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Radar images, local legend may point the way to long-forgotten Nazi gold train

For the past few days, rumors of a Nazi gold train have been circulating across the Internet. A pair of hunters (one Polish, one German) contacted the Polish government officially and informed them that they possessed information on the final location of a Nazi train, secreted during the waning days of World War II. The train is believed to be located near the town of Walbrzych (then Waldenburg) after departing from Wroclaw (then Breslau). Today, Poland’s head of national heritage, Piotr Zuchowski, held a press conference in which he confirmed that he’s seen a purported image of the train and is 99% certain it actually exists.

An armored Nazi gold train, hidden for decades, and possibly booby-trapped with explosives may sound like the stuff of Hollywood, but there’s plenty of historical precedent. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Of armored trains and Nazi gold

The phrase “armored train” probably doesn’t just mean that the engine had a few gun placements or protected alcoves. Armored trains were first deployed during the American Civil War, but saw increasing use throughout the rest of the 19th century and throughout World War I. While they were obviously limited to operating in areas where railroad tracks had been laid and maintained, trains could project a significant amount of force in a short period of time. Early tanks, for example, were often barely maneuverable and limited to near-walking speeds by primitive gearing, weak engines, and their own enormous bulk. A train, in contrast, could tow fixed artillery for mobile shelling, launch raiding parties, transport troops quickly, or even include a field hospital.

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The WW1-era armored train Zammurets, detailed in a stellar Medium report

World War I saw the greatest deployment of armored trains, but many were still in use in Poland during World War II. Poland made extensive use of armored trains during its initial resistance to German occupation, and the Germans themselves developed and deployed some trains for use along the Eastern Front. Given that Poland had its own armored trains to start with, it’s easy to imagine the Nazis still having access to one in the waning days of the war.

What about the rumors of Nazi gold? Again, it may sound like Hollywood, but it’s rooted in fact. As the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, they systemically plundered their own Jewish population of valuables and resources. Collections of art and cultural artifacts held in museums or at universities were seized on behalf of the state, and books were burned en masse. By the late 1930s, Germany’s gold reserves had fallen to dangerous levels; the country is believed to have looted the gold reserves of Austria, occupied Czechoslovakia, and the city of Danzig to replenish its own coffers.

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Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Once WW2 began, of course, these policies kicked into overdrive. As Hitler’s Final Solution took shape and Germany seized much of Europe, the gold and valuables of both targeted minorities and entire nations was seized and liquidated. The jewelry, rings, and valuables of millions of Jews was melted down into bullion, while an estimated $550 million in gold (in 1940s prices) was stolen from foreign governments. This gold was stored in mines and stockpiles across the country, including the Merkers Mine, as shown above. Nearly 250 tons of gold were found at the Merkers Mine, not including the many valises filled with gold fillings, eyeglass frames, small precious stones, and other personal items taken from victims of the Holocaust.

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Wedding rings, seized from Buchenwald. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Nazi Germany is believed to have looted 20% of all of the art in Europe. To this day, no complete record exists of how much gold, jewelry, art, cultural artifacts, and items of value were stolen or destroyed. The idea that a train of gold could’ve remained hidden all this time? Not so difficult.

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The real Hungarian gold train. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The idea of a Nazi “gold train” has a real historical analog as well. On December 15, 1944, a train left Hungary carrying an estimated $570 million to $1.7 billion (in 2007 values) worth of treasure. The gold and treasure, which left Hungary to escape the advancing Soviet army, made a number of stops to transfer its valuables to various trucks as it meandered through Hungary and into Austria. It was eventually seized by the advancing Allies in May of that year.

What do we know about this particular ‘gold train?’

