Fresh Off The Block


Jun
06
2017

Welcome to our new server!

Technically Motivated has completed its transition to its brand new high-performance server. If you are reading this post, you are now reaching us from our new home.

The increased performance of our new server means that web pages should now load faster, and new comments, Forum Posts and so on should submit quicker than before. Updated back-end software should also enable us to enhance the site more than ever before in the future. For now though, you can just continue to enjoy the same old TM you’ve come to love, just in a faster and better-performing package 🙂

Unfortunately, we do have some bad news to report. In the process of moving over to our new server, our previous email inbox, which is actually hosted separately by our hosting provider, was not transferred. While we have subsequently set up the email address again and you will once again be able to continue to communicate with us via the on-site contact form or directly at webmaster[at]technicallymotivated[dot]com, unfortunately any previous email correspondence from prior to the server move has been lost. We humbly apologise for this inconvenience and will strive to recover whatever we can.

Thanks for everyone’s patience during the server move and subsequent downtime; and I hope you will continue to enjoy being a part of Technically Motivated – the Technology Blog for everyone. Our Motivation Is Highlighting Tech Innovation.

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    Previous Articles


    Apr
    11
    2017

    Privacy Conscious? Don’t Be Too Hasty To Download Windows 10 Creator’s Update

    A white Windows 10 Logo on a blue background

    The wait is nearly over for Windows users. On April 11th, the long-awaited "Creators Update" will launch for Windows 10, bringing with it such useful features as a new "night light" mode that reduces the amount of blue light emitted by your screen so that you an sleep better; a new Windows Defender Security Centre, where users can tweak their security options in one place; and a Game Mode for better performance while gaming among lots of other tweaks. People who do not want to wait for the update to be offered to them through Windows Update can get ahead of the game by downloading Microsoft's upgrade tool to apply the update right now – but a recent report suggests privacy-conscious users may want to hold off from jumping on the bandwagon early.

    According to an article by Tom's Hardware, which has been backed up by numerous less patient users, Microsoft's Windows 10 Update Assistant may not honour your Privacy Settings if you use it to upgrade to the Creators Update yourself. Instead, the Assistant tries to use default settings – whether or not you choose to upgrade or clean install the new version – meaning that if you changed your privacy settings when you installed Windows 10 and subsequently use the Assistant, you may need to keep a close eye on just what is being set, or you may find Windows suddenly gathering more data about you than you originally intended.

    Those default settings encourage you to share your location and provide full diagnostic data to Microsoft to fix issues and improve future iterations of Windows 10. The default options also encourage enabling Cortana and receiving targeted ads rather than generic ones. The good news here is that Microsoft is being much more transparent about the data it collects – and when applying the Creators Update, the privacy options offer up clearer descriptions of what they do and the effects enabling or disabling them will have.

    If you're not looking forward to going back through all those checkboxes, however, Microsoft state that when the upgrade is made available through Windows Update some time during April 11th, existing privacy settings WILL be honoured. We'll know for sure if this is the case soon enough – but as always, it's wise to look before you leap.

    This article first appeared on Sanitarium.FM under the title Windows 10 Creators Edition Available Now – But Keep An Eye On Your Privacy Settings.

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2017
    Acknowledgements: Windows 10 Logo Courtesy Microsoft / more...
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    Apr
    19
    2016

    Ditch QuickTime on Windows – Apple Drop Support for Vulnerable Plugin

    A recent version of the Quicktime logo.

    A recent version of the Quicktime logo.

    Apple are dropping support for Quicktime, a plugin for viewing and streaming video, on Windows on account of no longer being useful.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has confirmed it'll no longer update or support Quicktime 7 for Windows.

    Way back when, QuickTime was a requirement to run iTunes, as the Quicktime code was used in part to provide the music streaming capabilities of the software, which resulted in many people who had iPods – and later, the iPhone – installing the plugin to their Windows PCs when they wanted them to properly work with their computers. As Apple notes on its support page, however, this situation changed in later versions of iTunes, and Quicktime has not been a requirement to run iTunes since October 2011.

    Despite not being relevant for iTunes any more, Quicktime continued to be useful to serve up video on the web. However, with HTML5 encouraging browsers to support video directly as part of the standard language of the internet, having a separate plugin for the ability now appears redundant. The combination of these two factors appears to have encouraged Apple to have made the decision to no longer support the plugin on Windows.

