Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy New Year 2012

Dear readers and subscribers,

As 2011 comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you, and your family, a happy and healthy New Year. May 2012 fulfill all its promise, and may all your expectations be exceeded.

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The year ahead could be the perfect time to ramp up your happiness quotient.

:)

Count your blessings and express gratitude for what you have.

Cultivate optimism.

Practice acts of kindness.

Avoid social comparison.

Nurture relationships.

Commit to your goals.

Learn to forgive.

Take care of your body – get active.

“Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were, and are past”.

~    Henry Ward Beecher

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Filed under Living Life, Personal Perspective

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 31, 2011

CNET: Announcing the Top 11 Downloads of 2011 – Last year, we introduced our Top 10 Downloads of the Year lists, presenting the most popular Windows and Mac software on Download.com. In 2011, we’ve taken the honors up the proverbial notch with the Top 11 Downloads of 2011, featuring the 11 most popular software apps each for the Windows and Mac platforms, along with the 11 most popular programs in each of the 11 most popular categories in Windows and in Mac.

The first five apps I install on a new Windows desktop – I occasionally replace my primary desktop computer or create a working Windows 7 virtual machine to use long-term (e.g., on my MacBook Air). Or I may need to reinstall Windows to my Windows laptop. In this article, I’m going to outline the first five tools I install on new Windows installations. Note that I’m not going to cover things like Microsoft Office, which is generally a given.

How to Install a CPU Cooler – A properly installed CPU cooler is essential to a stable system. We show you how to install CPU coolers on AMD and Intel processors to maximize cooling performance.

Three Security Tools You Can’t Go Online Without – You wouldn’t walk around with your stash of cash hanging out of a pocket. You wouldn’t park your car and leave it with the keys in and windows open. And you surely wouldn’t go mountain climbing in the snow wearing shorts and flip flops. Silly ideas? Perhaps, but going online without proper protection is just as silly.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Websites and Apps Vulnerable to Low-Bandwidth, Bot-Free Takedown – Hackers armed with a single machine and a minimal broadband connection can cripple Web servers, researchers disclosed Wednesday, putting uncounted websites and Web apps at risk from denial-of-service attacks. In a security advisory issued the same day, Microsoft, whose ASP .Net programming language is one of several affected by the flaw, promised to patch the vulnerability and offered customers ways to protect their servers until it releases an update.

Success: Verizon Wireless Drops $2 Convenience Fee – Let it never be said that the Internet can’t be used for good as well as evil. After a huge online backlash, Verizon Wireless has backed away from plans to begin charging a $2 “convenience fee” to customers for paying their bills online, or by the phone.

2011: The Year that Was, as Seen by Flickr – From the Arab Spring to the earthquake that rocked a nation to a royal wedding, Flickr members have captured images of monumental events and woven their own tales of the year.

How to Organize Your PC Cables – Your PC’s case is more than likely cluttered with cables. Check out our illustrated guide to minimizing cable clutter and making your desktop cleaner, cooler, and more stable.

Company News:

Apple has a good Christmas, then gets a lump of coal from Italy – The company was slapped with a 900,000 euro fine by the Italian government, who said that Apple wrongly encouraged customers in the country to purchase its AppleCare warranty service to extend support on their gadgets, despite the fact that Apple is required to provide two years of complimentary support as per Italy’s local laws.

Aqua Computing Shows Off World’s First Radeon 7970 Water Block – Did you read our write-up of the spiffy new AMD Radeon 7970 earlier this week and find yourself getting all hot and bothered at the thought of kick-ass custom rigs built around the beast? Well, one company can help you cool down. The new graphics cards aren’t even available in stores yet but that hasn’t stopped the Germany-based Aqua Computer from putting the AquagrATIx 7900 up for preorder.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Scientific American: Forgetting Is Key To A Healthy Mind – “The act of forgetting crafts and hones data in the brain as if carving a statue from a block of marble.” It’s a skill that shapes our very personalities. But we all vary in our ability to forget, for some it does not come easily.

Top 25 Dangerous Flaws Developers Blindly Build Into Apps – Most of these flaws are inadvertently introduced into software applications during the development process because the developers don’t understand security, are rushed for time or are just used to “the way the Web works” without thinking of security implications. We distill the basics of the top 25 most dangerous software errors.

The Entire Universe, One Picture, and One Year – If the story of our entire Universe’s history, from the last stages of inflation and the Big Bang up to the present day, were to be compressed into one calendar year, what would it look like? (Submitted by Michael F.)

Gaming Companies Quietly End Official Support for SOPA – With each revision, the list of SOPA supporters seems to be shrinking. In the most recent silent update, gaming companies seem to be the ones pulling back. Sony, EA, and Nintendo are no longer listed as supporters of the bill, but were on the list in November. None of the companies has acknowledged the change in position.

