Tag Archives: FaceBook

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 30, 2015

How to prepare for the nightmare of losing a smartphone;  Microsoft tries to clear the air on Windows 10 privacy furor;  Apple: Here’s how we try to protect your privacy;  Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets: The 4 key ways Sheets beats Excel;  Facebook ‘Entry Price’ Rumor Is a Hoax;  Pro tip: Add website shortcuts to your home screen with Opera; Google releases improved Chromecast for the same $35 price (hands-on);    How to reinstall default apps in Windows 10;  Ransomware: To pay or not to pay;  Google Wants to Take Your Kids on Virtual Field Trips;  Newly found TrueCrypt flaw allows full system compromise;  Google Photos Users Have Already Uploaded 50 Billion Photos And Videos;  How to port bookmarks and favorites to Edge;  Thousands of medical devices are vulnerable to hacking;  140 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in October;  Microsoft’s Project Spark Goes Free Oct. 5;  New 1 TB Xbox One bundle comes with these three games;  Tinder Irked by Ad Linking App to STDs;  Edward Snowden is now on Twitter.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft tries to clear the air on Windows 10 privacy furor – Executives in Redmond were caught flat-footed after this summer’s Windows 10 launch by charges that the new operating system is spying on customers. Several new statements for consumers and IT pros today aim to explain why those accusations are unfounded.

How to prepare for the nightmare of losing a smartphone – Smartphones can alleviate many burdens for us thanks to the conveniences they provide – which means if they are lost or damaged that can also place a hefty burden upon their owner. In fact, it’s safe to say this could pose a serious problem for many people; not only does a smartphone loss represent a loss of the above-mentioned features, but could represent a financial hardship, expose private data to untrustworthy individuals, or even result in identity theft or fraudulent activity. It happened to me a while back and I survived the experience, though not entirely unscathed. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you reduce the burden of a lost smartphone as much as possible, both before and after the unthinkable occurs.

Facebook went down for the third time this month – At approximately 3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time, (EDT) the popular social network went down. This is the third time in September that the site has failed. The other incidents, however, lasted for only a few minutes. Downdetector, a Web site that tracks Web site problems, reported a spike in Facebook problems. The DownForEveryoneOrJustMe site also reported that Facebook was dead in the water. Users took to other social networks, such as Twitter and Google+ to vent their frustration. Most of them were taking the failure with a sense of humor.  Others were really annoyed.

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Most people took Facebook’s hour long blackout with a sense of humor.

Facebook ‘Entry Price’ Rumor Is a Hoax – By now, most of us have been around the Internet block time or two, and can easily spot a hoax when we see it. So if you saw posts in your Facebook News Feed yesterday claiming that the social network will soon change its privacy policy or charge for service, you probably knew it was bogus. But despite being a common ruse, enough people fell for the latest Facebook hoaxes that the social network itself chimed in to say they’re not real.

Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets: The 4 key ways Sheets beats Excel – The battle lines are drawn. Is either really better? We’ll make this argument easier for you. We took a close, impartial look at both programs (as we did with Microsoft Word and Google Docs), and there actually are certain things Sheets offers that Excel does not, and some things Excel can do that Sheets can’t touch. Which is “best” really depends on what job you need it to do. Here we’ll give you the four reasons Google Sheets users can lord it over Excel users.

Google news: Do you ever get the feeling that Google has taken over the World?   Sad smile

Google Wants to Take Your Kids on Virtual Field Trips – The search giant on Monday announced a new service, called the Expeditions Pioneer Program, that will deliver virtual field trips to students at thousands of schools across the U.S. Starting this school year, Google will deliver to schools Asus smartphones, a tablet for teachers, a router to connect to the Expeditions program if the class doesn’t have a readily available Internet connection, and either Google Cardboard or Mattel View-Masters. Together, the products will put kids into a virtual-reality environment to explore what they’re learning about in class.

Google releases improved Chromecast for the same $35 price (hands-on) – A new Chromecast is here, and it’s still dirt cheap. The latest version of Google’s popular streaming dongle offers a host of improvements, to better allow users to “cast” video, audio, games and other apps from their phones, tablets and computers to their TVs. It’s available today in 17 countries for the same price as the old Chromecast: $35 in the US, £30 in the UK and AU$49 in Australia.

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Google Introduces Google Play Music Family Plan, $14.99 For Up To 6 People – Google is expanding its Google Play Music service with a new family plan. The company announced at its big event that families will be able to subscribe to Google Play Music for $14.99. For this price, you get 6 different profiles so that you can get music recommendations that work for your tastes. These plans will be available “later this year.”

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Google Photos Users Have Already Uploaded 50 Billion Photos And Videos – Today, Google Photos announced that users have already uploaded 50 billion photos and videos. The product launched about four months ago, being pulled out of Google+ as a standalone product. The team is also announcing three new features. Finally, the whole Google Photos experience will now be available on Chromecast; you can now cast your Google Photos to the device. It customizes your Chromecast experience and gets the random photos of mountains out of the way. You can even cast animated GIFs. It comes out this week on Android and iOS later on.

This is Pixel C: Google’s premium Android 2-in-1 – Google has revealed a high-powered tablet by the name of Pixel C, exemplifying the best in what the Google hardware ecosystem can do. Like the original Chromebook Pixel, this device has a high-definition display and is meant to lead the way for smart devices within its software’s ecosystem, in that case Chrome. In the case of the Pixel C, Google is leading the way with an Android tablet. This tablet works with a magnetically-connecting display that connects to a keyboard below.

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Pro tip: Add website shortcuts to your home screen with Opera – It’s time to sing the praises of Opera. Finally! The Android version of Opera has a feature that makes the web browser a worthy contender for your Android device. It allows you to easily create home screen launchers for websites, so that your most-used sites are just a tap away. Of course, there are other features that make this browser a worthy contender. Opera actually has some unique options available, but it’s this newest feature that truly raised my eyebrows.

How to port bookmarks and favorites to Edge – Usually, when you start a new browser, a dialog box asks you if you want to import bookmarks (called favorites in Microsoft browsers) from elsewhere. Edge doesn’t do that. Nor can you import an HTML file containing your bookmarks. But the transfer is actually pretty easy—provided you’re not using Firefox. A transfer from Mozilla’s browser is a bit trickier.

Amazon Flex Is Uber for Package Delivery – Need some extra cash ahead of the holiday shopping season? Amazon has a new gig for you. The company’s Flex on-demand delivery service replaces traditional couriers with everyday people. Earn $18 to $25 per hour simply by delivering packages using your own vehicle and an Android smartphone app. Initially available in Seattle, the program is open seven days a week to fulfill Amazon Prime Now one-hour deliveries. The company urged workers to “be your own boss,” distributing packages as much or as little as you want, when you want. Flex will soon roll out in Manhattan, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland. Amazon may extend the types of packages delivered by its non-certified carriers in the future.

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Ditch Linux for Windows 10 on your Raspberry Pi with Microsoft’s IoT kit – The $75 (~£50) kit comes comes complete with an SD card preloaded with Windows 10 IoT Core, a Raspberry Pi 2 case, full size 40-pin breadboard, miniature WiFi module, BMP280 environmental sensor, RGB colour sensor, eight channel 10-Bit ADC with SPI interface, and a whole host of different resistors and LEDs. Those who needed Raspberry Pi 2 can pick up a $114.95 (~£70) with one included. A full list of the included components is below.

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Microsoft deploys first major server application on Ubuntu Linux – Microsoft’s love affair with Linux continues as the company releases HDInsight, Microsoft’s big data Hadoop-on-Azure service for Ubuntu Linux on its Azure cloud.

Report: YouTube Subscription Service (Finally) Arrives in October – YouTube’s long-awaited subscription service might finally arrive next month. Re/code, citing people with knowledge of YouTube’s plans, reported that the service will cost at least $10 a month and remove all ads from the service’s videos. The free, ad-supported YouTube will remain.

How to reinstall default apps in Windows 10 – Did you go a little crazy uninstalling all of the default apps in Windows 10? Luckily for you, getting them back is as easy as…well, uninstalling them in the first place.

Security:

Ransomware: To pay or not to pay – There is no need to tell victims of digital extortion how successful it is. What is needed is a way to help victims respond to the ransom demands.

Apple: Here’s how we try to protect your privacy – Apple is trying to ensure its loyal users that it takes their privacy seriously. In an update to its privacy webpage, the company highlighted several of its products and explained how it uses encryption and other methods to shield your privacy, stating: “We build privacy into everything we make.” Trying to address privacy concerns, the page runs down a list of various Apple products and services, including Apple Pay, iMessage, FaceTime, Apple’s Health and Fitness app, Safari and iCloud.

Novel malware dupes victims with fake blue screen of death – Malware creators are hijacking Microsoft Windows’ infamous BSOD in a fresh malvertising campaign.

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Thousands of medical devices are vulnerable to hacking, security researchers say – Thousands of medical devices, including MRI scanners, x-ray machines and drug infusion pumps, are vulnerable to hacking, creating significant health risks for patients, security researchers said this week.

Newly found TrueCrypt flaw allows full system compromise – Windows users who rely on TrueCrypt to encrypt their hard drives have a serious security problem: a researcher has discovered two critical flaws in the program. James Forshaw, a member of Google’s Project Zero team that regularly finds vulnerabilities in widely used software, has recently discovered two vulnerabilities in the driver that TrueCrypt installs on Windows systems. The flaws, which were apparently missed in an earlier independent audit of the TrueCrypt source code, could allow attackers to obtain elevated privileges on a system if they have access to a limited user account.

Company News:

Apple Music, iTunes Movies And iBooks Launches In China – China is already Apple’s largest market for app downloads and the company hopes consumers will be just as eager to try out Apple Music. The streaming music service launched there today, along with iTunes Movies and iBooks. After a three-month trial membership, Apple Music will cost 10 RMB per month, or about $1.60, which means it is the same price as a premium membership on Tencent’s QQ Music. The service will also be available for Android (which holds a 70 percent market share in China) later this fall. Apple Music’s competitors in China already include services from Tencent, Baidu, and Netease, but all face the challenge of convincing listeners who have spent years downloading pirated music that on-demand streaming is a more attractive alternative.

Evernote cutting dozens of jobs, closing three offices – Evernote announced a number of operating cutbacks on Tuesday, just a few months after the productivity software maker saw a shuffle at the top of the executive deck. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company is cutting 47 jobs and closing three of its global offices, although which locations weren’t specified in the announcement. Evernote co-founder Phil Libin stepped down as CEO this past summer, although he remained with the company as executive chairman. Just a few weeks ago, Libin joined venture capital firm General Catalyst as a general partner.

BlackBerry releases first photos of Android-powered Priv phone – In a blog post, the Waterloo, Ontario, smartphone maker released photos of the Priv, which is expected to launch in the fourth quarter. Priv stands for both “privacy and privilege,” according to BlackBerry CEO John Chen, and it’s the company’s first product to run on Google’s Android mobile software. The device underscores a radical departure from BlackBerry’s history of selling products using its own homegrown software. After years of battling Android, the world’s most popular operating system for smartphones and tablets, BlackBerry is embracing what its much larger rival has to offer.

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Box powers ahead with new app and services for businesses – Box is looking to punch above its weight in a ring that includes Microsoft and Google, and showed a bulked-up set of new products and services at its BoxWorks conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. Box needs more than just the 11 percent of paying customers that it has now, so appealing to enterprises is critical for the new products. They include a new app for the iPhone, and new capabilities that could make the service more attractive to businesses in particular markets.

Report: Twitter mulling posts with more than 140 characters – Twitter and some of its most enterprising users have found simple ways to get around the service’s major limit of 140 characters per post, whether by enabling full-Tweet embeds, offering username tags within photos, or making it easier to read images loaded with text. But according to a Tuesday report by Re/code, the 140-character wall itself may soon crumble.

Alibaba enters ‘strategic’ agreement with India’s Paytm – China’s Alibaba Group has entered into an agreement with the parent company of India’s payments platform, Paytm, in a bid to boost its footprint into the subcontinent.

Games and Entertainment:

Google’s new Chromecast has a new look, catches up to modern Wi-Fi standards – It might have been the worst-kept secret leading up to today’s Google event — aside from the new Nexus phones, that is — but Google has just announced two new Chromecast devices: a second-generation stick for streaming video, and a Chromecast Audio dongle that adds wireless music-streaming capabilities to any speaker with a 3.5mm auxiliary jack. Like the first Chromecast, which was brought to market in 2013, the new Chromecast for video plugs into the back of a TV set via an HDMI port, and it mirrors, or casts, content from the Chromecast mobile app to TV screens. And like the first one, it costs just $35, making it a less expensive option than any of the streaming devices that Apple, Amazon, or Roku have to offer.

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Chromecast audio demo

New 1 TB Xbox One bundle comes with these three games – Microsoft’s week-long Xbox One bundle announcement campaign continues today with the reveal of another 1 TB system. This package, the Xbox One Holiday Bundle, includes a 1 TB system and copies of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, and Ori and the Blind Forest. The bundle will launch in October for $400. Unlike the Rise of the Tomb Raider system, this one does not appear to be exclusive to any retailers. It does not come with a Kinect camera.

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Microsoft

Hitman’s new release date is March 11, here’s what will be included at launch – Following its recent delay, Square Enix has confirmed IO Interactive’s latest Hitman title will be released on March 11, and detailed what will be included in the digital launch package. The March 11 release will feature the “initial launch content,” which contains the Paris, Sapienza and Marrakesh locations, together comprising six campaign missions. These will all be replayable through the user-created Contracts missions, which allow players to designate new targets for assassination.

WildStar promises less grind as it goes free-to-play today – It was the most promising MMORPG of 2014. Then it was the most disappointing MMORPG of 2014. And now it’s (maybe) the most promising MMORPG of 2015? I’m talking about WildStar, which as of today is officially free-to-play. It’s the latest (and hopefully the last) MMO to launch with a subscription plan and then make the slow, arduous transition to a friendlier business model. Here’s how it works:

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Microsoft’s Project Spark Goes Free Oct. 5 – Microsoft is transitioning Project Spark, which lets players create their own gaming experiences, into a free and open platform. Starting Oct. 5, Redmond will “automatically unlock previously paid downloadable content for new and existing Project Spark users,” the company said in a forum post. “Microsoft will pivot from producing DLC and active feature development to encouraging more user generated content and opening the Project Spark experience.” All players who purchased Project Spark content digitally or via a retail disc, and activated it by product key redemption on or after July 28, will be entitled to Microsoft Store credit. The same goes for folks with a balance of purchased in-game tokens. Credits will be awarded automatically within 30-60 days after Oct. 5.

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The Simpsons tipped to finally end within the next 4 years – The Simpsons, the animated comedy that grew from having a small but loyal audience after its 1989 debut, to being the American television icon it is today, may finally have an end date. The show is widely considered to have peaked around season 10, and has been on a steady decline since then, albeit with the occasional highlight. Maybe that’s just what happens after over 25 years on the air? Either way, every fan of the show has wondered at some point when The Simpsons will come to an end, and now one of the show’s creators has given a timeframe.

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140 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in October – The fall is upon us, and with it the ax falls on not 40 (like in August) or even 76 (like in September) but a full 140 titles leaving Netflix this October. Here’s a quick look at the three I feel most deserving of being missed, fellow geeks, but there are many, many more that will be missed. Likewise keep an eye out for real nerd-centric movies taking a powder, including a couple of Star Treks, World War Z, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and the entire single season of Caprica.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tinder Irked by Ad Linking App to STDs – Mobile-dating service Tinder is not too happy about being included in an ad campaign that suggests it contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Tinder has called on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to take down ads that argue mobile dating apps, including Tinder, could expose users to sexually transmitted diseases. Tinder told the BBC that the ads represent “wholly unsubstantiated accusations” that are an attempt by the AHF to get people to “take an HIV test offered” by the organization. In a press release, AHF referenced a recent Vanity Fair article that portrayed the dating site as a haven for empty hook-ups. That article also prompted backlash from Tinder, which fired off a barrage of late-night tweets in defense of the app. It later apologized for overreacting, though. The AHF plans to continue its campaign. The organization currently has ads in Los Angeles, but says that it will bring them to other major cities, including New York and Miami, in the coming weeks.

