3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC; App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now; Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus; Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome; How to Buy a Cell Phone; Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money? BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs (free); Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price; 11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should; Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May; Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks; Cash register maker used same password non-stop since 1990; 10 easy ways to punch up your presentations; Can We Secure the Internet of Things? The 15 best Android games to play right now; Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s; Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home; Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones; Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation.
Silicon Valley’s privacy efforts must be working, because our governments are freaking out – If you’ve ever wondered what a government has left in its last breath of an argument it’s already lost, it’s almost certainly going to have something to do with “national security.” Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are freaking out because they’ll no longer as easily be able to grab your data — with or without a warrant. In the past week, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned that encryption made it almost impossible to find criminals and terrorists. That was hot on the heels of one Manhattan district attorney saying iPhones will become the “device of choice” for terrorists. And if that wasn’t enough, the UK’s leading counter-terrorism official said tech companies are creating systems that are “friendly to terrorists.”
3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC – It really doesn’t take much to set up a solid backup protocol for your PC. Here are the basics, with pointers to more details.
Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus – After eight years of using AVG’s antivirus software, I’ve decided to switch to Avast! Antivirus. Read about the frustration that pushed me over the edge, and why I chose Avast as my free anti-malware protection… (recommended by Bob3160).
How to Buy a Cell Phone – If you thought choosing a cell phone was difficult before, it’s even tougher today. That’s a good thing, though, because it demonstrates how innovation in the wireless industry has skyrocketed. We’re seeing rapid progress across all fronts, including displays, data networks, user interfaces, voice quality, third-party apps, and even mobile gaming. So what should you be looking for when buying a cell phone? Here are some key points to consider:
Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money? Let’s find out – Google’s offering a different kind of wireless phone service with its new Project Fi program. So how good of a deal is it compared to traditional carrier plans?
Misunderstanding Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price – Google’s new mobile voice and data service may save you money, or it may not. Either way, it offers network redundancy and coverage advantages for work and personal use.
Never miss a word with Microsoft OneNote 2013’s synced audio notes – Did he really say that? With Microsoft OneNote’s Record Audio feature, you can quickly zoom to the relevant bit of information.
SwiftKey Beta gives its myriad settings an extreme makeover with the Hub – The predict-your-typing company also reveals it’s partnering with Dashlane in an effort to automatically enter your passwords on mobile.
Twitter Highlights lures lazy users with friends’ activity – Twitter has rolled out Highlights, a new feature aiming at summarizing some of the peaks from your timeline that you might have otherwise missed. The new tool automatically cooks up a summary of the most interesting things the people you’re following are tweeting, along with local trending topics, twice a day. For Twitter, meanwhile, it’s another way to try to maintain active users.
Garmin’s latest navigation device has a built-in dash cam – Garmin is known for its in-car navigation systems, but its latest GPS system may take the cake. The Garmin nüviCam LMTHD (fun name) has a built-in dash cam, which allows you to overlay directions right over the feed so you can keep an eye on the road at all times. It also has a number of features usually reserved for luxury vehicles like alerts when you’re coming too close to a car ahead of you, or if you’re drifting out of your lane. For $399, the Garmin NüviCam LMTHD may be the first stand-alone GPS worth buying in quite a while.
11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should – You love Android—but how well do you really know Android? These power user tips dig deep into your system’s hidden crannies, and surface super-cool features you can really use.
Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Despite still being very much an early preview, Windows 10 is already brimming with handy new features, along with new tweaks and tricks—and, because the operating is still in preview, a handful of those tricks unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Others, though, simply let you mold some of Windows 10’s new features into the shape you see fit. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found. Be warned: Some of these may break as the operating system evolves, though we plan to update this article over time.
Amazon Apple Watch app puts shopping on your wrist – Amazon has updated its iPhone app to support Apple Watch, turning the new wearable into a mobile voice-controlled shopping accessory. The new version of the app, released just as the first Apple Watch orders are shipping out, not only works as a scratchpad for the Wish List, but entire purchases can be carried out directly from the wrist. It’s one of around 3,000 Apple Watch apps already waiting for Apple’s new toy in the App Store today.
App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now – It’s time to have a peek at exactly how many apps are being released to the Apple Watch at “launch” this week with the new App Store for Apple Watch. What is an “App Store for Apple Watch”, you might ask? It’s basically a category within the App Store on your iPhone or iPad. You can also access this category for the Apple Watch specifically through iTunes on your desktop computer. This “Apps for Apple Watch” section has not yet been released in its entirety to the full Apple software system. This is just the beginning. Imagine how awesome it’s going to be when these developers decide to bring their apps to Android Wear a few weeks down the line.
