Tag Archives: Windows Update

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – September 14, 2015

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New;  Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater;  Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out;  Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models;  How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That;  When your computer reboots itself over and over again;  How to restore ringtones to iPhone;  Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10;  PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US;  Tumblr now has its own fashion line;  The difference between antivirus and anti-malware;  Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack;  This week in games;  How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron;  Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use;  GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots;  6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume;  10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps (free);  FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New – Forget overpriced schools, long days in a crowded classroom, and pitifully poor results. These websites and apps cover myriads of science, art, and technology topics. They will teach you practically anything, from making hummus to building apps in node.js, most of them for free. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to master a new skill, expand your knowledge, or eventually boost your career. You can learn interactively at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. It’s hard to imagine how much easier it can possibly be. Honestly, what are you waiting for?

Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Android TV: Media Streamer Shoot-Out – The newest Apple TV adds some long-awaited features to a device that hasn’t been updated since 2012, a lifetime in the world of streaming media. While Google’s first connected media platform, Google TV, didn’t catch on, Android has still become a powerhouse for media hubs thanks to the Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices. Roku was one of the first dedicated media hub brands, and it’s gained in popularity thanks to an easy-to-use interface and hundreds of content channels. There’s also a slew of sticks you can just plug into the back of your HDTV, as well as smart HDTVs with built-in apps. A lot has changed in three years.

How to quickly jump to often-used Windows app subsections in Windows 10’s Start menu – I don’t dive into Windows 10’s Settings app that often, but when I do it’s usually to check two or three things, such as Windows Update or my Wi-Fi settings. An easy way to jump to a particular section of the Settings app is to search for it with Cortana in the taskbar. But if repeatedly typing “Wi-Fi” or “Windows Update” sound tedious, there’s a far easier way to jump to oft-used parts of the Settings app. Instead of searching or navigating the Settings app manually, you can pin sections to the Start menu. This tip isn’t just for the Settings app, however—you can also use it in a limited number of other Windows apps such as Mail and OneNote. For our example here, however, we’ll stick with the Settings app.

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Headphone buyers: Here’s what you need to know about low- vs. high-impedance models – The impedance specification is ignored by most headphone buyers, but it might be one of the most important. Not that anything catastrophic will occur with an impedance mismatch, but you might not get the best sound quality from a headphone with impedance that’s too high or too low for your music player or home amplifier.

5 tips for getting started with Slack – Started as side project for a video game company, Slack quickly moved front and center and took off as word of mouth spread among the tech companies that were using it. One of the company’s mottos is “Be less busy,” and many have heralded Slack as the product that could end reliance on email. If you’re planning on deploying Slack within your organization, here are some pointers to help get you going.

Sony: Don’t Use Those ‘Waterproof’ Xperias Underwater – Turns out, Sony’s “waterproof” Xperia devices might not be so waterproof after all. After talking up the waterproof capabilities of its Xperia devices for years — even running marketing campaigns showing people happily using its devices underwater — Sony now says that they should not be submerged. As XperiaBlog first reported, Sony recently revised its support page on water and dust protection to warn people against taking a swim with their gadgets. “Remember not to use the device underwater,” the site says.

Supporting causes on Facebook is about to get a lot easier – You’re perhaps familiar with the idea of changing your Facebook profile picture to support a specific cause or event: gay marriage, cancer research, your mate’s stag do, and so on. Facebook has noticed the trend and wants to help – the social media behemoth is testing out a new feature that lets you set a temporary profile picture that expires after a set number of hours, days or weeks. The idea is that the picture automatically reverts back to the original profile image without you having to remember to change it – your rainbow-coloured portrait will only appear for as long as it’s relevant, in other words.

When your computer reboots itself over and over again – Something is rotten in the state of your Windows PC. Here’s how to deal with a computer that keeps rebooting.

Office 2016 adopts branches, update-or-else strategy of Windows 10 – Microsoft will launch Office 2016 for Windows on Sept. 22, and has now detailed how it will deliver updates and upgrades with a cadence and rules similar to Windows 10.

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How Long Will the Red Light Last? There’s an App for That – It’s called EnLighten and it uses a phone’s GPS location and real-time traffic-signal information provided by the municipality to determine when a driver is stopped at a red light. It can then show on the phone’s screen a countdown in seconds of when the light will change and will also sound a chime when the light turns green to remind the driver that it’s time to get going. The iOS and Android apps work in a dozen or so U.S. cities and also have a dual timer for traffic lights with separate left-turn signals. But the EnLighten iPhone app can sync with the dashboard of BMWs with ConnectedDrive and the BMW Apps feature, provided you’re driving in Portland or Eugene, Oregon or Salt Lake City, Utah). It offers extra features, such as timing traffic lights so that you potentially don’t have to stop or even prevent an accident.

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How to restore ringtones to iPhone – Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. This time we have a reader whose custom-made iPhone ringtone library has seemingly disappeared. But that doesn’t mean those tones are gone for good! Here are the steps you can take to track them down on your Mac, then restore them to your iPhone.

Security:

The difference between antivirus and anti-malware – It seems like a simple question, right? What’s the difference between antivirus and anti-malware? But ask a security professional, and he answers as if it’s the riddle of the Sphinx. You just want a simple answer to a simple question. Is that too much to ask? The truth is, the answer to this question is a little complicated. But we’ve broken it down like a lumberjack chopping redwood into mulch. We’ll tell you what viruses and malware are, which types of threats antivirus and anti-malware companies fight, and how they do it. So look no further. The answer…is in the link.

PIN-changing Android ransomware spreading in the US – Before you get all riled up, this isn’t yet another Android vulnerability like Stagefright. This is your run of the mill malware installed through social engineering or carelessness, but one that has far graver ramifications than other ransomware. Discovered by researchers from security company ESET, the Android/Lockerpin.A ransomware goes the extra mile to actually change your device’s PIN code in such a way that trying to reset the PIN will lock the user, and ironically the attacker too, from the device completely, with no recourse other than a factory reset.

Meet the worst 100 passwords from the Ashley Madison hack – Security research group CynoSure Prime were able to find out the most common passwords that were used on Ashley Madison, a site which helps married people cheat on their partners, which suffered a massive data breach earlier this year when it was targeted by hackers. The list of the 100 most commonly-used passwords was first posted on Ars Technica.

Website hackers hijack Google webmaster tools to prolong infections – Hackers who compromise websites are also increasingly verifying themselves as the owners of those properties in Google’s Search Console. Under certain circumstances this could allow them to remain undetected longer than they otherwise would be, researchers warn.

Company News:

Security company litigates to bar disclosure related to its own flaws – FireEye is a publicly traded security firm that regularly finds and reports vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. But when security researcher Felix Wilhelm found five critical flaws in FireEye’s Malware Protection System, the company went to court to obtain an injunction barring the disclosure of some of the technical details. The move is generating howls of protest among security professionals, who argue that FireEye of all companies should know better than to stifle the free flow of vulnerability information.

Facebook make big gains in Africa on mobile use – Facebook is riding the wave of mobile adoption in Africa to help meet its goal of connecting businesses with people in emerging markets. Sixty percent of all Internet users in Africa are now active on Facebook and 80 percent of them access the site on mobile devices, according to statistics shared by the social network this week. According to the African Union’s first session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and ICT last week, 84 percent of the continent’s population is covered by mobile networks.

Microsoft buys popular Android lock-screen app maker – Microsoft has added to its stable of Android apps with the acquisition of Double Labs, the makers of the Echo Notification Lockscreen, a popular app on Google’s mobile platform that helps users control the notifications they see.

Tumblr now has its own fashion line – Tumblr now has its own line of clothing featuring an eclectic array of apparel adorned with artwork from ten of the social network’s artists/users. The line isn’t limited to just clothing — there’s a backpack, for example (as well as a kimono); it’s unisex and designed to look the same as the Tumblr collective, at least in spirit. Half a dozen Tumblr users have also been selected to show off the new product line. The new Tumblr wear is said to be in celebration of Tumblr’s 10th New York Fashion Week participation.

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Google hires ex-Hyundai America CEO to lead self-driving car project – Google has hired a new CEO for its self-driving car project. John Krafcik, who worked at Ford and was President and CEO of Hyundai’s American operations before joining automotive price-comparison site TrueCar, will take the position in late September. In a statement, the veteran of the automobile industry said that Google’s technology “can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today.” Krafcik has a background in automobile manufacturing, having worked on two “lean production” manifestos during his time at MIT, but a Google spokesperson told Automotive News that his hiring did not indicate the company would start producing cars itself.

Brad Smith will decide privacy policy, IP issues and more as Microsoft’s new president – If you’re interested in Microsoft’s stance on privacy or public policy, Brad Smith is the one to watch. The former general counsel at Microsoft, Smith will also become the company’s chief legal officer.

Etsy to test same-day deliveries as Amazon threat grows – Google offers product deliveries, and is working on expanding them. Amazon does and is doing the same. And then there’s Etsy, the website where all manner of crafts and creativity are offered. The service soon will face steep competition from Amazon, which is reportedly looking to start its own similar crafts marketplace, and in light of that it isn’t surprising Etsy will start testing its own same-day deliveries. The testing will take place in certain regions of New York City, the same place that Amazon and other services are and have been testing same-day and one-hour delivery services. This test is done in partnership with Postmates, and will also include next-day deliveries. Most appropriately, this delivery service will be called “Etsy ASAP”.

Etsy will now help designers find manufacturers – Six months after Etsy completed an IPO that valued it at $3.5 billion, the craft marketplace is expanding. The company is introducing Etsy Manufacturing, a new service that will link Etsy sellers — who often make items by hand — with small manufacturing companies. The operation is designed to help both sellers who’ve found success but have little time to fulfil larger orders, and smaller manufacturers, some of whom have lost business to huge manufacturers in countries where labor is cheaper.

Games and Entertainment:

How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron – We’re not talking about facial recognition devices, police body cams, or other security measures likely zeroing in on fans. Instead, employees from San Jose-based Zebra Technologies had recently finished scanning the NFL uniforms of the 49ers and of their opponents—the Dallas Cowboys. All of a sudden, an on-the-field de facto surveillance society was instantly created when Zebra techies activated nickel-sized Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chips that were fastened inside players’ shoulder pads. Every movement of every player now could be monitored within an accuracy level of all but a few inches.

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Blizzard’s Final Starcraft II Expansion Lands November 10 – In case you were not tuned into the finals of WCS Europe earlier today, Blizzard, a popular gaming company, announced that the final chapter of its Starcraft II will touch down on November 10. The third iteration, called Legacy of the Void, will at once be a computer game, and Blizzard’s statement regarding the long-term viability of Starcraft proper as an esport. Starcraft II’s predecessor, Starcraft, proved a long-lived esports product popular the world around. Its successor has done even better.Regardless, here’s the new film. It’s worth a view.

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New Apple TV gets touch remote, Siri voice control, games and an app store, starts at $149, coming in October – The new box, still simply called “Apple TV,” was unveiled at the company’s September 9 event in San Francisco, sharing the stage with a new big-screen iPad and new iPhones. It’s a complete overhaul of the current device, which has been around since 2012. “We believe the future of television is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when introducing the device. The new Apple TV will be available in two versions: $149 for the 32GB model, and $199 for the 64GB model, and both start shipping to the US and dozens of other countries in October. The current Apple TV box remains on sale at $69. UK and Australian prices for the new model have not yet been announced, but $149 and $199 convert to £95 and £130, or AU$210 and AU$285.

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This week in games: Fallout 4 teaches the value of Strength, Ubisoft builds a theme park – It’s a short week, which I guess means nothing at all really happe—Wait, Ubisoft is opening a theme park? And there was a new Fallout 4 video and the first Tribes update in two years? I present your gaming wrap-up for the week of September 7-11.

Off Topic (Sort of):

6 Things You Should Always Include on Your Resume – To ensure your resume stands out (for the right reasons), there are a few things you’ll want to avoid and some you’ll definitely want to include, says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink. “Basically employers want to see where candidates have earned, learned, and contributed.” Whether to include things like an objective statement, list of skills, and education will depend on your level of experience and industry — but here are six simple things you should always include on your resume, no matter what:

What porn site statistics can tell us about the worldwide console wars – First, the obvious disclaimer; YouPorn viewing statistics are not a perfect analogue for console popularity. It’s possible (and maybe even likely) that the userbase for one system or another is more or less likely to use their console to surf for porn. And it says nothing about whether they’re more likely to use the console for, you know, actual games. Still, YouPorn statistics seem to bear some resemblance to overall console popularity worldwide. Overall, YouPorn’s stats show 51% of visits coming from PlayStation, 39% from Xbox, and 10% from Wii systems. That’s decently close to the 50%/29%/20% split for PS4/XB1/Wii U sales in our latest analysis.

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GoPro on a balloon found after 2 years with stunning Earth shots – The GoPro line of action cameras, especially when paired with drones, have yielded a massive library of photos and videos that would have been otherwise impossible to take using commercial equipment. But when paired with a weather balloon, things get even more dramatic. In 2013, a group of five students from Arizona did just that and launched the GoPro into the atmosphere. Sadly, they lost track of the camera during after its reentry. Good thing they recovered it two years later in good condition because the footage it had stored is truly a sight to behold.

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Australian police get McLaren and Aston Martin supercars – You wouldn’t want to get into a high-speed car chase with one of these bad boys: the NSW Police Harbourside Local Area Command has just added a McLaren 650S and an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante to its official fleet. However, the two supercars aren’t for regular policing, nor will they be a permanent fixture on Sydney’s streets. They have been loaned to the force for just a few weeks by a local dealership, which will cover all the costs of the vehicles except for fuel. Both cars have been given a NSW Police makeover, with blue-and-white decals declaring their law enforcement affiliation. Underneath, the AU$450,000 McLaren 650S is a brilliant, eye-catching yellow, while the $500,000-plus Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is a suave silver. The cars made their police debut on September 12 at the annual Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance, a day that pays tribute to the sacrifices of officers killed on duty.