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We Drove Tesla’s Crazy Fast Model X SUV – I was hoping I might walk away from my short test drive in Tesla’s Model X without the desire to throw down $130,000 I don’t have… Alas. After years of the Model X being seemingly right around the corner, the first few cars are being delivered to drivers tonight. I got to take one for a spin — and yes, I got to stomp the gas pedal.

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Smart glove translates sign language into speech, text – Saudi designer Hadeel Ayoub has developed the “SignLanguageGlove”, a so-called smart glove that wirelessly translates sign language as it is signed, doing so into speech or visual letters for those on the receiving end to understand. The idea is that someone who signs to communicate will have trouble doing so if the person with whom they are talking doesn’t read sign language. With the glove, what they sign becomes spoken language, removing the barrier. The sign language will be translated and shuttled to the other person’s mobile device. An array of five sensors in the glove’s fingers detect the finger motions, while an accelerometer tracks the signer’s hands. Ayoub made the accompanying software, which translates the motions into words. There’s also a text-to-speech chip for turning it into spoken communications.

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Indian PM Modi visits US tech chiefs in wake of draconian encryption policy debacle – It is a testimony to the immense attractiveness of the Indian market that the leaders of some of the most powerful technology companies in the world rallied around to meet and indulge the leader of a country, one who wanted to effectively handcuff the same companies and the services they offer. Or at least, that’s what events that transpired over the last week or two indicated.

Tim Cook says businesses need to step up where governments don’t – Since taking over from Steve Jobs as CEO, one of the things Tim Cook has brought to Apple is a greater push to address social problems. On Tuesday at the Boxworks conference in San Francisco, Cook said he wants other companies to do the same. Apple has taken a few important steps along that road. Cook said the company’s U.S. operations are running entirely on renewable energy, and Apple is now focused on getting its supply chain to the same point — though that could be a challenge given the scale of its factory operations in China.

Photos: 15 innovative objects that changed daily life – The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Object Project exhibit showcases everyday items that were revolutionary once upon a time.

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11 massive crowdfunding disasters – There’s no denying that crowdfunding has completely changed the way people do business, mostly for the good. For every brilliant idea that makes it to market smoothly, there’s one that runs into trouble. Whether it’s the result of new business owners not understanding the work that goes into producing and fulfilling or just unscrupulous scammers looking to take the money and run, many Kickstarters and Indiegogos end up with very unhappy customers. These 11 crowdfunding campaigns that resulted in nothing but heartbreak.

Something to think about:

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”

–      Julius Caesar

Downloads:

PaperScan Scanner Software: Free Edition – The Free Edition of PaperScan Scanner Software allows users to benefit for free from the advantages of a universal scanning with post-processing capabilities tool.

Features:

Limited batch TWAIN & WIA scanning / import (10 pages).

Save as single page PDF/A, TIFF, JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG, JBIG2, WEBP.

Post Image Processing: color adjustment, color space conversion, effects, filters, crop and more…

PDF Encryption support (read & write).

Flatbed and document feeder support.

Duplex scanning support.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 91 languages …

It integrates Google, Bing and Yandex services without installing and loading anything.

Auto-detect any language > Dictionary > Translate > Search with just One-Click or a Hotkey.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 91 languages …

It integrates Google, Bing and Yandex services without installing and loading anything.

Auto-detect any language > Dictionary > Translate > Search with just One-Click or a Hotkey.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Edward Snowden is now on Twitter – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has joined Twitter, taking over an abandoned account at @Snowden. An accompanying Intercept piece described the move as part of Snowden’s ongoing role as a public figure. Snowden seems to have had help from Twitter HQ in acquiring the abandoned screen name, and the account is already verified. In less than an hour, he accumulated more than 80,000 followers, but as of press time, he is only following a single account: @NSAgov.

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Feds say your hard drives are for the government’s keeping – The Justice Department is set to argue Wednesday before a federal appeals court that it may prosecute people for crimes based on evidence obtained from their computers—evidence that was outside the scope of an original probable-cause search warrant.

That’s a big deal in today’s digital age. Society has evolved to the point that many people keep all of their papers and effects co-mingled on their computer hard drives.

The highly nuanced legal dispute initially seems innocent enough. It concerns an accountant’s tax evasion conviction and two-year prison sentence in 2012 that was based on a court-authorized search and imaging of his computer files. Stavros Ganias’ files were copied as part of an Army overbilling investigation into one of his clients. Holding on to the imaged files for nearly three years, Connecticut authorities discovered fresh evidence unrelated to the initial search of the files and got new search warrants to investigate more of the accountant’s mirrored files that were already in the government’s possession. All the while, Ganias had subsequently deleted those files from his hard drives after the government had imaged them, according to court records.

The case asks how long the government can retain somebody’s computer files—files that are unrelated to a court warrant. The accountant’s lawyers said that once the government got what it needed regarding the accountant’s client, the remainder of Ganias’ files should have been purged. Federal prosecutors disagreed and said they retained the imaged files for numerous reasons, including for authentication purposes and to allow “the government to comply with its discovery obligations imposed by the Constitution.”

Who says that Canadians don’t write protest songs about politicians? Blue Rodeo drops anti-Harper tune – Who says that Canadian musicians don’t write protest songs about politicians? Well, the Toronto Star did in an article published Sunday. The article is correct in saying that topically political songs are not common in contemporary Canadian music, yet one of Canada’s most beloved bands released just such a song on Monday.

Blue Rodeo’s new song, titled Stealin’ All My Dreams, minces no words in making a target of Prime Minister Steven Harper.

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In a news release, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy said of himself and bandmate Greg Keelor: “Blue Rodeo does not always speak with one voice. However, we feel collectively that the current administration in Canada has taken us down the wrong path. We do not seem to be the compassionate and environmentally conscious nation we once were. As respectful as we are of the variety of opinions held by our audience, we felt it was time to speak up and add our voice to the conversation.”

The song is available as a free download and has racked up more than 76,000 views on YouTube as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Click here.

US defends Safe Harbor, says it never uses “indiscriminate surveillance” – The United States Mission to the European Union has responded to the opinion by the Court of Justice of the European Union’s Advocate General Yves Bot that the current Safe Harbour scheme may be illegal because of NSA spying. It claims that the US “does not and has not engaged in indiscriminate surveillance of anyone, including ordinary European citizens.” As reported by Ars last week, the ability of companies to transfer the personal data of EU citizens to the US is under threat because Bot believes that the Safe Harbour’s privacy safeguards are inadequate. In particular, Bot was concerned about what he called the the “mass, indiscriminate surveillance” of EU citizens under the PRISM programme, which is believed to give the NSA direct access to all personal data held by Facebook and other US companies in their databases.

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In a statement issued yesteday, The United States Mission to the European Union—effectively, the US embassy to the EU—desperately tries to refute the Advocate General’s logic. That’s because US companies will be unable to rely on the Safe Harbour framework, and their data transfers across the Atlantic will be illegal under EU law, if the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) follows his arguments, as usually happens. The US Mission writes: “The Advocate General’s opinion notes that it was required to accept the facts as found by the Irish High Court. There was, however, no actual fact-finding in this case; instead, the Irish High Court concluded, on the basis of exhibits to plaintiff’s affidavits that the accuracy of his allegations regarding U.S. intelligence practices ‘is not in dispute.’ But that is simply not the case.”

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 14, 2015

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New;  Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater;  Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out;  Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models;  How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That;  When your computer reboots itself over and over again;  How to restore ringtones to iPhone;  Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10;  PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US;  Tumblr now has its own fashion line;  The difference between antivirus and anti-malware;  Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack;  This week in games;  How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron;  Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use;  GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots;  6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume;  10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps (free);  FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New – Forget overpriced schools, long days in a crowded classroom, and pitifully poor results. These websites and apps cover myriads of science, art, and technology topics. They will teach you practically anything, from making hummus to building apps in node.js, most of them for free. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to master a new skill, expand your knowledge, or eventually boost your career. You can learn interactively at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. It’s hard to imagine how much easier it can possibly be. Honestly, what are you waiting for?

Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out – The newest Apple TV adds some long-awaited features to a device that hasn’t been updated since 2012, a lifetime in the world of streaming media. While Google’s first connected media platform, Google TV, didn’t catch on, Android has still become a powerhouse for media hubs thanks to the Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices. Roku was one of the first dedicated media hub brands, and it’s gained in popularity thanks to an easy-to-use interface and hundreds of content channels. There’s also a slew of sticks you can just plug into the back of your HDTV, as well as smart HDTVs with built-in apps. A lot has changed in three years.

How to quickly jump to often-used Windows app subsections in Windows 10’s Start menu – I don’t dive into Windows 10’s Settings app that often, but when I do it’s usually to check two or three things, such as Windows Update or my Wi-Fi settings. An easy way to jump to a particular section of the Settings app is to search for it with Cortana in the taskbar. But if repeatedly typing “Wi-Fi” or “Windows Update” sound tedious, there’s a far easier way to jump to oft-used parts of the Settings app. Instead of searching or navigating the Settings app manually, you can pin sections to the Start menu. This tip isn’t just for the Settings app, however—you can also use it in a limited number of other Windows apps such as Mail and OneNote. For our example here, however, we’ll stick with the Settings app.

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Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models – The impedance specification is ignored by most headphone buyers, but it might be one of the most important. Not that anything catastrophic will occur with an impedance mismatch, but you might not get the best sound quality from a headphone with impedance that’s too high or too low for your music player or home amplifier.

5 tips for getting started with Slack – Started as side project for a video game company, Slack quickly moved front and center and took off as word of mouth spread among the tech companies that were using it. One of the company’s mottos is “Be less busy,” and many have heralded Slack as the product that could end reliance on email. If you’re planning on deploying Slack within your organization, here are some pointers to help get you going.

Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater – Turns out, Sony’s “waterproof” Xperia devices might not be so waterproof after all. After talking up the waterproof capabilities of its Xperia devices for years — even running marketing campaigns showing people happily using its devices underwater — Sony now says that they should not be submerged. As XperiaBlog first reported, Sony recently revised its support page on water and dust protection to warn people against taking a swim with their gadgets. “Remember not to use the device underwater,” the site says.

Supporting causes on Facebook is about to get a lot easier – You’re perhaps familiar with the idea of changing your Facebook profile picture to support a specific cause or event: gay marriage, cancer research, your mate’s stag do, and so on. Facebook has noticed the trend and wants to help – the social media behemoth is testing out a new feature that lets you set a temporary profile picture that expires after a set number of hours, days or weeks. The idea is that the picture automatically reverts back to the original profile image without you having to remember to change it – your rainbow-coloured portrait will only appear for as long as it’s relevant, in other words.

When your computer reboots itself over and over again – Something is rotten in the state of your Windows PC. Here’s how to deal with a computer that keeps rebooting.

Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10 – Microsoft will launch Office 2016 for Windows on Sept. 22, and has now detailed how it will deliver updates and upgrades with a cadence and rules similar to Windows 10.

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How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That – It’s called EnLighten and it uses a phone’s GPS location and real-time traffic-signal information provided by the municipality to determine when a driver is stopped at a red light. It can then show on the phone’s screen a countdown in seconds of when the light will change and will also sound a chime when the light turns green to remind the driver that it’s time to get going. The iOS and Android apps work in a dozen or so U.S. cities and also have a dual timer for traffic lights with separate left-turn signals. But the EnLighten iPhone app can sync with the dashboard of BMWs with ConnectedDrive and the BMW Apps feature, provided you’re driving in Portland or Eugene, Oregon or Salt Lake City, Utah). It offers extra features, such as timing traffic lights so that you potentially don’t have to stop or even prevent an accident.

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How to restore ringtones to iPhone – Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. This time we have a reader whose custom-made iPhone ringtone library has seemingly disappeared. But that doesn’t mean those tones are gone for good! Here are the steps you can take to track them down on your Mac, then restore them to your iPhone.

Security:

The difference between antivirus and anti-malware – It seems like a simple question, right? What’s the difference between antivirus and anti-malware? But ask a security professional, and he answers as if it’s the riddle of the Sphinx. You just want a simple answer to a simple question. Is that too much to ask? The truth is, the answer to this question is a little complicated. But we’ve broken it down like a lumberjack chopping redwood into mulch. We’ll tell you what viruses and malware are, which types of threats antivirus and anti-malware companies fight, and how they do it. So look no further. The answer…is in the link.

PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US – Before you get all riled up, this isn’t yet another Android vulnerability like Stagefright. This is your run of the mill malware installed through social engineering or carelessness, but one that has far graver ramifications than other ransomware. Discovered by researchers from security company ESET, the Android/Lockerpin.A ransomware goes the extra mile to actually change your device’s PIN code in such a way that trying to reset the PIN will lock the user, and ironically the attacker too, from the device completely, with no recourse other than a factory reset.

Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack – Security research group CynoSure Prime were able to find out the most common passwords that were used on Ashley Madison, a site which helps married people cheat on their partners, which suffered a massive data breach earlier this year when it was targeted by hackers. The list of the 100 most commonly-used passwords was first posted on Ars Technica.

Website hackers hijack Google webmaster tools to prolong infections – Hackers who compromise websites are also increasingly verifying themselves as the owners of those properties in Google’s Search Console. Under certain circumstances this could allow them to remain undetected longer than they otherwise would be, researchers warn.

Company News:

Security company litigates to bar disclosure related to its own flaws – FireEye is a publicly traded security firm that regularly finds and reports vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. But when security researcher Felix Wilhelm found five critical flaws in FireEye’s Malware Protection System, the company went to court to obtain an injunction barring the disclosure of some of the technical details. The move is generating howls of protest among security professionals, who argue that FireEye of all companies should know better than to stifle the free flow of vulnerability information.

Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use – Facebook is riding the wave of mobile adoption in Africa to help meet its goal of connecting businesses with people in emerging markets. Sixty percent of all Internet users in Africa are now active on Facebook and 80 percent of them access the site on mobile devices, according to statistics shared by the social network this week. According to the African Union’s first session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and ICT last week, 84 percent of the continent’s population is covered by mobile networks.

Microsoft buys popular Android lock-screen app maker – Microsoft has added to its stable of Android apps with the acquisition of Double Labs, the makers of the Echo Notification Lockscreen, a popular app on Google’s mobile platform that helps users control the notifications they see.

Tumblr now has its own fashion line – Tumblr now has its own line of clothing featuring an eclectic array of apparel adorned with artwork from ten of the social network’s artists/users. The line isn’t limited to just clothing — there’s a backpack, for example (as well as a kimono); it’s unisex and designed to look the same as the Tumblr collective, at least in spirit. Half a dozen Tumblr users have also been selected to show off the new product line. The new Tumblr wear is said to be in celebration of Tumblr’s 10th New York Fashion Week participation.

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Google hires ex-Hyundai America CEO to lead self-driving car project – Google has hired a new CEO for its self-driving car project. John Krafcik, who worked at Ford and was President and CEO of Hyundai’s American operations before joining automotive price-comparison site TrueCar, will take the position in late September. In a statement, the veteran of the automobile industry said that Google’s technology “can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today.” Krafcik has a background in automobile manufacturing, having worked on two “lean production” manifestos during his time at MIT, but a Google spokesperson told Automotive News that his hiring did not indicate the company would start producing cars itself.

