Tag Archives: Google Chrome

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 21, 2015

AVG says it can sell your browsing data;  How to enable Windows 10’s ‘Hey Cortana’ voice commands;  5 reasons to buy Amazon’s $50 tablet — and one not to;  Apple posts fix for iOS 9 ‘Slide to Upgrade’ bug;  Nasty URL bug brings Google Chrome to a screeching halt;  Tech finds 1.5M US medical records exposed on AWS;  Developer Removes Top Ad-Blocker From App Store;  Transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card;  Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know;  Mandatory South Korean parental control app is a security nightmare;  Why Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever;  The BBC to launch a streaming service in the U.S.; Microsoft sued over alleged gender discrimination;  Products with Microbeads: why you need to stop using them, now;  25 Habits That Will Make You Smarter;  A sport plane for the masses – if you have $189,000 to spare;  SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

 AVG says it can sell your browsing data in updated privacy policy – AVG has updated its privacy policy’s language, and in the amended document, the security firm admits that it can “make money from [its] free offerings with non-personal data.” These “non-personal” info include your device’s brand, language and apps in use, among other things. The company is adamant that it doesn’t sell anything with identifying information, and the data that it does collect is anonymized and stored without anything that can link it back to you. According to the updated policy, AVG can collect data you yourself provide — plus, it can use cookies to track your searchers and your activities on websites, apps and other products. It can then use those details to “build anonymous data profiles” or create statistical information, which it can then sell.

5 reasons to buy Amazon’s $50 tablet — and one not to – Yesterday, Amazon took the wraps off a $50 tablet, the simply named Fire. As you might expect, I’m a little excited. Admittedly, I haven’t seen or handled the new Fire, so I can’t address the elephant in the room: the screen. (More on that below.) But here are five reasons I think this is something you’ll want, either for yourself or as a gift.

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Fifty bucks. Remember when all tablets were $500?

How to enable Windows 10’s ‘Hey Cortana’ voice commands – One of the best parts of Windows 10 is its deep integration with Cortana, Microsoft’s helpful digital assistant. To really make Cortana work for you, however, it helps to have the voice activation feature up and running. That way your next file search, weather check, or command to open an app is just a “Hey, Cortana” away.

Apple posts fix for iOS 9 ‘Slide to Upgrade’ bug – If you’ve upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 9 and it is stuck on the ‘Slide to Upgrade’ screen, this is the fix you’re looking for.

How to delete large attachments to save storage space in Gmail – If you’re pushing the 15GB limit for Gmail and Google Drive, you can save space by using FindBigMail’s service, or by running some simple searches – though you still can’t delete attachments without deleting the emails as well.

Nasty URL bug brings Google Chrome to a screeching halt – Visiting—or merely mousing over a link that contains a specific string of characters—is enough to cause the current release of the Chrome browser to crash. According to VentureBeat, merely appending “%%30%30” to the end of a URL will cause Chrome to hang and crash. The cruelest twist? You don’t even have to open a malformed URL to cause the crash–merely mousing over the link is enough to bring down Chrome. (In other words, don’t add the above string to URLs unless you like cussing at your computer. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Five to Try: Android Pay starts rolling out, and Spotify amps up your runs – We usually try to throw the spotlight on brand new apps with our weekly Five to Try column, but sometimes massive updates steal the show. It’s actually a little of both with Android Pay: the app itself is a totally new experience, although it’s being released as a rebranded update to the old Google Wallet. In any case, if you’re eager to tap and pay with your phone, it’s the app to get this week.

How to transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card – With a little bit of research and elbow grease, an external graphics setup can transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse for a fraction of the price of a whole new gaming PC.

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Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know – Chromebooks are more powerful than you realize already, but zooming around the web in Google’s browser is just the beginning of what Chromebooks are capable of. Chrome OS is built on top of the Linux kernel, and you can install a full Linux environment alongside Chrome OS on your Chromebook. This gives you access to Steam and over a thousand PC games, Minecraft, Skype, and everything else that runs on desktop Linux.

Microsoft’s Edge browser will soon support Skype calls without a plugin – Skype is a natural fit for ORTC, and sure enough, the Skype team announced Friday that it is working on new versions of Skype for Web and Skype for Outlook.com that take advantage of this new technology. According to the Skype blog, “Skype users will be able to make voice and video calls without needing to install a plug-in on Microsoft Edge” starting sometime later this year. The Skype team says it’s also working on a plugin-free version of Skype for Business for Edge users, though it didn’t say when it expects to have that ready to rock.

Microsoft delivers Windows 10 test Build 10547 to Fast Ring Insiders – Microsoft has rolled out a new Windows 10 test build for PCs, 10547, as well as updates to a number of the built-in Windows 10 apps, for those on the Fast RIng.

Developer Removes Top Ad-Blocker From App Store: It ‘Just Doesn’t Feel Good’ – App developer Marco Arment just pulled his wildly popular ad-blocker, Peace, from the market. Arment said he didn’t feel good about the app, and has pulled it from the Apple’s App Store, announcing the move in a blog post Friday. “I’ve pulled Peace from the App Store. I’m sorry to all of my fans and customers who bought this on my name, expecting it to be supported for longer than two days. It’ll keep working for a long time if you already have it, but with no updates,” he wrote. He’s offering consumers a refund, as well as linking to instructions on how to get one.

Security:

Mandatory South Korean parental control app is a security nightmare – Back in April, South Korea required that wireless carriers install parental control apps on kids’ phones to prevent young ones from seeing naughty content. It sounded wise to officials at the time, but it now looks like that cure is worse than the disease. Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab have discovered 26 security holes in Smart Sheriff, the most popular of these mandatory parental apps. The software has weak authentication, sends a lot of data without encryption and relies on servers using outdated, vulnerable code. It wouldn’t be hard for an intruder to hijack the parent’s account, intercept communications or even scoop up the kids’ personal details. The worst part? Some of these vulnerabilities apply on a large scale, so a particularly sinister attacker could compromise hundreds of thousands of phones at once.

Apple’s Chinese App Store Has Come Under a Malware Attack – According to the Wall Street Journal, hackers planted an outwardly normal version of an Apple software called Xcode, used to develop iOS applications, on a Chinese cloud service called Baidu Pan. Developers began using it because it was faster to download than the Xcode software from Apple’s U.S. servers, the CBC reports, citing Palo Alto Networks director of threat intelligence Ryan Olson. However, the Chinese version was fraudulent and “Trojanized.” Olson told CBC that the breach was “a pretty big deal” as it showed that the App Store could be compromised.

VisitorTracker Malware Affects Thousands of WordPress Sites – Bad news for those using WordPress for their corporate or personal websites. According to security firm Sucuri, a not-so-insignificant number of WordPress installations have been compromised by a new “visitorTracker_isMob” piece of malware over the past two weeks. Visitors who attempt to go to these sites are redirected to a new page that probes their system for all kinds of weaknesses. If one is found, said system is compromised, and it only gets worse from there.

Tech finds 1.5M US medical records exposed on AWS – The private health records and private contact information of as many as 1.5 million Americans have been posted to Amazon’s cloud services. Names, addresses, and phone numbers along with biological health information including existing illnesses and current medications were posted in the clear to Amazon servers by insurers using Systema Software. It is unknown how the information was posted while the number of affected patients remains unconfirmed. Kansas’ State Self Insurance Fund, CSAC Excess Insurance Authority, and the Salt Lake County Database are known to be affected. Texan tech Chris Vickery spotted the files on Amazon servers and reported the breach to Systema Software. The company has since warned its affected customers and has kicked off an investigation.

South Korea hit with over 114,000 cyberattacks in 5 years – South Korea may have the fastest Internet speed in the world, but it looks like the country needs to ramp up its security. On Friday it was revealed that South Korea’s government has been hit by more than 110,000 cyberattacks in the past five years.

Why Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever – So far the buzz has mainly been about Windows Hello, which supports face and fingerprint recognition. But Device Guard and Credential Guard are the two standout security features of Windows 10—they protect the core kernel from malware and prevent attackers from remotely taking control of the machine. Device Guard and Credential Guard are intended for business systems and are available only in Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.

Company News:

Microsoft sued over alleged gender discrimination – The lawsuit comes from former worker Katie Moussouris, who served in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group in Redmond for more than half a decade. According to the lawsuit, Microsoft’s female technology professionals are paid less than their male counterparts, among other issues. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that sexual harassment took place against female workers via the man who was directing the Trustworthy Computing Group in 2008. Allegedly when a company investigation found this to be true, Microsoft allowed this individual to retain his “title and influence,” and simply reassigned him to a different part of the group.

T-Mobile Simple Global expands to all Europe, South America – Unsatisfied with trying to conquer the US, T-Mobile wants to spread its Un-carrier words beyond the country’ borders. Today it announces that its Simple Global scheme, which tries to make the world a smaller place through your smartphone, is expanding to 20 more countries, including all of Europe and all of South America. This means that in 145 countries, eligible subscribers can browse the Web or send SMS at no extra cost than what they would pay while at home, while calls do get charged $0.20 per minute.

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AT&T says rogue employees secretly unlocked hundreds of thousands of phones – AT&T said three of its employees secretly installed software on its network so a cellphone unlocking service could surreptitiously funnel hundreds of thousands of requests to its servers to remove software locks on phones. AT&T’s allegations are made in a filing with U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in which it accuses two companies, four people and an unknown software developer or developers, of participating in the audacious scheme. AT&T filed its lawsuit on Sept. 11 but it was first reported by Geekwire on Friday.

Comcast strikes settlement with California over privacy issue – The settlement was announced on Thursday, and is related to claims that Comcast published personal customer data online, including phone numbers, names, and addresses. This is said to have affected “tens of thousands” of Comcast subscribers who had shelled out for an unlisted VOIP service. The settlement amounts to $33 million, with $25 million of that going toward paying legal fees related to the investigation and penalties. The other $8 million will be going to customers who were affected as restitution. All 75,000 or so affected subscribers will get refunds for the payments they made for unlisted service.

Games and Entertainment:

How to use Windows 10’s Game DVR to record videos of your PC gaming– With Windows 10’s Game DVR feature, you can easily record your gaming exploits and share with your Xbox-using friends—all without downloading and installing additional software like Nvidia’s ShadowPlay or OBS. Here’s how to get started.

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GameStop refuses to sell console bundles with digital games – These days, when you purchase a new video game console that comes with bundled with one or more games, what’s inside the box is actually a code for redeeming a downloadable digital copy of the game. As it turns out, GameStop, one of the largest video game retailers in the US, doesn’t like this due to the fact that the vast majority of their profits come from trading in and selling of used games. So, the company has recently announced that it will no longer carry bundles with digital games, and only sell those with a physical copy.

The BBC to launch a streaming service in the U.S. – The BBC will launch a paid, on-demand streaming service in the U.S. next year, its head honcho Tony Hall revealed Thursday. It’s a move designed to boost the corporation’s overseas income amid the prospect of a serious reduction in domestic funding. The UK’s public service broadcaster is by no means a newcomer to the streaming game. It has offered an online TV catch-up service called iPlayer in its homeland since late 2007, and until not that long ago, also operated a subscription-based streaming service in more than a dozen markets around the globe. This upcoming venture, however, will be its first foray into the rapidly expanding U.S. streaming-video market.

Off Topic (Sort of):

25 Habits That Will Make You Smarter – Want to expand your mind? A little bit of effort every day goes a long way. In the Quora thread, “What would you do to be a little smarter every single day?”, readers shared the habits they follow to fuel their brains. Here are some simple actions that could help you become a smarter person.

A sport plane for the masses? Fun, sure — if you have $189,000 to spare – Earlier this week, I had a chance to take a flight in a diminutive airplane called the ICON A5. For someone whose air travel has typically meant an economy-class seat on a commercial airliner, sitting in the pilot’s seat of the A5 stoked a mixture of reactions. It was exhilarating, crazy, a little scary and, above all, a lot of fun. At $189,000 for the plane, it would be an extremely expensive hobby.

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The ICON A5 sport plane can take off from land or water. Sarah Tew/CNET

Watch these drones build a rope bridge – One of the big selling points of drones is that they can get to areas that aren’t exactly safe or accessible by humans. That’s why watching quadrocopters assembling a rope bridge that’s sturdy enough for a person to walk across is so damned awesome — it immediately calls to mind a real-world use scenario that probably all of us can relate to. The video below was filmed at RTH Zurich Flying Machine Arena in Switzerland, and, according to the YouTube description, aside from the scaffolding on either side of the bridge, the structure is “entirely realized by flying machines.” Every knot and braid in the 7.4 meter (just over 24 feet) bridge was tied by the UAVs using Dyneema rope. As Robohub tells it, the material has a low weight-to-strength ratio that makes it pretty great for aerial construction uses.

Products with Microbeads: why you need to stop using them, now – The dangers of using health and beauty products with microbeads have been explored in a paper published this week in at the ACS. With the American Chemical Society, researchers have (once again) confirmed a number of reasons why microbead products contaminate our shared environment, suggesting then that the inclusion of microbeads in all products be banned immediately. While some bans have begun, much of the world continues to allow the manufacture and distribution of microbeads without regulation.

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Volkswagen to recall 500,000 US vehicles because it used software to cheat on emission testing – German automaker Volkswagen has run afoul of US environmental regulators, and it could cost the company big. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a notice to Volkswagen that it broke the law by using software to circumvent emissions testing. The result is a mandatory recall of 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from model years 2009-2015. Volkswagen was caught building a so-called “defeat device” into its consumer diesel vehicles including the Jetta, Beetle, Passat, and Audi A3. This is essentially a special software mode that is only triggered when the car detects that it is undergoing official emissions testing. The engine will then be on its best behavior, so to speak.

Something to think about:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 

–    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Downloads:

SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger – SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger offers complex system protection and anti-keylogging modules for free. It does not even require account registration!

Zero-day malware protection – SpyShelter does not rely on an antivirus signature database, because our software understands how malware works. SpyShelter protects you from both known and uknown threats, which were not discovered by antivirus labs yet.

Light, fast and efficient – Fast algorithm processing does not slow down your computer while scanning for dangerous elements. In fact, SpyShelter’s proactive defense is so light, that you will not experience any difference in your PC performance.

Real Time System Protection – SpyShelter guards your registry, physical memory (RAM) and other sensitive computer parts among with processes, so that malicious code cannot be injected to take control of your PC.

Anti key logger – SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger ensures that whatever you type into your computer, is protected against dangerous people who want to steal your data! With SpyShelter, your personal data will be safe.

Clipboard Protection – SpyShelter shields sensitive data that can be found in your Windows clipboard as a result of copying, cutting, and pasting. Spyshelter ensures that this information will not be maliciously monitored by other people.

64 bit support – SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger is fully compatible with both 32 and 64 bit editions of Windows XP(SP2 and SP3), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

Keystroke Encryption – SpyShelter Free Anti-Keylogger has an integrated keystroke encryption driver which encrypts your keystrokes while you are browsing the web. This means that even if you allow any malicious application to run on your system, it will only retrieve meaningless random text.

Virus Total uploader – Afraid of viruses? SpyShelter allows you to perform a quick online scan of any suspicious files using over 40 different antiviruses, with just one mouse click!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

You can now find out if GCHQ spied on you – Anyone who has ever wondered how much information GCHQ knows about them can now ask the British intelligence agency directly. GCHQ has to reveal information illegally obtained and shared with the NSA before the end 2014 about citizens of any country. And after revealing what it collected, the information must be permanently deleted.

Privacy International’s “Did GCHQ spy on you?” tool attempts to make it easier for people to get in touch with the spy agency. It was originally launched in February but this earlier version of the tool saw Privacy International make requests on the public’s behalf. As GCHQ was not legally compelled to respond the tool was effectively useless.

“We think that millions of people’s fundamental rights have been violated and that they have a right to know that,” Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International tells WIRED.

The updated tool requires that people make their own request, with GCHQ required to reply to all properly filed requests. All requests will be handled by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, an independent body that deals with complaints made against the UK’s surveillance agencies.

Kim Dotcom finally faces extradition hearing – It’s been three-and-a-half tumultuous years since New Zealand Police raided Kim Dotcom’s mansion in Coatesville, Auckland.

Accused by the FBI of copyright violation, racketeering and money laundering, Dotcom fought a ferocious legal and extralegal campaign to avoid extradition to the United States.

Along the way, he embarrassed the Police, New Zealand spy agency the GCSB, the Prime Minister, disastrously entered the political fray via the Internet Party, released an album of music and appeared in TV ads.

Today, in an Auckland court, he finally faces the hearing he tried so hard to avoid.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – September 9, 2015

The essential guide to powerline Ethernet adapters;  These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun;  When your Windows image backup fails, try this;  Adblock Plus releases its web browser for iOS;  YouTube forces AdBlock users to watch unskippable video ads;  Turn Chrome’s new tab page into a to-do list powerhouse;  The best scanning apps for Android and iPhone;  Selling your old iPhone: Online vs. in-store trade-ins;  Android porn app takes your mugshot, holds your device ransom;  Windows Media Center lives on with unofficial Windows 10 version;  Kaspersky Lab pushes emergency patch for critical vulnerability;  Opera Mini browser for Android gets new data compression tech;  Amazon expected to release $50 6-inch Fire tablet this year;  Airbnb Hosted Nearly 17 Million Guests This Summer;  The FIFA 16 demo is here – this is how you play;  Netflix’s new excuse for no offline playback is even lamer than the last one;  If you’re buying a TV, know these three letters: HDR;  AirConsole turns browsers into a local multiplayer console;  Apple refused to wiretap an iMessage account for the Justice Department.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

It’s football season! These second-screen apps make NFL games even more fun to watch – According to the NFL, 70 percent of fans use a second screen while watching football. It’s easy to understand why: mobile devices—and the apps that run on them—give us easy access to player stats and analysis, provide interactive features to supplement the big-screen experience, and offer a convenient way to communicate with other fans watching the game. We’ve rounded up seven of the best second-screen apps to enhance your football viewing. Take them for a spin when the season kicks off later this week, and we’re sure you’ll be reaching for them along with your remote every Thursday and Sunday until the end of Super Bowl 50.

