Tag Archives: Facebook Messenger

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 7, 2015

How to turn off Windows 10’s keylogger (yes, it still has one);  You Asked: Can My Phone Kill My Car Battery?  Addicted to Facebook? You are not alone;  Facebook Messenger is now the second most popular app;  10 Travel Apps That Will Make You Feel Like a Local;  Take advantage of the Microsoft Print to PDF feature in Windows 10;  How to get the most out of your inkjet printer ;  6 new Google Drive features you need to know about;  Best free video editing software;  Files on Seagate wireless disks can be poisoned, purloined;  Microsoft prepares new Windows 10 phones for India;  The trailer of Netflix’s first movie will chill you to the bone;  Injected electronics: The next wave of wearable tech?  Batman: Arkham Knight PC patch finally available;  Feeling sad could change how you see colours;  Comcast’s adding new features for football fans;  Windows Firewall Control (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to turn off Windows 10’s keylogger (yes, it still has one) – Microsoft pretty much admits it has a keylogger in its Windows 10 speech, inking, typing, and privacy FAQ: “When you interact with your Windows device by speaking, writing (handwriting), or typing, Microsoft collects speech, inking, and typing information—including information about your Calendar and People (also known as contacts)…” If that makes you feel creepy, welcome to the human race. The good news is that you can turn off the keylogging.

You Asked: Can My Phone Kill My Car Battery? – When you plug your phone into your car to charge it up — especially when the car’s engine isn’t running — a feeling of dread can sneak into your mind. “Can my phone kill my car battery?” this voice whispers. The short answer is “yes.” The long answer, however, imparts some electronics smarts.

Addicted to Facebook? You are not alone – On the back of Facebook’s rise in second quarterly revenue and the fact 1.49 billion people use Facebook, the survey shows some revealing trends in how we actually use Facebook in our lives. The survey was carried out by Stop Procrastinating — a UK based productivity site. It asked 2000 people who use Facebook regularly and found that a majority are worried that their use of Facebook is compulsive.

Facebook Messenger is now the second most popular app in the United States – Remember when Facebook spun off Messenger and forced you to download it separately? Turns out, even though users initially hated it, the company knew what it was doing. A new report from digital media analytics company comScore shows that Facebook Messenger is currently the second most popular app in America. Messenger is Facebook’s answer to concerns that younger users are gravitating more to messaging apps like Snapchat. Of late, Facebook has embellished the app, adding in video calling, instant video sharing, peer-to-peer payments and even a personal assistant called M. Whatever the reasons for the increased focus on Messenger, the company’s efforts are paying off.

wps_clip_image-23346

Spindle Is A Social App That Encourages You To Be Selfish With Your Content – While social media platforms theoretically can be a great place to document life’s special moments, the reality is that social pressure often forces us to curate and filter our content for others, instead of focusing on ourselves. Launched last week, Spindle is a social journaling app that solves this issue by putting the emphasis on letting a user create content for themselves, and share it with friends as an afterthought.

wps_clip_image-25413

WhatsApp tops 900 million monthly active users – While other mobile messaging apps continue to grow in popularity, it seems none can push the Facebook-owned WhatsApp from its throne. Founder Jan Koum revealed that the app now has an incredible 900 million monthly active users. The news was shared by Koum in a Facebook post, and means that WhatsApp has gained an additional 100 million new users in just under five months, and achieved a 50% growth rate over the last year.

10 Travel Apps That Will Make You Feel Like a Local – No one wants to feel like a tourist. And these days, people don’t even want to feel like travelers, but want to experience a place like a local. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Multiple apps even. From sleeping in a local’s apartment to getting them to cook you a meal there, these 10 apps will turn you into an insider anywhere you go.

Best free video editing software – Commercial video editors can be very expensive, of course, but you may not have to go that far. Whether you want to trim your clips down to size, add a soundtrack or captions, apply transitions or special effects, there are some great free tools which can help – and these are the very best around.

Photoshop for 40 quid: Affinity Photo pushes pixels further than most – When El Reg tested the leading alternatives to Photoshop we told you to keep an eye out for Affinity Photo, a Mac-only rival from Serif that looked like being the best yet. It’s now out of beta and available for £40, which would buy you a Photoshop subscription for less than five months. Still, you could get an image editing app for even less, and Apple already gives you one free – helpfully called Photos, just to make it impossible to Google any information about it. It’s just about capable of displaying and tagging your collection of pictures and making basic non-destructive tweaks, and it looks pretty, but Photoshop it ain’t. And Affinity Photo? Well, I’ve been tweaking pics and reviewing image editing apps for two decades, and this is the first one I can remember that I might actually want to use.

wps_clip_image-14992

This is an app for serious image manipulation and compositing, not just tweaking.

Take advantage of the Microsoft Print to PDF feature in Windows 10 – I’ve always been a fan of tools, such as CutePDF Writer, that allow me to generate a PDF file via a print option. There are just so many instances where this capability can come in extremely handy. Well, fortunately, Microsoft has finally bestowed such a feature in Windows 10. Called Microsoft Print to PDF, this feature is installed as a native printer in Windows 10, right next to the good old Microsoft XPS Document Writer. Let’s take a closer look.

wps_clip_image-148

How to get the most out of your inkjet printer – Printers are probably one of the most hated pieces of consumer electronics. Most of the time we can live without them, but when we need them, we really need them, and more often than not, that’s the time when they decide to play up.

6 new Google Drive features you need to know about – Just in time for the school year, Google’s added new features to Docs, Sheets and Slides, its online productivity tools. But you don’t have to be a student to use these cool new features, since they’re available to anyone with a Google account. Here are our favorite additions.

Snooz “sound conditioner” aims for restful sleep – Some people need total darkness to sleep, others need a little light. In the same way, some people need complete silence, but others need noise. That noise can come from a smartphone app, but the artificial nature of these noises make it ineffective for some. Others just flip the fan on, but that’s not feasible in certain situations, and is a waste of energy. That’s where Snooz comes in — it’s a relatively small saucer-shaped horizontal “sound conditioner” that provides white noise.

wps_clip_image-15244

Snap digital camera takes Polaroid back to its instant photo days – The latest camera to bear the Polaroid name (it’s actually the work of a company called C&A Marketing, a brand licensing outfit) is the cheap-and-cheerful Snap. Snap isn’t like other digital point-and-shoots on market. It’s built for fun and shareability, but in an old-school, Polaroidy way. Instead of using built-in WiFi to zip your pictures off to Facebook friends, you can print out a copy and actually hand it to them on the spot. The 10mp shooter also has a cool “photo booth” mode. Switch it on and the Snap captures six pictures in 10 seconds, very much like those machines at the mall do.

wps_clip_image-20875

Five to Try: Hopper helps you score cheap flights, and Pokémon hits the Play Store – It’s Labor Day weekend here in the States, so it’s apt that our latest Five to Try picks focus on fun, relaxation, and entertainment. In fact, if the long weekend has you thinking about another breather on the horizon, Hopper can help you secure the best fares by predicting flight pricing trends. Meanwhile, Google’s new standalone Street View app lets you explore stunning photo spheres from around the world, while Scout Launcher refocuses your home screen on videos, music, and news.

Security:

Files on Seagate wireless disks can be poisoned, purloined – thanks to hidden login – CERT.org has reported Seagate wireless hard drives include “undocumented Telnet services” accessible with a hard-coded password. This allows “unrestricted file download capability to anonymous attackers with wireless access to the device.” And another flaw makes it possible to upload anything into the devices’ default file-sharing directory. The three flaws present in the device mean that anyone on your network – or can reach it from the outside – armed with the default password of “root” and enough savvy to try the username “root” can download the entire contents of the Seagate devices, then upload malware into them. Which could mean fun times if bad guys decide to replace your putty.exe, or Office documents, with something containing malware. Seagate’s made new firmware available, version 3.4.1.105 to be precise, and requests owners of its kit to “please check the Download Finder regularly to determine if new firmware is available for your drive.” Lovely sentiments, but of course most consumers have shown they’ve no idea about this stuff by failing to install much-needed new broadband router firmware despite colossal security holes.

Hackers spent at least a year spying on Mozilla to discover Firefox security holes – and exploit them – Hackers have known about unpublicized and unpatched critical security holes in the Firefox web browser for a year or more – all by invading Mozilla’s systems. The Mozilla Foundation admitted on Friday that a privileged account on Firefox’s Bugzilla bug-tracking software has been compromised since at least September 2014. Said account, and thus the miscreants who gained access to it, could view the crucial non-public details of security bugs in Firefox that programmers were working on fixing. Information on these vulnerabilities is withheld so people can’t write code to exploit the bugs to infect Firefox users with malware – if you have access to what the browser’s developers are trying to fix, you know exactly how to attack the software and infiltrate victims’ computers.

LinkedIn-based intelligence gathering campaign targets the security industry – A LinkedIn-based intelligence gathering campaign has been using fake LinkedIn profiles to map out the professional networks of IT security experts.

Spotify updates its privacy policy again, makes it more clear – Spotify updated its privacy policy in the recent past, and while many users went on to accept the updated terms (which are, by all accounts, fairly benign), some users expressed concern about some of the content Spotify may or may not be accessing. That all boiled down to a communication issue, says Spotify, which had quickly pushed out an apology when the uproar started. Now it is back with another updated privacy policy, and this one is more clear. Spotify announced the new (new) privacy policy on Thursday, saying that the confusion resulting from its last policy update was “understandable”.

Company News:

Getting Nokia’s groove back: Microsoft prepares new Windows 10 phones for India – Microsoft is preparing a new set of Windows 10-based, Nokia-branded smartphones to be released in India by the end of 2015, according to a report in the Economic Times. The devices will be some of the first designed from the ground up for Windows 10. The new operating system, which launched on PCs and tablets in late July, is expected to be rolled out for mobile devices in the next few months.

Google may return to China with a censored app store – Back in 2010, Google largely abandoned China over concerns of cyberattacks and surveillance. It was a bold, if commercially risky, move meant to protect users of Google’s services and assert Google’s values. The situation in China likely hasn’t changed in the years since, but it may simply be that Google can no longer ignore the country’s enormous technology market. Apple is already there with phones and an app store, after all, and China is expected to become its dominant market. Google and China didn’t exactly leave things on good terms, however, so it may need help getting back into the country. The Information reports that Google will lean heavily on partners, possibly such as Huawei, to include the Play Store with phones sold throughout China.

BlackBerry acquires Good Technology for $425 million, accelerates software plans – BlackBerry on Friday moved to bolster is enterprise mobility management prospects and consolidate the industry a bit with a deal to acquire Good Technology for $425 million in cash. The company has been working to reinvent itself as one primarily driven by software and the acquisition of Good will go a long way toward that goal. BlackBerry said Good will add $160 million in revenue in the first year. In a statement, BlackBerry said that Good will give it the assets to offer a unified mobility platform that can manage multiple platforms.

Games and Entertainment:

PC gaming flourishes at IFA as PC makers seek higher profits – Asus, Lenovo, and other PC makers are putting PC gaming hardware front and center among their hardware lineups. Why? Money, of course.

wps_clip_image-12550

With the Windows 10 Xbox app, the gaming console and PC are colliding.

The trailer of Netflix’s first movie will chill you to the bone – Netflix has just released the trailer of it’s upcoming movie, Beasts of No Nation, and the Idris Elba starrer has us on edge already. True Detective director Cary Fukunaga is behind the child soldier drama, which has recently been doing the film festival rounds where it has already received honors – we suspect Netflix will be pushing hard for an Academy Award nomination. The film stars Idris Elba as a war lord, and follows the story of Agu, portrayed by child actor Abraham, who is forced to become a child soldier during the civil war of an unnamed African country.

wps_clip_image-2973

Batman: Arkham Knight PC patch finally available – Batman: Arkham Knight was released a mess and now, finally, is getting a PC patch that will maybe (hopefully) squash all those bugs. The patch was recently up for beta testing, and on Thursday it was announced on Steam that those who’d already grabbed the Arkham Knight for PC game could now get the patch. If you didn’t get the game when it was released (its sales were pulled a short while later), you’ll still need to wait. When the PC game will be going back up for sale is not clear.

wps_clip_image-14453

Borderlands Getting Xbox One Backwards Compatibility – Good news, Borderlands fans. The original role-playing shooter will work on Xbox One when Microsoft releases its backwards compatibility update in November. Even better — if you’re a member of the Xbox One Preview program, you can try it out now. This means that if you own Borderlands for Xbox 360, you’ll be able to play it on your Xbox One — and you can carry over your previously saved files, game add-ons, and achievements.

wps_clip_image-17669

Comcast’s adding new features for football fans – Comcast is catering to the wants of its subscribers, at least the subscribers who enjoy football season. On Thursday, the service provider announced that it is making its X1 Sports mobile app “the ultimate football companion” for football season — for both the NCAA and NFL seasons. Comcast says it’ll be bringing users more football content than before, including everything from visualizations that make it easy to catch up on what has already gone down to real-time stats on games.

wps_clip_image-19263

World premiere of Steve Jobs movie gets rave reviews – Though opinions tend to vary quite drastically on Steve Jobs the man, it seems that everyone’s in agreement about Steve Jobs the movie, which has garnered a rapturous response from critics out of its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival this past weekend. Currently rocking a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are unanimous in their praise for Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of the visionary behind Apple, with David Ehrlich of Time Out calling his performance “miraculous”, while Gregory Ellwood of HitFix states that though Fassbender “doesn’t look or sound very much like Jobs”, his “impressive performance” still prompts “sympathy for an obviously stubborn egomaniac.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Injected electronics: The next wave of wearable tech? – Forget Google Glass and that Fitbit you used to wear; the ultimate in wearable computing isn’t worn on your body, but embedded within it. With chips physically inserted into your body either attached to nerves or placed into muscles or skin, a new form of synergy between human and computer can occur. The medical uses are potentially huge. “The technology could be used to help recover tissues following a brain injury or help manage diabetes by providing an intelligent solution for controlling insulin levels,” says Collette Johnson, Medical Business Development Manager at Plextek Consulting. “Injectable electronics could also provide similar applications in chemical regulation of the brain for people with imbalances, as well as for individuals with growth hormone-related diseases. They could also be used to help control prosthetics by reacting to muscle motion.”

wps_clip_image-17733

Federal bust of long-running escort site Rentboy.com leads to protests – Rentboy.com isn’t the first website to be shut down for allegedly promoting an illegal business. But federal prosecutors may not have expected the backlash stemming from last week’s bust of the 19-year-old gay escorting site. Anger over the bust began with blog posts and Twitter diatribes, and yesterday it spilled onto the streets. A group of several dozen people marched in a small but well-organized protest in front of the US District Court in Brooklyn, home to the prosecutors who took down the site last week.

