Tag Archives: Hacking Team

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 22, 2015

Twitter’s new Safety Center explains how to deal with online abuse;  9 reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 – yet;  Find open hotspots with WifiMapper;  How to Create a Burner Account on Ashley Madison (And Other Sketchy Sites);  The 5 best alternatives to FaceTime for Android;  Google Knows What You Did Last Summer, Now Shows It To You In Google Maps;  Security suites: Choosing the best one for you;  The best free alternatives to Windows 10’s default apps;  15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do;  Google Launches Drive Plug-In For Microsoft Office;  New free tool detects Hacking Team exploits;  Microsoft Issues Emergency Fix for Hacking Team Bug;  New vulnerability lets attackers hijack Chrysler vehicles over the web;  NFL Teases A New Subscription Service For On-Demand Games;  The mobile web sucks;  Robot surgeons kill 144 patients, hurt 1,391, malfunction 8,061 times;  Facebook History Spy (free);  How to ​pass on your phone and data when you power off for good;  Canada: Two rights groups launch Charter challenge of Bill C-51.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter’s new Safety Center explains how to deal with online abuse – Twitter has unveiled a new Safety Center page as the company strives to cut down on abusive behavior on the site. Launched on Monday, the Safety Center page is described as the company’s commitment to “building a safer Twitter.” Organized by different topics, the page points you to tools that you can use to control what others can see about you and report accounts that may violate Twitter’s rules. For example, you can report spam, abuse and other types of violations from a specific tweet or profile.

Find open hotspots with WifiMapper – Using a mobile hotspot means that you’ll have Internet access on your tablet or laptop when you leave home or work. But what if you don’t have signal, or you forget your hotspot on your desk? That’s when you may be looking for an open hotspot out in the wild, and WifiMapper — newly available on Android — is just the app to get the job done. While there are several precautions you’ll want to take before using a public Wi-Fi connection, if you absolutely need to, this app can save you from having to drive around looking for a good connection. The added benefit of comments from Foursquare and other users of the app help you find the right hotspot. Here’s how to get started:

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9 reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 — yet – Windows 10 is just about here — and many users (especially those who have been wrestling with Windows 8) are probably eager to upgrade. But even if you can get it now — the upgrade will be sent first to those who signed up for the Windows Insider beta program and then in “slow waves” to everyone else — you may want to hold off. Here are nine reasons you might want to put off a Windows 10 upgrade.

The 5 best alternatives to FaceTime for Android – FaceTime, iOS’s native video app, is a solid program that has been polished to a shine, and it’s quickly becoming a generic verb like Xerox. You don’t video chat someone, you FaceTime them. With an Android phone, though, you can’t. That’s what’s great about the open marketplace of ideas that is the Google Play store, though. If you need an Android alternative to FaceTime, you have not one, but several, to choose from. We took the leading candidates for a test drive to compare them with each other, taking into account price, reliability, restrictions, and features. Here’s our list of the five best alternatives to FaceTime for Android.

How to Create a Burner Account on Ashley Madison (And Other Sketchy Sites) – The takeaway is this: Don’t do anything on the Internet (like advertise your desire for extramarital hook-ups) that you wouldn’t do IRL. However, for those out there are absolutely compelled to get their sketch on—and, let us reiterate: there is no such thing as 100 percent online security—there are a few steps you can take to mitigate your exposure:

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Google Knows What You Did Last Summer, Now Shows It To You In Google Maps – Social apps like Foursquare / Swarm are more about places you’re at or where you’re going. Today, the Google Maps team launched a feature called “Your Timeline” that is about where you’ve already been. It’s not a social feature, as you’re the only one who sees the information. But… t’s a reminder of how much freaking data Google has on us if we leave all of our defaults on. It’s only available for Android and desktop right now. If you use Google Photos, your pics will appear along with the places you stopped along the way. Here’s a look at the feature:

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Google+ Photos is shutting down on August 1 – After announcing changes to its Google+ platform earlier this year, the search giant has now revealed that its Google+ Photos app will shut down next month, beginning with the Android version.

Google Launches Drive Plug-In For Microsoft Office – Google today launched a new plug-in for Microsoft Office that gives you access to all of your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in Google Drive right from Microsoft’s desktop apps. The plug-in also lets you save files directly to Google Drive, so you can then edit them in Google’s online apps, too. The idea here, a Google spokesperson told us, is to continue to make Drive into more of an integrated storage tool for its users.

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Security suites: Choosing the best one for you – These days, security suites do more than protect you from malware — they handle phishing, lost mobile devices and a multitude of other tasks. You need to take into account the types of threats you might encounter based on the way you compute, as well as the specific devices you use, so you can match a suite’s coverage to your specific needs. In order to help you decide which security suite is best for your individual needs, we will be regularly reviewing current suites as they are released.

Twitter removes backgrounds from timeline, moves to tweets – Did your Twitter timeline’s custom wallpaper just disappear on you? No need to panic, there’s nothing really wrong There is no widespread Twitter bug. Actually, yes do panic because since it’s not a bug, it means there’s nothing to be fixed. In a still unexplained move, Twitter removed custom background images and design from your profile and home timeline page. Fear not, it hasn’t completely disappeared into nothingness. You can still see them, but only if you’re viewing individual tweets and nowhere else in the Twitterverse.

Microsoft has added a nifty little feature to Windows 10: screen recording – The function has been tested and works with any app, but only within apps; you can’t record your desktop and need an application open for the screen capture to work. All you have to do is press ‘Windows + G’, which brings up a toolbar that allows you to both take a screenshot or capture video, saving you a bit of money on professional screen capture software like Camtasia. Granted, the Windows 10 implementation is much more barebones than the professional suite but for those who want a simple solution, the free function doesn’t hurt.

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The best free alternatives to Windows 10’s default apps – Windows comes with a number of default apps, which are handy if you need a quick way to open a file but vexing if you’d rather use your preferred apps. Windows 10 has mostly corrected the experience of opening a document or media file, but there are still a number of options that are better than Windows’ preinstalled apps. Here are nine tasks you might want to outsource to other apps, plus a final tip on making them the new defaults.

15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Using Google means an easier online life—from email and online storage to news and digital maps. But the search giant can also take over your TV with the Google Chromecast $29.99 at Amazon, a streaming dongle that is behind only Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick on the company’s list of best-selling electronic devices. While the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

Microsoft has cut $150 off some of its Surface Pro 3 models – Microsoft has settled into a pattern of offering big discounts on its Surface Pro 3 tablets every few weeks, and it’s that time again – several models are now available with $150 off the normal price.

Security:

New free tool detects Hacking Team exploits – Dubbed Milano, the free tool looks for files associated with the recent Hacking Team breach through either a quick or deep system scan. In the tool’s first form, a total of 93 Windows binaries have been analyzed, and 40 files have been highlighted as likely to be used for malicious use. Additional files will be added as the 400GB cache scrutiny continues.

Microsoft Issues Emergency Fix for Hacking Team Bug – The security flaw could allow an attacker to take full control of your system if you open a specially crafted document or visit a booby-trapped webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts, Redmond said in its advisory. The vulnerability is rated Critical—Microsoft’s highest vulnerability severity rating, reserved for flaws that could allow code execution without user interaction—for all supported versions of Windows.

New vulnerability lets attackers hijack Chrysler vehicles over the web – A new vulnerability in the Uconnect system gives attackers frightening remote powers over Chrysler vehicles, revealed in a Wired exclusive report. In a live demo, attackers used the vulnerability to cut out a Jeep Cherokee’s transmission and brakes and, when the car is in reverse, commandeer the steering wheel — all without physical access to the vehicle. “This might be the kind of software bug most likely to kill someone,” said Charlie Miller, one of the researchers behind the exploit. The full vulnerability will be presented next month at Defcon, although the researchers plan to withhold crucial details so that the bug cannot be exploited at scale.