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The essential guide to powerline Ethernet adapters (including 12 hands-on reviews) – This roundup of powerline ethernet adapters is continually updated. It was originally published on January 15, 2015, updated in March and again in June 2015 and now again in early September,. Click here if you would like to read that original story as published in January 2015. This latest iteration contains entirely new reviews of the Extollo LANsocket 1500 and TP-Link TL-PA8030P KIT, plus updated reviews of the D-Link DHP-701AV and the Trendnet TPL-420E2K.

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The seven apps you need to tame your email overload – Managing email for most people is an irritating and time-consuming task, but thankfully there’s a host of email apps that make it easier.

When your Windows image backup fails, try this – This has to be one of the worst things that can happen in the digital world. You create a backup and then, when you need it, it doesn’t work. That’s why I recommend making two backups. But let’s see if we can fix the problem at hand.

Adblock Plus releases its web browser for iOS – Makers of the popular ad-blocking software Adblock Plus have launched a stand-alone mobile browser for iOS. The Adblock Browser launched as a beta on Android back in May, but has not been available on Apple’s App Store until now. The company is marketing the software primarily as a way to block ads when browsing webpages online, but says this feature offers a range of other benefits, including protecting users from malware, and saving their battery life and mobile data. Users can block all ads by default or whitelist favorite sites.

Opera Mini browser for Android gets new data compression tech – The latest version for the mobile browser adds a new High compression mode that minimises data expenditure without affecting the page display.

YouTube forces AdBlock users to watch unskippable video ads – Browser extensions that block website advertisements are becoming very common these days and their use is expected to only grow in the next few years. Some websites that survive on advertising have turned to things like tip jars or even politely asking users to turn off their ad-blockers. Google’s YouTube, however, is taking a bit more of a direct approach: users with the AdBlock Plus extension installed are forced to watch video advertisements before the actual content video plays.

Turn Chrome’s new tab page into a to-do list powerhouse – It’s just one program on your PC, but for many of us the browser is the central tool we use for work, play, and communication. That’s why so many people love Google Chrome and its healthy ecosystem of extensions and apps. Today we’re going to look at one way to turn your new tab page into something a little more productive than you’ve got now thanks to Microsoft’s recently acquired to-do list app Wunderlist.

The best scanning apps for Android and iPhone – Never bother with a scanner again. Thanks to high-quality cameras on today’s top smartphones and nifty behind-the-scenes tech, scanning a document or photo with great results is as easy as opening an app and snapping a picture. Here are CNET’s top picks for the best apps to turn your phone into a scanner.

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Evernote Scannable in action. Josh Miller/CNET

Twitter for Windows 10 catches up with group messages and other new features – Twitter for Windows has been a perfect example of Microsoft’s app problems; sure, the app exists, but it has fallen far behind Twitter’s smartphone apps in terms of features and functionality. Today, Twitter for Windows is taking a much-needed step forward and adding group messaging, multi-account support, lists, and other improvements.

Selling your old iPhone: Online vs. in-store trade-ins – The latest iPhones are just around the corner, and that means some Apple fans may be looking to sell their old devices. Dozens of websites offer easy trade-in programs for old smartphones. Some retailers also offer customers the option to sell their used devices. Even wireless carriers are making it easy for customers to trade in their iPhones and upgrade to new ones. Which option is right for you? That’s the question I answer in this edition of Ask Maggie.

Raspberry Pi gets its first official touchscreen display – A year after it was first announced, the Raspberry Pi touch display finally launched on Tuesday. The new component means Raspberry Pi hackers can now experiment with an officially sanctioned 7-inch, 800-by-480, 10-point multi-touch LCD display for their Pi projects. The $60 touchscreen does cost more than the Pi itself, but that comes down to component costs. The screen uses a display serial interface (DSI) and digital parallel interface (DPI) that requires a driver board to interface with the Pi. The display also requires its own power connection, which can be shared with the Pi over USB.

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How to delete the Windows.old folder from Windows 10 – Did you upgrade your PC to Windows 10? If so, ever wonder what happened to the previous version of the OS? It probably disappeared into the mists of Windows past, right? Wrong. Your old OS didn’t get erased; rather, it’s lingering in a system folder called, aptly enough, Windows.old. And depending on the size of that version, it could be hogging a lot of precious space. First things first: If you think you might want to downgrade from Windows 10 back to the previous version, don’t delete that folder.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Windows Media Center lives on with unofficial Windows 10 version – Although Microsoft has officially discontinued its old living room PC software, some users on the My Digital Life forums have apparently patched Windows Media Center to run on Microsoft’s latest operating system. Why this matters: While Microsoft has claimed that hardly anyone uses Windows Media Center anymore, it remains a popular program among hardcore home theater PC users, many of whom are avoiding Windows 10 so they can keep using the living room software. This workaround could let users enjoy the benefits of Windows 10 without giving up Windows Media Center, but we’d still advise against it.

Security:

It’s still 2015, and your Windows PC can still be pwned by a webpage – Microsoft has today released patches for 56 security vulnerabilities in its products. People should apply the updates as soon as possible because miscreants are actively exploiting at least two of the holes – and likely more by the time you read this. The September patch batch includes critical fixes for Internet Explorer and Edge, Office, and Windows. Users and administrators are being advised to test and install the updates on the double. Of the 56 vulnerabilities, 14 in Internet Explorer, four in the supposedly super-whizzbang-secure Edge browser, one in Windows’ handling of OpenType fonts, four in Windows’ Journal file handling, and four in Microsoft Office, allow an attacker to remotely execute evil code on a victim’s system. Microsoft’s September bulletins in full:

Android porn app takes your mugshot, holds your device ransom – Bad news, mobile porn viewers! The FBI knows what you’re up to. They’ve taken your mugshot and they’re going to need you to transfer $500 via PayPal before you can do anything with your phone again. No, it’s not part of some crazy government crackdown on Internet porn. It’s a shakedown attempt some enterprising criminals concocted. The idea is simple enough: trick a user into installing an app that disguises itself as a porn video player, sneak a few extra permissions in thinking that they’re so eager to get at the goods that they won’t read them, and then hijack the startup process and hold the infected device for ransom.

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Severe external drive vulnerability prompts Seagate to issue emergency patch – Watch out Seagate wireless external hard drive owners—your peripheral may have serious flaws in it that will open your files to malicious attackers. The good news is Seagate has already issued a patch for the problem. The vulnerabilities primarily affect owners of Seagate Wireless Plus Mobile Storage, Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage, and LaCie Fuel devices purchased since October 2014.

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Kaspersky Lab pushes emergency patch for critical vulnerability – Kaspersky Lab has released an emergency patch for some of its antivirus products after a security researcher found a critical vulnerability that could allow hackers to compromise computers. The flaw was discovered by vulnerability researcher and Google security engineer Tavis Ormandy, who mentioned it Saturday on Twitter, before sending the bug’s details to Kaspersky.

Researcher demands FireEye pay up for zero-day vulnerabilities or suffer his ‘cold silence’ – A security researcher has demanded that FireEye pay him for several zero-day vulnerabilities he found in the firm’s security products, and he has threatened that he will otherwise remain silent about the bugs’ details.

Company News:

Airbnb Hosted Nearly 17 Million Guests This Summer – Growth is up and to the right for Airbnb. Nearly 17 million people worldwide booked their guest stays with the peer-to-peer lodging platform this summer, according to a new travel report. That’s a whopping 353x’s surge in the last five years – and a far cry from the three guests Airbnb hosted before officially launching in the summer of 2008. Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were just trying to figure out a way to pay rent at the time and made a website that advertised $80 to rent an air mattress on the floor of their apartment for a night plus breakfast in the morning. Three people, two guys and a girl, decided to try it out and Airbnb was born.

Facebook Equips Business Pages With Mobile Storefronts For Shopping And Services – Likes ≠ Dollars. Facebook wants Pages to actually earn money for the 45 million small businesses that use them. So today Facebook is upgrading Pages with a tabbed mobile layout that lets them display storefront “Sections” where users can “Shop” for products or view a list of “Services” the business offers. The company is also making calls to action on business Pages, such as “Call Now,” “Send Message” and “Contact Us,” bigger, more colorful and more prominent beneath the cover image. The “Shop” section will include Buy buttons powered by Facebook’s partnership with Shopify so users can check out without leaving the social network. Facebook is also testing Buy buttons that link out to a business’ traditional website.

Netflix to launch in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan – After becoming available in much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Netflix now looks to expand its reach to Asia. Netflix announced plans to enter four new markets in Asia on Wednesday as the Internet video streaming service continues its global expansion. Netflix will officially become available in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan early next year, the company said.

Amazon Prime Now in Seattle expands to offer meal delivery – Last month, Amazon launched its Prime Now delivery service in its home city, Seattle. The service offered one-hour and two-hour delivery of thousands of items, including things like a nice bottle of wine for dinner or one of its own pieces of hardware. Now, nearly two weeks after the initial launch, Amazon has announced an expansion of its Seattle delivery service, including meal delivery from select local restaurants as part of its offering.

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Amazon expected to release $50 6-inch Fire tablet this year – Amazon was one of the first device makers to really put its full weight behind Android as a tablet operating system. The original 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet was released in 2011 at an unheard of $100 price point. However, that proved to be Amazon’s high-point when it comes to Android tablets. Attempts to sell more premium slates have fallen flat, but now the retailer is expected to announce a $50 Android tablet in time for the holidays. This report comes from the Wall Street Journal, which cites the always-reliable “people familiar with the matter.”

Microsoft Confirms Purchase Of Cloud Security Firm Adallom – Microsoft announced this morning that it purchased cloud security firm Adallom. According to sources familiar with the matter, the deal cost the Redmond-based software giant $250 million. That dollar amount is below previously reported figures pegging the value of the purchase north of $300 million.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix’s new excuse for no offline playback is even lamer than the last one – Apparently you don’t want offline video support after all. And if you had it, you wouldn’t know what to do with it.

The FIFA 16 demo is here – this is how you play – Those anticipating the release of the next big video game based on the world’s most popular sport, soccer (football if you’re outside the US), are in for a treat: the demo for EA Sports’ FIFA 16 should be available later today for the PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. Those in New Zealand can get to downloading now, while those in North America might need to wait until later in the day, with exact times varying based on console and region of the world.

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Minecraft 0.12.1 update brings multiplayer cross-platform action – Minecraft fans listen up, a big update is coming and you will love it. With the new update players on both of these versions will be able to play together on a local network. That means you can invite friends over and play with them on the same servers on your Windows 10 PC while they are playing on mobile devices or tablets. Up to five people can play together over Xbox Live and all players will be able to tweak their gear with special effects from enchanting tables. This is the largest update for Pocket Edition ever published. The update brings new touch controls, controller support, and a controller mapping screen.

Get the ‘Witcher 3’ Expansion Pack on Oct. 13 – The expansion pack features more than 10 hours of new adventures as well as “new characters, powerful monsters, unique romance, and a brand new storyline shaped by gamer choices,” the Polish developer said. Players will “step again into the shoes of Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster slayer, this time hired to defeat a ruthless bandit captain, Olgierd von Everec, a man who possesses the power of immortality,” according to CD Projekt RED. The expansion will also feature a new system of Runewords, which are said to “significantly” affect gameplay. Under the new system, each Runeword impacts a different aspect of in-game mechanics, so you’ll have to experiment with various strategies and tactics.

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AirConsole turns browsers into a local multiplayer console – Meet AirConsole, the virtual web-based gaming console that turns any browser into a local multiplayer gaming experience and your smartphone into controllers. Things couldn’t get any simpler than this. Simply go to the AirConsole website and get the code to connect as many smartphones as possible. The limit is based on how many simultaneous players a game supports. While you can technically use your smartphone’s web browser to connect to the AirConsole running on your computer or tablet, there are also dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android.

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Disney’s fantastic cloud movie locker now works with Amazon, Microsoft video apps: Buy once, watch everywhere – Disney Movies Anywhere is what UltraViolet should have been; buy a movie once, and watch it on nearly any device — without needing to download a separate app or video player. It already works across Android and iOS (plus popular digital retailers like Vudu), and today Disney is adding Amazon Video, Microsoft Movies, and TV to the mix. Next week, a Disney Movies Anywhere app will launch for Roku’s set-top boxes and Android TV. So pretty soon it’ll be incredibly simple to watch your Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars films regardless of which device is in your hands or in your living room. Once you’ve linked your Disney account, all of those movies will appear right inside Amazon Video and also Microsoft’s video apps for Windows and Xbox.

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Ubisoft to open Malaysia theme park in 2020 – On Monday, Ubisoft announced plans to open a theme park in Malaysia, one that it describes as being “next-generation”. This will give its fans a chance to experience its games as a real-world adventure, the company says, at least if you’re in or near Malaysia. The theme park won’t be opening until 2020, but when it does it’ll offer 10,000 square meters of attractions, rides, shows, and more, all of them featured indoor for all-weather and year-round enjoyment.

Off Topic (Sort of):

LG develops 111-inch double-sided 4K OLED TV – The hottest tech in displays right now is OLED and 4K. Combine the two and you have a fantastic, high resolution at any size TV, but LG has gone a step further by developing a double-sided 4K OLED TV. If that wasn’t enough to impress you, they also made 111-inches big. The massive, unique display is being shown off at IFA Berlin this week. LG achieved the 111-inch size by combining three 65-inch OLED panels while keeping the display just a handful of millimeters thick. A smaller 55-inch double-sided TV was also present with its thickness listed as just 5.3mm.

If you’re buying a TV, know these three letters: HDR – If you’re looking to buy a new TV, prepare to hear a lot about HDR. After bigger screens, and thinner screens, and 3D screens, and curved screens, and 4K screens, HDR is the new flavor of the season in television technology and it’s one worth paying attention to. High dynamic range is probably most familiar to people through the HDR mode on their digital cameras. It’s designed to deliver a picture that has greater details in the shadows and highlights a wider range of colors. HDR in televisions pursues the same goal. The color palette is wider, blacks are deeper and whites are brighter.

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MESSE BERLIN – An HDR TV displayed by Panasonic at the IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin on Sept. 4, 2015.

Geeky club sparked Apple’s first computer, gave Woz a ‘eureka’ moment – A 1975 meeting in a Silicon Valley garage inspired the young, shy Steve Wozniak to build the Apple I — and ignite a legacy. Woz tells the tale to CNET.

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Here’s How Many People Are Still Rocking the Original iPhone – Apple is expected to announce two new iPhones on Wednesday, an annual update to its most successful product lines. This will mark the ninth year that Apple has introduced a new set of iPhones. The company has sold 10 different variations of the iPhone, from the 2007 original (which launched without the App Store) to last year’s supersized iPhone 6 Plus. In total, Apple has sold more than 700 million iPhones since 2007. But just how many people are using a spiffy new iPhone 6 Plus compared to the older models?

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Source: Fiksu Get the data

Space whisky returns to Earth! Here are the taste test results – In 2011, samples of scotch whisky were sent to mature aboard the International Space Station. Now they’re back and sporting a different flavor than their terrestrially mellowed counterparts.

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Something to think about:

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

–       John Adams

Downloads:

Dashlane: The password manager, perfected – Keeping track of passwords and making them secure is startlingly simple with Dashlane’s free password manager. Automatically import your passwords from Chrome or any other browser into your secure password vault. Save any missing passwords as you browse. Make a new password right within your browser. Get automatic alerts when websites get breached.

And with our auto-login, you will never have to type any password on any of your devices again. It’s that simple.

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DocFetcher – DocFetcher is an Open Source desktop search application: It allows you to search the contents of files on your computer. — You can think of it as Google for your local files. The application runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and is made available under the Eclipse Public License.

Basic Usage:

The screenshot below shows the main user interface. Queries are entered in the text field at (1). The search results are displayed in the result pane at (2). The preview pane at (3) shows a text-only preview of the file currently selected in the result pane. All matches in the file are highlighted in yellow.

You can filter the results by minimum and/or maximum filesize (4), by file type (5) and by location (6). The buttons at (7) are used for opening the manual, opening the preferences and minimizing the program into the system tray, respectively.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Apple refused to wiretap an iMessage account for the Justice Department – For years, Tim Cook has been telling users that iMessage’s encryption makes it impossible to wiretap — and now, the Justice Department seems to have found out the hard way that he’s right. According to a New York Times report, Apple received a court order from the Justice Department this summer, demanding real-time access to a suspect’s iMessage account. Apple replied that iMessage encryption made the request impossible. The company later handed over iCloud backups of the suspect’s messaging history, but the request for real-time access (akin to a traditional wiretap) remained unfulfilled.

There are still a number of unanswered questions around the report. We don’t know the nature of the court order or the justification for Apple’s refusal, so it’s difficult to assess the legality of either one. Still, federal agencies have been trying and failing to wiretap iMessage accounts for years now, so the central facts of the story are very plausible. In its most recent transparency report, Apple reported more than 250 national security requests, and said 6 percent of law enforcement requests pertained to user account data.

US claim on the world’s servers at a crossroads – The Obama administration on Wednesday will argue to a US appeals court that companies operating in the US must comply with valid warrants for data—even if that data is stored on overseas servers.

Much of the tech sector, from Amazon and Microsoft to Verizon, oppose the US government’s position in the closely watched case. These companies and a slew of others maintain that the enforcement of US law stops at the border. They say the global community is already skittish about trusting US-based tech companies in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. So a ruling siding with the Obama administration would fuel that mistrust, conflict with foreign data protection laws, and place the tech sector at risk of foreign government sanctions, the companies said.

