Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 12, 2015

After 11 hours, the App Store and iTunes are back online;  10 things to consider before buying an LED bulb;  How to use your mobile device to control your home theater;  Twitter’s new policy: no to nonconsensual adult content;  How to unlock your Mac just by walking up to it;  10 LinkedIn Tips for Networking Success;  Hillary Clinton’s email system was insecure for two months;  Going on holiday? Mexico wants your personal data;  FTC charges DirecTV with fraud for misleading customers;  Facebook Is Facing a Massive Lawsuit Over Online Purchases Made by Kids;  Dropbox patches Android security flaw;  Play Cards Against Humanity On the Web, for Free;  Google Launches New Online Store To Showcase Hardware;  Why is killing such a central concept in video games?  Australians! Let us all rise up against data retention.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google’s smart-home plans include ‘neighborhood security networks’ and security ratings for homes – A patent application the search giant published Thursday points to a future in which smart homes have each other’s back, and where a smart home’s ‘security score’ determines the cost of security services and insurance.


Panda antivirus labels itself as malware, then borks EVERYTHING – Panda users had a bad hair day on Wednesday, after the Spanish security software firm released an update that classified components of its own technology as malign. As a result, enterprise PCs running the antivirus software tied themselves in something of a knot, leaving some systems either unstable or unable to access the internet. A Panda spokesman confirmed the problem while advising that the issue was well in hand. An official advisory on the problem says that the issue was limited to Panda Cloud Office Protection, Retail 2015 products and Panda Free AV. Users are strongly advised not to restart their computer until a fix is available.

10 things to consider before buying an LED bulb – The LED Age is officially upon us, and light bulbs are as high-tech as they’ve ever been. That makes it a great time to upgrade, but you’ll want to be sure you understand some light bulb basics first. Here’s what you need to know.

How to use your mobile device to control your home theater – With the right selection of apps you can transform your iOS or Android phone or tablet into an elegant home entertainment command center.


Evernote for Android gets sleek redesign – Evernote has pushed out a new design for its Android app, bringing it in line with Google’s design guidelines for Lollipop by largely refining what it already offered. Not much has changed over the last design update, though Evernote says there’s more to it than just the visual changes, and that “the thoughtful touches to these features” makes the overall Android note-taking experience better than before. Evernote went into details about the design change, talking about the motivation behind it and the best it has to offer users.


Twitter’s new policy: no to nonconsensual adult content – Twitter is making it clear: there is no room for revenge porn or similar content on its network. While it might sound like a no-brainer, given that Twitter already disallows graphic content anyway, it sometimes pays to be perfectly explicit, especially when it comes down to legalities. So as not to give any smart crack room to wiggle, the social networking giant has updated its Twitter Rules to lay out in no ambiguous terms, but without mentioning specifics, that revealing photos or videos are not allowed, especially if the subject doesn’t consent to its distribution.

Facebook Removes ‘Feeling Fat’ Emoticon After Backlash – Facebook has removed a controversial “feeling fat” emoticon after thousands complained that it promoted body-shaming. The emoticon, which featured chubby cheeks and a double chin, was previously listed as an option for status updates. It came under fire recently thanks to a Change.org petition from Catherine Weingarten of Endangered Bodies, a group that aims to “challenge the current toxic culture that promotes negative body image.”


Hey Barbie, Are You Invading My Privacy? – Big Sister is listening: A privacy group has issued a petition aimed at stopping Mattel’s “Hello Barbie” doll from hitting shelves this fall. The Wi-Fi-connected figurine can carry on a conversation, remember responses, store data in the cloud, and get to know a user over time (think Siri or Cortana). “Kids using ‘Hello Barbie’ won’t only be talking to a doll,” the privacy advocates said in a petition. “They’ll be talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial. It’s creepy—and creates a host of dangers for children and families.” In an effort to thwart the doll’s upcoming release, the CCFC penned a letter to Mattel CEO Christopher Sinclair, asking to stop Hello Barbie “immediately.”


Apple services including App Store hit by major worldwide outage – Apple services are currently experiencing a major outage around the world, with widespread reports across social media of users from Australia to Vietnam unable to gain access. The issue is affecting key services, including both the iOS and Mac App Stores, which are spitting out error messages indiscriminately when users try to access content. Many app listings are completely inaccessible, while some music and video content can be seen, but not purchased. At time of publication, the issues had been affecting users for several hours. Predictably, and in unmistakably Apple fashion, the company has been ignoring media requests for information, and according to its status page, there are no problems with its services at all.

After 11 hours, the App Store and iTunes are back online – Apple’s App Store and iTunes have sprung back into life, after technical issues brought the download stores offline in the early hours of this morning. Downloads of apps, music, and video resumed at approximately 1:30pm Pactific today, after what Apple described as a DNS issue left users not only unable to get to the App Store and iTunes on their iPhones and iPads, but temporarily killed the Mac App Store and iBooks Store too. In total, the services were offline for more than ten hours.

Google enters watch face market with Street Art – The first Google-made downloadable set of Android Wear watch faces has been released this week. Aside from the faces that come with every Android Wear device, Google has been mum on creating their own watch faces for the Android Wear line thus far. This piece of software called “Street Art watch face” breaks that silence with a wide variety of super talented artists.


Watch styles include Analog, Digital, and Minimal, and you’re able to flip off/on your display of date. This app is free from the Google Play app store and works with your Android Wear devices connected with your Android smartphone.

How to unlock your Mac just by walking up to it – This free app for your Mac or iOS device makes it too easy to unlock your Mac based simply on how close you are. Tether is a combination of a free OS X and iOS app that leverages Bluetooth 4.0 technology to monitor just how close you are, or should I say iOS device is, to your Mac. When your device is within range (about 30 feet by my count), the app unlocks your Mac. When you walk away, your Mac is locked back up barring any unauthorized access. Getting it all set up is simple; download the Mac app from Tether’s site. Followed by the iOS app from the App Store. Next, follow the instructions to connect your two devices.

