Tag Archives: Google Play

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 15, 2015

Deterrence will keep a lid on cyberwar;  Hands on: What a $149 Chromebook is actually like to use;  14 Chrome browser extensions for a streamlined experience;  How to clean a touchscreen;  The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Revamped Skype for Business rolls out for Office 365;  Five free (or nearly free) FTP clients;  These 3 free apps make you even smarter than you already are;  The five biggest changes in Ubuntu 15.04;  7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out;  Lease an Apple Watch for less than $50 a month;  TSA Agents Fired For Scheming To Grope Attractive Male Passengers;  4K Is Cool, But Do You Need It on Your Phone?  Windows and Office get four Critical updates for Patch Tuesday;  Get 9 EA games for $5, support charity;  Maine Police Pay Ransomware Demand in Bitcoin;  EU regulators set to file antitrust charges against Google.

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Deterrence will keep a lid on cyberwar, former spy chief says – Major sponsors of cyberwarfare forces are reaching a state of deterrence resembling the mutually assured destruction in nuclear weapons standoffs, former U.S. national intelligence director Dennis Blair said Tuesday. All nation states would suffer if countries engaged in cyberattacks against civilians, and world leaders including those in China and Russia are reluctant to unleash such forces, Blair, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who oversaw U.S. intelligence from 2009 to 2010, told a news conference in Tokyo.

Hands on: What a $149 Chromebook is actually like to use – If you’re more of a power user (and let’s face it, if you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that you are), you might be willing to pay a little extra in order to get a nicer and/or more powerful system. If cost is a concern, though — or if you’re looking at buying Chromebooks for kids or even in bulk for schools — the prospect of an entry-level laptop at $149 might be just the ticket. Even if you’re not in the market for such a system, it’s interesting to see what kind of Chrome OS experience $149 can buy.

The 5 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.

How to clean a touchscreen: All you need is a simple cleaner and a special cloth – Thanks to your greasy fingers, touchscreens get dirty quicker than old-fashioned monitors. Here’s how to clean off the schmutz.

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14 Chrome browser extensions for a streamlined experience – From preserving privacy to decluttering browsers, there are a number of useful extensions out there waiting to be downloaded.

Five free (or nearly free) FTP clients – The cloud may be taking over as the de facto online storage solution, but the need for FTP (file transfer protocol) clients remains a standard need for business. Back in the 90s there were few options for FTP clients─you used one and you were happy. Now, however, when FTP’s popularity has waned, plenty of options are available. But are their solid affordable entries to fill this need? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Let’s take a look at some of the best options to see whether one of them could meet your FTP needs.

Google Play’s New Program “Designed For Families” Will Highlight Pre-Approved, Kid-Safe Apps – Google today announced a new developer program called “Designed For Families” which will allow app publishers to opt into an additional review in order have their apps labeled as being “family-friendly.” The new designation will eventually make its way to Google Play, though the company is not yet revealing the specifics around how this group of apps will be made discoverable once there. Google explains that its app marketplace features a number of developers, like PBS Kids, Tynker and Crayola, whose apps offer high quality, age appropriate content, and offer user interfaces and features that both educate and entertain young kids.

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Revamped Skype for Business rolls out for Office 365, quietly bumping off Lync – As it signalled last November, Microsoft pulled out its older Lync client and rereleased it as Skype for Business on Tuesday. The new software will roll out as part of the April release of Skype for Business. And the online version of the app, known as Skype for Business Online, is making its way to your browser right now, Microsoft said; everyone should see it by the end of May.

HBO says Periscope could be a tool for ‘mass copyright infringement’ – HBO isn’t happy with everyone who used Periscope to rebroadcast Game of Thrones, but it’s even less happy with Periscope for not having the tools to stop them. According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has sent takedown notices to Periscope for recordings that include Sunday night’s premiere of Game of Thrones. It’s also taken a dig at Periscope for what it implies is a hands-off attitude toward piracy. “In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications,” HBO says in a statement.

Pointing up   So here’s my question – do the executives of companies like this lie awake at night constructing bullshit controversies? Controversies that always seem to revolve around restricting, restricting, restricting. Here’s some midweek advice for HBO, it’s executive and board – Nobody, I mean nobody, gives a tinker’s damn what you think.  Get stuffed!

The five biggest changes in Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet – You can’t judge a book by its cover, or a Linux by its interface. If you glance at Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet, you won’t see a lot different from Ubuntu 14.10. Don’t let first impressions fool you. Underneath that slick Unity 7.x interface, there’s a lot of changes.

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Brain games: These 3 free apps make you even smarter than you already are – Plenty of people think all of our devices are making us dumb. Maybe that’s because some people can’t be bothered to look up from them while they’re walking down the street. And maybe they’re right. But there are plenty of apps out there that claim they can make you smarter, whether that means helping you recall words faster or improve your reading comprehension. I took a look at three popular titles to see how well they work. So, am I any smarter? Read on to find out.

7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out – Looking to get in shape for summer? Fitness may be its own reward, but these seven apps can sweeten the deal by prodding, encouraging and even paying users to roll off of that couch and unleash their inner gym bunnies — or just move a bit more. No pressure.

4K Is Cool, But Do You Need It on Your Phone? – As Techblog.gr reports, Sharp’s new IGZO display has a resolution of 840-by-2,160 pixels, or 806 pixels per inch (ppi). For those keeping track, that’s about twice the resolution of the iPhone 6 Plus $299.00 at Verizon and Galaxy Note 3$19.99 at Amazon. But that huge bump in resolution probably won’t make too much of a difference for most people, according to Wired. You’d need super-excellent eyesight — or a magnifying glass — to even notice subtle differences in very detailed graphics and tiny text.

How to use Miracast to mirror your device’s screen wirelessly on your TV – Ever since the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the finalization of the Miracast wireless display standard at CES 2013, we’ve seen a plethora of Miracast-enabled devices and receivers, from Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 to Amazon’s Fire TV stick. Users can now wirelessly mirror the display of their Miracast-certified phone, tablet, or laptop to any Miracast-capable receiver like a TV, projector, or monitor. What you see on your device is exactly what will be displayed on your TV.

This company will let you lease an Apple Watch for less than $50 a month – The Apple Watch has made an impressive debut over the past week despite being a first-generation device with average reviews. While the device has yet to hit store shelves, one company is going to allow its customers the chance to lease the new device for less than $50 a month. Naturally, this is a fairly clever idea for those that want to “own” the latest tech, but don’t want to actually pay the high prices associated with owning the latest and greatest.

Opera Mini browser gets fine-tuned for speed and looks – The browser’s update adds a refined menu, a private-browsing mode, and a scalable interface that allows for support on tablets and smartphones.

A revamped Microsoft Delve looks like a corporate mashup of Facebook and LinkedIn – Delve has leaped beyond curating documents to curating everything about you and your job. There’s even a blog and mobile apps.

Security:

Windows and Office get four Critical updates for Patch Tuesday – Summary:It’s another Patch Tuesday, with this month’s update including a slew of security fixes in a cumulative update for Internet Explorer. The most important patch on the list blocks an Office exploit that’s already being used in “limited attacks” in the wild.

TSA Agents Fired For Scheming To Grope Attractive Male Passengers – According to police, officers were called to the airport by a TSA supervisor in March following an internal investigation. The TSA first received an employee tip in November 2014 that a security screener was groping men. The TSA told police that a male security screener would signal to a fellow agent when he saw a passenger he thought was attractive. The other agent would then indicate the passenger was female, instead of male, causing the scanning machine to record an “anomaly” in the genital area. A TSA investigator caught the agent in action in one instance on Feb. 9.

Android Security Apps Continue to Improve in Latest AV-Test Report – The biggest takeaway from these results is just how positive they seem. Previous AV-Test Android software reports showed overall improvement and this new one continues the trend. 18 products, almost two-thirds, received a flawless 13-point score, up from 15 products last round. Each app earned certification and detected over 95 percent of malware samples, with the average score being the essentially perfect 99.69 percent. Tested apps can score up to six points for protection, six points for usability, and one point for extras. See the full results in the chart below.

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29 million US health records exposed by data breaches between 2010 and 2013 – Approximately 29 million health records were affected by data breaches between 2010 and 2013 in the US — 67 percent of which were stored electronically, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today. These data breaches involved unencrypted information that could be identified and tied back to individuals. And what’s worse is that the study indicates that these data breaches are on the rise.

