Tag Archives: Windows operating system

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – July 31, 2015

Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide;  Can your old PC run Windows 10?  14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life;  What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security;  New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless;  KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket;  Google Translate app adds 20 more languages;   6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV;  How to do a clean install of Windows 10;  Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide;  Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts;  Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver;  Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles;  Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360;  Man shoots down drone hovering over house;  Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia;  Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show.

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Facebook pushes out Security Checkup tool worldwide – Security Checkup was designed to walk users through all the security tools available to them, one by one, while asking them which ones they would like on or off. Initial steps include logging out from devices that haven’t been used for Facebook access in awhile as well as email alerts for attempted logins from unfamiliar devices or apps. This is not to be confused with Privacy Checkup, a step-by-step guide published to the platform last September.

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Google Translate app adds 20 more languages – Designed for both iOS and Android, the Google Translate app is adding 20 new languages. You’ll be able to translate to and from English with Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. For Hindi and Thai, you’ll be able to do one-way translations from English.

6 ways to watch televised news without paying for cable or satellite TV – Being able to watch the news is one of the biggest reasons people stay tethered to an expensive pay-TV subscription. In a recent Comscore survey, 58 percent of subscribers said the news was important to their viewing habits—more than any other TV category. But nowadays, you don’t need a cable TV package to stay informed. If anything, streaming video is a better way to keep up with the news, offering more choices and broader perspectives compared to the big cable-news networks. And in many cases, you don’t have to pay a dime. Read on for the best ways to watch the round-the-clock news without a big channel bundle.

Cloud storage alternatives: Three ways to sync your own data securely and privately – Cloud storage is convenient, but you can remove any concerns about security or other issues if you do what they do yourself.

Yahoo unveils Livetext, allowing people to text using silent videos – Yahoo on Wednesday unveiled a new video texting app, called Livetext, which the company hopes can revive its relevance for smartphone users. The twist for this service is that the videos don’t have sound. The app will be available for free Thursday on phones running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where it’s available now.

Can your old PC run Windows 10? – For a modern operating system with an vast range of capabilities, Windows 10 is an incredibly lean and mean operating system. To find out just how lean though, I decided to install Windows 10 on a few ancient PCs to see how well it runs. The actual experience might surprise you.

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The “Vista Capable” machine

Windows 10 guide to downloading and loading from a USB stick – Today upgrades to Windows 10 begin to be unleashed by Microsoft for all the most modern computers, including yours. Microsoft is releasing this operating system upgrade for free for most users – assuming they’ve got a Windows operating system from the past couple of generations — if you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you should be safe. Today we’re having a peek at how simple it is to load Windows 10 to your computer using a disk image (ISO file) downloaded from Microsoft to a USB stick.

How to do a clean install of Windows 10 – If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you can install Microsoft’s new Windows 10 OS completely for free. If you choose to follow this method Windows 10 will bring along all of your data, apps and most of your system settings from your older OS. Which can adversely affect performance. This post will show you how to change that and get a clean install of Windows 10 onto your computer. This is possible to do both after you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and before, when your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8.

Top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts – Windows 10 is available and as with any OS if you want to get the most out of it you need to know a few keyboard shortcuts. Here are the Windows 10 shortcuts that will make your life easier, both the new entries and old favourites from earlier iterations of the OS.

Windows 10 laptops and tablets: Your upgrade guide – Are you seeking a new laptop, hybrid or tablet on which to run Windows 10? We asked the leading PC vendors to identify suitable products in a number of categories.

How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free – Windows 10 brings a lot of good stuff to the table, but it also takes away some key functionality that Windows 7 users might miss. In Windows 10, you have to say goodbye to Windows Media Center and with it, the ability to play DVDs natively. Microsoft said in May it would have a native solution for DVD playback to make up for those who lost it. Originally this app was supposed to show up later in the year, but Microsoft’s solution is already available. In my tests, however, the app doesn’t work perfectly. Luckily, there are other options.

The big three record labels threaten to boycott YouTube, according to reports – According to the New York Post, Universal, Sony and Warner are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with YouTube’s monetization efforts. The labels reportedly feel the site isn’t serious when it comes to monetizing their content. Another gripe stems from how the Google-owned site retains complete control over everything from ad policy to the sales channel. The report says the big three could even go “nuclear,” meaning they could resort to pulling their music catalogs from the site.

Windows 10 ‘Service Release 1’ expected to roll out next month – SR1 will be a maintenance update, focusing on adding polish and stability to the OS, so don’t expect any new features. As more people continue to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will gather more telemetry from the OS in action, and will no doubt use that data to help inform development of future maintenance releases. Of course, bug fixes are always welcome, but they’re not terribly exciting. However, as we’ve previously reported, Microsoft is planning a further, larger update to be released this October. This update will focus heavily on improving stability too, but it will also mark the arrival of several key features that the company has already announced.

14 Apps to Jumpstart Your College Social Life – College is filled with all sorts of confused, eager folks like you. It can be difficult to find your footing, socially. You’ll have the dorm, the quad, and the cafeteria. But surely there is more! Well, lucky for you, there is, college face. Thanks to technology, the entire world is just a few taps away.

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College is nothing without friends. Here’s 14 ways to find your social footing on and off campus.

Mozilla blasts Microsoft for making it harder to switch to Firefox in Windows 10 – Microsoft has altered Windows 10 so that users have to explicitly set a default app for applications like mail, calendar, or web browsers. The change means the setup installers for Chrome and Firefox can no longer set themselves as the default browser during the install process. Mozilla isn’t happy with this change, and the company is calling on Microsoft to reverse what it calls an “aggressive move to override user choice on Windows 10.”

Microsoft to offer a free 90 day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise – Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most secure OS to date and offers improved security and device management options for large corporations.. In order to entice more corporate customers, Microsoft is now offering up a 90-day trial for Windows 10. Those running Windows 10 Enterprise as an Insider should also be aware that the preview will end on October 1, with notifications of the impending closure starting in September. After that, customers must either register for the 90-day evaluation or purchase the full product to continue using it.

Security:

There’s (Almost) Nothing You Can Do About Stagefright – Move over Heartbleed, there’s a new ominously named digital threat that has the potential to engulf hundreds of millions of people. It’s called Stagefright, and the information security community fears that 950 million Android phones are at risk of succumbing to the exploit. While most Android hacks at least require victims to make some kind of mistake, like getting tricked into downloading malware, the Stagefright vulnerability could already be on nearly a billion Android phones regardless of what users do.

Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles – A security researcher has posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how a device he made can intercept wireless communications to locate, unlock and remotely start GM vehicles that use the OnStar RemoteLink mobile app. Samy Kamkar, who refers to himself as a hacker and whistleblower, posted the video today showing him using a device he calls OwnStar. The device, he said, intercepts communications between GM’s OnStar RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service.

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Samy Kamkar stands next to a Chevy Volt that he used to demonstrate how he could hack into the GM’s OnStar mobile app in order to unlock and start the car. Credit: Samy Kamkar

New exploit renders Android phones mute and useless – Another day, another critical Android vulnerability. This time, it might be slightly less serious than Stagefright but still enough to be worrisome. Popular security Trend Mirco came upon this vulnerability in Android’s mediaserver component that, when given a malformed MKV media file, could render the device unresponsive and completely silent, practically locking out the user from his or her device. The one slight good news is that this exploit requires installing a malicious app or visiting a suspicious website, which, sadly, isn’t that hard to get users to do.

Researchers develop astonishing Web-based attack on a computer’s DRAM – Millions of Web users could be vulnerable to an attack on their computer’s DRAM via the Web, a surprising development that expands on a bug that has increasingly worried computer security experts. It has been known for several years that densely packed memory cells on computers are vulnerable to intentional interference. But a new research paper details how an attack could be conducted over the Web, dramatically increasing the danger to users.