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The McLaren 650S on loan to the NSW Police. NSW Police Harbourside LAC

The LAPD has a Tesla now – At a press conference today, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the lease of 160 battery electric vehicles and 128 plug-in hybrids for the city’s vehicle fleet. “Today, we take another step toward becoming the most sustainable city in America,” the mayor told reporters. “This year, Los Angeles will become home to the largest city-owned fleet of pure battery electric vehicles anywhere in the country, and we will save taxpayer dollars along the way.” The city’s fleet already includes 23 electric scooters and three fully electric motorcycles, but this is the first major move into electric cars. The mayor has set ambitious environmental goals for the fleet, requiring that electric vehicles constitute half of the light duty fleet by 2017, and 80 percent of the city’s fleet purchases by 2025.

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10 automakers vow to make automatic emergency braking standard – The NHTSA, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have announced that ten auto makers plan to offer automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. This is the latest step major car manufacturers are taking to bring more advanced safety technologies to a larger customer base, something that will eventually lead to such technologies being common on the road and, hopefully, a subsequent decrease in the number of crashes and deaths that happen. The auto makers are comprised of well-known car companies, including Audi, BMW, GM, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Toyota, Tesla, Volvo, and Volkswagen. Furthermore, the IIHS and US Department of Transportation says that other makers of lightweight vehicles and truck manufacturers should also consider making automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard in their vehicles.

Something to think about:

“Fine, go to those Bangalore Infosys centers, but just for the hell of it go three miles aside and go look at the guy living with no toilet, no running water … The world is not flat and PCs are not, in the hierarchy of human needs, in the first five rungs.”

–    Bill GatesThe Financial Times, Nov. 1, 2013

Downloads:

10AppsManager: Tool to uninstall, reinstall Windows 10 preinstalled Store apps – 10AppsManager is a freeware that will allow you to easily uninstall and reinstall the default, built-in, preinstalled Windows Store apps in Windows 10. While you can always manually uninstall or reinstall the Store apps, the process is not so easy for the preinstalled apps. It is easy to uninstall or reinstall 3rd-party apps, but not the default preinstalled apps. What this tool from our TWC stables does, is automate the process and let you carry out the operations in a click.

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WebBrowserPassView – WebBrowserPassView is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords stored by the following Web browsers: Internet Explorer (Version 4.0 – 11.0), Mozilla Firefox (All Versions), Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. This tool can be used to recover your lost/forgotten password of any Website, including popular Web sites, like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and GMail, as long as the password is stored by your Web Browser.

After retrieving your lost passwords, you can save them into text/html/csv/xml file, by using the ‘Save Selected Items’ option (Ctrl+S).

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI, intel chiefs decry “deep cynicism” over cyber spying programs – On a stage in a ballroom in the Walter Washington Convention Center on September 10, the heads of the United States’ intelligence community gathered to talk about the work their agencies perform and the challenges they face—or at least as much as they could in an unclassified environment. But the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency also had one particular mission in mind as they took the stage at the Intelligence & National Security Summit, an industry event largely attended by government officials and contractors: stopping the poisoning of the public debate around their missions, and especially around the issue of encryption, by unreasonable haters.

CIA Director John Brennan suggested that negative public opinion and “misunderstanding” about the US intelligence community is in part “because of people who are trying to undermine” the mission of the NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies. These people “may be fueled by our adversaries,” he said.

FBI Director James Comey referred to the backlash against his lobbying for backdoors into encrypted communications provided by the technology industry as “venom and deep cynicism” that are making a rational discussion about what could and should be done nearly impossible.

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The directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA, NGO, DIA, and NRO stand for a group picture. Sean Gallagher.

Apple, in refusing backdoor access to data, may face fines – This week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Dept. served Apple with a court order in a case “involving guns and drugs,” demanding it provide real-time access to iMessage, Apple’s proprietary service for sending messages between iPhones.

Apple refused — not because it necessarily wanted to, but because it couldn’t comply. The iPhone and iPad maker reportedly told the feds that the service is encrypted, making it impossible for the company let alone the feds to access the data they demanded, unlike phone companies which, under US wiretap laws, are required to comply.

The criminal case is under seal in an unidentified U.S. federal court.

Apple’s defiance comes at a time when the FBI is pushing for access to user data in the wake of the claims that the U.S. government had access to Silicon Valley systems through its PRISM surveillance program. In response to allegations it was complicit in spying on Americans, Apple quelled fears by revealing its iMessage texting and FaceTime calling services were encrypted and unable to be wiretapped, and said even it “cannot decrypt that data.” Around the same time, the company proceeded to offer device encryption, forcing feds to go directly to the suspect in question to get access to some user data.

Plan to shift internet’s control panel away from US government gets tentative thumbs-up – The plan to shift control of the top level of the internet away from the US government to domain name overseer ICANN has been given a tentative thumbs-up by the internet community.

A public comment period on the proposal for the IANA functions contract closed earlier this week with 159 submissions received. Just under half the comments came from individuals, but governments, the technical community, business groups, and civil society all sent in comments.

The vast majority of the comments were supportive of the plan overall, which will hand control over to a new affiliate of the current contract owner, ICANN, and two new groups set up to ensure that the contract is run effectively. In addition, a process to pull the IANA functions was identified as a last resort.

The proposal was pulled together from three different proposals covering the three main technical jobs that are being considered. Despite most commentators agreeing with the proposal, there were significant concerns over key aspects of the plan.

The same five issues were identified repeatedly from stakeholders as diverse as Google, the Internet Society, US Council for International Business (USCIB), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and others:

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 29, 2015

Need to lock down your phone? These security apps are some of the best;  12 high tech devices to monitor your kids’ health;  10+ Apple Music tips you’ll use;  Netflix Bigger Than Major Broadcast Networks (Sort of);  6 things to consider when choosing a streaming-music subscription;  41 percent of Americans say people and dinosaurs co-existed;  Passwords 101;  Chevy Will Text You if Your Car Is Stolen;  What to look for in a password manager;  Facebook’s Snapchatty New Photo Uploader Lets You Overlay Text And More;  NFC security: 3 ways to avoid being hacked;  The Tech Industry Is In Denial, But The Bubble Is About To Burst;  Man shoots down neighbor’s hexacopter;  Get the whole history of the Internet at a glance;  WinPatrol (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Need to lock down your phone? These security apps are some of the best – From encrypted instant messengers to secure browsers, these security and privacy apps are some of the very best for protecting your devices.

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Passwords 101 – Passwords guard your most private and sensitive information. Here’s how to make sure they’re strong enough for the job.

What to look for in a password manager – Why use a password manager? Because it’s one of the best apps you can invest in, saving you time and protecting all the accounts you need a password for. A good password manager generates and stores passwords and makes it easy to change them. Many managers offer other features, like filling in your information in online forms. However, not every password manager is worth its weight in code. To be truly useful, a password manager must provide good password generation, industry-standard AES-256 encryption (and ideally two-factor authentication), autofill options, and cross-platform compatibility.

6 things to consider when choosing a streaming-music subscription – By our count, there are at least 11 subscription music services available around the world: Spotify, Rdio, Apple Music, Rhapsody, Google Play Music, Tidal, Xbox Music, Deezer, Napster, Mog and Rara. But despite all the options, they’re all pretty similar — you typically pay around $10 per month for unlimited streaming on the Web, mobile and at home. With a still-growing array of streaming services, it can be tough to decide which one to pick.  Here are the key questions you should ponder before you decide.

What is FLAC? The high-def MP3 explained – CNET explains what FLAC is, as well as where to buy music in the FLAC format, and how to play it on your iPhone, computer, or MP3 player.

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FLAC is a music format that offers true CD quality and is playable on everything from Sonos to iOS. Sarah Tew/CNET

12 high tech devices to monitor your kids’ health – Digital health has been especially disruptive in pediatrics by giving parents and doctors more transparency about their children’s health and habits. Here are 10 examples.

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Find duplicate photos: Two utilities that can help – Duplicate Cleaner and Free Duplicate Photo Finder can both sift through your digital images for identical or similar ones, but there are limitations to the free versions.

10+ Apple Music tips you’ll use – Apple Music is an ecosystem of complementary products and services, spanning a la carte music downloads, music streaming, social and artist to fan contact, radio stations including Beats 1 and both algorithmic and human-curated music recommendations. Some tips:

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Apple Music’s interface seems pretty simple.

iOS 9 Low Power Mode Cuts Performance by 40 Percent – That sounds like a lot on paper, but it might not matter to those who are just using their devices to read email or casually browse the Web. If you’re a mobile gamer, you might be a little less thrilled. We have yet to see the Low Power Mode tested on real-world apps, so it’s unclear just what that kind of a hit would translate to for today’s top titles.

Dutch court wants expert to hunt Facebook’s systems for lost revenge porn data – A Dutch court won’t take Facebook’s word it has deleted data that could identify the person behind a now-deleted pseudonymous account from which a sex tape was posted, and wants the company to allow an independent expert to scour its systems for the missing information.

Facebook’s Snapchatty New Photo Uploader Lets You Overlay Text And More – If putting text, swipeable filters, and re-sizable emoji on photos sounds familiar, it might be because that’s exactly what Snapchat does. Since Facebook’s failed acquisition bid, it’s watched Snapchat grow and grow. Its attempts to clone Snapchat as a whole, Poke and Slingshot, have failed. Meanwhile, Japanese messaging app Line has gotten big on the back of stickers. So Facebook’s simply trying to bake the best of everything else into its own.

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Add overlaid text to Facebook photos with the new uploader

Why you should try the Microsoft Sway presentation app right now – Here’s how it all works. Let’s say you want to communicate about a new business product in a way that has some graphic flare. Of course, you can hire a designer who knows how to build a website in HTML or shoot a video and post it on YouTube. Sway combines these activities into one tool that is so easy to use, it’s almost like making a greeting card using one of those free tools from HP. You add in a few elements — a chart, a video, a headline — and publish.

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Credit: Microsoft

Survey finds 40% of businesses want to adopt Windows 10 in the first year – According to data from a recent survey, a large number of businesses are interested and looking to adopt Windows 10. If this is true, Microsoft could be in for a very big win with the new OS. But the good news doesn’t stop there, as 40% of businesses reportedly want to upgrade to Windows 10 in the first year after launch, with another 33% wanting to jump onboard in the following 12 months.

Add a Rainbow to Your Facebook Profile Photo With One Click – The social network has launched a new tool which lets you add a rainbow filter to your profile photo with a single click. Just head over to Facebook’s new Celebrate Pride page, and you’ll see a preview of your profile photo with the transparent rainbow overlay. If you like how it looks, click the button “use as profile picture” and voila — Facebook will automatically update your profile photo.

Microsoft: Windows 10 phones in the “flagship, high-end segment” are coming to India – Microsoft’s recent focus on lower-end devices has worked well for it in some markets, including India, but the company says it will launch new high-end Windows 10 Mobile handsets there this year.

Security:

NFC security: 3 ways to avoid being hacked – More than a billion phones will be equipped with near-field communications technology in 2015, potentially opening up new vectors for attack.

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Samsung caves and patches its software to re-enable Windows Update – After users discovered what Samsung was up to, the company finally caved and decided to do the right thing and keep its users safe – by re-enabling Windows Update on its devices.

Chevy Will Text You if Your Car Is Stolen – The car maker this week announced a new OnStar feature, dubbed Theft Alarm Notification, which will alert drivers in real-time via text, email, or phone call if their car has been stolen. The service will be available to all eligible OnStar subscribers later this summer, Chevy said. Theft Alarm Notification builds on Chevy’s existing OnStar security features like remote ignition block, which can prevent a stolen car from starting. Chevy said that if a “properly equipped” vehicle is stolen, its OnStar advisors will work with local authorities to pinpoint its location via GPS. In certain models, advisors can even send a signal to slow down a stolen vehicle to help police officers retrieve it, and potentially prevent a high-speed chase.

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Facebook, Kaspersky tag team in social network malware crackdown – The companies are working together to keep users safe from phishing campaigns, data theft and malware infection.

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If malware has been detected on your PC, you will be offered a free download of Kaspersky’s cleaner tool.

Software developers aren’t implementing encryption correctly – Despite a big push over the past few years to use encryption to combat security breaches, lack of expertise among developers and overly complex libraries have led to widespread implementation failures in business applications. The scale of the problem is significant. Cryptographic issues are the second most common type of flaws affecting applications across all industries, according to a report this week by application security firm Veracode.

Company News:

Police start seizing Uber cars in France – The clash between Uber drivers and taxi drivers in France became very serious this week, including everything from blocking transportation routes to the alleged dropped of bricks onto Uber cars from overpasses. Today the nation’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called Uber “arrogant” following his order yesterday for police officers in Paris to seize any UberPOP vehicles that are operating despite the ban. Legal action has also been filed against UberPOP mangers in France.

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Security Firm Sophos Raises $125M In UK IPO, Valuing It At $1.6B – As malicious hacks, data breaches and other forms of cyber crime continue to persist in our networked, Internet-connected world, Sophos, a maker of antivirus software, firewall hardware and other security products for networks, individual users and servers, is going public on the London Stock Exchange. Trading now as Sophos Group plc and using the “SOPH” ticker, the company sold 34.8% of its shares at 225 pence each (or 156,521,740 shares), raising $125 million on a valuation of £1.013 billion ($1.6 billion) — making it the latest tech “unicorn” to come out of the UK.

With the transition to Windows as a service, Microsoft changes up revenue recognition – When Microsoft releases Windows 10 this summer, it will represent a shift in how the company has traditionally sold its OS. From a revenue recognition perspective, Windows will transition from a single point of sale model to a deferred revenue model because Windows 10 will be delivering software updates and features over time. Microsoft released a new PowerPoint deck, which you can find at the link below, which details how the company will adjust its revenue reporting because of this change. The biggest change is that deferred revenue will show up under the Corporate and Other line of the quarterly earnings statement.

Apple starts production of Force Touch enabled iPhones – It seems that Apple has decided to start the production of its expected new smartphones early. Insider sources have revealed that the company has just gotten the ball rolling in making the next iPhones and have also revealed the one major feature that will set it apart from its predecessors. Confirming earlier rumors, these iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, as they are believed to be called, will feature Apple’s fancy new Force Touch feature, bringing pressure sensitivity to a larger screen and to a larger scale of devices.

Games and Entertainment:

Apple says oops, starts returning games with confederate flag – Apple upset many when it began pulling games from the App Store that included depictions of confederate flags, a move that appeared to be an overreaction to the current movement by businesses and state governments to nix the flag. Apps were removed that included the flag for educational or historical reasons, such as historical games that included confederate flags as a necessary part of being accurate. Fortunately this nonsense was short lived, and Apple has reversed some of its bans.