These Playing Cards Can Take A Bullet – If you ever wondered what you’d do if someone pulled a gun on you as you were playing poker, wonder no more. A group called “Sly Kly” are seeing pickup on its playing cards that are made out of Kevlar or carbon fiber…your choice. These materials, as you probably know, can take a bullet. I’m not the only person who feels like I need this added protection, as they’ve already raised $40,371 as of writing (way past their $25,000 goal). I’ve never shot a deck of regular playing cars, since I don’t really like guns and most certainly don’t have a gun, but I imagine that it’d put a hole right through every card. These Kevlar ones? Not so much. Have a watch as their deflection of bullets is put on display:

Vicious drone attack by sneaky chimp no accident say researchers – A chimp by the name of Tushi took down a drone in a report released this week by the journal Primates. This event took place this April but footage was just released today, complete with drone movement, pre-emptive chimpanzee strike action, and a 1.8-meter long stick. This attack was described as deliberate and planned. This shows more evidence that primates are able to think ahead and be creative in their toolmaking, so said scientists to the surprise of absolutely no-one.

wps_clip_image-16326

Israel Could Grow Into A Global Cannabis Startup Superpower – Israel is already a leading global player in clinical testing and Israeli growers have been leveraging those clinical trials to produce new strains for decades. These growers have developed unique grow-how to deliver a medical grade product. “Israeli growers have agreements with companies in USA, Canada, Czech Republic and Australia. Israel has the oldest and largest regulated medical cannabis programs in the world with over 22,000 registered patients. The Hebrew University holds a rich IP bank of cannabis patents. It is easier to conduct cannabis research and clinical studies in Israel than in any other country in the world,” said Saul Kaye, the founder of iCan and CannaTech, a yearly cannabis innovation and investor summit in Israel. Governments and multinationals are currently flocking to Israel where clinical testing faces fewer hurdles.

Feeling sad could change how you see colours – A blue mood may be more than just a figure of speech. Your mood may also affect how you perceive the world around you, according to a new study. A team of researchers has demonstrated that sadness could have an effect on the way we see colour. The team, led by psychology researcher Christopher Thorstenson of the University of Rochester, found that people in whom they had induced a sad mood were less accurate in identifying colours on the blue-yellow axis, compared to people who weren’t feeling sad.

Facebook beats Google as the best place to work in the UK – Glassdoor, the jobs website, has published a list of the top 25 places to work in the UK. Facebook came top and Google bottom, but most of the companies are involved in IT, and not all of them are based in London….

Something to think about:

“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.”

–     Barack Obama

Downloads:

Windows Firewall Control – Managing Windows Firewall is now easier than ever – Windows Firewall Control is a powerful application which extends the functionality of the Windows Firewall and provides quick access to the most frequent options of Windows Firewall. It runs in the system tray and allows user to control the native firewall easily without having to waste time by navigating to the specific part of the firewall. This is the best tool to manage the native firewall from Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, Server 2008, Server 2012. Windows Firewall Control offers four filtering modes which can be switched with just a mouse click:

High Filtering – All outbound and inbound connections are blocked. This setting blocks all attempts to connect to and from your computer.

Medium Filtering – Outbound connections that do not match a rule are blocked. Only the programs that you allow can initiate outbound connections.

Low Filtering – Outbound connections that do not match a rule are allowed. The user can block the programs he doesn’t want to allow initiating outbound connections.

No Filtering – Windows Firewall is turned off. Avoid using this setting unless you have another firewall running on your computer.

Program Features:

√ Intuitive and easy accessible interface in the system tray, next to the system clock.

√ Full support with standard user accounts. Elevated privileges are required only at installation.

√ Disable the ability of other programs to add Windows Firewall rules.

√ Multiple and easier ways of creating new rules in Windows Firewall.

√ Integrated support of creating, modifying and deleting Window Firewall rules.

√ Lock feature which can disable the access to the settings of the program and Windows Firewall.

√ Shell integration into the right click context menu of the executable files.

√ Display invalid rules with the possibility to delete them very quickly.

√ Merge multiple similar rules or duplicate existing ones.

√ Search for executable files through folders and create new rules in seconds.

√ View recently allowed and blocked connections and create new rules from the Security log.

√ Choose if you want the program to start at user log on.

√ Import, export and restore all firewall rules or just the selected rules.

√ Protection to unauthorized uninstallation.

√ Possibility to restore previous settings at uninstallation.

√ Global hot keys are supported and various shortcut keys are available.

√ And many, many more. Just try it out.

wps_clip_image-10869

Process Lasso – Tame CPU hungry processes and take control of your PC!

Process Lasso is NOT yet another task manager. It is real-time process optimization and automation software. Priority optimization, affinity optimization, core optimization, automated rules, automated power profiles; you name it, and Process Lasso does it!

ProBalance – Keep your PC responsive during high CPU loads!

Gaming Mode 2.0 with Bitsum Highest Performance power plan – new

IdleSaver – Run at maximum performance while active; conserve energy when idle

SmartTrim – The first-ever intelligent RAM optimizer – new

Real-time CPU affinity and process priority optimization!

Automate and control process settings and power plans

Light-weight native code with negligible resource use

Efficient stand-alone core engine that can run as a service

Unique system responsiveness metric to quantify your experience!

Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and Windows 10

wps_clip_image-24575

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Mind-blowing secrets of NSA’s security exploit stockpile revealed at last: Incredible document has to be seen to be believed – The NSA has revealed for the first time in public how it handles and reports critical unpatched security flaws its snoopers discover in software.

It is generally accepted the US taxpayer-funded spy agency has a private stash of exploitable programming blunders that it uses to infect and monitor its intelligence targets’ computers and phones.

Alerting app makers and IT giants to these holes, and getting them patched, could cost Uncle Sam some valuable information. It’s possible the agency tips off companies about the vulnerabilities once they’ve been successfully used against a target. The tech security world has been pressing to get some insight into the US government’s zero-day policy.

On Friday, we found out thanks to a successful Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Human Rights Groups Lambast Twitter For Banning Service That Tracked Politicians’ Deleted Tweets – Seventeen international human rights and transparency groups, including the Sunlight Foundation, EFF, Free Press, Open State Foundation, Human Rights Watch and others, are taking Twitter to task for its decision to ban the Politwoops tool last month, which was used to track politicians’ deleted tweets. Twitter had earlier banned the U.S. version of this tweet-tracking service in May, saying it was in violation of Twitter’s developer agreement. At the time, Twitter also noted that every user on its service should have the same rights to privacy.

But the organizations argue that what politicians say is a matter of public record, and therefore, they shouldn’t have the same expectations of privacy when using social media as ordinary citizens do.

Politwoops, for those unfamiliar, was a tool developed by Dutch organization, the Open State Foundation, over three years ago. The code was used to track politicians’ and diplomats’ remarks on Twitter – and their subsequent removal – in 30 countries around the world. In the U.S., a government transparency group called the Sunlight Foundation used that same code to create a U.S. version of the service.

Twitter shut down the U.S. Politwoops account in May, but dozens of other international accounts continued to operate until this August.

America’s crackdown on open-source Wi-Fi router firmware – THE TRUTH – In a proposed update [PDF] to the regulator’s rules over radiofrequency equipment, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would oblige manufacturers to “specify which parties will be authorized to make software changes.”

In addition, it proposes that “modifications by third parties should not be permitted unless the third party receives its own certification.”

While the intent is to make the FCC’s certification of the next generation of wireless equipment faster and more flexible, open source advocates were quick to notice that the rules would effectively force manufacturers to lock down their equipment and so remove the ability to modify software without formal approval from the US government. Such an approach goes directly against the open source ethos.

wps_clip_image-4624

French ISPs petition court to overturn secret foreign surveillance decree – Two French ISPs have asked France’s highest court to make public a secret government decree defining how French security services can monitor the Internet.

France’s foreign intelligence service, the Directorate General of Exterior Surveillance (DGSE) operates under rules set in a secret government decree in 2008. The existence of the decree was revealed by the magazine l’Obs in July this year.

The decree’s existence has not been denied by the government. While its content remains secret, it is known that it authorizes the DGSE to tap Internet communications entering or leaving French territory on a massive scale.

On Thursday, ISPs FDN and FFDN, along with online rights group La Quadrature du Net, revealed that they had filed two suits with the Council of State, seeking a summary judgment and suspension of the unpublished decree. The Council of State is, among other functions, France’s highest court for matters involving the administration.

3 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 1, 2015

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games;  How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer;  Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans;  VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign;   What to do when your email address sends spam;  Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say;  Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D;  Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite;  5 apps to help you save water;  Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users;  Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV;  Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education;  Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned;  Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search;  Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge;  Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer – For kids, summertime is a brief window of freedom they yearn for all school year long. Parents, meanwhile, look at it a little differently. Sure, pool parties, camping trips and sleepovers are full of laughter and fun, but they also provide parents with lots to worry about. But that’s just offline — the Internet, where parents have even less of a view into their children’s activity, can be a troublesome hotspot in the warm school-less months. These five tips can help keep your children safe online in the summertime, even though they really ought to be outside playing anyway.

Pointing up    Be a security warrior – pass on these tips to friends and family with children.

What to do when your email address sends spam – Spam is going out in your name to everyone you know. A few precautions can keep this from happening again.

Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans – “Quick! The boss is coming shut down that MLB stream!” Too late, you’re caught. Lucky for you, the boss pulled up a chair to watch the game too, but you can’t always count on near misses to get you through your slack-off time at work. That’s why it’s good to know about a great little tool available in the Chrome Web Store called Panic Button from the VPN specialists at HideMyAss. With this handy little extension, all you do is click the red icon and your browser tabs disappear.

Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say – What works—and what doesn’t – Apple Music, the company’s new music streaming service, launches Tuesday. Here are some of the reviews we’ve seen so far:

9 things you should try first with Apple Music (pictures) – Apple Music has arrived — here are some things you should try first.

wps_clip_image-7104

How to Stop Apple Music From Automatically Billing You – The first three months are free, but it defaults to auto-renew. But if you end up ditching the service after the trial ends, you should make sure you’re not billed $9.99 under Apple Music’s default automatic renewal. (Remember: anyone with an Apple ID had to link up a valid credit card or other payment option.) Here’s how to make sure you don’t accidentally cost yourself some cash, as WIRED points out:

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? – So modest are the requirements for Windows 10, you may be able to run it on machines that shipped with Windows Vista eight years ago. But just how low can Windows 10 go when it comes to PC specs? Since Microsoft released the OS for testing last year people have been loading Windows 10 onto hardware dating back to 2003 – eons ago on the PC refresh timescale. Here are the low-end and long-in-the-tooth machines that proved capable of running Windows 10.

How to turn your Windows 10 upgrade files into an ISO disk image – One question I’ve been asked more than any other in recent weeks is whether Microsoft will release Windows 10 in ISO format. No one outside Redmond knows yet, but in the meantime there’s an option: Make your own ISO files. Here’s how. [Updated with product keys for Preview builds 10158 and 10159]

Facebook Is Keeping Closer Tabs on the Videos You Watch – Facebook is always monitoring what you do — and every like, comment, and share is used to help determine the content that shows up in your News Feed. But Zuckerberg and Co. are taking things a step further with their latest update. Now, you don’t even need to like or share a video to signal to the social network that you enjoy this type of content. The company on Monday announced it will begin taking into account more subtle cues — whether you turn up the volume on a video or make it full screen, for instance — to help determine what to show you in News Feed.

Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users – We’ve previously detailed Facebook Messenger’s new feature for sending money to friends, but in case you missed it, the feature works as such: you fire up Messenger and find the friend you want to send money to. Tap the “$” icon, enter an amount, and send it away. The person on the receiving end can then accept it and the money will be sent to their bank account. It’s a convenient feature, one that is now available to all US users.

wps_clip_image-3309

5 apps to help you save water – According to the US Drought Monitor, 94.6 percent of California is currently facing severe to exceptional drought. Even if you happen to live in a state or country that’s blessed with abundant rainfall, it’s never too early to start conserving water. If you’re not sure where to start, I have good news for you — there are several apps that can help you learn about water conservation, track your water usage, and take steps to cut back on usage.

