Tag Archives: YouTube

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 12, 2014

Does your computer have malware? Here are the telltale signs;  The Top 10 Desktops Under $500;  Avast Home Network Security;  New App Makes It Way Cheaper to Trade Stocks;  YouTube Gets A Built-In GIF Creator;  The 20 most interesting cameras of 2014;  7 iPhone Apps to Get You In the Holiday Spirit;  4 Apps For Managing Your Email Inbox;  Meet the future of Evernote: Hands on;  Chromecast now offers guest mode;  ComiXology Launches 12 Days of Free Comics;  17 Secret Messages Hidden in Tech Logos;  Omni Wheel is all you need to make your bike electric.

The Top 10 Desktops Under $500 – If your computing needs are modest, your budget is tight, or you’re simply looking for yet another home PC, a budget desktop may be the way to go. We once were wary of PCs that cost less than $500, but the forward march of technology combined with the introduction of low-cost operating systems like Windows 8.1 for Bing and Chrome OS are allowing PC manufacturers to produce fully functional PCs for as low as $180.

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Does your computer have malware? Here are the telltale signs – Windows wouldn’t update on Warren Blake’s PC. Nor would system restore work. A malware infection seems likely. Here are some symptoms that could suggest foul play. Real malware is generally designed not to be noticed. The people who write these programs don’t want you to clean them off of your computer. But if you know what to look for, you can recognize a symptom that might be caused by malware.

7 iPhone Apps to Get You In the Holiday Spirit – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—trees on every app. So when you’re sifting through the App Store, how do you pick out the sugarplums from the coal? It’s tough to say, but these seven-apps-a-swiping are pretty much guaranteed to get you and your iPhone in the holiday spirit.

Meet the future of Evernote: Hands on with Work Chat, Context and more – When I heard that this note-taking and Web clipping app was adding even more features, like Work Chat and Context, which displays content related to your current selection, I was a little worried. Evernote already does so much—would these new feature overwhelm me even more? As it turns out, no. Evernote’s newest features make this app even more useful, especially in the mobile version, though they do require you to invest a bit of time learning how to use them.

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Spotify now tracks songs popular with your friends – A new feature, called “Top Tracks in Your Network,” has been rolled out to Spotify apps on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, the company announced Thursday. The feature adds a new chart to Spotify’s mobile app that lets users find out what songs are most popular among their friends. The chart is updated daily and next to each song is a drop-down list for users to see which friends are listening to the respective tracks.

This New App Makes It Way Cheaper to Trade Stocks – A new startup is aiming to convince Millennials to dip a toe into the stock market by making it cheaper and easier to buy securities. Robinhood, a new mobile-first brokerage that launched its iOS app today, lets users buy U.S.-listed stocks without paying a commission, a cost that typically runs individual investors $7 to $10 per trade. The app’s slick interface lets users buy securities, track stock performance and keep tabs on their overall portfolio. Users don’t even have to maintain a minimum account balance, a common requirement of similar stock-swapping services.

4 Apps For Managing the Absolute Chaos That Is Your Email Inbox – The best new apps for sorting and managing your email have one thing in common: They help you quickly clear messages, whether it’s into a folder or straight into the digital trash. From Google’s brand new Inbox app, which retools the email interface, to an app that deals with newsletter subscriptions in one fell swoop, these email apps sort out the inboxes that have become the hub of nearly all our online activity.

YouTube offline viewing now rolling out in India and other Asian countries – YouTube has a new feature that lets you view videos temporarily in offline mode to ease viewing access for slow internet connections. A few Asian countries gets their hands first on this new feature.

The 20 most interesting cameras of 2014 – From overpriced to overwhelming and all stops in between, here are the cameras that made an impression this year.

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Pentax Q-S1

Bing adds international hotel booking, improves mobile search – Microsoft is winding the week down with another two Bing announcements, this one most notably including the arrival of international hotel booking in 22 countries with support for 14 languages. This allows users to book accommodations from Canada, Mexico, throughout Europe, in Hong Kong, and more, and is done in partnership with TripAdvisor. Also joining this new feature are some improvements to Bing’s mobile search results.

Workflow Lets You Automate The Stuff You Do All The Time On Your iPhone – Built for the tastes of power users with an interface that anyone can understand, Workflow is a new app for iOS that lets you create shortcuts for the things you do all the time on your phone or tablet. With a simple, efficient interface, it lets anyone automate things like creating GIFs from the pictures in your photo roll to ordering an Uber going to the address for next event on your calendar.

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YouTube Gets A Built-In GIF Creator – YouTube is now quietly rolling out its own GIF maker. It doesn’t seem to be enabled on all videos just yet, but it’s definitely there for some. GIF creation through the tool is quite simple: tap the share button, set your start/end points, set any captions you might want, and create away. The tool is SUPER fast, and YouTube hosts the GIFs themselves.

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Chromecast now offers guest mode – Google just announced a guest mode feature for Chromecast, making the company’s affordable streaming stick just a little more powerful. Instead of needing to dish out your personal Wi-Fi network’s password any time a friend wants to push content from their phone to your TV screen, guest mode now allows them to do it directly to the Chromecast stick itself.

Create a live system ISO for your Ubuntu-based Linux machines using Systemback – You have that Linux desktop or server precisely how you want it and are interested in either creating a spot-on backup or a live ISO that you can then install on other (similar) hardware. How do you do it? You could go through the process of learning a number of commands to take care of the process, or you could install and use a handy tool called Systemback. The Systemback tool allows you to create restore points, backups, and live images of a running system. Currently, it only works for Ubuntu derivatives based on 14.04, 14.10, and 15.04. It does, however, work like a champ (and does so quite easily).

Security:

Avast Home Network Security – As more and more devices are added to your Home Network, securing that Network becomes increasingly important. It’s nice to know that even the free version of Avast includes Home Network Security (HNS). You can run a Home Network Security Scan as one of the many scans available within the scan options in Avast. The results may surprise you. Any vulnerability spotted and fixed will prevent access to your home network by the cyber crooks. This is especially important during the Holiday Season. The Holiday Season is a time for us to be happy, not a time for a Cyber crook to steal your information or identity. Here is a little video that shows you just how easy it is to run one of these scans.

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DDoS of unprecedented scale ‘stops Sweden working’. The target? A gaming site – Much of Sweden’s fixed-line broadband became collateral damage as a result of a DDoS attack on a mystery gaming site this week. While DDoS attacks are par for the course for most online businesses these days, the vast majority of these attacks don’t go on to affect the broadband connections of an entire country. But that’s what happened to customers of Telia, Sweden’s largest ISP, for 45 minutes on Tuesday night and then again intermittently throughout Wednesday afternoon and evening. Telia hasn’t said how many of its 1.2 million residential subscribers were affected by outages but has confirmed the attack knocked out fixed-line broadband, digital TV, and VoIP connections.

