Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – June 17, 2015

10 Apps That Will Help You Survive the Summer;  Portal Lets You Quickly Transfer Big Files From PC To Phone;  Use Skype straight from the web–beta goes worldwide;  Facebook launches Moments: Makes privately sharing photos quick and easy;  Twitter’s auto-playing videos have arrived;  Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees;  23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  Box Integrates Into Office Online;  8 Cool Tricks for Google Hangouts;  There’s finally an official Raspberry Pi case;  The 5 Best Modern Video Game Remakes;  BitTorrent Shoot shares media across mobile devices in a snap;  FAQ: How Microsoft will update Windows 10;  Hack of cloud-based LastPass exposes hashed master passwords;  Teen shot dead after using app to track lost cell phone;  Retailers want to be able to scan your face without your permission;  How to use enterprise Wi-Fi security in SMBs;  Google Play Prepaid Vouchers Are Now Available In India;  33 must-see PC games revealed at E3 2015;  Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation;  RAMDisk (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

LastPass hack reinforces importance of using multi-factor authentication – Everything that’s important to you online depends on your willingness to use multifactor authentication. If you’re not sure what that means or how to do it, read this article right now.

Facebook launches Moments: Makes privately sharing photos quick and easy – As the summer kicks in gear, people are capturing moments with their smartphone cameras. With the new Moments app you can now quickly and easily share your memories with family and friends.

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(Image: Facebook)

Use Skype straight from the web–beta goes worldwide – Skype just became easier to access, around the world. As an alternative to downloading the Skype app or program, users can turn to their browsers for their communication needs using Skype for Web (beta). The web version isn’t just for checking instant messages. It’s designed to provide the same video and phone calls associated with the full app. As we noted when the beta first launched stateside, users will still have to install a plug-in before initially using the site, but that seems to be only a small hurdle.

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10 Apps That Will Help You Survive the Summer – Use your smartphone to help you and your family make the most of the season.

Portal Lets You Quickly Transfer Big Files From PC To Phone – Pushbullet, the company that makes a handy utility that moves notifications, links and files between devices, is out today with a new app called Portal, which focuses on file transfer alone. Launching first on Android where it’s able to more deeply integrate with the OS, Portal is designed to make it easier to move files – even large files – between your computer and your Android phone. To get started, you first download the Portal app from Google Play, then visit portal.pushbullet.com. Using the Android app, you’ll then scan a QR code that displays on the website in order to connect the two devices. Afterward, you simply drag a file to your web browser and it’s transferred to your phone.

BitTorrent Shoot shares media across mobile devices in a snap – BitTorrent has released a new app to share byte-heavy content like long videos and batches of photos between various mobile devices without ever having to make a detour at the cloud. Just like all things BitTorrent, this app is all about preserving your privacy. Content will go directly between mobile devices, bypassing the cloud entirely to keep anything shared beyond the reach of prying eyes (or a police warrant). The interface is incredibly simple. Choose to send files from your mobile device and Shoot creates a convenient QR code, granting recipients access with a quick scan. The service will run users a one-time fee of $1.99. BitTorrent is letting people try Shoot before they buy it. You can send three batches of photos or videos before buying Shoot. Receivers never have to pay for the service; they simply need the app installed on their mobile device.

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Twitter’s auto-playing videos have arrived – The auto-playing video. It’s okay if you don’t like it. Others feel the same way, so you’re not alone. The problem is that despite the large number of people who detest videos that start playing without permission, social networks are launching them anyway. Twitter’s auto-playing videos are now upon us, at least if you’re using iOS of the web (if you’re not, your day of reckoning is inbound). Twitter announced the feature’s arrival in a statement today, calling it a “new standard for viewability.”

Microsoft will finally make all Bing searches encrypted by default this summer – Microsoft has announced that starting this summer, all searches on Bing will be encrypted which will give users another layer of protection on the web but they are a bit late to the party.

Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees – Cinnamon is best known as one of the two default desktops for Linux Mint, which is fast approaching its next major update. Mint 17.2 will include the brand new Cinnamon 2.6, just released, when delivered later this year. So far, so standard – only Cinnamon is no longer just a Linux Mint desktop. Cinnamon is now available directly as part of Debian 8 and Fedora 22. Naturally, Cinnamon will work with many other distros as well, but its inclusion in the default installers for big names such as Debian and Fedora marks a turning point for Cinnamon: this really is no longer just an “alternative” desktop for a single distro.

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Multiple panels, individually configured, in the new Cinnamon

23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 23 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

How to create an insane multiple monitor setup with three, four, or more displays – The more displays your computer has, the better—but there are considerations to keep in mind as you move into extreme multi-monitor setups for enhanced productivity and gaming.

There’s finally an official Raspberry Pi case – Ever since the Raspberry Pi went on sale, people have been whipping up amazing little cases for them. Now, three years after the Model A was born, they’re finally making an official case. A sort of plastic Pi crust, if you will. How much does the official Pi case sell for? It’s every bit as big a bargain as the tiny computer it’s meant to protect. They’re going for £7 from the Foundation’s swag shop, which is just under $10 at today’s exchange rate. You’ll be able to order them from Raspberry Pi distribution partners around the globe soon, too.

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Box Integrates Into Office Online As The Cloud Company’s Bromance With Microsoft Continues – Box has integrated into Microsoft’s Office Online product, burrowing the enterprise file storage and sharing company deeper into the latter firm’s cloud productivity offering. Previously, Box integrated into Microsoft’s Office 365 product.  The integration allows users to open files from Box into Office Online, and have changes made to the document, or spreadsheet sync back to Box. Also coming later is a ‘share’ feature that will mimic how Box currently manages the function.

8 Cool Tricks for Google Hangouts You (Probably) Didn’t Know Existed – While mobile is most certainly what Google’s devs have in mind for Hangout’s future, let’s not neglect some of the cool things you can do in the desktop version right now. Check out our list of little-known treasures. There are definitely some cool things you didn’t know about.

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4) Video Chat

Google Play Prepaid Vouchers Are Now Available In India For Users Without Credit Cards – India is one of Android’s fastest-growing markets, but its extremely low credit card penetration rate is a challenge for Google as it goes after sweet, sweet app revenue. The tech giant is taking steps to make it easier for people to purchase from Google Play, however, and the latest is the launch of prepaid voucher cards. Google Play’s prepaid vouchers can be used to purchase any kind of digital content in the store, including apps, movies, and books.

Google yanks Chrome’s new visual bookmarks manager – Chrome will roll back to the older, tree-style version of the bookmarks manager. Google says it is not giving up and will continue to search for ways to improve Chrome’s native bookmark experience. For anyone who likes the new bookmark manager, Google will keep it as an extension in the Chrome Web Store.

FAQ: How Microsoft will update Windows 10 – Although Microsoft remains tight-lipped about some of the details of how it plans to keep Windows 10 up to date, enough information has surfaced for a fairly clear picture of the process.

Security:

Hack of cloud-based LastPass exposes hashed master passwords – LastPass officials warned Monday that attackers have compromised servers that run the company’s password management service and made off with cryptographically protected passwords and other sensitive user data. It was the second breach notification regarding the service in the past four years. In all, the unknown attackers obtained hashed user passwords, cryptographic salts, password reminders, and e-mail addresses, LastPass CEO Joe Siegrist wrote in a blog post. It emphasized that there was no evidence the attackers were able to open cryptographically locked user vaults where plain-text passwords are stored. That’s because the master passwords that unlock those vaults were protected using an extremely slow hashing mechanism that requires large amounts of computing power to work.

Pointing up   For years I’ve cautioned against the use of password managers – easy, convenient, and decidedly unsafe.

The following are 2 past articles on this issue.

Should You Forget About Password Safes and Write Down Your Passwords?

Be Safe – Write Down Your Passwords

SwiftKey hack can remotely take over Samsung mobile devices – Android users on Samsung mobile devices could be vulnerable to a new type of security hack. The security flaw was discovered by Ryan Welton from NowSecure. He detailed his findings at the Blackhat Security Summit in London. The hackable exploit arises from the pre-installed SwiftKey keyboard. As Swiftkey searches for updates to its language packs over unencrypted lines, via plain text, it is susceptible to malicious security apps from any spoofed proxy server. Using this as a keyhole, Welton could scale up the attack to basically take over a vulnerable mobile device while the user remains unaware. The bug affects over 600 million Samsung users, including those using the Galaxy S6.

Teen shot dead after using app to track lost cell phone – A Canadian teen leaves his phone in a cab. He tracks it down to three men in a car. They allegedly refused to give him the phone back. He is then shot dead. Just as you have to be careful when meeting people who might be selling phones on Craigslist, you have to gauge the situation if you choose to trace your lost or stolen phone. If there’s the remotest potential of danger, call the police.

Retailers want to be able to scan your face without your permission – After more than a year of discussions, all nine privacy advocates have stormed out of a government-organized “multi-stakeholder process” to sort out details around the best practices for facial recognition technology. The sticking point was that corporations apparently refused to concede that there was any scenario during which a person’s consent to scan their face was needed.

As the privacy group wrote in a statement released late Monday evening:

At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement—and identifying them by name—using facial recognition technology. Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise. The position that companies never need to ask permission to use biometric identification is at odds with consumer expectations, current industry practices, as well as existing state law.

How to use enterprise Wi-Fi security in SMBs – No matter what size your business, using WPA2 security is a good first step to protecting your Wi-Fi network. Don’t blow it by using the standard’s not-so-secure PSK mode.

Chinese snoops try tracking VPN users with fiendish JSONP trickery – Snoops are exploiting vulnerabilities in China’s most frequented websites to target individuals accessing web content which state censors have deemed hostile. The whole multi-stage attack relies on a JavaScript-related vulnerability, known as JSONP, first publicised in 2013. Privacy is compromised when surfers browse sensitive websites while logged into another mainstream website, even in a different tab or window. The upshot is that Chinese surfers who visit Baidu, for example, at the same time as visiting targeted non-government organisation, Uyghur and Islamic websites are exposing their surfing habits even if they are using a VPN. The snooping has been going on since at least October 2013, with the most recent attack discovered only a few days ago, reports security tools firm AlienVault.

Company News:

Amazon Uber-for-Prime crowd delivery rumored – Amazon is developing an “Uber for deliveries” known internally as On My Way, insiders say, hoping to bypass traditional methods with citizen couriers. The project would see Amazon build a footprint in physical stores, though only to temporarily gather order boxes so that a network of contract staff could pick them up and deliver them to customers. The goal, it’s said, is to trim Amazon’s growing costs related to getting orders to shoppers, as well as alleviating bottlenecks at high-demand periods such as Christmas.

Microsoft Opens A Branded Store On Indian E-Commerce Platform Snapdeal – Microsoft has launched its own branded store on Snapdeal, one of India’s top e-commerce sites, as it aims to grow its share of the country’s fast-growing mobile market. Microsoft already sells product via Amazon India, but its store on Snapdeal will be much like a mirror of its own site, complete with “exclusive products [and] offers.”

Apple Taps MobileIron To Help It Deploy iPad Apps Into The Enterprise – Apple is working with mobile device management shop MobileIron to help deploy applications into the enterprise. The collaborative effort is part of a larger enterprise push by Apple that has it working with IBM and a number of other firms that sell products into the enterprise.

Amazon to call on US Congress for fewer drone restrictions – Amazon on Wednesday will call on the U.S. Congress to embrace automated drone flights and come up with a set of simple, nationwide regulations that will allow its proposed Prime Air service to get off the ground. The company is one of several that is lobbying U.S. lawmakers hard to accept looser regulations for drone flights than those proposed recently by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Games and Entertainment:

33 must-see PC games revealed at E3 2015 – Between all the console talk and publishers rushing to reveal their hot new games ahead of the E3 press crunch, the annual “Day Zero” press conferences held by gaming’s biggest publishers before E3’s doors officially open don’t hold quite as much luster as they used to. But don’t let that dissuade you! Day Zero is chock full of info about the biggest games barreling down the pipeline in the coming months, and now that all the major consoles pack AMD hardware, the vast majority of those blockbusters are destined to grace PCs, too—even if publishers typically only hype up the console versions at E3. From Fallout 4 to Doom to Star Wars Battlefront—and plenty more in between—here are the big-name games you can expect to play on your computer soon.

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Super Mario Maker Will Let You Build Your Own Mario Levels This September – Nintendo is letting players take control of its Mario platform game building tools with Super Mario Maker, and now we know when it’ll be available: September 11, 2015. The “game” allows people to create their own levels in either Super Mario Bros 8-bit graphics, or more modern 3D style (albeit with the same mechanics underneath), and then play them instantly.

