Tag Archives: Google Play Store

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 15, 2015

Net neutrality rules go into effect: what happens now;  Create dynamic 3D animated avatars with your smartphone;  How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide;  Windows 10: The only major OS still trying to squeeze a buck from consumers;  Google’s Free App of the Week Promo Focuses on Kids;  Consumer group says Apple’s iPads are slower than a Surface Pro 3 or a $150 Android tablet;  Five unusual Android launchers to spruce up your phone;  How to take better photos in low light;  The latest joy: Selfies with police officers giving you a ticket;  How MajorGeeks Protects You and Why We Do What We Do;  Even with a VPN, open Wi-Fi exposes users;  Staying safe on public Wi-Fi;  This Tech Stock Is Up 4200% in Less Than 2 Months;  Playing games on the PC is making a comeback;  7 Steam Summer Sale Tips Every Gamer Should Know;  Online-Only Shows You Need to Watch Now;  Twitter tells us in which state people hate their jobs the most.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Net neutrality rules go into effect: what happens now – The rules prohibit broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Internet traffic and from charging website owners and providers of Web-based services for prioritized traffic. The rules also reclassify broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated telecom-style service, although the FCC voted to exempt broadband providers from many of those common-carrier rules. Here are four things to watch for as the rules go into effect and the lawsuits go forward:

Texas teacher fired for ‘black segregation’ Facebook post about McKinney video – An elementary-school teacher goes on Facebook to declare “blacks are the problem.” She is the second educator this week to be removed from her job for a Facebook posting.

Consumer group says Apple’s iPads are slower than a Surface Pro 3 or a $150 Android tablet – A consumer group conducted a tablet performance test in which Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 was 20% faster than the iPad Air 2, and the iPad mini 3 was beaten by a supermarket’s low-cost Android tablet.

Chrome Should Soon Be Easier On Your Mac’s Battery – Chrome already got a new feature that can disable crappy Flash ads and win you back some battery cycles, but there’s more in the pipeline. Per senior Chrome engineer Peter Kasting outlining future steps on Google+, we’re going to see changes to the way Chrome handles rendering of background tabs (i.e., the ones you aren’t immediately looking at), and eking out some minor but important gains in the CPU efficiency of searching with Google. There’s a lot more going on, most of which is designed to help Chrome match or approach CPU efficiency found in Safari.

Hidden Chrome on Android features will improve your mobile browsing – Chrome has a lot of hidden features, some of which take a bit more digging to find. Jack Wallen highlights four such features that will help improve your Chrome on Android experience.

Create dynamic 3D animated avatars with your smartphone – The researchers report that this technology “facilitates a range of new applications in computer animation and consumer-level online communication based on personalized avatars.” Indeed, imagine going into one of BioWare’s or Bethesda’s character creators and having the ability to upload your 3D face. No longer would gamers spend hours fine-tuning their avatar. The researchers were even able to show how an actor could manipulate multiple 3D facial renders in real-time.

The latest joy: Selfies with police officers giving you a ticket – In Sri Lanka, there’s a curious new selfie trend, one the world shouldn’t miss. And police say they like it.

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The selfie that apparently started it all. Dhada Selfie/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Windows 10: The only major OS still trying to squeeze a buck from consumers – Putting a monetary obstacle in the way of people who want to jump to Windows 10 hampers Microsoft’s vision for a service-centric, cloud-connected future for Windows. Consumers also love getting stuff for free.

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

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Linux Mint’s system settings.

Google’s Free App of the Week Promo Focuses on Kids – According to reports, Google’s new free app giveaway is limited to a weekly timeframe—or “free app of the week,” if you prefer the traditional phrasing. And it’s not just any ol’ Android app that’s getting the special, cheaper treatment. The free app of the week promotion only seems to apply to apps within Google’s recently launched Family section of the Google Play store—at least, right now. It’s unclear whether Google will be branching the promotion out to additional categories, or whether this free app release promotion is just timed to take advantage of the new Family section’s launch.

Five unusual Android launchers to spruce up your phone – One of the benefits of Android’s openness is that many of its parts can be replaced by third party apps and services. One of those parts is the homescree and app launcher, the very first piece of software the user meets when using their smartphone. After the lock screen, of course. You might have heard of launchers like Nova, Apex, Go, or even Google’s own Google Now, but here are five more that you won’t usually read about in the news unless they have a major update or release.

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The seven “Prime Directives” of repairing and upgrading tech – Over the years I’ve built up a set of rules that I keep in mind when fixing things. I call them the “Prime Directives,” not because I’m a huge Star Trek fan, but because they’re important, and bad things tend to happen when I violate them.

Twitter Serving Up Ads Based on the Apps You Install – The tool “enables app advertisers to reach users based on the categories of apps they have installed on their device, or in which we think they have interest,” Twitter product manager Deepak Rao wrote in a blog post. “One of the biggest priorities for mobile app marketers is to reach the people who are most likely to use and love their apps. Today’s launch is the next step in our journey to help these advertisers connect with the right customers on Twitter – while providing users with the most relevant and useful ad content.” As Re/code noted, Twitter first announced plans for this in November, and is rolling it out now.

How to take better photos in low light – Low-light photography doesn’t always mean taking photos at night. There are plenty of situations where your eyes may be able to adjust to lower light easily, such as in a restaurant, but your camera has trouble seeing as well as you do. Wherever you may be, taking images in low light doesn’t have to be tricky. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making photos in challenging lighting conditions.

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The original image on the left lost a lot of detail in the shadows. By shooting raw, you can recover much of this lost detail with a simple slider and end up with the photo on the right. Lexy Savvides/CNET

Facebook’s SSD findings: Failure, fatigue and the data center – ​SSDs revolutionized data storage, even though we know little about how well they work. Now researchers at Facebook and Carnegie-Mellon share millions of hours of SSD experience

Security:

How MajorGeeks Protects You and Why We Do What We Do – There have been some articles written lately about download sites and we’d like to take a minute to respond to some of what we have been reading. Sites like HowToGeek wrote an article here that was actually very kind to MajorGeeks considering what and who we are up against. So, let us fill you in on how things work differently at MajorGeeks.

Pointing up    MajorGeeks has been my recommended download site for many years precisely because of the issues raised in this article.

US officials reveal second massive hack: security clearance forms grabbed – The recent hack of government data, at least according to those who know of the matter, is far worse than previously revealed. At least 4 million people were comprised, it was originally reported, but a recent letter to the OPM indicated that every single federal employee might have had some data stolen, including former federal workers. Now a second hack has been disclosed by sources, and it is said to have involved the theft of data related to intelligence employees and military personnel.

Even with a VPN, open Wi-Fi exposes users – By now, any sentient IT person knows the perils of open Wi-Fi. Those free connections in cafes and hotels don’t encrypt network traffic, so others on the network can read your traffic and possibly hijack your sessions. But one of the main solutions to this problem has a hole in it that isn’t widely appreciated. This gap in coverage may only be a matter of seconds, but that’s enough to expose valuable information like logon credentials. Try running a network monitoring tool like Microsoft’s TCPView for Windows or Little Snitch for Mac before you establish your Internet connection and see what happens in those first few seconds. The information may be protected by encryption, but it can carry details about your system configuration that could be used to identify it—or provide clues for an attacker.

Staying safe on public Wi-Fi – Stuck without a data connection on the road? Free public Wi-Fi is one of those little luxuries that can make travelling easier, but you do need to exercise caution in how you use it. Here are some tips on what to look out for when using public Wi-Fi, whether you use a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

US Navy is looking to buy zero-day and other exploits online – It’s no secret that security researchers and cyber criminals often buy and sell exploits online. Researchers usually sell their findings back to companies in bug-bounty programs, while criminals usually sell their knowledge to other criminals who can then exploit the unpatched vulnerability. But there’s also a third kind of exploit buyer out there, and that’s governments, who use these exploits for their own cyber-attacks. That’s seemingly the case here, where the US Navy actually posted an ad saying they were buying exploits found in popular software.

Company News:

This Tech Stock Is Up 4200% in Less Than 2 Months – The stock of a Chinese technology company has risen just over 4,200% since it went public just 56 days ago. The amazing run, Bloomberg notes, is equivalent to the past 11 years of gains in Apple’s shares. It also gives the company, Beijing Baofeng Technology Co., an almost unbelievable valuation of 715 times earnings. That’s 46 times Apple’s P/E of 15. Janus Capital’s Bill Gross, a legendary bond investor, recently said that the technology-heavy Shenzhen market, where Beijing Baofeng is listed, would be a great trade for short-sellers, who bet that shares will go down.

Rough sailing ahead for Twitter after CEO’s departure – Can Twitter finally give Wall Street what it wants now that its embattled CEO Dick Costolo is stepping aside after months of disappointing investors? While tech’s other heavy hitters, including Facebook — with nearly a billion more users than Twitter — and Google, constantly tinker to improve their products, Twitter ‘s momentum has stalled, some analysts believe.

After years of silence, Amazon releases first transparency report – Despite it being known best for its online retail business, its cloud services power millions of apps, sites, and services around the world. But the news couldn’t come soon enough. Amazon is the last major technology company in the Fortune 500 to disclose how many times governments have come knocking on its door, demanding customer and user data. Amazon, known by insiders for being notoriously secretive, was at no point under a legal obligation to report its numbers, but had faced mounting pressure in the face of transparency reports becoming an industry norm. Schmidt said the report, which covers the six months starting January 1 and ending May 31, will be released biannually.

By the numbers:

Amazon received 813 subpoenas, of which it fully complied with 66 percent;

Amazon received 35 search warrants, of which it fully complied with just over half;

Out of the other 13 other court orders it received, Amazon fully complied with just four;

Amazon received 132 foreign requests, of which it fully complied with 82 percent;

Amazon complied with the one removal orders (like user data) it received

Amazon disclosed that it had received between zero and 249 national security requests, such as a court order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Alibaba to launch Netflix-like streaming service in China – Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba has announced its plans to create its own media streaming platform. Alibaba will be calling the new platform TBO, Tmall Box Office. TBO will run licensed domestic content from China was well as foreign content. The service even has plans to create its own in-house programs, as Netflix did with House of Cards. Competition is heating up as Chinese companies are in a bit of a spending war with each other, trying to gain market share in the emerging market of media streaming technology.

This Country Is Logging Almost 1M Uber Trips Per Day – Uber has expanded rapidly in recent years, but like many tech companies, its main focus in the years to come will be China, according to a leaked letter from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to investors. Uber is available in 11 Chinese cities, which cover about 14 million people who are taking almost 1 million trips per day.

Uber to invest over $1B in China, expand to 50 more cities – In a letter to investors, CEO Travis Kalanick calls the ride-hailing service’s growth in the country “remarkable and unprecedented.”

With payroll in arrears, online antivirus seller shuts doors – The sudden shutdown of a computer tech support call center has left some of its employees wondering if they will be paid. EZ Tech Support, based in Portland, Oregon, took calls from people who had advertising software installed on their computers that warned of possible security and performance problems. The programs implored people to call the company’s number, which was displayed amid warnings.

Amazon to have select Prime items shipped from merchants – If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you may find many more items eligible for the service’s free two-day shipping option in the near future. That’s because the internet retailing giant is testing a program that has Prime items shipped directly from the independent merchants selling who sell them. Normally, only items sold directly by Amazon, or merchants’ items that are stored in Amazon’s warehouses, are eligible for the Prime two-day shipping option. This change benefit both customers and sellers.

Games and Entertainment:

Playing games on the PC is making a comeback – Video game consoles have long dominated the video game industry, offering a seemingly cheaper and more consistent experience. But not for long.

7 Steam Summer Sale Tips Every Gamer Should Know – It’s that time of year again. The Steam Summer Sale is back, and that means more than a week of constantly reloading the Steam store to see what games you can pick up for a few bucks each. It’s easy to go nuts during the sale, so here are some tips on how to get the most during the event.

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Look out, Twitch! YouTube Gaming is coming this summer – Launching this summer in the US and UK, gaming.youtube.com will be a portal just for games—bascially the “Twitch” portion of YouTube. There will be game pages for “over 25,000” titles showing info about the games and a list of streamers playing them. There will also be channel pages for streaming personalities and companies. Searches from gaming.youtube.com will be sectioned off from the rest of the site, too—YouTube’s blog post (which we received an advance copy of) says that “typing ‘call’ will show you Call of Duty and not Call Me Maybe.” And of course, there’s also chat.

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Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, Doom—Bethesda opens up with both barrels – We knew in advance that we’d be hearing more about Fallout 4 and Doom from Bethesda at their “E3 showcase” Sunday evening, but the best laid plans of mice and mutants gang aft agley—a brief technical mix-up the day before also told us that we’d be getting a look at Dishonored 2 as well. But there didn’t need to be any surprises—those three AAA games themselves were enough to warm any gamer’s heart. Especially if you like Fallout.

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Watch all the new footage of Doom from E3 – E3 2015 got off to a chainsaw-intensive start Sunday when Bethesda showed tons of footage from Doom, its forthcoming sequel to the genre-defining franchise. We took a long look of the single-player campaign that showed off many of the game’s best-loved weapons, including the shotgun, the rocket launcher, and (of course) the chainsaw. We also saw a glimpse of the multi-player campaign, which players will be able to mod heavily using a new tool called Snapmap. Check it out:

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The new Fallout mobile game, Fallout Shelter, is available right now – The creators of Fallout 4 have released a new mobile game associated with the Fallout franchise. In Fallout Shelter, you make your own nuclear shelter, or vault. As the overseer of said vault, you will then need to maintain the underground base, keeping your residents happy. The game has a 2D-animation look playing off the Pip-Boy characters of the Fallout series. The game looks like a cross between SimTower and the base management system in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The game is free on iOS tonight. It won’t have paywall timers and won’t require an internet connection to play.

Online-Only Shows You Need to Watch Now – Netflix isn’t alone in creating great TV that doesn’t require rabbit ears, cable (beyond the modem), or hell, even an actual TV. Streaming video has quickly become a natural setting for scripted drama and comedy. With Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Yahoo Screen, and more, you can watch at your own pace, or binge watch all at once.  The bottom line? You don’t need a TV to watch quality scripted television.

Off Topic (Sort of):

In the Future, Employees Won’t Exist – Contract work is becoming the new normal. Consider Uber: The ride-sharing startup has 160,000 contractors, but just 2,000 employees. That’s an astonishing ratio of 80 to 1. And when it comes to a focus on contract labor, Uber isn’t alone. Handy, Eaze and Luxe are just a few of the latest entrants into the “1099 Economy.” Though they get the most attention, it’s not just on-demand companies that employ significant contract workforces. Microsoft has nearly two-thirds as many contractors as full-time employees. Four trends are converging to make contracting more attractive for both employers and workers, and reshaping how businesses and employees look at the traditional full-time model.

Twitter tells us in which state people hate their jobs the most – Technically Incorrect: An analysis of an entire year’s tweets shows that there’s a geographical split between those who say they like their work and those who say they don’t.

Parrot unveils 13 new minidrones, including a drone-powered boat – Drones aren’t always huge and hugely expensive. Parrot has been selling a line of minidrones for the last few years, and today it has revealed 13 new ones. That’s not 13 individual types of drone, but 13 “versions” of three different types. There are new flying and rolling drones, as well as one that takes to the waves for the first time.