The two-year-old dispute before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York concerns e-mail stored on Microsoft’s servers in Dublin, Ireland. As part of a drug investigation, US authorities served Microsoft with a warrant demanding access to e-mail on an overseas Microsoft account. Microsoft balked, writing in a court brief that “The government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility.”

Norwegian Pirate Party provides DNS server to bypass new Pirate Bay blockade – Following a court-ordered block of The Pirate Bay and a number of other file-sharing websites in Norway, the Norwegian Pirate Party (Piratpartiet Norge) has now set up free, uncensored DNS servers that anyone can use to bypass the block. While the DNS servers are based in Norway, anyone can use them: if your ISP is blocking access to certain sites via DNS blackholing/blocking, using the Piratpartiet’s DNS servers should enable access.

A few days ago, TorrentFreak reported that the Oslo District Court had sided with several Hollywood studios and domestic Norwegian rights holders in a case that sought to block a number of sites, including The Pirate Bay, Viooz, and ExtraTorrent. The court ordered that the country’s major ISPs, including Telenor, TeliaSonera, NextGenTel, and Altibox, must block the sites.

The Norwegian Pirate Party, as you can probably imagine, isn’t happy with the court-ordered block. In response, it has set up an unblocked DNS server—dns.piratpartiet.no—and a website that shows you how to change your DNS server settings on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 8, 2015

How to use Google to sync all your passwords;  Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family;  Google needs to fix what ails Chrome;  Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  How to use your smartphone less and be happier;  Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you?  Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator;  Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft;  Stop the inbox insanity!  Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild;  Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off;   Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy;  You can now subscribe to Showtime online;  CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company;  Rdio launches new curated stations;  This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids;  PaperScan Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to use Google to sync all your passwords – Securely store your passwords with Google and forget about the need to pay for a password manager.

Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family – Users over the age of 50 have an especially difficult time keeping their identities and bank accounts safe, as they may find that all of the practical sense they have developed over the years to spot scams in real life just don’t translate on the internet. Scammers know how vulnerable older generations can be on the web, and they take advantage of unsuspecting victims everyday. This can cause stress not just for seniors, but also for their entire family unit. Younger generations may also be fearful of how vulnerable their parents or grandparents are to internet fraud.

Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you? – Android tablets and Chromebooks are taking on all sorts of overlapping forms. Here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the ever-expanding maze of options.

Say goodbye to the keyboard: Tablets are now the only work device for four in ten workers – Who needs a keyboard, anyway? Nearly half of workers are doing all their work on a tablet, a proportion that’s set to rise rapidly. According to research from analyst firm IDC, tablets are now 40 percent of business users’ only enterprise device, a figure that rises further when two-in-one hybrid devices are added into the mix. While the majority of tablet users in enterprises currently still have at least one other work device, such as a desktop PC or notebook, according to Marta Fiorentini, IDC senior research analyst, standalone tablets’ share is set to increase.

How to use your smartphone less and be happier – Nine hours. That’s how much time college students spend on their phones each day, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. It’s not entirely surprising. Whether you’re waiting in line for coffee or out “watching” fireworks overhead, it seems like everyone has their phone out in some capacity. It’s as if we prefer the confines of a pocketable screen with the world only in peripheral. So let’s learn to be healthier about our smartphone habits — here are 10 tricks to help with that.

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

Stop the inbox insanity! These 4 email managers can sort, organize, and delete for you – Email managers let you weed out junk mail, triage messages, and turn them into tasks.

Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy – Jumping from a multi-display desktop setup to a laptop can be a bit of a letdown, particularly if you’re rocking more than two displays. Fortunately, someone’s working on a way to double or triple your mobile screen space. The product is called Sliden’Joy, and it can clip a second and third display onto your laptop’s existing display. Or third and fourth, if you happen to be one of the select few who plunked down big bucks for a dual-screen laptop. Their pixel-packing panels come in three different sizes: 13, 15, and 17 inches. Sliden’Joy will come in several different finishes, too, so there ought to be one that’s a good fit for your notebook of choice. A single display (presumably the 13-incher) will run €199 (about $220), while dual-display packs start at €299 (about $330).

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Hooks, The App That Lets You Get A Notification For Almost Anything, Lands On Android And Apple Watch – Hooks, the app that sends you push notifications triggered by things that are important to you, has a new version for Android, as well as the now almost obligatory Apple Watch app. Previously, the latest version of Hooks was iOS only. Apple’s smartwatch platform seems particularly suited to a service that lets you pick from 100 or so ‘channels’, consisting of 1 million-plus user created alerts, to keep you updated on anything from the latest tweet, news article or sports score, or something more specific such as a change in stock price or the current bitcoin exchange rate.

Rdio launches new curated stations, brings them to more countries – Rdio has already offered curated stations in the United States, Canada, and UK, but now users can listen in from Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. A major perk of Apple’s Beats 1 station is its widespread availability, and this seems to be Rdio’s answer to that.

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Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – I go through phases with my writing. Sometimes I feel like every second sentence needs to start with “but,” then I start using “however,” which becomes “nevertheless,” and on and on it goes until the bad habit stops. For times like those, it’s handy to use a word frequency tool to understand how often I’m using problem words. Here are two ways to get that done. One is easy and the other is a little advanced.

Tinder clone for Apple Watch uses heartbeat to determine matches – Imagine an alternate way of using dating app Tinder, where instead of looking at profiles on your smartphone and swiping right or left, you simply glance at your Apple Watch and the app know if you’re attracted to someone based on your heart-rate changes. That’s the idea behind design agency T3’s concept “Hands-free Tinder.” T3 built its app with the use of Apple’s recently released Watch SDK for detecting a user’s heartbeat. They claim to be releasing the app “soon,” but unless it’s really a cooperation with Tinder, a name change seems likely.

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Google needs to fix what ails Chrome – Google Chrome has been (and still is) the single most popular browser on the planet. But recent issues with memory usage and stability have caused trust in Google’s go-to tool to wane.

Security:

Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild – Researchers sifting through the confidential material stolen from spyware developer Hacking Team have already uncovered a weaponized exploit for a currently unpatched vulnerability in Adobe Flash, and they also may have uncovered attack code targeting Microsoft Windows and a hardened Linux module known as SELinux. The exploits can be used to surreptitiously install Hacking Team surveillance software, or other types of malware, on vulnerable computers with little or no indication anything is amiss. If the exploits leaked from the colossal Hacking Team breach are limited to two or three unpatched vulnerabilities in Flash, Windows, and SELinux, the resulting damage will be much less severe than it might have been. Still, with 400 gigabytes of data to digest, there may yet be other surprises to find.

Hacking Team used shockingly bad passwords – One of the biggest hacks of the year — not just in scope and size, but impact — is over. As reporters and interested parties sift through the debris of the attack that left Hacking Team crippled, a big question remains. How was someone able to walk in and swipe what appears to be the company’s entire cache of corporate data? The company used weak passwords.

Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator – Palo Alto Networks found three variants of the malware, which it calls Gunpoder, masquerading as emulator applications used to play Nintendo games. Gunpoder apps can do a variety of invasive actions, including collecting bookmarks and browser histories, sending itself to other people over SMS, showing fraudulent advertisements and executing other code. And users get to pay for that data-stealing capability. When a Gunpoder app is launched, it asks users to buy a lifelong license for the emulator for US$0.20 or $0.49, payable through PayPal or Skrill.

Antivirus maker Avira is building a secure web browser – From the department of straightforward naming comes Avira Browser. Like most of the new custom browsers you’ve seen pop up, it’s based on Google’s open source Chromium code. That means it looks and functions very much like Chrome (for better or worse). Want to see what Avira Browser is all about? It’s currently a beta app, and unfortunately it’s not as easy to try as clicking a download link. You’ve got to create an account on Avira’s beta site, verify your email, and then apply to the Avira Browser beta. If you’re thought to be a worthy test pilot, they’ll send a link your way in a few days.

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Lizard Squad hacker draws suspended sentence for online attacks – A teenager who is apparently a member of the Lizard Squad hacker group has received a two-year suspended sentence in Finland in connection with various cybercrimes including attacks against U.S. university servers. The seventeen-year-old, known as “Zeekill” and “Ryan,” was charged with 50,700 counts of hacking and other offenses including credit card fraud, according to a Lizard Squad Twitter account and Finnish news reports. In a Twitter post, Lizard Squad gloated that “Zeekill got a suspended sentence for 2 years. 0 time spent in prison.”

Company News:

Samsung Electronic’s Earnings Guidance Points To Another Disappointing Quarter – Another quarter, another lackluster earnings guidance from Samsung Electronics. Heralded as Apple’s arch rival in “The Great Smartphone War” just two years ago, Samsung’s performance has declined as competition from a bevy of other Android makers cuts into its market share. The company said today that its Q2 2015 earnings will likely miss expectations. Its operating profit is expected to be 6.9 trillion won (about $6.13 billion), a four percent decline from a year ago, and below analysts’ expectations for 7.2 trillion won. Consolidated sales slipped eight percent to 48 trillion won, below forecasts for 53 trillion won.

Gartner: No help for the PC biz from Windows 10 – Windows 10 won’t help the struggling PC business out of its multi-year slump in 2015, researcher Gartner said today. But it might next year. “The release of Windows 10 on 29 July will contribute to a slowing professional demand for mobile PCs and premium ultra-mobiles in 2015, as lifetimes extend by three months,” said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement Tuesday. “However, as suppliers and buyers adjust to new prices, Windows 10 could boost replacements during 2016.” From Gartner’s perspective, the mere appearance of Windows 10 will result in delayed replacement PC purchases as enterprises and other large organizations put plans on hold as they begin evaluating the OS.

Jolla splits business, refocuses efforts on software – Its been a little over two years since the birth of Jolla. The company was created shortly after then-CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, dismantled the Meego team and decided to pioneer Nokia’s future with Windows Phone. While things didn’t fair so well for Nokia, the ex-Nokia staff that formed Jolla has slowly and steadily solidified its small place in the mobile world. Today, Jolla has announced that they will refocus their efforts on their Sailfish OS licensing and development business and create a new company dedicated to hardware.

AMD preannounces lower revenue due to poor demand for its APUs – AMD warned Monday that its second-quarter revenues would fall by 8%, due to a lower demand for PCs than it had previously expected. AMD said previously that revenue could fall by as much as 3%. AMD specifically blamed weaker-than-expected demand for its APUs, which combine a CPU and a graphics chip and make up its A-series product line. The company had already slashed A-series APU prices in late 2014 to help move product. In the second quarter, AMD said, it expects channel sales and channel inventory reduction efforts to be in line with the company’s plans.

Uber wants to buy Tesla’s entire first batch of self-driving cars – It’s no secret Uber is excited about our future of self-driving cars. The company’s business model revolves around drivers using their own vehicles to transport goods and people, but for Uber those drivers represent a significant expense. Self-driving cars, assuming the legislation will reach a point where drivers are no longer required, will eliminate that expense. Uber made partnerships in recent times to work on autonomous driving technologies, and more recently the ridesharing service’s CEO has expressed a lot of interest in Tesla’s future self-driving vehicles.

Sony not looking to exit mobile market, says CEO – Sony Mobile has been struggling to compete in the smartphone market, but the company’s CEO has revealed that it is in the process of turning things around with a long term strategy and won’t be exiting the space. Ever since inexpensive, feature-packed smartphones started making their way to the market, traditional high-quality device makers such as HTC and Sony have found it hard to sell their own devices, especially in emerging markets which are responsible for high volume sales.

Games and Entertainment:

You can now subscribe to Showtime online – Showtime is now offering an online subscription, allowing customers to watch its shows and movies without also getting cable. The subscription is being offered through a few different apps and sites, including Showtime’s iPhone and iPad apps, the Apple TV, Roku, Hulu, and PlayStation Vue. The subscription costs $10.99 — although some services, like Hulu, are offering it for less — and grants access to Showtime’s back catalog, its currently screening films, and even some of its live feeds.

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Sony just rolled out a big UI update to its PS Now game streaming service – PlayStation Now, Sony’s “Netflix for gaming” service that rolled out last year, hasn’t changed dramatically since it launched. The company added a much-needed subscription option earlier this year to help fix the otherwise crazy pricing structure PS Now had for game rentals, but there otherwise hasn’t been much in the way of updates to speak of. That changes today — a major user interface update has just been pushed out to PlayStation Now on the PS4. The update was included in last week’s PS4 software update, but Sony is just now turning it on.

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Australian online video subscriptions jump sixfold in six months – The arrival of Netflix, Stan, and Presto has seen the number of Australians subscribing to video-streaming services jump from 315,000 at the end of 2014 to 2 million by the end of June, according to Telsyte.

Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off; here are all the best deals – Dozens of games are marked down for the duration of the event, which begins today and ends July 13, including Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and more. Check out a breakdown of this week’s Deals With Gold and Ultimate Game Sale offers below. All deals are good through July 13 and require an Xbox Live Gold subscription except where otherwise noted.

Excellent! Harry Shearer returning to ‘The Simpsons’ – The voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers and a ton of other Springfield regulars signs a new deal that will keep him on the show for at least four more seasons.

Off Topic (Sort of):

CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company – We all know telecoms are evil. But as an individual, there’s rarely a way to fight back. Enter CrowdSuit, a new company that aims to help phone customers seek legal redress against phone companies even when they cannot file class action suits. Telecoms increasingly are including a contract provision that prevents customers from filing class action lawsuits against them. Because the cost of an individual lawsuit is often greater than the damages a customer would receive if they won a suit on an issue like throttling, it’s not worth it for them to sue alone. As a result, no one sues, and the telecoms get a free ride. In some states just filing a lawsuit would cost $70, and the amount customers could win by filing would be far less than that.

This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids – Earlier this year the BBC announced that it planned to give one million students across the UK a programmable microcomputer, called the BBC Micro Bit, to help them learn the basics of coding. Now four months later, the design of the device has been finalized, ahead of its scheduled rollout date in October. The Micro Bit features two buttons, an array of programmable LED lights, and an in-built motion sensor. Users can connect their microcomputer to bigger devices by Bluetooth or USB, or to the similarly tiny Raspberry Pi through it’s input-output rings.

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This Is Apple and Google’s Next Big Battleground – For most of my 35-year technology career, fights over operating systems have dominated the landscape. First, it was MS-DOS againt the original Apple II OS. Then it shifted to Microsoft’s Windows vs. the Mac OS. Today it’s between Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Google’s Android and Chrome OS. These wars have become ideological, with fanboys and devout followers in each camp. But there’s another fight brewing, too — the battle over artificial intelligence, or AI.

Russian government issues guide to avoiding hazardous selfies – Technically Incorrect: It may seem like common sense not to stray too near an approaching train while taking a selfie. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

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Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft – Life vests are effective, but bulky. They’re not the sort of thing you haul around with you wherever you go. The Kingii on Indiegogo wants to save your life by being attached to your body at all times when you’re enjoying a day at the ocean or the pool. The 4.9-ounce Kingii (pronounced “kin-gee”) is worn on the wrist. A lever triggers a carbon dioxide cartridge to inflate an orange, balloon-like float. The float pulls you back up to the surface of the water, whether you’re out surfing or taking a dip in a pool. Cartridges can be swapped out to make the wristband reusable. The Kingii appears to be going gangbusters on Indiegogo. The initial $65,000 funding goal has been engulfed by over $445,000 in pledges with 23 days left to run. However, $400,000 of that comes from one anonymous backer.

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10 Spectacular Building Demolitions – In this roundup, we pay tribute to the bold men and women who bring down buildings for a living by sharing incredible footage of them at work. These are some of the most ambitious, technically difficult, or just plain cool to look at building demolitions ever caught on tape.

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Study hints kids are future cord-cutters – The television industry has been scrambling to stave off the pressure it feels from services like Netflix and the subscribers it is losing to them. Its efforts may prove to be in vain, however, at least according to a recent study. Miner & Co. Studio conducted research and has found that 57-percent of kids prefer watching videos on their tablet or smartphone rather than on a television. In addition, a common parental discipline might be driving kids further away from television, causing them to associate it with punishment.

Something to think about:

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

–      Muhammad Ali

Today’s Free Downloads:

160WiFi – 160WiFi provides a free WiFi hotspot. No hidden cost, no function limit, and never waste your money on those expensive ones that won’t work.

Enjoy Wi-Fi anywhere. 160WiFi offers the greatest choice of available Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere like home, office, airport and so on.

Secure. 160WiFi is safe to use. With strong password security, It allows no one to connect to your wireless hotspot without your permission.

Save money. 160WiFi can turn your computer into a wireless router, allowing your phone or other portable devices to connect the hotspot to surf the internet for free. This cut the data usage of your phone and save much money.

Easy to use. Download, install and connect – only a few clicks.

Features:

Totally free and secure, fully used; No advertising, no annoying pop-ups

Turn laptop/desktop (with a working wireless adapter) into WiFi hotspot in seconds

Easily Manage your computer on the connected Android, iOS and other portable devices

Save cellular data & avoid overcharges

Handy network speed detection

Easy to use, no need of advanced configuration

PaperScan Free – PaperScan is a powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on one idea : making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

You have many different scanners or plan to buy new scanner? PaperScan is simply universal while most of the scanning applications are dedicated to one scanner or one protocol.

With PaperScan you can control any scanner ( TWAINor WIA)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senate advances secret plan forcing Internet services to report terror activity – The Senate Intelligence Committee secretly voted on June 24 in favor of legislation requiring e-mail providers and social media sites to report suspected terrorist activities.

The legislation, approved 15-0 in a closed-door hearing, remains “classified.” The relevant text is contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, a committee aide told Ars by telephone early Monday. Its veil of secrecy would be lifted in the coming days as the package heads to the Senate floor, the aide added.