Gmail’s latest update will add wallpapers and emoji – Dozens of apps are bringing innovation to email, including Google’s Inbox. Meanwhile, Gmail is getting more… wallpapers. Google announced today that Gmail’s latest update will add hundreds of themes and give users new ways to customize them with blur, vignettes, and custom text. The update will also expand Gmail’s weird emoji library, and should roll out in the next couple of days. All we can say is, there better be a taco emoji.

wps_clip_image-15930

PayPal tweaks robocall policy again, won’t cold call you with advertising – PayPal has been tinkering with things ever since it was announced that the company would finally split from eBay. The first update that they put together gave both the company and its partners permission to cold call for just about any reason they wanted to. Users were opted in by default, and it looked as though there wasn’t going to be any way for you to opt out. PayPal users weren’t too keen on the change, and it’s not the kind of thing the FCC looks kindly upon. In fact, the Commission was getting ready to put new consumer protections in place. Just two days after the robocall update was spotted, PayPal announced they were backing off. Users would indeed be given the chance to opt out.

Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D – Launching today, Rooomy is an iPad app which lets you turn 2D images of a room into a 3D space. You can also decorate these 3D rooms with over 500 pieces of virtual 3D furniture from popular brands like Design Within Reach and All Modern. Built by Loft-NedSense, a European company listed on the NYSE Euronext, the app is mainly designed to be as a virtual staging solution for the real estate industry. Here is how the service works: Real estate brokers upload photos of rooms for a flat fee of $20 per property. After using in a built-in tool to identify where the walls in the room are, it is turned into a 3D model. Potential buyers can then browse homes for sale within the app, and explore the furnished rooms before scheduling a showing.

wps_clip_image-27649

YouTube Brings 60fps Video Streams To Its Android And iOS Apps – Over the last few months, Google’s YouTube launched both 60fps video on the desktop and — later — for live video streams. Starting today, you can also watch the service’s smooth 60fps videos in its iOS and Android apps. Given that these video streams were already available on YouTube’s other main platforms, it was only a matter of time before Google brought this feature to mobile, too. According to a YouTube spokesperson”, 60fps YouTube is now available on the desktop, Apple TV and the PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles.

AppleCare will replace your battery once it drops to 80% of its capacity – Apple will now replace any battery covered by AppleCare+ once it drops below 80 percent of its original capacity, as outlined in refreshed AppleCare+ documents spotted by MacRumors late last week and reported on other sites today. Previously, a battery had to drop to 50 percent of its original capacity to be eligible for replacement under AppleCare+, limiting its helpfulness to all but the heaviest users and those with defective batteries. Macs covered by the standard AppleCare agreement can also have their batteries replaced if they drop below 80 percent of their original capacity, as outlined in a footnote here. AppleCare+ can be added to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch at purchase or within 60 days of the purchase date.

Security:

VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign – A team of five researchers from universities in London and Rome have identified that 14 of the top commercial virtual private networks in the world leak IP data. “Despite being a known issue, our experimental study reveals that the majority of VPN services suffer from IPv6 traffic leakage,” the authors wrote in the paper A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients [PDF]. “Our findings confirm the criticality of the current situation: many of these [14] providers leak all, or a critical part of the user traffic in mildly adversarial environments.

Pointing up   For privacy – think Tor Browser Bundle.

Vulnerability In Security Service Lifelock Could Have Exposed Logins And Passwords – A vulnerability discovered by security researchers Eric Taylor and Blake Welsh could turn an innocuous “refer-a-friend” page into an official-looking phishing page. By adding encoded HTML to the end of a basic URL, Taylor and his partner were able to simulate a Lifelock login page that could potentially grab usernames and passwords from unsuspecting users. Lifelock closed the vulnerability, which is called a cross-site scripting attack, after Taylor notified the company. Lifelock has over 3 million customers with revenue of $369.65 million. As of 2010 Lifelock’s CEO Todd Davis has been targeted for identity theft over a dozen times.

Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite – The Yosemite 10.10.4 update includes fixes for QuickTime, OpenSSL and ImageIO, along with remote code execution flaws and other exploits that could allow an attacker to obtain elevated privileges or crash applications. The Safari update includes fixes for four vulnerabilities in the WebKit browser engine. An attacker could target the flaws to remotely execute code, steal account information, view WebSQL databases and lift cookie information from a targeted Mac. Users running Yosemite should update their system software to install the security fixes as soon as possible. Those running older versions of OS X can get some of the updates by installing patches for Safari 6, 7 and 8.

Medium replaces passwords with secure email links – Medium, the stylish blogging platform/social writing network, has just announced a big change in the way users sign in to the service. Here’s how it works if you’re not familiar with that process: If you go to Medium and want to sign in, you’ll click a login button and type your email address. Check for a new message from Medium which contains a link that, when click, will take you to your account. That’s it. The links can only be used once, and will expire after 15 minutes.

wps_clip_image-27926

Australia’s online bullying monitor starts Wednesday – Children will be able to lodge complaints to e-Safety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon from July 1 to seek to have alleged bullying content pulled down from Facebook and Twitter.

Company News:

Cisco to buy cybersecurity firm OpenDNS in $635m deal – Cisco has announced its intention to purchase threat protection security firm OpenDNS in a deal worth $635 million. Announced on Tuesday, the tech giant said the move will accelerate the development of the Cisco Cloud Delivered Security Portfolio, and OpenDNS will prove a boost to advanced threat protection services for Cisco clients. In addition, the OpenDNS cloud delivered platform will give Cisco better visibility and more insight into the threat landscape. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will play $635 million in cash and equity awards, as well as “retention-based incentives” for OpenDNS.

Amazon Launches Full Retail Operations In Mexico – Amazon today formally announced its expansion into physical goods sales in Mexico. The company had previously only offered Kindle e-books on its online site which opened for Mexican customers in 2013. Today on Amazon.com.mx, Amazon will introduce a Spanish-language site featuring millions of items including consumer electronics, kitchen and home items, sports equipment, tools, baby, health and personal care products, jewelry, music, books, movies, software and more. The company is also launching its online selling service for Mexican businesses and sellers as well as its Fulfillment by Amazon service.

Uber France executives to go on trial over UberPop – Uber France and two company executives will go on trial in September, French prosecutors announced today, on charges related to its UberPop service. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager for Western Europe, and Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal were taken into police custody yesterday in Paris, a few days after French taxi unions staged a nationwide strike in protest against UberPop. As AFP reports, the executives and Uber France have been charged with misleading business practices, complicity in operating an illegal taxi service, and illegal treatment of personal data. They will go before a correctional court on September 30th.

Uber Stages Protest At NYC City Hall Against Bill Throttling New Driver Signups – Today Uber staged a protest outside of New York City Hall, where inside members of the City Council Transportation Committee were introducing a bill that would require the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to limit the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses. The law would mean Uber could only add about 200 new drivers to the service in New York over the next year. More specifically, transportation companies would be limited to adding new drivers at a rate that amounts to one percent of the number of drivers are currently on each company’s platform in NYC. This cap would severely limit the growth of transportation companies in NYC, and would be a big win for the taxi industry.

Facebook eyeing next billion users with upcoming Africa office – Facebook is eyeing the future and as such will be launching its first office in Africa, it has been announced. The office will be in a Johannesburg suburb and will be run by Nunu Ntshingila. So far Facebook has about 120 million users in Africa, a small number compared to the more than a billion people who call it home. The social network’s Internet.org and Facebook Lite will play a part in getting users on board.

VMware Agrees To Pay $75.5M To Settle Illegal Pricing Allegations – In a significant settlement that could embolden American employees who witness company misconduct, VMware and government contractor Carahsoft Technology Corporation agreed to pay the $75.5 million today to settle illegal pricing allegations. The Department of Justice accused the companies of violating the Fair Claims Act and overcharging the government, in a case brought in conjunction with a former VMware executive. VMware steadfastly denied any wrong-doing in the case.

Google asks for, and gets, extra time to respond to European antitrust charges – The company had asked for extra time to examine documents provided by the Commission, which has now given it until Aug. 17 to defend itself against charges that it systematically favored its own comparison shopping product over those of competitors. Most Commission staff will be on vacation that month, although someone will be available to receive Google’s response and “the right for Google to be heard will be fully respected,” a Commission official said.

Games and Entertainment:

Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games – By now, we’re accustomed to platform holders like Apple refusing to carry games and apps with questionable content on their digital storefronts. We’re less accustomed to national governments stepping in to decide what apps can and can’t be downloaded within their borders. That’s just what Australia is set to do tomorrow, though, as a new pilot program will ban hundreds of mobile titles that have been “refused classification” in the country on platforms like Google Play. Starting July 1, those titles will be effectively banned in Australia, according to an ABC report.

First trailer for Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden movie is all drama – Technically Incorrect: Teasing the new movie “Snowden” with a trailer is no easy task. So the producers merely whet your appetite. The first trailer was released on Tuesday and the drama drips from it.

wps_clip_image-7243

Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV – A survey released on Tuesday by TiVo finds that 9 out of 10 people are engaging in “binge viewing,” which the digital video recording company defines as watching more than three episodes of a particular TV show in one day. According to TiVo, 92% of respondents to the company’s latest Binge Viewing Survey said they have engaged in the act of television gluttony at some point.

King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember arrives next month – As we’d first talked about in late summer last year, Sierra Entertainment has been revived and its first order of business was bringing back King’s Quest, a title that debuted earlier this year. Now the second installment of the title is upon us, and it is called King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember. This will be the second installment of what will eventually be a five-part series, and it has been announced that it will arrive on July 28.

wps_clip_image-16955

Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education for creating dynamic classroom experiences – Microsoft is already using its Minecraft acquisition to the fullest with the HoloLens and now the company has introduced a new program to bring dynamic experiences in the field of education. With this program, Microsoft has collaborated with various schools to introduce students to “Minecraft.” Using the Minecraft in Education forums, teachers can discuss and share their ways of using the game to teach students about various subjects.

wps_clip_image-5360

Off Topic (Sort of):

Apple Music Is For People With No Clue What To Stream – You’re no DJ. That’s the biggest problem with streaming services. A search box connected to the history of recorded music can be discouraging. You constantly have to know what to play next. That’s why Apple was so smart to make Apple Music all about telling you what to play next. Apple is the king of making complicated technology accessible to the masses. It turned clunky MP3 players into the iPod. It made smartphones understandable with the iPhone. Today it’s done it again with Apple Music by burying search behind a half-dozen ways to find music recommendations.

Science Says People Will Believe in Evolution If They Actually Think About It – University of Kentucky professor and self-proclaimed wine connoisseur Will M. Gervais recently published a research study in Cognition where he tried to get to the bottom of why so many people don’t believe in evolution even after the pope said he was cool with it. As it turns out the folks who don’t believe in evolution are just not really thinking hard enough about it. Gervais’s study claims that the difference stems from two kinds of thinking: people who are prone to think intuitively and rely on immediate gut reactions are more likely to reject evolution. But those of us who “engage in analytical thinking”—a more deliberate, calculated form of cognition—are better able to override our initial intuitive response and understand the facts behind evolution.

Habitat for robo-humanity: robot can build a home in two days – A company out of Perth, Australia has built a robot they claim can build a house in two days. Mark Pivac is the man behind this piece of machinery and founder of Fastbrick Robotics. After 10 years and seven million dollars, the project is finally seeing the light of day. Watching the concept video of how it all works is pretty wild. It shows a giant crane-like arm sending bricks down a chute and placing them directly on top of another, rotating to complete not just the outer wall, but inner structure of the computer generated building as well.

wps_clip_image-29104

Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned – After long negotiations, EU authorities have finally agreed on a deal that will see the end of roaming charges and the introduction of net neutrality into laws across the Union. But there are caveats.

Sleep with your smartphone in hand? You’re not alone – I confess. My smartphone sits next to my bed on a nightstand while I slumber. I set it to do-not-disturb mode during sleeping hours, but then it comes to life as my alarm clock every morning. Turns out, I’m completely normal. A Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report released Monday shows that American adults can’t tear themselves away from their mobile devices, even when fast asleep. When it comes to bedtime, 71 percent of survey respondents say they sleep with or next to their smartphones.

Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search – New research claims that Google is gaming its search results in its own favor to the detriment of competitors. Google has “increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites,” according to the report co-authored by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, Tim Wu and the Yelp Data Science team. And yes, Yelp, which lists reviews of businesses, is a competitor that has cried foul over Google search results in the past.

Something to think about:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

–       William Faulkner Requiem for a Nun

Today’s Free Downloads:

NetworkConnectLog – NetworkConnectLog is a simple utility that repeatedly scans your local area network (Using ARP and Netbios protocols) and add a new log line every time that a new computer or device connects to your network, and when a computer or device disconnects from your network.

After the connect/disconnect log lines are accumulated, you can easily export the log lines to comma-delimited/tab-delimited/html/xml file.

wps_clip_image-13702

Second Life – Second Life is a 3D world where everyone you see is a real person and every place you visit is built by people just like you.

Travel with friends to thousands of beautiful and exciting places — all created by the Second Life community.

Millions of people have already joined Second Life. Chat for free using voice or text with folks from around the world who share your passions and interests.

Dress up and design a new 3D you. There are thousands of designer items to explore in our Marketplace where the selection is as endless as your imagination.

Every day there are thousands of new experiences and events created by the Second Life community. Visit the Destination Guide to get a peek at some of the action.

Discover your artistic talents and share them instantly with friends. Take beautiful snapshots, create machinima videos or build something from scratch inside Second Life.

wps_clip_image-4534

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying – A secret US tribunal ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency is free to continue its bulk telephone metadata surveillance program—the same spying that Congress voted to terminate weeks ago.