Brad Smith will decide privacy policy, IP issues and more as Microsoft’s new president – If you’re interested in Microsoft’s stance on privacy or public policy, Brad Smith is the one to watch. The former general counsel at Microsoft, Smith will also become the company’s chief legal officer.

Etsy to test same-day deliveries as Amazon threat grows – Google offers product deliveries, and is working on expanding them. Amazon does and is doing the same. And then there’s Etsy, the website where all manner of crafts and creativity are offered. The service soon will face steep competition from Amazon, which is reportedly looking to start its own similar crafts marketplace, and in light of that it isn’t surprising Etsy will start testing its own same-day deliveries. The testing will take place in certain regions of New York City, the same place that Amazon and other services are and have been testing same-day and one-hour delivery services. This test is done in partnership with Postmates, and will also include next-day deliveries. Most appropriately, this delivery service will be called “Etsy ASAP”.

Etsy will now help designers find manufacturers – Six months after Etsy completed an IPO that valued it at $3.5 billion, the craft marketplace is expanding. The company is introducing Etsy Manufacturing, a new service that will link Etsy sellers — who often make items by hand — with small manufacturing companies. The operation is designed to help both sellers who’ve found success but have little time to fulfil larger orders, and smaller manufacturers, some of whom have lost business to huge manufacturers in countries where labor is cheaper.

Games and Entertainment:

How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron – We’re not talking about facial recognition devices, police body cams, or other security measures likely zeroing in on fans. Instead, employees from San Jose-based Zebra Technologies had recently finished scanning the NFL uniforms of the 49ers and of their opponents—the Dallas Cowboys. All of a sudden, an on-the-field de facto surveillance society was instantly created when Zebra techies activated nickel-sized Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chips that were fastened inside players’ shoulder pads. Every movement of every player now could be monitored within an accuracy level of all but a few inches.

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Blizzard’s Final Starcraft II Expansion Lands November 10 – In case you were not tuned into the finals of WCS Europe earlier today, Blizzard, a popular gaming company, announced that the final chapter of its Starcraft II will touch down on November 10. The third iteration, called Legacy of the Void, will at once be a computer game, and Blizzard’s statement regarding the long-term viability of Starcraft proper as an esport. Starcraft II’s predecessor, Starcraft, proved a long-lived esports product popular the world around. Its successor has done even better.Regardless, here’s the new film. It’s worth a view.

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New Apple TV gets touch remote, Siri voice control, games and an app store, starts at $149, coming in October – The new box, still simply called “Apple TV,” was unveiled at the company’s September 9 event in San Francisco, sharing the stage with a new big-screen iPad and new iPhones. It’s a complete overhaul of the current device, which has been around since 2012. “We believe the future of television is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when introducing the device. The new Apple TV will be available in two versions: $149 for the 32GB model, and $199 for the 64GB model, and both start shipping to the US and dozens of other countries in October. The current Apple TV box remains on sale at $69. UK and Australian prices for the new model have not yet been announced, but $149 and $199 convert to £95 and £130, or AU$210 and AU$285.

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This week in games: Fallout 4 teaches the value of Strength, Ubisoft builds a theme park – It’s a short week, which I guess means nothing at all really happe—Wait, Ubisoft is opening a theme park? And there was a new Fallout 4 video and the first Tribes update in two years? I present your gaming wrap-up for the week of September 7-11.

Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume – To ensure your resume stands out (for the right reasons), there are a few things you’ll want to avoid and some you’ll definitely want to include, says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink. “Basically employers want to see where candidates have earned, learned, and contributed.” Whether to include things like an objective statement, list of skills, and education will depend on your level of experience and industry — but here are six simple things you should always include on your resume, no matter what:

What porn site statistics can tell us about the worldwide console wars – First, the obvious disclaimer; YouPorn viewing statistics are not a perfect analogue for console popularity. It’s possible (and maybe even likely) that the userbase for one system or another is more or less likely to use their console to surf for porn. And it says nothing about whether they’re more likely to use the console for, you know, actual games. Still, YouPorn statistics seem to bear some resemblance to overall console popularity worldwide. Overall, YouPorn’s stats show 51% of visits coming from PlayStation, 39% from Xbox, and 10% from Wii systems. That’s decently close to the 50%/29%/20% split for PS4/XB1/Wii U sales in our latest analysis.

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GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots – The GoPro line of action cameras, especially when paired with drones, have yielded a massive library of photos and videos that would have been otherwise impossible to take using commercial equipment. But when paired with a weather balloon, things get even more dramatic. In 2013, a group of five students from Arizona did just that and launched the GoPro into the atmosphere. Sadly, they lost track of the camera during after its reentry. Good thing they recovered it two years later in good condition because the footage it had stored is truly a sight to behold.

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Australian police get McLaren and Aston Martin supercars – You wouldn’t want to get into a high-speed car chase with one of these bad boys: the NSW Police Harbourside Local Area Command has just added a McLaren 650S and an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante to its official fleet. However, the two supercars aren’t for regular policing, nor will they be a permanent fixture on Sydney’s streets. They have been loaned to the force for just a few weeks by a local dealership, which will cover all the costs of the vehicles except for fuel. Both cars have been given a NSW Police makeover, with blue-and-white decals declaring their law enforcement affiliation. Underneath, the AU$450,000 McLaren 650S is a brilliant, eye-catching yellow, while the $500,000-plus Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is a suave silver. The cars made their police debut on September 12 at the annual Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance, a day that pays tribute to the sacrifices of officers killed on duty.

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The McLaren 650S on loan to the NSW Police. NSW Police Harbourside LAC

The LAPD has a Tesla now – At a press conference today, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the lease of 160 battery electric vehicles and 128 plug-in hybrids for the city’s vehicle fleet. “Today, we take another step toward becoming the most sustainable city in America,” the mayor told reporters. “This year, Los Angeles will become home to the largest city-owned fleet of pure battery electric vehicles anywhere in the country, and we will save taxpayer dollars along the way.” The city’s fleet already includes 23 electric scooters and three fully electric motorcycles, but this is the first major move into electric cars. The mayor has set ambitious environmental goals for the fleet, requiring that electric vehicles constitute half of the light duty fleet by 2017, and 80 percent of the city’s fleet purchases by 2025.

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10 automakers vow to make automatic emergency braking standard – The NHTSA, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have announced that ten auto makers plan to offer automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. This is the latest step major car manufacturers are taking to bring more advanced safety technologies to a larger customer base, something that will eventually lead to such technologies being common on the road and, hopefully, a subsequent decrease in the number of crashes and deaths that happen. The auto makers are comprised of well-known car companies, including Audi, BMW, GM, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Toyota, Tesla, Volvo, and Volkswagen. Furthermore, the IIHS and US Department of Transportation says that other makers of lightweight vehicles and truck manufacturers should also consider making automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard in their vehicles.

Something to think about:

“Fine, go to those Bangalore Infosys centers, but just for the hell of it go three miles aside and go look at the guy living with no toilet, no running water … The world is not flat and PCs are not, in the hierarchy of human needs, in the first five rungs.”

–    Bill GatesThe Financial Times, Nov. 1, 2013

Downloads:

10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps – 10AppsManager is a freeware that will allow you to easily uninstall and reinstall the default, built-in, preinstalled Windows Store apps in Windows 10. While you can always manually uninstall or reinstall the Store apps, the process is not so easy for the preinstalled apps. It is easy to uninstall or reinstall 3rd-party apps, but not the default preinstalled apps. What this tool from our TWC stables does, is automate the process and let you carry out the operations in a click.

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WebBrowserPassView – WebBrowserPassView is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords stored by the following Web browsers: Internet Explorer (Version 4.0 – 11.0), Mozilla Firefox (All Versions), Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. This tool can be used to recover your lost/forgotten password of any Website, including popular Web sites, like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and GMail, as long as the password is stored by your Web Browser.

After retrieving your lost passwords, you can save them into text/html/csv/xml file, by using the ‘Save Selected Items’ option (Ctrl+S).

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs – On a stage in a ballroom in the Walter Washington Convention Center on September 10, the heads of the United States’ intelligence community gathered to talk about the work their agencies perform and the challenges they face—or at least as much as they could in an unclassified environment. But the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency also had one particular mission in mind as they took the stage at the Intelligence & National Security Summit, an industry event largely attended by government officials and contractors: stopping the poisoning of the public debate around their missions, and especially around the issue of encryption, by unreasonable haters.

CIA Director John Brennan suggested that negative public opinion and “misunderstanding” about the US intelligence community is in part “because of people who are trying to undermine” the mission of the NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies. These people “may be fueled by our adversaries,” he said.

FBI Director James Comey referred to the backlash against his lobbying for backdoors into encrypted communications provided by the technology industry as “venom and deep cynicism” that are making a rational discussion about what could and should be done nearly impossible.

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The directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA, NGO, DIA, and NRO stand for a group picture. Sean Gallagher.

Apple, in refusing backdoor access to data, may face fines – This week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Dept. served Apple with a court order in a case “involving guns and drugs,” demanding it provide real-time access to iMessage, Apple’s proprietary service for sending messages between iPhones.

Apple refused — not because it necessarily wanted to, but because it couldn’t comply. The iPhone and iPad maker reportedly told the feds that the service is encrypted, making it impossible for the company let alone the feds to access the data they demanded, unlike phone companies which, under US wiretap laws, are required to comply.

The criminal case is under seal in an unidentified U.S. federal court.

Apple’s defiance comes at a time when the FBI is pushing for access to user data in the wake of the claims that the U.S. government had access to Silicon Valley systems through its PRISM surveillance program. In response to allegations it was complicit in spying on Americans, Apple quelled fears by revealing its iMessage texting and FaceTime calling services were encrypted and unable to be wiretapped, and said even it “cannot decrypt that data.” Around the same time, the company proceeded to offer device encryption, forcing feds to go directly to the suspect in question to get access to some user data.

Plan to shift internet’s control panel away from US government gets tentative thumbs-up – The plan to shift control of the top level of the internet away from the US government to domain name overseer ICANN has been given a tentative thumbs-up by the internet community.

A public comment period on the proposal for the IANA functions contract closed earlier this week with 159 submissions received. Just under half the comments came from individuals, but governments, the technical community, business groups, and civil society all sent in comments.

The vast majority of the comments were supportive of the plan overall, which will hand control over to a new affiliate of the current contract owner, ICANN, and two new groups set up to ensure that the contract is run effectively. In addition, a process to pull the IANA functions was identified as a last resort.

The proposal was pulled together from three different proposals covering the three main technical jobs that are being considered. Despite most commentators agreeing with the proposal, there were significant concerns over key aspects of the plan.

The same five issues were identified repeatedly from stakeholders as diverse as Google, the Internet Society, US Council for International Business (USCIB), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and others:

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – August 28, 2015

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10;  A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5;  4 overblown Windows 10 worries;  Free or discounted software licenses, cloud resources for students;  How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches;  Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone;  How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity;  Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake;  Seven essential mobile apps for students;   Instagram supports landscape & vertical photos;  NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season;  The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps;  FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more;  Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings;  Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story;  BitTorrent patches flaw;  25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10 – The Windows 10 privacy agreement doesn’t mean Microsoft is secretly stealing the data from your hard disk. Where do people come up with these crazy ideas? There is apparently a growing and very vocal population of people who believe that Windows 10 is basically a 1984 telescreen come to life. They are convinced that with Windows 10 Microsoft has built a spying apparatus not seen since the height of the Cold War, scraping up every detail of your life and feeding it back to Redmond for who knows what nefarious purposes. They’re going to need lots of tinfoil. They’re also either wildly misinformed or deliberately agitating. Unless, of course, they’re just crazy, which is entirely possible based on some of what I’ve read.

4 overblown Windows 10 worries – There are a lot of alarms going off about Windows 10’s effect on your security and privacy. We look at the four top concerns to find out whether they’re true or not, and tell you what you can do about them.

How to cure Windows 10’s worst headaches – Despite the many highlights of Windows 10—Cortana, virtual desktops, windowed Windows Store apps, the revamped Start menu, DirectX 12, among others—there are still some annoyances with the new operating system. Windows 10 can reset your default browser if you upgrade; updates are now mandatory; and behind the scenes, the new OS is a file-sharing machine. Those are just a few of Windows 10’s notable headaches, but the good news is there are fixes for all these problems. Even better? Most are really easy to implement. Let’s dig in.

Free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources for students and educators – Get ahead of the class by using these offers for free or discounted software licenses and cloud resources available to university students and educators around the world. Many of the biggest names in IT provide free or heavily discounted access to software for students, in the hopes of converting them to paid customers after graduation. Students and educators, check out these available options.

Seven essential mobile apps for students – I’ve cut through the clutter and put together a list of educational apps that have something to offer students in middle school, high school and college. You’ll be able to use them with your Android or Apple device, and often your desktop browser. Some of them are so handy, it almost makes me want to go back to school again. I said “almost.”

A Battle Royale Of Digital Assistants: The Big 5 – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook now all have their own digital assistants that they’ve been pumping tons of cash into. There are lots of smaller companies also looking to break into this space (which I’ll soon look at separately) but these tech titans clearly have the upper hand at the moment. In a lot of ways most of these services struggle in similar areas where the technology isn’t quite where it needs to be, but each of these assistants definitely have their own flavor with some being clearly being better than others.

Chrome is getting more aggressive about silencing autoplay videos – Chrome is getting more aggressive about that least popular web feature: autoplay video. A new post from engineer François Beaufort laid out Chrome’s new approach, which will block playback as long as a given autoplay video is in a background tab. The browser will still load the video as soon as the tab is opened, but it won’t start it until you visit the page itself, hopefully preventing the usual surprise when a late-loading video starts up in the background. Under the new setup, that video won’t play until you click back to the relevant tab.

Instagram stops being a square, supports landscape & vertical photos – Instagram has finally gotten with the times and dropped its requirement that photos be in a square format. The social network has updated both its iOS and Android apps and now allows users to post photos in landscape and vertical orientations, in addition to the classic square. The same size change is applied to videos too. This will likely be a welcome change to Instagram users, who for years already have been taking photos and video on devices with rectangular screens.

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Microsoft Snip lets you quickly annotate and add audio to screenshots – If taking screenshots is part of your job, Microsoft is aiming to make it easier with a new tool called Snip. Available as a free beta, Snip lets you cut out a portion of the screen, annotate it with a drawing tool or voice notes, and then save or share the results. It’s unclear if Microsoft is planning to charge for the app, which was first spotted by The Verge. While Snip is hardly the only screen capture tool for Windows, its simplicity (and the fact that it’s free) makes it worth considering. If you don’t need the more extensive options of tools like Greenshot and PicPick, Snip could be a more efficient option.

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LG’s full-sized tablet keyboard rolls up for easy travel – The latest Bluetooth keyboard for tablets offers full-sized keys and yet rolls up into a stick resembling a big Tootsie Roll. LG makes it and it’s appropriately named the Rolly keyboard. Bluetooth pairing starts immediately once the keyboard is unrolled and LG says it can be paired with two mobile devices via Bluetooth 3.0. That feature can’t be used simultaneously of course; even though you can pair with two devices, the Rolly only works with one at a time.

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How to quickly shut down Windows 10 – It must be a point of pride in Redmond that even after all these years, you still have to click “Start” to shut down your computer. Granted, the Start button is no longer labeled that way, having evolved into a Windows-logo button back in Vista. But that’s still what it’s called, and still how Microsoft refers to it. So even in Windows 10, you have to click “Start” to shut down your PC. Then you click Power, and finally Shut Down. I’ll never understand why Microsoft has steadfastly refused to add a one-click Shut Down button to the desktop. Fortunately, there are faster ways to turn off your computer.