How the way you type can shatter anonymity—even on Tor – Security researchers have refined a long-theoretical profiling technique into a highly practical attack that poses a threat to Tor users and anyone else who wants to shield their identity online. The technique collects user keystrokes as an individual enters usernames, passwords, and other data into a website. After a training session that typically takes less than 10 minutes, the website—or any other site connected to the website—can then determine with a high degree of certainty when the same individual is conducting subsequent online sessions. The profiling works by measuring the minute differences in the way each person presses keys on computer keyboards. Since the pauses between keystrokes and the precise length of time each key is pressed are unique for each person, the profiles act as a sort of digital fingerprint that can betray its owner’s identity.

What Businesses Need to Know About Windows 10 Security – Windows 10 has a lot of security features built-in for businesses, but they aren’t all ready out of the box yet.

Company News:

Uber wants to recruit your grandma as a driver – Uber, at least until autonomous cars dot the landscape, needs drivers. It has already hawked its driving perks at teachers, stay-at-home moms, poor college students, and anyone else who wants extra money and has a decent car. Now the ridesharing company has partnered with Life Reimagined, an AARP non-profit subsidiary, to dangle its driving “partnerships” at the organization’s members. Uber will be making appearances at some Life Reimagined events, among other things, targeting “Americans over 40”.

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Groupon Launches Its Own Food Delivery Business, Groupon To Go – Following its acquisition of food delivery service OrderUp earlier this month, Groupon is today announcing its own nationwide delivery and takeout service, Groupon To Go. The program is initially available in Chicago, where it has been in pilot testing with 500 restaurants since March, but the company says it will expand to other metro regions throughout the year, including Boston and Austin this fall. While there are now a number of on-demand food delivery businesses on the market, a big differentiator for Groupon’s service is that it claims it will save its customers up to 10 percent on every order.

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MasterCard and Samsung extend partnership in Europe for Samsung Pay – Samsung and MasterCard have been working together on Samsung Pay for about a year now. Last year MasterCard announced that it would provide tokenization services for Samsung Pay. These tokenization services allow for secure transactions and a fast connection to banks in the US. Samsung and MasterCard have now announced that they have extended their partnership in Europe.

Huawei is now the third largest vendor of phones, leaving Microsoft behind – Huawei is now the third largest vendor of smartphones if a report from Strategy Analytics is to be believed. The spot, previously held by Microsoft after its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, was taken by Huawei after strong sales of over 30 million devices in 2015, garnering it 7% of the total market. The company was, however, preceded by Samsung and Apple, as the largest and second largest, with 20.5% and 10.9% of the global marketshare, respectively.

AT&T refuses to pay $100 million FCC fine, suggests $16,000 max – AT&T was hit with a massive $100 million fine by the FCC several weeks ago in response to its throttling of unlimited data customers, but now the carrier is asking that decision to be reversed. Even if it cannot get the commission’s verdict set aside, it’s asking that the fine be capped at a much lower amount. What does AT&T think is reasonable? $16,000 max. So, that’s 0.016% of the original fine.

LinkedIn Beats Analyst Estimates With $712M In Q2 Revenue – LinkedIn’s earnings today beat analyst expectations in dramatic fashion, sending the stock up as much as 14 percent in extended trading after it released its second-quarter results. The company reported earnings of 55 cents per share and revenue of $712 million. Analysts estimated that the company would bring in 30 cents per share on $680.3 million in revenue.

Sony Posts $780M Profit On Strong PlayStation And Sensor Businesses – The Japanese firm posted quarterly revenue of $14.5 billion, down a mere 0.1 percent year-on-year. Back in February, the firm announced a major restructure with a focus on entertainment and its financial results reflected that. Sony said that increased business for its music division — which saw income jump 173 year-on-year to $256 million — devices business which sells camera sensors for smartphones — up 164 percent to $244 million — and games division — up 350 percent to $157 million — were the stellar performers.

Games and Entertainment:

Exploding Kittens, the most-funded game in Kickstarter history, is now shipping – Exploding Kittens holds the record for the most backers in Kickstarter history (219,382 — a record is still reportedly holds, at least according to whatkickstarterprojecthasthemostbackers.com). It’s also the #1 most funded game and #4 most funded project of all time with $8.78 million (just above Ouya and just below the original Pebble). The game was scheduled for release in July, and with just one day to go, Exploding Kittens is now shipping.

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Dying Light: The Following expansion pack brings dune buggies – Techland has taken the wraps off its upcoming expansion pack for Dying Light, and it is said to be a big one. Dying Light: The Following will bring with it dune buggies (image after the jump), as well as what are referred to as other “bold game-changers” by the developer. To get an idea of the size of the upcoming expansion, its producer Tymon Smektala said that the new map is as big as all of the game’s previous maps in one, meaning gamers are in for something huge.

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Blizzard teases new World of Warcraft expansion reveal on August 6 – The reveal is set to happen at Gamescom 2015, which runs between August 5-9. Blizzard has given us an exact date and time of August 6 at 9am PDT (noon EST). It forms part of a World of Warcraft special event that is being streamed live from the show in Germany. After that, a World of Warcraft developer chat is set to happen on August 9 at 8am PDT (11am EST) where there will be further discussion about the new expansion.

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Angry Birds 2 Review: riddled with potential and purchases – Today we’re having a peek at the next big release from Rovio, the game called Angry Birds 2. The name is a strange one, coming from a company that’s actually releasing its THIRTEENTH Angry Birds game this week, but it is a return to the basics… in a sense… anyway. No seasons here, no special characters or cross-brand relationships. Just Angry Birds and their popping of Pigs. And a whole lot of extras. Lots of extras. So many extra features that you’re going to get confused at what you’re looking at.

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Sony has sold 25 million PS4, sales double that of Xbox One and Xbox 360 – Sony has now sold 25.3 million PS4 since launch and is predicting 16.5 million will sell this financial year. That means by the end of March 2016 there will be 38.8 million of them in homes around the world. As you’d expect, Sony is seeing healthy income from its gaming products, with console, software, and peripheral purchases all contributing to the Game & Network Services division’s $2.365 billion sales total for the quarter. This will be helped further by that new model PS4 that’s cheaper to manufacture.

Titanfall to get free-to-play version in Asia – Titanfall, the hit mech-based first-person shooter originally released for Xbox and PC last year, is probably the last title you’d expect to go free-to-play, but that’s what’s happening. But don’t expect it to be showing up on your smartphone or tablet, where free-to-play games are a dime-a-dozen. Instead, Titanfall will be getting a special PC release just for the Asian market, where the free-to-play genre is huge, thanks to a partnership between the game’s makers and Japan’s Nexon.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Meet Aquila, Facebook’s unmanned Internet drone – At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but carries no passengers—and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight. Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

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Smart Sniper Rifle Vulnerable to Hacks – Almost anything with an integrated computer can be hacked—including a smart sniper rifle. Married security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger spent a year hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. During next week’s Black Hat convention in Las Vegas, the couple will show off techniques that allow an attacker to take control of the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection.

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Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put ‘hole in head’ of driver – Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it’s now on YouTube.

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Man shoots down drone hovering over house – A Kentucky man thinks it unacceptable when a drone floats over his property. So he shoots it down. Then the drone’s owners come calling.

