Monthly Archives: June 2012

Rip Your Commercial DVDs With Free MakeMKV Beta

imageCDs and DVDs are not indestructible – they seem to attract scratches, cracks and sticky fingers – at least around here. As a result, I’ve developed the habit of backing-up my DVDs by ripping them to a Hard Drive – and often, to additional storage devices. This, despite the fact that it’s generally prohibited by laws that protect the “Greed Is Us”  entertainment industry. An industry which has been slow to react to changing technologies.

As I see it – it’s my Disc – I paid for it. If I buy something, it becomes mine. As for the law – I don’t give a rat’s ass what this particular law says. I will not be coerced by a government that holds a clumsy club over my head to protect an industry which continually shows little regard for the paying customer.

Since the majority of commercial DVDs are protected by a digital lock – CSS, CPRM, or AACS – should you decide, that it’s appropriate to safeguard your investment in commercial media – you’ll need a format converter capable of decrypting, and preserving, the media content.

MakeMKV is the best one-click free solution to convert owned video that I’ve found, to date. This is a very impressive application – straightforward, and easy to run –  even for a relatively new computer user.

A quick walkthrough:

For this post, I’ve chosen to backup one Disc from my collection of the HBO series – The Pacific – a 10 part series which cost me $90 – including tax. So yes, given the cost involved, I feel more than justified in protecting my investment.

Any of the following screen captures can be expanded to the original, by clicking.

On application launch, you’ll see the following. Be sure to expand the menu from which you’ll have an opportunity to select a variety of customizing options. Then click on “Make MKV” and……

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sit back and relax.

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Converting video is time intensive and your CPU will get a real workout. In this test, the job took approximately 30 minutes to complete.

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The following screen shot shows the save location, and the relative sizes of the files. The first title – “00” represents the first episode. Similarly, the second title “01” represents the second episode from the DVD. Title “02” represents both episodes combined. Additional content from the DVD is also noted.

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Finally, I’ve included the following screen captures in order to give you an idea of the just how perfectly MakeMKV has completed the task. BTW, VLC Media Player is my preferred application for running media on a PC. It is an outstanding application which offers a huge range of control functions. For example – if, I had forgotten to uncheck “Subtitles” while processing this test task – no big deal. VLC Media Player provides an option to “not show” subtitles while running.

Running in a Window.

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Running in full screen

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MKV File Format Fast Facts:

MKV is open and free. No one holds patents or licenses and anyone can implement it freely. As a result nearly every software player and many hardware devices support it. The best software players out there ( VLC, MPlayer ) have full MKV support and are absolutely free.

MKV files do not have evil features attached.

You can play them on any capable hardware. No need for HDCP-certified video card or any “trusted” environment.

You can copy them to your laptop and watch anytime, even if your laptop lacks DVD or Blu-ray drive, or any drive whatsoever.

One file is one title. If you don’t want to watch dozen trailers before the movie, you don’t have to. And fast forward button always works, too.

There are no restrictions where to play the file. There are no region-based restrictions. You have control over the content you’ve paid for.

MKV files are easy to change. Want to remove unneeded audio track from the file? Thought about converting MPEG-2 video into H264 to make the file 5 times smaller? All of it can be easily done with free software.

MKV files are compact. For exactly the same content MKV files are about 10% smaller than DVD files and roughly 40% smaller than Blu-ray files.

System requirements: Windows Vista, XP, Win 7 (tested here on Win 8), Intel-based Mac OS X 10.5 and above, and Linux.

Download at: MakeMKV

Restrictions you need to know:

Program is time-limited — it will stop functioning after 60 days. You can always download the latest version from makemkv.com that will reset the expiration date.

MakeMKV is currently still in beta and during the beta phase it will rip both DVD and Blu-ray for free. However, the DVD ripping functionality will always remain free.

After 30 days if you want to continue ripping Blu-ray discs, you’ll need to purchase a license.

HD-DVD support is limited – some discs may fail to open and not all audio and subtitle tracks will be preserved.