Adobe aims to bring Photoshop to mobile masses with upcoming app – Photoshop is so well known that the product name is synonymous with photo editing. But the software itself is a success only on personal computers, not smartphones or tablets. Photoshop’s maker, Adobe Systems, hopes that will change in October at its Max conference for developers and creative professionals when it introduces a new Photoshop app for editing photos on Apple’s iPhones and iPads initially and Android-powered devices later. The free software, called only Project Rigel for now, is designed to bring a more accessible interface to what can be a dauntingly complex program on PCs.

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Twitch meets Periscope with new streaming app Mirrativ – Move over Periscope, there’s a new live-streaming app vying for our attention. Launching today, Mirrativ (a portmanteau of mirror and narrative) lets you broadcast whatever is happening on the screen of your smartphone or tablet. It combines untethered mobile broadcasting, screen sharing and social interactions into one single app. You can use Mirrativ in beta on Android starting today, with iOS following in the coming weeks.

Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley outs pretty and cheap Obi Worldphones – Just to be clear, it’s Obi Worldphones, not Obi Wan. Terrible pop culture references aside, this news isn’t something you see everyday. John Sculley, who, at one point in time, lead one of the world’s biggest tech companies, has co-founded and announced two new smartphones. While some already point out their rather alluring design, these Obi Worldphones are two things that no iPhone will ever be: Android and affordable. Just because you were the former CEO of Apple doesn’t mean you have to forever drink their Kool-aid, right?

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Microsoft delivers Windows 10 PC build 10532 to Insiders – Windows 10 Build 10532 is available as of August 27 to those in the Fast Ring. In this latest build, Microsoft has improved context menus to give them “a modern look and feel” in the latest test build. The company also has enabled sharing in the Windows Feedback app, so that testers can share feedback via Twitter, Facebook and other channels. Microsoft simultaneously is rolling out test Build 10532 of its Edge browser, which includes new canvas blend modes, pointer lock, asm.js on by default and more.

Security:

How ad blockers can improve your online safety and sanity –  Ad blockers – software or browser extensions that filter all HTML elements that are expected to contain ads – can do more than just hide annoying ads. They can optimize your online experience in multiple ways, including decreasing your risk for encountering malware. We lay out the advantages of using an ad blocker and give you a few recommendations on which ones we like.

Tor security concerns prompt largest dark market to suspend operations – Administrators of Agora, the largest online black marketplace operating on the Tor anonymity network, decided to temporarily suspend the website because of possible attacks based on recent methods of exposing Tor Hidden Services.

BitTorrent patches flaw that could amplify distributed denial-of-service attacks – BitTorrent fixed a vulnerability that would have allowed attackers to hijack BitTorrent applications used by hundreds of millions of users in order to amplify distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The flaw was disclosed earlier this month in a paper presented at the 9th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies by four researchers from City University London, Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences in Friedberg, Germany and cloud networking firm PLUMgrid.

Report: Most ‘Women’ on Ashley Madison Were Actually Fake – There’s a good chance that most men on Ashley Madison never even had the opportunity to cheat. That’s because most women on the site were actually fake. According to an analysis of the Ashley Madison data dump from Gizmodo, just about 12,000 of the 5.5 million female profiles on the now-infamous adultery site belonged to actual, living breathing women.

Company News:

Facebook reaches 1-billion users milestone – This week Facebook reached a milestone, one that includes 1-billion people having used the social network in a single day. This isn’t an average number – as Mark Zuckerberg said in an announcement today – but it is rather important. Facebook has millions of users log in every day, and billions of people using the social network every month, but here for the first time in the website’s history 1-billion people used Facebook in a single day.

Life360 Acquires Chronos To Add “Quantified Self” Tracking To Its Family Locator App – Life360, the maker of mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone that help keep families connected, has acquired Chronos Mobile Technologies, a startup behind a number of mobile apps that passively collect data from users’ smartphones in order to highlight trends and connections between various behaviors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Chronos had closed on a small seed round from Maven Ventures, Draper Associates and Major League Baseball earlier in 2015.

Report: ‘Dozens’ of Amazon Fire Phone Engineers Get the Axe – Lackluster Fire Phone sales have reportedly prompted Amazon to lay off “dozens” of engineers at Lab126, a division of the company that focuses on Amazon’s hardware development, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s unclear exactly how many people were let go since they must sign non-disclosure agreements into order to get severance, the Journal said, but the division employs about 3,000 workers.

CenturyLink to deploy broadband to rural areas in 33 states – Telecom carrier CenturyLink will roll out broadband to 1.2 million U.S. homes and businesses in rural areas, using US $506 million from the Federal Communications Commission. The six-year project, expected to start early next year, covers rural areas in 33 states, including large parts of the Midwest, West and Southeast, in addition to other areas. States included in the deployment include Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Google rejects antitrust charges, digs in for a long fight – Google has responded to European Union regulators’ claims that its search results violate antitrust law, saying its search results are focused on “improving quality” and are not anti-competitive. “Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” wrote company general counsel Kent Walker in a Google blog post. “Economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents, and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive.” The blog post accompanies Google’s formal legal response that was filed today. European Union antitrust regulators formally charged Google with anticompetitive conduct in April.

Facebook Finally Cracks Down On Video Piracy – Facebook didn’t get to be one of the largest video streamers on the web without making a few enemies. Unfortunately, up to this point, a lot of those enemies were the people actually creating cool video content for the site. Today, Facebook is trying to rectify its poor management of controlling video piracy on its site and appease video creators who have been getting kind of pissed off at the site with a series of new updates.

SoundCloud faces lawsuit over alleged failure to pay royalties – Contentions regarding SoundCloud and the payment of royalties has been long-running, and now the audio streaming service is facing a lawsuit from Performing Rights Society for Music, more commonly referred to as PRS. The entity advised its members recently that it has sought for SoundCloud to “recognize their responsibilities” repeatedly; PRS states SoundCloud requires a license to operate in Europe and the United Kingdom. PRS went further and issued a press statement advising that it has “no choice” in the matter, and that after a half a decade of failed negotiations, it must proceed with a lawsuit.

Amazon Prime’s streaming video service to launch in Japan – With Netflix having already announced that they’re launching in Japan on September 2nd, Amazon has decided it’s not going to wait for its rival to gain a lead in the local market for streaming video services. The US internet shopping giant has announced it will be debuting its Prime Video service in Japan sometime this fall. Like Netflix’s service in the country, it’s still not clear what kind of programs will be available for streaming, however Amazon has promised the lineup will include popular US movies and TV shows, their award-winning originals, plus native Japanese content.

Games and Entertainment:

NFL without cable: A cord cutter’s guide for the 2015/2016 season – It’s getting a little easier to watch pro football online or over-the-air without an expensive cable TV bundle, but you’ll still have to make a few sacrifices.

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FIFA 16 demo lets you try women’s teams and more – Want to try out FIFA 16 before it hit store shelves? You’re in luck, as Electronic Arts has announced that a free demo for the upcoming professional soccer game will arrive starting September 8 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The FIFA 16 demo will let you try out the standard Kick-Off mode, as well as FIFA Ultimate Team Draft, FIFA Trainer, and new skill games. Featured in the demo are 10 high-profile teams from the around the world, as well as two women’s teams–including the World Cup-winning US Women’s National Team.

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EA Sports

The hidden cost of those ‘free’ gambling apps – Some of the most downloaded and highest-grossing video games in leading app stores use casino motifs for their designs, raising questions about the potential dangers of gambling apps.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is taking it to the Max…the IMAX – That’s correct, December 18 returns to a galaxy far, far away will come at you at the largest format possible for over a month, likely at a theater near you. A lot of high-profile movies get the IMAX treatment these days and since those tickets cost more for a premium experience — IMAX screens are an important part of increasing a movie’s box office take. The other gimmick used to convince you to see a film in theaters instead of waiting for it to stream is 3D, though thankfully The Force Awakens will spare us that.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate ships on PC a month after consoles – Publisher Ubisoft will release Assassin’s Creed Syndicate on PC a month after it launches on consoles, to help ensure the build is shipped without major bugs or glitches. The action adventure title, which follows the story of brother and sister assassins in Victorian London, is scheduled for launch on PC from November 19. That equates to about a month delay from the PS4 and Xbox One release date, which is October 23. Previously, Ubisoft had given the PC build a “Holiday 2015” release target.

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Divinity: Original Sin II preview: An ambitious sequel to one of the biggest, best RPGs of 2014 – When talking about last year’s excellent Divinity: Original Sin, I’m fond of saying, “Imagine the game you’d get if, instead of dying off in the early 2000s, the isometric CRPG genre had kept evolving through 2014.” Now imagine that the same company came back afterward and pitched a sequel twice the scope. That’s Divinity: Original Sin II.

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Watching Is the New Doing – YouTube Gaming makes it a breeze to find and watch an endless supply of gaming livestreams and videos, but it’s a bit rough around the edges.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Psychology Of Insecurity – Why do we keep reading about a litany of breaches? Don’t cyber pros understand they are looking after our most sensitive personal data? Yes they do, but to understand their actions demands a more detailed examination of the psychology of security from the perspective of the security professional. It is time to recognize the psychology of our insecurity. We need a stronger mandate than regulation and the occasional public shaming of a clueless leader of an organization chartered with guarding vital information. We need infrastructure that is secure by design. There is no army of “cyber experts” big enough to pick through the haystack of alerts, trying to find the attack that actually penetrated the enterprise.

Pew report: Americans frown upon phone use in social settings – The widespread presence of mobile devices, namely smartphones, have brought about new issues in regards to etiquette, and though over the years a general shape about proper usage has formed, many still bicker about what is appropriate and what isn’t. Pew Research recently surveyed a bunch of Americans to find out their opinions on smartphone usage in public, and found that while most people are fine with phones being used when a person is in public, only a small percentage think it is okay to use the phone during a social gathering, whether you’re at the restaurant or just talking to someone.

25 Quotes That Take You Inside Albert Einstein’s Revolutionary Mind – In his lifetime, Einstein changed the world, describing the workings of reality better than anyone since Isaac Newton and revealing the capabilities of the atom bomb. In 1999, Time named him Person of the Century. Here are 25 of Einstein’s most telling quotes; each will take you inside the mind of the legend.

Iowa starts testing smartphone-based digital driver’s licenses – Over a year ago, we heard about the state of Iowa’s initiative to develop digital driver’s licenses that could eventually replace the plastic cards used through the US. The digital licenses would feature the same information as the physical versions — photo, address, date of birth, etc. — but be stored on a user’s smartphone. Well, Iowa has now announced that it’s beginning a test program, known as the Mobile Driver License (mDL), for a number of different situations, but limited to employees of the states’ Department of Transportation.

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HandUp, A Startup Focused On The Homeless, Launches Donation Gift Cards For Those Living On SF’s Streets – Since HandUp launched, the site has raised $886,000 so far for homeless people, mostly in San Francisco. On the site, moms are asking for funding for diapers. A veteran named Adam is raising a few thousand dollars for dental work. Another mother named Gladys, who lost both of her sons to unsolved homicides, is raising money to fix the van she lives in. Social workers and case managers at HandUp’s partner organizations make sure that clients are able to get what they asked for. But one of the most commonly requested features from donors was gift cards that people could give out directly on the street to people they pass by every day.

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Should police have the capability to take control of driverless cars? – There have already been plenty of ethical questions asked, like whether a driverless car should decide who lives or who dies during an accident scenario. One question often posed is whether a driverless vehicle could choose to ram a school bus full of kids or sacrifice the driverless vehicle’s occupants during a mishap. Now the Rand Corp. is thinking about how law enforcement officials should deal with driverless cars. A recent study (PDF) by the group ponders whether a cop should have the ability to remotely control a vehicle to pull it over.

Why We Look – We look because it’s there. We humans look towards violence in order to define it, to decide where we must run (or if we should stand and fight). We are fascinated by suffering. There is a cognitive bias towards the terrible. Many complain that there is not enough “happy” news. The problem is that there is happy news all around us, we just don’t notice. A baby smiling or someone offering someone else a spot on the bus doesn’t go viral because most humans experience little kindnesses and forget them. But we don’t forget violence.

Adobe says stop using ‘Photoshop’ as a generic term – When a company’s product so thoroughly corners a market that it becomes well-known even by those who have never used it, the company faces a problem: generic use of that product’s name. You’re likely to hear the term “dumpster” used generically, for example, as it is now a genericized trademark due to its common usage. Other trademarks have suffered the same fate — yo-yo, for example, and aspirin. Adobe doesn’t want its popular photo-editing software Photoshop to suffer the same fate, but it may be too late to stop it.

Something to think about:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”

–   Albert Einstein

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story – The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

An Electronic Frontier Foundation FOIA request on a different matter revealed the strategy in 2011, but it wasn’t made public until last year, when privacy researcher Chris Soghoian saw evidence of the operation in the documents and tweeted about it. That spurred both the AP and The Seattle Times to complain vocally about the FBI’s behavior.

“The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale,” AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser wrote in a letter to then-AG Eric Holder last year.

Germany trades citizens’ metadata for NSA’s top spy software – In order to obtain a copy of the NSA’s main XKeyscore software, whose existence was first revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency agreed to hand over metadata of German citizens it spies on. According to documents seen by the German newspaper Die Zeit, after 18 months of negotiations, the US and Germany signed an agreement in April 2013 that would allow the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutz—BfV) to obtain a copy of the NSA’s most important program and to adopt it for the analysis of data gathered in Germany.

This was a lower level of access compared to the non-US “Five Eyes” nations—the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—which had direct access to the main XKeyscore system. In return for the software, the BfV would “to the maximum extent possible share all data relevant to NSA’s mission.” Interestingly, there is no indication in the Die Zeit story that the latest leak comes from Snowden, which suggests that someone else has made the BfV’s “internal documents” available.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – August 12, 2015

How to secure Windows 10: The paranoid’s guide;  Microsoft Windows 10: Five free apps you should download;  New rules for buying back-to-school laptops;  Google restructures, naming parent company Alphabet;  Four apps better than your phone’s built-in address book;  Add Star Wars emojis to your text messages;  LastPass makes its password management apps free on smartphones;  7 top Linux desktop environments compared;  Thirty five Flash Player holes plugged;  Facebook security hole remains open months after report;  Microsoft rolls out second cumulative update for Windows 10;   Facebook Says This Is How We Laugh on the Internet;  Dual-booting Linux with Windows: What you need to know;  Snapchat Just Fixed the Worst Thing About its App;  Pushbullet adds end-to-end encryption for SMS;  Researchers wirelessly hack a Corvette’s brakes using an insurance dongle;  Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta has 3 maps and 7 modes;  PlayStation Plus subscription prices to increase in UK;  Driving Your Car Will Soon Be Illegal;  Xbox One DVR to launch in US, UK, and Canada;  The NSA Playset: Espionage tools for the rest of us.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to secure Windows 10: The paranoid’s guide – I think some people’s fears about Microsoft looking over your shoulder are over-the-top. And, I speak as someone who looks at Microsoft with a great deal of suspicion. What you need to realize is that Microsoft has made Windows 10 both a desktop and a cloud operating system. Adding cloud functionality means that when you run Windows 10 you’ll be sharing far more information with Microsoft and its partner customers than ever before. For example, while Windows 10 doesn’t have a keylogger it does collect your keystrokes and voice to improve spell-checking and voice recognition. Before having a fit about this, keep in mind that every cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) program does this to one degree or another.

Microsoft Windows 10: Five free apps you should download – With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft decided to cut and mangle some beloved, long-standing features available in previous versions of its operating system. Windows Media Center is gone and Solitaire now shows you full-screen ads, which you have to pay to get rid of. That’s not to mention the outcry over Microsoft releasing software to play DVDs that costs $14.99 through the Windows Store. Fortunately, you can ignore these shenanigans – as there is plenty of free software out there to fill the gaps in Microsoft’s new OS.

