Tag Archives: Net Neutrality

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 1, 2015

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games;  How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer;  Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans;  VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign;   What to do when your email address sends spam;  Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say;  Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D;  Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite;  5 apps to help you save water;  Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users;  Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV;  Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education;  Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned;  Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search;  Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge;  Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online This Summer – For kids, summertime is a brief window of freedom they yearn for all school year long. Parents, meanwhile, look at it a little differently. Sure, pool parties, camping trips and sleepovers are full of laughter and fun, but they also provide parents with lots to worry about. But that’s just offline — the Internet, where parents have even less of a view into their children’s activity, can be a troublesome hotspot in the warm school-less months. These five tips can help keep your children safe online in the summertime, even though they really ought to be outside playing anyway.

Pointing up    Be a security warrior – pass on these tips to friends and family with children.

What to do when your email address sends spam – Spam is going out in your name to everyone you know. A few precautions can keep this from happening again.

Panic Button for Chrome hides your online shenanigans – “Quick! The boss is coming shut down that MLB stream!” Too late, you’re caught. Lucky for you, the boss pulled up a chair to watch the game too, but you can’t always count on near misses to get you through your slack-off time at work. That’s why it’s good to know about a great little tool available in the Chrome Web Store called Panic Button from the VPN specialists at HideMyAss. With this handy little extension, all you do is click the red icon and your browser tabs disappear.

Apple Music: Here’s What the Reviewers Say – What works—and what doesn’t – Apple Music, the company’s new music streaming service, launches Tuesday. Here are some of the reviews we’ve seen so far:

9 things you should try first with Apple Music (pictures) – Apple Music has arrived — here are some things you should try first.

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How to Stop Apple Music From Automatically Billing You – The first three months are free, but it defaults to auto-renew. But if you end up ditching the service after the trial ends, you should make sure you’re not billed $9.99 under Apple Music’s default automatic renewal. (Remember: anyone with an Apple ID had to link up a valid credit card or other payment option.) Here’s how to make sure you don’t accidentally cost yourself some cash, as WIRED points out:

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? – 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.

How to turn your Windows 10 upgrade files into an ISO disk image – One question I’ve been asked more than any other in recent weeks is whether Microsoft will release Windows 10 in ISO format. No one outside Redmond knows yet, but in the meantime there’s an option: Make your own ISO files. Here’s how. [Updated with product keys for Preview builds 10158 and 10159]

Facebook Is Keeping Closer Tabs on the Videos You Watch – Facebook is always monitoring what you do — and every like, comment, and share is used to help determine the content that shows up in your News Feed. But Zuckerberg and Co. are taking things a step further with their latest update. Now, you don’t even need to like or share a video to signal to the social network that you enjoy this type of content. The company on Monday announced it will begin taking into account more subtle cues — whether you turn up the volume on a video or make it full screen, for instance — to help determine what to show you in News Feed.

Facebook Messenger’s money feature arrives for all US users – We’ve previously detailed Facebook Messenger’s new feature for sending money to friends, but in case you missed it, the feature works as such: you fire up Messenger and find the friend you want to send money to. Tap the “$” icon, enter an amount, and send it away. The person on the receiving end can then accept it and the money will be sent to their bank account. It’s a convenient feature, one that is now available to all US users.

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5 apps to help you save water – According to the US Drought Monitor, 94.6 percent of California is currently facing severe to exceptional drought. Even if you happen to live in a state or country that’s blessed with abundant rainfall, it’s never too early to start conserving water. If you’re not sure where to start, I have good news for you — there are several apps that can help you learn about water conservation, track your water usage, and take steps to cut back on usage.

Gmail’s latest update will add wallpapers and emoji – Dozens of apps are bringing innovation to email, including Google’s Inbox. Meanwhile, Gmail is getting more… wallpapers. Google announced today that Gmail’s latest update will add hundreds of themes and give users new ways to customize them with blur, vignettes, and custom text. The update will also expand Gmail’s weird emoji library, and should roll out in the next couple of days. All we can say is, there better be a taco emoji.

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PayPal tweaks robocall policy again, won’t cold call you with advertising – PayPal has been tinkering with things ever since it was announced that the company would finally split from eBay. The first update that they put together gave both the company and its partners permission to cold call for just about any reason they wanted to. Users were opted in by default, and it looked as though there wasn’t going to be any way for you to opt out. PayPal users weren’t too keen on the change, and it’s not the kind of thing the FCC looks kindly upon. In fact, the Commission was getting ready to put new consumer protections in place. Just two days after the robocall update was spotted, PayPal announced they were backing off. Users would indeed be given the chance to opt out.

Rooomy Lets You Decorate Your Room in 3D – Launching today, Rooomy is an iPad app which lets you turn 2D images of a room into a 3D space. You can also decorate these 3D rooms with over 500 pieces of virtual 3D furniture from popular brands like Design Within Reach and All Modern. Built by Loft-NedSense, a European company listed on the NYSE Euronext, the app is mainly designed to be as a virtual staging solution for the real estate industry. Here is how the service works: Real estate brokers upload photos of rooms for a flat fee of $20 per property. After using in a built-in tool to identify where the walls in the room are, it is turned into a 3D model. Potential buyers can then browse homes for sale within the app, and explore the furnished rooms before scheduling a showing.

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YouTube Brings 60fps Video Streams To Its Android And iOS Apps – Over the last few months, Google’s YouTube launched both 60fps video on the desktop and — later — for live video streams. Starting today, you can also watch the service’s smooth 60fps videos in its iOS and Android apps. Given that these video streams were already available on YouTube’s other main platforms, it was only a matter of time before Google brought this feature to mobile, too. According to a YouTube spokesperson”, 60fps YouTube is now available on the desktop, Apple TV and the PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles.

AppleCare will replace your battery once it drops to 80% of its capacity – Apple will now replace any battery covered by AppleCare+ once it drops below 80 percent of its original capacity, as outlined in refreshed AppleCare+ documents spotted by MacRumors late last week and reported on other sites today. Previously, a battery had to drop to 50 percent of its original capacity to be eligible for replacement under AppleCare+, limiting its helpfulness to all but the heaviest users and those with defective batteries. Macs covered by the standard AppleCare agreement can also have their batteries replaced if they drop below 80 percent of their original capacity, as outlined in a footnote here. AppleCare+ can be added to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch at purchase or within 60 days of the purchase date.

Security:

VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign – A team of five researchers from universities in London and Rome have identified that 14 of the top commercial virtual private networks in the world leak IP data. “Despite being a known issue, our experimental study reveals that the majority of VPN services suffer from IPv6 traffic leakage,” the authors wrote in the paper A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients [PDF]. “Our findings confirm the criticality of the current situation: many of these [14] providers leak all, or a critical part of the user traffic in mildly adversarial environments.

Pointing up   For privacy – think Tor Browser Bundle.

Vulnerability In Security Service Lifelock Could Have Exposed Logins And Passwords – A vulnerability discovered by security researchers Eric Taylor and Blake Welsh could turn an innocuous “refer-a-friend” page into an official-looking phishing page. By adding encoded HTML to the end of a basic URL, Taylor and his partner were able to simulate a Lifelock login page that could potentially grab usernames and passwords from unsuspecting users. Lifelock closed the vulnerability, which is called a cross-site scripting attack, after Taylor notified the company. Lifelock has over 3 million customers with revenue of $369.65 million. As of 2010 Lifelock’s CEO Todd Davis has been targeted for identity theft over a dozen times.

Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite – The Yosemite 10.10.4 update includes fixes for QuickTime, OpenSSL and ImageIO, along with remote code execution flaws and other exploits that could allow an attacker to obtain elevated privileges or crash applications. The Safari update includes fixes for four vulnerabilities in the WebKit browser engine. An attacker could target the flaws to remotely execute code, steal account information, view WebSQL databases and lift cookie information from a targeted Mac. Users running Yosemite should update their system software to install the security fixes as soon as possible. Those running older versions of OS X can get some of the updates by installing patches for Safari 6, 7 and 8.

Medium replaces passwords with secure email links – Medium, the stylish blogging platform/social writing network, has just announced a big change in the way users sign in to the service. Here’s how it works if you’re not familiar with that process: If you go to Medium and want to sign in, you’ll click a login button and type your email address. Check for a new message from Medium which contains a link that, when click, will take you to your account. That’s it. The links can only be used once, and will expire after 15 minutes.

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Australia’s online bullying monitor starts Wednesday – Children will be able to lodge complaints to e-Safety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon from July 1 to seek to have alleged bullying content pulled down from Facebook and Twitter.

Company News:

Cisco to buy cybersecurity firm OpenDNS in $635m deal – Cisco has announced its intention to purchase threat protection security firm OpenDNS in a deal worth $635 million. Announced on Tuesday, the tech giant said the move will accelerate the development of the Cisco Cloud Delivered Security Portfolio, and OpenDNS will prove a boost to advanced threat protection services for Cisco clients. In addition, the OpenDNS cloud delivered platform will give Cisco better visibility and more insight into the threat landscape. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will play $635 million in cash and equity awards, as well as “retention-based incentives” for OpenDNS.

Amazon Launches Full Retail Operations In Mexico – Amazon today formally announced its expansion into physical goods sales in Mexico. The company had previously only offered Kindle e-books on its online site which opened for Mexican customers in 2013. Today on Amazon.com.mx, Amazon will introduce a Spanish-language site featuring millions of items including consumer electronics, kitchen and home items, sports equipment, tools, baby, health and personal care products, jewelry, music, books, movies, software and more. The company is also launching its online selling service for Mexican businesses and sellers as well as its Fulfillment by Amazon service.

Uber France executives to go on trial over UberPop – Uber France and two company executives will go on trial in September, French prosecutors announced today, on charges related to its UberPop service. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager for Western Europe, and Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal were taken into police custody yesterday in Paris, a few days after French taxi unions staged a nationwide strike in protest against UberPop. As AFP reports, the executives and Uber France have been charged with misleading business practices, complicity in operating an illegal taxi service, and illegal treatment of personal data. They will go before a correctional court on September 30th.

Uber Stages Protest At NYC City Hall Against Bill Throttling New Driver Signups – Today Uber staged a protest outside of New York City Hall, where inside members of the City Council Transportation Committee were introducing a bill that would require the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to limit the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses. The law would mean Uber could only add about 200 new drivers to the service in New York over the next year. More specifically, transportation companies would be limited to adding new drivers at a rate that amounts to one percent of the number of drivers are currently on each company’s platform in NYC. This cap would severely limit the growth of transportation companies in NYC, and would be a big win for the taxi industry.

Facebook eyeing next billion users with upcoming Africa office – Facebook is eyeing the future and as such will be launching its first office in Africa, it has been announced. The office will be in a Johannesburg suburb and will be run by Nunu Ntshingila. So far Facebook has about 120 million users in Africa, a small number compared to the more than a billion people who call it home. The social network’s Internet.org and Facebook Lite will play a part in getting users on board.

VMware Agrees To Pay $75.5M To Settle Illegal Pricing Allegations – In a significant settlement that could embolden American employees who witness company misconduct, VMware and government contractor Carahsoft Technology Corporation agreed to pay the $75.5 million today to settle illegal pricing allegations. The Department of Justice accused the companies of violating the Fair Claims Act and overcharging the government, in a case brought in conjunction with a former VMware executive. VMware steadfastly denied any wrong-doing in the case.

Google asks for, and gets, extra time to respond to European antitrust charges – The company had asked for extra time to examine documents provided by the Commission, which has now given it until Aug. 17 to defend itself against charges that it systematically favored its own comparison shopping product over those of competitors. Most Commission staff will be on vacation that month, although someone will be available to receive Google’s response and “the right for Google to be heard will be fully respected,” a Commission official said.

Games and Entertainment:

Australian government bans hundreds of mobile and Web-based games – By now, we’re accustomed to platform holders like Apple refusing to carry games and apps with questionable content on their digital storefronts. We’re less accustomed to national governments stepping in to decide what apps can and can’t be downloaded within their borders. That’s just what Australia is set to do tomorrow, though, as a new pilot program will ban hundreds of mobile titles that have been “refused classification” in the country on platforms like Google Play. Starting July 1, those titles will be effectively banned in Australia, according to an ABC report.

First trailer for Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden movie is all drama – Technically Incorrect: Teasing the new movie “Snowden” with a trailer is no easy task. So the producers merely whet your appetite. The first trailer was released on Tuesday and the drama drips from it.

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Pretty Much Everybody Is Binge-watching TV – A survey released on Tuesday by TiVo finds that 9 out of 10 people are engaging in “binge viewing,” which the digital video recording company defines as watching more than three episodes of a particular TV show in one day. According to TiVo, 92% of respondents to the company’s latest Binge Viewing Survey said they have engaged in the act of television gluttony at some point.

King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember arrives next month – As we’d first talked about in late summer last year, Sierra Entertainment has been revived and its first order of business was bringing back King’s Quest, a title that debuted earlier this year. Now the second installment of the title is upon us, and it is called King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember. This will be the second installment of what will eventually be a five-part series, and it has been announced that it will arrive on July 28.

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Microsoft launches Minecraft in Education for creating dynamic classroom experiences – Microsoft is already using its Minecraft acquisition to the fullest with the HoloLens and now the company has introduced a new program to bring dynamic experiences in the field of education. With this program, Microsoft has collaborated with various schools to introduce students to “Minecraft.” Using the Minecraft in Education forums, teachers can discuss and share their ways of using the game to teach students about various subjects.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Apple Music Is For People With No Clue What To Stream – You’re no DJ. That’s the biggest problem with streaming services. A search box connected to the history of recorded music can be discouraging. You constantly have to know what to play next. That’s why Apple was so smart to make Apple Music all about telling you what to play next. Apple is the king of making complicated technology accessible to the masses. It turned clunky MP3 players into the iPod. It made smartphones understandable with the iPhone. Today it’s done it again with Apple Music by burying search behind a half-dozen ways to find music recommendations.

Science Says People Will Believe in Evolution If They Actually Think About It – University of Kentucky professor and self-proclaimed wine connoisseur Will M. Gervais recently published a research study in Cognition where he tried to get to the bottom of why so many people don’t believe in evolution even after the pope said he was cool with it. As it turns out the folks who don’t believe in evolution are just not really thinking hard enough about it. Gervais’s study claims that the difference stems from two kinds of thinking: people who are prone to think intuitively and rely on immediate gut reactions are more likely to reject evolution. But those of us who “engage in analytical thinking”—a more deliberate, calculated form of cognition—are better able to override our initial intuitive response and understand the facts behind evolution.

