software

Data Privacy Day – January 28, 2016

Data Privacy Day – January 28, 2016

Data Privacy Day (DPD) is an effort to empower people to protect their privacy, control their digital footprint and escalate the protection of privacy and data as everyone’s priority. Held annually on January 28th, Data Privacy Day aims to increase awareness of privacy and data protection issues among consumers, organizations, and government officials. DPD helps industry, academia, and advocates to highlight consumer privacy efforts.​

Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the January 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. Data Privacy Day is now a celebration for everyone, observed annually on Jan. 28.​

Data Privacy Day is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit, public private partnership focused on cyber security education for all online citizens. StaySafeOnline.org has many resources to help you, your family and your business stay safe online.

Free Security Check-Ups​ Check your computer for known viruses, spyware, and discover if your computer is vulnerable to cyber attacks.
https://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/free-security-check-ups/

Check Your Privacy Settings​ One-stop shop for easy instructions to update your privacy settings wherever and however you go online.
https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/check-your-privacy-settings/

 Parent Resources Information regarding cyberbullying, child identity theft, Facebook for parents, social networking, etc.
https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/parent-resources

 Educator Resources​ Prepared educational materials for the classroom, K – 12th grades.
https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/educator-resources

 Business Resources Informational resources for businesses regarding bring your own device, information security, document destruction, compliance, data breach, and risk management. https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/business-resources

 Privacy and Domestic Violence Resources for domestic violence survivors and victims to help safeguard the privacy of their personal information.
https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/privacy-and-domestic-violence/

Windows 10 is getting its first mega-update on Thursday

After updating your Windows 10 PC, your computer will boot faster, your photos will be clearer, reminders will be easier to set, and your PC will perform more smoothly. But Windows 10 won’t look any different — most of the improvements are under the hood.

It’s essentially Windows 10’s first “service pack,” the term Microsoft had used for its occasional major updates that squash bugs and add new features. Just don’t call it a service pack. Microsoft is touting its new “Windows as a service” model with Windows 10, by constantly upgrading the software. “We’re just calling it the November update,” said Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and devices group. “We’re signaling that we’re moving away from that service pack idea — but in truth it is every bit a service pack.” Windows 10 will continue to evolve over time as customers provide feedback.

Microsoft says the new update will make Windows 10 boot 30% faster than Windows 7 PCs. The Edge browser will get a Chrome-like feature, allowing people to sync their favorites across all Windows 10 devices. You’ll be able to use handwriting to set reminders in the Cortana virtual assistant app. And a host of driver updates will help make Windows 10 PCs take better photos and run more smoothly.

The update is also huge for corporate customers. Microsoft is giving Windows 10 a host of new features that make it ready for broad deployment in business environments. For example, after the update, IT managers will get control over how their Windows 10 devices get updated within their organization. This “feature” or lack thereof, was a major stumbling block causing many corporate customers to avoid the Windows 10 upgrade completely.

Currently, more than 110 million PCs are already running Windows 10, which only debuted on July 29, making it the fastest adoption for any version of Windows in history. Now that it’s ready for the corporate world, Microsoft is expecting Windows 10 to be the fastest-ever upgrade for businesses as well. Xboxes will also be getting Windows 10 upgrades Thursday.

Microsoft’s goal is to have Windows 10 running on more than 1 billion devices by 2018.

Microsoft Tweaks Windows 10 Upgrade Process


Only 3 months into the Windows 10 release and Microsoft is changing the process for upgrading users. Windows Update will soon be showing Windows 10 as an “optional update” for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. However, Microsoft plans to bump it up to a “recommended update” sometime “early next year,” according to the announcement.

The operating system could automatically install as a recommended update, depending on an organization’s Windows Update settings, Microsoft warned. However, it will be possible to roll back these Windows 10 upgrades within 31 days if wanted.

Media Creation Tool
Another change is that Microsoft plans to enhance its free Media Creation Tool to facilitate upgrades to Windows 10 Home and Pro editions. It’s not clear exactly what will be enhanced, though, based on Microsoft’s announcement. The tool can be downloaded and used to create 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10 ISOs, either for upgrades or clean installs across multiple machines. The ISOs get created using DVDs or USB drives.

Reservations Going Away
It seems that this scenario is changing. Microsoft explained today that it is now dispensing with the reservation system for Windows 10 upgrades. That system let people sign up to get Windows 10, but they’d still have to wait months for the installation to actually happen. Now, if the upgrade invite is accepted, Microsoft’s Windows Update service will install Windows 10 right away.