10 LinkedIn Tips for Networking Success – Whether or not you’re looking for a job, you should be on LinkedIn to keep on top of what’s going on in your industry, chat with colleagues, promote your achievements, and network far beyond your geographic location. But with over 300 million LinkedIn members looking at 1.45 million jobs per day, the competition is tough. So how do you stand out from the pack? We’ve got a few tricks to help you find a new trade (or just a job within your current one).


Hillary Clinton’s email system was insecure for two months – The private email system used by Hillary Clinton when she was U.S. Secretary of State didn’t encrypt messages during the first two months of use, an Internet security company said Wednesday. That would have left emails sent and received by Clinton in early 2009 vulnerable to eavesdropping — just when British and American intelligence agencies were reportedly spying on world leaders. Around that time, British and American spy agencies were reportedly eavesdropping on world leaders. At the G20 summit in April 2009, they set up fake Internet cafes in the hope that government ministers and their staff would connect to Internet hotspots, allowing the agencies to tap unencrypted or poorly encrypted communications.

Going on holiday? Mexico wants your personal data – European airlines could soon be forced to break citizens’ right to privacy if they want to fly to Mexico. Mexican authorities have decided to implement a “passenger name record” (PNR) scheme from 1 April. PNR data encompasses all the information airlines hold on their passengers – from credit card details, phone numbers and emails to dietary requirements – and from April, Mexico wants all that handed over when someone flies into the country.

Pointing up   Vote with your wallet. Avoid Mexico and any other country which insists on knowing when you shower, shave, and …

Windows PCs remained vulnerable to Stuxnet-like attacks despite 2010 patch – If you patched your Windows computers in 2010 against the LNK exploit used by Stuxnet and thought you were safe, researchers from Hewlett-Packard have some bad news for you: Microsoft’s fix was flawed. This means that over the past four years attackers could have reverse-engineered Microsoft’s fix to create new LNK exploits that could infect Windows computers when USB storage devices got plugged into them. However, there’s no information yet to suggest this has happened.

Dropbox patches Android security flaw – Dropbox has patched a security flaw which allowed cyberattackers to steal new information uploaded to accounts through compromised third-party apps on Android devices. The company announced the fix through the Dropbox Developer Blog on Wednesday. Dropbox, a firm which caters for over 300 million users and offers cloud-based file storage, said a minor security vulnerability in Android Core and Sync/Datastore SDKs was patched a few months ago.

Ars tests ExoNet, the personal VPN that takes you home – Ars received a prototype of x.o.ware’s hardware and beta software to determine whether the technology at the heart of the product, which is expected to start shipping sometime this year, lived up to its promise. While the system is still in development, and there are still some fit and finish issues that need to be addressed before the products ship, I found that ExoNet and ExoKey were (in the most recent iteration of the early release software and firmware) fairly painless to set up and use. And they did a good job of protecting Web browsing sessions without the performance overhead of anonymizing networks. I did find some bugs along the way, which x.o.net is addressing, and should be resolved in the shipping product.


First medical apps built with Apple’s ResearchKit won’t share data for commercial gain – As concern grows about data collection by mobile apps, Apple and companies involved with its new ResearchKit software development framework for medical studies say users of the first five apps have nothing to worry about. Access to health data collected by the apps will be restricted to approved medical researchers and barred from commercial use, and the apps won’t delve into the personal contents stored on a smartphone, according to the companies.

Company News:

Facebook Is Facing a Massive Lawsuit Over Online Purchases Made by Kids – Facebook was hit with a nationwide class-action lawsuit in the U.S. on Tuesday, over its refusal to provide refunds to parents whose children spent money on the website. A federal judge in San Jose, California ruled that hundreds of thousands of people across the country could now take legal action against the social network over its policy on online purchases by minors, Reuters reported.

Google Launches New Online Store To Showcase Hardware “Made With Google” – Google is launching a new online store today to showcase “all the latest products made with Google.” The new Google Store, instead of the Play Store, will now become the central spot for buying Google-centric hardware like Google’s own Nexus phones, Android Wear and Nest devices, Chromebooks from Google and its partners, as well as accessories, cases, keyboards and chargers. For the time being, Google will offer free shipping for all purchases, too (but only if you choose the slowest shipping option). If you made any hardware purchases in the Play Store, all of that information will be automatically transferred to the Google Store.


FTC charges DirecTV with fraud for misleading customers – DirecTV has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for misleading customers. The advertising in question was DirecTV’s 12-month discount package. The plan was advertised as costing only $19.95, but obscured from customers was the fact that a 2-year contract was needed to get deal. Even more astounding is that the FTC alleges that DirecTV charged customers for premium channels after a 3-month trial period, and DirecTV never told customers that they needed to cancel these channels in order to avoid being charged automatically.

Samsung launches Animal Edition battery packs to create social awareness – At the recently concluded Mobile World Congress, Samsung made sure that the attendees did not exhaust their smartphone’s juice by giving away a cute battery pack featuring images of animals; we did give one such battery pack away today. Now, it seems that the company has bigger plans for the device, as it has announced the availability of the battery pack for the masses. The device will be available in two sizes, one with 8400 mAh capacity and the other with 11300 mAh. Samsung has revealed that it wants to create awareness among people about these endangered animals through this innovative way.


Google unveils Nearline, their hot new solution to cold storage – Some info stored in the cloud is important, and should be kept ready for quick access. Other stuff isn’t as necessary at the drop of a hat, and companies have the option to tuck it away. That ‘cold storage’ option could take hours to query, which isn’t ideal for businesses or their customers. Today, google rolled out a new option named ‘Nearline’. It’s more like lukewarm storage, where you won’t get the info instantly, but the three-second average return is much better than three hours.

IBM workforce declined 12% in 2014; losses tied to corporate divestitures – IBM is reporting its global headcount at 379,592, a decrease of 51,600 employees from the prior year. The data is included in the company’s recently filed annual report for 2014. In 2013, IBM employed 431,212 globally. Of this overall reduction, divestitures accounted for 35,000 employees.