MalwareBytes blocks some torrent sites, citing malware and fraud concerns – It’s no secret that torrent sites can be sketchy, but now MalwareBytes is trying to do something about it by adding several sites to its block list. According to TorrentFreak, MalwareBytes Anti-Malware has tagged Isohunt.to and LimeTorrents.cc as malicious, along with several other smaller sites. Users of the website protection tool in MalwareBytes’ premium service won’t be able to visit these sites without unblocking them first.

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Senate bill proposes cyber security standard for cars – Cars will have to be much better protected against hacking and new privacy standards will govern data collected from vehicles under proposed legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act of 2015 seeks to get a step ahead of what is seen by some as one of the next fronts in hacking: connected vehicles, which are always on the Internet and rely on sophisticated computer control systems.

CVS Photo temporally shut down following credit card hack – It looks like CVS is the latest retailer to be affected by a data breach, as its CVSPhoto.com domain now only shows up with a message advising customers that the independent vendor it uses has been compromised. As a result of the hack, CVS has temporarily taken down its CVS Photo website, and says that during this time it is conducting an investigation into the matter. Customers who used the service with their credit card should be on alert.

FTC accuses ID protection service LifeLock of scamming customers—again – LifeLock, the company that heavily advertises itself on TV and online as an identity theft protection service, came under the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday for allegedly failing customers—again. The agency, in a federal suit filed in LifeLock’s home state of Arizona, accuses the company of failing to notify its customers immediately after their identities were comprised and alleges the company did not implement the same type of identity protection safeguards used by banks. The FTC said LifeLock promised those services to its customers, but did not live up to it.

Company News:

Apple posts another record quarter, with over $1 billion in Apple Watch sales – Apple reported its third quarter earnings today, putting another period of eye-popping profits on the books. Investors were eager to glean any details about how well the new Apple Watch sold, but the bulk of the company’s revenue is still coming from its trifecta of iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales, with digital goods and services a close fourth. Apple generated $49.6 billion in revenue, slightly above analysts’ expectation of $49 billion. It earned a profit of $10.7 billion, trailing its record of $18 billion that it set during the first quarter of this year.

Apple and IBM release 10 new apps, incorporating analytics and iBeacons – The apps use technology like predictive analytics and are for business travelers and mortgage officers, among other professionals.

Microsoft reports big losses in the fourth quarter – Microsoft today reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of its 2015 fiscal year and unsurprisingly, the massive $7.6 billion write down for its Nokia purchase last year tanked any chances of it turning a profit. The write down pushed Microsoft’s losses to $2.1 billion for the quarter. Excluding the write down and related charges, Microsoft’s other businesses earned a profit of $6.4 billion on $22.2 billion in revenue.

Yahoo’s Q2 Manages A Slim Revenue Beat, But Its Per-Share Profit Of $0.16 Disappoints – Today, Yahoo reported its second-quarter financial performance, including $1.04 billion in revenue after discounting for traffic costs (ex-TAC), and earnings per share of $0.16. Revenue sported 15 percent year-over-year growth. The street had expected Yahoo to earn $0.18 per share on revenue of $1.03 billion.

Toshiba’s CEO resigns, amid $1.2 billion financial scandal – Toshiba’s CEO, Hisao Tanaka, alongside other top-level executives, have resigned their positions after it came to light that Toshiba had declared $1.2 billion in false profits over the last six years.

Facebook, others take Samsung’s side in Apple patent case – Apple and Samsung have been fighting a legal battle for a long time now that focuses on Apple alleging that Samsung has violated several of its patents. Samsung now has some industry heavyweights on its side that all have a stake in having Apple lose the court case. Previously the courts ordered Samsung to turn over profits from a few products that the court found infringe on Apple patents.

Games and Entertainment:

NFL Teases A New Subscription Service For On-Demand Games, Will Support Apple TV – The NFL is preparing to launch a new version of its Games Pass service, which will now include the ability to watch games on a wider selection of devices, including the Apple TV. According to information posted on the NFL website, the new Game Pass service will also replace Game Rewind, a paid service that previously offered all 256 NFL regular season games on-demand, after they air on television. Game Rewind will be discontinued on July 31, 2015, the NFL site said, and users will be able to move to the updated Game Pass service instead. The new Game Pass will offer apps for a number of devices, including mobile platforms as well as select connected TV devices like Xbox One, Xbox 360, Apple TV and more.

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Here’s Why Everybody Loves This Bizarre New Soccer Game – It’s like soccer with race cars. That’s the elevator pitch for San Diego studio Psyonix’s Rocket League, a zany ball-punching demolition derby for PC and PlayStation 4. The game arrived without ceremony two weeks ago, but it’s already clinched over 5,000 “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Steam. It’s now pretty much what everyone’s talking about.

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JustWatch Brings Its Search Engine For Cord Cutters To iOS And Android – JustWatch, a startup that launched earlier this year offering a search engine that helps cord cutters figure out where to watch their favorite programs and movies, is now expanding to mobile. The company has released both iOS and Android applications that help you find where to watch movies and shows, as well as discover new and popular content across a variety of services, including Netflix, Amazon, HBO NOW, Showtime, Hulu, iTunes and many others.

Rising Thunder is a PC-exclusive robot brawler built by Street Fighter talent – Rising Thunder is built for PC and for keyboard inputs. It’s aimed specifically at online multiplayer. It’s free-to-play (supported by cosmetic items). It’s got huge robots fighting other robots. But most importantly, it sounds like Killian and crew are focused on making fighting games more accessible by simplifying inputs. Instead of lengthy, complicated lists of maneuvers—a mainstay of fighting games—you’ll be able to pull off devastating moves with a single button press. That makes the game more about when to use certain moves than inputting the correct commands. In other words, it’s more about the psychological metagame than your finger dexterity.

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PlayStation 4 officially licensed remote launching soon – PDP will soon be launching its own officially licensed media remote for the Sony PlayStation 4. The maker has not officially announced its new remote, but a preorder has gone live on Amazon and some other retailers’ websites, with an availability date starting in October. While officially licensed for the PlayStation 4, the remote can also be used with certain other devices found in an entertainment setup, such as a set top box or the TV itself, depending on its connectivity options.

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Watch the cute full-length trailer for Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ – The first full-length preview of the upcoming flick gives viewers their first look at an unlikely human-dinosaur friendship in action.

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Dinosaurs, in space! Trailer tours the vast universe of No Man’s Sky – Hello Games releases a gorgeous new trailer for No Man’s Sky, an expansive upcoming video game that lets gamers explore a beautiful, seemingly endless universe.

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Microsoft fails to halt class action lawsuit alleging Xbox 360 design flaw – A US appeals court has again rebuffed Microsoft’s attempts to stop a class action lawsuit against it, which claims that the company sold the Xbox 360 with a known design flaw that ruined users’ discs.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How to ​pass on your phone and data when you power off for good – If you don’t plan ahead for someone to access your smartphone and account data, it could be a serious headache for those close to you. Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure the right person gets access to your phone and the right data without compromising your day-to-day security. Here’s how to set up a nearly foolproof system that protects your accounts but lets the right person in should something unfortunate happen.

2015 isn’t over yet, but it’s already breaking heat records – Last year was, at the start of 2015, the hottest year on record. We’re only half way through this year, however, and it is already breaking heat records. If it keeps this up, 2015 will overtake 2014 as the hottest year on record, a song we’re likely to hear more often as climate change continues to worsen. The information comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and the Japan Meteorological Agency, among others. All of them have pointed toward June having been record-smashing hot.

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Self-proclaimed experts talk more BS, study finds – Forget everything you think you know—it may cause you to have an exaggerated sense of knowledge, according to a recent study that looks into the origins of misinformation. Researchers call this psychological phenomenon “overclaiming.” In their study, published in Psychological Science, they found that the more someone thinks they know about a general topic, the more likely they are to claim expertise in the subject. The results of their study have raised questions about how we judge our own sense of knowledge and how this bloated sense of self could be detrimental to a society, where one person can start the spread of misinformation. In order to figure out the reasons behind people’s self-proclaimed expertise, researchers ran a series of tests.