Habitat for robo-humanity: robot can build a home in two days – A company out of Perth, Australia has built a robot they claim can build a house in two days. Mark Pivac is the man behind this piece of machinery and founder of Fastbrick Robotics. After 10 years and seven million dollars, the project is finally seeing the light of day. Watching the concept video of how it all works is pretty wild. It shows a giant crane-like arm sending bricks down a chute and placing them directly on top of another, rotating to complete not just the outer wall, but inner structure of the computer generated building as well.

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Net neutrality becomes law in the EU and roaming charges get banned – After long negotiations, EU authorities have finally agreed on a deal that will see the end of roaming charges and the introduction of net neutrality into laws across the Union. But there are caveats.

Sleep with your smartphone in hand? You’re not alone – I confess. My smartphone sits next to my bed on a nightstand while I slumber. I set it to do-not-disturb mode during sleeping hours, but then it comes to life as my alarm clock every morning. Turns out, I’m completely normal. A Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report released Monday shows that American adults can’t tear themselves away from their mobile devices, even when fast asleep. When it comes to bedtime, 71 percent of survey respondents say they sleep with or next to their smartphones.

Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search – New research claims that Google is gaming its search results in its own favor to the detriment of competitors. Google has “increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites,” according to the report co-authored by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, Tim Wu and the Yelp Data Science team. And yes, Yelp, which lists reviews of businesses, is a competitor that has cried foul over Google search results in the past.

Something to think about:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

–       William Faulkner Requiem for a Nun

Today’s Free Downloads:

NetworkConnectLog – NetworkConnectLog is a simple utility that repeatedly scans your local area network (Using ARP and Netbios protocols) and add a new log line every time that a new computer or device connects to your network, and when a computer or device disconnects from your network.

After the connect/disconnect log lines are accumulated, you can easily export the log lines to comma-delimited/tab-delimited/html/xml file.

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Second Life – Second Life is a 3D world where everyone you see is a real person and every place you visit is built by people just like you.

Travel with friends to thousands of beautiful and exciting places — all created by the Second Life community.

Millions of people have already joined Second Life. Chat for free using voice or text with folks from around the world who share your passions and interests.

Dress up and design a new 3D you. There are thousands of designer items to explore in our Marketplace where the selection is as endless as your imagination.

Every day there are thousands of new experiences and events created by the Second Life community. Visit the Destination Guide to get a peek at some of the action.

Discover your artistic talents and share them instantly with friends. Take beautiful snapshots, create machinima videos or build something from scratch inside Second Life.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying – A secret US tribunal ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency is free to continue its bulk telephone metadata surveillance program—the same spying that Congress voted to terminate weeks ago.

Congress disavowed the program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed when passing the USA Freedom Act, which President Barack Obama signed June 2. The act, however, allowed for the program to be extended for six months to allow “for an orderly transition” to a less-invasive telephone metadata spying program.

Lawmakers approve a variation of the phone-records spy program Snowden revealed.

For that to happen, the Obama administration needed the blessing of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). The government just revealed the order.

In setting aside an appellate court’s ruling that the program was illegal, the FISA Court ruled that “Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specially authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application (PDF) in this case.”

Report: Surveillance programs may cost US tech over $35 billion and its competitive edge – What long-term effect will the revelations about US mass surveillance disclosed by Edward Snowden two years ago have on the US tech sector?

Through inaction, the US government risks sacrificing the “robust competitiveness of the U.S. tech sector for vague and unconvincing promises of improved national security,” argues the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in a June 2015 report entitled “Beyond the USA Freedom Act: How U.S. Surveillance Still Subverts U.S. Competitiveness.”

The report’s authors, Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn, raise an issue that ought to make US policymakers and US leaders stop and think:

“When historians write about this period in U.S. history it could very well be that one of the themes will be how the United States lost its global technology leadership to other nations. And clearly one of the factors they would point to is the long-standing privileging of U.S. national security interests over U.S. industrial and commercial interests when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.”

Inaction on reforming mass surveillance and promoting transparency and data security worldwide puts US trade and its technology businesses at risk. In its report, ITIF describes the effect on US companies and the rise of protectionism resulting from the covert mass surveillance scandal.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 25, 2015

14 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss;  RadioShack selling millions of email/home addresses;  Try these 5 undiscovered Google Drive tricks;  How smartphone reviews really work;  You don’t want a TV box, you want a Laptop;  Facebook launches ‘On This Day’ feature;  Hands-On: Linux UEFI multi-boot;  The National Power Grid Is Under Continuous Attack;  The 10 Best Wireless Routers;  Flash-based vulnerability on many websites three years later;  Half of Android devices open to silent hijack;  With Net Neutrality Lawsuit, Broadband Mafia Still Doesn’t Get It;  Xbox One and 360 Xbox Live Gold Deals of the Week;  Facebook Testing ‘Phone’ App for Android;  SUPERAntiSpyware (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

RadioShack is selling tens of millions of email and home addresses – Among the locations, trademarks, overpriced cables, and other assets that RadioShack is selling off as part of its bankruptcy filing are tens of millions of email addresses, home addresses, and customer names, all of which could end up in the hands of another company. As Bloomberg points out, RadioShack’s sale includes over 13 million email addresses and over 65 million custom names and physical addresses. That’s a lot of personal data! Standard General, RadioShack’s largest shareholder, is reported to have won the bid. But the purchase still has to be approved by a bankruptcy court, and Bloomberg reports that legal challenges may prevent Standard General from taking over the personal data.

Pointing up  RadioShack’s Privacy Policy (from the site) includes: We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time.

Try these 5 undiscovered Google Drive tricks – Google Drive and its attendant apps offer a wealth of tools to help you be more productive. Try these five for the biggest boost.

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How smartphone reviews really work – The inside scoop on what happens behind the scenes of a smartphone review, from someone who’s written more than a few of ’em. Since we’re on the brink of a busy few weeks for smartphone reviews, I thought now would be a prime time to pull back the curtains and offer a frank walk-through of how the phone-reviewing process actually works.

Microsoft: Office will be free for devices under 10 inches – Microsoft believes that screens smaller than 10 inches aren’t used by ‘professionals,’ so don’t expect it to charge for editing and viewing Office documents. Oh, and the Surface Pro mini — probably dead.

You don’t want a TV box, you want a Laptop – Now that Apple is rumored to be releasing a new Apple TV box later this year, citizens of the mobile smart device universe have their respective TV-loving ears perked up once again. Do I need a new Apple TV? Maybe an Amazon Fire TV Stick instead? Perhaps I need to get something like a Roku, or maybe a Chromecast! Or – better yet – I could just use the old laptop that’s sitting in, on, or under my desk. The one I replaced years ago, but still works just fine. Before you buy anything, mentally access the contents of your home. Do you have a laptop computer hiding anywhere? An old laptop – a notebook computer you no longer use on a regular basis.

Zendo Is My New Favorite Secure Messaging App – Now you might well ask who needs (yet) another way to ping, poke, prod or otherwise pester their friends? The answer is simple: anyone who cares about privacy. So how does a new secure messaging app stand out in such a crowded space? By making something that’s super easy to use, given that security can still be synonymous with tedious complexity. And also by using a type of encryption that technically cannot be cracked. Something that’s impervious to man-in-the-middle attacks. Yet which has been overlooked by cryptographers for decades.

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Bezel-less Oppo R7 leaks on Chinese social media – Chinese smartphone maker Oppo appears to be doing some magic with the design of its upcoming Oppo R7 phone, if this leaked video appears to be true. The Android-powered handset alleged comes with almost non-existent bezels, with the large screen taking up the entire sides of the device, as you can see from the screen capture. The magic apparently lies in some visual trickery (which Oppo has filed a patent for) where the sides of the screen diffract the light to make it seem that the display extends all the way to the edge.

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14 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss – While all browsers share certain functionality and indeed learn from one another, there are certain quirks and functions that are unique to each. And Firefox is no different. You may be familiar with the many third-party extensions and add-ons that can amplify Firefox’s functionality, however there are a lot of little tricks already baked in to the software that you may not be using. Click through our slideshow to see 14 hidden Firefox functions.

Hands-On: Linux UEFI multi-boot, my way – Let’s start by clearly stating what this post is, and what it isn’t. It is a description of how I set up multi-boot for Linux systems, sometimes including Windows, using the GRUB bootloader. It is not intended to be a complete guide to Linux on UEFI firmware. There are certainly other ways to configure UEFI multi-boot – this is simply the way that I have found most useful and reliable to do it. OK? Good, here we go…

Facebook plans to let users read popular news sites without leaving Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg has often described Facebook as a newspaper for its users. A place where the stories that are interesting to them — the births, the birthdays, the parties, the gossip — are laid out every morning. Now, however, this comparison is becoming less metaphorical, with Facebook reportedly in talks with several publications — including Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and The New York Times — to post their content directly within the site. This means that stories wouldn’t just appear as links in the News Feed, but as content that can be share or liked without ever leaving Facebook.

Facebook officially launches nostalgia-inducing ‘On This Day’ feature – Starting today, when users visit Facebook on the web or on their phones, they’ll get an option to view the On This Day page (or you can go to the page directly, but it hasn’t rolled out to everyone just yet). From there, you’ll see the feed of content you posted in years past and have the option to share specific posts with your friends — but by default, only an individual user can see their On This Day feed. You can also then sign up for notifications so you remember to check it every day — that’s exactly what Timehop does to keep users coming back.

VIDEO: Facebook Testing ‘Phone’ App for Android – An accidental Facebook update revealed that the social network is testing a new Android app called Phone. Android Police was kind enough to take a screenshot of the update. It suggests that Facebook Phone could act as a native dialer that shows information about who is calling you, and prevent commonly blocked numbers from getting through.

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The 10 Best Wireless Routers – Fast throughput speeds, good range, easy set up and manageability, a solid feature set, and, of course, fair pricing are what make a top router. The 10 models that follow strike the best balance among all our criteria.

GifGrabber is a dedicated app for creating GIFs on your Mac – Creating an animated image of content on your Mac’s screen is something we should all know how to do. And now we do.

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Save your newly captured GIF, or edit it all within the app. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

UglyEmail reveals when senders secretly track your email activity, personal info – If you’re curious about which messages are monitoring you and which one’s aren’t, a new extension for Chrome called UglyEmail can help. This extension—by developer Sonny Tulyaganov—monitors your inbox to find messages using pixel tracking. This is a common marketing technique where companies insert a transparent (and therefore invisible to you) one-pixel image into a message. As soon as you open a message with a pixel tracker in it, the image pings the marketer’s servers and the information flow begins. Pixel tracking shows up in all kinds of messages, including newsletters you subscribe to. Thanks to UglyEmail you can find out when a message has a tracker and decide not to open that email.

Security:

The National Power Grid Is Under Almost Continuous Attack, Report Says – The U.S. national power grid faces physical or online attacks approximately “once every four days,” according to a new investigation by USA Today, threatening to plunge parts of the country into darkness. For its report, USA Today scrutinized public records, national energy data and records from 50 electric utilities. It found that from 2011 to 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy received 362 reports from electric utilities of physical or cyber attacks that interrupted power services. In 2013, a Department of Homeland Security branch recorded 161 cyber attacks on the energy sector, compared to just 31 in 2011.

Flash-based vulnerability lingers on many websites three years later – A large number of developers have failed to patch their Flash applications against a vulnerability that can be exploited to target Web users.

Half of Android devices open to silent hijack – Hacker Zhi Xu has found that seemingly legitimate apps can unleash a hidden dark side to compromise almost half of all Android devices. The Palo Alto Networks senior engineer says legitimate Google Play apps can establish a kind of beachhead on devices that can be invaded by a second app installed from legitimate third party stores like Amazon. The second app provides the first with the required access to compromise devices and steal all manner of data. Xu says the attack dubbed Android Installer Hijacking allows crims to replace apps without a user’s knowledge.

Researchers figured out how to hack computers using heat – Researchers at Ben-Gurion University have created a new piece of malware called BitWhisper. It’s not the kind of thing that organized cybercriminals would ever use to attack your home computer. BitWhisper is the kind of crazy hacking tool that you read about in a sci-fi novel — only it’s very real. Infected machines can transmit data using heat they produce. Commands, for example, can be passed from one system to another by modulating its temperature. The target machine’s thermal sensors pick up on the fluctuations and execute a predefined action. Small bits of captured data (like passwords) can also be transmitted this way. It’s not the most efficient way to siphon data off a machine, but it’s not meant to be. BitWhisper targets air-gapped systems, computers that are completely isolated from wireless and wired networks in order to keep them as secure as possible.

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Dell support tool put PCs at risk of malware infection – Attackers could have remotely installed malware on systems running a flawed Dell support tool used to detect customers’ products. A security researcher discovered the flaw in November and reported it to the PC manufacturer, which patched it in January. However, it’s not clear if the fix closed all avenues for abuse. Even with the flaw now patched, the fact that it existed in the first place may make some users anxious. Suspicions of hardware and software companies helping governments spy on users have intensified over the past two years, partially fueled by revelations of widespread surveillance disclosed by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Company News:

Microsoft Malaysia is offering a free return flight on Air Asia when you buy a Lumia 535 – Microsoft has teamed up with Air Asia to give 5,000 airline loyalty points to anyone who buys the Lumia 535 in Malaysia – enough to get a return flight to Phuket, Krabi or Singapore.

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Cyanogen’s next step: A BLU phone without Google apps – After amassing $80 million in funding, even without Microsoft’s help, and being valued at close to $1 billion, the tech world is keeping a close eye on Cyanogen, Inc. That, of course, is no reason for outspoken and, dare we say, almost belligerent CEO Kirt McMaster to start treading lightly and mincing words. In fact, he has fighting words: “We’re putting a bullet through Google’s head”, which is no small undertaking. And it’s all going to start with a smartphone that won’t have any of Google’s popular apps installed.