Sony Was Also Hacked a Year Ago but Didn’t Say Anything – Sony kept mum about security vulnerabilities it noticed in February, almost a year before hackers began tossing large volumes of the company’s private data around the Internet.

Sony hackers could have slipped past 90% of defenses, FBI director says – The malware that thoroughly penetrated Sony Pictures Entertainment was so sophisticated it likely would have worked against nine out of 10 security defenses available to companies, a top FBI official told members of Congress. The comments don’t sit well with some security professionals, who say they appear to allow Sony to hide behind a veil of persistent threats posed by determined and well-resourced hackers. While successful hacks happen to just about everyone, careful planning can often contain the damage they inflict and limit the data available to people who gain unauthorized access. So far, Demarest, Mandiant, and Sony have declined to provide any specific details about exactly what makes the malware “unprecedented.”

Sony fights spread of stolen data by using “bad seed” attack on torrents – Those trying to download files and films from the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment leak are being widely frustrated thanks to a large number of Torrent filesharing nodes that advertise fake “seeds.” These files are offered via the Bittorrent file sharing protocol, and they match the signature of the stolen data while containing no usable content. Instead the bad seeds, which now may outnumber the computers actively sharing the actual files stolen from Sony, provide a download of corrupted or fake versions of the archive files for the vast majority of individuals attempting to access them.

New Norton Mobile Security warns of privacy problems – Research by Symantec shows that users value privacy highly, but constantly surrender it, knowingly and unknowingly, when they install apps on mobile devices, particularly free apps. Now Norton Mobile Security warns users in detail about these potential problems as they browse the app in the app store. These techniques used by Norton Mobile Security are not permitted on iOS or Windows Phone, although the company does sell a version for iOS with more limited functionality.

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Norton Mobile Security overlays warnings and information onto Google Play app entries. Image courtesy Symantec.

Iran hacked the Sands Hotel earlier this year, causing over $40 million in damage – Sony wasn’t the only US company to face a cyberattack by a foreign power this year. According to a bombshell exclusive from Businessweek, Iranian hackers penetrated systems for the Sands Hotel and Casino this February. With no apparent financial motive, attackers seized comprehensive employee information and brought the company’s systems to a standstill. All told, the attack wiped out three quarters of the company’s Vegas-based servers, which insiders estimate cost the company more than $40 million in equipment costs and data recovery alone.

Company News:

Amazon job posts point to global same-day delivery – A series of job postings hint at Amazon’s desire to expand its same-day delivery service, including for products sold by third-party merchants.

Microsoft’s cross-platform push continues with MSN apps for iOS and Android – While none of these apps are unique on their own, they do help flesh out Microsoft’s vision of letting users easily roam across platforms. If you log in with a Microsoft account, many of the MSN apps’ features will sync online, so you can switch to another device and still have your weather locations, saved recipes and news topics intact. That alone makes them more useful than they ever were as Windows exclusives.

Ford Ditches Microsoft For QNX In Latest In-Vehicle Tech Platform – Ford today took the wraps off Sync 3, its next-generation, in-car technology package that’s, as you’d expect, faster, sleeker and much improved from the old one. It’s also more intuitive and easier on the eyes, and integrates smartphone apps better. But the biggest change is under the hood: Sync 3 is powered by QNX instead of Microsoft Auto.

Microsoft announces Windows 10 press event for January 21st – Microsoft will be releasing the next major installment of Windows 10, the consumer preview, on January 21st and will be shown off at its campus in Redmond, Washington.

Amazon app kicked from Google Play – The app you may have used for the past several years to access Amazon (outside of your web browser) has been axed from Google Play’s app store. As was found earlier this year, Amazon updated their app to include app and game purchases and downloads – effectively making their app an app store within an app store. Google did not like that, and since have brought up a bit of a rule tweak on what should have otherwise banned the sales of apps within apps listed on Google Play.

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Apple is being investigated for anti-competitive practices in Canada – Apple’s Canadian arm is being investigated by Canada’s Competition Bureau for allegations it used anti-competitive practices to negotiate deals with Canadian cell carriers, Reuters reports. The Competition Bureau — Canada’s antitrust watchdog — wouldn’t say who made the allegations, but did say Apple is being looked at for putting clauses that would hinder competition in its contracts with carriers. While it has sought a court order compelling Apple to hand over records related to the investigation, the Competition Bureau wouldn’t reveal whether it has gone after corresponding records kept by Canadian carriers.

Games and Entertainment:

Car-nage: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ trailer looks absolutely demented – “What a day — what a lovely day!” Turn your speakers up loud and prepare to pick your jaw off the floor with the new trailer for “Mad Max: Fury Road”. This demented slice of vehicular mayhem combines spectacular stunt work and automotive action as the road warrior makes a long-awaited return to the big screen. “Fury Road” promises to be one of the most gobsmacking movies of 2015. “Out here everything hurts,” intones Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. “Now pick up what you can and run.”

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Scrolls launched: Minecraft creators take a whole new road – Unless you follow the company Mojang very closely, you haven’t likely heard that these creators of the ultra-popular Minecraft series have created another video game. This game goes by the name Scrolls, and it’s ready to take on the world via Android tablets, Mac computers, and PCs. This is a massive title taking a rather different direction from Minecraft, creating a hybrid title that takes “the best bits of card and board games” to create an addictive machine the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

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Apple forces nude immigrants to cover up in iPad version of Papers, Please – After naming Papers, Please our favorite game of 2013, we were of course excited to hear from developer Lucas Pope that a version will be coming to iPad on December 12. The version we get on iOS won’t be precisely identical to the one we loved on the PC, though, thanks to some apparent worries about brief nudity from the App Store approval folks at Apple.

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An example of the “covered up” nude scanner images in the iPad version of Papers, Please. The coverings were a user-selectable option in the PC version.

Xbox One breaks the PS4’s winning streak with 1.2 million sales in November – Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been at the top of the next-generation sales charts for almost its entire lifespan, but Microsoft just broke through in a big way. According to the latest NPD data drop, the Xbox One was the number one selling console in both the US and the UK for November. The PS4 had previously been on top in the US for months, but it sounds like the holiday season and corresponding price drops for the Xbox One made a big difference for the console. Geekwire reports that US Xbox One sales last month were 1.2 million.

ComiXology Launches 12 Days of Free Comics – ComiXology has an early holiday present for all the comics lovers out there — 12 days of freebies. The third-annual 12 Days of Free Comics event starts today and runs through Monday, Dec. 22 with one new free comic from a surprise publisher every day. To kick off the promotion, comiXology is currently offering The Wake #1, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Sean Murphy, for free.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Four Microsoft licensing missteps that could cost you big bucks – If you’re an IT pro, much of what you do every day is governed by practical considerations. Deployments are judged by how well they work, and when things fail it’s usually a matter of troubleshooting to find and fix the problem. But you can throw all that common sense and consistency right out the window when it comes to the licensing restrictions behind those IT deployments. And if you’re deploying Microsoft products, innocent errors can become very expensive — quickly. (Registration required.)