Robot surgeons kill 144 patients, hurt 1,391, malfunction 8,061 times – Surgery on humans using robots has been touted by some as a safer way to get your innards repaired – and now the figures are in for you to judge. A team of university eggheads have counted up the number of medical cockups in America reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2000 to 2013, and found there were 144 deaths during robot-assisted surgery, 1,391 injuries, and 8,061 counts of device malfunctions. If that sounds terrible, consider that 1.7 million robo-operations were carried out between 2007 and 2013. Whether you’re impressed or appalled, the number of errors has the experts mildly concerned, and they want better safety mechanisms.

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See the first EPIC image of our planet from a million miles away – The image was taken on July 6th, with DSCOVR’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope that bears the acronym EPIC. The camera is centered on Central America, with much of North and South America blanketed in cloud, and the shallow seas around the Caribbean showing up as turquoise streaks in a deeper blue.

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The mobile web sucks – I hate browsing the web on my phone.  Web browsers on phones are terrible. They are an abomination of bad user experience, poor performance, and overall disdain for the open web that kicked off the modern tech revolution. Mobile Safari on my iPhone 6 Plus is a slow, buggy, crashy affair, starved for the phone’s paltry 1GB of memory and unable to rotate from portrait to landscape without suffering an emotional crisis. Chrome on my various Android devices feels entirely outclassed at times, a country mouse lost in the big city, waiting to be mugged by the first remnant ad with a redirect loop and something to prove.

Watch the first Windows 10 ad use adorable babies to push Hello, Cortana, and Edge – It’s a soft approach to a product that Microsoft seems to expect will change the world, if not transform the company. Windows is shown for about seven seconds, with a quick montage of Hello, the Start menu, the Edge browser, and Cortana. Instead of showing how any of the Windows 10 technologies work, however, Microsoft chose to explain how a new generation will grow up with what Windows 10 embodies: touchscreens, the disappearance of passwords (Windows Hello), a digital assistant who talks to you (Cortana), and more.

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Rhinos outfitted with horn cameras, GPS to fight poaching – British nonprofit animal conservation group Protect has come up with a new way to fight poachers, and it involves outfitting rhinos with their own versions of tech wearables. The system relies on three pieces of technology to track and monitor the animals: heart rate monitors under the skin, a GPS transmitter around the neck, and a camera embedded in the horn after a hole is (painlessly) drilled. The technology is called Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID), and is already being tested on threatened rhino populations in South Africa.

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India Will Have 500 Million Internet Users By 2017, Says New Report – Inexpensive smartphones and 2G subscriptions are expected to help boost Internet usage rates in India over the next two years, according to a new study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and KPMG. While city dwellers are quickly upgrading to 3G and 4G, slower but more affordable data plans will enable more people to get online.

Something to think about:

“Be entirely tolerant or not at all; follow the good path or the evil one. To stand at the crossroads requires more strength than you possess.”

–     Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856)

Today’s Free Downloads:

Facebook History Spy – History Spy is the all-in-one software to instantly recover or view Facebook web history from popular web browsers. It helps in recovering or viewing Facebook history from following browsers.

Mozilla Firefox

Internet Explorer

Google

Chrome Google Chrome Canary/SXS

CoolNovo (Chrome variant)

PaleMoon Browser (Firefox variant)

SeaMonkey Browser (Firefox variant)

It automatically detects the right history database file based on the browser and current user configuration. You can also manually specify the different history file or quickly ‘Drag & Drop’ a history file. This is useful when you have to recover the Facebook history for another user or from different system.

You can also export the recovered Facebook history list to HTML/XML/CSV file for offline analysis.

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

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

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former Hacking Team supplier stops selling zero-day exploits on ethical grounds – Italian surveillance software maker Hacking Team recently claimed that it hasn’t lost any customers after the massive leak of its internal data two weeks ago. But it has lost at least one business partner: U.S.-based penetration testing specialist and zero-day exploit broker Netragard.

Over the weekend, Netragard announced that it is terminating its long-time running Exploit Acquisition Program (EAP), citing revelations about Hacking Team’s customers as one of the reasons.

Internal email communications recently leaked from Hacking Team revealed that the Milan-based company had a business relationship with Netragard and bought at least one zero-day exploit through its program.

Google slams proposed export controls on security tools – A proposed set of software export controls, including controls on selling hacking software outside the U.S., are “dangerously broad and vague,” Google said Monday.

Google, commenting on rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), said the proposed export controls would hurt the security research community.

A DOC Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) proposal, published in May would require companies planning to export intrusion software, Internet surveillance systems and related technologies to obtain a license before doing so. Exports to Canada would be exempt from the licensing requirement.

The proposed rules “would also hamper our ability to defend ourselves, our users, and make the web safer,” Google’s Neil Martin, an export compliance lawyer, and Tim Willis with the Chrome Security Team, wrote in a blog post. “It would be a disastrous outcome if an export regulation intended to make people more secure resulted in billions[b] of users across the globe becoming persistently less secure.”

Canada: Two rights groups launch Charter challenge of Bill C-51 – Canada’s new terrorism law is being challenged in court by a journalists’ group and a civil rights organization that call it an attack on constitutional freedoms and an “extraordinary inversion” of the role of judges.

The Anti-Terrorism Act, which took effect last month, makes it a crime to promote or advocate terrorism. It also gives Canada’s civilian spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, new powers to disrupt attacks. Until now, CSIS could only collect and analyze information. It will now be able to ask a judge in a secret hearing for a warrant to violate constitutional rights.

The public safety minister came under opposition criticism after a video emerged of a former Ottawa man calling for attacks on Canadians. Steven Blaney says new tools are needed to help stop terrorists.

The Conservative government passed the law, known as Bill C-51, after two deadly attacks in Canada last October, including one in which a gunman was killed in a shootout with guards on Parliament Hill.

The law is expected to be a factor in the upcoming election campaign, with the Conservatives expected to argue that they alone can be trusted to protect Canadians. The New Democrats opposed the law and the Liberals supported it but promised to change it if they become the government.

The terrorism-promotion provisions, and the new powers for CSIS, are among several parts of the law called unconstitutional in a wide-ranging challenge by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

New York judge rules against Facebook in search warrant case – A New York judge ruled Tuesday that Facebook has no legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of search warrants served on its users, highlighting the limits to online companies’ abilities to protect user privacy.

Last year, Facebook appealed a court decision requiring it to hand over data, including photos and private messages, relating to 381 user accounts. The data was sought as part of an investigation by the New York County District Attorney’s office into a disability fraud case.

Other companies including Google and Microsoft filed briefs supporting Facebook’s move, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.

In her decision on Tuesday, Judge Dianne Renwick of the New York State Supreme Court said Facebook has no constitutional or statutory right to challenge a warrant before it’s issued.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 15, 2015

10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 It’s free!  Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant;  The Best Free Software for 2015;  Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew;  When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first;  Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age;  The ultimate guide to Gmail backup;  Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app;  Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars;  3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service;  Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday;  Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days;  6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team;  SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices;  Skype for Android updated to v5.5;  Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents;  ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Feds can read every email you opened last year without a warrant – It’s no longer a surprise that the government is reading your emails. What you might not know is that it can readily read most of your email without a warrant. Any email or social networking message you’ve opened that’s more than six months old can also be accessed by every law enforcement official in government — without needing to get a warrant. That’s because a key provision in a law almost three decades’ old allows this kind of access with a mere subpoena, which doesn’t require a judge. That includes every email or message you opened last year, and earlier. (Anything under that six-month period still requires a warrant, however.)

10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 – Everybody can finally exhale a sigh of relief: Windows 8 is going away, and it’s once again safe to upgrade your PC’s version of Windows. Windows 10 is nearly here, and a major thrust of its design is to be more familiar to users of pre-8 versions of Windows. It’s a chance for everyone who missed out on all the performance and feature advances in Windows 8 and 8.1—and believe it or not there are plenty, many of which are included in this list—to get caught up. Not only that: It’s free!

