Tag Archives: Google Wallet

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 20, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–     Abraham Lincoln

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Features:

Flush DNS

List content of hosts

List IP configuration

List winsock entries

List the last 10 event viewer errors

List of installed programs

List devices

List users, partitions and memory

And more…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 6, 2015

Signal Keeps Your iPhone Calls And Texts Safe From Government Spies;  Facebook post written in Florida lands US man in United Arab Emirates jail;  Prepare to take your laptop to another country;  Google Launches A New Tool To Sell Car Insurance;  Windows 10: Will your PC run it?  10 best uses for open source software in the business world;  Dropcam customers now need to open a Nest account;  DNS enhancement catches malware sites;    Stop the presses: HTTPS-crippling “FREAK” bug affects Windows after all;  How ‘The Sims’ Turned Me into a Virtual Sociopath;  Comcast won’t let anyone watch HBO Go on PlayStation 4;  Apple, Facebook, Comcast, and hundreds of others ask Supreme Court for nationwide marriage equality;  Microsoft comes right out and says backup software is dead.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Signal Keeps Your iPhone Calls And Texts Safe From Government Spies – An iOS app called Signal is a project out of Open Whisper Systems, a not-for-profit collective of hackers dedicated to making it harder for prying government eyes to get a hold of your information. It gets high marks from both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a comprehensive solution for protecting your privacy.

Canadian bloke refuses to hand over phone password, gets cuffed – A 38-year-old Canadian citizen has been arrested for refusing to hand over his smartphone’s password to border agents. Alain Philippon, of Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines in Quebec, arrived at Halifax international airport in Canada from the Dominican Republic on Wednesday – and was selected by the Canada Border Services Agency for further screening. In the course of that search he was asked to provide the password for his phone but refused. He was charged with “hindering or preventing border officers from performing their role,” according to CBC. Philippon was released on bail, and is reportedly willing to challenge the decision when he heads to court on May 12. While border officials are given much broader search powers than other authorities, the issue of whether a Canadian border agent is entitled to demand access to the contents of Canadian’s private phone or laptop has not been tested in court.

Pointing up   Prediction: This case will eventually prove to be the seventh out of eight Supreme Court challenges, in which the Harper government has been defeated.  

The score so far – Canadians 6. The Harper government 1.

Obviously, a Supreme Court that is neither ideologically or political driven, favours the people. Yeah, you and me. Imagine that.

Prepare to take your laptop to another country – Traveling internationally with a laptop is a lot easier than it was when I first wrote about it in 2000—at least when it comes to hardware compatibilities. Back then, I had to make my dial-up modem work with the German telephone system. Today, ethernet and Wi-Fi are pretty much everywhere. In today’s more paranoid world, your biggest challenges will likely involve protecting files and crossing international borders.

Ubiquitous screens pose new parenting challenges in the 21st century – Parents are wondering how, when, and where to incorporate screens and media into their little ones’ lives. See what the evidence shows, and learn tips and guidelines about screen time for children.

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YouTube Kids on an iPad. Image: Jason Cipriani/CNET

Pay with your smartphone without Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Wallet – Check out these three apps that let you pay with the phone you have right now, no NFC required.

Facebook post written in Florida lands US man in United Arab Emirates jail – A helicopter mechanic who popped off about his Middle East job on Facebook while at home in the US got more than an upbraiding from his bosses when he returned to his gig in the United Arab Emirates. He was met in Abu Dhabi with an arrest, 10 days in jail, and a March 17 trial date—with a potential five years in prison if convicted. Thirty-year-old Ryan Pate of Belleair Bluffs, Florida, is accused of slandering his employer, which is illegal in the Emirates. He wrote in December about his superiors at Global Aerospace Logistics being “backstabbers.” He left Florida to return overseas, pack up his stuff, and quit his job. Police called him to come to the station, and he was arrested last month.

Pointing up  Having first visited Abu Dhabi in 1976, I can well understand where this comes from. At a basic level, this piece of sand and its “original occupants”, has contempt for those of us who actively engage in what we in the West call – work. Work, which is performed primarily by “foreigners”.

Google Launches A New Tool To Sell Car Insurance To U.S Web Searchers – Confirming earlier reports that Google has been plotting a move to help sell consumers auto insurance in the U.S., the search giant announced this morning it’s launching a new feature called “Google Compare for Auto Insurance,” a comparison-shopping site that lets you compare the rates from different insurance providers. The option to compare rates will begin popping up after a consumer does a Google search for “car insurance” using Google’s search engine. Initially, the service is being made available to California residents, but Google says other states will soon follow later this year.

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10 best uses for open source software in the business world – Open source offers some compelling benefits for businesses large and small — but you might be surprised at some of the ways it’s being used. Let’s take a look at 10 possible best-case uses for open source software that can help make your business grow, bring you a level of flexibility and reliability you haven’t experienced, or just save you a welcome percentage of your budget.

Find out what it’s doing outside with Storm by Weather Underground – The free Storm app for iOS provides high-resolution radar, a huge buffet of map layers and detailed weather information.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Dropcam customers now need to open a Nest account – Nine months after the half-a-billion dollar deal that brought Dropcam to the Google-owned Nest, the two home automation companies are starting to integrate their products. Dropcam customers received an email this week that informed them they now needed to sign up for a Nest account to get the full functionality out of the home-monitoring cameras sold by the San Francisco-based startup. During sign-up, Dropcam customers have to accept a new terms of service agreement and privacy statement.

Haiku Deck’s Zuru tool uses AI to help you create PowerPoints fast – Most people hate putting together a PowerPoint deck. If you’re one of those, Haiku Deck’s new Zuru tool promises to cut the time you need to spend to do so to a matter of minutes. For each slide, a user simply needs to input his or her text; Zuru then analyzes the content, highlighting what it thinks are the key points and matching the text with a thematically appropriate image.

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Microsoft comes right out and says backup software is dead – Microsoft’s been making lots of noise lately about its send-your-snapshots-to-the-cloud service Azure Site Recovery. But now it’s come right out and said it: Redmond reckons backup software deserves to die. “If cloud storage had existed decades ago, it’s unlikely that the industry would have developed the backup processes that are commonly used today,” Microsoft says. Which is nonsense: dedicated backup tools offer more subtleties than Microsoft’s growing range of snapshot–and-cloud-centric products and services. To Microsoft, the cloud is its backup hammer and every problem looks like a nail.

Windows 10: Will your PC run it? – Let’s go behind the specs and find out everything you need to know about getting Windows 10 running on a PC, but were too afraid (or confused) to ask.

Pointing up    I’m currently testing Win 10 on a Core 2 Duo 2.6 with 2 GB and native graphics – runs like a charm (no pun intended). And that, is an OLD machine.

Our 10 Favorite Windows 10 Universal Apps – Microsoft has committed to unifying its app store to support all screen sizes from phones to high-powered desktop PCs. Here are the best apps so far.

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Windows 10’s Xbox App: More about extending a console than embracing PC gaming – Microsoft says Windows 10 embraces PC gaming, but the Xbox app is all about bringing the console to your computer–with one killer exception.

New iOS app Spotless keeps your Instagram comments spam-free – Love Instagram but hate all the insta-spam? If you’re looking to clean up the comments section of your Instagram feed, you can keep it free of trolls, promoters, cyber-bullies, and bots using Spotless. Spotless is the new app for Instagram that allows you to automatically delete spam comments. It can even tell the difference between a friend or foe and safeguard comments that you might actually care about while nipping annoying bots in the bud. Using Spotless just might help your Instagram get a little more insta-zen.

Music recognition app Shazam wants to help you identify more than music – Song recognition app Shazam wants to recognize more than just audio. A report from Reuters says the app is planning on expanding its search function to the visual realm too, letting users identify items such as DVDs and groceries with their phone’s camera. “We want to expand the universe of what you can Shazam,” chief executive Rich Riley told the news agency. “The famous blue button that our users love will remain on the home screen but will be able to do much more.”

Security:

Stop the presses: HTTPS-crippling “FREAK” bug affects Windows after all – Computers running all supported versions of Microsoft Windows are vulnerable to “FREAK,” a bug disclosed Monday that for more than a decade has made it possible for attackers to decrypt HTTPS-protected traffic passing between vulnerable end-users and millions of websites. Microsoft confirmed the vulnerability in an advisory published Thursday. FREAK attacks—short for Factoring attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys—are possible when an end-user with a vulnerable device connects to a vulnerable HTTPS-protected website. Vulnerable sites are those configured to use a weak cipher that many presumed had been retired long ago.

DNS enhancement catches malware sites by understanding sneaky domain names – A researcher at OpenDNS Security Labs has developed a new way to automatically detect and block sites used to distribute malware almost instantaneously without having to scan them. The approach, initially developed by researcher Jeremiah O’Connor, uses natural language processing and other analytics to detect malicious domains before they can attack by spotting host names that are designed as camouflage. Called NLPRank, it spots DNS requests for sites that have names similar to legitimate sites, but with IP addresses that are outside the expected address blocks and other related data that hints at sketchiness.

Pointing up   Now this I like. A relatively simple idea – as opposed to some of the more esoteric skydreams we’ve been forced to consider. If we can keep on top of this, and adjust as circumstances dictate (you can bet it will be under attack immediately), this could turn out to be an important tool.

Anthem refuses comprehensive IT security audit after the breach – Recently breached US health insurer Anthem has refused to let The Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) perform a full security audit of its systems, and this is not the first time this happened, reports GovInfoSecurity. The company also refused to allow the federal watchdog agency scan their systems for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations back in September 2013. Citing “corporate policy” as the reason and fearing outages because they would have to turn off its antivirus software for the agency to perform the testing, Anthem passed on the offer (as is their right to do, apparently).

Company News:

Amazon opens web store inside of Chinese archrival – Amazon has opened a store on Tmall, an online marketplace owned by Chinese retail giant and Amazon archrival Alibaba. The new store, which sells food, shoes, toys, kitchenware, and other items imported from outside China, shows Amazon’s intentions to grow its business in a market projected to be worth $1.01 trillion by 2018.

Softcard’s mobile payments app is shutting down in March after tech sale to Google – After earlier announcing it had sold some of its technology to Google, Softcard now says it will shut down the app for good on March 31. As part of the buyout, the three backers of Softcard—Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile—said they will load Google Wallet onto Android phones running KitKat or higher later this year.

Adobe invites help with hunting vulnerabilities, but no bounty money – Adobe Systems launched a new program that encourages security researchers to find and report vulnerabilities in the company’s websites and other online services. Unlike companies like Google, Mozilla, Facebook or Twitter that pay monetary rewards for vulnerabilities found in their Web properties, Adobe’s program only promises public recognition for such contributions.

Pointing up    I can well understand the “no payment” idea. Kicking out cash just to cover the next to be reported vulnerabilities in Reader and Flash, would be a logistical nightmare.   Smile

Netflix says it still supports Net neutrality, despite CFO’s comments – Netflix’s recent deal in Australia and comments from its CFO suggested it was backtracking on its pro-neutrality stance.

Samsung upgrading LED display collection with Yesco Electronics buy – Samsung is looking to strengthen its B2B display portfolio with the acquisition of Yesco Electronics. The Utah-based company produces LED-equipped signs and displays. Yesco already counts more than 2,000 installations worldwide across multiple industries — notably retail, education, hospitality, corporate, and transportation. Samsung plans to use Yesco’s resources to bolster its own outdoor LED display catalog beyond its existing pile of large-format displays (LFDs) toward LCD-based panels.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft: DirectX 12 will increase your graphics performance by an additional 20 percent – Microsoft has said previously that its upcoming DirectX 12 API will make your PC more efficient. Now we know by how much: just by using DirectX, executives said, you’ll see an additional 20 percent improvement in your graphics frame rate, and a drop in CPU utilisation to boot. What does this mean? During an Intel press conference at GDC Wednesday night, Bryan Langley, a principal program manager for graphics with Microsoft, put it into context. “This is like getting free hardware,” Langley said. “So if you’re a gamer, and you upgrade to Windows 10, and you have that Iris Pro, it’s like getting that extra kick. It may make your game go from not quite playable, to playable, from mediocre to awesome, from awesome to just out of this world.”

Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One and Oculus Rift this summer – One of the best things in gaming, is seeing a successful Kickstarter game hit the market. It’s been a long wait, but Elite: Dangerous is finally hitting Xbox One this summer. This game was designed for Oculus Rift too, so you can enjoy a complete VR experience in this trippy space game in all the glory of smooth 4k video. If you’ve been waiting for a new game to test the limits to see what Oculus can do, this might be it. Not only will you get to look around at a beautiful galaxy in VR, but you get to zoom around 2,400 space systems all from the captain’s chair, which could also be your couch.

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MindLeap VR system throws away controllers, reads minds – Virtual Reality might have just gotten a wee bit weirder. Or fancier, depending on your take. Neurotechnology company MindMaze is growing out of its roots in the medical industry and stepping into the games biz. At GDC 2015, it just revealed what could be the evolution of VR platforms, even while VR platforms are still at a growing phase. MindLeap, as it is called, may look like a regular head-mounted display, but you won’t need controllers or even gloves to use it. All you need is to think.

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Surprise: Comcast won’t let anyone watch HBO Go on PlayStation 4 – And here’s the thing: Comcast subscribers are really missing out. After spending some time with HBO Go on PlayStation 4 last night, I think it’s the best experience I’ve had with the service yet. It was worth some waiting. The app is lightning fast, fluid, and intuitive with a gorgeous user interface from top to bottom. Give me this over HBO Go on the Apple TV any day of the week. If you’ve used HBO Go on Xbox One, you’ve seen something similar. But if Sony is your console maker of choice, you simply can’t have the best HBO Go experience available right now. That sucks and isn’t fair.

Lastronaut Is A Totally Free, Totally Addictive Endless Running Game For iPhone – Endless runners are pretty much perfect for mobile devices, because they’re easy to get into and great for short play sessions. A new iPhone game in that genre from a Toronto-based developers Darrin Henein and Stephan Leroux called Lastronaut may be the best currently available endless runner for those looking for value: it’s totally free, with no ads or in-app purchases whatsoever. It focuses on the Lastronaut, a pixelated protagonist who is the person left behind to close up shop and follow the rest of humanity into space following a robot apocalypse that resulted in the need for a mass exodus of our home planet.