One Omni Wheel is all you need to make your bike electric – While bicycles are great for their health benefits, of course paired with their transportation uses, there are times when you wish you could have some added boost to get through some added distance or some more challenging terrain. Electric bikes or e-bikes have answered that call, but not many are willing to trade in their faithful steed for some hi-tech replacement. Smart wheels, then, offer a bit of a compromise, and Evelo’s Omni Wheel is one that promises convenience and simplicity without sacrificing power.

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Zuckerberg muses on ‘dislike’ button, the emotion study and pizza – In another Q&A session with users, the Facebook CEO says the social network is trying to figure out a way to help express a broader array of emotions.

Cops use taser on woman while she recorded arrest of another man – A 36-year-old Baltimore woman claims she was tased by police and arrested while filming the arrest of a man with her mobile phone, according to a lawsuit to be served on the Baltimore City Police Department as early as Thursday. Video of the March 30 melee surfaced online this week. Police erased the 135-second recording from the woman’s phone, but it was recovered from her cloud account, according to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City lawsuit (PDF), which seeks $7 million.

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“You a dumb bitch, you know that?”

Antique Apple-1 computer sold today for $365,000 – A vintage Apple-1 computer sold today for a whopping $365,000, despite failing to meet the pre-auction estimate. This comes two months after another original Apple-1 sold for nearly a million dollars.

17 Secret Messages Hidden in Tech Logos – Graphic designers are tasked with finding creative ways to pack a lot of information into only a few visual elements. Sometimes these messages are so subtly rendered that you won’t notice them on a first, second, or possibly even third pass. Take a look through our slideshow to discover some of the hidden secret messages in 17 top tech logos that you probably didn’t even know were there.

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For example, when you look at the instantly recognizable FedEx logo, some may only see the name of the company split into its two syllables by color. But take a closer look at the white space between the “E” and the “x,” you’ll see an arrow pointing forward. Not only do those colors and that font automatically make you think “FedEx,” but on a subconscious level you also associate the brand with moving something forward. Neat, right?

‘Space Wars’: A visual guide to the battle for space supremacy – Discover everything you need to know about the private sector’s race to space in just a few minutes with one colorful and informative infographic.

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Something to think about:

“That is the greatest fallacy, the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful.”

–    Ernest Hemingway

Today’s Free Downloads:

HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

It automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https”. It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking, and some forms of censorship.

HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using a clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS.

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Manager Desktop Edition – Manager is free accounting software for small business. Windows, Mac and Linux.

Features:

Money In: Every time you receive money, it should be recorded in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you put money into bank account, cash register or into your own pocket. Every time you receive money

Money Out: Every time you spend money, it will appear in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you take money from your bank account or from your own pocket. Every time you spend money

Sales Invoices: This module contains all invoices that you have issued to your customers and other debtors. It provides useful reports such as Aged receivables which will assist you analyze your debtors further

Purchase Invoices: This module will show all the bills that you have received from your suppliers and other creditors. It provides useful reports such as Aged payables which will assist you analyze your creditors further

Contact Directory: Do you need to view history or contact details on person or organisation you’ve been dealing with? Then Contact Directory is the module that will provide you with all information you require

Chart of Accounts: This module shows all accounts that are used in your accounting system. Accounts are being created automatically so if you are not familiar with Chart of accounts, you don’t need to worry about this module

Journal Entries: Usually only skilled accountants and bookkeepers are using this module to set opening balances or adjust account balances on financial statements. If you are not familiar with journal entries, you don’t need them

Reports: Many reports available such as Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, Tax Summary, General Ledger Summary, Aged Receivables, Aged Payables and more depending on your country and other settings

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Wireshark 1.99.1 Beta – Wireshark is a network packet analyzer. A network packet analyzer will try to capture network packets and tries to display that packet data as detailed as possible.

You could think of a network packet analyzer as a measuring device used to examine what’s going on inside a network cable, just like a voltmeter is used by an electrician to examine what’s going on inside an electric cable (but at a higher level, of course).

In the past, such tools were either very expensive, proprietary, or both. However, with the advent of Wireshark, all that has changed.

Wireshark is perhaps one of the best open source packet analyzers available today.

Examples:

network administrators use it to troubleshoot network problems

network security engineers use it to examine security problems

developers use it to debug protocol implementations

people use it to learn network protocol internals

Beside these examples, Wireshark can be helpful in many other situations too.

Features:

The following are some of the many features Wireshark provides:

Available for UNIX and Windows.

Capture live packet data from a network interface.

Display packets with very detailed protocol information.

Open and Save packet data captured.

Import and Export packet data from and to a lot of other capture programs.

Filter packets on many criteria.

Search for packets on many criteria.

Colorize packet display based on filters.

Create various statistics.

… and a lot more!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senators demand answers from Justice, Homeland Security on “stingray” use – A handful of United States senators have finally woken up to the questionable use of cell-site simulators, also known as stingrays.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, 10 Democratic senators and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) posed some of the most direct questions about the digital surveillance devices.

The devices are often used covertly by local and federal law enforcement to locate target cellphones and their respective owners. However, stingrays also sweep up cell data of innocent people nearby who have no idea that such collection is taking place. Stingrays can be used to intercept voice calls and text messages as well.

Both manufacturers and law enforcement have been notoriously tight-lipped about precisely how such devices are acquired and implemented. Former federal magistrate judge Brian Owsley (now a law professor at Indiana Tech) has been unsuccessful in his efforts to unseal orders that authorize their use despite intimate familiarity with the legal system. And just last month, local prosecutors in a Baltimore robbery case even dropped key evidence that stemmed from stingray use rather than allow a detective to fully disclose how the device was used.

Berners-Lee Troubled by ‘Growing Inequality’ on Web – The World Wide Web creator and founder of the Web Foundation, Berners-Lee suggested that, in an increasingly unequal world, the Internet has the power to be a great equalizer. But only “if we hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access, and net neutrality into the rules of the game,” he said.

The Web Foundation this week released its annual Web Index report, which focused on issues like privacy, censorship, gender-based violence, equality, and now net neutrality, across 86 countries.

This year’s findings point to a less free Web, which remains unavailable to almost 60 percent of the world’s population, or about 4.3 billion people. What’s more, half of those people who do have access to the Internet live in areas that restrict access to the Web. Almost 40 percent of countries are now censoring politically or socially sensitive content—up 6 percent from 2013.

“It’s time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right,” Berners-Lee said in a statement. “That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring Internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live.”