Snapchat nabs investment from Alibaba for $15B valuation – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made an investment in Snapchat that could value the ephemeral message service at $15 billion, sources confirmed Wednesday. Alibaba has invested $200 million in the startup, which specializes in messages that vanish after they are read, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Games and Entertainment:

Sony to power off PlayStation Mobile on July 15 – PlayStation Mobile will soon be no more, ending Sony’s foray into expanding its gaming empire to smartphones and tablets. The PlayStation Mobile store shuts down on July 15. You can still download any games you’ve previously purchased through September 10 and continue to play them afterwards as long as you activate your device. To do this, you’ll need to grab the PlayStation Mobile app on a supported device.

Watch the first episode of PlayStation’s sci-fi original series Powers – Curious to see what PlayStation’s first original series is like? The first episode of Powers is now available on YouTube in its entirety. This is the first scripted original series for PlayStation, and it follows in the footsteps of rival Microsoft, who late last year debuted its own Xbox original series based, Halo: Nightfall.


Dragon Age Inquisition is currently free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers – The promotion for Dragon Age Inquisition started last night, and if you own an Xbox One and are a Live Gold Subscriber you can play the game for free for almost a whole week. The last day of availability is the 16th but everything you do in game will get saved, including achievements, in case you decide to continue and purchase the full title.


Game of Thrones to air in over 170 countries at the same time – Season five of Game of Thrones will premiere on April 12 and it will air at the same time in over 170 countries around the world. HBO will broadcast all ten episodes of the new season via HBO networks in other counties and with assorted partner networks airing the show as well. The show will air in these other countries at the same time the show airs in the US. I would assume that to mean it will be on the air at odd times in many of those other countries. In Australia Foxtel will be airing the series.


Play Cards Against Humanity On the Web, for Free – You can now play the hilariously inappropriate game on your smartphone. A new site called Cards Against Originality lets you play the game with your friends on any smartphone, tablet, or computer — for free, right through your Web browser. The browser-basedapp is the brainchild of designer Dawson Whitfield, who acknowledged that the site is “a shameless copy of the real Cards Against Humanity.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Intel Honors Trio of Top Teen Scientists – Intel this week handed out $150,000 prizes to three “teen geniuses” who placed first in this year’s edition of the Intel Science Talent Search competition sponsored by the chip giant and run by the non-profit Society for Science & the Public. Winners Noah Golowich, 17, of Lexington, Mass., Andrew Jin, 17, of San Jose, Calif., and Michael Hofmann Winer, 18, of North Bethesda, Md. were feted at a ceremony held Tuesday in Washington, D.C.


Living Aerial Bot drone uses your smartphone as its brain – The Living Aerial Bot (LAB) is a drone with a twist, in that it uses your smartphone as its brain and face. The handset connects to the drone using Bluetooth or a wired connection, likely depending on the phone, delivering commands to the UAV’s on-board hardware. In addition, the related mobile app can also be used to display a “face” for the drone, such as an owl’s face or, depending on the situation, a live video feed used to give remote directions, such as in medical emergency situations.


Watch NASA Fire Up the Biggest Rocket Ever Built – NASA on Wednesday fired up its Space Launch System (SLS) for the very first time and thankfully, we can watch the “largest, most powerful rocket booster ever built” produce 3.6 million pounds of thrust in two minutes of awesome. The SLS will be responsible for lifting NASA’s deep-space Orion crew vehicle into space, carrying astronauts to destinations like Mars and near-Earth asteroids.


Why is killing such a central concept in video games? – On the PBS series “Game/Show,” host Jamin Warren discusses why the act of killing is such a fundamental game mechanic in video games from Mario Bros. to Grand Theft Auto.


Porn and the patrol car—one cop’s 2 hour-a-day habit – Pornography, though prevalent in the modern world, still isn’t the sort of thing one expects to see while waiting in traffic behind a cop car. But pornography is exactly what an irate Wheaton resident named Robin said he witnessed. On the morning of September 18, 2013, while sitting in his conversion van and waiting for a stoplight to change, Robin found himself directly behind Wheaton Police squad car 359. The height of his seat gave him a perfect view through the rear windshield of the squad car, and he could see the car’s mobile data computer displaying “scrolling pictures of completely naked women.”


When you watch enough porn that investigators have to compile spreadsheets, you know you’re in trouble.

Colorado Collects $2.3 Million In Marijuana Taxes For Schools In One Month – Colorado collected $2.3 million in excise taxes on the sale of recreational marijuana during the first month of 2015, 10 times the tax revenue generated in January last year. The 15% retail marijuana excise tax, which goes toward public schools and construction fees, earned exactly $2,332,843 in January 2015, according to a monthly report released by the state’s Department of Revenue. Last year, during the first month of sales, the school fund totaled $195,318. Residents voted in November 2013 for an aggressive 10% sales tax and a 15% excise tax on recreational marijuana sales. Medical and recreational cannabis-related revenue also comes from a standard sales tax, as well as license fees. Marijuana-related revenue not allocated to the school fund goes towards such things as substance abuse programs, medical research, and police training.

3D Systems gets 10,000 injured dogs running again with 3D printed knee implants – 3D Systems partnered with Rita Leibinger Medical to 3D print metal knee implants for thousands of dogs, which has sped up surgery and recovery for pets around the world.


3D Systems built prosthetic legs for Derby the dog last year. Image: 3D Systems

Jet lag treatment discovered in a dish of living fruit fly brains – Todd C. Holmes, professor of physiology & biophysics in the UCI School of Medicine, is heading up this study using fruit flies in an attempt to better understand and hopefully solve the jet lag problem. What his team did was to extract the brains of fruit flies, placed them in a dish, and kept them alive for 6 days. During that time a single-cell resolution camera monitored the brains and what happened when a light pulse was used on them. The results are surprising and positive for regular long-distance travelers.

