Techman Texts: Lavabit shuts down in defiance

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NSA leaker Edward Snowden and more than 400,000 others used an encrypted email service called Lavabit.

Last week Lavabit owner Ladar Levison announced he was shutting down the business rather than comply with a government investigation that he says would force him to "become complicit in crimes against the American people."

Speculation is that the government is trying to get access to the email of Mr. Snowden, who has been charged with espionage. But because of laws that prohibit the target of such a request from talking publicly about it, Mr. Levison cannot be specific about government methods that have caused him to shutter his company, an unprecedented move.

Tech Talk: TechMan reviews three products

This week on "Tech Talk," the PG's TechMan Ced Kurtz talks about the Sony Xperia Z, the Planon PrinkStik PS910, the UE Portable Bluetooth speaker and the 3M LED Advanced Light light bulb. (Video by Melissa Tkach; 8/12/2013)

"This is about protecting all of our users, not just one in particular. It's not my place to decide whether an investigation is just, but the government has the legal authority to force you to do things you're uncomfortable with," Mr. Levison said.

"The fact that I can't talk about this is as big a problem as what they asked me to do."

Encrypted email service Silent Circle said it also was shutting down and deleting all of its customers' email in case it got an order like the one given to Lavabit.

Feel better? The National Security Agency has come out with a rare, publicly-released document justifying its practices. The document says that the NSA touches only 1.6 percent of the 1,826 petabytes of information on the Internet per day and only 0.025 percent of that is selected for review. So NSA analysts only look at 0.00004 percent of the world's traffic -- less than one part in a million.

Shame, shame: Not only has Apple been found guilty of colluding with publishers to raise the price of ebooks, defrauding its customers of hundreds of millions of dollars, but it has ticked off the judge.

"None of the publishers nor Apple have expressed any remorse" about colluding to fix electronic book prices in 2010, said District Judge Denise Cote, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of New York. "They are, in a word, unrepentant."

Xpocalypse: On April 8, Microsoft will stop updating Windows XP, including security updates, leaving it wide open to hackers. The problem is that, according to analytics company Net Applications, 37.2 percent of the globe's personal computers ran Windows XP last month. That adds up to 570 million machines.

In the U.S., 16.4 percent of all personal computers ran Windows XP in July. But in China, 72.1 percent of the country's computers relied on the soon-to-retire operating system last month.

Neat trick: CNET reports that there is an Easter egg in Windows 7 called God mode. It lets users access all of the operating system's control panels from within a single folder. The trick works in Windows 7 and in 32-bit versions of Vista. It it can cause 64-bit versions of that operating system to crash.

To enter "GodMode," create a new folder and then rename the folder: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Website of the week:'s 50 Best Websites of 2013 is an excellent list:

Geek word of the week: Clickjacking -- maliciously manipulating a web user's action by concealed hyperlinks.


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