Is the darknet to blame for Aussies falling victim to identity theft? – According a survey by credit bureau Veda, more than 772,000 Australian’s identified with identity theft in the past 12 months alone. Head of Cybercrime Fiona Long said the alarming statistics demonstrate the growing concern of identity theft for government departments, businesses and individuals. A 2014 report from the Attorney-General’s Department shows the price of fraudulent identity credentials ranges from around $80 for Medicare cards, $350 for driver’s licences and up to $30,000 for a legitimately issued passport with fraudulent details. The same report showed personal fraud including credit card fraud, identity theft and scams cost Australians approximately $1.6 billion each year. Ms Long said those concerned about identity theft can take a number of steps to ensure their information remains secure. (recommended by Mal C.)

Australians too trusting, fall for social media scams: Symantec – Symantec’s latest internet security report showed that Australia ranked as the seventh most targeted country globally when it came to social media scams in 2014.

Maine Police Pay Ransomware Demand in Bitcoin – In an effort to keep their computer files from being destroyed, a group of cooperative police departments in Maine paid a $300 ransom demand—in bitcoin. There is no official word on who carried out the attack; the FBI could only track the bitcoin payment to a Swiss bank account.

Web app attacks, PoS intrusions and cyberespionage leading causes of data breaches – The findings are based on data collected by Verizon Enterprise Solutions and 70 other organizations from almost 80,000 security incidents and over 2,000 confirmed data breaches in 61 countries. Humans were again the weak link that led to many of the compromises. The data shows that phishing—whether used to trick users into opening infected email attachments, click on malicious links, or input their credentials on rogue websites—remains the weapon of choice for many criminals and spies.

Is Your Company Ready for a Cyber Attack? (Hint: Nope) – Last year saw “far-reaching vulnerabilities, faster attacks, files held for ransom, and far more malicious code than in previous years,” Symantec Intelligence revealed in a new report. Symantec tipped a 23 percent increase in the number of online breaches in 2014. “However, attention shifted during the year from what was being exfiltrated to the way attackers could gain access.” Specifically, the news focused on how hackers were exploiting specific bugs, like Heartbleed, Shellshock, and Poodle. But while major breaches captured headlines, Symantec said that “60 percent of all targeted attacks [in 2014] struck small- and medium-sized organizations. These organizations often have fewer resources to invest in security, and many are still not adopting basic best practices like blocking executable files and screensaver email attachments.”

Company News:

EU regulators set to file antitrust charges against Google – Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, will reportedly announce formal charges against Google tomorrow. The European Union has long had a contentious relationship with Google. Its parliament approved a resolution last year calling for the breakup of the company’s search and advertising business. Google is seen by many EU members as a far too powerful gatekeeper to the world’s information, with a 90 percent market share of search activity in Europe. If it’s found to have violated the EU’s antitrust laws, the company could face penalties of over $6 billion.

Intel Up 2% After Reporting Flat Year-Over-Year Revenue Growth – Intel reported its first-quarter financial performance today following the bell, including revenue of $12.8 billion, and per-share profit of $0.41. The street had expected $12.9 billion in revenue, and $0.41 in per-share profit. Intel is up around 3 percent in after-hours trading. The company expects to generate $13.2 billion in the second quarter leading to a gross margin of 62 percent and a tax rate of around 20 percent. Those figures are improvements on the company’s most recent quarter, when it had a gross margin of 60.5 percent and a tax rate of a far steeper 25.5 percent.

Box acquiring online 3D content editor Verold – Verold’s online 3D ambitions garnered attention from tech titans from e-commerce to software, inking deals with the likes of Amazon, Pearson Education and Autodesk, among others.

Nokia agrees to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion – Nokia has announced its intention to acquire telecoms equipment company Alcatel-Lucent for €15.6 billion ($16.6 billion). The deal will solidify Nokia’s ambitions to become a major provider of networking equipment that competes with market leader Ericsson, following the sale of its mobile hardware division to Microsoft. Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent plan to close the deal in the first half of 2016. The new company is expected to use the Nokia brand, but will retain Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs name for its R&D activities.

Shopify files for dual US-Canada IPO – Shopify has filed an F-1 form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and a preliminary prospectus with the regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories of Canada.

Microsoft acquires mobile BI vendor Datazen – Microsoft has purchased cross-platform, mobile business-intelligence vendor Datazen Software, a Toronto-based company, for an undisclosed amount.

Games and Entertainment:

Get 9 EA games for $5, support charity – The Humble Origin Bundle 2 serves up a great mix of oldies and not-so-oldies, all of them definitely goodies.

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GTA V PC failing to install because of Windows username problem – Today is the day many PC gamers have been waiting 18 months for: GTA V has finally been launched for Windows, complete with a brand new Rockstar Editor for creating your own videos. However, there is a problem, and it not only stops the game from being played, it can’t even be installed. Rockstar has acknowledged that there is an issue relating to the Windows username being used. It turns out only a subset of possible characters in the username is supported. If you have unusual characters in your Windows username, it’s likely the game won’t download, install, and ultimately allow you to play.

May Xbox One update may enable game streaming to other PCs – We know the Xbox One will eventually allow streaming games to other devices, but thanks to a preview build of the console’s OS, it looks like that feature may be coming as soon as next month. Yesterday the first preview build of the May Xbox One update started rolling out to previewers, and a number of eagle-eyed members have spotted an interesting addition in the Settings pane: the option to allow game streaming to other devices.

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You can finally play Hearthstone on your phone – Blizzard’s addictive digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is finally available on smartphones. The free-to-play game — which debuted on PC and made its way to tablets last year — has been redesigned for your iPhone or Android device, cramming a whole lot of information onto a much smaller screen. The smartphone version should be available in both the App Store and Google Play at some point today. Like all versions of the game, your progress carries over from one device to the next through your battle.net account, though for new players this is a great time to jump in: Blizzard just released Blackrock Mountain, Hearthstone’s latest expansion.

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You want Game of Thrones? Pay for it – downloading is theft – There are several side effects to the return of Game of Thrones. One is the pleasure viewers take in it. Another is abuse heaped on me for not being a total fan of the series. And a third is theft. According to a recent report in The Guardian, “The prospect of the return of Game of Thrones has prompted a huge surge in Internet piracy, with fans making more than 100,000 illegal downloads per day of episodes of the show.” It’s the most pirated show in the world, with more than seven million episodes downloaded between February of last year and April of this year. The countries where the illegal downloading takes place makes for an interesting list. Brazil was the No. 1 country, followed by France, the United States, Canada and Britain.

Explore the original Wipeout inside your browser – It’s very likely that the genre-defining, futuristic racing series Wipeout is gone forever: after developer Studio Liverpool (formerly Psygnosis) shut down in 2012, the franchise has been on hiatus. The PS Vita classic Wipeout 2048 could go down as the last Wipeout ever released — but thanks to one fan there’s a way to relive the thrill of hurtling down a Wipeout track from the comfort of your browser.

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Guitar Hero returning with new guitar, mobile support – After a five-year break since its last console release, Activision is betting that gamers are ready to hop back on a rhythm game bandwagon that went from oversaturated to “all but dead” in record time. Guitar Hero Live will bring a newly designed guitar controller, curated song streaming, and a joint focus on consoles and mobile devices when it launches jointly on consoles and mobile platforms this fall.

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The new Gutiar Hero Live controller, featuring two rows of fret buttons.

Mortal Kombat X Review: it has begun – This is the Mortal Kombat you’ve been waiting for. Gone are the sweeping orb-like arenas of the 2000s, gone are the overly-complex schemes of the Kombat episodes of the lost era. Mortal Kombat X is a blood-stained dream come true: everything that made the original Mortal Kombat series a hit mixed with the graphics and technical finesse of today. While I’ll always be a fan of the original lineup, even the new characters are fun to play and interesting to learn about – imagine that!

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The Brilliant Design of the Soda Can, Explained – ​It’s incredible that we take some of life’s little engineering marvels for granted. Take the aluminum can, the trusty cylindrical container that keeps your Diet Coke fresh and portable. As YouTube’s “Engineerguy” Bill Hammack explains, the can’s brilliant design is a cylinder because it contains the best parts of a sphere (its surface area) with a cuboid-shaped design that makes the can sturdy and stackable. There’s a lot to take in in this 11-minute video, but it’s well worth a watch.