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1980s Amiga has been running the AC and heat in 19 schools for 30 years – The Grand Rapids Public School district took a big step into the future back in the 1980s when it used money from an energy bond to purchase a Commodore Amiga computer. The Amiga, which replaced a computer the size of a refrigerator, was set up to control heat and air conditioning at the district’s 19 schools. It has been doing that job tirelessly for the last 30 years. How long do you think you could keep a modern laptop working? Four or five years? Maybe? The Amiga uses an unusual 1200-bit modem and a wireless radio signal to communicate with the 19 buildings.

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Talk techie to me: RealDoll wants to make sex dolls that move, chat – RealDoll is reportedly working with robotics experts to make a more lifelike and unintentionally creepier love doll. Hopefully it won’t dump you for the Roomba.

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Something to think about:

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

–      Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

RogueKiller 

MajorGeek says: We don’t really need a review here. If you’re a tech, you know what this tool does and it’s already in your toolbox. For the rest of you, Roguekiller is a popular, effective tool to remove some stubborn malware but be warned; you better know what you’re doing. While a lot of more well-known tools will simply scan and delete for you, this tool will show you everything it finds that is a possible problem. You need to know what to remove and what not to remove. In the second screenshot below you will see where it found 7 potential PUP’s on a clean install of Windows 7. If someone told you to download this and you’re not a knowledgeable computer tech, run. Run as fast as you can and get a new ‘friend’. A program like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware would serve you better. I’m not knocking RogueKiller, it’s excellent; in the right hands. If you don’t believe me, simply read the comments below.

RogueKiller is an anti-malware program written in C++ and able to detect and remove generic malwares and some advanced threats such as rootkits, rogues, worms…

Based on generic ways to find malwares by their behaviour (heuristics), on classic anti-malware analysis (signature finding) and on undocumented hacks, RogueKiller can find/remove most of the basic malwares (rogues, trojans, …) and some advanced threats like ZeroAccess or TDSS that behave more like rootkits.

Here’s a little summary of what RogueKiller is able to do:

Kill malicious processes

Stop malicious services

Unload malicious DLLs from processes

Find/Kill malicious hidden processes

Find and remove malicious autostart entries, including :

1: Registry keys (RUN/RUNONCE, …)

2: Tasks Scheduler (1.0/2.0)

3: Startup folders

Find and remove registry hijacks, including :

1: Shell / Load entries

2: Extension association hijacks

3: DLL hijacks

4: Many, many others …

Read / Fix DNS Hijacks (DNS Fix button)

Read / Fix Proxy Hijacks (Proxy Fix button)

Read / Fix Hosts Hijacks (Hosts Fix button)

Restore shortcuts / files hidden by rogues of type “Fake HDD“

Read / Fix malicious Master Boot Record (MBR), even hidden behind rootkit

List / Fix SSDT – Shadow SSDT – IRP Hooks (Even with inline hooks)

Find and restore system files patched / faked by a rootkit

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Audio Switcher – Easily switch between ANY sound device on your Windows PC with this incredibly small and lightweight application. Using this application allows you to switch output OR input sound devices at the click of a button, or the press of a key.

Features:

Change Windows Default Audio devices without opening Control Panel

Full Global Hot Key support which allows you to change the default audio device with the press of a key

Favorite Devices – Only your “favorite” devices will show up in the Tray Icon Menu.

Quick switch: Click on the notification icon once and it will cycle through your favorited devices! Great if you have two devices you switch between often.

Settings support for closing to tray, starting minimized to tray and running at start up (using a registry key)

Optional: Periodically check for updates

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Russia and China cracked Snowden’s files, identified U.S., UK spies – Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies have reportedly decrypted files of former U.S. National Security Agency contractor and leaker Edward Snowden, and have identified British and U.S. secret agents.

MI6, the U.K.’s secret intelligence service, has withdrawn agents from overseas operations in hostile countries, according to a report in the Sunday Times of London, citing U.K. government officials and Western intelligence agencies.

The report contains some apparently contradictory information. Although The Sunday Times quoted a U.K. Home Office official saying that Snowden has “blood on his hands,” it also quoted a government source saying that there was no sign that agents have been hurt.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s aides, however, confirmed that Snowden’s files are in the hands of Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, according to the report.

Pointing up    It’s barely conceivable – just enough to shore up the convictions of the poorly informed. Just remember; liars lie. And, both the U. S. and the U. K. have proven to be A+++ liars in this matter.  Who would publicly admit that their very own ultra/ultra – secret/secret – futuristic/futuristic – encrypted/encrypted – impossible to break/impossible to break – encryption system is worthless?

More right wing extremist nonsense parroted by a mainstream media which continues to fail massively in it’s primary function – as it has for years.

Right to be forgotten applies to all Google domains, rules French privacy authority – Google must respect the European Union’s ‘right to be forgotten’ court ruling on all its sites, not just those it says target EU countries, the French data protection authority has ruled, giving the company 15 days to comply.

The French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) ordered Google to remove the affected search results on all its domains, including google.com, or face a fine of up to €300,000 (about $337,000). So far, Google has only removed such results from those of its sites it says target EU users, including google.fr or google.de. French residents need only click the “Use Google.com” link on the google.fr homepage to have access to unfiltered search results.

The dispute began over a year ago, when the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) gave people the right to request removal of search results for queries including their names, if the results are inadequate or irrelevant.

This means that E.U. residents who want to remove a search result displayed on a search of their name can ask a search engine to delist it. The search engine must review the request and grant it if the proper conditions are met. If the search engine does not comply, they can lodge a complaint with their local data protection authority.

Germany drops investigation into claims the NSA tapped Angela Merkel’s phone – The German government has dropped a formal investigation into allegations that the NSA had been tapping chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for several years. German federal prosecutor Harald Range said in a statement on Friday there was insufficient evidence to continue the investigation, The New York Times reports.

Back in 2013, German newspaper Der Spiegel ran a report claiming the US had been monitoring Merkel’s phone since 2002, based on internal NSA documents it had obtained. The White House responded by assuring Merkel she was no longer being monitored, but the report suggested the surveillance had gone on for more than a decade.

Range noted that while the NSA documents did contain a phone number that could be traced back to Merkel, there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest there had been an “authentic” order from the NSA to tap the phone. He also said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Merkel’s phone had actually been tapped.

What The U.K. Surveillance Powers Review Says On Encryption And Hacking – An independent review of U.K. surveillance powers conducted by QC David Anderson published its findings this week. Among its recommendations the report calls for judges to sign off interception warrants, and for a new law to govern surveillance powers — replacing the problematic patchwork of outdated and amended legislation that currently exists with stricter and more coherent oversight.

The report also supports continued use of “bulk data collection” (aka mass surveillance) by U.K. intelligence agencies — so long as “strict additional safeguards” oversee its usage and minimize privacy impacts.

Anderson writes:

…if the acceptable use of vast state powers is to be guaranteed, it cannot simply be by reference to the probity of its servants, the ingenuity of its enemies or current technical limitations on what it can do. Firm limits must also be written into law: not merely safeguards, but red lines that may not be crossed.

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

These 20 deep, absorbing PC games will eat days of your life – Far too many games these days are built to be played in small bursts: brief encounters, designed for a world with too few hours in the day and too many digital distractions. And that’s fine! Blasting through a few rounds of Call of Duty multiplayer, or playing a few run-throughs in Spelunky, is a wonderful way to spend a few minutes. But sometimes, you want something more—something meatier. Whether you’re looking for an entertaining way to blow a long weekend or simply want to wrap your head around a satisfyingly complex experience, these 20 deep, intricate, and just plain great PC games will hold you for hours and hours and hours on end.

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–      Oscar Wilde

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Audio and video formats supported:

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

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

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 – April 23, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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Bioshock Infinite

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–       Jon Ronson

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

WinPatrol PLUS is a great investment!

One Time fee includes for ALL future WinPatrol versions.

No Hidden or Reoccurring Subscription Fees.

Single License valid on all your personal desktops and laptops!

No Toolbars or other unwanted software

WinPatrol PLUS is quicker and faster.

Upgrade Now with No Additional Download

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

Primary Features:

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

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

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

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

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

Send email directly from POP Peeper

SSL support for POP3, IMAP and SMTP

HTML email support

Password protection

Address book

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

Send, save and open file attachments

Run POP Peeper off your portable storage device

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

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

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

Extensive help with useful tips and information

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

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

Bluetooth Support (if you don’t use Bluetooth)

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over time?

That discussion is long overdue.

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 6, 2015

Facebook launches security primer;  How Facebook knows who your friends are;  How to stay safe online: CNET’s security checklist;  This Is How Drones Work;  The six best HDMI operating system sticks;  YouTube tips we bet you didn’t know;  The 100 Best Android Apps of 2015;  10 ways your Android phone is smarter than you;  How You Can Block Calls and Texts on Your Smartphone;  Here’s how Google Play scans your Android phone;  TrueCrypt Audit: No NSA Backdoors;  6 Makeup Apps for a Whole New You;  15 classic PC games you should play again;  App showdown: Roku vs. Chromecast vs. Apple TV vs. Fire TV vs. Nexus Player;  Dyre Wolf malware transfers victims to live operator; Three lies about Google Glass;  WinParrot (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook launches primer detailing all things security – Anyone with a social networking account should be mindful not only of what they post on it, but also their security settings — misunderstanding a particular setting, for example, could lead to info you believed was private actually being visible to the public. Facebook has rolled out features that aim to improve the users’ awareness of those security features, including reminders that popup with snippets of information every now and again, and that settings review that rolled out not too long ago. Now it is back with more…a lot more.

How Facebook knows who your friends are, even better than you do – How does Facebook know who your friends are? It’s a mystery that has nagged users since at least 2011, when the Irish Data Protection Commissioner conducted a full-scale investigation into the issue. But four years later, there’s still a lot of confusion and misinformation about what Facebook’s doing when it “finds” your friends. Tracking your circle of friends is much easier than you think, once you answer the few basic questions Facebook asks when you sign up for an account.

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The six best HDMI operating system sticks – There’s a new kind of computer in town and it’s resides on an HDMI stick that’s not much bigger than a pack of gum.

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Fewer than 1% of Android devices affected by potentially harmful apps – Based on data collected by Google, less than one percent of Android devices had a potentially harmful application installed last year. This includes devices on which users have installed applications from outside the official Google Play store. The data was collected through a feature called Verify Apps that was first introduced in Android 4.2 back in 2012. The feature, which was also backported to Android 2.3 and higher in 2013, checks locally installed applications for potentially harmful behavior regardless of whether they were downloaded from Google Play or other sources. Verify Apps initially scanned applications only at installation time, but since March 2014 it also performs background scans, so it can later detect malicious applications that weren’t flagged when they were initially installed.

The 100 Best Android Apps of 2015 – Here in the PC Mag’s New York office, we haven’t seen much of the sun and it’s barely above freezing. But even if it’s still pretty miserable outside, that doesn’t mean you can’t spruce up your Android device with some great new apps! And have we got new apps. This list covers everything you need, from comic books, to finance, to secure messaging services.

10 ways your Android phone is smarter than you – You say you miss your dumbphone, but you really don’t, because your smartphone is, well…a hell of a lot smarter. It’s smarter than your dumbphone, and it’s also (sometimes) smarter than you. And it should be! It’s packed with sensors, a lifetime of Google knowledge, access to the whole Internet, and eerily accurate predictions based on your habits. Here are 10 ways your Android phone is too smart for its own good.

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YouTube tips we bet you didn’t know – It’s easy to spend hours watching YouTube videos about, well, pretty much anything. Using your mouse to adjust a setting isn’t exactly slow, but in some cases, the keyboard shortcuts are much faster. Here is a list of the best YouTube keyboard shortcuts you should start using right now. These shortcuts work when you open a new video, without needing to click anything in the player.

BlueDriver: Diagnose car problems with your smartphone or tablet – Got a ‘Check Engine’ light on your dash, staring at you? Wonder what it means? Wonder how much it will cost you to fix? Wondering if you can fix it yourself, if only you knew what it meant?

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6 Makeup Apps for a Whole New You – Spring makeovers are a perennial topic in the pages of magazines and on YouTube playlists. But unless you snag an appearance on Love, Lust or Run or hire a makeup artist, you’re pretty much on your own in Sephora or your local drugstore when it comes to figuring out what will make you look your best. That is unless you use a makeover app. Facial-recognition technology may be known for more serious uses, like spotting criminals and securing data, but a side benefit is that you can now achieve a sharp new eyeliner look with just a click. The results are often so realistic that selfies can essentially be faux-Photoshopped without your Instagram followers noticing a thing.

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How to get your Chromebook online from anywhere without killing your mobile data cap – Chromebooks were made to be online, even if Wi-Fi’s nowhere to be found. Here’s how to get online with a cellular signal without blowing through your data cap.

Carousel ‘Photo School’ may up your mobile photography game – The best camera you have is the one you’ve got with you, right? We bet your smartphone is on you most of the time, too, making it crucial for getting pics when you’re in a moment. While hardware and software are a big part of taking good pics, so is skill. If you don’t know how to take great photos, yours won’t be very good, regardless of what photo editor or smartphone you have. To help with that, Carousel is introducing Photo School, a series of blogs meant to encourage better smartphone photography.

How You Can Block Calls and Texts on Your Smartphone – No one enjoys cell phone spam, especially aggressive telemarketing calls and texts while you’re on the go. Though you can list your cell phone number on the Do Not Call Registry, that doesn’t stop telemarketing text messages or even all phone calls in our experience. If you’re tired of these nuisances, you have options. You can use the following apps and features built into your phone to help cut down on spam.

Microsoft Changing Default ‘Do Not Track’ Setting – Specifically, Redmond will no longer have the “Do Not Track” option enabled in Windows’ Express Settings, which you can click when you’re installing the operating system, in case you would prefer Microsoft make the decisions for you. Do Not Track is a little setting that you can enable in all of the major Web browsers. Presumably, advertisers are supposed to notice when a browser has the flag flipped on. If that’s the case, third-party advertisers should then exclude that browser from any kind of cross-site tracking. Though, the request is just that—a request that third-party services should follow.

Apple shows what its watch can do in new video tutorials – The company touts key features of its smartwatch in four short video clips released a week before presales start for the pricey device.

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Maximize your SSD’s lifespan with the right maintenance – SSDs differ significantly from the hard drives they’re replacing, including care and feeding. Follow these do’s and don’ts to keep your SSD in shipshape.

Security:

Ransomware alert: ‘Pacman’ scheme uses Dropbox link to gobble victims – All malware is bad, but ransomware is particularly insidious—ask any ransomware victim. That’s why a new attack scheme called “Pacman” has raised alarms, because it’s even nastier than usual. Think of the classic Pac-Man game’s voracious yellow ball, chomping up all of your files. It takes only one click to infect a vulnerable PC, and the attack gives victims only 24 hours to pay the ransom in Bitcoins or risk losing all of the compromised data. The current attack is particularly effective because it’s so convincing.

Here’s how Google Play scans your Android phone – Google has a system enacted through Google Play for Android devices called Verify Apps. Google’s latest Android Security State of the Union (for the year 2014) includes clarification on what the company is scanning on your phone – both inside Google Play-downloaded apps and in apps you’ve downloaded elsewhere. Verify Apps scans your phone’s apps for security risks in Google Play apps, and Safety Net provides protection for (and from) apps outside of Google Play. Yes, Google Play is scanning your phone – no, it’s not something to freak out about.