KFC’s new mobile gimmick is a photo-printing bucket – These days, fastfood chains are thinking up of unusual and sometimes bizarre marketing stunts to appeal to today’s mobile generation? Remember the Pizza Hut projector box in Hong Kong? Or how about KFC’s Bluetooth keyboard food tray? It seems that the latter is at it again. Its Canadian branch will soon be celebrating its 60th anniversary and to honor that memory, it is going to help their devoted customers make their own memories. How? By turning their boring chicken buckets into instant photo printing machine.

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Ask Cortana anything: Snarky answers to 59 burning questions – Cortana spits out funny responses on topics ranging from Siri to Surface to Steve Ballmer. She makes jokes and explains her Halo-inspired lineage. Here are 59 of the funniest answers we’ve found while goofing around. (Screenshots were taken from Windows Phone 8.1, rather than Windows 10, hence the stark interface.) And remember: Cortana may be one of the standout features of Windows 10, but before long she’ll spread her wings beyond Microsoft’s garden, landing in iOS and Android later this year.

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Top Gear’s Old Crew Signs With Amazon For New Show – The original trio behind popular U.K. TV show Top Gear will be back sooner rather than later as they signed a deal with Amazon. Amazon Prime members in the U.K. will be able to stream the new car show starting in 2016. Prime members in the U.S., Japan, Austria and Germany should get the new show, too, as the company talks about a “global TV deal.”

Something to think about:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

–      Apple Inc.

Today’s Free Downloads:

RoboCrypt – RoboCrypt is an encrypted data backup application for Windows, combining the functionality of freely available utilities to backup data.

The application uses TrueCrypt, freely available to create and utilize encrypted backup files and/or volumes. The application also uses the available utilities from Microsoft (Robocopy, VShadow, and PowerShell) to allow you to backup data and optionally use Microsoft Volume Shadow Services for snapshot backups and PowerShell to send notification emails upon backup completion.

This program has been designed to work with Windows XP/Server 2003/Vista/7/8.x/Server 2008. A help file in PDF format is included to give more details on how the program works.

Below are some key features with RoboCrypt :

Uses TrueCrypt to create an encrypted file or volume backup destination

Uses Microsoft Robocopy with user control over the major data copy functions to backup data

Uses Microsoft VShadow to create Volume Shadow Services snapshots of data to allow for backup of open files (ie. servers)

Uses Microsoft PowerShell to create summary emails that can be sent to notify a system administrator of a completed backup

RoboCrypt can check current data size vs projected data backup size to warn users of data overflow to the encrypted destination

Right-clicking on a folder in Windows Explorer can allow a user to use the RoboCrypt One-Time Backup feature to backup data to a currently defined data set.  This is for a quick backup of critical data if there is not enough time for a full backup

Encryption of saved TrueCrypt passwords and email account username/passwords

File date/time modification functionality will allow the user to define files that should have the dates and times modified to the current date/time to force the file to be backed up with Robocopy

Ability to run a pre-process or post-process around the data backup

Ability to verify backed up data using CRC32, MD5, or SHA-1 methods

Windows Task Scheduler can be used to schedule an automated backup of a system daily, weekly, etc.

Command-line options allow custom icons to be created for automated backups with RoboCrypt.  Command-line options are explained in the included help file.

Multiple language support included by copying and modifying the included English.rlf file (standard text file)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Germany orders Facebook to let users choose fake names – Facebook’s policy of forcing users to use their real names on the social network has been under fire for some time now from privacy advocates and those in the LGBT community who feel discriminated against. But now a privacy watchdog in Germany has said that is unacceptable in the country, and ordered Facebook to begin allowing users under pseudonyms. The Hamburg data protection authority ruled that the network’s real name policy is in violation of Germany’s privacy laws.

GAO To Congress: Revisit Privacy Concerns Over Facial Recognition Technology – Today, Senator Al Franken announced a new report by the GAO on the use of facial recognition technology. Franken has been on the side of looking into the privacy implications on that type of tech and says today that the report shows that there needs to be a set of federal standards in place before widely adopted.

Franken said in a release:

Over the past several years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of facial recognition technologies, and it has profound implications for consumer privacy. Facial recognition tracks you in the real world—from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike. Last year, I asked the government’s independent investigative agency to examine the privacy implications of the commercial use of facial recognition technology.

The newly released report raises serious concerns about how companies are collecting, using, and storing our most sensitive personal information. I believe that all Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, which is why it’s important that, at the very least, the tech industry adopts strong, industry-wide standards for facial recognition technology. But what we really need are federal standards that address facial recognition privacy by enhancing our consumer privacy framework.

Companies like Facebook and Google use face-recognition technology to tag you in photos, for example, but as you could imagine, this technology could be used for nefarious things if it’s in the wrong hands (like The Terminator, with the wrong intentions). This unofficial Glass app was an example of something that got Franken and others riled up.

After publishing secret spy docs, German news site investigated for treason – A well-known German political and tech news website has received (English translation here) a nearly unprecedented letter from the German Federal Public Prosecutor, saying that two of the site’s top editors are being investigated for treason after having published secret government documents earlier this year.

Netzpolitik.org’s two earlier articles (one in February and another in April) detailed the proposed surveillance expansion of social networks by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an intelligence agency.

“We don’t know if we should cry or not,” Markus Beckedahl, the site’s editor-in-chief, told Ars from Berlin. He was specifically named as one of the targets of the investigation, along with Andre Meister, another top editor. A third target, named “Unknown,” was also mentioned in the letter.

Opponents focus on defeating CISA cyberthreat info-sharing bill – Opponents of a U.S. Senate bill intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats may have stalled a vote on the legislation. Recent news reports had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing for a vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) before a four-week summer recess starting Aug. 10, but a spokesman for the Kentucky Republican said Thursday there were no immediate plans for a vote. CISA would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share information about cyberthreats with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but opponents of the legislation say it would allow businesses to share personal information about customers. DHS could then pass that personal information on to the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, critics say.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 26, 2015

It’s official: NSA spying is hurting the US tech economy;  Bloatware: Why computer makers fill your PC with junk, and how to get rid of it;  Android for Work: what is it?  Google now lets you upload 50,000 songs to the cloud for free;  The five best iOS notification center widgets;  Ubuntu 14.04.2 arrives;  Hands On with Microsoft’s wireless charging pad;  Microsoft opens Garage door, shows off experimental apps;  Plex: Hey, it’s not just for pirates anymore;  The 7 Best Facebook Alernatives You Didn’t Know About;  Car Owners Find High-Tech Systems Unreliable;  Facebook fixed 61 high-severity flaws last year;  Iran, U.S. Locked in Escalating Cyberwar;  The best Android games you need to play (right now);  Citing encryption, FBI lobbying to keep phone metadata spying powers.

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Chinese government continues dropping foreign tech in favor of local products – China’s interest in moving toward products made within the country appears to be twofold: it removes security concerns around foreign products and bolsters its own tech industry. It’s not clear which is more important to the country. The sources Reuters spoke with seem to believe that security concerns may just be a cover story, but it’s not an entirely unreasonable one, particularly in light of the ongoing revelations about how far US spy agencies are willing to go for information. The US, too, has shown an unwillingness to trust foreign tech, with much being made of its frequent restrictions on the large Chinese telecom firm Huawei.

It’s official: NSA spying is hurting the US tech economy – A new report confirmed key brands, including Cisco, Apple, Intel, and McAfee — among others — have been dropped from the Chinese government’s list of authorized brands, a Reuters report said Wednesday. – Although a number of reasons were cited, domestic companies were said to offer “more product guarantees” than overseas rivals in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. Some reports have attempted to pin a multi-billion dollar figure on the impact of the leaks. In reality, the figure could be incalculable.