According to local legend, the Nazis loaded the train with stolen valuables and hid it near Ksiaz Castle. The two treasure hunters claim to have found it in a buried tunnel in the Sowa Mountains. This would track with the legend — Ksiaz Castle is three miles away from the general area, and served as the Nazi’s base of operations in the area. The train was reportedly measured using ground penetrating radar (which can be used to provide the necessary resolution and imaging capability) and is reportedly 100 meters long. There’s no word on what its cargo might contain, and the actual image has not been released. According to Zuchowski, the two men were put on the trail by a deathbed confession of one of the men who worked on it, who also warned them that the train is protected by explosives.

It’s possible that the entire report is fake, or that the train is real but has no significant cargo. In this case, however, even papers and documents related to the war could have enormous value to historians and researchers. The individuals in question are asking for 10% of the value of the cargo in exchange for its location; it is not clear if Poland will agree to this request.

We should know soon, one way or the other, whether the train actually exists or not. Hopefully we’ve put a bit of context around a far-fetched rumor, and illustrated how even the craziest of ideas isn’t always that nuts when viewed in the proper perspective.

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Acer founder declares company would welcome a takeover bid

From the late 1990s through the mid-2000s, Acer, the low-cost Chinese OEM, rose like a rocket. It spun off multiple successful companies like BenQ and Wistron, while company revenues rose from $4.9 billion in 2003 to $11.31 billion in 2006. Nine years later, however, the company is in a shambles. Its honorary chair and founder, Stan Shih, who began the company with $25,000 in capital in 1976, has announced that a buyout or takeover bid would be welcome.

Acer lost $90 million in the first half of its current financial year. Bit-Tech reports that sales have fallen 33% in the past month and its share price stands at half of where it was in April. Despite these massive headwinds, Acer remains the fifth-largest PC OEM in the world — a stunning reminder that the bottom has fallen out of the PC business to such a degree that even the largest vendors aren’t making any money.

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This chart, created by The Overspill, shows how PC net incomes have plummeted. HP sells billions of revenue in PCs per quarter but earns very little on the business.

When Shih was asked if Acer would be interested in entertaining any offers that companies like Dell or HP might make, Shih told reporters that such interest would be welcome. What’s a bit more puzzling, however, is that Shih went on to say that any company that bought Acer would pay dearly for purchasing an “empty shell.”

“U.S. and European management teams usually are concerned about money, their CEOs only work for money. But Taiwanese are more concerned about a sense of mission and emotional factors,” he said.

Shi’s remarks were later confirmed by a company spokesperson, but I’m wondering if some nuance of context isn’t getting lost in communication. Acer may have taken a beating in recent months, but the company still reported revenue of $1.94B in its Q2 2015 report. That’s no small amount of revenue, even if it’s not in the same ballpark as what the largest OEMs typically make. It’s enough cash to make it unclear why the founder of the company would characterize it as an “empty shell,” especially when such phrasing would harm the chances of a successful sale or merger.

Last year, Acer’s CEO, Jason Chen, declared that Acer would bet the future of the company on the ascendence of Chromebooks and hybrid 2-in-1 devices. Judging by the company’s latest sales results, those initiatives have failed. Acer’s problems are a perfect representation of the deep issues facing the entire PC business. While hundreds of millions of devices continue to ship on a yearly basis, PC margins have fallen to the point that only a handful of companies can earn money in the business. What that means for the future of the entire industry is unclear, but consumer PC sales are no longer expected to recover until some point after 2019.

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Breaking Bad pilot becomes first 4K content pirated from Netflix

You probably don’t even have a 4K TV yet, but content providers are already getting the video ready for the day when you do. Netflix is one of the main sources for 4K video right now as we await 4K Blu-Ray discs, and thus far content producers could feel secure providing their UHD video on the streaming platform. However, it appears that the first pirated 4K content from Netflix has hit torrent sites, calling into question how secure the latest DRM schemes really are.

The leak in question is the first episode of Breaking Bad, which has a run time of 58 minutes. For less than an hour of 2160p video, you’re looking at a whopping 17.7GB. That’s about 50 times larger than the standard definition version of the episode. File size will vary a bit based on the encoding used by the release group, but this one has a bitrate of 41.3Mbps. A 4K file can go much higher when you don’t have to worry about streaming it over the internet. Even this relatively modest 4K file will push the average laptop’s decoding capacity during playback.