Microsoft: glitch preventing Windows 10 store downloads will be fixed soon – While Microsoft’s much-anticipated (or dreaded, depending on your situation) rollout of Windows 10 has been fairly smooth for most users, this weekend a bug surfaced that prevented some from being able to download app updates from the Windows Store. Users that are affected say they haven’t been able to sign into the store, preventing them from either downloading new apps or getting updates for apps they already have installed.

New rules for buying back-to-school laptops – With that new school year may come the need for a new laptop, and time- and cash-strapped parents are often left confused and scrambling. How much do you really need to spend on a school-minded PC? And how can you make sure you’re getting a system that will go the distance? (Hopefully just four years, if you’re packing a kid off to college.) Fear not: Even with hundreds of options, picking the right laptop (or perhaps…tablet?) is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Pushbullet adds end-to-end encryption for SMS, copy and paste, and notification mirroring – The company is ramping up its security by adding optional end-to-end encryption. This means your data is encrypted before it leaves your phone, and decrypted when it gets to your other devices. It’s a good layer of security to include, as all those SMS messages and notifications contain a lot of personal data. The encryption also applies to Pushbullet’s ability to copy and paste between devices. To set it up, you need to go to Settings on every device where you’re using Pushbullet select Enable encryption, then enter a password.

Four apps better than your phone’s built-in address book – The address book is at the core of your phone. Since most of us don’t memorize phone numbers anymore, it’s a crucial tool for keeping touch with friends and family through phone calls, texts and emails. Unfortunately, the built-in contacts app that comes with the iPhone or Android phones hasn’t changed in years. It can be frustrating to edit, fraught with duplicates and lacking the most up-to-date information. Luckily, there are several address book apps out there that offer a better alternative with innovative features and modern designs.

LastPass makes its password management apps free on smartphones – LastPass, one of the more popular password management solutions next to 1Password, is making its smartphone apps free to use. “Now, if you get started with LastPass on your Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone, you’ll have completely free access from your smartphone, and can even sync across smartphones for free,” the company wrote in a blog post today. “The same is true for tablets, if that’s where you get started.”

Get Started on LastPass for Free – If you’ve been meaning to try the password manager LastPass, now is the perfect opportunity, because the service is currently free to start. Under the new pricing model, you can get started with LastPass for free on any device, including smartphones, tablets, or desktops. Sync data between similar devices, like two smartphones or two tablets. But if you want to sync between two different devices—between phone and desktop, for example—you’ll need to upgrade to premium.

Microsoft introduces Floatie for OneNote on Android – Microsoft has added a new feature to the OneNote application for Android that allows users to access their notes from any where across the phone with the help of floating icons.

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Microsoft rolls out second cumulative update for Windows 10 – Microsoft has rolled out another cumulative update for Windows 10 and you can download it now by checking Windows Update – but what’s new in this release is not yet known.

Snapchat Just Fixed the Worst Thing About its App – Ephemeral messaging app Snapchat knows its demographic well. Teens are still at the mercy of their parents’ financial decisions, and that can sometimes mean they don’t have a whole bunch of mobile data to use up every month. Luckily for data-strapped teens (and everyone else), the company rolled out a new data-conserving feature Monday. “Travel Mode,” which “disables auto-loading of content like Stories when you’re using mobile data,” as it’s described in the app.

Add Star Wars emojis to your text messages – The official Star Wars app now features over 50 adorable characters, ships and more. Animated GIFs, too! Here’s how to text them.

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Freedom of choice: 7 top Linux desktop environments compared – Linux distros usually have a default desktop environment, but there are a slew of desktop environments available to use. Heck, Ubuntu alone offers nine official alternate “flavors” with different desktop configurations. None of these desktop environments is better than another. They have different aesthetics, functionality, and features. They may perform better or worse on different hardware. Only you can decide which you prefer. Curious? Here’s a run-down of some of the most popular Linux desktop environments.

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Dual-booting Linux with Windows: What you need to know – Windows 10 isn’t the only (kind of) free operating system you can install on your computer. Linux can run from just a USB drive without modifying your existing system, but you’ll want to install it on your PC if you plan on using it regularly. Installing a Linux distribution alongside Windows as a “dual boot” system will give you a choice of either operating system each time you start your PC. It’s the ideal way for most people to install Linux, as you can always get back to a full Windows system with a reboot.

Windows 10 on the Raspberry Pi: What you need to know – Microsoft has released a version of Windows 10 for the credit card-sized machine. But just what can you do with it?

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Windows 10 IoT Core on the Raspberry Pi / Image: Microsoft

Facebook Says This Is How We Laugh on the Internet – Well now you can tell exactly how your e-laughing compares with the average joe’s, after Facebook published an analysis on it’s research blog. Inspired by a New Yorker blog post about the various ways we indicate laughter online, researchers, “analyzed de-identified posts and comments posted on Facebook in the last week of May with at least one string of characters matching laughter,” the post reads. “We did the matching with regular expressions which automatically identified laughter in the text, including variants of haha, hehe, emoji, and lol.” Here’s what they found:

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Facebook

Google Launches First Beta Of Its Zync Visual Effects Renderer On Google Cloud Platform – Google, the largest subsidiary corporation of Alphabet, wants movie studios to use its cloud to render their special effects. Last August, Google acquired Zync, a visual effects rendering service that allows studios and independent artists to render their works in the cloud. Today, the company announced that it will open up the first beta of Zync on its Cloud Platform next week on August 20.

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Study: Ad-blocking software use is rising at breakneck speed – AdBlock and apps like it are the bane of ad-supported websites, and an occasional bit of browser extension-based guilt for users. On one hand, no one wants to deal with ads, at least not the poorly utilized ads found on many websites. At the same time, many users recognize that their favorite websites probably depend on those advertisement dollars, and so they may disable AdBlock for certain websites. Many ad-blocking users don’t bother doing the latter, however, and that makes a new report from Adobe and PageFair particularly worrisome for companies.

Security:

Thirty five Flash Player holes plugged (and there’s one quick fix) – Adobe has patched 35 security vulnerabilities in its Flash Player, all of one of which could lead to unexpected code execution. The fixes relate to vulnerabilities including 15 use-after-free, eight memory corruption, and five type confusion bugs. Most flaws have been slapped with the panic severity rating of one, meaning someone is or probably will soon hack the holes. Linux and Chrome OS users can afford to ignore the patch issuance for a while with the respective holes being rated a boring severity score of three. Microsoft’s Edge and its older browser sisters Internet Explorer 11 and 10 get the same Player version update as Google Chrome, and the Desktop runtime. Linux and AIR offerings are also fixed.

Windows 10 gets its first set of security patches – For August, Microsoft’s monthly round of security patches contains five bulletins that cover Windows 10, as well as a bulletin that covers the new Edge browser that runs on Windows 10. Overall, Microsoft released 14 security bulletins for this month’s Patch Tuesday—which occurs on the second Tuesday of each month. Three of the bulletins were marked as critical, meaning that they should be patched as quickly as possible.

Researchers wirelessly hack a Corvette’s brakes using an insurance dongle – Researchers at the University of California at San Diego have found a way to wirelessly hack thousands of vehicles by exploiting the on-board diagnostics (or OBD) devices that insurance companies use to monitor speed and location. In a video posted to YouTube (seen above), they were able to activate the windshield wipers and engage or disengage the brakes of a 2013 model Corvette by sending an SMS message to the OBD dongle’s cellular radio. More details about the vulnerability will be revealed at the Usenix security conference today, according to Wired.

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Facebook security hole remains open months after report – Android users can relax. This isn’t about you this time. This time, it’s Facebook’s turn to take the hot seat. Not that it has completely left the chair anyway. According to Reza Moaiandinm, Technical Director of marketing company SALT.agency, Facebook has a gaping security hole that leaves it wide open to attack and its users vulnerable to phishing attempts. While news of such security lapses aren’t exactly new, especially with Facebook involved, Moaiandinm’s beef stems from the fact that Facebook has seemingly done nothing months after he reported the exploit.

Intel left a fascinating security flaw in its chips for 16 years – here’s how to exploit it – A design flaw in Intel’s processors can be exploited to install malware beneath operating systems and antivirus – making it tough to detect and remove. The blunder was introduced in 1995, in the Pentium Pro. It is hardwired into the silicon, and has been staring kernel-level programmers in the face for years. The good news is that Intel spotted the howler in its processor blueprints, and corrected the issue: chips built from January 2011 and onwards (Sandy Bridge Core CPUs and later) are not affected.  A trusty Linux box from the previous decade that’s still plodding away, an office of old PCs, or a relative’s aging laptop, are the sorts of computers at risk of attack via this vulnerability. Your fancy new gaming rig, your virtual machine in the cloud or on your workstation, and that office PC bought two years ago in the last refresh, are immune.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter band together to battle child pornography – Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Twitter are working with the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to implement a new system that will help detect and block images of child pornography online. IWF, a charitable foundation, has introduced a new technology that enables it to tag images of sexual abuse with distinct hashes — essentially codes that act like a digital fingerprint. The hash is generated by an algorithm; once assigned to an image, it’s unique to it, making it easy to identify a specific image against a list of offending hashes. The IWF keeps a record of all the hashes, which it has only shared with the five tech companies so far, but plans to roll out to other IWF members soon.

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Wearsafe Is A Connected Panic Button For The App Generation – At the Disrupt NY hackathon this year the winning hack was a live-streaming app called Witness whose team’s pitch was a desire to be the panic button for the mobile age. But what about sticky situations where you don’t have time to fire up an app? That’s where Connecticut-based startup Wearsafe Labs is hoping to step in, with a hardware panic button also updated for the app era.

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IBM discovers Android serialization vulnerability allows arbitrary code execution – In the latest security issue to plague Android, IBM has discovered a vulnerability in Android and some third-party SDKs that allows malicious code to elevate its privileges to the system user.

Company News:

Google restructures, naming parent company Alphabet – Google will become a subsidiary of a new parent company called Alphabet, under a massive restructuring arrangement designed to let the company’s businesses operate more efficiently. Alphabet will include a group of companies, the largest of which will be Google. Other efforts will be run separately but apart from Google, including health efforts such as Life Sciences, which works on glucose-sensing contact lenses, and Calico, focused on longevity. Alphabet will also include Google’s advanced X labs, which handles projects like Google’s self-driving cars and Wi-Fi balloons. Under the changes, the main Google business will be slimmed down to include search search, ads, maps, apps, YouTube and Android. Other businesses, like Calico as well as Nest, Fiber and Google’s investing arms, will be managed separately. All will be under Alphabet.

Google’s Larry Page explains the new Alphabet – Here’s the full text of the letter from Google CEO Larry Page announcing his company’s restructuring.

Apple Shares Tumble 5% Amid China Concerns – Apple suffered a 5 percent drop in its share price Tuesday as Wall Street reacted strongly to news from China that the government is further devaluing the yuan. The currency devaluation is likely to increase import costs of devices for Apple. The announcement from China’s central bank that official guidance for the yuan would be reduced 2 percent to 6.2298 yuan per dollar, its lowest point in three years, sent the $700 billion tech giant’s shares tumbling. A drop worth tens of billions in market cap value.

Facebook Brings Auto-Play Video Ads To Apps In Its Mobile Ad Network – These new ad formats include auto-play video, as well as its multi-image Carousel Ads that can give deeper looks at a product or tell stories, Dynamic Product Ads that retarget users with items they’ve considered buying elsewhere on the web, and more traditional interstitial Click-To-Play Video Ads. Some users might find these flashy ads annoying, but at least they’re well-targeted and run properly.

Facebook is making an app that will send breaking news alerts to your phone – The stand-alone app is still in the early stages, but it will reportedly ask users to choose which publications they want to receive notifications from, and specific topics or “stations” they want to receive news about. Then, when news in those preselected topics breaks, the publications can send a push notification of up to 100 characters to users. All notifications sent through Facebook’s app will link out to that publication’s website. Only a select number of publications will be available on the app, according to Business Insider.

Symantec Sells Veritas Division To Private Equity Group For $8B – Symantec announced today that it had sold its Veritas division to The Carlyle Group, a Washington, DC-based private equity firm for $8 billion in cash. The move comes after Symantec, mostly known as a computer security company, announced it was splitting into two separate publicly traded companies last fall. The first was going to be Symantec, which as you might expect focused on security and the second was Veritas, which concentrated on information management. It was named for a storage vendor that merged with Symantec back in 2005.

Judge orders Cablevision to stop calling Verizon a liar – A federal judge has ordered Cablevision to stop running advertisements that accuse Verizon of lying about offering its Fios broadband customers the fastest in-home Wi-Fi service. On Friday, Judge Gary Brown threw out Cablevision’s lawsuit against Verizon, which was filed in January, accusing Verizon of misrepresenting its service. Then on Monday, he ruled in favor of Verizon’s request for a temporary restraining order to put a stop to ads Cablevision has been running in the New York City metro area accusing Verizon of lying about its broadband Internet speeds, the quality of its DVR, service appointments and other aspects of its service.

Firefox sticks it to Microsoft, redirects Cortana searches in Windows 10 – After blasting Microsoft’s attempts to set Edge as the default browser in Windows 10, Mozilla is enjoying some sweet revenge by steering Firefox users away from Bing. With the newly-released Firefox 40, users no longer have to use Bing for web searches from Cortana on the Windows 10 taskbar. Instead, Firefox will show results from whatever search engine the user has chosen as the default. Using Firefox isn’t the only way to replace Cortana’s Bing searches with Google or another search engine. But Firefox is currently the only browser that does so without the need for third-party extensions. (It wouldn’t be surprising, however, if Google follows suit.)

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Chinese vendors triple smartphone share in India – Chinese vendors tripled shipments year-on-year in the second quarter in the Indian market, indicating that low-cost vendors are posing a challenge to global players like Apple in a very price-sensitive market. The Chinese vendors have been successful by a combination of strategies, including online flash sales and by pushing low-cost 4G phones, priced at between US$100-150, a market that was unattended by Indian and global vendors, according to research firm IDC.

Foxconn to invest $5B to set up first of up to 12 factories in India – As part of its plan to set up to 12 manufacturing facilities in India by 2020, contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group is investing US$5 billion in a factory and other facilities in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. The Indian government has been coaxing foreign companies, including smartphone makers, to set up manufacturing units in India under its “Make in India” program. A number of smartphone makers are planning to make the devices in the country, with Chinese maker Xiaomi expected to announce its first phone manufactured in India on Monday.

Games and Entertainment:

Why Everybody Should Play Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – I can tell you the world wrought here looks as beautiful as a this-gen console game should, a sometimes linear, sometimes open swathe of blissful countryside you stroll freely through, espying mist-capped valleys punctuated by bus stops, phone booths, smoking ashtray-filled pubs, vast barns, spooky-looking domed towers, unpeopled flats, golden pastures choked with gently swaying strands of wheat and towering windmills. The weird stuff tends to happen as you amble along and trip (or interact with) trigger points.

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The Chinese Room / Sony

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta has 3 maps and 7 modes – Activision today released a new trailer for the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer beta, which provides the first details about what fans can expect from it. As you can see in the video, the beta will have at least three maps and seven modes. The video specifically says three-plus maps and seven-plus modes are included, suggesting more of each may be added later. Players will also get to check out Black Ops III’s new movement system using eight different “Specialist” characters. You’ll also be able to test out Black Ops III’s weapon customization tools, including the paintshop.

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Hulu says it won’t release its new original shows in binge-watch form – Hulu has no plans to start catering to binge-watchers with its original programming, preferring instead to release new episodes one week at a time. Hulu’s strategy runs counter to that of Netflix and Amazon, which release entire new seasons of their original shows all at once. While this allows viewers to easily get hooked by watching several episodes in one sitting, the trade-off is that any social media buzz around a show can die off quickly after the premiere. For Netflix and Amazon, the answer to that problem is to simply release more original content.