Windows 365 will be Windows, plus a little bit more – There’s been rumor and speculation about Microsoft switching the Windows operating system to a subscription-based model since it launched Office 365. When Microsoft unveiled the latest preview build of Windows 10, executives referred to it as Windows-as-a-Service. Now, Microsoft has all but confirmed that some sort of subscription model is coming, since it trademarked Windows 365. Some customers are vehemently opposed, but before you freak out, let’s back up a step and consider what a Windows 365 subscription might entail.

Pointing up   Personally, I would refuse to be part of a subscription based operating system. Should Microsoft attempt to force the issue, my focus would switch from running with Linux 20% of the time to running with Ubuntu, for example, full time. The idea that a Linux distro is clunky or otherwise handicapped, or difficult to use, is sheer propaganda – this is not 1999.

If you’re using an Android smartphone – then, you’re already running with a variation of Linux. How hard was that? 

Android for Work: what is it? – Today Google revealed their newest Android-based initiative: Android for Work. This system brings several work-related technology to the Android software universe for businesses of all kinds. Four key technology components are included: Google Play at Work, the Android for Work app, Work profiles, and built-in productivity tools of all kinds. This system is launching with a large collection of industrial technology partners that have Google scoring big with potential for business-related engagement through Android – this includes smartphones, tablets, and everything in-between.

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Bloatware: Why computer makers fill your PC with junk, and how to get rid of it – Lenovo’s Superfish debacle has thrust bloatware back into the limelight. Here’s why PC makers intentionally make your PC experience worse, and how to blast the crap off your computer.

The five best iOS notification center widgets – You may have been one of the many to shout “Finally!” when widgets came to iOS. Whether you’ve used them before on Android or were just waiting for that kind of flexibility on iOS, you finally have one touch access to key apps. It’s taken developers a while to fully utilize this new functionality to its potential, but we’re finally seeing the fruits of their labor. Here is a roundup of some of the apps that put widgets to their best use.

Google now lets you upload 50,000 songs to the cloud for free – Google’s taking a big step out in front of its music streaming competitors today. The company has just announced that effective immediately, you’ll be able to upload up to 50,000 songs from your personal music collection and store them in the cloud through Google Play Music — all for free. The previous limit was 20,000.

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Facebook suicide prevention tool update inbound – Cries for help come in many forms, and in our digital age, many of them take place online. Facebook, being one of the biggest social networks out there, is peppered with depressed, suicidal, and otherwise troubling statuses making one’s personal anguish known to a larger audience. The social network has previously had a tool that aimed to help those who might be suicidal, and now the network is updating it to be more robust. With the update, those who may be suicidal are temporarily locked out of their account. Posts flagged as being suicidal will be shuttled off to Facebook workers trained in suicide prevention. That user’s account will be temporarily blocked, and the user won’t be able to get access again until they are presented with a Facebook page showing information on preventing suicide, a suicide hotline, and an option to contact one’s friends over it.

Hands On with Microsoft’s wireless charging pad, the DT-903 – A few weeks back, Microsoft started shipping the DT-903, a wireless charging pad and we have gotten our hands on one; after the jump is a gallery of the new device.

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Twitter Finally Launches An Official WordPress Plug-In – There are hundreds upon hundreds of Twitter-related plug-ins for WordPress. Seriously, go look. And yet, in its nine years since launch, Twitter has never released an official plug-in to make WordPress and Twitter play friendly. Until today.

Google officially launches Flights, their Search-friendly travel tool – As the travel booking game tightens up via acquisitions, Google is set to muscle their way in. Though Expedia and Travelocity are toeing the line, Google is also ready to get involved with Google Flights, a new Search item that finds you the best deal on your travel. Flights works as you might expect, too: put in your departure city, an arrival destination, and Flights will find you the best deal. Flights is also neat because you don’t even need to know where you’re headed.

Ubuntu 14.04.2 arrives with updated hardware support and a new Linux kernel – Canonical just released Ubuntu 14.04.2, the second point-release of the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS series. As always, this point release brings hardware support updates so you can continue installing Ubuntu 14.04 on new PCs. You won’t get the hardware support updates on existing PCs, though—if your computer’s hardware doesn’t all work properly, you’ll want to update it yourself. Let’s dig in.

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Panasonic’s new 4K VIERA LED TV line to run Firefox OS – The platform wars are moving to smart TVs. Don’t believe it? Samsung is putting Tizen on all its smart TVs this year. LG’s own sets already have webOS inside. Now Panasonic is joining the fray, but not with an operating system that it has developed itself. As it showed at CES last month, the consumer electronics maker is betting big on Firefox OS and it is announcing that all the members of its new 4K VIERA TV line will be employing the web-based platform for its user interface.

Plex: Hey, it’s not just for pirates anymore – Plex doesn’t exactly hide the fact that it’s a killer app for pirated video. Just look at the marketing materials for the media server software, and you’ll see how easy it is to stream your collection of movies and TV shows to all your devices.    Hey, I’m not here to judge. But I was interested to see if Plex could be a valuable tool for law-abiding cord cutters as well. After playing around with the software and asking some kind folks on Reddit, I’ve found some legal uses for Plex that are worth checking out.

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Microsoft opens Garage door, shows off experimental apps – The Garage incubator releases apps for Windows Phone and Android that range from giving you reports on air quality in China to connecting you to conference calls using voice commands.

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Car Owners Find High-Tech Systems Unreliable – Modern cars have more high-tech bells and whistles than ever before, but technologies like Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition rank as the least dependable vehicle systems, according to a new study by J.D. Power.

The 7 Best Facebook Alernatives You Didn’t Know About – Your Facebook friends are boring. Your Twitter followers sound like a bunch of parrots. And your LinkedIn contacts, well, who wants to talk about work all day, anyway? Amazingly, in 2015, it’s still possible to feel like you’ve reached the end of the Internet, especially if you rely on your social networks for news and amusement. But there are more ways to connect with people online than the three most popular social networks. In fact, smaller networks are some of the best places to dig into topics you care more deeply about. So sign up and check out at one of these great alternative social networks:

Security:

EFF unearths evidence of possible Superfish-style attacks in the wild – It’s starting to look like Superfish and other software containing the same HTTPS-breaking code library may have posed more than a merely theoretical danger to Internet users. For the first time, researchers have uncovered evidence suggesting the critical weakness may have been exploited against real people visiting real sites, including Gmail, Amazon, eBay, Twitter, and Gpg4Win.org, to name just a few. Until now, that danger was nothing more than a troubling hypothetical, but no more. On Wednesday, researchers presented evidence attackers have exploited the weaknesses in Superfish and the other programs to launch real man-in-the-middle attacks on end users as they visited some of the most sensitive HTTPS-protected websites on the Internet.

Lenovo’s bad week gets worse: website hacked by Lizard Squad – After publicly admitting to poor business decisions regarding the pre-loaded Superfish software on Lenovo machines, Lizard Squad decides the company could use a good hacking as punishment.

Europol and security vendors disrupt massive Ramnit botnet – European law enforcement agencies seized command-and-control servers used by Ramnit, a malware program that steals online banking credentials, FTP passwords, session cookies and personal files from victims. Researchers from antivirus vendor Symantec described the malware program as “a fully-featured cybercrime tool” in a blog post Wednesday and said that it infected over 3.2 million computers over its five years of existence.

Target Says Credit Card Data Breach Cost It $162M In 2013-14 – Target today said that it has booked $162 million in expenses across 2013 and 2014 related to its data breach, in which hackers broke into the company’s network to access credit card information and other customer data, affecting some 70 million customers. The figure, revealed in the company’s Q4 earnings published today, includes $4 million in Q4, and $191 million in gross expenses for 2014, as well as $61 million gross for 2013. Target says that the gross number was offset in part by insurance receivables of $46 million for 2014 and $44 million for 2013.

