Tag Archives: Tech Thoughts

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 27, 2014

Enable or Disable what Google tracks;  Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search;  Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN;  Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam;  9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know;  Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff;  Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone;  Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website;  How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities;  Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating;  Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast;  Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called gross hypocrisy;  Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation;  Twitter launches Highlights;  LinuxLive USB Creator (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Person Finder and Facebook Safety Check provide relief in Nepal Quake – Tragedy struck Nepal as a 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused damage throughout the capital, Kathmandu. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, endangering climbers. Sadly, Google executive Dan Fredinburg lost his life in the avalanche. To help with the recovery and relief efforts, Google and Facebook are stepping up to the plate, reminding the public of their respective Person Finder and Safety Check features which can be used to check on friends and family from half way around the globe.

Enable or Disable what Google tracks about your online presence – Browser preferences for privacy are all well and good, but Google takes it a step further by saving your online presence online, to enable or disable certain tracking options requires a few steps.

Send notes, directions, more to Android phones from a Google search – Last week, we showed you how to find your Android phone with a simple Google search. Now Google is introducing new features that allow you to push data to your phone through your desktop browser. You can send directions from the web to your phone; just type “send directions” into Google and a drop-down menu should pop up allowing you to “send directions to [your] phone.” Then, Google Maps will automatically open on your phone, and you’ll be ready to navigate away from your desktop.

Sick of Netflix’s available shows? Use a VPN to change your country and see more – There may be some risk, but if you’re interested you can check out the Netflix movie selection in countries around the world.

Camio turns your spare phone or tablet into Dropcam – What if you could get your webcam or a spare iOS or Android device to work like Dropcam? You can do just that with Camio, a cloud-based service that transforms smartphones, tablets and PCs into smart monitoring devices, complete with live streaming, motion detection, alerts, and more. Where it truly shines, however, is in the cloud recording department and the various ways in which it allows you to access your recordings.

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9 Apple Watch Tips You’ll Need to Know – After unboxing the new smartwatch, we linked it up to an iPhone 6, and started exploring. Apple products are usually quite intuitive, and the Apple Watch is no exception, but there is a bit of a learning curve since everything has to be displayed on a tiny screen. Our slideshow features several videos that walk you through the basics of your Apple Watch—from changing the watch face to customizing notifications and setting an alarm. Check them out, and let us know in the comments if there are any other features you’d like to see in action.

Microsoft adds Apple Watch support to Skype for iPhone – The Apple Watch seems to be the next big thing, and a whole slew of apps are falling in line to provide support for the device – this time, another one from Microsoft: Skype for iPhone.

Twitter launches ‘Highlights,’ to help users cut through the chaff – Twitter seems to be taking a cue from Facebook. The company announced on Thursday a feature called Highlights that — like Facebook’s News Feed — is designed to draw on a user’s information to deliver relevant content and keep people from becoming overwhelmed.

Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating – The wait is over. Debian 8.0—“Jessie”—will be released on April 25, after a nearly two-year development cycle for the next release of this long-standing Linux distribution. Microsoft is even throwing Debian a birthday party, complete with cake. Sure, it’s basically just an advertisement for Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform, but it’s still amusing.

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New version of Google Glass coming soon, says Luxottica CEO – The search giant is going forward with its connected-eyewear project, and it has partnered with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley for the next version.

GeniCan smart garbage can builds your next shopping list – A new smart home appliance has just cropped up, and it aims to make throwing out your kitchen waste a convenience. It’s called GeniCan, and it is a smart device that attaches to the top of your existing kitchen trash can. When an item is thrown away, the GeniCan scans the product and adds it to a growing shopping list for the next time you go shopping. It eliminates the need to write things down on a shopping list, and is joined by a few convenient features like finding coupons for the product (if available), and more.

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Five ways to bump up your Google mobile search ranking – This week Google altered the way it orders search results on phones to give preference to what it terms mobile-friendly websites. The change to Google’s algorithm means sites that haven’t been optimised to be easy to use and view on mobile devices could find themselves bumped down the mobile search rankings. Google offers a tool to allow sites to see if they pass its mobile-friendly test. Sites that fail appear to be falling foul of common gotchas – many of which are fairly simple to rectify. Here’s the approach you should take if you want to pass the test.

Turn your iPhone or Android smartphone into a satellite phone – The modern smartphone is a wonder of modern technology, and in combination with the carrier network can allow you to make calls from the densest urban jungle to Mount Everest. But despite the amazing global coverage of the carrier networks, sometimes it just isn’t enough. This is when you need to rely on satellite coverage. And believe it or not, you can add satellite capability to your existing iPhone or Android smartphone. Yes, that’s right, you no longer need a dedicated satellite phone. What you need is a Thuraya SatSleeve. Just slide on the sleeve, and BINGO! You have a satellite phone. Yes, calls and data are going to cost you an arm and a leg (don’t be surprised if it adds up to several dollars a minute depending on where you want to use your handset).

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Google officially discontinues Nexus 7 tablet – If you’re in the market for an affordable, highly-rated, not-too-big-not-too-small tablet, your chances to buy the Nexus 7 are quickly running out. If you were planning to purchase one from Google directly, then your ship has already sailed. That’s because the company officially discontinued the 7-inch tablet on Friday, and is no longer selling it on the Google Store’s website. You can still find one from other places, but you better act fast.

Security:

Critical HTTPS bug may open 25,000 iOS apps to eavesdropping attacks – At least 25,000 iOS apps available in Apple’s App Store contain a critical vulnerability that may completely cripple HTTPS protections designed to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks that steal or modify sensitive data, security researchers warned. As was the case with a separate HTTPS vulnerability reported earlier this week that affected 1,500 iOS apps, the bug resides in AFNetworking, an open-source code library that allows developers to drop networking capabilities into their iOS and OS X apps. Any app that uses a version of AFNetworking prior to the just-released 2.5.3 may expose data that’s trivial for hackers to monitor or modify, even when it’s protected by the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol.

Google says Chinese Great Cannon shows need to encrypt web – The large DDoS attack on GitHub and Greatfire that occurred over March and April would not have been possible with encrypted web traffic, Google has said.

With ransomware on the rise, cryptographers take it personally – Some of the world’s leading cryptographers are concerned about the increasing number of malicious programs that hold computers and mobile phones to ransom, in many cases by abusing the encryption algorithms they designedd. The security industry is not doing enough and it’s going to get worse, they said

Hackers Hit Tesla Twitter Account, Website – According to numerous reports yesterday, an unknown individual (or individuals) managed to get into the Tesla Twitter account, as well as the Twitter account belonging to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The hijackers claiming responsibility indicated they were known as “ripprgang” and, yes, they even posted a link to their own Twitter account—which isn’t filled with anything interesting, unfortunately, seeing as it has already been suspended as of this article’s writing.

Company News:

Hello?! Nokia Releases Official Statement Denying Reports It Will Return To Mobile – In a (short and somewhat terse) official statement today, Nokia noted “recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China.” It went on: “These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive. Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.”

Americans Get Their Revenge on Comcast – First AT&T/T-Mobile, then Sprint/T-Mobile, and now Comcast/Time Warner have collapsed. This might also put AT&T/DirecTV in jeopardy. What all of these have in common is that they involved a service that’s essential for participating in the modern economy, and they totally failed to make the case that their mergers would make consumers’ lives better.

BitTorrent confirms layoffs: 40 workers rumored gone – BitTorrent has been putting a lot of work into growing, and it has seemingly been progressing well with its BitTorrent Originals entertainment effort and BitTorrent Sync, among other things. Sources have cropped up to reveal that things may not be going so well behind closed doors, however, and they claim that yesterday the company laid off “dozens” of employees. The move was said to be in an effort to focus on a smaller bunch of products, and to “streamline business operations”.

Microsoft CEO says Office has been downloaded 100 million times on iOS and Android – Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, revealed that Office has been downloaded more than 100 million times on iOS and Android, and reiterated plans to ensure that its products reach “every mobile device.”

Infosys buying digital commerce provider Kallidus in $120 million deal – Also doing business under the moniker Skada, Kallidus comes with a cloud-based digital commerce platform designed to link all of the e-commerce endpoints from the couch to the counter.

Games and Entertainment:

Solitaire Is Coming Back on Windows – The much-loved card game will once again be just a few clicks away when Microsoft’s next OS launches this summer. This means you’ll no longer have to go through the trouble of separately downloading it like you need to do on Windows 8. Microsoft previously admitted that Solitaire, along with Minesweeper and Hearts, have a “devoted following,” but decided not to pre-install them on Windows 8.

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Dungeons 2 review: Almost the Dungeon Keeper 3 you’ve been waiting for – Suffice it to say, Dungeons 2 is better than that pseudo-Dungeon Keeper racket. But that bar couldn’t be lower if the person holding the bar got stabbed in the gut by EA, fell down a conveniently placed flight of stairs into a basement, and then carried the bar six feet further down into a freshly-dug grave. Is Dungeons 2 any good not just in comparison, but on its own? Ah, now that’s the real question.

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Valve’s Launch Of Paid Mods Faces Backlash From Community – PC gaming giant Valve is facing vocal backlash from its community a day after giving developers of game modifications the ability to charge for their work on the Steam platform. Whereas digital stores typically take a fraction of the sales they process — say, Apple’s 30% on app sales an in-app puchases — Valve has decided to take 75% from each sale of paid mods. That amount is then split between Valve and the publisher or developer behind the original game. That split is one of the sticking points emerging as an issue in Reddit threads and posts on the Steam Community, but it’s certainly not the only one, as many understand it’s a prerequisite to get studios interested in letting others profit from the games they make.

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How gaming can improve our cognitive abilities – Adam Gazzaley is building a repertoire of games that could one day help us reduce or even reverse the impact on our cognitive faculties of disorders such as Alzheimer’s, or deficits caused by brain trauma. Gazzaley emphasised that although he is not against using medication for these types of deficits, 50 years of drug research later “and not one case has resulted in a high-level success story.” On top of this, high drug doses needed to target the underlying neural network inevitably have side effects, and treatment is not personalized—doses are often based on anecdotal evidence provided by the patient. It’s clear we need to look elsewhere for answers, at least until drug research finds a better solution or a complementary one.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Internet Privacy Is The Wrong Conversation – The truth is, people will never achieve true privacy and anonymity online. Tracking is not only here to stay, it’s getting more pervasive and sophisticated. The technology now exists to track your movement across the web without even needing cookies. “Canvas fingerprinting” for example, is one of a number of cookie-less browser techniques that allow sites to uniquely identify and track visitors. In addition, Facebook and Google are becoming more savvy about correlating individuals’ activities on multiple devices, getting a single view of a person’s online behavior across their smartphone, laptop and any other devices. Furthermore, as emotional a topic as tracking can be, few people change their online behavior because of it or even bother to read the legalistic-to-the-point-of-unfathomable privacy policies that sites post

The hottest gadgets of 1985 – Summary: It seems like only yesterday for the Gen-X crowd, but it was 30 years ago that some of the most influential innovations in consumer technology were introduced.

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We are cruel. We always have been. The Internet did not make us so – Not that it asked me and not that it needs me and not that I expect it to do anything but mock me for my efforts, but I’m going to defend the Internet. Lately, humanity has been flattering itself that it was better and kinder before the Internet – as though we never slipped anonymous notes through locker doors in high-school hallways that were echo chambers in themselves, as if we never wrote on actual walls. To hear us now, you’d think no one ever ever crank-called late at night, dialled up even before dial-up to offer abuse, stared into other people’s windows through our own twitching curtains.

14 Animals Who Wore Cameras for Your Amusement (and Science) – If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like for a sea turtle swimming gracefully through the blue expanses, an eagle soaring through the mountains, or where your cat travels at night, technology makes it possible. Take a look through our slideshow to learn what it’s like to be a Hawaiin monk seal, a giant squid, and a menagerie of other critters. It will get you in touch with your wild side! Or something.

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Android mascot urinates on Apple in Google Maps Easter Egg – It’s a well-documented fact that Google loves Easter Eggs. However, this one hiding out in Google Maps is a spiteful little jab at Apple. It’s not exactly stealthily hidden for an Easter Egg. While a specific set of coordinates will take you right to the graffiti, you can also just punch up the New Islamabad Airport and head due East. You’ll stumble across it in no time.

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Mom allegedly attacks school official after daughter not allowed cell phone – In April, a Philadelphia school principal stumbled into a filmed contretemps with a parent who demanded that the school give him his daughter’s cell phone back. The school had confiscated it and said it would keep it for some weeks. Now footage from India has emerged, in which a mom is allegedly so upset that her daughter wasn’t allowed to have her cell phone at school that she attacks school director Jyoti Nagrani.

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Feds: 6 died as a result of overdosing from Silk Road-purchased drugs – The head attorney for Silk Road founder and convicted felon Ross Ulbricht has asked the judge that his upcoming sentencing hearing be postponed, according to a Friday court filing. Why does this lawyer, Joshua Dratel, want the date to be pushed back? Because, he argues, the defense needs adequate time to review the government’s latest revelation that six people died as a result of overdosing on drugs they purchased on Silk Road.

Pointing up   FYI – Acetaminophen Deaths: Data compiled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has linked as many as 980 deaths in a year to drugs containing acetaminophen. In addition, FDA reports of death associated with acetaminophen have been increasing faster than those for aspirin, ibuprofen and many other common over-the-counter pain medicines. Data obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 300 people die annually as a result of acetaminophen poisoning.

Something to think about:

“For all of life’s discontents, according to the pharmaceutical industry, there is a drug and you should take it. Then for the side effects of that drug, then there’s another drug, and so on. So we’re all taking more drugs, and more expensive drugs.”

–      Marcia Angell

Today’s Free Downloads:

LinuxLive USB Creator – LiLi USB Creator is a handy, easy to use application designed to enable you to create a bootable Live USB key with a Linux on it.

This software also offers an exclusive option of automatic virtualization to directly run Linux in Windows without any configuration nor installation.

Features:

Free and Open-source

LiLi is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anybody. All you have to do is to pick up a Linux in the list and give it a try.

No reboot needed

Are you sick of having to reboot your PC to try Linux ? No need with LiLi. It has a built-in virtualization feature that lets you run your Linux in Windows just out of the box !

Supports many Linux distributions

Wow ! Did you see that never-ending list ? They are almost all there : Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux …

Persistence

Having a Live USB is better than just using a Live CD because you can even save your datas and install softwares. This feature is called persistence (available only on selected Linux).

SmartClean & SmartDownload

SmartClean uninstalls properly any previous Live USB installs and SmartDownload lets you download any supported Linux in 2 clicks automatically selecting the best mirror to download it.SmartClean also lets you clean your USB key in one click.

And a lot more!

Intelligent processing : LiLi works with many Linux, even if they are not officially supported

Hidden install : LiLi hides the Linux install, your key stays clean

File integrity : tells you if your ISO is corrupted

Keeps your data on your USB device (format only if needed)

Intelligent format : can format disks bigger than 32 GB

Auto-Update : automatic updates when new Linux distributions are available

Also works with .IMG files (experimental)

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater – Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater is a a software updater for Adobe’s Flash Player. Flash is one of the key technologies of Web 2.0 – you can find it nearly everywhere. Commonly used technologies are always a main target for malware authors – Flash Player is not different. Adobe frequently releases security updates to fix the latest security vulnerabilities.

However, Flash Player’s out-of-box updater uses long time intervals between update checks. Most endusers do not bother to configure the internal updater – they run outdated Flash Player versions. That is an extremely underestimated security risk!

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater was developed to offer an easy to use application for inexperienced endusers who do not want to bother with updates. It can install updates with no user interaction required and thus keep your system secure without bothering you.

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater offers many features for single- and corporate users like automatical update checks with a custom time interval. Also, it allows corporate users to use a remote configuration and thereby avoid configuring every single client.

Features:

Even works if no Flash Player is installed on the system (offers download)

Works on Windows x86 and x64 (32-bit, 64-bit)

German, English and Spanish (automatically detects the system language)

Can work completely hidden (except notifications when updates are available)

Users can choose to let it start with Windows

Works behind a proxy server and with different administrator credentials (these are encrypted in the configuration file)

an use a global configuration file for network environments

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former CIA head’s no-jail sentence for leaking called “gross hypocrisy” – Yesterday, former CIA Director David Petraeus was handed two years of probation and a $100,000 fine after agreeing to a plea deal that ends in no jail time for leaking classified information to Paula Broadwell, his biographer and lover.

“I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life and continuing to serve our great nation as a private citizen,” Petraeus said outside the federal courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday.

Lower-level government leakers have not, however, been as likely to walk out of a courthouse applauding the US as Petraeus did. Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, called the Petraeus plea deal a “gross hypocrisy.”

“At the same time as Petraeus got off virtually scot-free, the Justice Department has been bringing the hammer down upon other leakers who talk to journalists—sometimes for disclosing information much less sensitive than Petraeus did,” he said.

The Petraeus sentencing came days after the Justice Department demanded (PDF) up to a 24-year-term for Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who leaked information to a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about a botched mission to sell nuclear plans to Iran in order to hinder its nuclear-weapons progress.