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Swarm robots poised to fly amid acquisitions and military investment – The military is going miniature, and that means big investments in small flying machines that will eventually operate in swarms.

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MIT’s Picture language could be worth a thousand lines of code – Now that machine-learning algorithms are moving into mainstream computing, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is preparing a way to make it easier to use the technique in everyday programming. In June, MIT researchers will present a new programming language, called Picture, that could radically reduce the amount of coding needed to help computers recognize objects in images and video. It is a prototype of how a relatively novel form of programming, called probabilistic programming, could reduce the amount of code needed for such complex tasks.

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Lawless Lawmen:

Dozens Arrested During Protests Across U.S. Against Police Violence – Protests took place in more than a dozen American cities Tuesday as racial tensions continue to mount in the wake of deadly police shootings.

Dash Cam Video Shows Police Car Ramming Into Suspect – The footage shows an officer speeding up as he runs over a man armed with a rifle in Marana, Arizona. The police chief, though, said the officer’s actions may have prevented the suspect from shooting himself or others, an assertion the man’s attorney rejects.

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Chicago To Pay $5.5 Million In Reparations To Police Torture Victims – The package, which was negotiated with numerous stakeholders, also includes a public recognition of the torture committed by Burge and counseling services for victims and their families. Burge was fired in 1993 after a police review board determined that officers under his command had tortured more than 100 suspects, many of them black men, since 1972. Among the methods used: mock executions, electrical shock, and burning, investigators found. Under the agreement announced Tuesday, the city of Chicago will create a permanent memorial recognizing the victims of torture.

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This is what evil looks like.

Lawyer representing whistle blowers finds malware on drive supplied by cops – An Arkansas lawyer representing current and former police officers in a contentious whistle-blower lawsuit is crying foul after finding three distinct pieces of malware on an external hard drive supplied by police department officials. According to court documents filed last week in the case, Campbell provided police officials with an external hard drive for them to load with e-mail and other data responding to his discovery request. When he got it back, he found something he didn’t request. In a subfolder titled D:\Bales Court Order, a computer security consultant for Campbell allegedly found three well-known trojans, including: Win32:Zbot-AVH[Trj], a password logger and backdoor – NSIS:Downloader-CC[Trj], a program that connects to attacker-controlled servers and downloads and installs additional programs – Two instances of Win32Cycbot-NF[Trj], a backdoor.

Lawmaker scraps bill making it illegal to film cops within 25 feet – A Texas lawmaker is scrapping his proposal to limit the public’s ability to film the police within a 25-foot radius. Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican, says the bill was too controversial. It was pending its first state committee hearing in the wake of two high-profile police incidents captured on camera by onlookers. One showed a South Carolina officer shooting a fleeing man in the back and another was of California officers beating a suspect.

Something to think about:

So….How’s Your Day Going?

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Today’s Free Downloads:

Glarysoft Quick StartupMajorGeek says: Managing your startup can actually be rather difficult. Do I need this, do I need that? What is this and that? With Quick Startup you can look at Startup, scheduled tasks, plug-ins, application services and Windows services. You can then disable or enable them, read or leave a comment or click to find out what is known about anything you’re not sure of. There are not a lot of comments yet but as startup programs go, this one is easy to use and well thought out regardless of your skill level with computers.

Free startup manager to disable or delay auto-start programs to speed up system boot times.

Features:

Browse all startup entries in an elegant list view.

Security risk rating for startup entries.

Get detailed information about individual startup entries.

Add, edit or delete startup entries.

Comment on program entries.

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Windows 10 Manager 0.1.5 Beta – Windows 10 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 10. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.Windows 10 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 10. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.

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Avira Rescue System 2015.04.13 – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

A scorecard of the Harper government’s wins and losses at the Supreme Court of Canada – In one of starkest examples in Canadian history of two branches of government openly turning against one another, the red robed members Supreme Court of Canada have spent months systematically shooting down virtually every issue the Conservatives hold dear. Court boosters say the Tories simply have a fondness for unconstitutional legislation. Harperites, meanwhile, allege that they are the target of a weird vendetta from their down-the-street neighbour. The National Post takes a look at the highlights.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 26, 2015

It’s official: NSA spying is hurting the US tech economy;  Bloatware: Why computer makers fill your PC with junk, and how to get rid of it;  Android for Work: what is it?  Google now lets you upload 50,000 songs to the cloud for free;  The five best iOS notification center widgets;  Ubuntu 14.04.2 arrives;  Hands On with Microsoft’s wireless charging pad;  Microsoft opens Garage door, shows off experimental apps;  Plex: Hey, it’s not just for pirates anymore;  The 7 Best Facebook Alernatives You Didn’t Know About;  Car Owners Find High-Tech Systems Unreliable;  Facebook fixed 61 high-severity flaws last year;  Iran, U.S. Locked in Escalating Cyberwar;  The best Android games you need to play (right now);  Citing encryption, FBI lobbying to keep phone metadata spying powers.

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Chinese government continues dropping foreign tech in favor of local products – China’s interest in moving toward products made within the country appears to be twofold: it removes security concerns around foreign products and bolsters its own tech industry. It’s not clear which is more important to the country. The sources Reuters spoke with seem to believe that security concerns may just be a cover story, but it’s not an entirely unreasonable one, particularly in light of the ongoing revelations about how far US spy agencies are willing to go for information. The US, too, has shown an unwillingness to trust foreign tech, with much being made of its frequent restrictions on the large Chinese telecom firm Huawei.

It’s official: NSA spying is hurting the US tech economy – A new report confirmed key brands, including Cisco, Apple, Intel, and McAfee — among others — have been dropped from the Chinese government’s list of authorized brands, a Reuters report said Wednesday. – Although a number of reasons were cited, domestic companies were said to offer “more product guarantees” than overseas rivals in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. Some reports have attempted to pin a multi-billion dollar figure on the impact of the leaks. In reality, the figure could be incalculable.

Windows 365 will be Windows, plus a little bit more – There’s been rumor and speculation about Microsoft switching the Windows operating system to a subscription-based model since it launched Office 365. When Microsoft unveiled the latest preview build of Windows 10, executives referred to it as Windows-as-a-Service. Now, Microsoft has all but confirmed that some sort of subscription model is coming, since it trademarked Windows 365. Some customers are vehemently opposed, but before you freak out, let’s back up a step and consider what a Windows 365 subscription might entail.

Pointing up   Personally, I would refuse to be part of a subscription based operating system. Should Microsoft attempt to force the issue, my focus would switch from running with Linux 20% of the time to running with Ubuntu, for example, full time. The idea that a Linux distro is clunky or otherwise handicapped, or difficult to use, is sheer propaganda – this is not 1999.

If you’re using an Android smartphone – then, you’re already running with a variation of Linux. How hard was that? 

Android for Work: what is it? – Today Google revealed their newest Android-based initiative: Android for Work. This system brings several work-related technology to the Android software universe for businesses of all kinds. Four key technology components are included: Google Play at Work, the Android for Work app, Work profiles, and built-in productivity tools of all kinds. This system is launching with a large collection of industrial technology partners that have Google scoring big with potential for business-related engagement through Android – this includes smartphones, tablets, and everything in-between.

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Bloatware: Why computer makers fill your PC with junk, and how to get rid of it – Lenovo’s Superfish debacle has thrust bloatware back into the limelight. Here’s why PC makers intentionally make your PC experience worse, and how to blast the crap off your computer.

The five best iOS notification center widgets – You may have been one of the many to shout “Finally!” when widgets came to iOS. Whether you’ve used them before on Android or were just waiting for that kind of flexibility on iOS, you finally have one touch access to key apps. It’s taken developers a while to fully utilize this new functionality to its potential, but we’re finally seeing the fruits of their labor. Here is a roundup of some of the apps that put widgets to their best use.

Google now lets you upload 50,000 songs to the cloud for free – Google’s taking a big step out in front of its music streaming competitors today. The company has just announced that effective immediately, you’ll be able to upload up to 50,000 songs from your personal music collection and store them in the cloud through Google Play Music — all for free. The previous limit was 20,000.