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How ‘The Sims’ Turned Me into a Virtual Sociopath – You could cause some real terror to the little Sims – I never really played the game to “succeed.” I wasn’t the player full of aspirations, who wanted to have the best business card, the best job, or the best girlfriend. I played it to wreak as much havoc as possible. And the violence you could find in it was much darker than the stuff you’d see in Manhunt, or Grand Theft Auto. With those games, it’s just mindless rage. You don’t stick a crowbar into someone’s head in those games, and then phone up that guy’s wife, invite her over and start kissing her straight afterwards. But that’s what used to happen when I played The Sims.

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Look at the eyes. Those eyes have seen death. Those eyes have been death.

Four major theater chains boycott Netflix’s latest film – Netflix has long been changing the way television shows are consumed, but more recently its business moves have threatened to alter the future of feature films, and theaters aren’t taking kindly to it. Earlier this week, Netflix bought “Beasts of No Nation” for $12 million; it’s a drama from Cary Fukunaga, and it is set to debut on the video streaming service the same day it debuts in theaters. Those theater chains, however, have a different plan — they’re going to boycott the film entirely, taking a hard stance against Netflix’s growing push for simultaneous movie launches.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Apple, Facebook, Comcast, and hundreds of others ask Supreme Court for nationwide marriage equality – A host of the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and 374 others have banded together to file an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court stating that all couples should share the right to marry. The brief, which was filed today by law firm Morgan Lewis, actually makes a business case for legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. It claims that the currently muddled and confusing legal landscape surrounding same-sex marriage “places significant burdens on employers and their employees — making it increasingly hard to conduct business.”  It’s not just huge tech companies coming out in support here, either — the businesses range from smaller, family-owned businesses all the way up to giants like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Comcast, Levi’s, Nike, Proctor & Gamble, Wells Fargo, United Airlines, and dozens more.

Insane video puts you in front seat of world’s tallest ‘giga coaster’ – Before you watch the video, I have to ask if you’ve eaten anything recently. If so, you might want to wait a bit. The video puts you smack at the front of the tallest giga coaster ever made — Fury 325 — which is set to debut at Carowinds, an amusement park in Charlotte, N.C., at the end of this month.

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The Money Shot: Product Placement in Porn Is Now a Thing – Porn has entered the final stages of its manifest destiny takeover of all aspects of society. One of the clearest examples of this was Pornhub’s entry into the music industry by launching a record company last October and shooting an NSFW hip-hop video with Coolio. Now, one dating website is blurring the lines further. In January, ArrangementFinders.com appointed Kayden Kross—an award-winning porn star—as its president. It seems that the future of porn is in product placement. The next time you go to your favourite tube site and feverishly type in “gangbang,” you may soon encounter close-ups of an energy drink while your hands are down your pants. Thirsty?

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Veronica Vain. Photos courtesy ArrangementFinders.com

Even the inventor of K-Cups regrets his coffee mistake – Pod coffee has proved controversial for its taste and its ecological impact, and no single-serve option has been more contentious than Keurig’s K-Cups. On the one hand there’s the convenience: drop in a pod, hit the button, and seconds later be drinking hot coffee. On the other, though, there are questions around freshness, the poor recyclability of pods, and – particularly in Keurig’s case – the use of patents and DRM to lock consumers to a single brand. Turns out, even the guy who created K-Cups in the first place now regrets it.

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Einstein’s Cross: Distant supernova split into four by gravitational lensing – An exploding star directly behind a cluster of enormous galaxies has been split into four images by the light-bending properties of the cluster’s gravity.

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Are Drones A Fad Or Here For Good? – Drones are no longer just seen as a tool of the military or a toy that people use to fly around. Take consumer perception — “drone” is a household word. Just look at the Google Trends for the word “drones” or “DJI.” Check out the number of drone videos on YouTube (~827,000). According to Frost and Sullivan, an aerospace research firm, over 200,000 drones were sold each month in 2014. Parrot, a french drone maker, reported sales of over $47 million in drones in 2013. Whether we like it or not, we are going to be seeing more drones in the sky and on the news, and they will get cheaper, faster and more reliable. Here, I want to go into some reasons why I think drones are not just a fad but are here to stay.

Republicans’ “Internet Freedom Act” would wipe out net neutrality – US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) this week filed legislation she calls the “Internet Freedom Act” to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s new network neutrality rules. The FCC’s neutrality rules prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling Internet traffic, prohibit prioritization of traffic in exchange for payment, and require the ISPs to disclose network management practices. The legislation has 31 Republican cosponsors.

John McCain says he doesn’t use e-mail, afraid of what he’ll say – Technically Incorrect: The Republican stalwart says he has other people doing his e-mailing for him.

Pointing up    And, this guy gets to vote on net net neutrality? Sad that this Luddite commands influence – any influence, in any sphere.

Something to think about:

“I don’t email at all.”

–    John McCain

Today’s Free Downloads:

CopyTrans Manager Free – The free iTunes Alternative to manage iPhone, iPad and iPhone without iTunes.

Use CopyTrans Manager to add songs, videos, apps and more to your iPhone. Add and manage playlists, lyrics and artwork, or change ID3 Tags such as artist, album, ratings etc. The best of all? CopyTrans Manager is portable, a 100% free and supports all iPhones, iPads and iPods.

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A super little app. Screenshot from a personal system.

Robocraft – Robocraft is a free online game where you can build awesome robots from cubes, jump in and drive them, and then take them into epic battles online.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama criticises China’s mandatory backdoor tech import rules – As previously reported, proposed new regulations from the Chinese government would require technology firms to create backdoors and provide source code to the Chinese government before technology sales within China would be authorised.

China is also asking that tech companies adopt Chinese encryption algorithms and disclose elements of their intellectual property.

The new requirements, laid out in a 22-page document approved late last year, are supposedly geared towards strengthening the cyber security of critical Chinese industries and guarding against terrorism.

In an interview with Reuters, Obama said Beijing’s far-reaching counter-terrorism law would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys as well as installing “backdoors” into systems, thus granting Chinese authorities access in the process.

“We have made it very clear that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States,” Obama said. “This is something that I’ve raised directly with President Xi.”

Pointing up   Good lord! This hypocrisy may play well in the home market for Obama – but, the rest of the world sees this bullshit for what it is. 

You can’t do what I want to do – and, if you insist on trying, then I’m not playing any more. I’m just gonna pack up my shit and go home. 

Who, in their right mind, would call this effective diplomacy.

The “Snowden is ready to come home!” story: a case study in typical media deceit – Most sentient people rationally accept that the U.S. media routinely disseminates misleading stories and outright falsehoods in the most authoritative tones. But it’s nonetheless valuable to examine particularly egregious case studies to see how that works. In that spirit, let’s take yesterday’s numerous, breathless reports trumpeting the “BREAKING” news that “Edward Snowden now wants to come home!” and is “now negotiating the terms of his return!”

Ever since Snowden revealed himself to the public 20 months ago, he has repeatedly said the same exact thing when asked about his returning to the U.S.: I would love to come home, and would do so if I could get a fair trial, but right now, I can’t.

His primary rationale for this argument has long been that under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute under which he has been charged, he would be barred by U.S. courts from even raising his key defense: that the information he revealed to journalists should never have been concealed in the first place and he was thus justified in disclosing it to journalists. In other words, when U.S. political and media figures say Snowden should “man up,” come home and argue to a court that he did nothing wrong, they are deceiving the public, since they have made certain that whistleblowers charged with “espionage” are legally barred from even raising that defense.

Snowden has also pointed out that legal protections for whistleblowers are explicitly inapplicable to those, like him, who are employed by private contractors (rendering President Obama’s argument about why Snowden should “come home” entirely false). One month after Snowden was revealed, Daniel Ellsberg wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post arguing that Snowden did the right thing in leaving the U.S. because he would not be treated fairly, and argued Snowden should not return until he is guaranteed a fully fair trial.

Now Corporate Drones are Spying on Cell Phones – The marketing firm Adnear is using drones to track cell phone users –

The capture does not involve conversations or personally identifiable information, according to director of marketing and research Smriti Kataria. It uses signal strength, cell tower triangulation, and other indicators to determine where the device is, and that information is then used to map the user’s travel patterns.

“Let’s say someone is walking near a coffee shop,” Kataria said by way of example.

The coffee shop may want to offer in-app ads or discount coupons to people who often walk by but don’t enter, as well as to frequent patrons when they are elsewhere. Adnear’s client would be the coffee shop or other retailers who want to entice passersby.

[…]

The system identifies a given user through the device ID, and the location info is used to flesh out the user’s physical traffic pattern in his profile. Although anonymous, the user is “identified” as a code. The company says that no name, phone number, router ID, or other personally identifiable information is captured, and there is no photography or video.

Does anyone except this company believe that device ID is not personally identifiable information?

US Senators hope to crack down on the trade of private information – Four US senators are introducing legislation aimed at turning the screws on businesses that gather up and sell citizens’ personal information.

Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Al Franken (D-MN) have teamed up to introduce the Data-broker Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) [PDF], which will let Americans correct and remove their private details from databases.

If the bill makes it into law, so-called data brokers can be forced to stop selling a person’s information, and they would be forbidden from using deceptive practices to gather data on people. Additionally, brokers would be required to give users access to their information, and allow them to update or correct sensitive records.

The bill covers information from ages and marital statuses to hobbies, jobs, ailments, and much more: details that companies can legally collect and sell to others. Publicly available information, such as names and addresses, can only be updated if the original source corrects the data.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 6, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 24, 2015

Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You;  This Is the Best Mac Security Software You Can Buy;  This Is the Best PC Security Software You Can Buy;  19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  10 good Android apps for productivity;  Free OCR: Turn a picture of text into real text without spending a dime;  18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  Hands On With YouTube Kids;  Google-owned Blogger bans sexually explicit content;  Timeline: Google’s role in global sex censorship;  Worse than Superfish? Comodo-affiliated PrivDog;  Security experts call for halt to PC crapware;  9 really weird movies you can watch for free;  Cable TV is speeding up its shows slightly to show you more ads;  Watch 10 years of YouTube’s best viral videos;  Marijuana is roughly 114 times less deadly than alcohol;  Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You – It’s 2015—when we feel sick, fear disease, or have questions about our health, we turn first to the internet. According to the Pew Internet Project, 72 percent of US internet users look up health-related information online. But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns—confidentially, we assume—are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores. It’s happening for profit, for an “improved user experience,” and because developers have flocked to “free” plugins and tools provided by data-vacuuming companies.

TIME: This Is the Best PC Security Software You Can Buy – We analyzed the best free and paid security software for Windows-based computers that closely matched the “ideal” solution, calculating test results from independent security experts, consumer sites, and technology specialists. Paid software had to not only meet top security ratings, but it had to cost less than $100 per year, be marketed for personal computers, and offer coverage for multiple PCs. And for freeware, we wanted something that had equally strong ratings, was easy to use, and offered a little something extra over the other freebies out there. Here are our picks.

TIME: This Is the Best Mac Security Software You Can Buy – We placed an emphasis on performance and security over a trunk full of features. To find the best freeware, it had to meet top-notch security ratings while still offering a few perks. For paid software, we decided it had to not only achieve high security ratings, but it had to cost less than $100, offer a one-year subscription with multi-device protection, and be designed for home use. With that, we narrowed it down to our two security software picks — one free, one paid — for 2015.

19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 19 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

10 good Android apps for productivity – Android tablets come in all sizes, making it a sure bet you can find one that helps you be productive. To get the most work done using a tablet requires apps that can handle work tasks. Finding such apps can be a chore given the number of apps in the Google Play store. We’ve done the work for you and present 10 good apps for Android tablets. They range from well-known office suite apps to some more obscure apps that will increase your productivity. Most of the apps have a free version that makes it easy to try, and some add a premium version that adds additional functionality for a nominal fee.

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Free OCR: Turn a picture of text into real text without spending a dime – You may already have an OCR program. OneNote, the outliner and research organizer that comes with many versions of Microsoft Office, has had OCR capabilities since version 2007. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, OneNote is also available as a free download, although you will be required to use or create a Microsoft account. Using it for OCR is very simple. Just copy and paste the image into a OneNote page. Then right-click the image and select Copy Text. OneNote will OCR-copy any text it finds in the image text to the clipboard.

Nutshell Camera turns your photos into mini-movies – Or maybe it turns mini-movies into artistic expressions. Whatever the case, it’s pretty cool. It’s fun, it’s free and it’s definitely different from other apps that let you share snippets of your life.

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18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – The very fact that this technology exists (and is available for free) should be the lead story on the news every night: “Breaking News: all humans are still omniscient beings with God-like powers of teleportation!” But that’s not how we see things. We just take these superpowers for granted. Which is kind of sad, really. Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and its cousin Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools—and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. (And we’re just talking about the Web version, the mobile incarnations are a whole other bag of magic.) Here, we present 18 cool things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. Click on through and experience just a little bit of the power of the everyday.

Hands On With “YouTube Kids,” Google’s Newly Launched, Child-Friendly YouTube App – Today, much to the delight of families everywhere, that app has now arrived, complete with a simplified design, a curated selection of kid-safe content, parental controls, and more. Google says the app will be made available to families on both Android and iOS devices, contrary to earlier reports that YouTube Kids would be Android-first. There’s been a need for an app like this for some time – in fact, parents’ desires for a safer video service for their children even led a number of startups to jump in and fill the void, as YouTube itself was dropping the ball.

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Here are 40 of the best apps available for the Kindle Fire, and Kindle Fire HD and HDX – Some of the apps that made this list focus on collaboration and task-management, while others are designed for consuming videos, books, music, and other media. Some apps are great for the whole family, and others, such as those for taking private notes or accessing personal documents, you might want to keep as your own little secret. Missing from this list are apps that come pre-installed on the Kindle Fire, which include Pulse, Audible, IMDb, Quickoffice, Facebook, and a few others. Many of these apps are indispensable, but, seeing as you already have them, there’s no need to mention them.

Apple’s Latest Betas Bring More Diversity To Emoji – Apple is adding more diverse emoji options to both iOS and OS X, new developer preview builds reveal. These includes various skin color options for emojis featuring people, faces, hands and other exposed skin, as well as new country flags that add to the rather limited original set. The new skin tone options are available as alternates when a user clicks (or taps) and holds on any of the face, hand or people emoji, offering a further six skin color selections for any given enjoy in the People section where it’s applicable (meaning not the space invader, ghost, poo, skull or mask emojis, for instance).

