Thursday, July 3, 2014

For the NSA, Tor and Trails Linux users are "extremists"

The source code of the XKeystore shows that the U.S. agency seeks to trace and identify all those interested directly or indirectly in "Tor" or "Tails Linux".

If you use the Tor network or Tails secure Linux operating system - or you are simply connected to the websites of these programs - know that there is a good chance the NSA has you now on sight and tagged as an "extremist". 

This is what the German WDR and ARD sites just revealed after they've got their hands on some of the XKeystore source code, the famous NSA search engine .  
In a video report, we find lines of code with the obvious goal to "identify potential Tor users". But this is not all, The same type of marking is for visitors of the Tor website. You only have to go to the website without installing the software, and you're stuck with the NSA. Same for Linux Tails. 
Even a simple Google search on this operating system is enough to get you in the databases of the monitoring agency. As for the term "extremist", it is used by the author of the code in a comment field to refer to all those people who have the nerve to use the "anonymizer" software.


The code also shows that the marking is done either for users using SSL connections to the "" website or for emails sent to "".  

Note that Xkeyscore can scan the contents of an email, as shown by the command "email_body ('https://bridges ....".


Friday, May 30, 2014

All you need to know about HULU PLUS

Hulu is one of the most popular on-demand video streaming websites in the US. It was originally free to access and supported by ads, but eventually evolved to Hulu Plus - a subscription based model that features full seasons of the most popular TV shows as well as lots of other interesting video content. Much of Hulu’s video library is now available in HD format, and it can be accessed through different platforms. Mostly due to licensing reasons, its services are only available in the US and Japan, but soon it should expand to the UK as well. 

How do these services work?

Hulu services are available both on a free and subscription-based model, known as Hulu Plus. The paid service is differentiated by higher video quality and extended convenience - such as multi-platform access through a diverse range of Internet-enabled devices: from TVs and smart-phones to set-top boxes and even video game consoles. There is little to no setup involved, and using these services is extremely easy (just choose a video and play); moreover, Hulu Plus features an extensive content library that covers previous seasons as well as the latest episodes of many TV shows.

Meet the new remote control

Aiming to improve the viewing experience and add to the viewer's convenience, Hulu recently released a remote control experience available through its Hulu Plus app. This function works by connecting smart-phones and video-game consoles seamlessly, using the latter as a virtual remote control. Using this feature is easy and straight-forward; just install the app into your smart-phone and log in to Hulu account on your video game console (supported models include PS3, PS4 and X-Box One). Once both devices are connected and the application is launched, they can be synchronized with a single touch. Once connected, the smart-phone can be used as a standard remote control as well as an alternate viewing screen - if for some reason you want to move away from the TV you can keep watching the show in your phone with a single touch.

The future of Hulu gaming

Following the creation of the Hulu remote control, the next new thing for Hulu will surely be the introduction of gaming into their content library. Since the Hulu is already based on Flash video format, the same technology will easily allow the introduction of Flash based games. This may include casino online games, as well as many other types of casual gaming experiences. With the convenience of the remote control app, Hulu has paved the road for many interesting new experiences, such as allowing users to play blackjack or Poker online with their friends or at specialized websites. With a simple update to the Hulu Plus app, they can unlock many new features to make the user experience more diverse and interesting. 

If you’re a fan of the Hulu experience, you have much to look for in the future, as the technology and available services keeps expanding and diversifying in the upcoming months. 

This post has been submitted by Guest author Abeer Mourad, a blogger in the field of online gaming.

Is The Economy Affected By Slow Internet?

With the many people in the world that have access to high speed internet, it may be hard to believe there are still those without slow connections. But there is another aspect to slow internet that hasn't crossed the minds of many - how it affects the economy.

More and more people these days want faster internet, but so do businesses. But those living in rural areas have had a tough time getting the same level of connection as their big city counterparts.

The Importance of Technology

Technology is moving at a faster rate than ever before. And there is no business today that doesn't rely at least partially on a fast and reliable connection to get done what they need to. Without a high quality connection, there is no access to the products and services that allow businesses to grow. As well, a business without a reliable internet connection may not be able to use their current resources to their full potential.

Experts say that the economy's future will particularly depend on the progression of internet technology. And right now, it seems that the capability to have a connection is a greater reality, with companies expanding their infrastructure to make internet available to more customers. But what do internet speeds look like? Have they gotten any faster?

The Status Quo

Before, it seemed as though customers were paying high prices for internet speeds that were moderate at best. This was fine for internet companies, but what about the customer? And why was this the status quo, despite the fact that the technology to improve costs and how internet is delivered was already there?

Today, incredibly high speed internet is available, but at a significant cost to the consumer. One company's internet service can cost a customer as much as $300 per month. Where this is the case, a business wanting fast internet could be paying much more than they need to be. This could cause them to attempt to defray their costs and stay within budget by going for a slower internet option. But again, this means not using their resources to their full potential, which could negatively affect their long-term revenues and ultimately, the economy's health.