Something to think about:

“This new era of state surveillance can only breed a new generation of tools that make systems like TOR look like toys. No one wants to be watched, and as soon as someone, somewhere comes up with an effective means to render users invisible, it will be adopted by everyone, everywhere, almost instantaneously. That’s the way it ever was, only now we’re better at it than ever before, because we share everything we’re learning as fast as we learn it.”

–      Mark Pesce

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dutch court suspends mandatory data-retention legislation – A district court in The Hague has struck down a Dutch law requiring telecommunications companies to retain customer data for law enforcement for between six and 12 months.

The law was first enacted in 2009 in response to the EU directive on data retention, which was subsequently struck down by the European Court of Justice in April 2014.

The court said at the time that the directive infringed on the rights to privacy and protection of personal data.

Since then, the laws in Europe around mandatory data retention have either been struck down or amended to accommodate the ruling.

Australians! Let us all rise up against data retention – There is still time to step away from a poisonous framing that presents only two options: the state and its nominated ‘enemies’. There’s an opportunity to build connections, to share with one another, learn from one another, and come to trust one another. That’s what civilised people do. Civilised people certainly don’t spy on their neighbors. That sort of behaviour should be called out for what it is – paranoid.

Some have argued that our security and the safety of our children demand these steps be taken. But if we think about our actions consequentially – something adults must do – then we need to acknowledge that mass surveillance will inevitably land us in a more chaotic and largely invisible online culture. That’s the way the world works. All those paranoia-fueled good intentions can’t change that.

Stuxnet leak probe stalls for fear of confirming US-Israel involvement – A criminal leak investigation into a top military official has stalled out of concern it could force US officials to confirm joint US-Israeli involvement behind the Stuxnet worm that targeted Iran’s nuclear program, according to a media report published Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors have been investigating whether retired Marine Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright leaked highly sensitive information to New York Times reporter David Sanger. A 2012 book and article authored by Sanger said Stuxnet was among the crowning achievements of “Olympic Games,” a covert program jointly pursued by the US and Israel to curb Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. As reported in author and Wired reporter Kim Zetter’s book Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, Stuxnet was first seeded to a handful of carefully selected targets before taking hold inside Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility. From there, the malware caused computer-controlled centrifuges to spin erratically, an act of sabotage that forced engineers to scrap the damaged materials.

According to an article published Wednesday by The Washington Post, the probe into Cartwright’s suspected leak to Sanger is generating tension between national security concerns and the Obama administration’s desire to hold high-ranking officials accountable to disclosing classified information.

AP sues State Department to speed up release of Hillary Clinton’s emails – A day after Hillary Clinton defended her decision to use a private email account for official government correspondence, the Associated Press is ratcheting up the pressure to release her messages. The AP said today that it’s filing a lawsuit against the State Department, requesting access to emails that could shed light on her tenure as Secretary of State. Among other things, it’s looking specifically for Clinton’s full schedule and calendar, conversations with advisers who will be instrumental in her presidential campaign, and any messages regarding NSA surveillance and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

The AP says it’s resorted to a lawsuit after the State Department failed to respond to five Freedom of Information Act requests over five years, and only partially fulfilled a sixth.

ACLU files new lawsuits in hunt for police ‘Stingray’ mobe-trackers – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California has filed another two lawsuits on Tuesday as the organisation’s campaign to bring information about StingRay cellphone surveillance devices into the public domain continues.

The lawsuits against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the Anaheim Police Department allege that both police agencies have violated state law by not providing documents requested regarding the use of the controversial equipment.

Most of the information publicly known about the StingRay device has come from such ACLU cases.

UK Parliament says it’s “technologically infeasible” to block Tor – The UK Parliament has published a report on the future of the darknet and online anonymity, and it came to the heartwarming conclusion that it would be “not seen as acceptable” to ban online anonymity systems. Furthermore, speaking specifically about Tor, the parliamentary report says it would be “technologically infeasible” to block people from using the service in the UK.

This report comes a couple of months after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that encryption should be outlawed unless backdoor access is given to the government. “Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” Cameron said. At the time his comments were in response to the January attacks in Paris; strong encryption, so the argument goes, prevents intelligence and security agencies from foiling the plots of terrorists and other bad actors.

New smoking gun further ties NSA to omnipotent “Equation Group” hackers – Researchers from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab have uncovered more evidence tying the US National Security Agency to a nearly omnipotent group of hackers who operated undetected for at least 14 years.

The Kaspersky researchers once again stopped short of saying the hacking collective they dubbed Equation Group was the handiwork of the NSA, saying only that the operation had to have been sponsored by a nation-state with nearly unlimited resources to dedicate to the project. Still, they heaped new findings on top of a mountain of existing evidence that already strongly implicated the spy agency.

The strongest new tie to the NSA was the string “BACKSNARF_AB25” discovered only a few days ago embedded in a newly found sample of the Equation Group espionage platform dubbed “EquationDrug.” “BACKSNARF,” according to page 19 of this undated NSA presentation, was the name of a project tied to the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 5, 2015

Hillary Clinton operated email server for state business;  Google is ditching Chrome support for Ice Cream Sandwich devices;  Easily add files from Dropbox to Gmail with this handy extension;  Imgur launches iPhone app to make browsing addicting images easy;  These Are the 15 Most Useful iPhone and Android Voice Commands;  Government hustles to enact privacy rules for drones;  Break me if you can: 4 rugged tablets put to the test;  MakerBot announces Startup Lab for schools, businesses;  Wolfenstein: The Old Blood arrives in May;  Paul Allen hunts down sunken Japanese WWII super-battleship;  Tom Ridge Can Find Terrorists Anywhere.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Hillary Clinton operated email server for state business – What you’re about to read is actually really impressive. It’s also highly unorthodox, extremely suspicious, and downright sidesteps all the governmental safeguards and checks/balances in play for the security of its employees. But man, it sure is interesting. Hillary Clinton was recently found to use her personal email address for official state business while Secretary of State. Bad enough, right? A new report also details how Clinton used her own server to run this email service. At her home. See?! Pretty impressive, right?

