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FBI-Controlled Megaupload Domain Now Features Soft Porn

fbiantiMegaupload was shutdown nearly half a decade ago, but all this time there has been little progress on the legal front.

Last December a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues can be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges, a decision that will be appealed shortly.

With the criminal case pending, the U.S. Government also retains control over several of the company’s assets.

This includes cash, cars, but also over a dozen of Megaupload’s former domain names, including Megastuff.co, Megaclicks.org, Megaworld.mobi, Megaupload.com, Megaupload.org, and Megavideo.com.

Initially, the domains served a banner indicating they had been seized as part of a criminal investigation. However, those who visit some of the sites today are in for a surprise.

This week we discovered that Megaupload.org is now hosting a site dedicated to soft porn advertisements. Other seized domains are also filled with ads, including Megastuff.co, Megaclicks.org, and Megaworld.mobi.

Megaupload?
megauploaorg

Interestingly, this all happened under the watch of the FBI, which is still listed as the administrative and technical contact for the domain names in question.

So how can this be?

Regular readers may recall that something similar happened to the main Megaupload.com domain last year. At the time we traced this back to an expired domain the FBI used for their nameservers, Cirfu.net.

After Cirfu.net expired, someone else took over the domain name and linked Megaupload.com to scammy ads. The U.S. authorities eventually fixed this by removing the nameservers altogether, but it turns out that they didn’t do this for all seized domains.

A few weeks ago the Cirfu.net domain expired once more and again it was picked up by an outsider. This unknown person or organization parked it at Rook Media, to generate some cash from the FBI-controlled domains.

As can be seen from the domain WHOIS data, Megaupload.org still uses the old Cirfu.net nameservers, which means that an outsider is now able to control several of the seized Megaupload domain names.

cirfu

The ‘hijacked’ domains don’t get much traffic but it’s still quite embarrassing to have them linked to ads and soft porn. Commenting on our findings, Kim Dotcom notes that the sloppiness is exemplary of the entire criminal case.

“Their handling of the Megaupload domain is a reflection of the entire case: Unprofessional,” Dotcom tells us.

What’s clear is that the U.S. authorities haven’t learned from their past mistakes. It literally only takes a few clicks to update the nameserver info and reinstate the original seizure banner. One would assume that the FBI has the technical capabilities to pull that off.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.




HTC’s A9 15-day update pledge goes out the window

Travel back to October 2015, when the HTC A9 was shiny and new. Amid the controversy about the price and availability — too much and too little — or how it was just a copy of the iPhone that was just a copy of the HTC M9, there was a small glowing nugget of sunshine. A promise of software updates within 15 days of Google’s official phones.

At the time, I was skeptical and took this to mean monthly updates (which didn’t happen either) because of the way Android is developed in the Google vacuum instead of out in the public like a proper open-source thing. There would be too many things to go wrong, and when they all went wrong there was no way Google was going to hold off updating a phone because HTC needed more time. In any case, none of it matters now.

HTC tweeted a small and generic update schedule for the phones they are planning to update to Android 7.0, and we’re going to be waiting to see anything for the A9 until sometime after the HTC 10 gets updated in Q4 (October, November, and December) of 2016. I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is and I can count to 15. HTC was able to give us a statement when we asked about the discrepancy.

With the excitement around Android Nougat, we’re aligning engineering resources around our most popular flagship products where the most customers will benefit.

This doesn’t matter. Waiting for an update never hurt anyone, and even if they wait until the very last day in 2016 the A9 will get updated long before many other phones. But HTC has been in this game long enough to know that when they put a number or a date on anything, the internet will roast them when they miss it.




You can now play solitaire and tic-tac-toe directly in Google search results

Goodbye productivity.

You can now play solitaire or tic-tac-toe directly in Google’s search results. Just search for solitaire or tic-tac-toe in the search engine on the web or from your phone, and you’ll get a playable version of either game above the search results.