NSA spied on EU politicians and companies with help from German intelligence – Germany’s intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has been helping the NSA spy on European politicians and companies for years, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The NSA has been sending lists of “selectors”—identifying telephone numbers, e-mail and IP addresses—to the BND, which then provides related information that it holds in its surveillance databases. According to the German newspaper Die Zeit, the NSA sent selector lists several times a day, and altogether 800,000 selectors have been requested.

The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism “Memorandum of Agreement” on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA’s requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed.

According to Der Spiegel, investigators found that the BND had provided information on around 2,000 selectors that were clearly against European and German interests. Not only were European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians—including German ones.

The NSA made a coloring book for kids – Last week we met Dunk, the NSA’s captivatingly weird Earth Day mascot, and now it looks like he’s not the only anthropomorphic creature in the NSA family. Dan Raile at Pando Daily went to the RSA security conference last week, and returned with a prize: an NSA-themed coloring book.

The book, America’s CryptoKids: Future Codemakers and Cokebreakers, tells the story of a team of talking animals, who, when they’re not spying on you, spend their time shredding on the guitar and playing friendly games of lacrosse. While also spying on you, of course.

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Austraalia: ACCC warns site-blocking Bill may be used to ‘intimidate’ VPN users – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has warned against rights holders ‘inappropriately’ threatening to block services that grant Australians access to geoblocked services like Hulu and HBO Now.

CIA couldn’t fully use NSA spy program as most analysts didn’t know about it – A newly-released document from the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) own internal watchdog found that the government’s controversial warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program was so secretive that the agency was unable to make “full use” of its capabilities even several years after the September 11 attacks. Initially, only top-level CIA officials were cleared on its use, rather than rank-and-file “CIA analysts and targeting officers.”

The document, a June 2009 report from the CIA Inspector General (IG) was released as part of a trove of 747 pages entitled the “Report on the President’s Surveillance Program” and was published on Friday by The New York Times as the result of victory in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice.

The CIA IG report, like the others, is redacted in many places, but provides some new material as to the specific history, play-by-play and internal evaluations of the program. In 2009, the government had previously published a far shorter unclassified version.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 24, 2015

3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC;  App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now;  Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus;  Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome;  How to Buy a Cell Phone;  Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money?  BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs (free);  Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price;  11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should;  Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  Cash register maker used same password non-stop since 1990;  10 easy ways to punch up your presentations;  Can We Secure the Internet of Things?  The 15 best Android games to play right now;  Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s;  Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home;  Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones;  Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Silicon Valley’s privacy efforts must be working, because our governments are freaking out – If you’ve ever wondered what a government has left in its last breath of an argument it’s already lost, it’s almost certainly going to have something to do with “national security.” Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are freaking out because they’ll no longer as easily be able to grab your data — with or without a warrant. In the past week, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned that encryption made it almost impossible to find criminals and terrorists. That was hot on the heels of one Manhattan district attorney saying iPhones will become the “device of choice” for terrorists. And if that wasn’t enough, the UK’s leading counter-terrorism official said tech companies are creating systems that are “friendly to terrorists.”

3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC – It really doesn’t take much to set up a solid backup protocol for your PC. Here are the basics, with pointers to more details.

Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus – After eight years of using AVG’s antivirus software, I’ve decided to switch to Avast! Antivirus. Read about the frustration that pushed me over the edge, and why I chose Avast as my free anti-malware protection… (recommended by Bob3160).

How to Buy a Cell Phone – If you thought choosing a cell phone was difficult before, it’s even tougher today. That’s a good thing, though, because it demonstrates how innovation in the wireless industry has skyrocketed. We’re seeing rapid progress across all fronts, including displays, data networks, user interfaces, voice quality, third-party apps, and even mobile gaming. So what should you be looking for when buying a cell phone? Here are some key points to consider:

Will Google’s new wireless service actually save you money? Let’s find out – Google’s offering a different kind of wireless phone service with its new Project Fi program. So how good of a deal is it compared to traditional carrier plans?

Misunderstanding Google’s Project Fi: It’s not about the price – Google’s new mobile voice and data service may save you money, or it may not. Either way, it offers network redundancy and coverage advantages for work and personal use.

Never miss a word with Microsoft OneNote 2013’s synced audio notes – Did he really say that? With Microsoft OneNote’s Record Audio feature, you can quickly zoom to the relevant bit of information.

SwiftKey Beta gives its myriad settings an extreme makeover with the Hub – The predict-your-typing company also reveals it’s partnering with Dashlane in an effort to automatically enter your passwords on mobile.

Twitter Highlights lures lazy users with friends’ activity – Twitter has rolled out Highlights, a new feature aiming at summarizing some of the peaks from your timeline that you might have otherwise missed. The new tool automatically cooks up a summary of the most interesting things the people you’re following are tweeting, along with local trending topics, twice a day. For Twitter, meanwhile, it’s another way to try to maintain active users.

Garmin’s latest navigation device has a built-in dash cam – Garmin is known for its in-car navigation systems, but its latest GPS system may take the cake. The Garmin nüviCam LMTHD (fun name) has a built-in dash cam, which allows you to overlay directions right over the feed so you can keep an eye on the road at all times. It also has a number of features usually reserved for luxury vehicles like alerts when you’re coming too close to a car ahead of you, or if you’re drifting out of your lane. For $399, the Garmin NüviCam LMTHD may be the first stand-alone GPS worth buying in quite a while.

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11 killer Android features you aren’t using, but should – You love Android—but how well do you really know Android? These power user tips dig deep into your system’s hidden crannies, and surface super-cool features you can really use.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Despite still being very much an early preview, Windows 10 is already brimming with handy new features, along with new tweaks and tricks—and, because the operating is still in preview, a handful of those tricks unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Others, though, simply let you mold some of Windows 10’s new features into the shape you see fit. 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.

Amazon Apple Watch app puts shopping on your wrist – Amazon has updated its iPhone app to support Apple Watch, turning the new wearable into a mobile voice-controlled shopping accessory. The new version of the app, released just as the first Apple Watch orders are shipping out, not only works as a scratchpad for the Wish List, but entire purchases can be carried out directly from the wrist. It’s one of around 3,000 Apple Watch apps already waiting for Apple’s new toy in the App Store today.

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App Store for Apple Watch: browse all 3,000 apps now – It’s time to have a peek at exactly how many apps are being released to the Apple Watch at “launch” this week with the new App Store for Apple Watch. What is an “App Store for Apple Watch”, you might ask? It’s basically a category within the App Store on your iPhone or iPad. You can also access this category for the Apple Watch specifically through iTunes on your desktop computer. This “Apps for Apple Watch” section has not yet been released in its entirety to the full Apple software system. This is just the beginning. Imagine how awesome it’s going to be when these developers decide to bring their apps to Android Wear a few weeks down the line.

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Dropbox Notes beta arrives as Evernote competitor – Early this month, some Dropbox users spotted hints of a note-taking service that was in-progress, something that had seemed likely as an eventual product after Dropbox made some tweaks to how it showed up once in the public eye. Now the service has been made official, though it isn’t open to the public in general yet: it’s called Dropbox Notes, and it is in a private beta. Invitations are going out now, and those interested can sign up to (hopefully) get one.

Polaroid Zip pocket printer spits out prints from your smartphone – Polaroid launched a new tiny portable printer earlier this week without much fanfare, and it is targeted at the mobile photographers among us — those who can’t remember the last time they picked up a dedicated digital camera because they’ve been too busy cataloging their life with a series of stylish smartphone-snapped pics. It is called the Zip printer, and it is small enough to fit in your pocket, printing out physical photographs for those times you take a shot that is extra special.

10 easy ways to punch up your presentations – Ah the slide presentation. For some, it’s the best route to getting an audience involved with a talk/discussion/lecture, showing the audience what to focus on. But after awhile, it can become a bit… routine. If you fall back on the same old delivery, your audience will pick up on it and you may lose their attention. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to enliven your presentations and turn them into effective tools that will not only help you get your point across, but also transform the event into an active and memorable moment. Don’t believe me? Read on.

Your website is about to lose 50% of all traffic thanks to Google – Google has changed how search works. If your site is not mobile friendly, you could lose as much as 50% of your traffic starting today. The company announced changes today in how they crawl sites after warning that the change was coming for the last month. It’s being called mobilegeddon already. If your site is not mobile friendly — that is, if users have to tap and zoom, scroll around, and can’t really make out the text on a smartphone — Google will penalize the site by pushing it much lower in the search engine results.

OpenOffice development is looking grim as developers flock to LibreOffice – Development on the free productivity suite is down to just 16 people, and the support system for new contributors is sorely lacking.

Amazon to start delivering orders straight to drivers’ trunks in May – Summary:Amazon and DHL are piloting a scheme that will see deliveries made straight to Audi owners’ vehicles – whether they’re there or not.

Security:

Cash register maker used same password – 166816 – non-stop since 1990 – Fraud fighters David Byrne and Charles Henderson say one of the world’s largest Point of Sale (PoS) systems vendors has been slapping the same default passwords – 166816 – on its kit since 1990. Worse still: about 90 per cent of customers are still using the password. The enraged pair badged the PoS vendor by its other acronym, labelling it a “piece of shit” and heaping scatological scorn on a bunch of other borked sales systems. Fraudsters would need physical access to the PoS in question to exploit it by opening a panel using a paperclip. Such physical PoS attacks are not uncommon and are child’s play for malicious staff. Criminals won’t pause before popping and unlocking.

Pointing up  A sickening abdication of responsibility.

Negligence – the failure to exercise that degree of care that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons that may be injuriously affected by the want of such care.

FTC hits retail firm for secretly tracking customers – In reports to retail clients, Nomi provided aggregated information on how many consumers passed by the store instead of entering, how long consumers stayed in the store, the types of devices used by consumers, how many repeat customers enter a store in a given period and how many customers had visited another location in a particular chain of stores. In the settlement with the FTC, Nomi is prohibited from misrepresenting consumers’ options for controlling whether information is collected, use or shared about them and their devices. Nomi is also prohibited from misrepresenting how it notifies consumers about its information-gathering practices.

Pointing up   It’s unfortunate, but predictable, that the NSA firestorm has managed to virtually obscure an equally repugnant attack on personal privacy. While the NSA has a defensible position relative to data collection for national security purposes (a position I don’t support mind you), these parasitic corporate money hungry voyeurs continue to slip under the radar of public scrutiny.

Potent, in-the-wild exploits imperil customers of 100,000 e-commerce sites – Criminals are exploiting an extremely critical vulnerability found on almost 100,000 e-commerce websites in a wave of attacks that puts the personal information for millions of people at risk of theft. The remote code-execution hole resides in the community and enterprise editions of Magento, the Internet’s No. 1 content management system for e-commerce sites. Engineers from eBay, which owns the e-commerce platform, released a patch in February that closes the vulnerability, but as of earlier this week, more than 98,000 online merchants still hadn’t installed it, according to researchers with Byte, a Netherlands-based company that hosts Magento-using websites.

Security researchers have developed a method for detecting NSA Quantum Insert-style hacks – Fox-IT has published free open-source tools to detect duplicate sequence numbers of HTTP packets, with different data sizes, that are the hallmarks of Quantum Insert. The utilities developed by Fox-IT are capable of exposing fiddling with HTTP packets but are no by no means perfect and might themselves be circumvented, as a blog post by Fox-IT explains.

Can We Secure the Internet of Things? – It seems that “Internet of Things” or “IoT” is the latest catchphrase; you hear it everywhere. Has the IoT simply evolved from existing technology? Is it revolutionary, breaking old ideas? Or is it just a fad? An all-star panel at the RSA Conference debated this topic. Afterward I caught up with panelist Jeffrey Greene, Director Government Affairs North America and Senior Policy Counsel for Symantec, to get some insight.

Company News:

Google grew both its revenue and profit in the first quarter of 2015 – Google just released its earnings statement for the first quarter of 2015, and the company had another healthy financial period — albeit one that just missed Wall Street estimates. The company pulled in $17.3 billion in revenue, up 17 percent year over year, while operating income of $4.45 billion represented a 26 percent increase over one year ago. That’s compared to the $17.5 billion in revenue Wall Street analysts were expecting; Google’s earnings per share of $6.57 also just missed expectations of $6.61.

Yahoo to take on Siri and Google Now (again) with Index – Yahoo is one company that definitely doesn’t have “quit” in its vocabulary. Predating but practically overthrown by Google and perhaps to some extent even Bing, Yahoo is always in search of new ways to generate income but without budging on its true calling. Under CEO Marissa Mayer, the company is hedging its bets on search. But it won’t be taking on Google directly, though of course it will do that as well. Instead, it is training its guns on Google Now, Siri, and Cortana. Yes, Yahoo will once again be entering the personal assistant arena. This time perhaps for real.

Comcast reportedly abandons acquisition of Time Warner Cable – Comcast is calling off its $45 billion dollar attempt to buy fellow cable provider Time Warner Cable, according to Bloomberg. The decision comes after recent reports that both the US Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission were preparing to turn against the deal after months spent looking into what it would mean for competition in the cable industry. Apparently Comcast saw the writing on the wall with the increased scrutiny from regulators and has walked away from a merger that would have combined the top two cable operators in the United States. An official announcement that the deal is canceled could come as early as tomorrow, per Bloomberg’s sources.

Median age at Google is 29, says age discrimination lawsuit – The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Robert Heath, a software engineer, was 60 when he applied in 2011 for a job at a rapidly growing Google. He wasn’t hired despite having “highly-pertinent qualifications and experience,” and being deemed by a Google recruiter as a “great candidate,” according to Heath’s lawsuit. The complaint was filed in U.S. district court in San Jose, California.

Games and Entertainment:

Mad Max launch trailer eats dog food, hits Thunderdome – So you’re a big fan of the original Max, the Road Warrior, the nameless stranger, yes? Mad Max is a game based on a movie, a movie that resurrects the original Mad Max trilogy of films with a new lead actor and an alternate take on the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Have a peek at the latest trailer, the last trailer before launch, we hope, for Mad Max. This game will be coming out well after the movie, and it’ll include Dinki-Di dog food, just like it should. Just as Australian God intended.

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Steam Workshop lets game modders sell their work, starting with Skyrim – Valve is taking another step in turning its Steam Workshop into a full-fledged marketplace for people who make mods, maps, or in-game items. Today, it expanded the ways that creators can directly sell their work — and it’s starting with one of the gaming world’s most vibrant modding communities, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Valve and Skyrim developers Bethesda Game Studios first added support for Steam Workshop in 2012, but at that time, they could only be offered for free. Now, modders can set their own price when they upload an item. Relatively few have taken advantage of this so far. Of over 25,000 mods, 19 are being sold for between $0.49 and $5.99.

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Assassin’s Creed creator reveals his new game: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – Original creator of the Assassin’s Creed series and ex-Ubisoft Creative Director Patrice Désilets has unveiled Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, the first project to emerge from his indie studio Panache Digital Games. According to the studio’s website, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will be a third-person action and adventure game with survival elements. As is becoming increasingly common, the game will also be released in an episodic format. Each episode promises to “relive the greatest moments of mankind with a documentary twist.”

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Telltale is making Marvel video games – Telltale Games, the studio known for its story-focused adventure video games based on properties like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Jurassic Park, has a major new partner: Marvel. Polygon reports that the first Telltale Marvel game will hit unspecified platforms sometime in 2017; it’s not known which characters it will concentrate on, or how it’ll fit into various iterations of the Marvel universe.

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Acer unveils a new 34-inch Quad HD ultra-wide gaming monitor – and it’s quite a looker – Today, Acer announced a curved monitor that we suspect many buyers will want to stare at from every angle. But the XR341CKA isn’t all about style – although it certainly excels in that area. The 34-inch display features a 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio with Quad HD (3440x1440px) resolution and 178-degree viewing angles. It’s also the first curved monitor to feature NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, which the firm says “minimizes stutter and screen tear”. It will go on sale first in markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in August, priced around €1,399 EUR, but sales in North America ($1,299 USD) and China (8,999 CNY) won’t begin until September.

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The 15 best Android games to play right now – The Play Store is overflowing with games these days, and amid seemingly endless free-to-play grinds, it can be difficult to find the really fantastic, absorbing experiences worth pouring your time into. Luckily, we’ve been playing them for years, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction. Included within are our picks for the 15 most essential, can’t-miss Android games you ought to play right now. It’s a diverse mix of options: memorable adventures, addictive quick-hit affairs, and everything in between, spanning a wide array of genres and price points. Ready to find your next on-the-go gaming obsession?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Spotify: Music Taste Matures in Your 30s – How many times have your parents told you to “turn that noise down?” How often do you wonder who the heck Wiz Khalifa, Sia, and Mark Ronson are? It’s clear that, as we grow older, our musical tastes change. But how much exactly? That’s the question Spotify sought to answer with new research from the company’s Taste Profiles (internal tools for personalization) and Echo Nest.

New Phantom 3 sets a higher bar for consumer drones – Check out the latest addition to the most prolific line of consumer quadcopters on the market. Filmmakers rejoice, it comes with 4K.