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National Geographic and Morgan Freeman helm ‘The Story of God’ TV series – National Geographic’s newest undertaking is a world away from its coverage of the animal kingdom. In partnership with Revelations Entertainment, its latest project is The Story of God. The series will be on air next year on The National Geographic Channel, and will see a global release in 171 countries in 45 different languages. Lending heavenly narration skills to the series is Morgan Freeman. At this time, it’s unclear whether he will be present in voice or figure as well. Either way, attaching his name was a smart move on Nat Geo’s part.

The 5 Best Modern Video Game Remakes – With a Final Fantasy VII remake coming, we look at other franchises that got the console treatment. Perhaps no game has more fans waiting for a remake than the legendary Final Fantasy VII from 1997. And they got their wish last night, when Square Enix announced it will be completely remaking it, starting with a PlayStation 4 version. To celebrate, let’s look back a few of the best video game remakes from the last couple of decades. If FFVII turns out half as good as these, fans will rejoice.

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With a Final Fantasy VII remake coming, we look at other franchises that got the console treatment.

New Xbox One dashboard puts Cortana on call – All your base is belong to Cortana! Whether it be your smartphone, your tablet, or your PC, Microsoft’s personal assistant is there to serve your every voiced need. And now, she’s on the Xbox One too! Microsoft has just demoed the latest dashboard experience and it showed off the new and improved interface. While things are arguably better for hunting down friends and remembering what game you last played, one of the most interesting new features is probably one that you hardly expected: Cortana.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stat nerds and reality clash in Donald Trump candidacy – Technically Incorrect: The boffins declare that the “Celebrity Apprentice” host is the worst presidential candidate since data was collected. Trump insists he’s the greatest.

Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation – A Columbia University team of researchers have created what is said to be the first ever engine that is driven by evaporation. The engine, in this case, is small and made of plastic and able to power LED lights and similar mild tasks when exposed to a plain puddle of water. The engine is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, and it could in the future prove to be an inexpensive and effective way to generate useable amounts of energy from commonly found bodies of water.

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Get excited for next month’s Pluto flyby with this beautiful teaser – The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006, and is currently hurtling toward Pluto at more than 35,000mph (nearly 60,000 km/h). It’s set to pass the giant ball of rock and ice on July 14th, and when it does it will give us the first real glimpse ever seen of the former planet. In anticipation of that historic moment, the National Space Society commissioned this beautiful video teaser (conveniently called New Horizons) by the man behind Wanderers, the space-themed short film that went viral late last year. Where Wanderers was all about the places our species might someday go, New Horizons is all about paying homage to the exploration we’ve already accomplished at a distance.

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The creation of the modern laptop – An in-depth look at lithium-ion batteries, industrial design, Moore’s law, and more. Pick up your laptop. Actually, scratch that—read this paragraph first, then pick up your laptop. You are holding one of the most advanced machines ever built in the history of humanity. It is the result of trillions of hours of R&D over tens of thousands of years. It contains so many advanced components that there isn’t a single person on the planet who knows how to make the entire thing from scratch. It is perhaps surprising to think of your laptop as the pinnacle of human endeavour, but that doesn’t make it any less true: we are living in the information age, after all, and our tool for working with that information is the computer.

This Range Rover Prototype Can Be Driven With A Smartphone App – There are remote control cars and then there are Remote Control Cars. This is the latter of the two. Range Rover UK developed a prototype system that allows a Range Rover Sport to be controlled remotely through a smartphone app. And not just the door locks. The vehicle can be driven from the app.

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Self-awareness (probably) isn’t unique to humans – You’ve likely heard it said that humans are distinguished by their self-awareness, but researchers are saying that such statements might be bull. According to recent research, humans likely aren’t the only creatures on this planet to possess self-awareness, with some animals possessing at least a primitive level of awareness of self. The key is mental simulation of an environment and the need for at least a low level of self awareness to do that, and signs that some animals are capable of such environmental simulation.

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The future of the Apple Watch: Three big questions – While the Apple Watch has generated tons of interest and become the world’s best-selling smartwatch, it’s still facing big questions in the long term. Here are the three biggest.

Something to think about:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

–      Leonardo da Vinci

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 8 Free – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

RAMDisk – RAMDisk is Freeware (up to 4GB disk size). It creates a virtual RAM drive, or block of memory, which your computer treats as if it were a disk drive. By storing files and programs into memory, you can speed up internet load times and disk-to-disk activities, accelerate databases and reduce compile times. Save and load features allow RAMDisk to appear as persistent storage, even through reboots.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden’s lawyer slams Times story claiming leaks ‘betrayed’ British spies – A Sunday Times article stating that British spies had been “betrayed” to Russian and Chinese intelligence services as a result of Edward Snowden’s mass-surveillance revelations to the press is “utter nonsense,” claims the whistleblower’s lawyer.

Robert Tibbo could not be more straightforward. “There was no possibility of interception. Zero,” says the Canadian lawyer from Montreal who has represented Edward Snowden in Hong Kong since June of 2013. That was when the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor leaked classified documents on America’s mass surveillance programs to members of the press. Mr. Tibbo’s client came under pressure after British sources revealed last weekend that spies were pulled out of operations because China and Russia have cracked Mr. Snowden’s files.

“He left this place [Hong Kong] with no data on him”, Mr. Tibbo claimed in a telephone interview from Hong Kong on Monday. He was one of the only two people, along with solicitor Jonathan Man, who had any knowledge of Mr. Snowden’s whereabouts in the city at the time. In an interview Mr. Tibbo was with Mr. Snowden when the whistleblower left Hong Kong for Russia.

“There was no data in a cloud. He passed the data on to the journalists and that was it. Any actual copy he had with him was destroyed [before he left Hong Kong], precisely to avoid it from being seized or intercepted. I was a witness to all of that. “The Sunday Times, a British newspaper owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, published a story last weekend claiming that Britain was forced to “pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries” as a result of China and Russia having cracked the “top secret cache of files stolen” by Edward Snowden. The article cited only anonymous sources identified as coming from Downing Street, the Home Office and security services.

The Sunday Times sends DMCA notice to critics of Snowden hacking story – The Sunday Times dropped a bombshell this weekend, reporting that the top secret files leaked by Edward Snowden have been obtained by the Russian and Chinese governments. The story claimed Western intelligence agencies were “forced into rescue operations” to mitigate the damage, and one UK government source claimed that Snowden had “blood on his hands.”

It would be a major blow to Snowden and the journalists who worked with him—if it were true. But the bold claims started falling apart shortly after it was published this weekend. The story is behind a paywall but available elsewhere. It’s based entirely on anonymous British officials and contains some glaring inaccuracies.

Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald immediately attacked it as “journalism at its worst.” Greenwald is a predictable critic, to be sure, but Times reporter Tom Harper was later questioned about his story on CNN and admitted he’s been unable to check out any of the far-reaching claims told to him by government sources. The reporter answered one question after another with some version of “I don’t know,” admitting he has no idea how any “hack” took place, how or when any foreign governments got the files, or if the files were encrypted at all. Harper simply maintained that the Snowden hacking story was the “official position of the British government.”

This morning, lawyers at Times Newspapers took a step to limit Greenwald’s criticism, sending a notice telling The Intercept that Greenwald’s story, which included a low-res image of the Times’ front page, violates their copyright. The Intercept quickly published the takedown notice, and on Twitter Greenwald made clear that his publication won’t be deleting his copy of the Times’ “humiliating headline.”

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EFF, ACLU appeal license plate reader case to California Supreme Court – Two privacy activist groups formally appealed on Tuesday to the California Supreme Court, in their attempt to compel two Southern California law enforcement agencies to release one week’s worth of license plate reader data.

In May 2013, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) had sued the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to gain access to the data as a way to better understand this surveillance technology. The groups lost in 2014 at the lower court level and last month at the appellate court.

Both agencies, like many others nationwide, use license plate readers (LPRs, or ALPRs) to scan cars and compare them at incredible speeds to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months, or even years. Handing over such a large volume of records by a California law enforcement agency is not without precedent.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 16, 2015

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out;  Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier;  Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop;  If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid;  Five commands Mac admins should know;  March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win;  Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption;  Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking;  PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP;  10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects;  Steam hits 1,000 Linux games;  Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans;  Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features;  Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits;  Smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

If you hate PC bloatware, here are the vendors to avoid – Lenovo may have publicly buried bloatware, but it’s anything but dead. After the company’s Superfish scandal, we shopped Best Buy and found it alive and well on major vendors’ PC offerings. A little research should save you from the worst of it, though. Here’s what we learned.

What’s your pa$$word? Secure your organization by securing your accounts – The topic of password security has been spoken about continually for the past two decades. However, passwords continue to be a problem for almost every organization, and “password” and “qwerty” are still among the most common passwords in the world. Let’s go through seven basic facts about authentication and see if your accounts are as secure as they should be.

Sprint to Cover All Costs of Switching From Another Carrier – Sprint really, really wants you to ditch your current carrier and switch over to its network. And it’s prepared to pay a hefty price for your business. The company on Friday announced it will reimburse all of the costs to switch, including any early termination fees and remaining payments on your current plan, “no matter what is owed.” This means if you still owe money on your iPhone installment plan, Sprint will pay it — along with any fees you incur for breaking your contract.

Here’s what changed in Android 5.1 Lollipop – Google has finally announced the long awaited Android 5.1 update after its not-so-secret debut on Android One devices in the Philippines. This new build of Lollipop is rolling out to Nexus devices right now, but what’s in it? The official changelog was severely lacking in detail, but now that it’s hitting devices we can see all the tweaks to this version of Android. Let’s check it out.

10 free Android apps that are worth checking out – Free is always good. But when free equates to helpful and/or productive, free is outstanding. If you spend enough time on the Google Play Store, you will eventually come across apps that fit that category ─ free apps that actually improve your daily life in some way. But trudging through the muck and mire of the free games, shopping apps, and other (countless) apps that do nothing more than take up precious storage space can take a lot of time. That’s where I come in. I’ve spent plenty of time digging through the Google Play Store to come up with a list of solid free apps — all of which are must-haves in one way or another — that everyone should give a try. What are these apps? Let’s find out.

You can buy two of these Windows tablets for less than the price of Windows – How much did you pay for your last PC? I’m willing to bet it was a lot more than $48, which is how much this new Windows tablet will set you back. This is the Ployer MOMO7W, and yes, you really could buy two of them for less than the price of a copy of Windows 8.1. A full version is going for about $101 on Amazon right now. That’s insane, right? A Windows PC for less than half that price? How is that even possible?

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March Madness? Nah. Microsoft’s Bing picks undefeated Kentucky to win NCAA tournament – March Madness? Not really. Microsoft’s Bing took the sane route and picked undefeated Kentucky to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, topping Duke in the title game. The real news, however, is that Microsoft’s Bracket Builder tool went live Sunday night. After crunching what it said were more than 9.2 quintillion combinations, Bing has picked a winner for every game in the tournament—and it will even handily export the bracket to the NCAA’s own tournament pool for you to compete against celebrities and other players.

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Facebook’s updated community standards explain what it will ban – The updated policy reiterates Facebook’s stance against harassment, but provides “more guidance on policies related to self-injury, dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation, nudity, hate speech, and violence and graphic content.” Facebook again stressed that its policies weren’t being radically altered. “While some of this guidance is new, it is consistent with how we’ve applied our standards in the past.”

New mobile app Graphiti can add style to pictures, websites – A new app for the iPhone lets you perform street art directly on pictures and live websites, then share the results with friends, with no worry of getting arrested for vandalism.

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Windows 10 to support peer-to-peer downloading of apps and updates – Peer-to-peer downloads will be optional, and if enabled they will support two modes: systems will be able to either retrieve updates from other machines on the same local network, or from both the local network and PCs on the Internet. It’s not immediately clear what technology is used for the peer-to-peer patching.

Pro tip: Five commands Mac admins should know – Mac admins are responsible for a great deal of equipment maintenance and end-user requests. Jesus Vigo goes over five commands admins can use to work smarter, not harder.

The master list of Google Easter eggs worth checking out (pictures) – Google tries hard to maintain a sense of humor through surprises tucked throughout its Web properties. Here are all the best Easter eggs you need to check out.

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YouTube Now Supports 360-Degree Videos – It’s not quite as immersive as some of the virtual-reality projects attracting investors, but YouTube’s addition of support for 360-degree videos could initially reach a broader audience. Out of the gate, YouTube’s new videos look pretty great even if you haven’t strapped a VR headset to your face.

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The Internet is for (Virtual Reality) porn…? – There’s a lot of excitement about virtual reality, but could the first breakout application be VR porn? At SXSW, it’s thought that porn will become a multi-billion dollar application within a year.