The foundation suggested that 84 percent of communities have weak or even non-existent laws to protect citizens from mass surveillance.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 10, 2014

PC Infected? Which Antivirus Does the Best Cleanup?  Dashlane, LastPass Launch Automatic Password Changers;  How to search for old Facebook posts;  Super-Easy Way To Beat Twitter’s 140 Character Limit; Most Popular Videos on YouTube in 2014;  YouTube Revamps Apple TV App;  Best Linux desktop of 2014: Linux Mint 17.1;  Two stealthy Linux malware samples uncovered;  Electronic Arts offers SimCity 2000 Special Edition for free;  Adobe fixes Flash zero day;  These Are the Best Facebook Games of 2014;  A Laymen’s Guide to the Finance Industry’s Cryptic Jargon;  Microsoft tells US: The world’s servers are not yours for the taking;  The 8 biggest lies the CIA told about torture;  USBFlashCopy (free).

PC Infected? Which Antivirus Does the Best Cleanup? – It’s essential that your antivirus utility detects all kinds of malicious software, including very new zero-day threats. Indeed, tons of independent lab tests specifically measure how well antivirus products detect viruses and other malware. However, it’s just as important that your antivirus manages to correctly remove the malware it does detect. A new report from AV-Comparatives focuses specifically on the malware-removal abilities of 17 popular antivirus tools.

Dashlane, LastPass Launch Automatic Password Changers – It seems like there are now daily reports of security breaches, from banks to retailers. And every time one of these hacks are reported, we are urged to change our passwords. But as our digital footprints expand, changing codes on every single site we use can be a labor-intensive process. New, separate services from password managers LastPass and Dashlane aim to simplify the task of changing those passwords.

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Here’s a Super-Easy Way To Beat Twitter’s 140 Character Limit – Twitter’s 140-character limit for tweets is rooted in its origin as a text-based service: SMS messages have a 160-character limit, so tweets were limited to 140 characters, leaving 20 for users’ handles. But it’s been years since most of us used text messages as our primary means of tweeting. Instead, it’s all about desktop or mobile apps. And yet that 140-character limit hangs around, taunting us. Well, here’s a crafty way to break that limit

How to search for old Facebook posts – A new feature is rolling out now, enabling users to search for specific posts, photos or videos on Facebook.

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These Were the Most Popular Videos on YouTube in 2014 – A cute puppy playing with a Clydesdale, an overly flexible iPhone 6 Plus and a deranged robotic baby were among the videos we watched most on YouTube this year. The Google-owned website has released its annual list of the most popular videos of the year, and they cover a wide range of topics. At the top of the charts is the much-feared Mutant Spider Dog, a video in which a Polish prankster dressed his dog up as a giant tarantula and terrified unsuspecting passerby.

Home networking explained, Part 1: Here’s the URL for you – As the guy who reviews networking products, I generally receive a couple of emails a day from readers, and most of them, in one way or another, are asking about the basics of networking (as in computer-to-computer; I am not talking about social media). Instead of saying the same thing over and over in individual messages, I’ll talk about the basics of home-networking, in layman’s terms, in this series.

Hands-on with the Dropbox Mobile app’s new managing, editing, and syncing features – The vastly improved mobile app lets you do almost everything the desktop app can do. Microsoft Office integration is the biggest highlight.

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Dropbox Carousel deletes phone photos once they hit the cloud – The next generation of cloud storage from Dropbox has been revealed – deleting your phone-stored photos after they’ve been uploaded to their webspace. There are two ways to look at this. One is that you’re freeing up space on your smartphone by allowing Dropbox to hold them for you using Dropbox Carousel. The other is that you’re trusting Dropbox to have a perfect copy of your files before deleting them from your phone, also trusting that they’re only deleting said photos after the upload is complete.

Free up space on your hard drive using your cloud storage’s selective sync option – This tip is not for the privacy cautious, but if you need to make space on your hard drive try offloading infrequently used files to the cloud.

If You’re Running Windows 10 You May Have To Reinstall Office – Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul, one of the most prominent members of the Windows 10 team, announced today that a security update to the current build of the operating system will not install if a user has Office already installed. Instead, users of build 9879 of Windows 10, if they want to install the security fix, may have to uninstall Office, and later reinstall it.

YouTube Revamps Apple TV App – With the update, you can now watch every single video on YouTube from your Apple TV, meaning there will no longer be any gaps in the video library. On the downside, however, you’ll also have to deal with ads on the platform for the first time, according to Re/code. There’s also a new predictive search feature, which should make it easier to find specific videos you ant. Besides that, you can also now subscribe to your favorite channels from the app.

VLC’s Android media player app finally exits beta and hits the Play Store – VLC has long been the go-to media player on PCs with its native support for just about any audio or video format, and now it’s finally hitting Android in stable form. If you’re running a newer tablet your hardware should be able to handle the update just fine, enabling you to watch and listen to all your music, movies, and network streams with minimal hassle. VLC for Android also includes a file browser, so you can easily navigate and find anything saved on your device.

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Best Linux desktop of 2014: Linux Mint 17.1 – Summary: The new version of Mint may be the best Linux desktop ever. Heck, it may be the best desktop operating system ever, period.

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Netflix testing button that sends reminder tweets – With all the new content Netflix is adding and has planned for the coming months, keeping track of what’s new and shows you’ve been watching might be difficult. Potentially arriving in the future to help with that is a new feature Netflix is testing that leverages Twitter, something many of us check daily — a “Tweet Me a Reminder” button, which does exactly what it suggests. The reminder button seems to have first surfaced via Twitter user Rich Greenfield, who posted the screenshot below showing the feature.

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The Pirate Bay goes offline after police raid server room – Infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay was taken offline on Tuesday after a raid by Swedish police. Officers investigating the decade-old file-sharing portal’s alleged copyright infringements targeted a server room in Stockholm, seizing “several servers and computers,” according to veteran file-sharing case prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad. The site only reappeared hours later, at a new address hosted in Costa Rica, and with regular 500 internal server error codes. At present, searching or browsing for torrents on the new site is impossible.

Google’s Chromecast coming to India – The launch of the Internet giant’s streaming device is the latest example of Google’s push into the second most populous country in the world.

Security:

Patch Tuesday updates aim for Exchange and Explorer flaws – Overall, Microsoft has issued seven security bulletins for December, including three that are critical, covering security vulnerabilities found in Windows (both the server and desktop editions), Office, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Internet Explorer.

Adobe fixes Flash zero day, plus bugs in Acrobat, Reader and ColdFusion – The Acrobat updates are regularly-scheduled but the Flash and ColdFusion updates are a surprise. One Flash vulnerability is being exploited in the wild.