Google’s take on solitaire is fairly basic, but you do get the option of selecting between easy and hard difficulty levels.

Play solitaire in Google search results

As for tic-tac-toe, you get to choose between easy. medium, and impossible levels, as well as the ability to play against a friend.

Play tic-tac-toe in Google search

Google has baked in additional features into its search results as well. Searching for “flip a coin” generates a virtual coin toss, and typing “what sound does a horse make” provides an audio result.




Emergency iOS Update Patches Zero Days Used by Government Spyware

Apple rushed an emergency iOS update that patches three zero days being exploited in spyware sold to oppressive governments to monitor human rights activists and journalists.




How to take better photos with your Android phone

Take your Android photography to the next level with these tips and tricks for capturing masterpieces with your smartphone.

Many Android phones come with a high-quality camera designed to capture your subject’s tiniest details and features, and while they’re not technically on the same level as a DSLR camera, you can still take the perfect picture with just your phone if you know how to use it. Even if you’re a beginner, you can quickly learn how to capture amazing photos with your Android phone (and if you actually are a beginner, be sure to check out our top 10 Android photography tips for beginners!)

Here are some helpful tricks to help you take better photos with your Android device!

Explore your camera settings

Get acquainted with your phone and all the camera settings before you start shooting, and you’ll feel a lot more comfortable capturing your shots!

While shooting from your phone’s stock camera is great for 99.9% of pictures — especially if you’ve got a recent Samsung, LG or HTC phone — playing around with the various modes and settings can really allow you to experiment and get creative.

Make sure your lens is clean

OnePlus 3 lensWhile this may seem like an obvious one, cleaning your phone lens can be a lot harder to remember than cleaning your DSLR lens. After all, there’s no lens cap protecting your Android phone’s camera from dirt and scratches like professional cameras have.

Carrying around a small lens cleaning cloth, or even having small micro fiber lens cleaning patches stitched to the inside of your purse or your jacket are simple ways to remind you to clean your phone lens and screen, so you’re always ready to take the clearest shots with your phone.

Or just use your shirt.

Don’t forget to clean your front lens, too! We break down how important cleaning your lenses can be in our top 8 tips to make you an Android photography expert.

Forget the flash: use external lighting

FlashDon’t bother with the flash

When it’s dark outside, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to turn on the flash to light up your photos, but it’s not always the best for picture quality. In fact, we’ll go one further: Don’t bother using your flash. Nearly ever.

Always try to find a natural light source when you’re shooting your photos. If you’re at a restaurant and want to snap a picture of your meal, try to get a seat by a window, so you can capture all the meal’s details with the perfect lighting. If you’re looking to take a selfie, try posing in front of a big window. This won’t only make your face and features light up – even on a cloudy day – but it will darken the background and make you the center of attention.

If it’s absolutely impossible to capture your picture without natural lighting (and sometimes that’s the case), try your best to find another external light source, like a lamp or even a candle. While it may seem silly, almost any other lighting will look better than the flash, especially since you then have more control of what you choose to light and highlight in your photographs.

Crop, don’t zoom

Just like your Android phone’s flash, zoom is another readily available option for phoneographers that should be avoided like the photographic plague.

Zoom can lower the quality of your pictures, and you might actually be cutting out something you didn’t notice in the photo that you may find amazing when you glance at the picture during editing.

It’s hard to remember when you’re shooting, but your Android device is not the same as a DSLR camera: you can’t just zoom in on something and have the quality stay virtually the same. A lot of professional photographers avoid the zoom altogether and prefer to crop strategically in the editing process afterwards, so they don’t miss out on anything they captured in the picture.

If you really need to get in close with your subject, pick yourself up and physically move closer to it rather than using your zoom. This is the best way to get creative control over your photo subject without using zoom to mess up the picture’s overall quality.

Burst first, ask questions later

Bursting may seem like a lazy way to take pictures, but it’s probably the most efficient way to capture your perfect shot!