The proposal comes as the Islamic State and other terror groups have taken to the Internet to gain converts across the globe, including in the United States. The FBI issued a public warning in March about American teens being susceptible to the Islamic State’s online recruitment tactics. And the Brookings Institute estimated in March that there were as many as 70,000 pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts. Twitter has removed tens of thousands of these terror propaganda accounts, which violate its terms of service.

FBI chief: Strong encryption lets bad guys ‘communicate with impunity’ – The director of the FBI has called for a “robust” debate over the use of encryption, but has admitted there may be no easy way to protect both security and privacy.

FBI chief James Comey warned that the increasing use of strong encryption will make it harder for law enforcement to access email or other digital conversations.

“There is simply no doubt that bad people can communicate with impunity in a world of universal strong encryption,” he said in a post for the Lawfare blog, and warned this will have an impact on public safety.

Apple’s and Google’s encryption plans have not gone down well with US law enforcement, and the agency’s director says the companies are leading us down a dark path.

He wrote: “That tension is vividly illustrated by the current ISIL threat, which involves ISIL operators in Syria recruiting and tasking dozens of troubled Americans to kill people, a process that increasingly takes part through mobile messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, communications that may not be intercepted, despite judicial orders under the Fourth Amendment.”

Thanks to the Edward Snowden revelations about pervasive internet snooping by US and UK intelligence agencies, tech companies have been turning to encryption to protect their customers’ conversations. This has led to claims from law enforcement that important sources of intelligence are ‘going dark’.

Top Security Experts Say Government Limits On Encryption Present Risks –  A group of top cybersecurity experts reported today that giving law enforcement special access to encrypted data for investigations would pose “major security risks.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab report included input from cryptography expert Bruce Schneier and researchers from MIT, Stanford University, Columbia University, Cambridge University, Johns Hopkins University, Microsoft Research, SRI International and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Since October, U.S. law enforcement officials have called for a special door that would allow government agencies to access encrypted data that could help them in investigations. The report tells us that a backdoor for the government and law enforcement also provides an opening that could be exploited by hackers.

The experts argue such special access points “pose far more grave security risks, imperil innovation on which the world’s economies depend, and raise more thorny policy issues than we could have imagined when the Internet was in its infancy.”

Former A.G. Eric Holder says Snowden deal is possible – The “possibility exists” for the U.S. Department of Justice to cut a deal that would allow surveillance leaker Edward Snowden to return to the U.S., a former attorney general said in a media interview.

Snowden, who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, “spurred a necessary debate” about the collection of U.S. telephone records, former Attorney General Eric Holder told Yahoo News.

The DOJ, however, hasn’t changed its official position on Snowden, a spokesman said. The DOJ wants Snowden to return to the U.S. from Russia and face criminal charges, the spokesman said by email.

Holder, who left the DOJ earlier this year, filed espionage charges against Snowden in 2013.

Holder declined to give Yahoo News details about what a possible deal with Snowden would look like.

NSA officials have reportedly considered a plea deal for Snowden, including some jail time. But Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s lawyers, rejected the possibility of pleading guilty to a felony.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 8, 2015

Filed under downloads, Free Software Downloads, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News, Online Safety, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 23, 2015

Senate leader introduces bill to extend Patriot Act surveillance;  Pin web apps to your taskbar;  How to Turn Your Phone Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot;  These Are the Best Flight Search Tools;  10 apps to turn your Mac into a productivity champ;  Five process monitors that go beyond Task Manager;  Unboxing the Intel Compute Stick;  Now you can stream videos from your OneDrive account on Android;  Where is Your Antivirus Made?  10 apps to help you keep your garden alive;  The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Comcast’s Time Warner Cable merger in danger;  11 most overrated games of all time;  Compromised govt data could affect millions in China;  The Password Reset Dilemma;  Microsoft is building in tech support directly into Windows 10;  Fedora 22 goes beta;  Fed-up Colorado man takes 9mm PISTOL to vexing Dell PC;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Senate leader introduces bill to extend Patriot Act surveillance – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020, instead of expiring on June 1. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is reportedly pushing for the bill to be fast-tracked straight to the Senate floor, without any hearings or votes in Senate committees. The bill, if passed, would kill efforts in Congress to rein in the NSA’s telephone records collection program. In addition to phone records, Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the NSA or FBI to collect business records and “any tangible things” when the agencies have “reasonable grounds” to believe those records are relevant to an antiterrorism investigation.

How to Turn Your Phone Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot – Almost any modern smartphone can also work as a Wi-Fi hotspot, sharing its 4G LTE connection to anywhere from five to 10 devices, whether they be laptops, tablets, or other phones. You just have to have the right service plan and tap a few buttons. The most complex part of using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, nowadays, is making sure you’re on the right service plan. Not all plans allow “tethering,” which is what the carriers call hotspot use. If you try to set up a hotspot and get bounced out, you may need to upgrade your service plan.

Pin web apps to your taskbar to make them behave like desktop software – If you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can make web apps feel more desktop-like by pinning them to your taskbar. You may not necessarily get features like offline functionality or local file system access—that’s up to your browser—but when it’s on the taskbar, your web app is always one click away. Pinned web apps also open in their own window, just like traditional desktop software. Right now, you can use either Internet Explorer or Google’s Chrome to pin websites to your taskbar. Both browsers aren’t created equally, however, and there are some differences in functionality depending on which browser you choose.

These Are the Best Flight Search Tools – Last year, 40 percent of Americans booked flights, hotels, cruises and other holidays on their phones and tablets, a statistic based on 300 million bookings worth $150 billion, while the Economist reckons that online bookings account for 43% of total travel sales. We picked six of the top-rated flight aggregator services and compared prices for 10 flights over a week in June, from domestic flights including New York to Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas and Austin, and international flights from New York to Toronto, Sydney, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong.

10 apps to turn your Mac into a productivity champ – As more companies are using Macs in the workplace, it’s important for you to have the proper toolset. The “App Store” for Macs gives users easy access to a variety of tools and services. Here are 10 applications to will help turn your Mac into the business machine you need it to be.

Chrome users roast Google on spit of hate over revamped bookmarks manager – Google’s redesign of the Chrome bookmarks manager has begun rolling out to the browser’s users running the most polished version. And those users are very, very unhappy. They’re more than that, actually. They hate the change, tossing off words like “disastrous,” “hideous” and “horror” to describe their impressions. “I don’t care how smart or sleek or cool you think the new interface is, you just made it much HARDER to use,” groused Bill Wiltsch on a long Chrome support discussion forum thread. “If this does not get easier quickly, I will be switching browsers.”

Unboxing the Intel Compute Stick – The Intel Compute Stick is a complete desktop PC in a USB memory stick. What you get in the box is just as simple. The Compute Stick’s street price of $150 is a direct response to the oh-so-cheap Chrome OS desktops. You won’t get a display, keyboard, or mouse, but the Compute Stick will let you carry a Windows PC in your shirt pocket, ready to plug in at home or in the office.

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Switching operating systems is almost never the answer to problems – Summary: One of the worst pieces of advice given to people looking for help and advice with computer problems is that they should switch to a different operating system. Here’s why, along with some tips for anyone who still wants to change operating systems.

Fedora 22 goes beta – As it has since Fedora 21 came out last December, Fedora isn’t coming out in a single edition. Instead, it’s following the Fedora.next initiative of delivering three distinct Fedora editions: Fedora 22 Cloud, Fedora 22 Server, and Fedora 22 Workstation. Each version is meant to meet a specific use case. However, they all share a common base set of packages, which includes the brand new Linux 4.0 kernel, RPM, systemd, and the Anaconda installer. According to Red Hat, “This small, stable set of components allows for a solid foundation upon which to base Fedora.”

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Five process monitors that go beyond Task Manager – When a Windows system becomes unresponsive, the Task Manager is often the go-to tool for figuring out the problem. But as helpful as the Task Manager can be for tracking down the offending process, a number of other tools are available that can provide even more insight into what’s going on. This article lists five tools for monitoring your system processes.

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Example: Process Hacker includes all the functionality you would expect, plus some nice extras. For example, it can verify file signatures and send a message to a user who is running a particular process.

Microsoft is building in tech support directly into Windows 10 – If you have ever had an issue with your PC, odds are you likely went to your favorite search engine and started looking for a solution or you called up that tech savvy friend of yours. Microsoft is looking to change this behavior in Windows 10 and we can start to see their new solution coming together. Earlier today, Microsoft released a new build of Windows 10 and with it comes an app called ‘Contact Support’. As the name implies, this is a new channel for searching how to fix your PC or to resolve billing issues. There are three options to choose from after you open the app: My device, Microsoft account and billing, and Microsoft online services.

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Facebook Messenger Makes 10% Of Global VOIP Calls – Facebook Messenger wants to replace the telephone, not just SMS, and it’s on its way. Messenger now makes up 10% of global Voice Over IP calls, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during today’s Q1 2015 earnings call. And Zuckerberg said that because VOIP can actually provide higher audio quality for calls than traditional phone calls, he expects that growth “is going to continue very quickly.” Considering Facebook only fully rolled out free VOIP calling to Messenger last April, it’s impressive that it’s already becoming a legitimate competitor to apps like Skype. And just yesterday it began rolling out free VOIP calls to WhatsApp on iOS after bringing the feature to Android last month.

Now you can stream videos from your OneDrive account on Android – The latest OneDrive for Android update has enabled in-app video playback capabilities, allowing users to stream the videos directly from their account. The latest update being rolled out on the Google Play Store for OneDrive lets the users stream videos stored on their account without leaving the app. In addition to this, the app now supports improved photo organization with albums. File sharing is also enabled with the latest version of OneDrive for Android, making it easier to send links to stored files from within the app.

Periscope, Meerkat get NHL banhammer – The NHL isn’t happy about people live-streaming its events, and so it has given both Meerkat and Periscope the banhammer, at least to the extent it is able to. This includes any live-streaming that starts 30 minutes before the beginning of an event or less, the event itself, and the end of the event. It’s not surprising that the NHL has its own Periscope account, and that it doesn’t like attendees eating into its revenue by doing their own illicit streaming.

Making software to block annoying ads is legal, German court rules – AdBlock Plus users in Germany can breathe easily: A court there has ruled that the browser extension for filtering annoying ads is legal to make and distribute. The Hamburg court dismissed the complaint on Tuesday, although as is usual for German courts it will be another couple of weeks before publication of the written verdict containing the reasoning behind the ruling.

10 apps to help you keep your garden alive – Tech is as pervasive as an unchecked case of English Ivy. Since it’s spring, why not bring your smartphone into the garden too?

How Google’s Project Fi pricing stacks up to the competition – Google just announced Project Fi, its new MVNO wireless service for the Nexus 6. Google hopes to shake up the industry with its control of the hardware, software, and network. It’s sort of the Google Fiber approach: move into a market with a new pricing scheme and new technology and hope the pressure of competition makes the internet better for everyone.

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The 3 big drawbacks to using Google Project Fi – Google’s wireless carrier is out in the open, and along with a number of fairly solid positive points, there are – as with any industry-moving plan – some drawbacks. This Google wireless carrier business has been a long time coming, after all, and it’s no perfect first swipe. Today we’re having a peek at what you need to know about Google Project Fi if you plan on subscribing in the near future in both the positive and the negative. The article you’re about to dive into right here and now is aimed at showing you what you might consider drawbacks.

Google Chrome Live: What you need to know – On Wednesday, April 22, Google hosted its first ever Chrome Live event, focused on Chrome for Work. Here’s what you need to know.

How to download your entire Google search history – Want a copy of your personal Google search history for your very own? Now you can export and download it, though it’s in a funky file format.

The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week – Google Calendar, VOX Player and more are our favorite iPhone apps of the week.

Security:

You’re More Likely to be Struck by Lightning Than Infected With Mobile Malware – The scope of Damballa’s study is enormous, focusing on some 151 million devices per day, up from 25 million when the company carried out the study in 2012. The company said that this amounted to 50 percent of mobile data traffic in the U.S. But of of these, the company only saw some 9,688 devices reaching out to URLs associated with mobile malware. That works out to .0064 percent of the traffic being malicious. In the company’s press release, Damballa said that the National Weather Services’ official odds on being struck by lightning were significantly higher at 1.3 percent.

Pointing up   The likelihood of a terrorist attack affecting any individual western citizen is substantially less – yet, I don’t see any “Lightening Avoidance Classes” – shocking though that may be – or, a color coded weather alert system (technically achievable), warning of imminent lightening strikes in a given area. But then, I don’t suppose that either one of the foregoing makes good “security theatre”  or, offers an opportunity to exercise unrestrained government control.    (facetious /font)

Where is Your Antivirus Made? – Recently, I ran across a new free antivirus program that scored well on Virus Bulletin’s detection tests. I was about to download it for a thorough review when I discovered it’s made in China. That got me thinking: does it really matter where antivirus software is made? Are the good guys who defend us against bad guys all completely good? Can we trust them implicitly just because they make antivirus software and get it tested by independent labs? Well, it seems we do. But should we? Read on… (recommended by FormalDaHyde)

Microsoft unveils Device Guard, another security feature in Windows 10 – One of the new security features coming to Windows 10 is called Device Guard. Alongside Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport it aims to offer enterprise customers top-notch security on their devices.

Wi-Fi software security bug could leave Android, Windows, Linux open to attack – In an e-mail today to the Open Source Software Security (oss-security) mailing list, the maintainer of wireless network client code used by Android, the Linux and BSD Unix operating systems, and Windows Wi-Fi device drivers sent an urgent fix to a flaw that could allow attackers to crash devices or even potentially inject malicious software into their memory. The flaw could allow these sorts of attacks via a malicious wireless peer-to-peer network name. The vulnerability was discovered by the security team at Alibaba and reported to wpa_supplicant maintainer Jouni Malinen by the Google security team.

Compromised govt data could affect millions in China – More than 52 million pieces of personal information such as ID numbers, social security details, financial status, and property ownership have reportedly been compromised in various government-run systems across China, local media said on April 22. According to data provided by loudong.360.cn, a security watchdog, high-risk loopholes have been found in systems such as social security, household administration, disease control, and hospitals in more than 30 cities across China — and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Password Reset Dilemma – On a number of services out there, in this case Dropbox, there are password reset or recovery mechanisms that are not just annoying, they simply do not work. I know I cannot be the only one with this problem. I don’t want to single out Dropbox, because this happens with a lot of systems. But it has happened to me with Dropbox every time I use the product. Unless I can guess one of the dozens of passwords I have used there, I have to create yet another new account. I sometimes wonder if this mechanism is to make you create additional accounts to inflate the number supposedly supported by the system.

2 more wireless baby monitors hacked: Hackers remotely spied on babies and parents – Two more wireless baby monitors were hacked. One family heard voices as the camera followed them about the room; the second mom was freaked out and scared as a hacker remotely controlled the camera to follow her movements.

These Guys Will Hack Your Phone to Reveal Who It’s Secretly Sending Information To – Most of us don’t think twice when we connect to a WiFi network or download a new app. I didn’t. I trusted, to some extent, that the relationship between me and my phone was exclusive. Turns out my phone was lying to me. My data, my network, my searches—they weren’t just between the phone and me but instead between me and several thousand companies I’ve never heard of in countries I’ve never been to. To help people understand what’s really going on with their smartphones, tech journalist Geoff White and ethical hacker Glenn Wilkinson have teamed up to create The Secret Life of Your Mobile Phone —a one-hour performance on interception technologies. I met up with Geoff and Glenn to find out what my phone has been playing at.

Crypto gurus: The government’s key escrow plan won’t work – Cryptography experts at the RSA security conference on Tuesday picked holes in U.S. plans to require that law enforcers be given a way to break encryption to exercise lawful intercept rights. U.S. government officials have been increasingly hostile over the past year to the widespread use of encryption on mobile phones and online communications, arguing that a way needs to be found to provide law enforcement and intelligence agencies with lawful interception capabilities.

Company News:

BlackBerry expands its security smarts to the Internet of Things – BlackBerry’s smartphone business is limping along but the company knows mobile device security. It plans to apply that expertise to billions of potential connected things.

Comcast’s Time Warner Cable merger in danger as FCC staff calls for hearing – In another setback for Comcast’s planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, staff from the Federal Communications Commission have recommended that the agency arrange a hearing, a move that move The Wall Street Journal says is a strong sign the regulatory body believes the deal is not in the public interest. FCC staff considering the deal concluded that the agency should issue a “hearing designation order,” a ruling that would put the merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, force Comcast to justify its plans, and delay proceedings.

AT&T adds 684,000 connected cars in Q1 – AT&T said it added 684,000 connected cars to its network in the first quarter as the company races to find its future growth in the Internet of things. The telecom giant reported first quarter earnings of $3.2 billion, or 61 cents a share, on revenue of $32.6 billion, roughly flat with a year ago. While the focus on smartphone additions and churn are the norm for wireless telecom players it’s worth pondering some of the other figures that are almost throwaways. Why? That’s where the growth will be. Sure, AT&T added 1.2 million smartphones to its base in the first quarter with a churn of 1.02 percent. But 1.2 million total wireless net additions, including 684,000 connected cars is worth noting.

More than 70 percent of Facebook’s $3.54 billion revenue is now mobile – The company, which reported its first quarter earnings today, now has 1.44 billion monthly active users, and 1.25 billion on mobile, an increase of 13 and 24 percent, respectively. A whopping 936 million people use it every single day. Facebook continued to cruise, posting revenue of $3.45 billion, up 42 percent over the same period last year. The shift to mobile continues, with 73 percent of its revenue coming from mobile ads as compared to 59 percent for this period last year. On the earnings call, Zuckerberg dropped one interesting detail. Facebook now sees over one billion searches on mobile every day.

Uber gives in to Germany’s demands to end ban – Another day, another place where Uber is having trouble operating the way it wants to. Last month it ran into another issue in Germany, where it was banned for the second time for failing to play by the rules. The company was hit last month with the threat of fines by the Frankfurt regional court should it violate the transportation laws in the area. That ruling has now become enforceable, and Uber issued a statement about it yesterday, saying it’s “a defeat for all those who want more choice for their personal mobility.”

