Tag Archives: YouTube

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – August 5, 2015

Trust no one: How caller ID spoofing has ruined the simple phone call;   Want Windows 10 to stop tracking you? Now there’s an app for that;  Use Cortana to control your Android phone from Windows 10;  Tor users: Do not expect anonymity and end-to-end security;  LibreOffice 5: The best office suite today won’t cost you a dime;  12 obscure new Windows 10 features that eliminate everyday hassles;  Mac backup basics;  YouTube rolls out an updated video player;  How to install Windows 10 on a Mac;  BitTorrent Sync apps updated with productivity features;  Yahoo’s ads spread malware via hackers, vulnerable Flash;  Netflix Surges 8% To All-Time High;  Xbox One will get a TV DVR feature next year;  14 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks;  Why it’s time to prepare for a world where machines can do your job.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Trust no one: How caller ID spoofing has ruined the simple phone call – Caller ID is easy to spoof and it’s leading to a host of real threats, from account recovery fraud to marketing scams to malicious pranks resulting in SWAT teams showing up at a victim’s door.

Windows 10 doesn’t offer much privacy by default: Here’s how to fix it – Windows 10, by default, has permission to report a huge amount of data back to Microsoft. By clicking through “Express Settings” during installation, you allow Windows 10 to gather up your contacts, calendar details, text and touch input, location data, and a whole lot more. The OS then sends it all back to Microsoft so that it can be used for personalisation and targeted ads. That isn’t to say you should be happy about this state of affairs, however. If you’d like to retain most of your privacy and keep your personal data on your PC, Windows 10 can be configured in that way. Just be warned that there are quite a few toggles that need to be turned off, and you’ll lose some functionality as well (Cortana won’t work, for example).

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Want Windows 10 to stop tracking you? Now there’s an app for that – Some have said Microsoft does not respect its users’ privacy by default; others believe some of the hype is overblown. Perhaps the biggest critique is that upon setup, the process could offer more granular options, and report less data back to the software giant. All of the tracking mechanisms can be switched off through the various options at setup, and after the fact through the settings. But now there’s a lightweight, open-source app that aims to claw back your privacy.

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Windows 10 Tip: Customizing the Start menu – With Windows 10, Microsoft is offering new ways to customize the Start menu and for those of you who are new to the OS, we have a guide to help you get started making Windows feel a bit more personal.

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Windows 10 ‘Service Release 1’ expected to roll out next month – SR1 will be a maintenance update, focusing on adding polish and stability to the OS, so don’t expect any new features. As more people continue to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will gather more telemetry from the OS in action, and will no doubt use that data to help inform development of future maintenance releases.

Use Cortana to control your Android phone from Windows 10 – Cortana is now almost everywhere, thanks to Windows 10 bringing Microsoft’s smart assistant desktops and tablets. While there have been indications that Cortana will indeed come to Android smartphones, that might still be a long time coming. What if you wanted Cortana to let you control your smartphone, or almost anything else, hands-free and only using your voice? Good thing, then, that Android already has all the needed tools to make that happen and, with a bit of trickery, rope in Cortana into it as well.

12 obscure new Windows 10 features that eliminate everyday hassles – The amount of new goodies in Windows 10 is almost mind-boggling. Even if you’ve read PCWorld’s insanely detailed Windows 10 review, our look at Windows 10’s best new features, and our mammoth guides to the operating system’s best tips and tricks and hidden features, you still haven’t seen everything Microsoft has to throw at you. Case in point: These 10 awesome new Windows 10 features that fly under the radar. Between these and virtual desktop support, Windows 10 renders a decent chunk of our list of free PC programs that ease headaches obsolete. Let’s dig in.

How to install Windows 10 on a Mac – If you haven’t already heard, Windows 10 is pretty great and worth installing on your PC. Apple fans won’t miss out either, since the new operating system can be installed on your Mac as well. Following these instructions will install Windows 10 on your Mac in a dual-boot configuration, meaning you’ll have the option to choose which operating system (Windows 10 or Mac OS) to use each time you turn on the computer.

Mac backup basics – A Mac backup plan doesn’t have to be complicated. The easier a plan is to set up and follow, the more likely you are to use it and have a current backup when disaster happens.

LibreOffice 5: The best office suite today won’t cost you a dime – I’ve used LibreOffice as my main office suite since it forked from OpenOffice five years ago. Now its latest edition, LibreOffice 5.0, is better than ever. And, in my book, that means it’s the best standalone office suite available in 2015.

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YouTube rolls out an updated video player – You may have already noticed this morning that YouTube has rolled out a revised version of its video player for desktop users. The new video player looks very nice and you can see it in the image here or when you play any of the embedded videos on SlashGear. YouTube didn’t bother to toss up a PR to tell us all of what it changed leaving us to glean the details for ourselves.

The $169 Cloudbook is Acer’s idea of a Windows 10 Chromebook – Announced a month ago, Acer has officially launched the Windows 10 equivalent of Google’s Chromebooks, coming in at jut $169 and running full Windows 10.

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Epson’s new printers will make ink cartridges a thing of the past – Printer drivers, paper jams, running out of ink, it’s all the worst (though the advent of wireless printing makes things marginally less horrible). Epson is trying to do its part to make things a little better with its new line of EcoTank printers — despite the ridiculous name, they have the smart idea of coming with huge tanks of ink that should last about two years before they need to be replaced. Epson claims that these printers have about the same capacity of 20 sets of ink cartridges; when the tanks run low, you can top them off with a bottle of ink. Basically, the EcoTank is the Droid Turbo of printers: can’t come up with better ink / battery technology? Just make things bigger. These printers don’t come cheap, either — the least expensive EcoTank printer starts at $379.

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BitTorrent Sync apps updated with productivity features – The Bittorrent Sync mobile apps have been updated with features needed for productivity, not just file sharing. Among the changes is the ability to directly edit files and then sync those changes on other devices where the item is stored. There’s also the option to create different file types that are saved straight into the Sync folder for sharing to other devices or users. The changes have arrived for mobile users on multiple platforms as of today.

Security:

Security experts create worm that infects Mac firmware and is nearly impossible to get rid of – Apple’s Macs and OS X have traditionally been viewed as a safer, more secure alternative to Windows, but researchers have proven that’s not the case. Security experts created a worm that attaches itself to a Mac’s firmware and remains there no matter what. Ahead of a presentation on this type of attack, researchers created a proof-of-concept worm that can stealthily burrow itself into a Mac’s firmware. It’s then impossible to remove without re-flashing the device’s firmware, which can be difficult and is only for those who really know what they’re doing.

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Yahoo’s ads spread malware via hackers, vulnerable Flash – Yahoo was recently hit by hackers who used its advertisements to deliver malware to an unspecified number of visitors on several of its own websites, it has been revealed. The malware campaign carried on for a full 7-day week before Yahoo, having been alerted by the researchers who discovered it, took it down. Yahoo says it is investigating the matter, and though it has not revealed how many people were affected, it said through a spokesperson that the initial reports “grossly misrepresented” the scale of the attack.

Tor users: Do not expect anonymity and end-to-end security – The Tor network is similar to a door lock: It works well, until a determined individual wants to get in. Get details on what Tor is and what it is not.

EFF developing stronger ‘Do Not Track’ standards for web browsers – While a “Do Not Track” setting has become standard in most browsers today, including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, it’s commonly known that internet advertisers still have ways of tracking users. Advertisers profit from tracking the browsing history of users, and whether users have turned the Do Not Track setting on or not, many will ignore it altogether in their quest for data. That’s why the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced it’s building a stronger standard for the setting, aimed to protecting user privacy.

Battery Attributes Can Be Used To Track Web Users – A team of European security researchers has published a paper analyzing how the battery life of mobile devices could be used to track web browsing habits of Firefox users on Linux, using the HTML5 Battery Status API.

Company News:

Netflix Surges 8% To All-Time High On News Of New Price Target And Japan Launch Date – On a day the NASDAQ was down about 0.2 percent, Netflix hit a new all-time high during intra-day trading, hitting $122.78 and eventually closing at $121.00 per share, up 7.5 percent on the day. The video streaming service has seen its shares rise 143 percent so far in 2015. A stock split, Icahn cashing out, and and encouraging earnings reports have spurred investor’s attention in the company, as has its recently announced entry into Asian markets.

Netflix Announces Its New ‘Unlimited’ Maternity And Paternity Leave Program – A few hours after hitting its all-time stock price high today, Netflix has announced a new program for all employees. This is a pretty landmark perk, with the company showing both current and potential employees how much it cares. The company suggests parents can come back to the office either part or full time, then go back out as necessary during the first year. All paid of course. Yahoo doubled its maternity and paternity leave in 2013 to make it more competitive with Facebook and Google, and it has shown to be an important perk for all three companies. The talent is growing up.

Apple falls to third in China smartphone rankings, while Xiaomi vaults ahead – Xiaomi regained its position as China’s leading smartphone vendor in the second quarter, while Apple fell to third place despite increased sales of its iPhones. Xiaomi took 15.9% of the Chinese market in the April-to-June quarter, according to research firm Canalys, followed by Huawei, which had 15.7% and was the fastest growing vendor. It’s an impressive feat for both Xiaomi and Huawei. China is the world’s biggest smartphone market and competition is more fierce than ever, with Apple, Samsung and dozens of smaller local vendors all fighting for a bigger piece of the pie.

Accenture acquires US cybersecurity firm FusionX – Global consulting giant Accenture announced on Tuesday it has acquired FusionX, a Washington, DC-based cybersecurity firm. FusionX specializes in cyber attack simulation, threat modeling, cyber investigations and security risk advisory — services that Dublin-based Accenture plans to fold into its own suite of global security offerings.