Upgraders will get a notice when the downloaded files are available to install Windows 10. Once installed, users will have 31 days to roll back to the old Windows, if they want to. The rollback is possible because Microsoft now keeps “a full copy of your previous operating system on your device — including apps and settings,” over that 31 day time period.
Those Windows users who are eligible for the free upgrade but who just don’t want Windows 10 have a new option. They can use the Settings control in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to decline getting future Windows 10 upgrade notices, Microsoft’s announcement indicated.

‘Non-Genuine’ Upgrades

Microsoft’s corporate goal is to get Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by its fiscal-year 2018. Its free upgrade offer bumped Windows 10 use to 75 million devices back in August. This month, Microsoft is claiming there are “more than 110 million devices” running Windows 10. To prod more upgrades, Microsoft is planning an experiment in the U.S. market for so-called “non-Genuine” Windows users.

Non-Genuine Windows users will get a “one-click” Windows 10 upgrade opportunity. It will allow them to change the device’s product key on the fly via a link to the Windows Store allowing them to buy a legitimate Windows 10 product key. If the experiment proves successful in the U.S. market, Microsoft could expand it to other markets.

Windows Blog:
| http://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2015/10/29/making-it-easier-to-upgrade-to-windows-10/

WinBeta Blog:
http://www.winbeta.org/news/non-genuine-windows-users-will-get-one-click-upgrade-windows-10

WAZE Finally Gets An Update

I’m always happy when one of my favorite FREE apps gets a major update. Even though I have built in navigation in my car, I always use and actually prefer Waze when I travel. I don’t worry about renting a car with a GPS to get around in an unfamiliar city or state – I simply plug in my iPhone, fire up Waze and type in my destination. Long gone are the detailed state highway maps and TripTik’s of my youth.

Waze, the navigation app that uses crowdsourced data to warn drivers about incidents on the road has just completed its biggest update since being acquired by Google over 2 years ago.

Yesterday, Waze launched a major update for its popular turn-by-turn navigation app. The entire user interface has been revamped for “higher visibility and clarity,” while still retaining the colorful, almost cartoonish appearance that has become its signature. It’s still bold and bright, but is noticeably less cluttered than before. Version 4.0 also adds a new ETA panel that puts traffic reports, alternate routes, and other useful options just one tap away.

Waze will also now give you a heads up about certain accidents before you even get in the car. The “smart calendar” feature will alert users when road incidents are likely to impact the day’s schedule, giving you the chance to leave earlier and minimize delays.

And last, Waze claims to have made significant improvements to battery consumption; the app will now use less of your phone’s charge to get you from place to place. Most people probably have their phones plugged in when driving around, so this is one change that may go unnoticed by many of Waze’s users.

And there are still a lot of Wazers out there, even after Google acquired the app and rolled almost all of its best functionality into Google Maps. Maybe it’s the social element of the app (sharing your ETA with friends, etc.) or the perception that Waze’s traffic alerts are more timely than those in Maps. Either way, it’s good to see a major update that’s a bit more substantial than simply adding yet another celebrity voice. Waze remains a free download, and the latest version is available on iOS now and will hit Android very soon.

Hello Alexa


Amazon Echo, also known as Alexa, is a voice command device from Amazon.com with functions including question answering, playing music and controlling smart devices. It’s a tall cylinder with a seven-piece microphone array and speakers that include a woofer/tweeter and a remote control. The device responds to the name “Alexa”, however this “wake word” can be changed by the user. Amazon had been developing Echo inside their Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Mass labs for at least four years. The device, codenamed ‘Doppler’ or ‘Project D’, was part of Amazon’s first attempts to expand its device portfolio beyond the original Kindle E-reader.

The Echo, previously available to Amazon Prime members or by invitation only, became widely available in late June, 2015. Additionally the service behind it (Alexa Voice Service) is now available to be added to other devices and other companies’ devices and services are encouraged to connect to it (using the Alexa Skills Kit).

Cloud-based processing
Amazon Echo runs on Amazon Web Services. In the default mode the device continuously listens to all speech, monitoring for the wake word to be spoken. The device also comes with a manually and voice-activated remote control which can be used in lieu of the ‘wake word’. Echo’s microphones can be manually disabled by pressing a mute button to turn off the audio processing circuit.

Echo requires a Wi-Fi internet connection in order to work. Its voice recognition capability is based on Amazon Web Services and the Amazon common voice platform it acquired from Yap, Evi, and IVONA. Echo performs well with a ‘good’ Internet connection which minimizes processing time due to minimal communication round trips, streamable responses and geo-distributed service endpoints.