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Facebook suicide prevention tool update inbound – Cries for help come in many forms, and in our digital age, many of them take place online. Facebook, being one of the biggest social networks out there, is peppered with depressed, suicidal, and otherwise troubling statuses making one’s personal anguish known to a larger audience. The social network has previously had a tool that aimed to help those who might be suicidal, and now the network is updating it to be more robust. With the update, those who may be suicidal are temporarily locked out of their account. Posts flagged as being suicidal will be shuttled off to Facebook workers trained in suicide prevention. That user’s account will be temporarily blocked, and the user won’t be able to get access again until they are presented with a Facebook page showing information on preventing suicide, a suicide hotline, and an option to contact one’s friends over it.

Hands On with Microsoft’s wireless charging pad, the DT-903 – A few weeks back, Microsoft started shipping the DT-903, a wireless charging pad and we have gotten our hands on one; after the jump is a gallery of the new device.

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Twitter Finally Launches An Official WordPress Plug-In – There are hundreds upon hundreds of Twitter-related plug-ins for WordPress. Seriously, go look. And yet, in its nine years since launch, Twitter has never released an official plug-in to make WordPress and Twitter play friendly. Until today.

Google officially launches Flights, their Search-friendly travel tool – As the travel booking game tightens up via acquisitions, Google is set to muscle their way in. Though Expedia and Travelocity are toeing the line, Google is also ready to get involved with Google Flights, a new Search item that finds you the best deal on your travel. Flights works as you might expect, too: put in your departure city, an arrival destination, and Flights will find you the best deal. Flights is also neat because you don’t even need to know where you’re headed.

Ubuntu 14.04.2 arrives with updated hardware support and a new Linux kernel – Canonical just released Ubuntu 14.04.2, the second point-release of the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS series. As always, this point release brings hardware support updates so you can continue installing Ubuntu 14.04 on new PCs. You won’t get the hardware support updates on existing PCs, though—if your computer’s hardware doesn’t all work properly, you’ll want to update it yourself. Let’s dig in.

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Panasonic’s new 4K VIERA LED TV line to run Firefox OS – The platform wars are moving to smart TVs. Don’t believe it? Samsung is putting Tizen on all its smart TVs this year. LG’s own sets already have webOS inside. Now Panasonic is joining the fray, but not with an operating system that it has developed itself. As it showed at CES last month, the consumer electronics maker is betting big on Firefox OS and it is announcing that all the members of its new 4K VIERA TV line will be employing the web-based platform for its user interface.

Plex: Hey, it’s not just for pirates anymore – Plex doesn’t exactly hide the fact that it’s a killer app for pirated video. Just look at the marketing materials for the media server software, and you’ll see how easy it is to stream your collection of movies and TV shows to all your devices.    Hey, I’m not here to judge. But I was interested to see if Plex could be a valuable tool for law-abiding cord cutters as well. After playing around with the software and asking some kind folks on Reddit, I’ve found some legal uses for Plex that are worth checking out.

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Microsoft opens Garage door, shows off experimental apps – The Garage incubator releases apps for Windows Phone and Android that range from giving you reports on air quality in China to connecting you to conference calls using voice commands.

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Car Owners Find High-Tech Systems Unreliable – Modern cars have more high-tech bells and whistles than ever before, but technologies like Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition rank as the least dependable vehicle systems, according to a new study by J.D. Power.

The 7 Best Facebook Alernatives You Didn’t Know About – Your Facebook friends are boring. Your Twitter followers sound like a bunch of parrots. And your LinkedIn contacts, well, who wants to talk about work all day, anyway? Amazingly, in 2015, it’s still possible to feel like you’ve reached the end of the Internet, especially if you rely on your social networks for news and amusement. But there are more ways to connect with people online than the three most popular social networks. In fact, smaller networks are some of the best places to dig into topics you care more deeply about. So sign up and check out at one of these great alternative social networks:

Security:

EFF unearths evidence of possible Superfish-style attacks in the wild – It’s starting to look like Superfish and other software containing the same HTTPS-breaking code library may have posed more than a merely theoretical danger to Internet users. For the first time, researchers have uncovered evidence suggesting the critical weakness may have been exploited against real people visiting real sites, including Gmail, Amazon, eBay, Twitter, and Gpg4Win.org, to name just a few. Until now, that danger was nothing more than a troubling hypothetical, but no more. On Wednesday, researchers presented evidence attackers have exploited the weaknesses in Superfish and the other programs to launch real man-in-the-middle attacks on end users as they visited some of the most sensitive HTTPS-protected websites on the Internet.

Lenovo’s bad week gets worse: website hacked by Lizard Squad – After publicly admitting to poor business decisions regarding the pre-loaded Superfish software on Lenovo machines, Lizard Squad decides the company could use a good hacking as punishment.

Europol and security vendors disrupt massive Ramnit botnet – European law enforcement agencies seized command-and-control servers used by Ramnit, a malware program that steals online banking credentials, FTP passwords, session cookies and personal files from victims. Researchers from antivirus vendor Symantec described the malware program as “a fully-featured cybercrime tool” in a blog post Wednesday and said that it infected over 3.2 million computers over its five years of existence.

Target Says Credit Card Data Breach Cost It $162M In 2013-14 – Target today said that it has booked $162 million in expenses across 2013 and 2014 related to its data breach, in which hackers broke into the company’s network to access credit card information and other customer data, affecting some 70 million customers. The figure, revealed in the company’s Q4 earnings published today, includes $4 million in Q4, and $191 million in gross expenses for 2014, as well as $61 million gross for 2013. Target says that the gross number was offset in part by insurance receivables of $46 million for 2014 and $44 million for 2013.

Apple patent reveals tracking capabilities even if phone appears off – Apple is getting a bit of interest over patent news today, and not just because of a patent lawsuit the company lost in court yesterday. A new patent filed in January could allow for stolen iPhones and iPads to be tracked even when they are powered down. The patent, titled “Apparatus and Method for Determining a Wireless Device’s Location after Shutdown” looks to tie into the Apple “Find My iPhone” app that works to triangulate the position of an iPhone to help its owner recover a lost/missing device. This new technology, if functioning properly, would allow iPhone and perhaps iPad owners to see the current location of their devices even if the units are powered down.

Facebook fixed 61 high-severity flaws last year through its bug bounty program – In 2014, the company paid bug bounties totaling $1.3 million to 321 researchers from 65 countries, according to a newly published annual report. The average reward was $1,788 and the top three countries where valid bug reports originated were India, with 196 submissions; Egypt, with 81 and the U.S. with 61. It’s worth noting that, based on the statistics released by the company, finding a critical bug is not that easy. Facebook received 17,011 bug submissions in 2014 and those resulted in only 61 high-risk bugs being identified.

Iran, U.S. Locked in Escalating Cyberwar – Cyberwarfare between the U.S. and Iran has been accelerating at an alarming rate since 2012, according to a recently disclosed document from the NSA. The top-secret and classified document confirms that the two countries have developed and deployed technology for spying and sabotage, a situation that has escalated dramatically in the last three years.

Company News:

Apple ordered to pay half a billion dollars for patent infringement – A federal jury in Texas has ordered Apple to pay more than half a billion dollars after the company was found guilty of infringing three patents held by a local company. The patents, held by Smartflash LLC, relate to digital rights management, data storage and access through payment systems. They were seemingly infringed upon by Apple’s iTunes and some of the apps found in the App Store, though the plaintiff also mentioned the Mac App Store, and iAd as avenues for infringement.

Samsung faces complaint in US FTC over Smart TV ‘surveillance’ – A complaint filed by a privacy group to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission charged that Samsung’s Smart TVs intercept and record private communications of consumers in their homes, violating a number of rules including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has asked the FTC to investigate and stop the practice by Samsung of collecting private communications and transmitting the recordings to a third party.

Despite a billion viewers, YouTube has zero profit – It’s hard to image that YouTube, as ubiquitous and gigantic as it is, has never turned a profit. But that’s exactly what a new report explains, alongside the myriad challenges that the site faces.

Pointing up   Big Deal! YouTube has always been positioned as a “loss leader” for Google. Why the fuss now?

Google chairman Eric Schmidt will reportedly meet EU antitrust commissioner next week – After recent discussions with Microsoft, Axel Springer and other complainants against Google, the EU’s antitrust chief will meet with Schmidt in the latest stage of Europe’s 4-year investigation.

