WordPress Enables Free HTTPS Connections to Custom Domains

WordPress is a free, open source content management system, typically used for blogs and quick makeshift websites. While it’s nice to have your own content, you want to make sure that its safe and secure, something which the “Lets Encrypt” project hopes to improve upon, a project that WordPress have now joined.

The Lets Encrypt Project announced on March 9th that it would soon take on a new name as it transitioned to its new home at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) a group specialising in the law, security and technology.

WordPress has now announced that it has joined the program, offering the green lock symbol everyone loves to see when travelling through the internet, with any custom domains (those that don’t have .wordpress.com in their address) now gaining the benefits of the free SSL certificate issues by the program automatically with little to no effort on their owners behalf. You can find the steps to give your website access to HTTPS certificates here, giving everyone the benefit of free and reinforced security for their websites.

Not only is it free but you get a more secure connection for minimal effort, something that has been hard to do for website up until now. What is not to like about this program? Especially those with WordPress blogs.

T-Mobiles Binge On Service Throttles Connections To Video Sites

T-Mobile recently announced a new service in which customers would be allowed to stream unlimited video without it counting against their data limits. The problem being, those videos can only come from select partners. Now it looks like agreeing to this new service slows down every other video you wish to see.

The new service, Binge on, would provide users with unlimited access to Hulu, HBO Now and SlingTV, while T-mobile also stated they would double the data limits for their current plans but if you sign up to the new service, don’t expect a new smooth connection on other sites. The result of signing up to the new service is that you will find your connections throttled to other sites and even downloading videos will be slowed down and showed at a much lower quality (thanks to many sites automatically downgrading your quality so that you can keep watching without the show being interrupted).

This news comes courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who reported that all connections were throttled, regardless of where they come from. The results of this can be seen in the graph below that was produced by the electronic frontier foundation.

When it comes to getting answers though it hasn’t been a good time. John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, didn’t take too kindly to being asked by the EFF is the service alters the video stream or just limits its bandwidth. His response was the video posted on twitter below, please be aware that it does contain bad language.

Tweets since have said that it is not a personal mission against EFF and that Legere is aware of who the EFF are, but claims that they are using this as an opportunity to spearhead a campaign about a different topic. The topic he refers to is Net Neutrality, a principle that many declare is a founding principle of the internet and that can be summed up as “no single bit of information on the internet is more important than another”. Net Neutrality means that throttling some data at the expense of others, or even creating fast lanes for certain services, goes against what many believe to be the fairest and the only way the internet can continue to work.

Some have taken this news badly, some with some humour. While you can turn the service off, remember that you automatically are opted in, so if you use Youtube or other streaming sites a lot, remember to look into disabling it.

Images courtesy of EFF and Android Police.

Controversial CISA Cybersecurity Bill Passed by US Senate

The CISA bill that allows the US Government to collect personal data without a warrant has been voted in by the Senate by 74 votes to 21, and without amendments that would protect the privacy rights of US citizens. CISA, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a vocal opponent of the bill, “is fundamentally flawed due to its broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying authorities” and that its approval “reflects the misunderstanding many lawmakers have about technology and security.”

The bill was negotiated in secret, championed outside of the Senate by corporate lobbyers The US Chamber of Commerce, with positive editorials popping up in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, and gives US intelligence services to gather personal data – including names, addresses, credit card details, and even medical prescription records – from third-parties at will.

While Facebook has been accused of quietly supporting CISA, many major tech companies oppose the bill. Wikimedia, Reddit, Salesforce, DropBox, and Apple have all spoken out against CISA.  We don’t support the current CISA proposal,” a statement from Apple last week reads. “The trust of our customers means everything to us and we don’t believe security should come at the expense of their privacy.”

While the final wording of the bill is still to be determined by a conference of the House of Representatives and the Senate, semantics will not be able to protect against the violations of freedom and privacy of US citizens that CISA will make legal.

Who Has Your Digital Back: 24 Major Tech Companies Analysed

Ever since the NSA clothed assassin Edward Snowden released a cache of documents, (I am not an all government sympathizer and I admire the steps which Mr Snowden took to place this information into the public domain) there has been a greater emphasis on how companies handle your private data. Tech companies are brilliant at telling you how your data is “important to them” and how they safeguard a user’s digital life, but how do we know this? After all, you won’t be receiving a phone call from Tim Cook to offer any assurances anytime soon.