Is Fast Internet At A Profit Possible?

Many wonder whether or not fast internet connections can be offered while still allowing internet companies to earn a profit. And at least one company is proving that this is a possibility, with gigabit fiber-optic internet on their menu at just $70 per month, and basic service at no cost. But this particular company isn't planning to enter themselves as an internet provider, preferring instead to simply prove that an ultra-fast connection at an affordable price is possible.

A Changing Workforce

No longer are workers showing up or expected to be in the office all day long. Today, telecommuting is the new way to earn money. Many employers are encouraging their employees to work from home. This is resulting in much less stress for many workers, who can now spend more time in a home office setting with their kids. Not only that, but working from home has reduced wasted time in meetings, as well as saved employers full-time staffing costs. These, along with the many other benefits of telecommuting have definitely benefited the economy. But without fast internet, creativity, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit are stifled.

Continue The Momentum

There are several communities who have many initiatives in place. But unfortunately, the internet speeds to keep the momentum going are simply non-existent. Without this, it isn't only businesses that suffer, but communities as well. Those communities wishing to expand and establish themselves as a place where businesses can thrive will have a difficult time convincing those they are trying to attract to their area.

Recent net neutrality rulings may see a slippery slope where the differences between the speeds of ISPs becoming a political issue, which many say will only complicate things down the road for consumers, who could eventually see higher prices.

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Guest author Renee Manson writes on a variety of technology-related topics. She recommends High Speed Internet Providers as a resource for helping consumers compare their options in broadband.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Facebook, Oculus Rift and the Future of Virtual Reality

When Facebook bought out Oculus VR last month, many techies and gamers were understandably upset. It wasn't just the case of another corporation buying out a small company, Oculus VR was regarded by many as an important step in the direction of the whole next generation of consumer technology. The seven-years-ago equivalent would be like hearing that Apple had sold the iPhone to Google, but more than that, Oculus Rift had actually been crowdfunded, being one of the most significant and successful projects in the history of Kickstarter. Understandably, those that had funded the Rift felt betrayal not only as consumers, but on a personal level.

The Oculus guys made a cool two billion off the deal. You could give more than half of that to the IRS and still have more than enough money left over for the core Rift team to live very well for the rest of their lives, so it's hard to fault them as individuals for taking the money. The deal also allows the Oculus team to keep working on the OR projects that they had been developing, with financing from Facebook, who claim that they will continue to put VR gaming at the forefront. So while Facebook's ownership of Oculus Rift may trouble some, we may want to wait and see whether or not the OR mission statement actually changes.
Before we worry that this is the end of the dream, let's look at some of the basic facts of consumer-grade VR right now:
  • No Set Price Range
The consumer version of the Oculus Rift has yet to ship, while the developer kit version runs $350. That's not a bad price for the most immersive VR experience available, it's in the range of a new video game console. However, it may well be that Facebook's financial might will allow the Rift to be produced and sold at a very low price. If we're looking at $100, $150 virtual reality, then Facebook's influence on the Rift, not to mention their power as a marketing force, may actually speed the proliferation of VR.
  • Nobody Owns a Copyright on VR
The Oculus Rift itself is a copyrighted concept. The idea of strapping two lightweight TV's to your face is not. To worry that Facebook are going to single-handedly ruin virtual reality for everyone seems foolish when any garage start-up out there can develop their own competing VR technology to offer an alternative to the Facebook-owned OR.
  • VR is Too Big to Ignore
Finally, the sheer headline factor to this story only helps to prove that the Oculus Rift has already made its mark. Whether or not it winds up being the VR unit that you find in every home, it has piqued the public's interest, and it would be crazy to assume that everyone from Sony to the smallest tech developers aren't taking notice. It's even said that Valve's new headset tech outshines the Rift.
"The tech world is largely about ideas that are too big to copyright," said Jason Hope, entrepreneur ( "and whether or not Facebook's Oculus Rift remains true to the original vision sold to its Kickstarter funders, it's not the end of the new era of VR."
The Oculus Rift has already birthed some fascinating projects, and it's doubtful that Facebook wants to change the open source nature of the project, as, love them or hate them, Facebook are pioneers of the user-generated era of web content.
The disappointment that many feel over Facebook's buyout of Oculus may have more to do with philosophical concerns than practical ones. The professional ethics of crowdfunding your project on Kickstarter before selling out to a major corporation for two billion dollars are up for debate, certainly, but it's hardly a nail in the coffin of the virtual reality dream. Even if Facebook decides to fill your eyeballs with advertising as soon as you strap the OR on, the Rift is far from the only option for virtual reality as we move into the next era of consumer tech.
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About Author:  Melissa Williams is a philanthropy and business writer.  As a native Texan, she began her career as a fundraiser for a non-profit organization.  Lured by the mountains and trail running, she relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona and works as a consultant for non-profit organizations.  She enjoys writing about philanthropy and entrepreneurs.