These Are the 15 Most Useful iPhone and Android Voice Commands – Not sure how to get the most out of your phone just by speaking to it? No worries – those of us here at Techlicious have put together this guide of the 15 most useful phone voice commands for iOS and Android. Take a look and give some of these a try – I really can’t rave enough about how useful and easy these commands are.

Google, Yahoo offer online tools to keep address books current – Google is updating Contacts, which functions as an address book for communication software like Gmail and Hangouts. The revamped Contacts, available in a preview version, will make it easier to keep track of a user’s contacts by pooling information stored in various Google services, the company said in a blog post Tuesday. On Wednesday, Yahoo unveiled its own new contacts feature, which also displays information in a card format. When a user hovers over a name in an email message, a contact card will appear and show information including job title, links to social media profiles and a phone number.

Google is ditching Chrome support for Ice Cream Sandwich devices – Chrome 42 will be the last update for devices with Ice Cream Sandwich, a nearly four-year-old version of Android. Google says on the Chromium Blog that you’ll still be able to use Chrome if you have an older device, but Chrome 42 will be the last release through the Play Store. On an FAQ page, Google says supporting Ice Cream Sandwich requires too many compromises, with workarounds and complex code required to keep older devices on board.

Helps Teachers Create Interactive Online Lessons, Partners With Wolfram Alpha – Versal is a service that allows teachers to build and publish interactive online courses, homework assignments and tutorials. The company launched its service out of beta today, but maybe more importantly, it also announced a partnership with Wolfram Research. Thanks to this deal with Wolfram Research — which includes Stephen Wolfram joining the Versal board of directors — Versal now allows teachers to embed content from Wolfram into their courses. Currently, this means teachers can use the Wolfram Language to create content.


Google confirms poor performance is to blame for reneged Android Lollipop encryption pledge – It turns out there was something to the report that hardware performance was to blame for Google backing off its encryption requirement for new Lollipop devices. Such problems started showing up as early as November, when a test showed flipping on encryption tanked Nexus 6 storage performance. This issue has clearly hit enough Android devices to compel Google to back off from its original plan to require encryption in all new phones running Lollipop. Fortunately, you can turn this security feature on yourself by following our encryption guide.

Break me if you can: 4 rugged tablets put to the test – Rugged tablets offer reinforced frames, tough skins, watertight seals, hardened glass, soft corner bumpers and major components that are shock-mounted. In other words, if ordinary consumer tablets can be considered sports (or economy) cars, rugged tablets are tanks. To see what the current state of the art is for rugged tablets, I gathered together three of the newest Windows-based worker-proof slates: the Mobile Demand xTablet Flex 10, the Getac F110 and the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1. I also tried out Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Active, a reinforced Android tablet.


Imgur launches iPhone app to make browsing addicting images easy – Imgur is ready to take mobile seriously. The popular image sharing site is launching a new iPhone app on Thursday that reimagines the experience of browsing through its massive collection of photos, GIFs, and other images. This isn’t the first time that Imgur has tried to launch a mobile app, but Imgur thinks that this is the first time it got it right. “The app is beautiful,” Alan Schaaf, Imgur founder and CEO, tells The Verge. “It’s just absolutely beautiful and the best browsing experience for Imgur period, that exists.”

Spartan browser, Cortana play nice in leaked Windows 10 vid – In Windows 10, Microsoft will be breaking from the past. Somewhat. And at least when it comes to web browsers. It will still ship with Internet Explorer “for legacy reasons”, but it wants people to know that it is working on the next big thing, presently codenamed “Spartan”. Unlike the bloat that is usually associated with IE, Spartan is absolutely minimal. It doesn’t even have visible window borders! But more than just its looks, Spartan has a few talents to show, including a special friendship with Cortana.


Easily add files from Dropbox to Gmail with this handy extension – Here’s the catch ─ it only works with Gmail. This functionality has yet to find its way into Inbox. With that said, if you’re a Gmail and Dropbox user, this extension is for you. It’s easy to install, easy to use, and removes a few clicks from one of your daily routines. Let’s install this handy extension and see how it works.

The other guys: Canonical and Jolla trot out alternatives to Android, iOS – Apple and Google have further tightened their grip on the smartphone OS market; they had a market share of 96.1 percent last year, up from 94 percent in 2013, according to Gartner. However, that hasn’t deterred Mozilla, Samsung Electronics, Canonical and Finnish start-up Jolla from developing their own OSes. At Mobile World Congress they all showed commercial devices for the first time. Mozilla’s Firefox OS and Samsung’s Tizen have user interfaces that are very reminiscent of Android, but Canonical with Ubuntu Phone and Jolla with Sailfish have been either brave or stupid enough to try something different.


5 tips to avoid identity theft – “Tax fraud is widespread and happening as you read this,” says security and identity theft expert for Credit Sesame, Neal O’Farrell. “In the first week of February, a grand jury indicted 16 people for running a tax refund identity theft scheme, where they used 11,000 stolen identities, complete with driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, to file bogus tax returns totaling $38 million. They had the refunds deposited in more than 3,000 phony bank accounts opened in 440 different financial institutions. This is clear evidence that these identity theft rings are well organized, patient and motivated.” Credit Sesame encourages consumers to consider the following when filing their taxes this year:

Government hustles to enact privacy rules for drones – As drones move into the air space, the U.S. government will “take steps to ensure that the integration takes into account not only our economic competitiveness and public safety, but also the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties concerns these systems may raise,” the White House said in the memo.

China says its new cybersurveillance proposal mimics U.S. practices – China is scratching its head over why the U.S. is opposing a new anti-terror law relating to cybersurveillance when the U.S. and other countries have also requested that tech companies hand over data to help stop terrorists. On Wednesday, China’s parliamentary spokeswoman tried to play down the impact the proposed legislation might have on foreign tech businesses, in the face of U.S. fears it would require companies to hand over sensitive data to the country’s government. The anti-terror law is still under review, but if passed, it would require tech companies to give encryption keys to the authorities, and create “back doors” into their systems for government surveillance access.