Here’s where a non-profit organisation by the name of the Electronic Frontier Foundation swings into the picture, as you may know, every year this organization publishes an annual report which details how tech companies handle your data or who they may hand it to. The 2015 report has been submitted and is split into the following five categories

  • Follows Industry accepted best practice
  • Tells users about government data demands
  • Discloses policies on data retention
  • Discloses government content removal requests
  • Pro-user public policy opposes backdoors

As you can see, each category is defined with the aim of requesting transparency from each of the 24 individual tech companies who were analysed. The aim of this study is to detail how each company deals with requests from government sources for your data.

So who has kept their word? Well, Tim Cook, you have seemingly kept yours as Apple earned itself a score of 5/5, there were other companies who also earned top marks, I know! These were as follows;

  • Adobe
  • Apple,
  • Yahoo
  • Dropbox
  • WordPress,
  • Wickr,
  • Credo Mobile,
  • Sonic
  • Wikimedia.

A question mark may arise over Dropbox with the controversial appointment of Condoleezza Rice to the board in April 2014. There is no evidence of a policy shift between Dropbox and the US government after Mrs Rice’s appointment, but never the less, its noteworthy.

Now for the worst, open golden envelope, drum roll please, ok metaphorical drum roll, the three worst companies are… I mean I really should win an award for suspense, Get on with it! ok, goes to;

  • AT&T
  • WhatsApp
  • Verizon

AT&T and Verizon failed in every category except “Follows Industry accepted best practice” Although which industry of what universe is anyone’s guess, with WhatsApp failing in every category except “opposes backdoors” But then again, who needs a backdoor when you place all your users details into a post stamped addressed envelope to any government who asks for it. Maybe an exaggeration, but if WhatsApp won’t tell you who demands a section of data, then it’s anyone’s guess..

These reports are well worth reading as it gives you a snapshot of how transparent tech companies are willing to be, after all, we as a society should demand information into what exactly is happening with our data.

Thank You to Electronic Frontier Foundation for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Electronic Frontier Foundation

It is Now Illegal For UK Music Lovers to Rip CDs They Already Own

Legally own a CD and want to burn a second copy for your car? Own a film on Blu-Ray but want to rip a copy to watch on your tablet during a plane flight? Want to extend the use of media you legally purchased for your own, private use by duplicating it? Thanks to a new UK High Court ruling, you’re now a criminal.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation puts it:

In a nutshell, the court struck down the UK government’s decision to allow users to lawfully make copies of content that they have purchased for personal use, given the absence of a compulsory levy to compensate copyright owners for the “harm” that they suffer from such copying. The government’s choices are now to remove the private copying exception—making personal copying illegal again, or to supply additional evidence that copyright owners suffer no or minimal “harm” from personal copying, or else to begin imposing a new tax on users to compensate the industry for that “harm”.

So, according to the High Court, if you want a separate copy of, say, The Balcony by Catfish and The Bottlemen, an album you already own, to listen to in your car, you are “harming” the copyright holder by not buying a second copy, despite there being no proof of lost sales due to such practices. The free copying exception that most of Europe enjoys isn’t fit for us British plebs, it seems. But not much is any more (ECHR, anyone?).

Thank you Electronic Frontier Foundation for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WiseGeek.

Hammer Comes Down on the Podcasting Patent Troll Personal Audio

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just invalidated claims made by Personal Audio, the long time podcast patent troll. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) led the fight against the troll and prevailed this week after years of struggle in the podcasting field.

Personal Audio was making claims that its failed 1990 cassettes-by-mail outfit was the same thing as episodic podcasts. In 2013, the company began contacting podcasts and demanding licensing fees, including Adam Corolla and major tv networks. The EFF launched the Save Podcasting campaign that was backed by contributors to help fight against Personal Audio. The EFF was able to show in petitions that the company did not invent anything new before they filed the patent application and that podcasting had been going on for years before. We have yet to see if those podcasters who paid up will be paid back by the patent troll. Hopefully this is just the start of the fall of patent trolls; only time will only tell.

Source: BoingBoing

Publishers Want to Make Old Game Archiving Illegal

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) wants archiving of abandoned video games, such as Internet Archive’s ever-growing library, illegal, calling the practice “hacking”, which is “associated with piracy”.

The ESA’s statement follows a move by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to have abandoned games exempted from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions (Section 1201) by the Copyright Office in order to allow those games to be archived as historical artefacts.