Uber goes free in Seoul as pressure from city government mounts – The car-hailing service has been operating despite the city’s argument that it’s illegal. It says its latest move is an effort to establish “a consensus” with government officials.

Games and Entertainment:

The best Android games you need to play (right now) – Finding a good game to play is hard — so many options! Fret not, I’m here to help with a with a heap of games you should probably toss onto your Android phone or tablet, posthaste. Stow your pitchforks: the games here aren’t listed in any particular order, and while I’d love to play everything under the sun, pesky responsibilities get in the way. These are just my current favorites, and it’s likely I missed some of yours. Here’s an idea: post your favorites in the comments, as I’ll be updating this regularly and don’t want to miss too many gems. Also, note that all prices are in US dollars.

The New Razer Blade Is The Gaming Laptop To Beat – Like its predecessor, this year’s Razer Blade packs in a 14-inch, 3200 x 1800 pixel screen. It looks pretty from most angles and can get quite bright, and has a touch screen if you’re one of the Windows 8 users who actually takes advantage of touch-friendly menus. Photos and video really pop on the display — it’s not quite 4K, but considering it’s already past the point of not being able to discern pixels at reasonable distances, that’s not something anyone is going to miss.

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Chat App Viber Opens Its Games Service To All Users Worldwide – Messaging app Viber has quietly made its games service available for all users worldwide following a two month pilot in five countries. The company, which was bought by Rakuten for $900 million a year ago, initially launched three games for users in Belarus, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore and Ukraine in December 2014. The titles — Viber Candy Mania, Wild Luck Casino and Viber Pop, links to which popped up in my app today — are standalone apps that link up to Viber to let users share scores, battle and generally interact with friends on the service.

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Netflix Expands Its Kids’ Lineup With Five New Shows, Including An “Inspector Gadget” Reboot – Netflix this morning announced it’s preparing to expand its lineup of original and exclusive programs aimed at children with an order of five new kids’ shows, including remakes of well-loved classics like Inspector Gadget and Danger Mouse. While children today may not be familiar with these titles themselves, their Gen X and millennials parents likely are – and they’re Netflix’s paying subscribers.

Nickelodeon Unveils “Noggin,” A Mobile Subscription Service For Preschoolers Arriving In March – Nickelodeon today unveiled its new mobile streaming subscription service called Noggin, which will be aimed at preschoolers and priced at $5.99 per month when it launches next month. Parent company Viacom had previously announced the forthcoming service’s arrival in January, noting also that the service would not require households to have a cable or satellite TV subscription in order to access its content.

Sub-$100 Gaming Headset Roundup – Having only ever bought relatively cheap headsets with proportionally cheap audio quality, it seems about time for me to upgrade. In the process of settling on a new headset, I’ve acquired six sub-$100 gaming-oriented models from separate hardware manufacturers to compare in a roundup. I have models from Kingston, Polk, Gigabyte, Razer, Logitech and Tesoro. Most of these companies are not known for their audio products, so it’ll be interesting to see what they deliver. It goes without saying but we will anyway: audiophiles may want to bail now because these headsets aren’t for you.

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Amazon shuttering Unbox on March 29th; download your movies now – Amazon notified customers that Unbox, the tool used to download and play movies offline, is officially closing on March 29th, at which time customers will lose all access to their purchased content.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Alan Turing’s Family Wants Britain to Pardon All 49,000 Gay Men Convicted of ‘Gross Indecency’ – The family of Alan Turing, the legendary mathematician who helped crack the Nazi Enigma code and hasten the end of World War II, is championing a campaign to pardon nearly 50,000 men who were convicted of “gross indecency” under antiquated laws banning gay sex in Britain. Turing, whose story inspired the 2015 Oscar-winning movie The Imitation Game, was himself convicted of indecency in 1952. He was chemically castrated and two years later, at the age of 41, died in an apparent suicide, after taking a bite of a cyanide-laced apple. While Turing was offered a royal pardon in 2013, campaigners argue that the Queen should have extended the measure to include all those affected. An estimated 15,000 men who were convicted under the outdated law are thought to be alive today.

Curiosity Mars rover takes its most impressive selfie yet – Curiosity continues to be one of the most successful robotic missions in the history of space exploration, but it’s not all work for this Mars rover. Sometimes it likes to have a little fun up there and take some selfies. The latest Curiosity selfie was taken at the “Mojave” site at the base of Mount Sharp, and it’s an amazing view. This camera has a resolution of just 1600 x 1200, or about 2 megapixels. If you piece together enough images taken with the MALI camera, though, you can create massive images. This mosaic is an example of that with a total resolution of 18,029 x 9,233. It’s the equivalent of more than 166 megapixels. You can download the full resolution image here, but be aware it’s a 32MB JPEG. That’s gigantic by image standards. Many programs and computers will choke on it.

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NASA satellite shows how much sand from the Sahara is in the atmosphere – NASA is using one of its satellites to determine how much sand from the Sahara Desert in Africa ends up helping the Amazon rainforest in South America to grow. While the two locations are on different continents, the amount of dust from the desert that makes its way to the rain forest will surprise you. NASA used one of its satellites to quantify how much dust from the desert makes it to South America for the first time.

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Vintage X-rays reveal the hidden effects of corsets – In 1908, a doctor used X-rays to highlight the damaging effects of tight corsets on a woman’s body.

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Google’s AI wins Space Invaders, proves “human-level control” – A new study has been published this week which suggests that artificial intelligence can now learn “human-level control.” The team of researchers come from Google’s DeepMind, where they’re using Space Invaders – the video game – to show how the search for truly human artificial intelligence isn’t too far off. The machine learns to play the video game, learns to win at the video game, and dominates all humans at the game they’ve created to help us defend our planet against the alien hordes.

Something to think about:

“A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”

–      Dorothy C. Fisher

Today’s Free Downloads:

X-Mouse Button Control – X-Mouse Button Control is a windows application to remap your mouse buttons.

You are able to provide an application specific mappings, which means one application can use the mouse differently from another. This is useful for games which do not inherently support the extended mouse buttons, because you can map keys to each button.

What’s more, the list of functions available to map to is somewhat more comprehensive than the 32bit MS Intellimouse Software can handle, including things like:

Copy/Cut/Paste

Volume Up/Down/Mute

Media Player control

Send a custom keystroke sequence

Launch your email (or any other) application.

Capture screen (or active window) image to clipboard.

Click-Drag [Sticky Buttons].

Save and restore desktop icon positions.

Vista (and Windows 7) support including some Vista/7 only featurs such as ‘Flip 3D’.

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SoftPerfect Network Scanner – SoftPerfect Network Scanner is a free multi-threaded IP, NetBIOS and SNMP scanner with a modern interface and several advanced features. It is intended for both system administrators and general users who are interested in computer security. The program pings computers, scans for listening TCP ports and displays which types of resources are shared on the network (including system and hidden).

In addition, it allows you to mount shared folders as network drives, browse them using Windows Explorer, filter the results list and more. SoftPerfect Network Scanner can also check for a user-defined port and report back if one is open. It can also resolve host names and auto-detect your local and external IP range. It supports remote shutdown and Wake-On-LAN.

Features:

Pings computers.

Does not require administrative privileges.

Detects hardware (MAC) addresses even across routers.

Detects hidden shared folders (normally invisible on the network) and write accessible shares.

Detects your internal and external IP addresses.

Scans for listening TCP ports and SNMP services.

Retrieves currently logged-on users.

You can mount and explore network resources.

Can launch external third party applications.

Exports results to HTML, XML, CSV and TXT

Supports Wake-On-LAN, remote shutdown and sending network messages.

Retrieves potentially any information via WMI.

It is absolutely free, requires no installation, and does not contain any adware/spyware/malware.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canadian Spies Collect Domestic Emails in Secret Security Sweep – Canada’s electronic surveillance agency is covertly monitoring vast amounts of Canadians’ emails as part of a sweeping domestic cybersecurity operation, according to top-secret documents.

The surveillance initiative, revealed Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, is sifting through millions of emails sent to Canadian government agencies and departments, archiving details about them on a database for months or even years.

The data mining operation is carried out by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Its existence is disclosed in documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The emails are vacuumed up by the Canadian agency as part of its mandate to defend against hacking attacks and malware targeting government computers. It relies on a system codenamed PONY EXPRESS to analyze the messages in a bid to detect potential cyber threats.

