Thursday, August 17, 2017

Google Home's new feature gives free wifi calling to US and Canada

After first introducing phone call capabilities to Google Home back at Google I/O, Google says that the feature has now arrived and will rollout to Home units starting today and continuing over the coming week. That means you’ll be able to yell out, “Hey, Google, call Mom” and Google Home will do just that, for free.

The calling portion is actually a Google Assistant feature that is now baked into Google Home, in case you were wondering. It works like it does on your phone, only now you have access to the option through your home speaker assistant. Google says that you’ll be able to make free calls to your personal contacts list (might want to update that) and “millions” of businesses across the US and Canada.

The calls will display as “unknown” or “No Caller ID” when they show up on the other end. By the end of the year, Google says they’ll make it possible to show your mobile number. For Google Voice and Project Fi users, you can have your number shown right away.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

UE Boom 2 and Mega Boom now have Alexa built into them with latest update

The UE Boom 2 and Megaboom speakers are some of the best Bluetooth speakers around, and now they’re getting even better with a new software update that adds support for Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

The Alexa support — which is available as an over-the-air update in the UE Boom and Megaboom apps — only works with Android devices for now, and is similar to the existing Siri and Google Assistant support built into the devices. It’s the full Alexa experience, although to activate it you’ll need to press the Bluetooth button on the speaker. Unfortunately, it’s not the always-listening option that Amazon offers in its Echo and Tap devices. But just like this update, maybe that is one that come in a future update as well.

Still, it’s a useful addition to what are already great speakers. In my opinion the best bluetooth speaker out right now combined with the best home assist as of now is a definite win. If you own a UE Boom 2 or Megaboom, the update should be rolling out now.

Department of Justice granted broad warrant for all records and logs for resist Trump website

At the intersection where protections against unreasonable search and seizure meet the rights to free speech and association, there's now a web hosting company called DreamHost.

The California-based company is resisting a Department of Justice warrant that demands it hand over all files related to, a website created by one of its customers to plan and announce actions intended to disrupt President Trump's inauguration.

After Inauguration Day protests in Washington, D.C. turned violent, 230 people were arrested and charged with felony rioting.

In gathering evidence for the nearly 200 still-open cases in D.C. court, the Justice Department issued a warrant that DreamHost says is so broad it would require handing over the logs of 1.3 million visits to the website.

The company called the warrant "a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution. ... This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority."

A week after the inauguration, DreamHost says the Justice Department asked it for records relating to the person who had registered the site - such as the person's physical and email addresses - and it complied.

But in July, the government issued a new warrant that asked for additional materials: "all files, databases, and database records" related to DisruptJ20's website, as prosecutors moved to seize all information "involving the individuals who participated, planed [sic], organized, or incited the January 20 riot."

DreamHost resisted providing the newly-requested information, citing concerns that the warrant was "overbroad" and may result in "overseizure."

But the Justice Department said DreamHost must provide the information regardless.

"DreamHost's opinion of the breadth of the warrant does not provide it with a basis for refusing to comply with the Court's search warrant and begin an immediate production," U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips wrote in a motion to the D.C. Superior Court, which will soon hold a hearing regarding the matter.

In its filing with the court, DreamHost says the warrant requires the company "to turn over every piece of information it has about every visitor to a website expressing political views concerning the current administration":

"This information includes the IP address for the visitor, the website pages viewed by the visitor, even a detailed description of software running in the visitor's computer. In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website. The Search Warrant also includes a demand that DreamHost disclose the content of all e-mail inquiries and comments submitted from numerous private e-mail accounts and prompted by the website, all through a single sweeping warrant."

Is the government really asking for all those visitor logs?

"Yes, they definitely are," says Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Mark Rumold. EFF advocates for internet privacy and free speech, and has advised DreamHost in its case.

Rumold told NPR that when DreamHost first approached EFF about responding to the warrant, he guessed "that DOJ would realize how broad the warrant was, and say, oh you know, in fact we're not actually looking for IP logs for everyone who's ever visited the site," and would narrow its request accordingly.

But instead, the government insisted on DreamHost's compliance with the warrant as written.

"It always raises red flags when the government is trying to pry into the organization or the association of its political opponents," Rumold says. "That said, the DOJ has apparently demonstrated to a judge that there is probable cause to believe that something on this site is evidence of a crime." But, he says, the logs of everyone who ever visited the site, along with when and where they viewed it — "there's no way that that's all evidence of a crime."

"It's always troubling when the government seizes far more information than it could ever use," he says. "That's just generally a problem regardless of the investigation. I think what's particularly unique about this case is that the crime and the topic that is being investigated is a group of people who are politically opposed to the president."

For administrators of websites that involve political dissent or discussion, Rumold says best practices would dictate not keeping logs of visitor data.