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BMW 7 Series recognizes finger gestures, parks itself after you exit the car – Cars have been parallel parking themselves for years now, but BMW’s new 7 Series takes things to a new level. It can pull in to — and out of — parking spaces, and you don’t even have to be sitting in the vehicle while the magic happens. That’s right, the new 7 Series features remote control parking that you can activate from the fob. It’s like having your very own valet, except you never have to worry about tipping or finding a roach in the ash tray. It’s no ordinary fob, either. It’s BMW’s tech-packed Display Key, which features a touchscreen and lets drivers do things like adjust the cabin temperature and check fuel levels.

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Project Elysium wants to use VR to revive deceased loved ones – How far is too far when it comes to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality? One of the developers putting this question to the test is Australia-based Paranormal Games. Project Elysium, its entry into the upcoming Oculus VR Jam 2015, treads some shaky moral ground by promising to create a “personalized afterlife experience,” reuniting people with loved ones who have passed on. Exactly how the developer hopes to do this isn’t clear at this point (it will be required to showcase screenshots by April 27, followed by video footage the week after to be eligible for the jam’s grand prize), although a screenshot from Project Elysium’s development does show a friend of the studio being transformed into a 3D model.

Pointing up   I love the notion that the software development industry is, in part, driven by a sort of “because we can” philosophy –but, sometimes I have to wonder!

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A development screenshot from Project Elysium – Paranormal Games

170-year-old champagne provides clues to past winemaking – Divers discovered bottles in a shipwreck off the Finnish Aland archipelago in the Baltic Sea in 2010. After tasting the bottles on site, the divers realized they were likely drinking century-old champagne. Soon after, 168 unlabeled bottles were retrieved and were identified as champagnes from the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (VCP), Heidsieck, and Juglar (known as Jacquesson since 1832) champagne houses. A few of the recovered bottles had been lying horizontal in close-to-perfect slow aging conditions. Discovery of these wines, likely the oldest ever tasted, unleashed a flood of questions. When were these wines produced? What winemaking processes were in use at the time? Where was the wine going when the shipwreck occurred?

Zensors wants to make dumb stuff smart in your home – An academic paper published by a team from the Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute has outlined the idea of something the researchers call Zensors. The idea behind Zensors is to use an Android phone and some fancy programming to make the dumb items in your home smart.

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Researchers use VR goggles to study effects of human ‘invisibility’ – Researchers have managed to make people feel as if they were invisible using VR goggles, and that’s not a bad thing…at least not in the context of the study. The researchers found that by making people feel as if they were invisible, any social anxiety they might have experienced by standing in front of a crowd was lessened. Though the study and research in general are still in their early stages, it could pave the way to treatments for social anxiety, and could also answer some interesting questions about how humans would act if no one could see them.

Something to think about:

“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.”

–    Richard Feynman

Today’s Free Downloads:

BlueStacks 0.9.26 Beta – BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs with instant switch between Android and Windows – no reboot is required. End consumers can now enjoy their favorite Android apps on Windows PCs. Android apps can appear either as icons on the Windows desktop, or within a full-blown Android environment.

BlueStacks helps PC manufacturers to ride the Android momentum by enabling Android apps on x86-based tablets, netbooks, notebooks, convertibles and AiO Windows PCs. With the new hybrid convertible form factors, BlueStacks completely eliminates the need to carry two devices. The end consumer benefits from getting both Android and Windows at the price of a single PC.

BlueStacks integrates seamlessly with Citrix and Microsoft software delivery infrastructure and with Citrix’s Enterprise App Store. With BlueStacks, enterprise IT can deliver Android apps securely and effortlessly to any end point running Windows.

The seamless user experience, simultaneous use of Android and Windows apps, and multi-touch enablement are built on ground breaking virtualization technology which requires zero configuration and is transparent to the end consumer.

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StudioLine Photo Basic – StudioLine Photo Basic is an easy-to-use yet powerful management and editing software for digital photos. Images can be imported from camera, scanner and all popular file formats.

The image archive is the central database where you conveniently categorize your images and add keywords and descriptions. Standard IPTC and Exif tags are fully supported. 30 professional image tools are included to improve exposure problems, red-eye effects, color tones, etc.

Photos can be printed, emailed or uploaded as web galleries. CD/DVD writing is included.

Limitations: After installation you’ll be able to test all functions of StudioLine Photo Basic for 30 days. To continue using StudioLine Photo Basic 3 as a home user at no cost, simply request the complimentary activation code. StudioLine Photo Basic is only “Freeware” for personal use. Business or other commercial use requires purchase of a license.

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Ghostery for Firefox – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. Ghostery for Chrome also available.

After showing you who operates behind the scenes, Ghostery also gives you the opportunity to learn more about each company it identifies, including links to their privacy policy and opt-out options.

Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

Ghostery also includes the optional, opt-in feature called Ghostrank, which sends Ghostery servers anonymous information about the trackers you encounter and where you encounter them. This allows us to create a more comprehensive list of detectable items, and helps us create a more transparent behavioral advertising ecosystem through our partnership with Evidon.

Ghostery is built and maintained for users that care about their online privacy, and is engineered with privacy as a primary goal. Ghostery use is anonymous. No registrations or sign-ups are required. The Ghostery plug-in does not place cookies into your browser. Neither the Ghostery application nor Evidon receives any data from Ghostery users unless the user opts-in to participate in Ghostrank. Ghostrank data itslef is anonymous, is NEVER used for advertising targeting purposes, and is only shared in aggregated, non-personal, statistical form.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google slams Australian piracy site-blocking legislation – The Australian government last month introduced legislation that would allow rights holders to get an injunction placed on internet service providers (ISPs) to force telcos to block specific overseas piracy websites from access by Australian users.

The move has been welcomed by rights holders, but faces opposition from Google, which told the parliamentary committee looking into the legislation that site blocking “is not the most effective means of stopping piracy”.

“A recent study of the piracy ‘ecosystem’­ in which the authors conducted a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of various anti-­piracy measures found that anti­-piracy efforts directed towards blocking access to pirated content have not been successful,” Google said in its submission.

Google said that more effective measures include providing legitimate content that is more attractive to consumers than piracy, and cutting off advertising to piracy websites. The introduction of site blocking could have unintended consequences, Google warned.

House passes second cyberthreat information-sharing bill – For the second time in two days, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that would give legal protections to companies that share cyberattack information.

The House on Thursday voted 355 to 63 to pass the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPA), which would protect companies from customer lawsuits after they voluntarily share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies.

The NCPA is similar in several ways to the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), which passed the chamber on Wednesday, despite concerns from some lawmakers that it would allow some customer information to wind up in the hands of surveillance agency the U.S. National Security Agency.

David Petraeus sentenced to probation for leaking government secrets – Former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine today for leaking classified government intelligence to his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. The sentence is the end of a drawn out, very public ordeal for Petraeus, whose fall from grace was precipitous.

The scandal started in 2012, when the FBI discovered — apparently by accident — that Petraeus, then CIA Director, was disclosing classified information to Broadwell. Petraeus soon resigned from the agency, and charges were filed against him by the Justice Department. Petraeus ultimately took a deal, pleading guilty to one charge of sharing classified information.

Pointing up   Break this down any way you like, but the truth is – Petraeus betrayed his country for sexual favours.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 23, 2015

Senate leader introduces bill to extend Patriot Act surveillance;  Pin web apps to your taskbar;  How to Turn Your Phone Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot;  These Are the Best Flight Search Tools;  10 apps to turn your Mac into a productivity champ;  Five process monitors that go beyond Task Manager;  Unboxing the Intel Compute Stick;  Now you can stream videos from your OneDrive account on Android;  Where is Your Antivirus Made?  10 apps to help you keep your garden alive;  The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Comcast’s Time Warner Cable merger in danger;  11 most overrated games of all time;  Compromised govt data could affect millions in China;  The Password Reset Dilemma;  Microsoft is building in tech support directly into Windows 10;  Fedora 22 goes beta;  Fed-up Colorado man takes 9mm PISTOL to vexing Dell PC;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Senate leader introduces bill to extend Patriot Act surveillance – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020, instead of expiring on June 1. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is reportedly pushing for the bill to be fast-tracked straight to the Senate floor, without any hearings or votes in Senate committees. The bill, if passed, would kill efforts in Congress to rein in the NSA’s telephone records collection program. In addition to phone records, Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the NSA or FBI to collect business records and “any tangible things” when the agencies have “reasonable grounds” to believe those records are relevant to an antiterrorism investigation.

How to Turn Your Phone Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot – Almost any modern smartphone can also work as a Wi-Fi hotspot, sharing its 4G LTE connection to anywhere from five to 10 devices, whether they be laptops, tablets, or other phones. You just have to have the right service plan and tap a few buttons. The most complex part of using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, nowadays, is making sure you’re on the right service plan. Not all plans allow “tethering,” which is what the carriers call hotspot use. If you try to set up a hotspot and get bounced out, you may need to upgrade your service plan.

Pin web apps to your taskbar to make them behave like desktop software – If you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can make web apps feel more desktop-like by pinning them to your taskbar. You may not necessarily get features like offline functionality or local file system access—that’s up to your browser—but when it’s on the taskbar, your web app is always one click away. Pinned web apps also open in their own window, just like traditional desktop software. Right now, you can use either Internet Explorer or Google’s Chrome to pin websites to your taskbar. Both browsers aren’t created equally, however, and there are some differences in functionality depending on which browser you choose.

These Are the Best Flight Search Tools – Last year, 40 percent of Americans booked flights, hotels, cruises and other holidays on their phones and tablets, a statistic based on 300 million bookings worth $150 billion, while the Economist reckons that online bookings account for 43% of total travel sales. We picked six of the top-rated flight aggregator services and compared prices for 10 flights over a week in June, from domestic flights including New York to Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas and Austin, and international flights from New York to Toronto, Sydney, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong.

10 apps to turn your Mac into a productivity champ – As more companies are using Macs in the workplace, it’s important for you to have the proper toolset. The “App Store” for Macs gives users easy access to a variety of tools and services. Here are 10 applications to will help turn your Mac into the business machine you need it to be.

Chrome users roast Google on spit of hate over revamped bookmarks manager – Google’s redesign of the Chrome bookmarks manager has begun rolling out to the browser’s users running the most polished version. And those users are very, very unhappy. They’re more than that, actually. They hate the change, tossing off words like “disastrous,” “hideous” and “horror” to describe their impressions. “I don’t care how smart or sleek or cool you think the new interface is, you just made it much HARDER to use,” groused Bill Wiltsch on a long Chrome support discussion forum thread. “If this does not get easier quickly, I will be switching browsers.”

Unboxing the Intel Compute Stick – The Intel Compute Stick is a complete desktop PC in a USB memory stick. What you get in the box is just as simple. The Compute Stick’s street price of $150 is a direct response to the oh-so-cheap Chrome OS desktops. You won’t get a display, keyboard, or mouse, but the Compute Stick will let you carry a Windows PC in your shirt pocket, ready to plug in at home or in the office.

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Switching operating systems is almost never the answer to problems – Summary: One of the worst pieces of advice given to people looking for help and advice with computer problems is that they should switch to a different operating system. Here’s why, along with some tips for anyone who still wants to change operating systems.

Fedora 22 goes beta – As it has since Fedora 21 came out last December, Fedora isn’t coming out in a single edition. Instead, it’s following the Fedora.next initiative of delivering three distinct Fedora editions: Fedora 22 Cloud, Fedora 22 Server, and Fedora 22 Workstation. Each version is meant to meet a specific use case. However, they all share a common base set of packages, which includes the brand new Linux 4.0 kernel, RPM, systemd, and the Anaconda installer. According to Red Hat, “This small, stable set of components allows for a solid foundation upon which to base Fedora.”

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Five process monitors that go beyond Task Manager – When a Windows system becomes unresponsive, the Task Manager is often the go-to tool for figuring out the problem. But as helpful as the Task Manager can be for tracking down the offending process, a number of other tools are available that can provide even more insight into what’s going on. This article lists five tools for monitoring your system processes.

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Example: Process Hacker includes all the functionality you would expect, plus some nice extras. For example, it can verify file signatures and send a message to a user who is running a particular process.

Microsoft is building in tech support directly into Windows 10 – If you have ever had an issue with your PC, odds are you likely went to your favorite search engine and started looking for a solution or you called up that tech savvy friend of yours. Microsoft is looking to change this behavior in Windows 10 and we can start to see their new solution coming together. Earlier today, Microsoft released a new build of Windows 10 and with it comes an app called ‘Contact Support’. As the name implies, this is a new channel for searching how to fix your PC or to resolve billing issues. There are three options to choose from after you open the app: My device, Microsoft account and billing, and Microsoft online services.

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Facebook Messenger Makes 10% Of Global VOIP Calls – Facebook Messenger wants to replace the telephone, not just SMS, and it’s on its way. Messenger now makes up 10% of global Voice Over IP calls, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during today’s Q1 2015 earnings call. And Zuckerberg said that because VOIP can actually provide higher audio quality for calls than traditional phone calls, he expects that growth “is going to continue very quickly.” Considering Facebook only fully rolled out free VOIP calling to Messenger last April, it’s impressive that it’s already becoming a legitimate competitor to apps like Skype. And just yesterday it began rolling out free VOIP calls to WhatsApp on iOS after bringing the feature to Android last month.

Now you can stream videos from your OneDrive account on Android – The latest OneDrive for Android update has enabled in-app video playback capabilities, allowing users to stream the videos directly from their account. The latest update being rolled out on the Google Play Store for OneDrive lets the users stream videos stored on their account without leaving the app. In addition to this, the app now supports improved photo organization with albums. File sharing is also enabled with the latest version of OneDrive for Android, making it easier to send links to stored files from within the app.

Periscope, Meerkat get NHL banhammer – The NHL isn’t happy about people live-streaming its events, and so it has given both Meerkat and Periscope the banhammer, at least to the extent it is able to. This includes any live-streaming that starts 30 minutes before the beginning of an event or less, the event itself, and the end of the event. It’s not surprising that the NHL has its own Periscope account, and that it doesn’t like attendees eating into its revenue by doing their own illicit streaming.

Making software to block annoying ads is legal, German court rules – AdBlock Plus users in Germany can breathe easily: A court there has ruled that the browser extension for filtering annoying ads is legal to make and distribute. The Hamburg court dismissed the complaint on Tuesday, although as is usual for German courts it will be another couple of weeks before publication of the written verdict containing the reasoning behind the ruling.

10 apps to help you keep your garden alive – Tech is as pervasive as an unchecked case of English Ivy. Since it’s spring, why not bring your smartphone into the garden too?

How Google’s Project Fi pricing stacks up to the competition – Google just announced Project Fi, its new MVNO wireless service for the Nexus 6. Google hopes to shake up the industry with its control of the hardware, software, and network. It’s sort of the Google Fiber approach: move into a market with a new pricing scheme and new technology and hope the pressure of competition makes the internet better for everyone.

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The 3 big drawbacks to using Google Project Fi – Google’s wireless carrier is out in the open, and along with a number of fairly solid positive points, there are – as with any industry-moving plan – some drawbacks. This Google wireless carrier business has been a long time coming, after all, and it’s no perfect first swipe. Today we’re having a peek at what you need to know about Google Project Fi if you plan on subscribing in the near future in both the positive and the negative. The article you’re about to dive into right here and now is aimed at showing you what you might consider drawbacks.

Google Chrome Live: What you need to know – On Wednesday, April 22, Google hosted its first ever Chrome Live event, focused on Chrome for Work. Here’s what you need to know.

How to download your entire Google search history – Want a copy of your personal Google search history for your very own? Now you can export and download it, though it’s in a funky file format.

The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week – Google Calendar, VOX Player and more are our favorite iPhone apps of the week.

Security:

You’re More Likely to be Struck by Lightning Than Infected With Mobile Malware – The scope of Damballa’s study is enormous, focusing on some 151 million devices per day, up from 25 million when the company carried out the study in 2012. The company said that this amounted to 50 percent of mobile data traffic in the U.S. But of of these, the company only saw some 9,688 devices reaching out to URLs associated with mobile malware. That works out to .0064 percent of the traffic being malicious. In the company’s press release, Damballa said that the National Weather Services’ official odds on being struck by lightning were significantly higher at 1.3 percent.

Pointing up   The likelihood of a terrorist attack affecting any individual western citizen is substantially less – yet, I don’t see any “Lightening Avoidance Classes” – shocking though that may be – or, a color coded weather alert system (technically achievable), warning of imminent lightening strikes in a given area. But then, I don’t suppose that either one of the foregoing makes good “security theatre”  or, offers an opportunity to exercise unrestrained government control.    (facetious /font)

Where is Your Antivirus Made? – Recently, I ran across a new free antivirus program that scored well on Virus Bulletin’s detection tests. I was about to download it for a thorough review when I discovered it’s made in China. That got me thinking: does it really matter where antivirus software is made? Are the good guys who defend us against bad guys all completely good? Can we trust them implicitly just because they make antivirus software and get it tested by independent labs? Well, it seems we do. But should we? Read on… (recommended by FormalDaHyde)

Microsoft unveils Device Guard, another security feature in Windows 10 – One of the new security features coming to Windows 10 is called Device Guard. Alongside Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport it aims to offer enterprise customers top-notch security on their devices.