Amazon responds to furor over limits on Prime sharing – Amazon has responded to an erupting controversy surrounding its popular Prime membership program, saying that a change it quietly made in regard to sharing accounts was meant to benefit customers, not restrict them.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games launches in November with 100 titles – Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra said that over 83 years’ worth of Xbox 360 games have been played on the Xbox One so far – and there will soon be plenty more titles to look forward to. He announced that all future Xbox 360 Games with Gold titles will have backward compatibility support on the newer console. Most importantly of all, he announced that Microsoft will make Xbox 360 backward compatibility available on the Xbox One this November for everyone – not just those on the preview program – with over 100 titles at launch.

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Xbox One will get a TV DVR feature next year – Microsoft announced the new feature on stage at Gamescom today, but the company is limiting it to only free-to-air TV. While the Xbox One can control and view content from cable boxes using a HDMI-in port, Microsoft has released digital TV tuners in Europe and the US to support free-to-air television. Mike Ybarra, head of platform engineering at Xbox, only mentioned recording free-to-air TV on stage, and Microsoft’s blog post reveals this is for free-to-air only. Microsoft is planning to enable the Xbox One TV DVR feature in 2016.

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Microsoft announces Halo World Championship with $1 million prize pool – We’ve seen plenty of Halo 5: Guardians in the lead-up to its October 27th release date. For Gamescom 2015, Microsoft focused on Halo’s history as an e-sport — and then took it a step further by announcing a World Championship with $1 million in prizes. That’s a significant boost from last month’s $150,000 pool but still a far cry from the $18 million Dota 2 International Championships. The focus will be on Halo 5’s more frenetic Arena multiplayer (instead of Warzone).

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stratolaunch aircraft will have a 385-foot wingspan – Paul Allen, Elon Musk and several other partners are teaming up to build an aircraft that will be the largest aircraft in the entire world when finished. The aircraft is dubbed Stratolaunch and if all goes well the partners plan to begin testing the aircraft in 2016. Stratolaunch is already under construction at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. The partners plan to use the giant aircraft to perform in air launches of satellite-laden rockets. By launching the rockets in the air rather than from the ground, inclement weather wouldn’t delay a launch and the rockets would save fuel since they would already be at altitude and speed before the launch started.

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Google And MIT Researchers Demo An Algorithm That Lets You Take Clear Photos Through Reflections – In a paper they will present at Siggraph 2015 later this month, Tianfan Xue, Michael Rubinstein, Ce Liu and William T. Freeman show how you can take a short video sequence with your phone and then let their algorithms do their magic. Reflections, rain drops and fences mostly disappear from the final image. The algorithms looks at the different images from the video and then figure out what’s an obstruction in the foreground and what’s part of the background. Others have tried this before, but none of their results are as good as what these researcher came up with.

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14 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks – Our brains filter through a constant tsunami of stimuli and piece the important parts together to recreate what we know as “reality.” And they do all this in damn-near real-time—which is really impressive if you think about it. But here’s the thing: a big chunk of what we consider “reality” actually consists of our brains making guestimates. We know this because researchers have devised ways to consistently fool our brains into seeing things they’re not really seeing—even when our brains know that’s not what they’re seeing. These little reality busters are known as “optical illusions.”

Why it’s time to prepare for a world where machines can do your job – For decades movies have warned of intelligent machines taking our lives while ignoring a more plausible near-future threat: that they will take our jobs. A growing number of economists and artificial intelligence researchers are recommending that societies prepare for a world where large numbers of jobs are automated. If they’re right, the disruption to labour markets would be significant: the jobs identified as vulnerable are held by swathes of the population including supermarket cashiers and shop assistants, waiters, truck drivers and office admins. All of these tasks have a high probability of being carried out by software within “a decade or two”, according to a study by the Oxford Martin School & Faculty of Philosophy in the UK.

Watch: man surfs with dirt bike, rides across ocean – If you thought GoPro’s video of a man flying like a superhero down a mountain and through a split rock was impressive, DC’s new video will blow your mind. Titled ‘Pipe Dream’, the video shows the successful conclusion of one man’s two-year pursuit: to surf with his dirt bike. He took to the waves in full motocross getup, helmet and all. He also blasted his way over the ocean on the motor bike, dumbfounding a few people in the process. Full video after the jump!

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Dear sexists, this is what engineers actually look like – Technically Incorrect: In response to criticism of an ad featuring a female engineer, the Twitter hashtag #Ilooklikeanegineer attracts pictures of the sort of people that some wouldn’t expect.

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Sugar changes the chemical structure of tea and coffee – Some people just can’t handle their coffee or tea black. It’s too bitter, they say. So, they put a little sugar in to get rid of some of the bitter bite. However, researchers have found that the additive isn’t masking the flavor of these favorite morning beverages — it’s changing the chemistry of the caffeine within these drinks in a fundamental way.

Something to think about:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

–       Isaac Asimov

Today’s Free Downloads:

Viber for desktop – Viber for Desktop lets you send free messages as well as make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country!

Free calls, text and picture sharing with anyone, anywhere!

    Free text, calling, photo messages and location-sharing with Viber users*

No registration, alias or invitations required

Instantly integrates with your own contact list

Best-quality mobile calls using 3G or Wi-Fi

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Global spy system ECHELON confirmed at last – by leaked Snowden files – Special Report: Duncan Campbell has spent decades unmasking Britain’s super-secretive GCHQ, its spying programmes, and its cosy relationship with America’s NSA. Today, he retells his life’s work exposing the government’s over-reaching surveillance, and reveals documents from the leaked Snowden files confirming the history of the fearsome ECHELON intercept project. This story is also published simultaneously today by The Intercept, as is – at long last – Duncan’s Register Christmas Lecture from last year.

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India nixes online porn ban following intense public outrage on social media – That didn’t take long. The world’s oldest Internet hobby is resuming in India, days after the country virtually banned Internet porn. Indians took to Twitter and other social-media sites blasting this weekend’s anti-porn move, and the government has listened.

IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Tuesday that websites that don’t display child pornography may resume streaming, according to local media reports. On Saturday, the Indian government initially ordered Internet providers to filter about 857 websites said to render pornographic material in a bid to protect morality. The government said the sites’ content was “immoral and indecent,” sites including things like Pornhub and Playboy.

“A new notification will be issued shortly. The ban will be partially withdrawn. Sites that do not promote child porn will be unbanned,” Prasad told India Today TV.

Senate heads toward vote on CISA cyberthreat info sharing bill – The U.S. Senate could take a preliminary vote as soon as Wednesday on a controversial bill intended to encourage businesses to share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies, despite concerns that the legislation would allow the widespread sharing of personal customer data.

Senate leaders are attempting to iron out compromise language to address privacy concerns in the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), but if no compromise is reached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will schedule a so-called cloture vote on Wednesday morning, said a spokesman for McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

A cloture vote would limit debate on the bill and move the Senate toward final passage, potentially before the Senate leaves for a four-week summer recess this weekend.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – May 27, 2015

Twitter’s Periscope is now available for Android;  Opera Max now monitors Wi-Fi usage, blocks data-hungry apps;  4 tips for buying a used iPhone;  Smart credit cards are coming – Here’s what you need to know;  Turn your smartphone into a remote control for YouTube on your PC;  Secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension;  Cortana is coming to Android and iOS;  Fedora 22: Cloud, desktop and server innovation;  Why SSDs don’t perform;  9 Pocket Tips to Help You Read it Later;  Android ransomware poses as FBI smut warning;  IRS hacked; data stolen from over 100,000 taxpayers;  UPDATED: The 30 Best iPhone Games;  Mad Max Savage Road game trailer;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies;  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates battle in new National Geographic series;  The best time to drink coffee for maximum jolt? Video has answers;  Glary Disk Cleaner (free);  Steve Wozniak: Edward Snowden is ‘a Hero to Me’.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Smart credit cards are coming. Here’s what you need to know – Smart cards want to replace your wallet full of debit and credit cards with one dynamic smart card. Here’s what you need to know.

4 tips for buying a used iPhone – There are three main ways to buy a used iPhone, assuming you don’t have a friend or family member who wants to sell you one on the cheap. You can purchase a certified preowned iPhone from a reputable seller, such as Gazelle; you can bid on a preowned iPhone on an auction site such as eBay; or you can pay cash for a used iPhone from a local seller on a site like Craigslist. No matter which method you choose, follow these four tips to make sure your used iPhone is as awesome and problem-free as a new iPhone.

How to turn your smartphone into a remote control for YouTube on your PC – Whether you’re watching on a PC at the office or at home, you can make it even better by turning your smartphone into a remote control. No, you don’t need a Chromecast or a TV. Just your PC and a smartphone will do. Here’s how it works using an Android smartphone, but it works pretty much the same way on iPhones, too.

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Click the Pair Device tile to get started at YouTube.com/tv.

How to easily secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension – Only need VPN-like protection for your browser and not your whole desktop? Check out TunnelBear for Chrome and Chrome OS.

Twitter’s Periscope is now available for Android – Twitter has officially released the live streaming app Periscope for Android users. The app allows users to broadcast video to users and receive feedback in the form of chat messages.

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Cortana is coming to Android and iOS – Microsoft just announced that a Cortana application is landing on Android and iOS devices to work as a companion to the digital assistant found on Windows 10. Details incoming

Facebook adds restaurant reviews from actual food critics – Following a partnership with news outlets for Instant Articles, Facebook is now integrating restaurant reviews from reputable food publications.