Blu-ray and DVD discs are fully supported.

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Filed under Beta Software, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Linux, Mac OS X

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 30, 2012

SWAT team raids wrong home in open WiFi network cock-up – A heavily-armed police SWAT team broke down the door of a house in Evansville, Indiana, smashed windows and tossed a flashbang stun grenade into a living room.. all because of an unsecured WiFi connection. With a second suspect identified at a different house on the same street, police took a more softly-softly approach. This time not using a SWAT team or grenades, but instead using the tried-and-trusted traditional method of knocking on the door.

5 Great iPad Apps you don’t want to miss – There are so many good apps for the iPad that finding the gems can be a full-time job. To save yourself a lot of effort, these five apps are a good place to start for apps that may rock your world.

How do I clean up this slow machine and its misbehaving browser? – This is another of those questions that no one specifically asked (though it does come in frequently, in various forms). Rather, this is a scenario that I experienced myself earlier this week. A friend who has one of my older laptops on loan came to me and told me that it had become slow and that websites like Hotmail and Facebook had stopped working. Sometimes, it wouldn’t even connect to the network.

Stop tracking in its tracks – For this week’s Freeware Friday, check out some of our favorite tools to boost the privacy of your online experience and reduce leakage of sensitive information.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New Wickr App Enables Secure, Self-Destructing Text Messages – Text messages are great, but they have the annoying property of being out of the sender’s control as soon as they’re sent. That’s resulted in all kinds of fun for the Internet, and it’s also presented a big opportunity for a security company to pick up the slack and impose some sanity and privacy on these communications. A new start-up called Wickr is aiming to do just that with a mobile app that enables users to send anonymous, encrypted texts, photos and videos that self-destruct after a set time period and leave no trace for snoops.

Why Most Consumers Don’t Read Terms of Service – When you sign up for a social media site or download an ebook from a website, do you read the terms of use agreement that pops up before you click the “Agree” button? Probably not. Though terms of service can be exhausting and cumbersome to read — the iTunes terms of service agreement is now around 55 pages long — but it is a contract, and not reading the fine print can be a big mistake.

Why Orbitz’ sneaky web tracking is your problem, too – Orbitz, the online travel site whose business model is built on the word “cheap,” says it treats you differently depending on whether you’re a Mac or a PC. That’s just the start of a privacy problem most people never think about.

The Generation Gap In Computer Security: An Insecure Gen Y – The broad adoption of digital media and social networking, combined with the increasing amount of sensitive data that is stored online, is making personal computer security more important than ever before. But do different generations understand this problem and protect their systems while online? Does the younger, more tech-savvy generation manage computer security more effectively, or do more mature individuals who are often more guarded with their personal data protect themselves better?

Security:

Apple’s Siri voiceprints raise privacy concerns – Most of us likely wouldn’t want Apple to store a copy of our DNA or our fingerprints, but that’s pretty much what it’s doing with another one of our biometric identifiers: namely, our voices.

12% of Fortune 500 infected with DNSChanger malware – IID announced that 12 percent of all Fortune 500 companies and four percent of “major” U.S. federal agencies are still infected with DNSChanger malware. These findings come less than two weeks before the July 9 deadline that requires the FBI to take down the temporary servers that enable millions of computers and routers infected with DNSChanger to still reach their intended Internet destinations.

Automated robbery: how card skimmers (still) steal millions from banks – Skimming has been a problem for decades, but it’s become increasingly common in the past five years—and it’s spreading. Tracie Gerstenberg, who does anti-skimming business development for ADT Business Solutions, said that while skimming was previously focused in large metro areas like “New York City, Chicago, southern California, and the entire state of Florida, really,” it has recently become prevalent in smaller suburban settings where people “aren’t as educated about skimming.” (recommended by Michael F.)

ADP spams lead to a nasty surprise – Watch out folks! Spams are making the rounds pretending to be from ADP, but lead you to the dreaded Blackhole exploit kit.

