Tag Archives: Google Drive

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 10, 2015

Take the time to walk through the new Google Privacy Checkup;  How to make Google Drive more secure;  Install Security, Speed Up Your PC;  Declutter your phone with one of these handy apps;  10 ways to tune up your mobile office;  Two-Factor Authentication: Who Has It and How to Set It Up;  Meerkat live-stream app adds new features;  iOS 9 And OS X El Capitan Are Now Available To All As Public Betas;  Try These Apps and Sites for Selling Your Old Stuff;  Google’s Chromecast gets a hardwired Ethernet adapter;  How to install the iOS 9 public beta;  Adobe Flash exploit that was leaked by Hacking Team goes wild; patch now!  Massive Federal Data Breach Affects 7% of Americans;  Mozilla patches critical bugs in fresh Firefox update;  Windows 10: The end of computing as we know it;  A Social Watchlist App For Finding The Best Movies And Shows on any Service;  Xbox Music app now lets users stream from OneDrive;  Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta hits PS4 August 19th;  Getting by with pre-post-PC devices in a post-PC world;  Microsoft Worldwide Telescope (free);  Tech and politics clash over protecting your data.

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Take the time to walk through the new Google Privacy Checkup – Google has finally introduced a user-friendly means of taking control of account privacy. Jack Wallen thinks the Google Privacy Checkup should go a long way to ease the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt surrounding the juggernaut.

Install Security, Speed Up Your PC – When activities on your PC seem to bog down, do you blame your security suite? Maybe it’s spending too much time scanning files in the background, or sucking up bandwidth exchanging details with its cloud database? Well, maybe you should think again. A new report from AV-Comparatives indicates that installing security can actually speed up your computer’s operation.

How to make Google Drive more secure – If you have a Gmail account, you have 15GB of free cloud storage from Google. It’s pretty handy, because it works across a variety of devices, and desktop users can create a special folder on their computer and drop files into it, and that folder syncs with your Drive account as fast as the file can be sent to the cloud. Of course, convenience isn’t the only concern for cloud backup services, as we explained recently in our review roundup. Our cloud of choice is SOS Online Backup. But because you may have good reasons for sticking with Google Drive, we’ve come up with a few things you can do to tighten its security.

Declutter your phone with one of these handy apps – Like PCs, smartphones can accumulate a lot of clutter in the form of duplicate pictures, temporary files, and unused applications. All this clutter can rob your phone of performance and decrease available storage space. Fortunately, a number of utilities can help you to cut through some of the mess.

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Meerkat live-stream app adds new features, including a new co-host mode – Live streaming video app Meerkat announced two new features designed to bring streamers and viewers a little closer together, including a way for people to jump into streams and a way to store a library of recordings. Meerkat said its new “Cameo” feature will allow stream viewers, once approved by the main broadcaster, to take over a stream and broadcast themselves for up to 60 seconds. The company will also now automatically save and store streams when people finish broadcasting. The library is private, but saved streams can be made publicly available.

Tips to get the most out of Wi-Fi on a train – The author’s local commuter rail offers free Wi-Fi service for riders. Find out how it works and what to expect from similar scenarios.

Try These Apps and Sites for Selling Your Old Stuff – Depending upon what you’re trying to sell, some services are better than others. We scoured online markets big and small, looking for the best ways to help you unload anything from your fridge to your Fendi bag.

Facebook makes it easier to hide annoying posts from friends – Facebook has updated its controls to let users prioritize posts from friends and pages while making it easier to unfollow those whose posts aren’t relevant or interesting enough.

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Pinterest users can now log into other apps with their Pinterest account – Frequent users of social networks know that often you can log into apps and other websites using your credentials from some of the biggest social networks like Facebook. Pinterest has announced that users of its site can now log into other apps with their Pinterest accounts and by doing so users get new ways to pin images to Pinterest to share.

iOS 9 And OS X El Capitan Are Now Available To All As Public Betas – The iOS 9 beta build will allow early adopters to try out upcoming features, including new apps like News and a refreshed Notes, transit directions in Apple Maps, an improved Siri, a smarter search which lets you surface results from inside apps, and much more. Meanwhile, El Capitan offers a variety of improvements to core features like Mission Control, Spotlight, native apps, including Safari, Mail, Maps, Photos, plus performance improvements, and other items.

How to install the iOS 9 public beta – First things first: Yes, Apple has released iOS 9 as a public beta, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready for everyday use. In fact, I’d suggest you stay away if you don’t like troubleshooting issues. And even after you’ve attempted to fix the issue, there are times when you simply have to live with an app not working or a feature you used to rely on crashing your device. It’s a beta for a reason. OK, with that out of the way, you want to test out Apple’s latest and greatest mobile operating system? Good. The more the merrier, as they say.

Windows 10 SDK Preview build 10166 now available – A new build of the Windows 10 SDK Preview is now available for developers that includes bug fixes, API surface level changes and the latest Windows 10 Mobile emulator.

Android M preview update brings a lot of sweet goodies – Google has just announced the first ever update to its developer preview of Android M, which still has to be christened with a name. Continuing the new tradition it set last year. Google is rolling out limited updates in order to let developers prepare their apps in advance as well as report bugs. And while Google is only officially sharing some of the juicy tidbits that are relevant to developers, the update also so has some hidden treasures for end users waiting to be discovered.

Room.me Wants To Prevent You From Getting Stuck With Horrible Roommates – Room.me works by matching potential roommates up with different personality types based on a the kinds of quizzes dating sites use, but tailored to a preferred living situation. It asks the usual questions like if you care if other roommates smoke or have sleepovers with partners a lot, but also things such as if you are a night owl or a morning person and if you prefer living with another night owl, or if you’d rather have a roommate that is a morning person. It also asks if you are looking for new best friends or would rather others stay out of your way – all things that can make a tremendous impact on who you match up with.

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Google’s Chromecast gets a hardwired Ethernet adapter – Google just started selling a cool little accessory for Chromecast owners with Wi-Fi woes, though: a hardwired ethernet adapter for the Chromecast. The accessory is a power brick that plugs into the Chromecast’s USB port, and—in addition to providing power—embedded in the brick is a full-sized Ethernet port. Just plug in and you can forget about ever having to push bits over Wi-Fi again. The adapter is $15 on the Google Store, and it supports up to 100Mbps.

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Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers – There are dozens of smaller distros that specialize in lightweight desktops that do the basics – manage windows, and offer file browsers, launchers and sometimes a menu bar of some sort – but otherwise stay out of the way. The point, after all, is the applications. Why waste RAM running a fancy desktop when all you want to do in interact with the apps you’re running? If you have the RAM to spare, well, sure, why not? But not all of us do.

Solar Paper is a paper-thin solar charger – Small solar chargers for your gadgets are nothing new, but the most modern batches are only vaguely similar to the first chargers on the market. Solar Paper is perhaps the best example of this — it is a solar charger ranging from 2.5 watts to 10 watts, and it is thin enough to slip between the pages of a book, hence its name. The charger features a USB port for charging USB devices, and is scarcely larger than a dollar bill. If the Solar Paper catches your fancy, you can back it on Kickstarter where its maker were hoping to raise $50,000 USD (they’ve since exceeded the $97,000 mark). A $69 pledge will get backers a 5W Solar Paper charger, while $99 will get a 7.5W unit, $129 will get a 10W unit, and higher amounts will get different bundle packs. Shipping to backers is estimated to start in September.

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10 ways to tune up your mobile office – If you’re an on-the-go IT pro, your mobile office could be slowing you down. Here are 10 simple tips to help make your workday more efficient.

Six cool accessories for mobile professionals from $20 – From a portable projector to a better gear bag, these six handy accessories can make help your business trips go more smoothly.

T-Mobile offers free calling and data services in Canada and Mexico – T-Mobile today announced a new feature of its Simple Choice wireless plans that adds free roaming services in Canada and Mexico. The new feature, which will be available to all T-Mobile Simple Choice customers starting on Wednesday, July 15th, includes free calling and texting services to and from Mexico and Canada, as well as 4G LTE data service in both countries at no additional charge. The new services for travelers to Mexico and Canada are an expansion of T-Mobile’s free international data roaming that was introduced in 2013.

Two-Factor Authentication: Who Has It and How to Set It Up – By sheer brute force or simple phishing, passwords are, to be honest, a pretty laughable way of authenticating who you are (or aren’t, as the case may be). What you really need is a second factor of authentication. And that’s why many Internet services, a number of which have felt the pinch of being hacked, have embraced two-factor authentication for their users. It’s sometimes called 2FA, or used interchangeably with the terms “two-step” and “verification” depending on the marketing. But what is it?

Security:

Adobe Flash exploit that was leaked by Hacking Team goes wild; patch now! – With the exploit folded into exploit kits that are available on the Internet, users who rely on Flash should install the update immediately (don’t forget to uncheck the boxes Adobe shamelessly checks by default to promote crapware). Readers may also want to experiment with uninstalling Flash altogether. If the results are acceptable, that’s a more secure alternative since it drastically reduces attack surface.