    The announcement comes a week after the Department of Homeland Security recommended Windows users uninstall Quicktime because of potential security holes, making Quicktime potentially vulnerable and use of it on Windows PCs a major security risk (these flaws do not affect the Mac OS version, which remains in support). Given its status as a potential security threat and the lack of any updates coming from Apple, many sources, including us at Technically Motivated, now recommend that Quicktime is removed from all Windows PCs as soon as possible.

    For those who are unsure how to, Apple's official support pages offer a guide for how to remove Quicktime from Windows PCs. Apple have been reached for comment to confirm the Wall Street Journal's report.

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2016
    Acknowledgements: Quicktime and The Quicktime Logo is a more...
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    Jan
    27
    2016

    Lenovo Grilled By Security Researchers over poor ShareIT Security

    Computer users often make very basic mistakes that make more sensible people wonder just what they were thinking. Case in point: passwords. Splashdata recently published its fifth annual list of the most commonly-used passwords by computer users in North America and Western Europe; and many people will be hitting their heads against their desks when they learn that obvious choices like "password" and "12345678" still top the list.

    While you can expect individuals to make basic mistakes like these, you would assume actual computer manufacturers would be smarter. But if the latest headlines are to be believed, it seems Lenovo's software developers could do with reading this list themselves. As revealed in an advisory posted by Core Security, Lenovo's ShareIT file-sharing software – built in to their computers – has a very serious password-related flaw.

    How bad? The Wi-Fi Network created and used for transferring files between Windows computers "securely" uses a very predictable password: 12345678. Even worse, this password is "hardcoded" into the software, making it impossible for users to change it to something much more secure. The problem is even worse for Android users, where the ShareIT app has no password at all, leaving the network entirely open for anyone within radio range to connect to.

    The implications for the security of transferred files is serious. Merely using a web browser to connect to a ShareIT network can reveal all the files currently stored on the platform by the affected user. While the files cannot be downloaded this way, the researchers also discovered that the files are transferred insecurely, without any kind of encryption, meaning the simple use of a traffic sniffer once connected could allow anyone to obtain a copy of any transferred file.

    Luckily, the flaws may not exist much longer. Lenovo claim that since being made aware of the issues in October last year, the company has worked to bring the software up to snuff. Those running ShareIT on Windows or Android are now advised to download the latest version of the software from the ShareIT website, which was released this week and claims to resolve all the issues found by the Core Security researchers. Given that this is not the first time Lenovo have been found to engage in shady security practices, however, it may be time to think twice about that ThinkPad.

    Sep
    04
    2015

    Skype users continue to be plagued by ongoing bogus messages

    Despite first being reported over a month ago, prompting Microsoft to advise Skype users to change their passwords, Skype users remain in the dark over a security issue that has resulted in their accounts sending out spam unnoticed, with Microsoft seemingly unable to rectify the problem.

    The problem, first reported on a Skype community forum over a month ago, sees random Skype users send out messages to multiple contacts on their contact list that were not sent by the user themselves. The messages include links to spam websites, which are always disguised using goo.gl short links. The problem has been reported to affect both old and new accounts, including those that have not been logged into in some time; and reports state even accounts that have not been linked to Windows Live accounts are appearing to send spam.

    Though the cause of the issue is yet unknown, some evidence by users suggests the issue could be a vulnerability with Skype's web client. Although the spam messages do not appear in the chat history of affected users when using a Desktop or Mobile version of the Skype client, some users who have been told their accounts have sent the spam messages have been able to see them in conversation windows that appear when the web client is used. Microsoft are yet to confirm these claims, having passed the buck several times already – the company has so far blamed weak passwords; malware on the affected user's computers; and an issue with linked accounts as potential causes.

    Microsoft continue to advise users affected by this issue to change their passwords; and state that they are continuing to look into the matter.

    Aug
    21
    2015

    Spotify Rolling Out New Privacy Policy That’s Anything But

    Spotify Logo

    The Spotify Logo

    Wow, Spotify. How and why does a service mainly geared around music streaming become one of the most intrusive around? With the latest Spotify update, there’s a new privacy policy going into effect – and the TL;DR version is that if you’re at all concerned about data privacy, now may well be the time to jump ship, because this new policy definitely isn't.