9 Pocket Tips to Help You Read it Later – At launch, Pocket was actually known as Read It Later, before the App Store even existed. But after a 2012 name change, it has evolved into a seriously handy app. It archives whatever you’ve saved so that you can read it offline, which is particularly helpful when you’re on a subway or train with limited service. While Pocket is a simple cross-platform app, there are a few things that can make it that much more enjoyable.

Opera Max now monitors Wi-Fi usage, block data-hungry apps – Opera is a name you might more readily associate with mobile browsers, but in late 2013 it tried to diverge a bit from that core business. Focusing on one of its key strengths, which is compressing Internet data before it arrives on your device, it launched the Opera Max service that brings that feature to cover not just web pages, but more kinds of data. In the latest iteration of its Android app, it brings two new features to the fold: watching Wi-Fi data usage and shutting down obstinate apps.

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Three helpful Word formatting tips for working smarter – These three formatting skills will improve your productivity and make you more efficient when working with Word documents.

Lenovo looks to low-cost laptops with three new models – Just ahead of its Tech World event in Beijing, Lenovo reveals three new low-cost consumer laptops, including the entry-level 14-inch ideapad 100 starting at just $249.

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Fedora 22: Cloud, desktop and server innovation – Summary:Red Hat’s new Fedora Linux comes with a better desktop, but the real improvements are in the cloud and server updates.

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Google’s Internet-connected toys patent sparks privacy concerns, visions of IoT Chucky – Google’s recently published patent for Internet-connected toys, which have microphones, cameras, speakers and motors, have sparked privacy concerns; the ‘creepy’ anthropomorphic devices might look like a doll or teddy bear, but some people believe it belongs ‘in a horror film’ and have visions of an IoT-version of Chucky.

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Credit: Mike Mozart

Why SSDs don’t perform – From their earliest days, people have reported that SSDs were not providing the performance they expected. As SSDs age, for instance, they get slower. Here’s why.

Security:

Android ransomware poses as FBI smut warning – Cybercrooks have launched a new wave of Android ransomware that poses as a pretty convincing FBI-imposed porn-surfing warning. Over 15,000 spam emails, including zipped files, have hit the inboxes of Android users in recent days, according to Romanian security software firm Bitdefender. If activated, the ransomware demands $500 to restore access. Users that try to independently unlock their devices will see the amount increase to $1,500, with payment demanded via Money Pak and PayPal My Cash transfers. The malware poses as an Adobe Flash Player update, a common malware slinging ruse.

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Android ransomware demands $500 to restore access.

IRS hacked; data stolen from over 100,000 taxpayers – Hackers successfully accessed—stole—personal information, including tax return data, from over 100,000 U.S. taxpayers. In a series of attacks that took place from February to mid-May, the hackers utilized the IRS’s “Get Transcript” system to access all of the personal information that would be on a tax return, from birthdays and social security numbers to addresses. The motivation behind the attack is, apparently, an extensive plot to claim fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities. According to the IRS, over $5.8 billion USD in fraudulent refunds were sent out in the year 2013, alone.

Blackhat hack trick wallops popular routers – A cybercrime vigilante known as Kafeine says criminals are hitting thousands of victims with a hacking tool that targets more than 40 router models. The well-known hacker says the novel attacks use cross-site request forgery and exploits against new and old bugs to change router DNS settings. This bypasses the need to target only routers with vulnerable remote services. Kafeine says the most popular routers can be targeted including Netgear, D-Link, and Asus to name a few. The hacker says the attackers’ have set up a dodgy DNS service that doesn’t direct traffic faithfully. Instead, Kafeine says victims are pointed to phishing sites whenever, for example, they attempt to log into internet banking portals. One such dodgy DNS server received up to a million unique hits on 9 May, he says.

Attackers use email spam to infect point-of-sale terminals with new malware – They’re likely counting on some employees misusing such terminals to browse the Web or check their personal email at work.

$19 million Target, MasterCard breach settlement crumbles – A proposed $19 million settlement reached last month between Target Corp. and MasterCard over a 2013 security breach fell apart after not enough banks who had sued the retailer agreed to be part of the deal they said fell short of actual damages, according to MasterCard. The settlement, announced last month, needed agreement by May 20 from 90% of MasterCard issuing banks and credit unions. Those numbers were not met, MasterCard reported. The $19 million was for reimbursement for fraudulent charges and the cost that card issuers suffered in re-issuing cards that had been compromised.

Company News:

Charter buys Time Warner Cable to create America’s second biggest cable provider – Charter Communications is buying Time Warner Cable (TWC) in a deal that values the latter, larger company at $78.7 billion. The two firms will merge together under the newly created parent company New Charter, which will become the second biggest cable provider in the US after Comcast. A separate acquisition by Charter of the smaller cable company Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion means that the new company will soon have 23.9 million customers in 41 states.

Microsoft moves deeper into Android territory, 20 new partners to ship tablets with Office apps – Microsoft has announced today that they have signed up 20 more hardware partners to ship their Android tablets with Office apps pre-installed; this includes LG, Sony, Haier, Positivo and Wortman.

Hyundai becomes first to use Android Auto in production cars – Hyundai today announced it will begin using Android Auto in vehicles this year, making it the first carmaker to enable vehicles to mirror a connected Android smartphone to the car’s dashboard infotainment system. Android Auto is premiering on the 2015 Sonata with navigation capabilities at dealerships nationwide, and will later become available on other Hyundai models, the company said.

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Android Auto enables Google maps navigation.

Oculus acquires 3D mapping company Surreal Vision to turn reality into a video game – Virtual reality company Oculus has acquired Surreal Vision, a UK company whose software can map and recreate the real world in a virtual one. Surreal Vision grew out of its three co-founders’ Ph.D. research at Imperial College London; the team will now move to Oculus’ lab in Redmond, Washington. This is the latest of several acquisitions by Oculus, which was itself purchased by Facebook in March of 2014. After the Facebook buyout, it brought on the design team that helped create the Xbox 360 controller and Kinect, followed by motion-tracking company Nimble VR.

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Apple’s Jony Ive promoted to chief design officer – Jony Ive, the design guru responsible for the minimalist characteristics of several Apple products over the years, has been promoted by the iPhone maker. Ive, who has served as the company’s senior vice president of design for several years, has been named to the newly created position of chief design officer, according to a memo sent to company employees by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Online Publisher Vox Acquires Tech News Site Recode – Online news publisher Vox Media said on Tuesday that it’s acquiring Recode, an influential tech news site, adding to a growing wave of consolidation in the tech media world.

Games and Entertainment:

UPDATED: The 30 Best iPhone Games – From casual match-three games to trivia to intense first-person shooters, our 30 best games for Apple’s iPhone span a range of genres.

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Infinity Blade II

Mad Max Savage Road game trailer: it’s no Fury Road – Cars and monster trucks that tumble and go boom. People beating the hell out of other people. Malformed, and mostly bald, inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic world. A mysterious leading lady slash love interest. And more cars that go boom. That is the gist of the new trailer for the game tie-in to the blockbuster hit Mad Max Fury Road. And the title, Mad Max Savage Road, might be totally appropriate, as this adaptation involves much more gore and violence than the film was willing to show.

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The latest Humble Bundle is for Nintendo fans – The base, pay-what-you-want bundle includes Guacamelee for the Wii U and Woah Dave and Mighty Switch Force on 3DS. Pay more than the average amount, and you can grab games like Steamworld Dig and OlliOlli as well. As with most Humble Bundles, more games will be added partway through the sale, which runs for the next two weeks. And while nothing has been announced just yet, the bundle could also mean more sales for more consoles in the future. “I hope this is the start of something,” Humble Bundle co-founder John Graham tells Polygon. You can grab the games right here.

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Riot rolls out automated, instant bans for League of Legends trolls – League of Legends developer Riot Games is taking new steps to handle problem players more quickly and automatically, introducing a system to identify and ban players engaging in “verbal harassment” as quickly as 15 minutes after the end of a match. Riot explains how the new system works in a post on its Player Behavior blog. After teammates or opponents report a League player for “homophobia, racism, sexism, death threats, and other forms of excessive abuse,” Riot’s automated system will validate those reports, determine whether they’re worthy of punishment, and send a “reform card” that pairs chat log evidence of the behavior with an explanation of the punishment.

The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – There are two new flicks that made it onto the most-pirated movies list this week: Home, starring Rihanna, and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, starring Antonio Banderas. If you want to learn more about these movies, as well as the eight other films that were popular among pirates, check out the slideshow linked both above and below for more information.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates battle in new National Geographic series – The TV channel is launching a show called “American Genius” that’s about bitter rivalries, including the Wright Brothers vs. Curtiss, Colt vs. Wesson and Oppenheimer vs. Heisenberg.

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In May 2007, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates got together for a rare–and amicable–joint appearance at the D5 technology conference.

Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection – The number of people using the Internet is growing at a steady rate, but 4.2 billion out of 7.4 billion will still be offline by the end of the year. Overall, 35.3 percent of people in developing countries will use the Internet, compared to 82.2 percent in developed countries, according to data from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). People who live in the so-called least developed countries will the worst off by far: In those nations only 9.5 percent will be connected by the end of December.