Dropbox Notes beta arrives as Evernote competitor – Early this month, some Dropbox users spotted hints of a note-taking service that was in-progress, something that had seemed likely as an eventual product after Dropbox made some tweaks to how it showed up once in the public eye. Now the service has been made official, though it isn’t open to the public in general yet: it’s called Dropbox Notes, and it is in a private beta. Invitations are going out now, and those interested can sign up to (hopefully) get one.
Polaroid Zip pocket printer spits out prints from your smartphone – Polaroid launched a new tiny portable printer earlier this week without much fanfare, and it is targeted at the mobile photographers among us — those who can’t remember the last time they picked up a dedicated digital camera because they’ve been too busy cataloging their life with a series of stylish smartphone-snapped pics. It is called the Zip printer, and it is small enough to fit in your pocket, printing out physical photographs for those times you take a shot that is extra special.
10 easy ways to punch up your presentations – Ah the slide presentation. For some, it’s the best route to getting an audience involved with a talk/discussion/lecture, showing the audience what to focus on. But after awhile, it can become a bit… routine. If you fall back on the same old delivery, your audience will pick up on it and you may lose their attention. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to enliven your presentations and turn them into effective tools that will not only help you get your point across, but also transform the event into an active and memorable moment. Don’t believe me? Read on.
Your website is about to lose 50% of all traffic thanks to Google – Google has changed how search works. If your site is not mobile friendly, you could lose as much as 50% of your traffic starting today. The company announced changes today in how they crawl sites after warning that the change was coming for the last month. It’s being called mobilegeddon already. If your site is not mobile friendly — that is, if users have to tap and zoom, scroll around, and can’t really make out the text on a smartphone — Google will penalize the site by pushing it much lower in the search engine results.
OpenOffice development is looking grim as developers flock to LibreOffice – Development on the free productivity suite is down to just 16 people, and the support system for new contributors is sorely lacking.
Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May – Summary:Amazon and DHL are piloting a scheme that will see deliveries made straight to Audi owners’ vehicles – whether they’re there or not.
Cash register maker used same password – 166816 – non-stop since 1990 – Fraud fighters David Byrne and Charles Henderson say one of the world’s largest Point of Sale (PoS) systems vendors has been slapping the same default passwords – 166816 – on its kit since 1990. Worse still: about 90 per cent of customers are still using the password. The enraged pair badged the PoS vendor by its other acronym, labelling it a “piece of shit” and heaping scatological scorn on a bunch of other borked sales systems. Fraudsters would need physical access to the PoS in question to exploit it by opening a panel using a paperclip. Such physical PoS attacks are not uncommon and are child’s play for malicious staff. Criminals won’t pause before popping and unlocking.
A sickening abdication of responsibility.
Negligence – the failure to exercise that degree of care that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons that may be injuriously affected by the want of such care.
FTC hits retail firm for secretly tracking customers – In reports to retail clients, Nomi provided aggregated information on how many consumers passed by the store instead of entering, how long consumers stayed in the store, the types of devices used by consumers, how many repeat customers enter a store in a given period and how many customers had visited another location in a particular chain of stores. In the settlement with the FTC, Nomi is prohibited from misrepresenting consumers’ options for controlling whether information is collected, use or shared about them and their devices. Nomi is also prohibited from misrepresenting how it notifies consumers about its information-gathering practices.
It’s unfortunate, but predictable, that the NSA firestorm has managed to virtually obscure an equally repugnant attack on personal privacy. While the NSA has a defensible position relative to data collection for national security purposes (a position I don’t support mind you), these parasitic corporate money hungry voyeurs continue to slip under the radar of public scrutiny.
Potent, in-the-wild exploits imperil customers of 100,000 e-commerce sites – Criminals are exploiting an extremely critical vulnerability found on almost 100,000 e-commerce websites in a wave of attacks that puts the personal information for millions of people at risk of theft. The remote code-execution hole resides in the community and enterprise editions of Magento, the Internet’s No. 1 content management system for e-commerce sites. Engineers from eBay, which owns the e-commerce platform, released a patch in February that closes the vulnerability, but as of earlier this week, more than 98,000 online merchants still hadn’t installed it, according to researchers with Byte, a Netherlands-based company that hosts Magento-using websites.