TechSpot: Batman: Arkham Knight Benchmarked, Performance Review – Countless PC gamers, whether Nvidia or AMD users, have expressed anger about Arkham Knight’s performance with reports of constant stuttering ruining gameplay. Here’s our take.

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One more quest: How mobile gaming reshaped online RPGs – Smartphone and tablets have changed the landscape for gaming. For one, it has made a gamer out of those who would have never even imagined playing a PC or console game, much less consider themselves a gamer. But even for those who have already been whiling away hours in front of the TV or the monitor, the culture of mobile has also changed a few things. Take for example the corner of the gaming world known as online RPGs and how the ubiquity of smartphones have somewhat redefined that genre, for better or for worse.

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Zenonia S

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ review: See how this card unleashes Maxwell’s true power – Move over, Titan X. Sit down, Fury X. EVGA’s customized version of the beastly GTX 980 Ti is the most potent single-GPU graphics card that’s ever graced PCWorld’s test bench.

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Details about the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+’s ACX 2.0+ cooling solution.

Netflix Bigger Than Major Broadcast Networks (Sort of) – How much content do people stream online? A lot. How much of that is Netflix? An enormous amount. And how much do people watch Netflix compared to standard TV channels? The answer might surprise you. According to Variety, Netflix gets enough daily eyeballs that, if it were a traditional broadcast network, it would be bigger than Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Tech Industry Is In Denial, But The Bubble Is About To Burst – Euphoric reaction to superstar tech businesses is rampant — so much so that the tech industry is in denial about looming threats. The tech industry is in a bubble, and there are sufficient indicators for those willing to open their eyes. Rearing unicorns, however, is a distracting fascination.

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2016 Audi TT/TTS and Q7 Virtual Cockpit First-Drive – I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty damn lucky to be one of a handful of American press with the privilege of experiencing Audi’s Virtual Cockpit in the new TT/TTS and Q7. The opportunity to drive the TTS around Ascari racetrack was nothing short of exhilarating – especially with Virtual Cockpit getting me ready me for turns far in advance. Then, after experiencing Audi’s technology on the track, Audi invited me over to Verbier, Switzerland to test the all-new 2016 Q7, also equipped with Virtual Cockpit, in the way that most drivers will experience it.

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Two self-driving cars’ near collision ‘taken out of context’ – Recently Reuters said that two self-driving cars from rival companies, Google and Delphi, were involved in a near collision when one of Google’s self-driving cars cut off one of Delphi’s autonomous vehicles. The story went viral quickly, not surprising given some of the fear mongering surrounding cars that can drive themselves. The whole thing was taken out of context, though, says a Delphi spokeswoman. Rather than being as sensational as it sounded, it was simply an example of autonomous vehicles doing exactly what we want them to do.

Flintstone facts? 41 percent of Americans say people and dinosaurs co-existed – “Jurassic World” may have been a documentary as far as millions of Americans are concerned. A recent survey by YouGov — a for-profit research firm that conducts all sorts of online polls — found that 41 percent of those queried think dinosaurs and humans “probably” or “definitely” once co-existed on Earth at the same time. The online poll (PDF) of 1,000 adults was conducted between June 15 and 17 and has a 4.4 percent plus-or-minus margin of error.

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Man shoots down neighbor’s hexacopter in rural drone shotgun battle – While we’ve heard of consumer drones getting in the way of commercial airliners and obstructing firefighting operations, we haven’t heard of many drones being shot out of the sky by a neighbor. But according to one drone pilot, that’s exactly what occurred in Modesto, California on November 28, 2014. That day, Eric Joe skipped Black Friday lines and instead went home to visit his parents. During the afternoon, Joe flew what he described to Ars as a homemade hexacopter drone. His aerial device hovered low and moved slow, logging just three and a half minutes of flight time in total. Then, bang. A loud boom rang out over the neighboring walnut trees.

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This is the drone in question. Eric Joe

Lexus has created a hoverboard – Get ready to turn on your self-lacing Mags because you’re about to go on a ride over 15 years in the making. Lexus has seemingly done the impossible and made actual working hoverboard! Simply called “Slide,” the futuristic levitating device might seem magical to some, but it’s hardcore science that powers the board and keeps it off the ground. According to Lexus’ website, a combination of liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and magnets are used to keep it afloat.

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Get the whole history of the Internet at a glance – From a Russian satellite to the death of Internet Explorer, a new infographic takes you through a succinct timeline of the journey the Web has taken over the last 58 years.

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Tech throws its weight behind same-sex marriage ruling … with rainbows and emojis – Companies are voicing support for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling across social media. Facebook has even released a filter for overlaying a rainbow on profile pictures.

Stephen Colbert mocks Justices (the four who dissented in gay-marriage ruling) – Technically Incorrect: He couldn’t resist. He has a new show to sell. Colbert posts his reaction to the Supreme Court decision within hours of its announcement.

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US geek takes on the wacky world of British technology – A trip to the UK takes CNET writer Amanda Kooser through a world of British tech quirks, full of baffling toilet buttons and an alphabet soup of cellular networks.

Something to think about:

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

–      Ernest Hemingway

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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Classic Shell 4.2.2 Beta / 4.2.1 – Classic Shell is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it.

The main features are:

Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins

Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs

Find programs, settings, files and documents

Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer

Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US tech companies still not doing enough to help police and spies, claims UK – US tech companies are not doing enough to help UK police and intelligence agencies by handing over their customers’ data and communications, according to a government expert.

A report by Nigel Sheinwald, the Prime Minister’s ‘special envoy on intelligence and law enforcement data sharing’ said that UK law enforcement still struggles to get access to information it requires.

He said that since September last year, UK law enforcement has worked with the companies on the most urgent requests, particularly in the areas of counter-terrorism and other threat-to-life and child-protection cases and noted: “The companies’ assistance in these cases has improved, showing the value of active engagement with them.”

But he added: “Cooperation remains incomplete, and the companies and governments concerned agree that we need to work on longer term solutions.”

Last year Shienwald was given the job of trying to persuade foreign governments, and US communications companies in particular, to give UK police and intelligence agencies more access to their data, in order to tackle threats to national security or for the “prevention or detection of serious crime.”

Australian telcos face more national security regulation – While the Australian telecommunications industry struggles to meet tight deadlines to comply with the mandatory data-retention scheme, the government has announced another round of national security legislation targeting telecommunications carriers in Australia, this time giving the Attorney-General’s Department greater control, access, and oversight of telecommunications networks.

The draft (PDF) of another amendment to the Telecommunications Act released by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday afternoon outlined plans to introduce the legislation later this year.

The secretary of the department will also be able to issue telcos with a direction to refrain from undertaking certain activity on their networks, after consultation with the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Department of Communications secretary.

The secretary can also write to telcos and force them to hand over information in the format of the secretary’s choosing, or face fines. This information can then be shared with anybody by the secretary, provided it relates to assessing the risk of unauthorised interference with or access to telecommunications networks, or is for “the purposes of security.”

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – June 29, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 8, 2015

Many connected-home devices lack robust security features;  Turn old movies and video games into cash;  The 13 Best Free Smartphones You Can Buy;  Streamline keyboard shortcuts with Sticky Keys;  How to scan and archive your old printed photos;  How tough is your tech?  Five photo editors that won’t break your budget;  How to Make Typing On Your iPhone Way Easier;  The rise of sextortion;  Google ad reseller Engage Lab spreads large malvertising campaign;  Netflix starts recommending specific smart TV sets;  Verizon invests $100 million in struggling Detroit;  A new Deus Ex is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week;  Hands-On With The New Roku 3;  You’re using your fridge wrong (pictures);  Edward Snowden just helped launch a major US presidential campaign.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Many connected-home devices lack robust security features, security firm claims – According to a report released this morning by security provider Veracode, many of the Internet of Things devices that consumers are buying for their increasingly connected homes are vulnerable to hacker exploits. While Veracode looked at different devices and vulnerabilities, its overall findings mirror those by Synack, which we reported on last month. According to the Veracode report, for example, a vulnerability in the Ubi voice-controlled Internet appliance could enable criminals to monitor the ambient noise or light in a room to determine whether someone is home or away. Similarly, a weakness in the Chamberlain MyQ Garage garage door opener could alert thieves to a door’s opening and closing, again giving a clue to good times to break in.

Spring cleaning: Turn old movies and video games into cash – Over the years it’s easy to accumulate a stack of video games and movies. Eventually, games you used to love are thrown to the side after you beat the big boss for the millionth time. And movies lose their luster once you’ve memorized the entire flick, line-by-line. While DVDs make for fun drink coasters and game cases make for good door stops, there’s a better use for all involved. Take your movies and games and turn them into money.

The 13 Best Free Smartphones You Can Buy – Walk into any AT&T or Verizon store, and you’ll see a shelf full of $0 phones, complete with cheap knock-offs, devices that can’t connect to the Internet, and old handsets from 2012. Make no mistake: when it comes to free phones, you usually get what you pay for. Here and there, however, you can find a great phone for $0 down.

How to scan and archive your old printed photos – Whether you’re looking to reduce clutter or share fond memories online, here are four methods for digitizing your print photo collection.

Streamline keyboard shortcuts even more with Sticky Keys – I love keyboard shortcuts. They are incredibly useful, but sometimes they can be a little impractical. Especially when a key combo is particularly far apart on the keyboard (Alt + PrtScr I’m looking at you). That’s why it’s handy to know about a Windows feature called Sticky Keys that lets you activate important keys including Alt, Ctrl, Shift, and the Windows logo key with a single press. It’s like Caps Lock for cut and paste. We’ve talked about Sticky Keys before, but here’s a little more detailed look at this handy feature.

How tough is your tech? – Water-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof. Here’s how to find out just how rugged your smartphones, tablets, activity trackers and smartwatches really are.

‘Ride’ new carpooling app hits iTunes today – Carpools aren’t just for soccer moms anymore. The latest ridesharing service, Ride allows those with a long commute, more than 30 minutes, to participate in efficiently arranged van pools. It has an app and mobile interface, like Uber, but its similarities end there. Ride drivers are all volunteers instead of paid contractors. The service hope to save you time and money. Instead of paying for tolls, parking, and wear and tear on your vehicle, Ride supplies a regularly maintained van to transport people who live or work in the same area.

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The versatile Flir FX home security camera delivers a slick forensic feature – One of the most common problems with security cameras is sorting through all the video they capture in order to find the information that’s most important. Flir’s solution, dubbed RapidRecap, enables you to watch an entire day’s worth of video in just a few minutes. It combines dozens of time-stamped motion events into a single clip. A box overlaid on each person displays the exact time their movement was captured. This is much easier to watch than to explain; fortunately, Flir has embedded a host of sample videos on this page of its website.

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Instagram adds ‘Fade’ and ‘Color’ tools – There’s no shortage of options when it comes to editing photos on your phone these days. There are apps with curated styles (like VSCO Cam), slick and simple ones (Darkroom), and feature-rich options (Enlight). Even tried-and-true desktop photo editing applications like Photoshop and Lightroom have mobile apps. Instagram, which accelerated the popularity of mobile photography a few years ago, has found itself playing a bit of catch-up, and in December it offered its first new filters in two years. Today, the app adds two new editing tools: “Fade” and “Color.”

Five versatile photo editors that won’t break your budget – When you need to post images, you’ll probably want to edit them — and you may not want to shell out the coin for the likes of Photoshop. But what photo editing software can you add to your toolbox without have to spend much (or any) of your budget? Luckily, there are plenty of options. Here are my five favorite affordable photo editors.

Everything You Need to Know About Snapchat’s New Emoji Feature – The new feature replaces the public ‘Best Friends’ list, which was ditched last year after privacy concerns. Previously, anyone in a user’s contact list could see who they sent the most snaps to. But Friends Emojis are totally private and only the user can see them. To break it down, there are six possible emojis that will appear next to the six people you snap with the most, including a gold heart next to your absolute BF. You’ll see a smirk if you are their BF but they are not yours. Here are others explained:

Twitter ‘Quote Tweet’ Update Gives You More to Work With – Good news, Twitter users. The micro-blogging service is revamping its quote tweet function. Instead of quoting tweets with straight text or a direct link, Twitter will now embed the actual tweet inside yours and let you add an extra comment. On the Web, all you have to do is click the retweet button as you normally would, and you’ll see an option to “Add a comment” where you can include your thoughts before posting. On iOS, click the retweet button, select “Quote Tweet, add your comment, and press the Retweet button.

How to Make Typing On Your iPhone Way Easier – While iOS 8 packs a pretty good predictive text function that allows you to select from oft-used words via a bar over the keyboard, there are some great third party apps that can help facilitate texting and typing away on your iPhone.

Microsoft’s ‘Redstone’: An update to Windows 10 due in 2016 – There’s a new Windows codename on the roadmap: “Redstone.” Brad Sams at Neowin unearthed the existence of the Redstone codename on April 7, calling it the “next Windows update coming in 2016.” According to my sources, he’s right. Here’s how to think about Redstone, based on what I’m hearing.

Security:

Google ad reseller Engage Lab spreads large malvertising campaign: Report – Cybersecurity firm Fox IT has observed a virulent malvertising campaign stemming from Google ad reseller Engagelab.com and all advertisement services resold through its site. The compromised website is redirecting all traffic to an outside domain that ultimately redirects to a Nuclear Exploit Kit targeting vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash, Oracle Java and Microsoft Silverlight software. The security firm observed the first redirect on Tuesday and subsequently detected a significant amount of infections and infection attempts from the exploit kit.

The rise of sextortion: Nude selfies are fun until someone gets blackmailed – You don’t have to be a celebrity to get nailed by a nude photo. According to a report by Trend Micro, sextortion—the use of compromising photos or videos to extract money from victims—is on the rise. According to the Trend Micro report, crime rings are setting up fake Facebook accounts and posing as flirtatious, available women. They invite victims to join a Skype video-chat for cybersex and record the session without the victim’s knowledge. The video is then used to blackmail the victim into paying a ransom—typically about $1,000—or risk having the explicit content made public on YouTube.