Mozilla patches critical bugs in fresh Firefox update – Mozilla has issued a new Firefox browser update with fixes for four critical vulnerabilities and a number of less severe issues. In Firefox 39, a total of four critical vulnerabilities, two high-level flaws and six moderate bugs have been patched among a total of 13 fixes. According to the Mozilla security advisory, security issues relate to use-after-free vulnerabilities, poor validation processes, buffer overflow problems and a variety of memory problems.

Trackbuster Lets You Remove Those Pesky Email Tracking Beacons – Trackbuster is a nifty little tool that could be useful if you’re paranoid about your privacy. Launching today, this service will analyze your incoming emails in Gmail, identify those that have invisible trackers and remove these trackers. It works with Gmail and it’s not perfect yet, but I can see why someone would use it.

After second hack, OPM confirms more than 22 million affected – The federal agency in charge of vetting government workers for security clearance has been hit by a second breach, leading to the theft of more than 21 million individuals’ records. The figure confirmed Thursday by the Office of Personnel Management includes a portion of the 4.2 million records — including Social Security numbers — compromised in an earlier breach reported last month. The total figure now stands at about 22.1 million individuals affected by the two cyberattacks.

Massive Federal Data Breach Affects 7% of Americans – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday that a massive data breach—one that targeted its security clearance system—compromised the sensitive information of 21.5 million people, including social security numbers for current and former federal workers, contractors, friends, and families, the agency said. As many as 19.5 million of those people had applied for security clearances.

Hacking Team claims terrorists can now use its tools – Hacking Team warned that a devastating data breach it suffered will allow its spying tools to be used by criminals and terrorists. The company’s claim, however, is worth questioning as it isn’t clear why someone would attempt to use software that’s been under extremely close scrutiny in recent days. Hacking Team somewhat undermined its claim as well. Rabe wrote that “we expect too that antivirus companies are upgrading their programs to detect the compromised RCS.”

Company News:

Barnes and Noble nixing Nook store for users outside US and UK – After some troubling signs, Barnes and Noble has made it official: it’s going to be dropping many of its customers, namely those living outside of the United States and the United Kingdom. This concerns the Nook aspect of Barnes and Nobles’ business, and will be taking place early next month. It’s a somewhat surprising move, given that Barnes and Noble previously offered the Nook in 40 countries including most of Europe, Australia, and Canada. Now only those located in the US and the UK will get access beyond August 7.

PC Market Slips 11.8 Percent In Q2 But Apple Keeps Picking Up Steam – According to IDC, the global PC market’s unit volume slipped 11.8 percent in the second quarter of 2015, a slightly larger-than-expected dip. As the company notes, the size of the decline reflects a strong second quarter in the year-ago period, when the death of Windows XP bolstered sales of new machines. Apple performed well in the quarter, seeing its market share rise to a global 7.8 percent, up from 5.9 percent the year before. Of all major PC OEMs, only Apple managed to grow its unit sales in the quarter. That fact mirrors TechCrunch’s prior reporting on Apple’s current PC business. For the rest, it was rough. Here’s the chart:

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IBM reveals first 7nm chips – Moore’s law has spurred improvements in processor architecture for years and Big Blue has just taken the next step, by creating working copies of 7nm transistors. IBM, last year, pledged $3 billion in funding for research into improvements in silicon design and it seems that their investment has paid off. While Intel, Samsung, Nvidia and other manufacturers are just now starting to move from the 28nm processes to 14nm transistors, IBM already has working prototypes of 7nm chips.

IBM inks $180 million cloud deal with energy company Columbia Pipeline – IBM has inked a $180 million cloud deal with Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG). Based in Houston, Texas, the energy company operates roughly 15,000 miles of natural gas pipelines across North America. As part of the deal, IBM will move CPG’s entire IT infrastructure and business applications into a private cloud in IBM’s Columbus, Ohio data center. IBM will manage the infrastructure — which includes human resources, billing and finance, and pipeline operations — for a minimum of five years.

Avast acquires mobile virtualization firm Remotium – Avast has acquired Remotium in a deal aimed at boosting BYOD security in the enterprise. Announced on Wednesday, security firm Avast said virtual enterprise mobility company Remotium’s solutions assist the enterprise to implement bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies more securely and effectively, and therefore can be considered a valuable addition to Avast’s mobile security portfolio.

Judge tosses jury’s $533M patent verdict against Apple, orders new trial – A $533 million jury verdict that would have been the largest ever for a “patent assertion entity” has been struck down four months after a jury granted it. US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who oversaw the case against Apple, has ruled (PDF) that the damages verdict must be thrown out because of a faulty instruction to the jury. He has ordered a new trial to be held solely on the issue of damages.

With $10M In New Funding, Lendingkart Helps Small Businesses In India Get Loans – Since launching a year ago, Lendingkart has processed loans from 50 cities and 17 states across India. It will use its new capital to expand into all towns and cities in India, improve its credit scoring technology, and hire more employees. The startup is similar to LendingClub in that it allows businesses to apply for loans online, bypassing banks and other traditional finance institutions. Co-founder and chief executive officer Harshvardhan Lunia explains that Lendingkart’s algorithms use 1,500 data points to score credit application. The site claims that its application process takes just 15 minutes, with most loans approved in a few hours and disbursed within three working days.

BlackBerry and Google team up to make Android business-friendly – BlackBerry has announced a new partnership with Google to develop new enterprise security standards for Android and improved device management tools for businesses.

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Uber Files Opposition To Case That Could Make All Drivers Employees Instead Of Independent Contractors – Uber filed a briefing in court today that opposes a class-action lawsuit attempting to label drivers as Uber employees instead of as independent contractors. Drivers in both Lyft and Uber also filed class-action lawsuits in March alleging both ride hailing companies had misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees. And both claim that Uber and Lyft were depriving them of certain rights and benefits. Uber refutes the claim that drivers should be employees and says the lawsuit does not reflect the desires of most of its drivers to remain independent.

Logitech to rebrand as “Logi,” dropping “tech” from its name – Speaking at the launch event, Logitech company representatives explained that the “Logi” brand will be used for “future-facing stuff,” and consumers will soon see it begin to appear in striking colors on new Logitech products, especially in the “Internet of Things” categories (which in this context realistically means small connected devices). The full “Logitech” branding will continue to stick around for more established legacy products, like keyboards and mice.

Games and Entertainment:

Legit Debuts A Social Watchlist App For Finding The Best Movies And Shows On Any Service – Today, an app called Legit is launching with hopes of becoming the go-to watchlist for finding any movie or TV show across service, streaming or otherwise. It even helps you figure out if movies are worth seeing in the theaters, or if you can wait for the digital release. Currently, Legit focuses on content that can be found on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or iTunes, as well as in theaters. At first launch, the app asks you about favorite genres, movies, and the platforms you use, in order to customize the experience. You can then dive into Legit to find things to add to your watchlist, track friends’ ratings, and more. You can even quickly poll friends about their likes on the app or on its Apple Watch counterpart.

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Xbox Music app now lets users stream from OneDrive – The soon to be re-branded Xbox Music apps for iOS and Android have received a big update from Microsoft this week. The main new feature allows users to stream songs they’ve stored on OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service. This has already been available to those who use Xbox Music on Windows since earlier this year, but now it’s available to mobile users for the first time.

Survey: Most people don’t care about the sex of a game’s protagonist – It’s a common stereotype that boys like games where sexy images of women are present. However, a survey has revealed that most gamers don’t care about the sex of the protagonist.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta hits PS4 August 19th – The latest entry in gaming’s biggest FPS franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, will soon be upon us, and these days that can only mean one thing: a multiplayer beta test to get fans pumped up. Call of Duty players won’t be disappointed, as developer Treyarch has just announced the beta will be available for PlayStation 4 on August 19th. Keep in mind that date is only for players on the PS4, as a beta will be available on Xbox One and other platforms, but just at a later date.

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Paramount movies get in-home streaming just 17 days after theatrical release – To get this done, Paramount struck up a deal with the US’s second largest chain, AMC Theaters, and the Canadian giant Cineplex by offering a percentage of digital rental sales to the theater owners up to 90 days after the movie debuts in movie houses. AMC and Cineplex were reportedly the first two outlets Paramount went to, but now that they’re on board, the studio is seeing if other chains want to get in on the action.

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10 Hidden Roku Tricks for Streaming Success – Whether you just got a Roku or you’ve had one for years, there’s more to know beyond the basics of watching Netflix and catching up with “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” on Crackle. We’ve put together 10 ways for you to get more out of your Roku.

GOG.com’s old-school PC games will be ready for Windows 10 – The entire existence of GOG.com (and DOSBox, et cetera) is predicated on the fact that eventually our computers outgrew—for a number of reasons—some of our most beloved games, from SimCity 2000 to Dungeon Keeper to Syndicate. Which should make today’s news from GOG.com a relief: “Windows 10 is coming on July 29th and we are as ready as can be!”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Windows 10: The end of computing as we know it – IT leaders considering a Windows 10 migration as a cornerstone initiative risk having a focus that is a decade behind. Patrick Gray explains why.