Online behavioral tracking often violates privacy practices – Keynote Systems announced the results of an in-depth analysis of online behavioral tracking on 269 Websites across four industries – News & Media, Financial Services, Travel & Hospitality and Retail. The analysis found that 86 percent of the sites place one or more third-party tracking cookies on their visitors. What’s more, 60 percent of these third-parties had at least one tracker that didn’t promise to comply with at least one common tracking standard.

Company News:

Samsung Galaxy Tab Ban the Latest Stumble on a Road to Success – The Galaxy Tab was banned from the United States, customers are still awaiting their Galaxy S III smartphones and low-end smartphones face new competition. Does it matter?

Intel introduces a pair of Core i3 Ivy Bridge mobile processors – Intel’s third-generation Core processors are popping up everywhere, and now they look set to conquer even more territory.

The Linux desktop, thanks to Chromebooks, goes retail – Thanks to Google and the Chromebook, the Linux desktop is getting its chance to make a retail come-back. At Google I/O , Google’s Senior VP of Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichaihasm announced that Samsung’s Series 3 Chromebox and Series 5 Chromebook will soon be available in Best Buy stores in the US and Dixons in the UK.

Made in the U.S.A. – Google’s killer new feature? – The biggest revelation coming out of Google I/O wasn’t the Nexus 7 or the Nexus Q – it was the fact that Google’s manufacturing a gadget in the United States.

Webopedia Daily:

Vertical Cloud Computing – A vertical cloud, or vertical cloud computing, is the phrase used to describe the optimization of cloud computing and cloud services for a particular vertical (e.g., a specific industry) or specific use application. The cloud provider will offer specialized functions and options that best meet industry-use and specifications. Today, the vertical health-care cloud is one of the more well-established vertical clouds.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why Orbitz’ sneaky web tracking is your problem, too – Orbitz, the online travel site whose business model is built on the word “cheap,” says it treats you differently depending on whether you’re a Mac or a PC. That’s just the start of a privacy problem most people never think about.

Spray-On Battery Can Turn Beer Mug Into Power Source – I take it back. The future is here. Rice University researchers have come up with a way to spray-paint a lithium-ion battery onto pretty much any smooth surface—even a beer stein.

Microsoft: The Evil Empire re-Surfaces – Microsoft seeks to demolish the 30-year-old industry that it worked so hard to create, and to return to its monopolist roots.

Steve Jobs Was Wrong – Google’s new Nexus 7 proves smaller tablets aren’t completely worthless. Jobs thought 7-inch tablets were too small. Apple’s user testing had revealed that “there are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them,” Jobs said. As a result, these tiny tablets would need to be sold with sandpaper, he predicted, “so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter of their present size.”

Who could — and probably should — buy RIM? – BlackBerry maker Research in Motion can stick around, split off and share its products, or sell off completely. Who could make a bid for its patents, its network or phone unit — or even the entire business?

Today’s Quote:

“One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways.”

-     Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

SlimBrowser – SlimBrowser is a fast and secure internet browser for Windows fully loaded with powerful features. It starts up quickly and opens web pages right in front of you with minimum delay. It is designed to let you browse the Internet carefree by guarding your personal information and protecting your privacy.

VLC media player 2.0.2 – VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 29, 2012

Nexus 7 Tablet vs. Kindle Fire vs. the Rest: Spec Smackdown (Chart) – Let’s look at how the specs of the Nexus 7 compare with the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0).

Unjailbreak your iOS device – If you need to undo your jailbreak, follow these simple steps to restore your iDevice to its original (jailed) state.

Anyone for Pi? Mods and hacks for the Raspberry Pi – The first Raspberry Pi mods for the $40 Linux computer are here – from speech-controlled robots to a Pi-based mainframe.

Google Glasses stunt video released – Google’s Glasses augmented reality technology could be hitting the shelves in less than two years’ time, with the company today releasing a video of a dramatic set of stunts as viewed by the people taking part.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Comparing the best ways to store your photos online – In this guide, we’ll compare five of the most popular photo-sharing and photo-storage sites, and take a look at some advanced solutions for professional photographers who are looking for more storage and flexibility.