Google reportedly working on Gmail bill payment system – Google is continuing their email experiments, it seems. The latest isn’t a new way to get through your mail, as ‘Inbox’ is, but a method for making you stay put in your email app. A new report suggests Google is readying an in-email bill paying service named ‘Pony Express’ (hopefully just a code name), wherein Gmail users would be able to pay a bill electronically without ever leaving Gmail itself. If Google gives it the green-light, we’ll reportedly see Pony Express in the last quarter of this year.

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HP wants to make your devices sound better; partners with Bang & Olufsen – HP is teaming up with Bang & Olufsen in an effort to make their devices, even mobile ones, sound better. The partnership will see a few new features, including hardware changes, show up on laptops.

Games and Entertainment:

Amazon Fire TV gets a major update with support for hotel Wi-Fi, USB storage, and more – Users will be able to take their media streamer on the road, hook up external storage, and listen to more music through Prime Playlists.

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Xbox One and 360 Xbox Live Gold members “Deals of the Week” – As usual, it looks like Xbox One owners will be getting some great deals on some of the consoles latest titles that include: Forza Horizon 2, Evolve, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and WWE 2K15. Xbox 360 owners aren’t forgotten and although the game selection might not offer the latest titles, this week’s deals will see a up to 75% on titles like: XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM: Enemy Within, Spec Ops: The Line, Duke Nukem Forever, Borderlands, Hitman Blood Money, Deus Ex Human Revolution, and Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light. Xbox 360 owners will also be able to get 50% off on WWE 2K15 and 35% off on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

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Bloodborne review: The joy of relearning what you already know – Make no mistake; Bloodborne is a Souls game in everything but name, sharing a development lineage in From Software and Director Hidetaka Miyazaki. From the controls to the way progress is lost upon death, the sound effects to the goofy ragdoll physics, anyone with a passing familiarity with the series will recognize Bloodborne as part of the same family. But Bloodborne marks a departure from the Souls name, even while keeping the series’ characteristic punishing repeat deaths, massive bosses, and environmental storytelling.

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Playing Bloodborne on a PS4 using an SSD could save hours of loading – This week the PS4 sees the release of a system seller game in the form of From Software’s Bloodborne. It looks gorgeous, the review scores we’ve seen are very high, and for fans of the Dark Souls games this release couldn’t come soon enough. However, you may want to consider upgrading your PS4 to use an SSD before installing the game, as it could knock hours off your play time. Bloodborne is a graphically intensive game, and that’s by no means a negative. It looks great, and for the most part manages to stick to a 30fps average frame rate. But that high level of detail comes at a price: load times

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X-Files 2015 guide: catching up with Mulder and Scully – This week it’s been confirmed by Fox and the original creator of the X-Files that a new series is about to be made. This new X-Files has tapped the original Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) to return for a 6-episode mini-season. For those of you ashamed at having never watched the original series or similarly ashamed that you’ve forgotten the details, the following miniature guide with gifs is made just for the likes of you.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

With Net Neutrality Lawsuit, Broadband Mafia Still Doesn’t Get It – We knew these lawsuits were coming. USTelecom, the trade group for broadband providers, has filed a rather peculiar pre-emptive lawsuit against the FCC’s new Open Internet rules, arguing that while USTelecom supports net neutrality, it doesn’t support the rules the FCC laid down to protect it. The specific argument is against Title II, utility-style regulation, but the FCC was forced into that when a court struck down its earlier, lighter set of rules in 2014. The real issue here is that the broadband industry, like everyone, would prefer to be self-policing. I’d also prefer to be self-policing. Wouldn’t you? Then you could decide what’s a crime for yourself, and decide whether you’d ever be punished.

How Bodies Were Buried During History’s Worst Epidemics – There’s a common belief that dead bodies pose a major risk of disease, which leads to a lot of hysteria during major epidemics. This is mostly a myth, studies have found. Even so, mass deaths during plagues have changed burial customs as people scrambled to prevent contamination or just find a place to put all the corpses. How do these pandemics alter the funeral practices in the affected areas during the outbreaks? I’ve been thinking a lot about these epidemics lately, and the way they alter the way people perceive death, so I examined three large and well-documented epidemics. One—the West Africa Ebola outbreak—is ongoing; the other two are historical.

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Spanish Flu, United States, 1918-1919

Australia found to have the world’s oldest asteroid impact zone – When we think of mass extinction, we tend to think of the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. That impact and its following mass extinction might not have been singular events. Australian scientist Dr. Andrew Glikson discovered twin asteroid impacts in Australia that may be ten times older than the dinosaur extinction. He has a theory that asteroid impacts throughout the history of the earth actually changed the way our planet and its species evolved, as each impact would have created an extinction and divergent species.

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This is what happens when a judge in New York orders an e-hit on a Chinese software biz – Fengtao is accused of breaking US laws by shipping software that circumvents the AACS encryption that’s supposed to prevent people from copying HD DVDs and Blu-ray discs. The Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator – a consortium that includes Disney, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Warner Brothers, IBM, Toshiba and Sony, and looks after the AACS specification – is suing Fengtao to halt the distribution of DVDFab. The end result of this month’s injunction provides an intriguing insight into how internet companies, even those based outside America, respond to orders from US judges.

Something to think about:

“I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”

–       Calvin Coolidge

Today’s Free Downloads:

SUPERAntiSpyware – Detect and Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Advanced Detection and Removal

Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Light on System Resources and won’t slow down your computer like many other anti-spyware products. Won’t conflict with your existing anti-spyware or anti-virus solution!

Repair broken Internet Connections, Desktops, Registry Editing and more with our unique Repair System!

Real-Time Protection

Real-Time Blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing!

First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.

Schedule either Quick, Complete or Custom Scans Daily or Weekly to ensure your computer is free from harmful software. Remove spyware automatically.

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Blender – Blender is a free and open source 3D animation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. Advanced users employ Blender’s API for Python scripting to customize the application and write specialized tools; often these are included in Blender’s future releases. Blender is well suited to individuals and small studios who benefit from its unified pipeline and responsive development process. Examples from many Blender-based projects are available in the showcase.

Blender is cross-platform and runs equally well on Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers. Its interface uses OpenGL to provide a consistent experience. To confirm specific compatibility, the list of supported platforms indicates those regularly tested by the development team.

As a community-driven project under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the public is empowered to make small and large changes to the code base, which leads to new features, responsive bug fixes, and better usability. Blender has no price tag, but you can invest, participate, and help to advance a powerful collaborative tool: Blender is your own 3D software.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dutch service providers must delete retained telecom data – Dutch telecom providers have to delete data that had been retained under the now-scrapped data retention law, unless it is needed for business purposes.

The Dutch data retention law that required ISPs and telecommunications operators to store customer metadata for police investigations was scrapped by the District Court of the Hague earlier this month for violating fundamental privacy rights.

While most providers were quick to stop collecting the data, uncertainty remained about what should happen with the data that was already collected and stored when the law was in force.

However, all data retained because of the now defunct law should be deleted, Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur wrote in a letter to Parliament. That includes data that was retained before the law was annulled, a ministry spokesman said.

We know where you’ve been: Ars acquires 4.6M license plate scans from the cops – If you have driven in Oakland any time in the last few years, chances are good that the cops know where you’ve been, thanks to their 33 automated license plate readers (LPRs). Now Ars knows too. In response to a public records request, we obtained the entire LPR dataset of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), including more than 4.6 million reads of over 1.1 million unique plates between December 23, 2010 and May 31, 2014. The dataset is likely one of the largest ever publicly released in the United States—perhaps in the world.

Police Advocacy Group Leaves Few Fingerprints – The Law Enforcement Alliance of America once had offices in a nearby office park, but it abandoned them more than a year ago. It hasn’t filed required IRS reports in two years, and its leaders, once visible on television and in congressional hearings, have all but vanished.

But the nonprofit that calls itself “the nation’s largest coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims and concerned citizens” still has teeth. It has succeeded in helping knock out 12 state-level candidates in 14 years, including an Arkansas judicial candidate last year. In doing so, the group helped launch the current governors of Texas and Nevada to their stepping-stone positions as state attorneys general.

The LEAA uses brute tactics — parachuting into otherwise small-dollar races close to the end and buying up TV ads that accuse candidates of siding with “baby killers” and sexual predators.

“They can put out some sort of horrible attack ad on any judges that they want and really influence an election with a fairly small amount of money,” former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz said. “They’re buying seats on supreme courts in states all around the country.”

10 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 24, 2015

The undercover war on your internet secrets;  7 things to consider before canceling cable;  15 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life;   Avoid message trackers in Gmail;  Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes;  Windows Store apps to cost more starting April;  How to run Windows software in Linux;  Instagram Launches Layout, Its Own Photo Collage App;  The 10 Best External Hard Drives;  Netflix Goes Live In Australia And New Zealand;  All four major browsers take a stomping at Pwn2Own;  Who Cares If Antivirus Works, As Long As It’s Low-Key;  Colorado 12-Year-Old Tries to Kill Mom for Taking iPhone;  Google Chairman says Glass ‘fundamental’ for Google;  First lawsuits against FCC’s net neutrality are filed;  Tech-savvy NYPD cop allegedly hacked NYPD computer and FBI database to run a con;  Tor Browser Bundle (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The undercover war on your internet secrets: How online surveillance cracked our trust in the web – How the battle over privacy technologies could define the future of the web. This TechRepublic cover story explains the strange history and the serious consequences of the fight over encryption.

15 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life – There are some “productivity” apps that will suck you in and never let you go. Day after day, you’ll return to them, enjoy them, and then wonder “Where the hell did the time go?” They’re the empty calories of the app world. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth downloading; just beware that these apps (like these Websites to Avoid) don’t suck … but they will suck time.

Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes, Study Says – Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study where they asked 23 people to use their Android smartphones normally, and tracked location data requests from each device with specially designed software, the Wall Street Journal reports. The researchers found that many popular Android apps tracked their users an average 6,200 times per participant over a two-week period, or about every three minutes. Some of the apps came pre-installed on the phone, and were not as easily deleted, the WSJ reports.

7 things to consider before canceling cable – One of the biggest problems with traditional cable subscriptions is bundling — you have no choice but to pay for dozens of channels you never watch just to get the few you want. The ideal alternative would allow you to pick and choose just the channels you want. The reality is that cutting cable does not eliminate bundling. Whether you switch to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV or any other option, you’ll still pay for shows that go unwatched.

YouTube Autoplay rolls out, here’s how to turn it off – Websites get more traffic and, in some cases, more money, the longer you stay on their site and the more you get hooked on their content. On YouTube, that equates to watching more and more videos without having to stray away from the page. And what better way to do that than by enticing you video after video after video. That’s right, YouTube’s once experimental Autoplay feature is now rolling out to all users to keep you from getting bored, or escaping. Fortunately, it’s easy to turn it off.

Chrome: Avoid message trackers in Gmail –  As Ghacks.net points out, Gmail does try to help you avoid trackers, but it doesn’t catch them all. Instead, a tracker-blocking extension, and a few adjustments to the way you read Gmail messages, are the most convenient methods to dodge many of the available tracker services. Here’s how to get started:

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PixelBlock running in Gmail. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

The 10 Best External Hard Drives – For under $100, you can add a terabyte or more of data storage to your laptop desktop, or tablet. But which to choose? There’s a lot consider—desktop- or laptop-class, traditional spinning or SSD are only a couple of factors—so finding the perfect hard drive for your use can seem overwhelming. That’s where we come in. We narrow down your choices to the 10 best external hard drives on the market.

10 obscure, highly specialized browsers that will make you forget about Chrome, Firefox, and IE – There’s a wide world of alternative browsers out there, all fighting for your attention with unique features and specializations in gaming, privacy, media consumption, and more. There’s even something to appeal to old-school Internet users. If you’re looking to shake up your web surfing experience, here’s a look at 10 great browsers not named Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer.

Windows Store apps to cost more starting April – Due to the strengthening of the US dollar, Microsoft has updated its pricing tiers for Windows Store apps and in-app purchases. Unfortunately this means prices in other currencies will be hiked.

Windows 10 might not peacefully coexist with other OS – It seems that Microsoft is developing a pattern lately. After a flood of good news comes the fine print and some sad, if not worrying, follow ups. First it was the speculation that the lure of a free Windows 10 upgrade for pirated copies of Windows might not be so sweet after all. Now it seems that Microsoft will potentially ostracize another group of computer users: those who dual boot operating systems. Slides from its presentation in China seem to hint that Microsoft won’t block OEM’s from prohibiting users from disabling secure boot.

Windows System Restore: You can adjust this utility to save your PC image more often – Just about any new problem that makes Windows behave badly can be fixed by opening Windows’ System Restore and returning to an earlier time. But this only works if you have a restore point that was created before the unfortunate changes. So you need to take control of how often Windows creates these points.

How to run Windows software in Linux: Everything you need to know – Linux is more capable than ever. With over 1000 Linux games available on Steam and a general shift towards more web-based desktop software, there’s less need for Windows than ever. After all, you can now watch Netflix on Linux without any hacks, and you can even use Microsoft Office on Linux—a web-based version of it, at least. But, as most dedicated Linux desktop users will eventually discover, there comes a time when you just need to run a particular piece of Windows software on your Linux PC. There are quite a few ways to do so. Here’s what you need to know.

Instagram Launches Layout, Its Own Photo Collage App – Instagram today announced the debut of a new application called Layout, the company’s next standalone creation tool outside of its flagship photo-sharing application. With Layout, Instagram users will be able to quickly build collages using their mobile photos, which they can then choose to share to Instagram, Facebook, or elsewhere.

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Netflix Goes Live In Australia And New Zealand, Its First Launches In Asia Pacific – Netflix spoke of aggressive international expansion ambitions in January, and a major step towards its two-year globalization plan was taken today when its video-on-demand service went live in Australia and New Zealand. Customers in Oceania can pay A$8.99 (US$7) per month for standard access to its catalog. HD and 4K quality streams are charged at A$11.99 (US$9.40) and A$14.99 ($11.77) respectively. Those in Australia will suffer from a somewhat streamlined selection of content, initially at least.

Twitter quietly introduces abusive language filter – Twitter has been busy trying to stem the flood of abusive users and trolls, the latter of which it has been given a lot of grief over in recent times. Among its different efforts is a new one the social network has rolled out without much fanfare: a filtering tool that allows verified users in particular to filter out tweets containing abusive language. Verified users have been reporting seeing it roll out, and it appears that it is only available for the iOS mobile app at this time, though it’ll likely be appearing elsewhere in the future.