This version of Breaking Bad is based on new 4K masters, so there’s a lot of interest in it. The Blu-Rays were based on an older 2K master. The leaked episode only has video and subtitles from Netflix. The audio is ripped from the Blu-Ray version of the show.

It’s notable that Breaking Bad was ripped from Netflix at all, seeing as it was protected with the latest 2.2 version of High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP). This DRM scheme was implemented after attacks were found that allowed HDCP 2.0 and 2.1 to be cracked. Some past versions of HDCP were broken when master keys were leaked as well. It’s not clear if the release group (the well-respected iON) actually managed to break HDCP 2.2 or if they found some other way to rip the stream from Netflix. HDCP works by requiring an authenticated path from the source to output. Any anomalous device or software should prevent the video from playing.

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Netflix is investigating the leak, but it’s unlikely the responsible party will be found. 4K video streams are generally labeled with a discreet digital watermark that can be analyzed to determine the account a file was ripped from. However, piracy groups are usually well-acquainted with this technique and know to strip it from the uploaded version.

The Breaking Bad pilot is probably just the start. If someone has figured out a reliable way to rip HDCP 4K content from Netflix, there will be many more leaks in the future. The average pirate probably won’t be downloading it yet, though. Almost 20GB is a lot of data to store for a single hour of TV — that would be well over 1TB for all of Breaking Bad. At that point, it’s probably easier to just subscribe to Netflix.

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Chrome will automatically block Flash ads starting September 1

Google has set a date on when Chrome will begin automatically blocking flash ads and refusing to allow non-critical content to play by default. On September 1st, Chrome will no longer offer to play “non-essential” content. Instead, users will have to right-click on a plugin and choose to “Run this Plugin” by hand. Google claims that this is a move to protect battery life and improve device security, but there’s another, simpler reason: It also stands to make Google more money.

If you’re already a Google AdWords customer, you don’t necessarily have to change anything you’re doing. According to Google, it already converts most Flash ads to HTML5 automatically. Users of the AdWords platform are encouraged to manually confirm that their ads make the jump and to adjust accordingly. If you aren’t on Google’s AdWords platform, however, you’re going to have to either convert your ads for HTML5 or move to Google’s services.

The new "Click to play" on a Mac.

The new “Click to play” on a Mac.

Google is far from the only company moving away from Flash; Amazon has also announced it will no longer accept Flash ads beginning on September 1. The difference, however, is that Amazon’s policies govern ads displayed on Amazon.com, not ads running over its own advertising network. For Google, this kind of move gives it the ability to kill several birds with a single stone. Flash has long been maligned for its battery-hogging tendencies, ability to slow even modern multi-core systems to a crawl, and security flaws. Killing support for the platform, therefore, is arguably great for security and performance.

Few people will argue about a dearth of autoplaying ads on websites, either. Given the number of security breaches that continue to plague the service, there’s little doubt that Flash deserves to die an unlamented death. Among the proposed epitaphs: “You loved it more than RealPlayer.”

What’ll be interesting is if Chrome continues to automatically play videos from services like Facebook, and if we see an uptick in AdWords revenue as a result of this. If you don’t have the time or inclination to rework your ads for HTML5, after all, you may have to move to Google’s platform to continue serving what you have. This shift could draw additional scrutiny from the European Union’s regulators, who recently announced they would investigate Google for anti-competitive activity, including activity related to its advertising and shopping networks. In a response yesterday, Google blasted the suit as being without merit — a common tactic among pretty much every company the EU has investigated, including Microsoft and Intel.