Wi-Fi software security bug could leave Android, Windows, Linux open to attack – In an e-mail today to the Open Source Software Security (oss-security) mailing list, the maintainer of wireless network client code used by Android, the Linux and BSD Unix operating systems, and Windows Wi-Fi device drivers sent an urgent fix to a flaw that could allow attackers to crash devices or even potentially inject malicious software into their memory. The flaw could allow these sorts of attacks via a malicious wireless peer-to-peer network name. The vulnerability was discovered by the security team at Alibaba and reported to wpa_supplicant maintainer Jouni Malinen by the Google security team.

Compromised govt data could affect millions in China – More than 52 million pieces of personal information such as ID numbers, social security details, financial status, and property ownership have reportedly been compromised in various government-run systems across China, local media said on April 22. According to data provided by loudong.360.cn, a security watchdog, high-risk loopholes have been found in systems such as social security, household administration, disease control, and hospitals in more than 30 cities across China — and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Password Reset Dilemma – On a number of services out there, in this case Dropbox, there are password reset or recovery mechanisms that are not just annoying, they simply do not work. I know I cannot be the only one with this problem. I don’t want to single out Dropbox, because this happens with a lot of systems. But it has happened to me with Dropbox every time I use the product. Unless I can guess one of the dozens of passwords I have used there, I have to create yet another new account. I sometimes wonder if this mechanism is to make you create additional accounts to inflate the number supposedly supported by the system.

2 more wireless baby monitors hacked: Hackers remotely spied on babies and parents – Two more wireless baby monitors were hacked. One family heard voices as the camera followed them about the room; the second mom was freaked out and scared as a hacker remotely controlled the camera to follow her movements.

These Guys Will Hack Your Phone to Reveal Who It’s Secretly Sending Information To – Most of us don’t think twice when we connect to a WiFi network or download a new app. I didn’t. I trusted, to some extent, that the relationship between me and my phone was exclusive. Turns out my phone was lying to me. My data, my network, my searches—they weren’t just between the phone and me but instead between me and several thousand companies I’ve never heard of in countries I’ve never been to. To help people understand what’s really going on with their smartphones, tech journalist Geoff White and ethical hacker Glenn Wilkinson have teamed up to create The Secret Life of Your Mobile Phone —a one-hour performance on interception technologies. I met up with Geoff and Glenn to find out what my phone has been playing at.

Crypto gurus: The government’s key escrow plan won’t work – Cryptography experts at the RSA security conference on Tuesday picked holes in U.S. plans to require that law enforcers be given a way to break encryption to exercise lawful intercept rights. U.S. government officials have been increasingly hostile over the past year to the widespread use of encryption on mobile phones and online communications, arguing that a way needs to be found to provide law enforcement and intelligence agencies with lawful interception capabilities.

Company News:

BlackBerry expands its security smarts to the Internet of Things – BlackBerry’s smartphone business is limping along but the company knows mobile device security. It plans to apply that expertise to billions of potential connected things.

Comcast’s Time Warner Cable merger in danger as FCC staff calls for hearing – In another setback for Comcast’s planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, staff from the Federal Communications Commission have recommended that the agency arrange a hearing, a move that move The Wall Street Journal says is a strong sign the regulatory body believes the deal is not in the public interest. FCC staff considering the deal concluded that the agency should issue a “hearing designation order,” a ruling that would put the merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, force Comcast to justify its plans, and delay proceedings.

AT&T adds 684,000 connected cars in Q1 – AT&T said it added 684,000 connected cars to its network in the first quarter as the company races to find its future growth in the Internet of things. The telecom giant reported first quarter earnings of $3.2 billion, or 61 cents a share, on revenue of $32.6 billion, roughly flat with a year ago. While the focus on smartphone additions and churn are the norm for wireless telecom players it’s worth pondering some of the other figures that are almost throwaways. Why? That’s where the growth will be. Sure, AT&T added 1.2 million smartphones to its base in the first quarter with a churn of 1.02 percent. But 1.2 million total wireless net additions, including 684,000 connected cars is worth noting.

More than 70 percent of Facebook’s $3.54 billion revenue is now mobile – The company, which reported its first quarter earnings today, now has 1.44 billion monthly active users, and 1.25 billion on mobile, an increase of 13 and 24 percent, respectively. A whopping 936 million people use it every single day. Facebook continued to cruise, posting revenue of $3.45 billion, up 42 percent over the same period last year. The shift to mobile continues, with 73 percent of its revenue coming from mobile ads as compared to 59 percent for this period last year. On the earnings call, Zuckerberg dropped one interesting detail. Facebook now sees over one billion searches on mobile every day.

Uber gives in to Germany’s demands to end ban – Another day, another place where Uber is having trouble operating the way it wants to. Last month it ran into another issue in Germany, where it was banned for the second time for failing to play by the rules. The company was hit last month with the threat of fines by the Frankfurt regional court should it violate the transportation laws in the area. That ruling has now become enforceable, and Uber issued a statement about it yesterday, saying it’s “a defeat for all those who want more choice for their personal mobility.”

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix’s library to get shakeup on May 1 – Netflix regularly purges content from its library and replaces it with new content — this is generally a bittersweet moment, in that there’s a good chance something you enjoyed will disappear, but that something you’d like to watch will be incoming. It is that time again, with May 1 marking the start of more content being added, as well as the start of a bunch of content being removed. Amongst those that are outbound is Skyfall and RoboCop, and inbound are a load of new things including Zombeavers.

11 most overrated games of all time – Excuse me for a minute while I slip into this asbestos suit and close the door on my insulated concrete bunker in an undisclosed location. I fully expect this article to ruffle a few feathers, and as we all know gamers don’t do very well with that. The canon of computer gaming is massive, with new classics added every year. And while some of the “greatest of all time” earned that title honestly, others look pretty lousy in hindsight. In this feature, I’m going to lay down the law on eleven games that are seriously overrated. Feel free to leave your picks in the comments, as well as any thoughts you have on my mother and her sexual purity.

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Bioshock Infinite

DC Comics and Mattel team up for superhero action figures for girls – Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn and more will soon be available as a new line of action figures and comics targeted at girls.

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The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week – Let’s not pretend that the most-pirated movie of the week is anything but Vin Diesel’s Furious 7. The movie, which delivers a series of over-the-top stunts and a heartfelt goodbye for the late Paul Walker, has already grossed over $1 billion worldwide. Furious 7 is super popular, which means that it’s a prime candidate for bootlegging. Before I discuss the week’s most-pirated movies, however, allow me to state that PCMag doesn’t condone piracy in any way, shape, or form. Our mission is a simple and pure one—to inform you about what’s happening in the online digital media world.

CyberPower’s insane three-pointed Trinity PC ditches ‘prototype’ for preorders – When we saw CyberPower’s Trinity gaming PC prototype at CES 2015 we thought it was one of the wildest computer designs we’d ever seen. Just look at the thing! Products so radical tend to wind up being vaporware, however. But CyberPower said the PC would go on sale within three months after its CES debut, and true to its word, Trinity is now available for pre-order with base prices between $955 and $1795 depending on the configuration. CyberPower says pre-orders will ship after Tuesday, April 28. Current estimated ship dates we saw on Wednesday morning were targeting early May.

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Xbox One May update brings Miracast support – That time of the month is here and the Xbox One is receiving some serious updates this time around which are designed to streamline the experience between the Windows 10 Xbox app and the console. Not only that, but the update also brings new features like Miracast support. Here’s a list of all the features coming to the console soon:

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Surprising Trait That Gets Better With Age – A new study from researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Buffalo shows that people aren’t getting older and crankier—they’re getting older and more trusting. And this increased sense of trust is linked with higher well being, says study co-author ClaudiaHaase, who also serves as director of Northwestern’s Life-Span Development Lab. While the elderly tend to have a reputation for being cranky and crotchety, this new research shows that they are actually “more likely to look at the bright side of things,” Haase said in a statement.

Here’s a Fascinating Breakdown of Emoji Use by Country – In a new report published on Tuesday, British app developer SwiftKey drew some conclusions after analyzing over 1 billion pieces of emoji data taken from communications made in 16 different languages. According to their findings, Canadians scored highest in categories associated with violence and money, loving the gun and cash emoji more than other nationalities. Down under, Australians surprised few by embracing icons suggestive of alcohol and drugs, using those symbols are least twice as frequently as the global average. France was the only country the smiley-faced icon was not the most used emoji. However, French speakers did use the heart emoji with greater frequency than anybody else. No clear traits emerged for the U.S., but the report said Americans “lead for a random assortment of emoji … including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat and female-oriented emoji.” Check out the full report here.

Woman filming law enforcement has phone smashed by federal agent – The woman, identified by the LA Times as 34-year-old Beatriz Paez, was fortunate that someone on the other side of the road was filming her as she tried to film the officers of the law. The footage, now released to the outside world, shows the clearly aggressive approach of someone now identified as a US deputy marshal. The woman appears to be standing clear of any officers and is not behaving in an obstructive manner. US courts have ruled that filming the police is perfectly legal, as long as those filming aren’t getting in the way of the police doing their job.

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Pointing up   Just another black uniformed criminal, committing just another criminal offense. Move along – nothing to see here.

Fed-up Colorado man takes 9mm PISTOL to vexing Dell PC – A Colorado Springs man who decided he’d had just about enough of his cantankerous Dell PC took it into an alleyway and pumped eight 9mm rounds into its sorry case, according to the local Gazette. Lucas Hinch, 37, simply “got tired of fighting with his computer for the last several months”, as the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Lt. Jeff Strossner put it. “He was having technology problems, so he took it out in the back alley and shot it.”

C’mon now – who hasn’t considered this at least once – maybe even more than once?    Smile

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Ben Affleck and PBS Failed at Helping Viewers Deal With the Past – As a descendant of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, I know what it’s like to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly of our pasts. However, we have to stop censoring history and start accepting it and learning from it. Affleck and PBS missed out on an important opportunity to face the ugly truth head on. This is a chance to educate and enlighten America about its painful past and current struggle. Instead of hiding the information about the Gone Girl star’s past, maybe PBS could have, and still can, help him and others cope with the devastating news that his ancestor owned people.

Something to think about:

“There are two sorts of people, those who favour ideology and those who favour humans. “

–       Jon Ronson

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinPatrol – WinPatrol takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. Now, using our “Cloud” technology you can benefit from the experience of other WinPatrol users. WinPatrol continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint.

WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software.

WinPatrol PLUS is a great investment!

One Time fee includes for ALL future WinPatrol versions.

No Hidden or Reoccurring Subscription Fees.

Single License valid on all your personal desktops and laptops!

No Toolbars or other unwanted software

WinPatrol PLUS is quicker and faster.

Upgrade Now with No Additional Download

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POP Peeper – POP Peeper is an email notifier that runs in your Windows task bar and alerts you when you have new email on your POP3, IMAP (with IDLE support), Hotmail\MSN\LiveMail, Yahoo, GMail, MyWay, Excite, iWon, Lycos.com, RediffMail, Juno and NetZero accounts. IMAP supports allows you to access AOL, AIM, Netscape and other services. Send mail directly from POP Peeper and use the address book to email your frequently used contacts. POP Peeper allows you to view messages using HTML or you can choose to safely view all messages in rich or plain text. Several options are available that will decrease or eliminate the risks of reading your email (viruses, javascript, webbugs, etc). POP Peeper can be run from a portable device and can be password protected. Many notification options are availble to indicate when new mail has arrived, such as sound alerts (configurable for each account), flashing scroll lock, skinnable popup notifier, customized screensaver and more.

Primary Features:

Easy Setup – accounts are imported from your existing email client(s)

Supports POP3, IMAP (including GMail, AOL, AIM, Netscape, FastMail, mail.com, etc), SMTP, GMail, Hotmail\MSN\LiveMail, Yahoo, MyWay, Excite, iWon, Lycos.com, RediffMail, Juno, NetZero

IDLE is supported for IMAP accounts which allows instant notification when new mail arrives in your inbox

Support for RSS feeds is available with purchase of the Premium Add-on Pack

Read, delete, print and reply to Email without opening your email client

Send email directly from POP Peeper

SSL support for POP3, IMAP and SMTP

HTML email support

Password protection

Address book

Options to protect you from messages that contain viruses and web bugs

Send, save and open file attachments

Run POP Peeper off your portable storage device

No account limit — notifies you of an unlimited number of accounts

Many ways to receive new mail notification: skinnable desktop alerts, audio, flashing scroll lock LED and more

Specify how often all accounts are checked for new mail or set individual intervals for each account

Extensive help with useful tips and information

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Easy Service Optimizer – All Windows versions loads many services at startup, most of them (Not all) are essential for the core system features . By disabling unnecessary services, the performance can be improved significantly, especially on computers with low system resources , here’s some of the windows services which are generally enabled by default that you can disable safely:

Print Spooler (if you don’t use a printer or print-to-PDF)

Bluetooth Support (if you don’t use Bluetooth)

Remote Registry (it’s not usually running by default, but you can disable it for safety)

Remote Desktop (There are 3 services. If you don’t use Remote desktop, disable them) but disabling a service was not for the novice (now it is)

Easy service optimizer (Eso) is a portable freeware to optimize almost all Windows services (except windows 98 and below) and It does not require any technical knowledge. It is very safe to use because it changes only the startup type of the services and you can restore them easily , you can create your own list or customize selected one.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The system is like a ship – once it leaves port there is no stopping it. Unless it sinks.

European Rights Body Again Rejects Mass Surveillance – Europe’s top rights body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has crystalized its censure of mass surveillance as a threat to fundamental human rights and to democracy itself by adopting a draft resolution in which it reiterates deep concerns over the practice of intelligence agencies systematically harvesting untargeted communications data, without adequate legal regulation or technical protection.

“Mass surveillance does not appear to have contributed to the prevention of terrorist attacks, contrary to earlier assertions made by senior intelligence officials. Instead, resources that might prevent attacks are diverted to mass surveillance, leaving potentially dangerous persons free to act,” PACE warned yesterday.

“These powerful structures risk escaping democratic control and accountability and they threaten the free and open character of our societies,” it added.

The Council took evidence from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden last year as part of its investigation into mass surveillance — going on to publish a lengthy report back in January.

That report also included concerns about intelligence agencies seeking to systematically perforate Internet security — a topical concern, given the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security was only yesterday speaking out against the ‘dangers’ of pervasive encryption. PACE’s draft resolution includes the same “deep” worries about threats to Internet security from “certain intelligence agencies”.

Australia: The censorship end game of the piracy site-blocking Bill – Summary: A call for the government to implement a widespread internet filter in addition to allowing rights holders to get piracy sites blocked shows that the legislation will be an open door for full internet censorship in Australia.

The House has passed a controversial new cyber info-sharing bill – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Cyber Networks Act in a bipartisan 307-116 vote, taking an important step forward in Congress’ ongoing efforts to promote cyber threat-sharing. The bill is meant to help network operators share information about possible threats more quickly and easily, making it easier to defend against any subsequent attacks. “Our bill will ensure that we have the tools to address these attacks by enabling voluntary information sharing of cyber threats between and among the private and public sectors,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in a statement.

It’s a crucial issue, particularly in the wake of ongoing criminal and state hacks like Home Depot, Target, and Sony Pictures, but many have criticized the new crop of info-sharing bills as opening the door to private sector surveillance. Ron Wyden criticized CISA, an earlier info-sharing bill, as “a surveillance bill by another name.” Others have raised questions about how government agencies will use the threat information after it’s been reported. “Any company has to think at least twice about sharing how they are vulnerable with a government that hoards security vulnerabilities and exploits them to conduct massive surveillance,” Stanford Law Professor Jennifer Granick wrote in a recent editorial.

Even NSA Chief Acknowledges Need for Broad Discussion About Cyberwarfare – A whole new and very dangerous field of warfare has been developed by the Obama administration, in secret, using untested legal justifications, and without even the faintest whiff of oversight.

So kudos to Patrick Tucker, technology editor for Defense One, who took advantage of a recent moment with National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers to ask him: Is there a way to discuss publicly what the future of cyberwar operations will look like?

Rogers said, dismissively, that the public should trust that the U.S. will follow the international laws of conflict and that its use of cyberwarfare would “be proportional” and “in line with the broader set of norms that we’ve created over time.”

But he also acknowledged the need, at some point, for the public to have some sort of a say.

Rogers likened cyberattacks to the development of mass firepower in the 1800s. “Cyber represents change, a different technical application to attempt to achieve some of the exact same effects, just do it in a different way,” he said.

“Like those other effects, I think, over time, we’ll have a broad discussion in terms of our sense of awareness, both in terms of capabilities as well as limitations.”

Over time?

That discussion is long overdue.

Google’s Encryption Efforts Are Paying Off In Wake Of Snowden Leaks – Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company has evidence that its efforts to improve encryption in the wake of Edward Snowden leaks have worked. His remarks at BoxDev, Box’s yearly developer conference, come as law enforcement officials are criticizing encryption efforts for slowing down investigations.