TrueCrypt Audit: No NSA Backdoors – A security audit of TrueCrypt has determined that the disk encryption software does not contain any backdoors that could be used by the NSA or other surveillance agencies. A report prepared by the NCC Group (PDF) for the Open Crypto Audit Project found that the encryption tool is not vulnerable to being compromised. However, the software was found to contain a few other security vulnerabilities, including one relating to the use of the Windows API to generate random numbers for master encryption key material. Despite this, TrueCrypt was given a relatively clean bill of health with none of the detected vulnerabilities considered severe enough to lead “to a complete bypass of confidentiality in common usage scenarios.”

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TrueCrypt running on my system. TrueCrypt is a very old friend. Good to see that it came through this with a “a relatively clean bill of health.”

Dyre Wolf malware transfers victims to live operator – IBM has detailed a new variation of the Dyre malware, which it is calling “The Dyre Wolf”. The malware targets large enterprises, and comes with an unexpected twist: a bit of social engineering involving a live operator posing as a representative. When on the phone with this operator, the hackers on the other side use banking information provided by the victim to initiate a large wire transfer…and in some cases use a DDoS attack to keep the company from discovering the transfer until it is too late.

Bugs in Tor network used in attacks against underground markets – The operator of an underground marketplace hosted within the Tor network has reported a flaw in Tor that he claims is being used for an ongoing denial of service attack on the site. The problem, which is similar to one reported by another hidden site operator in December on the Tor mailing list, allows attackers to conduct a denial of service attack against hidden sites by creating a large number of simultaneous connections, or “circuits,” via Tor, overwhelming the hidden service’s ability to respond. By sending multiple “introduce” requests to the same hidden service, an attacker could make the targeted server create multiple circuits (paths over the Tor network used for the session), eating the server’s available CPU and network resources and making it inaccessible to users.

How to stay safe online: CNET’s security checklist – It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Especially when it comes to your personal information. Keeping your info secure online requires you to take more time and care, but what you lose in moments you’ll surely make up in peace of mind. Follow the steps below to increase your online security.

Company News:

Last round of job cuts hit hundreds of Microsoft employees – In what is said to be the final round of layoffs for Microsoft’s largest jobs cut in company history, hundreds of employees were released by the company all around the world.

LinkedIn buys social knowledge startup Refresh – Launched three years ago, Refresh is designed to be a “digital briefing book” that can call up online information related to people that users are scheduled to meet. The information can be anything from blog posts, news articles or Facebook posts to personal notes or favorite sports teams. The Refresh mobile and desktop app is aimed at helping people relate to one another more quickly, but it can also be used to refresh one’s memory when running into acquaintances unexpectedly.

Antitrust lawsuit dismissed against Google’s app bundling – The latest class action antitrust lawsuit against Google has been tabled. The dismissed lawsuit was just one among many to hit Google such as a class action suit about Google Wallet’s privacy practices, libel accusations for offending autocomplete suggestions, and copyright infringement for book digitization. The lawsuit in question alleges that Google made illegal contracts with device makers which forced Android OS to use Google’s apps as default settings. The suit then further alleges that these backroom deals drove up consumer prices of these smartphones due to restricting competition.

Nissan CEO: We will have an autonomous vehicle next year – Nissan hopes to have a car that can navigate Japan’s highways on its own next year, and the company plans to have a completely self-driving vehicle for urban areas by 2020. “There will be a Nissan product in Japan, which will carry autonomous drive,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told reporters at the New York International Auto Show on Thursday. “Obviously when you have this kind of technology, you want also the Japanese market to enjoy it as soon as possible.” Also this week, auto parts supplier Delphi announced its autonomous Audi completed a 3,500-mile, cross-country journey.

Games and Entertainment:

App showdown: Roku vs. Chromecast vs. Apple TV vs. Fire TV vs. Nexus Player – App selection should be one of the biggest factors in choosing a streaming media player, because all the fancy features in the world don’t mean much if you can’t actually watch what you want. If you’re just looking to watch Netflix or Hulu Plus, pretty much every device on the market will have you covered. Still, each platform does have its hang-ups, which you can see in the chart below. Have a look, then keep reading for some takeaways and caveats:

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Okay, now let’s answer some questions that I assume will be frequently asked:

Sony will issue either $25 cash or a $50 credit if you bought your PS Vita before June 2012 – In November, Sony was found guilty by the FTC of misleading consumers with their early PS Vita commercials. Now, they will be required to refund $25 cash or $50 in merchandise credit to lucky owners.

BBC teams with BitTorrent to release Doctor Who greatest hits download – Doctor Who fans can now download episodes from BitTorrent without feeling guilty! The BBC and the peer-to-peer sharing platform have officially teamed up to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the sci-fi series’ relaunch with two different BitTorrent Bundles. While this collection of episodes won’t tell the whole story or fully show new viewers why this universe continues to be incredibly popular among the sci-fi set, it does present some of the most beloved episodes in an easy-to-view, easy-to-obtain format that has the potential to rope in even more fans.

15 classic PC games you should play again – Between a flood of HD remasters (Grim Fandango, Homeworld, Resident Evil) and all the games styled to look like older games (Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2) released in the past year, I think we can all agree retro games are back in style. But what about actual retro games—the classics you’ve left gathering dust in old CD-ROM cases or are hoarding in your GOG.com library? April’s a relatively slow month as far as new releases, so maybe it’s the perfect time to revisit some old classics. Me? I’m about to go replay Planescape: Torment. Read on for that and fourteen(ish) other classic games you should play again.

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Duke Nukem 3D

Sling TV takes over DishWorld, re-names it ‘Sling International’ – Today, DishWorld — the international arm of Dish Network — is being re-branded under the Sling name, and will now be known as Sling International. As Sling International, DishWorld owners can access roughly 200 channels spanning 18 languages including Spanish, Punjab, Filipino, Arabic, Hindi, Vietnamese, and both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese. Content includes sports, news, and general entertainment, and new customers are getting a free month to give Sling International a shot. Just like with DishWorld, there is no hardware to hook up.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This Is How Drones Work – When things look easy, they’re typically anything but. From Ted Williams’ swing to Raymond Carver’s prose to Jennifer Lawrence’s acting, this has been demonstrated time and time again. You might think it’s a leap to include drones with these effortless artists, but hold your judgement until after you watch an unmanned aircraft dance gracefully across the sky. Because while these machines may look like little more than propellers and plastic, these aerial acrobats actually pack a lot of tech into their lightweight frames.

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Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Digital Love – What will it be like when Tinder and Grinder get taken over by advertising? Find out in this grim, hilarious assessment of the near future as created by Logan Fitzpatrick.

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Read the letter Bill Gates sent to Microsoft employees for the company’s 40th anniversary – On April 4th, 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen started a little company named Microsoft. You probably know the story from there: Gates went on to become the wealthiest man in the world, and then gradually pulled back from his company to focus on broad philanthropic efforts through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But Gates is far from finished at Microsoft; last year after Satya Nadella took over as CEO, Gates said he would be taking a bigger role at the company — using up to a third of his time to advise Microsoft employees on new products. Gates sent the following letter to Microsoft employees today to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary.

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I am not a booth babe. Ask me a question – Commentary: There’s been increasing debate about the role of women in the tech industry, and how they are perceived and portrayed at tech shows. One group has created a new symbol for women who want to stand out — but not as a booth babe.

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Teen rakes in $6,000 on “Uploader for Instagram” app, told to shut down – A developer has pulled his popular “Uploader for Instagram” app from the Mac App Store after Instagram sent him two demand letters. Last month, Caleb Benn, a 17-year-old Los Angeles high school student, released the $5 Mac desktop app that allowed users to upload photos to their Instagram accounts. Instagram had originally sent a letter to Benn on March 28, telling him that his app had violated the company’s Terms of Service. The letter stated that Benn had until March 30 to “fix things.” But after the deadline passed, the app was still available and Instagram had not taken any further action.

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Three lies about Google Glass – In general, the great masses of tech journalists and bloggers are a band of trendy and easily influenced conformists who sometimes care more about staying in tune with the echo chamber than about objective reality. The perfect example for this is how the tech press mob convinced everyone about three Google Glass lies: That Google Glass was an unacceptable invasion of privacy; that it was an overpriced elitist plaything; and that it was a failed and now dead project.

5 Charts That Show Why the iPad’s Fifth Birthday Is Bittersweet – See how crazy people were for the iPad back in 2010 — and how that’s changed

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Cop caught going ballistic on Uber driver apologizes on TV – Technically Incorrect: Detective Patrick Cherry, stripped of his badge for berating an Uber driver (in a YouTube video that went viral), tries to present his side of the story. A wise move?

Something to think about:

“Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.”

–     Thomas Sowell

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinParrot – WinParrot allows you to record the mouse clicks and keystrokes of your recurring tasks and execute them whenever you choose. Great for saving time on common daily actions.

WinParrot can record and control any application on Windows. It can be used to automate your recurring tasks, load your data into your applications (Internet Explorer, Oracle Applications, SAP …), test the robustness of an application by simulating multiple users, conduct demonstrations or training of an application (by slowing the speed of play and schedule tasks (schedule the execution of macros).

WinParrot requires no installation and no administration right.

Start recording your tasks or your entries, WinParrot will replay them immediately without programming.

With a very simple language (very close to that of Excel) you can insert visual checkpoints, loops, conditions or data from Excel spreadsheets.

You can control the tolerance of an image recognition, shapes or texts, change the speed of typing or moving the mouse….

In order to avoid slowing down your computer WinParrot is optimized to use the least possible of memory and CPU.

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FileVoyager – FileVoyager is a freeware Orthodox file manager (OFM) for Microsoft Windows. OFM’s are file managers using two panels of disks browsers.

This dual pane layout makes very easy the transfer operations of files or folders between sources and destinations.

FileVoyager contains a large collection of tools and functionality.

Features:

Browsing of disks, folders (real or virtual), shares, archives and FTP/FTPS in one unified way

Browsing can be done in various modes (like report or thumbnail modes)

Allowing usual file operations (rename, copy, move, link, delete, recycle) in the containers listed above and even between them

Packing and unpacking of ZIP, 7Zip, GZip, BZip2, XZ, Tar and WIM formats (FileVoyager wraps 7-zip)

Unpacking of ARJ, CAB, XAR, Z, RAR, LZH, LZMA, ISO, WIM and many others (FileVoyager wraps 7-zip)

Playing of virtually any Audio or Video formats (FileVoyager relies at once on installed codecs, on WMP and on VLC)

Offering quick preview capability for any file format with:

Rendering of multimedia files (including M3U, PLS, ASX, WPL, MPCPL and XSPF playlist formats)

Syntax highlighting for virtually any source code language/format (Powered by Scintilla)

Rendering final view for formats supported by Preview Handlers (like Office files, PDF, pictures, …)

Support of many character encodings (SBCS including various ANSI implementations, UTF-8, UTF-16, EBCDIC)

Displaying in flat or hexadecimal for any format

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

After Obama’s cybersecurity order threatens Snowden fund, bitcoin donations spike – A new executive order signed into law this week by the president has one online community up in arms, after its loose wording effectively ruled out donating to Edward Snowden and others.

In a post on Reddit’s Bitcoin subreddit, members pledged to donate to the whistleblower’s relief fund, despite the wording of the new executive order suggesting that doing so was illegal.

In the new executive order, signed into law on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama declared cyber-threats aimed at the US a “national emergency.” The order threatens sanctions against those (including US residents) who engage in cyberattacks and espionage activities that threaten US interests at home and abroad.

The wording of the order specifically addresses any person whose “property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States.”

Redditors were quick to assume (likely correctly) that this includes Edward Snowden, who for more than a year-and-a-half has lived in Russia, evading US justice.

“This is almost as bad as the Patriot Act,” said the user who first posted the thread.

Department of Homeland Security seeking national license plate database – Early last year, it was revealed the Department of Homeland Security was seeking a Federal License Plate Reader Database, something that was later abandoned in light of privacy concerns. Now the DHS has changed its mind and is again pursuing such a national database, soliciting bids from those who could provide it with such a product. The reason for its return is the department’s belief it can now mitigate those aforementioned privacy worries. To prove it, DHS has published a report detailing the info.

In New Video, Congressman Explains Why His Fellow Lawmakers Couldn’t Be Trusted with NSA Oversight – Congressmen who asked about oversight of NSA mass surveillance and domestic spying in 2013 could have “compromise[d] security” and were denied the records they sought because of concerns they lacked formal government security clearance, a former member of the House Intelligence Committee says in a newly-released video.

The footage, from an August 29, 2013 town hall meeting, sheds new light on why lawmakers were denied key rulings and reports from the secret courts overseeing the National Security Agency — even as the Obama administration and intelligence officials claimed that all NSA programs were subject to strict congressional oversight and therefore could be held accountable.

Light the torches! NSA’s BFF Senator Feinstein calls for e-book burning – Feinstein (D-CA) did not say exactly how she plans to scrub The Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire magazine from every server, desktop and notebook on the planet, but none the less she wants both titles pulled from circulation.

The comments come after two women were arrested in New York City on charges of plotting terrorist attacks.

The duo reportedly had ties to the late former editor of the Al-Qaeda backed English-language Inspire, and were accused of seeking out other bomb-making guides in preparation for an attack.

Now Feinstein, a big fan of America’s surveillance apparatus, wants to make both Inspire and the 1969 Anarchist Cookbook illegal to make available online.

“We must remain vigilant against these types of attacks and place a high priority on tracking and interdicting such plots,” the fifth-term Senator said.

Pointing up   When will American politicians, like this stupid woman, start to realize that they do not control the Internet. As a Canadian, I take offense at the suggestion that this technology challenged woman should have any impact on what is available to me, or anyone else for that matter, on the Internet.

4 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 16, 2015

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out;  Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier;  Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop;  If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid;  Five commands Mac admins should know;  March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win;  Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption;  Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking;  PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP;  10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects;  Steam hits 1,000 Linux games;  Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans;  Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features;  Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits;  Smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid – Lenovo may have publicly buried bloatware, but it’s anything but dead. After the company’s Superfish scandal, we shopped Best Buy and found it alive and well on major vendors’ PC offerings. A little research should save you from the worst of it, though. Here’s what we learned.

What’s your pa$$word? Secure your organization by securing your accounts – The topic of password security has been spoken about continually for the past two decades. However, passwords continue to be a problem for almost every organization, and “password” and “qwerty” are still among the most common passwords in the world. Let’s go through seven basic facts about authentication and see if your accounts are as secure as they should be.

Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier – Sprint really, really wants you to ditch your current carrier and switch over to its network. And it’s prepared to pay a hefty price for your business. The company on Friday announced it will reimburse all of the costs to switch, including any early termination fees and remaining payments on your current plan, “no matter what is owed.” This means if you still owe money on your iPhone installment plan, Sprint will pay it — along with any fees you incur for breaking your contract.

Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google has finally announced the long awaited Android 5.1 update after its not-so-secret debut on Android One devices in the Philippines. This new build of Lollipop is rolling out to Nexus devices right now, but what’s in it? The official changelog was severely lacking in detail, but now that it’s hitting devices we can see all the tweaks to this version of Android. Let’s check it out.

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out – Free is always good. But when free equates to helpful and/or productive, free is outstanding. If you spend enough time on the Google Play Store, you will eventually come across apps that fit that category ─ free apps that actually improve your daily life in some way. But trudging through the muck and mire of the free games, shopping apps, and other (countless) apps that do nothing more than take up precious storage space can take a lot of time. That’s where I come in. I’ve spent plenty of time digging through the Google Play Store to come up with a list of solid free apps — all of which are must-haves in one way or another — that everyone should give a try. What are these apps? Let’s find out.