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix’s library to get shakeup on May 1 – Netflix regularly purges content from its library and replaces it with new content — this is generally a bittersweet moment, in that there’s a good chance something you enjoyed will disappear, but that something you’d like to watch will be incoming. It is that time again, with May 1 marking the start of more content being added, as well as the start of a bunch of content being removed. Amongst those that are outbound is Skyfall and RoboCop, and inbound are a load of new things including Zombeavers.

11 most overrated games of all time – Excuse me for a minute while I slip into this asbestos suit and close the door on my insulated concrete bunker in an undisclosed location. I fully expect this article to ruffle a few feathers, and as we all know gamers don’t do very well with that. The canon of computer gaming is massive, with new classics added every year. And while some of the “greatest of all time” earned that title honestly, others look pretty lousy in hindsight. In this feature, I’m going to lay down the law on eleven games that are seriously overrated. Feel free to leave your picks in the comments, as well as any thoughts you have on my mother and her sexual purity.

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Bioshock Infinite

DC Comics and Mattel team up for superhero action figures for girls – Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn and more will soon be available as a new line of action figures and comics targeted at girls.

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The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week – Let’s not pretend that the most-pirated movie of the week is anything but Vin Diesel’s Furious 7. The movie, which delivers a series of over-the-top stunts and a heartfelt goodbye for the late Paul Walker, has already grossed over $1 billion worldwide. Furious 7 is super popular, which means that it’s a prime candidate for bootlegging. Before I discuss the week’s most-pirated movies, however, allow me to state that PCMag doesn’t condone piracy in any way, shape, or form. Our mission is a simple and pure one—to inform you about what’s happening in the online digital media world.

CyberPower’s insane three-pointed Trinity PC ditches ‘prototype’ for preorders – When we saw CyberPower’s Trinity gaming PC prototype at CES 2015 we thought it was one of the wildest computer designs we’d ever seen. Just look at the thing! Products so radical tend to wind up being vaporware, however. But CyberPower said the PC would go on sale within three months after its CES debut, and true to its word, Trinity is now available for pre-order with base prices between $955 and $1795 depending on the configuration. CyberPower says pre-orders will ship after Tuesday, April 28. Current estimated ship dates we saw on Wednesday morning were targeting early May.

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Xbox One May update brings Miracast support – That time of the month is here and the Xbox One is receiving some serious updates this time around which are designed to streamline the experience between the Windows 10 Xbox app and the console. Not only that, but the update also brings new features like Miracast support. Here’s a list of all the features coming to the console soon:

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Surprising Trait That Gets Better With Age – A new study from researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Buffalo shows that people aren’t getting older and crankier—they’re getting older and more trusting. And this increased sense of trust is linked with higher well being, says study co-author ClaudiaHaase, who also serves as director of Northwestern’s Life-Span Development Lab. While the elderly tend to have a reputation for being cranky and crotchety, this new research shows that they are actually “more likely to look at the bright side of things,” Haase said in a statement.

Here’s a Fascinating Breakdown of Emoji Use by Country – In a new report published on Tuesday, British app developer SwiftKey drew some conclusions after analyzing over 1 billion pieces of emoji data taken from communications made in 16 different languages. According to their findings, Canadians scored highest in categories associated with violence and money, loving the gun and cash emoji more than other nationalities. Down under, Australians surprised few by embracing icons suggestive of alcohol and drugs, using those symbols are least twice as frequently as the global average. France was the only country the smiley-faced icon was not the most used emoji. However, French speakers did use the heart emoji with greater frequency than anybody else. No clear traits emerged for the U.S., but the report said Americans “lead for a random assortment of emoji … including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat and female-oriented emoji.” Check out the full report here.

Woman filming law enforcement has phone smashed by federal agent – The woman, identified by the LA Times as 34-year-old Beatriz Paez, was fortunate that someone on the other side of the road was filming her as she tried to film the officers of the law. The footage, now released to the outside world, shows the clearly aggressive approach of someone now identified as a US deputy marshal. The woman appears to be standing clear of any officers and is not behaving in an obstructive manner. US courts have ruled that filming the police is perfectly legal, as long as those filming aren’t getting in the way of the police doing their job.

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Pointing up   Just another black uniformed criminal, committing just another criminal offense. Move along – nothing to see here.

Fed-up Colorado man takes 9mm PISTOL to vexing Dell PC – A Colorado Springs man who decided he’d had just about enough of his cantankerous Dell PC took it into an alleyway and pumped eight 9mm rounds into its sorry case, according to the local Gazette. Lucas Hinch, 37, simply “got tired of fighting with his computer for the last several months”, as the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Lt. Jeff Strossner put it. “He was having technology problems, so he took it out in the back alley and shot it.”

C’mon now – who hasn’t considered this at least once – maybe even more than once?    Smile

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Ben Affleck and PBS Failed at Helping Viewers Deal With the Past – As a descendant of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, I know what it’s like to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly of our pasts. However, we have to stop censoring history and start accepting it and learning from it. Affleck and PBS missed out on an important opportunity to face the ugly truth head on. This is a chance to educate and enlighten America about its painful past and current struggle. Instead of hiding the information about the Gone Girl star’s past, maybe PBS could have, and still can, help him and others cope with the devastating news that his ancestor owned people.

Something to think about:

“There are two sorts of people, those who favour ideology and those who favour humans. “

–       Jon Ronson

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinPatrol – WinPatrol takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. Now, using our “Cloud” technology you can benefit from the experience of other WinPatrol users. WinPatrol continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint.

WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software.

WinPatrol PLUS is a great investment!

One Time fee includes for ALL future WinPatrol versions.

No Hidden or Reoccurring Subscription Fees.

Single License valid on all your personal desktops and laptops!

No Toolbars or other unwanted software

WinPatrol PLUS is quicker and faster.

Upgrade Now with No Additional Download

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POP Peeper – POP Peeper is an email notifier that runs in your Windows task bar and alerts you when you have new email on your POP3, IMAP (with IDLE support), Hotmail\MSN\LiveMail, Yahoo, GMail, MyWay, Excite, iWon, Lycos.com, RediffMail, Juno and NetZero accounts. IMAP supports allows you to access AOL, AIM, Netscape and other services. Send mail directly from POP Peeper and use the address book to email your frequently used contacts. POP Peeper allows you to view messages using HTML or you can choose to safely view all messages in rich or plain text. Several options are available that will decrease or eliminate the risks of reading your email (viruses, javascript, webbugs, etc). POP Peeper can be run from a portable device and can be password protected. Many notification options are availble to indicate when new mail has arrived, such as sound alerts (configurable for each account), flashing scroll lock, skinnable popup notifier, customized screensaver and more.

Primary Features:

Easy Setup – accounts are imported from your existing email client(s)

Supports POP3, IMAP (including GMail, AOL, AIM, Netscape, FastMail, mail.com, etc), SMTP, GMail, Hotmail\MSN\LiveMail, Yahoo, MyWay, Excite, iWon, Lycos.com, RediffMail, Juno, NetZero

IDLE is supported for IMAP accounts which allows instant notification when new mail arrives in your inbox

Support for RSS feeds is available with purchase of the Premium Add-on Pack

Read, delete, print and reply to Email without opening your email client

Send email directly from POP Peeper

SSL support for POP3, IMAP and SMTP

HTML email support

Password protection

Address book

Options to protect you from messages that contain viruses and web bugs

Send, save and open file attachments

Run POP Peeper off your portable storage device

No account limit — notifies you of an unlimited number of accounts

Many ways to receive new mail notification: skinnable desktop alerts, audio, flashing scroll lock LED and more

Specify how often all accounts are checked for new mail or set individual intervals for each account

Extensive help with useful tips and information

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Easy Service Optimizer – All Windows versions loads many services at startup, most of them (Not all) are essential for the core system features . By disabling unnecessary services, the performance can be improved significantly, especially on computers with low system resources , here’s some of the windows services which are generally enabled by default that you can disable safely:

Print Spooler (if you don’t use a printer or print-to-PDF)

Bluetooth Support (if you don’t use Bluetooth)

Remote Registry (it’s not usually running by default, but you can disable it for safety)

Remote Desktop (There are 3 services. If you don’t use Remote desktop, disable them) but disabling a service was not for the novice (now it is)

Easy service optimizer (Eso) is a portable freeware to optimize almost all Windows services (except windows 98 and below) and It does not require any technical knowledge. It is very safe to use because it changes only the startup type of the services and you can restore them easily , you can create your own list or customize selected one.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The system is like a ship – once it leaves port there is no stopping it. Unless it sinks.

European Rights Body Again Rejects Mass Surveillance – Europe’s top rights body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has crystalized its censure of mass surveillance as a threat to fundamental human rights and to democracy itself by adopting a draft resolution in which it reiterates deep concerns over the practice of intelligence agencies systematically harvesting untargeted communications data, without adequate legal regulation or technical protection.

“Mass surveillance does not appear to have contributed to the prevention of terrorist attacks, contrary to earlier assertions made by senior intelligence officials. Instead, resources that might prevent attacks are diverted to mass surveillance, leaving potentially dangerous persons free to act,” PACE warned yesterday.

“These powerful structures risk escaping democratic control and accountability and they threaten the free and open character of our societies,” it added.

The Council took evidence from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden last year as part of its investigation into mass surveillance — going on to publish a lengthy report back in January.

That report also included concerns about intelligence agencies seeking to systematically perforate Internet security — a topical concern, given the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security was only yesterday speaking out against the ‘dangers’ of pervasive encryption. PACE’s draft resolution includes the same “deep” worries about threats to Internet security from “certain intelligence agencies”.

Australia: The censorship end game of the piracy site-blocking Bill – Summary: A call for the government to implement a widespread internet filter in addition to allowing rights holders to get piracy sites blocked shows that the legislation will be an open door for full internet censorship in Australia.

The House has passed a controversial new cyber info-sharing bill – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Cyber Networks Act in a bipartisan 307-116 vote, taking an important step forward in Congress’ ongoing efforts to promote cyber threat-sharing. The bill is meant to help network operators share information about possible threats more quickly and easily, making it easier to defend against any subsequent attacks. “Our bill will ensure that we have the tools to address these attacks by enabling voluntary information sharing of cyber threats between and among the private and public sectors,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in a statement.

It’s a crucial issue, particularly in the wake of ongoing criminal and state hacks like Home Depot, Target, and Sony Pictures, but many have criticized the new crop of info-sharing bills as opening the door to private sector surveillance. Ron Wyden criticized CISA, an earlier info-sharing bill, as “a surveillance bill by another name.” Others have raised questions about how government agencies will use the threat information after it’s been reported. “Any company has to think at least twice about sharing how they are vulnerable with a government that hoards security vulnerabilities and exploits them to conduct massive surveillance,” Stanford Law Professor Jennifer Granick wrote in a recent editorial.

Even NSA Chief Acknowledges Need for Broad Discussion About Cyberwarfare – A whole new and very dangerous field of warfare has been developed by the Obama administration, in secret, using untested legal justifications, and without even the faintest whiff of oversight.

So kudos to Patrick Tucker, technology editor for Defense One, who took advantage of a recent moment with National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers to ask him: Is there a way to discuss publicly what the future of cyberwar operations will look like?

Rogers said, dismissively, that the public should trust that the U.S. will follow the international laws of conflict and that its use of cyberwarfare would “be proportional” and “in line with the broader set of norms that we’ve created over time.”

But he also acknowledged the need, at some point, for the public to have some sort of a say.

Rogers likened cyberattacks to the development of mass firepower in the 1800s. “Cyber represents change, a different technical application to attempt to achieve some of the exact same effects, just do it in a different way,” he said.

“Like those other effects, I think, over time, we’ll have a broad discussion in terms of our sense of awareness, both in terms of capabilities as well as limitations.”

Over time?

That discussion is long overdue.

Google’s Encryption Efforts Are Paying Off In Wake Of Snowden Leaks – Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company has evidence that its efforts to improve encryption in the wake of Edward Snowden leaks have worked. His remarks at BoxDev, Box’s yearly developer conference, come as law enforcement officials are criticizing encryption efforts for slowing down investigations.

In response to a question about encryption from Box CEO Aaron Levie, Schmidt said that after the Snowden leaks, his company was “very, very upset.” He joked that Google wasn’t given a heads up about the activities of the American NSA, which he noted that in slang is often called “never say anything.”

At the time of Snowden’s revelations, Schmidt was one of the first executives to suggest encryption was the only way to prevent government surveillance. He said that the company has embarked on work to bolster its encryption efforts, including at-rest encryption, and in-transit encryption. He said people previously poking into the company’s networks are “complaining” and called the rising whining “proof” that its work was effective.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 23, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 20, 2015

10 radically tiny computers that fit in the palm of your hand;  Top 10 smart home gadgets and appliances;  Google Wallet funds are now FDIC insured;  The cord-cutter’s guide to watching the NBA playoffs;  Six Clicks for Linux beginners;  Todoed makes creating task lists as easy as a right-click;  Disable banner ads in Skype for Windows;  Explore a new city like a local with these 10 apps;  Everything you need to know about UltraHD PC displays;  Heal Wants To Be The ‘Uber’ For Doctors Making House Calls;  Flash EK Strikes Again via Google’s DoubleClick;  Stream PC games to your Android device with Remotr;  Amazon Shuts Down TestDrive;  MakerBot lays off 20 percent of its staff;  Wink smart home hubs bricked by software update;  Keep Windows 10 preview up to date — or face a dead PC;  Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years;  New trailers: Star Wars, Ant-Man, Terminator Genisys, and more;  We Need To Get The Internet Of Things Right.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Mini PC invasion: 10 radically tiny computers that fit in the palm of your hand – As chipmakers focus on creating processors that sip little power without sacrificing performance, thermal concerns have largely been alleviated in modern CPUs. Because of that, today’s pint-sized PCs offer enough performance to play HD video and satisfy Office jockeys, the opposite of the janky, compromised experience of yesteryear’s microcomputers. From PCs-on-a-stick to discreet boxes no larger than a deck of cards, let’s take a look at the wide range of computers available that can fit in the palm of your hand—starting with the one that embedded teeny-tiny PCs in the public eye.

Disable banner ads in Skype for Windows – Before the many updates to Skype post-Microsoft acquisition, simply disabling the promotions options in settings was enough to rid your conversations of unnecessary spam. However, a new banner ad has made its way to the conversation window. This ad wouldn’t be such a bother if it didn’t often cut into the video feed area when going full screen. Thanks to Reddit user N19h7m4r3, you can disable ads through just a few steps. Here’s how:

Google Wallet funds are now FDIC insured, says report – If you happen to keep money in your Google Wallet account, your cash is now protected. According to a statement provided to Yahoo Finance, Google is now storing Wallet funds in banks insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). That means that should Google (or one of the banks that it keeps your funds in) goes under, the US federal government will have your back. Services like Google Wallet typically are not FDIC insured. The federal system, designed during the Great Depression, is made to protect up to $250,000 of savings and deposits at banks.

Todoed makes creating task lists as easy as a right-click – Can’t be bothered to write down a to-do list? Todoed lets you create tasks by highlighting text followed by a right-click.

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The cord-cutter’s guide to watching the NBA playoffs – Cord cutting brings particularly thorny challenges for sports fans, and they’re never more apparent than when the postseason rolls around. Case in point: the NBA playoffs, which start this Saturday. Based on the TV schedule available at press time, we’ve outlined your options for watching the playoffs without a cable subscription. By following our guide, you’ll be able to watch many—but not all—of the live broadcasts and see which team eventually lifts the Larry O’Brien Trophy this June.

Explore a new city like a local with these 10 apps – With the sharing economy and a more mobilized world, people can have more authentic experiences when traveling to a new place. Here are 10 apps and websites that help you do just that.

Top 10 smart home gadgets and appliances – Summary: You’ve heard about the Internet of Things, but what smart products are on the market?

Stream PC games to your Android device with Remotr – The concept of streaming games to a mobile device is nothing new. Nvidia’s Grid service, for example, allows players to access PC games via the company’s Shield console and tablet, while Limelight Game Streaming opens the door to Android devices — provided you have an Nvidia GameStream-compatible PC. Remotr opens the door even further, letting you play just about any PC game on just about any Android device. It’s free, and it works — but with some caveats.

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You can stream nearly any game from your PC to your Android device — provided you can master the controls.

Keep Windows 10 preview up to date — or face a dead PC – The first three builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview — 9841, 9860 and 9879, all released in 2014 — will refuse to boot at the end of April, according to a message posted by a Microsoft support engineer on the company’s discussion forum. Personal computers running the three 2014 builds have been displaying warnings of the impending expiration for the last two weeks. Starting Wednesday, the PCs have been rebooting every three hours, another hint from Microsoft to update.

Six Clicks for Linux beginners: Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet – I’ve used almost every desktop on the planet, but Ubuntu 15.04 with the Unity 7 interface may be the easiest. Heck if my now 82-year-old mother-in-law can be an Ubuntu user, you can be one too!

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Taplet Lets You Pull HD Photos From Any Video With A Single Tap – Users can upload content from Dropbox and save it to their phones before digging into the app, or pull from videos taken directly on the phone by tapping into the Camera Roll. From there, simply tap to turn a moving image into a single photo, and then share those photos to various social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wink smart home hubs bricked by software update – Saturday was not a good day for owners of the Wink Hub, a smart home device that allows users to control a range of home appliances with their smartphone. Of course, Wink owners are probably already aware of this, what with not being able to turn off the lights, open the garage door, adjust the thermostat, etc. See, Wink issued a new software update that, as the company puts it, made their box “so secure that it is unable to connect to the Wink servers.” All of the hubs that received the update were then offline for a majority of the day.