Last year, CSE acknowledged it collected some private communications as part of cybersecurity efforts. But it refused to divulge the number of communications being stored or to explain for how long any intercepted messages would be retained.

Now, the Snowden documents shine a light for the first time on the huge scope of the operation — exposing the controversial details the government withheld from the public.

Gemalto Doesn’t Know What It Doesn’t Know – Gemalto, the French-Dutch digital security giant, confirmed that it believes American and British spies were behind a “particularly sophisticated intrusion” of its internal computer networks, as reported by The Intercept last week.

This morning, the company tried to downplay the significance of NSA and GCHQ efforts against its mobile phone encryption keys — and, in the process, made erroneous statements about cellphone technology and sweeping claims about its own security that experts describe as highly questionable.

Gemalto, which is the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, launched an internal investigation after The Intercept six days ago revealed that the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ hacked the company and cyberstalked its employees. In the secret documents, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the intelligence agencies described a successful effort to obtain secret encryption keys used to protect hundreds of millions of mobile devices across the globe.

The company was eager to address the claims that its systems and encryption keys had been massively compromised. At one point in stock trading after publication of the report, Gemalto suffered a half billion dollar hit to its market capitalization. The stock only partially recovered in the following days.

Citing encryption, FBI lobbying to keep phone metadata spying powers – The law that the Obama administration cites to allow bulk telephone metadata collection expires on June 1, and the FBI has already begun lobbying to keep Section 215 of the Patriot Act from expiring. Bad guys “going dark” using encryption, the FBI says, is one of the reasons why the government needs to collect the metadata of every phone call made to and from the United States.

Robert Anderson, the FBI’s chief of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, told reporters during a roundtable discussion Tuesday that the Patriot Act is necessary because encrypted communications are becoming more commonplace in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures.

“In the last two to three years, that whole ‘going dark’ thing went from a crawl to a flat-out sprint because the technology is changing so rapidly,” Anderson said.

Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, told reporters that if Section 215 expires, “Obviously it’s going to impact what we do as an organization and certainly on cyber.”

The comments, especially as they relate to encryption, are part of a growing chorus of calls—from as high as President Barack Obama—that the government needs Silicon Valley’s assistance for backdoors into encrypted tech products like the iPhone.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 11, 2015

How Secure is Your Android? Mobile Antivirus Apps Tested;  Take Google’s Security Checkup, Get 2GB Of Free Google Drive Space;  3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference?  Facebook’s Free Mobile Internet App Now Available in India;  3 power tools to supercharge your browser bookmarks;  Facebook takes on Craigslist with ‘For Sale Groups’ ;  DARPA: Nothing on the Internet is secure, including cars;  Amazon’s Newest Tool Lets Anyone Host Giveaways Online;  Samsung smart TVs inserting ads into third-party apps;  Target pulls the plug on its digital video service;  Atari reboots Asteroids;  It’s Time To Rethink Our Smart Things;  Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How Secure is Your Android? Mobile Antivirus Apps Tested – Most of us will never see our Android antivirus apps spit out a warning because most of us will never encounter malware on our phones. So how can you tell if your Android antivirus is actually protecting your phone against the malware that sometimes sneaks onto Google Play or is installed by an overbearing spouse? Independent testing lab AV-Test is here with the answers.

Wickr uses purr-fect cat GIFs to teach us about online security – Staying safe online is getting more difficult. Wickr’s guide to online security teaches us how to be safe, using something we can all understand: cat GIFs.

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Facebook’s Free Mobile Internet App Now Available in India – Facebook is making good on its goal to deliver Internet access to “the next 5 billion people” around the world who currently don’t have it. The Internet giant this week launched its Internet.org app in India, offering free basic Web services to millions of people in the second-most populous country on the planet. The app is now available in six different Indian states —Tamil Nadu, Mahararashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana —offering residents access to more than three dozen Web services.

Take Google’s Security Checkup, Get 2GB Of Free Google Drive Space – To give you a bit of extra motivation to check on your security settings in Google, the company is giving away 2GB of permanent Drive space to anybody who goes through its Security Checkup within the next week. I just went through the process and it’s pretty straightforward (or as a Google spokesperson told me, “my mom could understand this – and that’s often not true with online security!”). While working your way through the wizard, you’ll check your recovery information, recent activity, account permissions and passwords, as well as your two-factor authentication settings.

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New app to be launched later this year in the UK that tracks children’s phone use – An app that can see almost everything that children are doing on their smartphones, along with their location will be launched in the UK later this year for parents. Does this present a privacy issue?

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Dropbox has made a Chrome plugin that lets you directly add Dropbox content to Gmail – In an effort to rival Google’s own Google Drive cloud hosting platform, Dropbox has developed a Chrome plugin which seamlessly merges with Gmail and allows a user to add Dropbox content directly to emails. The plugin is fairly straight forward. After installing it from the Chrome Web Store, it adds a circle button with a dropbox icon next to the ‘send’ button. Pressing that will open up an interface somewhat similar to Dropbox’s web file browser and allow you to select the files you’d like to add to the email.

3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference? – For average consumers, ‘3G’ and ‘4G’ are two of the most mysterious terms in the mobile technology dictionary, but they’re used relentlessly to sell phones and tablets. If you’re shopping for a new phone, the answer isn’t clear-cut, and you shouldn’t always go for the higher number. Our primer will help explain which technology to pick.

Google Injects Health Facts Into Knowledge Graph – Google notes today that one in 20 searches performed using Google products is health-related. In a blog announcing Knowledge Graph’s medical injection, Google product manager Prem Ramaswami says U.S. users will shortly start to see “relevant medical facts” alongside their search results when they ask about “common health conditions”. Detailing “common health conditions” appears to be just the start. Google’s longer term mission sounds more akin to becoming a de facto global medical encyclopedia. So Google adopting a health-focused mantle also inevitably tramples on the turf of existing online health info portals like WebMD.

3 power tools to supercharge your browser bookmarks – The web has changed in fundamental ways over the years—like when sites started turning into full-blown apps—but one thing that hasn’t changed is our reliance on bookmarks. If you just need a list with stuff organized into folders then the standard bookmarks manager in your browser of choice will do just fine. But if you want to take your bookmarks to the next level with a sleeker visual look, annotations, or notes, then check out these three bookmark power tools.

Facebook takes on Craigslist with ‘For Sale Groups’ – Maybe because they’re trying to get in on the Etsy racket, or maybe just because they can; either way, Facebook is now making it much easier to sell things via Groups. Today, the social giant is announcing a new feature for Groups, which will allow users to sell items in a more streamlined way, with posts that are more easily manageable and professional looking. The feature was spotted previously, with Facebook saying they were trialing it for some groups who were noticed to have been actively selling anyway.

Streamus transforms YouTube into a simple, ad-free music streaming service – No, I haven’t found a way to get YouTube Music Key for free. What I’m talking about is a Chrome extension called Streamus that hooks into YouTube and offers as much music streaming as you can handle. Streamus doesn’t play videos and doesn’t require you to have a tab open. Instead, the extension just grabs the audio from the videos to let you listen to as much music as you want. If you ever do want to see the video, however, you can right-click any song to view it on Google’s video site.

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Amazon’s Newest Tool Lets Anyone Host Giveaways Online – Amazon announced a new self-service tool this morning that allows customers to host giveaways on its website. Anyone is eligible to run these sorts of promotions on the platform, though in Amazon’s case, the feature will likely attract authors, marketers, brands, bloggers, sellers and others looking to raise awareness about themselves, their products, or those who want to engage their audience using promotions.

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iPin turns your smartphone into a smart laser pointer – The newest smart accessory to surface for smartphones is the iPin, a tiny dongle of sorts that plugs into your smartphone and functions as a laser pointer, allowing you to point at things from across the room or drive your pets crazy. In addition to the laser pointer functionality comes presentation control, which makes giving presentations easier by combining the pointer and remote into one device — your smartphone. Users can swipe through presentation slides using their handset’s display, while their laser pointer appears on secondary screens for the audience.