Can’t patch this: Mozilla pulls Firefox encryption feature after just a week – Mozilla has pulled Firefox 37’s opportunistic encryption feature after less than a week when it learned that tech designed to enhance security actually broke SSL certificate validation. A simple patch wouldn’t do the trick, so Mozilla opted to release an update, Firefox 37.0.1, that removed opportunistic encryption. Going into reverse ferret mode and stripping out technology that evidently wasn’t ready for prime time is a little embarrassing for Mozilla even though this is the responsible action to take in the circumstances. Mozilla correctly labels Firefox 37.0.1 as a critical update.

HP tells cybersecurity customers to focus on people and processes – To protect themselves against cyberattacks, organizations should focus more on training their employees and improving their internal processes instead of buying new technology, according to one tech vendor. Yet, businesses and government agencies often focus on the next “silver bullet” product, unaware that most cybersecurity problems stem from flawed procedures and human error, said Art Gilliland, senior vice president and general manager for Hewlett-Packard’s software enterprise security products. “This is hard for a product guy to say out loud to an audience, but invest in your people and process,” Gilliland said at HP’s Software Government Summit in Washington, D.C. “The first thing that always gets negotiated out of every [security software] contract is the training and the services.”

Company News:

Netflix starts recommending specific smart TV sets – If you’re in the market for a new smart TV, Netflix would like to give you some buying advice. The company has just launched a “Netflix Recommended TV” program, throwing its weight behind a handful of televisions that work well with Netflix’s streaming video service. The first TVs in the program areLG’s 4K UHD TVs with webOS 2.0, Sony’s Android TVs, and Roku TVs from HiSense, TCL, and Insignia.

Microsoft reveals plan to hire autistic employees – Microsoft has revealed a pilot program for hiring people with autism, with information about it having been released late last week in honor of World Autism Awareness Day. The program is still in its early days at this point, but is being done in conjunction with Specialisterne, and will result in autistic individuals being offered full-time employment in various positions at the company’s Redmond, Washington campus.

Bitcoin Foundation hit hard by big bitcoin losses – The Bitcoin Foundation, formed in 2012 to promote the virtual currency, has rejected claims by a board member that it’s bankrupt but has acknowledged significant financial problems—ironically as a result of a big drop in the value of its bitcoin holdings. On Tuesday its board of directors rejected claims made a day earlier by board member Olivier Janssens that it was “effectively bankrupt,” but said the bitcoin roller coaster has forced it to drastically cut back its operations.

Verizon invests $100 million in struggling Detroit – Detroit is in bad shape. After the most recent economic issues our country experienced, the bottom fell out of the Motor City; businesses left, and citizens followed. The city we knew is now a shell of itself, trying to rebuild, but at least one company is unafraid of the challenge. Today, Verizon is announcing they’re investing $100 million in Detroit, which will serve to enhance the city’s wireless experience throughout the Metro area. With the placement of 150 ‘small cells’ in Detroit, Verizon is future-proofing a potentially booming area.

Uber asks US court to toss out alleged rape case from India – The car-hailing service says a US-based company cannot be sued in a “dispute involving an alleged wrong committed by one Indian citizen against another Indian citizen, in India.”

Global semiconductor market hit $340 billion in 2014: Gartner – Worldwide semiconductor market revenue hit $340.3 billion in 2014, increasing by 7.9 percent over the previous year’s tally of $315.4 billion, according to Gartner. The information technology research firm’s latest report shows that the world’s top 25 semiconductor vendors’ combined revenue increase outstripped the global total, seeing an 11.7 percent boost in revenue growth during the year. The top 25 vendors in the industry, including Intel, Samsung, and Qualcomm, made up 72.4 percent of the total market revenue — an increase on the 69.9 percent of the market for which they accounted in 2013.

Games and Entertainment:

This Character’s Costume Was Too Sexy for ‘Final Fantasy’ – Usually, it’s female role-playing game characters who wear the impractical armor. They’ll prance around in metal bikinis, baring midriff and cleavage as they swing a battle axe. Male heroes, meanwhile, wear full plate armor, perhaps showing a little skin around the eyes through the slit in their helmets. If you want an idea of how widespread the practice is, just check out the before and after images on the Repair Her Armor Tumblr, which is dedicated to fixing sexy outfits for video game and comic book characters (Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain’s character The Quiet is a great example).

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Image: Square Enix

A new Deus Ex is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC – Square Enix has just revealed Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the first major release in the cyberpunk action series since 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The news comes via a cover reveal for the latest issue of Game Informer. The game is set two years after Human Revolution, and will once again star Adam Jensen as the leading character. According to Game Informer, Mankind Divided will feature not only new gameplay twists including new augmentations to play around with, but also a more open-ended structure to give you more freedom to solve challenges. Aside from that, little has been announced so far. The game is coming to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, though no release date has been announced.

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‘Dead or Alive 5’ Warned Players Not to Make Nude Mods, So They Made Nude Mods – Clearly, modders were not dissuaded by Koei Tecmo producer Yosuke Hayashi, who told MCV in an interview: “We would like to ask PC users to play our game in good moral and manner. Otherwise, we won’t be able to release a title for PC again.” Are we now to assume that Koei Tecmo will not release another game on PC ever again? I doubt it, or at least it won’t be because of the nude mods. Also, let this GIF serve as a reminder that the difference between nudity and no nudity seems like splitting hairs considering the fact that what you see here is Koei Tecmo-approved content that is already in the game:

Credit: Steam user [KOR] Hong-Gil-Dong

Hands-On With The New Roku 3 – Today we got our first chance to sit down with the new Roku 3 to put it through its paces. As you can see in the video, the new hardware driving the box has gotten a noticeable bump in performance. It’s a vastly superior experience if you’re moving up from an older Roku or a competitor whose hardware hasn’t gotten an upgrade in a few years (looking at you, Apple TV).

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The Witcher 3 has 2 DLC packs that add 30 hours of gameplay – The quality of the DLC packs that appear for games varies wildly, from the genuinely worthwhile right down to “this should have shipped with the original game” features. The DLC packs just announced for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt definitely fall into the former category, in fact, they are promising to add a whole new game’s worth of content. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is set for release on May 19 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and developer CD Projekt Red is now finishing up work on the main game and turning its attention to expansion packs. Two such packs are planned: Hearts of Stone arriving October 2015, and Blood and Wine scheduled to appear at some point in the first quarter of 2016. These are on top of the 16 free DLC extras every player will receive after the game launches.

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The 10 Most-Pirated Movies Last Week – 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. Besides, tracking stolen movies is a way to gauge a movie’s popularity beyond ticket sales. Now that the disclaimer’s out of the way, let’s discuss pirated movies!

Off Topic (Sort of):

NASA, IBM Team For Worldwide Space App Hackathon – What happens when NASA gets together with IBM’s Bluemix cloud services and sponsors a worldwide hackathon? They hope to challenge participants to build apps that help solve issues around space exploration and earthly problems too. The ambitious event, called The Space App Challenge, is taking place this weekend simultaneously in 162 countries involving 136 cities and 10,000 participants, who will be attacking a range of problems in categories such as ‘Print Your Own Space Food’, ‘Robots, Robots, Robots’ and ‘Clean Water Mapping.’ Main themes include Outer Space, Earth, Humans and Robotics and participants could include developers, scientists, students, entrepreneurs and educators.

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This is how you would sound if email interactions were acted out in real life – Ever wonder what it would be like if you experienced “Email in Real Life”? A comedy duo has done just this in their latest video, reenacting common email faux pas in real life.

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Whistleblowers claim Russia has a propaganda “troll house” – What’s more frightening and more destructive than an Internet troll? Why, a house full of them! That is exactly what Russia alleged has and it is a literal one. Two former employees of this “troll house” have come out to reveal some rather worrying details about this secret business that might actually be booming in the dark. Their testimonies add to the growing body of testimonies and speculation regarding Russia’s more than active yet completely under the radar activities to spread its ideology and world views, especially against its enemies and the West.

Pointing up  What a bullshit article – the entire World – individuals, companies, governments – employ trolls to influence public opinion. From Obama on down, all politicians use trolls to undercut negative opinion/fact. I have to wonder if this “journalist” has every bothered to follow a comment thread in a newspaper.

In this piece, mainstream media (lying bastards that they are), seem intent on shifting the focus away from the criminal behaviour of Obama and friends, and painting any target of opportunity as a data threat. Why,the Russians might even break into your private steamy video stream – just for a few laughs, you understand. Yeah, Russian trolls should be on your radar as a threat to your human dignity. Not!

You’re using your fridge wrong (pictures) – How much thought do you put into your refrigerator? If your food isn’t keeping as long as you’d like, perhaps not enough. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to start using your fridge more intelligently, and the reward for doing so is fresher, better-tasting food. Click through for some handy tips to get you started.

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Australia: Don’t panic: A hitchhiker’s guide to iiNet-Dallas Buyers Club ruling – It will likely be a while yet before Australians who allegedly downloaded Dallas Buyers Club over peer-to-peer services will get a letter in the mail, and even longer before any potential damages will be paid.

Why Do We Need Intel’s Compute Stick? – What do you do with a PC on a stick? I don’t know, but I think we’re about to find out really soon. Intel’s Compute Stick goes on pre-order today, delivering a full Windows 8.1-compatible PC on an HDMI stick for $150. It has an Intel processor, 32GB of storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a USB port, and it can just plug into any screen and turn it into a PC. Cool, right? It’s part of a new revolution in computing, which is turning every screen into a computer. We’re just not sure why.

Something to think about:

“The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it’s just sort of a tired feeling.”

–     Paula Poundstone

Today’s Free Downloads:

Chromium 44.0.2360.0 – Chromium is the open source web browser project from which Google Chrome draws its source code. It was designed in order to provide for all users a safer, faster, and more stable way to experience the web.

Chromium is really a tabbed window manager or shell for the web rather than a browser application. The project has avoided putting unnecessary things into the User Interface in an attempt to make a more intuitive, friendly user experience.

The tab is the equivalent of a desktop application’s title bar; the frame containing the tabs is a convenient mechanism for managing groups of those applications. In future, there may be other tab types that do not host the normal browser toolbar.

Chromium is a very fast and effective browser that uses search as it’s primary form of navigation. This simplifies the way you access personal content and the web.It also offers enhanced functionality through HTML 5, offline modes, background processing, notifications, and more.

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PrivaZer – When you use your PC (at home or working at your office), go on the Internet, watch a video, download, copy/remove files on your PC, install/uninstall or use software, etc., you always leave sensitive traces which:

make your PC slower and cluttered

reduces free space available 

puts you at risk for a bad consequence: what you have done could be easily recovered by analyzing your PC with an expert recovery software or with more advanced techniques.

We decided to develop a new type of cleaning tool to give you the peace of mind that once your data is gone, it is gone for good.

PrivaZer allows you to:

See exactly what can still be recovered of your past activities on your PC at home or at work

Clean in-depth unwanted traces of what you’ve done watched, downloaded, deleted, etc. and prevent recovery

Master your security & freedom. Free up disk space. Keep your PC fit and secure!!!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Phone Surveillance Revelation Should Prompt Reassessment Of NSA Spying – Does evidence of a decades-old surveillance program throw out the case many public officials have made for the modern surveillance state?

Since Edward Snowden first leaked documents about secret National Security Agency (NSA) programs, government officials have defended them in the name of September 11 and national security. Again and again, we heard that these programs were built in the wake of that tragic day to “connect the dots” so no event like that would ever occur again. They addressed issues of  national security, not day-to-day policing.

But a new report from USA TODAY suggests that the precursor of this program was implemented almost a decade earlier — fighting drug cartels, not terrorism.

The report says the United States began keeping secret records of billions of Americans’ calls to international numbers in 1992. The program, which the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration led, spanned more than two decades and affected calls to as many as 116 countries, even if the callers were not suspects in crimes.

Edward Snowden just helped launch a major US presidential campaign – Rand Paul announced his candidacy for president today, and with him — at least in spirit — was a man many people in Paul’s party consider a traitor: Edward Snowden. Paul and others in Congress with similar libertarian sympathies have been railing against the NSA for a while, but it’s pretty remarkable to see a presidential campaign from a major candidate begin with a nod to the information that Snowden provided to the public about the US government’s massive surveillance programs.

Echoing comments he made at CPAC 2015, Paul said today during his announcement that “phone records of law abiding citizens are none of [the government’s] damn business.” He also pledged that “as president, on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.”

France accused of tabling ‘Patriot Act’ style surveillance law – A bill (“Projet de Loi Relatif au Renseignement”) – which was drawn up before the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Casher supermarket attacks – is due to go before the National Assembly next week under an accelerated legislative procedure that dispenses with the need for a second reading.

However, international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) argues that the measures are packed full of problematic clauses.

Most notably, there is a lack of meaningful judicial oversight; requirements for private service providers to monitor and analyze user data (and report suspicious patterns); prolonged retention periods for some captured data; and little public transparency.

The charity lambastes the bill as a French version of the much criticised US Patriot Act.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 8, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 7, 2015

Snowden Explains How the NSA Can See Your Naked Pics;  Intel Core i3 vs. Core i5 vs. Core i7 – What do you get by spending more?  How to install two or more operating systems on one PC;  Microsoft brings back the “Work & Play” bundle;  Don’t Ignore Meerkat and Periscope;  Intel Compute Stick now available for pre-order; starts at $110;  Hands on with the Surface 3: it’s not an iPad killer;  Patch for Windows 7 and 8 will notify users to upgrade to Windows 10;  Essential PC, smartphone and tablet repair tools;  You can now get an Xbox One for $225 in the US;  9 Tips for Faster Wi-Fi Streaming;  Linux Australia breached, personal details leaked;  Your Porn Is Watching You;  Star Wars Digital HD Collection coming April 10;  7 Hidden Roku Tricks for Streaming Success;  April Xbox One update now available for all;  Why John Oliver Can’t Find Americans Who Know Edward Snowden’s Name.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The NSA may not be listening to your private phone calls, but it has been watching your private parts – Tapping into laptop webcams shows the biggest and most blatant lack of respect for people’s privacy by Western governments — probably in living memory.

Pointing up    Blatant voyeurism and security theater wrapped up into a neat package designed to convince you that you’re safe. Of course, if you’re doing nothing wrong etc., etc.

Still not convinced that you need to actively engage against this rampant American and British led disregard for human dignity?