Apple patent reveals tracking capabilities even if phone appears off – Apple is getting a bit of interest over patent news today, and not just because of a patent lawsuit the company lost in court yesterday. A new patent filed in January could allow for stolen iPhones and iPads to be tracked even when they are powered down. The patent, titled “Apparatus and Method for Determining a Wireless Device’s Location after Shutdown” looks to tie into the Apple “Find My iPhone” app that works to triangulate the position of an iPhone to help its owner recover a lost/missing device. This new technology, if functioning properly, would allow iPhone and perhaps iPad owners to see the current location of their devices even if the units are powered down.

Facebook fixed 61 high-severity flaws last year through its bug bounty program – In 2014, the company paid bug bounties totaling $1.3 million to 321 researchers from 65 countries, according to a newly published annual report. The average reward was $1,788 and the top three countries where valid bug reports originated were India, with 196 submissions; Egypt, with 81 and the U.S. with 61. It’s worth noting that, based on the statistics released by the company, finding a critical bug is not that easy. Facebook received 17,011 bug submissions in 2014 and those resulted in only 61 high-risk bugs being identified.

Iran, U.S. Locked in Escalating Cyberwar – Cyberwarfare between the U.S. and Iran has been accelerating at an alarming rate since 2012, according to a recently disclosed document from the NSA. The top-secret and classified document confirms that the two countries have developed and deployed technology for spying and sabotage, a situation that has escalated dramatically in the last three years.

Company News:

Apple ordered to pay half a billion dollars for patent infringement – A federal jury in Texas has ordered Apple to pay more than half a billion dollars after the company was found guilty of infringing three patents held by a local company. The patents, held by Smartflash LLC, relate to digital rights management, data storage and access through payment systems. They were seemingly infringed upon by Apple’s iTunes and some of the apps found in the App Store, though the plaintiff also mentioned the Mac App Store, and iAd as avenues for infringement.

Samsung faces complaint in US FTC over Smart TV ‘surveillance’ – A complaint filed by a privacy group to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission charged that Samsung’s Smart TVs intercept and record private communications of consumers in their homes, violating a number of rules including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has asked the FTC to investigate and stop the practice by Samsung of collecting private communications and transmitting the recordings to a third party.

Despite a billion viewers, YouTube has zero profit – It’s hard to image that YouTube, as ubiquitous and gigantic as it is, has never turned a profit. But that’s exactly what a new report explains, alongside the myriad challenges that the site faces.

Pointing up   Big Deal! YouTube has always been positioned as a “loss leader” for Google. Why the fuss now?

Google chairman Eric Schmidt will reportedly meet EU antitrust commissioner next week – After recent discussions with Microsoft, Axel Springer and other complainants against Google, the EU’s antitrust chief will meet with Schmidt in the latest stage of Europe’s 4-year investigation.

Uber goes free in Seoul as pressure from city government mounts – The car-hailing service has been operating despite the city’s argument that it’s illegal. It says its latest move is an effort to establish “a consensus” with government officials.

Games and Entertainment:

The best Android games you need to play (right now) – Finding a good game to play is hard — so many options! Fret not, I’m here to help with a with a heap of games you should probably toss onto your Android phone or tablet, posthaste. Stow your pitchforks: the games here aren’t listed in any particular order, and while I’d love to play everything under the sun, pesky responsibilities get in the way. These are just my current favorites, and it’s likely I missed some of yours. Here’s an idea: post your favorites in the comments, as I’ll be updating this regularly and don’t want to miss too many gems. Also, note that all prices are in US dollars.

The New Razer Blade Is The Gaming Laptop To Beat – Like its predecessor, this year’s Razer Blade packs in a 14-inch, 3200 x 1800 pixel screen. It looks pretty from most angles and can get quite bright, and has a touch screen if you’re one of the Windows 8 users who actually takes advantage of touch-friendly menus. Photos and video really pop on the display — it’s not quite 4K, but considering it’s already past the point of not being able to discern pixels at reasonable distances, that’s not something anyone is going to miss.

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Chat App Viber Opens Its Games Service To All Users Worldwide – Messaging app Viber has quietly made its games service available for all users worldwide following a two month pilot in five countries. The company, which was bought by Rakuten for $900 million a year ago, initially launched three games for users in Belarus, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore and Ukraine in December 2014. The titles — Viber Candy Mania, Wild Luck Casino and Viber Pop, links to which popped up in my app today — are standalone apps that link up to Viber to let users share scores, battle and generally interact with friends on the service.

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Netflix Expands Its Kids’ Lineup With Five New Shows, Including An “Inspector Gadget” Reboot – Netflix this morning announced it’s preparing to expand its lineup of original and exclusive programs aimed at children with an order of five new kids’ shows, including remakes of well-loved classics like Inspector Gadget and Danger Mouse. While children today may not be familiar with these titles themselves, their Gen X and millennials parents likely are – and they’re Netflix’s paying subscribers.

Nickelodeon Unveils “Noggin,” A Mobile Subscription Service For Preschoolers Arriving In March – Nickelodeon today unveiled its new mobile streaming subscription service called Noggin, which will be aimed at preschoolers and priced at $5.99 per month when it launches next month. Parent company Viacom had previously announced the forthcoming service’s arrival in January, noting also that the service would not require households to have a cable or satellite TV subscription in order to access its content.

Sub-$100 Gaming Headset Roundup – Having only ever bought relatively cheap headsets with proportionally cheap audio quality, it seems about time for me to upgrade. In the process of settling on a new headset, I’ve acquired six sub-$100 gaming-oriented models from separate hardware manufacturers to compare in a roundup. I have models from Kingston, Polk, Gigabyte, Razer, Logitech and Tesoro. Most of these companies are not known for their audio products, so it’ll be interesting to see what they deliver. It goes without saying but we will anyway: audiophiles may want to bail now because these headsets aren’t for you.

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Amazon shuttering Unbox on March 29th; download your movies now – Amazon notified customers that Unbox, the tool used to download and play movies offline, is officially closing on March 29th, at which time customers will lose all access to their purchased content.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Alan Turing’s Family Wants Britain to Pardon All 49,000 Gay Men Convicted of ‘Gross Indecency’ – The family of Alan Turing, the legendary mathematician who helped crack the Nazi Enigma code and hasten the end of World War II, is championing a campaign to pardon nearly 50,000 men who were convicted of “gross indecency” under antiquated laws banning gay sex in Britain. Turing, whose story inspired the 2015 Oscar-winning movie The Imitation Game, was himself convicted of indecency in 1952. He was chemically castrated and two years later, at the age of 41, died in an apparent suicide, after taking a bite of a cyanide-laced apple. While Turing was offered a royal pardon in 2013, campaigners argue that the Queen should have extended the measure to include all those affected. An estimated 15,000 men who were convicted under the outdated law are thought to be alive today.

Curiosity Mars rover takes its most impressive selfie yet – Curiosity continues to be one of the most successful robotic missions in the history of space exploration, but it’s not all work for this Mars rover. Sometimes it likes to have a little fun up there and take some selfies. The latest Curiosity selfie was taken at the “Mojave” site at the base of Mount Sharp, and it’s an amazing view. This camera has a resolution of just 1600 x 1200, or about 2 megapixels. If you piece together enough images taken with the MALI camera, though, you can create massive images. This mosaic is an example of that with a total resolution of 18,029 x 9,233. It’s the equivalent of more than 166 megapixels. You can download the full resolution image here, but be aware it’s a 32MB JPEG. That’s gigantic by image standards. Many programs and computers will choke on it.