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Self-healing material could patch up damaged spacecraft in under a second

Space is big and mostly empty, but it’s the small part that isn’t empty that ends up being an issue for space exploration. Even a tiny piece of debris from a derelict satellite or ancient bit of space rock can cause damage to a spacecraft, and that damage can expose your fragile atmosphere-loving body to the harsh vacuum of space in a real hurry. Researchers from the University of Michigan working with NASA have developed a material that might add an extra layer of protection from space debris, a material that can heal itself to seal hull breaches.

The International Space Station is the most heavily shielded craft ever built, a necessary distinction as it’s designed to operate for years in orbit. The current design relies on a series of impact shields known as Whipple bumpers or Whipple shields. These bumpers are essentially thin layers of material that stand off from the hull of the station by at least several centimeters. When a small object impacts the station, the impact with the Whipple bumper slows it down and may even cause it to break up. The result is a lower force spread over a larger surface area of the actual hull.

If the bumpers were to fail, the station would have a weak spot that could lead to a hull rupture. The work by U of M scientists might offer an added layer of protection. This new material is composed of a type of liquid resin called thiol-ene-trialkylborane. It’s sandwiched between two polymer panels to form an airtight seal. The resin remains liquid as long as that seal remains unbroken. Should a projectile pierce the hull of a ship that includes this material, it will no longer be sealed. The resin leaks out through the breach, and that’s when the magic (science) happens.

On one side of the breach is vacuum, but as we’ve all learned from TV and movies, the air inside a spacecraft will be sucked out quickly. The air on the inside of the ship reacts with the resin as it leaks out, causing it to harden into a solid plug that stops more atmosphere from escaping. This happens extremely fast as well — the video above shows the resin hardening in just a few milliseconds.

The plug only has to hold one atmosphere of pressure inside the ship, so it doesn’t have to be as strong as the undamaged hull. It just needs to be good enough to keep everyone alive while they make proper repairs. While space is the main application, the researchers also say it could be useful in automotive and building technology.

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ET deals: Lenovo H50-50 quad-core desktop PC for $650

If you’re in need of a flexible desktop tower on the cheap, take a look at the H50-50 desktop PC from Lenovo. With a spacious solid-state hybrid drive, a quad-core CPU, and a one year warranty, this model is an absolute steal when you use today’s coupon code.

H50-50 On the inside, this configurations sports a fourth generation quad-core 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-4790 CPU, integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600, 12GB of DDR3 RAM (1600MHz), a 2TB SSHD, a DVD burner, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi support. And as a sweet little bonus, a USB keyboard and mouse come bundled with this PC for no additional cost.

While this model comes with Windows 8.1 (64-bit) installed on the hard drive by default, you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 at no additional cost until the end of July of 2016. And since it comes with great features like Microsoft’s new Edge browser, the Cortana personal assistant, and DirectX 12, this upgrade is definitely worth the small time investment.

Normally, the H50-50 retails upwards of $1100, but Lenovo is selling it directly right now for just $699.99. If you apply coupon code “USPH5FUS716” during the checkout process, you’ll save an additional 50 bucks — a total of $450 in savings. And when you use Lenovo’s free shipping, you’ll be saving even more.

Our commerce group sources the best deals and products for the ET Deals posts. We operate independently of Editorial and Advertising and may earn a percentage of the sale, if you buy something via a link on the post. If you are interested in promoting your deals, please contact us at commerce@ziffdavis.com.

For more great deals head over to TechBargains.

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The Tesla Model S demolishes Consumer Reports’ rating system

The Tesla Model S is so good it broke Consumer Reports’ ratings barrier. On a scale that is supposed to top out at 100, the Model S P85D garnered a score of 103. Consumer Reports recalculated its score reporting so this Model S wound up with a reported score of 100. The P85D is the all-wheel-version with motors both front and rear.

Consumer Reports says it bases its road-test score on the results of “more than 50 tests and evaluations” on public roads and track testing.

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Why is Tesla so good?