Getting by with pre-post-PC devices in a post-PC world – Even though many three and four-year old devices still work, they’ve reached obsolescence by virtue of the changing nature of computing. Here’s a story every ZDNet reader can identify with. A late-night “please fix my computer” call from a friend.

Just say no to connected cars – Around 5% of new vehicles already include some form of embedded technology inside. But have you thought about the consequences?

Mount Fuji will be a free Wi-Fi zone for 3 months – Imagine reaching the end of an exhilarating but also tiring mountain climb. You reach for your phone to take a selfie or tweet to the world about your accomplishment. But alas, you have no Internet connection. Big problem, right? Well, not if you’re on top of Japan’s highest peak. That’s right, the iconic Mount Fuji is going to have free Wi-Fi hotspots, eight of them, in fact, and they are being placed exactly so that you can share to the world your wonderful hiking experience.

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Solocam Is A Selfie Stick That Isn’t Completely Insufferable – Solocam is a selfie stick that may actually provide value (bear with me here) by letting journalists shoot video from the field without lugging around an entire camera crew. The device is a selfie stick attached to a high-definition bluetooth microphone, just like the pros use. While the entire setup looks ridiculous, the video it helps create looks surprisingly professional. The device also comes with an app for your mobile device which lets you record while using features like a teleprompter or special effects. The camera is set at an angle to avoid the dreaded flesh beard under all of our chins. The most basic version will set you back $50, while the pro is selling for $149.

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Read the first chapter of Harper Lee’s first book since To Kill A Mockingbird – It’s been a long, 55-year wait, but Harper Lee, the author of the seminal To Kill A Mockingbird, is about to release her second book. Go Set A Watchman is out on July 14th, and courtesy of The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, you can read the first chapter now. The book follows Scout, the protagonist of To Kill A Mockingbird, now grown up and traveling from New York to Alabama to visit her sick father. The chapter joins Scout on a train traveling south.

Something to think about:

“The problem is humans can’t keep up with all the technology they have created. It’s becoming unmanageable by the human brain. Our best hope may be that computers eventually will become smart enough to maintain themselves.”

–      Avivah Litananalyst at Gartner

Today’s Free Downloads:

VirtualBox – VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

Features:

Modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a client/server design. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a virtual machine in a typical virtual machine GUI and then control that machine from the command line, or possibly remotely. VirtualBox also comes with a full Software Development Kit: even though it is Open Source Software, you don’t have to hack the source to write a new interface for VirtualBox.

Virtual machine descriptions in XML. The configuration settings of virtual machines are stored entirely in XML and are independent of the local machines. Virtual machine definitions can therefore easily be ported to other computers.

Guest Additions for Windows and Linux. VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows and Linux virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. Among the features provided by these Guest Additions are mouse pointer integration and arbitrary screen solutions (e.g. by resizing the guest window).

Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as “shared folders”, which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.

A number of extra features are available with the full VirtualBox release only.

Virtual USB Controllers. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device specific drivers on the host.

Remote Desktop Protocol. Unlike any other virtualization software, VirtualBox fully supports the standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A virtual machine can act as an RDP server, allowing you to “run” the virtual machine remotely on some thin client that merely displays the RDP data.

USB over RDP. With this unique feature, a virtual machine that acts as an RDP server can still access arbitrary USB devices that are connected on the RDP client. This way, a powerful server machine can virtualize a lot of thin clients that merely need to display RDP data and have USB devices plugged in.

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Microsoft Worldwide Telescope (WWT) 5.2.9 Beta / 3.1.52 Legacy – The WorldWide Telescope is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes to enable seamless, guided explorations of the universe. WorldWide Telescope, created with Microsoft’s high-performance Visual Experience Engine, enables seamless panning and zooming across the night sky blending terabytes of images, data and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-rich, immersive experience. The WorldWide Telescope experience scales from a web browser all the way to multi-channel full dome in some of the world’s most advanced planetariums.

You can research and import your own data and visualize it, then create a tour to share with others.

Features:

Navigate seamlessly through 3D spherical environments: the Sky, Planets and our Solar System

Access to hundreds of terabytes of sky, earth and planet data

View, create, and edit guided tours

Experience the 3D Solar System view with moon orbits, asteroids, and more

Access billions of objects in a web-based astronomical catalog

Use touch controls for touch-screen navigation

Travel 2,000 years forwards and backwards in time

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech and politics clash over protecting your data – How far can government surveillance reach, and how protective are we allowed to be of our personal communications? On Wednesday, the director of the FBI said he thinks the government should be able extend its powers and break tools that keep information private.

It used to be that Internet and phone communications were easy to intercept, hack and read. That was before Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, revealed information showing the US government has been snooping on citizens far more than most of us expected. Now tech companies are fighting back.

Their weapon: encryption, or technology that disguises communications and files so that only the intended recipient can read them.

It’s quickly becoming the standard way people communicate. Apple’s iMessage text message program uses encryption, as does Facebook’s WhatsApp. Google, Yahoo and a bunch of other tech companies have begun scrambling information being sent between their servers, all with the goal of keeping prying eyes from seeing what’s going on inside.

Surprise: The US and UK governments don’t like it, and are trying to stop the practice from becoming pervasive. FBI Director James Comey told a committee of US senators on Wednesday that encryption could be a godsend to criminals and terrorists.

This is the most outrageous government tirade against iOS 8 encryption – Following the leaks by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden that began in the summer of 2013, encryption and encryption backdoors have become hot-button topics of discussion.

That’s because many companies, including Apple and Google, have been going out of their way to encrypt products after the public learned that the US had embarked on a massive, legally and morally suspect electronic spying operation against its own citizenry and the global community at large. Fearing encryption is undermining their surveillance capabilities, government officials from the US and across the pond in the UK have been increasingly decrying encryption or at least demanding a government-accessible backdoor to unlock said encryption.

FBI Director James Comey complained to a Senate panel that companies, like Apple, are building products in which the keys necessary to decrypt communications and electronic devices are being left “solely in the hands of the end user.” In a joint statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey and a Justice Department official essentially told lawmakers that we’re all doomed unless companies bake encryption backdoors into their products to allow for lawful access by the government. Comey said the problems backdoor-less encryption presents to law enforcement “are grave, growing, and extremely complex.”

FBI chief tells Senate committee we’re doomed without crypto backdoors – James Comey, the director of the FBI, told a Senate committee Wednesday that the government should have the right to lawfully access any device or electronic form of communication with a lawful court order, even if it is encrypted.

Comey and another Justice Department official briefed the Senate Judiciary Committee and complained that keys necessary to decrypt communications and electronic devices often reside “solely in the hands of the end user”—which they said is emblematic of the so-called “Going Dark problem.” Companies should bake encryption backdoors into their products to allow lawful access, they said.

“We are not asking to expand the government’s surveillance authority, but rather we are asking to ensure that we can continue to obtain electronic information and evidence pursuant to the legal authority that Congress has provided to us to keep America safe,” read the joint prepared remarks (PDF) of Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. “Mr. Chairman, the Department of Justice believes that the challenges posed by the Going Dark problem are grave, growing, and extremely complex.”

Canadian Senators Want to Target Radicalization by Training and Certifying Imams – Canada’s senators are calling on the government to ramp up its efforts to thwart terrorism and radicalization by getting involved with the training and certification of imams in the country.

In a new report on security threats facing Canada released Wednesday, the Standing Committee on National Security and Defense offers the federal government 25 recommendations on how it can better deal with terrorist threats.

“The committee heard testimony from members of the Muslim community and others that some foreign-trained imams have been spreading extremist religious ideology and messages that are not in keeping with Canadian values,” the report says.

It urges the government to “work with the provinces and the Muslim communities to investigate the options that are available for the training and certification of imams in Canada,” but doesn’t say whether the government should carry out the training process.

Pointing up   Another hair-brained attempt by the Stephen Harper “boys in short pants brigade” to challenge the Constitution and Canadian Bill of Rights. Current challenge score –

The Constitution – 8

The Harper troglodytes – 1

ASIO, NT Police, NSW Police named in Hacking Team emails – The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was allegedly interested in using products from surveillance software company Hacking Team as recently as November last year, according to emails leaked from the Milan-based company.

Hackers on Monday uploaded a 400GB torrent file containing the sensitive documents, tweeted a link to the file using Hacking Team’s own Twitter account, and also posted screenshots of internal company emails and secret deals with governments around the world.

Early assessments of the company’s receipts and client lists only linked Hacking Team to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). However, on Thursday, WikiLeaks made Hacking Team’s entire email archive searchable, revealing a number of other links to Australian government organisations.