You can buy two of these Windows tablets for less than the price of Windows – How much did you pay for your last PC? I’m willing to bet it was a lot more than $48, which is how much this new Windows tablet will set you back. This is the Ployer MOMO7W, and yes, you really could buy two of them for less than the price of a copy of Windows 8.1. A full version is going for about $101 on Amazon right now. That’s insane, right? A Windows PC for less than half that price? How is that even possible?

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March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win NCAA tournament – March Madness? Not really. Microsoft’s Bing took the sane route and picked undefeated Kentucky to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, topping Duke in the title game. The real news, however, is that Microsoft’s Bracket Builder tool went live Sunday night. After crunching what it said were more than 9.2 quintillion combinations, Bing has picked a winner for every game in the tournament—and it will even handily export the bracket to the NCAA’s own tournament pool for you to compete against celebrities and other players.

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Facebook’s updated community standards explain what it will ban – The updated policy reiterates Facebook’s stance against harassment, but provides “more guidance on policies related to self-injury, dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation, nudity, hate speech, and violence and graphic content.” Facebook again stressed that its policies weren’t being radically altered. “While some of this guidance is new, it is consistent with how we’ve applied our standards in the past.”

New mobile app Graphiti can add style to pictures, websites – A new app for the iPhone lets you perform street art directly on pictures and live websites, then share the results with friends, with no worry of getting arrested for vandalism.

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Windows 10 to support peer-to-peer downloading of apps and updates – Peer-to-peer downloads will be optional, and if enabled they will support two modes: systems will be able to either retrieve updates from other machines on the same local network, or from both the local network and PCs on the Internet. It’s not immediately clear what technology is used for the peer-to-peer patching.

Pro tip: Five commands Mac admins should know – Mac admins are responsible for a great deal of equipment maintenance and end-user requests. Jesus Vigo goes over five commands admins can use to work smarter, not harder.

The master list of Google Easter eggs worth checking out (pictures) – Google tries hard to maintain a sense of humor through surprises tucked throughout its Web properties. Here are all the best Easter eggs you need to check out.

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YouTube Now Supports 360-Degree Videos – It’s not quite as immersive as some of the virtual-reality projects attracting investors, but YouTube’s addition of support for 360-degree videos could initially reach a broader audience. Out of the gate, YouTube’s new videos look pretty great even if you haven’t strapped a VR headset to your face.

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The Internet is for (Virtual Reality) porn…? – There’s a lot of excitement about virtual reality, but could the first breakout application be VR porn? At SXSW, it’s thought that porn will become a multi-billion dollar application within a year.

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking – Right now, as you kick back on your couch and daydream about your next smart home upgrade, you may not realize it, but you’re awash in data. From Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats to Bluetooth-accessible door locks to Z-Wave-connected alarm sensors to Zigbee-networked lightbulbs, there could be an array or wireless signals criss-crossing your house. Why do we need so many different technologies that essentially do the same thing?

Security:

New ransomware is sleazing around the internet owning gamers – Heads up, PC gamers. There’s a new strain of cryptographic malware called TeslaCrypt sleazing around the internet that wants to get it grubby little claws on your save files. It works the same way that CryptoLocker does: it snoops through the contents of your hard drive until it finds the files it’s after. Once they’re located, they’re taken hostage using strong encryption. The list of affected games is already pretty big: most Valve, EA, and Bethesda titles, WoW, League of Legends, Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft, and Day Z are all marked. Not even your Minecraft files are safe, for crying out loud. This digital vermin even goes after Steam, RPG Maker, Unity, and Unreal Engine files!

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Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption – Security and privacy are becoming more and more important as we transmit much more than just words via email. Yahoo is developing two new technologies to protect your data and create security solutions. Soon, any sensitive data that you send using email, from business documents to personal information, can be kept secure using an advanced end-to-end (e2e) encryption plugin for Yahoo Mail. And, if you forget your password, Yahoo has come up with a new solution for that as well. Yahoo is calling their new password retrieval system On-demand passwords.

BlackBerry announces SecuTablet, a modified Galaxy Tab S – While it may have the outward appearance of a standard Galaxy Tab S, this tablet is not meant for everyday consumers, and it’s $2,380 price tag makes that clear. The SecuTablet is built with a purpose of preventing sensitive data from leaking to the wild, and does so with voice and data encryption from a built-in Secusmart Security Card. But that doesn’t mean the tablet will be a boring, work-software-only kind of device. Typical entertainment and social apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter can be installed on the SecuTablet without worry of security compromises. This is where IBM’s software comes in, keeping secured apps and data isolated from personal items, including potentially malicious apps.

Company News:

Intel: PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP – Summary:The company’s recent results suggest a slowdown in firms leaving the ancient OS behind and upgrading to new systems. Why won’t they update?

Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features By Limiting Social Graph Access – Talk about timing: Twitter confirms they’ve bought Meerkat-competitor Periscope, and but a few hours later Twitter makes a move that kills off a few Meerkat features. Much of Meerkat’s success and draw lays in its tight integration with Twitter — something that many have noted could be an issue moving forward, be it that Twitter decides to get into live video themselves. Which, of course, they’ve just done. And now Twitter has begun to cut off off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph.

Facebook Buys And Shuts Down Shopping Site TheFind To Boost Commerce In Ads – Facebook today announced it has acquired personalized shopping search engine TheFind to help improve its commerce ads. TheFind had raised $26 million from Lightspeed and Redpoint since getting off the ground around 2005, but will now be shut down. Some, but not all, members of the team are joining Facebook.

Google wants Firefox users to set it as their default search engine – Google has started embedding a two-inch pop-up on searches made through the Firefox Web browser to combat Yahoo! being set as its default option.

Games and Entertainment:

The Greatest Gaming Tournaments in the World – “E-sports” is the term that has been coined to describe this new world of competitive gaming, and the stakes are high. Some tournaments have prize payouts into the six figures, and major stadiums get packed to the rafters with people watching the action. If you want to get involved in the tournament scene, the following list will help you get started. It runs down the biggest events around the globe and what competitors do to get the right to play there. Some are open to everyone, while others are the finish line for brackets that run for months beforehand.

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Steam hits 1,000 Linux games days after Valve’s big Steam Machine reveal – Steam’s love affair with Linux continues, and the infatuation is paying off in spades for Linux gamers. At the moment, there are 1005 games that support Linux and SteamOS on Steam. That’s out of 4817 total games for all platforms on Steam, or 20.8% of all the games on Steam. And that’s just games—not DLC items, software, demos, or trailers. But, if you expand the search to include everything, there’s 1856 items in the Linux + SteamOS category.

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‘Seinfeld’ streaming deal reportedly worth over $100 million could be nearing completion – According to the Wall Street Journal, multiple players are bidding for the rights to the sitcom. Naturally, Amazon and Hulu are strong contenders with Yahoo also throwing its hat into the ring. Netflix is noticeably absent from the list of top contenders with sources stating that they are not interested in the rights to Seinfeld. Netflix is most likely passing on the show having just acquired “Friends” last year for a hefty undisclosed sum. While there is no firm pricing for Seinfeld’s 180 episode, sources state that the contract could be worth north of $500,000 per episode.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects – The Raspberry Pi’s very existence can be chalked up to creativity. Ebon Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation created the $35 mini-PC to inspire students to learn computer science and enable tinkerers to dream up wild projects without breaking the bank. And they have! In honor of Pi Day—March 14, or 3/14—and the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 2, we’re basking in 10 of the most creative, surprising, and downright interesting Raspberry Pi creations crafted since the micro-PC’s launch. Even better, most of the creators share full details on how to replicate these crazy innovative projects in your own home. Let’s dig in!

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# 3 –  Picrowave: Why bother owning a traditional microwave when you can swap out some innards and create your very own Pi-powered food nuker? Developer Nathan Broadbent took his microwave apart, redesigned the touchpad, and added some new functions like voice control, a barcode scanner to access an online database of cooking times, a web-based interface for remote access, and auto-tweets for when the timer is done.

Take an incredible drone flight through the world’s biggest cave – Equipped with a DJI Phantom 2, a Canon 6D and a GoPro Hero 4 Black, photographer Ryan Deboodt has produced some stunning footage of Hang Sơn Đoòng, the world’s biggest cave.

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This Guy Turned A Quadcopter Into A Star Wars Speeder Bike And It’s Amazing – Okay, this is the last quadcopter-to-“Star Wars Universe”-thing we (or at least I) will post, I promise. BUT SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THIS THING. It is perfection. About 30 seconds into the video, I actually stood up and whooped.

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Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans – A poll by Reuters/Ipsos has found that more than 69% of Americans surveyed had no desire to buy the Apple Watch and 46% of those had heard nothing about Apple’s latest product. Polls show 3 percent (or 10 percent or 30 percent) will buy Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: Now that Apple has presented its watch, the largest question emerges: how many people will buy it. Can anyone know?

UK safety tests show smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones – Transportation safety agencies have long said that using a handheld device such as a smartphone is a dangerous distraction to drivers. You pay less attention to the road, and reaction times are greatly slowed. But what about the continually growing presence of wearables like smartwatches? Surely they must be much less distracting than a phone, and with their heavy reliance on voice controls, they should be about as distracting as standard timepieces, right? Well, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says just the opposite.

Cuba has allowed the launch of the country’s first free, public Wi-Fi – Cuba is taking small steps to loosen its grip on internet access in the country. Recently, a cultural center in Havana began rolling out access to free, public Wi-Fi — the first of its kind in Cuba. The country currently prioritizes its limited bandwidth for schools and businesses, but this is the first time the Cuban government has allowed a free, public Wi-Fi hub, AP reports. The cultural center is run by the Cuban visual artist Kcho, who has ties to the state government.

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(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fixing “Videogames” – Videogames are taking over the world. Videogames are bigger than movies, books, music, cars, mobile phones and sandwiches. Videogames are diverse, wonderful, causes for celebration. Videogames are art. Videogames are the tipping point of a 21st century revolution. Videogames aren’t some corner obsessive activity on the fringes of culture. Videogames make all the money. Videogames are going to win. And yet games don’t seem to be taking over the world. Games struggle to gain a wider acceptance equivalent to their footprint.

Something to think about:

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Pointing up   Thanks Delenn13

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView – After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder

Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache

Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page.

VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden at FutureFest: Mass Spying Isn’t Going To Stop the Next Terror Attack – It may come as a surprise, but Edward Snowden has defended spying as necessary; he just wants surveillance to have real oversight—and not to be conducted against all of us.

In a video interview broadcast at FutureFest in London, Snowden said it’s important to see that, “some of these programmes do serve purposes, so we see where to draw the line”.

And key to that is understanding the true purpose of mass surveillance: The targets aren’t terrorists, and it’s never stopped a terrorist attack. The attackers in the Charlie Hedbo, Canadian Parliament, and Australian shootings were all known to their governments, he noted. “They’re not going to stop the next attacks either,” he said. “Because they’re not public safety programs. They’re spying programmes.”

However, he noted that “they’re extremely valuable in terms of spying.” Spying has benefits, he said, giving governments information on everything from trade negotiations to foreign militaries. “Some of these things are valuable, and you want to retain these… but you have to have this debate in the public,” he said.

Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits – Despite the fact that no federal license plate legislation has been proposed, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has sent a pre-emptive letter to top Congressional lawmakers, warning them against any future restrictions of automated license plate readers. The IACP claims to be the “world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives.”

As the letter, which was published last week, states:

We are deeply concerned about efforts to portray automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology as a national real-time tracking capability for law enforcement. The fact is that this technology and the data it generates is not used to track people in real time. ALPR is used every day to generate investigative leads that help law enforcement solve murders, rapes, and serial property crimes, recover abducted children, detect drug and human trafficking rings, find stolen vehicles, apprehend violent criminal alien fugitives, and support terrorism investigations.

Sarah Guy, a spokeswoman for the IACP, told Ars that current state and local restrictions have made the police lobby group concerned at the federal level.

The cameras scan at an extremely high rate, usually around 60 plates per second. Law enforcement policies vary widely concerning how long that information can be retained. Different agencies keep that data anywhere from a few weeks to indefinitely. Some cities have even mounted such cameras at their city borders, monitoring who comes in and out.

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Oakland Police Department

The Orwellian re-branding of “mass surveillance” as merely “bulk collection” – Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.

NYPD caught red-handed sanitizing police brutality Wikipedia entries: “Garner raised both his arms in the air” changed to “flailed his arms about.” – IP addresses linked to the New York Police Department’s computer network have been used to sanitize Wikipedia entries about cases of police brutality.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won’t be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD’s entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for “building community trust and justice” with the nation’s policing agencies.

As many as 85 IP addresses connected to 1 Police Plaza altered entries for some of the most high-profile police abuse cases, including those for victims Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, Capital New York said. Edits have also been made to other entries covering NYPD scandals, its stop-and-frisk program, and the department leadership.

One of the most brazen alterations concerned Eric Garner, who was killed by police last year during an arrest that was captured on video by an onlooker. The mobile phone video went viral, prompting widespread protests and a grand jury investigation. On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury agreed not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection to Garner’s death, despite the medical examiner ruling it a homicide. The same day as the grand jury announcement, the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia was altered from IP addresses traced to 1 Police Plaza. Those alterations can be seen here and here.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 4, 2015

Survey: Hardly Anybody Uses a Password Manager;  The Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  How to Get Bluetooth to Actually Work;  Five obscure Android apps that should be on your must-use list;  Mass infection malware attack targets Android;  Chromebook: How to run Windows programs in a browser tab for free;  Five kits for building drones, gadgets and robots with your Raspberry Pi;  Flaw in GoPro update mechanism reveals users’ Wi-Fi passwords;  BitTorrent Sync 2.0 adds pro features;  Alibaba Is Expanding Its Cloud Services To The U.S.  Mysterious Android App Emails Your Location to Creepers;  Some Bloggers Really Piss Me Off – Lucy Is One;  Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Survey: Hardly Anybody Uses a Password Manager – Once you’ve installed a password management tool, you only have to remember one password. So how come the vast majority of consumers still rely on bad passwords and sticky notes? The survey evaluated password practices in the U.S. and U.K. by polling 1,000 consumers. It evaluated how well participants hewed to correct password practices such as using a different password for every site, creating strong, unguessable passwords, and changing passwords every month or two. The results? Well, what did you expect? Passwords: they’re doing it wrong. Siber Systems, the survey’s sponsor, offers the well-known RoboForm password manager. While RoboForm is one of our recommended best password managers, others have rated even better. If money is tight, don’t fret. We’ve also identified the best free password managers. So, if you’re not using a password manager, start now! Don’t be one of the 92 percent whose passwords are painfully lame.

Paperspace Lets Anyone Access A Better Personal Computer That Lives In The Cloud – Imagine never having to buy new and expensive hardware to upgrade your personal computer with more speed and storage space. That’s the vision behind Y Combinator-backed Paperspace, a new company launching today, which is building a full, personal computer that lives in the cloud, which you access from any web browser. Today, there are number of solutions for accessing computing power via the cloud thanks to companies like Amazon and others, but these services require users to be more technical in order to get started. Paperspace is different because it’s aiming to wrap up a similar service in terms of accessing a remote, cloud computer, but offering it through an easy-to-use console where everyday consumers can just click a button to log into their upgraded, more powerful remote machine.

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

When words won’t cut it, express yourself with reaction GIFs – When you really want to get your point across, nothing beats a hilarious little video clip. Here’s how to find them and use them.