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Google-owned Blogger bans sexually explicit content – Google-owned blogging platform Blogger will no longer allow its users to post sexually explicit content, the company confirmed today. In a statement sent via email to selected Blogger users, Google said it would no longer allow blogs to feature “graphic nude images or video” from March 23rd. Any blogs that continued to show explicit images would be made private after that date — while graphic images and videos would remain, Google says they would only be visible to the blog owner, admins, and other people who the owner shared it with.

Timeline: Google’s role in global sex censorship – While you were busy freaking out about government surveillance, censorship blossomed at the one corporation that has the most power to fight — or enable — suppression of speech: Google.

9 been-around-the-block Office tips – Just because a tip has been used for a long time doesn’t mean it isn’t new to you. Learn a few of Susan Harkins’ old but reliable tips for working more efficiently in Office.

How to Create an App for iOS, Android, or Windows Phone – Like the early days of the Web, several tools have risen that will allow anyone to create a product with little-to-no programming language. (But if you have the coding skills, it will give you the ability to make a truly unique thing). These third-party services will even handle the process of submitting your app to the various stores (e.g. Google Play, the iOS App Store, or the Windows Phone app store). We’ll get into some of those services below, but let’s start with a very basic overview of each environment and how to break in all by yourself.

Security:

Worse than Superfish? Comodo-affiliated PrivDog compromises web security too – PrivDog is marketed as a solution to protect users against malicious advertising without completely blocking ads. The program is designed to replace potentially bad ads with safer ones that are reviewed by a compliance team from a company called Adtrustmedia. As Abdulhayoglu puts it in a January 2014 post on his personal blog in which he describes the technology: “Consumers win, Publishers win, Advertisers win.” However, according to people who recently looked at PrivDog’s HTTPS interception functionality, consumers might actually lose when it comes to their system’s security if they use the product.

Gemalto says NSA SIM card hack might not be so bad after all – Late last week, Edward Snowden revealed another bombshell. In his ongoing quest to reveal the scope of NSA spying, he announced the NSA and GCHQ (NSA’s UK counterpart) hacked a major SIM card provider, Gemalto, in an attempt to get the ‘keys’ to your phone. In hacking your phone via the SIM, the NSA and GCHQ would be able to bypass the carriers, and keep a watchful eye on you with no one being the wiser. In response to the report, Gemalto is now saying it might not be a problem at all.

Chrome warns users of devious software that could impact Google’s business – Google has added an early warning alert to Chrome that pops up when users try to access a website that the search giant suspects will try to dupe users into downloading underhanded software. The new alert pops up in Chrome when a user aims the browser at a suspect site but before the domain is displayed. “The site ahead contains harmful programs,” the warning states. Google emphasized tricksters that “harm your browsing experience,” and cited those that silently change the home page or drop unwanted ads onto pages in the warning’s text.

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Your phone’s power usage can reveal where you’ve been – When you think of smartphone location tracking, both legitimate or otherwise, and you will most likely think of technologies that directly relate to locations, like GPS, WiFi, or even Bluetooth. But a group of researchers from Standford University and Israeli defense group Rafael are proving even something so innocent sounding like your phone’s battery consumption can be used to track your movements. The good news is that it’s not exactly as easy or as informational as those more dedicated sensors. At least not yet.

Security experts call for halt to PC ‘crapware’ after Lenovo debacle – Security professionals want Lenovo — and other PC makers — to stop the practice of loading third-party software on new PCs after one such app was found to be vulnerable to abuse by cyber criminals.

Company News:

First lawsuit filed against Lenovo for Superfish adware – Things are getting serious for Lenovo, as the first lawsuit from their Superfish spyware scandal has been filed in a California court by Jessica Bennett. This is the first lawsuit in what may be a series of legal troubles for Lenovo. This different from run-of-the-mill adware that one might find from a scheduled virus check. Lenovo has been caught putting pre-installed adware from a company called Superfish on their products. This was exceptionally dangerous to Lenovo consumers because it not only leaked their data but left them vulnerable to outside attacks.

Facebook’s Data Protection Practices Under Fresh Fire In Europe – Facebook is facing fresh criticism in Europe over data protection and the myriad smoke-and-mirrors methods it uses to obfuscate its gathering and processing of user data. A report commissioned by Belgium’s data protection authority has found Facebook’s revised privacy policy, last updated in January, violates European consumer protection law in a number of ways.

Google’s privacy policy: Italians probing a little deeper – Google is to be subject to regular on-site spot checks by the Italian data protection regulator under moves to ensure the Chocolate Factory complies with the country’s privacy laws. “For the first time in Europe, it will be the subject of regular checks to monitor progress status of the actions to bring its platform into line with domestic legislation,” said the county’s data protection authority. Quarterly updates on the firm’s progress will be conducted, with the regulator to carry out on-the-spot checks at Google’s US headquarters to verify whether the measures being implemented are in compliance with Italian law. Google will have to be fully compliant with the measures by 15 January 2016.

Twitter Throws Its Weight Behind The FCC’s Net Neutrality Push – Twitter backs the FCC’s push to pass new net neutrality regulations it underlined today, publishing a blog post calling for the passage of open Internet rules that will prevent throttling, paid prioritization. The company also advocated for the regulation of wireless connections under net neutrality rules. The FCC will vote on its open Internet proposal later this week.

Target.com Undercuts Amazon And Walmart With New Free Shipping Minimums – Target today announced a change to its e-commerce site designed to undercut competitors like Amazon and Walmart: It dropped the minimum requirements for free shipping from $50 previously down to just $25. This means that the free shipping minimum requirement from Target is now actually $10 less than it is on Amazon, and half of Walmart’s minimum. While Amazon Prime subscribers are able to choose from over 20 million items available for free two-day shipping, non-subscribers or those buying outside of the Prime catalog have to build orders that are $35 or more in order to qualify for Amazon’s free shipping option.

Google snaps up IP from Softcard, strikes deal with carriers for Wallet – Google Wallet is no Apple Pay, largely because Google can’t play the strong-arm game Apple does about what software is on their iPhone. Not long ago, Google Wallet was sidelined by carriers, as they intended to create their own mobile payment system. Known as Softcard, the app did much of what Google Wallet did, except it had the blessing of carriers. According to a new report, the line between Softcard and Google Wallet (as well as carriers) is blurring.

Games and Entertainment:

The Windows Store’s scam apps will be a problem as Xbox and Windows 10 intertwine – In fairness, Microsoft isn’t alone in battling scams and clones, and we’ve seen similarissues on platforms such as iOS. And to Microsoft’s credit, the company is trying to crack down on bad actors after the issue gained wider attention last year. But as I’ve written before, the Windows Store faces a unique challenge in taking the quantity-over-quality app store model and applying it to the PC. While that model works fairly well for phones and tablets, it doesn’t translate well to laptops and desktops, where people are expecting substantial, high-quality software.

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The new Xbox app in Windows 10.

Nvidia hit with class-action lawsuit over graphics card RAM issues – What started as an arcane debate among hardcore hardware spec analyzers has now become a legal headache for Nvidia. The graphics card maker is facing a class-action lawsuit in the Northern District of California over allegations that it falsely advertised the total hardware power in the GTX 970 graphics card released late last year. In marketing materials and reviewer guides provided when the GTX 970 launched in September, Nvidia advertised a card that had 4GB of high-speed GDDR5 RAM. Earlier this year, though, many users online reported performance issues when trying to utilize the entirety of that RAM, including stuttering and crashing on games and video editing applications.

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Nvidia backtracks on mobile GPU overclocking, new driver set to enable it again – Nvidia has responded to the criticism it received in its customer forums for disabling the overclocking features of their 900M series of GPUs stating it will roll back changes in a new driver update.

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9 really weird movies you can watch for free – You could look for the best films for free online, but that’s boring and predictable. How about some of the strangest? These nine movies are bizarre, unique, and deserve your viewing at least once because of how weird they are. No, they’re not the absolute weirdest films on the Internet, because that’s a rabbit hole with no bottom. However, they’re some fascinating movies you can watch on Hulu, Crackle, Shout! Factory TV, and even YouTube right now, legitimately and for free.

‘Morningstar’ and ‘Decay: The Mare’ are snack-sized games bursting with point-and-click nostalgia – This weekend I took a break from big-budget, explosion fare to dig through the backlog of indie games we’ve accumulated since the start of the year. I wanted something small and easily consumable, and two titles stood out—Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock and Decay: The Mare. The two have a lot in common. They’re both point-and-click adventures, and they both clock in around two hours long. In other words, they’re both the types of games that are hard to fit into our standard reviews format, so they get the honor of ending up bundled here together.

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Valve announces SteamVR, debuting at next week’s Game Developers Conference – That device, dubbed “SteamVR,” is described as a “previously unannounced hardware system,” and it will debut at next week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco alongside “the refined Steam Controller” and “new living room devices.” The brief announcement included no virtual reality device mock-ups or announcements of compatible games. In fact, we can’t imagine many compatible games exist yet, as the announcement noted that Valve Software “is actively seeking VR content creators.” As such, the Steam Universe portal now includes a contact form to schedule GDC demos with Valve to test out the SteamVR Dev Kit.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cable TV is speeding up its shows slightly to show you more ads – It’s not news that reruns of Friends aren’t what cable TV really wants you to be watching. Networks make money by showing ads, and for years those networks have been looking for ways to pack in more and more quick spots to get you to buy Charmin, Tide, and Viagra. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that many networks are desperately trying to increase the number of commercials you watch per hour, sometimes resorting to subtly speeding up older shows and reruns in an effort to recapture the revenue from tanking ratings. The Journal notes that TBS used compression technology to speed up the Wizard of Oz during its airing last November, causing pop-culture writer Stephen Cox to notice that the munchkins’ voices were pitched higher than normal. TBS, TNT, and TV Land have also sped up shows including Seinfeld and Friends.

FCC Republicans launch last-ditch effort to sink net neutrality plan – With the Federal Communications Commission scheduled to vote on net neutrality rules Thursday, the commission’s two Republicans want to delay the vote by at least 30 days. Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly want the commission to break with past practice by releasing the entire proposal before the vote. Typically, the FCC releases a summary of the proposal but not the entire document until after it votes on it.

Buddha statue contains mummy in “advanced state of meditation” – The man inside this statue is dead according to conventional knowledge and science – but don’t tell him that. The Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort has taken to scanning this particular fellow recently. The only Chinese buddhist mummy “available in the West for scientific research,” they say, and Erik Bruijn, buddhist art and culture expert, is in charge of the project. Under his care, this reliquary – as its being called – has been under close watch, and ceremonies before scans have been implemented. The CT scan that took place weeks ago had very little to do with the idea that this mummified man was still “in meditation.” Instead, the case here and similar cases are believed by some buddhists to be part of a similar ending – the tukdam state – for advanced monks.

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Mummified buddhist master Liu Quan. Statue (L), CT scan (R). (Photos: Drents Museum)

Will gravestones of the future represent your digital life? – A new artwork at Science Gallery Dublin imagines how all the data that we’re accumulating could be brought back into the real world to define us after death. It places statistics about a person on a gravestone — number of Twitter followers, eBay feedback, Tinder matches, and so on — all of which is informative but fails to actually reveal anything about the human behind the numbers. That may be the ultimate irony of lifelogging: it can help us live and record everything that we do, but it says very little about who we actually are.

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Watch 10 years of YouTube’s best viral videos – YouTube launched 10 years ago this month, and what a decade it has been. Since the days of Charlie the Unicorn, we’ve seen the site become a breeding ground for a whole generation of #brands, artists, and political actors. Thankfully, there’s still all sorts of weirdness filling its servers. YouTube channel The Daily Conversation compiled some of the best viral videos of the last 10 years into one 16-minute retrospective, and it makes for a really nostalgic trip down digital memory lane.

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Marijuana is much safer than alcohol or tobacco, according to a new study – Marijuana is roughly 114 times less deadly than alcohol, according to recent findings published in the journal Scientific Reports. Of the seven drugs included in the study, alcohol was the deadliest at an individual level, followed by heroin, cocaine, tobacco, ecstasy, methamphetamines, and marijuana. Previous studies consistently ranked marijuana as the safest recreational drug, but it was not known that the discrepancy was this large. The researchers determined the mortality risk by comparing a lethal dose of each substance with the amount typically used. Not only was marijuana the lowest of the drugs tested, but there was such a gap between its lethal and typical doses that they classified it as the only “low mortality risk” drug tested. All others were classified as “medium” or “high.”

How to optimize your home lighting design based on color temperature – Once you understand what color temperature is and why it matters, you can choose the right types of light bulbs to improve the quality of your life at home.

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The color temperature of your home lighting can have a significant impact.

Something to think about:

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

–   Harry J. AnslingerAssistant Prohibition Commissioner in the Bureau of Prohibition, first Commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) (1930-1962, 32 years), US Representative to the United Nations Narcotics Commission.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool – Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool for PC is a free app that identifies and removes unwanted apps such as adware, malicious hijacker programs, annoying toolbars and other browser add-ons. Keep the apps you like, get rid of the programs that bug you. The tool will only erase those apps that you wish to be removed. It scans your computer for adware, and produces a list of apps marked for removal. App is portable, no install or uninstall needed.

How it works: It scans your computer for adware, and produces a list of apps marked for removal. You will be able to choose what to keep on your computer.

 

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DiskBoss – DiskBoss is an advanced file and disk management solution allowing one to search and classify files, perform disk space utilization analysis, detect and remove duplicate files, organize files according to user-defined rules and policies, copy large amounts of files in a fault-tolerant way, synchronize disks and directories, cleanup wasted disk space, etc.

All file management operations are integrated in a centralized and easy-to-use GUI application with a built-in file navigator allowing one to execute any required operation in a single mouse click. Frequently used file management operations may be pre-configured as user-defined commands and executed using the GUI application or direct desktop shortcuts.