Watch: Snowden Explains How the NSA Can See Your Naked Pics – How do you get Americans to care about government surveillance? Dick pics, according to John Oliver.

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Don’t Ignore Meerkat and Periscope – Every decade or so, an application comes to market that has a real impact on the tech scene, producing a domino effect for how products are designed and ultimately used. The first app to do this was VisiCalc, which convinced IBM to enter the PC market and helped birth the PC revolution. Desktop publishing was similarly influential, taking laser printers, CD-ROM drives, and WYSIWYG, graphically oriented computing mainstream. Two new applications, Meerkat and Periscope, are poised to perhaps be the next big thing in the digital world. Both apps are designed to deliver real-time video streaming through Twitter, and even though both have only been out a short time, I already see how they could be disruptive apps that shape the way information is disseminated and how next-generation smartphones are designed and used.

Intel Core i3 vs. Core i5 vs. Core i7 – What do you get by spending more? – When building a new computer, price is often the factor that dictates which components you buy. Setting a budget is usually the easy part while picking the right hardware to meet that cap is the real challenge, especially with gaming systems as both the CPU and GPU weigh heavily on the overall expense. Those building an Intel machine these days have loads of options, with desktop CPU prices ranging from as little as $60 to well over $600. The Core i3 is intended as an entry-level option, the Core i5 is geared for mainstream usage, and the mighty Core i7 is meant for high-end systems and enthusiasts.

How to install two or more operating systems on one PC – Of course, all of the operating systems must be compatible with your hardware. Assuming your PC is less than five years old, it should be able to take Windows 7 and 8, along with almost any type of Linux. Just remember that you’ll need paid-for licenses for each version of Windows you install (not an issue with free Linux).  I’ll walk you through installing Windows 8 onto a Windows 7 PC. With minor differences, this should work with other operating systems, as well.

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What you need to know about Google Drive’s ‘Photos’ backup – Not long ago, Google blogged that Drive would now serve as an automatic backup point for your photos. While the announcement was welcome, the service wasn’t quite ready for primetime, leaving the new ‘Google Photos’ tab in Drive dormant. Users are starting to see auto backup pop up for both Android and iOS, but there are some interesting wrinkles some may not have considered. Rather than let you figure it out on your own (and maybe delete pics accidentally), we’ll go over what’s what with Drive’s automatic backup.

9 Tips for Faster Wi-Fi Streaming – The cable plan you signed up for promised up to 300Mbps of blistering Internet speed, but reality has proven to be somewhat different. You’re barely topping 25Mbps, Netflix doesn’t work upstairs and by 7 p.m., no one seems to be able to stream anything at all. What actions can you take to increase your Wi-Fi performance and get your streaming speed back up to par?

Microsoft brings back the “Work & Play” bundle for a limited time in the U.S. – Microsoft now offers an entertainment, gaming and productivity services bundle in the U.S. for users that want to combine multiple subscriptions into one and save money in the process

Dallas Buyers Club wins access to pirates’ information in iiNet case – The Federal Court of Australia has handed down its judgement in a landmark piracy case between the makers of Oscar-winning film “Dallas Buyers Club” and one of Australia’s largest service providers, iiNet.

Intel Compute Stick now available for pre-order; starts at $110 – If you’re interested in carrying your PC with you everywhere you go, and a smartphone just doesn’t suffice, then Intel’s Compute stick might be the device for you. Not much bigger than a regular USB stick, the device offers a Bay Trail Atom processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage as well as HDMI out, a USB 2.0 port, a microSD card reader, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a micro-USB port which powers the device. The Intel Compute stick is now available for pre-order on Newegg, Amazon and a few other retailers going for $149.99 and shipping with Windows 8.1 with Bing. However, if that’s not your cup of tea there’s also a Linux version with only 1GB RAM and 8GB storage going for $110.

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Patch for Windows 7 and 8 will notify users to upgrade to Windows 10 – A recent “recommended” patch showed up in Windows Update, linked to KB3035583, which seemingly prepares machines for the new OS. The knowledge base article describes the patch as enabling additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1. But looking at the files the patch installs in System 32, we can see that at least one of the executables mentions downloading Windows 10. Not only that, but the patch itself seems to pave the way for Microsoft to display ads and notifications to users, letting them know when the new OS becomes available.

The 10 Very Best Digital Cameras We’ve Tested – From simple compact models up to full-featured digital SLRs, here’s a look at the top cameras we’ve tested recently.

Hands on with the Surface 3: it’s not an iPad killer – As revealed last week Surface 3 is not a successor to Surface 2. It doesn’t have an ARM processor, it doesn’t run Windows RT, and it doesn’t have limited software compatibility. Instead, it uses a Cherry Trail Atom processor, it runs the full version of Windows 8.1, and it will run any x86 software that any other PC will run. The name is something of a misnomer, in fact: this isn’t “Surface 3” so much as it’s “Surface Pro 3 Lite.” It’s every bit the equivalent of the 12.5 inch Haswell system, just smaller and cheaper. The hardware feels every bit as well-built as all the other Surface systems, both Pro and non-Pro.

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Mini-review: Hisense’s ARM Chromebook actually isn’t awful for $149 – We weren’t really sure what to expect from Hisense’s $149 Chromebook. We’ve seen Hisense hardware before in the form of $99 and $149 Android tablets from a time when those things hadn’t become common. Those devices were OK, but they cut enough corners that we had trouble recommending them for people who could spend a little more. This Chromebook, on the other hand, is surprisingly good—it’s still budget hardware to be sure, but in many respects it’s pretty similar to the $199 to $299 Chromebooks that are already out there.

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Kifi Debuts A “Deep” Search Engine For Twitter Based On Your Own Tweets – A startup called Kifi is rolling out a new tool that allows you to automatically save all the links you tweet in order to create a personalized search engine that includes those links as well as others it recommends based on what you’ve already shared. Called “Kifi for Twitter,” the company describes the new feature as something of a deep search engine for Twitter because it’s not only indexing the tweet itself, but also the actual content contained in those links you’ve shared, allowing you to more easily retrieve this information in the future.

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Complaint alleges YouTube Kids pushes advertising content – Privacy groups complain that the new service intermingles ads with other content in a way prohibited on TV.

Essential PC, smartphone and tablet repair tools – If you’re in the business of repairing PCs, smartphones, or tablets, then these tools will help you get the job done in a fast, efficient, and safe way.

Google’s mobile network could offer free international ‘roaming’ – Negotiations with Hutchison Whampoa could mean subscribers get free use of mobile phone networks in the UK, Hong Kong, and other countries, according to the UK’s Independent.

Security:

Google let root certificate for Gmail expire, causing e-mail hiccups – On Saturday morning, one of Google’s root certificates expired, causing millions of users’ mail clients to suddenly protest. The certificate for Google’s intermediate certificate authority (Google Internet Authority G2) was used to issue Gmail’s certificate for SMTP, and the expiration at 11:55am EDT caused many e-mail clients to stop receiving Gmail messages. While the problem affected most Gmail users using PC and mobile mail clients, Web access to Gmail was unaffected.

Your Porn Is Watching You – Thirty million Americans regularly watch porn online, according to the Wall Street Journal. That’s a lot more than fess up to it, even in anonymous surveys: In 2013, just ​12 percent of people asked copped to watching internet porn at all. But thanks to pervasive online tracking and browser fingerprinting, the brazen liars of America may not have a say in whether their porn habits stay secret. Porn watchers everywhere are being tracked, and if software engineer Brett Thomas is right, it would be easy to out them, along with an extensive list of every clip they’ve viewed.

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Art by Stephen Maurice Graham

Pointing up  Don’t worry about it – your ISP already collects that data – you know, just in case the government needs to track your “sinful” viewing habits.    Ninja

Vulnerable Dell support tool now detected and flagged as risky software – Older versions of Dell System Detect contain a serious vulnerability that allows hackers to install malware on users’ computers.

Linux Australia breached, personal details leaked – The open-source and free software user group Linux Australia said personal information for attendees of two conferences it hosts may have been leaked after malware was found on one of its servers. The information may have included first and last names, postal and email addresses, phone numbers and hashed passwords, wrote Joshua Hesketh, Linux Australia’s president, on a message board. Financial data was not affected, he wrote. The breach affects those who registered for the group’s Linux conference over the last three years and for python programming conference Pycon Australia in 2013 and 2014, he wrote.

Company News:

Cisco doubling down on malware with new firewall, ThreatGrid integration – The networking giant has a number of new tricks up its sleeves to tackle the spread of malicious activity, including the long-promised integration of ThreatGrid.

Samsung predicts 30 percent drop in profit – Samsung predicts it made around 5.9 trillion won ($5.4 billion) in operating profit between January and March off about 47 trillion won in revenue ($43.2 billion). That represents around a 30 percent drop in profit and a 12 percent slide in sales from the same period a year ago. Samsung hasn’t offered any further information or explanation for the falling numbers, but it’s heading into a crucial quarter with the imminent release of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge — the company’s most impressive phones in years. If the S6 duo can outperform its disappointing predecessor, the Galaxy S5, it could help turn Samsung’s sales slump around.

Uber to hire slew of engineers, could be developing self-driving cars – Uber has big dreams, one of which might be to run fleets of self driving cars. The ride-share company is hitting the ground running as it looks to hire a range of positions including mechanical engineers from the automotive field and software engineers to work on sensors and vehicle controls. Nineteen positions were posted online today. The job listings are for Uber’s newly established Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, which is a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. This research center will act as an experimental lab where the top minds can solve problems blocking the path to driver-less vehicles.

Games and Entertainment:

You can now get an Xbox One for $225 in the US – If you’re in the market for an Xbox One, a GameStop deal is currently available that could get you the new-gen console for only $225. GameStop is currently running a campaign which gives buyers $125 of in-store credit when you purchase an Xbox One, meaning buyers are getting a good discount. However, to receive the credit users need to turn in their old PS3 or Xbox 360 console.

Farming Simulator Is Way Bigger, More Fun Than You Think – I doubt that publishers want to adapt a game about driving tractors, harvesting fields, and managing a farm into a summer movie blockbuster. But the business potential is obvious, especially if Giants Software and its publishers can convince the North American audience to embrace what Europe already knows: It sounds ridiculous on paper, but Farming Simulator is actually a lot of fun.

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Star Wars Digital HD Collection coming April 10 – It’s not yet May the 4th and it’s definitely not yet Christmas, but it seems that the Force will be in full, well, force this Friday. Come 10th of April, the Interwebs will most likely be clogged when hundreds of Star Wars fans try to download and stream all at once the Star Wars Digital HD collection which, for the first time, brings all, yes all, Star Wars film in digital format, HD quality. That means you can enjoy all of the good and the bad that Star Wars has to offer, wherever you are and on whatever device.

Hulu Launches Its Own GIF Search Engine – Streaming video service Hulu is today launching its own tool for fans of GIFs, with the debut of its own GIF search engine powered by Tumblr. The new site, dubbed “The Perfect GIF,” isn’t just a standard Tumblr blog, however, but more of customized Tumblr experience where you can search for and discover TV-related GIFs by tag, show, reaction or action involved.

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7 Hidden Roku Tricks for Streaming Success – Whether you just got a Roku or you’ve had one for years, there’s more to know beyond the basics of watching Netflix and catching up with “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” on Crackle. We’ve put together seven ways for you to get more out of your Roku.

April Xbox One update now available for all – The April update for the Xbox One is now rolling out to all users and it brings some useful improvements and fixes to party chat. The ‘What’s on’ tab is also, finally, available to more users.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Living With a Computer – I’d sell my computer before I’d sell my children. But the kids better watch their step. When have the children helped me meet a deadline? When has the computer dragged in a dead cat it found in the back yard?

Pointing up   If you’re a 30+ year computer user, this article will open the memory floodgates.

This working computer is smaller than a grain of rice – The University of Michigan’s Micro Mote is a fully autonomous computer that’s programmed and charged via light and could be used for a variety of medical and industrial purposes.

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Martin Vloet

Watching People Snort Cocaine on Periscope Is Just the Beginning – What’s our obligation when watching people livestream illegal, stupid, or potentially dangerous activity?

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Judge: Facebook can be used to serve divorce papers – Serving divorce papers just became a bit easier, with a judge in Manhattan ruling a Brooklyn resident can serve her husband with divorce papers using the world’s most popular social network. It seems the reason revolves around the defendant’s perpetual lack of a physical address, and his unwillingness to make a personal appearance to be served, as well as his perpetual availability for contact through Facebook… making it the only way to serve the papers. Some have called this a necessary ruling for the modern age.

Philosopher John Gray Believes Humanity’s Desire for Freedom Is a Lie – In his new book The Soul of Marionette, British philosopher John Gray aims to tackle humankind’s relationship with freedom. He claims that people don’t want more freedom of choice, but rather less, as they can’t handle doubt. Gray enjoyed a long academic career with positions at Oxford and the London School of Economics (LSE). However, after the success of his book Straw Dogs he quit academia to spend his time calling out what he sees to be the most questionable myths of our age, one of which being the assumption that the Western world is ethically more advanced than elsewhere, and that its ethical progress is both irreversible and ever-growing.

Something to think about:

“When children feel they have to earn our love by what they accomplish, they never feel good about themselves, no matter how much they do, no matter what their age. Indeed, some adults work outrageous hours, make huge salaries, and always strive to accomplish more and yet are never satisfied, no matter what they have achieved. This is because they were never given the free, unconditional love of their parents, the love that is every child’s birthright.”

–    Julie A., M.A. Ross and Judy Corcoran

Today’s Free Downloads:

Turn Off the Lights for Firefox – Turn Off the Lights for Firefox is a browser extension that lets users obscure everything on their screen except the Flash or HTML5 video they’re watching, minimizing distractions and making for a more pleasant viewing experience. A lamp icon is displayed in the browser menu bar or in the omnibox, and users click on the gray lamp icon to make the area surrounding the video fade. Clicking outside the video restores the rest of the screen. Users can adjust the opacity of the screen blocking and select a color other than black if desired.

Available for IE and Chrome.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Court mulls revealing secret government plan to cut cell phone service – A federal appeals court is asking the Obama administration to explain why the government should be allowed to keep secret its plan to shutter mobile phone service during “critical emergencies.”

The Department of Homeland Security came up with the plan—known as Standing Operating Procedure 303—after cellular phones were used to detonate explosives targeting a London public transportation system.