And Legba Carrefour, who was one of the organizers for DisruptJ20, says the site's administrators didn't keep this data for—DreamHost did.

"We would not keep records on who visits our website," Carrefour told NPR. "We don't want to know, and we don't care. But also I'm sure like half of those are probably cops," checking to see what the group had planned for the inauguration.

Carrefour said DisruptJ20 used what's called "the open organizing model": Instead of making plans in secret, they posted everything they intended to do right on their website. They held biweekly meetings to audiences of 200 or 300 people at a time, in places like church basements, which he assumes police attended. "We feel like open organizing is a better way to recruit people, and also sort of a more honest, forthright, and successful way of organizing mass mobilizations."

Carrefour said he was "surprised and impressed" that DreamHost is "going to the lengths they are to resist" the government's request.

DreamHost says its stance isn't a political one.

"This has become a political issue for many - but our interest in this case truly isn't that specific," DreamHost spokesman Brett Dunst wrote in an email. "We're completely content-agnostic in this. For DreamHost this is simply an over-broad request for records, and we feel obligated to contest it."

He said DreamHost keeps server logs in order to manage the sites of its 400,000-plus customers and identify issues like Distributed Denial of Service attacks.

"We only retain those logs for a very brief time," Dunst wrote. "The DOJ served us with a preservation notice immediately after the inauguration, which is why we still have access to that data in this case."

The Justice Department's demand for the logs has troubling implications, says Georgetown University law professor Paul Ohm, who formerly worked as an attorney in the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

"It's disturbing to me," Ohm says "that with a single warrant, signed by a single judge — especially given the speech implications of this particular website — it's disturbing to me that that could be the single key that unlocks the political and speech habits of I-don't-know-how-many-people."

He estimated that 1.3 million visitor logs could represent thousands of people, or hundreds of thousands. And he said that the framers of the U.S. Constitution specifically wanted to avoid practices like British general warrants, which gave sweeping access to search any location with a single piece of paper.

"This smells like a general warrant," says Ohm. "I think the framers would recognize a single request to get the reading habits of tens of thousands of people to essentially be the closest thing we have in modern times to a general warrant."

Ohm says courts have often considered how rights against illegal search and seizure begin to overlap with free speech rights – and "this case is tailor-made to sit at that intersection."

"This site is about speech. It's about listening, which is also kind of a First Amendment right," he says. "It's about assembly. It's about petitioning the government. And so I think it's not going to be hard for the lawyers in this case to say this isn't just about policing and the limits of policing. This is about disruption of speech. And so for all those reasons, it really raises the stakes on this particular litigation and it means it's going to get a close look from the courts."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Metro PCS offers $50 a month Unlimited plan with $25 for each additional line(s)

Beginning today, MetroPCS has a new unlimited offering for its customers. For $50/month (that’s with taxes and fees included), you can have an unlimited plan, followed by just $25/month for additional lines. That means you can have two unlimited lines for just $75/month.

For an additional $10/month, you can get 8GB of LTE hotspot data per line – up to 5 lines.

On top of this new unlimited plan, the carrier is also offering a promotion for those who make the switch to MetroPCS. For each line you switch, up to five lines, you’ll receive up to a $100 instant rebate. These rebates can be applied to any device MetroPCS sells, which could be very beneficial if you’re looking to switch and in need of a new phone.

As for the fine print, there isn’t much for this promotion. In general, MetroPCS details that the top 3% of data users (>32GB/mo.) may notice reduced speeds until the next payment cycle due to data prioritization. Also, folks without a line add-on are not eligible for tethering. That means you need to be paying at least $75/month to get tethering, too.

T-Mobile changes JUMP! On Demand plan to allow device changes every 30 days

T-Mobile has recently rolled out changes to JUMP! On Demand (JOD), making it much more intriguing for folks who always want to have the latest and greatest available.

Before these changes, anyone a part of JOD could upgrade their phone up to 3 times in a year. Now, anyone on JOD can upgrade up to once every 30 days. Essentially, you can be just like an Android blogger, switching phones all of the time, should you be interested.

If you are a T-Mobile customer, but not enrolled in JOD, the way it works is rather simple. Essentially, each phone you have is just a lease, always owned by T-Mobile, unless you decide to purchase the device. After signing an 18-month agreement, the pricing structure is based on your credit, the device you choose, and the plan you opt for. Each is an important factor in determining your payment.

Currently, there isn’t a formal list of devices that are eligible for JOD, as the list continues to change. However, if you’re eyeing a new phone, such as the Moto Z2 Force, Galaxy S8, or LG G6, you’ll find it on there. With a lot of great Android devices on the horizon, now may be a good time to look into JOD.