Security researchers have developed a method for detecting NSA Quantum Insert-style hacks – Fox-IT has published free open-source tools to detect duplicate sequence numbers of HTTP packets, with different data sizes, that are the hallmarks of Quantum Insert. The utilities developed by Fox-IT are capable of exposing fiddling with HTTP packets but are no by no means perfect and might themselves be circumvented, as a blog post by Fox-IT explains.
Can We Secure the Internet of Things? – It seems that “Internet of Things” or “IoT” is the latest catchphrase; you hear it everywhere. Has the IoT simply evolved from existing technology? Is it revolutionary, breaking old ideas? Or is it just a fad? An all-star panel at the RSA Conference debated this topic. Afterward I caught up with panelist Jeffrey Greene, Director Government Affairs North America and Senior Policy Counsel for Symantec, to get some insight.
Google grew both its revenue and profit in the first quarter of 2015 – Google just released its earnings statement for the first quarter of 2015, and the company had another healthy financial period — albeit one that just missed Wall Street estimates. The company pulled in $17.3 billion in revenue, up 17 percent year over year, while operating income of $4.45 billion represented a 26 percent increase over one year ago. That’s compared to the $17.5 billion in revenue Wall Street analysts were expecting; Google’s earnings per share of $6.57 also just missed expectations of $6.61.
Yahoo to take on Siri and Google Now (again) with Index – Yahoo is one company that definitely doesn’t have “quit” in its vocabulary. Predating but practically overthrown by Google and perhaps to some extent even Bing, Yahoo is always in search of new ways to generate income but without budging on its true calling. Under CEO Marissa Mayer, the company is hedging its bets on search. But it won’t be taking on Google directly, though of course it will do that as well. Instead, it is training its guns on Google Now, Siri, and Cortana. Yes, Yahoo will once again be entering the personal assistant arena. This time perhaps for real.
Comcast reportedly abandons acquisition of Time Warner Cable – Comcast is calling off its $45 billion dollar attempt to buy fellow cable provider Time Warner Cable, according to Bloomberg. The decision comes after recent reports that both the US Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission were preparing to turn against the deal after months spent looking into what it would mean for competition in the cable industry. Apparently Comcast saw the writing on the wall with the increased scrutiny from regulators and has walked away from a merger that would have combined the top two cable operators in the United States. An official announcement that the deal is canceled could come as early as tomorrow, per Bloomberg’s sources.
Median age at Google is 29, says age discrimination lawsuit – The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Robert Heath, a software engineer, was 60 when he applied in 2011 for a job at a rapidly growing Google. He wasn’t hired despite having “highly-pertinent qualifications and experience,” and being deemed by a Google recruiter as a “great candidate,” according to Heath’s lawsuit. The complaint was filed in U.S. district court in San Jose, California.
Games and Entertainment:
Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome – So you’re a big fan of the original Max, the Road Warrior, the nameless stranger, yes? Mad Max is a game based on a movie, a movie that resurrects the original Mad Max trilogy of films with a new lead actor and an alternate take on the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Have a peek at the latest trailer, the last trailer before launch, we hope, for Mad Max. This game will be coming out well after the movie, and it’ll include Dinki-Di dog food, just like it should. Just as Australian God intended.
Steam Workshop lets game modders sell their work, starting with Skyrim – Valve is taking another step in turning its Steam Workshop into a full-fledged marketplace for people who make mods, maps, or in-game items. Today, it expanded the ways that creators can directly sell their work — and it’s starting with one of the gaming world’s most vibrant modding communities, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Valve and Skyrim developers Bethesda Game Studios first added support for Steam Workshop in 2012, but at that time, they could only be offered for free. Now, modders can set their own price when they upload an item. Relatively few have taken advantage of this so far. Of over 25,000 mods, 19 are being sold for between $0.49 and $5.99.
Assassin’s Creed creator reveals his new game: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – Original creator of the Assassin’s Creed series and ex-Ubisoft Creative Director Patrice Désilets has unveiled Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, the first project to emerge from his indie studio Panache Digital Games. According to the studio’s website, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will be a third-person action and adventure game with survival elements. As is becoming increasingly common, the game will also be released in an episodic format. Each episode promises to “relive the greatest moments of mankind with a documentary twist.”
Telltale is making Marvel video games – Telltale Games, the studio known for its story-focused adventure video games based on properties like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Jurassic Park, has a major new partner: Marvel. Polygon reports that the first Telltale Marvel game will hit unspecified platforms sometime in 2017; it’s not known which characters it will concentrate on, or how it’ll fit into various iterations of the Marvel universe.