Largest photo ever is a 46TB image of the Alps – The world’s largest photo keeps getting bigger, and at this point it’s far too big to store on your laptop’s hard drive. The latest image to earn the title is a massive shot of the Alps that took more than two weeks to fully photograph and that takes up an astounding 46TB of space. With an image this big, you can zoom in, and in, and in, up to an incredible level of detail. Zoom all the way out, though, and you’re graced with an unprecedented photograph of the mountains. This latest record-setting image was very much a dedicated effort, requiring a total of 70,000 photographs to assemble.

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You Can Now Buy a Lock of Mozart’s Hair If You Are Rich and Insane – If you love Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and have $20,000 to blow, you can head to Sotheby’s auction house in London this week and bid on a genuine lock of the composer’s hair. The Guardian reports that the ancient gray strands have been passed down through generations of musicians and come inside a gold locket with a note claiming they sprouted from the scalp of one of music’s greatest composers, who died in 1791. If you’re a less-rich-but-equally-insane classical music fan, you can bid on a smaller lock of genuine Beethoven hair that is expected to sell for around $5,000. Also up for auction this week is an invitation to Beethoven’s funeral.

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The best time to drink coffee for maximum jolt? Video has answers – Let the folks at AsapScience open your eyes to a new strategy for consuming your coffee at precisely the right time to boost the buzz.

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Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence – Ken Ham, an Australian young-Earth creationist, says he is on the verge of proving that dinosaurs and humans coexisted only a couple of thousand years ago. According to a report on news.com.au, Ham – along with a Dr David Menton – declared that he will soon publish “world-changing” evidence disproving that dinosaurs were present on the earth over 65 million years ago. “It is understood Mr Ham will claim that a bunch of donated Edmontosaurus bones are only a few thousand years old, based on the fact that they still contain remnants of bone marrow,” the Australian news site said.

Dealing with an infection lowers your IQ for up to 15 years – A new study conducted in Denmark makes the bold claim that infections can lead to a decrease in your cognitive ability severe enough to show up on diagnostic exams like an IQ test. The study consisted of more than 180,000 participants thanks to Denmark’s universal health care system. A little more than a third of the people in the study were diagnosed with a general infection at a Danish hospital between 1977 and 2012. Those who presented with infections showed a slight decline in cognitive ability compared to the average, with the IQ measurements made in 2006-2012. The effect was small — a single infection dropped the IQ of participants by 1.76 points, but those with five infections saw an average reduction in IQ of 9.44 points.

Something to think about:

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

–      Vince Lombardi

Today’s Free Downloads:

Glary Disk Cleaner – Protect your privacy, optimize system performance, and release considerable disk space.

Features:

Intuitive and easy to use interface

Support Ignore List, exclude files which don’t want to be deleted

Professional rapid scanning kernel

Support custom cleaning up temporary files

Clean up history at a glance

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SSuite Office – Gif Animator – An easy to use gif animator and slide show creator. Just load your images into the list, and press create.

All animated files created with Gif Animator are completely compatible with all current web browsers for viewing.

Supports jpg, jpeg, and bmp images.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Steve Wozniak: Edward Snowden is ‘a Hero to Me’ – Steve Wozniak reaffirmed his staunch support for digital privacy in an interview over the weekend in which the Apple co-founder called National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden “a hero.”

Wozniak, who helped build Apple [fortune-stock symbol=”AAPL”] with Steve Jobs before leaving the tech giant in the mid-1980’s, has expressed an affinity for Snowden in the past. Over the weekend, Wozniak reiterated his admiration for Snowden in an interview with ArabianBusiness.com in which the inventor said Snowden “gave up his own life . . . to help the rest of us.”

Wozniak went on to tell the publication more on his feelings about Snowden:

“‘Total hero to me; total hero,’ he gushes. ‘Not necessarily [for] what he exposed, but the fact that he internally came from his own heart, his own belief in the United States Constitution, what democracy and freedom was about. And now a federal judge has said that NSA data collection was unconstitutional.’”

Skype hauled into court after refusing to hand call records to cops – Skype has been called to appear before a court in Belgium after refusing to hand over customer data following a request for assistance in a criminal investigation.

A court in Mechelen near Brussels wanted “data from messages and calls exchanged on Microsoft-owned Skype”, a regulatory requirement that a Belgian telecoms operator would be required to comply with.

The Microsoft-owned firm declined, Reuters reports.

The case turns on the legal question of whether or not a VoIP service such as Skype should be treated as a telecoms operator in Belgium and therefore be subject to the same laws. It’s unclear how serious the alleged crimes under investigation are, much less the identity of the suspect or suspects.

In response to a request for comment, Microsoft outlined its reasons for contesting the case without going into detail on the specifics or the legal arguments it intends to field.

UK porn laws might mean ID checks with the post office – The UK’s plans to introduce mandatory age checks for viewing pornography online could involve verifying users’ identities via third parties such as banks, mobile operators, credit agencies, or even the post office. The country’s Conservative party pledged to introduce such age checks earlier this year, and following their recent re-election, discussions have reportedly begun between the technology industry and the government over ways to implement the checks.

The Digital Policy Alliance (DPA), a nonpartisan body that offers advice on technology policy in the UK, has suggested using “information already on file” to carry out the checks. “Nobody in the UK wants a centralized identity database,” Dr Rachel O’Connell, an expert on online child safety advising the DPA, told The Guardian. “The way around that is that Royal Mail knows who you are, your mobile operator knows who you are.”

O’Connell suggests that users visiting porn sites could choose which organization would verify their ID, with their request and the organization’s reply transmitted through an “anonymizing hub” to protect their identity. A regulator could then block sites that don’t offer age checks, with the Authority for Television on Demand — the body that regulates online video streaming — expected to be given this role.

EU to David Cameron: Leave porn alone! – The UK and its leading Conservative government have been looking for a long time now at ways toblock online pornography, in the name of children’s safety. But it looks like the EU is not at all happy with the country’s approach, which it deems to be against the people’s interests.

A leaked EU document showed that David Cameron’s approach to online pornography – have it banned by default and make people opt in – has not been viewed in positive terms in Brussels. The issue of net neutrality comes up, with the EU reportedly considering making the PM’s plan illegal. Instead, the European officials would opt for a system that allows pornography by default with users, then being able to opt into a deal where the ISP blocks such content. The user would also be able to back out of the agreement with the ISP at any time.

John Carr, a government adviser on online safety and security for children and an executive member on the board of the UK council on Child Internet Safety, was quick to mention that such a proposal from the EU would destroy “a major plank of the UK’s approach to online child protection”.

5 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 21, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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Image courtesy Lima Pix via Flick

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–        Desmond Morris

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 24, 2015

Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You;  This Is the Best Mac Security Software You Can Buy;  This Is the Best PC Security Software You Can Buy;  19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  10 good Android apps for productivity;  Free OCR: Turn a picture of text into real text without spending a dime;  18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try;  Hands On With YouTube Kids;  Google-owned Blogger bans sexually explicit content;  Timeline: Google’s role in global sex censorship;  Worse than Superfish? Comodo-affiliated PrivDog;  Security experts call for halt to PC crapware;  9 really weird movies you can watch for free;  Cable TV is speeding up its shows slightly to show you more ads;  Watch 10 years of YouTube’s best viral videos;  Marijuana is roughly 114 times less deadly than alcohol;  Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You – It’s 2015—when we feel sick, fear disease, or have questions about our health, we turn first to the internet. According to the Pew Internet Project, 72 percent of US internet users look up health-related information online. But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns—confidentially, we assume—are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores. It’s happening for profit, for an “improved user experience,” and because developers have flocked to “free” plugins and tools provided by data-vacuuming companies.

TIME: This Is the Best PC Security Software You Can Buy – We analyzed the best free and paid security software for Windows-based computers that closely matched the “ideal” solution, calculating test results from independent security experts, consumer sites, and technology specialists. Paid software had to not only meet top security ratings, but it had to cost less than $100 per year, be marketed for personal computers, and offer coverage for multiple PCs. And for freeware, we wanted something that had equally strong ratings, was easy to use, and offered a little something extra over the other freebies out there. Here are our picks.

TIME: This Is the Best Mac Security Software You Can Buy – We placed an emphasis on performance and security over a trunk full of features. To find the best freeware, it had to meet top-notch security ratings while still offering a few perks. For paid software, we decided it had to not only achieve high security ratings, but it had to cost less than $100, offer a one-year subscription with multi-device protection, and be designed for home use. With that, we narrowed it down to our two security software picks — one free, one paid — for 2015.

19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 19 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

10 good Android apps for productivity – Android tablets come in all sizes, making it a sure bet you can find one that helps you be productive. To get the most work done using a tablet requires apps that can handle work tasks. Finding such apps can be a chore given the number of apps in the Google Play store. We’ve done the work for you and present 10 good apps for Android tablets. They range from well-known office suite apps to some more obscure apps that will increase your productivity. Most of the apps have a free version that makes it easy to try, and some add a premium version that adds additional functionality for a nominal fee.

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Free OCR: Turn a picture of text into real text without spending a dime – You may already have an OCR program. OneNote, the outliner and research organizer that comes with many versions of Microsoft Office, has had OCR capabilities since version 2007. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, OneNote is also available as a free download, although you will be required to use or create a Microsoft account. Using it for OCR is very simple. Just copy and paste the image into a OneNote page. Then right-click the image and select Copy Text. OneNote will OCR-copy any text it finds in the image text to the clipboard.

Nutshell Camera turns your photos into mini-movies – Or maybe it turns mini-movies into artistic expressions. Whatever the case, it’s pretty cool. It’s fun, it’s free and it’s definitely different from other apps that let you share snippets of your life.