Scarlett Johansson’s stolen nude photos could cost hacker $66,179.46 and five years in prison – Prosecutors are calling for nude photo hacker Christopher Chaney to be sentenced to six years in jail, and pay damages to exposed celebrities.

MegaUpload sees big court win, but case far from over – A New Zealand court has ruled that the warrants served on Kim DotCom’s home in January were invalid. But at this point, the decision is not a knockout blow to U.S. case against DotCom.

Sync your Android tablet to your Ubuntu One account – Find out why Jack Wallen thinks Ubuntu One is a great tool for connecting your Android tablet to a cloud space and syncing with your Ubuntu-based Linux machine.

Iran Announces the Salman Rushdie Fatwa Video Game – Novelist Salman Rushdie has so far escaped the decades-old call for his death in the real world, but in the video game universe he may not be so lucky. This week the government-sponsored Iranian Islamic Association of Students announced that a Salman Rushdie computer game is in development.

Internet Security:

86% of Top Websites Expose Visitors to Third-party Tracking Cookies – How prevalent is the use of tracking cookies that get planted on your computer after browsing a website so it can keep track of what you’re doing? Turns out that not only do the major websites like to plant their own tracking cookies on you, they’re also happy to stick a lot of third-party cookies on you, too.

Latest hacker dump looks like Comcast, AT&T data – A group of hackers has posted to the Web today data that appears to include Comcast employee names, ages and salaries, as well as e-mails and passwords associated with AT&T VoIP service accounts.

The site that outs all your stupid Facebook updates – We Know What You’re Doing proudly reveals all the things you have blurted out on Facebook that you wish you hadn’t blurted out on Facebook.

‘High Roller’ Online Financial Fraud Ring Robs Big Money Bank Accounts – Attackers do their dirty work from their own cloud-based server infrastructure rather than on the victim’s PC in order to camouflage the crime.

Cyber-Underground Takes Buffet Approach to Selling Malware – Researchers at Trusteer say cyber-criminals are offering feature-based pricing on malware components to give black market customers greater flexibility.

Facebook Email Change Raises Security Concerns – A Sophos official said the social network’s decision to make the @facebook.com addresses users’ default addresses will make them even more attractive to spammers.

Company News:

eXo Accelerates Cloud-based Development for Google App Engine – eXo, the user experience platform-as-a-service (UXPaaS) company, today announced during the Google I/O developers conference that its cloud-based integrated development environment, eXo Cloud IDE, now integrates with Google App Engine. Developers building Java or Python applications for Google App Engine can now develop, debug, deploy and manage their applications through a browser — entirely online. eXo Cloud IDE is available today and offered free of charge.

Adobe Says No Flash Player for Android 4.1, Plans to Withdraw App on Aug. 15 – There will be no certified implementations of Adobe Systems’ Flash Player for Android 4.1, and on Aug. 15 the player will take a bow and no longer be available.

RIM: 5,000 Employees to Be Laid Off, BlackBerry 10 Delayed Until 2013 – The Canadian company posted worse results for its latest quarter than analysts had expected. It’s cutting 5,000 jobs and delaying the launch of its new phone operating system, BlackBerry 10, on which it’s pinning its hope for a comeback.

Microsoft details its Windows 8 upgrade plans – Microsoft is getting closer to the Windows 8 finish line and is finalizing details like its upgrade paths from older Windows releases to the coming version.

Red Hat acquires FuseSource – Red Hat announced that it was buying FuseSource, an open source integration and messaging framework, from Progress Software.