In response to a question about encryption from Box CEO Aaron Levie, Schmidt said that after the Snowden leaks, his company was “very, very upset.” He joked that Google wasn’t given a heads up about the activities of the American NSA, which he noted that in slang is often called “never say anything.”

At the time of Snowden’s revelations, Schmidt was one of the first executives to suggest encryption was the only way to prevent government surveillance. He said that the company has embarked on work to bolster its encryption efforts, including at-rest encryption, and in-transit encryption. He said people previously poking into the company’s networks are “complaining” and called the rising whining “proof” that its work was effective.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 22, 2015

Microsoft rolling out 34 unscheduled patches for Windows today;  Here’s why many “free” apps drain your smartphone battery;  23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  Which Antivirus Is Best? Tough Test Separates Winners and Losers;  The Best VPN Services for 2015;  Which CPU Should You Buy? Comparing Intel Core i5 vs. i7;  JustWatch is a search engine for streaming video;  WhatsApp voice calling comes to iOS;  IC3 Warns of Cyber Attacks Focused on Law Enforcement and Public Officials;  Wi-Fi Attack Breaks iPhones By Locking Them Into an Endless Loop;  What you need to know about Wi-Fi calling;  3 alternative mobile browsers;  Twitter expands threats ban, may lock accounts;  U.S. Secretary Of Homeland Security Warns About The Dangers Of Pervasive Encryption;

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft rolling out 34 unscheduled patches for Windows today – Microsoft is making a rare move by rolling out a second batch of software patches in April. A Microsoft support page lists 34 patches in total for today. All of them are optional, which means they don’t address critical security problems, and won’t be installed automatically. To grab them, you’ll have to go to the Windows Update screen and install them manually.

Which Antivirus Is Best? Tough Test Separates Winners and Losers – These days you don’t have to download a Trojan to get infested by malware. Drive-by downloads and other sneaky techniques can infest your computer just because you surfed to a malicious or hacked site. To evade detection, the bad guys often configure their nasty code so it doesn’t attack every visitor. It might attack one visitor in ten, or only trigger once for a given block of IP addresses. Researchers at Dennis Technology Labs take these tactics into account when testing antivirus software with a test system that ensures each product gets hit by precisely the same attack. It’s meant to be as close as you can come to a real user’s experience.

Pointing up   Please read the comments to this article for a dissenting view on the value of this type of testing.

3 alternative mobile browsers you’ll like better than the one on your smartphone – Sure, your shiny new Android or iOS device comes with its own browser installed. So why invest your time—and money—installing another browser? Because one of these alternatives can add functionality missing from your phone or tablet, boost your browsing speed, and make your mobile life just that much easier.

Here’s why many “free” apps drain your smartphone battery – A new study by University of Southern California, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Queen’s University in Canada, found that free apps that contain advertisements can use as much as 33 percent more battery power than apps without. Because the ads have to be downloaded, that adds to the cost of owning a device. On average, free apps with ads use as much as 79 percent more network data, which over time piles up the pennies. And once those apps are opened, the ads cause the device to churn up additional processing power and memory. Those things in combination can lower the battery life from 2.5 hours to 2.1 hours on average per day.

Offload your old devices with ecoATM – You know those coin machines at the supermarket which can take your jar of nickels and dimes then give you paper currency? ecoATM works on the same principle. You feed it your old cell phone (MP3 players and tablets are also accepted) and the kiosk determines the value of your device based on model, condition and current market price. It provides a quote for you and if you accept it pays you the cash immediately. The kiosks also accept chargers, cases and other accessories for recycling, but there is no payout for them. Devices from all carriers are accepted.

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Image: ecoATM.com

The Best VPN Services for 2015 – Everyone is watching what you do online. Advertisers, nation-state adversaries, neighbors, cyber-criminals, even our own government. It’s also gotten easier than ever to find a public Wi-Fi hotspot in places like airports, coffee shops, libraries, and public parks. Since you never know who might be virtually looking over your shoulder at what you are up to, a virtual private network (VPN) service is something you really need to protect your identity and preserve your privacy. The hard part is figuring out which one to use.

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.

Oomi is a sensor-packed connected-home system looking to break the mold – The heart of the Oomi system is the Oomi Cube and the Oomi Touch. The Cube is a combination hub, night-vision IP camera, environmental sensor (motion, vibration, sound, temperature, humidity, glass break, and ambient light), and infrared emitter (for controlling a home-theater system). The Touch is a dedicated 7.0-inch touchscreen tablet for controlling the system. Purpose-built hardware is almost always more powerful and easier to use than software running on a device originally built for some other purpose.

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Twitter expands threats ban, may lock accounts in aim to limit abuse – Social network says previous policy on violent threats was “unduly narrow.” Also, it will suspend accounts or force users to delete tweets if they engage in abusive behavior.

The art of Windows file search – At first glance, Windows’ search tool seems simple but underpowered. You open up Windows Explorer (File Explorer in Windows 8), type a word in the search field, and files containing that word appear. But there’s really much more to it than that.

Which CPU Should You Buy? Comparing Intel Core i5 vs. i7 – For many consumers who are on the hunt for a new desktop or laptop PC, one of the biggest considerations is the type of processor. Two of the CPUs most often in contention are the Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7. Discounting Core i3 (mainly found in budget systems) and AMD processors (another story entirely), the difference between Intel Core i5 and Core i7 can seem daunting, especially when the prices seem so close together once they’re in completed systems. We break down the differences for you.

Can’t find the show you like? JustWatch is a search engine for streaming video – A new search engine for streaming video promises a solution for users who have more than one video provider, pulling content from 15 different libraries including Netflix, Hulu, and Xbox Video.

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Controversial After School App Relaunches With New Safety Features And Zero Tolerance For Hate – Among other safeguards, the new version of the app adds a human safety layer. Every post on the social network is reviewed by a member of the After School staff before it’s published. Levy says the startup has 15 employees dedicated to this task around the clock and it usually takes less than a minute for a post to be approved. This After School staff member also adds one of six tags to a post, some of which triggers additional actions.

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Yet again, Microsoft is offering up to $150 off the Surface Pro 3, plus a free sleeve – Less than a month after its last discounts on the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft is once again offering up to $150 off the price of its flagship tablet, along with a free protective sleeve.

WhatsApp voice calling comes to iOS – A few weeks ago, the hugely popular chatting service WhatsApp started letting Android users make voice calls through the app, and now that feature is starting to roll out to iOS users. An update to the iOS app hit the iTunes Store earlier today and indicates that you’ll soon be able to call anyone using WhatsApp for free, regardless of where they may live. Naturally, the app uses your internet connection to complete these calls. But even if you update the app today, you might not have access to the feature just yet — WhatsApp says it’ll roll out “slowly over the next few weeks.”

What you need to know about Wi-Fi calling – Although apps like Skype, Google Hangouts and WhatsApp make it easier for smartphone users to place calls over the Internet and forgo mobile networks altogether, carriers have shown increasing interest in adopting Wi-Fi calling themselves. Whether it’s because they want to bolster their network coverage or improve user experience, some US carriers already provide the service, and EE, a carrier in the UK, announced earlier this month that it will offer it as well. To help you make sense of what Wi-Fi calling is, why it’s important, and what you can use it for, CNET put together a handy guide to walk you through everything you need to know.

PiPO unveils the X8, a “Windows TV box + desktop tablet” for under $100 – More set-top box than tablet, the X8 is an unusual Windows 8.1 device that connects to your TV, and is expected to cost under $100 – and a version that dual-boots Windows and Android is on the way. It appears that the device will be available in black and white versions, and comes with Windows 8.1 with Bing, but PiPO told NotebookItalia.it that a dual-boot version that runs both Windows and Android is in development, and is likely to be called the X8s. The standard X8 is expected to go on sale in May, priced from under $100.

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ChatGrape, The Enterprise Messaging App Backed By Betaworks And Mark Pincus, Launches Publicly – After securing backing from Betaworks, and more quietly Zynga founder Mark Pincus, ChatGrape, the enterprise and team messaging app that pitches itself as a more ‘intelligent’ Slack or HipChat, is launching publicly today.

Microsoft’s Lockbox for Office 365 gives you more control of your data – Microsoft has announced a new feature for Office 365 at the RSA conference called Customer Lockbox for Office 365; this feature gives you more control over your data and who can access it.

Speed up Outlook email chores: 5 ways to automate repetitive tasks – Anything that speeds up email communication in Microsoft Outlook has to be a bonus. Typing and retyping the same paragraphs, the same information, explanations, directions, instructions, and so on is half the problem—one that can be easily solved with these five, easy, time-saving tips.

Amazon launches Amazon Destinations, for weekend road-trippers – With a new service that offers hotel bookings, and info on dining and attractions, the e-commerce giant joins TripAdvisor, Airbnb and others in the competitive field of online travel agencies.

Security:

IC3 Warns of Cyber Attacks Focused on Law Enforcement and Public Officials – The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued an alert warning that law enforcement personnel and public officials may be at an increased risk of cyber attacks. Doxing—the act of gathering and publishing individuals’ personal information without permission—has been observed. Hacking collectives may exploit publicly available information identifying officers or officials, their employers, and their families. These target groups should protect their online presence and exposure. Users are encouraged to review the IC3 Alert for details and refer to US-CERT Tip ST06-003 for information on staying safe on social network sites.

Wi-Fi Attack Breaks iPhones By Locking Them Into an Endless Loop – Researchers from Skycure demonstrated a novel attack at the RSA 2015 conference that affects iPhones and other iOS devices. The attack, which takes advantage of new and previously announced vulnerabilities, locks iPhones into a never-ending reboot cycle effectively rendering them useless.

Apple failed to fix “rootpipe” backdoor flaw, researcher warns – Summary:The bug should’ve been squashed in the latest update of OS X 10.10.3, but researchers say it persists. Every Mac is at risk from this “backdoor” bug.

Malware tops Australia’s online crime threat: ACC – The next five years will see the criminal deployment of malware top the online crime threat to Australia, according to the Australian Crime Commission.

D-Link router user? Keep your ears and eyes open for the next firmware fixes! – A critical bug that leaves various D-Link routers wide open has apparently been patched… except that the patches need patches. Watch out!

Schneier on Security: Hacking Airplanes – It’s certainly possible, but in the scheme of Internet risks I worry about, it’s not very high. I’m more worried about the more pedestrian attacks against more common Internet-connected devices. I’m more worried, for example, about a multination cyber arms race that stockpiles capabilities such as this, and prioritizes attack over defense in an effort to gain relative advantage. I worry about the democratization of cyberattack techniques, and who might have the capabilities currently reserved for nation-states. And I worry about a future a decade from now if these problems aren’t addressed.

Company News:

Tesla to announce home batteries on April 30 – The rumors are true. Tesla just “announced” that it will unveil new type of lithium-ion battery for homes and offices. In an email to investors, Tesla’s Jeffery Evanson said that the company will use its April 30th presentation to, “explain the advantages of our solutions and why past battery options were not compelling.” The innovative car company also plans to reveal a second, “very large” lithium-ion battery for large-scale utilities. Such a sizable battery would be idea for doomsday preppers and those wishing to stay “off the grid.

Google, Apple and Amazon spent record amounts on lobbying in Q1 – Google, Apple and Amazon.com spent record amounts in the first quarter attempting to influence U.S. politicians and policy. Google, which was already the biggest tech lobbyist in Washington, D.C., spent $5.47 million in the first three months of the year, according to a report filed with the Senate Office of Public Records. That made it the fifth biggest federal lobbyist across all industries during the quarter, according to an analysis by Maplight.

China-based Huawei sets sights on a “top three” sales spot in the U.S. – Even though there’s still sales growth to be had in its home country of China, Huawei is gearing up to tackle the U.S. smartphone market.

BlackBerry Is Buying File Security And DRM Startup WatchDox for up to $150M – According to reports coming out of Israel, now confirmed by BlackBerry itself, it is buying WatchDox, a startup that has developed cross-platform technology for digital rights management and for enterprises to share files securely. BlackBerry, the reports say, is paying between $100 million and $150 million for the company, and will also leverage its 100-person team in Israel to build out its R&D operations in the country. BlackBerry says it is not disclosing the terms of the deal. The plan is to integrate WatchDox’s technology as a value-added service with BlackBerry’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) portfolio. It will be available with BES12, which works on multiple platforms.

Apple Pay takes hold as PayPal dives – The mobile iteration of PayPal is taking a dive – and has been taking a dive the for past year – as Apple Pay begins to take a firm grasp on mobile payments. Thus says the data presented by 451 Research in a study conducted over the 3-month period ending this March, 2015. In it, 451 Research’s ChangeWave service had 4,168 respondents “primarily based in North America” answer questions about their planned use (over the next 90 days) of mobile payment applications as well as issues of security therein.

Yahoo, still reliant on PCs, posts disappointing earnings – Mobile is a crucial element in CEO Marissa Mayer’s turnaround plan for Yahoo, but the company is still heavily dependant on PCs for its money. That was evident Tuesday when Yahoo reported its financial results for the last quarter. Revenue from ads displayed on PCs brought in $873 million — more than three-quarters of the total. Mobile revenue climbed 61 percent from last year, but still reached only $234 million. This could be one reason Yahoo continues to struggle.

HP partners with FireEye for cyberattack investigation and response – FireEye’s threat detection and incident response capabilities will be incorporated into HP’s Enterprise Services. The companies are planning to offer an “industry standard reference architecture” centered around advanced threat protection and incident response, according to a news release Tuesday from the RSA security conference in San Francisco. The two companies will have a Global Incident Response team to investigate cyberattacks and offer an Advanced Compromise Assessment service, which will evaluate whether a company has been breached.

Games and Entertainment:

HBO sends warnings to paying HBO Now customers who don’t live in the US – HBO has sent warnings to thousands of people around the world – not pirates, but folks who have been paying the company to access its HBO Now subscription service, which it says is for US users only.

Nintendo Wii U bundle ‘Splatoon’ arrives May 29 – Nintendo has announced the upcoming arrival of a Wii U Splatoon bundle, which will bring with it the title alongside Nintendo’s Wii U console. The bundle will be available starting next month from Best Buy, and will involve a Wii U Deluxe console, pre-installed Nintendo Land games, and a code to download Splatoon for free. The game is a family-friendly offering, being an action shooter with ink-spraying, customizable characters, splatting, squid transformations, ink-swimming, and more. It’ll be priced at $299.99 USD when it drops.

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SiliconDust is building a cheap TiVo alternative, based on its HDHomeRun product line – DVR service from cable companies and TiVo can get pretty expensive, but an upcoming alternative from SiliconDust aims to be much cheaper. The company is developing DVR software that works with its existing HDHomeRun TV tuners, both for over-the-air broadcasts and for cable channels. While TiVo and cable companies charge $15 per month or more for DVR service, SiliconDust plans to charge $30 for a whole year.

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Supercut shows every character from all six ‘Star Wars’ movies – To celebrate the upcoming release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” a dedicated fan has compiled a 24-minute supercut featuring every single character from all six “Star Wars” films.

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Eye-popping ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is almost too spectacular (spoiler-free review) – Iron Man, Captain America and the team are back for an adventure that’s nearly too big for the cinema screen.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Philips introduces new 60W LED lightbulb under $5 – Philips is releasing what could soon be the cheapest 60 watt equivalent LED lightbulb on the market. There are a plethora of reasons people might want to stick with incandescents over LED lightbulbs, but Philips’ newest LED bulb just voided the majority of consumers’ biggest concern: cost. At only $4.97 USD, the price of these bulbs is low enough to sway those consumers who have been looking to lower their monthly electric bill but still haven’t been convinced by previous LED bulbs on the market.

Virtue Pedalist bicycle sports tiny car-like body – Commuting on a bicycle has its upsides, but there are some potential problems. Lack of adequate storage can be one issue, for example, and rain is an even bigger problem, especially for those living in rainy places like Seattle. The Virtue Pedalist aims to be a sophisticated solution to many of those problems, serving as a sort of cross between a miniature car and bicycle to offer (many of) the benefits of both worlds without compromising all the things that make bikes worthwhile.

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California Man Beaten By Sheriffs After Horse Chase Receives Huge Settlement – A man who was filmed being beaten by sheriff deputies in California after fleeing on horseback earlier this month will receive a $650,000 payout, county officials said Tuesday. “The sole purpose of this agreement for both parties is to avoid the costs involved in litigation,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos in a statement. “This agreement is a fair outcome for everyone involved, including the taxpayers.” San Bernardino County has not been forced to admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement agreement, which was approved by county supervisors on Tuesday and Pusok’s attorney on Friday.

Search for Loch Ness Monster on Google Street View – Whether or not you believe in the the legendary creature, affectionately known as “Nessie,” she is an undying part of international folklore. And now, she has arrived on Google Street View. Eighty-one years after the the “Surgeon’s Photograph”—which claimed to show the monster peeking out from the misty waters of the lake—Google is bringing 360-degree Street View imagery of Loch Ness to the masses.

