Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 24, 2011

Best free alternatives to top-selling software – Later this month I’ll be canceling my subscription to a leading security suite that runs on two of my home-office PCs. I’ll replace it with Microsoft’s free Security Essentials, which I’ve been using on my notebook since I bought it two years ago. I realized several months ago that I simply no longer needed to spend money for the convenience of an all-in-one security app. That got me thinking: Is there any software that the average PC user needs to pay for?

A safer PC in three steps – In a perfect world, you wouldn’t be concerned about safety when you use your computer. Short of that, you just want to feel confident your PC is virus-free, protected from the prospect of future infections, and easy to recover if something goes wrong. Three things that will help ease your mind are a manual malware scan, an easy-to-restore copy of your hard drive, and a sandbox for your browser to run in.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Quick Menu Launches Programs via Your Mouse’s Middle Button – Quick Menu is a free tool that enables you to launch programs with a tap of the middle button of the mouse. The application is portable, so no installation is required—simply unzip and run the file inside. It creates a folder called “shortcuts,” where you can place your applications and subfolders you want quick access to. Restart the program, then press Ctrl and the middle mouse button to quickly pull up the launch menu and click the program you want to launch.

Google Docs bumps maximum file size to 10GB - The search giant has increased the size of files that can be uploaded and stored to its Google Docs to 10GB from 1GB previously.

Linus Torvalds Releases Linux 3.0 Kernel – Once in a lifetime events don’t happen very often – you could even say they happen once in a lifetime. Another milestone event landed in our laps last night, though no one but the staunchest of geeks probably noticed it. Yes, the Linux 3.0 kernel is here.

Facebook Scams Pop Up to Exploit Norway Tragedy – So-called “clickjacking” scams add fake posts on users’ news feeds, encouraging them to click on infected links with the lure of hot news items and disaster footage.

Lifehacker: Add New, Custom Functionality to Your Computer This Weekend – What’s wrong with your computer? Maybe nothing. Could it be improved by adding new and custom functionality? Definitely. Here are some of our favorite ways to do just that.

Repair Hassles: Who Will Fix a Defective Laptop Graphics Card? – A Sony VAIO owner encounters difficulties when he discovers that his malfunctioning model is not on the recall list. Plus: A potential Verizon customer struggles to get ADSL installed.

Company News:

Google spent $2.06 million on federal lobbying in Q2 – According to papers filed late on Wednesday, Google spent $2.06 million on federal lobbying in the second quarter of 2011 – up from $1.48 million in the first quarter, and a 54% boost over the same period last year. The money went towards discussing matters like privacy and control and regulation issues in the online advertising market, as Google met with officials from the FTC, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of representatives and the Executive Office of the President, according to the Reuters report.

Mozilla Offers Olive Branch to Enterprise With ‘Working Group’ – Mozilla is re-establishing a Mozilla Enterprise User Working Group in hopes of soothing controversy about its enterprise deployment stance. Mozilla wants the enterprise to know it cares.

Dell Enters Networking With Force10 Buy – Dell has announced plans to acquire Force10, a high-end data center networking company founded by Cisco ex-patriots. The move positions Dell squarely against the likes of Cisco and HP in the integrated stack space and against Juniper in networking.

Sony Insurer Sues To Deny Data Breach Coverage – One of Sony Corp’s insurers has asked a court to declare that it does not have to pay to defend the media and electronics conglomerate from mounting legal claims related to a massive data breach earlier this year.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why We Need a Space Program – About 10 years ago I went to some techno-hippie conference. Stewart Brand was on stage and he put up an image of the entire earth from space. His premise was that the entire green movement started in December 1968 when the first color photos of the earth from space were taken by Apollo 8 astronauts. It was a powerful, thought-provoking talk. So is this piece by ExtremeTech.com’s Sebastian Anthony on why we need a space program.

DOJ takes swipe at EFF over encryption passphrases - Federal prosecutors say guide prepared by Electronic Frontier Foundation buttresses their position on whether Americans can be forced to divulge their passphrases.

Demand Media Tries to Silence its Critics – The king of cheap Internet content is trying to shut down a critical blog written by ex-employees. Is it possible for Demand to stoop any lower?

Judge tosses latest Winklevoss claim vs. Facebook - A judge has dismissed a motion filed by the Winklevoss twins last month, asking the court to look into whether Facebook and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg were suppressing evidence during the original lawsuit.

Today’s Quote:

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

-     Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859)

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Image Convert and Resize – Dealing with digital images can be a real chore if you don’t have the right tools. Fortunately, there’s a plethora of programs out there that can make image editing much less of a headache. Free Image Convert and Resize is one such program. This basic utility lets you do exactly what the name implies for single images or whole batches of them. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s easy to use and effective, and for that we like it.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a small program that uses Google’s dictionary and translation services. It’s not very intuitive, but once you get it figured out, it’s a handy tool to have around.

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