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File storage service Rapidshare to shutter in wake of legal woes – In a message posted to its website Tuesday, Rapidshare said it will stop active service on March 31. “We strongly recommend all customers to secure their data. After March 31st, 2015 all accounts will no longer be accessible and will be deleted automatically,” the message said. It did not say why it is shutting down. However, legal troubles related to copyright infringement have plagued the company for years.

Flipboard aims for more users with jump to the Web – Popular mobile news app Flipboard has finally made the jump to the Web with a website you can access from any browser. Starting today at flipboard.com, you can pick topics and read stories in a format optimized for the desktop, but with that magazine feel that’s made the apps so successful on smartphones and tablets. With the addition of the website, it’s now possible to track stories all day as Flipboard syncs across all your devices. Flipboard already had 40 million users per month on mobile (iOS|Android), but that number is likely to grow now that there’s a more convenient way to try it out.

Security:

Microsoft fixes Internet Explorer’s dangerous memory problems – The Internet Explorer patches are part of the company’s routine monthly release of security and bug fixes for its software products, called “Patch Tuesday.” Microsoft Office and both the desktop and server editions of Windows are also getting fixes in this batch. Overall, Microsoft issued patches to cover 56 different vulnerabilities, which are bundled into nine separate security bulletins.

DARPA: Nothing on the Internet is secure, including cars – We are probably mostly aware of how the Internet has certain holes when it comes to security and privacy. But when the man in charge of hardening the US Department of Defense’s computer networks and the Internet in general says that there is no real security on the Internet, people better take heed. Everything that we connect to the world-wide network can be open to attack, and these days, that almost literally means everything, from smartphones, to thermostats, to doorbells, and yes, even cars. To prove the point, Kaufman subjected reporter Lesley Stahl’s “smart car” to the test. It was a piece of cake to hack the car and gain control of its functions, even going so far as taking over braking mechanisms. In a real-world scenario, this is can be very frightening.

Snapchat Partners With Three Non-Profits To Launch A ‘Safety Center’ – The Safety Center — which can be found at snapchat.com/safety — is primarily targeted at parents and teachers who know little about the service, but there is also information for users, such as its community guidelines. Snapchat said it has partnered with three non-profits — ConnectSafely, iKeepSafe, and UK Safer Internet Center — for this project.

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Tinder-like apps are a security risk to businesses, says IBM – Lovestruck and horny employees are putting their employers and co-workers at risk by using dating apps that are severely vulnerable to hackers, according to a new report by IBM.

Samsung smart TVs inserting ads into third-party apps – People with smart TVs from Samsung have been complaining that the electronics maker is inserting Pepsi ads during the playback of their own, locally-stored movies. “Every movie I play, 20-30 minutes in it plays the Pepsi ad, no audio but crisp clear ad. It has happened on 6 movies today,” one reddit user wrote. The user was posting on a subreddit for Plex, a third-party app on Samsung smart TVs that lets you play movies on your TV that are stored on your computer or on a Network Attached Storage device. Several other redditors reported the same experience.

Company News:

Apple is investing $850 million to build a giant solar farm that will power its new headquarters – Apple CEO Tim Cook told an audience at the Goldman Sach’s Technology and Internet conference that the company is very focused on making environmentally responsible decisions. As proof, he offered up a piece of news. Cook says Apple is investing $850 million to build a brand new 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey, California. The energy produced there will be used, at least in part, to power Apple’s new headquarters. “We know at Apple that climate change is real,” said Cook. “The time for talk has passed and the time for action is now.”

Target pulls the plug on its digital video service less than 18 months after launch – One of the rules of business is to stick to what you know, and it turns out Target didn’t know the digital video space as well as it hoped. Or perhaps it’s fairer to say Target didn’t know the space as well as established heavyweights like Apple iTunes, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Google Play, or even rival Walmart (which acquired Vudu five years ago). Either way, the number-two retail chain in the U.S. has decided to end all services offered on Target Ticket effective March 7, 2015, the company announced on its website.

Yelp gobbles up Eat24, jumps into food delivery business – Yelp, the go-to site for crowdsourced reviews on nearly every sort of consumer-focused business, is jumping into food delivery. The company said Tuesday that it paid $134 million for food ordering and delivery app Eat24. Eat24, which has relationships with 20,000 restaurants in 1,500 US cities, is already integrated into Yelp’s network. That integration lets Yelp users see menus and order takeout directly from the site.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix’s ‘Bloodline’ gets its first trailer – As we’ve previously mentioned, Netflix will be releasing another original series called ‘Bloodline’ on March 20, and ahead of that debut is the series’ first trailer. Netflix released the trailer on its YouTube account on Monday, and during its two or so minutes, we’re given a decent enough look at show, with the focus being mostly on the family and its drama. The trailer is wrapped up neatly with the series’ hook: “We’re not bad people, we just did a bad thing.”

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Anki announces the next generation of its A.I. racing game, and it’s awesome – Anki Drive — a racing game with Hot Wheels-style robot cars powered by your smartphone — was the No. 2-selling toy on Amazon this holiday season; the company sold out of its inventory 10 days before Christmas. It’s a novel concept: you steer a car using your own smartphone, racing against the A.I. or friends who are racing using smartphones and cars of their own. But since the day the game launched in 2013, players have asked for a modular version that let them build their own tracks. It was easier said than done: designing a track that can be easily reassembled took the company more than two years.

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Atari reboots Asteroids as a base-building survival game for PCs. Yes, seriously – Yes, Atari is indeed working on a reboot of a 30-plus year old arcade game where you play as a triangle. Or, actually, Atari is publishing said reboot. Today, we got the first official details on Asteroids: Outpost, “where players mine, build and defend their base and grow their fortune as they go ‘from rocks to riches.'”

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Holy supercut! Awesome video shows Batman’s onscreen evolution – The video not only offers up a great visual representation of Batman through the years, but gives a glimpse at how the Caped Crusader evolved as a character over time. The somber, brooding character in “The Dark Knight Rises” is certainly a long way off from Adam West’s Batman in the 1966 movie who says with a heavy dose of comic relief, “Somedays, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” It’s a great supercut tribute to a superhero who’s been with us for more than 75 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

3D Robotics Opens Its Flight Control App For Drones To Developers – 3DR pilots can use the app to program flights, circle around waypoints and use the company’s Follow Me mode and “dronie” feature to take photos and videos of themselves. The software also features a building mapper for creating 3D scans of large structures. This new version makes planning missions a bit easier — especially when it comes to inserting new waypoints into existing plans, which was quite a hassle in the old version. Next week, 3D Robotics will also integrate support for Droneshare, its site for tracking and sharing flights and pilot rankings (until now, this was only available in the DroidPlanner beta versions).

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400-year old pollution found in Andean ice cap – A group of scientists have announced that they’ve found some extremely old pollution this week, picked up in an ice cap in the Peruvian Andes. Traces of air pollution, they suggest, date back to over 400 year-old mining operations that happened hundreds of miles away. Researchers suggest that this is the first clear evidence of human-made air pollution in South America from any time before the Industrial Revolution. Pollution here likely originated in what’s now Bolivia – in the Potosí mountaintop silver mines.

Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content – Rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement. The result is a situation where lies spread much farther than the truth, and news organizations play a powerful role in making this happen.

Watch Jon Stewart’s very first Daily Show episode – The news broke earlier this evening, with little warning: Jon Stewart will be stepping down from The Daily Show later this year. He’s been such an integral part of the media landscape, it’s almost hard to remember there was a time when the comedian wasn’t on our TVs every night, but it’s true. And while his hair may be a different color and the set design changed, one thing’s for certain: Stewart knew what to do with The Daily Show from the very beginning.

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It’s Time To Rethink Our Smart Things – The television can talk to the fridge which in turn can tell the washer to turn on. You can connect your watch to your coffee machine and send music from your electric lawnmower to a speaker in your pool. It took years for these systems to come to fruition but with the advent of always-on low-energy processors and new wireless standards, your things can now be constantly in touch with each other. What does that mean? It means your TV can see you naked, your Xbox can hear your conversations, and your Dropcam can spy on your neighbors. We live in an era of endless monitoring. We are watched from birth to death and, while most of us in the U.S. will never bump up against it, there is an apparatus in place that could feasibly create a detailed dossier on us in seconds.

Australian police seize 3D-printed gun parts and knuckle dusters in raid – Police have arrested an Australian man for alleged possession of a number of 3D-printed weapons and enough parts to make four separate handguns, in addition to other charges.