Hackers Reportedly Warn Sony Pictures Not to Release The Interview – An open letter from hackers who claim to have infiltrated Sony Pictures Entertainment warned studio executives not to release The Interview, a comedy that imagines a U.S. assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Two stealthy Linux malware samples uncovered, following in Windows variants’ tracks – Security researchers have uncovered two Linux variants of a complex piece of Windows malware, which is known to have previously targeted embassies, the military, and pharmaceutical companies. The new Linux malware follows the discovery of a family of Windows malware known as Turla, which researchers at Kaspersky and Symantec uncovered earlier this year. The malware is thought to be government-created and originating from Russia.

Company News:

Qualcomm laying off about 600 employees globally – Qualcomm, the world’s largest maker of computer chips for mobile devices, is laying off roughly 600 employees worldwide, as it plans to refocus its business into new areas, a company spokesperson confirmed to CNET on Tuesday. The layoffs come amid a difficult stretch of regulatory investigations into the company’s business practices and Qualcomm’s softer-than-expected fiscal outlook for 2015.

Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for ‘smuggling’ public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home – Comcast-supplied routers broadcast an encrypted, private wireless network for people at home, plus a non-encrypted network called XfinityWiFi that can be used by nearby subscribers. However, Toyer Grear, 39, and daughter Joycelyn Harris – who live together in Alameda County, California – say they never gave Comcast permission to run a public network from their home cable connection. Grear – a paralegal – and her daughter claim the Xfinity hotspot is an unauthorized intrusion into their private home, places a “vast” burden on electricity bills, opens them up to attacks by hackers, and “degrades” their bandwidth.

California cities sue Uber for misleading customers about driver background checks – Los Angeles and San Francisco are suing ride-sharing startup Uber for making misleading statements and breaking California law, the latest in a series of setbacks for the company. In a statement, the two cities’ district attorneys say that Uber misled passengers about the effectiveness of its background checks, misrepresented fees for safety checks and airport tolls, operated in airports without permission, and did not get state approval for the system it used to calculate pricing.

Judge Shuts Down Uber In Spain, Pending Taxi Association Court Action – We might be at the point of losing count of the number of places Uber is being shut down at this point. Now, after a series of protests by taxi associations in Spain, a Madrid judge has ordered ride-sharing app Uber to cease all activities as of today. The judge accepted the ‘cautionary measures’ put forward by the Madrid Taxi Association, pending a future court case the organisation wants to file against Uber.

Supreme Court says Amazon doesn’t have to pay workers to wait in security lines – Amazon warehouse workers have not been happy for years now with their need to stand in line waiting for a security check. The checks are necessary to ensure no products are being stolen, but with the amount of staff and thoroughness of the checks, it is claimed they take up to 25 minutes, all of which is unpaid. So Amazon warehouse staff started a lawsuit, and today they lost. The Supreme Court has ruled that security screenings fall under the same category as a number of other tasks workers carry out without being compensated.

Apple to open new tech center in Japan – Apple will open a technology development center just outside of Tokyo, a move that will bring it closer to parts suppliers. “We’re excited to expand our operations in Japan with a new Technical Development Center in Yokohama which will create dozens of new jobs,” Apple spokesman Takashi Takebayashi said via email. He wouldn’t say why Apple is building the facility but stressed it is not an R&D center.

Games and Entertainment:

Uncharted 4 gameplay shown for first time, looks off the charts – At Sony’s PlayStation Experience in Las Vegas, Naughty Dog showed off nearly 16 minutes of gameplay footage. Unlike the initial teaser where all we really see is Drake’s now-older, beat-up face in a pre-rendered scene, we get to see Nathan in action, and in-engine.

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Electronic Arts offers SimCity 2000 Special Edition for free – Long before Electronic Arts got its hands on the SimCity franchise, there was the inaccurately named SimCity 2000. This iconic title debuted on MacOS in 1994, and continued being quite popular all the way through the actual year 2000 on PC, DOS, and a variety of game consoles. Now you can grab this piece of gaming history on PC for free. EA is graciously giving SimCity 2000: Special Edition away. They say there’s no catch, but there is: you have to use EA’s Origin platform to play it.

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The Brilliant and Depressing Reality of ‘Black Mirror’ – A few days ago, the U.K. import Black Mirror arrived on Netflix. In typical “less is more” fashion, it’s only six episodes over two seasons, and I watched them all. While Black Mirror is technically science fiction, many of the show’s storylines feels dangerously close to becoming reality in the not-too-distant future.

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These Are the Best Facebook Games of 2014 – Facebook is out with its annual roundup of the year’s top Facebook games, with one game taking the ultimate crown.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Trustev Uses Fraud Detection Software To Crack Down On Internet Trolls – While this first anti-trolling release is intended for major news sites (it’s controlled via an analytics-like web app), it’s possible for other platforms and publishers to integrate the system as well. The possibility of wider deployment has put trolls on full alert: in the GamerGate community on 8chan (the site GamerGate moved to after 4chan decided they were too awful and permanently banned the topic), there’s currently a discussion thread discussing how to argue against Trustev’s tool on censorship grounds.

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Watch ISIS Surveillance Drones Film the Battlefields of Aleppo – A video uploaded today to an ISIS-linked YouTube account shows what appears to be footage captured by aerial drone. The four-minute clip features peaceful images of an annihilated Aleppo, as the drone hovers hundreds of feet in the air, far from the chaos, cut with visceral battle footage of fighters running in between the bombed out streets below.

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Everyone should learn to drive in a simulator – Many new drivers are learning the same way they did decades ago, but there’s a better way.

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This is the most hilarious local TV weather report we’ve ever seen – What do you do when you’re a local weather reporter and the computer that animates the forecast for the green screen freezes up? Yes, that’s right: you get help for your friends. Other than some grumbling, the first 80 seconds or so is actually pretty normal. At that point, the audience is introduced to local news hijinks — silly but nothing too out of the ordinary. It isn’t until 2:15 that we reach the zenith of local news surrealism. It’s better than 1,000 holographic Wolf Blitzers.

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CoolChip Technologies Is Redesigning The Humble Computer Fan – If there’s one part of a PC that doesn’t get enough love, it’s the fan. These small plastic spinning pieces cost almost nothing and keep hundreds or thousands of dollars of advanced technology from cooking itself. For many, these fans are becoming increasingly unnecessary. Chips built for phones, tablets and even some laptops are designed to use small enough amounts of power than they can dissipate heat without blowing a bunch of air all over everything. But for users who demand power — gamers, video editors and the like — fans are still a reality that has to be dealt with every day.

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A Laymen’s Guide to the Finance Industry’s Cryptic Jargon – Wall Street can therefore seem like a very private club. But in fact anyone can participate; the barriers to entry are as much linguistic as they are financial. With that in mind, here’s a primer on the A to Z of the financial multiverse.