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NASA satellite shows how much sand from the Sahara is in the atmosphere – NASA is using one of its satellites to determine how much sand from the Sahara Desert in Africa ends up helping the Amazon rainforest in South America to grow. While the two locations are on different continents, the amount of dust from the desert that makes its way to the rain forest will surprise you. NASA used one of its satellites to quantify how much dust from the desert makes it to South America for the first time.

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Vintage X-rays reveal the hidden effects of corsets – In 1908, a doctor used X-rays to highlight the damaging effects of tight corsets on a woman’s body.

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Google’s AI wins Space Invaders, proves “human-level control” – A new study has been published this week which suggests that artificial intelligence can now learn “human-level control.” The team of researchers come from Google’s DeepMind, where they’re using Space Invaders – the video game – to show how the search for truly human artificial intelligence isn’t too far off. The machine learns to play the video game, learns to win at the video game, and dominates all humans at the game they’ve created to help us defend our planet against the alien hordes.

Something to think about:

“A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”

–      Dorothy C. Fisher

Today’s Free Downloads:

X-Mouse Button Control – X-Mouse Button Control is a windows application to remap your mouse buttons.

You are able to provide an application specific mappings, which means one application can use the mouse differently from another. This is useful for games which do not inherently support the extended mouse buttons, because you can map keys to each button.

What’s more, the list of functions available to map to is somewhat more comprehensive than the 32bit MS Intellimouse Software can handle, including things like:

Copy/Cut/Paste

Volume Up/Down/Mute

Media Player control

Send a custom keystroke sequence

Launch your email (or any other) application.

Capture screen (or active window) image to clipboard.

Click-Drag [Sticky Buttons].

Save and restore desktop icon positions.

Vista (and Windows 7) support including some Vista/7 only featurs such as ‘Flip 3D’.

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SoftPerfect Network Scanner – SoftPerfect Network Scanner is a free multi-threaded IP, NetBIOS and SNMP scanner with a modern interface and several advanced features. It is intended for both system administrators and general users who are interested in computer security. The program pings computers, scans for listening TCP ports and displays which types of resources are shared on the network (including system and hidden).

In addition, it allows you to mount shared folders as network drives, browse them using Windows Explorer, filter the results list and more. SoftPerfect Network Scanner can also check for a user-defined port and report back if one is open. It can also resolve host names and auto-detect your local and external IP range. It supports remote shutdown and Wake-On-LAN.

Features:

Pings computers.

Does not require administrative privileges.

Detects hardware (MAC) addresses even across routers.

Detects hidden shared folders (normally invisible on the network) and write accessible shares.

Detects your internal and external IP addresses.

Scans for listening TCP ports and SNMP services.

Retrieves currently logged-on users.

You can mount and explore network resources.

Can launch external third party applications.

Exports results to HTML, XML, CSV and TXT

Supports Wake-On-LAN, remote shutdown and sending network messages.

Retrieves potentially any information via WMI.

It is absolutely free, requires no installation, and does not contain any adware/spyware/malware.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canadian Spies Collect Domestic Emails in Secret Security Sweep – Canada’s electronic surveillance agency is covertly monitoring vast amounts of Canadians’ emails as part of a sweeping domestic cybersecurity operation, according to top-secret documents.

The surveillance initiative, revealed Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, is sifting through millions of emails sent to Canadian government agencies and departments, archiving details about them on a database for months or even years.

The data mining operation is carried out by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Its existence is disclosed in documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The emails are vacuumed up by the Canadian agency as part of its mandate to defend against hacking attacks and malware targeting government computers. It relies on a system codenamed PONY EXPRESS to analyze the messages in a bid to detect potential cyber threats.

Last year, CSE acknowledged it collected some private communications as part of cybersecurity efforts. But it refused to divulge the number of communications being stored or to explain for how long any intercepted messages would be retained.

Now, the Snowden documents shine a light for the first time on the huge scope of the operation — exposing the controversial details the government withheld from the public.

Gemalto Doesn’t Know What It Doesn’t Know – Gemalto, the French-Dutch digital security giant, confirmed that it believes American and British spies were behind a “particularly sophisticated intrusion” of its internal computer networks, as reported by The Intercept last week.

This morning, the company tried to downplay the significance of NSA and GCHQ efforts against its mobile phone encryption keys — and, in the process, made erroneous statements about cellphone technology and sweeping claims about its own security that experts describe as highly questionable.

Gemalto, which is the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, launched an internal investigation after The Intercept six days ago revealed that the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ hacked the company and cyberstalked its employees. In the secret documents, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the intelligence agencies described a successful effort to obtain secret encryption keys used to protect hundreds of millions of mobile devices across the globe.

The company was eager to address the claims that its systems and encryption keys had been massively compromised. At one point in stock trading after publication of the report, Gemalto suffered a half billion dollar hit to its market capitalization. The stock only partially recovered in the following days.

Citing encryption, FBI lobbying to keep phone metadata spying powers – The law that the Obama administration cites to allow bulk telephone metadata collection expires on June 1, and the FBI has already begun lobbying to keep Section 215 of the Patriot Act from expiring. Bad guys “going dark” using encryption, the FBI says, is one of the reasons why the government needs to collect the metadata of every phone call made to and from the United States.

Robert Anderson, the FBI’s chief of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, told reporters during a roundtable discussion Tuesday that the Patriot Act is necessary because encrypted communications are becoming more commonplace in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures.

“In the last two to three years, that whole ‘going dark’ thing went from a crawl to a flat-out sprint because the technology is changing so rapidly,” Anderson said.

Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, told reporters that if Section 215 expires, “Obviously it’s going to impact what we do as an organization and certainly on cyber.”

The comments, especially as they relate to encryption, are part of a growing chorus of calls—from as high as President Barack Obama—that the government needs Silicon Valley’s assistance for backdoors into encrypted tech products like the iPhone.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 14, 2014

Massive list of Dropbox credentials leaked, change your password immediately;  Thousands of Fake Apps Impersonate Facebook, Twitter;  This is why people use phones to film police;  anonabox: Tor in a box for maximum anonymity and freedom;  What to consider when choosing a password manager;  The Alleged Snapchat Leak Looks Real, But It’s Mostly Not Porn;  Five apps to help you organize your personal finances;  When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD;  $65 Windows tablets show up in Hong Kong;  How to get instant scores and sports updates with Google Now;  Popcorn Time Finds A New Home;  Oracle’s 155 bug fixes add to mega Patch Tuesday;  Borderlands: The Pre-sequel review;  Xbox preorder bonuses coming to Microsoft Stores for the holidays;  Google reveals our embarrassing voice search habits.

anonabox: Tor in a box for maximum anonymity and freedom – Some lawmakers and parties have likened the Internet to the Wild Wild West in order to justify putting a clamp on it. For many users, however, that freedom is part and parcel of the Internet’s nature and is necessary for it to survive. To help stem off attempts to curtail the freedom of speech on the Internet, not to mention growing number of spying on users, a group of friends have designed anonabox, a discrete and easy to use networking device that could give the NSA nightmares.

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The Alleged Snapchat Leak Looks Real, But It’s Mostly Not Porn – Everything we’ve seen so far, however, suggests what we’ve known for a while now—people generally aren’t using Snapchat to send each other nude photos anymore. The vast majority of the files, wherever they came from, show students in class, dogs running around, and people watching TV. There’s snaps of newborn babies, one of a girl chugging a pot of nacho cheese, lots of selfies, and, yes, there are some vaginas in there—but there’s very little here that people who get off on this shit would want to see.

Google reveals our embarrassing voice search habits – Google recently commissioned a study to show how cool voice search can be, but the findings don’t always show the best side of either teens or adults.