Apple and Google prepare patches for FREAK SSL flaw – Apple and Google are preparing patches for a newly-revealed bug in the web encryption protocols used by the two companies’ mobile browsers. The FREAK bug disclosed yesterday is the latest in a series of vulnerabilities affecting the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols used to encrypt traffic between an HTTPS website and a browser.

Company News:

Microsoft announces partnership with Deutsche Telekom to promote devices and services – Microsoft announced earlier today at Mobile World Congress 2015 its partnership with Deutsche Telekom to promote cloud services and devices in 12 countries across Europe. According to Microsoft, both the companies will work together to expand and increase the reach of Microsoft’s devices and services. The partnership will see both Microsoft and Deutsche Telekom carry out joint promotions of OneDrive, Office 365 and the Lumia range of smartphones in Europe. Additionally, the carrier has also been revealed to be a launch partner for Windows 10 based devices, when they arrive later this year.

Twitter In Talks With Live Streaming App Periscope – …Twitter has been in talks to purchase live streaming app Periscope, which many private beta users have compared to Meerkat. The talks are in early stages, but it’s clear that Periscope and Meerkat are doing similar things in a similar space. One source pegs a possible deal at around $100M, another source says the deal is worth a fraction of that. Live streaming on the backbone of the Twitter user graph is certainly intriguing, as the uptake of Meerkat has proven. t would be a natural fit for Twitter to acquire one of the apps in this space. It’s right in line with its real-time tentpole and feels inevitable.

MakerBot announces Startup Lab for schools, businesses – Today, MakerBot is announcing Starter Lab, an initiative to get schools up and running with 3D printing. The program provides schools everything they need to start creating, with a printer, parts and materials, and even a workshop custom designed to the school’s needs. The program is open to all schools and levels of education; even kids as young as kindergarten can start 3D printing, now. Two colleges have already purchased MakerBot’s Starter Lab, which is available now to interested schools.

Judge approves $415 million settlement in Apple and Google employee poaching scandal – The $415 million settlement put forward by Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, and other Silicon Valley companies over employee-hiring practices has been tentatively approved by the federal judge dealing with the case. Judge Lucy Koh rejected the first proposed settlement, worth $324 million, in August last year, saying that it wasn’t high enough to make up for the lost wages employees may have suffered after the companies involved in the case allegedly set up no-poaching agreements that allowed them to set and limit wages. Koh signed off on the latest deal after the companies involved in the case — including Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit — agreed to increase the amount they paid in compensation.

IBM Buys AlchemyAPI to Boost Watson’s Brain Power – From Jeopardy champ to worldwide development platform, IBM’s Watson supercomputer will continue to bulk up its brain power with today’s acquisition of AlchemyAPI. IBM, meanwhile, intends to use AlchemyAPI to enhance Watson’s ability to ingest, train, and learn the “long-tail” of data domains. The firm’s clients will also be able to tap into a host of new APIs, like “language analysis APIs to address new types of text and visual recognition, and the ability to automatically detect, label and extract important details from image data.”

Uber snaps up mapping company deCarta – Uber announced Tuesday it’s acquiring mapping and search startup deCarta to help improve its car-pool service and to better calculate how long passengers’ Uber rides will take. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Games and Entertainment:

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood arrives in May – Bethesda has announced the upcoming launch of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, which is bid as a standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order. This prequel is set in 1946 with B.J Blazkowicz taking the lead in an effort to stop the Nazis’ nearing victory. There are two missions to the game, one that involves breaking into Castle Wolfenstein and the other that takes players to Wulfburg city to find a “Nazi archaeologist” unearthing powers that could, says the maker, doom everyone. The Old Blood is being developed at MachineGames, and will be launching on May 5, 2015 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. When it arrives, gamers will be able to download a digital copy for $19.99 USD.


Nvidia’s Shield Set-Top Box Could Finally Make The Stream Dream Real – This new gadget is called simply the Nvidia Shield, which means the company probably wants it to lead the lineup that also includes the Shield Tablet and Shield Portable, and it’s powered by the new Tegra X1 processor Nvidia debuted at CES this year. More important than all that, however, is that it’s a delivery mechanism for Grid, the streaming game service introduced by Nvidia last year that offers subscription-based access to top-tier PC games streamed via the cloud, in 1080p resolution running at 60fps.

Nvidia’s Shield Set-Top Box Could Finally Make The Stream Dream Real

Microsoft launches Xbox One SDK to let any developer build apps for its console – Microsoft is finally letting developers build apps for the Xbox One. While the software maker has had a private SDK since the console’s launch, that will start to go a lot more public today. At the Games Developer Conference (GDC) today, Xbox chief Phil Spencer revealed that Microsoft is launching its Xbox One SDK today to select testers, with plans to let any developer access the SDK in the coming months.


Sling TV Brings AMC, IFC And EPIX To Its Subscription Service For Cord Cutters – Dish’s newly launched streaming video subscription service Sling TV announced this morning the addition of two more channels, AMC and IFC, which will now become available as part of its $20 core package aimed at cord cutters. In addition, Sling TV customers will also be able to optionally subscribe to a new movie-focused add-on pack called “Hollywood Extra” for $5 per month, which includes content from EPIX and Sundance TV. Specifically, the “Hollywood Extra” pack brings in content from EPIX, EPIX2, EPIX3, and EPIX Drive-In, the company says. The pack also introduces a replay feature which will allow viewers the ability to watch programming that’s up to a week old on demand, as an alternative to using a DVR.


Netflix inks documentary deal with Leonardo DiCaprio – Netflix is continuing to add to its slew of original content. Netflix announced a new deal with Leonardo DiCaprio to exclusively air his future documentary projects. This is not Netflix first venture with DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio was the executive producer on his previous collaborations with Netflix, Virunga. Leonardo DiCaprio executive produced the Netflix collaboration Virunga, which is a documentary about protecting a group of endangered gorillas in the midst of the bloody Congo civil war. Netflix and DiCaprio’s future offerings will likely play along the same themes of environment and conservation.