Congress disavowed the program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed when passing the USA Freedom Act, which President Barack Obama signed June 2. The act, however, allowed for the program to be extended for six months to allow “for an orderly transition” to a less-invasive telephone metadata spying program.

Lawmakers approve a variation of the phone-records spy program Snowden revealed.

For that to happen, the Obama administration needed the blessing of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). The government just revealed the order.

In setting aside an appellate court’s ruling that the program was illegal, the FISA Court ruled that “Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specially authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application (PDF) in this case.”

Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge – What long-term effect will the revelations about US mass surveillance disclosed by Edward Snowden two years ago have on the US tech sector?

Through inaction, the US government risks sacrificing the “robust competitiveness of the U.S. tech sector for vague and unconvincing promises of improved national security,” argues the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in a June 2015 report entitled “Beyond the USA Freedom Act: How U.S. Surveillance Still Subverts U.S. Competitiveness.”

The report’s authors, Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn, raise an issue that ought to make US policymakers and US leaders stop and think:

“When historians write about this period in U.S. history it could very well be that one of the themes will be how the United States lost its global technology leadership to other nations. And clearly one of the factors they would point to is the long-standing privileging of U.S. national security interests over U.S. industrial and commercial interests when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.”

Inaction on reforming mass surveillance and promoting transparency and data security worldwide puts US trade and its technology businesses at risk. In its report, ITIF describes the effect on US companies and the rise of protectionism resulting from the covert mass surveillance scandal.

4 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – May 25, 2015

Who’s That? Facebook Messenger Adds ‘Caller ID’;  Boat safely with the help of the US Coast Guard mobile app;  14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure;  iOS 9 will work with your old iPhone;  Tips for buying used and unlocked phones;  How your iPhone can help you in a medical emergency;  5 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Don’t Know About;  Meet OneClip, Microsoft’s cross-platform universal clipboard;  Here’s the 1 Trick to Getting People to Like Your Photos;  2.8 million victims squared up by malicious Minecraft;  Database of 4 million Adult Friend Finder users leaked for all to see;  Watch a robot sew a grape’s skin back on;  Google patents kids toys with hidden microphones, cameras;  IC3 urges social media users to beware: scams and fraud are surging;  These 20 deep, absorbing PC games will eat days of your life;   Russia threatens to block Google, Facebook, and Twitter if they don’t turn over blogger data;  IceCream Media Converter (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Boat safely and keep others informed with the help of the US Coast Guard mobile app – Boating season kicks off this weekend and while many recreational boaters do not have advanced navigation and communications equipment, they do have a smartphone. Install the USCG mobile app to stay informed and improve safety.

wps_clip_image-19203

Who’s That? Facebook Messenger Adds ‘Caller ID’ – Do you have so many friends on Facebook that sometimes you forget who they are? Me neither, but some people are super popular and need a reminder about whether they’re talking to Matt from work, Matt from college, or Matt from the bar last weekend. For those folks, Facebook is adding “caller ID” for Facebook Messenger. Now, when someone contacts you on the chat app, Facebook will display a larger photo and identifying information.

How your iPhone can help you in a medical emergency – The Health app on your iPhone can be of help in a medical crisis. But you need to make sure your medical data stored in the app is accessible to a doctor or hospital. Here’s how to do just that.

iOS 9 will work with your old iPhone – Apple’s next iPhone and iPad software tipped to focus on quality, will work on older devices. Word this week is that the next operating system suite for Apple mobile and desktop machines will be aimed at delivering a highest-quality experience to the user. Not that Apple products with iOS or OS X didn’t promise this before, but this round it’s suggested that every product released over the past several years will be getting onboard with the same top-notch quality experience, working well top to bottom.

Tips for buying used and unlocked phones – Summary:You can save money and pick up some quality hardware if you know where to shop and what to avoid. Matthew Miller has the details.

5 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Don’t Know About – Every year when my Amazon Prime membership is about to auto-renew, like the tens of millions of other members, I take a step back and wonder if the $99 per year price is worth it. So what keeps me re-upping my subscription? There’s a slew of other Amazon Prime benefits that, when all added up, are worth much more than the shipping savings alone. Here are five of the lesser-known Prime perks:

Google’s new ‘Literata’ font makes ebooks beautiful – You expect different fonts in the books you read than on the Web pages you read, and so it is common for some fonts to only be found in books — they’re tailored for the long-form reading experience, and altogether visually pleasant. Apple will reportedly be switching up its system fonts for better readability, and Google is doing something similar with its Google Play Books specifically. The Internet giant has unveiled a new font specifically for ebooks, and it’s called “Literata”.

wps_clip_image-3729

See all 38 new Emoji here, before Unicode approves – The newest batch of proposed Emoji have been released (in proposal mode) this morning. These 38 new images include such gems as Drooling Face, Raised Back of Hand, and Croissant. The list includes notes about proposed popularity, including suggestions based on Google searches. Imagine how popular a Selfie Emoji will be with Google hits at 233,000,000 in text and 138,000,000 in images. People want these tiny representations of complex ideas, and they want them now. Immediately! Before they have to resort to words!

wps_clip_image-19206

Ed Bott: With build 10122, Windows 10 finally starts coming together – Summary:It’s not a release candidate, but the latest Windows 10 preview has plenty of interesting new features and apps to explore. Here are some first impressions on what’s improved and what’s still missing in action.

wps_clip_image-14477

Meet OneClip, Microsoft’s cross-platform universal clipboard – Microsoft is working on a new app called OneClip and the app lets you copy contents from any device to another, regardless of the platform and we have gotten our hands on the new product.

wps_clip_image-32335

Instagram ‘highlights’ emails hitting your inbox soon – Instagram is getting on board with email. The popular social network started sending out “highlights” emails to some of its users this month. Like Twitter’s similar “best of” emails, the messages serve up a sort of recap of what’s been going on in your social network. More importantly for Instagram, the emails serve as a way to keep the photo sharing service at the front of users’ minds. An email here or there can help occasional users interact with the service without committing to opening the app every day or week.

Here’s the 1 Trick to Getting People to Like Your Photos – Researchers at Yahoo, in partnership with a professor at Georgia Tech, have published a new study analyzing how filters impact engagement on Yahoo’s photo-sharing site Flickr. According to the study, filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed than non-filtered photos and 45% more likely to be commented on. Photos with filters that project warm colors tend to drive more engagement than cooler filters (though we’re unconvinced anyone ever “likes” photos filtered with Kelvin, the overly orange tint available on Instagram)

wps_clip_image-21746

Multitask like a champ with PinTasking on pre-Android Lollipop devices – PinTasking makes switching between two frequently used apps on a KitKat or earlier device a breeze. See how simple it is to use this free Android multitasking app.

One year with the Surface Pro 3: The best computer I have ever owned – I bought my Surface Pro 3 in May 2014 and it quickly became my primary computer for my home office, while accompanying me on 20 out-of-town trips. It’s my only tablet, with an iPad Mini and Nexus 9 coming and going because they were redundant and offered less. I’ve used my Surface Pro 3 in a number of different ways and in different situations so let me take you through my last year of usage.

Security:

14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure: Often, open-source software is the most secure – The latest Edward Snowden leaks have shown that the oldest, least funded open-source technologies are still able to hold out against intrusions and exploits by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Open-source offers one major benefit over their closed-source counterparts: The code is public and available for inspection, and therefore can’t as easily include secret backdoors for surveillance. Here are some of those (as of yet) still secure apps, services, and technologies that can keep you safe online.

wps_clip_image-8322

OpenDNS aims to offer malware and botnet protection, and Web filtering to home users. This can help prevent gaining access to sites that are honeypots for hackers, or might put users at risk. And best of all, it’s free.

Database of 4 million Adult Friend Finder users leaked for all to see – E-mail addresses, sexual orientations, and other sensitive details from almost four million AdultFriendFinder.com subscribers have been leaked onto the Internet following a hack that rooted the casual dating service, security researchers said. The cache includes more than 3.8 million unique e-mail addresses of current and former subscribers, Australian security researcher Troy Hunt reported early Friday morning. The data, which is in the form of 15 Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, was first seeded to anonymous sites hosted on the Tor privacy network. It has since spread to sites on the open Internet. Links to sites hosting the data are easily found on Twitter and other social networking sites, (Ars isn’t publishing the locations).

2.8 million victims squared up by malicious Minecraft apps – ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko says a whopping 2.8 million users have downloaded malicious Minecraft Android applications. Stefanko found 30 malicious apps uploaded to the Google Play store over nine months masquerading as Minecraft cheats and tip guides. Stefanko says “… several of them were installed between 100,000 and 500,000 times and the total number of installations of all 33 scareware applications lies between 660,000 and 2,800,000.”

IC3 urges social media users to beware: scams and fraud are surging – 12% of the 269,422 complaints received in 2014 had a social media aspect, be it doxing, clickjacking or pharming. Here’s how to stay safe.

How one US Embassy staffer allegedly sextorted hundreds from his desk – An American staffer at the United States Embassy in London has been accused of running a sextortion scheme—amazingly, primarily from his heavily monitored, government-owned work computer. Despite this, the embassy’s network security protocol apparently failed to flag the man’s behavior. Ford faces federal charges of stalking, extortion, and computer fraud, among others. To be clear, he is not accused of extorting money. During his detention hearing, according to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, the native Georgian is suspected of harassing hundreds of women, primarily university students.

Canadian teen pleads guilty to 23 charges for online harassment, bomb threats – A Canadian teen has pleaded guilty to 12 charges this week related to online harassment and “swatting” families across the US and Canada in 2013 and 2014. He had previously pleaded guilty to 11 other charges, bringing the total to 23 counts of extortion, public mischief, and criminal harassment. His actions, outlined in detail by Tri City News, follow a pattern of threats, doxing, and swatting. He would threaten his victims, hack their social media accounts and tweet out personal information, and then call the police to demand a ransom, while claiming to have bombs or guns at the homes of his victims. He also admitted to a bomb hoax that shut down Disneyland’s Space Mountain last year.

Company News:

BlackBerry slashes smartphone workforce – BlackBerry is axing jobs across its smartphone business, as the ailing Canadian company attempts to coax out a profit amid dwindling demand. The job losses, confirmed by BlackBerry this week, are a result of moves to “consolidate our device software, hardware and applications business,” a spokesperson for the firm said, with a renewed focus on pushing software and licensing revenues rather than relying on handsets that have singularly failed to set enterprise or consumer markets alight.

Google patents kids toys with hidden microphones, cameras – If your laptop’s webcam staring back at you gives you the willies, Google’s newly patented connected kids toys will bring a whole new level of creepiness. The patent details “an anthropomorphic device, perhaps in the form factor of a doll or toy, [that] may be configured to control one or more media devices.” Joining the description is an illustration showing a stuffed teddy bear and bunny rabbit with embedded microphones, cameras, speakers, and motors. We’ve a copy of the illustration after the jump!

wps_clip_image-14809

Microsoft’s Salesforce.com acquisition falls through due to price disagreements – The buyout, had it gone through, would have been the largest software company sale in history. According to sources familiar with the talks, Marc Benioff kept raising the price and at point wanted as high as $70 billion for the company, placing it well above Microsoft’s $55 billion offer. This large gap between what Microsoft was willing to pay and what Salesforce was seeking is reportedly the main reason the companies failed to reach an agreement.

AT&T et al challenging net neutrality order on 1st Amendment grounds – In a statement of issues that AT&T intends to raise when the case moves further into the court process, the company said last week that it plans on challenging whether the FCC’s net neutrality order “violates the terms of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the First and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution.” The First and Fifth Amendment will be used to attack the FCC’s decision to reclassify both fixed and mobile broadband as common carrier services, as well as the FCC’s assertion of authority over how ISPs interconnect with other networks.

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.

Mario Kart: Fury Road is the best Mad Max mash-up yet – The ridiculously fun new version of Mad Max has only been in theaters for a week, but the hot takes, memes, and mash-ups are already popping up with a fury. If you loved Mario Kart 64 as much as I did, it hits all the right notes: a flying blue shell takes out a lead car, there’s a scene on Rainbow Road, and the sound effects — my god, the sound effects! Excuse me while I head home and blow some dust out of my Mario Kart cartridge.

wps_clip_image-31340

HBO’s Game of Thrones continues to smash piracy records – HBO seems to have one of the best problems that a television network could have. Their mega hit Game of Thrones continues to break internet piracy records, and the show gets more viewers from illicit methods than many other TV shows get legitimately. It must be some form of a compliment when fans of the show who don’t have HBO will do anything they can to catch the latest episode. And in fact it’s the latest episode that once has once again set a new piracy record.

Steam isn’t helping gaming grow on Linux, usage drops to less than 1% – The rise of Linux on the desktop is always just around the corner, right? Most recently it was Valve’s new focus on Steam-powered Linux gaming that was supposed to boost the open source OS to new heights. However, the most recent Steam Hardware & Software Survey shows a big drop for Linux. It’s now less than 1% of Steam systems. Linux didn’t have all that much to lose before, at least. The usage share prior to the April report (that’s the most recent, obviously) was 1.05% and now it’s at 0.94%. The top OS is Windows by a huge margin with total usage share of 95.81%. Even OS X is more than tripling Linux usage with 3.16%.