Natural voices
Echo’s natural lifelike voices result from speech-unit selection technology. High speech accuracy is achieved through sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) algorithms built into the Echo’s text-to-speech (TTS) engine.
Services Available

Echo offers weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn. Echo will play music from the users Amazon Music accounts and built in support for the Pandora streaming music service was recently added, as was support for IFTTT (If This, Then That).

Echo can also play music from streaming services such as Apple Music, and Google Play Music from a phone or tablet. Echo maintains your voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping and to-do lists and will respond to your questions about items in your Google calendar. It also integrates with Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo, SmartThings, and Wink. Additionally, integration with Echo is in the works for Countertop by Orange Chef, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, MARA, and Mojio.

Privacy Concerns
There are concerns about the access Echo has to private conversations in the home, or other non-verbal indications that can identify who is present in the home and who is not—based on audible cues such as footstep-cadence or radio/television programming. Amazon responds to these concerns by stating that Echo only streams recordings from the user’s home when the ‘wake word’ activates the device. However, remember Echo is always be listening to detect that a user has uttered the word.

Echo uses past voice recordings the user has sent to the cloud service to improve response to future questions the user may pose. To address privacy concerns, the user can delete voice recordings that are currently associated with the user’s account, but doing so may degrade the user’s experience using voice search. To delete these recordings, the user must visit the Manage My Device page on Amazon.com or contact Amazon customer service.

Echo determines its location in the user’s home by the collection of networks detected including Wi-Fi routers, the signal strengths of these routers, the type of security the routers use, and the registration information provided by the broadband carrier of these devices. Amazon and third-party apps and websites use location information to provide location-based services and store this information to provide voice services, the Maps app, Find Your Device, and to monitor the performance and accuracy of location services. For example, Echo voice services use the user’s location to respond to the user’s requests for nearby restaurants or stores. Similarly, Echo uses the user’s location to process the user’s mapping-related requests and improve the Maps experience. All information collected is subject to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice.

Limitations
Purchasing merchandise or digital media such as songs, by commanding Echo to buy the song, does require manual intervention—through an alternate user interface—to complete the purchase. Echo has demonstrated hit-or-miss results when asked common questions that users would expect better answers to.

The current location of the device is set to Seattle (Amazon headquarters) by default and must be changed manually, and can only be set to a location within the USA. This is different from smartphone-based voice assistants that can get the actual location via built-in GPS locators. This restriction can lead to undesired or seemingly “wrong” results for questions that imply the location such as “What is the weather” (around here) or “Set an alarm for 1000am” (local time here).
Echo is currently available on Amazon.com for $179.99 Prime and you expect much more functionality in the future as Amazon just dropped another $100 Million in the developers pot.

Amazon Echo Video:
http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-SK705DI-Echo/dp/B00X4WHP5E

Check out another Echo Video here:

Windows 10 Is Spying On You


Windows 10 is here and it’s faster, smoother and more user-friendly than any Windows operating system that has come before it. Windows 10 is everything Windows 8 should have been, addressing nearly all of the major problems users had with Microsoft’s previous operating system in one fell swoop.

But there’s something you should know: As you read this article from your newly upgraded PC, Windows 10 is also spying on nearly everything you do.

“It’s your own fault if you don’t know that Windows 10 is spying on you.” That’s what people always say when users fail to read through a company’s terms of service document, right?

Well, here is Microsoft’s 12,000-word service agreement. Some of it is probably in English. I’m pretty sure it says you can’t steal Windows or use Windows to send spam, and also that Microsoft reserves the right to take possession of your first-born child if it so chooses. And that’s only one of several documents you’ll have to read through.

Actually, here’s one excerpt from Microsoft’s privacy statement that everyone can understand:

Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to: 1.Comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies;
2.Protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone;
3.Operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or
4.Protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.

If that sentence sent shivers down your spine, don’t worry. As invasive as it is, Microsoft does allow Windows 10 users to opt out of all of the features that might be considered invasions of privacy. Of course, users are opted in by default, which is more than a little disconcerting, but let’s focus on the solution.

First, you’ll want to open Settings and click on Privacy. There, you’ll find 13 different screens — yes, 13 — to go through, and you’ll want to disable anything that seems at all intrusive or worrisome. Most of the important settings can be found on the General tab, though other tabs are important as well. For example, you’ll definitely want to adjust what types of data each app on your system can access.