The EFF claims that Section 1201 is routinely abused by the entertainment industries to “control markets and lock out competition,” rather than prevent copyright infringement as it was designed to do. The ESA is now formally opposing the EFF’s exemption application on the grounds that it would “undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based,” and that it would send a message that “hacking—an activity closely associated with piracy in the minds of the marketplace—is lawful.” Way to obfuscate the point, ESA.

The EFF maintains that its position is to protect and preserve cultural works that would otherwise become abandoned when they cease to become profitable to the developers. The ESA’s stance against this smacks of childish spitefulness – ‘If we can’t make money out of these games, then you can’t not make money out of them, either!”

The US Copyright Office is still considering any potential exemption to DMCA Section 1201.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Microsoft Says “NO” to FBI Request Regarding Customer Data

Microsoft reportedly revealed to the public that its privacy policy has priority and it is not willing to make any exceptions. Such is the case where the company allegedly received a letter from the FBI, a so-called National Security Letter or NSL, stating to release some confidential information about one of Microsoft’s enterprise clients.

For those who are unaware, an NSL comes with a ‘gagging order’, meaning that Microsoft could not reveal the existence of the letter to the customer at hand. However, Microsoft does have some pretty strong policies guarding customer data, emphasised in winning top marks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s ‘Who Has Your Back’ report.

“EFF believes that National Security Letters (NSLs) – secretive FBI orders for user data accompanied by a gag provision – are a violation of the Constitution,” the EFF stated. “We think it is vital that companies are as forthcoming as legally allowable about these national security requests to help shed light on government abuses of contested surveillance powers.” they added.

The letter has been withdrawn prior to Microsoft filing a challenge to the order in Seattle’s Federal Court. However, this is not a win for Microsoft and even though the FBI will not comment or confirm the accusations, the secret service will still get the information through lawful means rather than just ‘asking nicely’ for it.

Furthermore, by backing off, the FBI has also avoided a high-profile court case at a rather inconvenient time. Having an open court ‘war’ with a well-resourced company such as Microsoft would have consumed both time and resources from both parties and could have also ended with Microsoft winning the ‘battle’, having the FBI to blame by using unconstitutional methods of acquiring private customer information.

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information

The Humble Store: Epic Daily Deals

Humble Bundle gives us deal after deal. They started out small with Humble Bundles, giving us deals on independent games, music and even books. As they grew they started giving us bundles from large game producers, such as THQ, and Origin, and even Warner Bros.

Then they brought us the Humble Weekly sale, a sale that brings us great game bundlers for one low price.

And now, Humble Bundle is bringing us the Humble Store.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO4KKqTyvDA[/youtube]

Today is their Debut Sale. Day one provides us with some really awesome discounts on some really epic games:

  • Don’t Starve
  • Prison Architect Alpha
  • Orcs Must Die! 2 – Complete
  • Gunpoint
  • Rogue Legacy
  • The Swapper
  • Natural Selection 2
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2
  • Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

Personally, I am looking forward to Prison Architect, I really can’t wait to try it out!

We will get awesome daily deals. Which you can find on their website HumbleBundle.com/Store.

The Humble Store supports the following charities: Splitting 10% of the proceeds equally between these five awesome charities.

HumbleBundle has been standing behind what seems to be their philosophy of brining games to gamers for discounted prices, and helping charities at the same time.

I am sure they will really do some awesome things with this new store.

Are there any games that you would like to go on sale?

Humble Weekly Sale: Klei Entertainment – Week of June 27th

Klei Entertainment has joined the rankings of other great developers and the Humble Bundle Weekly Sale. Klei Entertainment has brought us several games over the years, unfortunately it seems as if they will only be hosting three of their games for the weeks bundle.

These three divine games include Shank 2, Shank and Eets. This is a “Pay what you want” event, meaning, pay as much or as little as you want, I like to give you a little rubbing, making sure that you do know that this is for charity! Though if you pay at least one dollar you will receive a Steam key. All three of these games are DRM-Free and are available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.

Humble Bundle primarily supports two charities, one Child’s Play which helps bring video games, and other fun to sick children in hospitals. The other awesome charity is the Electronic Frontier Foundation which stands up for our digital rights, fighting off Uncle Sam at every chance they get, standing up for the little man who may or may not be able to protect himself from the grasps of the evil dictatorship of the governments telling us what we can and can’t do on the internet.

A little bit about these games.

Shank 2 is a 2D side-scrolling brawler, where you fight with an array of weapons, which feels almost comic book like in its design. Soundtrack included!