Webopedia Daily:

Journaled File System – A file system in which the hard disk maintains data integrity in the event of a system crash or if the system is otherwise halted abnormally. The journaled file system (JFS) maintains a log, or journal, of what activity has taken place in the main data areas of the disk; if a crash occurs, any lost data can be recreated because updates to the metadata in directories and bit maps have been written to a serial log. The JFS not only returns the data to the pre-crash configuration but also recovers unsaved data and stores it in the location it would have been stored in if the system had not been unexpectedly interrupted.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Sunglasses for Spies – Pivothead’s Video Recording Eyewear puts a camera in a pair of sunglasses. Although it’s expensive, it offers some of the best angles for first-person video recording.

Let’s Copy How Finland, South Korea, and Canada Teach Science – Lessons from teachers whose countries excel at science education.

Wikimedia Commons Picture Of The Year 2011 – Top 25 photos, as voted for by Wikimedia users. Winning entry is outstanding, but other gems include: Snow-covered ski lift in Sweden, Eilean Donan Castle at sunrise, and the Atacama Dry lake.

Starry Night – Vincent van Dominogh (Video 3:01) – A recreation of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” from just over 7,000 dominos. Amazing! (recommended by Michael F.)

How LinkedIn Has Turned Your Resume Into A Cash Machine – Huge feature on LinkedIn’s astonishing success. Now makes $1.30 for every hour a single user spends on site. Remarkable, when you consider Facebook earns just six cents in comparable scenario. Here’s how they made it happen.

MIND YOUR MIND with MindGuard! – MindGuard is a program for Amiga and Linux computers that protects your mind by actively jamming and/or scrambling psychotronic mind-control signals and removing harmful engrammic pollutants from your brain. It also has the ability to scan for and decipher into English specific signals so you can see exactly Who wants to control you and what They are trying to make you think. (recommended by Michael F.)

WikiLeaks Chief Assange Unlikely to Surrender to Police – WikiLeaks Julian Assange said Thursday night it is very unlikely he will obey a summons from British police to leave Ecuador’s embassy on Friday and surrender…

Today’s Quote:

“The attraction of smoking is that it simplifies the world into three parts. There’s you, there’s the cigarette, and everything else is the ashtray”

-    Errol Morris

Today’s Free Downloads:

A Flipping Good Time – A Flipping Good Time is a fast-paced free-flowing 2D platformer. Flip and fly through an expansive underground world using the fluid nature of gravity to avoid the hazardous terrain. With challenging obstacles, exhilarating mine cart rides, an immersive environment, rewarding collectibles, and entertaining levels with unlockable bonus levels, A Flipping Good Time is just that: a flipping good time. Elected by a panel of over 100 game industry experts as a 2011 PAX10 winner. (recommended by Delenn13)

OpenPhoto – Photos present a challenge because we want to share them and also retain the rights to them. That’s where OpenPhoto comes in. This free, open-source project makes photos easy to upload, tag and control by hosting in your Dropbox account or Amazon S3.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

A Must Have Security Application – Secunia PSI 3.0 Final Release

imageI’ve long made it a practice to treat my Windows machines as if they have already been compromised. No, that’s not paranoia – that’s 30+ years of practical hands on computing experience.

If there’s one thing that experience has taught me it’s this – I don’t know what I don’t know. More particularly – I don’t know if any/some/all of the applications (including the operating system), I run on these machines have critical security vulnerabilities that I’m unaware of. And, yet to be discovered critical security vulnerabilities have been, and continue to be, a constant.

A recent example:

The Flame virus went undetected for two years by every online security firm.

Just today:

Chrome 20 fixes 20 security vulnerabilities

Winamp 5.63 fixes four critical security vulnerabilities

Old advice (beating a dead horse advice) -

“Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched, and up to date. Taking this simply step, reduces the likelihood that malware will become an issue a user will have to deal with – significantly. Cybercriminals use vulnerabilities in applications as entry points and gateways to compromise computers which can give access to confidential data such as passwords, online profiles, and bank details. Attacks exploiting vulnerable programs and plug-ins are often not blocked by traditional anti-virus applications.”

Sounds like good, practical advice – and it is. But as those of us involved in computer security know; this is advice that is not always followed. Some hold the view (including me), that it is rarely followed.