Today’s Quote:

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”

-     Bill Vaughn

Today’s Free Downloads:

 

HDClone Free Edition – The Free Edition of HDClone offers all necessary abilities to copy a complete hard disk onto another, larger hard disk. This can be utilized to migrate an existing installation to a new hard disk as well as for data rescue. The Free Edition is real freeware without obligation to buy and is intended for the short-term usage at no cost. But in case of more frequent usage, we recommend using one of the higher editions since they offer higher performance in the first line but also support a wider range of hardware as well as additional options which are optimized for regular or professional usage.

RoboForm2Go 7.6.9 – RoboForm2Go is a portable version of RoboForm – a secure password manager and form filler. Plug your USB key with RoboForm2Go on it into any computer, anywhere in the world.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 30, 2011

Two New Tools Exploit Router Security Setup Problem – Researchers have released two tools that can take advantage of a weakness in a system designed to let people easily secure their wireless routers.

How to find your Wi-Fi password – If you aren’t in charge of your network, or rarely add new devices to it, you might forget what security key you picked. Retrieving this can be easy if you can access the admin panel of the router, but this isn’t always an option– like when you aren’t in charge of the network, or you forgot that password too. Fortunately there’s an easy-to-use program that can retrieve the security information for networks saved on your computer. Just follow these three easy steps.

Verizon Wireless to Charge $2 for One-Time Online, Phone Payments – As reported by Droid Life, Verizon will impose a $2 “convenience fee” for one-time online and phone payments, starting next month. The move is intended to “balance the support costs” associated with those payment options, Verizon said in documentation posted by the blog.

Microsoft releases MS11-100 for ASP.NET DoS attack – Today Microsoft released a security bulletin addressing a flaw in ASP.NET that was disclosed early morning yesterday at the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) in Berlin. Microsoft tested and finished MS11-100 in record time, taking about 30 days for the process of integrating this new vulnerability with the fix that was already scheduled for January 2012.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter Reveals the Worst Christmas Gift Getters Ever – Writer Jon Hendren spent his Christmas morning retweeting greedy Tweets from people complaining about what they didn’t get from Santa.

Koobface Gang Boosts Web Traffic, Profits from Pay-per-Click Scams – The Koobface developers updated their botnet framework with a “sophisticated” traffic-direction system (TDS) that handles traffic referenced to their affiliate sites, Trend Micro researchers reported Dec. 19. They’ve also added components to help increase the amount of Internet traffic, “which translates to even bigger profit,” Jonell Baltazar, senior threat researcher at Trend Micro, wrote on the company’s Malware Blog.

Beware of password-protected documents carrying malware – Password-protected malicious attachments delivered via email are not a new occurrence – we have recently witnesses the tactic being used in the so-called Nitro attacks.

Data-stealing Android Trojan masquerades as greeting-sending app – Text messages have largely replaced seasonal (and non) greeting cards, and there are mobile apps out there that let you send prewritten witty/sweet messages to friends and family. But there are also some that pretend to do that, and F-Secure researchers have recently spotted a Trojan targeting Chinese Android users that masquerades as just that type of app.

Stratfor Denies Anonymous Compromised Client List – Strategic Forecasting, an organization that focuses on intenerational security issues, is downplaying the severity of the cyber-attack it suffered over the weekend, claiming its client list had not been stolen.

The Top Five Linux Stories of 2011 – 2011 was a big year for Linux, but then what year isn’t a big one for Linux these days?

Company News:

Amazon Sells More Than 4 Million Kindles During Holidays – Amazon customers snapped up more than 4 million Kindle devices in December, making it the retailer’s “best holiday ever,” according to stats released Thursday.

IBM’s Centennial Year in Review: Watson, Cloud, Analytics – One of IBM’s most significant moves of 2011 will actually not happen until Jan. 1, 2012, when the company’s first woman CEO, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, succeeds Samuel Palmisano. However, there were many other significant achievements throughout the year, including Watson trouncing human competitors on “Jeopardy” and IBM celebrating its 100th anniversary and launching into security.

Samsung still dominates mobile phone market, but Apple is gaining – Apple, in fourth place, was the only other manufacturer to gain share. Meanwhile, Android continues to dominate the mobile OS market.

Two new iPads due next month, report says – DigiTimes says Apple’s next-generation tablet will feature a 9.7-inch screen and debut next month at Macworld|iWorld, a conference the company abandoned three years ago.