Next, users should consider dumping Cortana. Yes, the voice-driven assistant is easily one of the best new features in Windows 10, but it also plays fast and loose with your data. As a result, many users will find that the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

To complete the third task, you’ll have to venture outside the confines of your PC and hit the web. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to check out Microsoft’s nifty new Edge browser. In it, click on this link and set both “Personalized ads in this browser” and “Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account” to off. This will disable Microsoft’s Google-style ad tracking features.

The last tip is one that most users will likely skip, as it is a bit excessive. Some users are removing their Microsoft account from Windows 10 completely and using a newly created local account instead. This way, Microsoft doesn’t grab hold of all your data to sync it across machines. To me, that’s a pretty good feature so I’ve opted to keep it.

After Nine Long Months of Waiting, Windows 10 Is Here

Windows-10-Logo

After nine months of waiting, Windows 10 is almost here. Tuesday night at midnight, Microsoft will release the first full release of Windows 10, the biggest change in PC software in nearly three years. It’s kind of a big deal! We’ve been getting previews of Windows 10 since October, and the rollout of the actual software will happen in stages, but midnight will still be zero hour for answering a lot of the questions that have swirled around Windows 10 since it was first announced. How do you build a single OS for laptops, tablets, and smartphones? Tuesday night, we’ll find out.

First thing’s first: how do you get it? Microsoft is sending out Windows 10 in waves, starting with Windows Insiders and then moving through preorders gradually. The waves are designed to make the release more stable — issues that pop up in one wave can be fixed for the next one — but it means it could be days before you actually get the chance to download the new OS. The good news is that, unlike Windows 8, Windows 10 is designed to work as a straight upgrade, so as long as your computer meets the specs, you should be able to install it right away. Still, we definitely recommend doing a full system backup before you install. If you’ve got Windows 7 or Windows 8, you’ll be able to upgrade free any time in the next year. Otherwise, the official price is $119, although third party sellers like NewEgg are already offering cheaper versions for pre-order, scheduled to ship at the end of the month.

What will Windows 10 look like when it arrives? When Windows 10 does arrive you won’t have to wait days to find out. Many PC magazines and Tech Support forums are going to be putting the OS through its paces as soon as it becomes public, which means Microsoft fans will have a lot to piece through on Wednesday morning.

To start with, there’s a whole new interface to work through. Based on developer previews, Windows 10 seems to be a combination of the best features from 7 and 8, but it also comes with a lot of new ideas that have never been implemented at this scale. Cortana will be everywhere in Windows 10, available in the Start Menu and through voice commands. It’s also the first big stage for Microsoft’s new Edge browser, a fully revamped notification center, and for PC gamers, a deeper Xbox integration than we’ve ever seen before.

The biggest question of all: is Windows 10 ready for prime time? As recently as June, there were still some troubling and persistent upgrade bugs kicking around the developer preview. The Windows team had a lot of sleepless nights throughout June and July to ensure the quality is high across the vast amount of PCs out there. After Vista and Windows 8, there’s a lot of pressure to make sure this launch goes smoothly. Still, we won’t know for sure until Windows 10 goes live on Tuesday.

Finally – will the new Cortana outpace Siri? It seems like Cortana will definitely give Siri a run for the money. Obviously, you’ll need a microphone in order to communicate with Cortana – so if you want to join the voice revolution now would be a good time to pick one up…

Meet The World’s Smallest PC



Intel has released the world’s smallest Windows PC, a tiny thumb-drive-sized device that converts any television or monitor into a functional computer. IntelComputeStick
Similar to the Google’s Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire Stick, the Intel Compute Stick can be plugged into an HDMI port. Though Intel says the Compute Stick can be used for streaming video, it can also do much more than that. The four-inch Compute Stick comes installed with Windows 8.1, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and it has a microSD slot for additional storage if you need it. “It’s everything you love about your desktop computer in a device that fits in the palm of your hand,” says Intel.

Well … maybe not quite “everything”! Your desktop computer probably has a keyboard, a mouse, a lot more storage and RAM, and a much faster processor. But point taken, it is a full-fledged computer that’s the size of a pack of gum. That’s pretty neat. Intel suggests that the Compute Stick be used for “light productivity, social networking, Web browsing, and streaming media or games.” It also said small businesses might use it as an inexpensive computing solution. Microsoft has confirmed that this device will be eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade as well. Originally it was projected to sell for $149.00 but the market is looking like $169.00 right now via Amazon.com.