One particular application that I have reviewed and recommended a number of times – that assists users in keeping a system fully patched is – Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) – which constantly monitors a system for insecure software installations.

Secunia is justifiably proud of the fact that there are currently 5 Million users running this free protection application – but, from a personal perspective, I’m shocked at this low number. It should be 500 Million users! What is wrong with people that they fail to understand the advantages of ensuring that their system/applications are patched and up to date?

There’s less reason now, than ever, to disregard the critical advice offered above. Today, Secunia launched version 3 of its free Personal Software Inspector (PSI), with a host of new features.

PSI 3 with its dramatically simplified user interface and intuitive preferences, takes the burden out of updating and patching – and, most importantly, helps users safeguard their computer, and data, against cybercriminals.

The new version makes patching software more comprehensive, automatic, and easier than ever. How simple is that?

How simple is it? The following screen captures illustrate.

On program launch a simple click on “Please run a scan” gets things moving.

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A full scan takes no more than a few minutes.

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In this test, PSI picked up one application that needed updating. You might think that VLC (VideoLAN), would be relatively safe from being manipulated by cyber criminals. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

In July of last year VLC, when downloaded from other than the developer’s website, came bundled with malware. A reminder as to why it’s so important to download from the developer’s site, or a recognized download service.

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PSI automatically, and in the background, downloaded (from the official site) and installed the most recent version of VLC – raising the machine’s score from 98% to 100%.

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Fast facts:

Simple User Interface – Dramatically simplified user interface displays the key information that users need to know: scan results, the security status of installed software, and when these programs are up-to-date.

Automatic Patching – With the Secunia PSI 3.0, users receive automatic updates for all software supported by the application. Previously Secunia only provided automatic updates for vendors that made automatic updates available.

Localization – The Secunia PSI 3.0 can be installed in any one of five languages including French, Spanish, German, Danish and English.

Program Ignore Rules – Users have the ability to ignore updates to a particular program by creating ignore rules. This can, for example, be relevant if a user has an application that depends on an older version of another program or plug-in. Users may reverse this selection at any time. Users also have the ability to view the file location and version number of an installed program.

History – Reports about the updates installed and scans conducted can be accessed at any time through the history feature.

Share – A new share link allows users to post a link on Facebook or Twitter feeds, making it easy for friends to try out the Secunia PSI 3.0.

Settings – The settings menu allows users to select whether or not to install updates automatically, and which drives are to be scanned.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista SP 1 or later, XP – SP 3 (32 bit and 64 bit).

Available languages:

DanishEnglishFrenchGermanSpanish

Download at: Secunia

Secunia PSI 3.0, by installing the latest security updates that a vendor of an application has released, offers a real solution which helps users avoid becoming a victim of a hacker exploiting vulnerabilities in installed software. Installing this free application should be a no-brainer.

For all the critical “yeah, but” experts who troll the Internet – it’s undoubtedly true that no security application is perfect. However, used properly, PSI 3 adds another layer of effective security.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Secunia, System Utilities

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 28, 2012

How to surf safely: From LastPass to tin foil hats, and everything in between – Don’t wait until it’s too late to implement a solid strategy for staying safe online. Here, one of our new writers — Paul Lilly — runs you through a dizzying array of safe surfing techniques.

Welcome to the soon-to-be enormous world of Facebook email spam – I am pissed off. Like most other Facebook users, I woke up recently to discover I had a Facebook email address. I don’t want a Facebook email address. Frankly, if I were King of the World, I’d boot Facebook into a giant black hole and laugh gleefully as the entire thing burned to a never-to-haunt-us again crispy hulk.

Hands-on with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (pictures) – It’s not the full revamp that Ice Cream Sandwich was, but Android 4.1 Jelly Bean nonetheless adds a collection of new and useful features for Android enthusiasts. Using a Jelly Bean-equipped Samsung Galaxy Nexus that Google issued after the first day keynote of Google I/O, I was able to explore some of the enhancements and get a taste of what Jelly Bean will bring.