Off Topic (Sort of):

New Dealers – Recession turns average Americans into drug kingpins. If you live in northern California you can get $10,000 cash per harvest for turning your garage over to marijuana growers. And three years jail time if the law finds out

Let’s Terminate Malware in 2012 – PCMag’s Lead Security Analyst spends all his time testing how effective security products are at defeating malware–and he is getting tired of it. The malware evolves, security products evolve, and the whole process continues ad infinitum. In this SecurityWatch piece, he suggests a change of approach: Go after the money. Malware continues because it makes money. Take away the money and the problem will disappear. How do you do that? Read his piece to find out.

Dvorak: On Phony 2012 Predictions – I like to make light of all the crummy predictions people make at the end of every year. But I must say, this year I predict that we will have more than ever. It began a few weeks ago and since then, primary media tech outlets have been pouring out four to six columns and articles each day. I have yet to explore the blogs.

The Big Lie – Wall St has fallen back on a lie as old as capitalism itself. “This time, however, I don’t think the argument that ‘Washington ate my homework’ is going to work. This time, a firestorm is going to explode about the Street’s head”

Today’s Quote:

“If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.”

-     Steve Maraboli

Today’s Free Downloads:

The Elder Scrolls, Chapter II: Daggerfall – The Elder Scrolls, Chapter II: Daggerfall is the critically acclaimed sequel to The Elder Scrolls: Arena, the very first game in the famous Elder Scrolls series of PC roleplaying games. Daggerfall expands and surpasses on every aspect of Arena s gameplay, delivering you into a sprawling fantasy world teeming with villages, tombs and castles to explore.

Battle for Wesnoth – Battle for Wesnoth is a free, tactical, turn-based game in which you command fantasy armies in a variety of scenarios. The game follows a familiar pattern: Beginning with a few units, you must acquire resources, summon troops, and accomplish pre-determined goals, such as “Kill the orc chieftain” or “Escort the caravan across the map.”

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 29, 2011

The Best Firefox Extensions of 2011 – You can’t beat the number of choices to add on to your Firefox browser. But if that’s too much for you, we’ve narrowed it down to 23 everyone should install.

WiFi Protected Setup Flaw Can Lead to Compromise of Router PINs – The US-CERT is warning about a vulnerability in the WiFi Protected Setup standard that reduces the number of attempts it would take an attacker to brute-force the PIN for a wireless router’s setup process. The flaw results in too much information about the PIN being returned to an attacker and makes the PIN quite weak, affecting the security of millions of WiFi routers and access points.

Master Facebook’s Timeline With This Handy Guide – Here is a soup-to-nuts guide on getting started with Facebook Timeline and advanced tips for protecting your privacy and looking your best online.

FREE Online Utility to Convert YouTube Videos to MP3 – To use TuneTune, simply enter the link to the YouTube Video and click on the “Convert” button. During the conversion, which is quite fast, a visual indicator will appear to indicate at what percentage the video has converted. Following the conversion, click on the “Download” button and enjoy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

PCMag’s 10 Most Popular Tablets of 2011 – The iPad may own the tablet market, but it doesn’t own the hearts of PCMag’s readers. When we scoped out the list of the 10 most popular tablet reviews in 2011, we found a surprising level of diversity.

Anonymous Hacks SpecialForces.com, Posts Passwords and Credit Card Data – Anonymous Hacks SpecialForces.com, Posts Passwords and Credit Card DataMembers of the hacker collective Anonymous claim they have stolen about 14,000 user passwords and 8,000 credit card numbers from SpecialForces.com, a military and law enforcement equipment retailer.

A few great resources for polishing your technical skills – Have you already resolved to brush up your technical skills and knowledge in 2012? Wil Limoges shares some great online resources that will get your year started off right.

Tech Trends You’ll See in 2012 – We’re living in an exciting time in technology: From consumer products such as phones and tablets to the way your home computer accesses the Internet, everything is changing, and mostly for the better. We predict that next year the following ten developments will change the way you interact with the digital world.

Microsoft provides protection for ASP.NET vulnerability – Microsoft published Security Advisory 2659883 to provide a workaround to help protect ASP.NET customers from a publicly disclosed vulnerability that affects various Web platforms industry-wide.

Google’s Merry Christmas: 3.7 Million Android Device Activations – Google has a holly, jolly Christmas as users activated 3.7 million new Android devices on Dec. 24 and 25, according to a high-ranking company executive.

TechRepublic: The most popular Windows posts of 2011 – The most popular posts of 2011 give us a snapshot of what was important to readers and, perhaps something even more interesting, what was not important.

Company News:

Hitachi, Samsung, Sharp Agree on LCD Price-Fixing Settlement – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a $553 million multistate settlement with seven major technology corporations alleged to have illegally conspired to artificially inflate prices for liquid crystal display (LCD) screens used in televisions, computer monitors and laptops. New York state taxpayers may receive upward of $11 million, in addition to restitution to compensate consumers affected by the scheme, the attorney general’s office said.