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10. Xbox App

Facebook and Twitter are growing as news sources, says Pew – The Pew Research Center announced today that it had made a discovery: Facebook and Twitter are growing in influence, with more and more users using them as a source of news. This increase isn’t due to a growing user base for the sites, says the study, but rather that existing users are increasingly discovering news stories there. Pew found that 63 percent of users on both Facebook and Twitter said they used the sites to find out about news and current events. These findings are probably particularly heartening for both sites, both of which have been pushing for a greater focus on news lately. Twitter’s “Project Lightning” will focus on providing live coverage and breaking news to everyone, whether they have Twitter accounts or not, while Facebook launched Instant Articles this past May, allowing news organizations to publish directly on the site.

The Best Free Software for 2015 – Software can be expensive if you’re not smart about it. Free programs have been a mainstay of the desktop experience for decades, and the offerings only get more powerful and fascinating each year. As PCs compete with smartphones, it gets even better. Software developers can adopt an ad-based model, donation-ware to keep things afloat, or a shareware/freemium model that charges for extra features. This is our first big look at free desktop software you can download and install (as opposed to just free Web-based apps) since 2012. While a lot has stayed the same, there’s an odious new threat: crapware installers.

Witness Launches A Live-Streaming App That’s A Panic Button For The Mobile Age – You can think of Witness as something like a private version of Twitter’s Periscope, for example, combined with a user safety application designed to quickly alert friends or family if you’re in trouble or are in an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation where you may need help. But the app also resonated with the Hackathon audience and judges because of its potential to document and record police brutality or other cases where civil disobedience was met with undue force – especially as the app had emerged at time when a number of high-profile incidents of clashes with police had brought attention to these issues.

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Google Photos continues to upload your images even after you delete the app – Users of the service discovered that the app continues to upload your images to Google Photos even after it’s been disabled or deleted. Shocked customers found that their photos had shown up online on Google+ and the search giant’s other services, even though they had deleted the app from their phone. Luckily the fix for the problem is simple: go to the phone’s settings and turn off photo backup from there. That’s because Google Photos apparently uses the system’s toggles and options instead of its own app’s. After that photos should stop uploading to the service though you’ll still need to delete the ones that are already in the cloud.

When Wi-Fi doesn’t work, try these things first – Wi-Fi problems could be caused by your computer or your router, or some interaction that’s gone awry. Here’s how to identify and fix the problem.

Skype for Android updated to v5.5: easier sign-ins and more – Today Microsoft pushed an update for its Skype for Android app to the Google Play Store, bringing it up to version 5.5 and adding in some features that will be handy for mobile users. The biggest among the changes is arguably an improvement to signing in from mobile, making it easier for those who insist on logging out to sign back in from their Android smartphone or tablet. The chatting feature will soon be updated, too, and will likewise be a little more convenient once it is.

Screenshots: Five rising Linux desktop stars – Linux is everywhere. It’s on your servers and in your phones, cars, watches, toasters, refrigerators… and desktops. Although fewer users see Linux on their desktops than in their thermostats, even that is on the rise, partly due to the number of high-quality distributions. This new wave of Linux desktop distributions is bringing a confluence of user-friendliness, modern design, and stability to the open source platform. The only problem you might have is figuring out which of the more recent distributions are the true darlings of the moment. Never fear, intrepid readers: I have you covered with the five Linux desktop distributions I feel are the hottest commodities coming out of the open source world.

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Elementary OS Freya

Google Drive update adds disable feature to sharing – Google Drive has been updated with additional features that give users optional control over how shared content is used by the recipient. In particular, the update introduces an option that disables one’s ability to print, download, and copy content that has been shared with them by another Google Drive user. While many users likely won’t care either way, those with more sensitive content like businesses will be able to use Drive for sharing content while limiting the other person’s control over it.

3 free tools that transform YouTube into a streaming music service – The popular Chrome extension Streamus disappeared from the Chrome Web Store on Tuesday, July 14. Current users of the extension shouldn’t lose functionality, the extension’s developer Sean Anderson told me, as he intends to keep the Streamus database running. Even if Streamus does stop working, have no fear—there are a number of alternatives for getting your streaming fix on.

10 outstanding open source server tools – If you work with open source servers (such as the world’s most popular web server, Apache), you know a massive number of tools are available to you. They range from security to functionality to monitoring… to just about anything you can imagine. But if you were to compile a single list of tools to include on your open source server farm, what would that list look like? My own list tends to fluctuate on any given day. But almost always, certain tools stay on it. Here are the tools I rely on the most.

The ultimate guide to Gmail backup – Want to make sure you have a local or backup copy of all that mission-critical business and personal history in your Gmail archives? David Gewirtz takes you through an array of options.

You will be able to buy a Windows 10 PC on July 29 – With almost two weeks to go until Windows 10 launches, Microsoft has rectified its statement; which now states that customers will be able to buy pre-installed Windows 10 PCs on launch day after all.

Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – Are you over-using a few words in everything you write? Here are two tools to help check yourself.

Apple Pay opens its doors in the UK – Apple has finally opened the gates to its nascent mobile payment system in the UK, turning on the Apple Pay switch for more than 250,000 shops across the country as well as several transportation networks. But while the UK comes only in second after Apple’s US launch way back in October last year, this could prove to be a much bigger contactless market than the US. This is thanks to the UK having a substantial head start in preparing for contactless payments and setting up compatible terminals almost everywhere.

Security:

Microsoft issues 14 security fixes in July’s Patch Tuesday – In Microsoft’s round of updates for July, the company has issued 14 bulletins fixing dozens of vulnerabilities in many Microsoft products, including Windows and Office. Three of the bulletins — specifically MS15-065 for Internet Explorer, MS15-070 for Microsoft Office, and MS15-077 for Windows — are being actively exploited by hackers, said HP’s Dustin Childs in a tweet. Here’s the rundown of the most critical flaws:

MS kills critical IE 11 bug after exploit was shopped to Hacking Team – Microsoft has killed at least two security bugs linked to the compromised malware developer Hacking Team, including a critical remote-code execution hole that worked against people using the latest version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and 8 machines. The IE vulnerability was discovered in an e-mail a security researcher sent to Hacking Team executives, according to a blog post published Tuesday by researchers from security firm Vectra Networks.

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Firefox blacklists Flash player due to unpatched 0-day vulnerabilities – There’s some drama going down in the Flash camp. Yesterday, because of two unpatched Hacking Team zero-day vulnerabilities, Mozilla blacklisted Adobe Flash Player 18.0.0.203, meaning Flash was disabled by default in Firefox. This morning, just a few moments ago, Adobe rushed out version 18.0.0.209, plugging the two vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, over at Facebook, the company’s new chief security officer called for Adobe to “announce an end-of-life date for Flash,” so that we can finally “disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem.” And if two Web giants weren’t enough, Google recently announced that the next stable version of Chrome would “intelligently” block auto-playing Flash elements.

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Once again, Adobe releases emergency Flash patch for Hacking Team 0-days – Adobe Systems has issued an emergency update for its Flash media player to patch two critical zero-day vulnerabilities that allow attackers to surreptitiously install malware on end-user computers. The two Flash vulnerabilities unearthed this past weekend are in addition to a third one found earlier in the Hacking Team dump, which Adobe patched last week, a few days after it was discovered. All three critical vulnerabilities were present in Flash versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. At least one of them was potent enough to pierce the vaunted Google Chrome security sandbox, most likely because it was combined with a separate privilege-escalation exploit for Windows.

How to disable the Adobe Flash browser plug-in – If you really want to keep using Flash, update it immediately. But it might be a better idea to go into your desktop browser settings and shut down this media streaming tool, at least for now. Devices using Google’s Android operating system do not have Flash pre-installed, and of course Apple has long banned Flash from iOS devices, so you only need to tweak your Windows and Mac browsers. Not sure if Flash is installed? Go to Adobe’s Flash Player page and click the Check Now button.