Whether it be selfies, landscapes, or a masterpiece of a meal, using burst is a great way to take a bunch of photos without stress: just hold down the shutter button and your phone will take rapid-fire shots that you can browse through later to find the perfect one.

While a bunch of the pictures you take with burst will be terrible and totally unusable, there are bound to be a few gems hiding in there. Take the time to go through your burst shots and pick out the best ones, and always remember to delete the bad burst photos so they don’t take up space on your phone.

Find a favorite photography editing app

SnapseedSnapseed is a popular editor.

After you’re done shooting, you’re going to want to up your photo game by editing your pictures with your favorite editing app.

There are plenty of photo editing apps to choose from out there, and all of them do their own unique things like overlay certain filters, allow you to edit brightness and contrast, and even add text or stickers to your photos.

Photo editing apps are also a great tool to have if you’re not confident with the photos you’ve taken. You can even salvage some photographs through a little bit of editing and tweaking if you’re worried about quality.

Follow your favorite photographers on social media

Sometimes taking the best pictures with your Android phone doesn’t start with your camera app; it starts with a quick visit to social media to get motivated from Android phone photographers who are already taking beautiful pictures!

Following some of your favorite photographers on social media is an amazing way to get ideas, see what kind of art other people are creating, and get motivated to go out and start shooting. Some may even respond in the comments if you ask them how they shot a certain subject in a certain style or how they managed to edit a specific photograph to look a certain way.

Creep around the discover page on Instagram and see what other Android phone photographers have shot. Start by mimicking a style you’re fond of, and it will eventually evolve into your own.

Some photographers on social media even share their own tips and tricks for shooting, so be sure to check out a bunch of different profiles for inspiration.

Your turn

Are there any tips and tricks for shooting amazing photos with your Android phone that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below.




France, Germany Call for European Decryption Law

France’s and Germany’s Interior Minister are urging the EU to consider implementing a law to get companies to decrypt encrypted communications.




Your phone may never get Android 7.0, but does it really matter?

Unless you bought a phone from Google, it’s going to take a while to see Nougat — if you ever see it at all. But that doesn’t matter as much as you might think.

Android and updates seem like a mystery to many of us. If you’re not familiar with the way a big open-source software distribution works, it can get a little confusing trying to sort out who gets what version and when. Reading the things you see online often make it worse, too — we’re all talking about how Android 7.0 is here, and when phones will be updated, or if they will be at all. Then the obligatory comparisons to Apple’s iOS or Microsoft Windows (which are both a thing that is built and distributed as a whole) start and more confusion just happens. It’s nobody’s fault: most of us think about Android as a thing on its own, but it’s not. Since it’s the time of year for a whole new version, we get to start the process all over again.

Free as in beer

Nobody “owns” Android, and that’s why everything is so different. Android is, for all intents and purposes, a Linux distribution like Ubuntu. Google maintains the source code but they don’t turn it into a piece of software and hand it out. They get patches and additions from a bunch of qualified folks and make sure everything works as intended, then let anyone and everyone take it to do whatever they like with it. It’s important to understand what Android is, and how it gets distributed, when we think about the software on our phones.

You have two choices when it comes to operating system version updates — buy phones direct from Google, or waiting.

Two kinds of updates

Android versions

Updates are important, but so is understanding how they work for Android. The important updates aren’t the ones you hear about on a stage somewhere, no matter what someone else wants you to believe. The ones that get put out every month by the Android team at Google or the Knox team at Samsung or whoever is in control of releasing maintenance and security patches for the Android distribution they custom-built for your phone. These are the patches that make sure your phone does exactly what it was promised to do when you bought it and does it securely.

The small monthly updates are the important ones.

Google does a pretty good job and keeping Android versions up to date. They may do a lot of other things poorly, but they are still pumping out software fixes as far back as Ice Cream Sandwich. They also make it easy to see what was patched, and how, in case you want to build it yourself on your customized version. That’s where the folks who make your phone come into the picture.