Virtual reality wants to rule video games. Here’s who’ll rule VR – Soon you’ll don a high-tech headset as easily as you reach for your controller. Watch for blockbuster launches in the year ahead, with Facebook and Valve leading the charge.

wps_clip_image-20701

55 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in June – Below we bring you the complete, official list of what will be leaving the service in June, direct from Netflix HQ. But first, a quick look at the geekiest flicks (and one mini-series) to cram in before they get the boot.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch a robot sew a grape’s skin back on – As you can see in the video below, the claw-like hands are used not just to lay a small piece of grape skin back on the piece of fruit, but to then use sutures to sew it back in place. While the video shows off what the Single-Site Wristed Needle Driver can do, it also notes that the piece of equipment is pending FDA 510(k) clearance and does not yet have a CE mark. The disclosure at the end of clip states that the Single-Site instruments can be used for hysterectomies and the removal of ovaries and gallbladders.

wps_clip_image-2871

Justice Department releases guidelines on domestic drone use – The US Justice Department is the latest to provide policy guidelines on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). On Friday it published its guidelines laying out how federal law enforcement agencies may (and may not) use the remote-controlled vehicles. So far, the FBI is the only agency within the department to use the drones in missions. In a five page document, the department says that UAVs may not be used to monitor any activities protected by the First Amendment, such as peaceful protests and demonstrations. In addition, law enforcement must “seek a warrant in circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy,” consistent with the Constitution.

NASA astronaut records stunning view as he flies across the night sky – Astronauts aboard the International Space Station don’t need to flick on the TV to help them fall asleep at night. They can just look out the window. This weekend, Commander Terry Virts, who’s been aboard the station since November, gave us Earthbound folk a look at just what we’re missing. A video posted to his Twitter account shows the absolutely surreal view from aboard ISS as it hurtles around the Earth at roughly 17,000 mph. As the stars slip below the horizon, they meet the rapidly-moving lights from the surface. It’s utterly stupendous.

wps_clip_image-20628

Do You Remember Your First Cell Phone? – The thought of having a phone without instant access to email, maps, Facebook, Instagram, and texts is a foreign concept, and a day without a phone is like a day without air. But it wasn’t always this way, of course. In the 90s and early aughts, all we wanted was a mobile phone with acceptable voice quality that didn’t weigh 5 pounds or cost $4 per minute. It was an amazing time to be alive.

Scientists Reconstruct the Life of a Bronze Age Sun-Worshipping Priestess – During the summer of 1370 BCE, a young woman died in Egtved, Denmark. She was between 16 and 18 years old, and her immaculate burial suggests she was from a high status family. Slim, blonde, and 5’3” tall, the girl has become known to history as the Egtved Girl—one of the most well-preserved human specimens from Bronze Age Europe. Except, as it turns out, the Egtved Girl was not from Egtved at all. According to a fascinating new study published this week in Scientific Reports, this teenager traveled widely during her short life, and she likely grew up near the Black Forest in Germany, some 500 miles away from where she was buried, as the crow flies.

wps_clip_image-23280

Reconstruction of Egtved Girl’s clothes. Image: Eigenes Wirk

Here’s what it looks like when your rocket launch aborts – A pilot’s eye view of what happens when a rocket launch goes wrong is not something most would like to experience, but SpaceX can help you live it vicariously. Elon Musk’s commercial space flight company has released capsule footage from the Dragon craft used in the launch abort system test completed successfully earlier this month, a vital backup should something go wrong when the ship starts taking human passengers up into Earth’s atmosphere and beyond.

wps_clip_image-17784

Watch: This Real-Life Hoverboard Is Almost Impossible to Believe – But it’s real, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

wps_clip_image-24124

Meditation can make you miserable, psychologist says – Technically Incorrect: Meditation and mindfulness may be milestones on the road to bliss, but you may also end up in a ditch of despair, says a brain expert.

Something to think about:

“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.”

–      Oscar Wilde

Today’s Free Downloads:

IceCream Media Converter – Meet IceCream Media Converter, one of the most powerful and user-friendly media conversion tools that supports major and popular audio and video formats. The program also allows you to download YouTube videos and convert them to AVI, MP4, MP3 and other formats. Its intuitive interface makes conversion of AVI, MKV, MP4, WMV, MP3, WAV, MPEG, WMA and other files to any audio and video format easy for everyone.

Audio and video formats supported:

flv, mkv, mp4, avi, swf, 3gp, flac, wmv, vob, rmvb, mov, m4v, midi, mp4, mpg, mpeg, m2ts, mts, mp3, wma, wav, m4a, m4p, cda, aac, aiff, ogg

wps_clip_image-27463

Farbar Recovery Scan Tool – Farbar Recovery Scan Tool, or FRST, is a portable application designed to run in normal or safe mode to diagnose malware issues. It is also possible to run FRST in the Windows Recovery Environment in order to diagnose and fix boot issues.

This program will display detailed information about the Windows Registry loading points, services, driver services, Netsvcs entries, known DLLs, drives, and partition specifications. It will also list some important system files that could be patched by malware.

Note: There are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Farbar Recovery Scan Tool available. Please pick the version that matches your operating system’s bit type. If you don’t know which version matches your system, you may try both of them. Only one of them will run on your system.

Limitations: If you are using Windows XP and have boot issue, the system should boot to the Recovery Environment using a PE Boot CD and then you can run FRST

wps_clip_image-23758

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA is getting ready to shut down bulk surveillance programs in response to failed Senate vote – After a late Senate vote after midnight on Friday, the NSA is starting to take moves to shut down its bulk surveillance programs. With the legal foundation of those programs, the Patriot Act, set to expire at the end of the month, lawmakers have been working to agree on which parts of the mass surveillance systems should stay and which should go. The Senate failed to pass a replacement bill, the USA Freedom Act, and another measure proposed by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) to extend the program as-is also did not pass.

County sheriff has used stingray over 300 times with no warrant – The sheriff in San Bernardino County—east of Los Angeles County—has deployed a stingray hundreds of times without a warrant, and under questionable judicial authority.

In response to a public records request, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) sent Ars, among other outlets, a rare example of a template for a “pen register and trap and trace order” application. (In the letter, county lawyers claimed this was a warrant application template, when it clearly is not.) The SBSD is the law enforcement agency for the entire county, the 12th-most populous county in the United States, and the fifth-most populous in California.

Stingrays, or cell-site simulators, can be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, but they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other phones within the vicinity. For years, federal and local law enforcement have tried to keep their existence a secret while simultaneously upgrading their capabilities. Over the last year, as the devices have become scrutinized, new information about the secretive devices has been revealed.

This template application, surprisingly, cites no legal authority on which to base its activities. The SBSD did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Cops don’t have to give man his own license plate reader data, court finds – A San Diego, California court has ruled that a tech entrepreneur will not be allowed to access his license plate reader (LPR) records from a regional government agency.

Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal handed down a six-page decision to Michael Robertson, finding that he does not have the right, under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), to access records of his own license plate as scanned by members of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

Judge Bacal found that the LPR records were exempt from the CPRA, under a provision of the law that protects “records of investigation,” and under a catch-all section if releasing such records is not in the public interest. As she wrote in the Statement of Decision:

Petitioner has not articulated how his LPR data will contribute to the public’ s understanding of the government. On the other hand, disclosure of the LPR data will be detrimental to the public’s interest. As explained above, the data is collected and used to investigate criminal-activity, and disclosure of that information can be used to hinder law enforcement’s efforts to identify and apprehend criminals and to protect ‘victims of criminal activity. The Court finds the public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The decision against Robertson, who has been involved in some high-profile legal disputes with the recording industry for over a decade, is the second one this month where courts have found that the petitioners do not have the right to access such data.

Russia threatens to block Google, Facebook, and Twitter if they don’t turn over blogger data – The Guardian reported last week that Russia is demanding Google, Twitter, and Facebook to hand over all data on any Russian bloggers who get more than 3,000 hits per day. Russia states that not doing so is a violation of its internet laws and websites found breaking these laws could be met with serious sanctions.

According to the Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal branch responsible for media oversight, the encryption employed by these companies does not allow Russia to block specific content that it deems inappropriate. This could potentially result in the blocking of these services entirely if they refuse to turn over the data and block posts by Russian bloggers that call for “unsanctioned protests and unrest”.

Critics of the Russian government are viewing this as a serious crackdown on freedom of speech. President Vladimir Putin has grown increasingly concerned with the openness of the internet and difficultly of regulating content. In the past, he has gone as far as calling the internet a project of the CIA.

2 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – May 20, 2015

Nearly 1/3 people use Facebook while driving;  How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide;  Majority of Americans “concerned” about NSA domestic surveillance;  In defense of ad-blockers, a vital tool for the privacy conscious;  How to back up and store photos when traveling;  Facebook Messenger video calling now rolling out to all;  Facebook Messenger platform’s next target: games;  13 apps for bettering your mental health;  Five Android-only apps worth a look;  Easily secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension;  Screenshots: A preview of Microsoft Windows 10;  Google reprimanded for YouTube Kids app showing inappropriate content;  How to upgrade graphics in a laptop;  Employees choose adult content, app downloads over security;  Process Hacker Portable (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Nearly 1/3 people use Facebook while driving – AT&T commissioned Braun Research poll finds nearly 1 out of every 3 people use Facebook while driving. Driving their automobile. On the road, in the United States, where you live. The study was done by poll, asking 2,067 in the United States aged between 16-65 who use their smartphone at least once a day AND drive at least once a day a number of questions. The least mind-blowing statistic in this study suggests that 62% of all drivers in the United States keep their smartphone within easy reach while driving. This means “in their hand, lap, or cup holder, or on the passenger seat or dash.” The rest is just nuts.

EFF’s Secure Messaging Scoreboard empowers developers and educates users – Most messaging apps are advertised as secure. The Electronic Frontier Foundation decided to verify those claims and then put its findings in a scoreboard. See which apps pass with flying colors.

In defense of ad-blockers, a vital tool for the privacy conscious – Look up. And then to the left and right. And somewhere in-between these words. You’ll see ads scattered all over the place, asking you to “buy this” or “click me,” or — if you’re really lucky — you’ll get one that takes over the entire page. Or you won’t. Millions instead opt to use an ad-blocker, a browser plugin that effectively scrubs every webpage from flashy, garish, and memory-consuming ads.

How to back up and store photos when traveling – Don’t lose your precious photo memories to a misplaced bag or stolen camera. Backing up your photos may seem daunting — especially on vacation — but it’s actually quite simple once you get started. Remember, the point of any backup solution is to ensure that you have multiple copies of your photos in different locations. Just having photos stored on an external hard drive and nowhere else does not make for a reliable backup.

Facebook Messenger video calling now rolling out to all – It’s time to freshen up, comb that hair, exercise that jaw, and maybe bring out the dictionary or translation guide. Facebook Messenger’s new video calling feature, which was announced barely a month ago, is now starting to roll out everywhere and on every platform. Messenger is shaping up to be one distinct and, more importantly, distinguishable product apart from Facebook’s main app, giving users the convenience of expressing themselves better, more immediately, and perhaps more creatively than they could with text, emoji, stickers, or even memes.

wps_clip_image-29824

How to easily secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension – Only need VPN-like protection for your browser and not your whole desktop? Check out TunnelBear for Chrome and Chrome OS. We’ve talked about the importance of virtual private networks before. They’re a great tool for protecting your browsing on an open Wi-Fi network or defeating regional restrictions when you need to.

Five Android-only apps worth a look – The mobile ecosystem is filled with wonderful apps that can do nearly anything you need. For the most part, these apps can be found across platforms. But a handful of important apps can be found on just one platform or the other. I wanted to highlight some of the high-quality apps you will find on only Android.

How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide – The world of Linux is ready to welcome you, with a shower of free open-source software you can use on any PC: hundreds of active Linux distributions, and dozens of different desktop environments you could run on them. Everything from software installation to hardware drivers works differently on Linux, though, which can be daunting. Take heart—you don’t even need to install Linux on your PC to get started. Here’s everything you need to know.

wps_clip_image-24524

Fedora Linux with the Gnome Shell desktop.

Screenshots: A preview of Microsoft Windows 10 – Windows 10 is coming and you’d better be prepared for it. Here are a few screenshots to get you started.

wps_clip_image-15854

Microsoft will charge for Windows 10 upgrades after one-year freebie offer lapses – It’s official: If you want to upgrade to Windows 10 without spending a dime, you’ll want to do so in the first year after it launches. Afterwards, it’ll cost money.

How to upgrade graphics in a laptop – Pssst—there’s a secret that few in the PC gaming community know: You actually can upgrade your big-fat gaming laptop’s graphics. But even the few who know it’s possible, believe it to not be worth the time and effort. After all, who wants to scour some obscure forum to find out whether blowing a wad of cash on a GPU from eBay will work? And then there’s the inherent risk of having the used GPU blow up after a month of use. Enter Eurocom, a Canadian laptop vendor that in February began offering one-stop-shop upgrade kits for consumers who want to take the risk of performing the equivalent of open-heart surgery on a laptop.

13 apps for bettering your mental health – May is Mental Health Month, a time to bring more attention to the subject, shed the stigma, and give people the care they deserve. Here are 12 apps trying to do just that.

wps_clip_image-5350

MY3 helps you stay connected when you are having thoughts of suicide.

Free music streaming service MixRadio launches on Android and iOS – Previously available exclusively on Windows Phone, MixRadio today announced its launch on Android and iOS. The company says that it is bringing “the world’s easiest and most personal music streaming experience” to these new platforms. And as part of that expansion, MixRadio is also teaming up with HTC to exclusively provide music updates for BlinkFeed on the manufacturer’s Android handsets.