What to consider when choosing a password manager – Many security experts think passwords are no longer sufficient to keep online accounts safe from hackers. But we’re still a long way from widespread adoption of biometrics and alternatives.

8 cutting-edge technologies aimed at eliminating passwords – From electronic pills to digital tattoos, these eight innovations aim to secure systems and identities without us having to remember a password ever again.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD – What kind of external storage do you need? This guide will help you decide how best to spend your money.

Flickr Wall Art: a new integrated printing service – We’ve all had that moment: you snap a picture that turns out so beautiful you want to showcase it on a physical wall. Printing services are ready to make this happen, but they can be a bit of hassle for those who don’t often use them. Some photography hosting websites integrate printing services for this reason, and now Flickr is counted among them. Today the company introduced its new Flickr Wall Art option, which allows users to request a print directly from the photo page.

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Five apps to help you organize your personal finances – Manage income and expenses, pay bills, estimate your taxes, and crunch your mortgage costs, all with the help of these handy apps.

$65 Windows tablets show up in Hong Kong, may be coming to a store near you – There are cheap Windows tablets and then there are cheap Windows tablets and thanks to the HKTDC show in Hong Kong, we are now seeing devices that cost as little as $65. So what does this low cost actually get you? You will get a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and an Intel Z3735G quad-core Bay Trail processor. The device is called the EM-i8170, and it is manufactured by Emdoor, which unveiled another low-cost Windows 8.1 device earlier this year – the $99 8-inch EM-i8080, which includes integrated 3G connectivity.

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1 million people are helping Microsoft test Windows 10 – Microsoft released its first Windows 10 Technical Preview at the beginning of October, and the company is now revealing that 1 million people are helping test the upcoming operating system through the Windows Insider Program. “That equates to a lot of people using the Windows 10 Technical Preview and sending us feedback,” says Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore. The software maker has received more than 200,000 pieces of feedback on the early version of Windows 10, with top requests that include options to remove the new search and task view buttons, as well as requests for a Start Menu animation or transition.

How to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a Mac – It may seem like mixing oil and water, but as it turns out, installing Windows on your Mac isn’t a violation of natural law—your Retina display won’t melt or anything! In fact, doing so is actually a relatively pain-free process. To give the Windows 10 Technical Preview—a very early pre-release version of Windows 10—a whirl, you don’t even have to pay for a Windows license or already have Windows on your Mac. The Technical Preview is free to test. Intrigued? Let’s dig in.

How to partition your drive before installing Windows 10 – There are a few different options for getting Windows 10 on your device. You can simply install it on a secondary PC over your existing Windows operating system, you can use a virtual PC emulator to test it out or you can partition your hard drive and install it on your primary PC. This guide will show you how to do the last of the three.

Popcorn Time Finds A New Home After The EURid Pulled Its Domain – When your product streams pirated content, it’s safe to expect some complications along the way. The Time4Popcorn fork of the popular Popcorn Time project recently had to find a new domain following the sudden removal of time4popcorn.eu. But the developers tell me this latest kerfuffle won’t stop the development of the program and they have already found a new domain.

Bing gets political, builds a hub and makes a few predictions – The team behind Bing has built a new political hub for the upcoming election that aims to help you keep abreast of the election cycle – and it will also put its prediction engine to work too.

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How to get instant scores and sports updates with Google Now – Forget fumbling through ten different sports apps and use the power of Google instead so you don’t miss a play.

Security:

Massive list of Dropbox credentials leaked, change your password immediately – Dropbox, the popular online storage site, has been compromised and a massive list of users and their passwords have been posted to the web; it is recommended that you change your password immediately.

Dropbox password scam shows up our sloppy infosec – The supposed Dropbox hack that’s really a five-cent scam tells us something important: Information security shouldn’t be here, and it’s mostly the cloud providers’ fault.

Thousands of Fake Apps Impersonate Facebook, Twitter, and More – From my non-scientific observations, it seems pretty clear that browsing and posting to social networks is the most popular use of smartphones. But not all of these social apps are what they seem. According to Cheetah Mobile Threat Lab, attackers are churning out thousands of fake social networking apps, tricking users into giving away their personal information. Cheetah reports that it has detected 15,000 fake social networking apps in less than a year.

Snapsaved Takes Responsibility For Latest Snapchat Leak – Last week, news spread that some 200,000 Snapchat photos had leaked after a third-party app (used to save people’s snaps) was hacked. It was referred to as the Snappening. Snapchat was quick to respond to the situation by saying that the photos had been stolen from a third-party application, but that Snapchat’s servers were never compromised. Turns out, Snapsaved.com is stepping forward and taking responsibility for the leak. In an update posted to the company’s Facebook page, Snapsaved claims full responsibility and also gives a bit more clarity about what was hacked and what information was made available.

Whitelisting has its place in your company’s antimalware arsenal – First opinions give deep impressions. However, it might be time to give application whitelisting another try since not much else is defeating malware and digital exploits.

Oracle’s 155 bug fixes add to mega Patch Tuesday – Oracle has a large number of fixes lined up for Tuesday, including 25 for Java SE, while Microsoft and Adobe have patches due then too.

Company News:

Sapphire supplier wants to expose details of its deal with Apple – GT Advanced Technologies was to supply Apple with scratch-resistant sapphire glass, but announced Oct. 6 it’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Apple’s confidentiality agreements go too far, put other creditors at a disadvantage, GT Advanced Technologies argues

French Twitter users to be offered Twitter payment service – French Twitter users will be able to send money to one another with a tweet from later this week—but the payment service isn’t run by Twitter. S-Money, a subsidiary of France’s second largest banking group, BPCE, plans to extend its existing mobile payment service to French Twitter users with a payment card, regardless of who they bank with.

Dropbox fixing file-deletion bug, offers year of free service – The online storage site is trying help those who lost files through a technical bug by restoring the files it can and offering free service for a year.

Google’s Schmidt cites Amazon as biggest competitor: Reality or deflection? – Eric Schmidt’s take that Amazon is Google’s biggest search rival grabbed the headlines, but it’s worth parsing his entire speech to see what he’s really after.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox preorder bonuses coming to Microsoft Stores for the holidays – Microsoft Store is using new pre-order bonuses via Xbox Live Rewards and exclusive game content to draw Xbox shoppers to its own retail stores this holiday season.

Borderlands: The Pre-sequel review: Bang, zoom, to the moon – The combination of the new verticality and the new attack option makes the Pre-Sequel feel like an entirely distinct experience. It’s hard to describe how satisfying it is to double jump over an enemy, use a butt slam to send out a wave of icy cold that freezes him in place, and then shatter his frozen body with a shotgun blast to the face. This situation, or something like it, happens all the time in Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. It’s enough to make the staid, stop-and-pop, cover-based action of other first-person shooters seem a bit boring in comparison.

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Crowdsourced version of Star Wars Empire Strikes Back complete – While Disney continues work on the latest Star Wars movie, legions of fans have been working hard on producing their own version of Empire Strikes Back, perhaps the best movie of either trilogy. The concept of the project, Empire Strikes Back Uncut, was to allow fans to submit custom 15-second clips that re-imagine scenes from the movie. At the end of it all, the submissions would be stitched together to re-create the classic movie. The project received over 1,500 submissions, and nearly 1/3 of them were selected to create the movie, available for free on YouTube. The film clocks in at over two hours, but the quality of the overall work is top notch, even if some of the submissions were a little weak.

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The Best iPad Digital Comic Book Readers – The five iPad digital comic book apps in this roundup include the industry powerhouse, an all-you-can-eat subscription service, as well as lesser-known, but quality offerings. Below is just a taste of what the apps can do; click through to the full reviews for in-depth looks into each digital comic book app’s functionality. If there’s an iPad digital comic book app that you feel we’ve overlooked, drop a line in the comments section. We’re always eager to test new comic book readers.