Acer unveils a new 34-inch Quad HD ultra-wide gaming monitor – and it’s quite a looker – Today, Acer announced a curved monitor that we suspect many buyers will want to stare at from every angle. But the XR341CKA isn’t all about style – although it certainly excels in that area. The 34-inch display features a 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio with Quad HD (3440x1440px) resolution and 178-degree viewing angles. It’s also the first curved monitor to feature NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, which the firm says “minimizes stutter and screen tear”. It will go on sale first in markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in August, priced around €1,399 EUR, but sales in North America ($1,299 USD) and China (8,999 CNY) won’t begin until September.
The 15 best Android games to play right now – The Play Store is overflowing with games these days, and amid seemingly endless free-to-play grinds, it can be difficult to find the really fantastic, absorbing experiences worth pouring your time into. Luckily, we’ve been playing them for years, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction. Included within are our picks for the 15 most essential, can’t-miss Android games you ought to play right now. It’s a diverse mix of options: memorable adventures, addictive quick-hit affairs, and everything in between, spanning a wide array of genres and price points. Ready to find your next on-the-go gaming obsession?
Off Topic (Sort of):
Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s – How many times have your parents told you to “turn that noise down?” How often do you wonder who the heck Wiz Khalifa, Sia, and Mark Ronson are? It’s clear that, as we grow older, our musical tastes change. But how much exactly? That’s the question Spotify sought to answer with new research from the company’s Taste Profiles (internal tools for personalization) and Echo Nest.
New Phantom 3 sets a higher bar for consumer drones – Check out the latest addition to the most prolific line of consumer quadcopters on the market. Filmmakers rejoice, it comes with 4K.
BMW 7 Series recognizes finger gestures, parks itself after you exit the car – Cars have been parallel parking themselves for years now, but BMW’s new 7 Series takes things to a new level. It can pull in to — and out of — parking spaces, and you don’t even have to be sitting in the vehicle while the magic happens. That’s right, the new 7 Series features remote control parking that you can activate from the fob. It’s like having your very own valet, except you never have to worry about tipping or finding a roach in the ash tray. It’s no ordinary fob, either. It’s BMW’s tech-packed Display Key, which features a touchscreen and lets drivers do things like adjust the cabin temperature and check fuel levels.
Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones – How far is too far when it comes to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality? One of the developers putting this question to the test is Australia-based Paranormal Games. Project Elysium, its entry into the upcoming Oculus VR Jam 2015, treads some shaky moral ground by promising to create a “personalized afterlife experience,” reuniting people with loved ones who have passed on. Exactly how the developer hopes to do this isn’t clear at this point (it will be required to showcase screenshots by April 27, followed by video footage the week after to be eligible for the jam’s grand prize), although a screenshot from Project Elysium’s development does show a friend of the studio being transformed into a 3D model.
I love the notion that the software development industry is, in part, driven by a sort of “because we can” philosophy –but, sometimes I have to wonder!
A development screenshot from Project Elysium – Paranormal Games
170-year-old champagne provides clues to past winemaking – Divers discovered bottles in a shipwreck off the Finnish Aland archipelago in the Baltic Sea in 2010. After tasting the bottles on site, the divers realized they were likely drinking century-old champagne. Soon after, 168 unlabeled bottles were retrieved and were identified as champagnes from the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (VCP), Heidsieck, and Juglar (known as Jacquesson since 1832) champagne houses. A few of the recovered bottles had been lying horizontal in close-to-perfect slow aging conditions. Discovery of these wines, likely the oldest ever tasted, unleashed a flood of questions. When were these wines produced? What winemaking processes were in use at the time? Where was the wine going when the shipwreck occurred?
Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home – An academic paper published by a team from the Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute has outlined the idea of something the researchers call Zensors. The idea behind Zensors is to use an Android phone and some fancy programming to make the dumb items in your home smart.
Researchers use VR goggles to study effects of human ‘invisibility’ – Researchers have managed to make people feel as if they were invisible using VR goggles, and that’s not a bad thing…at least not in the context of the study. The researchers found that by making people feel as if they were invisible, any social anxiety they might have experienced by standing in front of a crowd was lessened. Though the study and research in general are still in their early stages, it could pave the way to treatments for social anxiety, and could also answer some interesting questions about how humans would act if no one could see them.