SOP 303 is a powerful tool in the digital age, and it spells out a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in February sided (PDF) with the government and ruled that the policy did not need to be disclosed under a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The court agreed with the government’s citation of a FOIA exemption that precludes disclosure if doing so “could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.”

Why John Oliver Can’t Find Americans Who Know Edward Snowden’s Name; It’s Not About Snowden) – On his HBO program last night, John Oliver devoted 30 minutes to a discussion of U.S. surveillance programs, advocating a much more substantive debate as the June 1 deadline for renewing the Patriot Act approaches (the full segment can be seen here). As part of that segment, Oliver broadcast an interview he conducted with Edward Snowden in Moscow, and to illustrate the point that an insufficient surveillance debate has been conducted, showed video of numerous people in Times Square saying they had no idea who Snowden is (or giving inaccurate answers about him). Oliver assured Snowden off-camera that they did not cherry-pick those “on the street” interviews but showed a representative sample.

Oliver’s overall discussion is good (and, naturally, quite funny), but the specific point he wants to make here is misguided. Contrary to what Oliver says, it’s actually not surprising at all that a large number of Americans are unaware of who Snowden is, nor does it say much at all about the surveillance debate. That’s because a large number of Americans, by choice, are remarkably unaware of virtually all political matters. The befuddled reactions of the Times Square interviewees when asked about Snowden illustrate little about the specific surveillance issue but a great deal about the full-scale political disengagement of a substantial chunk of the American population.

UK government plans to introduce mandatory age-checks on porn sites – The UK’s Conservative party has promised to introduce mandatory age-checks on online pornography websites if re-elected in May this year. Culture secretary Sajid Javid said an independent regulator would work with websites to verify users’ ages using as-yet-unspecified methods. Sites that fail to comply would be blocked by the UK’s internet service providers (ISPs) while ISPs that did not co-operate could be fined.

Although the plans have been welcomed by child welfare charities, experts have warned that mandatory age-checks could be costly and difficult to implement. Some commentators have suggested that the proposals could also lead to greater censorship of the internet in the UK. The new plans have been unfavorably compared with the 2013 opt-out internet filters, which were introduced to help families control access to adult material but inadvertently blocked educational resources such as sexual health websites.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 19, 2015

IoT: Silly and scary challenges ahead;  Obama administration sets record for censoring and denying transparency requests;  8 Gmail mobile app tricks for iOS and Android;  PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Streaming live TV compared;  Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for ALL users worldwide (including pirates);  4 tips for speeding up a slow iOS 8 device;  How to deal with misbehaving Android apps;  Hardware requirements for Windows 10 for desktop and phones;  Tutanota, An Open Source Encrypted Gmail Alternative;  Meerkat Now Lets You Easily Follow Users Via The Web;  AeroFS – cloud collaboration free for up to 30 users;  Make Games On Your iPhone With Playr;  System Mechanic Free;  Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook;  Avira Rescue System (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

IoT: Silly and scary challenges ahead – How many software updates does it take to change a light bulb? What happens when a blast furnace gets hacked? Security looms as the elephant in all of our IoT rooms.

8 Gmail mobile app tricks for iOS and Android – There’s more to the recently revamped Gmail app than a pretty Material Design. Read on for 8 new Gmail tricks, starting with…

4 tips for speeding up a slow iOS 8 device – Have an iOS device that is acting a little sluggish lately? Give these four tips a read, and then try them on your own device to see the results.

AeroFS makes cloud collaboration free for up to 30 users – When it comes to sharing data in the cloud, there’s more than one way to deliver security. There’s encryption, for instance, which is used by services such as Dropbox to keep data safe. There’s also technology such as Box’s new Encryption Key Management tool, which aims to give users additional control. AeroFS take another approach. Whereas most purveyors of cloud file, sync and share services ultimately still store users’ data on their own servers in data centers around the world, AeroFS’s private cloud offering keeps data on-premises. Targeting enterprise workgroups, the service is “like Dropbox, but behind your firewall,” in the company’s own words, and on Wednesday it became free for up to 30 users—and pledged to remain that way forever.

PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Streaming live TV compared – PlayStation Vue is the new TV service from Sony that starts at $50 per month. Its competitor Sling TV starts at $20 per month. Both use the Internet to stream numerous live TV channels as well as VOD, and both are free from long-term contracts. So how do they stack up?

Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for ALL users worldwide – Speaking to Reuters from the WinHEC conference in China, Microsoft’s operating system chief Terry Myerson said, “We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10.” This means that everyone running Windows 7 or 8.1, irrespective of whether you pirated the operating system or not, will be allowed to upgrade to a legitimate version of Windows 10.

Here’s how Windows 10 upgrade paths will work – Microsoft is promising a fairly painless upgrade path to Windows 10, provided users have been keeping their existing versions up to date. If you’re running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1 S14 (that’s the “Windows 8.1 Update” from last April), you’ll be able to get Windows 10 straight from the Control Panel’s Windows Update utility. In other words, you won’t have to mess around with installation disks, and all your files and programs will remain intact. Your data won’t be erased if you’re running an older version of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, but you’ll have to download an ISO and create an installation disk. It’s just a little more of a hassle.

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Here are the hardware requirements for Windows 10 for desktop and phones – Microsoft has officially started detailing the hardware requirements and capabilities of Windows 10 for desktop and mobile devices. The OS will scale from low-end to the most powerful hardware.

Pixometer app offers a smarter way to read dumb meters – So you want to track your water, electricity or gas consumption, but you still don’t have a smart meter on your supply? Pixolus has a mobile app that makes it easier to keep track of meter readings, even with dumb meters. Just tell the Pixometer app which meter you’re going to read, point the phone’s camera at it, and let the optical character recognition software do the work. Once the app gets a lock on the numbers, it speaks the reading out loud and stores it, and the date, in that meter’s file.

How to deal with misbehaving Android apps – We’ve all experienced it — that one app that seems to cause never-ending problems. It’ll run for a while and then, out of nowhere, it starts freezing or force crashing. This becomes an even bigger problem when the app in question happens to be in the “must-use” category. What do you do? Do you continue suffering through the data loss and crashes? No, you don’t. This is business, and you can’t deal with apps that don’t behave as needed. To that end, what do you do? You read on and integrate these tips into your standard operating procedure. They may even save you from data loss and app crashes.

Meet Sirius, the open-source Siri clone that runs on Ubuntu – Sirius is an open platform anyone can use and contribute to, from universities to startups. It’s currently being tested on Ubuntu, and you can download and install it on your own Linux PC today… if you’re particularly adventurous. One big feature Sirius offers is the image recognition integration. For example, you could take a photo of the Eiffel Tower and ask “when was this built?” Sirius would analyze the image, determine it was the Eiffel Tower, and then go find out when the Eiffel Tower was built. The big commercial assistant programs don’t yet offer a similar feature. This University of Michigan video provides a good introduction.

Everything you need to know about DLNA: The de facto home-entertainment network standard – If you’ve ever watched the photos on your digital camera come alive on your TV or played the music files on your computer over your home theater system, you’ve brushed against the magic of DLNA. This widely integrated but little understood technology allows you to stream media files from a hard drive or memory card to other devices on your home network without your needing to know a whole lot about codecs, file formats, or even how your network operates.

Meerkat Now Lets You Easily Follow Users Via The Web – Live video broadcast app Meerkat is edging away from being so reliant on Twitter’s network to power its own: The company announced a new “light follow” feature that works via the web, making it easy for anyone to follow users quickly without following them on Twitter, and to then receive notifications via Meerkat on iOS whenever they go live with a stream.

Autodesk’s insanely fun Tinkerplay app lets you easily design your own 3D-printable action figures – Autodesk, makers of AutoCAD design software and the Spark 3D printing platform, want to make it easier for children of all ages to design their own 3D-printed items. The company recently released a new app called Tinkerplay that makes it easy to design your own army of killer robots. Tinkerplay lets you create your own toy from scratch or use the included character templates to customize a scorpion, ninja, or sea creature. Once the design is done you can create your own STL or .thing file to turn your 3D-printed dreams into reality. Tinkerplay is available for Android, iOS, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone.

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Tutanota, An Open Source Encrypted Gmail Alternative, Heads Out Of Beta – Germany based encrypted email startup, Tutanota, is taking its service out a beta next week — after a year of testing and almost 100,000 users signed up to send and receive secure email. Additional domains will also be offered in the new release, coming on Tuesday, including .com and .io options (in addition to the current .de option). Tutanota was founded at the end of 2011 with the idea of making secure email easier than extant options like PGP.  Its ease of use pitch means it’s doing encrypted email in the web browser and also offering iOS and Android apps.

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Security:

Mandrill warns attack may have exposed some data about email – Mandrill warned customers on Wednesday that some email-related data may have been exposed after attackers tried to lasso some of its servers into a botnet. Data doesn’t appear to have been stolen, but some customers should take some security precautions, wrote Brandon Fouts, general manager of Mandrill, which is a platform for managing transactional email that is owned by The Rocket Science Group.

Double FREAK! A cryptographic bug that was found because of the FREAK bug – Imagine that you just checked into a hotel. You’re in the lift on the way to your room, holding a key. You get to your room; you wave, swipe or turn the key; and the door opens. Assuming the door wouldn’t open until you presented the key, it certainly feels like security of a sort, doesn’t it? But what if your key isn’t unique? What if your key opens every other door in the hotel (or, for that matter, if every other key opens your door)? How would you ever know, just for starters?

Dark web drug market Evolution vanishes off the net, taking millions of dollars with it – Remember Silk Road? The infamous underground marketplace that made millions of dollars while its members bought and sold drugs and firearms was shut down in 2013, and its mastermind Ross “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht facing prison for the rest of his life. Well, nature abhors a vacuum. So it’s no surprise to see others attempt to take over where the Silk Road left off. As Wired reports, one of the sites – Evolution – that has attempted to take the place of the Silk Road has itself mysteriously vanished, and allegedly run off with members’ bitcoins worth more than $12 million.

Company News:

Target proposes $10 million settlement deal for customers after credit card hack – Target has agreed to pay $10 million to people affected by the breach of its systems in 2013 that saw 40 million credit and debit card numbers stolen. According to court documents, the retailer’s proposed settlement — which has yet to be approved by a federal judge — could pay individuals up to $10,000 in compensation. A court hearing to approve the proposal is scheduled for Thursday.

Yahoo Is Closing Its Office In China And Laying Off Hundreds Of Staff – Yahoo is bidding adios to China with the closure of its research center in Beijing — its only location in the country — as SCMP first reported. Hundreds of staff are expected to be laid off. The Beijing office originally ran Yahoo services in China, but with all of its consumers-facing activities in the country now shuttered — including its web portal, music service and email — the office effectively become a research center. Sources at the company told SCMP that, with wages two times higher in China than India and no specific services in China, the presence wasn’t particularly logical.

Appeals court revives Microsoft Xbox 360 console defect litigation – A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived a proposed class-action lawsuit against Microsoft that claims the Xbox 360 damages gaming discs, rendering them unplayable. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court had misconstrued the court’s own precedent when it ruled that Xbox owners in the US could not collectively sue Microsoft for damages. In the lower courts, Microsoft had successfully argued that individual proof by each person seeking damages was required. The court said Microsoft’s position was “inapt” because the “plaintiffs’ position is that the design defect itself breaches the express warranty.”

Tesla Scores Direct Sales Wins in NJ, Georgia – Tesla Motors passed important hurdles in its mission to sell directly to consumers in New Jersey and Georgia, where state legislators passed bills allowing the electric vehicle (EV) maker to open dealerships. A similar proposal moving through Georgia’s government would make way for five Tesla dealerships in the southern state.

Facebook Sued By Former Staffer Alleging Sex Discrimination, Harassment, Other Charges – The defendants in the suit are Facebook, a Facebook staffer named Anil Wilson, and 50 unnamed Facebook employees referred to anonymously as “defendant Doe.” The suit says that Wilson and Hong’s other coworkers regularly ignored or belittled her opinions at group meetings, asked her “why she did not just stay home and take care of her child instead of having a career,” and ordered her to organize parties and serve drinks to male colleagues, among other alleged actions. The suit also alleges that Hong was told that she was not integrated into her team at work “because she looks different and talks differently than other team members” and was subsequently replaced “by a less qualified, less experienced Indian male.”

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Music integrates with OneDrive to allow free storage of music – This update for Xbox Music and OneDrive will make it easier to access your content on nearly any device and shows Microsoft’s commitment to the music streaming service. Users can now simply open their OneDrive web folder or app, upload the music file from their hard drive and listen to it through the Xbox Music app whenever they want. An Xbox music pass subscription is not required, the process is completely free. People who already have the pass will get 100 GB free of OneDrive storage.

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Super Dungeon Bros hands-on: Like Gauntlet, but more metal – Super Dungeon Bros is (like Gauntlet) an isometric hack-and-slash game that sees you dungeon crawling alongside three friends in search of treasure. One important distinction is that players can choose any weapon they’d like in Super Dungeon Bros—you’re not constrained to having one warrior, one wizard, et cetera as per Gauntlet. In our demo, in fact, it was impossible not to double up. We had four players, but only three weapons to choose from (crossbow, sword, mace). The main addition in Super Dungeon Bros is an increased focus on co-op play.

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Can an epic strategy game make Zynga relevant again? – Times are hard for Zynga. The company exploded with the sudden rise of Facebook gaming, but has struggled to adapt as the industry has moved to mobile, and once-massive franchises like FarmVille have been left to wither. In early 2014 the company purchased NaturalMotion, the studio behind mobile hits like the charming Clumsy Ninja and CSR Racing, a game that at one point was making an estimated $12 million per month. The developer has been quiet since then, but recently unveiled its first post-Zynga project: Dawn of Titans, a strategy game that aims to turn massive fantasy battles into an experience you can play when you have a minute to kill.

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PlayStation’s Vue Live Streaming Cord-Cutter TV Service Launches In The U.S. – PlayStation is officially debuting its live streaming video service in the U.S. today, launching PlayStation Vue in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia with pricing beginning at $50 per month. The on-demand and live-streaming video service includes content partners like Fox News, AMC and Turner Broadcasting and offers channels like CBS, Discovery, Animal Planet, Syfy, Food Network and many more, depending on the package you select.