    Here are just some examples of the type of snooping Spotify wants to get up to with the latest policy:

    Use Spotify on your mobile? Hope you're okay with sharing your Contacts, Photos and Media…

    With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.

    Tracking Your Location

    Depending on the type of device that you use to interact with the Service and your settings, we may also collect information about your location based on, for example, your phone’s GPS location or other forms of locating mobile devices (e.g., Bluetooth). We may also collect sensor data (e.g., data about the speed of your movements, such as whether you are running, walking, or in transit).

    Third party services – well, at least you can disconnect Facebook…

    You may integrate your Spotify account with Third Party Applications. If you do, we may receive similar information related to your interactions with the Service on the Third Party Application, as well as information about your publicly available activity on the Third Party Application. This includes, for example, your “Like”s and posts on Facebook.

    (To be fair, this is really only saying that Spotify will do what anyone on Facebook can do anyway – look at the things you've posted publicly; as well as anything related to Spotify itself. If you've integrated your Spotify with Facebook, you pretty much already accepted this was going to happen anyway; but if you find it creepy, you might want to disconnect Facebook from Spotify via your Preferences)

    Storing (and Sharing!) Your Credit Card Information

    If you sign up for a Trial (as defined in the Terms and Conditions of Use), purchase any of our Paid Subscriptions (as defined in the Terms and Conditions of Use), or make other purchases through the Service, your credit or debit card information (such as card type and expiration date) and other financial data that we need to process your payment may be collected and stored by us and/or the payment processors with which we work. We may also collect some limited information, such as your postal code, mobile number, and details of your transaction history, all of which are necessary to provide the Service.

    Spotify claim that they collect personal data from users primarily to improve the overall experience for people using the service; but it's clear that not all of the data being gathered is to benefit the service itself. Indeed, if you look more closely at the paragraphs explaining how they intend to use the data, the real purpose becomes clear – advertising:

    We may use the information we collect, including your personal information….to provide, personalise, and improve your experience with the Service and products, services, and advertising (including for third party products and services) made available on or outside the Service (including on other sites that you visit), for example by providing customised, personalised, or localised content, recommendations, features, and advertising on or outside of the Service

    So, if you love music but also love privacy, maybe it's time to ditch Spotify and look for a new streaming service instead.

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

    Jul
    15
    2015

    Toshiba Executive Resignations Rumoured

    Toshiba's blocky red logo

    A report published today in the Nikkei Asian Review has revealed that company president of Toshiba, Hisao Tanaka, plans to tender his resignation from the technology giant. having informed numerous ‘close associates’ of the intention. He is expected to be joined by his predecessor and current vice chair Norio Sasaki, who he displaced in 2013; as well as several other executives, totalling more half the board, as the company aims to clean the slate.

    Central to the mass departures is a suggestion that the company has engaged in accounting irregularities. Third party regulators have been investigating financial mismanagement covering the tenure of both of the former presidents mentioned earlier; as well as a third former president, Atsutoshi Nishida, presently a consultant for the company. The investigation is expected to report the company’s complicity in padding its profits by fraudulently manipulating accounting records in order to appear to be more closely competing with rival Hitachi.

    Toshiba has not yet made an official statement on the matter, but is expected to do so when it reveals the results of the investigation and reports its delayed financial earnings statement; during which the executive departures are also expected to be announced.

    The irregularities, believed to stretch over at least a five-year period, have seen the company pad its operating profits by up to ¥200 billion (around £1.04 billion). Since the investigation was announced in early April, the company’s stock has nose-dived from ¥481.20 to just ¥374.90 today.

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2015
    Acknowledgements: Original reporting: Nikkei Asian Revi more...
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    Jun
    16
    2015

    LastPass Hacked: Users Encouraged to Change Master Passwords

    What happens when a service designed to keep your passwords safe gets hacked itself?

    LastPass Logo

    Password-management service LastPass announced today that it “discovered and blocked suspicious activity” on its network on Friday that caused user email addresses, authentication hashes, password reminders and server per user salts to be compromised.

    While the news suggests that some user’s email addresses may now be known to criminals and that hackers may now have useful hints to passwords for other sites you may be using, LastPass says that there is no evidence that any data from any user’s vault was taken; or that any accounts were logged into illegitimately before the hack was detected. This means that any of the passwords actually stored on the server have not fallen into the wrong hands, so there should be no need to reset passwords for every site you stored data for. LastPass is confident that its encryption is strong enough to make attacking those stolen hashes with any speed difficult.