Microsoft rolls out touch-first Office apps preview for Android phones – Microsoft is making available for Android phones public previews of its promised standalone touch versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The new Office for Android phone preview apps are similar to the touch-first Office apps preview for Windows phones that Microsoft made available to testers last week.

Inkscape: Open-source Illustrator sneaks up – While the bug fixes and performance improvements are welcome news in and of themselves, there are plenty of brand new features in this release. There’s a new Measurements tool that will live update the length of objects and angles as you move the mouse over them. The Text tool has also been significantly improved. The Text tool now defaults to points (pt) though you can change that to pixels, centimetres, inches and others, including the web-centric em. Even better, the em support actually works in this release, which should be a boon for anyone working with graphics destined for responsive websites. This release also features support for font faces beyond bold/italic and improved support for file formats created by other apps. Inkscape now works pretty well with Corel DRAW, EMF, and WMF files and even has support for Microsoft Visio diagrams.

image

Creating illustrations in Inkscape .91

Apple Pay troubleshooting tips and tricks – Apple Pay is one of the newest, most secure payment methods on the block, but sometimes it just doesn’t work with every retailer every time. Here are some tips on how to troubleshoot Apple Pay.

Security:

HTTPS-crippling attack threatens tens of thousands of Web and mail servers – The vulnerability affects an estimated 8.4 percent of the top one million websites and a slightly bigger percentage of mail servers populating the IPv4 address space, the researchers said. The threat stems from a flaw in the transport layer security protocol that websites and mail servers use to establish encrypted connections with end-users. The new attack, which its creators have dubbed Logjam, can be exploited against a subset of servers that support the widely used Diffie-Hellman key exchange, which allows two parties that have never met before to negotiate a secret key even though they’re communicating over an unsecured, public channel.

DDoS attacks are getting worse, as attackers shift tactics and targets – Attackers that harness the power of thousands or millions of devices to flood networks with data are shifting tactics to pack a smaller, but much longer-lasting punch. How these attacks are carried out has also changed. Attackers are increasingly exploiting Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP), a common protocol in most modern networked devices — including routers media servers, webcams, and games consoles. With widely available tools, they can seek out misconfigured and unsecured devices connected to the internet to launch larger, coordinated attacks against their targets. Not only that, the target of these attacks has shifted. Little by little, malicious actors are shifting away from financial gain and making it a far more personal mission.

Enterprise employees choose adult content, app downloads over security – The majority of 1580 survey respondents worldwide said they understood the cybersecurity risks linked to downloading email attachments from unknown senders, viewing adult content, using social media and downloading unapproved applications, but this has not curbed their risk-taking when using corporate systems and mobile gadgets. Across 11 countries, business employees admitted to accessing adult websites at work — a veritable breeding ground of malware and malicious content. A new report from Juniper Networks suggests that data breaches will cost the global economy up to $2 TRILLION by 2019, with the US the most heavy-hit.

Company News:

PayPal ordered to pay $25 million over deceptive practices – PayPal, used by online merchants and shoppers to send and process payments, has just settled a federal lawsuit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over alleged deceptive practices in its “Bill Me Later” program which is now known as PayPal Credit. PayPal will be returning $15 million to customers who lost money due to PayPal’s practices, and a $10 million fine has been levied against PayPal, going towards the CFPB. After the settlement, PayPal will be required to correct its consumer disclosure policies, making them “clearly and prominently” displayed to consumers.

Google reprimanded for YouTube Kids app showing inappropriate content – Google’s recent mobile app, YouTube Kids, a version of the popular video service that curates safe content for young children, has come under fire from two child and consumer advocacy groups claiming that the app is deceiving. The Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint with the FTC, stating that “the app is rife with videos that would not meet anyone’s definition of ‘family friendly.'” The complaint included evidence of video clips that had been found on YouTube Kids that were described as disturbing and/or harmful to young children.

wps_clip_image-1938

Pandora buys music data cruncher Next Big Sound – By taking over a company that figures out the best tactics for music online, the biggest Internet radio service hopes to convince more labels and artists — oh, and advertisers — to join up.

Uber tests taking 30% commission from new drivers – The ride-hailing service is testing a new, tiered fee structure that could cut into part-time drivers’ pay but reward full-time drivers.

Uber threatens legal action against Australian tax office – After last month calling for regulation in Australia to allow it to operate legally, Uber is now considering using legal means to challenge a tax office ruling that requires its drivers to pay GST in line with taxi operators. Earlier today, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) classified Uber as a taxi service, and consequently its 9000 Australian drivers have until August 1 to get an Australian Business Number and register for GST. Uber disagreed with the decision and said its drivers, who typically earn $30,000 a year, should not pay tax on their first dollar earned as it hit out at the ATO.

Games and Entertainment:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC) review impressions: Smoothly slaying monsters – After months of excitement about The Witcher 3, it seemed like it was falling apart in the run-up to launch. All of the reviews that went up last week were conducted on debug PS4 consoles. PC codes, meanwhile, were pushed back time and time again until finally I was told we’d receive code on launch day, probably. And all this from a PC-friendly developer like CD Projekt. When a game’s coming in that hot on PC, we’re right to be worried. Mortal Kombat X, Assassin’s Creed Unity—these are just two recent examples where the PC version came at the last minute and featured huge problems not caught on consoles. So yeah, I was worried about The Witcher 3. For no reason, it turns out.

wps_clip_image-29827

Facebook Messenger platform’s next target: games – We should have seen this coming a mile away. After all, it seems to be the trend with popular instant messengers these days anyway. Facebook is said to be now eying adding the power of games to its Messenger service, leveraging the nascent platform announced barely two months ago. But while the move may sound like a no-brainer in retrospect, Facebook’s motivations might be somewhat different, driven instead by reports that its Messenger Platform as a whole is starting to become a slow-moving flop.

wps_clip_image-2504

Against all odds, the new Wolfenstein games are fantastic – Wolfenstein: The New Order is as brutal and intense as any first-person shooter you’ll ever play, and it’s the most recent entry in a classic series whose stock has considerably fallen. But developer MachineGames used smart storytelling devices to build up a truly evil enemy that you feel no guilt at all in taking on — the game is set in an alternate history where the Nazis won — and the results are surprisingly congruous and emotional.

wps_clip_image-951

Unreleased footage of cancelled Doom 4 shows why they restarted – By now you’ve probably heard all about that new Doom teaser that was released yesterday as a build-up to Bethesda’s full unveiling at E3 next month. But did you know that developers id Software completely restarted the project back in late 2011? Prior to that, they had gotten pretty far on what they were then calling Doom 4, but eventually realized it just didn’t have the “soul” of a Doom game, and needed to be scrapped. A brief, unreleased video of that old version has surfaced today, and it’s pretty clear they made the right call.

wps_clip_image-29413

Popcorn Time gains an in-browser viewing option – Popcorn Time, the so-called “Netflix of piracy”, went from a computer application to a mobile app, and now a new website is offering it as an in-browser option — meaning users are now able to watch pirated movies inside their web browser, perhaps proving the most simple version of the app to become available. The upside to this (for the pirates out there, at least) is that there’s no actual download or installation needed — one just browses, clicks a title, and it starts playing. The movie industry shudders.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Virtual reality could be the most important gimmick ever based on a brain flaw – Researchers working on ways to design computers that operate more like the human brain than like a really, really, really smart drugstore calculator might want to think twice considering some of the things virtual reality is revealing about how human brains actually work – and how they don’t.

wps_clip_image-12253

Appeals court says anti-Muslim YouTube video doesn’t have to come down – A Los Angeles actress had demanded the video’s removal after claiming she was fired from her job and received death threats over her brief stint in the video. Cindy Garcia said she thought she would be in an adventure show but was tricked into performing in a “hateful anti-Islamic production” that sparked worldwide protests. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the woman last year in a 2-1 vote and ordered Google to remove the video. The court ruled that she controlled the copyright of her five-second stint, in which her dubbed voice asks: “Is your Muhammad a child molester?” Google, the media, and digital rights groups asked the court to rehear the case en banc with 11 judges. The media argued that the original decision “expands the concept of copyright ownership.” The larger panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court agreed Monday in a 10-1 ruling.

LG creates stick-on OLED TV screen less than 1mm thick – LG Display just unveiled a new, ultra-thin television screen that is less than one millimeter thick, at an industry event in its home country, Korea. LG’s current thinnest TV screen is a 55-inch OLED panel that is 4.3 mm thick. So, four of these new screens stacked together are still thinner than LG’s thinnest screen on the market. This new display won’t be available in stores anytime soon. The design revealed in Seoul is a proof-of-concept showing that the technology is possible even though production costs may not be low enough to be practical, yet.

wps_clip_image-13597

FTC sues four cancer charities over $187 million scam – The Federal Trade Commission has accused four cancer charities of defrauding well-meaning donors for over $187 million. Today, the FTC and law enforcement groups from all 50 states have filed a complaint against the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society. The complaint alleges that these four “sham charities” solicited millions in donations by promising to help pay for hospice care, chemotherapy, and other services for cancer patients. But only a fraction of that money actually went to patients. The rest went to company cars, high salaries, and even a Caribbean cruise.

It’s raining spiders in Australia again – Australia’s Southern Tablelands are experiencing an Angel Hair event – a spider migration which covers entire towns in spiderwebs. Thousands of flying spiders falling from the sky, creating an ethereal, other-worldly event the likes of which you’ve only likely ever seen in a dream. Or a nightmare – depending on your preferences. “When I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred meters into the sky,” said Goulburn resident Ian Watson. “It was beautiful.”

wps_clip_image-7641

KFC had a food tray that was also a Bluetooth keyboard – Whoever said that fast food does nothing good for you should get ready to eat their words. And some KFC too. The German division of the food chain has unveiling a solution to the problem of typing on your smartphone or tablet with greasy fingers: a thin, flexible Bluetooth keyboard that comes on the tray under your food order. It’s called the KFC Tray Typer, and before you rush out to your nearest fried chicken fast food outlet, know that this has only been shown in Germany, and you can’t really get your hands — greasy or not — on one. Read on for the explanation.

wps_clip_image-13150

9 programming languages and the women who created them – From the dawn of mainframes through today, women have designed and developed programming languages that have had significant, lasting impact on software development.

Something to think about:

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

–      Margaret Atwood

Today’s Free Downloads:

Process Hacker Portable – Process Hacker is a feature-packed tool for manipulating processes and services on your computer.

Process Hacker is an application which helps users to view and manage the processes and their threads, modules and memory from their computers.

Installer version available.

Features:

A simple, customizable tree view with highlighting showing you the processes running on your computer.

Detailed performance graphs.

A complete list of services and full control over them (start, stop, pause, resume and delete).

A list of network connections.

Comprehensive information for all processes: full process performance history, thread listing and stacks with dbghelp symbols, token information, module and mapped file information, virtual memory map, environment variables, handles, …

Full control over all processes1, even processes protected by rootkits or security software. Its kernel-mode driver has unique abilities which allows it to terminate, suspend and resume all processes and threads, including software like IceSword, avast! anti-virus, AVG Antivirus, COMODO Internet Security, etc. (just to name a few).

Find hidden processes and terminate them. Process Hacker detects processes hidden by simple rootkits such as Hacker Defender and FU.

Easy DLL injection and unloading2 – simply right-click a process and select “Inject DLL” to inject and right-click a module and select “Unload” to unload!

Many more features…

wps_clip_image-6161

Secret Disk – Secret Disk can create additional disk on your PC, which can be invisible and locked with a password within one second. You can make your private files and folders invisible and protected.

You don’t need to format your hard disk or make any changes to boot sector. Our program will create new disk automatically very quickly. You can make this disk invisible, including all contents, and protect it with a password. You can store any files and folders on the disk. Secret disk works as usual hard disk and compatible with any other programs which you have installed. You can have more than one secret disk and you can also choose disk letter.

In case of power outage or fatal error of OS Windows your secret disk will be locked and become invisible automatically. It happens automatically because information are stored in the virtual memory. Secret Disk does not encrypt any files, it just limits access to your files (you can use password). Software ties virtual disk to your files. This will provide you enough security to hide your files from any person.

Limitations: Free version limited to a single 5 GB database, no tech support and displays Pro upgrade nag screens.

wps_clip_image-31973

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Majority of Americans “concerned” about NSA domestic surveillance – A new survey shows there is wide support across the political spectrum for ending the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs.

The poll (PDF), commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), showed 84 percent of respondents believed the FBI and other law enforcement agencies should require a warrant to access phone and email records.

Parts of the Patriot Act will sunset this June. But the more egregious spying programs are under a different authority. Lawmakers say they only know a fraction of what they should.

Also, two-thirds of respondents believe the Patriot Act, which the NSA used to authorize the mass bulk collection of Americans’ phone records (which was later struck down by a court), should not be reauthorized in its current form.

Fewer than one-in-five respondents were “not concerned” that the US government was collecting and storing phone records, emails, bank statements, and other communications on them.

The poll is the latest to gather the opinions on Americans’ view of domestic surveillance. Since the Edward Snowden revelations landed almost two years ago, there has been an intense debate across the US about the role and scope of the US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which have shown to have stored and accessed millions of Americans’ personal records and data.

Watch the ACLU and Tea Party’s New Anti-Patriot Act Ad – Just how bad is the Patriot Act? If you guessed “bad enough that the ACLU and Tea Party would join forces to make an ads about how bad it is bad,” then you’d be correct.

Below is “Collect Call,” a new TV spot from the ACLU and the Tea Party Patriots, reminding citizens that because of the Patriot Act, the government can watch you Skype with your favorite soldier, and also listen to your doctor tell you about the results of your latest medical test.