Features:

Disk Space Utilization Analysis

Classification and Categorization

Duplicate Files Finder and Cleaner

High-Speed File Synchronization

Real-Time Disk Change Monitor

File Copy and Data Migration

File Delete and Data Wiping

Rule-Based File Organizing

Rule-Based File Search

Command Line Utility

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Yahoo exec goes mano a mano with NSA director over crypto backdoors – Echoing the concerns of many US-based technology companies have about US-led surveillance programs, Yahoo Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos asked the director of the National Security Agency some pointed questions concerning proposed or existing backdoors placed in encryption technologies. The responses from NSA director Adm. Mike Rogers only underscored the growing divide.

The frank exchange occurred Monday at the Cybersecurity for a New America conference in Washington DC. It came 17 months after materials leaked by former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden documented NSA-engineered backdoors were built into widely used cryptography technologies so that government agents could decrypt communications. Critics have since warned that the policy could backfire on US citizens, since backdoors can be exploited by governments of a variety of countries. Rogers clearly disagreed, but his denials were notable for a lack of technical detail.

What follows is an excerpt of the exchange, as first provided by website Just Security:

Secrets become history: Edward Snowden in the Oscar-winning Citizenfour – Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras’ account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on October 24.

For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn’t full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the Internet, or journalism—it won’t matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material.

Poitras filmed Snowden for 20 hours over eight days in his Hong Kong hotel, and her film has now given the world an unfiltered portrait of the man who, in the course of the year, became the West’s most wanted dissident.

“Suspicious male in possession of flight simulator game” lawsuit moves ahead – In an order issued Friday, a federal judge in San Francisco has allowed a case challenging the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI) to move forward by denying the government’s motion to dismiss.

The current case, known as Gill et al. v. Department of Justice et al (Gill v. DOJ), seeks to halt the standards that define the entire NSI program. If Gill was successful, it could effectively stop it.

Lead plaintiff Wiley Gill is a white man who converted to Islam as a student at California State University, Chico, and he drew the attention of the Chico Police Department in May 2012. (Chico is about 180 miles due north of San Francisco.) According to the SAR about Gill, the officer entered Gill’s residence in response to an apparent domestic violence incident (Gill was home alone). The officer then saw on a webpage “titled something similar to ‘Games that fly under the radar’” on Gill’s computer.

“Coupled with the fact he is unemployed, appears to shun law enforcement contact, has potential access to flight simulators via the Internet which he tried to minimize is worthy of note,” the SAR, entitled “Suspicious Male Subject in Possession of Flight Simulator Game,” concludes.

Snowden Does Reddit – Edward Snowden, who you might have heard of by now, took to Reddit today along with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Poitras won an Oscar last night for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Poitras’ winning film, CITIZENFOUR, covers when Greenwald, the filmmaker, and Snowden were together in Hong Kong, right before the documents were leaked and the world changed.

I’m no film critic, but I can understand why the film won the award — it’s a raw look at a moment in history that has proven to be geopolitically pivotal, leading to change at the level of nations and multinational corporations.

The Reddit session is much of what you would expect — you can read the full episode here — but there is one Snowden answer I think is worth highlighting in response to a question concerning how to bring domestic surveillance back to the fore of discussion, and perhaps to make it into an issue for the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s Snowden, at full length:

10 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 18, 2014

Boost Windows performance with these five apps;  Three apps to make your Android phone’s battery last longer;  Snapchat Now Lets You Send Money To Friends;  Want to try out Microsoft Sway? Here’s how to get access today;  Men think they can fix a computer (but can’t), study says;  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  The Top 10 Most Controversial iPhone Apps;  Target’s Mobile App Gets Indoor Mapping, Interactive Black Friday Maps;  The best Chromebook you can buy;  How to decide between a $199 Windows notebook and a Chromebook;  Tech Support Scams Pop-Ups on the Rise;  Far Cry 4 review: It’s a far cry from Far Cry 3;  Photos: The 3D printed moon base of the future;  Tech Giants Call For Passage Of Senate NSA Reform Bill;  Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit BETA.

Boost Windows performance with these five apps – The Windows operating system has long been criticized because it tends to get bogged down over time. Installing applications, patches, drivers, etc., causes the OS to become cluttered. As a result, performance slowly diminishes. Fortunately, a number of applications can optimize your system and help restore performance.

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Three apps to make your Android phone’s battery last longer – Phones and tablets die. It’s a fact of life and one that we must all inevitably plan our daily routines around. But sometimes you can’t. There isn’t always an open plug or an extra battery pack lying around. This is why you need to plan ahead. To avoid how often you’re faced with the untimely death of your pocket computer, we rounded up three of our favorite apps that can help you get a little more time out of that lithium cell.

Snapchat Now Lets You Send Money To Friends Through Snapcash Deal With Square Cash – While Venmo, Google Wallet, and more try to take a business approach to peer-to-peer payments, Snapchat today swooped in from the consumer side. It just added a “Snapcash”  payments option to its app through a deal with Square Cash. Now you can add a debit card, type a dollar amount into Snapchat’s text-chat feature, and hit the green pay button to instantly send a friend money. The feature is on Android now and is coming to iOS soon.

Men think they can fix a computer (but can’t), study says – A study suggests that men are especially keen to let it be known they know how to fix a computer, but their actual knowledge may not match their bravado.

Anonymous statement: KKK is a terrorist group, KKK responds poorly – Anonymous has issued a statement regarding its retaliation against the Ku Klux Klan’s Ferguson threats, calling the KKK a terrorist group and vowing to continue the campaign. Meanwhile, the KKK has responded poorly.

Want to try out Microsoft Sway? Here’s how to get access today – If you want to try out Microsoft’s new Sway app, you can now do so without waiting for you invitation if you use the link at the bottom of the post after the jump.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”… and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years. Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New app Super lets you share casual thoughts, pics – The co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, is at it again. This time, his company Jelly Industries is bringing in another Twitter-like app named Super. A pretty simple app, Super lets you take images of your choosing and lay text over them. You can also include video into your post, should you need to. Rather than just start smashing out words, your flashy post first offers up a series of starters for your text, but lets you add anything you like.

The Top 10 Most Controversial iPhone Apps – We found 10 iOS apps that courted controversy for better or for worse. Some allowed for your iPhone to become a gateway to a world of stalking, while others were just in extremely bad taste. We also analyze Apple’s reaction to the apps, most of which were pulled from sale in a matter of days. Check it out in the slideshow.

Target’s Mobile App Gets Indoor Mapping, Interactive Black Friday Maps – Target has teamed up with an indoor mapping technology company called Point Inside to debut in-store maps in its mobile app that show where items are located as a pin on the map – similar to the navigation maps consumers are using today to route their way around town. The feature, which is live now in the Target app, will also help customers during the upcoming Black Friday sales, as specialized maps showing deals and dealbusters will be provided.

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The best Chromebook you can buy – There’s really only one follow-up question to whether or not you should buy a Chromebook: do you live in a web browser? If you spend all your time in Chrome anyway — you use Gmail or Outlook, Spotify or Pandora, Tumblr or Facebook, Evernote or Pinterest, Flickr or 500px — you might be surprised how quickly you can obviate the few desktop apps you use now. Unless you work with video or photos, or you’re an avid gamer, a Chromebook has you covered.

Chromebooks Get Blanket Approval For NYC Schools – Google is already leading the pack in terms of tablets and notebooks sold to K-12 education providers, according to recent numbers from research firm IDC, and now it has gained another powerful new ally: The New York City Department of Education. The NYC CIO has signed on with Chromebooks, and Google Apps for Education, as par of their approved and supported (from an IT standpoint) tools for this school year, and they’ve also built a guide to help teachers in their district get started.

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Microsoft starts promoting the $199 HP Stream 11 Windows 8.1 notebook – Microsoft is hoping that HP’s new $199 Windows 8.1 laptop will be a sales hit this festive season and is now promoting the device – which includes a one-year Office 365 subscription – with new TV ads.

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How to decide between a $199 Windows notebook and a Chromebook – Summary: This is not an easy decision to make. There are some critical nuances you have to consider before you go one way or the other. In this article, we take a look at those factors.

iOS 8.1.1 is available now: How to download, and what’s new – A little less than one month ago, iPhone users were graced with iOS 8.1, bringing major additions to Apple’s operating system. While last update brought features like Apple Pay, reintroduced the Camera Roll, and fixed bugs with third-party extensions, iOS 8.1.1 is a more or less a usability update. If you’re into bug and stability fixes, this is the incremental update for you.

Sharetribe Lets You Create Your Own Peer-To-Peer Marketplace – Aiming to provide the ‘picks and shovels’ behind the online marketplace gold rush, Sharetribe — which appears to pivoted at least once — makes it easy for anyone to create and manage their own peer-to-peer marketplace, and take a cut of any transactions along the way.

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Intel’s MICA Smart Bracelet Will Be In Stores Before Christmas For $495 – Intel today debuted the Intel MICA bracelet (short for “My Intelligent Communications Accessory), which was developed in collaboration with Opening Ceremony, the CFDA and sold exclusively at Barneys. The company also announced that it will go on sale in time for Christmas, and will retail for $495. That price includes at AT&T Sim card, complete with data and SMS messages, for two years.

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SourceLair Lets You Code Right In Your Browser – Editing code isn’t that hard. A terminal, a little Vim, a little PHP, some beer, and maybe a few Google searches and you’re off and running. But what if you want to work on a project without compromising your personal server or don’t really have an environment for coding? SourceLair is one answer. The freemium service lets you build projects right in your browser.

Security:

New ransomware CoinVault allows users to decrypt one file for free – Cybercriminals behind a new ransomware program called CoinVault are trying out a new psychological tactic to convince users to pay up—freebies. The new threat was discovered by security researchers from Webroot and is similar in functionality to more prevalent ransomware programs like CryptoWall. It uses strong 256-bit AES encryption with keys stored on a remote server, it kills the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service so that users can’t use it to recover their files and only supports Bitcoin as a payment method. Users are asked to pay 0.5 bitcoins—around $200 at the current exchange rate—in order to receive the key that decrypts their files, but the cost increases every 24 hours.

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Tech Support Scams Pop-Ups on the Rise – The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued a public service announcement warning about a “new twist to the telephone tech support scam“. In its message, it advises users to be particularly cautious about fake pop-ups telling them that their computers are infected and urging to call a toll free number for assistance:

Many Tor-anonymized domains seized by police belonged to imposter sites – A large number of the Tor-anonymized domains recently seized in a crackdown on illegal darknet services were clones or imposter sites, according to an analysis published Monday. Of the 276 domains Cubrilovic identified, 153 pointed to clones, phishing, or scam sites impersonating one of the hidden services targeted by law enforcement, he said. If corroborated by others, the findings may be viewed as good news for privacy advocates who look to Tor to help preserve their anonymity.

List of hacked government agencies grows: State Department, White House, NOAA & USPS – If whispers can be believed, then Chinese hackers are kicking U.S. government cyber butt and taking names as the growing list of government data breaches now includes the State Department, the White House, NOAA — which includes the National Weather Service and satellite data — and USPS.

TRUSTe pays $200,000 to settle charges that it deceived consumers – The firm that issues the TRUSTe privacy seal displayed on thousands of websites has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle charges that it deceived consumers about the sites it vouched for and perpetuated misrepresentations about TRUSTe’s status as a nonprofit. San Francisco-based TRUSTe told consumers that the websites certified under its programs receive a recertification review every year, according to a release published Monday by the Federal Trade Commission. But in fact, the consumer watchdog agency said, TRUSTe failed to conduct annual reviews in at least 1,000 cases from 2006 to 2013.

Company News:

Court agrees that Google’s search results qualify as free speech – The regulation of Google’s search results has come up from time to time over the past decade, and although the idea has gained some traction in Europe (most recently with “right to be forgotten” laws), courts and regulatory bodies in the US have generally agreed that Google’s search results are considered free speech. That consensus was upheld last Thursday, when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Google’s right to order its search results as it sees fit.

Intel merging mobile and PC groups as line between phone and computer blurs – Chip-making giant Intel is set to merge its mobile and tablet division together with the part of the company that makes processors for personal computers. The company’s chief executive, Brian Krzanich, announced the plan — which will combine the loss-making mobile group with the profitable PC chip-making group early next year — in an email to employees. Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy said the move comes as the “lines are blurring between PCs, tablets, phablets and phones,” and explained that the company’s aim is to “accelerate the implementation and create some efficiency so that we can move even faster.”

After Divorcing Microsoft, Nokia Reveals An Android Tablet, The N1, Hitting China First – Today at the Slush conference in Helsinki, home-town hero Nokia — the part of the business that did not get sold off to Microsoft, that is – has revealed its first device: the N1, a iPad-like small tablet with an aluminum shell, a 7.9-inch screen and an Android Lollipop OS. Selling for $249, it will be sold first in China by way of a manufacturing and distribution partnership with Foxconn and initially at least will be WiFi-only.

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Ex-Nokians Launch Employee Wellness App Wellmo – Born from the ashes of Nokia’s ‘Wellness’ initiative — part of Nokia Research Center, which, by some estimates, helped make the once mobile giant the third largest R&D spender in Europe as recently as 2011 — is Wellmo, another Finnish startup operating in the health and fitness space.

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Games and Entertainment:

Far Cry 4 review: It’s a far cry from Far Cry 3 – Game Theory Games are rarely known for providing a roster of characters worthy of a best supporting cast nomination, but Far Cry 4’s medley of misfits and tragic freedom fighters breaks the mould. Top of the bill is Pagan Min. Min’s the sort of merciless despot you’ll usually find in a Bond film. In the time it takes to say “psychopath”, he’s stabbed a guy to death, tortured someone else and made idle chit-chat with you across a table decorated with dead monkeys. Of course, Far Cry 4 isn’t the first in the series to put a villain on centre stage. Far Cry 3 employed Vaas Montenegro with similar success – the first of many concurrences between this and its predecessor.

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Goat Simulator update to MMO for free this Thursday – For those of you that’ve played Goat Simulator, you understand the madness. It’s a tiny game, one in which you’re a goat that does insane and inane things for the greater good of simulating the real life experiences of a goat. For those of you that’ve not experienced Goat Simulator – may god have mercy on your souls. This game is about to get a major update this Thursday. An update that’s also an expansion. An update that’s also entirely free for people that already own the game.