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Home Networking – Right now, as you kick back on your couch and daydream about your next smart home upgrade, you may not realize it, but you’re awash in data. From Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats to Bluetooth-accessible door locks to Z-Wave-connected alarm sensors to Zigbee-networked lightbulbs, there could be an array or wireless signals criss-crossing your house. Why do we need so many different technologies that essentially do the same thing?

Security:

New ransomware is sleazing around the internet owning gamers – Heads up, PC gamers. There’s a new strain of cryptographic malware called TeslaCrypt sleazing around the internet that wants to get it grubby little claws on your save files. It works the same way that CryptoLocker does: it snoops through the contents of your hard drive until it finds the files it’s after. Once they’re located, they’re taken hostage using strong encryption. The list of affected games is already pretty big: most Valve, EA, and Bethesda titles, WoW, League of Legends, Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft, and Day Z are all marked. Not even your Minecraft files are safe, for crying out loud. This digital vermin even goes after Steam, RPG Maker, Unity, and Unreal Engine files!

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Yahoo’s new security features: On-demand passwords and e2e encryption – Security and privacy are becoming more and more important as we transmit much more than just words via email. Yahoo is developing two new technologies to protect your data and create security solutions. Soon, any sensitive data that you send using email, from business documents to personal information, can be kept secure using an advanced end-to-end (e2e) encryption plugin for Yahoo Mail. And, if you forget your password, Yahoo has come up with a new solution for that as well. Yahoo is calling their new password retrieval system On-demand passwords.

BlackBerry announces SecuTablet, a modified Galaxy Tab S – While it may have the outward appearance of a standard Galaxy Tab S, this tablet is not meant for everyday consumers, and it’s $2,380 price tag makes that clear. The SecuTablet is built with a purpose of preventing sensitive data from leaking to the wild, and does so with voice and data encryption from a built-in Secusmart Security Card. But that doesn’t mean the tablet will be a boring, work-software-only kind of device. Typical entertainment and social apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter can be installed on the SecuTablet without worry of security compromises. This is where IBM’s software comes in, keeping secured apps and data isolated from personal items, including potentially malicious apps.

Company News:

Intel: PC sales weak as many businesses stick with Windows XP – Summary:The company’s recent results suggest a slowdown in firms leaving the ancient OS behind and upgrading to new systems. Why won’t they update?

Twitter Starts Breaking Meerkat Features By Limiting Social Graph Access – Talk about timing: Twitter confirms they’ve bought Meerkat-competitor Periscope, and but a few hours later Twitter makes a move that kills off a few Meerkat features. Much of Meerkat’s success and draw lays in its tight integration with Twitter — something that many have noted could be an issue moving forward, be it that Twitter decides to get into live video themselves. Which, of course, they’ve just done. And now Twitter has begun to cut off off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph.

Facebook Buys And Shuts Down Shopping Site TheFind To Boost Commerce In Ads – Facebook today announced it has acquired personalized shopping search engine TheFind to help improve its commerce ads. TheFind had raised $26 million from Lightspeed and Redpoint since getting off the ground around 2005, but will now be shut down. Some, but not all, members of the team are joining Facebook.

Google wants Firefox users to set it as their default search engine – Google has started embedding a two-inch pop-up on searches made through the Firefox Web browser to combat Yahoo! being set as its default option.

Games and Entertainment:

The Greatest Gaming Tournaments in the World – “E-sports” is the term that has been coined to describe this new world of competitive gaming, and the stakes are high. Some tournaments have prize payouts into the six figures, and major stadiums get packed to the rafters with people watching the action. If you want to get involved in the tournament scene, the following list will help you get started. It runs down the biggest events around the globe and what competitors do to get the right to play there. Some are open to everyone, while others are the finish line for brackets that run for months beforehand.

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Steam hits 1,000 Linux games days after Valve’s big Steam Machine reveal – Steam’s love affair with Linux continues, and the infatuation is paying off in spades for Linux gamers. At the moment, there are 1005 games that support Linux and SteamOS on Steam. That’s out of 4817 total games for all platforms on Steam, or 20.8% of all the games on Steam. And that’s just games—not DLC items, software, demos, or trailers. But, if you expand the search to include everything, there’s 1856 items in the Linux + SteamOS category.

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‘Seinfeld’ streaming deal reportedly worth over $100 million could be nearing completion – According to the Wall Street Journal, multiple players are bidding for the rights to the sitcom. Naturally, Amazon and Hulu are strong contenders with Yahoo also throwing its hat into the ring. Netflix is noticeably absent from the list of top contenders with sources stating that they are not interested in the rights to Seinfeld. Netflix is most likely passing on the show having just acquired “Friends” last year for a hefty undisclosed sum. While there is no firm pricing for Seinfeld’s 180 episode, sources state that the contract could be worth north of $500,000 per episode.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 insanely innovative, incredibly cool Raspberry Pi projects – The Raspberry Pi’s very existence can be chalked up to creativity. Ebon Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation created the $35 mini-PC to inspire students to learn computer science and enable tinkerers to dream up wild projects without breaking the bank. And they have! In honor of Pi Day—March 14, or 3/14—and the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 2, we’re basking in 10 of the most creative, surprising, and downright interesting Raspberry Pi creations crafted since the micro-PC’s launch. Even better, most of the creators share full details on how to replicate these crazy innovative projects in your own home. Let’s dig in!

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# 3 –  Picrowave: Why bother owning a traditional microwave when you can swap out some innards and create your very own Pi-powered food nuker? Developer Nathan Broadbent took his microwave apart, redesigned the touchpad, and added some new functions like voice control, a barcode scanner to access an online database of cooking times, a web-based interface for remote access, and auto-tweets for when the timer is done.

Take an incredible drone flight through the world’s biggest cave – Equipped with a DJI Phantom 2, a Canon 6D and a GoPro Hero 4 Black, photographer Ryan Deboodt has produced some stunning footage of Hang Sơn Đoòng, the world’s biggest cave.

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This Guy Turned A Quadcopter Into A Star Wars Speeder Bike And It’s Amazing – Okay, this is the last quadcopter-to-“Star Wars Universe”-thing we (or at least I) will post, I promise. BUT SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THIS THING. It is perfection. About 30 seconds into the video, I actually stood up and whooped.

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Reuters Poll: Apple Watch not of interest to 69% of Americans – A poll by Reuters/Ipsos has found that more than 69% of Americans surveyed had no desire to buy the Apple Watch and 46% of those had heard nothing about Apple’s latest product. Polls show 3 percent (or 10 percent or 30 percent) will buy Apple Watch – Technically Incorrect: Now that Apple has presented its watch, the largest question emerges: how many people will buy it. Can anyone know?

UK safety tests show smartwatches more distracting to drivers than phones – Transportation safety agencies have long said that using a handheld device such as a smartphone is a dangerous distraction to drivers. You pay less attention to the road, and reaction times are greatly slowed. But what about the continually growing presence of wearables like smartwatches? Surely they must be much less distracting than a phone, and with their heavy reliance on voice controls, they should be about as distracting as standard timepieces, right? Well, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says just the opposite.

Cuba has allowed the launch of the country’s first free, public Wi-Fi – Cuba is taking small steps to loosen its grip on internet access in the country. Recently, a cultural center in Havana began rolling out access to free, public Wi-Fi — the first of its kind in Cuba. The country currently prioritizes its limited bandwidth for schools and businesses, but this is the first time the Cuban government has allowed a free, public Wi-Fi hub, AP reports. The cultural center is run by the Cuban visual artist Kcho, who has ties to the state government.

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(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fixing “Videogames” – Videogames are taking over the world. Videogames are bigger than movies, books, music, cars, mobile phones and sandwiches. Videogames are diverse, wonderful, causes for celebration. Videogames are art. Videogames are the tipping point of a 21st century revolution. Videogames aren’t some corner obsessive activity on the fringes of culture. Videogames make all the money. Videogames are going to win. And yet games don’t seem to be taking over the world. Games struggle to gain a wider acceptance equivalent to their footprint.

Something to think about:

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Pointing up   Thanks Delenn13

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView – After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder

Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache

Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page.

VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden at FutureFest: Mass Spying Isn’t Going To Stop the Next Terror Attack – It may come as a surprise, but Edward Snowden has defended spying as necessary; he just wants surveillance to have real oversight—and not to be conducted against all of us.

In a video interview broadcast at FutureFest in London, Snowden said it’s important to see that, “some of these programmes do serve purposes, so we see where to draw the line”.

And key to that is understanding the true purpose of mass surveillance: The targets aren’t terrorists, and it’s never stopped a terrorist attack. The attackers in the Charlie Hedbo, Canadian Parliament, and Australian shootings were all known to their governments, he noted. “They’re not going to stop the next attacks either,” he said. “Because they’re not public safety programs. They’re spying programmes.”

However, he noted that “they’re extremely valuable in terms of spying.” Spying has benefits, he said, giving governments information on everything from trade negotiations to foreign militaries. “Some of these things are valuable, and you want to retain these… but you have to have this debate in the public,” he said.

Cops are freaked out that Congress may impose license plate reader limits – Despite the fact that no federal license plate legislation has been proposed, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has sent a pre-emptive letter to top Congressional lawmakers, warning them against any future restrictions of automated license plate readers. The IACP claims to be the “world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives.”

As the letter, which was published last week, states:

We are deeply concerned about efforts to portray automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology as a national real-time tracking capability for law enforcement. The fact is that this technology and the data it generates is not used to track people in real time. ALPR is used every day to generate investigative leads that help law enforcement solve murders, rapes, and serial property crimes, recover abducted children, detect drug and human trafficking rings, find stolen vehicles, apprehend violent criminal alien fugitives, and support terrorism investigations.

Sarah Guy, a spokeswoman for the IACP, told Ars that current state and local restrictions have made the police lobby group concerned at the federal level.

The cameras scan at an extremely high rate, usually around 60 plates per second. Law enforcement policies vary widely concerning how long that information can be retained. Different agencies keep that data anywhere from a few weeks to indefinitely. Some cities have even mounted such cameras at their city borders, monitoring who comes in and out.

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Oakland Police Department

The Orwellian re-branding of “mass surveillance” as merely “bulk collection” – Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.

NYPD caught red-handed sanitizing police brutality Wikipedia entries: “Garner raised both his arms in the air” changed to “flailed his arms about.” – IP addresses linked to the New York Police Department’s computer network have been used to sanitize Wikipedia entries about cases of police brutality.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won’t be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD’s entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for “building community trust and justice” with the nation’s policing agencies.

As many as 85 IP addresses connected to 1 Police Plaza altered entries for some of the most high-profile police abuse cases, including those for victims Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, Capital New York said. Edits have also been made to other entries covering NYPD scandals, its stop-and-frisk program, and the department leadership.

One of the most brazen alterations concerned Eric Garner, who was killed by police last year during an arrest that was captured on video by an onlooker. The mobile phone video went viral, prompting widespread protests and a grand jury investigation. On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury agreed not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection to Garner’s death, despite the medical examiner ruling it a homicide. The same day as the grand jury announcement, the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia was altered from IP addresses traced to 1 Police Plaza. Those alterations can be seen here and here.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 4, 2015

Survey: Hardly Anybody Uses a Password Manager;  The Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  How to Get Bluetooth to Actually Work;  Five obscure Android apps that should be on your must-use list;  Mass infection malware attack targets Android;  Chromebook: How to run Windows programs in a browser tab for free;  Five kits for building drones, gadgets and robots with your Raspberry Pi;  Flaw in GoPro update mechanism reveals users’ Wi-Fi passwords;  BitTorrent Sync 2.0 adds pro features;  Alibaba Is Expanding Its Cloud Services To The U.S.  Mysterious Android App Emails Your Location to Creepers;  Some Bloggers Really Piss Me Off – Lucy Is One;  Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Survey: Hardly Anybody Uses a Password Manager – Once you’ve installed a password management tool, you only have to remember one password. So how come the vast majority of consumers still rely on bad passwords and sticky notes? The survey evaluated password practices in the U.S. and U.K. by polling 1,000 consumers. It evaluated how well participants hewed to correct password practices such as using a different password for every site, creating strong, unguessable passwords, and changing passwords every month or two. The results? Well, what did you expect? Passwords: they’re doing it wrong. Siber Systems, the survey’s sponsor, offers the well-known RoboForm password manager. While RoboForm is one of our recommended best password managers, others have rated even better. If money is tight, don’t fret. We’ve also identified the best free password managers. So, if you’re not using a password manager, start now! Don’t be one of the 92 percent whose passwords are painfully lame.