Pointing up     Or, make your own. Checkout today’s free downloads for an open source GIF application with surprising functionality.

How to Get Bluetooth to Actually Work – While the most recent updates to Bluetooth technology have added better pairing, increased range and lowest-ever power usage, you may still encounter the odd obstacle when getting set up. Troubleshoot your Bluetooth connection with these tips and let us know how they work for you in the comments.

Five obscure Android apps that should be on your must-use list – If you’re an Android user, you know the Google Play Store is filled with apps — many of which are outstanding, but some of which… are not. Finding a few of the hidden, lesser-known gems isn’t a terribly challenging task, but it can take a while. So to save you a bit of time, I searched the Play Store and came up with five apps you may never have heard of but might benefit from using. Let’s see if any of them fits your bill.

5 TV antenna tricks for the modern-day cord cutter – When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone had cable, and owning a TV antenna meant you were stuck in the past. But with the rise of cord cutting, the lowly over-the-air antenna has experienced a rebirth. More than just an old-school way to get basic channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, an HD antenna can pair with all kinds of high-tech hardware, unlocking capabilities that were never possible before. If you’ve ditched cable TV and are using an antenna for over-the-air channels, here are five ways to take it to the next level:

Strip search: Meet the Calvin and Hobbes search engine – If you are serious fan of Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip, then you need to be made aware of the existence of the Calvin and Hobbes search engine created by Michael Yingling. It lets you search by keyword, so you can find the strips, for example, that have Calvin and Hobbes waking up to a snow day, battling Calvin’s nemesis Susie, or seeing the world via Calvin’s alter ego Stupendous Man. You must use an exact phrase when searching by keyword, and you can also search by date.

Google Contacts gets fresh design, better tool for dealing with duplicates – Google is cleaning up your contacts. Today, the company teased out a preview of its new and improved Contacts page, where you view and manage the people, phone numbers and email addresses in your Google account. It looks a whole lot cleaner and promises to help make getting rid of duplicate entries easier.

You can now embed OneNote images, tweets, and YouTube into Microsoft’s Sway – Microsoft said Tuesday that it has greatly expanded the types of content and sources that can be embedded into its Sway tool, with an eye toward OneNote. And, just for fun, you can embed other Microsoft Sways into your Sways, as well. Microsoft has also bumped up its suggested search terms to include tweets and YouTube videos, allowing any Sway user to embed a wealth of content in new Sways.

Chromebook: How to run Windows programs in a browser tab for free – Most of the time we focus on helpful tips for Windows users, but today’s article will also appeal to anyone with a Chromebook. A company named Cameyo is known for its software that lets you run Windows program from a USB stick, but it also offers a virtualization service that lets you run full-blown Windows desktop programs in a browser for free. Cameyo isn’t perfect. Virtual programs tend to run slowly, some don’t work at all, and using personal files with the apps is not as obvious as it could be. Nevertheless, Cameyo can come in handy in a pinch when you’re away from your primary PC. Here’s how it works.

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Twitter CFO floats idea of newspaper-like ‘daily edition’ – People already check Twitter to see what’s happening. But news junkies who follow lots of accounts may have dozens if not hundreds of tweets to comb through every morning. Twitter thinks it can address this, partly by better organizing the content posted to its site and presenting it in new ways.

Five kits for building drones, gadgets and robots with your Raspberry Pi – A selection of kits that make it easier to build your first gadget with the $35 Linux board.

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BitTorrent Sync 2.0 adds pro features – More than two years after its initial public release, BitTorrent Sync has been updated to version 2.0 and dropped its “beta” designation. Based on the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol, it enables users to securely sync folders among their own devices and share them with other users, without relying on cloud servers like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple’s iCloud Drive. Although the software remains free, version 2.0 adds an optional Pro tier—aimed primarily at business users—with extra convenience features and access controls, for $40 per user per year (with volume discounts for more than five licenses). All users of BitTorrent Sync 2.0 get 30 days of free access to the Pro features.

No reboot patching comes to Linux 4.0 – One reason to love Linux on your servers or in your data-center is that you so seldom needed to reboot it. True, critical patches require a reboot, but you could go months without rebooting. Now, with the latest changes to the Linux kernel you may be able to go years between reboots.

Security:

Mass infection malware attack targets Android – AdaptiveMobile uncovered one of the single largest messaging-initiated mobile malware outbreaks. The malware, dubbed Gazon, which uses victims’ mobile phone contacts to propagate, sends messages to their contacts linking to offers for spoof Amazon vouchers, which when opened, installs malware to their Android device. The attack, which went live on the 25th February and originated in the US, has infected thousands of mobile devices in more than 30 countries around the world, including Canada, UK, France, India, Korea, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines.

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Flaw in GoPro update mechanism reveals users’ Wi-Fi passwords – A vulnerability in the update mechanism for the wireless networks operated by GoPro cameras has allowed a security researcher to easily harvest over a 1,000 login credentials (including his own). The popular rugged, wearable cameras can be controlled via an app, but in order to do so the user has to connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi network. Israel-based infosec expert Ilya Chernyakov discovered the flaw when he had to access the network of a friend’s camera, but the friend forgot the login credentials.

Mysterious Android App Emails Your Location to Creepers – Smartphones have brought us wonderful things, such as Snapchat, Flappy Bird, and the ever present fear that someone might be tracking our every move. This week, researchers at Malwarebytes  tipped us off to a malicious Android app that emails your location to an unseen operator. It’s scary and it’s called Spy.MailGPS. Before we dive in, I must note that location tracking is a huge issue on all smartphones. Smartphone makers and app developers have come under fire for accidentally exposing users’ location, and for harvesting that same information. It’s a problem that’s not going away, but MailGPS is much scarier.

US air traffic control computer system vulnerable to terrorist hackers – The US system for guiding airplanes is open to vulnerabilities from outside hackers, the Government Accountability Office said Monday. The weaknesses that threaten the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to ensure the safety of flights include the failure to patch known three-year-old security holes, the transmission and storage of unencrypted passwords, and the continued use of “end-of-life” key servers. Among the findings:

A Group ‘Hacked’ the NSA’s Website to Demonstrate a Widespread Bug – A group of researchers only needed $104 and 8 hours of Amazon’s cloud computing power to hack the NSA’s website. And their feat was made possible by a bug that, ironically, was practically created by the NSA itself and its anti-encryption policies from 20 years ago. The NSA’s site was just the guinea pig to demonstrate a newly-disclosed internet flaw called FREAK. Now, as crypto expert Matthew Green correctly pointed out, this wasn’t really a “hack.” Mounting a man-in-the-middle attack against NSA.gov is not the same as hacking the NSA (as an always-appropriate XKCD cartoon illustrates).

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Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots – A global Wi-Fi hacking experiment exposed major security issues regarding the browsing habits of users around the globe. Avast mobile security experts traveled to cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia to observe public Wi-Fi activity in nine major metropolitan areas. They were equipped with a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop and an application that monitored local Wi-Fi traffic at 2.4 GHz frequency – a free app that is widely available. Because HTTP traffic is unprotected, the Avast team was able to view all of the users’ browsing activity, including domain and page history, searches, personal login information, videos, emails, and comments.

Company News:

Google’s Schmidt meets EU competition chief to discuss antitrust woes – Google chairman Eric Schmidt and other company officials have met with the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to discuss the ongoing antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices. The Monday meeting was the first time Google executives had the chance to talk to Vestager about the antitrust case since she took over from her predecessor, Joaquín Almunia, on Nov. 1 last year.

Alibaba Is Expanding Its Cloud Services To The U.S. To Give Amazon New Competition – Alibaba, the Chinese commerce firm which held the largest IPO in history last year, is bringing cloud computing services in the U.S. after it announced a data center in Silicon Valley. The base — the location of which Alibaba isn’t revealing for security reasons — is the first for its Aliyun division outside of China, where it claims 1.4 million cloud services customers. The company has four data centers in China and one in Hong Kong, and it plans to expand that reach into Europe and Southeast Asia before the end of the year.

BlackBerry CEO: I’m open to creating a tablet again – That’s if CEO John Chen thinks the opportunity is right. “It’s not in the works, but it’s on my mind,” Chen said in an interview at the Mobile World Congress conference here. A BlackBerry tablet could satisfy the needs of a small but fiercely loyal group of productivity-focused customers who have stuck with the struggling smartphone maker and its operating system, potentially giving it a new revenue stream. But there aren’t enough BlackBerry faithful to sustain such a business, especially given the tablet category saw its first year-over-year decline in shipments in the fourth quarter.

Pizza Hut, Visa Experimenting With In-Car Ordering – The pizza maker is working with Visa and tech consultancy Accenture to develop a concept car that will test mobile online purchases on the go. Visa Checkout would be integrated into a car’s dashboard for in-car purchases, like that pizza you want to pick up on the way home. Place your order via voice to make sure you eyes stay on the road. Pizza Hut will provide in-car access to menus, delivery, and pick-up options, while beacon technology will notify Pizza Hut workers when your car is pulling in to the restaurant. It’s just a concept right now, but is on display at MWC in Barcelona.

Apple tops Samsung in quarterly smartphone sales for the first time since 2011 – Apple sold 74.8 million smartphones globally during the fourth quarter, up from 50.2 million in the year-earlier quarter, according to Gartner. Apple’s decision to offer phones with larger screens paid off, the research firm said. U.S. and Chinese buyers are especially keen on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, said Gartner, adding that demand for the phones is still strong in both countries. The larger screens also gave Apple customers a reason to replace their older phones. Samsung, by comparison, sold 73 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, down from 83.3 million in 2013’s fourth quarter. Samsung had held the quarterly sales title since 2011.

Apple in settlement talks with electric-car battery maker – Lawsuit accused Apple of luring away key engineers to work within a new battery division, fueling speculation that the iPhone maker has ambitions of developing an electric car of its own.

Games and Entertainment:

This is Nvidia Shield: a closer look at the 4K Android TV game console – Nvidia touted three big announces at its GDC 2015 press conference, but all of them center around its latest Shield device: a home console powered by Tegra X1, running Android TV, and capable of playing games like Crysis 3 locally and streaming premium titles through its also-just-announced Grid service. The $199 console itself, coming this May, embodies Nvidia’s design language — sharp edges, a mix of gloss and matte black, a green glow that “cracks” through the front of the system. (The controller, on the other hand, feels like the opposite of all that.) Nvidia has made a lot of promises with the capabilities, and we won’t know how well it’ll make good on those promises until we try it ourselves. But the hardware itself? Here you go!

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Crysis 3 on NVIDIA SHIELD with Android TV hands-on – The Android version of Crysis 3 has been revealed, and here it is – in a very early form. This game is set to be released later this year – likely at the same time as the NVIDIA SHIELD home entertainment device – but for now it’s in a very early stage of development. This is not a GRID game – it’s running natively on Android. This is a real-deal Android game we’ll be able to download from Google Play for NVIDIA SHIELD later this year.

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Insomniac announces next major DLC for ‘Sunset Overdrive’ – “Sunset Overdrive” will get a new downloadable expansion in less than a month, bringing an entirely new area to the game as well as new weapons and a new traversal mechanic.

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Xbox 360 gamers get Preview program; can now reserve their Xbox One Games with Gold – Microsoft is paying attention to Xbox 360 owners, with the company now launching the Xbox 360 Preview Program. Not only that, but 360 gamers can now reserve their Xbox One Games with Gold even if they don’t own the new-gen console. Users on the Xbox 360 that are subscribed to Gold can now start building up their games collection for the Xbox One, even without owning the console. The feature, which recently went live, allows these users to essentially reserve their Free Games with Gold without downloading them.

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ARM Ready to Light Up the Gaming World – The U.K. chip maker’s Geomerics subsidiary on Tuesday released Enlighten 3, an advanced, dynamic lighting solution for game engines like Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 3 and 4. Enlighten 3 comes with Forge, an editing tool enabling game developers to “quickly understand the capabilities of Enlighten and rapidly iterate on high-quality, real-time lighting,” ARM said.

Valve Announces Source 2, And It’ll Be Free – It’s been a good week for game developers. Unreal Engine 4 went free. Unity 5 came out, and a massive chunk of its once premium features went free. And now: Valve has just announced Source 2, the next generation of their Source game engine… and sure enough, it’s “free to content developers”.

Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s Still Way Too Easy for Government Employees to Hide Official Conversations – Think Hillary Clinton was the first government employee to be caught using a personal email account to conduct official business? Government employees have been doing this sort of thing for years. Both the US and Canadian governments have information laws that require government correspondence to be logged, retained, and made available to the public through Freedom of Information or Access to Information laws, respectively. But both governments make skirting these requirements surprisingly easy, and in some cases, employees are only too happy to do so.

Petraeus plea deal reveals two-tier justice system for leaks – The deal brokered by federal prosecutors with the former general and CIA director is another example of a senior official being slapped on the wrist for serious violations while lesser officials are harshly prosecuted for relatively minor infractions.

Some Bloggers Really Piss Me Off – Lucy Is One – One of the first blogs I go to every day is Bill Mullins’ page. He is a wealth of knowledge and each day he gives me links that I follow up on. Bill’s March 3rd page led to stuff written by Lucy Steigerwald, a writer that pisses me off because of the crap she lays out for people to read. Everybody knows there are good cops and bad cops – same with plumbers, photographers, electricians and every other known category of professions. Lucy writes stuff to incite the reader. Just like newspapers that write about cops only to sell newspapers or news agencies that follow incidents about police activity only to incite their viewers with “their angle” on a story. A lot of the time, before the full facts of the incident come to light. What I Learned Writing About Bad Cops for a Year and a Half is an example of this broad’s work. I hate linking to her stuff as I am pro cop. Obviously Lucy is not as she has chosen to post stories about cops first to earn a living and second, to incite her readers – just look below at her bio.

Ferguson police showed patterns of racial bias for years, says Justice Department – The Ferguson Police Department violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents for years, says a Department of Justice report expected to be released tomorrow. Federal investigators found that, well before the shooting death of Michael Brown last year, police activity in Ferguson, Missouri, was fueled by racial discrimination against the predominantly black population, resulting in unjustified traffic stops, arrests without probable cause, and the use of excessive force.

The Fogo smart flashlight is a survivalist’s dream tool – After turning heads and bagging multiple accolades at CES in January, the Fogo flashlight is now trying to charm the Kickstarter community into loosening its purse strings to the tune of $125,000. Truth be told, calling it a flashlight would be a bit unfair to both Fogo and flashlights. Because the Fogo aspires to be a digital Swiss army knife, cramming into its IPX8-rated waterproof frame a 1000-lumen flashlight, GPS receiver, backlit LCD display, Bluetooth LE, 128MB flash storage, accelerometer, magnetometer, “bicycle computer,” and much more. Further, Fogo’s lone USB port is intended to function as a hardware expansion slot that’ll let users attach purpose-built accessories.

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Three steps to weasel-woodpecker acceptance – It’s hard not to question the veracity of this image. You mumble “photoshop” as you look at it. Fortunately, the internet has answers: this is the real deal. A man by the name of Martin Le-May took a series of pictures of the pair when he heard distress calls from the bird — a European green woodpecker — in Hornchurch Country Park in East London, according to NBC. You finally accept that it’s real. After all, this has happened before.

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You finally accept that it’s real. After all, this has happened before.