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18 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try – The very fact that this technology exists (and is available for free) should be the lead story on the news every night: “Breaking News: all humans are still omniscient beings with God-like powers of teleportation!” But that’s not how we see things. We just take these superpowers for granted. Which is kind of sad, really. 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.

Hands On With “YouTube Kids,” Google’s Newly Launched, Child-Friendly YouTube App – Today, much to the delight of families everywhere, that app has now arrived, complete with a simplified design, a curated selection of kid-safe content, parental controls, and more. Google says the app will be made available to families on both Android and iOS devices, contrary to earlier reports that YouTube Kids would be Android-first. There’s been a need for an app like this for some time – in fact, parents’ desires for a safer video service for their children even led a number of startups to jump in and fill the void, as YouTube itself was dropping the ball.

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Here are 40 of the best apps available for the Kindle Fire, and Kindle Fire HD and HDX – Some of the apps that made this list focus on collaboration and task-management, while others are designed for consuming videos, books, music, and other media. Some apps are great for the whole family, and others, such as those for taking private notes or accessing personal documents, you might want to keep as your own little secret. Missing from this list are apps that come pre-installed on the Kindle Fire, which include Pulse, Audible, IMDb, Quickoffice, Facebook, and a few others. Many of these apps are indispensable, but, seeing as you already have them, there’s no need to mention them.

Apple’s Latest Betas Bring More Diversity To Emoji – Apple is adding more diverse emoji options to both iOS and OS X, new developer preview builds reveal. These includes various skin color options for emojis featuring people, faces, hands and other exposed skin, as well as new country flags that add to the rather limited original set. The new skin tone options are available as alternates when a user clicks (or taps) and holds on any of the face, hand or people emoji, offering a further six skin color selections for any given enjoy in the People section where it’s applicable (meaning not the space invader, ghost, poo, skull or mask emojis, for instance).

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Google-owned Blogger bans sexually explicit content – Google-owned blogging platform Blogger will no longer allow its users to post sexually explicit content, the company confirmed today. In a statement sent via email to selected Blogger users, Google said it would no longer allow blogs to feature “graphic nude images or video” from March 23rd. Any blogs that continued to show explicit images would be made private after that date — while graphic images and videos would remain, Google says they would only be visible to the blog owner, admins, and other people who the owner shared it with.

Timeline: Google’s role in global sex censorship – While you were busy freaking out about government surveillance, censorship blossomed at the one corporation that has the most power to fight — or enable — suppression of speech: Google.

9 been-around-the-block Office tips – Just because a tip has been used for a long time doesn’t mean it isn’t new to you. Learn a few of Susan Harkins’ old but reliable tips for working more efficiently in Office.

How to Create an App for iOS, Android, or Windows Phone – Like the early days of the Web, several tools have risen that will allow anyone to create a product with little-to-no programming language. (But if you have the coding skills, it will give you the ability to make a truly unique thing). These third-party services will even handle the process of submitting your app to the various stores (e.g. Google Play, the iOS App Store, or the Windows Phone app store). We’ll get into some of those services below, but let’s start with a very basic overview of each environment and how to break in all by yourself.

Security:

Worse than Superfish? Comodo-affiliated PrivDog compromises web security too – PrivDog is marketed as a solution to protect users against malicious advertising without completely blocking ads. The program is designed to replace potentially bad ads with safer ones that are reviewed by a compliance team from a company called Adtrustmedia. As Abdulhayoglu puts it in a January 2014 post on his personal blog in which he describes the technology: “Consumers win, Publishers win, Advertisers win.” However, according to people who recently looked at PrivDog’s HTTPS interception functionality, consumers might actually lose when it comes to their system’s security if they use the product.

Gemalto says NSA SIM card hack might not be so bad after all – Late last week, Edward Snowden revealed another bombshell. In his ongoing quest to reveal the scope of NSA spying, he announced the NSA and GCHQ (NSA’s UK counterpart) hacked a major SIM card provider, Gemalto, in an attempt to get the ‘keys’ to your phone. In hacking your phone via the SIM, the NSA and GCHQ would be able to bypass the carriers, and keep a watchful eye on you with no one being the wiser. In response to the report, Gemalto is now saying it might not be a problem at all.

Chrome warns users of devious software that could impact Google’s business – Google has added an early warning alert to Chrome that pops up when users try to access a website that the search giant suspects will try to dupe users into downloading underhanded software. The new alert pops up in Chrome when a user aims the browser at a suspect site but before the domain is displayed. “The site ahead contains harmful programs,” the warning states. Google emphasized tricksters that “harm your browsing experience,” and cited those that silently change the home page or drop unwanted ads onto pages in the warning’s text.

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Your phone’s power usage can reveal where you’ve been – When you think of smartphone location tracking, both legitimate or otherwise, and you will most likely think of technologies that directly relate to locations, like GPS, WiFi, or even Bluetooth. But a group of researchers from Standford University and Israeli defense group Rafael are proving even something so innocent sounding like your phone’s battery consumption can be used to track your movements. The good news is that it’s not exactly as easy or as informational as those more dedicated sensors. At least not yet.

Security experts call for halt to PC ‘crapware’ after Lenovo debacle – Security professionals want Lenovo — and other PC makers — to stop the practice of loading third-party software on new PCs after one such app was found to be vulnerable to abuse by cyber criminals.

Company News:

First lawsuit filed against Lenovo for Superfish adware – Things are getting serious for Lenovo, as the first lawsuit from their Superfish spyware scandal has been filed in a California court by Jessica Bennett. This is the first lawsuit in what may be a series of legal troubles for Lenovo. This different from run-of-the-mill adware that one might find from a scheduled virus check. Lenovo has been caught putting pre-installed adware from a company called Superfish on their products. This was exceptionally dangerous to Lenovo consumers because it not only leaked their data but left them vulnerable to outside attacks.

Facebook’s Data Protection Practices Under Fresh Fire In Europe – Facebook is facing fresh criticism in Europe over data protection and the myriad smoke-and-mirrors methods it uses to obfuscate its gathering and processing of user data. A report commissioned by Belgium’s data protection authority has found Facebook’s revised privacy policy, last updated in January, violates European consumer protection law in a number of ways.

Google’s privacy policy: Italians probing a little deeper – Google is to be subject to regular on-site spot checks by the Italian data protection regulator under moves to ensure the Chocolate Factory complies with the country’s privacy laws. “For the first time in Europe, it will be the subject of regular checks to monitor progress status of the actions to bring its platform into line with domestic legislation,” said the county’s data protection authority. Quarterly updates on the firm’s progress will be conducted, with the regulator to carry out on-the-spot checks at Google’s US headquarters to verify whether the measures being implemented are in compliance with Italian law. Google will have to be fully compliant with the measures by 15 January 2016.

Twitter Throws Its Weight Behind The FCC’s Net Neutrality Push – Twitter backs the FCC’s push to pass new net neutrality regulations it underlined today, publishing a blog post calling for the passage of open Internet rules that will prevent throttling, paid prioritization. The company also advocated for the regulation of wireless connections under net neutrality rules. The FCC will vote on its open Internet proposal later this week.

Target.com Undercuts Amazon And Walmart With New Free Shipping Minimums – Target today announced a change to its e-commerce site designed to undercut competitors like Amazon and Walmart: It dropped the minimum requirements for free shipping from $50 previously down to just $25. This means that the free shipping minimum requirement from Target is now actually $10 less than it is on Amazon, and half of Walmart’s minimum. While Amazon Prime subscribers are able to choose from over 20 million items available for free two-day shipping, non-subscribers or those buying outside of the Prime catalog have to build orders that are $35 or more in order to qualify for Amazon’s free shipping option.

Google snaps up IP from Softcard, strikes deal with carriers for Wallet – Google Wallet is no Apple Pay, largely because Google can’t play the strong-arm game Apple does about what software is on their iPhone. Not long ago, Google Wallet was sidelined by carriers, as they intended to create their own mobile payment system. Known as Softcard, the app did much of what Google Wallet did, except it had the blessing of carriers. According to a new report, the line between Softcard and Google Wallet (as well as carriers) is blurring.

Games and Entertainment:

The Windows Store’s scam apps will be a problem as Xbox and Windows 10 intertwine – In fairness, Microsoft isn’t alone in battling scams and clones, and we’ve seen similarissues on platforms such as iOS. And to Microsoft’s credit, the company is trying to crack down on bad actors after the issue gained wider attention last year. But as I’ve written before, the Windows Store faces a unique challenge in taking the quantity-over-quality app store model and applying it to the PC. While that model works fairly well for phones and tablets, it doesn’t translate well to laptops and desktops, where people are expecting substantial, high-quality software.

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The new Xbox app in Windows 10.

Nvidia hit with class-action lawsuit over graphics card RAM issues – What started as an arcane debate among hardcore hardware spec analyzers has now become a legal headache for Nvidia. The graphics card maker is facing a class-action lawsuit in the Northern District of California over allegations that it falsely advertised the total hardware power in the GTX 970 graphics card released late last year. In marketing materials and reviewer guides provided when the GTX 970 launched in September, Nvidia advertised a card that had 4GB of high-speed GDDR5 RAM. Earlier this year, though, many users online reported performance issues when trying to utilize the entirety of that RAM, including stuttering and crashing on games and video editing applications.

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Nvidia backtracks on mobile GPU overclocking, new driver set to enable it again – Nvidia has responded to the criticism it received in its customer forums for disabling the overclocking features of their 900M series of GPUs stating it will roll back changes in a new driver update.