Xbox One DVR to launch in US, UK, and Canada – Microsoft announced last week that the Xbox One DVR would initially land in three countries at launch. Those three countries are the US, Canada, and the UK. The announcement was made at the Gamescom conference in Cologne. The launch is set for an unspecified time next year with more details coming closer to launch.

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PlayStation Plus subscription prices to increase in UK – Bad news for PlayStation gamers in the UK today: the subscription prices for two of the PlayStation Plus plans are increasing next month. The one-month option is rising from £5.49 to £5.99, and the three-month plan is going from £11.99 to £14.99. The silver lining in all of this? The price for the one-year subscription is staying the same, at £39.99. This last option was already the best value, now it will be even more so.

Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s time for PC companies to copy one of Apple’s best features – I like PC hardware. OK, that’s sort of a lie; PC hardware infuriates me no end, because I can never find a motherboard with precisely the set of features I want, but it’s the kind of infuriation that comes of having high expectations. My main PC is a self-built desktop system, and Apple simply doesn’t have a desktop system offering the kind of longevity and flexibility that I want. PC hardware does, and this is great. But Apple from time to time does some things which are really neat, and sometimes I find myself looking at those things and yearning for them. Operating system installation and disaster recovery is one of those things.

Defusing The Internet Of Things Time Bomb – “Smart” devices are all the buzz, whether in the connected home (thermostats, lightbulbs, garage door openers, locks and various appliances) or new wearable devices. They promise convenience along with improved control and efficiency in our lives. But, as highlighted by the recent hacking of automobiles, connectivity can come at a significant cost. Consumers cringe as the barrage of data breaches continues — from major retailers to health insurers to government agencies, hundreds of millions of records are now exposed and there seems to be no end in sight. Will we face a similar future with some of our most personal and sensitive information (where we are, the status of our home, our latest health vitals), or even with our physical security?

Does too much technology make a car artificial? – Two trends are interacting in the car world right now, and I’m fascinated by the questions being raised as a result. Computers are in control of everything, modulating our control inputs and interpreting our intent. For example, between your foot and the pedals of a hybrid are complex software routines that decide how to juggle internal combustion engines and conventional brakes with electric motor-generator units when it comes to stopping and going. Cheap, rugged, and powerful electronics can let an engineer solve a suspension or engine problem with some code instead of mechanical fix. Is that a good thing, or is the solution an artificial one?

Driving Your Car Will Soon Be Illegal – Driving a car will be illegal by 2030. Our economy will be severely impacted as millions of truck drivers, cabbies and delivery people are put out of work. In this era of endless innovation, man’s century-long relationship with the automobile is about to be permanently disrupted.

Climate change deniers, like fanboys, don’t care about your science – Climate change is a hot topic in politics. That climate change is happening and that humanity has something to do with it isn’t up for debate anymore. How to deal with it is. Still, climate change has its deniers. You’d think that these people could be convinced with a bit of education. If they knew what the scientists knew then surely they’d change their minds. That’s what I thought, anyway — it’s not true. In fact, it’s the opposite. Or so says the research from Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale, and member of the Cultural Cognition Project which tries to explain how we come to hold our beliefs.

Something to think about:

“You can’t outwit fate by trying to stand on the sidelines and place little side bets about the outcome of life. Either you wade in and risk everything to play the game, or you don’t play at all. And if you don’t play, you can’t win.”

–     Judith McNaught

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA Playset: Espionage tools for the rest of us – When Der Spiegel and Jacob Appelbaum published leaked pages of the National Security Agency’s ANT Catalog—the collection of tools and software created for NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division—it triggered shock, awe, and a range of other emotions around the world. Among some hardware hackers and security researchers, it triggered something else, too—a desire to replicate the capabilities of TAO’s toolbox to conduct research on how the same approaches might be used by other adversaries.

In less than 18 months since the catalog’s leak, the NSA Playset project has done just that. The collection boasts over a dozen devices that put the power of the NSA’s TAO into the hands of researchers. Project creator Michael Ossmann—a security researcher, radio frequency hardware engineer, and founder of Great Scott Gadgets—detailed the tools at a presentation during the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas last week, and he talked with Ars more about it this past weekend at DEF CON 23.

Many of the software components of the 50-page ANT catalog were things that had already been developed by security researchers. Some of the discovered capabilities appeared to stem from off-the-shelf hardware (or its equivalent) and software similar to existing tools; they were simply combined in a package suitable for spy work. But other pieces of hardware in the NSA’s catalog appeared to have no openly available equivalent—such as wireless bugs planted in computer cables or connectors. Some of those bugs were radio “retro-reflectors,” wiretaps that only broadcast data when hit by a directed radio signal. (It’s similar in concept to “The Thing”—the infamous bug Soviet spies planted inside the US Embassy in Moscow.)

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How Japan’s Privacy Visor fools face-recognition cameras – If you’re worried about Big Brother monitoring you from security cameras, Japan has developed eyewear that can keep you anonymous.

The Privacy Visor consists of a lightweight, wraparound, semitransparent plastic sheet fitted over eyewear frames. It’s bulky and not exactly stylish, but it could have customized designs.

It’s meant to thwart face-recognition camera systems through a very simple trick. It reflects overhead light into the camera lens, causing the area around the eyes to appear much brighter than it normally does.

That’s enough to trick standard face-recognition systems, such as the Viola-Jones object detection framework, according to the National Institute of Informatics (NII), which has been developing the visor for years.

At a demo on Tuesday, NII staffers showed how a face-recognition program can easily identify someone by comparing video input to a database of head shots. The system also works when the subject is wearing sunglasses.

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Russia threatening nation-wide Reddit ban over drug posts – The Russian government has said it’s considering a nation-wide block on the social website Reddit over concerns about easily accessible information on growing and acquiring drugs. One government agency has said it’s tried contacting Reddit about removing such posts, but they haven’t gotten a response. Oddly enough, the government says it was prompted to take action because of complaints from users. Because surely people go right to the government when they see things on the internet, as this couldn’t be a case of Russia wanting to censor information.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 31, 2015

Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide;  Can your old PC run Windows 10?  14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life;  What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security;  New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless;  KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket;  Google Translate app adds 20 more languages;   6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV;  How to do a clean install of Windows 10;  Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide;  Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts;  Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver;  Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles;  Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360;  Man shoots down drone hovering over house;  Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia;  Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show.

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Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide – Security Checkup was designed to walk users through all the security tools available to them, one by one, while asking them which ones they would like on or off. Initial steps include logging out from devices that haven’t been used for Facebook access in awhile as well as email alerts for attempted logins from unfamiliar devices or apps. This is not to be confused with Privacy Checkup, a step-by-step guide published to the platform last September.

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Google Translate app adds 20 more languages – Designed for both iOS and Android, the Google Translate app is adding 20 new languages. You’ll be able to translate to and from English with Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. For Hindi and Thai, you’ll be able to do one-way translations from English.

6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV – Being able to watch the news is one of the biggest reasons people stay tethered to an expensive pay-TV subscription. In a recent Comscore survey, 58 percent of subscribers said the news was important to their viewing habits—more than any other TV category. But nowadays, you don’t need a cable TV package to stay informed. If anything, streaming video is a better way to keep up with the news, offering more choices and broader perspectives compared to the big cable-news networks. And in many cases, you don’t have to pay a dime. Read on for the best ways to watch the round-the-clock news without a big channel bundle.

Cloud storage alternatives: Three ways to sync your own data securely and privately – Cloud storage is convenient, but you can remove any concerns about security or other issues if you do what they do yourself.

Yahoo unveils Livetext, allowing people to text using silent videos – Yahoo on Wednesday unveiled a new video texting app, called Livetext, which the company hopes can revive its relevance for smartphone users. The twist for this service is that the videos don’t have sound. The app will be available for free Thursday on phones running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where it’s available now.

Can your old PC run Windows 10? – For a modern operating system with an vast range of capabilities, Windows 10 is an incredibly lean and mean operating system. To find out just how lean though, I decided to install Windows 10 on a few ancient PCs to see how well it runs. The actual experience might surprise you.

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The “Vista Capable” machine

Windows 10 guide to downloading and loading from a USB stick – Today upgrades to Windows 10 begin to be unleashed by Microsoft for all the most modern computers, including yours. Microsoft is releasing this operating system upgrade for free for most users – assuming they’ve got a Windows operating system from the past couple of generations — if you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you should be safe. Today we’re having a peek at how simple it is to load Windows 10 to your computer using a disk image (ISO file) downloaded from Microsoft to a USB stick.

How to do a clean install of Windows 10 – If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can install Microsoft’s new Windows 10 OS completely for free. If you choose to follow this method Windows 10 will bring along all of your data, apps and most of your system settings from your older OS. Which can adversely affect performance. This post will show you how to change that and get a clean install of Windows 10 onto your computer. This is possible to do both after you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and before, when your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8.

Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts – Windows 10 is available and as with any OS if you want to get the most out of it you need to know a few keyboard shortcuts. Here are the Windows 10 shortcuts that will make your life easier, both the new entries and old favourites from earlier iterations of the OS.

Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide – Are you seeking a new laptop, hybrid or tablet on which to run Windows 10? We asked the leading PC vendors to identify suitable products in a number of categories.

How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free – Windows 10 brings a lot of good stuff to the table, but it also takes away some key functionality that Windows 7 users might miss. In Windows 10, you have to say goodbye to Windows Media Center and with it, the ability to play DVDs natively. Microsoft said in May it would have a native solution for DVD playback to make up for those who lost it. Originally this app was supposed to show up later in the year, but Microsoft’s solution is already available. In my tests, however, the app doesn’t work perfectly. Luckily, there are other options.

The big three record labels threaten to boycott YouTube, according to reports – According to the New York Post, Universal, Sony and Warner are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with YouTube’s monetization efforts. The labels reportedly feel the site isn’t serious when it comes to monetizing their content. Another gripe stems from how the Google-owned site retains complete control over everything from ad policy to the sales channel. The report says the big three could even go “nuclear,” meaning they could resort to pulling their music catalogs from the site.

Windows 10 ‘Service Release 1’ expected to roll out next month – SR1 will be a maintenance update, focusing on adding polish and stability to the OS, so don’t expect any new features. As more people continue to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will gather more telemetry from the OS in action, and will no doubt use that data to help inform development of future maintenance releases. Of course, bug fixes are always welcome, but they’re not terribly exciting. However, as we’ve previously reported, Microsoft is planning a further, larger update to be released this October. This update will focus heavily on improving stability too, but it will also mark the arrival of several key features that the company has already announced.

14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life – College is filled with all sorts of confused, eager folks like you. It can be difficult to find your footing, socially. You’ll have the dorm, the quad, and the cafeteria. But surely there is more! Well, lucky for you, there is, college face. Thanks to technology, the entire world is just a few taps away.

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College is nothing without friends. Here’s 14 ways to find your social footing on and off campus.

Mozilla blasts Microsoft for making it harder to switch to Firefox in Windows 10 – Microsoft has altered Windows 10 so that users have to explicitly set a default app for applications like mail, calendar, or web browsers. The change means the setup installers for Chrome and Firefox can no longer set themselves as the default browser during the install process. Mozilla isn’t happy with this change, and the company is calling on Microsoft to reverse what it calls an “aggressive move to override user choice on Windows 10.”

Microsoft to offer a free 90 day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise – Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most secure OS to date and offers improved security and device management options for large corporations.. In order to entice more corporate customers, Microsoft is now offering up a 90-day trial for Windows 10. Those running Windows 10 Enterprise as an Insider should also be aware that the preview will end on October 1, with notifications of the impending closure starting in September. After that, customers must either register for the 90-day evaluation or purchase the full product to continue using it.

Security:

There’s (Almost) Nothing You Can Do About Stagefright – Move over Heartbleed, there’s a new ominously named digital threat that has the potential to engulf hundreds of millions of people. It’s called Stagefright, and the information security community fears that 950 million Android phones are at risk of succumbing to the exploit. While most Android hacks at least require victims to make some kind of mistake, like getting tricked into downloading malware, the Stagefright vulnerability could already be on nearly a billion Android phones regardless of what users do.

Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles – A security researcher has posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how a device he made can intercept wireless communications to locate, unlock and remotely start GM vehicles that use the OnStar RemoteLink mobile app. Samy Kamkar, who refers to himself as a hacker and whistleblower, posted the video today showing him using a device he calls OwnStar. The device, he said, intercepts communications between GM’s OnStar RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service.

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Samy Kamkar stands next to a Chevy Volt that he used to demonstrate how he could hack into the GM’s OnStar mobile app in order to unlock and start the car. Credit: Samy Kamkar

New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless – Another day, another critical Android vulnerability. This time, it might be slightly less serious than Stagefright but still enough to be worrisome. Popular security Trend Mirco came upon this vulnerability in Android’s mediaserver component that, when given a malformed MKV media file, could render the device unresponsive and completely silent, practically locking out the user from his or her device. The one slight good news is that this exploit requires installing a malicious app or visiting a suspicious website, which, sadly, isn’t that hard to get users to do.

Researchers develop astonishing Web-based attack on a computer’s DRAM – Millions of Web users could be vulnerable to an attack on their computer’s DRAM via the Web, a surprising development that expands on a bug that has increasingly worried computer security experts. It has been known for several years that densely packed memory cells on computers are vulnerable to intentional interference. But a new research paper details how an attack could be conducted over the Web, dramatically increasing the danger to users.

How the way you type can shatter anonymity—even on Tor – Security researchers have refined a long-theoretical profiling technique into a highly practical attack that poses a threat to Tor users and anyone else who wants to shield their identity online. The technique collects user keystrokes as an individual enters usernames, passwords, and other data into a website. After a training session that typically takes less than 10 minutes, the website—or any other site connected to the website—can then determine with a high degree of certainty when the same individual is conducting subsequent online sessions. The profiling works by measuring the minute differences in the way each person presses keys on computer keyboards. Since the pauses between keystrokes and the precise length of time each key is pressed are unique for each person, the profiles act as a sort of digital fingerprint that can betray its owner’s identity.

What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security – Windows 10 has a lot of security features built-in for businesses, but they aren’t all ready out of the box yet.

Company News:

Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver – Uber, at least until autonomous cars dot the landscape, needs drivers. It has already hawked its driving perks at teachers, stay-at-home moms, poor college students, and anyone else who wants extra money and has a decent car. Now the ridesharing company has partnered with Life Reimagined, an AARP non-profit subsidiary, to dangle its driving “partnerships” at the organization’s members. Uber will be making appearances at some Life Reimagined events, among other things, targeting “Americans over 40”.

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Groupon Launches Its Own Food Delivery Business, Groupon To Go – Following its acquisition of food delivery service OrderUp earlier this month, Groupon is today announcing its own nationwide delivery and takeout service, Groupon To Go. The program is initially available in Chicago, where it has been in pilot testing with 500 restaurants since March, but the company says it will expand to other metro regions throughout the year, including Boston and Austin this fall. While there are now a number of on-demand food delivery businesses on the market, a big differentiator for Groupon’s service is that it claims it will save its customers up to 10 percent on every order.

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MasterCard and Samsung extend partnership in Europe for Samsung Pay – Samsung and MasterCard have been working together on Samsung Pay for about a year now. Last year MasterCard announced that it would provide tokenization services for Samsung Pay. These tokenization services allow for secure transactions and a fast connection to banks in the US. Samsung and MasterCard have now announced that they have extended their partnership in Europe.

Huawei is now the third largest vendor of phones, leaving Microsoft behind – Huawei is now the third largest vendor of smartphones if a report from Strategy Analytics is to be believed. The spot, previously held by Microsoft after its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, was taken by Huawei after strong sales of over 30 million devices in 2015, garnering it 7% of the total market. The company was, however, preceded by Samsung and Apple, as the largest and second largest, with 20.5% and 10.9% of the global marketshare, respectively.