One email from Hacking Team’s Singapore salesperson representing the company in the Asia-Pacific region, Daniel Maglietta, said Canberra-based surveillance firm Criterion Solutions was interested in products from Hacking Team for ASIO as recently as in November last year.

How to take over the accounts of UK politicians using public Wi-Fi hacks – An experiment using public Wi-Fi networks to break into accounts belonging to UK politicians has highlighted a distinct lack of understanding basic security principles.

In the UK, the new currently budget dominates the news, but last week, comments made by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron caused uproar in the technology space. We know the US and UK have a fondness for surveillance and collecting data en masse, but following Edward Snowden’s leaks to the media concerning government spying programs, tech firms began ramping up encryption efforts to make spying more difficult.

This has not sat well with the PM. Cameron, following in the steps of the US FBI director James Comey, wants to ban strong encryption to “ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate.”

In other words, encryption protocols which would force officers of the law to go directly to a device owner instead of companies to demand data are not a popular idea for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Security professionals slammed the demand as outrageous and portraying a lack of basic understanding of how security works.

The results of a recent test conducted by F-Secure suggest this lack of training and understanding trickles down the parliamentary chain.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – May 22, 2015

NSA planned Google Play hack to target Android smartphones;  14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure;  How to prevent mobile malware in 3 easy steps;  How to restart your Android phone into safe mode;  The 20 best Android apps for kids;  Five precautions for avoiding malware when you download and install software;  30 Google Drive Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss;  Mileage trackers made easy;  The Best Free Antivirus for 2015;  9 malware defenders;  Your Secret Questions Are Just as Terrible As Your Passwords;  Google Will Retool Its Maps Service To Prevent Racist Listings;   The 20 best free Android games to play right now;  Ransomware rescue kit released to combat criminal enterprise;   Microsoft, Facebook, Google And The Future Of Voice Communications.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

NSA planned Google Play hack to target Android smartphones – The project, first published Wednesday by CBC News and The Intercept, sought to exploit the smartphone operating system for surveillance. Dubbed “Irritant Horn” by the NSA, the agency planned to hack and hijack the connections to app stores and direct users to spyware. That spyware would collect data and send it back to the NSA without the user noticing. The newly-released document shows how the NSA and its partner agencies in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, wanted to launch man-in-the-middle attacks, a process of tapping into the connection between a user and a server, to install the spyware implant.

14 privacy tools you should use to stay secure – From encrypted instant messengers to secure browsers and operating systems, these privacy-enhancing apps, extensions, and services can protect you both online and offline.

How to prevent mobile malware in 3 easy steps – Most malicious software is found in third-party app stores popular in a few countries that are loaded with pirated versions of software or trojanized applications. While Symantec automatically discovered and analyzed 6.3 million mobile apps in 2014, for example, there are only about 1.5 million apps in the Google Play store and fewer than that in the Apple App Store, according to AppFigures, meaning that two-thirds of applications from other sources make up the majority of data. Paying heed to the data, three simple steps are recommended for North American users.

How to restart your Android phone into safe mode – Safe mode is indispensable when it comes to troubleshooting pesky software problems on your computer. But have you ever wished that a similar feature existed on your Android device? It does, and it’s easy to use: Here’s how to restart your Android phone into safe mode.

The Top Tablets for Your Kids – The iPad is not the only tablet on the market that will appeal to your tech-savvy toddler, tween, or teen. There are a number of Android-based slates that won’t break the bank, Amazon has a kid-focused Kindle Fire, and toy manufacturers are turning their attention toward rugged tablets that can withstand a few drops, crashes, or throws. If the child in your life has been begging for a tablet, or keeps stealing yours, check out our list of the top tablets you should consider.

Learn by doing and exploring with the 20 best Android apps for kids – Whether it’s after school hours or during those long holidays, handing your child a phone or tablet doesn’t have to mean they’re frying their brain through dreaded “screen time.” Instead these educational apps and games show that they can investigate new concepts, practice math, and play games that will sharpen their skills. So check out our roundup of the 20 best selections for kids to get your child hooked on apps that will help them get excited about learning and develop those imperative problem-solving skills.

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Mileage trackers made easy – Tracking mileage can be tedious–but it’s also necessary, whether you need to report it to the IRS or file for reimbursement from your employer. And if your system involves scribbling odometer readings and meeting names on scraps of paper, I have good news for you: There’s an easier way. Here are three apps that make tracking and reporting your miles a whole lot easier.

Adblock Plus’ new Firefox-based browser eradicates ads on Android devices – ABP announced the new effort on Wednesday with an open beta that anyone can join. Unfortunately it’s not exactly a hassle-free process, and at this writing the browser was still awaiting approval from Google before appearing in the Play Store. When it does show up, you can get in on the beta by joining the ABP Browser Google+ community and then click the (at this writing, non-existent) Beta Opt-in button under the About section. The button will appear once Google approves the browser for Play.

30 Google Drive Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss – After almost a decade, Google Drive has come a long way in its own maturity. Anyone with a Google account—the kind you have for Gmail or any other Google service—gets instant instant access to the tools. Businesses, schools, and non-profits have the option of using Google Apps, a version of Google Drive with all the storage and tools, plus integration of Gmail, Calendar, Sites, and more under their own domain name. Drive—one of our Editors’ Choice suites—is a serious set of tools for serious (or fun) work, all entirely free. But it pays to know more than just the basics. That’s why we’ve put together these 30 tips for you on how to get the most out of Google Drive.

4 Gmail Labs features you should be using – To enable any Gmail Lab feature, click the gear icon in the top left of the Gmail pane. Go to Settings > Labs. Scroll down to the feature you want, select the Enable radio button, and click Save Changes. Should you run into trouble using any of these, you can get to your email by going to https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?labs=0, which disables these features so you can reach your inbox. Assuming you’re comfortable being Gmail’s guinea pig, here are four Google Labs features you should experiment with yourself.

Microsoft is rolling out a large update to Outlook.com: Clutter, themes, add-ins and more – Microsoft has announced today a major update to Outlook.com that will bring with it new features designed to improve productivity by delivering a refined inbox, improved collaboration and more.

Debunked: Your SSD won’t lose data if left unplugged after all – If you’re in a panic because the Internet told you that your shiny new SSD may lose data in “just a few days” when stored in a hot room, take a chill pill—it’s apparently all a huge misunderstanding, according to the man who wrote the original presentation all the fear is based on. In a conversation with Kent Smith of Seagate and Alvin Cox, the Seagate engineer who wrote the presentation that set the Internet abuzz, PCWorld was told we’re all just reading it wrong.

Firefox to get more ads via upcoming ‘Suggested Tiles’ – Firefox’s previous introduction of in-tab advertisements didn’t go over well with many users, but the outcry apparently wasn’t high enough to reverse things. Today Mozilla announced “Suggested Tiles”, which are advertisements that appear as tiles inside of a new tab. It differs a bit from the previous Directory Tiles (it is said to be a “complement” to them), and works by presenting content from advertisers that are personalized based on the user’s own activity. It is promised the ads are fully “user controlled”.

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Snapchat starts dabbling with music videos – Snapchat has been slowly but surely expanding its reach, adding in content from various partners in an effort to draw in more users and advertisers. Latest to give the mobile service a shot is Josh Legg, a musician who goes by the name Goldroom. Given that some of his fanbase has started increasingly using Snapchat as a communication medium, he has decided to partner with the messaging service and will release four music videos on it. The first video came out on Tuesday, and the last one is scheduled to be released tomorrow.

Court orders Popcorn Time websites be blocked by Israeli ISPs – With its nickname of “Netflix for pirates,” the app/service Popcorn Time has quickly become popular the world over among, well, internet pirates, and with new features like the ability to watch content in a web browser, media giants and copyright holders are quickly becoming concerned. Following a similar move in the UK last month, media companies in Israel have successfully petitioned a court to order the nation’s internet service providers block all Popcorn Time websites.

Google Will Retool Its Maps Service To Prevent Racist Listings – Google has confirmed that it is making changes to its Google Maps service to stop racist terms and other inappropriate words from displaying location search results. The issue blew up this week after searches for “n*****” or “nigga” were found to pull up the White House and other locations associated with African Americans and other ethnic minorities.

Security:

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – While you certainly get your money’s worth from the premium antivirus software, there are also some very good third-party antivirus tools that don’t cost a thing. We’ve rounded up a collection of totally free antivirus products that should serve you well. Your antivirus should definitely have the ability to root out existing malware, but its ongoing task is to prevent any nasty programs from getting a foothold. All of the antivirus programs in this collection offer real-time protection against malware attack. Some take the fight upstream, working hard to ensure you never even browse to a malware-hosting site.

9 malware defenders – Keeping your computer clean and secure requires more than removing viruses. Many pieces of malicious code are designed to circumvent antivirus protection. These applications can range from minor annoyances like potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) to advertisements (adware) to outright malicious software (malware and spyware) that can cripple your day-to-day usage. We tested some of the latest and greatest antimalware kits that can help you before your PC is compromised. These Windows apps will work in conjunction with your current antivirus software as an additional layer of protection.