Consumer Reports’ auto testers are car fanatics. Some race cars. If ever they were cast in the image of Ralph Nader, that’s in the rear-view mirror. They got off on the “brutally quick” 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.5 seconds, the quickest of any car ever tested by the magazine. (Tesla claims 3.2 seconds 0-60, 1.4 seconds quicker than the original Model S.) They noted the car produced 691 hp by adding a 221-hp motor in front.

Teslal charger high-power-wall-connector2_1024x1024At the same time, it gets the equivalent of 87 miles per gallon, calculated by comparing the cost of the electricity the car uses to what it would cost to run a similar vehicle on gasoline. Electricity from the wall outlet is 2-3 times as efficient as gasoline on a cost basis.

On the downside, the car weighs almost 5,000 pounds, the range is 200 miles-plus, and you have to plan long trips around the location of 220-volt chargers or preferably Tesla 440-volt DC superchargers (with free electricity). It’s also noisier at speed and less luxurious than other cars in its pricing ballpark — $127,820 in the case of the CR test car. Early on in testing, there was a broken electric door latch to contend with.

Some things Tesla does well may not show on ratings. Tesla is the only automaker with a 17-inch center stack LCD. Rather than dedicate buttons to a garage door opener, they’re virtual buttons on the display that pop up once you’re close to home. Tesla sends updates over the air when they’re needed and they’re not just bug fixes. Some unlock more power and range via new algorithms. No need to trek to the dealership.

Rounding downward to 100

All those good things gave the car a score of 103 out of a supposed-to-be-maximum of 100 points. Consumer Reports says it adjusted its ratings so the scale once again tops out at 100. For the time being, at least, the ratings of other vehicles won’t be adjusted downward to keep the relative scale intact.

Twice before CR has had to adjust its ratings to account for high-scoring vehicles: the Porsche Boxster several years ago, and the Lexus LS in the early 1990s.

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CR’s current best cars: 6 German, 4 American

According to Consumer Reports, these are the highest-scoring cars CR has tested. About half did not get a “recommended” stamp, meaning the models were new and there was insufficient repair data from reader surveys, or because the car scored below average on repairs. Six of the 10 are German, four are American (two Teslas, two Chevrolets), and none are Asian.

Make/Model, Consumer Reports test score

Tesla Model S P85D, 100 points
Tesla Model S (85 kWh), 99 (recommended)
BMW M235i, 98 (photo above)
Mercedes-Benz S550 (AWD), 96
Porsche 911 Carrera S, 95 (recommended)
Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec, 93
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3LT, 92 (recommended)
Audi A8 L, 91
Chevrolet Impala 2LTZ, 91 (recommended)
Audi A6, (3.0T), 90 (recommended)

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Defiant Google blasts EU antitrust charges, vows to fight

Last April, the European Union announced it would investigate Google for alleged anticompetitive actions and abuse of power. The search giant and Android developer fired back today, in a legal response of more than one hundred pages. While that report is confidential, Ken Walker, Google’s general council and a senior vice-president, has written a blog post detailing how Google sees the situation and what the company thinks of the EU’s charges.

Google’s response makes it clear that the company believes the EU is wrong on all counts. It argues that its own research and data shows that paid display of ads from specific merchants does not harm other services listed on Google. It claims to have data “to rebut claims that our ad displays and specialized organic results harmed competition by preventing shopping aggregators from reaching consumers.” And it argues that the EU has failed to consider the impact of Amazon and eBay as competitors for Google itself.

The Google Shopping Unit is one feature other companies are unhappy about.

The Google Shopping Unit is one feature other companies are unhappy about.

One thing Walker doesn’t touch on, however, is that anti-trust law is very different in the EU compared with the United States. In the US, to prove that a monopoly is illegal, you have to provide evidence of consumer harm. This restriction doesn’t exist in the European Union; an abuse of monopolistic power can be found to exist if one company takes actions that harm a competitor unjustly, even if there is no direct evidence that consumers were themselves harmed. Some would argue that this represents an unfair restriction on business, while others feel it’s actually a way of safeguarding consumer preference and choice by ensuring that smaller companies don’t face unfair competition.