Something to think about:
“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.”
– Richard Feynman
Today’s Free Downloads:
BlueStacks 0.9.26 Beta – BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs with instant switch between Android and Windows – no reboot is required. End consumers can now enjoy their favorite Android apps on Windows PCs. Android apps can appear either as icons on the Windows desktop, or within a full-blown Android environment.
BlueStacks helps PC manufacturers to ride the Android momentum by enabling Android apps on x86-based tablets, netbooks, notebooks, convertibles and AiO Windows PCs. With the new hybrid convertible form factors, BlueStacks completely eliminates the need to carry two devices. The end consumer benefits from getting both Android and Windows at the price of a single PC.
BlueStacks integrates seamlessly with Citrix and Microsoft software delivery infrastructure and with Citrix’s Enterprise App Store. With BlueStacks, enterprise IT can deliver Android apps securely and effortlessly to any end point running Windows.
The seamless user experience, simultaneous use of Android and Windows apps, and multi-touch enablement are built on ground breaking virtualization technology which requires zero configuration and is transparent to the end consumer.
StudioLine Photo Basic – StudioLine Photo Basic is an easy-to-use yet powerful management and editing software for digital photos. Images can be imported from camera, scanner and all popular file formats.
The image archive is the central database where you conveniently categorize your images and add keywords and descriptions. Standard IPTC and Exif tags are fully supported. 30 professional image tools are included to improve exposure problems, red-eye effects, color tones, etc.
Photos can be printed, emailed or uploaded as web galleries. CD/DVD writing is included.
Limitations: After installation you’ll be able to test all functions of StudioLine Photo Basic for 30 days. To continue using StudioLine Photo Basic 3 as a home user at no cost, simply request the complimentary activation code. StudioLine Photo Basic is only “Freeware” for personal use. Business or other commercial use requires purchase of a license.
Ghostery for Firefox – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. Ghostery for Chrome also available.
Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.
Ghostery also includes the optional, opt-in feature called Ghostrank, which sends Ghostery servers anonymous information about the trackers you encounter and where you encounter them. This allows us to create a more comprehensive list of detectable items, and helps us create a more transparent behavioral advertising ecosystem through our partnership with Evidon.
Ghostery is built and maintained for users that care about their online privacy, and is engineered with privacy as a primary goal. Ghostery use is anonymous. No registrations or sign-ups are required. The Ghostery plug-in does not place cookies into your browser. Neither the Ghostery application nor Evidon receives any data from Ghostery users unless the user opts-in to participate in Ghostrank. Ghostrank data itslef is anonymous, is NEVER used for advertising targeting purposes, and is only shared in aggregated, non-personal, statistical form.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation – The Australian government last month introduced legislation that would allow rights holders to get an injunction placed on internet service providers (ISPs) to force telcos to block specific overseas piracy websites from access by Australian users.
The move has been welcomed by rights holders, but faces opposition from Google, which told the parliamentary committee looking into the legislation that site blocking “is not the most effective means of stopping piracy”.
“A recent study of the piracy ‘ecosystem’ in which the authors conducted a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of various anti-piracy measures found that anti-piracy efforts directed towards blocking access to pirated content have not been successful,” Google said in its submission.
Google said that more effective measures include providing legitimate content that is more attractive to consumers than piracy, and cutting off advertising to piracy websites. The introduction of site blocking could have unintended consequences, Google warned.
House passes second cyberthreat information-sharing bill – For the second time in two days, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that would give legal protections to companies that share cyberattack information.
The House on Thursday voted 355 to 63 to pass the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPA), which would protect companies from customer lawsuits after they voluntarily share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies.
The NCPA is similar in several ways to the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), which passed the chamber on Wednesday, despite concerns from some lawmakers that it would allow some customer information to wind up in the hands of surveillance agency the U.S. National Security Agency.
David Petraeus sentenced to probation for leaking government secrets – Former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine today for leaking classified government intelligence to his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. The sentence is the end of a drawn out, very public ordeal for Petraeus, whose fall from grace was precipitous.
The scandal started in 2012, when the FBI discovered — apparently by accident — that Petraeus, then CIA Director, was disclosing classified information to Broadwell. Petraeus soon resigned from the agency, and charges were filed against him by the Justice Department. Petraeus ultimately took a deal, pleading guilty to one charge of sharing classified information.
Break this down any way you like, but the truth is – Petraeus betrayed his country for sexual favours.