Five precautions for avoiding malware when you download and install software – Downloading a program—especially one from an obscure publisher without a positive reputation—is something of a leap of faith. It’s a bit like letting a total stranger into your home. But if you follow these five steps, you should be okay.

Flawed Android factory reset leaves crypto and login keys ripe for picking – The researchers tested the factory reset of 21 Android smartphones that ran versions 2.3.x to 4.3 of the mobile OS and were sold by five manufacturers. All of the phones retained at least some fragments of old data, including contact data stored in the phone app and third-party apps such as Facebook and What’sApp, images and video from the camera, and text-based conversations from SMS and e-mail apps. In 80 percent of phones, the researchers were able to extract the master token Android uses to give access to most Google user data, such as Gmail and Google calendar.

Google, Samsung, and 16 others receive post-password certification – This morning, the plot to kill the password got a little stronger. 18 different companies received an official FIDO certification for 31 different products, ranging from physical devices to login services. They’re the first products to be officially certified under the specification, opening the door for interoperating services down the road. The services aren’t comprehensive enough to do away with passwords entirely, and not all of them have been deployed — but once they are, anyone using the systems will have a robust alternative to simply typing in a string of characters.

Your Secret Questions Are Just as Terrible As Your Passwords – Not only do we use awful passwords, but we can’t even remember the answers to our secret questions, Google finds.

Ransomware rescue kit released to combat criminal enterprise – Often infecting computers through phishing campaigns and malicious links, the malware locks systems and displays a message — often masquerading as police or an intelligence agency — and accuses the victim of illegal activities. The notice demands payment in a certain timeframe in order to provide a key to unlock a system and its files — which may or may not work. In order to combat this kind of criminal enterprise, security professional Jada Cyrus has compiled a rescue kit which is available for free online. Designed to help “streamline the process of responding to ransomware infections,” the ransomware response kit comes with instructions and decryption tools for different strains of ransomware.

Company News:

Uber is One Step Closer to Picking You Up in a Self-driving Car – Uber users are a step closer being chauffeured around town in driverless cars. The ride hailing service has started testing a self-driving car as part of plan to automate rides and eliminate the cost of drivers, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. The test car was recently spotted on the road in Pittsburgh, where Uber has opened a research lab. The car, with “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” emblazoned on the side, had what appeared to be equipment for autonomous navigation affixed to its roof.

HP’s profit slips 21% as services business stumbles – Hewlett-Packard has reported another drop in quarterly revenue and profit, with a notable 16% slide in its enterprise services business. The company said it’s on track to divide itself into two companies later this year, but made a last-minute change to its leadership plans: CFO Cathie Lesjak will move to HP Inc., the division that will sell PCs and printers, and not to HP Enterprise, as originally planned. HP has been trying to expand its business for a few years without success, and the split is a bold gambit to see if can perform better as two companies. Revenue slipped 7% in the quarter ended April 30, to $25.5 billion — its 15th straight quarter of declining sales.

Lenovo Q4: Revenue boost rides on record PC sales – Lenovo has taken a financial hit in Q4 FY2014/2015, but the firm’s fourth quarter financial report does show increased revenue and sales figures. The Chinese PC maker reported on Thursday Q4 net income of $100 million with earnings of $0.91 cents per share, falling 37 percent from $253 million in the third quarter of FY2014/2015 due to the closure of acquisitions as well as currency fluctuations. ( statement)

Report: Google prepping Android-based ‘Internet of Things’ operating system – The Information reports that Google is building an Android-powered operating system code-named Brillo that will run on low-powered devices with as little as 32 MB of RAM. Also, no screen would be required to run the software. By comparison, the typical Android smartphone has at least 512 MB of memory. The report says the operating system is the work of Google’s Android team, so it will carry some type of Android branding. It also could connect into Google’s Nest thermostats, which have demonstrated the capability to connect to Android Wear and Google Now.

Tech IPO Scorecard: Shopify Skyrockets 51%, While Baozun Rises A Slimmer 4.6% – Two tech companies went public today, both posting first-day gains. The Canadian Shopify popped a massive 51 percent, while Baozun picked up a slimmer 4.6 percent. While seeing your share price appreciate on your IPO day is always welcome, Baozun had to work harder to get its pop than Shopify.

Games and Entertainment:

The 20 best free Android games to play right now – Most new games that launch on the Play Store tend to be free, but too many feel like business models disguised as entertainment. Luckily, not every free game is like that. In fact, some of them are pretty excellent. Sure, some of these games have ads or opportunities to spend money, but those small annoyances are easily outweighed by great fun and long-lasting amusement. Looking for some worthwhile games to play that don’t cost anything and won’t lose steam after a few early minutes of fun? Here are 20 worth downloading right away.

The Witcher 3 gets a graphics-boosting PC patch as furor erupts over visual quality – One of the ugliest bits about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s launch has been the ongoing controversy about the “graphics downgrade” on PC. If you’re not familiar, Kirk Hamilton’s written a pretty excellent summary at Kotaku. Basically, in-game Witcher 3 doesn’t look quite up to snuff compared to a 2013 early gameplay trailer for The Witcher 3—and some argue it doesn’t even look as good as The Witcher 2 at times. The Witcher 3 isn’t exactly the graphics card-punishing beast we all expected (unless you activate Nvidia’s HairWorks option with an AMD Radeon graphics card, that is). To that end, CD Projekt released a patch today that should clear up some of your woes. Maybe. Here’s the full list of changes, most of them related to graphics and performance:

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YouTube launches 60fps live streaming in quest to take on Twitch – While the 60fps streaming isn’t just for gaming content, YouTube notes that it will mean “silky smooth playback for gaming and other fast-action videos.” The feature is available now as an “early preview,” and will work in any browser that supports HTML5. “We’ll also make your stream available in 30fps on devices where high frame rate viewing is not yet available,” the company explains, “while we work to expand support in the coming weeks.”

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Meet the new QuizUp, an addicting trivia game and social network – QuizUp is one of those games you can play for hours before realizing that you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole and can’t escape. It’s about to get worse: The popular trivia game just relaunched with a social networking facet that’s more Reddit than Facebook. QuizUp, which launched about 18 months ago and has racked up 33 million users, also rolled out a desktop version of the game and a refreshed design on Thursday. But it’s the social features that Plain Vanilla CEO Thor Fridriksson believes will set his game apart from other addicting trivia apps (cough, Trivia Crack, cough).

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Windows 10 headed to Xbox One after the summer – Microsoft plans to put Windows 10 on everything from PCs to smartphones and tablets. That Windows 10 love will spill over to your Xbox One gaming console as well getting just about every hardware device Microsoft fiddles with into the Windows 10 love fest. If you are looking forward to trying out Windows 10 on your Xbox One exactly when it will land for the game console is a bit clearer now after some details were offered from Phil Spencer.

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Hauppauge’s Xbox One TV tuner is now available in the US and Canada – The Xbox One has long been what some have considered a robust entertainment machine. Today, Hauppauge’s OTA TV tuner is getting a general release for those in the U.S. and Canada. The Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for the Xbox One is now available for $59.99 via Amazon and the Microsoft Store. For those interested in an antenna, Microsoft is also offering the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner plus a Mohu Leaf 50 antenna for $99.99 for a limited time.

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BBC’s Grand Theft Auto movie earns it a lawsuit – In case you hadn’t heard, the BBC is working on a Grand Theft Auto movie and it, by all accounts, is progressing nicely. Or was up until the moment Rockstar Games slapped the BBC with a lawsuit. The lawsuit was recently filed against the BBC by Take-Two Interactive, which is Rockstar Games’ parent company. The reasons revolve around trademark infringement, and according to a statement Take-Two tried to work things out with the BBC before resorting to the legal route. Apparently the talks did not go well.

Off Topic (Sort of):

An unapologetic history of plane hacking: Beyond the hype and hysteria – Controversy over a security researcher’s alleged hacking into a plane’s engine mid-flight raises serious questions as to why years of public research on airline hacking has gone ignored.

Caffeine may help men wake up in more ways than one (wink, wink) – Science can’t seem to make its mind up whether caffeine is good or bad for us. One week, we might get a study saying caffeine is more likely to cause aliens to plant their spawn in our chest cavities, and the next, we might get another saying the stuff can give us the ability to fly and walk through walls. Recently, caffeine got another line of chalk in the win column, thanks to a study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Researchers there found that men who drink approximately two to three cups of coffee a day may have a lower risk of erectile dysfunction.

Bin Laden Might Have Trained Terrorists With a Video Game – The SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden recovered video game-related books from the Al Qaeda leader’s bunker, according to documents released Wednesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But was bin Laden just a gaming enthusiast or was he using the material to train terrorists?

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Microsoft, Facebook, Google And The Future Of Voice Communications – All of a sudden, it seems like Facebook, Google and Apple are climbing all over each other to own the voice interaction, and specifically, the phone conversation. They’re in a race to compete in the most valuable part of “social” — as if they’ve forgotten, until now, just how much humans ultimately value one-on-one conversation.