Adobe builds new features straight into Microsoft’s browser – A partnership advances Adobe’s technology ideas while making Microsoft’s Project Spartan more competitive. For the rest of us, expect a more graphically rich Web.

Security:

All four major browsers take a stomping at Pwn2Own hacking competition – The annual Pwn2Own hacking competition wrapped up its 2015 event in Vancouver with another banner year, paying $442,000 for 21 critical bugs in all four major browsers, as well as Windows, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Reader. Despite huge leaps in secure code, nothing is immune when hackers are motivated. In all, this year’s Pwn2Own unearthed five bugs in Windows, four bugs in IE 11, three bugs in Mozilla Firefox, three bugs in Reader, three bugs in Flash, two bugs in Safari, and one bug in Chrome. To qualify, winning bugs must be previously unknown and have the ability to break through anti-exploit defenses.

Google warns of unauthorized TLS certificates trusted by almost all OSes – In the latest security lapse involving the Internet’s widely used encryption system, Google said unauthorized digital certificates have been issued for several of its domains and warned misissued credentials may be impersonating other unnamed sites as well. The bogus transport layer security certificates are trusted by all major operating systems and browsers, although a fall-back mechanism known as public key pinning prevented the Chrome and Firefox browsers from accepting those that vouched for the authenticity of Google properties, Google security engineer Adam Langley wrote in a blog post published Monday.

Twitch Resets All User Passwords After Suffering Data Breach – Twitch, the immensely popular livestreaming service for gamers that was acquired last year by Amazon in a nearly $1 billion deal, confirmed today that it has suffered a security breach that may have resulted in unauthorized access to a number of user accounts. The company is now forcing all of its users to change their passwords.

Hacking bios chips isn’t just the nsa’s domain anymore – THE ABILITY TO hack the BIOS chip at the heart of every computer is no longer reserved for the NSA and other three-letter agencies. Millions of machines contain basic BIOS vulnerabilities that let anyone with moderately sophisticated hacking skills compromise and control a system surreptitiously, according to two researchers. The revelation comes two years after a catalogue of NSA spy tools leaked to journalists in Germany surprised everyone with its talk about the NSA’s efforts to infect BIOS firmware with malicious implants.

New malware program PoSeidon targets point-of-sale systems – The new malware program has been dubbed PoSeidon by researchers from Cisco’s Security Solutions (CSS) team and, like most point-of-sale Trojans, it scans the RAM of infected terminals for unencrypted strings that match credit card information — a technique known as memory scraping. This sensitive information is available in plain text in the memory of a PoS system while it’s being processed by the specialized merchant software running on the terminal.

Wind turbine blown away by control system vulnerability – It had to happen, we suppose: since even a utility-grade wind turbine might ship with a handy Webby control interface, someone was bound to do it badly. That’s what’s emerged in a new ICS-CERT advisory: CVE-2015-0985 details how turbines from US manufacturer XZERES allow the user name and password can be retrieved from the company’s 442 SR turbine. As the advisory notes, “This exploit can cause a loss of power for all attached systems”.

Tech-savvy NYPD cop allegedly hacked NYPD computer and FBI database to run a con – An NYPD auxiliary cop was busted for allegedly installing a hidden camera in a cable TV box, so he could check if the coast was clear, before remotely accessing a police computer and using off-duty cops’ usernames and passwords to log into databases. He supposedly ran 6,400 queries, acting as an ambulance-chasing attorney when contacting accident victims. Yehuda Katz, the alleged con man taking kickbacks, was arrested last week for using “his position as an auxiliary officer to hack into restricted computers and networks in order to obtain the personal information of thousands of citizens in a scheme to enrich himself through fraud.”

Who Cares If Antivirus Works, As Long As It’s Low-Key – Rather than blindly run the same tests year after year, the researchers at AV-Comparatives regularly survey consumers to make sure their tests hit the criteria that matter. Interestingly, low performance impact was more important to users than thorough malware cleanup.

Cisco small business phones open to remote eavesdropping, calling – An authentication flaw allows attackers to listed to audio streams and make calls from Cisco SPA 300 and 500 IP phones

Company News:

US judge orders seizure of foreign domains owned by Chinese company – A federal judge in New York has ordered dozens of global domains owned by the Chinese company Fengtao Software to be seized, for its social media accounts to be blocked, and for payment processors to cut off their services to the company. It’s not clear how he hopes to enforce that ruling: even if domain registrars in Japan and Germany are willing to implement the order, it’s hard to see one in China helping a US judge shut down a Chinese company.

Microsoft Signs 11 Agreements With OEMs To Bring Office To More Android Handsets And Tablets – Microsoft has broadened a previously announced agreement with Samsung to preinstall its software on the latter firm’s hardware it announced today, and landed nearly a dozen separate, similar arrangements with other OEMs including Dell. As a company, Microsoft is pursuing an increasingly cross-platform software strategy, one in which it is content to ensure that its applications are suited for rival platforms, such as Android.

Google Chairman says Glass ‘fundamental’ for Google – Is Google Glass dead, or do we just wish it were? When Google demolished the ‘Explorer program’ for Google Glass, they quickly seated Glass under the watchful eye of Tony Fadell, who heads up Google’s de facto hardware arm, Nest. Over time, various talking heads have said Glass wasn’t gone, just regrouping. The latest to chime in is former Google CEO and current Chairman Eric Schmidt, who calls Glass “fundamental” for Google, and says Fadell and his team are going to “make it ready for users”.

Games and Entertainment:

iOS Game Mr Jump Leaps To 5M Downloads After Four Days On The App Store – The game from France’s 1Button has already racked up 5 million downloads in just four days, and its simple in-app purchase and ad-based revenue model is earning its developers five-figure revenues on a daily basis, without having to resort to “pay-to-win” mechanics. The game keeps play simple – it’s a one-button platform title, meaning all a user has to do is tap the screen and the appropriate point. A tap results in a jump, with the length and height of the jump variable based on how long you tap. The player character, Mr Jump, moves of his own accord from left to right across a scrolling, simply colored blocky environment, and your goal is to avoid the various spikes, pitfalls and other dangers that impede his progress.

Battlefield Hardline review: an odd, cops-and-robbers facade – Like its predecessors, Hardline is larger, slower, and much more open than most of the multiplayer shooters that follow in the footsteps of Modern Warfare’s success. If you haven’t played Battlefield in a while (or outright skipped Battlefield 4 thanks to the horror stories about glitches and server issues), it might be an adjustment. It’s the kind of game where running around like an idiot without checking your environment will get you killed incredibly quickly. Snipers line every fire escape and rooftop, ready to pick you off unseen from 100 meters out if you’re not careful. Helicopters are shot down seconds after takeoff. If you’re not paying attention to your minimap, sweeping the horizon for targets, and ducking from cover to cover, it’s a safe bet you’ll be gunned down almost immediately. In short: It’s Battlefield.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

FTC opens new office to protect you from the Internet of Things – The FTC says it’ll be broadening its scope with the launch of a new Office of Technology Research and Investigation, described by the agency as “the next generation in consumer protection.” In 2015, we’re faced with the growing Internet of Things, cars that get faster with software updates, and the expanding smart home. The FTC thinks now’s the time to widen its net so that it may protect consumer interest across every facet of technology. Specifically, the OTRI will keep an eye on “privacy, data security, connected cars, smart homes, algorithmic transparency, emerging payment methods, big data, and the Internet of Things,” according to the agency.

First lawsuits against FCC’s net neutrality are filed – The FCC just announced its ruling on net neutrality last month, and lawsuits are hitting the agency right off the bat. The FCC declared that the Internet is a utility, which allows the government to regulate it. As such, the FCC created net neutrality rules which treat all web traffic equally. Well, no one likes being told what to do, especially by the government. The telecom industry is up in arms over the FCC’s net neutrality ruling, and now the lawsuits are beginning to trickle in. These lawsuits are part of an industry-wide effort to overturn what private companies believe are the FCC’s unlawful regulations.

Boeing scores patent for blast-inhibiting force fields – Our the-stuff-of-fiction future is becoming ever brighter, and newest to flesh it out is a new patent scored by Boeing, which has apparently set its sights on force fields. The patent details a technology that would create force fields somewhat similar to what we’ve seen in movies like Star Wars, though they won’t work quite the same. Rather than taking the impacts from objects, they’ll absorb or otherwise inhibit the shockwaves that result from a blast, helping keep the blast contained while protecting nearby people and structures from the damage that could result.

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Mercedes to release 10 new plug-in hybrids by 2017 – Luxury auto maker Mercedes-Benz has just announced that it will be greatly expanding its lineup of plug-in hybrid models by launching 10 new vehicles between now and 2017. As of now only two models are confirmed for sale in the U.S., but with an aggressive worldwide release of 10 hybrids, it means Mercedes will average a new model every four months. To solidify the company’s investment in hybrids, Mercedes is simplifying their branding, dropping the “Plug-in Hybrid” suffix to just add “e” to end of model names.

Colorado 12-Year-Old Tries to Kill Mom for Taking iPhone – According to reports, a 12-year-old from Boulder, Colorado was arrested on Friday following accusations that she attempted to poison her mother for taking away the girl’s iPhone. These kinds of things tend to go beyond warranting a trip to time out, or a further reduction in privileges. As you might expect, the mother contacted police, told them the deal, and investigators ultimately took the girl into custody. Charges haven’t been filed just yet, though the 12-year-old is currently being held in a juvenile detention facility.

Kaspersky, Bloomberg Spar Over KGB Allegations – Eugene Kaspersky, head of Russia-based security software supplier Kaspersky Lab, is fighting allegations that his company has “close ties” to Russian spies. Last week, Bloomberg Business published an article accusing Kaspersky Lab of excluding Russia from reports examining electronic espionage by the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Something to think about:

“I am the only one who can make America truly great again”

–    Donald Trump

Today’s Free Downloads:

Audacity – Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder. The interface is translated into many languages.

You can use Audacity to:

Record live audio.

Record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine.

Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.

Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files.

Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.

Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

And more!

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Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

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Screen shots from a personal system

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics – Canada’s electronic surveillance agency has secretly developed an arsenal of cyberweapons capable of stealing data and destroying adversaries’ infrastructure, according to newly revealed classified documents.

Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, has also covertly hacked into computers across the world to gather intelligence, breaking into networks in Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and North Africa, the documents show.

The revelations, reported Monday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, shine a light for the first time on how Canada has adopted aggressive tactics to attack, sabotage and infiltrate targeted computer systems.

The latest disclosures come as the Canadian government debates whether to hand over more powers to its spies to disrupt threats as part of the controversial anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51.

New Zealand Spied on WTO Director Candidates – New Zealand launched a covert surveillance operation targeting candidates vying to be director general of the World Trade Organization, a top-secret document reveals.

In the period leading up to the May 2013 appointment, the country’s electronic eavesdropping agency programmed an Internet spying system to intercept emails about a list of high-profile candidates from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico and South Korea.

New Zealand’s trade minister, Tim Groser, was one of nine candidates in contention for the position at the WTO, a powerful international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland that negotiates trade agreements between nations. The surveillance operation, carried out by Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, appears to have been part of a secret effort to help Groser win the job.

Groser ultimately failed to get the position.

A top-secret document obtained by The Intercept and the New Zealand Herald reveals how GCSB used the XKEYSCORE Internet surveillance system to collect communications about the WTO director general candidates.

India’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Controversial Internet Censorship Law – Today is a good day for freedom of speech in India. The country’s Supreme Court struck down an ambiguous law that could be used to imprison citizens for content that they post online.

NDTV reports that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was declared unconstitutional at a session held this morning. The court added that the controversial law, which first came into existence in 2000, is “vague in its entirety” and in violation of existing free speech laws.

Snowden should be allowed a public interest defense, say European lawmakers – A group of European lawmakers has called on the US government (PDF) to allow the whistleblower Edward Snowden to return to the US from Russia “without fear of criminal prosecution under conditions that would not allow him to raise the public interest defense.” A post on the Open Society Foundations blog explains that Snowden faces up to 30 years of imprisonment under the US Espionage Act of 1917, which does not allow a public interest defense to avoid or mitigate any penalties.

The call comes in a resolution by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly is made up of 318 representatives from the national parliaments of the Council of Europe’s members. This is significant, Open Society Foundations says, since it “marks the first time that any inter-governmental body has called on the United States not to prosecute Snowden unless he is afforded the opportunity to raise a public interest defense.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 3, 2015

7 things Net neutrality won’t do;  US court rubber-stamps dragnet metadata surveillance (again);  Meet the free encryption app that promises to put your privacy first;  The 10 Coolest Things the Samsung Galaxy S6 Can Do;  Installing Signal, an Encrypted Messaging App for iPhone;  How to transfer any media file to your iOS device;  Streaming Music Showdown: Beats vs. Spotify;  New Tinder Charges Whatever It Wants;  Hands on with Outlook for Android;  OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta arrives with Photos;  Here’s the New Camera That Could Kill GoPro;  This browser extension wants to stop you from tweeting something you’ll regret;  D-Link patches router, says more fixes are on the way;  IBM rolls out 3 new iOS-based enterprise apps;  Tor Users Must Now Provide A Phone Number To Open A New Twitter Account;  Netflix to go live in Australia and New Zealand on March 24;   WonderFox DVD Ripper Speedy (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

7 things Net neutrality won’t do – One day after the FCC adopted new Net neutrality rules, consumers are left scratching their heads about what it means for their Web-surfing experience. Has anything really changed?

John Oliver mocks Verizon, celebrates Net neutrality decision – Did calling FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler a dingo steer the Net Neutrality debate to its conclusion? Ever since comedian John Oliver spent 13 minutes on his HBO show in June explaining his views on this difficult topic — causing the public-comment system on the FCC’s website to crash — there have been mutterings that his intervention was decisive. It was inevitable, therefore, that he might spend a couple of minutes of last night’s “Last Week Tonight” in a mood of celebration.

US court rubber-stamps dragnet metadata surveillance (again) – The decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to green-light the NSA’s mass surveillance of US phone call metadata until 1 June comes a year after President Barack Obama promised to end the controversial programme. The programme has been extended five times in the 14 or so months since. White House officials have repeatedly said they want to be in step with Congress in ending the programme, whose intelligence value has long been criticised by privacy activists.