    Nevertheless, when it comes to LastPass itself, it is highly recommended you change your Master Password right now to ensure those vaults can’t potentially be accessed later. Although the company’s official recommendation is that you only need to change your master password if it’s weak or use that password on multiple sites, in any case of hacking, being paranoid is often the best approach. The company also recommends that users who don’t have two-factor authentication enabled on their accounts do so now, which sounds like sound advice.

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    May
    02
    2014

    UK Trailer for next Call of Duty game leaks online two days early

    Call of Duty being the unstoppable juggernaut of a franchise it is, it was only a matter of time before its first new-gen iteration was revealed. Using the tagline "A New Era", Call of Duty's official Facebook page has for several weeks been touting a worldwide announcement for the next Call of Duty title, which we now know to be called Advanced Warfare, for modern generation consoles such as XBox One and PS4.

    That Global Reveal was scheduled yesterday for the 4th of May; and the intention was for the company to reveal the game's title and trailers for each region on the day. Unfortunately, one of those trailers got leaked on Facebook a little too early – the UK Trailer was discovered earlier today and was confirmed by Call of Duty as legitimate, with this message posted on their Facebook page:

    This was scheduled for Sunday but it just leaked, so why wait? Here's the first look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. #ANewEra begins now!

    The Trailer consists of what is claimed to be footage of XBox One gameplay, and shows off the new gen graphics; details some possible actions; and offers an insight into the game's story via select FMV sequences. I'm sure you're waiting to see it yourself – so check the Trailer below, courtesy their official YouTube channel:

    This article first appeared online at Sanitarium.FM under the title: Official Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare Reveal Trailer Leaked Online Early

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    Feb
    16
    2014

    Hackers steal Usernames, addresses, encrypted passwords and more details of Kickstarter users, change your password now!

    An undisclosed number of Kickstarter users have been emailed with advice to reset their passwords after the company was made aware of a data breach that may have led to the disclosure of personal information.

    Some time in the last 24 hours, Kickstarter updated their website to display a banner on the top of its site for logged-in users, advising them to change their password and providing a link to do so. The advice comes following a statement by Kickstarter – which was emailed to an undisclosed number of users – stating the company was made aware “by law enforcement officials” of hackers breaching their servers to steal account-related information. The advice also recommended users consider using tools such as 1Password or LastPass, which as well as offering storage to let you remember all your passwords, also include password generators to come up with randomised, highly-secure passwords (might I also recommend KeyPass, which does the same but also contains a meter telling you how “secure” any password you type in is likely to be?)

    The following is the full text of the email as sent out by Kickstarter – I’ll leave the explaining to them as it puts it better than I could myself:

    “On Wednesday night, law enforcement officials contacted Kickstarter and alerted us that hackers had sought and gained unauthorized access to some of our customers’ data. Upon learning this, we immediately closed the security breach and began strengthening security measures throughout the Kickstarter system.

    No credit card data of any kind was accessed by hackers. There is no evidence of unauthorized activity of any kind on your account.

    While no credit card data was accessed, some information about our customers was. Accessed information included usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords. Actual passwords were not revealed, however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one.

    As a precaution, we strongly recommend that you change the password of your Kickstarter account, and other accounts where you use this password.

    To change your password, log in to your account at Kickstarter.com and look for the banner at the top of the page to create a new, secure password. We recommend you do the same on other sites where you use this password. For additional help with password security, we recommend tools like 1Password and LastPass.

    We’re incredibly sorry that this happened. We set a very high bar for how we serve our community, and this incident is frustrating and upsetting. We have since improved our security procedures and systems in numerous ways, and we will continue to do so in the weeks and months to come. We are working closely with law enforcement, and we are doing everything in our power to prevent this from happening again.

    Kickstarter is a vibrant community like no other, and we can’t thank you enough for being a part of it. Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. You can reach us at accountsecurity@kickstarter.com.

    While it’s disappointing to hear of any type of hack where data is stolen – and a sad reflection of the state of the world today that not even a website that exists to give those with ideas but no money to make them real, the chance to connect with their potential market and get the funding they need, is safe from being hacked – it’s reassuring to see a company own up to the breach so quickly and waste no time in attempting to secure their service better and protect their users. I hope more companies learn from this example.

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