Here be dragons: HBO Go finally lands on the PS4 – It might almost be over in the real world, but winter is coming to your current gen PlayStation console today. Almost a year in the making, Sony has announced that, finally, the intersection of PlayStation 4 owners and HBO subscribers will be able to get access to the HBO Go streaming service. This further transforms the gaming device into an all purpose home entertainment system. And just in time for the next season of everyone TV guessing game “Who Will GRRM Kill Next”!


Xbox caters to Twitch and YouTube streamers with upcoming Windows 10 app – Microsoft has big plans to bring gaming on Windows 10 and Xbox One closer together. One key to that strategy is the Xbox app the company announced back in January, which lets you access Xbox Live features from your PC. And after checking out a demo of the app at GDC in San Francisco, one thing is pretty clear: Microsoft is trying to tap into the booming market of Twitch game streamers and YouTube personalities. Given the booming popularity of gaming personalities on YouTube and Twitch, it seems like an obvious move for Microsoft, and the new app will even recommend popular broadcasters for your favorite games as new Xbox Live friends.

March PlayStation Plus Free Games Lineup Revealed – Heads up, PlayStation gamers. Sony on Tuesday finally announced the March PlayStation Plus lineup of free games, which should be available now. On PlayStation 4, you’ll receive the side-scrolling adventure title Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee — New ‘n’ Tasty!, which marks the return of a PlayStation classic with “new visuals, new sound, enhanced controls, and even more dark humor than before,” Sony’s Sid Shuman, wrote in a blog post. Also coming to the PS4 lineup is Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a colorful puzzler that “follows four intersecting lives (and a loyal canine companion) during the first World War.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Parrot Bebop Drone Review: A Keen Eye In The Sky Without A Huge Price Tag – Parrot has a brand new drone on the market, featuring a 1080p video camera that captures motion at 30FPS, and that can take stills at 14MP. The camera has built-in stabilization, letting it avoid the kinds of shakes and jitters that can normally add up to nausea when dealing with moving camera, and has a Wi-Fi flight range of up to 1.2 miles when flown connected directly to the new Skycontroller hardware control accessory. Embedded GPS completes the picture for a far-ranging quadcopter with plenty of amateur film-making potential.


A simple injection could one day stop people from bleeding to death – Blood loss kills a lot of people; one-third of deaths related to traumatic injuries are caused by bleeding. But a lab-made polymer could change that, as it was able to stop bleeding in rats whose femoral artery was cut, according to a study published today in Science Translational Medicine — the procedure essentially saved their lives. In the study, researchers made a 3-millimeter cut in the femoral artery of 40 rats. Of those rats, about half were given an injection of the polymer solution as they were bleeding out. The rats that didn’t receive the drug do very well — over 50 percent of them died. But “100 percent of the rats treated with the polymer survived…

New York City Schools Will Now Observe Two Muslim Holidays – More than 1 million New York City kids will now get school off in observance of two Muslim holy days. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the addition of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the New York City School District’s holiday calendar Wednesday. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan. Eid al-Adha is also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice and celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ibrahim. Both days are observed by Muslims worldwide.

Paul Allen hunts down sunken Japanese WWII super-battleship – A team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has located the final resting place of monster Japanese battleship Musashi, some 70 years after she was consigned to the depths off the Philippines during the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf. The discovery marks the end of an eight-year search for the sunken behemoth, according to Allen’s website, which explains: “The ship was sunk during World War II and, despite numerous eyewitness accounts, the exact location of the ship was unknown.”


Earth’s mysterious ‘second moon’ and its odd orbit – It sounds like one of those crazy conspiracy theories: There are aliens at Area 51. Abraham Lincoln was a lizard. The Earth has a second, secret moon. However, the last of these is actually pretty widely repeated in scientific circles, though only with a very colloquial definition for the word “moon.” First, a quick explanation of why Cruithne is not actually a moon, then an explanation of why many refuse to accept that fact. It’s not a moon because, well, it’s an asteroid. Cruithne orbits the Sun, not the Earth, and its seemingly wonky orbital pattern is definitely not tied to the Earth’s in any satellite-like fashion. By no means is Cruithne actually a secondary body orbiting the Earth — so why is it so often referred to that way?

cruithne 2

Ferguson cops “routinely” block public from filming them, DOJ says – The Department of Justice issued a scathing report Wednesday concerning Missouri’s Ferguson Police Department, the agency that was cleared in this summer’s shooting death of an 18-year-old African-American boy named Michael Brown. The DOJ investigation in the aftermath of the shooting found systematic excessive force and racism—but it also discovered that the police department took a constitutionally suspect hard line against people trying to film officers in the field—all in the name of “officer safety.” One man in a wheelchair filming a protest was arrested, the DOJ report said. Attorney General Eric Holder labeled the DOJ report “searing.”

Something to think about:

“Weakness is what brings ignorance, cheapness, racism, homophobia, desperation, cruelty, brutality, all these things that will keep a society chained to the ground, one foot nailed to the floor.”

–     Henry Rollins

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EFF writes a very angry letter asking United Nations to write a very angry letter to the US – The Electronic Frontier Foundation thinks the United Nations needs to get its arse in gear and safeguard people’s privacy from government snoops.

The activist group (EFF) said an independent expert should be appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) to tackle blanket surveillance and the gathering of people’s private and sensitive data by nation states (cough, cough, America).

Currently, says the EFF, the UN does not have adequate measures in place to ensure people have a decent amount of privacy from the powers that be – and judging by Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA spying, there’s no such thing as privacy if Uncle Sam has an interest in you.

“Privacy is an independent right, enshrined in a variety of international human rights treaties,” wrote EFF international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

“There is a pressing need to better articulate the content of this right as part of international human rights law and produce guides on its interpretation, particularly as modern technologies are enabling communications surveillance—and consequent interference with this right—on an unprecedented and damaging scale.”

To that end, the group is joining a global effort to push the UN for the establishment of a formal Special Rapporteur role on the HRC. The EFF and 62 other non-government organizations have produced a letter [PDF] that they plan to send to the UN.