Razer Delays Gaming Laptop — But Sweetens Release – Razer announced this week that its much anticipated Razer Blade 17-inch gaming laptop is delayed past the expected holiday deadline and won’t likely arrive until mid- to late January 2012. The good news is the Blade will now come with an SSD instead of a traditional HDD at no additional cost to buyers. Razer is also handing out a custom-designed mouse for free as an apology for the delay.

Android Battles, WP7, Windows 8 Prep Marked Microsoft’s 2011 – In retrospect, 2011 could be viewed as the year when Microsoft tried to pivot: away from its desktop-centric focus and toward mobility, from packaged software toward the cloud, from a company in danger of losing its relevance toward some semblance of its old, market-dominating self. The software giant’s year was also marked by battles with Google and previews of Windows 8.

Intel’s Atom revenue is down by a third, IHS Isuppli says – According to numbers released Dec. 22 by market research firm IHS, Intel grew its market share to 83.7 percent, a jump of 1.2 percentage points over the 82.5 percent share the vendor had in the second quarter. Conversely, smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices saw its share drop 0.3 percentage points, to 10.2 percent.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Connect anything to the cloud with Twine – A new Kickstarter project by two former MIT students, called “Twine,” looks to help the everyday homeowner who wants the convenience of remote access but may not have the know-how required to wire an Arduino board into their thermostat.

SCADA and PLC vulnerabilities in correctional facilities – Many prisons and jails use SCADA systems with PLCs to open and close doors. Using original and publicly available exploits along with evaluating vulnerabilities in electronic and physical security designs, researchers discovered significant vulnerabilities in PLCs used in correctional facilities by being able to remotely flip the switches to “open” or “locked closed” on cell doors and gates.

Soft Drink Vending Machines Offering Free Unlimited Wi-Fi Coming To Japan – If Japan ever decides to ditch the “Rising Sun” bit, “Land of the Awesome Vending Machines” would be an apt second slogan. Now, those ubiquitous Japanese vending machines are getting even more useful, as one company plans on rolling out units that double as free Wi-Fi hotspots in 2012.

Mozilla: We’re more than just Firefox, you know – As the Web goes mobile and browser competition continues to toughen, Mozilla clarifies just what it is that the non-profit does, and what it will be doing. Hint: It’s more than Firefox.

Today’s Quote:

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

-    Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today’s Free Downloads:

KeyScrambler 2.9.0.2 – KeyScrambler encrypts your keystrokes deep in the kernel, foiling keylogging attacks with scrambled, undecipherable data.

Fresh HTML 3.66 – FreshHTML is a full featured HTML designer that designed to be easy to use for beginners as also be feature rich for advanced users. Its WYSIWYG interface makes editing HTML pages as easy as using your favourite word processor.

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BlackBerry Says “Thank You”– Offers Free PlayBook Apps At BlackBerry App World

imageI captured a runaway 32 GB BlackBerry PlayBook a couple of days ago. As it dashed past, I reached out and grabbed the little speed demon by its price tag – $248 (down from $599) . Last PlayBook in the store – so, I had to throw a few elbows during my robust maneuvering. You’ll notice – no mention of Mace, or pepper spray.   Smile

Now, before the trolls sharpen their pencils, and jump on the  “what, are you nuts!” bandwagon – it’s pretty simple – I buy hardware based on my knowledge. Sound arrogant? Maybe – but, I live in a “grain of salt” tech world.

After 30+ years at this game – skepticism has long been my conditioned response to “the latest”; “the greatest”; “game changing”; “overwhelms the competition”; “reinvents the technology” ………. hype.

Almost without exception, from where I sit in my arrogant chair, skepticism has been much more appropriate, than not. As, has been my response to – “the latest”; “the greatest”; “game changing”; descriptions bandied about and painted on upcoming entries into the tablet market – wariness, and an unwillingness to capitulate to the hype.

On the other hand – query a typical person on what a Tablet is, and almost without exception, you’ll find that person referring to an iPad. This, despite the fact that as of January 2011, 60+ manufacturers were already producing, or had under development, more than 100 Tablet variations.

Sort of takes me back to the old days, when it was commonly assumed that IBM was the sole manufacturer of the PC. In reality, other than for a short period of time, that was never the case.

I’ve not set out to write an in-depth review of the Playbook – 2/3 days usage is hardly sufficient time – but, I’m loving what I’m seeing. Nor, is this post intended to “savage” the iPad. Love to though – just to P.O. a few fanboys.   Smile

Instead, this a simple, lazy, mid-Christmas season post, to inform those who made the choice to focus on the PlayBook, that BlackBerry is offering a number of freebie applications, including -

Shazam Encore

Vlingo

DriveSafe.ly Pro

DriveSafe.ly Enterprise

Bubble Bash 2

The Sims 3

Bejeweled

Nobex Radio Premium

N.O.V.A.