It’s time to kill Flash, says Facebook’s new security chief – In tweets posted over the weekend, Alex Stamos, who joined the social networking giant from Yahoo last week, said the popular web plugin used for videos and games had to go. “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day,” he said in one tweet. He followed up in another tweet, adding: “Even if 18 months from now, one set date is the only way to disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem at once.” Stamos isn’t the first person to call for the plugin’s end-of-life, nor will he be the last.

Hacking Team spyware rootkit: Even a new HARD DRIVE wouldn’t get rid of it – Hacking Team RCS spyware came pre-loaded with an UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS rootkit to hide itself on infected systems, it has emerged following the recent hacking of the controversial surveillance firm. The stealth infection tactic, which has been revealed through leaked emails arising from last week’s hack, meant that the Remote Control System (RCS) agent stayed on compromised machines even if users formatted their drives – or even swapped disks. Although designed primarily for the Insyde BIOS (a popular laptop BIOS) it might also work on AMI BIOS as well, according to security firm Trend Micro.

Company News:

Fake Bloomberg news story causes Twitter shares to spike – Twitter’s stock spiked in midday trading Tuesday after a fake Bloomberg news report said the company had received an offer to be acquired for US$31 billion. The story appeared convincing, with a Bloomberg Business logo, but Bloomberg quickly tweeted that it was fake. There were some telltale signs it wasn’t authentic: the URL was businessweek.market rather than businessweek.com, and CEO Dick Costolo’s name was misspelled. That didn’t stop Twitter investors from reacting. The company’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange spiked briefly just before noon Eastern Time, surging about 10 percent from Monday’s close to more than $38 before settling back down as news spread that the report was fake.

Facebook wants to create its own virtual assistant called Moneypenny – It looks like Cortana, Google Now, Siri and Echo might soon have company, as Facebook is reportedly testing out its own virtual assistant, internally called Moneypenny. According to a report from The Information, which cites unnamed sources, Facebook is positioning Moneypenny as a helping tool that lives inside of its popular Messenger platform. From there, users would be able to use the feature to do research and shopping. It will also, apparently, allow you to ask real people for help with those tasks. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of what’s currently known about the service.

Google Eddystone open-source Bluetooth beacons revealed – Google has launched Eddystone, a new open-source Bluetooth LE beacon platform which plays nicely with iOS, Android, and other OSes. Aiming to power a new age of location-based services, as well as give those responsible for managing a flock of Bluetooth beacons the tools to make sure they’re working properly, Eddystone arrives with two main features: telling mobile devices exactly where they are and what’s nearby, and linking a physical location with online data.

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Verizon Signs Up VICE To Deliver Original Content For Its Upcoming Mobile Video Service – Verizon announced this morning that it will be adding Vice Media to the list of partners that provide content for the telco’s forthcoming over-the-top video service due out later this year. As a part of the multi-year agreement between the two companies, Vice will produce original domestic and international programming that’s exclusive to Verizon.

reddit loses another prominent female employee as chief engineer quits – On Monday night, reddit’s chief engineer, Bethanye Blount, resigned from her position after less than two months on the job. Blount said she decided to quit because she had lost confidence in the direction of the company.

BlackBerry names former Cisco exec head of sales – BlackBerry said Monday that it has hired Carl Wiese, a former Cisco executive, as its sales lead. Wiese will be in charge of BlackBerry’s sales strategy and bolstering growth. At Cisco, Wiese most recently led the company’s collaboration unit. BlackBerry’s move comes as it tries to transition to a business model that revolves around software. While hardware accounts for the bulk of the company’s revenue, BlackBerry plan is to grow its enterprise mobility business.

Games and Entertainment:

Electronic Arts, Comcast team up to bring game streaming to TVs – How much bigger can the video game industry get? That’s a question at the heart of a new partnership between game maker Electronic Arts and cable giant Comcast. The pair announced on Tuesday a “beta” test period for a new project that enables cable customers to play games through their set-top boxes using smartphones or tablets as controllers. Customers who have an Xfinity X1 set-top box from Comcast can begin playing games by selecting an app called Xfinity Games. Once there, they surf to a website on their mobile device, enter a code, and then select and control video games by swiping and tapping on their device screen while images are displayed on the television set.

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SanDisk’s new wireless thumb drive streams HD video to three devices – SanDisk today announced the newest addition to its wireless storage line – the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick. The Connect Wireless Stick ranges in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and in price from $30 to $100. The Connect Wireless Stick is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android devices, Windows PCs and Apple computers. It works with iOS version 8.0 or higher, Android 4.2 or higher, Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS 10.6 or higher, and via web browser for other Wi-Fi enabled devices, according to SanDisk.

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SanDisk – The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

TiVo Devices Now Support AirPlay For Streaming Recordings To Apple TV – The new feature is a nice addition for TiVo customers, some of whom complained in the past about the lack of AirPlay functionality – especially given the fact that TiVo has for a long time supported streaming directly to iOS devices via its Roamio DVRs. While obviously, TiVo users could already easily watch their recorded shows and movies on the TV connected to their TiVo DVR, support for AirPlay to Apple TV means users now have the option to streaming their content to other TVs around the home which aren’t hooked up to the DVR.

Apple looking into video and TV streaming, with several deals already underway – It seems that Apple is not satisfied with just streaming music and reports are coming in that deals with several TV networks are already underway, with a launch expected around fall.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Shady Regimes That Worked With Hacking Team – “We’re here to help” was the basic message of Hacking Team. The Italian security company markets its software to law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide, but has long maintained that it did not sell it to repressive regimes that could use the information to persecute their citizens. Not everyone believed them, including Human Rights Watch and WikiLeaks. After a recent hack, the latter released thousands of emails and other documents that revealed Hacking Team’s dealings with unsavory governments. The documents are rather revealing, but data about these five countries were particularly enlightening. Click through the slideshow for more.

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Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency (INSA) monitors and filters websites in the country. “Internet filtering practices in Ethiopia do not appear to be regulated by law, nor subject to any kind of safeguard against improper or disproportionate censorship,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Land Rover software bug causes doors to open on their own  – You’re driving along and all is well until you turn and your door swings open — a door you’re sure was firmly shut when you got in the car. Such is a potential problem some Range Rover owners are facing due to a software bug that may cause the doors unlatch on their own. A door opening without warning could distract the driver and cause a wreck, could result in property damage, or could on the extreme end of things cause a passenger who isn’t wearing a seat belt to fall out of the vehicle.

Stop Trying To Make Sense Out Of The Reddit Saga – Why does reddit exist? How does reddit exist? Who are all of these people who participate? Who knows? They’re anonymous. How does something like reddit attract $50 million in funding? I have no idea, and a lot of the people I’ve been speaking to in tech circles over the past week don’t know, either.

Wi-Fi Aware Aims To Connect All Your Devices Instantly – The new technology, called Wi-Fi Aware, is being released by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit trade organization that includes Apple, Microsoft, Intel and hundreds of other tech powerhouses as members. Aware allows Wi-Fi-enabled products to discover and communicate directly with nearby devices, applications or information, without relying on cellular data or an Internet connection. Think of it as a sort of the same thing iBeacons were supposed to do but have yet to provide. Essentially, once you’ve installed an application that leverages Aware, your device will continuously broadcast and receive broadcasts from devices in your vicinity. Users can opt in to let applications both publish availability and subscribe to receive information and connection requests.

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UK pilots warn putting devices with lithium batteries in hold baggage is ‘aircraft fire risk’ – The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the professional association and trade union of UK pilots, has called on airlines to require air travellers to carry devices that run on lithium-based batteries with them in the passenger cabin. The union is issuing this call in order to address what it considers a significant potential safety risk. Lithium batteries used in devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and cameras are highly flammable. When they’re damaged, they can become especially volatile – as BALPA explains, “when they short circuit, [they] have a tendency to burst into high intensity fires, which are difficult to extinguish.”