Google reverses its promise to enable encryption by default in Android Lollipop – The search giant will let phone makers decide whether or not to enable encryption-by-default, saying it will be considered for “future” versions of Android.

Meet the free encryption app that promises to put your privacy first – Peerio is an encrypted messaging and file storage app for Windows, Mac, and the Chrome browsers that takes the likes of Gmail and Outlook, HipChat, and Dropbox to task. The app puts its users in the privacy driving seat, clearly marking for the lay user when something is encrypted. What sets this app apart from most other messaging and file storage services is the enabled-by-default end-to-end encryption, which lets users hold onto the keys. The aim is to make the data unreadable and useless to anyone who might succeed in snatching it.

Installing Signal, an Encrypted Messaging App for iPhone – In the age of ubiquitous government surveillance, the only way citizens can protect their privacy online is through encryption. Historically, this has been extremely difficult for mere mortals; just watch the video Edward Snowden made to teach Glenn Greenwald how to encrypt his emails to see how confusing it gets. But all of this is quickly changing as high-quality, user-friendly encryption software becomes available. App maker Open Whisper Systems took an important step in this direction today with the release of a major new version of its Signal encrypted calling app for iPhones and iPads. The new version, Signal 2.0, folds in support for encrypted text messages using a protocol called TextSecure, meaning users can communicate using voice and text while remaining confident nothing can be intercepted in transit over the internet.

Tor Users Must Now Provide A Phone Number To Open A New Twitter Account – It isn’t clear whether Twitter is clamping down on Tor because it sees the browser (and its ability to protect a user’s unique IP address) as fertile grounds for trolls. There’s a chance that it may be testing new process that will eventually roll out to all new sign-ups. The problem with this move is that, despite its reputation with some, Tor is not simply a front for illicit activity. Its security (relative to other browsers) is relied on by many operating in legitimate circles, including those working as human rights and security activists. Forcing all new accounts to provide directly identifiable data — such as a phone number — is a risk to those that need to keep a low profile.

Pointing up  Sure, here’s my number.  lol

The 10 Coolest Things the Samsung Galaxy S6 Can Do – The S6 isn’t just the most exciting Android phone, it may be the most exciting of all phones.

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You Can Now Embed Twitter Video On Your Website – Twitter has launched an embedding feature for Twitter-hosted videos, letting you put any movies shot using its native video capture and publishing tool on your site, complete with an embed button on Twitter’s on website. Clicking the “Embed Video” option in the “…” expanded options menu from a tweet featuring a native Twitter video will expose a snippet of HTML code, setting it up for a copy and paste into your own site’s HTML or CMS companies window. Here’s how it looks:

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How to transfer any media file to your iOS device – Using the Mac app Waltr you can transfer any type of video or music file to your iOS device without the need for a companion iOS app.

Streaming Music Showdown: Beats vs. Spotify – It’s been almost nine months since Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats catapulted the Dr. Dre-backed streaming music service into the limelight for casual music listeners. And while Apple is reportedly working on an overhaul of the service, I spent the last nine months as a paid Beats Music subscriber, after having used Spotify exclusively for more than a year. Beyond the music, the differences between the two services are stark. Here is what you need to know in comparing the two most prominent (with apologies to all the other players) streaming music services on the market:

Hands on with Outlook for Android – Microsoft has released an Outlook client for Android. Take a look at how it works.

This browser extension wants to stop you from tweeting something you’ll regret – Twitter can be an innocuous journal of mundane thoughts, a breeding ground for unrestrained hate, or a place where people say really dumb things they will soon regret. A new browser extension wants to help you prevent that feeling of regret by making sure you never tweet the dumb thing in the first place. The extension, created by Carnegie Mellon professor Paolo Pedercini, changes Twitter’s text field prompt from “What’s happening?” to “Remember: you are always one tweet away from being fired.”

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New Tinder Charges Whatever It Wants – Tinder’s “Rewind” functionality just went live, finally giving users the ability to go back in time and swipe right instead of left. The “Rewind” feature is included in the premium tier of the service, Tinder Plus, which was unveiled today and costs anywhere between $9.99 and $19.99 in the United States, depending on the age of the user. That’s right. Tinder Plus costs $19.99 for users older than 30, while it costs just $9.99 for folks who are younger than 30.

OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta arrives with Photos – Those who are signed up to be part of Apple’s OS X Beta Program have scored the first public beta for OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 today, perhaps most notable for its inclusion of the new Photos app with which we have previously gone hands-on. That alone is enough to drum up excitement, but the pre-release comes with some other goodies, as well, including those new more diverse emojis and new support for Google’s two-factor authentication account security feature.

Here’s the New Camera That Could Kill GoPro – Xiaomi unveiled its first action camera on Monday, and it beats the entry-level GoPro Hero on both price and specs. The Yi Camera, which will be available in only China, is on sale for 399RMB ($64), about half the price of the $130 GoPro Hero, The Verge reports. The Yi Camera has a 16-megapixel camera that can record 60 frames per second. That trumps the GoPro Hero’s five-megapixel camera, which can record only 30 frames per second.

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How to enable Chrome’s clutter-free experimental reading mode – Other browsers have had it for years, but Chrome is finally adding a “Reader mode” that strips down an online article to its most essential parts—images and text—to make it easier to read. The new feature, dubbed Distill, is currently a work in progress but is still worth trying out for full-time Chrome users. Here’s how I enabled the Distill feature in Windows 8.1.

Security:

D-Link patches router, says more fixes are on the way – D-Link issued fixes on Monday for flaws that could allow remote access to one of its routers, and will patch several other models in the coming week. The vulnerabilities were found by Peter Adkins, a systems engineer in Canada who said he alerted the company to the issues in early January and decided to publicize them last week after falling out of contact with D-Link. D-Link acknowledges Adkins’ findings in its advisory, which included three new firmware versions for its DIR-820L router. The company expects to release firmware updates in the next week for the DIR-626L, DIR-636L, DIR-808L, DIR-810L, DIR-826L, DIR-830L and DIR-836L.

Mozilla scrubs Superfish certificate from Firefox – Mozilla has released an update to Firefox that erases the self-signed digital certificate implanted by Superfish, the vulnerable adware that blew up in Lenovo’s face a week and a half ago. The update was issued Friday, Feb. 27.

Company News:

Antivirus Maker Avast Is Latest Overseas Tech Firm Blocked In China – Popular security software company Avast is the latest overseas technology company to get caught in China’s censorship net after users began reporting that its service and website were blocked inside the country. Data from GreatFire.org shows that Avast.com has been unavailable in China since Sunday. Users of Avast — which claims over 220 million global users of its antivirus and security products for Windows, Mac and Android — posted screenshots on Weibo, Avast’s forum and other sites showing issues.

Google confirms that it will launch its own wireless service – No matter your opinion of Google, most will agree that Google Fiber is a good thing for not only consumers, but the industry as a whole; as it puts pressure on ISPs and gives consumers another option for broadband. Because of this, hearing that Google is about to launch a wireless service too sounds fantastic, but the end result will likely have less impact than Google Fiber.

PayPal Buys Paydiant, The Mobile Wallet Behind CurrentC, To Raise Its Game v. Google + Apple – PayPal, the payments service with 162 million users preparing to separate from e-commerce giant eBay later this year, is announcing an acquisition today to help build out its mobile business targeting physical merchants, and sharpen its focus in competition with other tech payment hopefuls like Apple and Google. It is buying Paydiant, a startup out of Boston that makes mobile wallet technology. That technology, in turn, powers payment apps for large business like Subway, Harris Teeter supermarkets, Capital One bank, and — perhaps most notably — MCX, a merchant-owned network that is developing a payment app called CurrentC.

IBM rolls out 3 new iOS-based enterprise apps – IBM has unveiled a fresh crop of enterprise apps resulting from the partnership it forged with Apple last year. Announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the three new mobile apps for iOS target the banking, retail and airline industries and join the 10 industry-specific IBM MobileFirst apps that arrived in December.

Judge appears poised to approve Apple, Google anti-poaching settlement – Judge Lucy Koh in August rejected the companies’ initial $324.5 million offer to settle the case accusing four Silicon Valley giants of conspiring to stay away from each other’s employees.

Games and Entertainment:

Celebrate YouTube Music Award Winners With Exclusive Content – Google on Monday announced the winners of its 2015 YouTube Music Awards, which honors the artists that made the biggest splash on the video-streaming site over the last six months. The list of winners includes big names like Beyoncé, Brad Paisley, Ed Sheeran, Hozier, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Manaj, One Direction, Pharrell, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, and Taylor Swift. Head over to the 2015 YouTube Music Awards channel to see the full list of winners, who collectively pulled in more than 47 billion views over the past six months

Netflix to go live in Australia and New Zealand on March 24 – Summary:Netflix has set a launch date for its service in Australia and New Zealand, and to complement its arrival, it has signed agreements with iiNet, Vodafone New Zealand, and Microsoft Xbox.

Score a $10 Xbox gift card when you pre order games from the Microsoft Store – Earlier today the Microsoft Store tweeted that users could score a $10 Xbox digital gift card when a pre-order of a game is purchased via the Store. The gift does not apply to all games listed here, but you could preorder Halo 5: Guardians, Battlefield Hardline, Rise of the Tombraider or Dead Island 2 among others to qualify for the gift. Most games that include the free gift card range between $39.99 and $59.99, but we found one costing $29.99 called ScreamRide for Xbox 360 that sweetens the deal.

Video Game Guns Get Everything Wrong – There’s no weight, gravity, or consequence to shooting in games, no effort on the behalf of game-makers to appropriate what it takes, both physically and mentally, to fire a gun at a person. All you get are three lousy buttons. After that, you can inflict violence—or at least, fire your weapon—with no fuss or cognition. If we’re talking morality, or even good writing, gaming’s simplified version of shooting does nothing to represent the complexity or horror of real-world violence. If we’re talking what’s fun to play, doing the same thing over and over, without having to think about it, soon grow old. I think games would improve, both in terms of narrative and raw enjoyment, if they obeyed how guns work in reality.

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The player’s perspective in 2013’s ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’

Epic is letting anyone build games with Unreal Engine 4, for free – A year ago, Epic Games decided to cut the amount of revenue it collected from developers who used its Unreal Engine platform and game development tools in an effort to attract smaller developers. But at GDC 2015, Epic is taking things a step further and making Unreal Engine 4 (as well as any future updates) completely free up front to build games with, though it’ll still take a cut of game revenue.

Google API puts games on TV as phone/tablet become controller – Android users might have another reason to want an Android TV soon. Adjunct to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Google is hosting a Developer’s day event, and has announced a new API. Called ‘Nearby Connections’, the API has a few handy tweaks for Developers, and when used properly, you as well. With Nearby Connections, users will be able to use Android devices as game controllers for Android TV-ready games. It’s only available on one game so far, but expect more to follow suit quickly.

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New demo shows Firewatch might be a perfect exploration game – Gone Home, a first-person exploration game that hit PCs back in 2013, was a breath of fresh air for gaming in that it demonstrated how to make an affecting game without ever needing a gun. Firewatch looks like its natural successor, as watching 17 minutes of gameplay, courtesy of IGN, is a fascinating and singularly engrossing introduction into the life of a fire lookout. Firewatch is being developed by San Francisco-based out Campo Santo, which is comprised of folks who helped develop The Walking Dead Season 1 at TellTale Games, as well as minimalist artist Olly Moss, whose work you might recognize from a few certain Star Wars posters.

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Play the Best New iPhone Puzzle Games – Looking for a new iPhone game a little more mentally stimulating than Angry Birds? Try one of these five puzzle games, sure to confound and delight you.

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Under the Sun

Google Launches New Analytics, Monetization Tools For Android Game Developers – Google today announced a couple of new tools for game developers on its Android platform. These include new analytics to help developers better understand in-game player behavior, as well as a number of new monetization features through its AdMob platform. Google also launched a new game-centric Nearby Connections API for Android TV, its nascent smart TV platform.

Off Topic (Sort of):

What I Learned Writing About Bad Cops for a Year and a Half – The problems facing law enforcement and its relationship with the public are enormous, and they’re divided into poisonous, spiny slices. It’s not just local police, and it’s not just federal authorities. It’s local cops, and it’s federal money. It’s dangerous and unnecessary laws against vices like drugs, prostitution, and gambling—and it’s the conduct of individual bad cops. It is mission creep. It is excess war gear going to police departments, and it is the feeling that police are at war with the people whom they ostensibly serve. It is police who don’t understand mental illness, or physical disabilities such as deafness—or rather, it is police who pull the trigger too quickly on even suspects who don’t understand what’s happening.

Future-proof your IT career: 8 tech areas that will still be hot in 2020 – Sure, organizations will still need programmers and developers, but they’ll want (and pay better salaries to) programmers who know how to work with robots and developers who know how to apply their craft to wearable devices. So, yes, while labor market experts expect that IT as a whole will continue to add good jobs through 2020 and beyond, savvy tech pros are taking pains to ensure their personal road map is steering them towards concentrations with maximum longevity. What follows are some specialties worth pursuing to future-proof your tech career.

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Image courtesy Thinkstock

Google Street View Now Lets You Explore The Amazon Jungle Via Zip-Line – That’s right. Google took its cameras and literally suspended them in the rainforest thanks to assistance from the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS). The BBC reports that the cameras traveled as fast as 100 km/hour, that’s around 62 miles/hour. The resulting 360-degree images are a spectacular reminder of the unique experiences that the internet makes possible.

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Alligator blood may be our next source of new antibiotics – The key to an alligator’s immune system is the enzymes contained in their blood combined with cationic antimicrobial peptides, or CAMPs for short. The enzymes alone are capable of dealing with 23 different types of bacteria as well as performing well against the HIV virus. However, if you add in the CAMPs found so far, alligators can fend off E.coli, sepsis, food poisoning, and skin infection bacteria. In total 45 peptides have been identified so far from one type of alligator.

This Incredible Photo Of A Baby Weasel Riding A Woodpecker Is Straight Out Of A Children’s Fantasy Book – East London resident Martin Le-May captured this incredible photo of a baby weasel on the back of a green woodpecker in Esssex, England, on Monday. As much as we’d all like to believe this is a wondrous tale of friendship wherein two mates go on an epic adventure featuring a baby weasel and his magnificent flying steed, sadly it’s NOT. It’s a photo of a weasel trying to kill a woodpecker.