GasWatch propane tank scale alerts your mobile phone when you run low on fuel – This clever gadget safely lets you know how much propane is left, so you don’t get caught with a half-cooked meal.

Google’s mobile search now recommends apps to install to find your answers – With its app indexing efforts, Google can pop up apps related to your suggested search term and take you right to the Play Store for installation.

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Heal Wants To Be The ‘Uber’ For Doctors Making House Calls – These days you can take yourself to the doctor or teleport the doctor to you from a mobile device Now Heal, a startup out of Los Angeles, wants to take us back to an era of old-fashioned house calls by ‘ubering’ a doctor to your door. Heal is an on-demand service that promises to deliver a doctor to you in under an hour. It launched in the Los Angeles area late last year and is now open for business in San Francisco starting today.

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Everything you need to know about UltraHD PC displays – It’s finally time to get serious about 4K displays. Let’s be honest, the first wave left much to be desired. Some had painfully low refresh rates while others were difficult to configure and get working properly. Prices were all over the map. The situation is much better today, thankfully, but moving up to a 4K display still involves some planning. Everything from the cable type to which applications you use most often can ultimately have a huge impact on your experience. Here’s all you need to know before you splurge on a 4K monitor.

Browse the web on your Android device more efficiently with Flynx – When using your mobile device, a key element is efficiency. You’re constantly on the go and under the thumb of pressure–the last thing you need to deal with is slow-loading, ad-heavy web pages. That’s where apps like Flynx come in. Similar to Link Bubble, Flynx loads pages in the background (represented by a small chat-head-like bubble on the screen) so you can view them at a later time. The two biggest differences between Link Bubble and Flynx is that Flynx is free and its browser strips away ads from pages for more efficient loading and viewing. Here are some of the features you’ll find with Flynx:

How to disable Chrome’s PDF viewer – Google Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer can make opening PDFs super-quick. Unfortunately, you don’t have access to all of the same tools you can use in apps like Adobe Reader. So how can you choose to download or open PDFs in standalone apps rather than the browser window? It’s a quick fix if you follow these steps:

Security:

Why the entire premise of Tor-enabled routers is ridiculous – Ars recently reviewed two “Tor routers,” devices that are supposed to improve your privacy by routing all traffic through the Tor anonymity network. Although the initial release of Anonabox proved woefully insecure, the basic premise itself is flawed. Using these instead of the Tor Browser Bundle is bad: less secure and less private than simply not using these “Tor Routers” in the first place. They are, in a word, EPICFAIL.

Faked Flash-based ads on HuffPo, other sites downloaded extortionware – Google’s DoubleClick advertising network is the lifeblood of many websites driven by ad revenue—and it’s also a potential path of attack for criminals trying to spread extortionware and other malware. Some Huffington Post readers fell victim to malicious advertisements spread through Google’s DoubleClick network early this week, but another simultaneous attack may have reached an even bigger audience.

Flash EK Strikes Again via Google’s DoubleClick – A few days ago, we blogged about a malvertising attack on the HuffingtonPost website via a major ad network which took advantage of a vulnerability in the Flash Player. This campaign was stealth and did not last long thankfully, but another major attack was also being carried on around the same time, most likely by the same gang. Working with ClarityAd, we quickly confirmed the malicious activity around 04/11 which showed a well-known ad network (merchenta) with direct ties to Google’s DoubleClick being caught in a large malvertising incident. The latest malvertising attack was carried through merchenta, a company that provides a platform for ad exchange and direct integrations with top publishers. They boast a 28 billion monthly impressions for the US alone and work directly with top tier ad networks such as Google’s DoubleClick.

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Google Says “Vast Majority” Of Ads On Its Platforms Will Be Encrypted By June 30 – Google has been gradually moving all of its online services to HTTPS encryption — you may even remember the excitement wayyyy back in 2008, when Gmail switched to HTTPS. In a blog post published this morning, the company says that it’s now working to switch its advertising over as well. The post doesn’t go into a lot of detail about why encryption matters in this context — I suppose it makes sense since these ads can use potentially sensitive data for targeting and personalization. Google does say that this is part of a broader “HTTPS Everywhere” initiative — it already announced that encryption will play a factor in its search rankings.

Company News:

Apple Pay’s international rollout may begin this fall, starting with Canada – Apple has plans to bring Apple Pay to Canada this fall, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple is reportedly in talks with six of the largest Canadian banks — National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, and the Bank of Montreal — which account for over 90 percent of Canadian bank accounts. A debut that large for Apple Pay in its first foreign country would be a boon, but the banks aren’t too happy about Apple’s fees — which may be higher than what US banks pay — and potential security issues like the ones US banks dealt with earlier this year.

Amazon Shuts Down TestDrive, The Appstore Feature That Let You Try Apps Before – Amazon is shutting down TestDrive, one of the differentiating features of the Amazon Appstore which allowed consumers to test out new applications ahead of purchase. The feature was introduced back in March 2011 alongside the launch of the Appstore itself, where it then utilized a browser-based emulated instance of Android running in the cloud. Amazon says that the decision to close the service was based on “a significant decline” in usage, and cited the popularity of “free to play” business models as a factor.

MakerBot lays off 20 percent of its staff – On Friday, Motherboard reported that 3D printing company MakerBot laid off 20 percent of its staff today, estimating that approximately 100 people from the 500-person company had their positions cut. In 2013, MakerBot was purchased by a seasoned rapid prototyping and 3D printing company called Stratasys, which has been in business since 1989. Stratasys paid $403 million in stock for MakerBot at the time, plus $201 million “in performance-based earn-outs,” the company said at the time.

Report: Comcast, Time Warner Cable Deal on Thin Ice – It’s not looking good for the merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast. According to a Friday report from Bloomberg, the Justice Department’s antitrust department might recommend rejecting the deal “out of concerns that consumers would be harmed.” Those attorneys could submit their recommendation by next week, but the final decision is made by senior officials, Bloomberg said.

Samsung, Apple top smartphone makers in Q1 – Samsung and Apple remained the top sellers of smartphones for the first quarter of the year, while LG stepped up to take fourth place behind Huawei.

Games and Entertainment:

Google makes the most of touch with “Games You Can Feel” – This afternoon Google has revealed a new category for special haptic feedback-friendly games on Google Play. Inside the app store you’ll find a small set of games with touch feedback, this creating the first-ever collection of this sort of games in the history of games. This section is called “Games you can feel,” and it’s live now. It’s a tiny launch, as it were, but it’s here – and it has Google working in direct collaboration with the folks at haptic technology group Immersion.

New trailers: Star Wars, Ant-Man, Terminator Genisys, and more – This was a huge week for movies, with some of the biggest names around putting out new trailers — and other big names having trailers leak online, too. We’ve rounded up eight of this week’s best trailers for you to check out below (so long as you don’t get caught up by putting Star Wars on repeat).

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Is Hollywood Making Too Many Trailers? – We spoke to an economics professor along with one of the best movie-trailer makers in the business to learn more about the thinking behind this deluge of movie trailers hitting the internet.

Watch the Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years – Star Wars: Battlefront, an upcoming large-scale multiplayer battle game set in the Star Wars universe, is due out for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on Nov. 17. Savvy Star Wars fans will notice that’s just about a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next installment in the saga’s film franchise.

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Star Wars behind the scenes: The Live Motion Capture Future – Today we’re taking a peek at how Star Wars is being made. The creation process, you’ll find, isn’t all that different from how video games are made. Video games like Star Wars 1313. Even though J.J. Abrams has assured the public time and time again that practical effects are king in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we’ve got reason to believe that this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is as it seems –here we’ll also be explaining why that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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Overseas Netflix prices determined by piracy levels – While Netflix has long been a staple in the streaming market in the US, it’s easy to forget that with over 60 million subscribers globally, the service exists in a number of other countries. One interesting tidbit about the how the company works overseas was revealed by CFO David Wells on a recent earnings interview. When it comes time to determine Netflix’s subscription price in a country, one key factor they look at are the levels of piracy in that region. Higher levels of piracy mean a cheaper price to access Netflix’s content.

HBO warns torrent users over recent Game of Thrones leak – Following last week’s news that the first four episodes of Game of Thrones season five were leaked onto torrent sites on the night before the season premiere, they were subsequently downloaded millions of times. Understandable, with HBO’s drama being the most pirated show around the globe. Also unsurprising is that HBO is displeased with the leak. So displeased, in fact, that the company sent warnings to thousands of torrent users attempting to deter them from downloading the show any further.

Off Topic (Sort of):

We Need To Get The Internet Of Things Right – It seems everything is connected to the Internet: socks, shoes, shirts, hats, glasses, appliances, beds, homes, drones, cars and even diapers. Yet, for the Internet of Things (IoT) to play a role in shaping our future, we need to get a few things right. The statement “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” has never been more applicable. At the events and conferences I’ve attended this year, it’s clear that while everything is getting connected, few things are actually connected. With IoT, we are not taking full advantage of the Metcalfe effect where value increases exponentially as more things are connected. Instead, we are creating islands of technology.

‘Thought Crimes’ Explores the Story of the ‘Cannibal Cop’ and Our Right to Have Demented Desires – Former NYPD officer Gilberto ‘Gil’ Valle’s was almost locked up just for having fantasies of kidnapping and slowly roasting women on a spit. Erin Lee Carr’s new documentary takes a deeper look at his story and the implications it has for our society.

Police officers used a lost phone to take selfies, then posted them on Facebook – A lost phone has recently been taken in to a police station in Albury, Australia. With the police realizing the device didn’t have any security code on it, the officers decided to teach the owner, Bella Crooke, a lesson. The men in blue started taking selfies, which were then posted onto the owner’s Facebook page. One selfie, shown below, was uploaded to Facebook and included the caption, “You should probably put a password on your phone. When you are ready to pick it up it will be at Albury police station.” The post quickly garnered a lot of likes, and is still growing, as of this writing.

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Researchers find oldest stone tools predate modern humans – The record for oldest stone tools discovered has been broken, with researchers working in Kenya finding a set of tools that are about 3.3 million years old. This eclipses stone tools that had been discovered in Ethiopia in the past, which had up until now been the oldest stone tools discovered. That’s not the most interesting part of the discovery, however — these newest old tools are older than the earliest genus Homo human fossils. The tools, then, are older than modern humans, dashing some previously held beliefs.

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Watch John Oliver’s happier version of the CNN Doomsday video – Oliver’s new video comes a few months after it was revealed CNN had a clip lined up to be played in the eventuality that the human race was to be wiped out. The video’s existence was rumored for years, but only publicly revealed in January this year by Jalopnik writer Michael Ballaban, who unearthed it while interning for the 24-hour news channel in 2009. The video, marked “hold for release until end of the world confirmed,”  shows a military band playing “Nearer My God To Thee” — the same song the Titanic’s band played as the ship sank. Oliver, disappointed with the “dirge” in the grainy video, enlisted Martin Sheen to make “humanity’s final moments happier.”

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Mega fatcat Kim Dotcom in deportation drama over SPEEDING ticket. When a government wants you gone… – Mega.co.nz kingpin Kim Dotcom may soon be booted out of New Zealand – because of a speeding ticket. The resilient and colorful entrepreneur is living on the Pacific island having gained residency rights in 2010. But he is also wanted by the US authorities for running the Megaupload file-sharing website, a service Dotcom describes as a cloud storage system but others claim is a massive copyright-infringement operation. Megaupload eventually shutdown, and was resurrected in 2012 as Mega. The penniless rotund supremo has repeatedly thumbed his nose at the authorities, something that typically lends a certain scrutiny to people’s past. And so it is in this case.

These High-Tech High Heels Change Color With the Click of an App – Created by a seven-person Lithuanian startup called iShüu Tech, and originally the brainchild of display technology research scientist Wallen Mphepö, these high-tech pumps are digital chameleons for your fancy feet. They’re made of leather and rubber and outfitted with hidden circuitboard, Bluetooth and battery components. And, here’s the kicker, they’re pimped out with electronic (e-ink) “paper” that you control with a companion app, altering the look of the flexible digital panel that spans from the top of the toes on up the sides of the pumps.

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How much should we allow Google, Facebook and others to tell us what to think? – Questions raised about the algorithms used by search engines and social media to highlight products, news, and interests deserve our urgent attention, scholars said.

Something to think about:

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

–     Abraham Lincoln

Today’s Free Downloads:

Farbar MiniToolBox – MajorGeeks says: MiniToolBox will detect problems associated with your internet connection because of damaged LSP, proxy settings, as well as network adapter problems.

It can also be used to detect diversions or router hijacks. After execution, Farbar MiniToolBox will provide you with a detailed report (result.txt) for analysis.

Features:

Flush DNS

List content of hosts

List IP configuration

List winsock entries

List the last 10 event viewer errors

List of installed programs

List devices

List users, partitions and memory

And more…

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Tile Tabs – Tile Tabs allows tabs to be displayed in tiled layouts within the Firefox tabbed browser content area. In each tiled layout, tiles can be arranged horizontally, vertically or in a grid, and tiles can be re-sized by dragging splitter bars. Tabs and links can be dragged to open in new or existing tiles. The scrolling of tiles can be synchronized. A tiled layout can display tabs from more than one Firefox tab group.

The Firefox tabbed browser paradigm is fully maintained. Tiled layouts are achieved by presentational changes rather than functional changes. All features (menu commands, url bar, search bar, tabs buttons) continue to operate as normal.

Layouts can be created and tabs can be tiled individually above, below, left or right of the active tile. Tiles are arranged in groups – where all the tiles in a group have the same width or same height – and all the tiles in a group are separated by splitters all with the same orientation (horizontal or vertical). Tiles can be displayed with a tab button for each tile – or with a single tab button for each layout.

Individual layouts can be saved, opened, deleted or set as the default layout. In addition, all of the currently open layouts can be saved as a single Multi-Layout.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues: The system is like a ship – once it leaves port there is no stopping it. Unless it sinks.

FBI can’t cut Internet and pose as cable guy to search property, judge says – A federal judge issued a stern rebuke Friday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s method for breaking up an illegal online betting ring. The Las Vegas court frowned on the FBI’s ruse of disconnecting Internet access to $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino. FBI agents posed as the cable guy and secretly searched the premises.

The government claimed the search was legal because the suspects invited the agents into the room to fix the Internet. US District Judge Andrew P. Gordon wasn’t buying it. He ruled that if the government could get away with such tactics like those they used to nab gambling kingpin Paul Phua and some of his associates, then the government would have carte blanche power to search just about any property.

“Permitting the government to create the need for the occupant to invite a third party into his or her home would effectively allow the government to conduct warrantless searches of the vast majority of residents and hotel rooms in America,” Gordon wrote in throwing out evidence the agents collected. “Authorities would need only to disrupt phone, Internet, cable, or other ‘non-essential’ service and then pose as technicians to gain warrantless entry to the vast majority of homes, hotel rooms, and similarly protected premises across America.”

Twitter migrates non-US accounts to Ireland for security (and tax?) purposes – Large corporations like Twitter have been fighting against NSA spying for awhile, although defeats have been far more common than victories. While much of Twitter’s data consists of publicly available tweets, a vast amount of personal data is also stored within the company’s walls.

In an apparent effort to protect non-US citizens from the NSA’s reach, the company has recently updated their privacy policy. Starting May 18th, everyone outside of the US will be managed by Twitter International Company, based in Dublin, Ireland. The new language states:

Class action lawsuit filed against Bell Canada for privacy violations, asking $750 million – When Bell Mobility rolled out their targeted ad program in November 2013, it caused quite a stir among privacy advocates in Canada, with the claim being that they were spying on their users and not adequately describing the profiling or opt out process. After the release of a scathing review of the practice on April 7th, 2015, Bell agreed days later to end the program. Now a $750 million dollar class action lawsuit has been filed in Windsor, Ontario.

The Relevant Advertising Program (RAP), as branded by Bell, was an opt-out program that analyzed all Internet traffic from a customers mobile phone to build an advertising profile on that user. They would then intercept ads delivered by the web sites visited by the users and replaced them with ads targeted to their specific profile. This program was announced in August, 2013 and created a huge firestorm of criticism towards the telecommunications giant, especially in November after the program was rolled out when it was discovered that opting out of the RAP did not cease the analysis of traffic or creation of an advertising profile.

New Zealand Plotted Hack on China With NSA – New Zealand spies teamed with National Security Agency hackers to break into a data link in the country’s largest city, Auckland, as part of a secret plan to eavesdrop on Chinese diplomats, documents reveal.

The covert operation, reported Saturday by New Zealand’s Herald on Sunday in collaboration with The Intercept, highlights the contrast between New Zealand’s public and secret approaches to its relationship with China, its largest and most important trading partner.

The hacking project suggests that New Zealand’s electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, may have violated international treaties that prohibit the interception of diplomatic communications.

New Zealand has signed both the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, international treaties that protect the “inviolability” of diplomatic correspondance. The country’s prime minister, John Key, said in a recent speech on security that New Zealand had an obligation to support the rule of law internationally, and was “known for its integrity, reliability and independence.”

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 20, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 5, 2015

Five ways to delete yourself from the Internet;  Are you using the most secure and private web browser?  The 10 Best Apps for Your New Windows Computer;  Call+ app expands free landline calling to 16 countries;  The 10 Best Apps For Your New Mac;  24 Great Free Apps and Tools to Help You Build Strong Habits;  Top 4 tech habits you need to break right now;  New “Strings” app lets you withdraw sent messages, and more;  Your Android device needs these 5 apps;  10 New Year’s resolutions for geeks;  Lizard Squad will help you attack any website, for a fee;  Netflix said to be shutting out international VPN users;  Patch My PC (free).

Plus 35 additional newsworthy items:

24 Great Free Apps and Tools to Help You Build Strong Habits – Habits. Good habits, it seems, are the crucial building blocks of a better, healthier, happier way of life. But where do good habits come from? How do you create them? Fortunately, there are tons of great tools and apps out there that want to lend a hand. Here’s a look at some of the best free tools and apps I could find for building stronger habits.