ProxyHam anonymity project bizarrely destroyed sans explanation – Staying private on the Internet has become a big concern for many and a problem for certain government agencies. The Edward Snowden leaks revealed a trove of data on government spying, and since then companies have moved to further encrypt data and many devices have cropped up promising high security. ProxyHam is one of those devices. The maker described the device as a hardware proxy that could be planted somewhere like your local cafe; it would use radio connections to transmit the signal up to 2.5 miles away, leaving the Internet user safely hidden. Now the project has been cancelled under bizarre circumstances.

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A new look at the people erasing themselves from Google Search – With the “right to be forgotten” now firmly established in European law, hundreds of millions of people can now ask to be delisted by Google, effectively erasing themselves from Google Search. A new report from The Guardian digs into who has been using the new feature, using information accidentally revealed in the source code of Google’s recent transparency report. The new data covers the 218,320 requests that were made between May 2014 and March 2015, roughly three-quarters of the total requests, slightly less than half of which (101,461) resulted in a successful delisting. The data has also been published on GitHub, and is open for deeper analysis.

Something to think about:

“Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck”.

–       Thomas Jefferson

Today’s Free Downloads:

NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.

Features:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.

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ISO Burner – ISO Burner 2 is a simple ISO creator with bootable image support that is quick and easy to use.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

ACLU to appellate court: Please halt NSA’s resumed bulk data collection  – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked one of the nation’s top appellate courts to order the National Security Agency to stop its bulk records collection, which resumed in limited form last month as part of the USA Freedom Act.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled in ACLU v. Clapper in May 2015 that the dragnet data collection went beyond the scope of what was authorized by Congress.

“This dragnet surveillance program should never have been launched, and it should certainly be terminated now,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a Tuesday statement. “Not even the government contends anymore that the program has been effective, and the Second Circuit has already concluded that the program is illegal. It’s a needless and unlawful intrusion into the privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans.”

Why was Oscar-winning Snowden documentarian detained 50+ times in US airports? – Laura Poitras gained notoriety as the documentary filmmaker behind the 2014 Oscar-winning movie Citizenfour, a film about the time she and Glenn Greenwald spent with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

What’s less known about Poitras is that from 2006 until 2012, she was stopped at the US border every single time she entered the country. In all, she was stopped on more than 50 occasions. Poitras, who is a US citizen, never got a satisfactory explanation as to why the detentions took place.

Frustrated after years of stonewalling, today Poitras said she’s working with lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation to get answers. The group is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice and two other agencies.

Poitras said she’s filing the suit to support less high-profile people who were subject to the same years of “Kafkaesque harassment” that she was.

“This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy,” she said. “We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”

Another U.K. Surveillance Review Calls For Judicial Sign-Off For Intercepts – Another independent report into U.K. government surveillance has concluded interception warrants should require judicial sign-off, rather than being sanctioned by ministers as is the case now.

This follows the publication of the Anderson surveillance review last month which also urged the government to adopt judicial sign-off. The U.K. is alone among the so-called Five Eyes intelligence alliance powers in not having a judicial process for signing off interception warrants.

Late last month Home Secretary Theresa May said the government was considering the Anderson recommendations, and had not yet made a decision on the judicial sign-off point, although in earlier comments (reported in The Guardian) the government appeared to pour cold water on the idea of handing off warrant authorization to judges.

The government has said it is committed to introducing new surveillance legislation, the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill, in the current parliament, with a timetable to introduce a draft bill this autumn — with a view to gaining Royal Assent next year before emergency surveillance legislation (DRIPA) expires at the end of 2016.

Authors Guild demands ISPs monitor, filter Internet of pirated goods – The Authors Guild, one of the nation’s top writer’s groups, wants the US Congress to overhaul copyright law and require ISPs to monitor and filter the Internet of pirated materials, including e-books.

The guild, in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee as it mulls changes to copyright law, says the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act favor large corporations like Google over individual writers. The group said that ISPs purge the Internet of infringing content on their own. As the law now stands, ISPs are not legally liable for pirated content, and they get “safe harbor” immunity from infringement allegations as long as they remove infringing content at the owners’ request.

US to begin talks on drone privacy standards – A U.S. government agency will start its third attempt to develop voluntary privacy standards for an emerging area of technology, this time with a series of meetings on drone privacy scheduled to begin Aug. 3.

The U.S. National Telecommunication and Information Administration has already hosted similar discussions on mobile app privacy and facial recognition privacy but with mixed results. Privacy groups pulled out of the facial recognition discussions in June, saying the process wouldn’t lead to enough protections for consumers.

It’s unclear how many privacy and consumer groups will take part in the discussions about drones.

Still, they present several privacy challenges that the NTIA discussions can address, said Angela Simpson, the agency’s deputy assistant secretary for communications and information. President Barack Obama asked the agency earlier this year to host the discussions on privacy, she noted in a blog post.

“From enhancing news gathering, improving agribusiness, providing new delivery models, to providing Internet in remote areas, the possibilities for UAS are staggering,” Simpson wrote, referring to unmanned aircraft systems. “Consumer trust and responsible operation are keys to fully tapping the transformative potential of unmanned aircraft.”

In April, NTIA received more than 50 comments about drone privacy issues from individuals and companies.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 15, 2015

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–      Avivah Litananalyst at Gartner

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Features:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Features:

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

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

View, create, and edit guided tours

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

Access billions of objects in a web-based astronomical catalog

Use touch controls for touch-screen navigation

Travel 2,000 years forwards and backwards in time

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Constitution – 8

The Harper troglodytes – 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–      Muhammad Ali

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

Features:

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

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

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

Save cellular data & avoid overcharges

Handy network speed detection

Easy to use, no need of advanced configuration

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

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

With PaperScan you can control any scanner ( TWAINor WIA)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – July 6, 2015

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe;  5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network;  14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore;  The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook;  How to take dreamy long exposure photos;  The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender;  See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI;  Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked;  Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes;  The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far);  Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China);  Personal Health In The Digital Age;  Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday;  GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents;  Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles?  Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app (free);  US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany;  InternetOff (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Steer clear of low-tech hacks: How to keep your information safe – It doesn’t take a coding genius to steal your Social Security number, but you can be smarter than identity thieves.

5 free Wi-Fi tools that help maximize your home network – Thanks to Wi-Fi every device in your home can easily get online, whether it’s your iPad, desktop PC, the high-definition television in the living room, and maybe even your coffee pot or fridge. But are you getting the most out of your wireless Internet connection? Is it truly as fast as your service provider claims? Are the neighbors screwing up your signal? Do you know how to connect all your various devices together to share files at home? Here are five free Wi-Fi-enhancing tools that can help you answer “yes” to all of those questions.

14 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – Facebook is a magnet for some of the top engineering talent in the world, so it stands to reason that the company would boast one of the world’s most complex and multi-faceted websites. It rivals many standalone software apps with the sheer amount of personalization, tweaks, and tinkering available to visitors. In fact, there are so many things you can do on Facebook.com that you probably don’t know about them all.

Facebook Tests Features That Make Sharing GIFs In Messenger Easier Than Ever – Facebook really wants you to use GIFs inside Messenger. The company recently unleashed a series of GIF apps from third-parties which work inside Messenger — as part of its Messenger platform initiative — but it is now going beyond that with a series of pilots that bring GIFs right into Messenger without those apps.

Meet the Home Security Camera That Burglars Totally Ignore – For the past eight years, Melanie, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, shared her Chandler, Ariz. home with several roommates. But when she finally got the place to herself this past spring, she felt her newfound privacy came at the cost of security. So, she decided buy a Canary all-in-one home security device, placing it in the bedroom of her 2,000-square-foot house. Here’s the footage from Melanie’s Canary, provided by the company and posted here with Melanie’s permission:

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The 10 best Android apps to run on your Chromebook – Android and Chrome are better together. Google continues to tie the laces between the two operating systems, giving developers—and adventurous everyday users—the tools to put Android apps on Chrome OS. Be warned: This effort is definitely in the early stages, so if you’re uncomfortable with running into some glitches along the way then it may be best to tread very slowly before trying to turn your Chromebook into a second home for all your Android apps.

