Latest Technology News

Snowden's leaks served only to strengthen the NSA's resolve

Snowden's leaks served only to strengthen the NSA's resolve

Edward Snowden is heralded as both a hero and villain. A privacy vigilante and a traitor. It just depends who you ask. The revelations he made about the NSA's surveillance programs have completely changed the face of online security, and changed the way everyone looks at the internet and privacy.

But just before the whistle was blown, it seems that the NSA was considering bringing its telephone data collection program to an end. Intelligence officials were, behind the scenes, questioning whether the benefits of gathering counter-terrorism information justified the colossal costs involved. Then Snowden went public and essentially forced the agency's hand.

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First look: Process Lasso 8

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Whether you’re working on your PC or not, there are always plenty of processes running in the background: system services, program updaters, security tools, scheduled tasks and so on.

Windows uses a range of techniques to decide how your system resources are shared out, but you may still find some processes grab more than you’d like, drastically cutting the performance of everything else.

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Amazon Fire TV -- how to check version number and update


This week Amazon rolled out its latest update for Fire TV. The package contains all sort of enhancements for the platform, including expandable storage via USB, better Wi-Fi connectivity for those in a hotel or dorm room, music playlists through Prime, and a whole lot more.

So, how do you know what version you're set-top box is currently running and how do you check to see if the update is yet available to you? The process is pretty simple and the steps are listed below, so let's walk through it.

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Highlight key text on web pages with Super Simple Highlighter for Chrome


You're working on some web research project, part way through a lengthy page, when it's time to go and do something else. Annoying, because while you can bookmark the site, when you next return you’ll still have to find all the most important quotes and paragraphs all over again.

Super Simple Highlighter is a Chrome extension which makes it easy to highlight one or more sections of a page, restoring them when you return (usually) so you can carry on where you left off.

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The FBI wants your computer and mobile to be insecure

The FBI wants your computer and mobile to be insecure

You'd think that governments would be encouraging people to keep their computers and personal data safe. Until relatively recently, this has been exactly what the FBI has been pushing -- suggesting that phone users should enable encryption on their handsets. But it seems that there has been something of a change of heart. It's probably Snowden's fault.

Now, as part of an "ongoing website redesign", advice about using encryption and protective PINs has vanished from the FBI website. Forget the security-focused devices such as the Blackphone 2, it appears that the bureau wants your data, and you, to be insecure.

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Microsoft schedules more Lumias to receive Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones


Windows Phone users are a special bunch. They have chosen to invest in the last-place mobile ecosystem. The reason they chose this route can be many things, such as Microsoft loyalty or having an underdog personality. The most sensible reason for choosing Windows Phone, however, is the potential low cost of ownership coupled with the well-designed user interface. It is a solid experience.

Of course, these users are very anxious to try the next version of the mobile operating system, Windows 10 for phones. When Microsoft released the Technical Preview of the OS last month, the list of compatible devices was so small, that many users of the non-compatible devices felt a bit jilted, and rightfully so. Today, Microsoft releases a list of devices scheduled to get the next version of Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. To the delight of Windows Phone users, the list is much more extensive, but only includes Lumia devices.

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Google responds to Wall Street Journal's FTC-report hatchet

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Today, Rachel Whetstone, Google's senior vice president of communications and policy, asks what has been on my mind since a stunning scoop set the Wall Street Journal against the Federal Trade Commission and the search and information giant. As I explained in an analysis of the news reporting, the story is flush with insinuation and veiled accusation, bereft of context.

Among my more serious concerns: Journal-parent News Corp's ongoing tug-a-war with Google's business model and its impact on paid content. Both entities likely would benefit by any means that trustbusters could crimp Google. The scoop's timing and tone look like they intend to influence European Union public policy. Ms. Whetstone's response is brilliant, because it gets to the point: Conflict of interest taints the Journal's credibility and impartiality. She rightly observes: "We understand you have a new found love of the regulatory process, especially in Europe".