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Hands-On With Super Smash Bros. For Wii U – Later this week, Nintendo launches Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the fifth game in the wildly popular fighting game franchise that brings together all the company’s biggest characters. We’ve had a chance to play through some of the game this weekend and wanted to share some quick thoughts before our full review.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

Xbox One chopped to $330 at GameStop for Black Friday – In a leaked paper insert for GameStop’s Black Friday it’s been revealed that the Assassin’s Creed Unity / Assassin’s Creed Black Flag combo box will be even less expensive than the already-cut prices from Microsoft. On the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to pick up the Xbox One “Holiday Value Bundle” for $329.99 USD. That’s $70 less than the standard price, or $20 cheaper than the cheapest price the Xbox One has ever been – without the games, mind you.

Buyer beware: 3 out of 4 Steam Early Access games haven’t been finished – Steam’s Early Access model is a great way to support small game developers and fresh ideas, as long as you don’t expect to ever play the finished product.

Meet the Tesla K80: Nvidia’s most powerful graphics card yet has an insane 24GB of RAM – The company on Monday announced an updated Tesla K80 graphics card, which is its fastest graphics product to date. Tesla is used in some of the world’s fastest supercomputers to solve pressing scientific questions. The K80 is based on technology similar to that used in GeForce PC graphics cards, but with some memory and throughput tweaks. The graphics card can be used by engineering companies to simulate visual models, or by oil and gas companies for geological research to find the best drilling sites. Tesla has also been used in servers to deliver virtual desktops to remote clients.

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Sweden mulls over gender equality labels for video games – The Swedish agency Vinnova has given a gaming industry trade organization a grant to pursue a new project looking into whether video games in the nation should be labelled according to gender equality themes. The news comes from The Local, which reports that the project is inspired by the Bechdel Test, and that under it the association — Dataspelsbranchen — will work alongside multiple game developers to evaluate the issue. The project specifically aims to evaluate how women are portrayed in games and other gender-related issues.

Off Topic (Sort of):

NYC Launches Free Gigabit Speed Wi-Fi Network – The LinkNYC network will be more than 100 times faster than average municipal Wi-fi and 20 times faster than the average home internet service in NYC. People will be capable of downloading a two-hour high-def movie in as little as 30 seconds, boasts the City’s press materials announcing the network. Construction on the network of LinkNYC kiosks will begin in 2015 and the first structures will be running by the end of that year, according to the city. New York is planning to install up to 10,000 Links across the five boroughs.

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Fitbit data is being used as evidence in court – In Forbes, Parmy Olsen has uncovered what appears to be the first use of data from a personal fitness tracker in court, thanks to a personal injury suit currently under way in Canada. The plaintiff, a Calgary woman, plans to use data from her Fitbit to show how her activity levels have declined since the accident. Crucially, the data is being routed through a third-party analytics firm called Vivametrica, which will analyze the data and report its findings to the court, rather than submitting raw data directly into evidence.

The Flying Nimbus is a self-balancing, one-wheeled, motorized skateboard – You really need a sense of balance to ride a skateboard, unless bodily injury is your idea of a fun afternoon. A project from one apparently quite talented fellow by the name Dane Kouttron could even give you the ability to shred with the best of them. Just looking at the Flying Nimbus, you wouldn’t think it was stable. After all, it only has one wheel. There’s just a lot of cool hardware behind the scenes that keeps you upright.

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FCC chairman on schools: Basic connectivity is now inadequate – Chairman Tom Wheeler makes his case for higher-speed Internet access in schools, proposing a plan to increase the monthly fee in phone bills by 16 cents to cover new investment.

Freedom Chair makes it easier for the handicapped get around outdoors – Being confined to a wheel chair makes it much more difficult for people that are paralyzed or can’t walk for other reasons to get around. A new wheelchair product has debuted called the Freedom Chair that looks a lot like a normal wheelchair, but has a novel way for users to propel themselves. A typical wheelchair requires the user to spin the wheels using their hands and rings attached to the wheels. The Freedom Chair has the same style as a traditional wheel chair, but it has two levers that come up on each side of the chair user. By gripping, those levers and pushing them forwards and pulling them back, sort of like pedaling a bike, to get around.

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Google’s Teller says Glass and other wearables need to be cheaper – Astro Teller, head of the Internet giant’s skunk works research lab, talks about Glass, future pricing and how the smart eyewear has become a “poster child” for privacy concerns.

Photos: The 3D printed moon base of the future – The European Space Agency is making plans to 3D print a lunar base. Here are 11 photos they released to give you a better idea of what a 3D printed moon base could actually look like.

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Something to think about:

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

–    Dale Carnegie

Today’s Free Downloads:

Sandboxie – Run programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer.

Sandboxie requires neither the disabling nor blocking of functions available to Web sites through the browser. Instead, Sandboxie isolates and quarantines the outcome of whatever the Web site may do to your computer, including the installation of unsolicited software. There is no trade-off of functionality for security: the Web site can use the full range of active content tools, and if it uses these tools maliciously to install software or otherwise make changes in your computer, then these changes can be easily undone.

Sandboxie has originally been designed to increase the security of browsing with Internet Explorer, however it is just as effective with any other browser, and in fact, any other program. Sandboxie wraps a protection layer around the programs it supervises. It is this layer that intercepts and isolates any changes the programs make to the computer. And this layer is impartial to the specific program it wraps.

Sandboxie is a software that allows you isolates and quarantines website.

When you browse the web, changes occur to your computer system. Most of the time these changes are harmless, like recording the addresses of web sites you have visited (and when), so the browser can help you complete a web address that you type in. Whether these changes are harmless or harmful, they do in fact happen to your computer system.

When you use Sandboxie to protect your browsing session, it catches all these changes just as the browser is about to apply them into your computer system. Sandboxie does record these changes on behalf of the browser, but it records them in a special isolated folder, called the sandbox.

The benefit of having a sandbox is that it ensures your ability to get rid of all changes done by the browser, simply by deleting the sandbox folder.

Another useful feature of Sandboxie is the ability to terminate all sandboxed programs at once. As some web sites tend to pop up three new browser windows for each one you close, you can have Sandboxie close all of them with a click of a button.

You may use Sandboxie free of charge for any length of time that you desire. However, if you use Sandboxie for more than 30 days, the software will occasionally remind you to consider paying the registration fee. By doing that, you would show your support for further development and improvement of Sandboxie.

By paying the registration fee of $20 US-dollars you get a life-time registration key to this and and all upcoming versions of the Sandboxie product.

Lansweeper – Lansweeper is an automated network discovery and asset management tool which scans all your computers and devices and displays them in an easy accessible web interface. There is no need to install any agents on the computers, all scanning is done by standard build-in functionality.

Software inventory

With Lansweeper it’s easy to track and audit all your installed software, you can create powerful software inventory reports to find out which application is installed on which computer. Google unknown software and publishers right from the web interface and find out who is running software that’s not up to date.

Hardware inventory

Lansweeper cannot only detect all hardware devices in your computers but with it’s change tracking it can find out when a device was changed or removed. Not only does Lansweeper scans windows devices, it also gathers details about all other IP enabled devices on your network from the network discovery scan. (Linux, Printers, Routers, …)

License compliance

If you want to keep all software and operating systems licenses up to date it can be a time consuming work. With Lansweeper computer inventory it doesn’t need to be…

The webinterface will tell you how many software versions are installed and how much licenses you are missing.

Compliance reporting

Every company needs policies to get a smooth running network. Compliance reporting and the dashboard can help you to make all kinds of asset management reports. Who doesn’t have the latest version of our virus scanner, Who is missing the latest patch for our ERP solution. The only limit is your imagination…

Active directory integration

Lansweeper gathers all active directory user and computer details for your scanned machines. Create reports based on OU, integrate user pictures, Clean up your Active directory…

Eventlog integration

Every windows computer logs errors into the Eventlog. Thanks to Lansweeper you can now consolidate all these errors and get an alert e-mail as soon as an important error occurs.

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Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit BETA drills down and removes even deeply embedded rootkits – This is beta software, for consumer and approved partner use only, use at your own risk, and by proceeding you are agreeing to our terms of license agreement enclosed as “License.rtf”.

All Beta versions are non-final products. Malwarebytes does not guarantee the absence of errors which might lead to interruption in the normal computer operations or data loss. Precautions should be taken. The types of infections targeted by Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit can be very difficult to remove. Please be sure you have any valued data backed up before proceeding, just as a precaution.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech Giants Call For Passage Of Senate NSA Reform Bill – A collective of large tech companies has urged the Senate to pass the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that it could vote on this week.

Reform Government Surveillance, which counts Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter as members, released a letter to the Senate, calling the week’s vote an “opportunity” to pass the “bipartisan” law. The Act will, according to the companies, prevent “bulk collection of Internet metadata,” and increase “transparency about government demands for user information from technology companies.”

The bill does not go far enough, the group notes, saying that “preventing government access to data without proper legal process” and “transparent frameworks that govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions” remains areas where work is needed. Still, the bill would provide “meaningful change to [the nation’s] surveillance programs,” the letter reads.

The Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act has been mostly well received by privacy advocates, even though there is general admission that the bill’s failure to address surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a critical weakness.

As the tech companies point out, there is more to do.

White House Says It “Strongly Supports” The Senate’s NSA Reform Bill – The White House issued a statement this afternoon saying that it “strongly supports” the Senate’s USA FREEDOM Act, which could see a vote this week. The bill would curtail some practices of the United States’ surveillance apparatus.

Congress, in this lame duck session, only has so many hours and days to conduct its final business. Before the session, it seemed like the FREEDOM Act was dead in the water. Senator Patrick Leahy refused to buckle, and managed, surprising many, to get the damn thing moving. A 60 vote threshold for cloture is expected to be tested tomorrow. It isn’t clear if there are enough yes votes.

The White House coming out in favor of the bill puts it on the same side as its constant critic Senator Ted Cruz, who recently made a stir by calling net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet.” On that issue, the President and the good Senator are diametric opposites.

The White House was against passing the bill in lame duck before it was for it. Put another way, it was against it until it was politically safe to be in favor of it.

Keeping Secrets – Four decades ago, university researchers figured out the key to computer privacy, sparking a battle with the National Security Agency that continues today.

What if your research could help solve a looming national problem, but government officials thought publishing it would be tantamount to treason? A Stanford professor and his graduate students found themselves in that situation 37 years ago, when their visionary work on computer privacy issues ran afoul of the National Security Agency.

At the time, knowledge of how to encrypt and decrypt information was the domain of government; the NSA feared that making the secrets of cryptography public would severely hamper intelligence operations. But as the researchers saw it, society’s growing dependence on computers meant that the private sector would also need effective measures to safeguard information. Both sides’ concerns proved prescient; their conflict foreshadowed what would become a universal tug-of-war between privacy-conscious technologists and security-conscious government officials.

Internet Society slams online ‘UN Security Council’ plan, snubs permanent seat offer – The Internet Society has blasted efforts from some quarters to create a “UN Security Council” for the internet – which would rule over the online world.

The society (ISoc) is a non-profit organization that, among other things, runs the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which develops and publishes crucial internet’s standards.

“Based on the information that we have to date, the Internet Society cannot agree to participate in or endorse the Coordination Council for the NETmundial Initiative,” the organization’s Board said in a statement on Monday, adding: We are concerned that the way in which the NETmundial Initiative is being formed does not appear to be consistent with the Internet Society’s longstanding principles.

Senator demands answers about DOJ mobile phone surveillance planes – A reported mobile phone surveillance program at the U.S. Department of Justice raises serious privacy questions, a U.S. senator said Monday.

The DOJ program, which reportedly uses cell-tower mimicking equipment on airplanes to target the mobile phone locations of criminals, raises questions about how many “innocent” people’s mobile phone data is also swept up in the operation, said Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. The DOJ has not confirmed the existence of the surveillance program, reported in a Wall Street Journal article on Thursday.

“Americans are rightfully disturbed by just how pervasive collection of mobile phone information is, even of innocent individuals,” Markey said in a statement. “While this data can be an important tool for law enforcement to identify and capture criminals and terrorists, we must ensure the privacy rights of Americans are protected.”

Markey on Monday disclosed a letter he sent to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for details about the program.

“We need to know what information is being collected, what authority is being used to collect it, and if and how this information is retained and stored,” said Markey, a long-time advocate of personal privacy.

A DOJ spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Markey’s letter and the surveillance program.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 12, 2014

Automatically delete your cookies every time you close your browser;  11 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed;  Looking for a Travel Deal? Try Groupon’s New App;  Explore space with these 14 apps;  Inbox vs. Gmail 5.0: Which one is right for you?  The Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week;  How to set up Google Wallet;  Lenovo H500 dual-core mini tower desktop with DVD burner for $175;  Ocho app released: a tiny video social network;  10 Apps for People Who Want to Fall in Love;  Internet sales tax bill dead in Congress;  Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you;  Why are there more browser vulnerabilities these days?  Video game industry grew 4 times faster than US economy;  Warning! Assassin’s Creed: Unity for PC is riddled with performance issues;  Nvidia Takes Aim at the Apollo Moon Landing Cranks;  Liberkey – Liberkey is a collection of 302 portable apps (free).

How to automatically delete your cookies every time you close your browser – Firefox’s new Forget button is great for infrequent cookie flushing, but if you want to erase cookies on a more frequent basis here’s how to do it in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Comcast Just Trolled Us All on Net Neutrality – Comcast says it agrees with President Obama on net neutrality. It doesn’t. It’s an attention-grabbing headline from Comcast, a company that net neutrality advocates are making out to be among the most nefarious of the bad guys in the ongoing open Internet debate. Right off the bat, it looks like Comcast is agreeing with President Obama, who on Monday unexpectedly came out in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a utility. That’s a move big telecoms like Comcast should hate, because it would give the Federal government more authority to regulate their business. So what’s the deal? It turns out Comcast’s post is just clickbait.

Looking for a Travel Deal? Try Groupon’s New App – The daily deals service just launched a new travel discovery app offering easy access to more than 25,000 deals in destinations around the world. Dubbed Groupon Getaways, the app lets you browse deals by theme (beach getaways, outdoor adventures, ski destinations, air included) or search for specific locations by zooming in and out on a map.

The Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week – It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

Explore space with these 14 apps – The universe is pretty amazing, and your smartphone or tablet is a great tool to see it from Earth. Here are 14 apps that will teach you about space.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

11 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed – Are you snap happy? Then you probably have Instagram on your phone. The supersocial photo-sharing app has 200 million monthly active users, but there’s a lot more to the service than just selecting a filter. Whether you’ve just started gramming or are far along, PCMag has rounded up a few tips that could make your photos stand out and garner you acclaim—well, at least a like or two more than you might have gotten before.

Here comes the new Office: Microsoft melds applications to present data in flexible, shareable ways – Delve, Sway, Revolve: For those who don’t follow Microsoft’s products closely, the words might sound like instructions for a nerdy line dance. But like the mashup generation they’re written for, the three new apps take elements of Microsoft’s productivity generation and blend them together. A look ahead at what Microsoft is now beginning to ship, versus what it has brought into the market over the past year, shows you how the Office suite is evolving into something very, very different.

Chromecast Aims To Be The Focal Point Of Family Games Night With New Apps – The new Chromecast apps announced today use your smartphone as a controller for the software running on the dongle attached to your TV, and include classics like Wheel of Fortune, as well as twists on old favourites like Monopoly Dash, Scrabble Blitz, Connect Four Quads, and Simon Swipe. The apps are all available for both iOS and Android, and work on both tablets and smartphones so that virtually anyone who happens to drop by can get in on the action.

Inbox vs. Gmail 5.0: Which one is right for you? – Google’s approach to email depends on your needs, so find out whether Inbox or Gmail will suit you best.

Microsoft’s Lync becomes ‘Skype for Business’ – As of next year, however, Lync will become known as “Skype for Business”. The Lync server will become “Skype for Business Server”. Microsoft says the big change is that Lync’s client will get Skype’s look and feel. None of Lync’s features will go, but some of Skype’s will appear including a user’s Skype contacts being available to Lync.

Build a budget (sub-$300) PC – Back due to popular demand — a listing of the parts you need to build a budget sub-$300 PC. This parts list is useful to anyone looking to put together a cheap PC for the home or small office, but wants to know what he or she is getting for their money. This is a cheap build, but it’s not ultra cheap. What I mean by that is that I’m not cutting corners when it comes to quality. Want a good, solid PC but don’t want to spend much or trust an OEM with the job? Read on.

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Geek deals: Lenovo H500 dual-core mini tower desktop with DVD burner for $175 – That’s a 50% discount and one of the lowest prices for a new desktop we’ve seen. This H500 config features a dual-core Celeron J1800 processor, along with 4GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive. These basic specs are plenty for everyday light usage like internet browsing and office tasks. There’s also integrated 802.11bgn WiFi, five USB ports (one USB 3.0), VGA, a multi-card reader, and a DVDRW, giving you numerous connectivity options for your peripherals. Some ports, including a pair of USB ports, are located on the front for easy access.

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Drastic price cuts may damage PC industry, jeopardize Microsoft’s hopes for Windows 10 – Windows PC makers slashed prices to historically low levels in the U.S. during the last three weeks of October, damaging the consumer business just as Microsoft tries to push Windows 10 as its salvation, a retail analyst said last week.

Microsoft announces ‘Clutter’ for Office 365, a smarter Inbox – Microsoft has announced a new feature this morning for Office 365 users called ‘Clutter’ that makes it easier to manage your inbox by reducing the noise and increasing the signal.

Ocho app released: a tiny video social network – There’s a brand new warrior app out today released to do battle with the likes of Vine, Instagram, and maybe even Twitter itself. This is Ocho, a social networking app that allows you to record and share 8-second videos with your friends. This app is free for iOS users – that’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus included – and it has backing from some of the most powerful funders in the industry – Mark Cuban and Matthew Brimer included. This app was made for iPhone first and foremost – 16:9 aspect ratio recording made to fill up your whole screen.

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Open-source Gizmo 2 PC packs an AMD CPU, Radeon graphics – Open-source computers have so far lacked good graphics, but Gizmosphere’s new Gizmo 2 is an exception. The Gizmo 2 is an uncased single-board computer that will sell for $199. The computer can be used to build robots, electronics with large screens, or interactive computer systems that can recognize gestures or images.

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How to edit captions on Instagram – A recent update to Instagram makes it possible to easily correct mistakes in your photo or video captions.

Internet sales tax bill dead in Congress – Legislation in the U.S. Congress that would allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sales will not pass before the end of the year because of opposition from Speaker of the House John Boehner. Boehner’s opposition to the Main Street Fairness Act means the bill, which would allow states and local governments to collect sales taxes on Internet sales by businesses located outside their borders, will not pass during this session of Congress.

How to set up Google Wallet for easy, secure payments – Google Wallet is an easy, secure way to pay at over 300,000 locations. Jack Wallen walks you through the process of setting up Tap and pay to make your purchasing life easier.

10 Apps for People Who Want to Fall in Love – Winter is coming — fend off the cold by warming your heart. Tip the dating game odds in your favor by using one of these apps to meet your match.

Security:

Microsoft patches Windows, IE; holds back two updates – The most serious vulnerability could allow an attacker to gain control of a Windows Server just by sending packets. For undisclosed reasons, Microsoft withheld two updates scheduled for release.

There’s no opting out of Verizon’s PrecisionID – Verizon’s PrecisionID allows Verizon and advertisers to profile those who use Verizon data networks, and there’s no opting out. But here’s how to block it.

Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you – Nearly half (45 per cent) of those who visit the most convincing phishing pages are tricked into handing over personal information, according to Google. This effectiveness drops to just three per cent in the case of the most obviously scummy phishing sites, while the online giant reports that the account hijackers work quickly, with one in five compromised accounts getting accessed within 30 minutes.

Why are there more browser vulnerabilities these days? – Summary: I ran the numbers and vulnerabilities in browsers are up this year, as is their severity. We know more about this for Internet Explorer because Microsoft provides the most data.

Rights groups, NGOs struggle against malware attacks – A multi-year study of cyberattacks against 10 activist and human rights groups shows they’re hit with the same types of intrusions as large organizations but have far fewer resources to defend themselves. That disadvantage could mean a gradual erosion of the “core institutions” that mark a “vibrant democratic society,” wrote analysts with The Citizen Lab, a Canadian think tank that is part of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Over a four-year period, Citizen Lab looked at more than 800 suspicious emails, and 2,800 malicious payloads and malware families used to target the organizations, along with an analysis of network traffic.

Microsoft bolsters EMET security tool with hardened exploit mitigations – Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), a security program popular with companies, was updated Monday to harden the exploit mitigations that it adds to other programs and to address compatibility issues with some of them. The compatibility issues affected popular applications including Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Mozilla Firefox when EMET mitigations like Export Address Table Filtering Plus (EAF+) were applied to them.

Company News:

Android User Takes Apple To Federal Court Over Undelivered Text Messages – Apple will soon face a federal lawsuit brought on by a woman named Adrienne Moore, who, like many former iPhone users who have switched to Android, is upset that she did not receive text messages after switching from iPhone to Android. She is seeking unspecified damages, and to make the lawsuit a class action suit.

Video game industry grew 4 times faster than US economy in 2012, study says – The video game market is alive and thriving, and you can thank smartphones for its growth. Mobile gaming, through titles like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans, has turned all device owners into potential players. And US consumers have responded with the gift that keeps on giving: money. The US video game industry grew 9.6 percent from 2009 to 2012, to add $6.2 billion to the US economy. That’s four times faster than the entire US economy, according to a new report from industry trade group, the Entertainment Software Association.

Yahoo buys BrightRoll, has largest video ad network – Yahoo is continuing their shopping spree, this time acquiring a video advertising network. Marissa Mayer and company have announced they’ve purchased BrightRoll for $640 million in cash. It’s an investment in video, one of Yahoo’s four “strategic pillars” as well as a “growth business” for the search-centric company. In announcing the acquisition, Yahoo is also attempting to re-brand what video is, calling is “display 2.0”, and something that can replace banner ads. BrightRoll makes Yahoo the largest video ad platform provider in the US.

Google signs 60-year lease on NASA airfield and hangars – Google has sealed a deal to lease NASA’s Moffett Airfield for the next 60 years after beginning negotiations for the land back in February. Under terms of the agreement, Google will pay NASA an estimated $1.16 billion in rent over the life of the agreement, with addition funds going toward the restoration of a more than 80-year-old hangar, known as Hangar One, that sits on the property. Google may use Hangar One, as well as two sequentially named hangars on the airfield, as a space for research, development, assembly, and testing of technology related to robotics, aviation, space exploration, and other new fields once it moves in.

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Tor-based Anonabox router revises troubled history as it resurfaces on Indiegogo – After a suspended Kickstarter campaign, the anonymizing router returns with promises of a fresh design and better security. But the new story doesn’t quite add up.

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Groupon backs down from GNOME over trademark, will change product name – Groupon has decided to use a name other than “Gnome” for its tablet platform for merchants. “After additional conversations with the open source community and the Gnome Foundation, we have decided to abandon our pending trademark applications for ‘Gnome,'” the company said. “We will choose a new name for our product going forward.”

Google Music bucks the trend with growing downloads – Streaming music services like Spotify have caused a big ripple in the industry, influencing everything from legit music downloads to piracy rates. Despite this, Google Music has seen growth among its download sales alongside an uptick in its streaming service’s user base. The growth runs counter to the industry’s overall faltering, with such sales earlier in 2014 seeing a year-on-year drop of 13-percent.

Spotify CEO responds to Taylor Swift, calls her out on earnings – In pulling her entire catalog from Spotify, Taylor Swift took a jab at streaming music. According to Swift, streaming services like Spotify don’t pay artists enough. That’s something we’ve touched on before, and she’s right — they typically don’t. Artists get paid by volume of played tracks, so for the house DJ in Prague looking to be discovered, streaming isn’t so lucrative. Taylor Swift, however, is Taylor Swift. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took exception to Swift’s commentary, and has issued a response.

Google AdSense to news site: Change your content, or else – Google’s AdSense has told San Francisco news outlet The SF Appeal that it has three days to remove editorial content that violates its advertising policy.

Games and Entertainment:

This Is How Insanely Beautiful the New Halo on Xbox One Is – Released Nov. 11, Halo: The Master Chief Collection combines more than a decade of Halo history into one high-gloss package. The Xbox One exclusive is not only a celebration of the video game franchise’s past, but a major preview of its future—a.k.a. the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. The collection combines Halo 1 through 4 and reimagines their looks with more current graphics. The results are impressive. Here, take a closer look:

The 15 Best-Looking Video Games of 2014 – Exclusive images from the most breathtakingly beautiful games of the year.

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This pulled back shot of fictional Himalayan region Kyrat is in-game, believe it or not, rendered with an overhauled version of the engine Ubisoft used to design Far Cry 3.

Warning! Assassin’s Creed: Unity for PC is riddled with performance issues – If you’re excited to play the new Assassin’s Creed, maybe hold off and see whether Ubisoft fixes any of the issues. It’s hard to know how many of these issues are permanent and how many will be worked on in the coming weeks, and Nvidia and AMD each released new drivers for the game today, but for now just be aware that the rumors are true—Unity is suffering from all sorts of performance issues. Buyer beware.

Assassin’s Creed Unity Brings More Of The Same Sneaky Mayhem – Assassin’s Creed Unity is the first title in the series built specifically for the more advanced hardware of this generation’s consoles rather than upgraded a bit from the version released on the PS3 and Xbox 360. As happens with console transitions, this game drops some of the fun diversions from last year’s game in favor of focusing on the franchise’s core gameplay mechanics, providing plenty of satisfying stealth and action sequences in a lively rendition of Paris during the French Revolution.

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Nvidia vs. AMD Best Graphics Cards at Every Price Point – With no more GPU releases from Nvidia or AMD for the remainder of the year the battle is now on pricing. We break down each price bracket to determine which company offers the best value product.

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Creative Sound Blaster Roar SR20 Review – The team at Creative have made something special in the Sound Blaster Roar SR20. This isn’t just a Bluetooth speaker. It’s not just an alarm clock. It’s not just a collection of wireless and wired sound-centric features in a single package. It’s part of the future – one in which multiple abilities doesn’t mean lower quality in any one of those abilities. The Creative team have made a masterpiece of personal, portable sound. Multiple connections, multiple uses – a real do-everything-well machine.

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This Is Why Male Video Game Characters Suddenly Got All Soft – The old tentpole action heroes of the 1990s—Duke Nukem, BJ Blazkowicz, DOOM’s battering ram of a space marine—were creatures of unproblematic bravado, secure behind their sunshades and grenade belts. They whole-heartedly embraced the centuries-old cliché that masculinity boils down to your ability to destroy or impose your will by force. The new breed are no less capable killers, but they’re softer, more approachable—a product of the criticism of hyper-masculine slaughter machines, and of a greater demand for narratives that move us like the best films and TV shows.

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Joel from ‘The Last of Us’, in a rare moment of not murdering something.

Dragon Age: Inquisition review: Big, bold, and full of fetch quests – Dragon Age: Inquisition has some utterly amazing moments, but they’re padded out by a fair amount of ho-hum filler.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Nvidia Takes Aim at the Apollo Moon Landing Cranks – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin really did land on the moon 45 years ago and Nvidia can prove it. The purpose of Nvidia’s project—aside from showing off Maxwell—was to debunk a popular conspiracy theory which holds that NASA never actually sent humans to Earth’s satellite, a view supposedly bolstered by claims that the light conditions in Armstrong’s photo and other images taken by Apollo astronauts appear to be off, as if the pictures were taken on a studio set.

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How automation could take your skills — and your job – Nicholas Carr’s new book, The Glass Cage, examines the idea that businesses are moving too fast to automate white collar jobs, sophisticated tasks and mental work, effectively dumbing down workers.

Pointing up   Toffler predicted this, and more, in 1970, in Future Shock.

Back to the Future DeLorean replica is a flying drone – If you want a drone to zip around but none quite meet your style needs, you can take a page out of YouTuber’s Native118’s book and make your own…in the style of a Back to the Future DeLorean. The drone was made piece by piece out of lightweight materials — including bright glowing LEDs — to form the most retro-chic quad-copter out there, and it’s able to fly around without any hassles. The man behind the drone upload his construction process, lending a helping hand to any DIYers who want to make their own.