The Patriot Act expires on June 1, and if it dies, so will the NSA’s ability to spy on Americans. This is obviously the desired outcome for both the ACLU, which wants to preserve the civil rights of citizens, as well as the Tea Party apparently, who just generally don’t like the government meddling in their business. Which is why the two groups are airing the ad in Washington, DC, as well as in New Hampshire and Iowa.

wps_clip_image-19857

Tech sector tells Obama encryption backdoors “undermine human rights” – Technology giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to refrain from supporting any US policy that would require the tech sector to install backdoors into their products so the authorities can access encrypted data.

In a letter (PDF) to Obama, dozens of tech companies, cryptologists, and rights groups said mandatory backdoors—which many authorities in the US government and abroad have been calling for—would weaken cybersecurity as well as “undermine human rights.”

More than undermining every American’s cybersecurity and the nation’s economic security, introducing new vulnerabilities to weaken encrypted products in the US would also undermine human rights and information security around the globe. If American companies maintain the ability to unlock their customers’ data and devices on request, governments other than the United States will demand the same access, and will also be emboldened to demand the same capability from their native companies. The US government, having made the same demands, will have little room to object. The result will be an information environment riddled with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by even the most repressive or dangerous regimes. That’s not a future that the American people or the people of the world deserve.

Tuesday’s letter comes as the White House is in the process of coming up with a position on the issue and in response to a chorus of government officials at home and abroad—including British Prime Minister David Cameron, FBI Director James Comey, and former Attorney General Eric Holder—all calling for backdoors.

Pre-thoughtcrime: Russian think tank app catches protestors before they protest – Issac Asimov’s Harry Seldon used “psycho-history” to predict the future. Tom Cruise used “precogs” in Minority Report. And now a pro-Putin think tank is trying to divine dissident activity by mining social media.

The Center for Research in Legitimacy and Political Protest claims to have developed software that will search Russian social media posts for signs of plans by political opposition to the government to stage unapproved protests or meetings. Described by an Izvestia report as “a system to prevent mass disorder,” the software searches through social media posts once every five minutes to catch hints of “unauthorized actions” and potentially alert law enforcement to prevent them.

Public protests, rallies, marches, and meetings staged without government approval are outlawed in Russia—individuals can be fined up to about $600 (30,000 rubles) for participating in such events or sentenced to 50 hours of community service.

South Korea mandates spyware installation on teenagers’ smartphones – A law requiring the mass installation of spyware on teenagers’ smartphones suggests that the frightening level of population control exercised by its neighbours in “Best Korea” has rubbed off on the Republic’s administrators in Seoul.

The Republic of South Korea’s Communications Commission, a media regulator modeled after the United States’ FCC, now requires telecom companies and parents to ensure a monitoring app is installed whenever anyone under the age of 19 receives a new smartphone.

The measure will only slowly come into force over the next few years as it doesn’t require old smartphones be updated, although AP reports that most schools in South Korea sent out letters to parents encouraging them to install the software anyway.

“It is the same as installing a surveillance camera in teenagers’ smartphones,” Kim Kha Yeun told AP. Kim is a general counsel at Open Net Korea, a non-profit organization that is challenging the regulator’s ordinance to South Korea’s Constitutional Court.

5 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 9, 2015

US cops have killed more people in the last month than British police have killed since 1900;  If you called anyone overseas from 1992-2013, the DEA probably knew about it;  Think Windows’s Built-In Antivirus Will Keep You Safe? You’re Wrong;  3 fast, easy ways to find the perfect animated GIF;  Taplet for iOS pulls still images from videos;  How to manage your online reputation for free;  Spring cleaning: Back up your phone;  7 new hardware technologies you’ll see in Windows 10 PCs;  5 Reasons You Should Buy the Apple Watch;  Periscope for iOS update brings simplified blocking;  5 Reasons You Should Not Buy the Apple Watch;  iOS 8.3 now available, fixes a ton of bugs and issues;  Skype’s real-time translator now speaks Italian and Chinese;  Spring cleaning for your Gmail;  Your ultimate ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 cheat sheet.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to manage your online reputation for free – Just a few years ago, much of what we did was soon forgotten. But thanks largely to social media, now we do. Misspelled Tweets, Facebook rants after you’ve had a bad day, and unflattering photos posted by your friends have made it difficult to manage your online reputation, especially when it’s archived for posterity. And it’s not just about keeping a lid on the past or your online mistakes — it’s also about making yourself look confident, capable, and Internet-savvy. There are plenty of companies that will help you clean up, protect and build a professional online rep for a price, but you don’t need that. Here’s how to manage your online reputation all by yourself (for free).

Spring cleaning: Back up your phone – It’s not exactly cleaning per se, but in the spirit of organization, now is a good time to go through your devices and make sure you’re up to date on your backups. After all, what’s the point of diligently backing up your iPhone or Android device, only to find that you’re a few months (and several hundred photos and text messages) behind when you need to do an emergency restore?

7 new hardware technologies you’ll see in Windows 10 PCs – Some new features that make for easier hardware handling are already available, but not yet in Windows PCs, which still make up the vast majority of desktop and laptop machines. For example, Apple’s MacBook and Google’s Chromebook Pixel have set the stage for USB Type C ports and its associated reversible cables to be used in Windows PCs later this year. Meanwhile, the new Windows Hello feature—which will allow users to unlock a Windows 10 device by recognizing a face, iris or fingerprint—could bring 3D cameras and more sensors to PCs.

3 fast, easy ways to find the perfect animated GIF – You need an image that will simultaneously display your encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and wit. But if you’ve never tried diving into the world of the GIF, where do you start? Should you create your own with Photoshop or Gimp? Nah—all you need to do is bookmark some great online repositories and simple tools that make it painless to get your GIF on.

5 Reasons You Should Buy the Apple Watch – The Apple Watch goes on sale soon. Here are 5 reasons you want one.

wps2CA7.tmp

5 Reasons You Should Not Buy the Apple Watch – The Apple Watch goes on sale soon. Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t buy one.

Periscope for iOS update brings simplified blocking – Periscope has pushed out a new update for its iOS app, and with it comes some new features, not the least of which is the ability to more easily block viewers while you’re streaming. As expected, the update also brings a few bug fixes in tow, such as that caching issue that was presenting the wrong user profile picture, as well as the problem that prevented some from watching broadcasts that were being heavily watched by others. We’ve the full change log after the jump!

Twitter is dropping the ‘Discover’ tab – Twitter’s Discover tab is gone. Today, the microblogging platform announces they’re retiring Discover, and will be transitioning Trends to the Search page. Trends is also getting a bit of attention in this process, signaling to us Twitter is keen to streamline our experience a bit. With Trends, Twitter will now provide a little context to hashtags you’re not immediately familiar with. The change is coming for both iOS and Android, and via an app update that’s already rolling out to all users.

iOS 8.3 now available, fixes a ton of bugs and issues – Having been in beta for what seems like forever, Apple has released iOS 8.3. In many regards, iOS 8.3 closely mirrors the OS X fixes behind the scenes, with WiFi and Bluetooth fixes inbound. In fact, this update is absolutely ripe with little tweaks and fixes — a pleasant side effect of Apple’s new iOS beta program, no doubt. Much of the ‘fixing’ seems to hit Safari, but Apple has also improved app launching, Messages, and Control Center. the full changelog is below.

Taplet for iOS pulls still images from new or existing videos – Take a video on your iPhone or iPad, and there’s bound to be at least one still image you’d like to extract. Someone made a funny face, or the bat-ball impact is just too cool to pass up. You could feed that video into some sort of expensive desktop software to extract stills, but that’s not fun. Enter Taplet, an app that aims to snatch still images from your videos for you, and let you use them as you please.

wps2D06.tmp

OS X Update Brings New Photos App, Diverse Emoji to Mac – Say goodbye to iPhoto and Aperture, Mac users. Because Cupertino’s replacement—simply called Photos—has arrived. Apple on Wednesday released a free software update for users running OS X Yosemite (v10.10.3), which includes the new Photos app first released to developers back in February, and a number of other goodies. That includes more than 300 new, racially diverse Emoji characters that we first got a peek at earlier this year, along with the usual bug fixes.

Skype’s real-time translator now speaks Italian and Chinese – Microsoft has been trialling its Skype Translator software that automatically translates voice calls between people, and it’s getting a language update today. While the initial version only supported English and Spanish, today’s update brings Italian and Chinese (Mandarin). “As you can imagine, Mandarin is a very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator,” explains Microsoft’s Yasmin Khan. “With approximately 10,000 characters and multiple tones, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master, along with Arabic, Japanese, and Korean.”

Facebook launches standalone Messenger for web browsers – There’s now a web browser version of Facebook Messenger to go along with the standalone smartphone apps the company is making everyone use. No, Facebook the website isn’t taking away your ability to chat with friends. After the controversy that surrounded divorcing the two central features on mobile, Facebook is adamant that Messenger isn’t leaving Facebook.com anytime soon. Instead, Messenger for the web — which you’ll find at Messenger.com starting today — focuses solely on simple conversations and leaves the other parts of Facebook that can be distracting to the primary site.

wps2D45.tmp

Spring cleaning for your Gmail – Spring cleaning month is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you should stop optimizing the tech in your life. Gmail can be a source of stress if you don’t have a good system in place for responding to email, or the ability to easily locate contact information. Fortunately, these changes are just a few clicks away. Here’s seven tips to make Gmail work at its best for you.

Security:

Think Windows’s Built-In Antivirus Will Keep You Safe? You’re Wrong – It’s true that Windows 8 and 8.1 come with antivirus protection built in, but you can’t rely on it to protect you against malware attack. Results from independent labs and our own hands-on tests show that you really need a third-party antivirus utility.

wps2D75.tmp

Diving into the Dark Web: Where does your stolen data go? – If your sensitive data is stolen online, where does it go — and who sees it? One security team found out.

Review: Anonabox or InvizBox, which Tor router better anonymizes online life? – These devices are, to varying degrees, effective ways to hide from unwanted attention of all sorts. That is, they’ll work short of a state actor looking to use a giant datacenter dedicated to performing all manner of de-anonymizing attacks by using the Tor takeover conspiracy model of the week, zero-day malware, or people’s own simple mistakes against them. But these routers all follow slightly different approaches. Anonabox is a stunningly hands-off product that has no user interface other than its lengthy Wi-Fi password; InvizBox provides hands-off privacy with the addition of an administrative interface to apply fixes and leverage moderately more complicated Tor capabilities; and PORTAL promises to provide everything—including pluggable protocols for Tor to help it get past the most persistent state-funded nastiness.

wps2DB5.tmp

Hands on (literally): the two Tor “travel router” contenders, Anonabox (left) and InvizBox (right), are ready to conceal your Internet wanderings. Sean Gallagher.

Pinterest, Yammer scramble to patch login thievery headaches – Pinterest has patched a vulnerability that meant its iPhone app leaked passwords to other surfers on the same network. An earlier version of the Pinterest iOS app fails to validate the server certificate, potentially allowing a suitably positioned attacker on the same network to steal login credentials related to the photo sharing-focused social networking website. The vulnerability might be exploited in an open Wi-Fi environment to run man-in-the-middle attacks using an invalid cert, according to bug finder Han Sahin of Dutch security firm Securify. In response, Pinterest acknowledged the problem and said that it had already developed a fix.

Company News:

YouTube Confirms Plans For An Ad-Free, Subscription-Based Service – Confirming reports from last fall, YouTube announced today its plans for an ad-free, subscription-based service by way of an email sent out to YouTube Partners. The email details the forthcoming option, which will offer consumers the choice to pay for an “ads-free” version of YouTube for a monthly fee. The additional monetization option requires partners to agree to updated terms on YouTube’s Creator Studio Dashboard, which notes that the changes will go into effect on June 15, 2015.

Report: Google ‘GMeet’ to Revamp the Teleconference – First discovered by Google+ user Florian Kiersch, the Web giant appears to be developing a new teleconferencing solution dubbed GMeet, or Google Meeting. Kiersch managed to nab some screenshots of the new service (pictured), which show that it will let you schedule a new meeting, join one that’s already in progress, and see a schedule of your meetings for that day. Google appears to be testing the service internally at the moment, as Kiersch said it’s only available to people who work at the company. Based on the leaked screenshots, it appears GMeet will be an Android app, but Kiersch said it will also be available on the Web through a Chrome extension.

wps2DE4.tmp

You can now buy a BMW from Amazon Japan – You can order just about anything from Amazon. Computers, lawnmowers, diapers, wine. On their Japanese site, though, you can even order yourself a brand new BMW. No, not a Matchbox car, an actual BMW that you can drive. By drive, I don’t meant using a remote control. While this particular BMW is, in fact, battery powered, it’s not an RC you can race around inside your house. It’s the BMW i3, the company’s popular compact EV.

wps2E14.tmp

Google search might soon hook you up with local home services – Google seems to be trying to get more and more personal, suggesting things that go beyond our digital personas, perhaps not to everyone’s liking. The latest unconfirmed convenience that Google Search users might soon have at their fingertips would be connection to local home service providers, like plumbers, carpenters, and electricians. This would seem to be the next step to Google embracing almost every aspect of our lives, after it started helping us find the best nearby car insurance through Google Compare.

wps2E44.tmp

FCC fines AT&T a record $25 million for customer data thefts – The Federal Communications Commission is handing AT&T a $25 million fine, the largest-ever amount for a privacy-related issue, for a series of data breaches that gave out personal information for nearly 280,000 customers and contributed to international trafficking of stolen mobile phones. The breaches occurred during 2013 and 2014 at AT&T call centers in Mexico, Colombia, and the Philippines, all serving customers in the US. AT&T has agreed to a settlement and to making several changes to its security practices.