AT&T refuses to pay $100 million FCC fine, suggests $16,000 max – AT&T was hit with a massive $100 million fine by the FCC several weeks ago in response to its throttling of unlimited data customers, but now the carrier is asking that decision to be reversed. Even if it cannot get the commission’s verdict set aside, it’s asking that the fine be capped at a much lower amount. What does AT&T think is reasonable? $16,000 max. So, that’s 0.016% of the original fine.

LinkedIn Beats Analyst Estimates With $712M In Q2 Revenue – LinkedIn’s earnings today beat analyst expectations in dramatic fashion, sending the stock up as much as 14 percent in extended trading after it released its second-quarter results. The company reported earnings of 55 cents per share and revenue of $712 million. Analysts estimated that the company would bring in 30 cents per share on $680.3 million in revenue.

Sony Posts $780M Profit On Strong PlayStation And Sensor Businesses – The Japanese firm posted quarterly revenue of $14.5 billion, down a mere 0.1 percent year-on-year. Back in February, the firm announced a major restructure with a focus on entertainment and its financial results reflected that. Sony said that increased business for its music division — which saw income jump 173 year-on-year to $256 million — devices business which sells camera sensors for smartphones — up 164 percent to $244 million — and games division — up 350 percent to $157 million — were the stellar performers.

Games and Entertainment:

Exploding Kittens, the most-funded game in Kickstarter history, is now shipping – Exploding Kittens holds the record for the most backers in Kickstarter history (219,382 — a record is still reportedly holds, at least according to whatkickstarterprojecthasthemostbackers.com). It’s also the #1 most funded game and #4 most funded project of all time with $8.78 million (just above Ouya and just below the original Pebble). The game was scheduled for release in July, and with just one day to go, Exploding Kittens is now shipping.

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Dying Light: The Following expansion pack brings dune buggies – Techland has taken the wraps off its upcoming expansion pack for Dying Light, and it is said to be a big one. Dying Light: The Following will bring with it dune buggies (image after the jump), as well as what are referred to as other “bold game-changers” by the developer. To get an idea of the size of the upcoming expansion, its producer Tymon Smektala said that the new map is as big as all of the game’s previous maps in one, meaning gamers are in for something huge.

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Blizzard teases new World of Warcraft expansion reveal on August 6 – The reveal is set to happen at Gamescom 2015, which runs between August 5-9. Blizzard has given us an exact date and time of August 6 at 9am PDT (noon EST). It forms part of a World of Warcraft special event that is being streamed live from the show in Germany. After that, a World of Warcraft developer chat is set to happen on August 9 at 8am PDT (11am EST) where there will be further discussion about the new expansion.

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Angry Birds 2 Review: riddled with potential and purchases – Today we’re having a peek at the next big release from Rovio, the game called Angry Birds 2. The name is a strange one, coming from a company that’s actually releasing its THIRTEENTH Angry Birds game this week, but it is a return to the basics… in a sense… anyway. No seasons here, no special characters or cross-brand relationships. Just Angry Birds and their popping of Pigs. And a whole lot of extras. Lots of extras. So many extra features that you’re going to get confused at what you’re looking at.

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Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360 – Sony has now sold 25.3 million PS4 since launch and is predicting 16.5 million will sell this financial year. That means by the end of March 2016 there will be 38.8 million of them in homes around the world. As you’d expect, Sony is seeing healthy income from its gaming products, with console, software, and peripheral purchases all contributing to the Game & Network Services division’s $2.365 billion sales total for the quarter. This will be helped further by that new model PS4 that’s cheaper to manufacture.

Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia – Titanfall, the hit mech-based first-person shooter originally released for Xbox and PC last year, is probably the last title you’d expect to go free-to-play, but that’s what’s happening. But don’t expect it to be showing up on your smartphone or tablet, where free-to-play games are a dime-a-dozen. Instead, Titanfall will be getting a special PC release just for the Asian market, where the free-to-play genre is huge, thanks to a partnership between the game’s makers and Japan’s Nexon.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Meet Aquila, Facebook’s unmanned Internet drone – At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but carries no passengers—and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight. Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

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Smart Sniper Rifle Vulnerable to Hacks – Almost anything with an integrated computer can be hacked—including a smart sniper rifle. Married security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger spent a year hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. During next week’s Black Hat convention in Las Vegas, the couple will show off techniques that allow an attacker to take control of the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection.

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Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put ‘hole in head’ of driver – Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it’s now on YouTube.

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Man shoots down drone hovering over house – A Kentucky man thinks it unacceptable when a drone floats over his property. So he shoots it down. Then the drone’s owners come calling.

KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket – These days, fastfood chains are thinking up of unusual and sometimes bizarre marketing stunts to appeal to today’s mobile generation? Remember the Pizza Hut projector box in Hong Kong? Or how about KFC’s Bluetooth keyboard food tray? It seems that the latter is at it again. Its Canadian branch will soon be celebrating its 60th anniversary and to honor that memory, it is going to help their devoted customers make their own memories. How? By turning their boring chicken buckets into instant photo printing machine.

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Ask Cortana anything: Snarky answers to 59 burning questions – Cortana spits out funny responses on topics ranging from Siri to Surface to Steve Ballmer. She makes jokes and explains her Halo-inspired lineage. Here are 59 of the funniest answers we’ve found while goofing around. (Screenshots were taken from Windows Phone 8.1, rather than Windows 10, hence the stark interface.) And remember: Cortana may be one of the standout features of Windows 10, but before long she’ll spread her wings beyond Microsoft’s garden, landing in iOS and Android later this year.

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Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show – The original trio behind popular U.K. TV show Top Gear will be back sooner rather than later as they signed a deal with Amazon. Amazon Prime members in the U.K. will be able to stream the new car show starting in 2016. Prime members in the U.S., Japan, Austria and Germany should get the new show, too, as the company talks about a “global TV deal.”

Something to think about:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–      Apple Inc.

Today’s Free Downloads:

RoboCrypt – RoboCrypt is an encrypted data backup application for Windows, combining the functionality of freely available utilities to backup data.

The application uses TrueCrypt, freely available to create and utilize encrypted backup files and/or volumes. The application also uses the available utilities from Microsoft (Robocopy, VShadow, and PowerShell) to allow you to backup data and optionally use Microsoft Volume Shadow Services for snapshot backups and PowerShell to send notification emails upon backup completion.

This program has been designed to work with Windows XP/Server 2003/Vista/7/8.x/Server 2008. A help file in PDF format is included to give more details on how the program works.

Below are some key features with RoboCrypt :

Uses TrueCrypt to create an encrypted file or volume backup destination

Uses Microsoft Robocopy with user control over the major data copy functions to backup data

Uses Microsoft VShadow to create Volume Shadow Services snapshots of data to allow for backup of open files (ie. servers)

Uses Microsoft PowerShell to create summary emails that can be sent to notify a system administrator of a completed backup

RoboCrypt can check current data size vs projected data backup size to warn users of data overflow to the encrypted destination

Right-clicking on a folder in Windows Explorer can allow a user to use the RoboCrypt One-Time Backup feature to backup data to a currently defined data set.  This is for a quick backup of critical data if there is not enough time for a full backup

Encryption of saved TrueCrypt passwords and email account username/passwords

File date/time modification functionality will allow the user to define files that should have the dates and times modified to the current date/time to force the file to be backed up with Robocopy

Ability to run a pre-process or post-process around the data backup

Ability to verify backed up data using CRC32, MD5, or SHA-1 methods

Windows Task Scheduler can be used to schedule an automated backup of a system daily, weekly, etc.

Command-line options allow custom icons to be created for automated backups with RoboCrypt.  Command-line options are explained in the included help file.

Multiple language support included by copying and modifying the included English.rlf file (standard text file)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Germany orders Facebook to let users choose fake names – Facebook’s policy of forcing users to use their real names on the social network has been under fire for some time now from privacy advocates and those in the LGBT community who feel discriminated against. But now a privacy watchdog in Germany has said that is unacceptable in the country, and ordered Facebook to begin allowing users under pseudonyms. The Hamburg data protection authority ruled that the network’s real name policy is in violation of Germany’s privacy laws.

GAO To Congress: Revisit Privacy Concerns Over Facial Recognition Technology – Today, Senator Al Franken announced a new report by the GAO on the use of facial recognition technology. Franken has been on the side of looking into the privacy implications on that type of tech and says today that the report shows that there needs to be a set of federal standards in place before widely adopted.

Franken said in a release:

Over the past several years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of facial recognition technologies, and it has profound implications for consumer privacy. Facial recognition tracks you in the real world—from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike. Last year, I asked the government’s independent investigative agency to examine the privacy implications of the commercial use of facial recognition technology.

The newly released report raises serious concerns about how companies are collecting, using, and storing our most sensitive personal information. I believe that all Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, which is why it’s important that, at the very least, the tech industry adopts strong, industry-wide standards for facial recognition technology. But what we really need are federal standards that address facial recognition privacy by enhancing our consumer privacy framework.

Companies like Facebook and Google use face-recognition technology to tag you in photos, for example, but as you could imagine, this technology could be used for nefarious things if it’s in the wrong hands (like The Terminator, with the wrong intentions). This unofficial Glass app was an example of something that got Franken and others riled up.

After publishing secret spy docs, German news site investigated for treason – A well-known German political and tech news website has received (English translation here) a nearly unprecedented letter from the German Federal Public Prosecutor, saying that two of the site’s top editors are being investigated for treason after having published secret government documents earlier this year.

Netzpolitik.org’s two earlier articles (one in February and another in April) detailed the proposed surveillance expansion of social networks by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an intelligence agency.

“We don’t know if we should cry or not,” Markus Beckedahl, the site’s editor-in-chief, told Ars from Berlin. He was specifically named as one of the targets of the investigation, along with Andre Meister, another top editor. A third target, named “Unknown,” was also mentioned in the letter.

Opponents focus on defeating CISA cyberthreat info-sharing bill – Opponents of a U.S. Senate bill intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats may have stalled a vote on the legislation. Recent news reports had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing for a vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) before a four-week summer recess starting Aug. 10, but a spokesman for the Kentucky Republican said Thursday there were no immediate plans for a vote. CISA would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share information about cyberthreats with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but opponents of the legislation say it would allow businesses to share personal information about customers. DHS could then pass that personal information on to the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, critics say.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 15, 2015

10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 It’s free!  Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant;  The Best Free Software for 2015;  Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew;  When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first;  Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age;  The ultimate guide to Gmail backup;  Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app;  Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars;  3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service;  Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday;  Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days;  6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team;  SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices;  Skype for Android updated to v5.5;  Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents;  ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant – It’s no longer a surprise that the government is reading your emails. What you might not know is that it can readily read most of your email without a warrant. Any email or social networking message you’ve opened that’s more than six months old can also be accessed by every law enforcement official in government — without needing to get a warrant. That’s because a key provision in a law almost three decades’ old allows this kind of access with a mere subpoena, which doesn’t require a judge. That includes every email or message you opened last year, and earlier. (Anything under that six-month period still requires a warrant, however.)

10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 – Everybody can finally exhale a sigh of relief: Windows 8 is going away, and it’s once again safe to upgrade your PC’s version of Windows. Windows 10 is nearly here, and a major thrust of its design is to be more familiar to users of pre-8 versions of Windows. It’s a chance for everyone who missed out on all the performance and feature advances in Windows 8 and 8.1—and believe it or not there are plenty, many of which are included in this list—to get caught up. Not only that: It’s free!

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10. Xbox App

Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew – The Pew Research Center announced today that it had made a discovery: Facebook and Twitter are growing in influence, with more and more users using them as a source of news. This increase isn’t due to a growing user base for the sites, says the study, but rather that existing users are increasingly discovering news stories there. Pew found that 63 percent of users on both Facebook and Twitter said they used the sites to find out about news and current events. These findings are probably particularly heartening for both sites, both of which have been pushing for a greater focus on news lately. Twitter’s “Project Lightning” will focus on providing live coverage and breaking news to everyone, whether they have Twitter accounts or not, while Facebook launched Instant Articles this past May, allowing news organizations to publish directly on the site.

The Best Free Software for 2015 – Software can be expensive if you’re not smart about it. Free programs have been a mainstay of the desktop experience for decades, and the offerings only get more powerful and fascinating each year. As PCs compete with smartphones, it gets even better. Software developers can adopt an ad-based model, donation-ware to keep things afloat, or a shareware/freemium model that charges for extra features. This is our first big look at free desktop software you can download and install (as opposed to just free Web-based apps) since 2012. While a lot has stayed the same, there’s an odious new threat: crapware installers.

Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age – You can think of Witness as something like a private version of Twitter’s Periscope, for example, combined with a user safety application designed to quickly alert friends or family if you’re in trouble or are in an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation where you may need help. But the app also resonated with the Hackathon audience and judges because of its potential to document and record police brutality or other cases where civil disobedience was met with undue force – especially as the app had emerged at time when a number of high-profile incidents of clashes with police had brought attention to these issues.

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Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app – Users of the service discovered that the app continues to upload your images to Google Photos even after it’s been disabled or deleted. Shocked customers found that their photos had shown up online on Google+ and the search giant’s other services, even though they had deleted the app from their phone. Luckily the fix for the problem is simple: go to the phone’s settings and turn off photo backup from there. That’s because Google Photos apparently uses the system’s toggles and options instead of its own app’s. After that photos should stop uploading to the service though you’ll still need to delete the ones that are already in the cloud.

When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first – Wi-Fi problems could be caused by your computer or your router, or some interaction that’s gone awry. Here’s how to identify and fix the problem.

Skype for Android updated to v5.5: easier sign-ins and more – Today Microsoft pushed an update for its Skype for Android app to the Google Play Store, bringing it up to version 5.5 and adding in some features that will be handy for mobile users. The biggest among the changes is arguably an improvement to signing in from mobile, making it easier for those who insist on logging out to sign back in from their Android smartphone or tablet. The chatting feature will soon be updated, too, and will likewise be a little more convenient once it is.

Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars – Linux is everywhere. It’s on your servers and in your phones, cars, watches, toasters, refrigerators… and desktops. Although fewer users see Linux on their desktops than in their thermostats, even that is on the rise, partly due to the number of high-quality distributions. This new wave of Linux desktop distributions is bringing a confluence of user-friendliness, modern design, and stability to the open source platform. The only problem you might have is figuring out which of the more recent distributions are the true darlings of the moment. Never fear, intrepid readers: I have you covered with the five Linux desktop distributions I feel are the hottest commodities coming out of the open source world.

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Elementary OS Freya

Google Drive update adds disable feature to sharing – Google Drive has been updated with additional features that give users optional control over how shared content is used by the recipient. In particular, the update introduces an option that disables one’s ability to print, download, and copy content that has been shared with them by another Google Drive user. While many users likely won’t care either way, those with more sensitive content like businesses will be able to use Drive for sharing content while limiting the other person’s control over it.

3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service – The popular Chrome extension Streamus disappeared from the Chrome Web Store on Tuesday, July 14. Current users of the extension shouldn’t lose functionality, the extension’s developer Sean Anderson told me, as he intends to keep the Streamus database running. Even if Streamus does stop working, have no fear—there are a number of alternatives for getting your streaming fix on.

10 outstanding open source server tools – If you work with open source servers (such as the world’s most popular web server, Apache), you know a massive number of tools are available to you. They range from security to functionality to monitoring… to just about anything you can imagine. But if you were to compile a single list of tools to include on your open source server farm, what would that list look like? My own list tends to fluctuate on any given day. But almost always, certain tools stay on it. Here are the tools I rely on the most.

The ultimate guide to Gmail backup – Want to make sure you have a local or backup copy of all that mission-critical business and personal history in your Gmail archives? David Gewirtz takes you through an array of options.