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Hillary Clinton Only Used Personal Email While Secretary Of State – Clinton used a personal email account to conduct official business despite federal law requiring correspondence be retained by the government, the New York Times reported.

Something to think about:

“Love is not blind – it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less.”

–      Rabbi Julius Gordon

Today’s Free Downloads:

WonderFox DVD Ripper Speedy – WonderFox DVD Ripper Speedy is a professional and powerful free DVD ripper software which can rip the content of DVDs.

Convert your DVD to digital video to enjoy your DVD! Just got simpler now! You can watch anytime, anywhere. Alter, enhance, convert – whatever you do – the final result will be in the perfect quality (even in high-definition)! No missing key frames, quality-loss, redraw issues, or crashes.

WonderFox DVD Ripper Speedy let you backup a DVD to MPG video within 5 minutes. This is real No. 1 Speed. All of conversions as base on 0-Quality-Loss.

It offers flexible choices to fine-tune and adjust parameters to tailor the output videos, in terms of video audio encoding, bitrate, frame rate, aspect ratio, resolution, audio codec, audio channel number, sample rate, etc. You can customize and apply your own settings to all, you can also save all of settings as a single profile.

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iSpy – iSpy uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement or sound and provides security, surveillance, monitoring and alerting services. Any media that is captured is compressed to flash video and made available, securely over the web. iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously. iSpy is free, open-source software, so if you want it to do anything else, please download the source code and customise it to your requirements.

With iSpy you can:

Connect and monitor as many cameras and microphones as you like. Import and export object lists to share with colleagues.

Connect multiple computers in a group and manage over the web

Install iSpy Server and publish your webcam to other instances of iSpy, over your network and to the web

Detect, highlight, track and record movement

Detect loitering

Customise movement detection areas on your cameras

Detect and record sound

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is detected

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is not detected (monitor machinery or staff activity)

Receive email movement alerts with attached frame grab images from your webcams

Periodically receive image grabs via email from your webcams

Connect to any device, even webcams attached to other computers with JPEG, MJPEG, IP Cam, webcam and AVI file support

Watch live and recorded media over the web (through this website) and also via mobile devices

Access and control iSpy remotely

Password protect iSpy and hide it in the System Tray

Schedule sound and video capturing to start and stop automatically

Time-lapse record from any camera

Motion track and count moving objects

Connect multiple instances of iSpy and iSpy server running on different computers to this website and view all aggregated media online

Create groups, invite friends and share access to your webcams and microphones

Receive email alerts if your connection goes offline

Download the source code and customise it to your own requirements!

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Screen shot from a review I wrote in January 2011.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Bruce Schneier: The Democratization of Cyberattack – The thing about infrastructure is that everyone uses it. If it’s secure, it’s secure for everyone. And if it’s insecure, it’s insecure for everyone. This forces some hard policy choices.

When I was working with the Guardian on the Snowden documents, the one top-secret program the NSA desperately did not want us to expose was QUANTUM. This is the NSA’s program for what is called packet injection–basically, a technology that allows the agency to hack into computers.

Turns out, though, that the NSA was not alone in its use of this technology. The Chinese government uses packet injection to attack computers. The cyberweapons manufacturer Hacking Team sells packet injection technology to any government willing to pay for it. Criminals use it. And there are hacker tools that give the capability to individuals as well.

All of these existed before I wrote about QUANTUM. By using its knowledge to attack others rather than to build up the internet’s defenses, the NSA has worked to ensure that anyone can use packet injection to hack into computers.

This isn’t the only example of once-top-secret US government attack capabilities being used against US government interests. StingRay is a particular brand of IMSI catcher, and is used to intercept cell phone calls and metadata. This technology was once the FBI’s secret, but not anymore. There are dozens of these devices scattered around Washington, DC, as well as the rest of the country, run by who-knows-what government or organization. By accepting the vulnerabilities in these devices so the FBI can use them to solve crimes, we necessarily allow foreign governments and criminals to use them against us.

Australian lawmakers can’t use phones, will vote on data retention – Summary:If MPs can’t even be bothered to learn about the work tools they use every day, what hope is there for intelligent debate on mandatory data retention?

Pointing up   Just one more example of the stupid and the blind leading the uninterested. Uninterested, that is, until it’s too bloody late!

Google gets an early win in fight against Mississippi Attorney General’s subpoena – Google just chalked up an early win against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, an MPAA-friendly prosecutor who was implicated in a number of Goliath documents. A federal court in Jackson, Mississippi, has granted a preliminary injunction against Hood’s efforts to fight content piracy on Google’s network, restricting any subpoena or further investigative action from Hood while the case is still in progress. It’s still early in the case, but the injunction represents a significant win for Google and a real setback for both Hood and his supporters at the MPAA.

In 2013, Hood sent Google a massive, 79-page subpoena for data related to content piracy in Search, but Google contested the subpoena, claiming it overstepped the attorney general’s authority and violated a number of US privacy laws. Hood had called a “time out” to the legal actions in the aftermath of the Goliath disclosures, but the court case has continued in the months since. Ultimately, Hood was seeking a similar legal authority over Google’s network as SOPA looked to establish, although Hood was pursuing it through judicial rather than legislative channels.

Forget 1,000 lashes for Facebook posts, Saudis now want to behead blogger Raif Badawi – Saudi blogger Raif Badawi – sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for announcing he is an atheist on Facebook – may now be beheaded by his government.

“We have received information from reliable sources that there are attempts within the Penal Court to retry ‪‎Raif Badawi‬ on apostasy charges again,” his wife said in a Facebook posting.

“Apostasy charge is punishable under Saudi law with the death penalty by beheading. We also received confirmed information that the Supreme Court has referred Raif case to the same judge, who sentenced Raif with flogging and 10 years imprisonment.”

The family accuses the judge presiding over the case of bias, saying in an earlier legal judgment that “he has proof and is confident that Raif is an apostate,” and that he had wanted to bring apostasy charges earlier but wasn’t able to under existing Saudi law.

Badawi was arrested in 2012 for running the Liberal Saudi Network message board and making statements on Facebook that broke religious and state laws; specifically expressing support for women’s rights, democratic reform, and stating that he is an atheist.

Pointing up   How, in good conscience, can the West support this medieval torture chamber who’s ultimate goal is the destruction of Western culture – including Christianity. Not that I’m a fan of Christianity – but…

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 27, 2015

FCC votes to reclassify ISPs and preserve net neutrality;  AT&T, Verizon lash out at FCC after Net Neutrality ruling;  Woz: Net neutrality decision a victory over ‘bad behavior’;  Facebook stops defining gender for its users;  Revealed: The apps that are draining your smartphone battery;  Building a custom WordPress site? These tools will reduce your pain;  Spotify Update Brings Song Lyrics to Your Desktop;  How to send Gmail attachments to Dropbox automatically;  The GIMP’s bad news could be good news;  D-Link remote access vulnerabilities remain unpatched;  Microsoft finally offers Windows 7 ISO downloads;  Some Bitdefender products break HTTPS certificate revocation;  What is malvertising?  Study: Most People Won’t Stop Online Bullies;  Microsoft takes Fable Legends free-to-play on Xbox One and PC;  Photos: The machines that defined British computing;  The Video Game That Goes in Search of God.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

A huge win for the People:

FCC votes to reclassify ISPs and preserve net neutrality – Several weeks after revealing a plan to enshrine net neutrality in federal regulation, the FCC has voted to reclassify internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. That means the FCC can enforce net neutrality regulations, which it is was prohibited from doing after a court battle with Verizon some years ago. Big internet players like Google and Amazon are happy, but ISPs like Verizon and Comcast are not amused in the slightest.

The expected response from the folks whose “highway robbery” business style led to this slap down:

AT&T, Verizon lash out at FCC after Net Neutrality ruling – The nation’s two largest telco companies get personal — and downright childish — following the FCC’s Net Neutrality decision.

The usual suspects:

House Republicans Threaten To Curb The FCC’s “Ability To Regulate The Internet” – Following a landmark vote to put in place strict net neutrality regulations, a group of 21 Republican House members sent a nastygram to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, upbraiding him from policy to procedure, and threatening more than just words.

A techno-wizard’s view:

Woz: Net neutrality decision a victory over ‘bad behavior’ – Technically Incorrect: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says that the FCC overseeing the Web will be a positive step in controlling illegality. He also describes it as a victory for consumers.

Gates and Co.

Microsoft backs FCC vote, happy about net neutrality rules – Microsoft relies on broadband connectivity for many of its consumer services like Skype, Xbox Live, OneDrive and several others. Because of today’s ruling, ISPs cannot force Microsoft to pay for ‘fast lanes’ to prioritize these services for their customers. We will likely see many other companies react to the announcement as it has a profound impact on the future of broadband in the US.

Revealed: The apps that are draining your smartphone battery – Which apps are hogging space, consuming mobile data, and sucking the life out of your Android smartphone?

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Spotify Update Brings Song Lyrics to Your Desktop – The next time you’re rocking out to your favorite jams on Spotify while working away on your desktop, song lyrics will be just a click away. The music-streaming service on Thursday launched a new desktop update, which brings fully integrated lyrics powered by Musixmatch, the world’s largest lyrics catalogue, along with some other handy features. The updates will be rolling out gradually to all desktop users over the coming weeks — so if you don’t see them right away just sit tight.

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Facebook stops defining gender for its users – Last year Facebook took a socially responsible step forward when it allowed users to choose from preset custom genders like “cisgender” or “transgender.” But while the company worked with GLAAD to generate the custom genders, the move was not completely celebrated because users were still made to choose from pre-defined options. Now, it appears those options are gone as the company has started rolling out a new version of its custom gender field. This version still populates suggestions as you type, but also allows users to type in any word they wish to represent themselves with across Facebook.

Twitter Will Crackdown On Serial Trolls By Tracking Their Phone Number – Twitter has a troll problem. Even its CEO knows it. And now the company is doing more to prevent its users suffering abuse and threats on its service. In a bid to make improvements, Twitter has announced new measures to expand the process for reporting user safety concerns, and a system that uses phone numbers to prevent those who repeatedly harass others from creating new accounts.

Building a custom WordPress site? These tools will reduce your pain – If you manage or build WordPress sites, you know just how time-consuming the chore can be. David Gewirtz shares eight tools that will help you get the job done effectively, reliably — and quickly.

Microsoft Spartan: Edge is about breaking from the past, while not breaking the Web – The IE team revealed more on the story behind Microsoft Spartan – the new browser across all Windows 10 devices, and why they will not be moving forward with Internet Explorer.

Microsoft finally offers Windows 7 ISO downloads – Obviously this isn’t a free version, as you’ll need your license key to authenticate the copy. And if your device came with an OEM volume license you might be completely out of luck. Still for those of you out there who have access to their license, this is a great way to legally download a Windows 7 ISO. All users need to do is head over to Microsoft’s website, type in their product key and select which product language you need.

The GIMP’s bad news could be good news – The GIMP has lost its User eXperience (UX) maintainer. Jack Wallen thinks this could be good news for one of the most powerful open-source image editing tools.

Google Play app store to test paid placement in search results – Finding apps in mobile stores is getting harder as more programs join the fray. And for developers, getting your app in front of a consumer is harder too. But now Google is planning to offer a new way to surface apps — and maybe even make some money off it. Developers looking to increase awareness of their apps will soon be able to buy space in search results in Google Play’s mobile apps marketplace.

How to send Gmail attachments to Dropbox automatically – One of the pitfalls of Gmail’s generous storage limits is the temptation to use it as a warehouse for all your email attachments. That seems like less of a good idea when you have to wade through your inbox for that report you need for the weekly all-hands in 15 minutes. But processing the daily influx of messages from clients, colleagues, and friends takes long enough without having to stop and manually save each attached file you receive. Fortunately, you can create an automated workflow to do it for you.

Security:

Some Bitdefender products break HTTPS certificate revocation – Carsten Eiram, the chief research officer of vulnerability intelligence firm Risk Based Security, found that the latest versions of several Bitdefender products, namely Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Bitdefender Internet Security and Bitdefender Total Security, do not check the revocation status of SSL certificates before replacing them with new ones that are signed using a root certificate installed locally. The products use this technique in order to scan encrypted HTTPS traffic for potential threats. While the certificate revocation oversight in Bitdefender products is not as serious as the HTTPS interception flaws found recently in other programs, like the Superfish adware preloaded on Lenovo laptops, its impact is not negligible, Eiram said.

D-Link remote access vulnerabilities remain unpatched – D-Link routers have several unpatched vulnerabilities, the worst of which could allow an attacker to gain total control over a device, according to a systems engineer in Canada. Peter Adkins, who does security research in his free time, released details of the flaws on Thursday. Adkins said in a phone interview that he has been in intermittent contact with D-Link since Jan. 11 on the issues, but the company has not indicated when it might patch.

What is malvertising? – We’re on a bit of an educational push here at Malwarebytes with the aim of helping Internet users become a bit more aware of the latest tricks that criminals are using to catch you out. Hopefully, this means you will be a bit safer online. Today’s post takes a closer look at ‘malvertising’. This was covered in a bit of detail in our previous post on Exploit Kits, but as it presents a significant threat to everyday folks, so we wanted to dig into it in a bit more detail.

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Google enlists BlackBerry to help make Android devices ‘more secure’ – As Reuters reports, BlackBerry will be helping Google “to manage devices equipped with Android for Work”, an initiative designed to securely separate business and personal data and apps on Android devices, which is built on some of Samsung’s own KNOX efforts. The tie-up between Google and BlackBerry is intended to extend the ‘highly secure mobility solution’ to other Android manufacturers. While Android remains a firm consumer favorite, Google is keen to expand its presence in business and enterprise, particularly as its iPhone and Windows Phone rivals enjoy growing workplace support.

Company News:

Silent Circle targets enterprise users with ‘world first’ privacy ecosystem – Encrypted communications provider Silent Circle has raised approximately $50 million in a funding round aimed at pushing the company forward in the enterprise market. Announced on Thursday, Silent Circle said “strong demand” from enterprise customers seeking to keep communication private through the Blackphone product range led the firm to launch a private, common equity round in order to grow and cater for new clients.

IBM to pump $4B into cloud, mobile and analytics this year – IBM will dedicate $4 billion in spending this year to the cloud, analytics and mobile technologies, as it struggles with seismic shifts that are changing the computing landscape it once dominated. In return, by 2018 IBM expects to reap a combined $40 billion in annual revenue from the areas in which it’s investing, which also include social and security, the company said at an annual meeting on Thursday.