Paperspace Lets Anyone Access A Better Personal Computer That Lives In The Cloud – Imagine never having to buy new and expensive hardware to upgrade your personal computer with more speed and storage space. That’s the vision behind Y Combinator-backed Paperspace, a new company launching today, which is building a full, personal computer that lives in the cloud, which you access from any web browser. Today, there are number of solutions for accessing computing power via the cloud thanks to companies like Amazon and others, but these services require users to be more technical in order to get started. Paperspace is different because it’s aiming to wrap up a similar service in terms of accessing a remote, cloud computer, but offering it through an easy-to-use console where everyday consumers can just click a button to log into their upgraded, more powerful remote machine.

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The Best iPhone Apps of the Week – It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found some apps actually worth downloading.

When words won’t cut it, express yourself with reaction GIFs – When you really want to get your point across, nothing beats a hilarious little video clip. Here’s how to find them and use them.

Pointing up     Or, make your own. Checkout today’s free downloads for an open source GIF application with surprising functionality.

How to Get Bluetooth to Actually Work – While the most recent updates to Bluetooth technology have added better pairing, increased range and lowest-ever power usage, you may still encounter the odd obstacle when getting set up. Troubleshoot your Bluetooth connection with these tips and let us know how they work for you in the comments.

Five obscure Android apps that should be on your must-use list – If you’re an Android user, you know the Google Play Store is filled with apps — many of which are outstanding, but some of which… are not. Finding a few of the hidden, lesser-known gems isn’t a terribly challenging task, but it can take a while. So to save you a bit of time, I searched the Play Store and came up with five apps you may never have heard of but might benefit from using. Let’s see if any of them fits your bill.

5 TV antenna tricks for the modern-day cord cutter – When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone had cable, and owning a TV antenna meant you were stuck in the past. But with the rise of cord cutting, the lowly over-the-air antenna has experienced a rebirth. More than just an old-school way to get basic channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, an HD antenna can pair with all kinds of high-tech hardware, unlocking capabilities that were never possible before. If you’ve ditched cable TV and are using an antenna for over-the-air channels, here are five ways to take it to the next level:

Strip search: Meet the Calvin and Hobbes search engine – If you are serious fan of Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip, then you need to be made aware of the existence of the Calvin and Hobbes search engine created by Michael Yingling. It lets you search by keyword, so you can find the strips, for example, that have Calvin and Hobbes waking up to a snow day, battling Calvin’s nemesis Susie, or seeing the world via Calvin’s alter ego Stupendous Man. You must use an exact phrase when searching by keyword, and you can also search by date.

Google Contacts gets fresh design, better tool for dealing with duplicates – Google is cleaning up your contacts. Today, the company teased out a preview of its new and improved Contacts page, where you view and manage the people, phone numbers and email addresses in your Google account. It looks a whole lot cleaner and promises to help make getting rid of duplicate entries easier.

You can now embed OneNote images, tweets, and YouTube into Microsoft’s Sway – Microsoft said Tuesday that it has greatly expanded the types of content and sources that can be embedded into its Sway tool, with an eye toward OneNote. And, just for fun, you can embed other Microsoft Sways into your Sways, as well. Microsoft has also bumped up its suggested search terms to include tweets and YouTube videos, allowing any Sway user to embed a wealth of content in new Sways.

Chromebook: How to run Windows programs in a browser tab for free – Most of the time we focus on helpful tips for Windows users, but today’s article will also appeal to anyone with a Chromebook. A company named Cameyo is known for its software that lets you run Windows program from a USB stick, but it also offers a virtualization service that lets you run full-blown Windows desktop programs in a browser for free. Cameyo isn’t perfect. Virtual programs tend to run slowly, some don’t work at all, and using personal files with the apps is not as obvious as it could be. Nevertheless, Cameyo can come in handy in a pinch when you’re away from your primary PC. Here’s how it works.

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Twitter CFO floats idea of newspaper-like ‘daily edition’ – People already check Twitter to see what’s happening. But news junkies who follow lots of accounts may have dozens if not hundreds of tweets to comb through every morning. Twitter thinks it can address this, partly by better organizing the content posted to its site and presenting it in new ways.

Five kits for building drones, gadgets and robots with your Raspberry Pi – A selection of kits that make it easier to build your first gadget with the $35 Linux board.

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BitTorrent Sync 2.0 adds pro features – More than two years after its initial public release, BitTorrent Sync has been updated to version 2.0 and dropped its “beta” designation. Based on the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol, it enables users to securely sync folders among their own devices and share them with other users, without relying on cloud servers like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple’s iCloud Drive. Although the software remains free, version 2.0 adds an optional Pro tier—aimed primarily at business users—with extra convenience features and access controls, for $40 per user per year (with volume discounts for more than five licenses). All users of BitTorrent Sync 2.0 get 30 days of free access to the Pro features.

No reboot patching comes to Linux 4.0 – One reason to love Linux on your servers or in your data-center is that you so seldom needed to reboot it. True, critical patches require a reboot, but you could go months without rebooting. Now, with the latest changes to the Linux kernel you may be able to go years between reboots.

Security:

Mass infection malware attack targets Android – AdaptiveMobile uncovered one of the single largest messaging-initiated mobile malware outbreaks. The malware, dubbed Gazon, which uses victims’ mobile phone contacts to propagate, sends messages to their contacts linking to offers for spoof Amazon vouchers, which when opened, installs malware to their Android device. The attack, which went live on the 25th February and originated in the US, has infected thousands of mobile devices in more than 30 countries around the world, including Canada, UK, France, India, Korea, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines.

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Flaw in GoPro update mechanism reveals users’ Wi-Fi passwords – A vulnerability in the update mechanism for the wireless networks operated by GoPro cameras has allowed a security researcher to easily harvest over a 1,000 login credentials (including his own). The popular rugged, wearable cameras can be controlled via an app, but in order to do so the user has to connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi network. Israel-based infosec expert Ilya Chernyakov discovered the flaw when he had to access the network of a friend’s camera, but the friend forgot the login credentials.

Mysterious Android App Emails Your Location to Creepers – Smartphones have brought us wonderful things, such as Snapchat, Flappy Bird, and the ever present fear that someone might be tracking our every move. This week, researchers at Malwarebytes  tipped us off to a malicious Android app that emails your location to an unseen operator. It’s scary and it’s called Spy.MailGPS. Before we dive in, I must note that location tracking is a huge issue on all smartphones. Smartphone makers and app developers have come under fire for accidentally exposing users’ location, and for harvesting that same information. It’s a problem that’s not going away, but MailGPS is much scarier.

US air traffic control computer system vulnerable to terrorist hackers – The US system for guiding airplanes is open to vulnerabilities from outside hackers, the Government Accountability Office said Monday. The weaknesses that threaten the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to ensure the safety of flights include the failure to patch known three-year-old security holes, the transmission and storage of unencrypted passwords, and the continued use of “end-of-life” key servers. Among the findings:

A Group ‘Hacked’ the NSA’s Website to Demonstrate a Widespread Bug – A group of researchers only needed $104 and 8 hours of Amazon’s cloud computing power to hack the NSA’s website. And their feat was made possible by a bug that, ironically, was practically created by the NSA itself and its anti-encryption policies from 20 years ago. The NSA’s site was just the guinea pig to demonstrate a newly-disclosed internet flaw called FREAK. Now, as crypto expert Matthew Green correctly pointed out, this wasn’t really a “hack.” Mounting a man-in-the-middle attack against NSA.gov is not the same as hacking the NSA (as an always-appropriate XKCD cartoon illustrates).

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Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots – A global Wi-Fi hacking experiment exposed major security issues regarding the browsing habits of users around the globe. Avast mobile security experts traveled to cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia to observe public Wi-Fi activity in nine major metropolitan areas. They were equipped with a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop and an application that monitored local Wi-Fi traffic at 2.4 GHz frequency – a free app that is widely available. Because HTTP traffic is unprotected, the Avast team was able to view all of the users’ browsing activity, including domain and page history, searches, personal login information, videos, emails, and comments.

Company News:

Google’s Schmidt meets EU competition chief to discuss antitrust woes – Google chairman Eric Schmidt and other company officials have met with the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to discuss the ongoing antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices. The Monday meeting was the first time Google executives had the chance to talk to Vestager about the antitrust case since she took over from her predecessor, Joaquín Almunia, on Nov. 1 last year.

Alibaba Is Expanding Its Cloud Services To The U.S. To Give Amazon New Competition – Alibaba, the Chinese commerce firm which held the largest IPO in history last year, is bringing cloud computing services in the U.S. after it announced a data center in Silicon Valley. The base — the location of which Alibaba isn’t revealing for security reasons — is the first for its Aliyun division outside of China, where it claims 1.4 million cloud services customers. The company has four data centers in China and one in Hong Kong, and it plans to expand that reach into Europe and Southeast Asia before the end of the year.

BlackBerry CEO: I’m open to creating a tablet again – That’s if CEO John Chen thinks the opportunity is right. “It’s not in the works, but it’s on my mind,” Chen said in an interview at the Mobile World Congress conference here. A BlackBerry tablet could satisfy the needs of a small but fiercely loyal group of productivity-focused customers who have stuck with the struggling smartphone maker and its operating system, potentially giving it a new revenue stream. But there aren’t enough BlackBerry faithful to sustain such a business, especially given the tablet category saw its first year-over-year decline in shipments in the fourth quarter.

Pizza Hut, Visa Experimenting With In-Car Ordering – The pizza maker is working with Visa and tech consultancy Accenture to develop a concept car that will test mobile online purchases on the go. Visa Checkout would be integrated into a car’s dashboard for in-car purchases, like that pizza you want to pick up on the way home. Place your order via voice to make sure you eyes stay on the road. Pizza Hut will provide in-car access to menus, delivery, and pick-up options, while beacon technology will notify Pizza Hut workers when your car is pulling in to the restaurant. It’s just a concept right now, but is on display at MWC in Barcelona.

Apple tops Samsung in quarterly smartphone sales for the first time since 2011 – Apple sold 74.8 million smartphones globally during the fourth quarter, up from 50.2 million in the year-earlier quarter, according to Gartner. Apple’s decision to offer phones with larger screens paid off, the research firm said. U.S. and Chinese buyers are especially keen on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, said Gartner, adding that demand for the phones is still strong in both countries. The larger screens also gave Apple customers a reason to replace their older phones. Samsung, by comparison, sold 73 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, down from 83.3 million in 2013’s fourth quarter. Samsung had held the quarterly sales title since 2011.

Apple in settlement talks with electric-car battery maker – Lawsuit accused Apple of luring away key engineers to work within a new battery division, fueling speculation that the iPhone maker has ambitions of developing an electric car of its own.

Games and Entertainment:

This is Nvidia Shield: a closer look at the 4K Android TV game console – Nvidia touted three big announces at its GDC 2015 press conference, but all of them center around its latest Shield device: a home console powered by Tegra X1, running Android TV, and capable of playing games like Crysis 3 locally and streaming premium titles through its also-just-announced Grid service. The $199 console itself, coming this May, embodies Nvidia’s design language — sharp edges, a mix of gloss and matte black, a green glow that “cracks” through the front of the system. (The controller, on the other hand, feels like the opposite of all that.) Nvidia has made a lot of promises with the capabilities, and we won’t know how well it’ll make good on those promises until we try it ourselves. But the hardware itself? Here you go!

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Crysis 3 on NVIDIA SHIELD with Android TV hands-on – The Android version of Crysis 3 has been revealed, and here it is – in a very early form. This game is set to be released later this year – likely at the same time as the NVIDIA SHIELD home entertainment device – but for now it’s in a very early stage of development. This is not a GRID game – it’s running natively on Android. This is a real-deal Android game we’ll be able to download from Google Play for NVIDIA SHIELD later this year.

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Insomniac announces next major DLC for ‘Sunset Overdrive’ – “Sunset Overdrive” will get a new downloadable expansion in less than a month, bringing an entirely new area to the game as well as new weapons and a new traversal mechanic.

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Xbox 360 gamers get Preview program; can now reserve their Xbox One Games with Gold – Microsoft is paying attention to Xbox 360 owners, with the company now launching the Xbox 360 Preview Program. Not only that, but 360 gamers can now reserve their Xbox One Games with Gold even if they don’t own the new-gen console. Users on the Xbox 360 that are subscribed to Gold can now start building up their games collection for the Xbox One, even without owning the console. The feature, which recently went live, allows these users to essentially reserve their Free Games with Gold without downloading them.

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ARM Ready to Light Up the Gaming World – The U.K. chip maker’s Geomerics subsidiary on Tuesday released Enlighten 3, an advanced, dynamic lighting solution for game engines like Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 3 and 4. Enlighten 3 comes with Forge, an editing tool enabling game developers to “quickly understand the capabilities of Enlighten and rapidly iterate on high-quality, real-time lighting,” ARM said.