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9 really weird movies you can watch for free – You could look for the best films for free online, but that’s boring and predictable. How about some of the strangest? These nine movies are bizarre, unique, and deserve your viewing at least once because of how weird they are. No, they’re not the absolute weirdest films on the Internet, because that’s a rabbit hole with no bottom. However, they’re some fascinating movies you can watch on Hulu, Crackle, Shout! Factory TV, and even YouTube right now, legitimately and for free.

‘Morningstar’ and ‘Decay: The Mare’ are snack-sized games bursting with point-and-click nostalgia – This weekend I took a break from big-budget, explosion fare to dig through the backlog of indie games we’ve accumulated since the start of the year. I wanted something small and easily consumable, and two titles stood out—Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock and Decay: The Mare. The two have a lot in common. They’re both point-and-click adventures, and they both clock in around two hours long. In other words, they’re both the types of games that are hard to fit into our standard reviews format, so they get the honor of ending up bundled here together.

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Valve announces SteamVR, debuting at next week’s Game Developers Conference – That device, dubbed “SteamVR,” is described as a “previously unannounced hardware system,” and it will debut at next week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco alongside “the refined Steam Controller” and “new living room devices.” The brief announcement included no virtual reality device mock-ups or announcements of compatible games. In fact, we can’t imagine many compatible games exist yet, as the announcement noted that Valve Software “is actively seeking VR content creators.” As such, the Steam Universe portal now includes a contact form to schedule GDC demos with Valve to test out the SteamVR Dev Kit.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cable TV is speeding up its shows slightly to show you more ads – It’s not news that reruns of Friends aren’t what cable TV really wants you to be watching. Networks make money by showing ads, and for years those networks have been looking for ways to pack in more and more quick spots to get you to buy Charmin, Tide, and Viagra. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that many networks are desperately trying to increase the number of commercials you watch per hour, sometimes resorting to subtly speeding up older shows and reruns in an effort to recapture the revenue from tanking ratings. The Journal notes that TBS used compression technology to speed up the Wizard of Oz during its airing last November, causing pop-culture writer Stephen Cox to notice that the munchkins’ voices were pitched higher than normal. TBS, TNT, and TV Land have also sped up shows including Seinfeld and Friends.

FCC Republicans launch last-ditch effort to sink net neutrality plan – With the Federal Communications Commission scheduled to vote on net neutrality rules Thursday, the commission’s two Republicans want to delay the vote by at least 30 days. Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly want the commission to break with past practice by releasing the entire proposal before the vote. Typically, the FCC releases a summary of the proposal but not the entire document until after it votes on it.

Buddha statue contains mummy in “advanced state of meditation” – The man inside this statue is dead according to conventional knowledge and science – but don’t tell him that. The Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort has taken to scanning this particular fellow recently. The only Chinese buddhist mummy “available in the West for scientific research,” they say, and Erik Bruijn, buddhist art and culture expert, is in charge of the project. Under his care, this reliquary – as its being called – has been under close watch, and ceremonies before scans have been implemented. The CT scan that took place weeks ago had very little to do with the idea that this mummified man was still “in meditation.” Instead, the case here and similar cases are believed by some buddhists to be part of a similar ending – the tukdam state – for advanced monks.

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Mummified buddhist master Liu Quan. Statue (L), CT scan (R). (Photos: Drents Museum)

Will gravestones of the future represent your digital life? – A new artwork at Science Gallery Dublin imagines how all the data that we’re accumulating could be brought back into the real world to define us after death. It places statistics about a person on a gravestone — number of Twitter followers, eBay feedback, Tinder matches, and so on — all of which is informative but fails to actually reveal anything about the human behind the numbers. That may be the ultimate irony of lifelogging: it can help us live and record everything that we do, but it says very little about who we actually are.

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Watch 10 years of YouTube’s best viral videos – YouTube launched 10 years ago this month, and what a decade it has been. Since the days of Charlie the Unicorn, we’ve seen the site become a breeding ground for a whole generation of #brands, artists, and political actors. Thankfully, there’s still all sorts of weirdness filling its servers. YouTube channel The Daily Conversation compiled some of the best viral videos of the last 10 years into one 16-minute retrospective, and it makes for a really nostalgic trip down digital memory lane.

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Marijuana is much safer than alcohol or tobacco, according to a new study – Marijuana is roughly 114 times less deadly than alcohol, according to recent findings published in the journal Scientific Reports. Of the seven drugs included in the study, alcohol was the deadliest at an individual level, followed by heroin, cocaine, tobacco, ecstasy, methamphetamines, and marijuana. Previous studies consistently ranked marijuana as the safest recreational drug, but it was not known that the discrepancy was this large. The researchers determined the mortality risk by comparing a lethal dose of each substance with the amount typically used. Not only was marijuana the lowest of the drugs tested, but there was such a gap between its lethal and typical doses that they classified it as the only “low mortality risk” drug tested. All others were classified as “medium” or “high.”

How to optimize your home lighting design based on color temperature – Once you understand what color temperature is and why it matters, you can choose the right types of light bulbs to improve the quality of your life at home.

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The color temperature of your home lighting can have a significant impact.

Something to think about:

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

–   Harry J. AnslingerAssistant Prohibition Commissioner in the Bureau of Prohibition, first Commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) (1930-1962, 32 years), US Representative to the United Nations Narcotics Commission.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool – Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool for PC is a free app that identifies and removes unwanted apps such as adware, malicious hijacker programs, annoying toolbars and other browser add-ons. Keep the apps you like, get rid of the programs that bug you. The tool will only erase those apps that you wish to be removed. It scans your computer for adware, and produces a list of apps marked for removal. App is portable, no install or uninstall needed.

How it works: It scans your computer for adware, and produces a list of apps marked for removal. You will be able to choose what to keep on your computer.

 

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DiskBoss – DiskBoss is an advanced file and disk management solution allowing one to search and classify files, perform disk space utilization analysis, detect and remove duplicate files, organize files according to user-defined rules and policies, copy large amounts of files in a fault-tolerant way, synchronize disks and directories, cleanup wasted disk space, etc.

All file management operations are integrated in a centralized and easy-to-use GUI application with a built-in file navigator allowing one to execute any required operation in a single mouse click. Frequently used file management operations may be pre-configured as user-defined commands and executed using the GUI application or direct desktop shortcuts.

Features:

Disk Space Utilization Analysis

Classification and Categorization

Duplicate Files Finder and Cleaner

High-Speed File Synchronization

Real-Time Disk Change Monitor

File Copy and Data Migration

File Delete and Data Wiping

Rule-Based File Organizing

Rule-Based File Search

Command Line Utility

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Yahoo exec goes mano a mano with NSA director over crypto backdoors – Echoing the concerns of many US-based technology companies have about US-led surveillance programs, Yahoo Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos asked the director of the National Security Agency some pointed questions concerning proposed or existing backdoors placed in encryption technologies. The responses from NSA director Adm. Mike Rogers only underscored the growing divide.

The frank exchange occurred Monday at the Cybersecurity for a New America conference in Washington DC. It came 17 months after materials leaked by former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden documented NSA-engineered backdoors were built into widely used cryptography technologies so that government agents could decrypt communications. Critics have since warned that the policy could backfire on US citizens, since backdoors can be exploited by governments of a variety of countries. Rogers clearly disagreed, but his denials were notable for a lack of technical detail.

What follows is an excerpt of the exchange, as first provided by website Just Security:

Secrets become history: Edward Snowden in the Oscar-winning Citizenfour – Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras’ account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on October 24.

For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn’t full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the Internet, or journalism—it won’t matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material.

Poitras filmed Snowden for 20 hours over eight days in his Hong Kong hotel, and her film has now given the world an unfiltered portrait of the man who, in the course of the year, became the West’s most wanted dissident.

“Suspicious male in possession of flight simulator game” lawsuit moves ahead – In an order issued Friday, a federal judge in San Francisco has allowed a case challenging the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI) to move forward by denying the government’s motion to dismiss.

The current case, known as Gill et al. v. Department of Justice et al (Gill v. DOJ), seeks to halt the standards that define the entire NSI program. If Gill was successful, it could effectively stop it.

Lead plaintiff Wiley Gill is a white man who converted to Islam as a student at California State University, Chico, and he drew the attention of the Chico Police Department in May 2012. (Chico is about 180 miles due north of San Francisco.) According to the SAR about Gill, the officer entered Gill’s residence in response to an apparent domestic violence incident (Gill was home alone). The officer then saw on a webpage “titled something similar to ‘Games that fly under the radar’” on Gill’s computer.

“Coupled with the fact he is unemployed, appears to shun law enforcement contact, has potential access to flight simulators via the Internet which he tried to minimize is worthy of note,” the SAR, entitled “Suspicious Male Subject in Possession of Flight Simulator Game,” concludes.

Snowden Does Reddit – Edward Snowden, who you might have heard of by now, took to Reddit today along with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Poitras won an Oscar last night for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Poitras’ winning film, CITIZENFOUR, covers when Greenwald, the filmmaker, and Snowden were together in Hong Kong, right before the documents were leaked and the world changed.

I’m no film critic, but I can understand why the film won the award — it’s a raw look at a moment in history that has proven to be geopolitically pivotal, leading to change at the level of nations and multinational corporations.