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Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works – In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla captured the imagination of the world with his invention of the Tesla coil, a device that could transmit electricity through the air, no wires required. More than 100 years later, the world has responded by adapting this breakthrough technology… mainly to recharge their electric toothbrushes. How will your phone, your lights, and even your electric car someday be powered without a wire? Here’s a primer on how wireless power works.

Something to think about:

“Wrong’ is one of those concepts that depends on witnesses.”

–    Scott AdamsDilbert, 11-05-09

Today’s Free Downloads:

ScreenToGif – This tool allows you to record a selected area of your screen and save as a Gif.

Features:

Record your screen and save directly to a gif looped animation.

Pause and continue to record.

Move the window around to record what you want.

You can add Text, Subtitles and Title Frames.

Edit the frames, add filters, revert, make yoyo style, change frame delay, add border, add progress bars.

Export frames.

Crop and Resize.

You can work even while the program is recording.

Remove frames that you don’t want.

Select a folder to save the file automatically or select one before enconding.

Add the system cursor to your recording.

Very small sized, portable and multilanguage executable.

Start/Pause and stop your recording using your F keys.

Multi language: Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Greek, French, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese and Tamil.

GreenScreen unchanged pixels to save kilobytes.

You can apply actions/filters to selected frames.

Fullscreen Recording.

Snapshot Mode.

Drag and Drop to add frames in the editor.

Pointing up   I often use this open source application to play around and have a little fun. It’s a neat little app with enormous capabilities.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Privacy advocates find Obama proposal lacking – A consumer privacy proposal from U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration gives people too little control over their personal data and companies too much latitude to use that information, a coalition of 14 privacy and digital rights groups said.

The Obama administration’s consumer privacy bill of rights, released late Friday, allows companies holding personal data to determine whether consumers should be able to demand changes to the information, the groups said in a letter to Obama, sent Tuesday.

The White House proposal contains several “shortcomings,” said the groups, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Watchdog, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

You Can Now Easily Send Encrypted Texts to Anyone, and the NSA Is Gonna Hate It – The NSA is not thrilled about the fact that encrypted communications are becoming easier and more widespread than ever before. Its director, Admiral Mike Rogers, said as much last week during a cybersecurity event in Washington, D.C., where he joined the FBI in asking for a “legal framework” by which government agencies can insert backdoors into commonly used communications software.

So chances are, NSA and co. are not going to like Si​gnal, a cross-platform app that now lets you send encrypted text, picture and video messages to virtually anyone with a smartphone.

The free app is made by Open Whisper Systems, makers of TextSecure and Redphone, which allow Android users to send end-to-end encrypted texts and calls, respectively. That means that short of someone hacking your phone and stealing your encryption keys, no one—not even the app’s creators—can eavesdrop on your calls and texts.

We Give Up Our Data Too Cheaply – Our data has enormous value when we put it all together. Our movement records help with urban planning. Our financial records enable the police to detect and prevent money laundering. Our posts and tweets help researchers understand how we tick as a society. There are all sorts of creative and interesting uses for personal data, uses that give birth to new knowledge and make all of our lives better.

Our data is also valuable to each of us individually, to keep private or disclose as we want. And there’s the rub. Using data pits group interest against self-interest, the core tension humanity has been struggling with since we came into existence.

The government offers us this deal: if you let us have all of your data, we can protect you from crime and terrorism. It’s a rip-off. It doesn’t work. And it overemphasizes group security at the expense of individual security.

The bargain Google offers us is similar, and it’s similarly out of balance: if you let us have all of your data and give up your privacy, we will show you advertisements you want to see—and we’ll throw in free web search, e-mail, and all sorts of other services. Companies like Google and Facebook can only make that bargain when enough of us give up our privacy.

Canada turfed out more spies to the U.S. than elsewhere – New figures show Canada has turfed out five spies in the past decade from a surprising source country — its best friend and ally, the United States.

From 2004 to 2014 Ottawa sent back to the U.S. five of a total of 21 of those barred from Canada “on security grounds for engaging in an act of espionage that is against Canada or that is contrary to Canada’s interests,” according to a document produced by Canada Border Services Agency.

It’s not clear whether the espionage was by foreign government agents or whether it was industrial espionage — that is, spying to obtain state secrets or spying that targeted intellectual property or corporate secrets.

James Clapper: Kill the Patriot Act, But Don’t Blame Me If Another 9/11 Happens – Go ahead and let one of the most embattled provisions of the Patriot Act expire, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says. Just don’t blame the NSA when another terrorist attack happens, he says.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the bit of the law that allows the FBI and the NSA to scoop up mass telephone records from American accounts. The mass collection of “metadata,” which includes the numbers your phone is calling, location information, how long your calls last, and more, was exposed by Edward Snowden’s very first revelations roughly two years ago, and has since become a prime target of NSA reform bills.

President Obama, in fact, restricted the amount and types of records that could be scooped up by intelligence agencies. The Obama administration came to the conclusion that metadata hasn’t prevented even one single terrorist attack. Metadata, meanwhile, can be used to spy on you, which is why many civil liberty types, and, indeed, some in Congress, would rather it go away altogether.

“I hope everyone involved assumes the responsibility and it not be blamed, if we have another failure, exclusively on the intelligence community”

That’s actually set to happen on June 1, when Section 215 will expire. Clapper, speaking today at the Council on Foreign Relations, sounded as though he’s not looking forward to the prospect.

Edward Snowden willing to face trial in U.S. — if it’s fair – Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who leaked details of the agency’s surveillance programs, is willing to return to the U.S. and face criminal charges, if he’s assured of a fair trial, according to a Russian news report.

Snowden, now living in Russia, is ready to return to the U.S. on the condition that he’s guaranteed a fair trial, Snowden lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told journalists Tuesday, according to a report from Russian news agency TASS.

Several Snowden lawyers are negotiating his return to the U.S., Kucherena said. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has promised in a letter to Snowden’s lawyers that he would not face a death sentence, Kucherena added.

So far, the Department of Justice has guaranteed Snowden “will not be executed, not that he will receive a fair trial,” the lawyer told reporters.

Snowden continues to work in IT in Moscow and consults with several U.S. companies as well, Kucherena told reporters.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 4, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 19, 2015

Google pushes back on expansion of FBI hacking powers;  Thousands Join Legal Fight Against UK Surveillance — And You Can, Too;  Give your notebook a storage upgrade;  Best Antivirus Products Honored by AV-Test Institute;  10 best practices for voice-based applications;  5 free tools for editing images on a Chromebook;  The World’s 10 Best Tablets Are;  Top Adult Site RedTube Compromised, Redirects to Malware;  Internet of Things security check; Lenovo pre-installs adware on its systems, which could also steal your private data;  Reddit giving 10% of 2014 ad revenue to charity;  Companies Fighting US Government Barred From Naming Themselves, Because Security;  Xbox One March preview update;  This Museum Is Building a Video Game Hall of Fame;  Andy the Android emulator (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google pushes back on expansion of FBI hacking powers – As US law enforcement agencies look for more power over the digital realm, they’re facing increasing pushback from tech companies, particularly Google’s public policy arm. With a recent filing, Google pushed back against an obscure committee measure that would seek to give the FBI increased warrant power to seek out servers involved in illegal activity. The measure didn’t attract much attention when it was introduced to the Department of Justice last year, but today Google put it on the front page of the company’s public policy blog, calling out the measure as “a small rule change that could give the US government sweeping new warrant power.”

The World’s 10 Best Tablets Are – Looking for something to bridge the gap between laptop and smartphone? With Android, Apple, and Windows options, these ten top-rated tablets fit the bill. We tried them all, so you don’t have to. Here are our analysts’ picks of the world’s 10 best tablets.

Best Antivirus Products Honored by AV-Test Institute – The dedicated researchers at AV-Test Institute run constant tests on several dozen popular antivirus products under several different versions of Windows. Six times each year, they summarize their findings by rating and reporting on those products. This week marks AV-Test’s 2014 awards for the products that rated best in several different criteria.

Give your notebook a storage upgrade – Processors and RAM are fixed entities in a PC, but right from day one data is incessantly eating away at your storage space. And it’s not just your data (which you can manage) but endless gigabytes of temp files and cached junk.

10 best practices for voice-based applications – From automated phone systems to call center analytics to voice recognition features, the scope and importance of voice-based apps in the enterprise continues to grow.

How to sideload apps onto Amazon’s Fire TV – Installing apps from the Google Play Store can greatly expand your streaming-video catalog. We’ll show you the tricks to make it work.

iFixit now has an Android DIY repair portal – When new devices come out, we often look to iFixit for the lowdown on what’s under the hood. We also look to them for guidance on best practices for fixing things, or at least how much we can expect to spend for someone else to do it. For the DIY repair crowd, though, the site is an invaluable tool, and just became a lot more useful. Now, the iFixit crew has an Android portal, so you can repair your cracked Android everything.

5 free tools for editing images on a Chromebook – The native image editor built into Chromebooks is hidden and weak, but Chrome OS doesn’t support the powerful desktop image editing software available for Windows. Don’t fear! These free tools can help you tweak your pictures.

New Talking Barbie Can Have 2-Way Conversations With Kids – Imaginary conversations with dolls are so 20th century. A new Internet-connected Barbie arriving on store shelves this fall will let kids have two-way conversations with the doll. The necklace on the doll will feature both the microphone and the speaker that help enable the conversations. Hello Barbie will retail for $74.99 when it launches, likely in time for the holiday season. The doll requires a Wi-Fi connection to talk, though kids can of course continue to use Barbie the old-fashioned way when the Internet’s down.

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Hello Barbie is displayed at the Mattel showroom at the North American International Toy Fair in New York City on Feb. 14, 2015.

Cost for continued Windows XP support said to double this year – As it stands, commercial users of Windows XP pay around $200 per PC annually to see software support for the now-retired OS, but in two months the cost of support is expected to jump to $400 per PC annually, with a possible cap of $500,000 for an entire business should the number of supported PCs exceed the half-million dollar mark. As of this moment, the annual cap sits at $250,000. These updates tend to be security-related and are only meant as a temporary solution since Microsoft has made it clear that the support for XP will only exist for three years following the retirement of the OS.

Gmail mass email tips: Avoid the spammy look with the personalized touch – Make it look special (even if it was sent to 75 other people). Create your own mail merge in minutes, with some help from Google Sheets and a free script.

Security:

Top Adult Site RedTube Compromised, Redirects to Malware – This time around, the source of the problem is not malvertising, but rather a malicious iframe placed directly in the source code of redtube[dot]com, a pornographic site that boasts over 300 million visits a month. The attack doesn’t come from a malicious advertisement being loaded on the webpage, like was the case with xHamster, but rather the source code of RedTubes main page was modified to include a hidden piece of redirection code. The code is executed inside of an iFrame, which is basically like a browser window inside of your browser window that can point to any website the attacker wants. In this case the iFrame is set to be completely invisible to the user and navigates to the following malicious URLs:

Internet of Things security check: How 3 smart devices can be dumb about the risks – Internet of Things security is no longer a foggy future issue, as more and more such devices enter the market—and our lives. From self-parking cars to home automation systems to wearable smart devices, analysts currently estimate that some 50 billion to 200 billion devices could be connected to the Internet in 2020. Google CEO Eric Schmidt told world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, “there will be so many sensors, so many devices, that you won’t even sense it, it will be all around you,” he said. “It will be part of your presence all the time.” That’s hardly comforting when you consider how many of these smart devices still seem to be pretty dumb about security.

Mall security guards misuse CCTV to allegedly stalk women & share ‘sleaze file’ photos – Security guards in Australia’s Westfield Sydney shopping center are accused of stalking women via the mall’s CCTV before tagging, saving and sharing secret ‘sleaze file’ photos. An unidentified SecureCorp security guard told A Current Affair that the “misuse of security cameras particularly against women has been happening for years and is still happening.” He claims he was fired for blowing the whistle on behavior such as “Zooming in if girls were sitting down with short skirts, they’d zoom in between their legs.” He added, “A lot of it was CCTV footage; they would either burn it to a disk or put it on USB and take it home for their personal use.”

Hoping for spy reforms? Jeb Bush, dangerously close to being the next US prez, backs the NSA – Former Florida governor, brother of former President George W Bush, son of former President George H W Bush, and Republican frontrunner for the 2016 US presidential election, Jeb Bush … has strongly defended the NSA’s mass surveillance of innocent people. Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as part of his run for the White House, Bush made it clear that if he did become president he would retain the programs introduced under his brother’s administration. Fast forward to the 28-minute mark for the fun to begin in this vid, streamed live on Wednesday, of his talk:

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The NSA’s Undetectable Hard Drive Hack Was First Demonstrated a Year Ago – A group of ordinary security researchers warned this was possible, and in fact installed hard drive backdoors themselves, nearly a year ago. The paper ” Implementation and Implications of a Stealth Hard-Drive Backdoor,” published in March 2014 by a team of eight researchers from Eurecom in France, IBM Research in Zurich, and UCSD and Northeastern University in the US, reads almost exactly like security firm Kaspersky’s expose on the NSA malware. The full paper is absolutely worth your read if you’ve been fascinated by Kaspersky’s revelations.

Lenovo pre-installs adware on its systems, which could also steal your private data – The adware, named Superfish, is reportedly installed on devices out of the box and it’s a bit more difficult to get rid of it than you might expect. The software injects ads when users browse the web, with Google searches being a primary target. A number of antivirus programs report Superfish as adware and recommend uninstalling it. While that sounds pretty horrible it gets much worse. There are some reports showing that Superfish doesn’t just inject ads. It also installs its own security certificate which allows it to decode encrypted data such as the one sent between you and your bank. This could effectively allow the software to perform a man-in-the-middle attack on your private data. Internet Explorer and Chrome could be affected by this, while Firefox is currently safe thanks to its independent certificate repository.

Company News:

Sony throwing in the towel on phones and TVs – Sony’s appetite for struggling through the cutthroat smartphone and TV segments may have finally faded, with the company’s chief exec saying he will no longer chase sales growth, and is open to spinning-off each. The admission of near-defeat comes as CEO Kazuo Hirai outlined his new focus for the next three years, concentrating on PlayStation and camera sensor development rather than segments like phones which have been attacked at either end of the market, both by cheap rivals from Asia, and from more high-end competition from Apple and Samsung.

Samsung buys LoopPay in warning shot to Apple – In an effort to take on Apple Pay head on, Samsung announced Wednesday that it has acquired LoopPay, a Boston-based startup, for an undisclosed sum. Various startups have been jockeying for position in the mobile payments arena, especially now that magnetic stripe cards have become easy targets for massive fraud in the United States and major credit card issuers have agreed to begin issuing European-style chip-and-PIN-based cards by October 2015.

Pinterest said to be pursuing new funding for $11B valuation – Pinterest, which lets people “pin” photos, websites, products and other items on virtual boards for others to see, is in talks to raise $500 million in a funding round that would value the startup at $11 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing unidentified sources described as familiar with the matter. The new cash would bring the company’s total funding raised to date to more than $1.2 billion.

Reddit giving 10% of 2014 ad revenue to charity – When a company reports their earnings, we tend to marvel at the amount they brought in (or didn’t). From there, not much seems to happen, at least in view of the public. Reddit recently announced they pulled in $8.3 million in ad revenue during 2014. That’s interesting enough news, but what they’re doing with it is even more interesting. After their big win, Reddit is paying it forward, and will donate 10% of their ad income to charity. Best of all, you can help decide where the cash goes.