Five ways to delete yourself from the Internet – Finally ready to get off the grid? It’s not quite as simple as it should be, but here are a few easy-to-follow steps that should at the very least point you in the right direction.

Are you using the most secure and private web browser? – WhiteHat Security originally developed Aviator as the company’s in-house browser, but eventually released Aviator web browser in two flavors, OS X and Windows. It is billed as “the web’s most secure and private browser.” Users simply install the browser and it’s setup to maximize privacy and security safeguards by default. Unlike Chrome or Firefox, you don’t need to get add-ons or extensions to configure privacy and security. Those protections are built into Aviator, but since the browser uses open-source Chromium code, it does support “tens of thousands of extensions.” Do something good for yourself security-and-privacy-wise. If you haven’t tried Aviator yet, then I encourage you to “take flight” and start 2015 right.

The 10 Best Apps for Your New Windows Computer – From kicking back with a crossword to leaning in to an engrossing, international webcam chat — and whether they’re used with the touchscreen or the touchpad — these ten apps help Windows users get the most out of their new PCs.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 10 Best Apps For Your New Mac – Got a new Mac for the holidays? Then grab these apps. In the pre-iMac era, Apple computers suffered from a lack programs to choose from, but that’s not the case today. So, whether you just got your first Macbook or you’re upgrading to a Mac Pro, these ten apps will help you get the most out of your new Apple desktop or laptop.

One simple (and free) tool to help keep your Windows PC updated – This small – and free – utility can not only monitor over a hundred common applications for updates, but can also install those for you silently while you work. Applications it is compatible with range from commonly used products such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Adobe Flash Player to more obscure stuff such as ImgBurn and SandBoxie. And just in case that makes you worried about getting a ton of bloatware on your system, if Patch My PC detects any bloatware payload with an update, it silently remove that too. The tool is also portable, meaning that you can pop it onto a USB flash drive and run it on multiple systems. And it can also scan for missing Windows updates.

Call+ app expands free landline calling to 16 countries – About a month ago, an app called Call+ made a pretty tantalizing offer: unlimited free calls to a few countries, with fairly easy ways to earn call time for a bunch of others. If you liked the idea but didn’t need to call anyone in Brazil, China or Mexico, here’s good news: Call+ now gives you free calls to 16 countries. With most countries you can only call landlines for free, but some include mobile numbers. Using the free app, which makes it look as though calls are coming from your existing number, you can reach out and touch the following destinations:

These 5 iPhone Apps Will Make You Wildly More Creative – Sure, your iPhone can send texts, make calls and get the weather. But it can also help you realize your artistic ambitions, too. How? Check out these five apps, all recently highlighted by Apple as ways to be more creative using just your iPhone or iPad.

New Year’s Resolutions for Better Security in 2015 – One common theme with the breaches in 2014 was that basic security failed. JPMorgan Chase was compromised because a server did not have two-factor authentication enabled. Target was breached because a user fell for a phishing attack. We shake our heads over these mistakes, but hindsight is 20/20. We need to make sure we are doing whatever we can to protect ourselves, while at the same time demanding businesses and companies providing services step up and do a better job securing our data. Here is to a safe and secure year ahead!

Top 4 tech habits you need to break right now – It’s a brand new year, so why not start it off right by ditching the shackles of old habits and trying some new things to make your tech life easier? We know that old habits die hard and that’s why we’ve also included links to show you how to handle these common practices

Start the year off right with a clean PC – Unsavory detritus lurks in the vents and crevices of your computer hardware: Hair, dust, cigarette smoke, and pet dander can accumulate in your PC and also in your peripherals, even down between the keys of your keyboard. Some of it’s just gross. However, buildup on fans and other key components can increase the heat stress on your machine, potentially making it unstable and shortening the life of individual parts. That’s no way to start a new year. With thanks to Marco Chiappetta’s detailed rundown on how to clean a dirty PC, we’re adding information on how to clean peripherals as well.

Home networking explained, part 9: Access your home computer remotely – If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that I explained the LAN and WAN ports on a home router in part 1. And now, I need to tell you how you can use this information to remotely access your device at home. For example, if you know how to use Remote Desktop, a built-in feature of Windows, to control a computer in a different room of your home, how about doing that from somewhere away from home, and save yourself from having to pay for similar services such as LogMeIn or GotoMyPC? This post is part of an ongoing series. Check out the related stories for previous installments.

Your Android device needs these 5 apps – Android devices need a kit of essential tools just as much as contractors and tinkerers do. But instead of drills and hammers, they’re apps that are installed and consistently updated so that they’re always ready to use. Five apps in particular are so fundamentally crucial, it’s a surprise they haven’t been rolled into Google’s own suite yet. Best of all, the apps are free to download, so there’s nothing holding you back from these Android enhancers.

How to quickly update Android apps from within the Google Play Store – TechRepublic’s Android specialist Jack Wallen shows you how to quickly update your Android apps from within the Google Play Store.

8 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O earlier this summer – from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. And while the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

New “Strings” app lets you withdraw sent messages, and more – A new app has been released that helps you control the messages you send to your friends. It’s also supposed to reduce the instances of you accidentally sending improper messages.

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How to create and distribute an instructional screencast video for free – Teaching somebody to do something on the computer is always tough. Words go a long way, and pictures are a big help, but nothing can beat the simple immediacy of a video. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to make and share an instructional video on your PC. Using easy, free software, you can record and publish a high-quality, annotated instructional video in a matter of minutes. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to get started right away.

Online hunt for love connections said to peak today – According to experts, January 4 is the No. 1 day in the year for people to go online in search of true love. Match.com insists that 5:52 p.m. PT today will see a positive frenzy of unhappy singles and marrieds leaping to their electronics and praying for a buzz. You’re apparently 15 percent more likely to meet someone special if you online date in January than in any other month.

New D-Link powerline kits promise true gigabit connection speed – D-Link unveils two powerline adapter kits at CES 2015, the DHP-701AV and the DHP-601AV, that could deliver connection speeds of 2,000Mbps and 1,000Mbps, respectively.

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10 New Year’s resolutions for geeks – Summary:It’s the beginning of the year and that means it’s time to write down a set of promises and plans by which we geeks will govern ourselves over the next 12 months. Can you keep all these through the year?

‘Works with Nest’ program gains traction with 15 new smart device integrations – Nest Labs kicked off its ‘Works with Nest’ program just six months ago, announcing partnerships with Mercedes Benz, Whirlpool appliances, and several newer companies, including LED bulb-maker LIFX and fitness tracker Jawbone. Now the company says one in 10 Nest customers are accessing ‘Works with Nest’ connections of one form or another, and that more than 5,000 developers are in different stages of working with Nest to connect their products.

Security:

Gogo Inflight Internet is intentionally issuing fake SSL certificates – For whatever reason, however, Gogo Inflight Internet seems to believe that they are justified in performing a man-in-the-middle attack on their users. Earlier this year, it was revealed through the FCC that Gogo partnered with government officials to produce “capabilities to accommodate law enforcement interests” that go beyond those outlined under federal law. It mentioned how it worked closely with law enforcement and directly baked spyware into their service. If that wasn’t bad enough, based on this revelation, Gogo is now intentionally attacking its user’s browsing sessions to remove any line of defense that a user may have, and based on their history, it cannot be trusted that it is being done for any legitimate reason. If you have used Gogo in the past, it is worth considering that all of your communications, including those over SSL/TLS, have been compromised and that you should consider resetting your passwords– at least on Google. If you intend to use Gogo in the future, do so through the use of Tor or through a secure VPN.

Pointing up   If I were to illustrate a few elementary hacking procedures on your computer, without your permission, that would make me a criminal. On the other hand,  Gogo Inflight Internet does it and hell, it’s just business – right? Arrest these bastards immediately!!! Really – arrest these bastards!!!

Lizard Squad will help you attack any website, for a fee – Lizard Squad has been in the headlines a lot lately, whether it’s been taking down Playstation Network, Xbox Live service, or allegedly aiding the Guardians of Peace’s hack of Sony. With all of the buzz surrounding the rebels without a cause, the group is now looking to cash in on its fame by selling its DDoS Attack Tool. Starting at $6 per month, buyers will be able to enlist Lizard Squad’s services for a singular targeted attack on a website/space. For instance, a $6 fee can be paid to take down a website for 100 seconds. If you want to make a bigger statement, a $130 fee can be paid to take a website down for eight hours. If you wanted to cripple a web entity, a lifetime option exists, ranging from $30 to $500 (likely dependent on complexity and the intended target).

The Real Cybercrime Geography – When Sony Pictures was the target of a recent cyber attack, computer experts were quick to speculate that North Korea was behind the digital infiltration. Things happen quickly in the digital world, and now many experts are doubting the original idea that North Korea walked around inside Sony servers in reprisal for “The Interview.”

US sanctions North Korea over Sony hack and classifies attack evidence: Security researchers doubting Pyongyang’s guilt not privy to FBI data, feds say – The US is lobbing fresh sanctions against North Korea as a response to the cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment even as President Barack Obama’s administration refuses to provide evidence of Pyongyang’s involvement. Pyongyang has denied involvement. On Sunday, it lashed out at the White House.

Study claims that most ‘dark net’ traffic is to child abuse sites – Research, conducted at the University of Portsmouth, reveals that more than 80% of “dark net” internet traffic is generated by visits to websites offering child-abuse material.

Newly published NSA documents show agency could grab all Skype traffic – A National Security Agency document published this week by the German news magazine Der Spiegel from the trove provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows that the agency had full access to voice, video, text messaging, and file sharing from targeted individuals over Microsoft’s Skype service. The access, mandated by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant, was part of the NSA’s PRISM program and allowed “sustained Skype collection” in real time from specific users identified by their Skype user names.

Kim Dotcom’s Mega to launch anti-spying call and chat service – “Mega will soon release a fully encrypted and browser-based video call and chat service including high-speed file transfers,” the entrepreneur known as Kim Dotcom said in a tweet. Kim Dotcom is positioning the service as a more secure way to chat and collaborate online free of government surveillance or spying, partly by virtue of Mega being based in New Zealand. Kim Dotcom has been teasing the app for some time, though now it appears nearly ready for prime time.

Company News:

Netflix said to be shutting out international VPN users – Due to international laws and different contracts with copyright holders based on country, Netflix’s digital content available for streaming can vary widely depending on your location in the world. It has long been a tactic of international Netflix users to rely on VPNs (virtual private networks) in order to get around the site’s regional locks and access content available in the U.S. Unfortunately for those subscribers, it appears that Netflix is cracking down on some VPN services and keeping their users out of its walled garden.

Twitter is building its own video service; wants to compete with YouTube – Twitter is rolling out new features left and right and it looks like the company has big plans for its video service even going as far as building a direct competitor to Google’s YouTube.

Apple’s 16GB iPhones are a big fat lie, claims iOS 8 storage hog lawsuit – The sueball was lobbed at Cupertino on behalf of owners of 8GB and 16GB iThings. It claims Apple does not do enough to warn people that their new iThing may not hold as much music, apps and video as expected.

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Snapchat’s privacy practices to be monitored for the next 20 years: FTC: No more saying that your secret sexy snaps can’t be saved – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved its final order with Snapchat, compelling the California startup to submit to an independent privacy monitor for 20 years and to not “misrepresent in any manner…the extent to which respondent or its products or services maintain and protect the privacy, security, or confidentiality of any covered information.”

Games and Entertainment:

Music streaming up by 54% in 2014 as digital sales continue decline – New evidence in the form of a report from Nielsen SoundScan has confirmed that 2014 saw a significant shift in the digital music market among U.S. consumers. While the last decade has seen a clear dominance of downloading digital music purchases, last year marked a notable decline in that trend as steaming services maintained their explosive growth. Nielsen’s report notes that digital sales dropped by 9%, to 117.6 million, while online streaming was up by 54% over 2013.

The 20 best games of 2014, as chosen by the Ars brain trust – So after much debate and discussion among the Ars editor brain trust, we’ve come up with this list of 20 games that we feel represent the best and most interesting titles of the year. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of titles with only a top few that really stand out above the rest as true classics. Still, these are the games we think people will look back on and remember when they think about the muddled past 12 months in gaming.

Sony offers discounts and subscription extensions after PSN outage during Christmas – PlayStation Plus members affected by the Christmas outage will receive a five-day extension and a once-off 10% discount in the PlayStation Store as a “thank you” for their patience.

10 Video Games That Were Ahead of Their Time – In this feature, we’ll spotlight 10 games that pushed the world of gaming forward ahead of schedule. Some were commercial successes, some were cult hits, and some were all-out flops. But they all helped predict where gaming would take us in the coming decades, and for that we salute them.

Off Topic (Sort of):

12 Hidden Messages Inside 1990s Tech Commercials – Comparing advertisements across the years is a uniquely poignant window into how society evolves. Think about it. Companies need to evolve their messaging in order to reflect changes in the wants and needs of consumers. Therefore, ads are as useful a milepost of how culture and society evolve over time as movies, music, or literature. Check out some of these retro commercials from the 1990s and see what lessons we learned about the technology of today.

11 Ways Old Journalism Was The Worst – In October of last year, Brookings published an essay by Robert Kaiser entitled “The Bad News About The News,” which was probably well-intentioned, but was also — I’m sorry to say — hilariously bloviated, self-important, and wrongheaded. It did, however, accidentally raise a few quite interesting points.

Mark Zuckerberg Picks Reading for his Personal Challenge, First Book Sells Out – Conspiracy theories aside, Zuckerberg’s personal challenge for 2015 will be—drumroll—reading an entire book every other week. That’s 26 books in all; not too shabby a deal for someone who likely doesn’t have all that much free time. And, no, Zuckerberg won’t likely be picking up the Game of Thrones series to plow through. He plans to place a particular emphasis on books that help him learn about “different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”

Geek Answers: Why are there 365.25 days in the year? – The easy and unsatisfying reply, but also the most accurate, is a simple non-answer: Why are there 365 days in a year? Because that’s just the way it is. Put differently, there’s no particular logical reason for there to be 365 days as opposed to 340 or 395; Jupiter has more than ten thousand days in its year, while Venus actually has less than one day per year. The “why” of this has to do with the planetary histories of each body, the hows and whys of its formation. The dynamics of a planet’s year and day are dictated eons before life could ever get a chance to arise and observe them.

Ancient Indian aircraft on agenda of major science conference – Indian Vedic myths tell of ancient pilots flying craft around the world and out of this world. But some think the myths were true, and that modern science has it all wrong.

Something to think about:

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to believe.”

–   Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988), misquoting Sir Walter Scott

Today’s Free Downloads:

Patch My PC – Patch My PC is a portable and reliable utility designed to check your system against the current version of Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Flash, Mozilla Firefox, Oracle Java, Apple Quicktime, and more!

When started PatchMyPC will scan for outdated software automatically. If software is outdated it will show as Red, if it’s updated it will show as Green, and if it’s not installed it will show as black.

There are also many optional updates that can be installed with PatchMyPC. You can install optional updates by checking the checkbox in the optional software. Optional software should only be installed if you want the software and it’s not currently installed.

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GhostBuster Portable – GhostBuster scans your registry for ghosted devices (hardware no longer connected to the PC) and then removes them with a single mouse click.

This application enumerates all devices, detects ghosted devices and removes them if they match selectable device types and/or device classes.

Ghostbuster does exactly the same when you right click a device in the Windows Device Manager and choose uninstall. The only difference is that GhostBuster does it in bulk for all filtered devices that are ghosted and thus saves a lot of time.

Ghostbuster removes devices by name, class or wildcard so it cannot be used to remove only one of two ghosted devices that share the same name, it will always try to remove all matching ghosted devices.

Limitations: GhostBuster will NOT uninstall active devices and certain device types that are considered to be services, even if they’re ghosted. Requires Microsoft .NET Framework.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canadian ISPs required by law to notify users of illegal downloads – January 1st saw a new law, part of the Copyright Modernization Act, go into effect in Canada that requires internet service providers and website hosts to notify their users when copyright holders have detected illegal downloading. When an ISP now receives a letter of complaint from a copyright holder, they must forward it to the customer tied to the IP address associated with the download, or face fines of up to $10,000. The same applies to VPN (virtual private network) services, who must also record customer logs for a least 6 months.

The law also protects ISPs and website hosts in that they are not required to give over users’ personal information unless a lawsuit begins. But they must keep a 6 month record of who letters were sent to, again in the case of a lawsuit. This is bad for VPN services, as the aspect of anonymity is a key feature, and in order for them to comply, they must keep 6 months’ of access data, something that could be very expensive or difficult for small businesses.

Saudi Arabia’s Morality Police and ‘Ethical Hackers’ Are Targeting Online Pornography – Saudi Arabian authorities recently announced that they have hacked and disabled about 9,000 Twitter accounts associated with the publication of pornographic materials and arrested many of the handles’ owners. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (a.k.a. Haia, the Saudi religious police) organized the sting, sweeping up many Saudis and expats accused of organizing alcohol- and gambling-fueled parties. But in an apparent first for the Kingdom, Haia acknowledged that it did not act alone, instead relying upon a group of “ethical hackers” to access users’ accounts and personal information, leading to physical arrests.

Offshoring Data Won’t Protect It From The NSA – The natural reaction of many citizens, companies and governments is to try to get their data out of the United States and out of the hands of American companies.  The idea is a seductive one, even for Americans.  Offshoring money has been a popular strategy for tax avoidance.  Why not offshore data to a foreign company?

This offshoring of data to avoid surveillance is not just an idle notion.  As a privacy lawyer with experience in the intelligence community and the Obama White House, technology companies have asked me how they might pursue such a strategy.  It turns out that shifting user data abroad or into the hands of foreign companies is a very poor way to combat American surveillance.

