PC performance.

Using the same award-winning technology and user-friendly design that makes the full version of System Mechanic the expert’s choice and the #1-bestselling software in its class, System Mechanic Free empowers people of all skill levels to keep their computer running at peak performance.

The 7 core tools in System Mechanic Free are:

Registry Tuner: The most effective tool of its kind, Registry Tuner uses regularly updated research to safely repair registry errors and stabilize Windows computers

Startup Optimizer: Eliminates the top 25 most common startup bottlenecks in order to noticeably speed up Windows start time

Memory Mechanic: Reclaims more RAM memory for an instant performance boost

PC Cleanup: Cleans up system-clogging junk files and clutter

Drive Accelerator: Defragments hard drives to improve drive speed and performance

Shortcut Repair: Reconnects broken icons and shortcuts

Internet Connection Repair: Heals broken internet connections to get PCs back online

iolo technologies believes no one should unnecessarily experience the stress, lost time, and financial burden that can be caused by a poorly-performing PC—and System Mechanic Free provides the basic tools necessary to ensure Windows computers remain stable and optimized for the entire lifespan of the investment. Now, you can use the same research-driven tune-up tools and features that are trusted and recommended by millions of computer users worldwide to fix and speed up your home PC.

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

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

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama administration sets record for censoring and denying transparency requests – The US censored and refused to provide more documents than ever last year while responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, according to an analysis of federal data performed by the Associated Press. The government responded to just over 647,000 FOIA requests last year, a 4 percent drop from the year prior. In just over 250,000 of those cases, it censored documents or refused to provide access to them outright — nearly two out of every five requests. Censoring, however, may range from a single phone number’s removal to the redaction of nearly an entire page.

The Freedom of Information Act is a nearly 50-year-old law that allows any person to request records from the US government, which must turn them over in a timely fashion unless they are subject to a limited set of exceptions. The law plays a critical role in government transparency; unfortunately, this waning responsiveness hurts that, especially as broad conversations about government transparency continue due to a steady stream of leaked documents. The government, for its part, thinks that it isn’t doing quite so poorly. The AP reports that the US says it released all or parts of documents in 91 percent of cases, but this discounts some requests and is still a record low under Obama.

New York county sheriff must give up stingray records, judge orders – According to a judicial ruling issued Tuesday, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) in Northwestern New York state must turn over a number of documents concerning its purchase and use of stingrays. The 24-page order comes as the result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and marks a rare victory in favor of transparency of “cell-site simulators,” which are often shrouded in secrecy.

The devices can not only be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this year, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.

“The court today has confirmed that law enforcement cannot hide behind a shroud of secrecy while it is invading the privacy of those it has sworn to protect and serve,” Mariko Hirose, a NYCLU Staff Attorney, said in a statement. “The public has a right to know how, when and why this technology is being deployed, and they deserve to know what safeguards and privacy protections, if any, are in place to govern its use.”

Cisco posts kit to empty houses to dodge NSA chop shops – Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says.

The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers.

The interception campaign was revealed last May.

Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA’s interceptions are targeted.

“We ship [boxes] to an address that’s has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who ultimately it is going to,” Stewart says.

“When customers are truly worried … it causes other issues to make [interception] more difficult in that [agencies] don’t quite know where that router is going so its very hard to target – you’d have to target all of them.

There is always going to be inherent risk.”

Stewart says some customers drive up to a distributor and pick up hardware at the door.

The Mall of America reportedly used Facebook to track activists – The security team at the Mall of America may have created a fictitious Facebook account to surreptitiously compile information about Black Lives Matter supporters and track their plans. Citing documents it obtained, The Intercept says that the mall — which has its own counter terrorism unit — created a fictitious person named “Nikki Larson,” who they used to befriend and monitor protesters on social network.

That fishy account has since been quietly removed from Facebook, though dates back to 2009 and appears to be the work of a former Mall of America intelligence analyst. Before the account was yanked, “Nikki” had 817 friends, many of whom The Intercept says had ties to local Minnesota political activism groups. While active, the account also liked the Black Live Matter Facebook group in Minneapolis and changed the top header with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote, presumably to keep up appearances.

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