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Something to think about:

“A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

–        Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

USBFlashCopy – USBFlashCopy is a small Windows utility to back up your flash drives and storage cards on the fly. It runs in the background and copies files from inserted media to a safe location on your hard drive.

Features:

Nothing to install: Simply download and run. No installation, no registry entries.

Small: USBFlashCopy is a really small utility taking no more than 300KB of space, it doesn’t require additional libraries, frameworks or anything else to download and install.

Portable: Run USBFlashCopy from any folder or drive.

Simple and clever: USBFlashCopy automatically detects when you insert a media and copies its content to a safe location. By default, it creates a sub-folder for each removable media in “My DocumentsRemovable Media Backups”.

Supports Profiles: Create profiles with separate settings for different flash sticks or storage cards. You can change default settings for new or rarely used medias.

Copies newer files only: USBFlashCopy copies only newer or updated files, you can optionally keep old versions of the files.

Move your settings: USBFlashCopy keeps its settings in an INI file, automatically created in the folder it is running from. Copy USBFlashCopy.ini along with executable to keep your settings.

For experienced users USBFlashCopy can run completely invisible. No icons, no progress bars, no prompts, it just does the job. This feature requires purchasing a key.

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JetAudio – JetAudio is integrated multimedia software made up of a single compact rack. Not only does it play various music and video files, it also has features such as CD burning, recording, and conversion to other file formats.

You can create your own Internet broadcast by using JetCast, provided with JetAudio, and you can play all major file formats, including WAV, MP3, MP3Pro, OGG, WMA, MPEG, AVI, WMV, MIDI, RM, and video and audio CD tracks.

Supports All Major File Formats

Audio CD burning

Recording

Tag Editing including multiple file tag editing

Multi-channel sound ouput

Crossfade

Skin

Media Center window with Device Manager

Subtitles

Internet CD Database

Convenient album management & Playlist

Utilities

Conversion

Audio CD Ripping

Internet Broadcasting

Various sound effects

Plus many more features!

Be careful that you choose the right download button!

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Display Driver Uninstaller – Display Driver Uninstaller is a graphics driver removal tool that helps remove all remnants of AMD, NVIDIA and Intel graphics card drivers including old registry keys, files, folders and driver stores.

Intel, AMD and Nivdia drivers can normally be uninstalled with the Windows Uninstall Programs window. However, often the standard uninstall fails or does not completely delete the old video card drivers. This can cause issues installing new / updated drivers.

After running Display Driver Uninstaller the program will make it as if you are about to install a new video driver on a fresh, clean install of Windows.

Display Driver Uninstaller makes many system changes and the author has wisely built in a function to help you remember to create a new system restore point before running the cleaner so you can revert your system if have problems. However, make sure you familiarize yourself with how to use system restore prior.

So if you having issues installing a new driver or uninstalling an old one, Display Driver Uninstaller may do the trick for you.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft tells US: The world’s servers are not yours for the taking – Microsoft’s fight against the US position that it may search its overseas servers with a valid US warrant is getting nasty.

Microsoft, which is fighting a US warrant that it hand over e-mail to the US from its Ireland servers, wants the Obama administration to ponder a scenario where the “shoe is on the other foot.”

“Imagine this scenario. Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany,” Microsoft said. “They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter’s box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei.”

In a Monday legal filing with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, Microsoft added that the US government would be outraged.

“This case presents a digital version of the same scenario, but the shoe is on the other foot,” the Redmond, Washington-based company said in its opening brief in a closely watched appeal.

The appeal is of a July court decision demanding that Microsoft hand over e-mail stored on an overseas server as part of a US drug trafficking investigation. Microsoft, which often stores e-mail on servers closest to the account holder, said the e-mail is protected by “Irish and European privacy laws.”

The 8 biggest lies the CIA told about torture – The newly released Senate report has already drawn attention for its harrowing view of the details of US torture, but it also comes at the end of a long and frightening effort to keep those details secret. As the new report makes clear, CIA officials lied to Congress over and over in defense of the program, whether it was to make torture seem more effective, less brutal, or more legally sanctioned than it really was, making it impossible for the legislature to provide effective oversight.

Here are the eight biggest lies, noted with frustration over and over again throughout the report. It’s an incomplete list, but an important one to keep in mind if there’s ever going to be a meaningful check on the power of US intelligence agencies.

The man who did the most to fight CIA torture is still in prison – Today, John Kiriakou is in a federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, serving two and a half years for disclosing classified information — confirming the name of a CIA agent to a New York Times reporter. Facing 30 years, he took a plea deal for 30 months. He has five children, and it’s been difficult to see them while he’s been inside. He’s scheduled to move to house arrest in February, before his sentence finishes up in May.

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Already, it seems unlikely that anyone of the interrogators revealed today will have to face the same troubles. The same Attorney General that put Kiriakou in jail has already declined to prosecute any of his colleagues. The international courts have called for prosecutions, but it’s unlikely they’ll come to anything. It seems absurd to say that what Kiriakou did was more criminal than what the interrogators did, but politics has never shied away from the absurd.

It’s worth remembering Kiriakou not as a call for retribution or even justice, but just to make sense of what happened. Why were we so committed to useless atrocities? Why did it take six years to give up practices that had been outlawed for decades? Why was it so hard to stop doing the wrong thing? The sad answer is that when someone did the right thing, we gave them hell for it.

DOJ: Companies need to trust gov’t on cybersecurity – The U.S. fight against cybercrime would be more effective if companies put more trust in the country’s law enforcement agencies, a top U.S. Department of Justice official said.

The DOJ and private companies already cooperate on many cybercrime investigations, but more trust is still needed, said Leslie Caldwell[cq], assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s Criminal Division.

“There’s a tendency among the public, including private-sector technology companies, to a little bit conflate what the Criminal Division does with what other government agencies might do,” Caldwell said Tuesday during a forum on cybersecurity in Washington, D.C.

Revelations over the past year and a half of U.S. National Security Agency surveillance have caused “an erosion of trust and a kind of a demonization” of the government, she said. Investigations by the DOJ’s Criminal Division require search warrants and other court supervision, Caldwell added.

“I would like to see a little more feeling of trust” from private companies, she said, when asked how companies can help with cybersecurity investigations.

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

What Does YouTube’s New Live Streaming Mean for You?

Guest author Ken Myers, takes us on a tour of YouTube’s live streaming service.

Since its creation, YouTube has generated a great deal of interest worldwide from the online community. It has been a place to promote music, acting styles, news broadcasts and more. Throughout 2013, the media powerhouse worked on implementing the ability to live stream events from a user’s account. But what does this mean for you and the YouTube community?