Zynga CEO Mattrick leaves abruptly, replaced by founder Pincus – Zynga CEO Don Mattrick has abruptly left the company, to be replaced by his predecessor, company founder Mark Pincus, the company announced Wednesday. The company said in a statement ahead of its planned first-quarter conference call in May that Mattrick, who joined after leading the Xbox video game group at Microsoft, is leaving Zynga and its board of directors after less than two years at the helm.

Games and Entertainment:

Your ultimate ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 cheat sheet – With Season 5 of “Game of Thrones” starting Sunday, we’ve created a GIF-filled refresher course on who did what to whom, where and sometimes why. Plus, photo clues and a video recap.

wps2EA3.tmp

Watch the first trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Yesterday, Square Enix officially unveiled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the latest entry in the long-running cyberpunk series. Today you can finally see what the game looks like in action thanks to the very first trailer. Mankind Divided takes place in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, and once again stars augmented hero Adam Jensen; this time around he’s out hunting other mechanically augmented humans, who have been dubbed terrorists. Eidos Montreal will once again be developing the game, using the studio’s all-new Dawn Engine. No word yet on a release date, but the next chapter in the Deus Ex franchise will be coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Deus Ex: mankind Divided gif

New fan-made Star Trek TV show brings back original cast members – Currently, there are two fan-made Star Trek projects nearing release and both of them are vying for the chance to bring Star Trek back to TV. Star Trek: Axanar is a full length feature film about the four-year war with the Klingons that takes place in the Star Trek established canon’s past. Star Trek: Renegades is a fan-made television pilot that takes place 10 years after the events of Star Trek: Voyager.

wps2ED2.tmp

Xbox One Gets Over-The-Air TV Powers In The U.S. And Canada – Xbox One owners have a new way to get TV on their console: The game machine supports over-the-air TV now for those in the Xbox One Preview program, and in the coming months for everyone else, provided that you also pick up an $80 Hauppauge WinTV-955Q TV tuner and an HDTV antenna. Xbox is also working with Hauppauge to make it even cheaper to get on board, with a $60 tuner panned for availability sometime in the “next few month” and made available across the U.S. and Canada. Provided you get the right kind of HDTV antenna, and are within range of over-the-air broadcast stations, you’ll be able to use the tune and antenna hardware plugged into your Xbox One to get both OneGuide and MiniGuide overlays on the console showing you programming information.

“Game of Hyrule” video makes a gorgeous mix of fantasy – You’re probably tired, maybe even sick, of the numerous renditions of the now iconic Game of Thrones opening sequence. We’ve got Starcraft versions, or one that’s entirely done inside Minecraft’s blocky world. But from time to time, something comes up that’s so brilliant that it does give you goosebumps and shivers down your spine. Especially if it pays homage to a well-loved fantasy world. That’s exactly what video sketch group Megasteakman accomplished when it rendered Zelda’s world of Hyrule into a very short Game of Thrones tour.

wps2F12.tmp

Off Topic (Sort of):

US cops have killed more people in the last month than British police have killed since 1900 – A total of 111 people were killed by police in the United States in March of 2015. Since 1900, in the entire United Kingdom, 52 people have been killed by police. Don’t bother adjusting for population differences, or poverty, or mental illness, or anything else. The sheer fact that American police kill TWICE as many people per month as police have killed in the modern history of the United Kingdom is sick, preposterous, and alarming.

Super-light drone mimics a butterfly – Automation and robotics company Festo has designed a super-light drone aircraft that looks and moves like a butterfly, which is rather hypnotic to watch all by itself, but it gets better. You can unleash multiple butterfly drones and they flutter around as an interconnected group. The artificial insects (called eMotionButterflies) rely on a number of technologies to get airborne and stay there. First, there are the light plastic wings. Each one is controlled independently by a tiny servo. This allows the robot to maneuver in the air without any complicated fins of spinning blades. It’s not as precise as a quadrocopter, but it’s certainly more elegant. The hardware controlling the butterfly is also extremely compact.

wps2F42.tmp

AIG wins approval to fly drones to help process claims – The FAA gives AIG approval to use unmanned aerial vehicles to examine disaster sites, assess risk and get claims rolling.

Drones to the rescue: How one South African project is using big data to outfox rhino poachers – A project to protect South African rhinos is using crowdfunding to help fund the purchase of drones used to defeat poachers.

U.S. Teens’ Social Media Activity Is Diversifying, Says Pew – Anyone in tech can tell you that Actual Teens are hallowed ground. Where teens’ tastes wander, the industry froths itself into a frenzy attempting to follow. For teens are a bellwether of dollar valuations to come. So what are American Teens keen on right now? A new report by the Pew Research Center delves into the tech that matters to the kids that matter.

wps2F71.tmp

Rand Paul sells “NSA spy cam blocker” as presidential bid fundraiser – Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced his intent to run for United States president in 2016 on Tuesday, although the video of the announcement is currently offline due to a copyright claim filed on behalf of the song it used. In the meantime, supporters can access an online store full of Rand-branded merch. There, next to political-support knickknacks like yard signs and bumper stickers, shoppers can find a heretofore uncommon accessory in the political-fundraiser category: a “webcam blocker.” Or, more specifically, an “NSA spy cam blocker,” which retails for $15 and comes with a giant “RAND” logo.

wps2FA1.tmp

Apple would rather you didn’t queue at its stores for its new products – It’s a familiar sight: Apple unveils a new product, and excited fans flock to its retail stores ahead of launch day, eager to be among the first people to get their hands on the new device. Indeed, it’s a sight that many other companies look upon with jealous eyes, wishing their customers were similarly keen to buy their products – but it seems that Apple isn’t quite as happy about it as one might imagine. In fact, Apple’s head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, would much rather customers place orders for its new devices through the company’s website, rather than turning up at its stores.

NASA anticipates finding evidence of alien life in 10 to 20 years – If you’re hoping humans will discover other living beings in the universe during your lifetime, you might be in luck. Speaking yesterday at a panel in DC, NASA researchers touched on the topic of alien life and finding evidence of such, and what they had to say was largely inspiring: it’ll eventually happen, and the first stages of that likely within the span of the next 20 years. The prospect is exciting, not the least of which is due to the leaps in space travel humans are likely to make in that same time span.

Something to think about:

“The fact that our government collects so much information about us — where we live, our economic status, so many unbelievable little details about our lives — but it doesn’t track its own behaviour when it kills, either justifiably or otherwise, is incomprehensible.”

–       D. Brian Burghart

Today’s Free Downloads:

New Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit version is out – Did you know that the majority of new malware is delivered via the web through a process known as a drive-by download attack?

The scenario is quite simple: you browse to a website and malicious code is downloaded to your computer automatically without your knowledge or approval.

Contrary to some beliefs, you do not need to browse to shady websites for this to happen. In fact, all websites are a potential source of infection either because they can get compromised or because they host a malicious advertisement.

Anti-Exploit protection is about being proactive and not giving the bad guys a single chance to compromise your system. Some pieces of malware can be cleaned up more or less easily but other types like ransomware can’t.

Anti-Exploit is the perfect complement to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for a defense in depth in a world where cyber criminals are constantly pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to compromise your machines.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit comes in two flavours: The free or the premium version and both can be downloaded here.

Existing users can install the new version on top of the previous one or wait for a program update. More details and change log can be found in our forums here.

wps2FC1.tmp

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

If you called anyone overseas from 1992-2013, the DEA probably knew about it – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under approval from the top echelons of the Department of Justice, ran a secret, extensive phone metadata bulk collection program for over two decades, amassing billions of records, according to a new report published Tuesday in USA Today.

This database had previously been revealed to a lesser extent earlier this year, but neither its operational details nor its scope had been revealed until now.

For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.

Federal investigators used the call records to track drug cartels’ distribution networks in the USA, allowing agents to detect previously unknown trafficking rings and money handlers. They also used the records to help rule out foreign ties to the bombing in 1995 of a federal building in Oklahoma City and to identify U.S. suspects in a wide range of other investigations.

As Ars reported in January 2015, the DEA had previously revealed some information about this database in a three-page partially-redacted affidavit that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use “administrative subpoenas” to obtain business records and other “tangible things.”

So, the DEA simply “began ordering telephone companies to turn over lists of all phone calls from the USA to countries where the government determined drug traffickers operated, current and former officials said.”

Phone Surveillance Revelation Should Prompt Reassessment Of NSA Spying – Does evidence of a decades-old surveillance program throw out the case many public officials have made for the modern surveillance state?

Since Edward Snowden first leaked documents about secret National Security Agency (NSA) programs, government officials have defended them in the name of September 11 and national security. Again and again, we heard that these programs were built in the wake of that tragic day to “connect the dots” so no event like that would ever occur again. They addressed issues of national security, not day-to-day policing.

But a new report from USA TODAY suggests that the precursor of this program was implemented almost a decade earlier — fighting drug cartels, not terrorism.

The report says the United States began keeping secret records of billions of Americans’ calls to international numbers in 1992. The program, which the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration led, spanned more than two decades and affected calls to as many as 116 countries, even if the callers were not suspects in crimes.

Google ordered by German authority to change privacy practices – A German data protection authority has ordered Google to change how it handles users’ private data in the country by the end of the year.

The administrative order was issued on Wednesday by the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Johannes Caspar, in order to force Google to comply with German data protection law and give users more control over their data.

Google started combining existing policies for various services when it changed its privacy policy in 2012, despite the concerns of European Union data protection authorities. At least six authorities then started formal investigations into the new policy; Hamburg was one of those six.

The Hamburg data protection commissioner originally issued its order against Google in September last year, but Google decided to oppose it. Its objection was overruled by the authority.

The company is now obliged to make the necessary changes in order to process data of German users on a valid legal basis, Caspar said.

US drug cops taken to court to ensure all dragnet snooping records are destroyed – Campaign group Human Rights Watch is suing Uncle Sam’s anti-drug squads – the US Drug Enforcement Administration and others – after it emerged the g-men were secretly monitoring Americans’ international phone calls.

The activists claim the collection of telephone conversation records is unconstitutional, and causes “irreparable harm” to people. Human Rights Watch is being represented by the EFF, which has previously taken the US government to task over blanket surveillance operations. Together they filed a lawsuit in California on Tuesday against the DEA, the FBI, the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the United States of America for good measure.

Human Rights Watch’s general counsel Dinah PoKempner said her organization “works with people who are sometimes in life or death situations, where speaking out can make them a target,” adding: “Whom we communicate with and when is often extraordinarily sensitive – and it’s information that we wouldn’t turn over to the government lightly.”

From the early 1990s, the DEA kept logs on virtually all telephone calls from the US to as many as 116 countries. The agency wanted to track the trafficking of illegal substances, and wound up gathering masses of information on innocent citizens – which is upsetting privacy campaigners.

FBI would rather prosecutors drop cases than disclose stingray details – Not only is the FBI actively attempting to stop the public from knowing about stingrays, it has also forced local law enforcement agencies to stay quiet even in court and during public hearings, too.

An FBI agreement, published for the first time in unredacted form on Tuesday, clearly demonstrates the full extent of the agency’s attempt to quash public disclosure of information about stingrays. The most egregious example of this is language showing that the FBI would rather have a criminal case be dropped to protect secrecy surrounding the stingray.

Relatively little is known about how, exactly, stingrays, known more generically as cell-site simulators, are used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, although new documents have recently been released showing how they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. Worse still, cops have lied to courts about their use. Not only can stingrays be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Typically, police deploy them without first obtaining a search warrant.

The US Gov Can Download the Entire Contents of Your Computer at Border Crossings – Hundreds of thousands of travelers cross US borders every day. And none of them—save the precious few with diplomatic immunity—have any right to privacy, according to Department of Homeland Security documents recently obtained by MuckRock.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Privacy Impact Assessment for the Border Searches of Electronic Devices outlines the finer points of border officials’ authority to search the electronic devices of citizens and non-citizens alike crossing the US border. What becomes clear is that this authority has been broadly interpreted to mean that any device brought into or out of the country is subject to the highest level of scrutiny, even when there is no explicit probable cause.

Based upon little more than the opinion of a single US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer, any device can be searched and its contents read. With approval from a supervisor, the device can be seized, its contents copied in full, or both.

Canada: A welcome warning on privacy rights: Editorial – In the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, advertisers target consumers by scanning their irises as they walk by. The scans are connected to data files of private information so complete that the advertiser can actually address passing pedestrians by name.

We’re not there yet. But Bell Canada’s so-called “Relevant Advertising Program” certainly gives cause for concern. Luckily, it alarmed the privacy commissioner of Canada as well, after he received an unprecedented 170 complaints about the program.

And this week Daniel Therrien issued a welcome report slamming the telecommunications giant for not seeking consent from each of its customers to create personal files that Bell used to help advertisers target them. He also threatened to take Bell to Federal Court if it did not comply with his recommendation.

In all, it was a much-needed shot across the bow of Bell and other companies that might infringe on customers’ privacy rights.

And it worked. After fighting the privacy commissioner for a year on the issue, Bell promised to obtain consent. It claimed it was doing so because it is “dedicated to protecting customer privacy.”

In fact, Bell’s targeted advertising program was downright creepy in how deeply it invaded customer privacy to sell information to third-party advertisers.

2 Comments

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