Something to think about:

“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

–       John Locke (1632 – 1704)

Today’s Free Downloads:

BlackBeltPrivacy Tor+WASTE+VoIP – Tor enables anonymous browsing, aiding proxy and censorship avoidance. WASTE enables chat, file transfer and support.

We have bundled…

MicroSip: enables *FREE* PC to PC calling with no account sign-up and no middleman server.

WASTE: enables chat, file transfer and support.

Tor: enables anonymous browsing, aiding proxy and censorship avoidance.

As with all versions of Tor – do not rely on this for strong anonymity.

A usability enhanced Privacy Pack.

An installer for: Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Win7 32/64, Win8 32/64.

Features:

*** NOW WITH “”” Serverless, Accountless Pc 2 Pc calling via MicroSip VoIP

Simple to use. Choose your Tor mode from the installer and go…

Streamlined Installation Package.

Integrates seamlessly into an existing Firefox as a new profile. All traces removed on uninstall

Your Tor only Firefox Profile is automatically set up for you, including its plugins.

5 Modes, Standard / Censored Client, Bridge, Relay and Exit – chosen by you.

As a result, you benefit from ALL firefox fixes provided you run the latest version.

NoScript is provided. JavaScript is switched off for you by default, giving you a choice of what content you view.

ABE Application Boundary Enforcement is also switched on by default.

Friendly support provided, via WASTE darkNet().

No additional configuration necessary for server, client, darkNet() or Firefox

Optional Relaying, bandwidth restricted. 0->200Mb or 0->500Mb per day – its your choice.

Regularly updated – we ensure you get the best out of Tor.

*** NOW UPDATED : includes Tor: 0.2.5.10.

*** NOW UPDATED : WASTE updated to 1.8 beta ( build 25 )

NOTE: Screen shots may differ due to our continuous development cycle.

NOTE : PAD Files Available.

WARNING : The NULLNET that WASTE initially connects to is semi-dark..

WARNING : Please complete darkLock() and then enable encryted chats for maximumsecurity.

THANK YOU to our users and reviewers. We hope we can keep you happy.

*** Works Great with other Products in the BlackBelt series

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Box hands cloud encryption keys over to its customers – Box has been talking for more than year about letting its customers manage their own encryption keys, allowing them to store data in the cloud while maintaining control over who gets to access it.

This isn’t a straightforward problem to solve, because Box’s whole business is built on making it easier to share data and collaborate. The strictest security controls could eliminate the reason 44,000 companies are paying Box.

Today, Box says it has a new product that gets the job done. Called “Enterprise Key Management (EKM),” the service puts encryption keys inside a customer’s own data center and in a special security module stored in an Amazon data center. The Box service still must access customer’s data in order to enable sharing and collaboration, but EKM makes sure that only happens when the customer wants it to, Box says.

When asked if the service would prevent Box from handing data over to the government, a company spokesperson said, “Unless the customer provides authorization to Box to provide the content that’s asked for, Box is prevented from sharing the content. When customers use Box EKM we are not able to provide decrypted content because we don’t have the encryption keys protecting the customer’s content.”

NSA wins key ruling in years-old phone and Internet spying lawsuit – The Electronic Frontier Foundation sustained a notable blow in one of its oldest ongoing surveillance-related lawsuits—its motion for partial summary judgment was denied on Tuesday, while a counter motion filed by the National Security Agency was granted.

The case, known as Jewel v. NSA, was originally brought by the EFF on behalf of Carolyn Jewel, a romance novelist who lives in Petaluma, California, north of San Francisco. For years, the case stalled in the court system, but it gained new life after the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013.

Despite the NSA’s victory in its partial summary judgment, there are a number of issues left to be adjudicated in Jewel.

After months of silence from feds on flying phone surveillance, EFF sues – The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit Monday in order to learn more about the United States Marshals Service’s use of airborne cell-site simulators.

The San Francisco-based advocacy group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the USMS’ parent agency, shortly after the revelations came to light in November 2014. However, the DOJ has not produced any responsive documents and has long exceeded the 30-day deadline as defined under the FOIA law.

In the suit, which was filed in federal court in Washington, DC, the EFF asks the court to compel the DOJ to immediately produce the documents. The DOJ did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Last fall, The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Marshals Service (USMS) was using small, fixed-wing Cessnas equipped with so-called DRTboxes—“dirtboxes.” The devices are receivers that spoof a cell tower to gather data from citizens’ phones below. The purpose of such collection is to target and spy on criminal suspects, but the data from any nearby citizen’s phone is also collected by such devices.

FBI really doesn’t want anyone to know about “stingray” use by local cops – If you’ve ever filed a public records request with your local police department to learn more about how cell-site simulators are used in your community—chances are good that the FBI knows about it. And the FBI will attempt to “prevent disclosure” of such information.

Not only can these devices, commonly known as “stingrays,” be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones. Last fall, Ars reported on how a handful of cities across America are currently upgrading to new hardware that can target 4G LTE phones.

The newest revelation about the FBI comes from a June 2012 letter written by the law enforcement agency to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It was first acquired and published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December 2014—similar language likely exists between the FBI and other local authorities that use stingrays.

As the letter states:

In the event that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension receives a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552) or an equivalent state or local law, the civil or criminal discovery process, or other judicial, legislative, or administrative process, to disclose information concerning the Harris Corporation [REDACTED] the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will immediately notify the FBI of any such request telephonically and in writing in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels.

French law allows websites to be blocked sans court order – France is cracking down against extremists and child abusers, and as part of it the nation has unveiled a new law that gives its law enforcement’s cybercrime general directorate the power to order an ISP to block a website sans a court order. The ISPs will have 24 hours to obey the request, and will be reimbursed for whatever costs this could result in. Likewise, the ISPs will also be able to appeal the decision if they feel it was an inappropriate order, something that may or may not be honored depending on the specific circumstances.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 11, 2015

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

Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageiPhone versus Android. The choice between the two smartphone platforms is as contentious as the battle between being a Mac or PC person. However, thanks to the war emerging between Apple and Google, the battle is not just heated — it’s just plain nasty.

It’s no secret Apple was displeased when Google entered the smartphone arena with army of Android phones and an app market, recently rebranded as Google Play. However, it shouldn’t have been a shock either.

Those who have a disdain for Apple products — and there are a lot of people on the planet who fit that description, despite the seeming ubiquity of iPhones — had as much right to inundate their smartphones with apps as iPhone users.

Although the Android app market is still small in comparison to Apple — 70,000 to 230,000 apps, respectively — the Android market is quickly gaining ground in the world of mobile application development. Incensing Apple even further, many Android apps are free. Why pay $.99 for an app on an iPhone when you can get it for nothing on a Galaxy III?

As tech goliaths, Apple and Google have run into more than a few disputes. Remember when Instagram moved from iOS-only to Android? Apple recently unveiled its new proprietary Maps application, designed to supplant Google’s ultra-popular-to-the-point-of-being-de-facto offering.

In a similar move, Apple is removing the YouTube app from its phones, effective with iOS6. This probably won’t be enough to make people chuck their iPhones, especially since the app hasn’t been recently updated, but it might make consumers on the fence choose an Android the next time their contract expires.

It’s hard to say if these differences will affect the populace in any more than a divisive capacity. Even when it comes to price, there isn’t much difference between the iPhone and Android phones. The iPhone 5 is priced at $199 with a contract, which is in the ballpark of the Galaxy and other mid- to upper-range smartphones. The decision may become clearer as the dust kicked up by the iPhone 5’s release begins to settle, even though it will be stirred up again with the next major smartphone release.

So, who’s going to emerge as the winner? As much as Apple and Google want to think they have the power to destroy each other through the end user, the bottom line is Apple people are Apple people and Android people are Android people. It’s really not much different than the Mac versus PC debate.

Sure, you do have people who cross over — some Mac people have Android phones and some PC users have iPhones — but for the most part, people are loyal to their brands. If Apple or Google want to crush each other, they’ll really have to do it without the help of the consumer. However, if they both continue to play nasty games, they make themselves ripe for a third player to emerge on the scene and take a share of both their markets away. I wonder if Linux plans to enter the cell phone market…

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Filed under Android, Apple, Connected Devices, Google, Guest Writers, iPhone