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This box can literally transmit human emotions over-the-air – Dr. Marianna Obrist and the University of Sussex team researching this technology refer to their creation as Ultrahaptics. To receive a transmission, a user simply places his or her hand a few inches above a grid in the middle of the rather plain-looking white box you see above. Bursts of air shot through the grid stimulate different areas of the palm and trigger an emotional response. The different patterns produced by the Ultrahaptics box can evoke a broad range of emotions, from happiness and excitement to sadness and fear. Darker emotions are triggered by slower, more subdued air patterns directed near outer palm and pinky finger. Quicker, sharper ones aimed at palm’s center have a more uplifting effect.

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Help! I Can’t Stop Thinking in Emoji! – The surprise of thinking in tiny cartoon images comes from the expectation that language is going to pop into your head when you think. So what makes emoji different from written language? How do emojis mean and is it different from how words mean?

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Watch a man sing ‘If I Only Had a Brain’ filmed on new super-fast MRI – Thanks to magnetic resonance imaging at 100 frames per second, researchers can watch the muscles involved in singing in action.

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Open data on criminals and teachers is a-okay, say most US citizens – US citizens are in favor of sharing government information on individual criminals and teachers, but are less happy when such “open data” schemes apply to more personal matters. Sixty-two percent of US citizens support sharing data about individuals’ criminal records, and 60 percent are happy with making information about teachers’ performance in the classroom available. However, only 22 percent support sharing data about their mortgages. These figures, from a survey of attitudes towards government data by Pew Research, reflect the fact that while a slim majority of Americans (53 percent) believe that open data schemes can make the government more accountable, many citizens are distrustful of officials’ ability to handle the data.

Something to think about:

“Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can have. It’s much sexier than any body part.”

–      Aimee Mullins

Today’s Free Downloads:

Microsoft Process Monitor – Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity. It combines the features of two legacy Sysinternals utilities, Filemon and Regmon, and adds an extensive list of enhancements including rich and non-destructive filtering, comprehensive event properties such session IDs and user names, reliable process information, full thread stacks with integrated symbol support for each operation, simultaneous logging to a file, and much more. Its uniquely powerful features will make Process Monitor a core utility in your system troubleshooting and malware hunting toolkit.

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Networx – NetWorx is a simple and free, yet powerful tool that helps you objectively evaluate your bandwidth situation. You can use it to collect bandwidth usage data and measure the speed of your Internet or any other network connection. NetWorx can help you identify possible sources of network problems, ensure that you do not exceed the bandwidth limits specified by your ISP, or track down suspicious network activity characteristic of Trojan horses and hacker attacks.

The program allows you to monitor all your network connections or a specific network connection (such as Ethernet or PPP) only. The software also features a system of highly customizable visual and sound alerts. You can set it up to alert you when the network connection is down or when some suspicious activity, such as unusually heavy data flow, occurs. It can also automatically disconnect all dialup connections and shut down the system.

The incoming and outgoing traffic is represented on a line chart and logged to a file, so that you can always view statistics about your daily, weekly and monthly bandwidth usage and dialup duration. The reports can be exported to a variety of formats, such as HTML, MS Word and Excel, for further analysis.

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Dr. Web CureIT – Dr.WEB CureIt! is an antivirus and anti-spyware scanning tool that is developed on the Dr.WEB engine which will help you quickly scan and cure, if necessary, a computer without installation of the Dr.WEB Anti-virus.

Dr.WEB CureIT! automatically detects the language of the OS it is installed to and sets the scanner interface accordingly (if the local language is not supported, English is enabled).

Dr.WEB CureIt! supports the following languages: Russian, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Czech, English, Estonian, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovakian, Spanish, Ukrainian.

Dr.WEB CureIt! contains the most up-to-date add-ons to the Dr.WEB virus bases going up to twice per hour frequency at periods of high malware submissions

Dr.WEB CureIT! detects and removes:

Mass-mailing worms

E-mail viruses

Peer-to-peer viruses

Internet worms

File viruses

Trojans

Stealth viruses

Polymorphic viruses

Bodiless viruses

Macro viruses

MS Office viruses

Script viruses

Spyware

Spybots

Password stealers

Keyloggers

Paid Dialers

Adware

Riskware

Hacktools

Backdoors

Joke programs

Malicious scripts

Other malware

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The system is like a ship – once it leaves port there is no stopping it. Unless it sinks.

Millennials’ view of Snowden could spur surveillance relief, ACLU says – A generational change could help usher in a new era in which governments prune back their surveillance efforts.

That’s the message from the American Civil Liberties Union, drawing on a study that looked into the attitude of millennials in 10 countries toward Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked reams of classified documents about spying programs conducted by the US National Security Agency. What the ACLU found, it said, is that members of this younger generation who know about Snowden have an “overwhelmingly positive opinion” about him.

Millennials — those born roughly between 1980 and 1999 — also tend to believe that Snowden’s disclosures will help to bring about greater privacy protections, according to the ACLU.

U.S. Secretary Of Homeland Security Warns About The Dangers Of Pervasive Encryption – In a speech at cybersecurity conference RSA, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson outlined the government’s discomfort with increasing implementation of encryption by technology companies, and what impact the shift might have on national security.

While tech firms like Apple are advancing encryption to an increasingly broad set of consumer activities, the government is concerned that it could increasingly be locked out from the communications, and the intentions, of threats to national security.

The issue of encryption, who should hold the controlling keys, and if American technology companies should be compelled to provide special access to consumer data to the United States government are issues as old as they are controversial. The common argument against any weakening of encryption is that there are no unexploitable weaknesses — if Google were to craft a back or front door for the U.S. government, it’s impossible to keep that same entryway free from other parties.

After asking for “indulgence” and “understanding,” the secretary said during his remarks that the “current course [the technology industry is on], toward deeper and deeper encryption in response to the demands of the marketplace, is one that presents real challenges for those in law enforcement and national security.”

Texas aims to limit controversial “stingray” phone-tracking tech – Two bills in Texas aim to limit the use of a shadowy device, which critics argue can indiscriminately collect vast amounts of cellphone users’ data.

The “stingray” technology, otherwise known as a cell-site simulator, can grab crucial data from a suspect’s smartphone. The public knows very little about how the suitcase-sized box works, except that it can track cellphones and smartphones, grab data, and intercept phone calls and messages.

But legislators, both in the state and further afield, are none the wiser as to how the technology actually works.

That’s because the FBI has forced local law enforcement officials to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the stingray’s maker.

The FBI has called the technology (and its surrounding secrecy) a matter of “national security.”

That’s prompted members in both houses of Texas’ state congress to introduced bills aimed at curbing the use of the controversial gadget by making its use without a warrant illegal.

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Cell-phone tracking stingray devices can fit in a small suitcase. (Image: Harris)

Homeland Security Department to open Silicon Valley office – Tech companies will soon be competing for talent with a new player in Silicon Valley: the Department of Homeland Security.

During a speech today at the security-focused RSA Conference in San Francisco, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that his department is opening a cybersecurity office in Silicon Valley.

And Johnson wasn’t coy about why: he wants to tap into the Valley’s minds.

“We want to convince the talented workforce to come to Washington,” said Johnson. “The government doesn’t have all the answers nor do we have all the talent…We need each other and we must work together. There are things government can do for you and there are things you can (help us do).”

Among the cybersecurity jobs Homeland Security is looking to fill is the role of top cop. Johnson said he’s looking for an “all-star” to head DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or NCCIC.

Congress moves forward on cyberthreat sharing bill despite privacy concerns – The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on a controversial cyberthreat information sharing bill this week, despite major privacy concerns from many digital rights groups and security researchers.

The Protecting Cyber Networks Act “seriously threatens privacy and civil liberties, and would undermine cybersecurity, rather than enhance it,” said a letter sent this week by 55 digital and civil liberties groups, security researchers and academics.

The PCNA, one of two cybersecurity bills that the House may vote on this week, would come to the House floor about a month after it was introduced, an unusually fast process for legislation. Without holding any public hearings on the bill, the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee voted to approve the bill in late March, just two days after it was introduced.

Republicans Continue Fight Against Net Neutrality With Three New Proposals – Congressional Republicans have aggressively sought to block the rules that would preserve the open Internet, which passed on a party-line vote earlier this year. They question the legality of the rulemaking, arguing that an agency comprising unelected officials should not have so much power over an essential component of American commerce. They also question the White House’s involvement in the decision by the independent agency.

The bill drafts introduced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee today are a largely symbolic display from the right. Although it’s possible these bills could pass in the House, it’s unlikely they would clear the Senate where the Republicans hold only a slim majority. If they were to make it to the White House, President Obama is sure to veto them. He came out as a strong supporter of net neutrality last fall.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 21, 2015

5 online privacy and security tips for travelers;  Google now allows you view your search history, save it locally;  The best free, open-source software for everyday PC users;  Windows 10 to launch at the end of July;  1,500 iOS apps have HTTPS-crippling bug. Is one of them on your device?  Twitter Now Lets You Opt In To Receive Direct Messages From Anyone;  Deactivating Twitter’s “Direct Messages from anyone” as fast as possible;  YouTube ends support for older apps on iOS, Apple TV, Google TV;  This App Will Flag Your Offensive Tweets Before Your Future Employer Sees Them;   Get Windows 10: Hidden roadmap for biggest upgrade ever;   8 great Google Maps tips for Android and iOS;  TeslaCrypt: Video game Safety 101;  How to Spot and Avoid Credit Card Skimmers;  Drones behaving badly: Dark skies ahead;  System Explorer (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 online privacy and security tips for travelers – Wherever you’re going – whether you’re traveling for a business conference, or going to a vacation spot far away from work – you’ll still want to be secure when you go online, use mobile devices and buy stuff with credit cards. You don’t have to “go dark” when you travel, but you do have to take extra precautions. So here are five simple security tips.

This App Will Flag Your Offensive Tweets Before Your Future Employer Sees Them – It was created by a man who lost his dream job with the Jeb Bush campaign. He lasted 36 hours, done in by a history of offensive tweets and blog posts that was uncovered by reporters and opposition researchers after TIME broke the news of his hire. The app, releasing publicly Monday, scours a user’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram histories for potentially inflammatory or damaging posts, and makes their removal a breeze. It’s designed for the next generation in the workforce, who grew up sharing vast amounts of information online, some of which may become a liability in their future careers.

Your Guide to Safe(r) Sexting – Let’s be perfectly clear: Sexting will never be 100 percent safe. You’ll always be taking some risk when you send or receive naughty messages, photos, or videos. Electronic media is always, by its nature, reproducible, and copies of whatever you send or receive could get into someone else’s hands. If you do not want to take any risks, you should not sext. Period.

Twitter Now Lets You Opt In To Receive Direct Messages From Anyone – Twitter has for years tested a feature that would allow anyone to opt in to receive direct messages from other users on its platform, even if the accounts weren’t following each other as per earlier requirements. This setting was rolled out more broadly to a portion of Twitter’s user base in 2013, but never became an option for the general public. That changes today, says Twitter, which announced this morning that anyone on its network can now opt to accept direct messages from any other Twitter user.

Deactivating Twitter’s “Direct Messages from anyone” as fast as possible – Worried Twitter’s newest feature “direct message from anyone” will put a kink in your private life? You’re not the only one. Earlier today Twitter’s update and blast on their newest feature update made more than one social network explode in a fury of misdirected madness. The key to this puzzle wasn’t that this new feature was coming, however, but that it wasn’t turned on by default. This feature, as it turns out, is something you need to turn on for it to work.

The best free, open-source software for everyday PC users – Finding new software is a breeze for Linux users. But which of those programs are right for you? We have answers. The applications highlighted here are the pick of the litter for the average Linux user looking to stock up on software. Heck, these particular applications are so good that almost all of them are available on other platforms and are popular even among Windows users.

Microsoft preps PCs for Windows 10 with more auto updates – Microsoft last week continued to deliver automatic updates to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs to prep them for the summer upgrade to Windows 10. A pair of updates pushed to customers — one for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), another for Windows 8.1 Update — were billed as allowing users “to upgrade your computer … to a later version of Windows.”

Windows 10 to launch at the end of July, according to AMD – According to AMD’s CEO Microsoft is looking to launch Windows 10 at the end of July. The AMD exec was speaking on a recent financial conference call when she let slip the fact that Microsoft was looking to get the OS out in time for the “back to school” promotions.

Get Windows 10: Hidden roadmap for biggest upgrade ever – Beginning this summer, Microsoft will offer free Windows 10 upgrades to hundreds of millions of PCs. A recent Windows Update contains details about how the Get Windows 10 (GWX) program will work.

Google now allows you view your search history, save it locally – Google will now allow you to download your search history. The search giant is now offering a method for you to archive your previous search history and download it in its entirety.

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8 great Google Maps tips for Android and iOS – It’s time to learn your way around the new Google Maps app. The old, somewhat clunky Google Maps interface has been replaced with a flatter, more modern look. Your favorite features are probably still there, but some now hide inside swipeable drawers or behind all-new menu buttons. Never fear, though. The new Google Maps app for Android and iOS makes perfect sense once you get the hang of it, and the latest version makes it even easier to get where you’re going or see every detail in your virtual surroundings. Read on for 8 essential tips for the new Google Maps, starting with…

YouTube ends support for older apps on iOS, Apple TV, Google TV – Have older tech? YouTube wants you to upgrade. In a blog post today, the YouTube team is announcing they’ll no longer support “certain older” apps. It likely won’t affect most users, and the mobile website will continue to work — but you should be aware, especially if you’re using some dated hardware (some of which is just plain obsolete). YouTube isn’t being picky, either. Everything from Apple TV to gaming consoles are affected. Even Google TV (which is apparently still a thing) is going to need an update!

One of the Best, Cheapest Phones Is Now Available to Everyone – OnePlus, a Shenzhen-based smartphone maker, has released its “flagship-killer” smartphone to the general public at a lethally competitive price of $300 without a contract. The OnePlus One smartphone garnered rave reviews since it was released by invitation only to a select number of users last year. Critics marveled that a smartphone could match its highest-end rivals spec-for-spec, from the 1080p display to the clean design, yet retail at less than half their price. OnePlus announced on its blog that the phone would go on sale to anyone, no invitation necessary, starting Thursday.

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Google’s Android Wear software will let you leave your phone at home (if there’s Wi-Fi) – The search giant announces a handful of new features, including new capabilities that make a watch run independent of a phone, all ahead of the Apple Watch’s launch on Friday.

Encryption: More and more companies use it, despite nasty tech headaches – One in three firms now scramble data to protect it from prying eyes – but encryption remains a complicated technology to manage for most.

Security:

1,500 iOS apps have HTTPS-crippling bug. Is one of them on your device? – About 1,500 iPhone and iPad apps contain an HTTPS-crippling vulnerability that makes it easy for attackers to intercept encrypted passwords, bank-account numbers, and other highly sensitive information, according to research released Monday. An estimated two million people have installed the vulnerable apps, which include the Citrix OpenVoice Audio Conferencing, the Alibaba.com mobile app, Movies by Flixster with Rotten Tomatoes, KYBankAgent 3.0, and Revo Restaurant Point of Sale, according to analytics service SourceDNA.

Cook County subpoenas Romanian security firm, a Tor exit node operator, for ‘real’ IP – Was Cook County (Chicago) hacked again or are the wheels of justice just now moving a year after the last alleged hack of its computer systems? A Romanian security firm which runs Tor exit nodes received a subpoena from Cook County asking for the “real” IP address that used an exit node IP address to access a Cook County IP.

How to Spot and Avoid Credit Card Skimmers – With all the recent headlines about point-of-sale malware infecting retailers and restaurants around the country, it’s easy to forget the more common way cyber-criminals steal credit and debit card numbers: card skimmers. If you ever swipe your card at a gas station pump, withdraw cash from an ATM, or buy tickets from a vending machine, then you are at risk.

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The above picture is a real-life skimmer in use on an ATM. You can see how the arrows are very close to the reader; that is a sign a skimmer was installed over the existing one.

Google’s push to encrypt ads will improve security, but won’t kill malicious advertising – Google plans to serve most of its ads over encrypted HTTPS connections by the end of June, a move that will protect against some ad hijacking attacks and will encourage website owners to enable encryption on their Web properties. However, malicious advertising attacks that direct users to Web-based exploits will still be possible and, because of the new encryption, it will actually be harder for security researchers to pinpoint their source.

BT to start hacking connected cars, as cyberattack risks increase – More cars now than ever come with 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi connectivity for navigation, radio, and other on-board features. But BT says those connections can be used against the driver — even others on the road. That includes gaining access to essential features of the car, to grabbing information on drivers’ habits for commercial purposes, and even remotely hijacking a vehicle, the company warned. BT’s team of ethical hackers and security experts wants to mitigate attacks before they happen — even before cars rolls off the production line.