If the Supreme Court tackles the NSA in 2015, it’ll be one of these five cases – Roughly a year and a half since the first Snowden disclosures, there’s already been a judicial order to shut down the National Security Agency’s bulk metadata collection program.

The lawsuit filed by Larry Klayman, a veteran conservative activist, would essentially put a stop to unchecked NSA surveillance. And at the start of 2015, he remains the only plaintiff whose case has won when fighting for privacy against the newly understood government monitoring. However, it’s currently a victory in name only—the judicial order in Klayman was stayed pending the government’s appeal.

Klayman v. Obama is only one of a number of notable national security and surveillance-related civil and criminal cases stemming fully or partially from the Snowden documents. In 2014, a handful of these advanced far enough through the legal system that 2015 is likely to be a big year for privacy policy. One or more could even end up before the Supreme Court.

NSA has VPNs in Vulcan death grip—no, really, that’s what they call it – The National Security Agency’s Office of Target Pursuit (OTP) maintains a team of engineers dedicated to cracking the encrypted traffic of virtual private networks (VPNs) and has developed tools that could potentially uncloak the traffic in the majority of VPNs used to secure traffic passing over the Internet today, according to documents published this week by the German news magazine Der Speigel. A slide deck from a presentation by a member of OTP’s VPN Exploitation Team, dated September 13, 2010, details the process the NSA used at that time to attack VPNs—including tools with names drawn from Star Trek and other bits of popular culture.

OTP’s VPN exploit team had members assigned to branches focused on specific regional teams, as well as a “Cross-Target Support Branch” and a custom development team for building specialized VPN exploits. At the regional level, the VPN team representatives acted as liaisons to analysts, providing information on new VPN attacks and gathering requirements for specific targets to be used in developing new ones.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 26, 2014

Google unveils tools that track and secure your online life;  How to find free Internet for your laptop while traveling;  The 5 Best iPhone Apps You Should Download This Week;  How Much Do You Know About the Web?  How to wipe your phone or tablet before you sell it;  Working Without Wires: Setting Up a Wireless Printer;  Which Antivirus Products Are Best at Protecting Themselves?  Adobe tries to fix Flash vulnerability (again);  Microsoft kicks off massive discounts for Xbox One games;  Home Depot hit with “at least 44 civil lawsuits” due to data breach;  Car plug-in tells you what’s wrong, where to get it fixed;  Amazon expands partnership with Royal Mail;  HDClone Free Edition;  Sony to pay Vita owners over misleading Remote Play ad claims;  GizmoPal wearable keeps kids and parents in contact.

Google unveils tools that track and secure your online life – Used to be identity theft only revolved around cards and social security numbers, but these days our virtual identities are just as important and even more vulnerable. With the enermous power that it wields over our Internet lives, Google is in the prime position to help mitigate the effects or sometimes even prevent incidents from happening in the first place. That is why it is releasing two new security tools that will let users check up on their online activity and, if necessary, batten down the hatches.

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

How to find free Internet for your laptop while traveling – Sure, you can do a lot on a smartphone, phablet, or slate, but there are times when only a laptop will do. Unfortunately, situations like this always seem to pop-up while I’m on the road with no obvious Internet access. But have no fear, weary traveler. This is no time to cave and start paying for Wi-Fi. Instead, put this three-step plan for finding free(ish) Wi-Fi into action before you even think about paying for that Boingo or Gogo day pass.

How to wipe your phone or tablet before you sell it – Trading in or selling your old mobile device? Wipe it the right way to reduce the risk of personal data falling into the wrong hands. These tips are for the three main mobile operating systems, but if you have an older phone or an alternate OS, check the manual for full details on how to wipe your device.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How Much Do You Know About the Web? – Less than a quarter of Americans know that “the Internet” and “the World Wide Web” are not the same thing. According to a Pew Research study, American Web users’ understanding of online terms, famous faces, and tech history varies: While 82 percent of people are aware that hashtags are widely used on Twitter, only 21 percent could identify Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Twitter Offers will bring coupons to your timeline – Twitter has been working on several projects lately, all of which tangentially tie-in to one another. Their latest, Offers, might tie some of their more recent service together nicely. The aim of Offers is to let you grab a coupon right from Twitter, done via Promoted Tweets. All you have to do is click a button, and the coupon is yours. If you also have a credit card stored with Twitter (for their ‘Buy’ button), the coupon is then associated with that card.

Working Without Wires: Setting Up a Wireless Printer – You don’t need to go hunting for a USB cable to connect to a printer, and you don’t need a printer for every PC.

Watch How People Reacted to the Ferguson Decision on Twitter – Conversation about Ferguson, Missouri dominated social media Monday night. Above, you can see how Twitter erupted right after 8 p.m. Central, when St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch made his lengthy announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

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Hands-on with HP’s Stream 11, the $200 Windows laptop that wants to kill Chromebooks – Small and cheap isn’t for everyone, of course. After using the Stream 11 for a week, its chiclet keyboard still feels cramped to me, as does the 1366×768, 11.6-inch screen. HDMI offers the only video-out option, so you’ll need a converter if you have an older DVI display, for example. And storage? Fuhgeddit. But let’s be fair: I’d have similar complaints about like-priced Chromebooks. All I wanted to see was whether this bargain Windows machine was enough to keep me on Microsoft’s side of the fence.

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The HP Stream 11 measures 11.81 inches wide by 0.78 inches high by 8.1 inches deep, and weighs 2.82 pounds.

Keep Tabs on Favorite Vine Stars With New Alerts – Heads up, Vine users. The Twitter-owned video-sharing app is getting a handy new feature: the ability to star specific profiles to make them a favorite. The next time you discover an awesome Vine account, head to their profile page and tap the small star icon in the top right corner. Doing so will mark the account as a favorite, and you’ll be notified whenever they post a new video.

GizmoPal wearable keeps kids and parents in contact – For children who aren’t quite old enough for their own phone, Verizon has announced the upcoming GizmoPal wearable for kids. This wearable is a simplistic wristband able to receive and make calls to a limited number of contacts, such as parents or a caregiver, doing so over Verizon’s network after being added to an existing smartphone plan. This is the latest of several kid-centric wearables we’ve seen over the year, joining the iSwimband and Kidizoom smartwatch, both of which offer their own functionality for different life situations.

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Bing rolls out new feature to help with Thanksgiving recipe steps and ideas – Where would we be without Bing, or specifically, any search engine? Search engines help us with everything and now the Bing team wants to help you get your act together for Thanksgiving.

Samsung’s ‘eye mouse’ enables users to control their computer with a glance – Now in its second generation, Samsung’s EyeCan+ will help people with disabilities create documents and browse the Web using only eye movements.

How to set up an ergonomic workstation – Stop whatever you’re doing and freeze. Now, evaluate your body. Does anything — your neck, perhaps — feel achy? How’s your posture? And your wrists and fingers — are they okay after all that typing and texting? While working long hours at the computer, you’ve complained about (and subsequently ignored) the toll desk work takes on your body. But it’s easy to brush off the daily aches and pains when the solution is so unclear.

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Survey shows tablet productivity gains, but also flags up room for improvement – Buyers and users of business tablets in Europe report productivity increases of 30 to 33 percent, but over two-thirds remain less than completely satisfied with the tablet experience.

Security:

Which Antivirus Products Are Best at Protecting Themselves? – You depend on your antivirus or security suite to protect your data and your devices, but how well does it protect itself? Security software is just software, and subject to flaws, like any other type of program. Coders can take some simple steps to make sure a software flaw doesn’t open the program to exploit attack. However, the latest report from German lab AV-Test Institute shows a wide range in how well security vendors armor their products against direct attack.

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Adobe tries to fix Flash vulnerability (again) – Adobe released an emergency patch on Tuesday to fix a Flash Player vulnerability that was fixed last month but was quickly exploited again. The company had issued a patch for the flaw, called CVE-2104-8439, but attackers soon found a way around that fix. The latest update to Flash adds a “mitigation” for CVE-2104-8439, a vulnerability that could lead to the installation of malware.

The Regin malware threat: Real protections against a mysterious danger – Regin’s a puzzle, with a long career that apparently has yet to affect the U.S. If that should happen, however, the classic protective measures will be your best defense.

Bitdefender’s BOX hardware protects your entire home network, not just your PC – Antivirus firm Bitdefender unveiled a hardware security appliance for home networks Tuesday that aims to protect devices by scanning network traffic to detect and block potential security threats. The new Bitdefender BOX is a mix between a router, network firewall and intrusion prevention system. It can sit behind an existing router, connected to one of its ethernet ports, it can be placed in front of a router, so that it also protects the router from Internet-based attacks, or can act itself as a router.

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Company News:

Sony to pay Vita owners over misleading Remote Play ad claims – The Federal Trade Commission announced today it has come to a settlement with Sony Computer Entertainment and advertising agency Deutsch LA over misleading claims in early ads for the PlayStation Vita. As part of that settlement, Sony will offer Vita customers who bought the system before June 1, 2012 a $25 rebate or a $50 voucher “for select games and services.”

Apple could ditch Google for Bing or Yahoo next year – Google risks losing its spot as the default search provider in Apple’s Safari browser next year, according to a report from The Information. The latest extension of a deal that’s put Google Search in the hands of iPhone owners since 2007 is set to expire in 2015, and Mountain View rivals Microsoft and Yahoo are already making a case for change with Apple’s leadership. Per the report, each company has pitched Apple SVP Eddy Cue on the idea of replacing Google as the default iOS search provider; Microsoft wants Bing to be the default option out of the box, and Yahoo is vying for the same spot.

Home Depot hit with “at least 44 civil lawsuits” due to data breach – One of the lawsuits, a proposed class-action suit filed in late September in federal court in San Francisco, alleged that Home Depot “failed to properly encrypt its customers’ data in violation of the [Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard].” That same month, former Home Depot security employees told The New York Times that the company repeatedly ignored warnings and undertook poor security for years.

Amazon expands partnership with Royal Mail, now ships to local Post Offices – Amazon is looking to make waves this holiday season and has expanded its partnership with the Royal Mail to now include over 10,000 post offices as official Amazon PickUp Locations.

Sony betting big on gaming and image sensors for next 3 years – This week Sony suggests that they’ll be redirecting their concentration away from mobile devices and TVs over the next three years, aiming instead at gaming and image sensors. Given their success in selling the PlayStation 4 and surrounding technologies, Sony is ready to go big with their gaming segment. The same is true of image sensors, readying their technology for the next generation of cameras and smart devices of all kinds. It should come as no surprise that Sony would pull back on their Mobile Communications Segment as forecasts there show the only operating income loss amongst all of Sony’s products.

Samsung to speed up restructure by selling defense business – As part of its group-wide restructuring plan to focus on electronics, finance and construction, Samsung is selling its defense and military affiliates for almost $2 billion to South Korean compatriot Hanwha.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft kicks off massive discounts for Xbox One games – Microsoft wants to ‘win’ Black Friday with some massive discounts on games. Titles such as Sunset Overdrive, FIFA 15 and Call of Duty Advanced Warfare have had their prices slashed.

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Nvidia GRID streaming service promises a new PC game every Tuesday – Nvidia now plans to add at least one new game every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The first new arrivals are the cult classic 3D platformer Psychonauts and the third-person shooter Red Faction: Armageddon. Nvidia hasn’t announced an end date for the one game per week initiative, but spokesman Brian Burke told PCWorld that the goal is to eventually have more than 100 streaming games on demand.

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Chromecast snags Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, Comedy Central, and more – Google’s $35 streaming dongle just keeps on getting stronger—though most of the recent additions are of limited usefulness to cord cutters.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Car plug-in tells you what’s wrong, where to get it fixed – Existing connected car dongles might tell you about your drive stats and provide feedback on making you a better motorist, but driving is a team effort. Your car has to perform, and when it starts to tell you it’s not ready to go, frustration and a touch of panic set in. What does the “check engine” light mean? Why is it making that weird noise? Mechanic Advisor, a site with a network of automotive repair shops, will soon be jumping into the connected car game with their own plug-in dongle.

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This is Google’s massive Android billboard in Times Square – After signing a long-term deal with Vornado Realty Trust reportedly worth millions, the company began advertising on the biggest billboard in New York City’s Times Square — over 20 million pixels big. The Mitsubishi Electric screen occupies the entire block of Broadway that lies between 45th and 46th street, and even wraps about another 30 feet around each corner. Its true resolution is 2,368 x 10,048, and it measures over 77 feet tall by 323 feet long. It will reportedly be under Google’s control until the end of January 2015.

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Brio smart outlet only turns on when you need it – Electrical outlets pose different sorts of threats, most notably being to small children who poke objects inside them out of curiosity. The go-to method for avoiding this unfortunate scenario is using plastic outlet plugs that block the ports, but that’s not always effective. A California company called Brio has addressed this issue with a smart outlet likewise called “Brio” that only goes live when a valid object is plugged into it. In doing so, the company hopes to mitigate the typical hazards associated with outlets.

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I let a bone-conduction pillow sing me to sleep – The DreamPad uses bone-conduction technology to transmit audio to the user while keeping the volume to a minimum for that person’s bed buddy. It’s aimed at both children and adults who have trouble falling asleep. You can pump sound in from any device that uses a regular audio mini jack. I hooked my test pillow up to my iPad 2 and queued up some classic Bruce Springsteen for an initial test drive. Not surprisingly, my regular cache of MP3s sounded quite a bit different coming from the innards of a bone-conduction pillow.

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Something to think about:

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.”

–       Christopher Morley

Today’s Free Downloads:

HDClone Free Edition -HDClone copies the content of hard disks on a physical level from one disk to another hard disk. Depending on the sizes of the hard disks, a complete or abridged image of the source disk will be created.

Free Edition:

The Free Edition of HDClone offers all necessary abilities to copy a complete hard disk onto another, larger hard disk. This can be utilized to migrate an existing installation to a new hard disk as well as for data rescue.

The Free Edition is real freeware without obligation to buy and is intended for the short-term usage at no cost. But in case of more frequent usage, we recommend using one of the higher editions since they offer higher performance in the first line but also support a wider range of hardware as well as additional options which are optimized for regular or professional usage.

HDClone Free Edition supports IDE/ATA and SATA/eSATA hard disks and is able to copy up to 300 MB/min.

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CCleaner Standard – CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. This is the standard installer with uninstaller. CCleaner Portable and CCleaner Slim are also available.

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. Install, uninstall and toolbar included.

Cleans the following:

Internet Explorer

Temporary files, history, cookies, Autocomplete form history, index.dat.

Firefox

Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.

Google Chrome

Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.

Opera

Temporary files, history, cookies.

Safari

Temporary files, history, cookies, form history.

Windows

Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files and Log files.

Registry Cleaner

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more… also comes with a comprehensive backup feature.

Third-party applications

Removes temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Media Player, eMule, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New Snowden docs: GCHQ’s ties to telco gave spies global surveillance reach – Documents reportedly from the Edward Snowden cache show that in 2009, GCHQ (and by association, the NSA) had access to the traffic on 63 submarine cable links around the globe. The cables listed handle the vast majority of international Internet traffic as well as private network connections between telecommunications providers and corporate data centers.

According to a report in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the telecommunications company Cable & Wireless—now a subsidiary of Vodafone—“actively shaped and provided the most data to GCHQ surveillance programs and received millions of pounds in compensation.”

The relationship was so extensive that a GCHQ employee was assigned to work full time at Cable & Wireless (referred to by the code name “Gerontic” in NSA documents) to manage cable-tap projects in February of 2009. By July of 2009, Cable & Wireless provided access to 29 out of the 63 cables on the list, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the data capacity available to surveillance programs.

60 things European legislators don’t want Canada to learn about air passengers – Here’s one flight delay that European Union citizens might appreciate: The European Parliament has grounded an agreement that would have sent more passenger data winging its way to Canadian law enforcers. And like other flight delays, it could have huge repercussions—in this case for similar data exchange deals with the U.S. and Australia.

Members of the European Parliament voted 383 to 271 to refer the Canadian flight data deal to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for an opinion on whether it is in line with data protection rules enshrined in EU treaties and the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Meet the Guys Who Want to Launch a Catalogue of Canadian Police Abuses – Bad cops might pop up in the media now and again, but two men are looking to create a website that would document every instance of police misconduct in Canada, which they believe has become endemic.

Darryl Davies, a professor of criminology at Carleton University, and Ottawa Life magazine publisher Dan Donovan, have launched a ​Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $75,000 to create and fund http://www.PoliceMisconductCanada.com.

The fundraiser, which began a few weeks ago and runs until January 3, comes in the aftermath of a Quebec police officer getting away with killing a five-year​-old boy in a car crash. He was travelling more than double the posted speed limit and in the midst of a hi​gh-speed surveillance operation.

Similar reporting endeavours exist elsewhere: the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank in the United States, operates the National Police​ Misc​onduct Reporting Project, which curates nasty cop news from around the U.S. and shares it online.

Australia’s data-retention plans look increasingly out of touch – The tide is turning against mass digital surveillance, both politically and commercially, but is Attorney-General Brandis capable of even noticing, let alone changing, course?

Talking to James Risen About Pay Any Price, the War on Terror and Press Freedoms – Jim Risen, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for exposing the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, has long been one of the nation’s most aggressive and adversarial investigative journalists. Over the past several years, he has received at least as much attention for being threatened with prison by the Obama Justice Department (ostensibly) for refusing to reveal the source of one of his stories, a persecution that, in reality, is almost certainly the vindictive by-product of the U.S. Government’s anger over his NSA reporting.

He has published a new book on the War on Terror entitled “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War.” There have been lots of critiques of the War on Terror on its own terms, but Risen’s is one of the first to offer large amounts of original reporting on what is almost certainly the most overlooked aspect of this war: the role corporate profiteering plays in ensuring its endless continuation, and how the beneficiaries use rank fear-mongering to sustain it.

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