You will be able to buy a Windows 10 PC on July 29 – With almost two weeks to go until Windows 10 launches, Microsoft has rectified its statement; which now states that customers will be able to buy pre-installed Windows 10 PCs on launch day after all.

Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – Are you over-using a few words in everything you write? Here are two tools to help check yourself.

Apple Pay opens its doors in the UK – Apple has finally opened the gates to its nascent mobile payment system in the UK, turning on the Apple Pay switch for more than 250,000 shops across the country as well as several transportation networks. But while the UK comes only in second after Apple’s US launch way back in October last year, this could prove to be a much bigger contactless market than the US. This is thanks to the UK having a substantial head start in preparing for contactless payments and setting up compatible terminals almost everywhere.

Security:

Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday – In Microsoft’s round of updates for July, the company has issued 14 bulletins fixing dozens of vulnerabilities in many Microsoft products, including Windows and Office. Three of the bulletins — specifically MS15-065 for Internet Explorer, MS15-070 for Microsoft Office, and MS15-077 for Windows — are being actively exploited by hackers, said HP’s Dustin Childs in a tweet. Here’s the rundown of the most critical flaws:

MS kills critical IE 11 bug after exploit was shopped to Hacking Team – Microsoft has killed at least two security bugs linked to the compromised malware developer Hacking Team, including a critical remote-code execution hole that worked against people using the latest version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and 8 machines. The IE vulnerability was discovered in an e-mail a security researcher sent to Hacking Team executives, according to a blog post published Tuesday by researchers from security firm Vectra Networks.

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Firefox blacklists Flash player due to unpatched 0-day vulnerabilities – There’s some drama going down in the Flash camp. Yesterday, because of two unpatched Hacking Team zero-day vulnerabilities, Mozilla blacklisted Adobe Flash Player 18.0.0.203, meaning Flash was disabled by default in Firefox. This morning, just a few moments ago, Adobe rushed out version 18.0.0.209, plugging the two vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, over at Facebook, the company’s new chief security officer called for Adobe to “announce an end-of-life date for Flash,” so that we can finally “disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem.” And if two Web giants weren’t enough, Google recently announced that the next stable version of Chrome would “intelligently” block auto-playing Flash elements.

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Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days – Adobe Systems has issued an emergency update for its Flash media player to patch two critical zero-day vulnerabilities that allow attackers to surreptitiously install malware on end-user computers. The two Flash vulnerabilities unearthed this past weekend are in addition to a third one found earlier in the Hacking Team dump, which Adobe patched last week, a few days after it was discovered. All three critical vulnerabilities were present in Flash versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. At least one of them was potent enough to pierce the vaunted Google Chrome security sandbox, most likely because it was combined with a separate privilege-escalation exploit for Windows.

How to disable the Adobe Flash browser plug-in – If you really want to keep using Flash, update it immediately. But it might be a better idea to go into your desktop browser settings and shut down this media streaming tool, at least for now. Devices using Google’s Android operating system do not have Flash pre-installed, and of course Apple has long banned Flash from iOS devices, so you only need to tweak your Windows and Mac browsers. Not sure if Flash is installed? Go to Adobe’s Flash Player page and click the Check Now button.

It’s time to kill Flash, says Facebook’s new security chief – In tweets posted over the weekend, Alex Stamos, who joined the social networking giant from Yahoo last week, said the popular web plugin used for videos and games had to go. “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day,” he said in one tweet. He followed up in another tweet, adding: “Even if 18 months from now, one set date is the only way to disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem at once.” Stamos isn’t the first person to call for the plugin’s end-of-life, nor will he be the last.

Hacking Team spyware rootkit: Even a new HARD DRIVE wouldn’t get rid of it – Hacking Team RCS spyware came pre-loaded with an UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS rootkit to hide itself on infected systems, it has emerged following the recent hacking of the controversial surveillance firm. The stealth infection tactic, which has been revealed through leaked emails arising from last week’s hack, meant that the Remote Control System (RCS) agent stayed on compromised machines even if users formatted their drives – or even swapped disks. Although designed primarily for the Insyde BIOS (a popular laptop BIOS) it might also work on AMI BIOS as well, according to security firm Trend Micro.

Company News:

Fake Bloomberg news story causes Twitter shares to spike – Twitter’s stock spiked in midday trading Tuesday after a fake Bloomberg news report said the company had received an offer to be acquired for US$31 billion. The story appeared convincing, with a Bloomberg Business logo, but Bloomberg quickly tweeted that it was fake. There were some telltale signs it wasn’t authentic: the URL was businessweek.market rather than businessweek.com, and CEO Dick Costolo’s name was misspelled. That didn’t stop Twitter investors from reacting. The company’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange spiked briefly just before noon Eastern Time, surging about 10 percent from Monday’s close to more than $38 before settling back down as news spread that the report was fake.

Facebook wants to create its own virtual assistant called Moneypenny – It looks like Cortana, Google Now, Siri and Echo might soon have company, as Facebook is reportedly testing out its own virtual assistant, internally called Moneypenny. According to a report from The Information, which cites unnamed sources, Facebook is positioning Moneypenny as a helping tool that lives inside of its popular Messenger platform. From there, users would be able to use the feature to do research and shopping. It will also, apparently, allow you to ask real people for help with those tasks. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of what’s currently known about the service.

Google Eddystone open-source Bluetooth beacons revealed – Google has launched Eddystone, a new open-source Bluetooth LE beacon platform which plays nicely with iOS, Android, and other OSes. Aiming to power a new age of location-based services, as well as give those responsible for managing a flock of Bluetooth beacons the tools to make sure they’re working properly, Eddystone arrives with two main features: telling mobile devices exactly where they are and what’s nearby, and linking a physical location with online data.

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Verizon Signs Up VICE To Deliver Original Content For Its Upcoming Mobile Video Service – Verizon announced this morning that it will be adding Vice Media to the list of partners that provide content for the telco’s forthcoming over-the-top video service due out later this year. As a part of the multi-year agreement between the two companies, Vice will produce original domestic and international programming that’s exclusive to Verizon.

reddit loses another prominent female employee as chief engineer quits – On Monday night, reddit’s chief engineer, Bethanye Blount, resigned from her position after less than two months on the job. Blount said she decided to quit because she had lost confidence in the direction of the company.

BlackBerry names former Cisco exec head of sales – BlackBerry said Monday that it has hired Carl Wiese, a former Cisco executive, as its sales lead. Wiese will be in charge of BlackBerry’s sales strategy and bolstering growth. At Cisco, Wiese most recently led the company’s collaboration unit. BlackBerry’s move comes as it tries to transition to a business model that revolves around software. While hardware accounts for the bulk of the company’s revenue, BlackBerry plan is to grow its enterprise mobility business.

Games and Entertainment:

Electronic Arts, Comcast team up to bring game streaming to TVs – How much bigger can the video game industry get? That’s a question at the heart of a new partnership between game maker Electronic Arts and cable giant Comcast. The pair announced on Tuesday a “beta” test period for a new project that enables cable customers to play games through their set-top boxes using smartphones or tablets as controllers. Customers who have an Xfinity X1 set-top box from Comcast can begin playing games by selecting an app called Xfinity Games. Once there, they surf to a website on their mobile device, enter a code, and then select and control video games by swiping and tapping on their device screen while images are displayed on the television set.

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SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices – SanDisk today announced the newest addition to its wireless storage line – the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick. The Connect Wireless Stick ranges in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and in price from $30 to $100. The Connect Wireless Stick is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android devices, Windows PCs and Apple computers. It works with iOS version 8.0 or higher, Android 4.2 or higher, Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS 10.6 or higher, and via web browser for other Wi-Fi enabled devices, according to SanDisk.

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SanDisk – The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

TiVo Devices Now Support AirPlay For Streaming Recordings To Apple TV – The new feature is a nice addition for TiVo customers, some of whom complained in the past about the lack of AirPlay functionality – especially given the fact that TiVo has for a long time supported streaming directly to iOS devices via its Roamio DVRs. While obviously, TiVo users could already easily watch their recorded shows and movies on the TV connected to their TiVo DVR, support for AirPlay to Apple TV means users now have the option to streaming their content to other TVs around the home which aren’t hooked up to the DVR.

Apple looking into video and TV streaming, with several deals already underway – It seems that Apple is not satisfied with just streaming music and reports are coming in that deals with several TV networks are already underway, with a launch expected around fall.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team – “We’re here to help” was the basic message of Hacking Team. The Italian security company markets its software to law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide, but has long maintained that it did not sell it to repressive regimes that could use the information to persecute their citizens. Not everyone believed them, including Human Rights Watch and WikiLeaks. After a recent hack, the latter released thousands of emails and other documents that revealed Hacking Team’s dealings with unsavory governments. The documents are rather revealing, but data about these five countries were particularly enlightening. Click through the slideshow for more.

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Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency (INSA) monitors and filters websites in the country. “Internet filtering practices in Ethiopia do not appear to be regulated by law, nor subject to any kind of safeguard against improper or disproportionate censorship,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Land Rover software bug causes doors to open on their own  – You’re driving along and all is well until you turn and your door swings open — a door you’re sure was firmly shut when you got in the car. Such is a potential problem some Range Rover owners are facing due to a software bug that may cause the doors unlatch on their own. A door opening without warning could distract the driver and cause a wreck, could result in property damage, or could on the extreme end of things cause a passenger who isn’t wearing a seat belt to fall out of the vehicle.

Stop Trying To Make Sense Out Of The Reddit Saga – Why does reddit exist? How does reddit exist? Who are all of these people who participate? Who knows? They’re anonymous. How does something like reddit attract $50 million in funding? I have no idea, and a lot of the people I’ve been speaking to in tech circles over the past week don’t know, either.

Wi-Fi Aware Aims To Connect All Your Devices Instantly – The new technology, called Wi-Fi Aware, is being released by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit trade organization that includes Apple, Microsoft, Intel and hundreds of other tech powerhouses as members. Aware allows Wi-Fi-enabled products to discover and communicate directly with nearby devices, applications or information, without relying on cellular data or an Internet connection. Think of it as a sort of the same thing iBeacons were supposed to do but have yet to provide. Essentially, once you’ve installed an application that leverages Aware, your device will continuously broadcast and receive broadcasts from devices in your vicinity. Users can opt in to let applications both publish availability and subscribe to receive information and connection requests.

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UK pilots warn putting devices with lithium batteries in hold baggage is ‘aircraft fire risk’ – The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the professional association and trade union of UK pilots, has called on airlines to require air travellers to carry devices that run on lithium-based batteries with them in the passenger cabin. The union is issuing this call in order to address what it considers a significant potential safety risk. Lithium batteries used in devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and cameras are highly flammable. When they’re damaged, they can become especially volatile – as BALPA explains, “when they short circuit, [they] have a tendency to burst into high intensity fires, which are difficult to extinguish.”

ProxyHam anonymity project bizarrely destroyed sans explanation – Staying private on the Internet has become a big concern for many and a problem for certain government agencies. The Edward Snowden leaks revealed a trove of data on government spying, and since then companies have moved to further encrypt data and many devices have cropped up promising high security. ProxyHam is one of those devices. The maker described the device as a hardware proxy that could be planted somewhere like your local cafe; it would use radio connections to transmit the signal up to 2.5 miles away, leaving the Internet user safely hidden. Now the project has been cancelled under bizarre circumstances.

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A new look at the people erasing themselves from Google Search – With the “right to be forgotten” now firmly established in European law, hundreds of millions of people can now ask to be delisted by Google, effectively erasing themselves from Google Search. A new report from The Guardian digs into who has been using the new feature, using information accidentally revealed in the source code of Google’s recent transparency report. The new data covers the 218,320 requests that were made between May 2014 and March 2015, roughly three-quarters of the total requests, slightly less than half of which (101,461) resulted in a successful delisting. The data has also been published on GitHub, and is open for deeper analysis.

Something to think about:

“Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck”.

–       Thomas Jefferson

Today’s Free Downloads:

NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.

Features:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.

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ISO Burner – ISO Burner 2 is a simple ISO creator with bootable image support that is quick and easy to use.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection  – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked one of the nation’s top appellate courts to order the National Security Agency to stop its bulk records collection, which resumed in limited form last month as part of the USA Freedom Act.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled in ACLU v. Clapper in May 2015 that the dragnet data collection went beyond the scope of what was authorized by Congress.

“This dragnet surveillance program should never have been launched, and it should certainly be terminated now,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a Tuesday statement. “Not even the government contends anymore that the program has been effective, and the Second Circuit has already concluded that the program is illegal. It’s a needless and unlawful intrusion into the privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans.”

Why was Oscar-winning Snowden documentarian detained 50+ times in US airports? – Laura Poitras gained notoriety as the documentary filmmaker behind the 2014 Oscar-winning movie Citizenfour, a film about the time she and Glenn Greenwald spent with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

What’s less known about Poitras is that from 2006 until 2012, she was stopped at the US border every single time she entered the country. In all, she was stopped on more than 50 occasions. Poitras, who is a US citizen, never got a satisfactory explanation as to why the detentions took place.

Frustrated after years of stonewalling, today Poitras said she’s working with lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation to get answers. The group is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice and two other agencies.

Poitras said she’s filing the suit to support less high-profile people who were subject to the same years of “Kafkaesque harassment” that she was.

“This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy,” she said. “We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”

Another U.K. Surveillance Review Calls For Judicial Sign-Off For Intercepts – Another independent report into U.K. government surveillance has concluded interception warrants should require judicial sign-off, rather than being sanctioned by ministers as is the case now.

This follows the publication of the Anderson surveillance review last month which also urged the government to adopt judicial sign-off. The U.K. is alone among the so-called Five Eyes intelligence alliance powers in not having a judicial process for signing off interception warrants.

Late last month Home Secretary Theresa May said the government was considering the Anderson recommendations, and had not yet made a decision on the judicial sign-off point, although in earlier comments (reported in The Guardian) the government appeared to pour cold water on the idea of handing off warrant authorization to judges.

The government has said it is committed to introducing new surveillance legislation, the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill, in the current parliament, with a timetable to introduce a draft bill this autumn — with a view to gaining Royal Assent next year before emergency surveillance legislation (DRIPA) expires at the end of 2016.

Authors Guild demands ISPs monitor, filter Internet of pirated goods – The Authors Guild, one of the nation’s top writer’s groups, wants the US Congress to overhaul copyright law and require ISPs to monitor and filter the Internet of pirated materials, including e-books.

The guild, in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee as it mulls changes to copyright law, says the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act favor large corporations like Google over individual writers. The group said that ISPs purge the Internet of infringing content on their own. As the law now stands, ISPs are not legally liable for pirated content, and they get “safe harbor” immunity from infringement allegations as long as they remove infringing content at the owners’ request.

US to begin talks on drone privacy standards – A U.S. government agency will start its third attempt to develop voluntary privacy standards for an emerging area of technology, this time with a series of meetings on drone privacy scheduled to begin Aug. 3.

The U.S. National Telecommunication and Information Administration has already hosted similar discussions on mobile app privacy and facial recognition privacy but with mixed results. Privacy groups pulled out of the facial recognition discussions in June, saying the process wouldn’t lead to enough protections for consumers.

It’s unclear how many privacy and consumer groups will take part in the discussions about drones.

Still, they present several privacy challenges that the NTIA discussions can address, said Angela Simpson, the agency’s deputy assistant secretary for communications and information. President Barack Obama asked the agency earlier this year to host the discussions on privacy, she noted in a blog post.

“From enhancing news gathering, improving agribusiness, providing new delivery models, to providing Internet in remote areas, the possibilities for UAS are staggering,” Simpson wrote, referring to unmanned aircraft systems. “Consumer trust and responsible operation are keys to fully tapping the transformative potential of unmanned aircraft.”

In April, NTIA received more than 50 comments about drone privacy issues from individuals and companies.

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