How to take dreamy long exposure photos – Long exposure photography is a great technique to play with and lends itself particularly to clouds moving across landscapes, waves crashing onto rocky shores, or busy night-time city streets. It doesn’t even require expensive kit or hours of training to get started. Read through this guide to find out how you can create your own slow shutter masterpieces.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Reddit’s Subreddits Pop Back Online After Brief Protest – That didn’t take long. A sea of protests recently hit the popular social sharing site Reddit, resulting in a number of the more popular subreddits going private—including many of those that new users are subscribed to, by default, when they join the site. However, many of these subreddits are now back online; the protest, it seems, was a bit more of a sneeze than a siege. As of Saturday morning, all of these 50 default subreddits were online. That’s not to say that the small protest wasn’t extraordinarily successful at getting attention, though.

Petition for Pao resignation from Reddit grows to 130K – An online petition calling for the resignation of Ellen Pao, Reddit’s interim CEO, has attracted more than 130,000 signatures, growing rapidly in the past two days since the dismissal of a key administrator at the community-curated news site. The Change.org petition describes a lack of confidence in Pao, who petition organizers accuse of ushering in “a new age of censorship” and worry that she will “run Reddit into the ground.” The petition, which was launched three weeks ago, grew from 16,000 signatures on Friday to more than 130,000 two days later after the alleged firing of Victoria Taylor, one of the social news site’s highest profile administrators.

Browsy Is a Fullscreen, Distraction-Free Browser for iOS – Browsy’s main pitch is it’s fullscreen, distraction-free view. Basically, load up a web page and you’re treated with a great fullscreen view for easy browsing. No URL bar, no buttons, nothing. Beyond that Browsy also has some clever DuckDuckGo integration that adds some Omnibar tricks, and a useful “Keep screen awake” button that comes in handy if you’re reading recipes or how-to guides. It’s not going to replace Safari or Chrome by any means, but it does have its uses if you’re looking for a simpler browser.

The best consumer-grade Wi-Fi extender – After spending a total of 110 hours researching 25 different Wi-Fi extenders (and testing 10 of them), plus analyzing reviews and owner feedback, we found that the $100 Netgear EX6200 is the best Wi-Fi extender for most people right now.  It costs as much as a great router and it shouldn’t be the first thing you try to fix your Wi-Fi range, but it has the best combination of range, speed, flexibility, and physical connections of any extender we tested.

Image reveals BlackBerry’s new Android slider with dual-curved display – BlackBerry’s new handset features a slide-out keyboard, and has apparently been revealed in a leaked image, showing a Galaxy S6 edge-style dual-curved display, and what seems to be stock Android.

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See your own photos through the eyes of Google’s AI – Last month the trippy so-called “dream” photos created by Google’s Artificial Neural Networks took the Internet by storm, and the response was split down the middle: some found the photos, which include things like a “pig-snail” and random faces, to be fun and creative while others found them creepy. If you’re skewed toward the former group and want to see what your own photos look like through the eyes of AI, you’re in luck. A new tool gives you a peek.

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Security:

Surveillance software vendor Hacking Team hacked – Italian surveillance software slingers Hacking Team has allegedly been cracked by hackers, who exfiltrated some 400Gbs of data. The plunder has been uploaded to BitTorrent in a monstrous listing of directories, allegedly including audio recordings, emails, and source code. Hacking Team sells the Da Vinci malware surveillance software to law enforcement agencies claiming to only deal with ethical governments. It is marked as an Enemy of the Internet by activist outfit Reporters Without Borders. The trove also allegedly reveals all Hacking Team customers and when they purchased the software. The company is said to count Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Lebanon among its customers.

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Tasty Spam: Ransomware Hiding Behind Resumes – Criminals are getting creative about getting users to open up malicious file attachments in emails. Cloudmark tells us what warning signs to look for the next time a resume lands in your inbox.

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China hacks ‘everything that doesn’t move’ says Hilary Clinton – In widely-reported remarks made at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Clinton said China is “ … trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America. Stealing commercial secrets … from defence contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage.” Any aspiring commander in chief needs to sound credible on foreign policy, so Clinton’s remarks are to be expected and are likely intended for a domestic audience as much as they are for Chinese ears. China, of course, says the same about America and can point to the works of one E. Snowden, late of Moscow, when asked for proof about its statements. Clinton’s not backed her remarks with new information, although her status as a former secretary of state gives her comments a little extra weight.

Plex hacker demands Bitcoin ransom for return of data – Video streaming service Plex has reset user passwords after it was breached by a hacker who threatened to release stolen data unless he’s paid a ransom. Someone going by the nickname “Savata” claimed responsibility for the breach and threatened to release the data on torrent networks if a ransom wasn’t paid in bitcoins. Savata asked for 9.5 bitcoins ($2,400) but wrote that the ransom would increase to 14.5 bitcoins if it wasn’t paid by Friday, according to a copy of the message posted on Reddit. “I don’t care who the BTC comes from as long as the payment is made: no data will be released,” Savata wrote.

Presidential hopeful Trump wants to keep this country safe, but can’t even keep your credit card safe – In case you missed it, Donald Trump has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming presidential race. Apparently, that means he’s far too busy to make sure his hotel chain has adequate network security in place. The Trump Hotel Collection has just reported that their credit card processing system has been breached. Executive VP Eric Trump downplayed the situation, saying “like virtually every other company these days, we have been alerted to potential suspicious credit card activity.” So yeah, it’s no big deal that the credit card you used to secure your $500-per-night hotel room in SoHo may have been snatched by criminals. It’s happening to everyone.

Company News:

Samsung sued for loading devices with unremovable crapware (in China) – ShanghaiDaily reports that in China, Samsung will have some explaining to do about the amount of crapware it ships in its smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission has sued Samsung (and Chinese OEM Oppo) for loading up devices with crapware. The commission studied 20 smartphones and said that many pre-installed apps were un-removable and eat into customers’ data plans. The commission specifically calls out the Galaxy Note 3, which had 44 apps installed (stock KitKat with the full Google Play suite ships with 31 apps) and the Oppo Find 7a, which had a whopping 71 apps.

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Samsung’s app selection from the Galaxy S5.

Startup Sues A Domain Name Owner To Grab A 16-Year-Old URL – Jason Kneen is a programmer and happens to own about a hundred domain names picked up over a sixteen year period. One of those, workbetter.com, he purchased in 1999 and it has been available on his site for years. In late April 2014 a company, OfficeLinks, approached him about buying the domain for use as a URL for their co-working space. It’s a tale old as the Internet: someone has and idea and the URL is taken. The owner and the startup hash out a deal and sometimes those deals fall through. When that happens most startups head back to the drawing board. For OfficeLinks, however, it was straight to the lawyers.

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Amazon says 20th birthday celebration will be bigger than Black Friday – To celebrate its 20th birthday, Amazon is introducing Prime Day, a “global shopping event” that the retail giant says will offer more deals than Black Friday. The deals will become available at midnight ET on July 15th, but will only be available to Amazon Prime customers in the US, the UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria. Amazon says new deals will be introduced as fast as every ten minutes, and will come from every product category, from clothing to electronics.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 best PC games of 2015 (so far) – I don’t want to blow your mind, but it’s already July. I know. Crazy. And it’s been one hell of a year so far for video games— The Witcher 3! Kerbal Space Program! Grim Effin’ Fandango! Phew. We’re on track already to have one of those years—you know, like 1998. Or 2007. And we haven’t even entered the fall reviews season yet, where we’ll see heavy hitters this year like Fallout 4 and SOMA. So while there’s still time to catch our breath, let’s take a look back at the first six months of 2015—and the best PC games so far this year (in no particular order).