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Make Games On Your iPhone With Playr – Aside from the money-making behemoths like Candy Crush Saga, one of the most interesting trends in mobile gaming is the rise of flash-in-the-pan viral hits like Flappy Bird and Timberman. These games takes seconds to learn, days to master, are free or cost a few bucks each, and are basically disposable after the initial rush of hype. I know plenty of people who’ve gone through a number of those games and have said things to the effect of “I bet I could make a game like that.” For nearly two years, 18-year-old Chris Galzerano has been working on Playr, an app that lets anyone do just that.

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New Microsoft Store promotion offers 3 free months of Sling TV – If you purchase an Xbox One from Microsoft Store, whether it be online or from a physical location, you will also receive a three month subscription to Sling TV for free. Sling TV allows users to watch live television using your existing internet connection and a built-in app for Xbox One. The service currently starts at $20 a month and features networks like AMC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 Extreme Selfies That Will Make Your Stomach Churn – Voluntarily putting your life and limb in jeopardy is always interesting. At least, that’s the conclusion a growing number of people have come to as they do their part to expand the art of the selfie to unforeseen heights. Click through our slideshow and check out 20 selfies captured in unnecessarily precarious situations.

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Here you can see Mr. Wanted standing at the very tippy top of a spire.

Memory in the flesh – A radical 1950s scientist suggested memories could survive outside the brain — and he may have been right.

Pointing up  Fascinating!

Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook – I knew something was up by the time I saw a fourth toilet paper-related post on Facebook, all from different, unconnected friends. Just to be sure this was a real phenomenon, I went over to Twitter. Sure enough, a search for #toiletpaper delivered a considerable number of results. It seems the great over-or-under debate is alive on social media, but this time some new evidence has entered the fray.

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New genetic map of the UK shows which invasions created Britain’s DNA – Britain has a long history of invasions: over the past two millennia, various armies from the Romans to the Anglo-Saxons conquered the bulk of the British Isles. A new genetic analysis of the country has revealed which invading force had the greatest impact on its DNA. Britons share the most DNA with people from France and Germany — countries which were home to the Angles and Saxon that moved into the British Isles after Roman rule collapsed in the 4th century. And despite broad similarities, the UK can be split into 17 distinct genetic groups that correspond to modern regions, according to a paper published in Nature that analyzed genetic data from more than 2,000 individuals in the UK and more than 6,000 across Europe.

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Bioprinter 3D-prints living cartilage nose in 16 minutes – While traditional 3D-printers build objects using layers of plastic, we’ve seem some great strides in 3D-printing like lattices emerging from amorphous, resinous goo. Now bioprinters are entering the ring with their ability to create 3D models from biological materials. There’s no need to wait for an ear to grow on the back of a mouse; this bioprinter from the ETH Zurich Cartilage Engineering and Regeneration Group can print a nose from biopolymers and living cartilage cells in only 16 minutes. Best of all, no mice are harmed in the process!

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10 career risks you should be willing to take – Career in a rut? Sometimes you need to take a chance or two to get things moving in the right direction.

Something to think about:

“I was headed down a bad road after I had been kicked out of Yale. I had been arrested twice for DUI when I was 22-years-old. I was in jail in Rock Springs, Wyoming, overnight, on a DUI charge—second one in a year. And that was a wake-up call, in effect.”

–      Dick Cheney

Today’s Free Downloads:

System Mechanic Free – System Mechanic Free is a complete suite of powerful system repair and maintenance tools. The 7 core tools included in System Mechanic Free are designed to boost speed, fix problems, and instantly improve PC performance.

Using the same award-winning technology and user-friendly design that makes the full version of System Mechanic the expert’s choice and the #1-bestselling software in its class, System Mechanic Free empowers people of all skill levels to keep their computer running at peak performance.

The 7 core tools in System Mechanic Free are:

Registry Tuner: The most effective tool of its kind, Registry Tuner uses regularly updated research to safely repair registry errors and stabilize Windows computers

Startup Optimizer: Eliminates the top 25 most common startup bottlenecks in order to noticeably speed up Windows start time

Memory Mechanic: Reclaims more RAM memory for an instant performance boost

PC Cleanup: Cleans up system-clogging junk files and clutter

Drive Accelerator: Defragments hard drives to improve drive speed and performance

Shortcut Repair: Reconnects broken icons and shortcuts

Internet Connection Repair: Heals broken internet connections to get PCs back online

iolo technologies believes no one should unnecessarily experience the stress, lost time, and financial burden that can be caused by a poorly-performing PC—and System Mechanic Free provides the basic tools necessary to ensure Windows computers remain stable and optimized for the entire lifespan of the investment. Now, you can use the same research-driven tune-up tools and features that are trusted and recommended by millions of computer users worldwide to fix and speed up your home PC.

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Avira Rescue System – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama administration sets record for censoring and denying transparency requests – The US censored and refused to provide more documents than ever last year while responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, according to an analysis of federal data performed by the Associated Press. The government responded to just over 647,000 FOIA requests last year, a 4 percent drop from the year prior. In just over 250,000 of those cases, it censored documents or refused to provide access to them outright — nearly two out of every five requests. Censoring, however, may range from a single phone number’s removal to the redaction of nearly an entire page.

The Freedom of Information Act is a nearly 50-year-old law that allows any person to request records from the US government, which must turn them over in a timely fashion unless they are subject to a limited set of exceptions. The law plays a critical role in government transparency; unfortunately, this waning responsiveness hurts that, especially as broad conversations about government transparency continue due to a steady stream of leaked documents. The government, for its part, thinks that it isn’t doing quite so poorly. The AP reports that the US says it released all or parts of documents in 91 percent of cases, but this discounts some requests and is still a record low under Obama.

New York county sheriff must give up stingray records, judge orders – According to a judicial ruling issued Tuesday, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) in Northwestern New York state must turn over a number of documents concerning its purchase and use of stingrays. The 24-page order comes as the result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and marks a rare victory in favor of transparency of “cell-site simulators,” which are often shrouded in secrecy.

The devices can not only be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this year, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.

“The court today has confirmed that law enforcement cannot hide behind a shroud of secrecy while it is invading the privacy of those it has sworn to protect and serve,” Mariko Hirose, a NYCLU Staff Attorney, said in a statement. “The public has a right to know how, when and why this technology is being deployed, and they deserve to know what safeguards and privacy protections, if any, are in place to govern its use.”

Cisco posts kit to empty houses to dodge NSA chop shops – Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says.

The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers.

The interception campaign was revealed last May.

Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA’s interceptions are targeted.

“We ship [boxes] to an address that’s has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who ultimately it is going to,” Stewart says.

“When customers are truly worried … it causes other issues to make [interception] more difficult in that [agencies] don’t quite know where that router is going so its very hard to target – you’d have to target all of them.

There is always going to be inherent risk.”

Stewart says some customers drive up to a distributor and pick up hardware at the door.

The Mall of America reportedly used Facebook to track activists – The security team at the Mall of America may have created a fictitious Facebook account to surreptitiously compile information about Black Lives Matter supporters and track their plans. Citing documents it obtained, The Intercept says that the mall — which has its own counter terrorism unit — created a fictitious person named “Nikki Larson,” who they used to befriend and monitor protesters on social network.

That fishy account has since been quietly removed from Facebook, though dates back to 2009 and appears to be the work of a former Mall of America intelligence analyst. Before the account was yanked, “Nikki” had 817 friends, many of whom The Intercept says had ties to local Minnesota political activism groups. While active, the account also liked the Black Live Matter Facebook group in Minneapolis and changed the top header with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote, presumably to keep up appearances.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 22, 2014

Microsoft warns of Windows zero-day;  Congress to the FBI: There’s ‘Zero Chance’ We’ll Force Apple to Decrypt Phones;  Five Free Mobile Apps Every IT Professional Needs;  18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  Three social media apps for scheduling and more;  Website blocking is not internet filtering: Australian government;  Stop typing and start dictating documents in Windows;  Free videoconferencing tools: 5 creative ways they can help you get things done;  Second-screen apps for every World Series fan;  Google launches support for Security Key;  Simpsons World app and website stream all 500+ episodes;  Xbox One’s new digital TV tuner lets you stream TV to a tablet or smartphone;  Watch the ‘First Real’ Hoverboard;  Junkware Removal Tool (free);  Avast Free Antivirus 2015.

Stop typing and start dictating documents in Windows – Just because you can’t type doesn’t mean you can’t create documents. All you need is a microphone for your PC and Microsoft Word to take the stress off your hands and start using your voice. Here’s how.

Five Free Mobile Apps Every IT Professional Needs – A slew of new apps have stepped up to capitalize on the flood of smartphones and tablets in the hands of IT managers and administrators – aiming to make the day-to-day work of IT professionals easier and more flexible. Here are a few great apps that IT pros will find useful at the office, on the road and everywhere in between:

18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and its cousin Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools—and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. (And we’re just talking about the Web version, the mobile incarnations are a whole other bag of magic.) Here, we present 18 cool things you didn’t know Google Maps could do. Click on through and experience just a little bit of the power of the everyday.

Collaborate for free with Annotate Attachments in Gmail – Gmail users who collaborate with coworkers should check out the free Annotate Attachments in Gmail extension for Chrome from Framebench. The utility lets you mark on email attachments right in the inbox. It’s easier to do with a touchscreen but works pretty well on Chromebooks and other laptops with touchpads.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Post like a pro: Three social media apps for scheduling and more – Managing your social media presence can be a full-time job—and an expensive undertaking. A host of products is available to help, but not every tool is right for everyone. Read on to learn about three apps that can help you post your content across various social networks, and, in some cases, a bit more.

PhotoMath on Windows Phone lets you solve math problems instantly – PhotoMath, a camera-based app on Windows Phone and iOS, utilizes photo recognition to instantly display the results of almost any mathematical expression you point your phone at.

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First major update to Windows 10 Preview, delivered through Windows Update – We’ve written before about Windows 10’s new updating policy, and today we’re seeing the real-world result for the first time. The Windows 10 Technical Preview, build 9849, is being updated to build 9860. That update will roll out automatically to members of the Windows Insider program, and it will be delivered through Windows Update. The operating system upgrade is a little more heavyweight than a regular hotfix; systems will need to reboot to finish installation, and Microsoft says that the reboot will take longer than normal.

ZOTAC unveils the ZBOX PI320, a $200 Windows 8.1 PC the size of a chunky smartphone – ZOTAC – who, you may remember, were among the first companies to sign up to Valve’s Steam Machines platform – has unveiled a new Windows PC that has the footprint of a smartphone, albeit with a body that’s a good deal thicker than most modern handsets. Nonetheless, the ZBOX PI320 packs plenty of specs into its tiny form factor, including a quad-core Intel Bay Trail Z3735F processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, three USB ports, full-size HDMI port, microSD slot, Ethernet port, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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Homeboy WiFi camera cuts power cord with 3 month battery – WiFi cameras like Dropcam aren’t new, but while baking in wireless connectivity has helped cut one cord, they’ve always needed to be plugged into a power supply. Now, Homeboy claims to have severed that second tether, with its eponymous camera running on batteries and promising around three months of use from a single charge. That makes positioning all the easier, and Homeboy has taken advantage of that with a magnetic base that means the camera can be pointed in any direction or even hung upside-down from the ceiling.

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Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight Monitors Home Alarms From Afar – The Smart Alert Nightlight plugs into the wall and connects to your home Wi-Fi network using the Leeo app. The nightlight then “listens for the frequency and pattern of your existing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms” and sends an alert to your phone if they go off. It can also monitor climate for anything too hot or cold. The Smart Alert Nightlight also works as, well, a nightlight. Use your phone to set its brightness, or to go on at a certain time – illuminating your way to the bathroom or kitchen at night, for example. The plug-in Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight is on sale now for $99.

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Free videoconferencing tools: 5 creative ways they can help you get things done – A free videoconferencing tool belongs in any productivity kit, and not just for meetings. Used creatively, the combination of webcams and collaboration features can help you streamline other tasks and interactions in your workday, in ways you might never have considered.  Here are five extra ways you can put a free system to work for you.

Lowly DSL poised for gigabit speed boost – DSL was one of the first widely adopted technologies for bringing high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses, but it hasn’t been the fastest. That’s all changing. At the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week, several companies are announcing and demonstrating products that bring DSL — or digital subscriber line — into a future with a speed of 1 gigabit per second. That’s about 1,000 times the data-transfer speed the technology offered when it arrived in the late 1990s.

Second-screen apps for every World Series fan – The World Series has returned, with the San Francisco Giants set to battle the Kansas City Royals for baseball supremacy. And thanks to second-screen apps, you don’t have to be merely a passive viewer of the this year’s Fall Classic. These apps for your iPhone or iPad can enliven the experience, whether you’re watching on TV, streaming the games online—or you’re even lucky enough to attend in person.

Security:

Microsoft warns of Windows zero-day; hackers serve exploits in PowerPoint files – Microsoft on Tuesday warned Windows users that cyber criminals are exploiting a zero-day vulnerability using malicious PowerPoint documents sent as email attachments. In an advisory, Microsoft outlined the bug and provided a one-click tool from its “Fixit” line that customers can use to protect their PCs until a patch is available.

Flash vulnerability being exploited in large-scale attacks, mere days after patch – If you haven’t updated your Flash Player with the fixes released on Oct. 14, you may be vulnerable to new attacks using a commercial exploit kit called Fiesta, security researchers warn. The vulnerability, which is being tracked as CVE-2014-0569 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database, was fixed in Flash Player updates last week.

Google launches support for Security Key, a simpler kind of two-factor authentication – It just got a little easier to log into Gmail. Today, Google launched support for Security Key, an open standard that lets you log in to an account with a physical device, usually in the form of a USB. The device takes the place of the six-digit confirmation codes currently used by Google’s two-factor authentication. Instead of typing in the code, you’ll simply insert your USB key before logging in. A password is still required, so a thief wouldn’t be able to log into your account just by stealing your security key. On the other hand, if your account password ended up leaking onto the web, it would be useless without the corresponding security key.

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First man convicted in child predator sting with virtual girl Sweetie – An Australian man with previous child pornography charges is believed to have been the first convicted in an operation using a CGI child to lure predators.