Either way, Walker appears to somewhat contradict himself. First, he states that Google’s EU results do not harm competition by changing results. Then, later, he writes: “Moreover, the ways people search for, compare, and buy products are rapidly evolving. Users on desktop and mobile devices often want to go straight to trusted merchants who have established an online presence.”

I’m not sure you can have this both ways. You can argue Google’s results don’t impact other aggregators, or you can argue Google provides a service people want by pairing them immediately with a trusted party. This sounds like Google wanting to eat its cake and have it too. The meat of this case is over whether Google unfairly prioritizes its own services and links. Multiple firms have joined in calling for an investigation of Google’s actions, with participants ranging from Microsoft (for obvious reasons) to organizations like Getty Images. The specifics of each complaint vary, but the general theme is the same.

Google defends these actions as necessary. Walker writes: “In providing results for people interested in shopping, we knew we needed to go beyond the old-fashioned ’10 blue links’ model to keep up with our competitors and better serve our users and advertisers. We developed new ways to organize and rank product information and to present it to users in useful formats in search and ads. In 2012, as part of that effort, in addition to our traditional ads, we introduced the Google Shopping Unit as a new ad format.”

Google, essentially, is arguing that operating its own shopping comparison price tool is a simple response to how consumers behave. The EU is arguing that by setting up its own comparison tools, Google has moved from providing search results to influencing them to better serve its own financial ends and to confer an unfair advantage on certain companies it works with. The EU has the authority to fine Google up to $6.7 billion for these actions but almost certainly wouldn’t. The $1.45 billion case against Intel was the largest fine ever levied in the European Union’s history.

The EU has announced that it is also looking into Android, but today’s blog post did not address any of the concerns around that operating system.

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New analysis shows over 99 percent of the women on Ashley Madison were fake

When the Ashley Madison hacks hit earlier this month, it didn’t take long for researchers to begin pouring over the details and data. Impact Team, the group behind the hack, declared that it was releasing the information because Ashley Madison had lied about the male-female account ratio on its website. At the time, the hackers claimed that 90-95% of the accounts on Ashley Madison were male, with “thousands” of fake female profiles. New research shows this may have been a dramatic underestimation.

Gizmodo’s Analee Lewis combed through the database, looking for tell-tale signs that the 5.5 million female accounts on Ashley Madison were fake. Sure enough, she found some, including IP addresses that showed accounts were created from 127.0.0.1 and thousands of accounts that listed an AshleyMadison.com email address as their primary contact point. These email addresses were even listed in sequential, bot-like fashion — 100@ashleymadison.com, 200@ashleymadison.com, etc.

One critical piece of information captured in the leak was the last date a user had checked their messages. If a user never checked their inbox, the field was completely blank. If they logged in even once, that information was recorded. Ashley Madison also records the last time a user answered messages; this can be handled in a separate field without actually clicking on the inbox, which is why the data logs show different numbers for the women who checked mail versus replying to a message.

In both cases, however, the numbers are staggeringly low.

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Data courtesy of Gawker.com

Over 20 million male customers had checked their Ashley Madison email boxes at least once. The number of females who checked their inboxes stands at 1,492.

There have already been multiple class action lawsuits filed against Ashley Madison and its parent company, Avid Life Media, but these findings could send the figures skyrocketing. If true, it means that just 0.0073% of Ashley Madison’s users were actually women — and that changes the fundamental nature of the site. Ashley Madison wasn’t selling the ability to have an affair for any sane definition of the word. It was selling the fantasy of having an affair. It might not be morality of cheating on one’s spouse that brings the house down, but the perils of false advertising.

Is total honesty a good thing for society?

One issue raised by privacy advocates in the wake of the Ashley Madison hack, and that’s certain to come up again now that we know the overwhelming majority of men were literally incapable of having an affair on Ashley Madison, is whether or not this type of total social disclosure is good for society. Technology allows unparalleled amounts of information to be vacuumed up, from license plate readers to invasive telemetry-gathering in Windows 10.