Google Faces App Bundling Antitrust Complaint in Russia – Russian search giant Yandex is suing Google for what it says is anti-competitive practices. The country’s largest search provider accused Google of actively preventing local smartphone vendors from pre-loading competing services onto Android devices. According to the lawsuit, Yandex believes user-centric services—search, maps, email, etc.—should be unbundled from the OS, leveling the playing field and allowing local developers to expand their audiences.

More change for Mozilla as top Firefox exec departs – Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla’s vice president of Firefox, is leaving. Firefox is stronger now after a tough 2014, he says, but his departure means more unsettled times for the browser maker.

Uber sees $1 billion Series E venture funding surge – Uber has increased its latest Series E funding round amount by $1 billion after receiving increased interest from investors, with the round reaching a total capacity of $2.8 billion.

Facebook says it’s developing virtual reality apps – Less than a year after Facebook closed its acquisition of Oculus VR, maker of the innovative wrap-around Oculus Rift headset and a pioneer in the virtual-reality video game realm, Facebook revealed Tuesday it’s developing versions of its apps for use in a virtual reality environment.

Games and Entertainment:

This pirated movie brought to you by Pampers – Whether they know it or not, major advertisers are subsidizing online movie piracy, accelerating a trend in which illicit video streaming is eclipsing illegal P2P file sharing and downloading of copyrighted material. That’s according to an upcoming study commissioned by Digital Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit organization with the stated goal of making the Internet a safer place. The study is a follow-up to a February 2014 report that pegged the collective annual revenue of the nearly 600 illegal movie sharing sites it sampled at $227 million.

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Xbox One March preview update brings long-awaited screenshot feature – Microsoft has released its Xbox One March system update to people enrolled in the preview program, finally bringing the the long-awaited screenshot feature to the console. In addition to the screenshot feature, a number of smaller improvements have also been released, such as suggested friends and the ability to block spam accounts, a problem that has recently plagued Xbox Live. Microsoft provided the following rundown of the update:

Get Ready to Binge Watch: Amazon OKs More Original Series – The Web giant on Wednesday announced it has greenlit five more original shows, including The Man in the High Castle, which is based on the Philip K. Dick alternative history novel and was a hit during the recent pilot season. Amazon has also ordered up full seasons of the hour-long dark comedy drama Mad Dogs, which “follows the reunion of a group of underachieving forty-something friends” as well as its first-ever docu-series The New Yorker Presents, which brings the pages of the magazine to life.

Comcast’s TV Everywhere streaming lineup doubles as cord-cutting options skyrocket – In a press release, the cable giant says it has doubled its number of live, streaming channels to more than 70 in just over a year, including recent additions like AMC, BBC America, and Showtime. That’s in addition to more than 21,000 on-demand videos for mobile devices and 466,000 videos through the browser.

This Museum Is Building a Video Game Hall of Fame – The Strong museum has collected more than 55,000 video games and related artifacts from the history of gaming — but only a few titles will be inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, which the museum officially launched on Tuesday. “Electronic games have changed how people play, learn and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography,” said G. Rollie Adams, president and chief executive of The Strong museum in Rochester.

Off Topic (Sort of):

These Are the Most Gorgeous Google Street Views Imaginable – Google Street View just added a new virtual destination: some of the most stunning landscapes in Greenland, from fjords to viking ruins. “Thanks to our partners Visit Greenland and Asiaq, you can now explore immersive 360-degree imagery of the world’s largest island, which is sparsely populated yet chock full of glorious natural wonders and historical sites,” Google wrote on its blog Wednesday. “Let us take you on a tour of fjords, waterfront vistas, Norse ruins and more.”

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This 43-Second Short May Be the First Sci-Fi Film – There’s a case to be made that the first science fiction ever filmed wasn’t about spaceships, aliens, or trips to the moon. Our rich history of cinematic sci-fi may have begun instead with a 43-second, single-reel film about a box that turns pigs into pork products. It’s true: Some of the earliest sci-fi ever filmed was about drones and factory farming.

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Dash cam shows police striking suspect until cop turns off recording – Among a host of fresh concerns, however, is that the police might turn off the camera gear when footage is needed most. The Oakland Police Department in California, for example, has disciplined police officers 24 times for disabling or failing to activate body-worn cameras. That’s similar to what happened in the case of a St. Louis man arrested for marijuana possession, resisting arrest, and unlawful use of a weapon. Dash cam video, released Monday, shows a suspect, Cortez Bufford, being pulled from the vehicle he was driving before being kicked and shocked with a taser. Charges against Bufford were dropped after the camera being turned off “diminished the evidentiary merits of the case,” police said.

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Pussy Riot release harrowing music video tribute for Eric Garner – The song is being released with an equally haunting music video on YouTube. It shows two members of the band, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, being buried alive while wearing Russian riot police uniforms. “This song is for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror — killed, choked, perished because of war and state sponsored violence of all kinds — for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change,” the video’s YouTube description reads. “We stand in solidarity.”

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Something to think about:

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”

–      F. Scott Fitzgerald

Today’s Free Downloads:

Andy the Android emulator – Andy breaks down the barrier between desktop and mobile computing, while keeping a user up to date with the latest Android OS feature upgrades. It also provides users with unlimited storage capacity, PC and Mac compatibility, and the freedom to play the most popular mobile games on a desktop, Yes you can now run Android on windows.

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With phone as a joystick, you will never have to sacrifice the multi-touch or gyro elements of gaming, and thanks to seamless connection between desktop and mobile, you can receive a SnapChat phone picture on the street and see it on your desktop at home or even a whatsapp message.

Provides seamless sync between desktop and mobile devices

Connects Win/Mac with Android apps for launching, push notifications and storage

Enables app download from any desktop browser direct to Andy OS

Ensures most up to date Android OS at all times

Brings your favorite communication and entertainment mobile apps to the desktop

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ISO Workshop 5.8 – Optical disc images are files storing complete copies of various media, including CD, DVD and Blu-Ray discs. They are used for backing up data from optical discs and creating exact disc copies for further replication. The main advantage of disc images is that they are essentially exact sector-by-sector copies of original discs preserving both their content and structure. If you have a disc image in any format, you can easily recreate the original disc by burning the image to a blank CD, DVD or BD disc. And although this task may initially seem to be somewhat hard, proper software will make it a breeze – software like ISO Workshop!

Features:

Extract files and folders from disc image

Copy disc to disc image (including Audio CD)

Convert disc image to ISO or BIN format

Burn ISO or CUE/BIN image to disc

Supports common formats (ISO, CUE, BIN, NRG, MDF, CDI etc.)

Supports CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD+R DL, BD-R/RE

Supports verification of written files

Free for personal and commercial use

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Monkey’s Audio 4.14 – Monkey’s Audio is a fast and easy way to compress digital music. Unlike traditional methods such as mp3, ogg, or wma that permanently discard quality to save space, Monkey’s Audio only makes perfect, bit-for-bit copies of your music. That means it always sounds perfect – exactly the same as the original.

Even though the sound is perfect, it still saves a lot of space (think of it as a beefed-up Winzip™ your music). The other great thing is that you can always decompress your Monkey’s Audio files back to the exact, original files. That way, you’ll never have to recopy your CD collection to switch formats, and you’ll always be able to perfectly recreate the original music CD.

Features:

Efficient (fast and great compression) — Monkey’s Audio is highly optimized and highly efficient

Perfect sound — absolutely no quality loss, meaning it sounds perfect and decompresses perfect (it’s lossless!)

Media Center™, Foobar™, WMP™, Winamp™, and more support — supported by most popular players and rippers

Easy — the Windows environment interface is both powerful and easy to use

Free — Monkey’s Audio is completely free!

Error detection — Monkey’s Audio incorporates redundant CRC’s to ensure proper decompression of data (errors never go unnoticed)

Tagging support — Monkey’s Audio uses its own extremely flexible APE Tags so you can easily manage and catalogue your Monkey’s Audio collection

External coder support — you can use Monkey’s Audio as a front-end for all of your encoding needs

Freely available source code, simple SDK and non-restrictive licensing — other developers can easily use Monkey’s Audio in their own programs, and there are no restrictive licensing agreements

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Thousands Join Legal Fight Against UK Surveillance — And You Can, Too – Thousands of people are signing up to join an unprecedented legal campaign against the United Kingdom’s leading electronic surveillance agency.

On Monday, London-based human rights group Privacy International launched an initiative enabling anyone across the world to challenge covert spying operations involving Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, the National Security Agency’s British counterpart.

The campaign was made possible following a historic court ruling earlier this month that deemed intelligence sharing between GCHQ and the NSA to have been unlawful because of the extreme secrecy shrouding it.

Consequently, members of the public now have a rare opportunity to take part in a lawsuit against the spying in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a special British court that handles complaints about surveillance operations conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Privacy International is allowing anyone who wants to participate to submit their name, email address and phone number through a page on its website. The group plans to use the details to lodge a case with GCHQ and the court that will seek to discover whether each participant’s emails or phone calls have been covertly obtained by the agency in violation of the privacy and freedom of expression provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. If it is established that any of the communications have been unlawfully collected, the court could force GCHQ to delete them from its vast repositories of intercepted data.

By Tuesday evening, more than 10,000 people had already signed up to the campaign, a spokesman for Privacy International told The Intercept.

Companies Fighting US Government Barred From Naming Themselves, Because Security – Two major companies—a telecom and an “internet company”—have asked the US government simply for the right to disclose how often the NSA, FBI, and other agencies ask them for user information. Who are these companies? Who knows! The federal government has said that it’s illegal for them to come forward and name themselves.

That’s the astounding claim alleged by the two companies Tuesday in the Northern District of California court. The companies filed what’s known as an amicus curiae brief in support of Twitter’s ongoing legal battle with the US government, in which the social media company is fighting for the right to be able to publish more granular data about government information requests on its users.

The requests, called National Security Letters (NSLs), are not approved by a judge and are issued by the FBI. NSLs ​have since been deemed unconstitutional, but that decision is being appealed. In the meantime, more NSLs continue to be issued. Last year, the US Department of Justice finally said that companies could disclose information about NSL requests, but only in a way that makes it nearly useless.

Australia: Stop monkeying around with our metadata laws, prime minister – There’s something rather endearing, sweet even, about watching Prime Minister Tony Abbott explain Australia’s “urgent” need for mandatory telecommunications data-retention laws.

Evidence continues to mount against the idea of capturing and storing this so-called “metadata” for two years — at least in the proposed law’s current form — and I’ll get to that. But Abbott just keeps banging away with the same old discredited spin. He’s like one of those wind-up toy monkeys clashing his cymbals. All noise, all repetition, no information, no clue.

There’s also something rather endearing, sweet even, about Abbott’s simplistic, binary world view.

“The cost of losing this data is an explosion in unsolved crime… If we want to combat crime, we need this legislation, and if we don’t get it, it will be a form of unilateral disarmament in the face of criminals, and the price of that is very, very high indeed,” Abbott told a press conference on Wednesday.

Yes, in the criminal-infested cartoon land of Abbott’s political mind, telecommunications data is the only tool in the investigative toolbox. With it, crime can be solved. Without it, the very fabric of society will dissolve under a tsunami of crooks.

Meet Babar, a New Malware Almost Certainly Created by France – The NSA, GCHQ, and their allies in the Five Eyes are not the only government agencies using malware for surveillance. French intelligence is almost certainly hacking its targets too—and now security researchers believe they have proof.

On Wednesday, the researchers will reveal new details about a powerful piece of malware known as “Babar,” which is capable of eavesdropping on online conversations held via Skype, MSN and Yahoo messenger, as well as logging keystrokes and monitoring which websites an infected user has visited.

Babar is “a fully blown espionage tool, built to excessively spy” on its victims, according to the research, and which Motherboard reviewed in advance. The researchers are publishing two separate but complementary reports that analyze samples of the malware, and all but confirm that France’s spying agency the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) was responsible for its creation.

France’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

Russia Wants to Block Tor, But It Probably Can’t – The Russian government said last week it wants to ban Tor, a browser and network that anonymizes web traffic, but how likely is it that they will succeed at censoring a tool that is itself used to circumvent censorship?

Certain domains have been blocked in Russia since 2012, when a blacklist law went into effect, but the current legislation relies on individual internet service providers to block these sites. Many citizens easily bypass the barriers with tools like Tor and VPN, or virtual private network, services, which allow them to tunnel traffic through alternative IP addresses and appear as if they are located outside of Russia.

Vadim Ampelonskogo, the chief press officer for the country’s federal authority on telecommunications, released a st​atement describing Tor as, “den of criminals” and “ghouls, all gathered in one place.” He made it clear the government has the service in its sights, saying blocking it would be difficult but “technically possible.”

According to Jillian York, Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, it is unlikely Russia would follow through on such a massive undertaking. While VPNs are fairly easy to block, Tor is a different game.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 7, 2015

The top 10 Windows and Mac downloads for 2014;  Start here: the best apps for all your new devices;  Pono Player hands-on: believe the hype;  These 6 Apps Will Help You Tell Amazing Stories With Just Your iPhone;  Man tweets ‘joke’ that he hit cyclist, gets fired;  The first things you should do with that new Android phone;  Protecting yourself on social networks;  Microsoft makes its Office for Android tablet preview apps available to all;  How to save a webpage as a PDF or MHT file;  Razer Unveils Its $100 Android-Powered Gaming Console;  AOL halts malicious ads;  Travel safely with your tech;  Over 2,300 MS-DOS games now completely free to play at Internet Archive.

Plus 26 additional newsworthy items:

The top 10 Windows and Mac downloads for 2014 – You, Download.com nation, got more than 630 million apps from our site in 2014. So, what had you downloading in droves? In a word, security — and no surprise, since this year brought Heartbleed and Shellshock; credit card and personal info stolen from Home Depot, Target, and JPMorgan; celebrity iCloud photo hacks; and much more. If you haven’t updated your protection yet, read our take on the best security options for your needs. Many of you found utilities on our site to clean up your computers — another way to sweep for unwanted programs, as well as to free up hard drive space and improve system performance. Read on to see the year’s most-downloaded apps for Windows and Mac, as well as 2014’s most popular newcomers.

Microsoft makes its Office for Android tablet preview apps available to all – The Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint previews for your Android tablet are now available to download from the Google Play store, even if you don’t have an invite.

How much free storage space does your smartphone really have? – The box might say that your smartphone comes with 16 gigabytes, 32 gigabytes or whatever of storage space, but how much actual free storage space will you have on your shiny new smartphone?

Start here: the best apps for all your new devices – This year we’ve picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into below for the very best Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Kindle books, console games, and for your Mac and PC. They’re not the only ones you’ll ever need, but they’re enough to get you started.

Travel safely with your tech: How to prevent theft, loss and snooping on the road – When you travel, a whole fleet of electronics come with you. Smartphone and laptop are a given, but there’s a good chance you’re also toting a tablet, and maybe a cellular hotspot or dedicated GPS. All of them are juicy targets for bad guys. Here’s how to make sure your devices’ travels are just as safe as your own.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10: ISOs of new ‘consumer preview’ January build to be available at launch – Perhaps learning from previous feedback on the update process, Microsoft has listened and will be offering full ISOs alongside the next build update for Windows Insiders. It’s unclear when the next Windows 10 build will be pushed to the fast ring, or if it will in fact be called the ‘consumer preview’ but it’s likely to happen on or around January 21, which is when Microsoft will talk about the consumer features in Windows 10.