Shank, just like its predecessor only it is the FIRST! Bringing both a solo campaign and a full co-op story. The soundtrack is included!

Eets is a 2D puzzle game, with over 100 puzzles, unfortunately the soundtrack does not come with the game.

Raise the bar, and challenge your friends to donate more than you! If you were to purchase these games seperately they retail for $9.99 each for a grand total of $29.97.

Humble Weekly Sale: 11 Bit Studios – Week of June 13th

For the past few weeks Humble Bundle brings us a new Weekly Bundle! This week is the same as the others, bringing us an awesome bundle of games for a low great price. This week’s bundle brings us several games, unfortunately we are only able to redeem one on Steam, Anomaly Warzone Earth. Though all of the other games are all available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android!

This week’s Humble Weekly Sale includes 5 magnificent games and some bonus content too, all from 11 bit studios.

  • Anomaly Warzone Earth
  • Anomaly Warzone Earth: Mobile Campaign
  • Sleepwalker’s Journey
  • Funky Smugglers

Beat the Average and you will receive

  • Anomaly Korea
  • Bonus Content*

* Bonus content includes

  • Anomaly 2 Mech Figurine 3D print source
  • Desktop Wallpapers

With this remarkable bundle you get to play 5 awesome games, customize your desktop with some cool wallpaper and you can even print a 3D model. You will also have access to all of the soundtracks, except for the mobile campaign, though it is most likely the same soundtrack as Warzone Earth.

If you are not familiar with the way that the Humble Bundle system works, it is really easy. Humble Bundle gives us a list of games that they offer, and you are able to get all of them for how much you want to pay by giving us

“Name Your Price” you as the customer get to name your price for the games that are offered, if you pay at least one dollar you get steam codes for the games that are available on Steam. Usually these games are also DRM free, which means that you have the ability to download them from the Humble Bundle website. Usually there is also a game or two that get if you “Beat The Average”, this means that if you pay more than the average person for the games, the bonus games are given to you.

These “Name Your Price” events also allow you to specify where the money that you pay goes. By default

  • 65% of your payment goes to the Developers of the games, if there are multiple developers the 65% is split up evenly.
  • 20% of your payment goes to charity split evenly between the charities supported.
  • 15% of your payment goes as a Humble Tip to Humble Bundle. (Which pays for bandwidth, and development of their promotions.)

There are several payment methods, these include Paypal, Amazon Payments, Google Wallet, and you also can pay with Bitcoin.

Humble Bundle primarily supports two charities the majority of the time, those two charities are Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play. I encourage you to verify and research more about these charities as you should with any charity that you might donate to.

More information on Child’s Play can be found at this website www.childsplaycharity.org/, the organization works with over 70 children’s hospitals worldwide to improve children’s lives with toys and games.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation can be found check looking at their website, www.eff.org, this organization works to secure humanities digital rights, keeping the internet free.

Special Thank you to HumbleBundle.com for continuing to bring us awesome new bundles.

Images from HumbleBundle.com as well as  EFF.org & ChildsPlayCharity.org

UPDATE: The Humble Indie Bundle 8

Last week I published an article about Humble Bundles eight installment of their Indie Bundle. Where, you were able to get 7 great games for one low price.
The bundle includes 5 games, and you get to pay what you want. If you pay at least one dollar you will get steam codes for these five games.
  • Little Inferno
  • Awesomenauts *Plus exclusive chicken skin*
  • Capsized
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Dear Esther
  •  And all five soundtracks

If you beat the average currently $5.60 you will get 6 additional games as well as 5 more soundtracks!

  • Hotline Miami
  • Proteus
  • Tiny and Big in Grandpa’s Leftovers
  • Intrusion 2
  • English Country Tune
  • Oil Rush *plus map pack*
  • And five more select soundtracks!

If you have already purchased this Humble Bundle, and you beat the average the newly added games will already be added to your list of games purchases, and you will be able to get the Steam redeemable codes via their website.

Remember this Humble Bundle, as all bundles offered by Humble Bundle allow you to donate to two awesome charities including EFF Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as Child’s Play Charity.

If you are really into supporting independent game developers, like to donate to charity, or you love Humble Bundle, you can customize where your money goes in the payment field.

Some try to duke it out with Markus @Notch Persson, creator of MineCraft, but I don’t know how many are willing to beat his donation of $5,000.

If you’re interested in this deal and many more like them check out www.humblebundle.com