Further Promotional Tactics – There are many YouTube celebrities that relish in having more than half of a million subscribers watching their material. Although editing techniques are what add life and visual appeal at times, live streaming special events could drive the traffic to a channel exponentially. After all, live feeds have always been an attraction for various mediums, including traditional television.In the past, several events have been streamed live across the social media hub and were successful at engaging various viewers. Could this tactic help you promote your own business through the website?

Bloopers Galore – Some actors have a difficult time maintaining their focus on camera. It’s not often that a show can be performed live and not have a great deal of mistakes. Watching these events live could provide you with greater entertainment, though, especially if your favorite celebrities are struggling to keep it together. On the other hand, this is also how a family movie can turn into an R-rated episode. If you plan on capitalizing on the live feed, you need to bring your A-game.

Questionable Materials – Thanks to efforts by Google, you’re less likely to be able to produce material that is morally questionable without feeling some kind of repercussion. Although some people may try to take advantage of the live stream, it’s unlikely they’ll succeed at promoting this content. In order to provide a video for a live event, you need to have more than 1000 subscribers. This rule was implemented to ensure that you are serious about developing quality material for your viewers, making you less likely to take advantage of a live broadcast. If you can prove that you belong to a non-profit organization, you could begin streaming immediately.

Compared to Other Streaming Services – Many live streaming services on the Internet have been developed to allow virtually anyone with a webcam to promote themselves. Unlike YouTube, these services often don’t have any requirements past the basic illegal and adult contracts you must agree to before using the service. Without having a single follower or subscriber, anyone is able to get on these systems and talk about anything. If you’ve ever been to one of these websites, you understand how the quality of the material is lacking. YouTube live streams, on the other hand, require you to have a sense of professionalism and to provide quality material.

Engaging Your Subscribers – In order to grow a subscriber base, your material has to engaging. However, you have to begin producing videos to find out if people will find your content worthy of watching. To keep and increase your subscribers, you can further interact with them by developing a live stream and responding to questions on your Twitter account. This can increase both your viewership and your Twitter activity in a profound way. Of course, it helps to have a level of popularity before committing to a live broadcast of your show.

Future Content – Although some YouTube celebrities may see the value in live streaming their broadcasts, many may still opt out of using those services. For instance, if you produce material that is effects driven, it’s far more difficult to provide the same level of entertainment value. Talk shows and gaming channels are more likely to take advantage of providing a live feed because of the nature of their content. Many popular YouTube shows are unedited as it is, so little would change in the way of creating a live stream or a regular upload for these people.

For many, live streaming content may be nothing more than a pipe-dream. It takes a serious minded individual to develop content that is entertaining enough to draw in the necessary number of subscribers needed. For the rest of us, though, it may be an entertaining way to see our favorite YouTube celebrities sans the editing.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

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Filed under Freeware, Google, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Video Tools, YouTube

The Day The LOLcats Died – SOPA – PIPA Protest Song – Brilliant!

imageThe proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has run into a brick wall. And, you and I, combined with the unprecedented  groundswell of public and corporate support across the Internet, have made all the difference. We helped build that wall.

Not to suggest, that the prime movers behind this repressive legislation, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the Country Music Association, and the Motion Picture Association of America –  supported by their purchased political cronies of course, won’t be back. Corporate greed is much like a runaway locomotive – hard to stop – until it runs off the rails.

So, there’s no relaxing yet. Let’s run this corporate greed machine right off the rails! Let’s all keep up the good fight.

Regular reader – Delenn13 – who has a knack for finding the most interesting items on the Net – has recommended taking a peek at a brilliant satirical anti-SOPA song set to the tune of of American Pie, the hugely popular 1971 classic hit by Don McLean.

Thank you Delenn13 – a great find which is definitely worth a view.

Can’t seem to post the video into this article – so simply click on the link and you’re away.

The Day The LOLcats Died

 

 

 

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Filed under Opinion, Point of View, SOPA

Billions Set To Watch The Royal Wedding On TV & Online

Guest writer David Samuel, who’s close to the action in the UK, gives us his take on the big day.

imageWhile most people in the UK are simply thankful for an extra bank holiday and extra beer drinking time, the rest of the world have embraced the royal fever and the Royal Family have certainly embraced social media.

No monarchy is as popular, and as well liked, as the Windsors right now. With a TV & Online audience set to topple the 2 billion mark, the question on everybody’s lips is – where will you be watching it?

Online & Social Media

Wise to the royal frenzy, Google have recently announced that the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, on April 29, will be streamed live on YouTube. The live stream is set to start at 0900 GMT with millions expected to login and watch it live. The music performed at the wedding ceremony will immediately be made available for download.

Viewers will also be able to follow all the action on Twitter, as well as download Royal apps leading up to the big event.

Television

Unless you switch your TV off on the day of the royal wedding, you’ll have a very hard time escaping it. To say the royal wedding will be a huge media event is a colossal understatement.

Every news organization worldwide, will be contending for position to broadcast the royal wedding live. Many electrical retailers have reported increased sales in TVs and projectors – with many splashing out on a new HD TV to watch the couple looking their royal best.

Street Party

The Brits certainly know how to party, and with the Prime Minister urging the nation to “get on and have fun” on the day of the royal wedding, most will gladly oblige. Over 4,000 applications for street parties have been requested in England and Wales on the day of the royal wedding. With 2 million expected to celebrate on the streets, so no excuses grab your Union Jack attire and join the fun.

Live

The famous Regent Street in London is now cloaked in Union Jack flags in preparation for the royal wedding. An extra 600,000 tourists, from home and overseas, are expected to congregate along the procession to get a glimpse of the royal couple.

3D TV

While many broadcasters were salivating at the thought of the first 3D royal wedding, it was soon ruled out by Buckingham Palace. Google once again, not missing a trick, expanded its Google Earth 3D imagery to include the entire route of wedding procession. Google declared that “With this new 3D data covering the royal procession route, you can indulge yourself in a “royals’-eye”.

The social media coverage of the royal wedding is unprecedented and, is “in line with the couple’s wishes to make the wedding as accessible as possible for as many people as want to participate,” stated Buckingham Palace.

The role of social media in the royal wedding highlights just how far media communication has developed. The wedding between Prince Charles and Dianna, 30 years ago, was only available on TV, with viewers now likely to be watching the event on television, or YouTube, while liaising with theirs on social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

It really is a digital revolution and all that is left to do is wish the happy couple a happy future.

Biography:

David Samuel is an electronic media consultant, with over 13 years’ involvement with some of the leading electronic retailers. David’s awareness and market intelligence make him one of the best equipped experts around. While specialising in LCD TVs David’s knowledge covers a wider spectrum of consumer electronics.