Malware As A Service: A New Twist? – Malware (or crimeware) as a service, has been around for a couple of years – and, is one of the main reasons cybercrime is spreading rapidly. However, there’s a new twist to the service.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Which is the most popular antivirus software? – In an over-crowded antivirus software market, end and corporate users are often finding it difficult to differentiate between a value-added market proposition, next to the “me too” vendors of solutions. As in every other market segment, any scientific insight into the market share of various vendors offers an invaluable perspective into the market dynamics, what are customers purchasing, and most importantly, are they living in a world of ‘false feeling of security’.

Better Explorer – Better Explorer (aka BExplorer) looks and behaves the way Windows Explorer will in Windows 8–except that it runs in Windows 7. At the top of the file-finder window, Better Explorer adds options that behave much as the Ribbon at the top of Microsoft Word’s newest layout does, letting you more easily arrange, copy, move, and delete files. The free tool also has a button for accessing a file s properties when you’re using a device (such as a tablet) that doesn’t support right-clicking. Best of all, you can view folders in tabs at the top of the window, so you can see multiple folders at once without getting lost.

Telstra halts data collection – Australian telco stops tracking websites visited by its mobile customers. It’s a tinfoil tale of international intrigue.

Chrome 20 fixes 20 security vulnerabilities – Summary: In its latest browser release, 20.0.1132.43, Google’s Chrome fixes 20 security vulnerabilities, none of which are critical.

Winamp 5.63 fixes four critical security vulnerabilities – As originally reported in Winamp’s release announcement, version 5.63 fixes four critical security vulnerabilities. Successful exploitation of the vulnerabilities allows execution of arbitrary code. For the exploitation to take place, a user running an outdated version of Winamp, would have to open a specially crafted . AVI video file.

Public domain Windows Desktop wallpaper from US National Parks – There are thousands of public domain images available from the U.S. National Park Service that make great scenic view wallpaper.

Internet Security:

Massive crime ring automates bank fraud, steals tens of millions – Two-factor authentication schemes have definitely been proven to be ineffectual as news of a massive global financial services fraud campaign that targeted well-moneyed individual and organizations exploded on the Internet. Insight into these attacks has been offered in a paper by McAfee and Guardian Analytics, who discovered that once the users’ computers have been compromised with banking Trojans such as Zeus and SpyEye, at least a dozen groups proceeded using client- and server-side components and heavy automation in order to swiftly effect the fraudulent money transfers.

Data Snatchers! The Booming Market for Your Online Identity – A huge, mostly hidden industry is raking in billions collecting, analyzing, and sharing personal information you put on the Web. Should you be worried?

Fake “confirm PayPal account” emails lead to phishing – An extremely legitimate looking email supposedly coming from PayPal has been hitting inboxes in the last few days, trying to trick customers of the popular e-payment giant to follow a link embedded in it, Webroot warns.

The Hidden Security Risks of P2P Traffic – For years enterprises have been trying to control peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies inside their networks, and for good reason. The efficiency with which P2P technology move large files have made P2P networks key enablers of the Internet grey market by acting as the distribution mechanism of choice for pirated movies, music or applications. Aside from P2P being a source for pirated content, they are also a significant enabler of malware as both an infection vector and a command-and-control (C2) channel. These security risks have made controlling P2P traffic a priority for many security teams.

Web Attackers Borrow Domain Generation Tricks From Botnet-type Malware – Hackers have started to adopt domain-generation techniques normally used by botnet-type malware in order to prolong the life of Web-based attacks, according to security researchers from antivirus firm Symantec. Such domain-generation techniques were recently observed in a series of drive-by download attacks that used the Black Hole exploit toolkit to infect Web users with malware when visiting compromised websites,

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most dangerous player in cyberspace – Fans on the internet looking for “Cristiano Ronaldo”, “Cristiano Ronaldo and download”, “Cristiano Ronaldo and photos” or “Cristiano Ronaldo and videos” may run into online threats that could steal their personal information. Clicking on these dangerous sites to download files like photos, videos or screensavers may expose them to viruses and malware.