These 6 Apps Will Help You Tell Amazing Stories With Just Your iPhone – You’ve just come back from holiday vacation, and you’re looking for an easy way to share your incredible trip with all your friends. Sure, there’s Facebook and Instagram — but these six iPhone apps, recently highlighted by Apple, are purpose-built for the task and create beautiful-looking photo and video stories to boot.

How to save a webpage as a PDF or MHT file – You don’t need to be online to read a webpage. You can save one, with formatting and images, to local storage and read it later offline.

ZTE attacks US prepaid phone market with massive $200 phablet – ZTE sees big promise in the U.S. prepaid handset market, and is releasing a 6-inch smartphone with high-end specs, all for $200 when bought without a contract. The phone has a 6-inch high-definition display, 4G LTE connectivity, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 3200 mAh battery that will last an entire day, according to the company.

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Pono Player hands-on: believe the hype – It’s a true testament to the high-quality audio delivery of the Pono Player that we’re able to suggest that it’s all that it’s cut out to be at a tech convention. We’re at Showstoppers during CES 2015 and it’s loud – not deafeningly loud, but loud enough that it’s not an optimal environment for listening to tunes. This device delivers sound that’s next-level. With a pair of Sennheiser Momentum headphones plugged in, this music player brings a depth to music we simply did not expect. This device isn’t cheap. It’s going on sale on the 12th of January (that’s this next Monday) for $399. It’s also going to require that you purchase albums and individual music tracks direct from Pono. That’s also going to cost you around $25 per album – sometimes a few dollars more.

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Sony’s new Walkman: Impressive sound at an insane price – Sony’s new Walkman the ZX2 is designed to play high quality audio, but at $1,120 it’s not for the casual listener.

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How to install Microsoft fonts in Linux office suites – If you open a Microsoft Office document in LibreOffice or OpenOffice, you’ll need Microsoft’s fonts installed on your Linux system to see the documents as they were intended to look.

Facebook’s WhatsApp tallies 700M monthly active users – One of the world’s most popular mobile messaging services continues growth three months after Facebook acquisition.

Man tweets ‘joke’ that he hit cyclist, gets fired – Technically Incorrect: A UK stockbroker says that his tweet about hitting a cyclist with his car was merely a joke. Twitter users and his employers don’t find it funny.

You don’t need to back up Windows to the cloud – I love cloud-based data backup. It’s easy, automatic, and it stores your data far from your home or office. A single fire or flood can’t destroy both the PC and the backup. But to my mind, backing up Windows itself to the cloud doesn’t make sense. The advantages of online backup disappear when you have to restore Windows as well as your library data.

10 apps to swap – Not happy with your apps? Here are 10 you might want to exchange for another.

The first things you should do with that new Android phone – Tap in to Google’s services and some of the best Play Store options for getting the most out of that new device.

Security:

AOL halts malicious ads served by its advertising platform – AOL.com said Tuesday it has stopped malicious advertisements being served by its advertising platforms after being alerted by a security company. Cyphort, which specializes in detecting malware, found on Dec. 31 malicious ads being served on the U.S. and Canadian versions of the news site Huffington Post. The malicious advertisements redirected users to other websites that attacked their computers and tried to install malware, according to a blog post from Cyphort. Nick Bilogorskiy, [cq] Cyphort’s director of security research, said AOL.com was notified on Saturday and the attacks stopped on Monday. Cyphort’s logs showed the attacks started in late October.

Protecting yourself on social networks – We all love to spend time (some would say waste time) fooling around on Facebook, Twitter, and other services. We also use these sites for serious, professional reasons. But like almost everything else on the Internet, they’re inherently dangerous. Hackers can use social media to discover your private information and to deliver spam or malware. You can be stalked and bullied through social media. It can ruin your reputation, your career, and your life. So you need to protect yourself. Follow these rules and your online social life won’t become anti-social.

Take precautions when using public Wi-Fi networks – When you take your laptop to a library or café, you take a risk. But if you know what you’re doing, you can minimize that risk.

Company News:

FTC Closes Its Yelp Investigation Without Taking Action – One of the biggest and most influential review platforms in the world, Yelp has constantly been hit with claims that it manipulates reviews so its advertisers get higher rankings. This led to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in early 2014 after 2,045 complaints were filed against the company. Now Yelp says the FTC has closed its investigation into Yelp’s business practices and decided not to take action. This is the second time that the FTC has investigated Yelp’s business practices, with the first one also being closed without any further action.

Motorola will re-enter the Chinese market with a new smartphone, the Moto X Pro – Motorola is going back to the Chinese market in style with the Moto X Pro, a 6-inch smartphone with a Quad HD display, 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805, front-facing stereo speakers, a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 3,220 mAh battery pack. It’s basically the Nexus 6, though it will run pure Android without Google’s location services given that Google many of Google’s services are banned in China.

Report: Verizon may be planning to buy AOL – Verizon may be in the process of acquiring digital media company AOL, the Bloomberg news service has reported. Verizon is interested in AOL’s digital advertising unit, which it could incorporate into the mobile video service offered by its Verizon Wireless subsidiary, anonymous sources familiar with the talks told Bloomberg. As an alternative to an outright acquisition, the two companies may also be considering starting a joint venture that would bring the digital advertising capabilities to Verizon’s cellular network customers, according to the report.

Games and Entertainment:

Razer Unveils Its $100 Android-Powered Gaming Console, Razer Forge TV – The Razer Forge TV is a micro-console, 4×4 inches and selling for $100, and Razer hopes it will give the company three new routes into your living room: as a platform for hardcore PC gaming, for Android gaming, and for Android-based entertainment services via Google Play. The Razer Forge TV is due out in Q1. The Razer Forge TV has all the features you would expect from a gaming console aimed at serious gamers: designed for up to four simultaneous players, it has quad-core processing (Qualcomm Snapdragon 805; Quad-Core Krait 450 CPU – 2.5 GHz per core); a high-end graphics engine (Adreno 420 GPU — which had also made its debut around the last Google I/O); wireless and network connectivity; 16 GB of internal storage and 2 GB of RAM.

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Over 2,300 MS-DOS games now completely free to play at Internet Archive – In 2013, the Internet Archive kicked off a major effort to store and host hundreds of classic video games for free play via your Web browser, and after a late 2014 addition of classic arcade games, the site’s Software Library exploded over the final week of 2014 with its biggest update yet: 2,334 MS-DOS games, all playable through a standard browser. “Some of [the games] will still fall over and die,” longtime IA curator Jason Scott wrote on his personal blog when announcing the new game selection on Monday, but our cursory tests have shown off remarkably functional MS-DOS games in our web browser; they all run via the Em-DOSBOX emulator, an offshoot of the same emulator that powers many antiques sold at archival games sites like GOG.com.

Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition out on PS3 and PS Vita today – The PlayStation Blog has announced that the critically acclaimed first person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition will be available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita today.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The Internet of Things now has a gun – TrackingPoint is on hand at CES showing its new 338TP precision-guided firearm (pictured), which “allows even novice shooters to make mile-long shots with greater precision than the most skilled marksmen in the world — even on targets moving 30mph.” Look, I’m not trying to get into a discussion on gun rights or ethics or any of that. That isn’t my point. Right now, the Internet of Things is a technology story, but like all technological advancements it very quickly and necessarily becomes a culture story, a social story, and / or human story. This is just a reminder of the future ahead.

Pointing up   Nice! Putting automated killing – “allows even novice shooters to make mile-long shots with greater precision than the most skilled marksmen in the world — even on targets moving 30mph.” – into the hands of civilians. What could go wrong?

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Pointing up   But hey, American ingenuity has you covered.

Bulletproof baseball hat shields your noggin with casual style – The basic black BulletSafe hat is going for a $99 pledge. The project’s modest $3,500 funding goal has been exceeded to the tune of more than $8,300 with 20 days left to run. While the obvious market for the hat is with police and security professionals, some backers appear to be regular people who are concerned about safety in an increasingly unpredictable world. Another backer plans to wear the hat on the shooting range as an extra measure of protection.

Ford Has Big Plans For Autonomous Cars And The Future Of Driving – At its CES keynote today, Ford announced its Smart Mobility initiative, a set of 25 experiments ranging from big data analytics to a car swap service that let you swap your Mustang in for a minivan for the weekend. The company also talked about its plans for autonomous cars. Ford CEO Mark Fields noted four trends for the auto industry’s future: Increasing urbanization, and its constituent clogging of roads; a growing global middle class; air quality, or what you could call a lack thereof in many parts of the world; and finally, changing consumer sentiment, with shifts in the global economy seeing youths, for example, have different buying patterns than their parents.

FishBit Monitors Your Aquarium Health To Cut Down On Floaters – FishBit allows you to monitor your tank ecosystem, with the user providing info about tank capacity, fish makeup and more. Real-time notifications alert tank owners to problems, and the app allows them to actually take action via the connected power strip to turn on lights and activate other devices to respond to and address those issues.

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Google handled 345 million copyright takedowns in 2014 – Piracy news site TorrentFreak reports that Google removed 75 percent more URLs in 2014 than it did the previous year. Google doesn’t tally up annual totals, but it does release weekly reports on DMCA notices, and TorrentFreak took it upon itself to add up the weekly reports. Most of the takedown requests are honored. Google has a longstanding tradition of supplying DMCA takedown notices to Chilling Effects, a website that archives such requests.

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Google’s transparency report.

Watch Bill Gates drink water from human waste – Apparently it tastes delicious and could revolutionize sanitation in the poorest areas of the world. Gates isn’t one to shy away from good ideas, and his attention has also turned to the Janicki Bioenergy Omniprocessor. This machine takes in large quantities of untreated human waste and turns it into electricity, drinking water, and ash. You can see Bill Gates drinking the water it produces in the video below. A few minutes earlier that water was human waste.

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Something to think about:

“Follow the grain in your own wood.”

–      Howard Thurman

Today’s Free Downloads:

F-Secure Rescue CD – If your computer no longer starts due to malware corrupting the operating system, or you suspect the security software has been compromised, you can use the F-Secure Rescue CD to securely boot up the computer and check the programs installed.The Rescue CD can also be used for more advanced repair and data recovery operations.

The Rescue CD contains Knoppix (a derivative of Linux), an operating system that runs completely from the CD and allows access to your computer’s Windows operating system and hard disks.

Note: the Rescue CD cannot scan encrypted disks.

You can also download the Rescue CD updates to a USB drive (minimum 256 MB of free space) using a healthy computer with Internet access. You can use this USB drive to fix a computer that cannot connect to the Internet. Instructions on how to do this are included in the Rescue CD User’s Guide.

Prospector Lite – Automate your searching on eBay, Half and RSS feeds – one click to replay all your searches, another click to see the items listed since your last update. With Prospector, you can do this and more.

If you’re a power buyer, reseller or collector, Prospector will save you time and help you find the best items.

For long term searching, Prospector lets you:

Organize your searches and customize your results.

Encode your strategies, set up filters, and save everything for easy replay.

Search comprehensively and consistently, every time.

For short term searching, Prospector provides unique tools to help you uncover more items of interest.

Drastically reduce your search time. Find better faster. Prospector makes it easy!

Features:

Save and organize an unlimited number of searches.

Powerful filter options let you cut the noise.

See the search results as you like.

Customizable toolbar for short-term shopping and research.

Comparison shop across your favorite sites.

Automatic searches with email notification.

Add notes and highlighting, archive listings.

Hide items from future views.

Latest Listings feature lets you see the items listed between your search updates.

Extra search tools for casual browsing and discovery.

High productivity Watch lists.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Going postal: Reporter sues government for spying from USPS network – Sharyl Attkisson, the former CBS investigative reporter who published her claims of government intimidation, electronic surveillance, and cyber-attacks in a book last fall, has begun the process of taking the government to court over the hacking of her personal and work computers, as well as her home network.

In the process, Attkisson’s attorneys have begun to reveal the details of forensic investigations by computer security experts. In legal filings against the government, the attorneys disclosed which government agency’s network was the source of at least some of the hacks: the US Postal Service.

In an administrative claim filed on January 5­ under the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act and a complaint filed with the District of Columbia Superior Court, Attkisson’s attorneys gave an initial summary of their accusations against the US Justice Department, which they claim directed the surveillance of Attkisson as part of an ongoing Obama administration campaign against journalists and government employees acting as their confidential sources. Attkisson and her family have named outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, and “unknown named agents” of the Department of Justice and US Postal Service as defendants in the suit, seeking damages that could total approximately $35 million.

Ex-Microsoft Bug Bounty dev forced to decrypt laptop for Paris airport official – Paris airport security went one step further than simply asking a security expert to power up her laptop – they requested she type in her password to decrypt her hard drive and log into the machine.

Katie Moussouris, chief policy officer at HackerOne, and best known as the woman behind Microsoft’s Bug Bounty Program, was en route back to the US from the CCC hacking conference. She complied with the request in order not to miss her flight.

The computer never left her possession and the security agent never fully explained the request, according to Moussouris, and there’s no question that HackerOne customers’ vulnerability reports were exposed – no exploits were stored on the device.

Nonetheless, the incident at Charles de Gaulle airport has sparked a lively debate among privacy and security advocates. Moussouris has put together a blog post explaining her experience:

With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalizing Online Speech – On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “desperately sad day for our country.” A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK’s soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell:

The following day, Ahmed was arrested and “charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.” The police spokesman explained that “he didn’t make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.” The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted “of sending a grossly offensive communication,” fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.

As demonstrators demanded he be imprisoned, the judge who sentenced Ahmed pronounced his opinions “beyond the pale of what’s tolerable in our society,” ruling: “I’m satisfied that the message was grossly offensive.” The Independent‘s Jerome Taylor noted that he “escaped jail partially because he quickly took down his unpleasant posting and tried to apologize to those he offended.” Apparently, heretics may be partially redeemed if they publicly renounce their heresies.

Criminal cases for online political speech are now commonplace in the UK, notorious for its hostility to basic free speech and press rights. As The Independent‘s James Bloodworth reported last week, “around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online.”

‘We see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border,’ says Homeland Security – For eight years, the US Border Patrol has been using military Predator drones to keep an eye on the US-Mexico border — but a new report from the Department of Homeland security suggests it may not have been worth the trouble. The report, first dug up by Cyrus Farivar at Ars Technica, takes a skeptical look at the cost of flying the drone missions, and finds no plausible metric to justify the expense.

The Border Patrol had been hoping for an additional $443 million to expand the program, but the report puts that request in serious jeopardy. “We see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border,” said DHS Inspector General John Roth in a statement, “and there is no reason to invest additional taxpayer funds at this time.”

FTC chair worries about IoT privacy in CES speech – US Federal Trade Commission chair Edith Ramirez has used CES 2015 to explore the downside of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The IoT could improve global health, modernize city infrastructures, and spur global economic growth,” Ramirez said in a speech (PDF) at the gadget-fest, before adding “Connected devices that provide increased convenience and improve health services are also collecting, transmitting, storing, and often sharing vast amounts of consumer data, some of it highly personal, thereby creating a number of privacy risks.”

Ramirez worries that “The introduction of sensors and devices into currently intimate spaces … allows those with access to the data to perform analyses that would not be possible with less rich data sets, providing the ability to make additional sensitive inferences and compile even more detailed profiles of consumer behavior.”

She’s also concerned that data from IoT devices could “be used in ways that are inconsistent with consumers’ expectations or relationship with a company”, such as offering different grades of service and different products to punters based on profiling. Garden-variety p0wnage is also on her mind, especially because of the sensitivity of personal data.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 7, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 5, 2015

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

Plus 35 additional newsworthy items:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

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

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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