Uber’s preferred car-loan partner has been illegally repossessing veterans’ cars – Yesterday, auto lender Santander Consumer USA agreed to pay at least $9.35 million to resolve the accusation that it illegally repossessed over 1,100 vehicles from active military personnel. The company is a close partner of the ride-sharing giant Uber, which funnels drivers with low credit to Santander loan officers. It’s not the company’s first brush with the law: the lender holds over $40 billion in car loans and has repeatedly been the subject of criminal investigations into its subprime auto loan arm.

$533 million not enough? Smartflash files new patent lawsuit against Apple – Patent licensing firm Smartflash may still be celebrating a $533 million victory against Apple, but the companies aren’t finished in the courtroom.

Ericsson joins the queue to sue Apple for patent infringement – No doubt Apple is still smarting over a $533 million court case win by Smartflash this week, but Ericsson is now also suing the company in a patent dispute.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft takes Fable Legends free-to-play on Xbox One and PC – Microsoft and Lionhead Studios are getting behind free-to-play gaming in a big way this morning, announcing that Fable Legends will use the somewhat infamous business model when the game launches on Xbox One and PC later this year (though Xbox One players will still need an Xbox Live Gold account for the multiplayer-only title). This isn’t a case of a limited free portion as a teaser for more extensive paid DLC, either. Lionhead says all of the game’s stories and quests will be included in the free version, and players will be able to “play through it beginning-to-end without having to spend any money… you’ll be able to earn everything that affects gameplay.”

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NVIDIA HairWorks shown off in Far Cry 4 – This week the folks behind development for Far Cry 4 have made a point to show off the wilder aspects of their environment Kyrat. To make their universe one that looks especially realistic, they worked with NVIDIA and one of the more radical elements in NVIDIA’s collection of graphics-intensive programs: NVIDIA HairWorks. We’ve spoken about this before – here we’re getting the opportunity to see HairWorks work in a real deal working game that’s out in the wild right this minute.

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The state of Linux gaming in the SteamOS era – For decades after Linux’s early ’90s debut, even the hardest of hardcore boosters for the open source operating system had to admit that it couldn’t really compete in one important area of software: gaming. “Back in around 2010 you only had two choices for gaming on Linux,” Che Dean, editor of Linux gaming news site Rootgamer recalls. “Play the few open source titles, Super Tux Kart and so on, or use WINE to play your Windows titles.”

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The Video Game That Goes in Search of God – As a sort of implicit, controlled test for the freak-out potential of a technologically governed environment, Breath of Life is rather fascinating. If it isn’t a game that endorses a particular religion, though, Pneuma might be styled as a game of religious striving. Its protagonist’s farcical delusions are an incentive for the player to seek out a more reliable authority about the nature of existence—a deity, in other words, who can guarantee the objective reality of what is perceived.

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Sony Launching 8-Week Spring Fever PSN Sale Next Week – March is almost here, and PlayStation Plus members should know what that means — it’s time for the annual Spring Fever promotion. Sony on Thursday announced details of this year’s sale, which starts March 3 and will last for eight weeks — twice as long as last year. During the sale, PS Plus members will get 10 percent off “hot new digital-only games” like Helldrivers, a hardcore twin stick shooter from Arrowhead Game Studios, during the week they launch.

Microsoft trims price of Xbox Live Gold membership to $40 – Instead of paying the usual fee of $60 a year, you can become an Xbox Live Gold member for $40. The fine print doesn’t indicate whether this is a temporary promotion and, if so, when the sale might end. Want do you get for the $40 annually? An Xbox Live Gold subscription –good for both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 game consoles — allows you to play with and compete against other Xbox owners. You can also tap into a lineup of free games and save anywhere from 50 percent to 75 percent on other games sold in the Xbox Store.

Rayman, Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider are the next Free Games with Gold – Every month Xbox Gold subscribers get the chance to download a few games from Microsoft’s catalogue for free. And this time, the offer really features some great titles.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Microsoft’s 2015 Future Vision video released, connected display everywhere – Microsoft has released a new video showcasing their ideas for the future. Demonstrating how emerging technologies could transform the future, Microsoft creates a very unique compilation. It’s sleek and precisely orchestrated to create an introspective look at what Microsoft hopes it can achieve for the world in the not-too-distant future. The video is futuristic but strangely grounded in reality. Each of the tasks carried out in the video don’t seem that far off from today’s technological capabilities. Microsoft’s Future Vision is set just five to ten years in the future.

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Study: Most People Won’t Stop Online Bullies – In 1964 a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed and left for dead in Kew Gardens, Queens. She screamed for help over a half hour while bystanders and apartment-dwellers above apparently ignored her pleas. Her assailant had time to disguise himself during the attack. She died of her injuries, and experts at the time called the failure of bystanders to act “Genovese Syndrome.” While the online world isn’t nearly as dire as Genovese’s tragedy, its clear from a recent OSU study that bystander syndrome that bears her name is still alive and well. The study watched 221 students as they interacted in a chat room. A bully would appear and berate other members of the group. According to the study, “only 10 percent of the students who noticed the abuse directly intervened, either by confronting the bully online or helping the victim.”

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This is how rain and snow travel across the globe – Today NASA released a visualization of storm swirls that took place in 2014, and the results are pretty spectacular. The data were gathered thanks to NASA’s “Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory” (GMP), a satellite network that provides near real-time precipitation data covering the entire planet. But the patterns shown in the video aren’t just meant to look pretty — they’re going to help save lives.

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Photos: BBC Micro, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC 464 and more – the machines that defined British computing – As the Raspberry Pi takes the title for the best-selling British computer of all time we look back at the classic machines to come out of the UK. You can find more details on each of these machines in this accompanying article.

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Amstrad Colour Personal Computer – Launched: 1984 – Price: From £700

The proof is in the testing: The Swiss breakthrough that will make software more reliable – The size and complexity of today’s software programs can make it difficult to check their likely reliability. Testing only goes so far: often after applications are released, it’s a wait-and-see strategy, with developers sending out patches for products if and when major problems become evident. Two computer scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne or EPFL) hope to change that – using automated reasoning tools to replace validating software through testing with more accurate formal mathematical proofs.

Something to think about:

“To be one’s self, and unafraid whether right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity.”

–      Irving Wallace

Today’s Free Downloads:

Make it a gaming weekend!   Smile

FlightGear – FlightGear is an open-source flight simulator.  It supports a variety of popular platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.) and is developed by skilled volunteers from around the world.  Source code for the entire project is available and licensed under the GNU General Public License.

The goal of the FlightGear project is to create a sophisticated and open flight simulator framework for use in research or academic environments, pilot training, as an industry engineering tool, for DIY-ers to pursue their favorite interesting flight simulation idea, and last but certainly not least as a fun, realistic, and challenging desktop flight simulator. We are developing a sophisticated, open simulation framework that can be expanded and improved upon by anyone interested in contributing.

There are many exciting possibilities for an open, free flight sim. We hope that this project will be interesting and useful to many people in many areas.

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Söldner Secret Wars Community Edition – Söldner is a semi realistic Military Tactical Multiplayer Shooter using modern weapons and units.

Söldner uses realistic physics and elements to create a believable environment. Still Söldner is fun and easy to play.

Features:

ADS – Advanced Destruction System

– In Söldner – Secret Wars you can destroy everything! With ADS you can deploy an endless variation of true to life tactics.

SWS – Söldner Weapons System

– With SWS you can choose from more than a 100 weapons, all faithfully reproduced with the help from expert military advisor’s. No other game will offer you the same versatile amount of weapons!

AFV – Advanced Fighting Vehicles

– Wage war by land, sea or air. Become a stealthy scuba diver slipping from the waters behind enemy lines. Jump out of an aircraft under cover of darkness and skydive to your target or declare war on a massive scale and invade the enemy base with tanks, helicopters, jets and assault ships.

CMM – Customizable Multiplayer Mode

– Feel the gameworld come alive with the Virtual Online Battlefield. With 22.000.000 km2 (roughly the size of Europe) Söldner- Marine Corps offers you the largest online battlefield today.

OCM – Online Commander Mode

– Become your team’s eyes and ears, directing your troops to victory.

AGS – Advanced Gesture System

– Order your troops into action, call for covering fire, or taunt the enemy into giving away their positions. Make your choice from more than 200 gestures and commands.

UCS – Unit Customization System

– From your flak jacket to your sunglasses each character is completely customizable to give your Söldner a unique look.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Net Neutrality Is Here — Thanks To an Unprecedented Guerrilla Activism Campaign – This morning, the Federal Communications Commission voted to guarantee the open Internet through so-called net neutrality rules, and with it, forged ahead with one of the biggest policy accomplishments of the Obama administration.

“This is probably the most important ruling in the history of the FCC,” says Tim Karr, campaign director for Free Press.

Net neutrality, a principle that all Internet traffic must be treated equally, was a founding concept for the web. But many Internet service providers have attempted to change that. Cell phone companies have attempted to block apps that could compete with their services and cable companies have pressed for paid prioritization, seeking extra income by forcing users to pay for faster connections to select websites.

For Internet start-ups and political activists alike, the efforts by the ISP industry to move away from net neutrality represented a transformation of the Internet, from a place in which all voices were equal to a world of big incumbent websites and corporate media-dominated information sources. “The question came down to, who ultimately controls this Internet? Is it going to be these powerful corporations?” says Karr.

FinFisher spyware violated human rights guidelines, says UK watchdog – Today, a British human rights watchdog condemned private surveillance vendor Gamma International for violating human rights guldelines through its sale of the FinFisher spyware program. Based in London and Frankfurt, Gamma had been criticized for selling to repressive governments in Bahrain and Ethiopia, who used the software to target activists in exile. Today’s decision was issued by the British government’s contact point to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international forum to promote global well-being. Because many of the targeted activists had taken refuge in Britain, the government took particular exception to the spyware, calling today’s ruling “one of the most critical decisions ever issued by the OECD.”

Similar to spyware implants developed by the NSA and GCHQ, FinFisher was sold on the open market, leading many to call for stronger export restrictions against surveillance software.

Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats? – The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS. As my colleague Murtaza Hussain ably documents, “it appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.” One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. Noting the bizarre and unhinged ranting of one of the suspects, Hussain noted on Twitter that this case “sounds like another victory for the FBI over the mentally ill.”

In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade. As my colleague Andrew Fishman and I wrote last month — after the FBI manipulated a 20-year-old loner who lived with his parents into allegedly agreeing to join an FBI-created plot to attack the Capitol — these cases follow a very clear pattern:

The Head of the NSA Is on a Charm Offensive – Admiral Michael Rogers is grinning at a room of military men and women. He just took a question from one Canadian navy officer sporting facial hair. (“You, sir, with the beard.”) Now, he’s pointing at another scruffy defence type. The crowd, a collection of private defence contractors, bureaucrats, and enlisted people, laugh and exchange looks. This guy is the head of the NSA?

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 17, 2015

20 free PC apps to ease daily tasks;  How to protect your wireless router from malware;  17 obscure Windows tools and tricks;  These 5 Apps Will Help You Survive a Long Distance Relationship;  6 Tips to Save Your Laptop’s Battery From Dying;  AT&T CEO: ‘There Will Be Litigation’ on Net Neutrality;  10 good iPad apps for productivity;  Gamers Spent How Much on Candy Crush Saga?  The 25 Best Fitness Apps;  Xbox One Upload Studio major update;  6 Tips to Save Your Laptop’s Battery From Dying.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

17 obscure Windows tools and tricks too powerful to overlook – The beauty of Windows lies in its flexibility and depth. In fact, Windows is so deep and flexible that many of us never touch its more powerful tools, whether from unawareness or sheer forgetfulness. But beneath Internet Explorer and the Start button hides a universe of tools and tricks that are positively brimming with potential. With that in mind, let’s brush the cobwebs off some classic Windows power tips that you’re likely to have forgotten about.

20 free PC apps to ease daily tasks – Some of the best things in a PC lover’s life are indeed free, but they’re not always obvious. Beyond the free security tools and other must-have programs to install on a new PC lies a whole universe of lesser known, yet no less stellar software that’s just begging for a spot on your hard drive. Need proof? Check out the following 20 supremely handy-dandy programs. None are household names, but all will rock your world.

Slow Wi-Fi speeds? How to improve your wireless network – Suffering from a slow or sluggish home internet connection? Here are eight ways to help improve your network speeds.

How to protect your wireless router from malware – As I pointed out last year, your router’s IP address is anything but a secret. Every website you visit gets a look at that number. And from that IP address, they can discover your ISP and your general location (your neighborhood, but not your address). But can they infect your router with malware? It’s not likely, but the danger is significant enough to take precautions.

The 25 Best Fitness Apps – Exercise more, build muscle, lose weight, or simply cut back on the cookies. Be the best version of you with these apps guiding the way.

10 good iPad apps for productivity – The iPad is a capable tool for work but requires good apps to provide the needed functionality. These 10 apps will go a long way to meeting the needs of most iPad users. You can’t work all the time so we threw in a hot new game for down time.

CogniToys packs IBM’s Watson into a smart-talking toy – IBM’s Watson supercomputer may not be the first pseudo-teacher you’d think to leave with your child, but startup Elemental Path thinks wrapping the cognitive computer in a cute dinosaur casing might change that. CogniToys – currently a cute green dino, but with other shapes and species expected to follow – pair Watson’s ability to learn, remember, and adapt with a speech recognition engine, so that – so the theory goes – as kids play the dinosaur can quietly broaden their learning while personalizing it to keep them engaged.

Photos: Five OSes you can run on your Raspberry Pi 2 – From the OSMC media centre to the latest version of Fedora these are the OSes that will run on the Pi 2 and how to install them.

These 5 Apps Will Help You Survive a Long Distance Relationship – Distance got you down? Stay connected with your loved one no matter how far apart you are on Valentine’s Day. While you’ll have to wait to send someone your heartbeat via the Apple Watch, these five apps should hold you over until April.