Valve Announces Source 2, And It’ll Be Free – It’s been a good week for game developers. Unreal Engine 4 went free. Unity 5 came out, and a massive chunk of its once premium features went free. And now: Valve has just announced Source 2, the next generation of their Source game engine… and sure enough, it’s “free to content developers”.

Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s Still Way Too Easy for Government Employees to Hide Official Conversations – Think Hillary Clinton was the first government employee to be caught using a personal email account to conduct official business? Government employees have been doing this sort of thing for years. Both the US and Canadian governments have information laws that require government correspondence to be logged, retained, and made available to the public through Freedom of Information or Access to Information laws, respectively. But both governments make skirting these requirements surprisingly easy, and in some cases, employees are only too happy to do so.

Petraeus plea deal reveals two-tier justice system for leaks – The deal brokered by federal prosecutors with the former general and CIA director is another example of a senior official being slapped on the wrist for serious violations while lesser officials are harshly prosecuted for relatively minor infractions.

Some Bloggers Really Piss Me Off – Lucy Is One – One of the first blogs I go to every day is Bill Mullins’ page. He is a wealth of knowledge and each day he gives me links that I follow up on. Bill’s March 3rd page led to stuff written by Lucy Steigerwald, a writer that pisses me off because of the crap she lays out for people to read. Everybody knows there are good cops and bad cops – same with plumbers, photographers, electricians and every other known category of professions. Lucy writes stuff to incite the reader. Just like newspapers that write about cops only to sell newspapers or news agencies that follow incidents about police activity only to incite their viewers with “their angle” on a story. A lot of the time, before the full facts of the incident come to light. What I Learned Writing About Bad Cops for a Year and a Half is an example of this broad’s work. I hate linking to her stuff as I am pro cop. Obviously Lucy is not as she has chosen to post stories about cops first to earn a living and second, to incite her readers – just look below at her bio.

Ferguson police showed patterns of racial bias for years, says Justice Department – The Ferguson Police Department violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents for years, says a Department of Justice report expected to be released tomorrow. Federal investigators found that, well before the shooting death of Michael Brown last year, police activity in Ferguson, Missouri, was fueled by racial discrimination against the predominantly black population, resulting in unjustified traffic stops, arrests without probable cause, and the use of excessive force.

The Fogo smart flashlight is a survivalist’s dream tool – After turning heads and bagging multiple accolades at CES in January, the Fogo flashlight is now trying to charm the Kickstarter community into loosening its purse strings to the tune of $125,000. Truth be told, calling it a flashlight would be a bit unfair to both Fogo and flashlights. Because the Fogo aspires to be a digital Swiss army knife, cramming into its IPX8-rated waterproof frame a 1000-lumen flashlight, GPS receiver, backlit LCD display, Bluetooth LE, 128MB flash storage, accelerometer, magnetometer, “bicycle computer,” and much more. Further, Fogo’s lone USB port is intended to function as a hardware expansion slot that’ll let users attach purpose-built accessories.

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Three steps to weasel-woodpecker acceptance – It’s hard not to question the veracity of this image. You mumble “photoshop” as you look at it. Fortunately, the internet has answers: this is the real deal. A man by the name of Martin Le-May took a series of pictures of the pair when he heard distress calls from the bird — a European green woodpecker — in Hornchurch Country Park in East London, according to NBC. You finally accept that it’s real. After all, this has happened before.

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You finally accept that it’s real. After all, this has happened before.

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Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works – In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla captured the imagination of the world with his invention of the Tesla coil, a device that could transmit electricity through the air, no wires required. More than 100 years later, the world has responded by adapting this breakthrough technology… mainly to recharge their electric toothbrushes. How will your phone, your lights, and even your electric car someday be powered without a wire? Here’s a primer on how wireless power works.

Something to think about:

“Wrong’ is one of those concepts that depends on witnesses.”

–    Scott AdamsDilbert, 11-05-09

Today’s Free Downloads:

ScreenToGif – This tool allows you to record a selected area of your screen and save as a Gif.

Features:

Record your screen and save directly to a gif looped animation.

Pause and continue to record.

Move the window around to record what you want.

You can add Text, Subtitles and Title Frames.

Edit the frames, add filters, revert, make yoyo style, change frame delay, add border, add progress bars.

Export frames.

Crop and Resize.

You can work even while the program is recording.

Remove frames that you don’t want.

Select a folder to save the file automatically or select one before enconding.

Add the system cursor to your recording.

Very small sized, portable and multilanguage executable.

Start/Pause and stop your recording using your F keys.

Multi language: Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Greek, French, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese and Tamil.

GreenScreen unchanged pixels to save kilobytes.

You can apply actions/filters to selected frames.

Fullscreen Recording.

Snapshot Mode.

Drag and Drop to add frames in the editor.

Pointing up   I often use this open source application to play around and have a little fun. It’s a neat little app with enormous capabilities.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Privacy advocates find Obama proposal lacking – A consumer privacy proposal from U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration gives people too little control over their personal data and companies too much latitude to use that information, a coalition of 14 privacy and digital rights groups said.

The Obama administration’s consumer privacy bill of rights, released late Friday, allows companies holding personal data to determine whether consumers should be able to demand changes to the information, the groups said in a letter to Obama, sent Tuesday.

The White House proposal contains several “shortcomings,” said the groups, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Watchdog, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

You Can Now Easily Send Encrypted Texts to Anyone, and the NSA Is Gonna Hate It – The NSA is not thrilled about the fact that encrypted communications are becoming easier and more widespread than ever before. Its director, Admiral Mike Rogers, said as much last week during a cybersecurity event in Washington, D.C., where he joined the FBI in asking for a “legal framework” by which government agencies can insert backdoors into commonly used communications software.

So chances are, NSA and co. are not going to like Si​gnal, a cross-platform app that now lets you send encrypted text, picture and video messages to virtually anyone with a smartphone.

The free app is made by Open Whisper Systems, makers of TextSecure and Redphone, which allow Android users to send end-to-end encrypted texts and calls, respectively. That means that short of someone hacking your phone and stealing your encryption keys, no one—not even the app’s creators—can eavesdrop on your calls and texts.

We Give Up Our Data Too Cheaply – Our data has enormous value when we put it all together. Our movement records help with urban planning. Our financial records enable the police to detect and prevent money laundering. Our posts and tweets help researchers understand how we tick as a society. There are all sorts of creative and interesting uses for personal data, uses that give birth to new knowledge and make all of our lives better.

Our data is also valuable to each of us individually, to keep private or disclose as we want. And there’s the rub. Using data pits group interest against self-interest, the core tension humanity has been struggling with since we came into existence.

The government offers us this deal: if you let us have all of your data, we can protect you from crime and terrorism. It’s a rip-off. It doesn’t work. And it overemphasizes group security at the expense of individual security.

The bargain Google offers us is similar, and it’s similarly out of balance: if you let us have all of your data and give up your privacy, we will show you advertisements you want to see—and we’ll throw in free web search, e-mail, and all sorts of other services. Companies like Google and Facebook can only make that bargain when enough of us give up our privacy.

Canada turfed out more spies to the U.S. than elsewhere – New figures show Canada has turfed out five spies in the past decade from a surprising source country — its best friend and ally, the United States.

From 2004 to 2014 Ottawa sent back to the U.S. five of a total of 21 of those barred from Canada “on security grounds for engaging in an act of espionage that is against Canada or that is contrary to Canada’s interests,” according to a document produced by Canada Border Services Agency.

It’s not clear whether the espionage was by foreign government agents or whether it was industrial espionage — that is, spying to obtain state secrets or spying that targeted intellectual property or corporate secrets.

James Clapper: Kill the Patriot Act, But Don’t Blame Me If Another 9/11 Happens – Go ahead and let one of the most embattled provisions of the Patriot Act expire, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says. Just don’t blame the NSA when another terrorist attack happens, he says.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the bit of the law that allows the FBI and the NSA to scoop up mass telephone records from American accounts. The mass collection of “metadata,” which includes the numbers your phone is calling, location information, how long your calls last, and more, was exposed by Edward Snowden’s very first revelations roughly two years ago, and has since become a prime target of NSA reform bills.

President Obama, in fact, restricted the amount and types of records that could be scooped up by intelligence agencies. The Obama administration came to the conclusion that metadata hasn’t prevented even one single terrorist attack. Metadata, meanwhile, can be used to spy on you, which is why many civil liberty types, and, indeed, some in Congress, would rather it go away altogether.

“I hope everyone involved assumes the responsibility and it not be blamed, if we have another failure, exclusively on the intelligence community”

That’s actually set to happen on June 1, when Section 215 will expire. Clapper, speaking today at the Council on Foreign Relations, sounded as though he’s not looking forward to the prospect.

Edward Snowden willing to face trial in U.S. — if it’s fair – Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who leaked details of the agency’s surveillance programs, is willing to return to the U.S. and face criminal charges, if he’s assured of a fair trial, according to a Russian news report.

Snowden, now living in Russia, is ready to return to the U.S. on the condition that he’s guaranteed a fair trial, Snowden lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told journalists Tuesday, according to a report from Russian news agency TASS.

Several Snowden lawyers are negotiating his return to the U.S., Kucherena said. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has promised in a letter to Snowden’s lawyers that he would not face a death sentence, Kucherena added.

So far, the Department of Justice has guaranteed Snowden “will not be executed, not that he will receive a fair trial,” the lawyer told reporters.

Snowden continues to work in IT in Moscow and consults with several U.S. companies as well, Kucherena told reporters.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 4, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 3, 2015

Take These 4 Steps Before Making Your House a Smart Home;  7 smartphone rules changed this week;  How to unlock your Android device with your face;  Microsoft to support Raspberry Pi 2 with a free version of Windows 10;  Office Online vs. Office 365: What’s free, what’s not;  Photos: A closer look at the Raspberry Pi 2;  Xprt provides free tech support on your iPhone;  Build your own home media center: Customising Kodi;  Yet ANOTHER Flash 0-day vuln patch looming;  Ransomware attack freezes backups;  Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are paying to get around Adblock Plus;  These Are the 50 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2015;  Macrium Reflect FREE Edition.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Take These 4 Steps Before Making Your House a Smart Home – Companies selling smart home products are quick to say how easy it is to connect their devices to the Internet. And while most of the time they’re correct, they are sidestepping a big, thorny pitfall: namely, your home’s wireless network. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been working on turning my house into smart home, and have learned that nothing is more important — and infuriating — than my house’s Wi-Fi. Here are four lessons I’ve learned so far:

How to unlock your Android device with your face – Android provides a plethora of ways to unlock your phone—a PIN, a password, a pattern gesture, or a typical, insecure swipe. But did you know that you can unlock your Android phone with your face? Here’s how to set it up.

7 smartphone rules changed this week – Federal regulators have been throwing their weight around lately, and mostly to good effect for consumers and users of mobile technology. The net effect of their recent activism adds up to a whole new set of rules and protections for all of us. Here are the ramifications of seven new rules.

Facebook’s new Privacy Policy gives it more reach – Facebook changing its privacy policies is nothing new, but once in a while it manages to hit a nerve that causes privacy advocates and governments agencies to take notice. Especially when Facebook does so rather silently. That might be the case last weekend when the social networking giant made some modifications to its Privacy Policy change that, though still in plain English, is somewhat ambiguously worded in such a way that it can be open to interpretation and abuse. By Facebook, of course.

Office Online vs. Office 365: What’s free, what’s not, and what you really need – Free Office Online is a great deal, but paying for an Office 365 subscription gives you some hard-to-beat perks. We’ll help you decide which way to go.

Microsoft to support Raspberry Pi 2 with a free version of Windows 10: A full Windows PC for just $35? – It’s not clear exactly what version of Windows 10 will be available, but Microsoft is handing it out for free to the Maker community through its Windows Developer Program for IoT later this year. With the pricing of the Raspberry Pi 2 and Microsoft’s free copy of Windows 10, you could have a full PC for just $35 later this year. We’ll have to wait to hear more information from Microsoft on how Windows 10 will function on the Raspberry Pi 2, but the company says it’s planning to reveal more “in the coming months.” It’s likely that this version of Windows 10 will only run modern universal apps, as the Raspberry Pi 2 includes an ARM-based processor.

Photos: A closer look at the Raspberry Pi 2 – The next version of the Raspberry Pi launched today – with a quad-core processor, 1GB of memory and the promise of running six times faster than previous models. Despite the improvements the Pi 2 is compatible with both the hardware and software of earlier models, as well as sharing the $35 price tag of the less-powerful, first-generation model B+. Speaking at the launch of the board, Eben Upton, co-creator of the Pi, said the improvements raised performance to the point where the machine could be used as a general-purpose PC.