If you’re looking for a Windows 8 computer experience on your living room TV then the Intel Compute Stick just might be the answer. Just don’t plan on firing up memory and processor hungry 3-D games or animation programs. Get additional information from Intel: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/compute-stick/intel-compute-stick.html CNET Video Review: http://www.cnet.com/products/intel-compute-stick/

Popular Password Security Company Hacked

LastPass, the Fairfax, Va-based company behind one of the most popular password management tools, announced Monday that it had suffered a security breach. Email addresses, password reminders and authentication hashes were compromised.’

CEO and co-founder Joe Siegrist said on the company blog that the LastPass team detected an intrusion on its systems last week. “We want to notify our community that on Friday, our team discovered and blocked suspicious activity on our network,” he wrote. “In our investigation, we have found no evidence that encrypted user vault data was taken, nor that LastPass user accounts were accessed. The investigation has shown, however, that LastPass account email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes were compromised.”

LastPass lets its users store encrypted versions of their passwords for all their online accounts on servers in the cloud, sealing them off behind one master password. The tool offers people the ability to rely on one super strong passcode, rather than having to remember dozens of such codes of across the web.

The LastPass team has urged the users of its service to change their master passwords as soon as possible. It also recommends that its users strengthen their authentication procedures by adding a device-specific step: “We are requiring that all users who are logging in from a new device or IP address first verify their account by email, unless you have multifactor authentication enabled. (Recently, the photo sharing app Snapchat announced that it would adopt two-factor authentication. And the car service Uber is reportedly exploring new verification measures, too.)

LastPass said that “encrypted user data was not taken,” and that “you do not need to change your passwords on sites stored in your LastPass vault.” For those who have reused their master password on other sites, however, the company recommends replacing those passwords.

“We are confident that our encryption measures are sufficient to protect the vast majority of users,” Siegrist wrote in his blog post. “Nonetheless, we are taking additional measures to ensure that your data remains secure, and users will be notified via email.”

Currently, the website is flooded with inquiries related to the breach. “Sorry, but we are currently experiencing an extremely high volume of support tickets due to our recent security announcement,” its contact page reads. “Please be patient while we try to respond to your questions and issues as quickly as possible. Anticipated wait times for non-critical issues are currently 3 days for Premium and over 5 days for free users.”

To recap: If you use LastPass, go change your master password immediately and set up two-factor authentication. And if you happen to use the same password to lock your LastPass account that you use to secure, say, your personal email or other online account, you should change that immediately, too.

Upgrading to Windows 10

Don’t Do This Until You Check For Compatibility With  Other Essential Software Installed On Your Computer!

The following announcement from Microsoft explains how users of PCs running Windows 7 or Windows 8 can “reserve” their free upgrade of Windows 10:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-upgrade

Here’s the pop-up showing you’ll see on your computer:
Windows10

To reserve your free upgrade you’ll just click the Windows icon in the tray notification area of your taskbar, enter your email address if you want confirmation of your reservation, then click the Reserve Your Free Upgrade button. When you reserve your free upgrade basically what you’re doing is configuring your PC so it will automatically download a copy of Windows 10 once it becomes available on Windows Update on July 29th. Once your PC has downloaded Windows 10 you’ll be notified that Windows 10 is ready to be installed, and you can then perform the installation at the time of your choosing.

If you don’t see the icon offering you a free upgrade to Windows 10 then you don’t have Microsoft’s KB3035583 update installed. The update is called the “Get Windows 10” app and it was actually released back in April by Microsoft as an optional update for Windows 7 and a recommended update for Windows 8. That would mean that Windows 8 users WOULD get the update installed but Windows 7 users would have to manually select optional updates to get it. If you don’t see the free upgrade offer then you need to open Windows Update and install KB3035583.

The ability to reserve a free upgrade is only available for users of the Home and Professional editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8. In other words, users who have the Enterprise edition of Windows 7/8 installed on their machines won’t see the free upgrade offer.

If you’re a small business that has Windows 7 or 8 Professional installed on your PCs and you don’t want your users to be prompted to reserve a free upgrade of Windows 10? I suspect that there will soon be a way to block the free upgrade offer using Group Policy or by configuring local policy or even by editing the registry, but there has been no confirmation or comment about this from Microsoft. We’ll keep you informed as July 29th gets closer.

For more information on Windows 10 you can check out this post from CNN:
http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/22/technology/windows-10-review/index.html

 

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