The Reddit session is much of what you would expect — you can read the full episode here — but there is one Snowden answer I think is worth highlighting in response to a question concerning how to bring domestic surveillance back to the fore of discussion, and perhaps to make it into an issue for the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s Snowden, at full length:

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 2, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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Example – Set it up as a HUD in your car

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

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

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

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

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Magic Actions Cinema mode – Bloom by Pogo on YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–     Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you insert the USB drive

you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)

you do your work…

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

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

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

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 2, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 27, 2015

Mass Surveillance Threatens Digital Security And Human Rights Says European Report;  What PC software offers that mobile apps can’t;  How to handle a Facebook bully or stalker;  Facebook And Instagram Went Down, And Everyone Freaked The Hell Out;  Apple Adds Free Section to iTunes Store;  Can Wi-Fi Replace Your Cell Phone Plan?  Dropcam offers free replacement for legacy devices;  NFL brings the gridiron to YouTube;  Oops, you downloaded malware on your Android phone;  The one thing you’ll need to get your lost or stolen phone back;  Facebook testing a spare ‘Lite’ service for Android;  Snowmageddon NYC 2015: 10 things in tech you mustn’t forget;  Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hands-on;  Google silent on WikiLeaks email warrant for nearly three years;  FileMenu Tools (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Mass Surveillance Threatens Digital Security And Human Rights, Says European Report – A 32-page report into mass surveillance by a top European rights body has warned that digital dragnets set up by U.S. government intelligence agencies, and some of the U.S.’ allies in Europe and elsewhere, are endangering fundamental human rights — such as the right to privacy, to freedom of information and expression, to freedom of religion, and to the right to a fair trial. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) report also expresses deep concern about threats to Internet security by what it describes as “the practice of certain intelligence agencies”, as disclosed in the Snowden files, of “seeking out systematically, using and even creating ‘back doors’ and other weaknesses in security standards and implementation, which could easily be exploited also by terrorists and cyber-terrorists or other criminals”.

What PC software offers that mobile apps can’t – As we look at how software will be evolving, traditional PC applications and mobile apps have some substantial differences, key among them the depth and flexibility traditional applications offer that are often an anathema to mobile users.

How to handle a Facebook bully or stalker – An anonymous reader has been getting a lot of unwanted, and potentially frightening, attention on Facebook. I offer some advice. If someone on Facebook continually insults you, upsets you, threatens you, or makes unwanted sexual advances, ask them to stop. If they do, fine. If not, you’ve got a stalker.

Facebook And Instagram Went Down, And Everyone Freaked The Hell Out – Facebook and Instagram both crashed around 6am GMT. Facebook was offline, on the web and via the app, for just over an hour. The hacker group Lizard Squad has said it is responsible for the outage. Over Christmas, the group claimed to be behind the Microsoft and Sony gaming network hacks. However, ITV News reported that both Facebook and Instagram denied being hacked, blaming the outage on “a change that affected our configuration systems”.

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Apple Adds Free Section to iTunes Store – Heads up, iOS users. Apple today added a new section to the iTunes Store with some free goodies you might want. The new “Free on iTunes” section includes a selection of on-the-house songs and full-length TV episodes. The new promotion comes after Apple recently discontinued its free “Single of the Week” program.

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Facebook testing a spare ‘Lite’ service for Android – Facebook is testing a stripped down version of its mobile app that requires far less data, which could help increase usage of the social networking service among people with weaker Internet service or older phones. Facebook “Lite” is available for devices running Android 2.2 and up. The size of the free app is 252 kilobytes, and it’s meant for 2G networks in areas with limited connectivity. Users can perform a bunch of basic functions like post status updates with photos, comment on people’s posts, message friends, have group conversations, and receive notifications. Posts from the news feed are meant to load quickly. Early reviews on the Google Play store for the app have been positive, with many praising its low data and battery usage.

How to install the Windows 10 Preview: Everything you need to know – This isn’t like Windows 8’s Consumer Preview, which was released as a simple ISO image. The Windows 10 Technical Preview is being released via a new “Windows Insider” program that asks for user feedback and even provides private forums for discussing trouble spots with Microsoft engineers. Lots of things have already changed and many more are sure to change going forward, from features to basic elements of the operating system. All that said, are you still curious? Can’t resist the lure of the bleeding edge? Just want to run away from Windows 8? Here’s how to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview right now.

How to run the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a Mac, for free – Here’s how you can run the new Windows 10 Technical Preview on your Mac, without having to spend a dollar on software.

Dropcam offers free replacement for legacy devices – Hardware reaching their end of life is a natural occurrence, especially in mobile and smart devices that seem to have at the very least only 2 years to live. More often than not, owners are left with no choice but to upgrade, which usually entails cashing out on a new device. That is why Dropcam’s new offer is like a breath of fresh air. It will be giving a free hardware replacement to owners of the original Dropcam and Dropcam Echo, even going as far as allowing owners to keep their old units, just as a remembrance.

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Cablevision’s WiFi calling service: another reason you don’t need an iPhone – This week the folks at Cablevision released a WiFi calling service called Freewheel without the iPhone and without the Samsung Galaxy S5. What does this say to the two biggest names in smartphone manufacturing inside the United States? What does it say to those consumers that seek out Samsung or Apple because they’ve seen their friends using said brands on phones? It says – clearly – that you don’t need a top-end phone to go about your normal, everyday smartphone business. And you don’t need a Galaxy phone or an iPhone to launch a nation’s-first service like all-WiFi calling.

Can Wi-Fi Replace Your Cell Phone Plan? – The wireless industry has seen its fair share of changes over the last two years, many sparked by T-Mobile’s disruptive “uncarrier” policies that have been since co-opted by its rivals. But there could be even bigger shakeups coming in the year ahead. A switch from cellular to Wi-Fi networks could have a huge impact on both the cost and quality of wireless service in the future. Here’s a quick look at what Wi-Fi-based carriers could mean for your cell phone plan:

How to enable Cortana if you’re using Windows 10 outside the U.S. – Microsoft has offered Cortana integration in the January Technical Preview, but officially it is only available in the United States, but we have a workaround for everyone else who wants to test it.

Adobe Lightroom 6 to drop 32-bit support – Adobe has been busy with its photography-centric Lightroom offering, having recently pushed out a mobile version for Android users to join its previously launched iOS version. The desktop is still king when it comes to photo editing, however, and so it is no surprise Adobe has also been hard at work on getting its next Mac and Windows versions out to consumers. That’s the good news. For those running older hardware, there’s also some bad news.

NFL brings the gridiron to YouTube – The National Football League has officially come to YouTube. The league announced Monday that it’s finally created its own channel on the world’s biggest online video network, as part of a broader partnership with YouTube’s parent Google, which includes NFL videos, news and other information available directly in Google searches.

Security:

Google silent on WikiLeaks email warrant for nearly three years – The whistleblower organisation is demanding answers from Google over why it took so long to disclose that it had handed over details of three WikiLeaks’ staffers’ emails to the US government.

Oops, you downloaded malware on your Android phone – While there’s technically no such thing as an Android “virus”, there’s plenty of harmful malware can be just as frustrating—it spams you with notifications, uses up data and battery life, and slows down your phone, all while trying not to get caught. Of course, the best way to get malware on your phone is to download a malware-laden app, so you’re not completely innocent in this scenario. But every Android owner has come across malware at least once or twice, and so you all know that this is exactly how it starts…

The one thing you’ll need to get your lost or stolen phone back – Your carrier may require a police report to prove that the device is actually missing. In addition to the make, model and visual appearance, the police and your carrier may request the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) to help identify the device. This is number is unique to your hardware, and may allow the carrier to discontinue service to it, or blacklist it from their network if it was stolen. As a recent post on the Digital Inspiration blog points out, you can still find your IMEI without the phone in your hand. Here’s how:

Hackers steal 20 million accounts from Russian dating site – Topface, a Russian dating site, has apparently had its servers hacked and the perpetrators are now auctioning off over twenty million usernames and e-mail addresses which can be used for future scams.

Apple preparing fix for Thunderstrike malware in upcoming OS X 10.10.2 release – It’s long been said, both by Apple and independent security experts, that Apple’s computers are more secure than those running Windows. That does not mean, however, that Macs are invulnerable to malware threats. One particularly terrifying example is called Thunderstrike. It allows a malicious actor to replace the firmware in Macs with something much more nefarious. The firmware controls extremely low-level functions of the computer, everything that happens from the moment the power button is pressed.

Company News:

IBM dismisses massive layoff report as workforce remixing continues – IBM’s workforce rebalancing is as predictable as the seasons, but it’s a stretch to think Big Blue is cutting more than 100,000 employees.

Former Opera CEO Launches Vivaldi, A New Browser For Power Users – Opera’s former CEO Jon von Tetzchner is launching the first preview of Vivaldi today, a new Chromium-based browser that is squarely aimed at power users. Vivaldi features tools like Quick Commands for using written commands instead of the mouse, an Opera-like Speed Dial for quickly accessing bookmarks, a note-taking feature and the ability to organize tabs into stacks.

Hardware surprisingly strong, Windows weak, as Microsoft posts solid Q2 – Microsoft revealed its quarterly earnings today for the second quarter of the 2015 financial year. Overall revenue was up, and sales of the Surface Pro 3 computer were strong according to the company. But the Windows market declined and operating income was down, as the Nokia integration and reorganization continues to cost money. Revenue for the quarter was $26.47 billion, up eight percent on the same quarter a year ago. Gross margin was also up, climbing by one percent to $16.33 billion. Operating income, however, fell two percent to $7.78 billion, and earnings per share dropped nine percent to $0.71.

Stripe Partners With Intuit To Help On-Demand Workers Keep Track Of Their Finances – Through the partnership, people who work for on-demand platforms that make their payments through Stripe will be able to easily connect with Intuit’s new QuickBooks Online Self-Employed software. Once that’s done, the QuickBooks product will be able to immediately recognize payments as income, and as a result will be able to help workers track their finances, and especially their tax obligations.