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Use Chartcube to analyze spreadsheet data on your iPad – Chartcube promises a new way for seeing and sharing spreadsheet data on an iPad. Democratizing spreadsheet data so middle managers and their managers can use it for actionable business information has been a challenge since the dawn of the PC spreadsheet. Chartcube transforms spreadsheet data into a visual and interactive “cube” with just a few taps. This shows an example of a Chartcube:

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Why do BYOD smartphones and tablets get remotely wiped? – Do you BYOD? If you do then be aware that you could find your smartphone or tablet wiped without warning for one of a number of reasons. Plenty of people – one every three minutes is the claim made by one report – wake up or walk into a meeting or try to contact a friend or family member only to find their device wiped. But why are these devices being wiped? Here are some of the common – and not so common – reasons:

Build your own home media center: Customising Kodi – Want to build one PC to rule all your living room media needs? In part two of our guide, we go hands-on with media software Kodi, taking you through Blu-ray functionality, media management and customisation.

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Screenshot by Craig Simms/CNET

Recycle that old Android device into a web-based security camera – There are so many reasons why you might need a security camera. There are also a lot of reasons why purchasing an actual security system might not be cost effective. So, if you’re looking for a simple way to get a single camera security system up and running, and you happen to have a spare Android device lying around, there’s an app that you need to look into called IP Webcam. The IP Webcam app uses your device’s built-in camera, adds a lightweight web server, and allows you to connect to the camera through that server. It’s simple and effective. Here are just a few of the things that you do through the web interface:

Kraftwerk wants to put a power plant in your pocket – kraftwerk’s fuel cells are powered by gas, the same gas you can get from lighter refills or camping gas. As such, you won’t have problems finding a way to refill the pack anywhere in the world. No more struggling with different power sockets or even USB ports. It only takes 3 seconds to refill, which will be enough to power iPhones, smartphones, tablets, and even GoPros. When full, it can charge an iPhone 11 times over, though usual USB charging rates apply. Now for the bitter pill. kraftwerk currently only exists as a Kickstarter campaign, having only finished prototyping last November. If all goes well, it will ship to backers in December. All early bird offers are gone, so the lowest you can pledge is $99 for one or $139 with 12 cartridges in the package. It is close to reaching twice its $500,000 funding goal, which goes to show how much appeal this idea has with today’s mobile users.

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Xprt provides free tech support on your iPhone – A new iPhone app called Xprt allows you to chat with tech experts and receive free tech advice directly from your phone. After launching the app and creating a free account, you’re given the option to get technical support from an “Xprt” or request computer shopping advice. The app will request some details about the issue you need help with, then place you in a chat with someone who can walk you through fixing the issue.

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Down go tablet shipments — for the first time ever – Total worldwide shipments of tablets and so-called 2-in-1 devices (hybrids of laptops and tablets) during the fourth quarter of 2014 hit 76.1 million units, declining by 3.2 percent compared to the 78.6 million tablets that headed to store shelves in the fourth quarter of 2013, IDC reported Monday. This was the first time that tablet shipments have declined since a wave of devices, including Apple’s iPad, ignited the market in 2010, IDC said.

Microsoft slashes $100 off Surface Pro 3 tablet price for limited time – The price cut is good through February 7, though the base configuration is the only version that retains its original price during the sale.

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The One Huge Thing Everybody Gets Wrong About Tablets – The news Monday that tablet sales dropped off for the first time last quarter are bound to accelerate the “tablets are dead” punditry we’ve seen around the web over the past few months. But the vast majority of commentators writing about tablets get one big thing wrong: The tablet market isn’t one big market, it’s many small ones.

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Security:

Trouble comes in threes: Yet ANOTHER Flash 0-day vuln patch looming – Adobe plans to patch Flash yet again after yet another zero-day vulnerability in the web video software leaves PCs prone to hijacking. An upcoming update to squash the critical bug makes it three patches in just two weeks for Flash. Adobe expects to release the Flash Player update sometime this week (beginning 1 February). Until then, uninstall Flash or enable click-to-play in your browser. And, we reckon, keep it that way.

How to Enable Click-to-Play Plugins in Every Web Browser – Most web browsers load Flash and other plug-in content as soon as you open a web page. Enable “click-to-play” plug-ins and your browser will load a placeholder image instead — click it to actually download and view the content. Click-to-play allows you to conserve download bandwidth, improve page load times, reduce CPU usage, and extend laptop battery life. This feature gained popularity with Flashblock for Firefox and is now built into modern browsers.

SaveMe Malware Infiltrates Google Play – Despite technological advancements, most of our online experience is built on trust. We trust that app stores like Google Play will weed out the baddies, and we trust security companies to keep us safe. In January, researchers at Lookout discovered a case where both of those assumptions proved false, when malware snuck onto Google Play disguised as a secure backup service called SaveMe.

Ransomware attack freezes backups with crypto key swap – Detailed by security consultancy High-Tech Bridge, the attacks start with an attack on a web site that yeilds acess to a database server. Once in, attackers change the encryption settings used by the database and store the key on an HTTPS server somewhere, an operation that apparently escapes some admins’ attention. To pull off the attack, the crims remove the key from the remote server, at which point the website operator notices their site is down. Not long afterwards an email demanding cash for access to the encryption key.

Hacker hijacks wireless Foscam baby monitor, talks and freaks out nanny – This is the third time news has circulated about some jerk hijacking a wireless Foscam camera/baby monitor and made his virtual intrusion known by talking. Please change the default password!

Over 99 percent of About.com links vulnerable to XSS, XFS iframe attack – A security researcher disclosed Monday over 99 percent of About.com’s topic links and domains are vulnerable to open XSS and Iframe Injection (XFS) attacks.

Sys admins, data scientists, analysts: How attackers’ sights have switched to the tech-savvy – With so many more routes into sensitive data, the pool of potential targets for computer criminals has widened to take in even those with considerable IT expertise, according to Darktrace director of technology Dave Palmer.

Company News:

Google’s U.S. Search Ex-Mobiles Drops Below 75% As Yahoo Makes More Firefox Gains – It may look like a drop in the ocean to some — especially given the caveats we detail below — but the numbers, published by StatCounter, show that Yahoo’s deal to take over as the default search option on Firefox is very slowly bearing fruit, with the company nearly tripling its market share on that browser in the U.S. in the last three months. Yahoo is now up to over 28% of all searches, versus just under 10% in November 2014. Google, meanwhile, is now below 64% of searches from the Firefox browser based on desktop, console and tablet (but not mobile handset) searches.

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are paying to get around Adblock Plus – Some of the web’s biggest companies have been paying to get around Adblock Plus, according to a new report from Financial Times. Microsoft’s Bing search ads and Taboola’s “recommended links” box are among the ads that are currently slipping through Adblock Plus’s filter, and FT confirms that it’s the intentional result of a paid deal between the makers of Adblock and the owners of the ads. According to FT sources, the companies have paid Eyeo (the maker of Adblock Plus) to be added to an official whitelist, which allows them to bypass the plug-in. Google has a similar deal, as has been previously reported.

Pointing up     Memo to self – remember to expand upon the definition of coercion in action.

Intel buys Lantiq for connected home networking – Intel acquired Lantiq, which makes broadband and networking gear, in a move that broadens its connected home efforts. With the move, Intel becomes the latest tech giant to hop on the connected home bandwagon. Samsung has said its appliances will be connected to the Internet and tied together. Google owns Nest and everyone from Apple to Microsoft has some kind of connected home play.

Alibaba And Lending Club Launch Financing Program For U.S. Businesses – Alibaba.com and peer-to-peer financing site Lending Club have inked a strategic partnership designed to get more U.S. businesses to buy inventory from the e-commerce giant’s wholesale marketplace. The two will offer a new financial service called the Alibaba.com e-Credit Line that will let American companies apply for credit lines of $5,000 to $300,000 through the site, which they can then use to make purchases there. The program will eventually expand beyond the U.S.

FCC commissioner calls out Dish for taking $3 billion in small business discounts – Dish is trying to cash in over $3 billion in discounts meant to help “very small businesses” during wireless spectrum auctions, but FCC commissioner Ajit Pai isn’t having it. According to The Wall Street Journal, Pai intends to petition commission chairman Tom Wheeler to investigate Dish’s eligibility for these discounts. Pai, who’s been protective over the FCC’s small business discounts in the past, says that allowing a large company like Dish to receive such a large discount “makes a mockery” of the program.

Sony sells its online gaming subsidiary, which will now also make Xbox One games – Sony Online Entertainment has been sold to a third-party investment firm, and the former Sony subsidiary will now make games for Xbox One, mobile and other platforms.

Google reportedly plans to take on Uber with ride-hailing service – Google plans to take on Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and all the other ride-sharing services by offering its own similar product, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company “most likely” has been working on the service in conjunction with its driverless car project, the publication said, and David Drummond — Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, who also serves on Uber’s board — recently notified Uber about the possibility it would launch such a product, Bloomberg said.

Games and Entertainment:

Fan remakes Resident Evil 2 in Unreal Engine 3 as a learning project – Typically, if you’re learning how to use a new game engine you’ll go through a few tutorials and create some simple games to help understand the concepts and workflow. Developer Rod Lima took that idea a step further and decided to fully recreate Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 in Unreal Engine 3. Lima saw the game remake as the perfect way to learn UnrealScript, the scripting language that Unreal Engine 3 relies upon. The finished project is of such good quality Capcom could pick this up and release it has a HD version of the game tomorrow.

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These Are the 50 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2015 – These are the biggest games for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS due this year. Highlights include Bloodborne, The Legend of Zelda, Halo 5: Guardians and Batman: Arkham Knight.

Madden’s simulation of the Super Bowl predicted the exact final score – EA Sports has been running Super Bowl simulations using Madden for more than a decade now with a respectable record of nine correct predictions and three false ones. However, this year it didn’t just pick the winning team, it also foresaw that the Patriots would be trailing in the third quarter only for Tom Brady to deliver a game-clinching pass to Julian Edelman for a final score of 28-24. Yahoo Tech notes that the simulator also got some of the finer details right, including the first team to score, Brady’s number of touchdowns — and was also only 27 yards off nailing the quarterback’s total passing yardage.

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Monopoly is being sold with real money inside – Toymaker Hasbro is celebrating the 80th anniversary of Monopoly’s introduction in France by replacing the fake money in 80 sets with real cash. The sets will be distributed among 30,000 specially branded editions of the game, with only one of these replacing every note on the board with real money (a total windfall of €20,580 or $23,348). Ten additional sets will contain €300 ($340) in twenties, fifties, and a single €100 bill while 69 other sets will offer €150 ($170) in tens and twenties.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Too much phone, tablet use may gimp kids’ development – Back in the days, our folks would tell us that watching TV would turn us into brainless zombies. Today, that might have some truth as well when it comes to heavy use of mobile devices. Boston University Medical Center researchers are now questioning the effects that these devices have, especially on children below 2 years of age, theorizing that a heavy dose of mobile could, in fact, be detrimental to social, emotional, and even mental skills that can only be learned through human-human interaction.

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School suspends boy for alleged Hobbit Ring invisibility threats – Technically Incorrect: In Texas, they do not take kindly, it seems, to fantasy threats from 9-year-olds. In this case, Aiden Steward allegedly threatened another child that he could make them disappear with his One Ring.

The 10 most common misconceptions about space – Space is a difficult concept to represent on film, and not just because of floating hair and upside-down camera angles. The concept of space, a low- or no-gravity environment with no atmosphere and all sorts of foreign dangers, is difficult to portray accurately and still complete an engaging story. Still, some of cinema’s most beloved “facts” have wormed their way into the popular understanding of space. This must be brought to a swift and merciless end.

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Consumers Vs. Data Science Bad Guys – It’s interesting as hell that, as the world continues to spew vitriol at the creepy collection and abuse of data by governments and big businesses, big data and data science companies are still kicking ass. Fortunately for these businesses, right now governments and Facebook are the bad guys, providing super useful and convenient cover. That will change. The emergence of location-based data gathered by our mobile phone providers, social data, behavioral data, Internet of things-generated data – combined with the use and abuse thereof – represents just the small beginnings of many nasty, uncomfortable problems that will fester over time. A war is coming. The good news? Consumers will win.

RadioShack through the ages: 8 adorable images from the fallen giant’s vault – RadioShack first opened its doors in 1921 to serve radio officers stationed on ships in Boston Harbor. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that RadioShack is on the verge of collapse. Intrigued? Then join me on a tour of vintage RadioShack moments. This first slide was shot in 1931 at a store in Boston. Then as today, customers visited RadioShack to listen to audio equipment before making a purchase.

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This first slide was shot in 1931 at a store in Boston.