SimCity Deluxe

iSpeech Translator Pro

Texas Hold’Em Poker 2

as a “ Thank you”, for choosing and supporting BlackBerry.

This offer expires on December 31st, 2011 – so, now would be a good time to download these applications.

 Go to – 

 

You’ll notice on the site, there are considerably more freebies available than I’ve posted here.

Note: A couple of things struck me immediately, while running through some “let’s see what this baby can do” processes with the PlayBook -

Multi-tasking (true Multi-tasking, BTW), was only marginally less efficient than running the same set of applications on my quad core Desktop. Impressive.

The PlayBook is capable of recording 1080p HD video with both the front and rear cameras. Very impressive results.

Drop back here in a couple of weeks for a full PlayBook review. In the meantime – readers from India might consider going on the hunt. I hear from associates in India, that a 16 GB PlayBook can be had for the equivalent of $199 USD, or less.

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Filed under BlackBerry, downloads, Freeware, PlayBook

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 28, 2011

Malware Removal Guide for Windows – This guide will help you clean your computer of malware. If you think your computer is infected with a virus or some other malicious software, you may want to use this guide. It contains instructions that, if done correctly and in order, will remove most malware infections on a Windows operating system. It highlights the tools and resources that are necessary to clean your system.

10 Tips to Make Your Web Browser Less Annoying – Whether you use IE, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, we’ll show you how to streamline your browsing with these tips, tricks, and add-ons.

TTC Shelbyville Technical Blog: Hacking your wireless router – There are tons of ways to hack your router. It doesn’t always mean upgrading your firmware (although this is the best way).

Use a 64-Bit PC? Instead of Firefox, Try Waterfox 9.0 – This variant of the Firefox Web browser is built for 64-bit systems and optimized for speed.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

A Free application to Transfer Music and Video Files From An iPod/iPod Touch/iPhone to a PC – I came across this application, that is FREE, called Sharepod, that may be of some usefulness to those who are iPod, iPod Touch or iPhone users. Sharepod helps solve one of the most common dilemmas that is out there; and that is an EASY method to transfer or backup your iTunes music library to your Windows based PC.

Four Ways to Protect Your Data – The data on your PC may well be worth more than the PC itself, especially if loss of that data opens you to identity theft. Here are some suggestions to keep your personal data safe.

Qualys’ Vulnerability Management Boot Camp – Qualys’ Vulnerability Management (VM) Boot Camp is for IT/security professionals that want to reduce network risk and automate the process of finding, fixing, and reporting on vulnerabilities. Whether your IT infrastructure is several hundred IPs or thousands, the VM Boot Camp will provide you with valuable information to save both time and resources while improving your security and compliance posture.

Get (or Give) Great Tech Support – Know the right questions to ask and info to provide when you need help–plus a great free service to help you support others from afar.

The Best 2012 Security Suites – Though 2012 is days away, over half the 2012 security suites are already out. We’ve identified a couple real standouts among this group.

Ready for a New Linux Desktop? Meet Mint’s ‘Cinnamon’ – A fork of the GNOME 3 shell, this new software is meant to add another intermediate option between GNOME 2 and GNOME 3.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle – Just not your password – Which is worse: Passwords that are easy to guess or using one strong passwords on multiple websites? Recycling is not always a good idea. Create a unique, strong password at least for each website you consider important or sensitive.

Company News:

See How To Prevent Your Phone From Becoming A Statistic – Check out this video regarding the BungeeAir™ family of products. Designed to protect your phone from going missing (70 million phones are lost or stolen every year).

Aegis Secure Key Is a Solid Data Transfer Device – When this USB drive is locked, it’s totally cut off, leaving no entry for a hacker. You unlock it using an onboard PIN pad that’s designed to resist telltale scuffing of the keys you use. It needs no software and works with any operating system.

Google+, Android, Chrome Top Google Products in 2011 – As 2011 speeds to a close, it’s time to reflect on companies’ top products or achievements for the year. Google had a solid year on many fronts, including search engines and by making Android the dominant mobile platform for smartphones. The company also launched Google+, its belated answer to Facebook’s social network, and continued to develop its popular Chrome Web browser.