This week’s YouTube hit: How to scare a charging bear – Technically Incorrect: On a snowy trail in the woods, a bear meets a Swedish man — and apparently meets its match.

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Einstein considered a bigger hero than Jesus, says study – It seems that the biggest hero in the world is Einstein. As Phys.org reports, he’s bigger than Mother Teresa. He’s bigger than Martin Luther King Jr. He’s bigger than Jesus Christ (he came in sixth). Isaac Newton also came in above Jesus. He was fifth. That must make up a little for having a failed Apple product named after him. Thomas Edison came in eighth. Yes, above Abraham Lincoln and Buddha. Could there possibly have been a more positive sign for science? Only if one of the “Mythbusters” presenters had streaked past Jesus. The students who responded to this survey were, on average, 23 years old. They came from 37 countries. They all had quite similar notions of who their heroes were. They had very different notions about their villains.

Tech nostalgia: The top 10 innovations of the 1970s – In the decade of all things “groovy,” modern technology was advancing at lightning speed. Here are the most important innovations of the 1970s.

Something to think about:

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

–       William James

Today’s Free Downloads:

TeamViewer QuickSupport – TeamViewer is the fast, simple and friendly solution for remote access over the Internet – all applications in one single, very affordable module. This is the complete TeamViewer with install and uninstall support.

Desktop sharing has never been easier: With TeamViewer you will be able to connect to the desktop of a partner anywhere on the Internet.

TeamViewer also works in the other direction: Show your own desktop to a partner over the Internet and illustrate your own developed software, presentations or solutions.

Remote Control without Installation – With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote Presentation of Products, Solutions and Services – The second TeamViewer mode allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Show your demos, products and presentations over the Internet within seconds – live from your screen.

NOTE: Free for non-commercial use only.

Features:

Remote Control without Installation: With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote Presentation of Products, Solutions and Services: The second TeamViewer mode allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Show your demos, products and presentations over the Internet within seconds – live from your screen.

File Transfer: TeamViewer comes with integrated file transfer that allows you to copy files and folders from and to a remote partner – which also works behind firewalls

Works behind Firewalls: The major difficulties in using remote control software are firewalls and blocked ports, as well as NAT routing for local IP addresses.

If you use TeamViewer you don’t have to worry about  firewalls:  TeamViewer will find a route to your partner.

Highest Security Standard: TeamViewer is a very secure solution. The commercial TeamViewer versions feature completely secure data channels with key exchange and RC4 session encoding, the same security standard used by https/SSL.

No Installation Required: To install TeamViewer no admin rights are required. Just run the software and off you go…

High Performance: Optimized for connections over LANs AND the Internet, TeamViewer features automatic bandwidth-based quality selection for optimized use on any connection.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New NSA documents reveal plans to deliver malware through the Google Play store – The NSA developed a plan to deliver malware through Google and Samsung app stores, according to newly published documents obtained by Edward Snowden and published by The Intercept. The documents details a program called IRRITANT HORN, which delivers malware by intercepting web traffic to and from mobile application servers. One slide details Samsung’s update protocol, while another pinpoints the Google Play servers in France, used to deliver updates to phones throughout northern Africa.

Once the path to those servers was established, the NSA could intercept traffic before it reached the servers, injecting malware to specific users through a man-in-the-middle attack. The files would appear to come from a trusted app store, but they would really be coming from the NSA. From there, the NSA could deliver tools from its extensive catalog of surveillance programs, including pulling a user’s contact list or reporting their location in near-real-time. Both Samsung and Google employ TLS encryption to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks like this, but cryptographers have been speculating for years that the NSA has found a way to break or circumvent those protections.

U.S. Senate leader to push for vote to renew NSA phone dragnet – The U.S. Senate on Thursday failed to move forward on efforts to extend the section of the Patriot Act that the National Security Agency has used to collect millions of domestic telephone records.

On Thursday, Senators were wrestling with three alternatives: Allow the Patriot Act’s records collection program to expire, extend the program with no new limits or pass a House of Representatives bill that aims to end bulk records collection but allows the NSA to search phone and business records in a more targeted manner.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said late Thursday he will push for a vote by the weekend to extend the Patriot Act’s records collection provisions.

Choose Deutsche Telekom for all your bargain spying needs – An Austrian newspaper has published what it claims is evidence that Deutsche Telekom spied on Vienna for German spooks for the miserly sum of just €6,500 a year.

On Tuesday, Peter Pilz publicly accused Deutsche Telekom of listening in on telephone and internet lines from Vienna, Luxembourg, Prague, Moscow and Ankara and passing the information on to the German national intelligence agency, the BND.

The document, secured by Pilz and published by Kronen Zeitung (known locally as “the Krone”), dates from March 2004. In it, Deutsche Telekom undertakes to pass on information “originating outside the Federal Republic of Germany” to the BND.

Last month, it emerged that the BND was happily turning over the fruits of its labours – including selectors such as IP addresses, emails and mobile phone numbers – to the United States’ National Security Agency.

U.S. proposes tighter export rules for computer security tools – The U.S. Commerce Department has proposed tighter export rules for computer security tools, a potentially controversial revision to an international agreement aimed at controlling weapons technology.

On Wednesday, the department published a proposal in the Federal Register and opened a two-month comment period.

The changes are proposed to the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international agreement reached in 1995 aimed at limiting the spread of “dual-use” technologies that could be used for harm.

Forty-one countries participate in the Wassenaar Arrangement, and lists of controlled items are revised annually.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is proposing requiring a license in order to export certain cybersecurity tools used for penetrating systems and analyzing network communications.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 6, 2014

158 new malware created every minute;  The best secure messaging apps that protect you from surveillance;  Test your Android phone’s performance with these free benchmarking tools;  Users can’t tell Facebook from a scam;  What’s killing your battery? Android’s top 10 performance-sapping apps;  Pro tip: Migrate iPhone data to your new Android device;  Send text messages straight from the desktop;  Amazon Launches Same-Day Delivery In Toronto And Vancouver;  Tinder Might Offer ‘Undo’ Button—for a Price;  Survey Shows Many Home Networks Are Insecure;  Grand Theft Auto V for PC will include a first-person view, 4K resolution;  Bionic Bird: a flying bird controlled with a smartphone;  No, Seriously: Stop Texting and Driving.

158 new malware created EVERY MINUTE – Malware monitors PandaLabs says 227,747 new malware samples are released every day. The findings from its recent survey found 20 million samples were created in the third quarter of 2014. Three quarters of infections were trojans while only 9 percent were viruses and 4 percent worms. The number of trojans rose 13 percent over the last three months, displacing viruses which fell by 10 percent over the same period. The large number of detected malware samples was filled by production line manufacturing kits, rather than dedicated loving handcraft. Zeus Builder, SpyEye and Citadel were three popular kits that allowed inexperienced vxers to craft malware which could then be obfuscated against some malware detection using commercial packers and crypters followed by tests against anti-virus programs.

The best secure messaging apps that protect you from surveillance – If you use Skype, SnapChat, Facebook chat, WhatsApp, or Google off-the-record chat, then it’s time for you to rethink your digital communications strategy and switch to other more secure messaging programs that better protect your privacy. The EFF evaluated 39 messaging products and provided a Secure Messaging Scorecard to show which ones are easy to use yet secure enough to keep the government from snooping on your messages.

Users can’t tell Facebook from a scam – A new whitepaper from Bitdefender examined victims targeted in 850,000 Facebook scams. It turns out Facebook’s user experience makes it easy for scammers to exploit users. In analyzing 850,000 scams spreading in countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Saudi Arabia since October 2012, the researchers found that scammers have infected millions of users with the same tricks over and over again — just repackaged. Bitdefender’s study found out that there’s no such thing as a typical Facebook scam victim — instead, Facebook scams rely on five kinds of user experience clickbait that are products of, and work in concert with, Facebook’s psychological fabric.

What’s killing your battery? Android’s top 10 performance-sapping apps – Is your phone or tablet battery constantly reduced to a sliver of red on the screen? New research has found the worst performance-draining apps on Android devices, and Facebook is the biggest culprit.

Test your Android phone’s performance with these free benchmarking tools – How much do you know about your phone, really? Beyond a name, a price, and vague sense of whether it’s “high end” or not, you’re probably in the dark. Even if you look up the stats, you don’t really know how it performs. The only sure way to know is to run a few benchmarks. This not only gives you an idea of how fast your phone is, but also lets you see how it fares against marketplace rivals or older phones, and can help you troubleshoot problems by comparing against similar phones. Don’t worry, benchmarking your Android phone is easy and cheap. All these tools are free, fun to use, and a few are gorgeous enough to show off to friends.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Who makes the fastest-downloading smartphones in the world? Hint: it’s not Apple – The latest study into which smartphones are the speediest has turned up some surprising winners and losers.