It’s easy to be distracted by moral superiority in the Ashley Madison case. Cheating on one’s spouse is frowned upon by the overwhelming majority of Americans, including those in non-traditional relationships. Nevertheless, there are guaranteed to be people caught up in the hack that can now be accused of having explored having an affair who had no serious intent to do so. Journalists, researchers, people who created accounts out of curiosity, and those who might have created an account before actually getting married are all potential victims. Such individuals will only be a fraction of the millions of men who signed up on the site, but they exist — and determining who they are will cause a great deal of pain for all involved.

The bigger problem that this hack points out is that all of us have, at one time or another, flirted with doing something we knew we shouldn’t do. That could mean a beer at a strip club with a friend, an hour at a singles bar, or that time we flirted just a little too much with a friend or co-worker. Some of those accounts on Ashley Madison were almost certainly created during times of extreme stress in a relationship when one or both parties were looking for resolutions, considered cheating, and walked away thereafter.

All of us have said things out loud and then been glad no one else heard them. All of us have done things we aren’t proud of. The privacy invasions inherent to so much of modern technology allow for a devastating compilation of these moments in the wrong hands, and could be used to expose huge amounts of personal, embarrassing information about people who have committed no crimes and taken no significant action. Sooner or later, hackers will penetrate one of the huge data clearing houses like Acxiom, or even Microsoft or Google. No one’s security is perfect forever. The ability to track people’s physical location or online activities does not guarantee that such information will be used wisely or prudently.

I have no sympathy for Ashley Madison users who signed up for a service that promised the ability to cheat on one’s spouse, and I suspect few people do. The fact that what these people did was reprehensible, however, shouldn’t be used as a reason to dodge the larger issues that surround the hack itself. Do we want to live in a world where our every action can be subjected to global scrutiny if a third-party company doesn’t perform its due diligence?

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ET deals roundup: Save on laptop bags, HDTVs, and more

$25 Dell gift card with select Swiss Gear laptop bags (starting at $39.99)

If you’re looking for a laptop bag, check out this sweet deal on numerous Swiss Gear models. The commerce team especially recommends the $69.99 Synergy model. Not only is it currently cheaper here than it is on Amazon, but the $25 gift card makes this too good to pass by.

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$100 eBay gift card for $95

If you’re already planning on spending $100 or more on eBay, this is almost like free money. $5 off is nothing to turn your nose up at.

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LG 55LF6000 55-inch 120Hz LED HDTV for $498

This gorgeous 1080p 55-inch HDTV from LG delivers a superb picture at a very affordable price. It’s perfect for a medium-sized living room.

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LG 42LF5600 42-inch LED HDTV with a $125 Dell gift card for $349.99

Need something a bit smaller? Check out this 42-inch HDTV from LG. Not only does it offer a 1080p resolution in a smaller form factor, but it’s also built using webOS 2.0 for a top-notch user interface.

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Vizio M80-C3 4K Ultra HDTV with a $500 Dell gift card for $3799

But if you want to go all-out, this bonkers 80-inch 4K UHDTV from Vizio is exactly what you need. If you have plenty of floorspace, and cash to burn, this massive television is pretty incredible.

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Samsung 850 EVO 500GB solid-state drive for $149.99

Looking for a performance boost for your PC? This 500GB SSD from Samsung is an affordable way to noticeably speed up your everyday computing activities.

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M-Audio AV40 20W/ch active studio monitors for $99

Want to pump up the jams? This pair of speakers from M-Audio is currently being discounted by 50%, so now’s your opportunity to crank it up.

Our commerce group sources the best deals and products for the ET Deals posts. We operate independently of Editorial and Advertising and may earn a percentage of the sale, if you buy something via a link on the post. If you are interested in promoting your deals, please contact us at commerce@ziffdavis.com.

For more great deals head over to TechBargains.