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Book of Unwritten Tales 2

Nintendo to aim for a “free-to-start” mobile gaming model – By announcing its plans to start a presence on mobile, Nintendo has practically sealed its fate in that part of the market. But, as with many advanced announcement, details of those plans haven’t been fleshed out or, in some cases, might be totally non-existent. Nintendo isn’t divulging much of its plans for the future but, at a recent shareholders’ meeting, CEO Satoru Iwata revealed one aspect of its mobile business plan. It wants to distance itself from the negative image of “free-to-play” and will instead adopt a “free-to-start” business model. In other words, we’re back to the days of demoware.

Play Pong Inside Microsoft Bing – Microsoft is now wading into the black-and-white waters of Pong. If you head over to Bing and search for Pong, you’ll be able to play a very simple version of the game right in your browser. Yes, you’re playing against the computer and, yes, it’s classic Pong—nothing crazy, just paddles and a ball. Still, it’s…fun? The game appears to work in all browsers. The first to five is the winner, but you can always click to play again, and again, and again.

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Mojang unveils new “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta” – If you are an avid fan of Microsoft-owned Mojang’s “Minecraft”, you’ll be pleased to hear that the company has announced a new version of the game designed specially for Windows 10 PCs. Aptly named as “Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta”, this game will make its way to the Windows Store on the 29th of July, the same day Windows 10 launches.

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Netflix’s Lemony Snicket trailer isn’t for the squeamish – Hot on the camp trail of “Wet Hot America Summer,” Netflix is now out with a teaser for its take on “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a young-adult book series that combines dark humor and fantasy elements. The trailer is full of icky critters, from spiders flooding out of a gramophone to a toothy leech creature flailing in a jar. There’s some bug-squishing action and plenty of wriggling worms. It should get fans plenty excited about the new adaptatation.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Solar Impulse breaks record for longest sun-powered flight – The 4,000-mile leg — considered one of the most dangerous because there was no immediate landing zone if the plane ran into trouble — set a record for the world’s longest solar-powered flight both in terms of time and distance. It also was the longest solo flight by time. But the landing also furthers Solar Impulse’s larger mission: to legitimize the possibility of zero-fuel airplanes in the future. While there are no plans to bring a solar-powered airplane to the passenger industry anytime soon, the Solar Impulse 2 presents a possible alternative to fuel-guzzling airplanes.

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Personal Health In The Digital Age – We live in the digital age. You know that already. Two out of three Americans are now smartphone owners, and more than 86 percent of the population is connected online. But while digital has permeated everything from our social lives to how we work and how we shop, it is only starting to touch how we manage health.

GM to offer teen driver tracking to parents – GM has announced that it will be offering a way for parents to track their teens’ driving behavior in order to help cut down on accidents. The new system can be set to track the distance driven, the maximum speed traveled, any over-speed warnings issued during a drive, stability control events, antilock brake events, forward collision alerts and forward-collision braking events (if the vehicle is equipped to offer them).

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The Teen Driver system will be displayed as a report card on the MyLink telematics system.

Adam Smith was right about that invisible hand, you know – We have a nice little empirical proof that Adam Smith really was right about us all being guided by that invisible hand. Yeah, I know, you’re sooo tired of the free market maniac telling you that governments are all wet and laissez faire is where it should be. Except that’s not something Smith ever said nor is it what he meant by ‘invisible hand’. What he did mean was this from Barry Ritholtz:

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Remy Martin puts NFC chip in its Cognac to prove they are genuine – How do you tell a fine, authentic cognac from some knockoff in a fake bottle? Right now that requires a keen eye and an interest in cognac, but in the near future it might only require a smartphone with an NFC chip. Premium alcohol maker Rémy Martin has started production of a new “connected” bottle with an NFC tag to guarantee freshness and authenticity. Truly this is the future.

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See winning National Geographic nature photos snapped by kids – Kids between the ages of 9 and 17 are showing off their camera talents with a collection of pictures capturing crackling light bulbs, swarming ocean life and a curious young sea lion. National Geographic Kids selected 10 winning images taken by youthful photographers to display at the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C. The pictures rotate inside a digital frame and represent a wide spectrum of both natural and man-made subjects.

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A brightly painted swing ride opens up into the sky like an overgrown flower in this photo taken by 15-year-old Jordana Collins.

Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles? – One of the more challenging jobs the auto industry has right now is explaining to consumers that the future isn’t going to be like the past. We desperately need to reduce vehicle carbon emissions in order to avoid turning the planet into a hellscape, and that means turning to cars with some kind of energy storage other than hydrocarbons we’ve dug up from the ground and then distilled. That’s where people get confused and the message stalls, a problem laid out in a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences.

Something to think about:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”

–       Hermann Goering ‘On War And The People’

Today’s Free Downloads:

Salient Eye home security alarm mobile app – Salient Eye Turns your spare android smartphone into a motion detector burglar alarm system! The app uses the phone’s camera as a motion-sensor. Your phone will capture photos of intruders moving in front of the camera and will instantly send them to you. Once sufficient evidence has been collected, your phone will also sound a noisy alarm.

With “SalientEye Remote Control” app you can start and stop the Salient Eye without touching the device,it runs on.

You can leave a device with Salient Eye security system installed at the

position you want, connected to charger and no longer touch it.

You can control the alarm from your primary device.

Main features:

Push notifications on motion detection events.

Start/Stop Salient Eye on the other device

Get Current picture from Salient Eye on the other device

Connect as many remotes and as many salient eye devices as you wish.

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InternetOff  – InternetOff is a free tool that allows you to quickly turn off\on your internet connection from the system tray.

Why it’s needed:

The main and inherent problem with always being online is that you are too connected. Twitter, RSS feeds, YouTube video, answering email or IM message… And again from the start of the list. You only react on those “incoming” things instead of act. When you go offline all those distractions disappear. There’s no Twitter. No chat. No web. Only you and your tasks. Since you cannot consume you have to create so that something happens.

InternetOff allows you to quickly turn off the internet so that you can go offline. When you need the connection, you can enable the internet easily for some period (and it will be automatically turned off) or permanently in just two clicks. Besides the program lets you password protect access to the internet.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany – Evidence that the US government has spied on German officials is sadly commonplace, but now it appears that the Obama administration’s efforts went beyond government officials. Der Spiegel says it has filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutors office wherein it claims its journalists were the victims of a spying campaign, based on documents it has obtained.

At the same time, CNN is also reporting that it has obtained evidence that the US government spied on Der Spiegel. Jake Tapper tells the story of a US official who could have been representing either the CIA or NSA going to the German government’s intelligence coordinator, Günter Heiss, and demanding he do something about a deputy (Hans-Josef Vorbeck) who was supposedly leaking information to the press. In response, Heiss reportedly traveled to Washington to discuss the alleged leaks and his government opened a file about “U.S. protocols of intercepted communications between Vorbeck and journalists.” The incidents took place back in 2011, well before the Snowden leaks revealed the extent of the US government’s spying to the world. Vorbeck was apparently reassigned, though at The Intercept reports the alleged reasoning for the reassignment is only now coming to light.

Canadians Seek to Halt Fair Elections Act, Compare It to Voter Suppression in the US – Young and Indigenous voters could have a harder time casting ballots in Canada’s fall election thanks to the contentious new Fair Elections Act. On Thursday, two groups went to court to ask a judge for an urgent injunction to put the Act on hold.

“The public confidence in the election may hang in the balance,” Steven Shrybman, a lawyer representing the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), told the Ontario Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

The Fair Elections Act, which the applicants compared to voter suppression efforts in the US, removes the ability of electors to use voter information cards they receive through the mail, and could prevent tens of thousands of Canadians from casting ballots in the upcoming Oct. 19 election, Shrybman argued.

“The tenor of all this is basically, we don’t want you to vote,” Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, told VICE outside the court Thursday afternoon. “Our other concern is that fewer people are voting every year.”

Only 39 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 25 voted in the last election, she pointed out.

“This kind of legislation basically says: you’re not welcome, don’t bother. And that’s the big concern—that it’s just anti-democratic,” she argued. “It dissuades people from voting.”

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