Huawei pivots focus to high-end smartphones – The Chinese smartphone maker plans to turn its attention towards the high-end smartphone segment in the wake of increased local competition.

Games and Entertainment:

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hands-on: Four hours with the most anticipated RPG of the year – It finally happened. After two years of hands-off demos, multiple delays, and et cetera, I finally got my grunny hands on The Witcher 3 —not just for a piddling few minutes or a tightly controlled demo, but for four hours. CD Projekt basically sat me down at a computer, booted the game, and said “Go.” And I went. I finished off the tutorial, completed a half-dozen side quests, and got through the story basically to the end of what I’ll call “Chapter One.” In other words, right when things started to get interesting? That’s when I ran out of time. Here’s what I noticed, nevertheless.

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Grim Fandango Remastered might be the perfect video game remake – Grim Fandango Remastered is exactly the same game that you remember from 1998. The story and gameplay remain unchanged, so it’s still a game primarily about chatting with other characters and using items in increasingly obscure ways to solve puzzles. As in the original, Manny starts out as a lowly salesman, but over the course of the game he’ll uncover dark secrets, open up a casino, and chase the girl of his dreams. It can seem a bit quaint by modern standards, but the witty writing and wonderful art direction feel timeless, and there are some important changes that make this version more palatable in 2015.

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‘Minecraft’ is already printing money for Microsoft – Microsoft purchased “Minecraft” developer Mojang for $2.5 billion last year, an amount that many considered strange for what’s essentially a one-game company. According to Microsoft’s recent financial results, however, the transaction is already proving beneficial. As part of its financial results from the second quarter of its 2015 fiscal year, Microsoft announced that first-party video game revenue increased by 79 percent to $171 million over the same period last year. In its statement on the increase, Microsoft attributed the boost as “mainly due to sales of Minecraft following the acquisition of Mojang” as well as the launches of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and “Forza Horizon 2.”

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DirectX 12 won’t need new hardware, but it’s better to have some anyway – As we previously found out, DirectX 12 will be exclusive to Windows 10, so older Windows operating systems won’t have the new capabilities. However, considering that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for most Windows users, that shouldn’t pose any problems. But what about hardware? Well, this is where it gets a bit more complicated. The short answer is that having a new DirectX 12 graphics card is your best option, so you should go for that. But the long answer is that you might not need it to take advantage of most of the system’s new features.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Snowmageddon NYC 2015: 10 things in tech you mustn’t forget – It’s a real-deal state of emergency right now in New York and surrounding areas – a blizzard is dropping this week – so much so that you may need a guide to get you through it. Accumulation of snow will reach 20 to 30 inches in Long Island and Connecticut, while visibility will be one quarter mile or less at times throughout the week. This isn’t a snowfall to act tough about and/or scoff at. You’re going to have to believe me on that one – I was born in Saint Cloud, Minnesota and I live in Bismarck, North Dakota now. You have no idea how badly I want to scoff at panic over snow.

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Hawaii-Bound Pilot Forced To Deploy Airplane’s Parachute After Running Out Of Gas – A pilot’s quest to fly from California to Hawaii failed in spectacular fashion when he was forced to deploy the aircraft’s parachute and plop down on the water 253 miles from land. The series of unfortunate events started to unfold at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, when the pilot contacted the Hawaii National Guard to report that his Cirrus SR-22 aircraft had roughly three hours of fuel remaining.

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U.S. Coast Guard

Latest round of science education bills hits the state legislatures – See if your state is partaking in the silliness – Each year, January brings a new legislative calendar and, with it, a new round of bills that attempt to interfere with science education. Typically, these bills target evolution and/or climate change and are based on boilerplate text, but each year brings some intriguing variations on the theme. This year’s haul is impressive with several states already active.

People can be induced to remember crimes they never committed – The creation of false memories has obvious implications for the legal system, as it gives us reasons to distrust both eyewitness accounts and confessions. It’s therefore important to know exactly what kinds of false memories can be created, what influences the creation of a false memory, and whether false recollections can be distinguished from real ones. A recent paper in Psychological Science found that 71 percent of participants exposed to certain interview techniques developed false memories of having committed a crime as a teenager. In reality, none of these people had experienced contact with the police during the age bracket in question.

U.S. Breaks Record For Highest Number Of Exonerations In A Single Year – The U.S. saw a record number of exonerations in 2014, according to a report by the National Registry of Exonerations that was released Tuesday. The project at the University of Michigan Law School detailed 125 known exonerations of innocent criminal defendants in the U.S. last year, the first time the registry recorded more than 100 in a single year.

Ridiculous Tech Jargon That Needs to Go – Undeniably, many amazing things have come out of Silicon Valley. But the words? Let’s just say that someone needs to disrupt them. The region’s best and brightest can write lines of complicated code that allow your front door to talk to your thermostat and your car, but when asked to describe the phenomenon, the best they can do is “Um, Internet of…things?” Tech jargon is the worst combination of bro-talk and technology word salad. Many of them are here to stay, but these are the 12 terms we’d like to see pivot on out of here.

Something to think about:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

–      C.S. Lewis

Today’s Free Downloads:

FileMenu Tools – FileMenu Tools allows you to customize the context menu of Windows Explorer.

Features:

Add some built-in utilities that perform operations on files and folders.

Add custom commands which run external applications, copy/move to a specific folder or delete specific file types.

Configure the “Send to…” submenu.

Enable/disable commands which are added by other applications to the context menu.

FileMenu Tools is freeware. However, if you enjoy using FileMenu Tools and would like to help support its development, please consider making a donation.

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GuardAxon – GuardAxon is a free program that is used to encrypt and decrypt files e.g. for safe transmission or transportation on removable media. The program uses the following encryption algorithms: BlowFish, Twofish, DES, 3DES, AES-128, AES-192, AES-256. Selecting files to protection is very simple because GuardAxon uses the classic file manager. The program can generate reports in PDF format at the end of the encryption / decryption.

GuardAxon also allows you to calculate and verify the checksum of files (MD-5, SHA-1, SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512, SHA-512/224, SHA-512/256).

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Germany’s privacy leaders gather to discuss suspending US Safe Harbor – On Wednesday, German data privacy commissioners will meet in Berlin for their annual conference. On the agenda will be discussions on one thing: whether the Safe Harbor agreement between the EU and the US should be scrapped.

The meeting will allow the German regulators to voice their ongoing frustration over the lack of reform that followed the recent revelations that the US’ surveillance agency, the NSA, was collecting German citizens’ data.

Safe Harbor is a critical agreement for US-based businesses – and particularly tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter – as it allows them to legally transfer commercial data from the European Union to the US if they agree to uphold EU citizens’ rights over how the data is collected and handled. Even a short suspension of the agreement could mean serious disruption to those US companies’ business.

For many German officials and politicians, the NSA’s ongoing ability to access the data of European citizens held by US companies violates the privacy principles of the agreement – principles that companies can self-certify they uphold.

Facebook Censors Blasphemous Pages To Comply With Turkey’s Demand, But Won’t Publish It – When Google and Twitter receive legal threats from countries to censor controversial content or have their services shut down locally, they often publish them on ChillingEffects.org for transparency. But today when Facebook followed Turkey’s legal order to block Pages that defamed the Prophet Muhammad from Turkish users, it kept the demand private.

Rather than get banned, Mark Zuckerberg has said it’s Facebook’s duty to comply with censorship so it can keep operating and at least give some citizens a voice.

Spies track mobile users with BADASS tracker (yes, that’s what they call it) – As Ars has previously reported, documents passed to journalists by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have shown that the NSA and its British counterpart agency, the GCHQ, have exploited privacy “leaks” in mobile applications (including Rovio’s Angry Birds) to track individuals of interest. A new document recently published by Der Spiegel provides further details on just how much the GCHQ was able to extract from mobile data to keep tabs on those it targeted for surveillance. The British agency used a program referred to as BADASS to suck up data emitted from Angry Birds and other apps, and the information was so granular, analysts could even track how well (or poorly) a person was doing playing.

BADASS is an acronym for “BEGAL Automated Deployment And Survey System,” and the system pulled in data from GCHQ and NSA network taps identified as mobile analytics and advertising traffic. Among other things, this data included Google “pref” cookies (such as those used by Ars to identify users in our own passive network surveillance testing with NPR) and Flurry application analytic data used by developers to track usage and performance of their mobile apps.

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Cops decry Waze traffic app as a “police stalker” – Google-owned app, they say, is endangering law enforcement officials – Police officials have lobbied for the right to conduct a variety of unfettered electronic surveillance tactics on the public, everything from being able to affix GPS trackers on vehicles to acquiring mobile phone cell-site location records and deploying “stingrays” in public places—all without warrants.

Some law enforcement officials, however, are frightened when it’s the public doing the monitoring—especially when there’s an app for that. Google-owned Waze, although offering a host of traffic data, doubles as a Digital Age version of the police band radio.

Authorities said the app amounts to a “police stalker” in the aftermath of last month’s point-blank range murder of two New York Police Department officers. That’s according to the message some officials gave over the weekend during the National Sheriffs Association meeting in Washington.

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Basaaly Moalin: The One “Terrorist” Caught by Section 215 Surveillance – Remember back in 2013 when the then-director of the NSA Keith Alexander claimed that Section 215 bulk telephone metadata surveillance stopped “fifty-four different terrorist-related activities”? Remember when that number was backtracked several times, until all that was left was a single Somali taxi driver who was convicted of sending some money back home? This is the story of Basaaly Moalin.

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