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Elon Musk confirms army of micro-satellites in the works – One can say a lot of things about Elon Musk, but no one can deny that the man has vision and imagination. Confirming in public, at least to the Internet, a rumor that has been floating around since Saturday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO revealed that his space-faring company is indeed working on small-sized satellites. Unlike the more ambitious goal of propelling humans into space, this endeavor has a more philanthropic bent, aiming to bring Internet to more people. Kind of like Google’s Project Loon, but with satellites.

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You Don’t Know Shit – Part 1 – Every morning between 8 AM and 9 AM, the waste output of Manhattan’s West Side  swells from 70 million to 150 million gallons per day. This is known as “the big flush.” The sewage will eventually end up on a NYC Department of Environmental Protection Sewage boat, which will take the sludge to a dewatering plant on Ward’s Island, where the sludge will become “biosolids”—reused to create golf courses, cemeteries, and fertilizer for the human food chain. Biosolids have become a financial asset worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but it’s still possible that we’ll go back to dumping our waste in the ocean. In this new documentary, VICE traces the trail of waste from butt to big-money biosolid and beyond.

Pointing up    Part 2 is also available.

Bill Gates sells $925M in Microsoft stock, still owns $13.6B worth – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sold 20 million company shares in late October, but thanks to market gains in the past three months, his portfolio was worth more than when he last sold stock, regulatory filings showed. In the five days from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $45.92 to $46.76 for a total of $925 million, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

China, US agree on technology tariff cut – The WTO’s Information Technology Agreement is back on course after the United States and China agreed to the slashing of tariffs on electronic goods.

Something to think about:

“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.”

–      Freya Madeline Stark

Today’s Free Downloads:

Dropbox – Dropbox is a useful tool that will enable you to instantly store your files online and share them.

It can also synchronize the files from your offline directories and online storage.

Features:

Synchronization:

Once installed, any file you drop into your Dropbox folder will synchronize and be available on any other computer you’ve installed Dropbox on, as well as from the web. Also, any changes you make to files in your Dropbox will sync to your other computers, instantly.

Backup:

Let’s say you accidentally delete that 8 page report that you were supposed to have for a meeting tomorrow. A handy Dropbox feature is the ability to undelete files or pull up any previous versions of it.

Sharing:

You can also share files and folders with whomever you choose, whether it be music with buddies, docs with colleagues or photos with grandma, even if they’re not Dropbox users.

Speed:

We obsess over speed, and it shows. Dropbox is very smart about the way it handles files. For example, if you make a change to a huge file, dropbox will only update the piece of the file that changed.

Security:

All files are transported over SSL and encrypted using AES-256 (banks use this too)

Liberkey – Liberkey is a collection of portable apps in a variety of categories that can be run on your local PC or from any portable media. Take these important apps with you and use on any computer.

LiberKey is a complete application platform for local or portable use. It allows you to manage your applications quickly and without skill.

Installation of an application from LiberKey catalog is done with 2 clicks but you can easily add any other application.

After LiberKey installation, the user has the choice to install Ultimate, Standard or Basic suites (so always updated) or to define its own suite with the online catalog.

Features:

Smart applications closure

A menu with advanced features which allows you to organize and manage your applications. (categories creation, shortcuts, tabs/menus, smart search, drag-n-drop, and more).

floating menus for quick access from your desktop

Portable files associations : You can open files and protocols (http, ftp, mailto, etc) with the application of your choice

Portable desktop shorcuts : shortcuts to your applications are placed on the desktop and removed when your exit LiberKey

Automatic online updates (LiberKey platform and applications of the catalog) which allows you to be always and easily up to date

Synchronization with the online catalog and much more…

LiberKey Ultimate includes 302 free programs in the following categories:

Audio

CD/DVD

File Management

Graphics

Internet

Network

Office

Security

System Utils

Video

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Did the government hack a CBS journalist? Maybe – Sharyl Attkisson was hacked. The computers used by the former CBS News investigative reporter were found to have been remotely accessed and tampered with, according to both a CBS-hired forensics expert and a reputable information security firm that did an analysis commissioned by Attkisson herself. Those are the facts as we know them.

Currently, that’s where the facts end and the allegations begin. Attkisson, whose book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington was released this week, claims to have evidence that she was hacked by someone working for the government. She says the digital intrusion was part of a campaign to get her to stop pursuing stories critical of the Obama administration. [Attkisson, in a follow-up e-mail, clarifies: “I theorize the digital intrusion was an attempt to surreptitiously monitor my work to see who was talking to me and how much I knew on various stories.”]

Attkisson is confident in her story, but others aren’t so sure.

Exhibit overwhelms viewers with the scale of governments’ secret spy programs – At an art gallery in New York, Citizenfour cinematographer Trevor Paglen is showing a video installation that features more than 4,000 surveillance program code names from both the National Security Agency (NSA) and Government Communications Headquarters. Entitled Code Names of the Surveillance State, the exhibition consists of endlessly scrolling columns projected on the four walls of Metro Pictures’ Chelsea gallery, and will run until December 20th.

The code names displayed are described as “deliberately nonsensical” and without any ostensible connection to the programs they represent.

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Are fingerprints PINs or physical artifacts? – A judge’s ruling that a person can be forced to open his phone with his fingerprint ignores the fact that the fingerprint scan is just a substitute PIN, which can’t be required by law enforcement.

You’ve got the director of the FBI railing against smartphone encryption, claiming that it puts us all at greater risk from terrorists. And a circuit court judge in Virginia has ruled that although police cannot force suspects to reveal their passwords/PINs, they can be forced to apply their fingers to their iPhones and open them, against their will. There is a lot of legal history — a.k.a. precedent — for this, but an absolute absence of logic or rationale. When a fingerprint becomes a password/PIN, it must be treated as such.

Part of this history involves the traditions of the police, who have long been able to forcibly require suspects to dig their fingerprints into a police station inkpad. To them, the fingerprint reader on an iPhone feels the same. But in the IT world, the fingerprint used to unlock an iPhone is not a fingerprint so much as it is merely data reflecting a biometric scan — just another way of authenticating. In other words, it’s a password that’s neither spoken nor typed.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 24, 2014

The Best Browser Privacy Tools (That Don’t Make Life More Difficult);  The teacher’s guide: 50 resources for using tech in the modern classroom;  10 Apps to Get Right Now For Your New iPad;  Ello makes its ad-free promise a legal one, too; Getting started with Inbox by Gmail;  John McAfee has released D-VASIVE, a new app for your smartphone’s security;  View, create, and share PDF files with Google tools;  See the Windows 10 Start menu in action;  Facebook Launches Pseudonymous App “Rooms”;  Attackers change home routers’ DNS settings via malicious code injected in ads;  Adobe spies on readers: EVERY DRM page turn leaked;  The 5 Best PlayStation 4 Games Right Now;  Ubuntu 14.10 has landed — and it’s not just for desktops;  Get a ‘Lord of the Rings’ game bundle for $9.99;  Photos: The tech behind electric vehicles;  SpyShelter Personal Free;  5 Reasons People Aren’t Buying Tablets Anymore.

The Best Browser Privacy Tools (That Don’t Make Life More Difficult) – In a year when social media giants and governments alike have made headlines for tracking users online without their consent, battening down the virtual hatches has become a vital part of Internet hygiene. Blocking tracking technologies, however, also disables those handy auto-fill log-ins and web personalization features, preventing you from easily shopping online and making your web experience feel as if you’re back in 1999. So we went in search of privacy tools that don’t impact your browsing experience.

Ello makes its ad-free promise a legal one, too – It’s one thing to say your social network will never be like Facebook, it’s another to enshrine that promise in legal documents. Ello, a social site whose claim to fame is an anti-ad manifesto, is doing just that by filing to become a public benefit corporation. A benefit corporation is a company that chooses to be socially conscious of how its decisions affect not just shareholders or investors, but also its customers, employees, and the environment. Ello won’t get any tax benefits for being a do-good social network, but the charter the company filed prevents current and future investors and owners from ever profiting from ads or user data. “In other words, Ello exists for your benefit, and will never show ads or sell user data,” Ello founder Paul Budnitz wrote in a Thursday Ello post.

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The teacher’s guide: 50 resources for using tech in the modern classroom – In the classroom, teachers are more and more often expected to show innovative and progressive thinking by integrating technological solutions into their lessons — but starting out isn’t easy. From learning how to scour YouTube for clips to working out which photos and files can be used under fair copyright terms, while trying to keep up with standard workloads, invigorating lessons with technology can fall by the wayside. To help teachers out, and given the popularity of ZDNet’s last iPad in the classroom roundup, here is an updated, fresh list of tutorials, apps and software to transform your work-life balance and the student experience in today’s modern classroom.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Effective security techniques we don’t follow enough – It’s not all our fault, security is hard. The IT folks at Target weren’t stupid or lazy. They had actually done a lot of security work, but it wasn’t enough. Modern enterprises are so large and complex that applying best security practices at all times and locations is just too much to ask. But we all can do better. As a starting point, consider these six programming techniques, products and services which tend to minimize the most common of security problems. We know that most attackers are lazy and looking for low-hanging fruit. The harder a target you make yourself, the less likely it is that you will be compromised.

10 Apps to Get Right Now For Your New iPad – Slimmer, lighter, and not as reflective, the new iPad Air 2 is more than just a looker — under the glass there’s a beefed up processor, more powerful camera and Touch ID, to name a few upgrades. Get the most out of your new Apple tablet with these 10 great apps.

Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet: hands-on experiences at McDonald’s – Apple launched its new virtual wallet service with the iOS 8.1 update yesterday while Google has had its system running for a couple of years. ZDNet’s Matt Miller took two devices to McDonald’s and was able to pay without a real wallet.

Getting started with Inbox by Gmail – Google just released a new way to keep your email organized so you can spend more time being productive. Read on to learn how to use all the new features of Inbox by Gmail.

Supercharge your Android Gmail searches – Jack Wallen shows you a quick way to make searching through that massive Gmail inbox on your Android device a snap.

John McAfee has released D-VASIVE, a new app for your smartphone’s security – D-VASIVE by John McAfee is an app that sits in the background of your phone and alerts you whenever another app tries to access your mic or camera, as well as tells you which apps are tracking you.

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Torrent sites hurting after Google’s latest anti-piracy change – Last Friday Google revealed its newest anti-piracy efforts, which largely amounted to a mixture of demoted rankings for torrent websites and a new box dangling legal download alternatives to those looking for content. It hasn’t been quite a full week since the announcement, but the changes are in place and torrent websites are already hurting, with some of the biggest ones reporting massive decreases in traffic in the past handful of days — though, it seems, some of the small sites are benefiting from the change.

View, create, and share PDF files with Google tools – PDF files are easy to share, easy to view, but not so easy to edit. Send someone a PDF, and they’ll likely see your document as you intended. With Google tools, you can view and create PDF files. If you view PDF files in Chrome, you can open the file, then use the down (and up) arrow keys to scroll through the document’s pages. You can also create a PDF from any Google Apps document (i.e., a file in Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Drawings) by downloading the document as a PDF file. Here’s how:

See the Windows 10 Start menu in action – Take a look at the new and improved Windows 10 Start menu, care of the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

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How Apache Spark is bringing analytics to the average Joe – With a new analytics cloud service unveiled earlier this month, CEO Sharmila Mulligan explains how ClearStory’s engine is shifting data insights to ordinary users.

Ubuntu 14.10 has landed — and it’s not just for desktops – Canonical’s latest Linux, Ubuntu 14.10, saves the biggest improvements for its cloud and server versions.

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Police Alerts NOT new on Google Now – So you’d like to keep an eye on your local police department’s doings, yes? Lucky you, there’s a new Police Alerts segment being added to Google Now as we speak. This isn’t brand new, on the other hand – it’s all part of Google’s team-up with Nixle earlier this year. If you don’t see anything on your Google Now app now, you might also just be lucky – this isn’t just a way to see what your local cops are up to, but a way for your local cops to inform you of emergencies.

Facebook Launches Pseudonymous App “Rooms” That Lets You Create Forums About Any Topic – It’s not quite anonymous, but forums standalone app Rooms is Facebook’s first product that allows you to ditch your real name. Rooms lets you set up a mobile-only in-app discussion space about any topic, customize the look and moderation settings, set a screen name for the room, and choose who to invite to share text, photos, videos, and comments with others in the Room.

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Hands-on with Homeboy: This could be the best home-security camera yet – If you’re looking for an IP camera for home security, you’ll want to know about Homeboy. It remedies almost every drawback I’ve seen in security cameras. It doesn’t cost a fortune. And you’ll be able to buy one soon—without having to participate in a crowd-funding campaign. If Homeboy looks familiar, it’s because it built on the intellectual property developed for the Hive camera that garnered a lot of attention about two years ago, but that was ultimately never brought to market.

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Do the research before you upgrade your RAM – Adding more RAM can speed up your PC and allow it to run more powerful programs. But you need to know how much RAM your system can take, and what kind to buy.

4 tips for writing better hashtags – Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when creating hashtags for events or campaigns.

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Plan to tax internet traffic in Hungary sees protesters take to the streets – Thousands of Hungarians are planning a demonstration against the country’s internet tax plan, with businesses and ISPs also criticising the legislation.

Security:

Adobe spies on readers: EVERY DRM page turn leaked to base over SSL: Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your ‘privacy is important’ – Adobe has tweaked its Digital Editions 4 desktop ebook reader to now encrypt the data it secretly sends back to headquarters – data that details a user’s reading habits. Previously, information on every single tome accessed by Digital Editions 4 was phoned home unencrypted, allowing anyone eavesdropping on a network to intercept it. Now that information is transmitted via HTTPS, and only if the book includes copy-protection measures.

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Pointing up    Are companies such as Adobe, Apple, Microsoft… in their attempts to vacuum personal and private data, imitating the NSA and the U.S. government – or, is it the other way around? In other words – who taught who to be unscrupulous, underhanded, and completely oblivious to ensuring such activities are above board? And, oh yeah  – LEGAL!

Microsoft survey shows four in ten in the U.S. face online attacks regularly – As more of our personal details become connected digitally via our mobile phones and computers, we put ourselves at an increased risk for potential privacy breaches and malicious attacks. According to a new survey by Microsoft, four in ten people in the United States experience some type of attempt to access their personal information on a daily or weekly basis by someone other than themselves.