The Fastest Video Card You Can Buy – Loaded with features and new technologies, the AMD Radeon HD 7970 is the fastest single-GPU video card you can currently buy.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Lists of Note: Take what you need – Baseball player Don Carman had grown so tired of mundane post-game interviews by 1990 that he decided to forego them altogether, and instead attached a handwritten list of stock responses to his locker along with a message to reporters: “You saw the game. Take what you need.” The list read as follows:

For Love of Corona – I haven’t had a good Corona with lime in a while. I was thinking about this on the way in from work, remembering my time in Okinawa. While on deployment there during my time in the USMC, we only had two types of beer available to us: Miller and Schlitz.

Victoria Jackson On The Rise Of Sharia Law (video 1:43) – When you start to think everyone around is the enemy. You are probably the most dangerous person in the room. (submitted by Michael F.)

Location Data Sharing is Dumb on Many Levels – I see a lot of friends and family on the social networks freely sharing their location. I can understand why they would, but I’ll never approve.

Today’s Quote:

“If a time machine could serve you up your 200-millionth-great-grandfather, you would eat him with sauce tartare and a slice of lemon. He was a fish”

-    Richard Dawkins

Today’s Free Downloads:

7-Zip (32-bit version) – When people talk about file compression, they usually mean ZIP. But ZIP is just one format, and it isn t necessarily the best. Open-source utility 7-Zip supports ZIP, but also the much-improved 7z compression format. 7-Zip s user interface will probably not blow you away. Its impressive compression ratios, however, just might.

Image Tools 3.0 – Image Tools is simple, free and powerfull mass image resizer, converter, cropper, flipper/rotater, optimizer and watermarker.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 27, 2011

Ten tricks every Windows 7 power user should know – Are you a Windows 7 power user? Do you want to be? I’ve scoured my archive of tips, shortcuts, and secrets to find some of the hidden gems even some Windows experts don’t know about.

Windows 7 and SSDs: Setup secrets and tune-up tweaks - Solid-state drives are wicked fast. SSDs start and shut down fast, and they perform read operations (especially random reads) at speeds that blow the doors off conventional hard drives. In the first installment of this series, I gathered the numbers to show just how much faster you can expect an SSD to perform in the real world.

Free Printables: FreePrintable.net offers thousands of printable documents & templates – Beautiful printable files that you can customize and print on your inkjet or laser printer. If you’re planning a New Year’s party, don’t miss the new printable invitations, as well as free New Year’s Day coloring pages to keep the kids occupied until midnight. There are 80 sites in the Free Printable network.

21,000 domains transfer out of Go Daddy in 1 day – It could be a coincidence or it could a collective cold shoulder for Go Daddy for its SOPA support–though the company actually reversed course yesterday.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Data-stealing malware growth spikes – In the first six months of 2011, data-stealing malware and generic Trojans increased from 36 percent of malware detected in January, 2011 to more than 45 percent in April, subsequently maintaining a proportion of well over 40 percent for the rest of the half. The former high for this metric was 44 percent, in a one-month spike, in August of 2010.

Top 10 IT Security posts of 2011 – Here is the round-up of the most-viewed posts of 2011. Michael Kassner investigated some of the thorniest security problems, reported on the newest developments in security research, and raised the red flag on privacy issues. Chad Perrin covered one of the worst security debacles of the year: Sony’s Playstation Network breach.

First Look: PlayStation Vita (photos) – CNET goes hands on with the Japanese version of the PlayStation Vita.

Watch your mouth – When techie types meet with non-techie types, tech-speak happens, and the result can be mayhem or, at least, very scary. Here are some tips for dialing it down and avoiding confusion.

The hidden gems found in the Windows 7 calculator – Check out some of the new features found hidden in the menu tree of the Microsoft Windows 7 calculator applet, you may be surprised.

Company News:

Apple Comes to Your Living Room – Steve Jobs’ biography confirmed that Apple finally “cracked” the code for developing an integrated Apple television that would come with iCloud support. Since then, plenty of speculation has made the rounds about what Apple would include in its television. Here’s a look at the likely inclusions and why Apple TV may be the company’s most impressive product yet.

NAC system PacketFence 3.1.0 released – Boasting a feature set including a captive-portal for registration and remediation, centralized wired and wireless management, 802.1X support, layer-2 isolation of problematic devices, integration with Snort and Nessus, PacketFence can be used to effectively secure networks – from small to very large heterogeneous networks.

RockMelt Taps Facebook Timeline With Social Omnibox – Social Web browser startup RockMelt launched its fifth beta version Dec. 20, improving the browser’s search bar, adding a ticker to its Social Reading application and improving its new tab page. RockMelt is based on Google’s Chromium open-source browser (currently version 14) and brings social utilities to the browser window. Users are free to browse the Web using Google, message and chat with Facebook friends, tweet from Twitter, and pin applications to the application edge for easy access.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why People Retire To Florida Or Other Warm Climates – Slipping and sliding in the snow and ice – winter sucks! (video :40)

Ditching Java might be a good move – “Do not confuse Java with JavaScript: it’s hard to use the web without JavaScript. But JavaScript has nothing to do with Java,” he explains, and shows that the popular BlackHole exploit kit has extreme success in exploiting a recently discovered Java Rhino vulnerability. The problem with Java is that it has to be regularly updated, but many, many users aren’t even aware of its existence on their computers. Also, until very recently, new versions of Java didn’t automatically uninstall the old ones, which can be still found on systems and taken advantage of.