‘Freedom Clip’ gets you past Keurig’s K-Cup rules – If you’ve recently purchased a Keurig coffee machine, you know that many third-party pods won’t work in your machine. Protected by DRM, Keurig tamped the cottage industry that popped up around their machines with their latest kit, to the dismay of just about everyone. A new add-on might get you around Keurig’s rules, though. The Freedom Clip snaps into your existing Keurig, and allows for those now-bootleg K-Cups to be used in your new Keurig machine. Next time you’re standing in front of your Keurig, thinking of so many curse words because you’re not enjoying your favorite non-Keurig K-Cup, keep this article in mind. Or, be pro-active and click the link below to get yourself a little freedom.

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Something to think about:

“Computer games don’t affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.”

–     Marcus Brigstocke

Today’s Free Downloads:

System Explorer – Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files. Portable version also available.

System Explorer is free, awards winning software for exploration and management of System Internals. This small software includes many useful tools which help you Keep Your System Under Control. With System Explorer You get also fast access to File Database which help you to determine unwanted processes or threats. System Explorer is translated into 21 languages and is available for download in installer and portable version.

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

File Backup:

Create a single backup file of one or more folders on your hard disk

Incremental and Differential backups.

Include and exclude filter ensures that you only backup relevant files.

Browse the backup file as a virtual FAT32 hard drive in Windows Explorer.

Files in use by Windows (such as Outlook .pst files) are backed up even when locked!

Multiple compression levels.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD)

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging:

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

Restore a partition to a different type. e.g. a logical partition can be restored as a bootable primary partition

Resize the restored partition. A hard disk upgrade can easily be performed by increasing the partition to fill the new disk.

Track 0 (The Master Boot Record) is saved with all backups.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD).

Disk image can be created whilst Windows is in use. A special driver ensures that the disk image represents an exact point in time and will not be affected by disk access that may occur during the backup process.

Verify images. Images (Backup files) can be separately verified or automatically verified before restore.

System files such as ‘pagefile.sys’ and ‘hiberfil.sys’ are not included in the image. This reduces the final backup file size.

Three compression levels can be selected to optimize between file size and speed.

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

Save your backup definitions as XML files and execute them with a single click from your desktop.

Includes VBScript integration and a VBScript generator for unparalleled control of the backup process.

Scheduling Features:

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.

Full logging of all backup operations. HTML log reports are generated and can be viewed using Reflect’s built in browser.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA still collecting Americans’ phone records data, despite not knowing the program’s worth – The US government continues to collect the phone records of millions of Americans, one year after a White House privacy board recommended the controversial program should shut down.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), whose recent efforts were to provide reform recommendations in the wake of the NSA surveillance leaks, said the Obama administration had made “substantial progress” in implementing its recommendations.

But the report said the government had fallen short of acting on one of the more controversial domestic spying programs, the bulk phone records collection program, which it said could be discontinued “at any time without congressional involvement.”

Instead the government has moved in the opposite direction by seeking legislation for new government access to phone records, the assessment report wrote.

The board said the program “raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties” and has “shown only limited value.”

Court tosses warrant where FBI cut Internet, posed as hotel repairmen – A federal magistrate is tossing a Las Vegas search warrant that led to the arrest of as many as eight people accused of running an illegal, online bookmaking operation last year from posh villas at Caesar’s Palace. The court found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s warrant application was “fatally flawed” and was “supplemented with material omissions.”

To obtain a search warrant, the authorities cut DSL access and posed as the cable guy, gathering evidence along the way that made up the basis for the bulk of a search warrant that resulted in the arrest of high-stakes gambler Paul Phua, his son Darren, and others.

Alleged online gambling ring broken up after agents posed as the cable guy.

Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ruled that the failure to mention that the original case was born from the “ruse” meant the judge who signed a search warrant this summer didn’t have all of the facts. Nowhere in the search warrant request, however, did the authorities mention that they allegedly saw illegal wagering on computers after posing as technicians who in reality briefly disconnected the DSL.

“The investigators’ suspicions that Phua was engaged in illegal sports betting at Caesars Palace may be borne out by the evidence recovered in the execution of the warrant,” Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ruled “However, a search warrant is never validated by what its execution recovers.”

Governments must realize limits of control on cloud data, encryption – Governments need to realize there are limits to how much they should exert control on issues that have global impact, such as cloud data and encryption.

The U.K. government, for instance, proposed a ban on data encryption that prevented digital communication from being monitored and read by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Prime Minister David Cameron said he would propose new legislation, if he won the next general election, in a a move deemed to potentially impact messaging platforms that encrypt their data, including apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, as well as Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime.

There are, however, already legislations that allow the government to monitor electronic communications for national security, said Rob Bratby, managing partner of Olswang Asia, where the Singapore-based lawyer advises on issues related telecom, media, and technology in the region.

He noted that the U.K.’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was designed to enable the government to conduct surveillance, including accessing an individual’s electronic communications, if they followed the correct processes and procedures. It sets the boundaries within which the government can listen to conversations and requires proper approval before it is allowed to do so.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 3, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 2, 2015

How to Hide Anything on Your iPhone;  Three Ways to Repurpose Your Old Smartphone;  Twitter Launches Vine Kids for G-Rated Videos;  10 common misconceptions about mobile device batteries;  Google Earth Pro now free;  Windows 10: The best tips, tricks, and tweaks;  The Pirate Bay Is Back;  Magic Actions – supercharge your YouTube experience;  iOS 8.1 tips and tricks;  Select users get voice calling on WhatsApp;  WhatsApp Web has privacy holes;  Intuit backpedals from TurboTax changes;  New Facebook tagging scam;  Amazon Prime to drop Doctor Who, other BBC shows;  The Diary Of A Cord Cutter In 2015;  Police stations becoming safe locations for Craigslisters;  My Drone Landed in Someone’s Yard—Is it Theirs Now?  Google Now Gets New Cards from 40 More Apps;  PartitionGuru (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Hide Anything on Your iPhone – The eyes may be the window to your soul, but your iPhone is the peephole into your daily life. Who you contact, which apps you use, which selfies you snap — it’s all right there. So if you care about your privacy, it’s worth taking some simple steps to protect it. Here are seven ways to keep digital snoops at bay.

Three Ways to Repurpose Your Old Smartphone – Most of us have old smartphones lying around, and while they might not be the latest and greatest anymore, the odds are also high that they’re functional and decently powerful. If you’ve been planning to ship them off to a used phone service but have never gotten around to it, there’s a better option: turning those old handsets into functional tools that complement your everyday life. There’s no shortage of apps to do this, and if you’re drawing a blank on what you can use them for, we’ve three suggestions.

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Example – Set it up as a HUD in your car

Delve into DIY security with these 23 connected cameras – Whether you’re serious about security or simply want to spy on a mischievous pet, these clever cameras are vying for a spot in your home.

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Google Earth Pro drops $399 subscription, now available for free – Google has recently revealed that it is dropping the paid subscription from Google Earth Pro, a more robust version of its Google Earth software. The Pro service will now be available for free, previously costing $399 per year. While the standard version of Google Earth has often been more than enough for casual map and globe users, the Pro version has seen use among professionals from scientists to businesses, who have been able to take advantage of advanced features previously not available for free. For those interested in getting started with Google Earth Pro, the software must be downloaded first, then users must request a key to register, which is no longer subscription based. Existing users will have no changes to their accounts, as their currents keys should continue without expiration.

10 common misconceptions about mobile device batteries – Users go to some strange measures to keep their batteries going and going and going. Yet much of what we hear about mobile batteries is simply not true. Let’s examine some of these misconceptions about the batteries that power the devices we depend upon day in and day out.

Use Magic Actions to supercharge your YouTube experience – The YouTube site has gone through many redesigns over the last few years. Each time, features are added and taken away, which may not suit your preferences. If you want to view videos with fewer distractions, or stop the new autoplay feature, Magic Actions for YouTube has you covered. Magic Actions is available for Chrome, Firefox (through the developer’s website) and Opera. After a quick install, check out these three notable features you don’t want to miss:

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Magic Actions Cinema mode – Bloom by Pogo on YouTube

Google Now Gets New Cards from 40 More Apps – Android users will now be able to learn that their eBay auctions are almost ending via a handy little Google Now card, to name one of the 40 new supported apps.

7 of the funniest Internet services you’ve probably never heard of – The Internet is a dark and scary place, but it’s a hilarious place too. With its nearly infinite possibilities, there’s no interest too niche for an underground community to rally behind. In the past, finding even the most basic services might have been a struggle depending on where you lived. But today, the Internet can provide almost anything, no matter how silly. In that spirit, here are seven of the funniest Internet services you may have never come across before.

Twitter Launches Vine Kids for G-Rated Videos – Twitter’s Vine app is home to some seriously entertaining videos — just don’t expect them all to be kid-friendly. Fortunately, now there’s an easy way to keep those inappropriate videos away from your kids’ eyeballs — without banning them from using the service. Enter Vine Kids. Launched on Friday, the new app offers up tons of adorable animated videos that are appropriate for young audiences. Your child can simply swipe left or right to watch a new Vine, and tap the screen to hear fun sounds.

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The Pirate Bay Is Back After Nearly Two Months Of Downtime – One of the Internet’s most targeted, and yet also most hard-to-kill sites is back again following a raid on its servers over seven weeks ago: The Pirate Bay resides once again at its familiar “.se” URL, offering a database that appears to be fairly intact, with torrents mostly in place up to its closure on December 9. The website, a famed destination for those seeking pirated material (but which also seeks simply to provide a portal for sharing of information via bit torrent technology, and ascribes content choice to users), went down after its servers were raided at a data center in Nacka station near Stockholm, Sweden.

Windows 10: The best tips, tricks, and tweaks – Despite still being very much an early preview, Windows 10 is already brimming with dozens of handy tweaks and tricks—and, because the operating is still in preview, a handful of those tricks unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found. Be warned: Some of these may break as the operating system evolves, though we plan to update this article over time.

iOS 8.1 tips and tricks – iOS is a powerful operating system, and iOS 8.1 has some amazing new features, but unless you make a habit of examining all the nooks and crannies, you’re bound to miss something. And when there’s no manual or tutorial, it’s easy for good stuff to remain hidden from view, which means you’re not getting the most from your investment. Whether you’re a novice or a complete power user, there’s bound to be something here that you’ve not come across before.

Betaworks Launches Idiot-Proof Livestream Broadcast App Upclose – Sick of hassling with Google Hangouts? Now you can start broadcasting video live to the world with just one-touch through Upclose, the newest app from Betaworks. Upclose lets you follow people to get notified when they’re on the air, discover who’s livestreaming now, and then comment on their broadcasts in a chat room with other viewers on the web or mobile. That’s it.

Select users get voice calling on WhatsApp – WhatsApp’s rumoured voice calling service might just be around the corner as a few users have started getting the functionality in the app already, as part of a testing program.

Raspberry Pi 2 Arrives: 6x Faster, An “Entry-Level PC” For $35 – Grab your screwdrivers, makers! There’s a new, more powerful Raspberry Pi in town… The just announced Pi 2, which goes on sale today, adds a quad-core chip and double the memory to support more intensive processing tasks. The Pi Foundation also reckons this sequel takes the Pi microprocessor “firmly into the PC space”, as they put it — in terms of power punch packed. “With the Pi 1, there were people using it as a PC but you had to make allowances for the fact it was a $35 PC,” says Pi creator, Eben Upton, in an interview with TechCrunch. “The big difference with the Pi 2 is it’s a PC. It’s not a PC which is pretty good considering it cost you $35. It’s a PC that’s pretty good.”

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How to take dreamy long exposure photos – Fast shutter speeds are great at freezing action in place, but slow the speed right down and watch as movement in a scene turns to smooth, abstract forms. Long exposure photography is a great technique to play with and lends itself particularly to clouds moving across landscapes, waves crashing onto rocky shores, or busy night-time city streets. It doesn’t even require expensive kit or hours of training to get started. Read through this guide to find out how you can create your own slow shutter masterpieces.

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‘Good enough’ speakers and headphones might be good enough after all – The Audiophiliac pondered this age-old question, and he now thinks good enough sound quality may be a good thing after all!

Security:

New Facebook tagging scam is in the wild, containing malware that can infect every device – Bogdan Botezatu of HotforSecurity reports that cyber criminals have created a malicious tagging scam, that starts with an alleged “video,” in which 20 friends are tagged in. Looking at the “video” in the Facebook post, it displays a goo.gl host, which is a URL shortening service, and not a video hosting website, which makes the post very suspicious. The webpage where users are redirected to reportedly does a thorough scan of the victim’s system. The page is apparently device-agnostic, and can serve malware to various devices like Android phones, PC’s, PlayStation consoles, TV sets, smart cars, and media players. Even so-called “dumb phones” are part of the action, as the criminals behind the scam will then redirect the user to an SMS fraud service that will try to lure the user into subscribing to a useless premium service.