Encountering the Wild PUP – The Internet is full of dangers; threats like malware, phishing attacks, hackers and drive-by exploits are some of the most commonly mentioned. But did you know that there is a far more common threat to users that no one in the media seems to talk about, a threat that almost everyone who has ever owned a computer has experienced. These threats are known as Potentially Unwanted Programs and they are the day-walking vampires of the internet.

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Do we really need strong passwords? – The idea that computer users should use long, complex passwords is one of computer security’s sacred cows. But is is really necessary? Mark Stockley investigates.

Attackers change home routers’ DNS settings via malicious code injected in ads – Sucuri Security researchers have unearthed a malvertising campaign aimed at changing the DNS settings of home routers in order to lead users questionable and potentially malicious websites. The attackers have embedded the malicious code in question directly into an ad hosted on the googlesyndication.com network, the researchers claim, and the ad has been served to a variety of websites that use that particular ad service.

Company News:

Amazon’s losses balloon to $544 million in its third quarter earnings – Amazon posted its third quarter earnings results today and they were not pretty: the company said it had a operating loss of $544 million, more than twenty times what was lost for the same period in 2013. Its revenues grew to $20.84 billion, an increase of 20 percent over the same period last year, but less than what investors were expecting. In its projections for next quarter, Amazon said it expects the red ink to keep spreading, with losses growing to $570 million.

Amazon Fire Phone Flops – Given that Amazon was tanking the price of the Fire Phone down to 99 cents two months after launch (leading to many a “Fire sale!” joke), this probably won’t come as much of a surprise: the Fire Phone isn’t a success. Who would’ve guessed a phone that existed pretty much solely to sell you stuff from Amazon while relying heavily on a silly gimmick wouldn’t sell well? The final count on Fire Phone inventory left at the end of Q3: $83 million. Eighty. Three. Million. Dollars.

Pointing up    If you were one of the many who laughed your ass off when Amazon announced this walking/talking billboard – you have been vindicated.   Smile

Huawei touts growth as smartphone shipments rise 26 percent – The company says it was able to double the amount of shipments on the premium side of the market and that it shipped nearly 17 million units worldwide in the third quarter.

Microsoft Up 3% After Reporting Better Than Expected FQ1 Revenue Of $23.20B, EPS Of $0.54 – After gaining more than 1 percent in regular trading, Microsoft reported its fiscal first quarter 2015 earnings: Revenue totaled $23.20 billion in the period, leading to profits of $0.54 per share. The revenue figure represents a 25 percent year-over-year increase, a large piece of which is due to the Nokia hardware acquisition.

Surface likely to be the next billion dollar business for Microsoft – Microsoft is in transition to become a devices and services company, and things aren’t looking too bad as Surface could soon be a billion dollar business for the company in the near future.

Aereo denied license request, but hope remains – Aereo, swept up in a legal battle earlier this year that it ultimately did not win, has been denied a license that would let it operate as a cable company. Aereo had requested this license during the late summer, and was told in August that it needed a court ruling on whether it could continue operations under this special designation. An injunction was put in place against the service today, but as the legal battle winds down towards a close, there is still a ray of hope for the service.

Apple and sapphire supplier strike deal to end partnership – GT Advanced Technologies and Apple have agreed to a deal that will let GT close the Mesa, Ariz. and Salem, Mass. factories where it was producing scratch-resistant sapphire, and void the contracts it had signed with its one-time partner. GT, which filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 protection on Oct. 6, will exit the sapphire-making business and re-focus on manufacturing the furnaces used to grow the material. The Merrimack, N.H. company will cut most, but not all, ties with Apple, and the two will go their separate ways.

Games and Entertainment:

Get a ‘Lord of the Rings’ game bundle for $9.99 – You! Shall not! Pass (up this great deal)! Yeah, I’m a “Lord of the Rings” nerd. So it goes without saying that I’m all over today’s deal, which will delight not only my inner 12-year-old, but also my resident 12-year-old. For a limited time, Bundle Stars has The Lord of the Rings Bundle for $9.99. That nets you four complete games and two downloadable content (DLC) packs with a combined value of over $100.

Nvidia brings one of the the GTX 980’s best new features to older graphics cards – Nvidia is bringing “Dynamic Super Resolution” to older graphics cards, letting users enjoy 4K-like visual smoothness on 1080p displays. Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR, is one of the main features of Nvidia’s latest GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 processors, based on the company’s Maxwell architecture. A new driver update brings the same feature to Fermi- and Kepler-based GeForce GTX 500, 600, and 700 series cards.

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Halloween-themed Humble Bundle offers cheap, spooky games – The Walking Dead: Assault, Dead Effect, and Oscura: Second Shadow can be yours for a pittance of their normal cost.

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PlayStation 4 Update Coming On 10/28 Lets You Play Games With Friends Who Don’t Own A Copy – While Share Play sounds incredible, there’s a footnote or two that Sony seems to be downplaying a bit that might make it a bit less incredible. For example, the company has previously confirmed that Share Play sessions are limited to 60 minute chunks — so don’t expect to be able to blast through an entire game on a buddy’s remote console without shelling out for your own copy eventually. On the upside, the feature should work with all PS4 games right out of the gate, so it’s not something that’ll only work on a title-by-title basis.

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The 5 Best PlayStation 4 Games Right Now – So you just picked up a PlayStation 4, and you’re wondering what to buy. Or maybe you haven’t bought one yet, but you’re leaning in Sony’s general direction. Either way, we think these are hands-down the best games on platform at the moment.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Check out the latest Halo Nightfall trailer – We had been treated to a teaser trailer in months past for Nightfall, but today Microsoft released the full official trailer from Scott Free Productions (owned by Ridley and Tony Scott). Spoiler alert: this trailer is pretty awesome considering the absence of a Hollywood-like budget.

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CitizenFour, film review: The Snowden revelations, as they happened – This absorbing documentary follows film-maker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald as they make contact with the whistleblower and unleash a media storm.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Photos: The tech behind electric vehicles – There’s a lot of IT that goes into EVs. Here are 10 examples of the tech that makes these cars and the systems behind them work.

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The future health of the internet comes down to ONE simple question… Can ICANN be forced to agree to oversight of its decisions? – When was the last time you gave any thought to how the internet actually works? Despite the extraordinary and never-ending growth in people and devices that connect to the internet every second of every day, we have never seen the equivalent of Twitter’s Fail Whale. The internet, as a whole, just doesn’t go down. There are two main reasons why. One, a very clever decentralised and lightweight design, and two, an engineer culture focused on the network first and everything else second. There is one potential flaw, however. In the middle of this vast, global, decentralised network exists a central core around which the internet binds, and without which the network would start to erode and break apart.

Google teams with Oxford on artificial intelligence – Google, the search company that’s investing heavily in robotics, is teaming with Oxford University researchers to work on artificial intelligence. In January, Google bought the London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind. Now the Google DeepMind group will work with two of Oxford’s artificial intelligence (AI) research teams. The teams will work on image recognition and natural language understanding, according to Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind and vice president of engineering at Google, in a blog post.

Ford gives pedestrian-spotting bumpers access to the brakes – Ford is rolling out a new set of smart driving aids that the car company claims could potentially eliminate frontal collisions involving pedestrians, using a combination of radar and lasers to spot people walking out into the road unexpectedly. Contrary to what Ford’s graphic might suggest, the system doesn’t involve the new 2015 Mondeo (aka the Ford Fusion) firing laser beams from its grille and cutting pedestrians into sufficiently small pieces so that they fit under the car rather than colliding with its hood. Instead, the invisible beams can call in favors from the braking system.

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Australian ISP stands up to filmmakers hunting pirates – The producer of Oscar-winning film “Dallas Buyers Club” has taken its hunt for pirates of the film to Australia, after filing a barrage of antipiracy lawsuits in the U.S. But at least one Australian Internet service provider is pushing back out of concern that the movie producer aims to intimidate its customers into paying excessive damages. “In plain terms, Dallas Buyers Club wants the names and contact details of our customers they believe may have illegally shared their film,” said iiNet, one of the affected ISPs on Wednesday.

Man accidentally texts probation officer to ask for weed – This could happen to any of us. Well, if any of us was serving probation. This was the case with Alvin Cross Jr. of Albany, Ga. Cross Jr seems to have got his wires crossed — or, more accurately, his fingers — when he reportedly texted who he thought was his drug dealer. The accitext? “You have some weed?” The recipient? His parole officer. As WALB-TV reports, Cross’s parole officer may or may not have been cross, but the authorities were informed. His home was raided. Cocaine was found.

5 Reasons People Aren’t Buying Tablets Anymore – First, some perspective: the tablet industry is still huge. Gartner predicts that over 250 million tablets will ship worldwide by the end of 2014, an impressive figure for any consumer electronics device not named “smartphone.” But there’s reason for tablet makers to be worried. Sales are “crashing” at Best Buy and iPad sales are down year-over-year, a disappointing reversal after three years of explosive growth. Whether it’s a sign of doom or just a “speed bump,” something, on some level, is wrong. Let’s break down five possible explanations:

Something to think about:

“Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.”

–      William James (1842 – 1910)

Today’s Free Downloads:

SpyShelter Personal Free – The Internet is now a vital part of our personal and business lives. With increasing use of online systems, cybercrime also has grown exponentially. Information-stealing software are produced regularly and are used by thieves to steal personal and business information.

One of the most effective ways of stealing information is through a program that can easily be made to capture keystrokes. SpyShelter captures everything that a user is doing- keystrokes, mouseclicks, files opened and closed, sites visited. More sophisticated programs can capture everything a user sees on his screen when performing a screen capture: just the mere opening of a file can allow an information thief to steal your data.

These sophisticated and dangerous programs are called Keylogging programs (e.g. keyloggers, key recorder, keytrappers, key capture programs, etc.) and they are developed continuously all over the world. SpyShelter anti keylogger can protect you against attacks that happen even when you do ordinary computer tasks like: typing into your computer, getting screenshots, opening files, and visiting sites.

The SpyShelter monitors vulnerable and weak spots in your computer system to ensure that even the most advanced keyloggers are shut down even before these can launch a single dangerous attack against your computer.

SpyShelter antikeylogger system is fast, efficient, and easy-to-use.

Features:

Webcam Logger protection: SpyShelter defends you against hackers who would like to seize control of your webcam, even when it is switched off!

Key Logger protection (kernel mode also): SpyShelter Stop-logger ensures that whatever your type into your computer is protected against dangerous people who steal your data! Whatever you enter into your computer will not leak to malicious parties.

System Defense: SpyShelter guards your registry, your physical memory (RAM), and other sensitive computer parts and processes so that malicious code cannot be injected to seize control of your PC.

Internet security: SpyShelter AntiNetworkSpy protactive module prevents dangerous trojans from stealing your private information while important SSL internet transactions. It also blocks HTTP/HTTPS trojans on user level as well as POP,SMTP,FTP, loggers.

Clipboard Logger protection:

SpyShelter shields sensitive data that can be found on you Windows clipboard as a result of copying, cutting, and pasting. This software ensures that these information will not be under malicious monitoring by other people.

Screen Logger protection: When you take screen-captures, SpyShelter spots suspicious activity that might reveal sensitive data you enter into your computer such as bank account and credit card information.

Anti Sound logger: SpyShelter unique security module that protects your system against VOIP sound trojan loggers. Can be useful when you use instant messangers for voice calls. This module also protect you against voice logger from your webcam or built-in microphone.

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Wise Care 365 – Wise Care 365 is a bundle of important tools including a registry cleaner, disk cleaner, program uninstaller, memory optimizer and more.

Easy to use and effective, Wise Care 365 is the good solution to improve your PC’s performance. Get Wise Care 365 and your computer will never run slow again!

Features:

Clean up, defragment and optimize the Windows Registry

Defragment and free up space on your hard disk

Protect your privacy by erasing personal tracking data

Recover lost files

Hide important files or folders

Prevent unauthorized use of personal applications

Auto shut down your PC

Free up Memory to boost game and enterprise software performance

Simple “One Click Tune-up” option will optimize your PC

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Shakeup At NSA After BuzzFeed News Reports On Potential Conflict Of Interest – One of the nation’s top spies is leaving her position at the National Security Agency, according to two sources, amid growing disclosures of possible conflicts of interest at the secretive agency.

The shakeup comes just a month after BuzzFeed News began reporting on the financial interests of the official, Teresa Shea, and her husband.

Shea was the director of Signals Intelligence, or SIGINT, which involves intercepting and decoding electronic communications via phones, email, chat, Skype, and radio. That’s widely considered the most important mission of the NSA, and it includes some of the most controversial programs disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden, including the mass domestic surveillance program.

It couldn’t be determined why Shea is leaving her position or what new job she might take. Neither the Sheas nor the NSA responded immediately to requests for comment.

In September, BuzzFeed News reported that a SIGINT “contracting and consulting” company was registered at Shea’s house, even while she was the SIGINT director at NSA. The resident agent of the company, Telic Networks, is listed as James Shea, her husband.

Mr. Shea is also the vice president of a major SIGINT contractor that appears to do business with the NSA. The company, DRS Signals Solutions, is a subsidiary of DRS Technologies, which itself is a subsidiary of Italian owned Finmeccanica SPA.

Last week Buzzfeed News also reported Shea herself had incorporated an “office and electronics” business at her house, and that the company owned a six-seat airplane and a condominium in the resort town of Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Lone lawyer sues Obama, alleging illegality of surveillance programs – Justice Department lawyers have asked a federal court in Pittsburgh to dismiss a sweeping lawsuit brought earlier this year by a local lawyer against President Barack Obama and other top intelligence officials.

In a new motion to dismiss filed on Monday, the government told the court that the Pittsburgh lawyer, Elliott Schuchardt, lacked standing to make a claim that his rights under the Fourth Amendment have been violated as a result of multiple ongoing surveillance programs.

Specifically, Schuchardt argued in his June 2014 complaint that both metadata and content of his Gmail, Facebook, and Dropbox accounts were compromised under the PRISM program as revealed in the documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

Pointing up    In the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, ONE MAN STANDS UP!

The surveillance state and you – George Orwell’s 1984 opens with Winston Smith carving out a pocket of privacy by crouching in a corner of his apartment where the telescreen—and thus Big Brother—can’t see and writing a diary entry. These days, that Stalin-inspired nightmare seems quaint. We carry our personal telescreens around with us, and take it for granted that if someone wants to watch us, they can.

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