Now UPS fires courier for tossing Zappos delivery – After the heightened enthusiasm that surrounded a FedEx courier who tossed a Samsung monitor over a rather fetching fence, I bring news of a UPS guy who not only tossed a Zappos package, but also really pulled his finger out: the middle one, which he offered to a security camera.

Did Smartphones kill the Point-and-Shoot? – Smartphones in 2011 were increasingly the go-to device over traditional cameras and camcorders for Americans looking to capture photos and videos, a recent survey finds. Mobile handset photography jumped from comprising 17 percent of photos taken in 2010 to 27 percent in 2011, according to market research firm NPD Group. Traditional camera usage, meanwhile, fell 12 percentage points from 52 to 44 percent of all photos taken in 2011.

Today’s Quote:

“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”

-     Edwin Schlossberg

Today’s Free Downloads:

AutoHotkey – AutoHotKey parses script files that you create using an internal command language and save with any text editor. These scripts are assigned to key combinations that can be activated at any time. The command language is easy to grasp and the syntax is straightforward.

Free Ringtone Maker – Free Ringtone Maker is an extremely simple and handy Windows software for making your own free ringtones. Make Your Own Ringtones in 3 Easy Steps. (Adware)

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TOP 10/20/50/100 Lists – The Best Of The Best?

imageThe whopping number of “TOP” 10/20/50/100 Software lists, shot our way every year at this time, can in fact, have some value – at least the top 10/20 selections.

Running past the 20 mark though ….. often seems pointless. In most cases, I find my enthusiasm takes a big hit once I’ve bounced past the 20 mark.

So, while Santa was making his list and checking it twice, I took the opportunity to zip around the Web and selected a few “best of”, “top of”, lists – short, manageable lists.

BTW – if you’ve ever wondered as to the popularity of “top” lists – the Google search screenshot below, might surprise you – 200+ Million! Who knew!

image

PCWorld’s Favorite Downloads of 2011 – All year long, PCWorld reviewers immerse themselves in desktop programs and Web software. These programs and services are the ones reviewed for PCWorld Downloads.

20 Best Browser Apps of 2011 – Your browser is now a source of apps for games that you can play for hours, services that will keep you safe, and simple utilities that can be useful or fun. Read on to learn more about the 20 best browser apps of the year.

The Best Games of 2011 – These days, you can play video games on just about every device that can run an app. Home consoles and portables may immediately come to mind but you can also game on phones, tablets and, of course, on PCs–both as installed apps and inside Web browsers. These are the best of the best.

Best of Google Maps and Google Earth 2011 – Using these Google tools, you can now see the insides of large stores, views of the world’s magnificent mountains, and a record of the devastation of Japan, among many other advancements.

TechRepublic: Hot software downloads in 2011 – Disk analysis and optimization, PC diagnostics, and security are among the themes of the software downloads in this year-end roundup. These seven software downloads are among the most downloaded items from TechRepublic’s Software directory in 2011.

Project Gutenberg:  Top 100 EBooks – Project Gutenberg offers over 36,000 free ebooks to download to your PC, Kindle, Android, iOS or other portable device. Choose between ePub, Kindle, HTML and simple text formats.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 26, 2011

Your New PC: What You Need to Know – If Christmas morning brought you a brand new laptop or ultrabook, you may find yourself with questions: What do I need to do to set it up? What programs are safe to remove? How can I protect my new computer? We take you through it all step by step, so read on.

How to Connect Your Laptop to Your TV – With the paper and bows cleared away, you’re probably having fun exploring the features of your new TV or laptop. But what if you want to combine the two? It’s not hard at all, so read on for all the ins and outs of putting your PC on your TV.

Download Official Facebook Messenger for Windows 7 – The news has been going around for quite some time that the Facebook was working on a chat client for Windows 7 platform, and that it would be made available some time soon. Although, the news was out, the official version was not available for public to try to use it. But here is the direct download link for the official Facebook Messenger for Windows 7.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

TechRepublic – The 10 most-read DIY posts in 2011 – Since TechRepublic launched the DIY IT Guy blog in February 2011, Jack Wallen has provided small shops with tips on how to tweak their systems without breaking the bank. The most-read posts covered how to set up wireless access points, tools for removing malicious software, suggestions for finding older versions of Microsoft Office software, and more.