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Go to summer school with Microsoft -- get $5,000 and a free laptop!


When people think of "summer school", they often think of underachieving students attending classes in the summer due to deficiencies in their grades during the normal school year. This can be very true; I often had to do this to make up for my failing grades as a young man. Summer school is not only for slackers, however, as I often took college courses during that season as a way to speed up my path to graduation.

Today, Microsoft announces the Research Data Science Summer School in New York. If you are interested in applying, you should act fast.

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Slack is tardy to the two-factor authentication party

Slack is tardy to the two-factor authentication party

Following a four-day long security breach back in February, chat and collaboration tool Slack is finally getting two-factor authentication. Last month, the encrypted central user database was accessed by hackers although there is no indication that hashed passwords were decrypted.

Slack insists that no payment information was seen by hackers, and while the breach is far from good news, there is a silver lining: it has forced the company to look harder at security. Starting today, two-factor authentication is available which locks down accounts via the Android, iOS and Windows Phone apps.

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How custom software streamlines business processes, and three common problems


When you think about streamlining your organization's business processes, your thoughts may turn quickly to automation. With all of the buzz around business automation -- and the benefits that are supposed to go along with it -- that makes sense. But as is so often the case, the real story behind streamlined processes isn't as simple as automating every possible task.

In fact, one of the keys to building better processes through custom software is to understand that some tasks are better suited to human beings, while others are ideal for computers. A human can react quickly to new and unexpected contexts and make complicated decisions on the fly. Software, on the other hand, excels at sophisticated number crunching and repetitive tasks governed by consistent rules.

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Exclusive: Widespread security flaw affects hundreds of UK news sites

Exclusive: Widespread security flaw affects hundreds of UK news sites

A security flaw has been discovered in a number of UK news websites, potentially placing 24.5 million users at risk. The problem was found in websites run by Johnston Press, a UK media group that is responsible for scores of regional news websites.

Just a few days ago we reported about the findings of security researcher Brute Logic. He discovered an XSS vulnerability on Amazon that risked exposing user data and could be used to compromise accounts. Now the same researcher has discovered another cross-site scripting security flaw that could be used to redirect visitors to malicious websites -- and it's worryingly simple to exploit.

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Pebble Time raises more than $20 million on Kickstarter

Pebble Time Steel

Pebble is one the few startups that knows how to get the most out of a Kickstarter campaign. Three years ago, it was the first on the crowdsourcing platform to raise more than $10 million in funding, and now it is the first to have broken the $20 million mark. Pebble's latest record is likely to last for a while, seeing as it took over two years for its first one to be broken.

At the time of writing this article, Pebble's Time campaign has attracted nearly 78,000 backers, who have pledged $20.16 million in total. The average contribution is $258.9, which exceeds the latest asking prices of $179 for Time and $250 for Time Steel.

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Dropbox brings commenting to its business app

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Last week Dropbox announced that it would be adding a commenting system to Dropbox for Business, allowing for better communication between contributors. The cloud storage service promised it would roll this feature out in the near future. How soon is now for you? The company is announcing that comments are now live, at least somewhat.

If you want to test it out then you'll need early access. According to Dropbox "commenting will allow anyone to add feedback and discussions to files you’ve shared with them. We’re happy to announce that Dropbox for Business teams can start using commenting today, on the web and on iOS. Admins can turn on this feature by visiting our early access page".

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Fitness tracker market could double in value by 2019


The fitness tracking market might boom to $5 billion by 2019, according to tech analyst group Parks Associates.

That would be double the current value at $2 billion, but correlates with the current growth rate quite nicely, bearing in mind the surge in interest thanks to the Apple Watch and other smartwatch vendors.

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Best Windows apps this week


One-hundred and twenty four in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps and games released for Windows in the past seven days.

Microsoft released the Windows 10 SDK tools for developers this week and an update for the Surface Pro 3 which improves the device by enabling you to disable certain hardware that you don't require using UEFI.

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