Google takes these patches and puts them into the version of Android they make for their own phones. Remember, even phones like the Nexus 6P need their own version of Android built. Samsung and HTC and Huawei and everyone else is free to do the same and build a small patch for the phone in your hands. Carriers can and will try to ruin the process, but with them out of the picture it really is this simple. Once you get it, you install it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with your Lollipop phone, or even with your KitKat phone. It works as advertised, and you’re generally safe from the nasty things you hear about malware unless you do something silly like trust people you shouldn’t when installing software from outside of Google Play.

New features

The other kind of update gets all the press and all the attention. They usually bring new features or change how things work, and people like me take the time to write about them. They are great updates (once they work the way they should) and they’re worth talking about. But those low-key monthly updates are far more important. You don’t buy a refrigerator or a golf cart because of the great things that will come next year, so you shouldn’t buy a phone for the great things that come next year. The things it does this year need to still work.

Because of the way Android is distributed, Google knows that 100 different phones may be running 100 different operating systems, but they all will be fully Android compatible — running Android at the core if you want to think of it that way. That means they can all run the same apps and access the same services, and if they use Google Play they are even more compatible with Android apps and services. While Google builds a custom version for their own phones, they also focus on making apps run better and do more of the things we usually think of as system features. Android is and always has been about apps and online services. It always will be.

You have two choices when it comes to Android version updates — phones direct from Google or waiting.

Enter Google Play Services. It’s a horrible solution for keeping more versions of Android compatible with each other when it comes to running apps, but it’s also the best solution. Google can not force any company to update a phone they built — Android is free to use, and as long as the phone met the standards required to run Google Play when it was built, it can run Google Play. Thinking Google can (or even wants to) yank permission to use their apps and store away from a manufacturer is silly. Stop thinking it. Instead, Google Play Services handles much of the behind-the-scenes stuff an app needs to run. Things like location services or security. Google can do whatever it takes to make Play Services compatible with most versions and update it independently from the operating system, and that’s exactly what they do. When you see Play Services eating up your battery, that’s because so many apps are using it.

Te reiterate — if your phone runs Lollipop and has the latest version of Play Services (and you would know if it doesn’t because you changed it yourself) do you really need Nougat? Your phone still does all the things it was supposed to do and can run almost every app available. Most app-based security is handled by Play Services as well. Combined with the latest Security Patch for the core system itself, your phone is fine and you should be happy using it.

Is Android N important?

Android N

Yep. Android 7.0 Nougat is a major update, even if the user-facing features don’t reflect it. Changes to the ways apps can run in the background, changes to the way updates are handled and changes to the overall security model are a major shift from what we have with Lollipop. Eventually, these changes will be required to run apps and use Google’s services. Think of it as Android’s Windows 7 moment — things look familiar, but everything you can’t see has been improved.

I want Nougat. That’s why I have a Nexus 6P. But I also know that any other phone on my desk that is current for its version of Android is still a fine phone and does what I need it to do. I’m fine waiting on Nougat for phones like my HTC 10 or my Galaxy S7 edge, as long as the monthly patches — the important updates — keep coming.




SwiftKey says sync errors fixed in latest update

The now Microsoft-owned keyboard app for Android is still going through some growing pains.

SwiftKey had an issue arise in July with some users getting the predictions of other people, including names and email addresses. Today, SwiftKey has pushed out an update claiming the “sync service is fixed.”

It's not completely fixed, but it might be getting better

SwiftKey disabled a number of syncing and prediction features in late July while they worked to fix the issue. While some features appear to be working again with the most recent update, it appears the sync service is still throwing errors at the moment. SwiftKey also acknowledges in the change log that email and number predictions are still turned off, so we’re not out of the woods just yet.

But we’re another step closer. If you account was affected, are you seeing your old library yet? Are you still seeing any extra languages? Tell us in the comments below!