Keep tabs on how often you check your phone with Checky – Just how many times a day do you check your phone? If you aren’t afraid to find out the answer, give Checky a whirl, a free app for iOS and for Android. It may help you curb your habitual phone-checking habits and let you enjoy the rest of the world around you and your electronic device.

Pro tip: Migrate iPhone data to your new Android device – Migrating photos, music, contacts, and calendars from your old iPhone to your new Android device is easy. Jack Wallen explains how.

Tinder Might Offer ‘Undo’ Button—for a Price – Why were you so hasty to swipe left? Why isn’t there any way to undo this grave error? The only option now is to stew in your regret. But soon, that will change. Brace yourself, online daters: Tinder is getting an “undo” button. But the bad news: you’ll have to pay for it.

Chrome’s new Google Drive extension blurs the cloud – Google continues to hammer away at the divide between what lives in the browser and what’s on your computer, releasing a new extension for Chrome that allows files stored in Google Drive to be opened up directly into the relevant app. The plugin effectively further blurs the lines between the cloud and local apps, bypassing the need to first download a copy to your PC or Mac and also making it more likely that you’ll have the latest version stored on Drive too.

Send text messages straight from the desktop with Pushbullet update – Pushbullet performs a ton of useful tasks, connecting your Android phone with your desktop browser to sync notifications and texts. An update Wednesday now lets you send out SMS messages through Pushbullet’s Chrome extension.

Net Neutrality protests planned for Thursday: Time to learn your chant – Internet activists are planning a series of protests across the US on Thursday against a “hybrid” net neutrality plan leaked late last week. Protesters will gather outside the White House and in 14 other cities at 6pm to protest the plan “to show President Obama and his FCC chairman that the public will accept nothing less than lasting net neutrality through Title II reclassification.” Mirroring protests in Hungary, where the government was forced to back down on a proposed broadband tax, those attending will be asked to hold their cell phones in the air and post pictures to social networks with the hashtags #RealNetNeutrality and #ReclassifyTheInternet.

Google gives Microsoft office an awkward hug with new plugin – Google’s given Microsoft Office an awkward hug by refreshing Drive so it plays nice with desktop applications. Drive is Google’s share ‘n’ sync offering and integrates tightly with its apps: drop a document into Drive and you can read or edit it in the Docs in-browser word processor. That tool’s not to everyone’s tastes and misses a few features found in desktop word processors. It’s possible to use other productivity applications to open documents created in Docs if one downloads them and then opens them with one’s local app of choice. That’s obviously an inelegant way to do things, so Google has now created a Chrome plugin and new desktop Drive client that instead offers the chance to suck a document out of its cloud and into the desktop app of your choice.

Google Switchblade

Eee brand returns, as 11-inch ASUS EeeBook X205 Windows 8.1 laptop goes on sale for $199 – ASUS has resurrected its budget-focused Eee brand on a new 11-inch Windows 8.1 notebook, which features a Bay Trail-T processor, 2GB RAM, up to 64GB storage, a webcam and microHDMI port for just $199.

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Amazon Launches Same-Day Delivery In Toronto And Vancouver – Amazon is bringing its same-day delivery service to Toronto and Vancouver, giving Canadians a taste of a service that has been available to their counterparts south of the border for a while now. The same-day service requires that you have a postal code (that’s Canadian for zip code friends!) that matches its eligibility requirement, and that you order before 12 PM.

Selfie toys post baby’s photo automatically – Without the express permission of your child, are you allowed to post photos of your children on Facebook? Of course you do. But designer Laura Cornet wants you to ask – and wants you to discuss – whether or not permission is something you should attain from everyone, even your infant. To do this, she’s created a set of toys that activate automatic shares of photos, sounds, and movements of the child that touches them. Automatically, and without the parents’ permission.

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Windows XP’s user share plunge not real, just a data adjustment – The Internet metrics company that claimed Windows XP’s user share plummeted by a record amount last month said Tuesday that it had struck several Chinese websites from its tallies, causing the dramatic decline. Net Applications argued that its estimates are now “more accurate.”

Project management apps: How three popular picks stack up – Whether you’re a visual planner or a more straightforward list-maker, we’ve got the perfect project management app for you.

Australia leads in cloud services adoption: Dell – Australia’s ability to adopt virtualisation at such a high penetration level has opened up the country to become a strong cloud service adopter, too.

Fedora 21 beta is ready for your testing pleasure – Previously, Fedora was first and foremost a desktop distribution that also contained server elements. If all went well, the new features introduced in Fedora would eventually appear in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This go-around, there are three Fedora spins: one for the cloud, one for the server, and one for the workstation. Fedora now uses a modular-style design. So, while each spin is for a specific use case, they all share the basics of the Linux kernel, RPM, yum, systemd, and Anaconda. On top of this foundation, each includes the following features:

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Security:

Survey Shows Many Home Networks Are Insecure – If you’re reading this, you almost certainly have an antivirus or security suite installed on all of your PCs. You may have a mobile security solution for your smartphone. But did you know that your home router could be vulnerable to attack? A recent survey by Avast shows that many home routers are vulnerable to attack.

‘Dridex’ malware revives Microsoft Word macro attacks – A recent piece of malware that aims to steal your online banking credentials revives a decade-old technique to install itself on your PC. Called Dridex, the malware tries to steal your data when you log into an online bank account by creating HTML fields that ask you to enter additional information like your social security number. Thats not unusual in itself: Dridex is the successor to a similar piece of malware called Cridex which also targets your bank account. Whats different is how Dridex tries to infect your computer in the first place. Its delivered in the form of a macro, buried in a Microsoft Word document in a spam email message.

New iOS malware spreads through infected desktop software – iPhone users are usually considered safe from malware, but a new report from Palo Alto Networks suggests that reputation may be about to change. Palo Alto’s researchers have discovered a bug called Wirelurker, which the company says may have already impacted hundreds of thousands of users. The bug is primarily spreading through the Maiyadi App Store, a third-party source for OS X software in China, and researchers estimated the infected apps have been downloaded 356,104 times already.

EFF introduces the “Secure Messaging Scorecard” project – In an effort to encourage companies to become more transparent and secure, the EFF has begun a “Secure Messaging Scoreboard” listing dozens of apps and their security features, or lack thereof.

Microsoft releases free anti-malware for Azure VMs – Free anti-malware software is not hard to find: even reputable vendors offer product at the low, low, price of $0.00 for client devices. Microsoft is now doing the same for servers – or at least for virtual machines in its Azure cloud with a new offering called (deep breath now) Microsoft Antimalware for Azure Cloud Services and Virtual Machines.

German police searches 121 homes in piracy raid – The German police have carried out a massive anti-piracy raid with a considerable amount of storage media confiscated from the suspects of the 121 homes which were raided.

Company News:

Microsoft named world’s second most valuable brand – Microsoft has been named the world’s second most valuable brand at $63 billion, according to Forbes, due in part to its massive sales and promotional deals, but still falling behind Apple.

IBM takes on enterprise cloud security – As organizations increasingly move their operations to the cloud, they need to remain vigilant against security breaches. IBM had this in mind as it prepared a new portfolio of services designed to help secure an enterprise’s cloud operations with the same rigor that has come to be expected with in-house operations.

Qualcomm misses Q4 earnings, revenue targets with weak outlook – Qualcomm also lamented problems it is facing in China concerning its 3G/4G LTE rollout as well as an investigation into its business practices.

Microsoft to focus on search apps with Bing – Microsoft’s director of search admitted that its Bing search engine can’t compete with Google search in a full-on faceoff, but the company will focus instead on search applications. Stefan Weitz, who leads Microsoft’s search efforts, told an audience at the Web Summit conference in Dublin on Tuesday that he’s less interested in Bing as a stand-alone search engine and more interested in integrating the technology into the company’s other products.

Lenovo quarterly profit climbs with boost in PC market share – Lenovo Group announced on Thursday that its net profit for the second quarter rose 19 percent as it increased its presence in the global PC and smartphone markets. The Chinese computer giant recorded a net profit of $262.1 million for the three-month period ended September 30, up from $219.7 million a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting an average of $259.8 million, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto V for PC will include a first-person view, 4K resolution support – In exchange for being so patient while console gamers have been playing Grand Theft Auto V for more than a freakin’ year now, PC gamers will be tossed some pretty delicious bones when Rockstar’s multi-character epic finally lands on computers: 4K resolution support and a nifty looking first-person mode.

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The Sailor’s Dream takes you on an oneiric sea voyage – Swedish developer Simogo has been doing some fascinating things lately. After the release of its first three arcade-style titles — Kosmo Spin, Bumpy Road and Beat Sneak Bandit — it seemed to come out of nowhere with Year Walk, an eerily beautiful cryptic puzzle game with a story that unfolded piece by tiny piece. This was followed by Device 6, an interactive narrative that became even more cryptic. The Sailor’s Dream is the culmination of the “trilogy” that began with Year Walk and Device 6, and it shares some DNA in common with its predecessors.