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Company News:

Yahoo’s Minuscule Growth Enough to Exceed Expectations – Yahoo beat Wall Street estimates with $1.15 billion in third-quarter revenue, up from $1.14 during the same quarter last year. Surprising analysts is always nice, but the Internet search giant should be especially happy about the revenue bump, even if it is just a 1% increase. Sales had declined in four of the previous five quarters, including a 3% year-over-year drop in this year’s second quarter.

Google, Facebook continue massive lobbying efforts in Q3 – Google and Facebook continued to pour millions of dollars into federal political lobbying in the third quarter in attempts to influence U.S. lawmakers and have legislation written in their favor. Google spent $3.94 million between July and September while Facebook spent $2.45 million, according to disclosure data published Tuesday. The only tech-related company to outspend Google was Comcast, which is trying to convince politicians to look favorably on a merger with Time Warner and spent $4.23 million during the quarter. But Google stands as the largest spender in the entire tech industry to date this year.

More lawsuits over “no poach” deals get filed against Oracle, Microsoft – A class action lawsuit against Google, Apple, and other tech companies that struck deals to not “cold call” each other’s employees may be on the verge of wrapping up. Similar cases against Oracle and Microsoft have just been filed. The suit against Microsoft (PDF) says that in 2007, the company struck a deal with several other tech companies not to pursue employees who were at “manager level or above,” even if the candidate reached out.

Magic Leap Secures $542M Led By Google For “Lightweight Wearable” Tech That Merges Physical And Digital Worlds – It’s rare that a company can stay relatively secretive while raising a huge amount of funding, but Florida’s Magic Leap has managed that. The startup, led by CEO Rony Abovitz, announced today the close of its $542 million Series B, featuring investors led by Google, Inc., and including KPCB, Andreessen Horowitz, Obvious Ventures, Qualcomm and Legendary Entertainment.

Microsoft Drops Nokia Name, Sticks With ‘Lumia’ For Windows Phones – After a long and complicated relationship that first involved just a close partnership with Nokia handling hardware duties, and then Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s phone-making business during what appeared to be a fairly acrimonious separation, there will be no more confusion as to who’s making first-party Windows Phone hardware going forward: they’ll be called just “Microsoft Lumia” devices going forward. The rebranding will begin in France, according to The Verge, and then move around the world from there, and will apply across product branding, social media accounts and all online presence.

Verizon misses Q3 mark as it shrugs off rivals’ promotions – The carrier still managed to post strong customer growth, again driven largely by an increase in tablet sales.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One’s new digital TV tuner lets you stream TV to a tablet or smartphone – Microsoft announced its digital TV tuner back in August, and it’s finally going on sale in European countries today. The 29.99 EUR ($40) accessory plugs into a USB port on the Xbox One to pick up channels using free-to-air DVB-T, DVB-T2, and DVB-C television standards. This also enables the TV functionality on Xbox One along with TV listings from OneGuide. While recording isn’t supported yet, Microsoft is allowing Xbox One owners to pause live TV and rewind or fast-forward. The pausing works even if you switch back to a game. It’s not clear if the software maker plans to enable DVR functionality in future, but the pausing live TV temporarily uses part of the 500GB hard drive storage on the console

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Launch trailer for Xbox One exclusive ‘Sunset Overdrive’ released – “Sunset Overdrive” from Insomniac Games and Microsoft will be released for the Xbox One on Oct. 28, and the duo today released the final trailer for the game. A launch trailer highlights the game’s plot and humor, but it also gives a good look at the gameplay from various sections in “Sunset Overdrive.” The launch trailer follows commercials for the game that recently began airing on major networks.

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Indie game pulled off Steam after dev threatens Gabe Newell on Twitter – In a post on the Code Avarice blog, Mike Maulbeck announced that he is stepping down from the company, and has sold his interest in it to fellow developer Travis Pfenning. The move is an effort to convince Valve that it “has no reason to harbor any more ill will towards the company, and maybe even if we can’t see Paranautical Activity restored [to Steam], at least future Code Avarice games may be allowed onto the platform.” After apologizing again for his intemperate tweet, Maulbeck noted that “my temper and tendency to use twitter to vent has been a consistent problem since I entered the games industry, and I just can’t do it.

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Simpsons World app and website stream all 500+ episodes, but require a cable subscription – Fox was pleasantly surprised when its recent Simpsons marathon on extended cable channel FXX pulled in massive ratings. It turns out people are interested in watching at least some of the more than 500 episodes of The Simpsons that have been created in the past quarter century. In order to take proper advantage of that, a new FXX app is coming that will let you watch every single episode whenever you want. The catch? The FXX Simpsons World app will require a cable subscription.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Take an action flight over Paris on the back of an eagle – An eagle’s breathtaking flight at 180km/h over the City of Light has been captured by a Sony Action Cam attached to the bird’s back.

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The top 10 Dilbert cartoons, according to creator Scott Adams – The first syndicated comic that focused on the workplace, the exploits of the office everyman and his crew of incompetent colleagues never loses relevance.

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Why are some sugars sweeter than others? Chew on this – The American Chemical Society looks at why some foods taste sweet, and why some sweeteners are, well, sweeter than others.

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About GamerGate – If you’re sick of GamerGate, consider this a trigger warning. We’re entering month three of the controversy, and things aren’t getting any better. In fact, the whole issue seems to be increasing in frequency of mentions. It was on the front page of the New York Times the other day and your co-workers and relatives are going to start asking you about it because “You play games, right?” So now’s your time to ask away. Let’s get started.

IllumiBowl turns your toilet into a color-changing party light – If you install the colorful IllumiBowl light, it will look like someone’s hosting a party in your toilet.

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Watch the ‘First Real’ Hoverboard – The idea that a man or woman could someday glide effortlessly through the air has captured our imaginations ever since Michael J. Fox hopped on a hoverboard in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II. Now it’s even more so, thanks to the Hendo, touted as “the world’s first REAL hoverboard,” named after inventor Greg Henderson.

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Something to think about:

“To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow.”

–      California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avast Free Antivirus 2015 – Download.com Exclusive – Keep your system updated and protect it against the latest viruses and spyware with the new Avast Free Antivirus 2015, featuring Smart Scan. Avast Free Antivirus 2015 has added utilities to an already comprehensive set of security tools. The new Smart Scan detects vulnerabilities in your home network, checks for program updates, and fixes PC performance issues with just one click. Avast continues to improve its anti-malware protection, as well as making it easier to manage security for multiple devices via the Web client.

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Junkware Removal Tool – Junkware Removal Tool is a security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) from your computer. A common tactics among freeware publishers is to offer their products for free, but bundle them with PUPs in order to earn revenue. This tool will help you remove these types of programs.

Junkware Removal Tool has the ability to remove the following types of programs:

Ask Toolbar

Babylon

Blekko

Claro / iSearch

Conduit

Crossrider

DealPly

Delta

Facemoods / Funmoods

Findgala

Globasearch

Hao123

iLivid

Iminent

IncrediBar

MocaFlix

MyPC Backup

MyWebSearch

PerformerSoft

Privitize

Qvo6

Searchqu

Snap Do

Swag Bucks

Wajam

Web Assistant

WhiteSmoke

Zugo

And many more…

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Congress to the FBI: There’s ‘Zero Chance’ We’ll Force Apple to Decrypt Phones – The FBI’s director wants Congress to force force Apple and Google to do away with default smartphone encryption. Congress, however, doesn’t look to be with him.

Last week, FBI director James Comey suggested that encryption “threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place” and suggested that if Apple and Google don’t remove default encryption from iOS and Android then “Congress might have to force this on companies.”

But years of National Security Administration surveillance and other privacy oversteps and surveillance creep by the federal government has lawmakers skittish to do anything that’ll be seen as expanding the surveillance state, even if Congress still isn’t ready to roll back the laws it already has on the books.

“To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow,” California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa tweeted. “The FBI and Justice Department must be more accountable—tough sell for them to now ask the American people for more surveillance power.”

Issa holds considerable power on such matters, and The Hill reported that other lawmakers have echoed his sentiments. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (a California democrat who has been staunchly anti surveillance for some years now) said that Comey’s proposal would have “zero chance” of passing; Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told the publication that he doubts more than “a handful” of lawmakers would support such a bill.

So, while it’s disappointing Congress won’t roll back NSA surveillance, it’s at least heartening to hear that Congress thinks that passing a bill like Comey has suggested would be political suicide.

Website blocking is not internet filtering: Australian government – Summary: The Department of Communications has argued that forcing ISPs to block certain websites under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act is not a form of internet filtering.

Supreme Court to decide if cops can access hotel registries without warrants – The Supreme Court is weighing in on another Fourth Amendment privacy case, this one concerning a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels to surrender guest registries to the police upon request without a warrant.

The justices agreed Monday to hear Los Angeles’ appeal of a lower court that ruled 7-4 that the law—meant to combat prostitution, gambling, and even terrorism—was unconstitutional. The law (PDF) requires hotels to provide the information—including guests’ credit card number, home address, driver’s license information, and vehicle license number—at a moment’s notice. Several dozen cities, from Atlanta to Seattle, have similar ordinances.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) welcomed the high court’s intervention in Los Angeles v. Patel.

“The Supreme Court will consider both the scope of privacy protections for hotel guests and also whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits laws that allow unlawful searches,” EPIC wrote. “The second issue has far-reaching consequences because many recent laws authorize the police searches without judicial review. Thus far, courts have only considered “as applied” challenges on a case-by-case basis.”

The appeal is the third high-profile Fourth Amendment case the justices have taken in three years.

More Crypto Wars II – FBI Director James Comey again called for an end to secure encryption by putting in a backdoor. Here’s his speech:

There is a misconception that building a lawful intercept solution into a system requires a so-called “back door,” one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit.

But that isn’t true. We aren’t seeking a back-door approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law. We are completely comfortable with court orders and legal process — front doors that provide the evidence and information we need to investigate crime and prevent terrorist attacks.

Cyber adversaries will exploit any vulnerability they find. But it makes more sense to address any security risks by developing intercept solutions during the design phase, rather than resorting to a patchwork solution when law enforcement comes knocking after the fact. And with sophisticated encryption, there might be no solution, leaving the government at a dead end — all in the name of privacy and network security.

I’m not sure why he believes he can have a technological means of access that somehow only works for people of the correct morality with the proper legal documents, but he seems to believe that’s possible. As Jeffrey Vagle and Matt Blaze point out, there’s no technical difference between Comey’s “front door” and a “back door.”

Britain’s Intel Chief: Our Spies Would Rather Quit Than Do Mass Surveillance – GCHQ Director Sir Iain Lobban has continued to equivocate and dissimulate around the issue of surveillance in his valedictory speech, which he gave today ahead of his retirement at the end of this week.

Though the British intelligence agency is the NSA’s closest foreign partner in defending the West from critical threats to national security, Lobban neither mentioned Edward Snowden nor directly addressed the many allegations of mass snooping that have recently been levelled at the organisations. Instead, he chose to talk up the agency’s work against paedophiles, drug cartels, and terrorists, whilst defending GCHQ as a bastion of liberty.

However Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor who exposed the epic surveillance operations of intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, can’t have been far from Lobban’s mind. “The people who work at GCHQ would sooner walk out the door than be involved in anything remotely resembling ‘mass surveillance,” Lobban said.

But then Lobban described some of the work the agency carries out in a way many would deem as resembling exactly that. “We access the internet at scale so as to dissect it with surgical precision,” he said during his speech at the Churchill War Rooms in London. “You can’t pick and choose the components of a global interception system that you like—catching terrorists and paedophiles—and those you don’t—incidental collection of data at scale: it’s one integrated system.”

He claimed only a small percentage of global communications are within reach of the agency’s sensors and GCHQ only intercepts a small percentage of that. And of the data it intercepts, it stores only a “miniscule” amount for a limited period of time.

But Professor Ross Anderson, a long-time critic of the UK’s intelligence operations and head of cryptography at the University of Cambridge, said over email that Lobban’s definition of ‘mass surveillance’ is “nothing like yours or mine.”

“How come they collected over a million people’s Yahoo video chats, including a significant number of intimate chats?” Anderson asked. “There is no conceivable way that can be justified as targeted, proportionate or necessary. It fails the human rights test. It is mass surveillance.”

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Microsoft Using Windows Update To Market IE 9

This morning, Mary-Jo Foley’s – All About Microsoft column reported that Microsoft is pushing out IE 9, via Windows Update, months ahead of schedule.

Mary-Jo went on to say “Some users were none too happy about this, given they had been expecting Microsoft to push the update to them — and their users (if they are administrators for larger networks) — for a couple more months.”

Curious, I opened my Windows Update applet and sure enough, there it was – marked as “Important”.

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My first though was neutral – it’s understandable that Microsoft is being  aggressive in IE 9 product placement. Particularly, when Firefox’s unprecedented and record setting downloads continue to impress. Since I’m not an IE user, I simply removed the update notice.

Later in the morning while cruising on my home page, up popped the following – despite the fact I have pop-ups blocked automatically in Firefox 4, which, all things considered, does less than an adequate job.

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This time my first thought was not neutral – it annoyed me that MSN overrode my Browser settings, and interrupted my session, to market a Microsoft specific product.

I’m well aware that Browsers hand off volumes of information to responding web sites, but I have an aversion to being reminded of that fact in this way.

I have no objection to Microsoft providing a link to IE 9 on my home page, after all – it’s their page.

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But, I do object to this type of direct marketing for a product I have no interest in.

You might think that this is a petty, don’t get your knickers in a knot, complaint, but maybe not. It clearly illustrates the point that Regular reader John B. made in a comment on yesterday’s article – Take Control Of Your Internet Privacy With BetterPrivacy Firefox Add-on.

John was right when he stated “The ad purveyors exploit our laziness by pretending they are our friends and are only wishing to make the internet more user-friendly. In fact they are grooming us for their own ends – sound familiar?”

If you’re a long time Internet user, then you’re familiar with the scourge of pop-ups we had to contend with previously- until Browsers gave us the ability to apply controls to restrict unwanted notices, advertising, etc.

In my view, Microsoft’s use of a pop-up is regressive, and takes me to a place I’d rather not be. But then, as John B. alludes to – users have been conditioned not to complain. Except perhaps, “mouthy” people like me.

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Filed under Browsers, Freeware, Internet Explorer, Microsoft, Point of View