Keystroke Recognition Uses Wi-Fi Signals To Snoop

Researchers develop WiKey technology that can sniff out keystrokes with 97.5 percent accuracy using an off-the-shelf Wi-Fi router and a $200 laptop.




Best OBD2 car readers for Android

What’s the best OBDII reader for Android? Here’s a few to get you started!

Car repair can be costly (DUH) and that Check Engine light could mean myriad issues with your car. Or, it could be a simple fix that you could do yourself – so why take it to your dealer or mechanic without knowing the problem first? Some places will charge you $100 or more just for the scan.

Don’t get swindled again. Get yourself your very own Bluetooth OBDII reader/scanner and figure out what’s wrong with your car, right on your phone or tablet!

BAFX Products 34t5

BAFX Product 34t5

The BAFX Products 34t5 claims to work on all vehicles in the U.S. from 1996 or later, so chances are that if you’re driving, this will work with your vehicle. All you need is a third-party app (which range from free to rather expensive paid apps), and you can connect the 34t5 to your Android phone or tablet to read out diagnostic information.

While reading out diagnostic codes, you can even clear them out at will, thus turning off your check engine light – even for manufacturer-specific codes!

Depending on the third-party app your choose, you can get real-time sensor information right on your phone, life speed, balance rates, RPM, O2 readings, and lots more.

If you feel the need for speed, this reader will even send you ⅛, ¼, ½, and 1 mile times.

Don’t spend $100 just for someone to scan your car; spend about $22, read it yourself, and maybe you’ll even be able to fix it on your own!

See at Amazon

Panlong Car Diagnostic scanner

Panlong

Panlong’s small OBDII scanner is perfect for the do-it-yourselfer on a budget – you can find these on Amazon for around $13.

This reader will work on any car sold in the U.S. from 1996 or later – it just might not work with some hybrids. All you need is a third-party app, like Torque or DashCommand and you’ll be able to read and clear trouble codes, while receiving real-time data readings – and you’ll be able to turn off that damn Check Engine light!

If inexpensively is the way you like to maintain your vehicle (who doesn’t?), then opt for the Veepeak Mini scanner.

See at Amazon

ScanTool OBDLink LX

OBDLink LX

The ScanTool OBDLink LX is a professional-grade OBDII reader that features its own app, which allows you to scan, read, and clear trouble codes in all cars sold in the U.S. since 1996 (except hybrid or electric vehicles).

All you have to do is plug it in, pair it with your phone, open the app, and you’ll see real-time diagnostic data, as well as information about performance.

You can even use your Windows PC to access and compile your information without ever having to see a mechanic. Fix the stuff you can fix yourself and only take it in when absolutely necessary.

Being a professional tool, the OBDLink LX claims to service a wider range of vehicles, given more complex algorithms, and the Amazon reviews seem to agree.

It may be about $50, but if you love your car and worry that the cheaper readers might not actually do the trick, then check out the OBDLink LX. $50 is better than the $100 the dealers will charge you!

See at Amazon

iSaddle Super Mini

iSaddle

The iSaddle Super Mini supports all OBDII protocols and works on just about every car sold in the U.S. since 1996 (except hybrid and electric), allowing you to diagnose what ails your vehicle to help determine whether or not it really needs a trip to the shop.

For Android users, iSaddle works exclusively with the Torque app feeding you diagnostics and performance data via Bluetooth.

If you’re unsure about the DYI approach to car repair, the iSaddle’s only about $12, so you really have nothing to lose if you want to try it out yourself. If you can fix the problem yourself, go for it, but you still have the option of taking it to your dealer or mechanic if you’re out of your element.

See at Amazon

What do you use?

Do you read your car or truck’s trouble codes with another scanner that we didn’t mention? Do you read your own codes or just take your car to the shop whenever the Check Engine light comes on?

Let us know in the comments below!