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Comixology (free)

Joe Dirt 2 heads to Crackle: Adam Sandler wins again – It’s high time Adam Sandler received some credit for this massive efforts in creating as many comedy movies as possible over the past several years – Crackle and Netflix know the score. The most recent win for this founder of Happy Madison productions is a long-awaited sequel to the film Joe Dirt. This film will star David Spade in his magnum opus role, returning with the wig he suggests he’s been “sleeping in for years.” He’s “beyond stoked that Joe Dirt will finally hit the screens again on Crackle.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

This is why people use phones to film police – A routine traffic stop in Iowa turns into a police officer trying to trick the driver into admitting he has pot. His reasoning? The driver must have pot because he’s into frisbee golf.

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Why a PC belongs in every living room – Today, a generic computer with an HDMI port is the easiest all-in-one media machine to have in your living room. A computer can play console-quality video games. A computer can record television. A computer can do almost anything apps can do, and it can probably do it better and through a web browser. When someone innovates how we consume our entertainment, whether that’s Spotify, Twitch, or a new streaming service, it happens first on a computer.

Federal lawsuit alleges highway guardrails can kill people – The guardrails that line US highways are meant to protect drivers in the event of a crash, but many that have been installed over the past decade may also present a danger. The manufacturer of those guardrails, Trinity Highway Products, is heading to court this week facing allegations that it changed its guardrail design without informing the Federal Highway Administration and has been improperly accepting federal money ever since, according to The New York Times. Separate lawsuits reportedly allege that those changes have led to five deaths and many other injuries in at least 14 accidents across the US.

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This Video Shows An Arizona Police Officer Telling An Immigrant He’ll Kill Him If He Moves – “Keep your hands where I can see them, don’t move. You hear me? You have a license? Show me your license now. If you do something, I’ll kill you here. You understand?” Teodulo Sanchez tells BuzzFeed News the officer put a gun in his face during the tense stop, which police dispute.

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Breakthrough batteries last 20 years, charge 70 percent in two minutes – If the breakthrough battery tech hits mainstream it could revolutionize electric cars—and end the forced obsolescence of smartphones.

NFL players thumb nose at Beats headphones ban – Ignoring the NFL’s deal with Bose, some NFL players displayed their Beats proudly before games yesterday, despite the threat of fines. Where will this end?

Something to think about:

“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

–     Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today’s Free Downloads:

SlimComputer – If you’ve ever gotten a new PC and it came loaded with promotional programs, toolbars, links to advertising or trial offers, then you know how frustrating these things can be. Community-powered feedback is the key to SlimComputer’s state-of-the-art cleaning. In real time, SlimComputer assesses your new PC to identify programs, toolbars, and startup entries that users vote “optional”. You can then use this data to decide what you want to keep on your computer.

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Firefox Environment Backup Extension (FEBE) 8.1 Beta / 8.0.5 Final – FEBE allows you to quickly and easily backup your Firefox extensions. In fact, it goes beyond just backing up — It will actually rebuild your extensions individually into installable .xpi files. Now you can easily synchronize your office and home browsers.

FEBE backs up and restores your extensions, themes, and (optionally) your bookmarks, preferences, cookies. and much more.

Backup as little or as much of your Firefox environment as you wish. Perform backups on demand or schedule daily, weekly, or monthly unattended runs. Sequential backups can be stored in timestamped directories so you can restore back as far as you like.

You may specify “User-defined” items to have FEBE backup Thunderbird, Greasemonkey scripts, or virtually any data on your computer – Firefox related or not.

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Windows 10 Transformation Pack 1.0 – Experience Windows 10 without having to install the preview.

Features:

Seamless installation and uninstallation giving users safe transformation

Easily configurable in single click with intelligence Metro UI design

Designed for all editions of Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 including Server Editions

Genuine Windows 10 system resources with Metro touches

Smart system files updating with auto-repair and Windows Update friendly

UxStyle memory patching

Windows 10 themes, wallpaper and logon screen

Virtual Desktop from Microsoft

Revived start menu with Metro support

Metro UI desktop emulation with pre-configured gadgets

Aero’s auto-colorization feature

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

America’s biggest police departments are getting spy gear through private charities – Many Americans have recently expressed concerns with the increasing use of military gear by police departments in this country, especially in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri (protests that were themselves sparked by a lethal police shooting).

While it is very easy to focus on militarization after seeing jarring pictures of police pointing automatic rifles at demonstrators, a separate but no less questionable practice has been quietly taking root at some of America’s biggest police departments in the past decade.

As ProPublica reports, the police departments of New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Oakland have all turned to private police foundations in recent years to acquire new crime fighting and law enforcement gear — everything from horses for mounted police units to spy software developed by intelligence contractor Palantir (a grateful LAPD appeared in the following 2013 advertisement for Palantir’s crime investigation platform, which knits together data from a variety of sources, from police reports to license plate readers).

Privacy Group Targets British Spyware Company over Bahrain Surveillance – The rights group Privacy International asked the British government this morning to investigate a surveillance company for enabling spying on Bahraini activists in the U.K.

The company in question, Gamma Group, is a U.K.-based firm that provides surveillance software and other “lawful intercept” technology to governments around the world. Among their products was FinFisher software, which lets spies remotely monitor a computer they’ve infected — accessing files, web traffic, Skype calls and more. Privacy International asked the U.K.’s National Crime Agency to investigate the company.

“Companies like Gamma have been enabling repressive states’ unlawful conduct, but then seeking to suggest that they bear no responsibility for the products that they supply,” said Adriana Edmeades, Privacy International’s legal officer.

Australia: Spies can access my metadata, so why can’t I? My 15-month legal battle with Telstra – The RSPCA, councils and other law-enforcement agencies can obtain reporter Ben Grubb’s internet and phone metadata but Telstra won’t release it to him. Here he details his 15-month fight for access. (recommended by Mal C.)

Suspected Russian “Sandworm” cyber spies targeted NATO, Ukraine – A group of cyber spies targeted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Ukrainian and Polish government agencies, and a variety of sensitive European industries over the last year, in some cases using a previously unknown flaw in Windows systems to infiltrate targets, according to a research report released on Tuesday.

Dubbed “Sandworm” by iSIGHT Partners, the security consultancy that discovered the zero-day attack, the campaign is suspected to be Russian in origin based on technical details, the malware tools used, and the chosen targets, which also included government agencies in Europe and academics in the United States. If confirmed, the attack is an uncommon look into Russia’s cyber-espionage capabilities.

The Sandworm Team, named because its members include references from Frank Herbert’s Dune series in their code, also used a previously unknown software flaw, or 0day vulnerability, to compromise some targets. Using the security hole, the Sandworm group could execute their attacks on systems running up-to-date versions of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT. Microsoft plans to release a patch for the flaw during its regular updates on Tuesday.

Daum Kakao boss says privacy comes before the law – In an emergency press conference held in Seoul, Daum Kakao co-CEO Lee Sir-goo said that going forward, the company will refuse all warrants from prosecutors for access mobile text messages saved on the firm’s mobile messenger service Kakao Talk, saying that “privacy comes before the law”.

“We have decided to never discuss even the possibility of giving prosecutors access to the users’ data that we store with related authorities,” said Lee. “It is because privacy is more important than any law.

“When there is no social consensus between law and privacy, we will in all circumstances implement a policy that puts privacy first,” said the co-CEO in a stern tone.

Lee said that if his stance is considered illegal, he himself and the company will take full legal responsibility.

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