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Filed under Communication, Connected Devices, FaceBook, Google, Interconnectivity, Social Networks, Windows Tips and Tools, YouTube

Hallmark Card Studio 2011 – Greeting Card Software On Steroids

imageThe history behind greeting cards is fascinating. Did you know for example, that greeting cards may well go back as far as the ancient Egyptians? Or, that there is evidence that in ancient Chinese culture, greeting cards were used to convey New Year’s  “best wishes”?

Stepping into the modern age, greeting cards are now exchanged on virtually every occasion, from Births to Deaths, Marriage, Divorce, Anniversaries ………….. and on special days: Birthdays, Valentines, Thanksgiving ……… and of course, Christmas. By some accounts, more than two Billion Christmas cards are exchanged annually, just within the United States!

There’s no doubt that the greeting card business is BIG BUSINESS. We’re all pretty familiar with the extensive display areas often set aside in retail outlets –  displays that can be captivating, and designed to influence our purchasing preferences.

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Personally, I find that buying a premade greeting card can be, more often than not, a daunting experience. It takes me forever to decide whether the card should be funny or serious, traditional or new age, sentimental and sappy, or …………

But, technology has come to my rescue, in a sense. Using the right computer software, I’ve found that I can construct my own greeting cards that are just as attractive as a premade store-bought card. And better yet, my self made cards seem to be more meaningful to those on my mailing list.

Recently, I tested the new Hallmark Card Studio 2011 application, which now includes – not only the tools to construct spectacular greeting cards, but integration with YouTube, Facebook, and other social networks; exclusive Hallmark fonts; and graphics for designing custom calendars, photo cards, note cards, matching stationery and envelope sets, as well as invitations and scrapbooks.

As a bonus, Hallmark Card Studio 2011 provides the user with an Event Planner which includes an address book and mailing list. Event Planner takes the worry out of trying to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other important events.

Fast facts:

New! User Interface – Easier than ever before with popular design tools now at your fingertips.

New! Integration with Facebook and other social networks.

Enhanced! Hallmark Graphics Collection with even more images.

Photo Cards, Calendars, 3D Cards & 3D Projects.

Hallmark Note Writing Guide.

Easy to Use! A tutorial gets you started fast.

6,700+ Hallmark Greeting Cards and customizable projects.

1,000+ Spectacular Graphics to complement your designs.

Search projects easily by design theme or occasion.

Event Planner can help you keep track of your schedule and contact information (including birthdays and anniversaries) for all the special people in your life.

Hallmark sentiment library with 5,400+ sentiments.

Installation, from the DVD, is the usual click – click – click, and you’re done – straightforward and simple.

The user interface has been designed, it seems to me, to appeal to the hobbyist and is a bit retro.

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But, once past the opening screen, the interface reverts to a more familiar classical layout – as illustrated in the following screen capture.

The following screen shots represent a walkthrough in choosing, and then emailing a personalized Christmas card. Clicking on any graphic will expand it to it’s original size. Since these shots were captured on a 22 inch screen, they are very large.

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I’ve chosen a rather sentimental card – but aren’t all technologists sentimental?  You’ll notice that there are an abundance of tools and selections available so that you can customize to your hearts content.

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Rather than having to stay with an old familiar message, you’re sure to find just what you’re looking for with the extensive “greetings” menu.

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Adding sounds, and music to your card is a snap, and adds that “just so” finish.

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Emailing your creation, or sharing it on Facebook and YouTube, couldn’t be easier. Simply select, and go for it!

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I’ve been using this type of application for years, but Hallmark Card Studio 2011 is a major step up from what I’m use to. The choices and customization possibilities seem endless – very impressive.

Despite the fact that I’ve been using this application for only a few days, and I have yet to really dig below the surface, I have no hesitation in recommending Hallmark Card Studio 2011 to those who enjoy that special feeling that comes from construction their own greeting cards.

The application is available at $29.99 at the the publishers website here.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7.

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Filed under Arts and Crafts, Digital Media, Email, Interconnectivity, Productivity Software, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP, YouTube

“Officer Bubbles” Blows Threats At YouTube

imageI’m very supportive of the police (in most circumstances), and I’m well aware that they do courageous work. But, that support stops when unlawful petty tyranny is used to intimidate those who are engaged in exercising their right to protest against public policy.

The freedom to express an opinion, on public issues, is one of the most important foundation blocks of western democracy. That includes the right to protest against policies that some might consider pro-corporate policies of their government.

While Canadian Forces are fighting in Afghanistan, in defense of the right of the people of Afghanistan to choose democracy as their representative form of government, Canadians were recently exposed to their own government’s hypocrisy, writ large.

During the G20 summit held in Toronto in late June of this year, democracy took a beating – leading to the arrest of more than 1,100 protestors (including members of the media), who were then held in cages, open to the weather, for periods ranging from hours to days. All those held in these conditions, were denied access to legal counsel.

Common complaints by those who were held included – being left cold, hungry, without water, and without proper toilet facilities. A number of female protestors subsequently revealed, they had been sexually threatened by the police, strip searched, and taunted with threats of rape.

Virtually all of the caged protesters were released without charge, after having spent as much as several days in these conditions. Of those left facing charges, 6 have pleaded guilty to minor infractions, leaving 17 individuals still to be dealt with by the courts.

There are now a slew of ongoing lawsuits (totaling in excess of 200 Million dollars), claiming assault and battery, unlawful arrest and detention, malicious prosecution, and violations of constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, police conduct is now being investigated by no fewer than three separate government inquiries.

A reasonable person could conclude that the Toronto police overreacted, and engaged in the wholesale suppression of democratic rights during the G20 summit. A powerful representation of this overreaction was illustrated by the now infamous “Officer Bubbles” incident, in which a Toronto policeman threatened to, and then subsequently arrested, a young woman for blowing bubbles.

The cell phone video of this incident “Officer Bubbles”- From Bubbles to Bookings, has proven to be a big hit on YouTube.

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As well, this incident has led to the creation of some rather pointed cartoons, staring Officer Bubbles, which are widely available on the Internet.

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Taking things from the sublime to the ridiculous, Officer Bubbles – Adam Josephs – has now launched a Million dollar defamation lawsuit against YouTube, in an attempt to force YouTube to divulge the identities of those who made a series of negative online comments. According to the lawsuit, there are 24 identities being sought.

In a show of resistance to this patently absurd situation, scores of new comments (including the one below), have been posted – many of which challenge Josephs to add their names as defendants to the lawsuit.

Hey officer bubbles.

It’s James Piper. Kitchener, Ontario.

Free speech reigns.

I suspect that this lawsuit will never make it into court, and should it do so, it will be dismissed. Hopefully, Officer Bubbles will be reminded by the courts, that attempting to suppress an online community through bully tactics, is a non starter.

I can’t imagine, that in a democracy, the right to comment on public issues would be infringed. But then again, that’s where this article started.

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Filed under Interconnectivity, Opinion, Recommended Web Sites, YouTube