Send and Receive Faxes on Your Phone – The eFax Android app makes it simple to send and receive faxes from your handset, losing very little in the transition from desktop to mobile.

PCWorld’s Favorite Downloads of 2011 – These programs and services are the ones we reviewed for PCWorld Downloads and also kept using for our own productivity and enjoyment. Perhaps you started using them this year, too and if not, well, a shiny new year is right around the corner.

A User s Guide to Android Ice Cream Sandwich – Ice Cream Sandwich adds some delicious upgrades, but it still requires a bit of a learning curve. We ll walk you through the good, the bad, and the ugly of Google s latest version of Android and provide some tips to get you all set up with the new OS.

How to Take Your Holiday Gathering Virtual – In the future, widely distributed consumer technology will enable your family and friends to be right there with you during the holidays, even if they’re on the other side of the world. When I say “in the future,” I mean over the next few days. The technology is here. It’s free. In fact, you’ve already got it.

Company News:

GoDaddy Faces Boycott Threat From SOPA Opponents – Internet domain registrar GoDaddy is facing a boycott threat after it figured in a list of supporters of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Intuit Offers GoPayment Card, Facebook Store for Small Businesses – The card expands Intuit’s strategy beyond processing credit cards on a mobile device to offering the convenience of a Visa prepaid account linked to GoPayment. The company also recently launched SimpleStore for Facebook, allowing any current SimpleStore user to establish a storefront as part of his or her business page. The free tool automatically syncs the merchant’s Website and Facebook page.

Why HP’s webOS Strategy Is Doomed – After a long delay that left webOS in limbo, HP announced it will make the operating system open source. Here’s a look at why HP’s webOS strategy won’t work, and why making the operating system open source could finally be the last nail in the platform’s coffin.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Ten E-mail Abbreviations You Need to Learn – It kind of amazes me that in this day and age, lots of people still don’t recognize common e-mail shorthand. OMG, WTF is up with that? If you’re constantly confused by some of the alphabet soup floating around in e-mails, text messages, and instant messages, here’s a quick guide to turn you from clueless to cool.

10 Worst Tablets of 2011 – It’s official: 2011 was the year of the tablet. Just about every company that competes in the technology industry is selling a tablet this year. But buyers won’t settle for just any tablet. They want top-rated products with appealing features, like the iPad or Galaxy Tab 10.1. So, many other tablets are languishing on store shelves. Take a look at the some of the biggest losers in the tablet game this year.

Internet Expands to 220 Million Domains: VeriSign – Almost 220 million domain names were registered across all top-level domains at the end of the third quarter, VeriSign found in its quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief released Dec. 22. Registrations have grown by more than 18 million, or 8.9 percent, since the third quarter of 2010, and by 4.9 million, or 2.3 percent, since the second quarter, VeriSign found. The increase was driven primarily by growth in country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs), the company said.

Volkswagen’s After-Hours Blackberry E-mail Ban is a Brilliant Idea – Volkswagen is putting its Blackberry e-mail servers on pause after work hours, allowing employees to escape the 24-Hour work cycle. Sign me up.

Today’s Quote:

“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

-    Marsha Norman

Today’s Free Downloads:

Norton Power Eraser 2.5.0.26 Beta – With the Norton Power Eraser tool, difficult to remove threats are specifically targeted and effectively detected and removed. Users should use the Norton Power Eraser utility when nothing else will remove an annoying software and they are are willing to accept a higher risk that the scanner may quarantine a legitimate application.

Toolwiz Care – Toolwiz Care is a free tool kit designed to speed up your slow PC. With a multi-functional optimization suite, this Windows system optimizer provides a collection of tools which includes System Checkup, System Cleanup, System Speedup, and 40+ powerful tools to enhance your PC performance, local and network security, and optimize the start-up procedure. Toolwiz team guarantees users that Toolwiz Care will stay free forever. This tool kit is designed for all levels of PC users from beginners to experts.

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Merry Christmas – Joyeux Noel

Dear readers and subscribers,

christmas-message

Despite the push and shove of various societal elements, Christmas (no “happy holidays”, or “seasons greetings” allowed in this house) – the traditional  season of giving and sharing – remains wonderfully inescapable. Its traditions and rituals, established in simpler times, continue to remind us – those we hold close, are the greatest gifts of all.

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The happiness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Have a wonderful Christmas, however you define it.

Bill

A little mood music – maybe?

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Michael Bublé.

Tech Thoughts is winding down for the Christmas break – so, you might find us fairly quiet the next several weeks. Regular posting will begin again on Monday, January 3, 2012.

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