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Google Now now SLURPS data from third party apps so YOU don’t have to – Google has inked deals with 40 third party app makers, allowing the ad giant to rifle through data from the likes of Lyft and Airbnb to serve up “relevant information” to its Android users. The firm said in a blog post on Friday that it would begin slurping the data from inside a number of apps for its Google Now service – a creepy, predictive search tech that Mountain View first unveiled in 2012. Google has become increasingly aware of the rich info locked away in other apps that – up until now – the data-scraping firm has been unable to deeply mine for its multi-billion dollar search and ad biz. Terms of the financial deals struck with the likes of Airbnb, Lyft, Pandora, Duolingo and the Guardian newspaper were kept secret.

Verizon to allow customers to disable “supercookies” – In a U-turn statement, Verizon Wireless says that it will soon allow users to completely opt-out of its mobile ad-targeting program, allowing them to delete previously unremovable customer codes, which have been unlovingly dubbed “supercookies”. This move was in response to the growing criticism of the service provider’s shady advertising practices, in particular the storage and tracking of uniquely identifiable user IDs or customer codes. Some privacy advocates, however, fear that this new policy still might not be enough to completely protect consumers.

US Army open sources security code to fight cyber attacks – The US Army recently posted a security code to GitHub with a goal of open-sourcing it to better understand when they come under cyber attack. Called Dshell, the code has been used for the past five years to analyze attacks on Department of Defense networks. The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) believes that the kind of cyber attacks launched on the government can be similar to those on the general public. Thus, they hope to get feedback from non-government users to better understand and prevent future attacks.

WhatsApp Web has privacy holes that could expose user photos – WhatsApp has just rolled out a new service called WhatsApp Web that allows users to sync the messaging app between their mobile devices and desktop, but the new web client has a couple of privacy pitfalls that indicate it’s not really ready for its close-up.

Atlassian resets some HipChat passwords after breach – Affected users of Atlassian’s HipChat service have had their passwords reset after a breach of the service resulted in a number of users’ personal information being accessed.

Company News:

AT&T, Verizon Win Big in FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction – Verizon Communications said it bought 181 licenses for $10.4 billion, which are in markets covering about 61 percent of the U.S. AT&T shelled out $18.2 billion for “a near nationwide contiguous 10×10 MHz block of high-quality AWS-3 spectrum.” T-Mobile, meanwhile, spent about $1.8 billion, but Dish was the third highest bidder at just under $13 billion (it will only pay about $10 billion thanks to a small business deal with the FCC), according to Fierce Wireless. US Cellular also spent about $338 million.

Intuit backpedals from TurboTax changes after upgrade uproar – Intuit backtracked yesterday, not only again apologizing for stiffing TurboTax customers by not telling them of changes in its business model but saying that it would offer partial refunds and free upgrades to its more capable editions. The fiasco over TurboTax — what tax forms it supported in its Q&A-like interview process — harked back to early January, when Consumerworld.org revealed that the desktop edition of TurboTax Deluxe omitted sections for forms required by the self-employed, investors and rental property owners.

Uber Sued In California For Fraud, Negligence Following New Delhi Rape – Nearly two months ago, a young woman was allegedly raped by her Uber driver in New Delhi, India. The incident led to the banning of the service in India and a full-scale investigation there, but the victim has brought her case over to the U.S. now filing a complaint with the Northern District Court of California. The charges raised in the complaint include negligence and fraud, and the victim (who is going by Jane Doe to protect her identity) says that it’s Uber’s hollow marketing tactics and disregard for customer safety that led to the events that unfolded on that December 5 night. One of the focal points of the complaint is Uber’s background check policies with regards to its riders.

Games and Entertainment:

First of 8 limited edition Street Fighter dioramas costs $90 – Hardcore Street Fighter fans, you have a lot of saving to do and some quick pre-orders to place this year. That’s because BigBoysToys HK has been given a green light by Capcom to create some very high-quality and limited edition dioramas for the series. The first depicts Ryu, will be released in March, and can be pre-ordered now through Play-Asia for an eye-watering $89.99. These are no ordinary dioramas, though.

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Amazon Prime to drop Doctor Who, other BBC shows on Feb 15 – If you’re a subscriber to Amazon Prime’s Instant Video service and a big Doctor Who fan, we’ve got some bad news for you. With an announcement to customers expected sometime this weekend, Amazon Prime will no longer have Doctor Who, nor most of its BBC shows, available for streaming beginning Sunday, February 15th. Sources say the reason is due to Amazon not getting exclusivity of the shows when it comes to streaming, meaning if rival services like Netflix can show it at the same time, Amazon doesn’t want it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Diary Of A Cord Cutter In 2015 – I know I’m late to the party by some accounts. Early adopters cut the cord years ago and haven’t looked back. For me, turning off cable TV was an idea I flirted with, yet I just kept renewing my package deal for some reason. But there has been no better time to finally sever ties with big cable, and their pricey television packages that have you paying for hundreds of channels when you only watch a handful of shows – many of which you’re probably already streaming on Netflix or Amazon.

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Richard Dawkins reads his (very NFSW) hate mail – Richard Dawkins is a famed evolutionary biologist and former Oxford professor who also founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. He’s a tenacious advocate for science and an outspoken atheist. A dogged proponent of atheism and an evolutionary biologist? It should come as no surprise he’s a divisive figure, and the aforementioned foundation like to poke fun at just how divisive he is by having Dawkins read his hate mail. It’s weirdly amusing, and very NSFW.

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Police stations becoming safe locations for Craigslisters – Despite the number of crimes surrounding online classified ads like Craigslist and its ilk, there is no stopping people from resorting to these services and transactions to make a quick buck or buy some rare oddity. And despite all that has happened, some still agree to meet in very shady locations or circumstances. So in the absence of some common sense, what are law enforces to do? Why offer to become the witnesses and the drop point of said transactions, of course!

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Insomniacs, now you can spray sleep right onto your skin – Mist melatonin on yourself until you slowly drift off to dream of a world filled with spray-on love, money and power, too.

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How to know where not to fly your drone – It’s easier than ever to get your hands on a ready-to-fly quadcopter to send buzzing around the skies. But there are definitely some guidelines you’ll want to follow before taking off.

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My Drone Landed in Someone’s Yard—Is it Theirs Now? – We’ve all been there before. It’s late at night, you’ve had a couple cocktails, and you want to pull out the ol’ drone for a spin. You know, night piloting. Then, before you know it, a tree jumps right into your quadcopter’s path, and it has crashed onto a nearby lawn in the dark. So, is your drone a goner? Well, that’s a complicated answer.

Eerie drone video flies over Auschwitz 70 years later – Even if you were not aware of its deeply grim and tragic history, a pall would still hang over the location. Recently, the BBC showed just how haunting Auschwitz-Birkenau remains, 70 years after that January day in 1945 by flying a camera-equipped drone over the empty buildings and grounds. Nowadays, the facility stands as a museum, a reminder of the horrors humanity is capable of inflicting on itself.

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iPhone sales take a big bite out of Android shipments – The holidays weren’t so jolly for Android smartphones, after all. Shipments of Android-running smartphones fell in the last three months of 2014 as consumers bought Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in record-shattering numbers. This marks the first decline in Android smartphones during the all-important holiday quarter compared to the previous three months, according to industry tracker ABI Research.

Something to think about:

“What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.”

–     Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Today’s Free Downloads:

PartitionGuru – PartitionGuru is a very useful, easy to use application specially designed to offer users a partition management and data recovery software.

In addition to partition management functions such as creating, deleting, formatting partitions, it also provides more powerful functions like recovering lost files, recovering lost partitions, clone partition to image file, partition clone, disk clone, quick partition etc.

LastActivityView – LastActivityView is a tool for Windows operating system that collects information from various sources on a running system, and displays a log of actions made by the user and events occurred on this computer.

The activity displayed by LastActivityView includes: Running .exe file, Opening open/save dialog-box, Opening file/folder from Explorer or other software, software installation, system shutdown/start, application or system crash, network connection/disconnection and more…

You can easily export this information into csv/tab-delimited/xml/html file or copy it to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other software.

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Predator – PREDATOR locks your PC when you are away, even if your Windows session is still opened.

It uses a regular USB flash drive as an access control device, and works as follows:

you insert the USB drive

you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)

you do your work…

when you’re away from your PC, you simply remove the USB drive:

– once it is removed, the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens

when you return back to your PC, you put the USB flash drive in place:

– keyboard and mouse are immediately released, and the display is restored.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canada’s New Anti-Terror Bill Is Everything You Hoped It Wasn’t – Under the broad anti-terror legislation tabled Friday, Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), will be given broad new powers to investigate and “disrupt” terrorist plots. Canada’s police services will be able to go after online terrorist propaganda.

When the bill was tabled on Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister vowed to prevent attacks like the ones that hit Ottawa and Quebec in October.

The powers included in Bill C-51 come with little new oversight or transparency. The core of the provisions will allow CSIS to disrupt attacks the organization believes may occur in Canada or abroad.

The government calls them “disruption warrants,” and they will let Canada’s spies do just about anything. According to the legislation those warrants authorize the spies to “enter any place or open or obtain access to any thing,” to copy or obtain any document, “to install, maintain or remove any thing,” and, most importantly, “to do any other thing that is reasonably necessary to take those measures.”

Pointing up   The legal consensus seems to be, once again, the Harper Government ™ has proposed legislation that on it’s face, overrides constitutionally protected guarantees. Should this legislative passed as written, there is broad agreement that it would fail a Supreme Court challenge.

As an indication of just how fascist the Harper Government ™ truly is – it, they, HE, has gone down to defeat in 5 of 6 Supreme Court challenges on constitutional issues in the past 18 months. 

This is a government which supplies each of it’s members with an enemies list. That in itself, is “facism” by definition.

This new legislation contains a proviso which would confer the power of arrest and detention on Canada’s spy agency – effectively creation a Stasi like secret police.

Even the U.S. government – a perpetrator of mass privacy rights violations, would tremble, I suspect, at an anticipated public backlash should such a scheme be seriously proposed as a solution.

In the meantime, Canadians, as is their practice, just sit back on their asses and politely watch a megalomaniac vomit on the heritage bought and paid for by the sacrifices of previous generations.

Individually, we continue to pay a price for the ruling classes political and economic “mistakes”  – which, in some cases, extend back generations.

Gmail, Facebook, Skype excluded from Australian data retention – Australian law-enforcement agencies will not have legal, direct, warrantless access to customer information for international companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other communications platforms under the mandatory data-retention legislation.

The legislation currently before the parliament will force Australian telecommunications companies to retain an as-yet-undefined set of customer data for a minimum of two years. It is expected that this will include call records, assigned IP addresses, email source and destination, and other such information.

Left out of the scheme will be third-party providers, such as internet cafes, universities, and other organisations that offer internet access to the public. The legislation has also been designed to exclude over-the-top players, including international companies such as Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

If, however, the telcos themselves provide over-the-top services such as email or voice over IP, then those services would be caught by the mandatory data-retention scheme, according to Attorney-General’s Department assistant secretary Anna Harmer.

The British army is allegedly training a group of ‘Facebook Warriors’ – Long ago, wars were fought on the basis of physical weapons and strength, however that’s not the case today. The Financial Times reports that the British army is expanding its digital armory of weapons by creating a group of soldiers referred to as the ‘Facebook Warriors’. This unit will be named the “77th Battalion” and will be tasked with fighting their adversaries on social media in a non-lethal way.

This will be accomplished via ‘Reflexive control’; an incredibly difficult technique initially used by the Soviets to spread news and information in a specifically designed manner to get your enemy to respond the way you want them to. The British army intends to do just that.

The 77th Battalion will roughly number 1500 warriors, including journalists and people with skill and experience regarding social media interaction. These ‘warriors’ will use Facebook and Twitter as their primary weapons to gather intelligence, spread falsified news and propaganda.

CIA Interrogations Took Place on British Territory of Diego Garcia, Senior Bush Administration Official Says – Interrogations of US prisoners took place at a CIA black site on the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia, a senior Bush administration official has told VICE News.

The island was used as a “transit location” for the US government’s “nefarious activities” post-9/11 when other places were too full, dangerous, insecure, or unavailable, according to Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff.

There was no permanent detention facility such as the CIA facility in Poland, he told VICE News in a wide-ranging interview. His intelligence sources indicated to him that the island was however home to “a transit site where people were temporarily housed, let us say, and interrogated from time to time.”

Wilkerson was Powell’s chief of staff at the State Department from 2002 to 2005, but he did not learn of the CIA’s activities on Diego Garcia until after leaving office. His information comes from four well-placed CIA and intelligence sources, including a veteran who participated in the renditions program, and a member of the Intelligence and Research Bureau at the State Department who was “very much plugged in to what was going on at the CIA.”

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