Short for iOS brings articles you can read in under 10 minutes – Throughout your day, you probably find yourself with time to spare. Not a lot of time, but enough to make standing there doing nothing slightly awkward. A new app, Short, might just change that for you. Rather than waste time with a game or social media, Short finds content you might like to read, which can be filtered to suit the time you have available. Though it’s iOS-only, Short is free to download and use, offers no in-app purchases, and has both an iPhone and iPad version available.

6 Tips to Save Your Laptop’s Battery From Dying – We’ve all been there: Typing away furiously on our laptop, only to find our battery is quickly approaching zero and there’s not an outlet in sight. In order to resolve an immediate crisis of rapid battery drainage, there are a few things you can do to buy yourself some time before you need to reach for a charger:

Security:

Beyond Stuxnet and Flame: Equation ‘most advanced’ cybercriminal gang recorded – Kaspersky Labs has discovered the “ancestor” of Stuxnet and Flame, a threat actor which surpasses everything else in complexity and technique sophistication. On Monday at the Kaspersky Labs Security Analyst Summit, the firm unveiled research concerning the existence of a cyberattack team dubbed The Equation Group. The group, which Kaspersky Lab Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) members dub the “ancestor” of Stuxnet and Flame operators, has been in operation dating back to 2001 and possibly as early as 1996.

Microsoft makes biometrics focal point for Windows 10 security – With Windows 10, you’ll have more options for password protection. In a recent blog post, Microsoft announced they’ll support new Fast Identity Online Alliance (FIDO) standards, which they also helped contribute to. With FIDO 2.0, you’ll have wider availability to use biometrics, which means your next-generation PC might have some biometric scanners built right in. In fact, it could make that Synaptics touchpad, which also supports new FIDO guidelines, a must-have accompaniment for Windows 10, if you’re of the mind that fingerprints are better than passwords.

How to lock down an insecure wireless network router – Your home router is vulnerable to attacks as soon as you take it out of the box. Here are a number of ways you can secure your home wireless network.

Exploitation By Consent – Many startups and consumers don’t take even the most basic steps to stop their digital assets, and even themselves, from being exploited. They should. Exploits can wreak havoc on consumers and startups, such as stealing bank account passwords and credit-card numbers, encrypting all the files on a computer and demanding a hefty ransom to get them back, and even accessing documents that have recently been copied on your copy machine, such as passports and tax forms. But there are things every startup and user can do to stop exploits.

Company News:

AT&T CEO: ‘There Will Be Litigation’ on Net Neutrality – AT&T chief Randall Stephenson is pushing back on the FCC’s net neutrality plan, telling CNBC that lawsuits are likely in the cards. If the FCC is committed to its current path, “there will be litigation,” Stephenson said during a Friday CNBC interview. He stopped short of saying that AT&T will file that suit; it “may take the form of industry movement,” he speculated. But however it happens, “it’s quite certain” that a lawsuit is on the horizon. Stephenson didn’t elaborate on the grounds for such a lawsuit, though he did say that the industry will likely ask for a delay in the implementation of whatever rules the FCC votes on later this month.

LG president indicted for allegedly damaging Samsung washing machines – On Sunday, LG confirmed that it had been indicted in South Korea after its Home Appliance Division President Jo Seong-jin allegedly damaged the doors of several Samsung washing machines in the days leading up to a trade show in Germany. On Monday, LG took the news to the general public, releasing edited CCTV footage that it says shows that Jo did not intentionally damage the doors. The indictment comes with charges of vandalizing Samsung’s new “Crystal Blue” front-loading washing machines, as well as charges of defamation and obstruction of business. LG has called the claims “excessive” and has filed a countersuit.

AT&T finally gives BlackBerry’s Passport and Classic some shelf-space – The BlackBerry Passport and Classic are wildly popular, the Canadian company has continually insisted, and would be more so if carriers would only get onboard; now, they’ll have a chance to prove it, courtesy of AT&T. After no small delay, both the Passport and its more regularly-shaped Classic sibling are headed to AT&T stores on February 20th, the operator has confirmed, not only offering a subsidized way of buying both phones in the US, but more importantly giving BlackBerry the opportunity to put its sales where its hype has been.

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Indian phone makers grow wings, swoop into foreign territories – Summary:It was only a matter of time before the new kings of the domestic smartphone scene in India ventured onto other shores to pad their coffers. Yet, it may have been more than just global ambition that got them there.

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Spice’s Android One version for Indonesia

IBM to invest $1 billion in software defined storage chase – IBM on Tuesday said it will invest $1 billion in its storage software portfolio over the next five years. The company launched Spectrum Storage, a set of applications designed to manage storage and make an enterprise’s data assets more efficient. The move highlights a reality for traditional enterprise storage giants—data centers are becoming software defined. That move to software defined storage, which trails servers and networking, is going to mean more licenses and less hardware sold. In a big data era, storage is becoming a huge line item and companies need to squeeze efficiencies out of how they manage information.

Games and Entertainment:

Gamers Spent How Much on Candy Crush Saga? – According to The Guardian, Candy Crush Saga players spent approximately $1.33 billion on in-app purchases over the entirety of 2014. Just let that sink in for a minute: $1.33 billion on little additions to a mobile game. While King hasn’t supplied a figure for the game’s lifetime spending, The Guardian estimates that players have likely spent more than $3 billion on purchases at this point. In the last 18 months, the game’s players have spent about $2.37 billion.

‘The Order: 1886’ Stands to Dramatically Divide the PlayStation Audience – One of the PlayStation 4’s two big exclusives in the first quarter of 2015, beside the upcoming Dark Souls successor Bloodborne, The Order: 1886 needs to comprise a cornerstone release for the system, bringing newcomers to Sony’s core console and rewarding earlier adopters who’ve hardly been treated to platform-specific essentials so far. Exactly how it fares with reviewers remains to be seen: an embargo restricts that kind of coverage from running until the 19th of February, the day before the game’s release. Adopting cinematic convention, where movies with no press screenings are usually best left unseen, this could imply that The Order: 1886 is going to blow – and holding reviews back until the last minute prevents a rush of pre-order cancellations. Its chances aren’t helped, either, by lukewarm preview coverage in the gaming press.

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This racing simulator puts you in the car, no virtual reality necessary – With the availability of Oculus Rift (hopefully this year) a number of simulation games are going to be greatly enhanced. One of those is racing simulation, but it turns out you really don’t need virtual reality to get that “in the car” feel. As you can see in the image above, his racing rig looks high end, but also pretty standard. It’s a frame, a big TV, racing seat, wheel, pedals, and gear stick. However, once you’re sat in it and the cockpit view is selected in your game of choice, the experience becomes very real from the perspective of the driver. This video captures perfectly just how good this setup looks when racing:

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Xbox One Upload Studio major update adds effects, templates – Gone are the days when gaming consoles were just that, dedicated computers made for consuming games. Now they have become content creation devices as well that have even turned some gamers into Internet superstars. In the Xbox One world, this is made possible with the Upload Studio app. Today, Microsoft is pushing out a major update to the software that gives users a lot more control and even more options to let their creative juices flow and put together their next big Internet show.

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Sling TV takes a swing at HBO with Epix video-on-demand – Today Dish announced that its live TV streaming service will soon include access to four new channels—Epix, Epix2, Epix3, and Epix Drive-In—as well as 2,000 movies and TV shows from the Epix network’s subscription video-on-demand service. Sling TV launched earlier this year in an attempt to capture the growing market of cord cutters—people who’ve stopped paying for cable or never paid for cable in the first place because they consider it too costly and don’t want to pay for lots of channels they don’t watch.

Off Topic (Sort of):

These Are the Songs People Have Sex To, According to Spotify – According to streaming music service Spotify, indie rockers The XX rule the bedroom. The band’s song “Intro,” the first on their debut album, is the most likely track to appear on user-made “sex” playlists on the service. The Guardian reports there are some 2.5 million such playlists on Spotify. On average, men are more likely to have created sex playlists than women—56% to 44%. Top artists include Chet Faker, Zella Day and LP. The full collection of top songs are available here:

IO Hawk, the Segway-like mover you might actually want, is now available – Tired of walking around everywhere? The team behind the Segway thought you might be, but their design was awkward at best. the big handlebar rising up from the pedestal made you wonder if you were on some sort of odd scooter, which is counterintuitive when you’re essentially standing still. The IO Hawk, fist unveiled at CES this year, is like a Segway, but ditches the weird handlebar, leaving you free to move about and balance a bit more naturally. For $1,800, it can be yours, too.

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Toyota is using Oculus Rift to educate drivers about distracted driving – In an effort to make drivers more aware of the dangers of not paying attention while driving, Toyota has launched a virtual reality distracted driving simulator as part of its TeenDrive365 campaign.

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Five things you need to know about the FAA’s new rules for flying drones – The Federal Aviation Agency just introduced its long awaited proposal for new drone regulations. Nothing will become official until after a period of public comment, but the industry is hailing the FAA’s approach as a sensible update that would allow the industry to finally move forward with everyday use of drones. Here are the five big takeaways from yesterday’s news.

Facebook posts land inmate 35 years in the hole – Being punished for accessing Facebook is nothing new — it’s just typically grounded pre-teens who face the wrath of their parents, not an inmate at a state correctional facility. In South Carolina, one inmate just received 37 years — years — in solitary confinement for posting how much he missed his family. In addition to the alone time, the inmate in question, Tyheem Henry, also lost double that time (74 years) of canteen (inside marketplace for snacks and such), phone, and visitation privileges.

Pointing up    I was under the impression that the U.S. Constitution forbid “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Well, I suppose that only applies to the regular cruel and unusual punishments – drawing and quartering, burning at the stake, waterboarding – you know, that sort of thing. Regular, day in and day out stuff. But not, it seems, 37 freaking years in solitary confinement!

But hey, not to worry – America’s politicized judicial system (elected judges and the like), will be bound to treat you (or a member of your family) fairly, when you appear before the bench. Right? Right?

That time may be sooner than you think.

Wall Street Journal – Over the past 20 years, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates. As a result, the FBI currently has 77.7 million individuals on file in its master criminal database—or nearly one out of every three American adults.

Penguins can’t taste ice cream, so says science – All penguins – of all types – have been discovered to have no taste for sweet, bitter, and umami flavors of edible matter. Of course they can’t taste anything sweet, even if it happens to be a sweet-tasting rock – but this finding is linked inextricably to eating. As it turns out, its likely penguins lost their taste for several types of food over the course of their migration to cold climates and evolution to the creatures they are today – friendly, tasteless waddlers though they are.

Something to think about:

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

–       Voltaire

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinToUSB 2.1 Beta / 1.6 – WinToUSB is a free software that allows you to install and run Windows operating system on a USB hard drive or USB flash drive, using an ISO image or CD/DVD drive as the source of installation.

If you have a Windows installation source (a DVD disc, an image file) and a valid Windows product key, you can use WinToUSB to install Windows on your USB drive.

WinToUSB’s key features include:

Easy-to-use wizard interface that provides step-by-step instructions for installing Windows on a USB hard drive or USB flash drive.

Install Windows from an ISO image or CD/DVD drive.

Use any edition of Windows 8(.1) to create Windows To Go USB drive.

Support for MBR and GPT disk layouts.

Don’t need install WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) or WADK (Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit).

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BrowsingHistoryView – BrowsingHistoryView is a handy and reliable application designed to view your browsing history from multiple browsers at once.

The software includes in the report details such as: visit time, visit count, user profile and the web browser that was used to access that webpage. BrowsingHistoryView features support for the following web browsers: IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Find Out If U.K. Spied On You Illegally Via NSA’s Prism, Upstream – Following a landmark legal ruling earlier this month that, prior to December 2014, the U.K.’s spy agency GCHQ acted illegally by receiving data from the NSA’s surveillance dragnets, privacy advocacy organization Privacy International has set up an online form where people can submit a request to be informed whether they were spied on in the past.

This only applies to retrospective snooping by the British — which is what the court in question, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), deemed GCHQ to have improperly engaged in. So no, you can’t use this campaign to ask whether the U.K. intelligence agencies are spying on you now.

And it also only applies specifically to the NSA’s Prism surveillance program, where it collects data direct from U.S. Internet companies, and to Upstream, where it taps directly into Internet cables to gather data — and where the data from those programs was passed on to the British. So any GCHQ-initiated snooping also isn’t covered here.

But you don’t have to be British or live in the U.K. to file a request. Anyone can ask whether their data was improperly accessed.

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NSA compromised hard disk firmware to spread spookware: Kaspersky – America’s National Security Agency (NSA) has infected hard disk firmware with spyware in a campaign valued as highly as Stuxnet and dating back at least 14 years, and possibly up to two decades, according to an analysis by Kaspersky labs and subsequent reports.

The campaign infected possibly tens of thousands of computers in telecommunications providers, governments, militaries, utilities, and mass media organisations among others in more than 30 countries.

The agency is said to have compromised hard drive firmware for more than a dozen top brands, including Seagate, Western Digital, IBM, Toshiba, Samsung and Maxtor, Kaspersky researchers revealed.

Reuters reports sources formerly working with the NSA confirmed the agency was responsible for the attacks, which Kaspersky doesn’t lay at the feet of the agency.

Kaspersky’s analysis says the NSA made a breakthrough by infecting hard disk firmware with malware known only as nls_933w.dll capable of persisting across machine wipes to re-infect targeted systems.

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Dutch DPA says government’s data retention plans still illegal – The Netherlands’ Data Protection Authority has criticised that government’s proposed data retention legislation.

The government put forward amendments to its data retention regime in response to the April 2014 European Court of Justice decision that invalidated the EU’s Data Retention Directive (along the way causing trouble for countries that had based their laws on the DRD).

A court case was launched in November 2014 in The Netherlands to overturn the legislation.

In this statement, the DPA says the current legislation should not be presented to parliament, because “the need to retain all telephony and internet data in the Netherlands is insufficiently substantiated”.

Obama Acknowledges U.S. ‘Plays Offense’ on Foreign Hacking – President Obama acknowledged that the United States “plays offense” against other countries online, arguing that the lines between defensive and aggressive actions are blurred in the world of cybersecurity.

In an interview with the tech news website Re/Code during a visit to Silicon Valley, Obama compared online security to basketball, describing a fluid situation where America routinely switches between offensive and defensive actions.

“This is more like basketball than football in the sense that there’s no clear line between offense and defense,” he said. “Things are going back and forth all the time.”

Obama called for a set of international protocols that would set “clear limits and guidelines” on cyberwarfare.

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