Company News:

US arms dealer Raytheon buys internet security firm Websense for a reported $1.9 billion – In an attempt to create what they are calling a “first-of-its-kind commercial cybersecurity company specifically designed to meet the needs of the evolving cybersecurity environment”, US arms manufacturer Raytheon Co and Websense Inc are combining to form a unit reporting through Raytheon to provide military-grade web security to their customers. The deal will involve Vista Equity Partners LLC in a complicated reorganization that will leave the new security company reporting directly to Raytheon management.

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European Union slams Google with search antitrust charges, launches Android investigation – The European Commission has charged Google with abusing its dominant position in Internet search services in Europe by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product, Google Shopping. At the same time, the Commission also opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s mobile operating system Android. It suspects Google of abusing its dominant position by, among other things, requiring device manufacturers to bundle Google’s own services and applications with the open-source operating system.

Under Fire In India, Facebook’s Internet.org Launches In Indonesia – Facebook’s ‘free web’ Internet.org program has expanded into Indonesia, a country with a 250 million population, marking its second largest launch in Asia to date. For those who are not aware of it, and the debate around it, Internet.org is a free portal of hand-picked internet services that can be accessed for free by users on mobile devices. Facebook’s argument is that this is a natural stepping stone for those who can’t connect to the internet for financial or other reasons. The contrary take to that is that Facebook is creating a separate internet and, by hand selecting Internet.org partners, it is discriminating against companies that are not on its list.

Microsoft’s first store outside of North America to open in Australia – Microsoft is planning to open its first flagship retail store outside of North America later this year. The software giant is opening a new store in Sydney, Australia with a similar layout to its existing stores in the US and Canada. Microsoft has been gradually expanding its footprint of brick and mortar stores across the US and Canada, with 110 in total. The new Australian store will be located at Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall, and will include access to Windows phones, PCs, Surface tablets, Xbox consoles, and all of Microsoft’s software products. While the company isn’t revealing exactly when the store will open, it’s planned for later this year.

IBM Reports Higher-Than-Expected Q1 Profit, But Revenue Of $19.6B Disappoints – Following the cessation of regular trading this afternoon, IBM reported its first-quarter financial performance. The company reported higher-than-expected adjusted profit on a per-share basis of $2.91, but the company’s $19.59 billion in period-revenue was under street expectations of $19.64 billion. The company now has a run of 12 straight quarters of declining revenue.

Apple: ‘We don’t want to debate climate change. We want to stop it.’ – Apple is continuing to take a strong stance against climate change, writing in its newly released 2015 Environmental Responsibility Report, “We don’t want to debate climate change. We want to stop it.” This is framed as a major piece in Apple’s reasoning for turning to more environmentally sustainable practices when it comes to use of power and materials. “We’ve made real progress in reducing the impact of the things we control directly — our offices, retail stores, and products,” Apple write. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done to reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chain. And it’s our responsibility to lead that effort.”

Nokia’s rumored return to phones and virtual reality – It’s been suggested today by two unnamed informants that Nokia will be returning to the smartphone arena in 2016. How they’ll do this, exactly, remains a mystery – especially given their current lack of manufacturing power as a result of their sale to Microsoft back in early 2014. But they’ve made a tablet since then – right, so what’s to stop them from making a collection of smartphones? Nothing, really – they’ve just got to team up with a manufacturing partner and begin to smash the nail with the hammer, so to speak.

Games and Entertainment:

TeslaCrypt: Video game Safety 101 – TeslaCrypt is branching out into uncharted waters for Ransomware by going after video games and music files. We take a look at whether you should be worried by this new development, and what you can do about it. Recently, it’s been showing up in malware scams involving Nuclear EK (exploit kit). In the linked example, a Flash exploit targeted an out of date Flash install and bam – that’s all she wrote.

Play this free online game to plant real trees where they’re needed most – There are plenty of so-called rewards for playing digital games — “achievements,” “badges,” “trophies.” But when you play the online trivia game known as JohnnyAppl, your reward is a lot more tangible. You get to say that you helped plant a tree somewhere where it was most needed. The game just launched in its full version a few days ago, along with an Indiegogo campaign to help it really get off the ground. Advertisers pay to put up banner ads. Ad revenue is then donated to JohnnyAppl’s partner, The Eden Projects, which hires locals to plant trees in Ethiopia, Madagascar and Haiti — areas particularly hit hard by deforestation. The planet benefits from more trees, and the local residents benefit through gainful employment.

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Here’s how you plant an tree with your iPad.

Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm will be available on June 2nd – Blizzard’s newest game now has a release date: Heroes of the Storm will be available on June 2nd, and an open beta will begin on May 19th. It’s the company’s first MOBA (short for multiplayer online battle arena), and it will take aim at the popularity of similar titles like DOTA 2 and League of Legends.

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New trailer shows that Jurassic World will be a dinosaur bonanza – It’s a dinosaur bonanza in the latest Jurassic World trailer. Colin Trevorrow’s updated trip to the theme park unleashes a genetically modified beast called Indominus Rex created to bring in more attendees, but as you can see in the latest trailer, those folks might wind up in ridiculous amounts of danger.

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Steam accounts are now feature limited until $5 is spent – Steam, much like any other online platform, is fighting a constant battle against spam and malicious activity. Reducing such activity benefits both the platform and the genuine users of it, and Valve has come up with an idea: limit accounts until $5 has been spent. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up and grab yourself a Steam account, but Valve has noticed that there is a correlation between free accounts and accounts that spam the service or carry out generally malicious activity. That correlation is the fact those malicious users don’t spend any money on Steam. With that in mind, Steam has introduced Limited User Accounts. Such accounts limit access to a number of popular Steam account features, including:

Off Topic (Sort of):

These new shoes grow with your feet, help impoverished children – The shoe — or sandal, depending on the deep-seated feelings you have regarding foot coverage — is primarily designed for impoverished children that either can’t afford a single pair of shoes, or can’t afford to purchase larger ones when they’ve outgrown previous pairs. The shoes are easy enough to purchase, as they only come in two sizes, small or large. Small lasts from kindergarten to fourth grade, then large picks up where small left off until around ninth grade.

Drones behaving badly: Dark skies ahead – As UAV technology advances and expands, public policy issues around safety, privacy, and regulation are increasingly becoming a concern. Earlier this year, both the FAA and the White House issued new domestic directives on commercial and government drone use. Yes, the technology holds great promise, but there’s a clear and present downside to having endless remote-piloted and robotic aircraft swarming overhead, as the following incidents involving drones behaving badly clearly show.

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Image courtesy Lima Pix via Flick

Google-funded troll algorithm targets antisocial behavior – Google has funded a study by Cornell and Stanford researchers who have created an algorithm for identifying trolls before they become too much a problem, and though it isn’t perfectly accurate, it does a good job of weeding out users who are likely to end up getting the banhammer. All the while, the algorithm isolates a number of online behaviors typical of trolls, things referred to as antisocial behaviors, including making far more posts during a block of time that regular non-troll users.

Watch: John Oliver Goes After Patent Trolls – Patents are to inventors as air is to humans: Without the legally binding document, innovators have no proof of their work, and no way to protect against theft. But the proliferation of patent trolls has threatened creators and their ideas. And John Oliver isn’t standing for it. The comedian and host of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver used his Sunday show to rail against patent trolls, or faceless enterprises that acquires patents and uses them to sue anyone who appears to infringe.

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This Is How Tech Will Totally Change Our Lives by 2025 – The ever-increasing hunger for data will fundamentally change the way we live our lives over the next decade. That’s according to a new report by the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit think tank that has released a set of five predictions for the ways tech will change the future.

Live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope pose legal risks – Live video is messy. It’s raw, unedited, and with new mobile apps, it’s now capable of capturing many more people who aren’t aware they’re being recorded. And in some cases, that can add up to legal problems.

Something to think about:

“We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species.”

–        Desmond Morris

Today’s Free Downloads:

System Explorer – Detailed informations 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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TestDisk & PhotoRec – TestDisk is a powerful free data recovery software. It was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting your Partition Table). Partition table recovery using TestDisk is really easy.

TestDisk has features for both novices and experts. For those who know little or nothing about data recovery techniques, TestDisk can be used to collect detailed information about a non-booting drive which can then be sent to a tech for further analysis. Those more familiar with such procedures should find TestDisk a handy tool in performing onsite recovery.

PhotoRec is file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from Hard Disks and CDRom and lost pictures (thus, its ‘Photo Recovery’ name) from digital camera memory. PhotoRec ignores the filesystem and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media’s filesystem has been severely damaged or re-formatted.

There are other versions available at the authors site which support DOS, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, SunOS and MacOS.

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Alcohol 52% – Alcohol brings a new meaning to the word multimedia! It is without a doubt a leader in it’s class, bringing the ability to emulate and record CDs and DVDs together into one amazingly easy to use software program.

This CD & DVD emulation software can create up to 31 virtual CD/DVD-ROM drives, allowing the user to play CDs & DVDs without the need for the original disc.

The reading speed of a virtual CD-ROM is 200X. This means you can play a CD from the virtual CD-ROM with 200X reading speed.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The system is like a ship – once it leaves port there is no stopping it. Unless it sinks.

Anonymous unleashes online petition against US info-sharing bills – Activist and hacktivist collective Anonymous has launched an online awareness-raising operation opposing pending controversial US information-sharing bills.

Critics from across the political spectrum, including libertarian-minded technologist Robert Graham, argue that the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act sacrifices privacy without improving security.

Anonymous goes further still in arguing that the measures threaten Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted searches and seizures, hence their decision to launch #OperationCISPA.

This CISA bill is an alternative of the CISPA [Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act] that failed to be passed in 2013.

“The CISA and CISPA bills directly attack the Fourth Amendment by letting the NSA monitor your private information without a warrant,” a member of the group told El Reg.

“This is a direct impact to our security and assault on our privacy. Our objective is to stop the CISA Bill, and all other future cyber security bills, that aim to diminish our rights on the internet.”

Canada: Public service union asks court to block new ‘unduly invasive’ security checks – The union representing professionals in Canada’s public service is going to court to stop the rollout of a new and “unduly invasive” security clearance process that includes fingerprinting, credit and criminal checks, and a sweeping search of Internet use as the minimum screening for all employees and new hires.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is seeking an injunction from the Federal Court of Canada to immediately halt the new security screening system.

The union recently filed a legal challenge alleging the ramped up screening is unconstitutional and violates the Privacy Act and principles of administrative law.  But it argues an injunction is needed to stop public servants from the “irreparable harm” of turning over all kinds of personal and sensitive information before that court decision is rendered.

The government gave departments until October 2017 to implement the changes.  The new standard coincidentally began days before the killing of a Canadian soldier in Quebec and shooting of sentry Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial, which threw the government into a heightened security crisis.

Baltimore police have used secret cellphone interceptors more than 25,000 times – The Baltimore Police Department is starting to come clean about its use of cell-phone signal interceptors — commonly known as Stingrays — and the numbers are alarming. According to recent court testimony reported by The Baltimore Sun, the city’s police have used Stingray devices with a court order more than 25,000 times. It’s a massive number, representing an average of nearly nine uses a day for eight years (the BPD acquired the technology in 2007), and it doesn’t include any emergency uses of the device, which would have proceeded without a court order. The agency had previously said they used the device only 4,300 times over that period.

Prosecutors drop robbery case to preserve stingray secrecy in St. Louis – Prosecutors in St. Louis, Missouri, have seemingly allowed four robbery suspects to go free instead of explaining law enforcement’s use of a stingray in court proceedings.

The St. Louis case provides yet another real-world example where prosecutors have preferred to drop charges instead of fully disclose how the devices, also known as cell-site simulators, work in the real world. Last year, prosecutors in Baltimore did the same thing during a robbery trial.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the dismissal this month came just one day before a St. Louis police officer was set to be deposed in the robbery case where three men and a woman were accused of stealing from seven people in September 2013.

Neither the office of Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce nor the office of Megan Beesley, a public defender involved in the case, immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment over the weekend. The St. Louis Police Department also did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

This machine catches stingrays: Pwnie Express demos cellular threat detector – At the RSA Conference in San Francisco today, the network penetration testing and monitoring tool company Pwnie Express will demonstrate its newest creation: a sensor that detects rogue cellular network transceivers, including “Stingray” devices and other hardware used by law enforcement to surreptitiously monitor and track cell phones and users.

In an exclusive demonstration for Ars, Pwnie Express CTO Dave Porcello and Director of Research and Development Rick Farina showed off the company’s new cell network threat detection capabilities, which integrate into Pwnie’s Pulse security auditing service. The capability will give companies the ability to monitor cellular networks around them and detect anomalies caused by rogue cellular base stations, IMSI catchers, and devices used to extend cellular coverage into areas where it may not be authorized.

Of all the potential security threats to companies and individuals that have emerged over the past few years, perhaps the hardest to crack is rogue cellular base stations. Whether they’re used to attack the privacy of a cell phone user’s communications or as a backdoor out of places where cell phone usage is restricted, configuring unauthorized cell “towers” has become increasingly simple. It doesn’t necessarily even require law enforcement-grade hardware. Anyone with a HackRF card or other software-defined radio kit and open-source software can turn a laptop computer into a cellular network transceiver—or even a cellular jammer.

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For more than two decades, FBI forensic scientists gave flawed testimonies – The FBI has admitted that 26 out of 28 examiners in the agency’s elite microscopic hair comparison unit overstated forensic matches during criminal trials for more than two decades, reports The Washington Post. Prior to 2000, examiners gave flawed testimony that may have helped prosecutors in more than 95 percent of 268 trials, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project, both of which have been helping the government conduct the largest review of post-conviction forensic evidence in the US to date.

“The FBI’s three-decade use of microscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster,” Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, told The Washington Post. “We need an exhaustive investigation that looks at how the FBI, state governments that relied on examiners trained by the FBI, and the courts allowed this to happen and why it wasn’t stopped much sooner.”

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 20, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–     Abraham Lincoln

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Features:

Flush DNS

List content of hosts

List IP configuration

List winsock entries

List the last 10 event viewer errors

List of installed programs

List devices

List users, partitions and memory

And more…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 17, 2015

The new spam: interactive robo-calls from the cloud;  The tax scam season: What to watch out for;  7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi;  12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Meerkat pops it’s head up on Android with public beta;  Instagram institutes harsher rules to control harassment, porn, and nudity;  12 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do; Wikileaks has published the complete Sony leaks;  Match.com’s HTTP-only login page puts millions of passwords at risk;  Netflix will soon use HTTPS to secure video streams;  Microsoft brings Halo spinoffs to iPhone, iPad, and Windows;  How your dog uses your hormones against you;  Video game hardware sales plummeted in March;  Microsoft will bundle its apps on Cyanogen’s Android OS;  Iperius Backup Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The tax scam season: What to watch out for – The tax season is a popular time for cybercriminals to strike — but the risk of phishing campaigns is yet to come to an end.

The new spam: interactive robo-calls from the cloud as cheap as e-mail – It was the middle of the day, and my cell phone rang with a local number I didn’t recognize. Figuring it was one of my kids calling from a friend’s phone to tell me that they had forgotten their cell phone and needed a ride, I answered—and found myself rapidly descending into the uncanny valley. “Hi?” asked a voice on the other end of line. I replied with a hello. “This is Amy!” the voice said ebulliently. “I’m a senior account representative for American Direct Services!” Amy paused for several beats. I asked, “Is this a computer?” Another several beats. “No,” Amy replied. She then went on to inform me that I had been selected as a possible winner in a million dollar sweepstakes! “Amy” was, in fact, an outbound interactive voice response program running on a server, likely somewhere in a cloud data center.

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7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi – Sure, they bring Internet to your devices, but today’s routers do so much more. Take advantage of these advanced capabilities to get the best Wi-Fi coverage. Many functions that once required significant networking know-how can now be properly set up with the click of a mouse. With that in mind, here are seven features found in most advanced wireless routers that are well worth the time and effort to configure and use.

12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – There are so many things you can do on Facebook.com that you probably don’t know about them all. And we’re not even talking about the third-party Facebook apps or browser add-ons, we’re talking about all the official, baked-in, easily accessible functions that are just a few clicks away. As you’ll see in our slideshow, there are even some functions that appear to be leftovers from bygone eras that we’re not even sure Facebook still knows are there. So, take a look at our slideshow and awaken your inner power user social super star who is just waiting to break out!

Yahoo Mail’s Contact Cards Get More Rapportive-Like With LinkedIn And Twitter Integrations – Yahoo Mail’s smart “contact cards” have been updated today to include support for Twitter and LinkedIn information. Through Yahoo’s partnerships with these two social services, the contact cards, which appear when you hover over a person’s name in a message, can now display a person’s most recent tweets in addition to company, title, phone number and more. For example, the cards automatically update to include a contact’s current phone number, which is extracted from past emails.

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Yahoo shows off Weather, Sports, & News for Apple Watch – Yahoo may have ceded their place in search long ago, but their mobile apps are just plain great. Yahoo Weather is a triumph, and they’ve still got a strong foothold in Sports. Today, Yahoo is announcing four of their major properties will make an appearance on the Apple Watch as well as your phone. Yahoo Weather, Yahoo Sports Fantasy, Yahoo News Digest, and Yahoo News Hong Kong will make their way to Apple’s wearable, and they look as good as their smartphone companion apps.