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Microsoft says it’s delivered “hundreds of new features” to Xbox One this year, writes a list – Microsoft says that its monthly updates have brought “hundreds of new features” to the Xbox One during its first year on sale, and has published a list of over 100 of its top additions to the console.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

No, Seriously: Stop Texting and Driving – We all know the risks of texting while driving, yet a new survey by AT&T shows that a majority of motorists ignore the consequences. According to AT&T and Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, the beep of a cell phone can provide a natural high that most people can’t resist.

Bionic Bird: a flying bird controlled with a smartphone – Those windup toy birds have received a modern makeover, and it is called the Bionic Bird. This device looks like a bird and flies like a bird — flapping wings included — and is controlled using a smartphone rather than a remote. The Bionic Bird is the first of its kind, says the maker, and is bid as the “only furtive civilian drone.” Indeed when you see it, the first thing that will pop in your mind is There goes a bird, not oh look, a drone.

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Can you handle the truth? Everybody loves the sound of ‘distorted’ music – Just how much distortion — and the favored type of distortion, analog or digital — varies from listener to listener, and that’s where the story gets complicated.

Watch a bowling ball and feather fall at same speed in world’s largest vacuum – The BBC’s Human Universe heads to the world’s largest vacuum chamber to test one of the most oft-repeated examples in all of physics.

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The smartest rear-view mirror in the world – The App-Tronics SmartNav 5 rear-view mirror, winner of a Best in Show award at SEMA, combines navigation, video recording, camera, police radar detector and the simple ability to see what’s behind your car.

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The SmartNav 5 incorporates navigation software, displaying driving directions in the center of its rear-view mirror.

Surface Pro 3 used as iPad stands by CNN commentators – Back in September, Microsoft’s marketing efforts for the Surface Pro 3 didn’t go as expected when sports announcers forgot what it was called, instead referring to them as iPads and “iPad-like tools”. A similar situation unfolded on CNN during the live election coverage this week, where the commentators were seen decked out with snazzy Surface Pro 3 units. Nothing seemed amiss…at first. As the broadcast wore on, however, it became apparent that the Surfaces weren’t being used in the intended manner.

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California Just Became the First State to Defelonize Drug Use – On Tuesday, Californians voted on ballot proposals surrounding issues like water supply, health insurance, and state budget reform. But none of them garnered the same level of national interest as Proposition 47, the criminal justice reform initiative that promised to thin out the state’s saturated prisons by reducing six classifications of nonviolent drug and theft-related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. The measure passed, and California will now become the fir​st state to defelonize nearly all accounts of drug possession with the intent of personal use.

A New Bullet Can Make 3D-Printed Guns A Reality – 3D printed guns aren’t very compelling right now. Because of the vagaries of plastic and the methods used to manufacture weapons like the Liberator, your gun can turn itself into a hand grenade if you’re not careful. But engineer Michael Crumling might have a solution.

Something to think about:

“That which used to the source of everyone’s paranoia, have now become themselves far more paranoid.”

–     Ken Babstock    (Poet, Methodist Hatchet)

Today’s Free Downloads:

VSUsbLogon – VSUsbLogon provides a secure way to login to Windows via a USB device, replacing the password based Windows login. You don’t need to remember and type your Windows password (but your system is still password protected). Users can be automatically logged into Windows as they insert the USB flash drive into the USB port. VSUsbLogon allows you to use PIN code to login Windows when the USB device has been connected.

VSUsbLogon supports USB HDD, USB flash drives and other USB devices like iPod, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy ….

All user data is encrypted via AES 256 algorithm. And all user data is encrypted using a unique encryption key that is dependent from the unique user settings.

Limitations:

This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.

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BurnAware Free – BurnAware Free is the free version of BurnAware Premium, a popular free CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc burning software available for Windows.

Using this program you can easily create and burn Audio and MP3 CD, Data and DVD-Video disc, ISO and Cue Image, erase or format rewritable disc, copy your CD or DVD to ISO image.

Features:

Create data, bootable and multisession CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs

Create Audio CDs and MP3 CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs

Create DVD-Video

Record boot disc images

Create and record disc images

Supports all current hardware interfaces (IDE/SCSI/USB/1394/SATA)

Supports UDF/ISO9660/Joliet Bridged file systems (any combination)

On-the-fly writing for all image types (no staging to hard drive first)

Auto-verification of written files

Supports CD-Text and unicode characters

Supports Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 (32 and 64 Bit), no drivers required

Limitations:

This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA director: We share most of the [crap] bugs we find! – The National Security Agency (NSA) is only holding back a teeny, tiny number of code secrets, with director Admiral Mike Rogers promising the world the spook collective shares ‘most’ of the vulnerabilities it finds.

The agency head made the remarks on his second visit to Silicon Valley since his appointment in April this year.

Admiral Rogers told students delegates that US President Barack Obama asked the agency that it should share more of its vulnerabilities with the public.

“The president has been very specific to us in saying ‘the balance I want you to strike will be largely focused on when you find vulnerabilities, we’re going to share them’,” Admiral Rogers said Monday.

“By orders of magnitude, when we find new vulnerabilities, we share them.”

Feds investigate Homeland Security background checker security breach – A contractor running background checks for the US Department of Homeland Security has suffered a potentially embarrassing security breach.

The security snafu at USIS reportedly led to the theft of some DHS employees’ personal information.

The recently discovered breach prompted DHS to suspend all work with USIS, pending the results of an FBI investigation. The Office of Personnel Management also suspended work with USIS, as a precaution, and in what may be a related move OPM is declining to exercise its remaining options on USIS’ Background Investigation Fieldwork and Background Investigation Support Services contracts.

After Snowden slams Dropbox (twice), CEO responds: ‘It’s a trade-off’ – Edward Snowden has thrown rocks at file storage service Dropbox on two occasions. The first time, the U.S. surveillance whistleblower called it “hostile to privacy.” The second? He simply called on its users to “get rid” of it.

Now, Dropbox chief executive Drew Houston responded to those accusations. Spoiler alert: he could’ve done better, considering he’s also appealing to the enterprise and business customers his company supports, the money-makers of his show.

The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices that technology leaders can put to good use.

He said although users could do more to encrypt their data, it’s a “trade-off between usability, convenience, and security,” saying that the company offers people “choice.”

Those trade-offs, he suggested, meant that although users can encrypt their Dropbox storage with third-party tools (and are allowed to), Dropbox’s own features will be degraded, like file previews, search, and revision histories.

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

Google Drive: One of the Best Things to Happen to the Web

Store your files in a safe placeI remember when I bought my first MacBook. I had been waiting two years to make the exciting switch to Apple, and once I did, I knew I’d never go back. I even remember the day I turned it on.

I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around all the beautiful typography, colorful hues, up-to-date programs, and obvious innovation that composed my 12-inch computer. Sure, it wasn’t a cheap purchase, but I was in love… with a computer.

As the years go by and innovation and creativity continue to grow at infinite speeds, I’m captivated by technology more and more every day. It would be foolish not to give credit to Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter for changing the way in which we exist and interact with one another. No one could deny that. But, I want to take a moment to talk about Google, particularly Google Drive (formerly Google Docs).

Since the day I started using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and the rest of those compose-your-own-document programs, I have absolutely detested them. Not only have they become more and more difficult to navigate through over the years, they are also unreliable. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve grown angry with a Word document for instantly formatting my stories, at PowerPoint for crashing when I’m almost done finishing my last slide, or at Excel for being one of the most poorly designed programs on the market today.

Whenever it came time to print a document or email it off to a colleague, I always prayed everything would work out. My mind would conjure up the worst anxieties about a paper not making it to its destination, and often times, my premonitions came true. I’d wonder why the document didn’t download as the right file, why my PowerPoint presentation was not compatible with a newer version of PowerPoint, and why I put up with all the stress of these programs.

Google Docs, now called Google Drive, changed the way in which I interact with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If a document wasn’t able to print from my home, I could breathe a sigh of relief knowing I could access it from anywhere. If my computer crashed, I felt confident in knowing all of my documents were still accessible. If I needed a colleague to look over my work before I submitted it, I could rely on Google Docs to “share” my document with them and allow the person to incorporate changes or suggestions.

In fact, I no longer even store programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint on my computer because I find Google Drive to be useful in most every shape and form.

Google has been at the forefront of innovation since its creation. Google Drive is receiving a lot of positive reviews, and the hype surrounding this newest version couldn’t be more appropriate.

Google Drive allows individuals to collaborate on documents at the same time, access documents through a simple link, search through a document archive, and go back and undo automatic revisions. If that isn’t exciting enough, an iPad and iPhone app is coming soon that will allow individuals to access Google Drive through their smartphones or tablets. If you haven’t accessed Google Drive yet, give it a test drive and see what you think.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas – an avid blogger whose true calling is researching and exploring the future of learning. For comments and questions, she can be reached at katherynrivas87@gmail.com.

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Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, downloads, Freeware, Google Drive, Guest Writers