The Ferguson Report Shows Exactly What Living in a Police State Is Like – On Tuesday, several media outlets began leaking bits of information from the report from the federal probe on the Ferguson Police Department, which has been eagerly awaited since the probe was launched last September. Today, the report was officially released, and it details how city officials and police officers systematically and routinely violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights of citizens, motivated both by the desire to increase revenue and, of course, straight-up bigotry.

Although there are 54 officers in the Ferguson Police Department, only four are African American. This is largely out of step with the city’s population, which has changed greatly in the past 20 years to become 67 percent black. Although we knew before today that the Department of Justice was going to slam Ferguson, we now know for sure that, for example, “partly as a consequence of city and FPD priorities, many officers appear to see some residents, especially those who live in Ferguson’s predominately African-American neighborhoods, less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue,” as the report’s authors put it.

We also now have specific examples of what it’s like to be black and live there—and it sounds a lot like being a character in a dystopian novel. According to the report, cops in Ferguson regularly engaged in “ped checks” or “Terry stops”—slang for stopping and searching people for no discernible reason. Here’s one of many instances the DOJ found in which citizens were treated like dollar signs by cops:

In the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African-American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a Ferguson public park. An officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in, and demanded the man’s social security number and identification.

Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of children in the park, and ordered the man out of his car for a pat-down, although the officer had no reason to believe the man was armed. The officer also searched the man’s car. The man objected, citing his constitutional rights.

In response, the officer arrested the man, reportedly at gunpoint, charging him with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code. One charge, Making a False Declaration, was for intitially providing the short form of his first name (e.g. “Mike” instead of “Michael”). and an address which, although legitimate, was different from the one on his driver’s license. Another charge was for not wearing a seat belt, even though he was seated in a parked car. The officer also charged the man both with having an expired operator’s license, and with having no operator’s license in his possession.

The man lost his government contracting job as a result of the arrests, according to the report.

Email warned would-be FBI surveillance program whistleblower of retaliation – An email warned an FBI agent, a would-be FBI surveillance program whistleblower, that reporting abuse of authority could bring down the retaliation hammer, even though that’s illegal. A Senate committee heard testimony today about the FBI’s ongoing war on whistleblowers.

When an FBI agent wanted to blow the whistle about a “secret terrorism and counterintelligence surveillance program,” the FBI flat-out warned him that the retaliation hammer could come down on him. “This whistleblower works in one of the FBI’s ‘G-teams,’ which investigate counterterrorism cases, a topic on which the FBI is notoriously resistant to whistleblower complaints,” reported the Washington Times.

An email to the would-be FBI “G-team” whistleblower was obtained and validated by the Washington Times. It stated:

“The main question would turn on the reasonableness of your belief; that is, would a reasonable person, in your situation, believe that the conduct at issue demonstrated mismanagement or abuse of authority?” the FBI attorney, within the Office of Integrity and Compliance, wrote in an email responding to the whistleblower’s inquiry. “In my opinion, yes.”

Then came the kicker: “I’m sure you know, though, this does not guarantee that you will not be retaliated against, even though retaliation/reprisal for making protected disclosures is illegal,” the attorney concluded in the August email to the whistleblower.

In the past, the DOJ dismissed 44 of 62 FBI whistleblower complaints for allegedly failing to meet regulatory requirements, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) whistleblower protection report (pdf). 17 were kicked aside due to faulty chain of command issues, because the would-be whistleblower made the complaint to someone “not authorized” for the disclosure; the report added that a mere nine FBI officials are “formally designated” to receive whistleblower complaints. It also took the DOJ two to 10.6 years to resolve four complaints.

New Zealand Spies on Neighbors in Secret Five Eyes Global Surveillance – New Zealand’s electronic eavesdropping agency is spying on its neighbors and sharing communications it intercepts in bulk with the National Security Agency through a controversial Internet mass surveillance system, according to newly revealed secret documents.

Government Communications Security Bureau, New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA, has been sweeping up the data from across the Asia-Pacific region, targeting island nations such as Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga and France’s overseas territories New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Each of these small nations and territories maintains friendly relations with New Zealand.

The surveillance, reported Wednesday by the New Zealand Herald in collaboration with The Intercept, is being carried out by GCSB from an intelligence base in New Zealand’s Waihopai Valley (pictured above). Intercepted data collected at the Waihopai site is being shared through an NSA surveillance system called XKEYSCORE, which is used to analyze vast amounts of emails, internet browsing sessions and online chats that are intercepted from some 150 different locations worldwide.

The documents on the spying, obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, shine a light on New Zealand’s role in the so-called Five Eyes, a surveillance alliance that includes electronic eavesdropping agencies from New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Tom Ridge Can Find Terrorists Anywhere – One of the problems with our current discourse about terrorism and terrorist policies is that the people entrusted with counterterrorism — those whose job it is to surveil, study, or defend against terrorism — become so consumed with their role that they literally start seeing terrorists everywhere. So it comes as no surprise that if you ask Tom Ridge, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, about potential terrorism risks at a new LA football stadium, of course he finds them everywhere.

From a report he prepared — paid, I’m sure — about the location of a new football stadium:

Specifically, locating an NFL stadium at the Inglewood-Hollywood Park site needlessly increases risks for existing interests: LAX and tenant airlines, the NFL, the City of Los Angeles, law enforcement and first responders as well as the citizens and commercial enterprises in surrounding areas and across global transportation networks and supply chains. That risk would be expanded with the additional stadium and “soft target” infrastructure that would encircle the facility locally.

To be clear, total risk cannot be eliminated at any site. But basic risk management principles suggest that the proximity of these two sites creates a separate and additional set of risks that are wholly unnecessary.

In the post 9/11 world, the threat of terrorism is a permanent condition. As both a former governor and secretary of homeland security, it is my opinion that the peril of placing a National Football League stadium in the direct flight path of LAX — layering risk — outweigh any benefits over the decades-long lifespan of the facility.


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