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Google Will Still Support Chrome On Windows XP Until The End Of The Year – If you are using Chrome on Windows XP — and for the love of God, I hope you don’t — you’ll still get updated versions of Chrome until the end of the year. The Chrome team today announced that even though it had planned to phase out Windows XP support this month, users of Microsoft’s antiquated and insecure operating system will still get regular updates and security patched through the end of 2015.

Meerkat pops it’s head up on Android with public beta – When Meerkat was soft-launched earlier this year, it caught the Twittersphere’s attention in a big way. Then Twitter cut Meerkat off from its social graph for a hot minute, which came just ahead of Periscope landing on the scene. With Twitter taking the live-streaming reigns, many figured Meerkat was going to be a ‘fun fact’ in the history of streaming apps. Instead, Meerkat is branching out, and has announced a public beta for Android, which is wide open for anyone who is interested in trying Meerkat out.

Twitter Is Winning The Live Streaming Battle – Following its acquisition of live streaming app Periscope, Twitter has been actively fighting to make sure its service beats that of independent competitor Meerkat, which had a slightly earlier start. In recent weeks, Twitter has made changes to cut off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph, and even began pushing celebrities and publishers to stop using Meerkat. Those efforts appear to be paying off for Twitter, according to new data out now, which shows Periscope leading Meerkat by nearly half a percentage point in terms of monthly active users on iOS.

To-Do App Any.do 3.0 Adds Collaboration, Zoom And List Sorting Among 150 New Features – While the world is getting its first taste of what life will be like when you have a small wearable like a watch to direct you to what you should do next, one of the leaders in personal organization apps for smartphones is releasing a big update. Any.do is today taking the wraps off version 3.0 of its app for iPhone, Android, Web, Chrome and Mac, which is shipping with no less than 150 new features over version 2.0 and now comes with specific support for Android tablet users.

Instagram institutes harsher rules to control harassment, porn, and nudity – Instagram revealed new community guidelines today that were designed to cut down on harassment and pornography. This is the biggest change to the guidelines since Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012, and it helps clarify rules that critics and parents complained were too lax and users complained were overreaching and enforced with double standards. The photo-sharing app framed the changes as a tougher, less polite stance in an interview with The Wall Street Journal:

12 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O last year—from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. And while the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

How to bypass Windows AutoPlay when you plug in an external drive, and go straight to Explorer – The AutoPlay menu gives you lots of options, but if you always want just one, you can customize it.

Jawbone’s New Fitness Tracker Lets You Buy Stuff While You Exercise – Ever get a craving for a protein shake at the gym only to realize you left your wallet at the office? Jawbone’s newest fitness tracker, the UP4, has you covered. Jawbone’s UP4 fitness tracker syncs up with your American Express card and uses Near-Field Communication (NFC) to let you make purchases via the device, no wallet needed. The UP4 is a result of a partnership between AmEx and Jawbone, so Visa and MasterCard users might be out of luck when the UP4 first goes on sale for $199.99 later this summer.

IKEA’s wireless charging furniture coming to the US in Spring – The growing number of mobile devices at home means there might also be a jungle of wires and cables, all competing for the wall socket. And sometimes they might even compete with home appliances. In an attempt to bring peace to the world, at least the world inside the home, IKEA has come out with a couple of wireless charging solutions that bring both utility and beauty to your house. And the good news is that they’re finally arriving in the US too.

Wikileaks has published the complete Sony leaks in a searchable database – Today, Wikileaks published a database of all of the data leaked from Sony Pictures in last year’s hack, comprising 173,132 emails and 30,287 separate documents. The documents contain private legal opinions as well as sensitive conversations between executives, many of which were the subject of reports in the wake of the hack. “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement. “It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”

Security:

Just-released Minecraft exploit makes it easy to crash game servers – A flaw in the wildly popular online game Minecraft makes it easy for just about anyone to crash the server hosting the game, according to a computer programmer who has released proof-of-concept code that exploits the vulnerability. “I thought a lot before writing this post,” Pakistan-based developer Ammar Askar wrote in a blog post published Thursday, 21 months, he said, after privately reporting the bug to Minecraft developer Mojang. “On the one hand I don’t want to expose thousands of servers to a major vulnerability, yet on the other hand Mojang has failed to act on it.”

Match.com’s HTTP-only login page puts millions of passwords at risk – Tens of millions of Match.com subscribers risk having their site password exposed each time they sign in because the dating site doesn’t use HTTPS encryption to protect its login page. The screenshot was taken Thursday afternoon. Showing a session from the Wireshark packet sniffing program, you can see that this reporter entered “dan.goodin@arstechnica.com” and “secretpassword” into the user name and password fields of the Match.com login page. Amazingly, the page uses an unprotected HTTP connection to transmit the data, allowing anyone with a man-in-the-middle vantage point—say, someone on the same public network as a Match.com user, a rogue ISP or telecom employee, or a state-sponsored spy—to pilfer the credentials.

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Dozens of US government online whistleblower sites not secured by HTTPS – Whistleblowers beware: At least 29 US government agencies’ websites that allow the online reporting of abuse, waste, and fraud are not encrypted with HTTPS, according to a survey by the American Civil Liberties Union unveiled Thursday. The affected agencies range from the Department of Agriculture and the General Services Administration to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Treasury.

It wasn’t easy, but Netflix will soon use HTTPS to secure video streams – Netflix will soon use the HTTPS protocol to authenticate and encrypt customer streams, a move that helps ensure what users watch stays secret. The move now leaves Amazon as one of the most noticeable no-shows to the Web encryption party.

Company News:

LA school district seeks millions from Apple over iPad software woes – This is the latest chapter in the dramatic and complex project of supplying all Los Angeles public school students with an iPad.

Etsy Closes Up 86 Percent On First Day Of Trading – It turns out Wall Street investors like those homespun crafts. Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, went public today. Shares opened at $31 on the NASDAQ, popping up 94 percent from the initial set price of $16 per share. The company closed its first day of trading at $30 per share, an 86% percent rise from its initial price.

Slack continues huge growth, is now valued at $2.8 billion – Slack, the fast-growing chat and enterprise collaboration tool, has announced that it recently raised $160 million in new funding, and the company now has a post-money valuation of $2.8 billion. The Wall Street Journal first reported the completed funding round back in March, but today Slack has officially confirmed the latest evidence of its meteoric rise in the workplace. Not bad for a messaging platform that publicly launched with nary a peep in February of last year.

Ola, Uber’s Big Rival In India, Raises $400M To Grow To 200 Cities This Year – Ola, the largest rival to Uber in India, has announced that it has raised a $400 million Series E round to fuel further expansion in India.

Tata gives employees anniversary bonus, cuts into profits – India’s outsourcing industry needs to hire and retain staff in big numbers to keep business humming, so for the 10th anniversary of its initial public offering, Tata Consultancy Services announced a one-time “special reward” for its employees. TCS said all its employees worldwide, who have completed at least one year of service, would be eligible for the special bonus, with each employee paid one week’s salary for every year of service in the company. At the end of the quarter TCS had 319,656 employees. The bonus will cost the company about US$423 million.

Yahoo renews its search partnership with Microsoft’s Bing – After weeks of speculation hinting that Yahoo might soon end its search partnership with Microsoft, the two companies have finally renewed their agreement, albeit with a few changes.

Microsoft will bundle its apps on Cyanogen’s Android OS – Rumors of a Microsoft and Cyanogen partnership have been making the rounds recently, and the Android mod maker is confirming them today. In an email to The Verge, Cyanogen says it’s partnering with Microsoft to integrate the software giant’s consumer apps and services into the Cyanogen OS. Bing, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office will all be bundled later this year. As part of the partnership, Microsoft has committed to creating “native integrations” on Cyanogen OS. These native integrations will likely result in increased integration for Microsoft’s apps and services in a way the company has been trialling recently with Android.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft brings Halo spinoffs to iPhone, iPad, and Windows – Microsoft is bringing its Halo spinoffs to iOS for the first time today. Both the new Halo: Spartan Strike and the existing Halo: Spartan Assault are now available from Apple’s App Store, priced at $5.99 each or $9.99 as a bundle. Microsoft had originally planned to launch Spartan Strike exclusively on Windows and Windows Phone back in December, but the title was mysteriously delayed before appearing today on iPhone, iPad, Windows, and Windows Phone. There’s no signs that either title will be made available on Android or Amazon’s Kindle devices.

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Here’s The Brand New Second Trailer For Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Rumors were that Disney and J.J. Abrams were going to release a second Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer today… and here it is. And oh man, is it good. So, so good. I won’t spoil anything — but if that first teaser trailer was a bit too fleeting for you, this one is the teaser you’re looking for. That last clip…

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Twitter rolls out BB-8, other ‘Star Wars’ emoji – To celebrate the upcoming release of “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” Twitter debuts three “Star Wars” emoji. Because what tweet wouldn’t benefit from a cute rolling droid?

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‘Sesame Street’ Remodels After 45 Seasons: Will Kids Freak Out? – We spoke to a school psychologist, a Harvard Medical School professor, and the director of Sesame Workshop’s education and research team to find out what impact the changes might have on young viewers.

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Grand Theft Auto V community hacks in basic Oculus Rift VR support – Thanks to a third-party tool called VorpX, you can immerse yourself in virtual Los Angeles. Minus the great Mexican food.

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Video game hardware sales plummeted in March, survey says – Has everyone who wants a new video game console finally gotten one? That’s the question facing the video game industry after new hardware sales in the US fell by more than 20 percent both in March and earlier, in January, according to surveys by industry researcher NPD Group. The poor performance, totalling little more than $311 million, dragged down aggregate US sales of new games, hardware and accessories to $963.7 million, down 6 percent from the same time a year ago

Off Topic (Sort of):

How your dog uses your hormones against you – The bond between dogs and their humans is weirdly strong. Despite belonging to entirely different species, we treat them like family, and they really do seem to love us. When they stare at us — and we’re not holding food — it feels real. It feels right. Now, we’re one step closer to figuring out why that is. As it turns out, when humans gaze into their dogs’ eyes, they experience a rise in oxytocin —  a hormone linked to human bonding and some other, less cuddly behavior. Moreover, when dogs stare back at their humans, they experience a similar rise in oxytocin. Taken together, the findings hint that the reaction may have evolved simultaneously in both humans and dogs, as these animals were domesticated. It may also explain why humans and their dogs bond so tightly.

How Much Do You Actually Know About Scotch Whisky? – Let’s see how much you remember from all those distillery tours.

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MIT’s NailO puts a tiny trackpad on your fingernail – MIT has a new invention that, upon first glance, looks like a poorly positioned fake thumbnail. The reason is that it is tiny trackpad designed to be mounted on your fingernail, lending perhaps the best yet remote control of your tablet or smartphone. It’s one of the more innovative and unusual wearables we’ve seen in recent months, and though it is odd to behold at first, there are some valid uses for it. Those with certain disabilities might find it convenient, for example, as well as those who want covert control of their phone.

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GE Spotlights New Smart Street Lamps – GE has a new smart street light in early production, and it hopes that over time, cities and third-party developers will begin to take advantage of the platform to build smart city apps. The light itself is a super-efficient LED that could last up to 20 years. Where it gets interesting is that GE is including a sensor pack with each bulb with capabilities such as video, light and weather sensors, and giving cities and developers access to its Predix Internet of Things software development platform to build applications based on the data the sensors generate.

Something to think about:

“Only the mediocre are always at their best.”

–      Jean Giraudoux

Today’s Free Downloads:

DriveTheLife – MajorGeek says: DriveTheLife aims to keep track of your drivers, update repair and back them up as needed. The program has a clean, easy to use interface broken down into just a few tabs including the overview, update and tools. You can easily scan or rescan right from the main overview tab.

It features an uninstaller to remove drivers that are not correct as well. There is no option to install beta drivers but then again most people should not be installing beta drivers. In other words, all drivers offered are WHQL meaning they are certified by Microsoft. The home page lists all of the recently added drivers showing what a chore it is to keep track of the hundreds of thousands of possible driver combinations.

In our tests it performed flawlessly. It currently lacks a portable version but otherwise this one is an excellent choice in keeping up with all of your driver needs.

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Xeoma 15.4.16 Beta / 15.2.25 – EASY surveillance: easier than a children’s construction set. Auto search and detection of any connected web cameras and IP cameras. No-stress work on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. See for yourself: Build your comfortable to use video surveillance system in a just a few minutes!

Functionality beyond belief. All up to date features even the most complicated system can dream of.

Understandable and truly user friendly interface makes surveillance enjoyable and pleasant.

Economy at its best: Try the free version of Xeoma with unlimited functionality! Use it as long as you want. Once you feel like extending your system, you can purchase a license at most economical price!

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Iperius Backup Free – One of the most flexible and feature-rich backup and sync utilities – stable, portable and lightweight.

Main Features:

Disk backup / Network: Iperius can copy files and folders to any mass storage device, like NAS, external USB drives, RDX devices, computers in the network. Zip 64 compression, AES encryption, synchronization, and possibility to keep incremental backups.

Drive Image: Iperius can create images of the whole disk, to allow you to automatically reinstall the system in a few clicks (bare metal restore). The disk image is made without any interruption or reboot (hot backup), and you can also restore it to dissimilar hardware.

Tape Backup: Iperius is an agile and powerful software to backup your data to any tape drive (LTO, DAT, etc.). Compression, password protection with AES encryption, automatic tape ejection, restore of individual files.

SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL: Iperius is a powerful and easy-to-use backup software for Oracle, MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and SQL Server. It can make automatic backups, it supports compression and encryption of backup files and copying of backup files to any destination.

FTP Backup and synchronization: Iperius is a flexible and lightweight software to make multiple FTP transfers, to and from unlimited servers. You can make FTP backups in both Upload and Download directions, with zip compression, FTPS, AES encryption and bandwidth limitation.

Cloud Backup: Iperius can automatically send your backups to the most known an reliable cloud storage services, to easily have online backups on Google Drive, SkyDrive or Dropbox, with zip compression and AES 256 bit encryption.

Open file backup (VSS): Iperius can copy any file that is open or locked by other programs, thanks to its Volume Shadow Copy functions. This feature allows you to do hot backups of Outlook files (.pst), virtual machines, mail databases, etc.

Highly configurable: Iperius is a lightweight software but extremely complete at the same time. It has many options available and a great configuration flexibility, for backup, filters and email notifications, and fits any need in data transfers and synchronization.

Web Console: Thanks to this useful service, a company or a reseller can monitor the backup of all the computers where Iperius is installed, through a user-friendly and centralized web console.

Server 2003, Server 2008, Server 2012 are also supported.

Limitations: Not all features enabled in Free version.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Election 2016: Cloud voting can be simple, safe and it’s long overdue – In the last four years, we have learned what the power of mobile technology really can do.

In late October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, knocking millions of people off the grid, with no electrical power or broadband Internet capability.

Nevertheless, many of these people still had smartphones, tablets and mobile access points with 3G and 4G service and were able to check in with their families and friends over text messaging, email and also over social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

In other words, while the network was damaged in parts by the storm, it did not drop off the grid entirely.

So while they had no power in their homes, they still were able to stay connected, whether it was using mobile wireless signal or by leaving the affected areas and using their enabling technology in places that still had functioning broadband, such as local coffee shops and fast food businesses.

Although they had the ability to communicate using mobile technology, some people in the greater New York City and New Jersey metro area had difficulty physically getting to the polls to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Some people even needed to be bused into polling areas due to disabled public transportation systems, or because nearby polling locations were damaged by the storm.

Rand Paul In 2011 Book: U.S. Intervention Increased Threat Of Islamic Terrorism – Rand Paul argued that, before the U.S. went to war in Iraq, “there had never been any Al-Qaeda or suicide bomber in the history of that country,” in his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, published in 2011.

Given the gravity of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are many basic logistic and commonsense questions that should be asked, but rarely are. Would a war on street gangs in which police invaded and occupied Chicago be effective in getting rid of street gangs nationwide? How about the fact that before we went to war with Iraq there had never been any Al-Qaeda or even a suicide bomber in the history of that country? After we invaded, this was no longer the case.

Paul also wrote that U.S. intervention had increased the threat of Islamic terrorism.

Is it possible that decades of arguably far more intrusive behavior by the United States in Islamic nations has also had an effect on those populations, encouraging and increasing the threat of Islamic terrorism? The CIA created the term blowback to describe this phenomenon and the 9/11 Commission Report cites blowback as a primary cause of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

With Judge Analytics, Ravel Law Starts To Judge The Judges – From murder and terrorism to patent conflicts and sexual discrimination lawsuits, courtrooms are home to some of the most important dramas in our society. While our top retailers can identify people who are pregnant weeks before even the consumer has realized it themselves, lawyers continue to argue cases before judges with data based on a handful of anecdotes from other attorneys. The startup launched their Judge Analytics platform today.

The idea is to provide comprehensive insights on every judge in the country, allowing lawyers to research the best strategies for their client before they file a lawsuit or argue a motion before a judge. Armed with better insights, lawyers can then provide their clients with better services, and at a cheaper cost too.

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