Company News:

$199 Google Nexus 7 Tablet Coming in July – Google today unveiled the Nexus 7, a 7-inch tablet from Asus that will run the latest version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The Nexus 7 is available for pre-order now via Google Play. The 8GB is $199, while the 16GB is $249. The device will ship in mid-July to customers in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia. The Nexus 7 includes a front-facing camera, and “all the connectivity options you’d expect,” like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC. Barra promised up to nine hours of video playback on a single charge, and up to 300 hours of standby time. It weighs in at 340 grams.

Sprint Gives Biz 360 a Small Businesses Makeover – The mobile carrier refreshes its Biz 360 program for small business with upgrades, new hardware offerings, apps and buyback program.

VeriSign Retains Control of .com – Management of the .com Top Level Domain registry is going to remain with VeriSign. That’s the ICANN board level decision, coming out of the ICANN meeting in Prague this morning, which approved the renewal of VeriSign’s .com mastery.

Apple Wins U.S. Ban on Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – A California district judge ordered a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.

Amazon brings NoSQL to the masses with DynamoDB – Amazon’s new cloud offering called DynamoDB overcomes some of the scaling limitations of SimpleDB. Learn more about the DynamoDB NoSQL system.

Webopedia Daily:

Time-out – An interrupt signal generated by a program or device that has waited a certain length of time for some input but has not received it. Many programs perform time-outs so that the program does not sit idle waiting for input that may never come. For example, automatic bank-teller machines perform a time-out if you do not enter your password quickly enough.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Life is like Coffee – Life is what we make it, and the simpler things that we enjoy are always the best in life. (Thanks Mike – my favorite Bus Driver Smile)

Slaves of electricity – We are slaves of electricity. Without power, your PC, your DVD player, your wireless router, your digital camera, your smartphone — all computers everywhere would be dead. As we move towards mobile computing, this is a rather big problem, because batteries simply can’t keep up with our demands. Are we heading towards a battery crunch?

Creating The Blackbird – Gary Powers’ U-2 aircraft was disabled. Hit by Soviet surface-to-air missiles, the plane fell from 70,000 feet to 30,000 feet before Powers could release himself and bail out of the damaged cockpit.  It was May 1, 1960, and the Cold War was heating up. President Eisenhower deeply valued the strategic benefits of the U-2’s airborne reconnaissance during these tense Cold War times.  And now the call came from Lockheed’s customer in Washington to build the impossible – an aircraft that can’t be shot down – and do it fast. (recommended by Michael F.)

The Roots of Social Networking – Before Facebook, before even Friendster, people still had social networking. Here’s a look at how computer users got together in the days before the dawn of the Internet.

Network neutrality: Revisiting the arguments – A “neutral” network cannot coexist with high-speed, unlimited usage broadband connections, nor can consumers expect carriers to foot the bill for increasingly bandwidth-hungry applications.

Today’s Quote:

“History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”

-     Napoleon Bonaparte

Today’s Free Downloads:

SUPERAntiSpyware Free – Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

SUPERAntiSpyware Portable – Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats. The scanner does NOT install anything on your Start Menu or Program Files and does NOT need to be uninstalled.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Do You Need a Tablet?

imageTablets have exploded in the marketplace in the same way that smart phones did a few years ago. Just like with smart phones, Apple led the pack and soon dominated the market. However, other manufacturers have caught up, and there are now dozens of models available.

If you haven’t already purchased a tablet, you may be asking yourself whether you need to buy one. Is it a replacement for your laptop? An upgrade on your smart phone? Here are some of the reasons why you might consider buying a tablet:

Affordability

Compared to a laptop, most tablet models are quite affordable. While prices for the iPad still rival those of laptops — with the high-end iPad models costing more than low-end laptop models — there are many other tablets that are available for $200 or even less. Depending on the features you need in your laptop or tablet, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars and still get the functionality you need by choosing a tablet over a laptop.

Portability

While laptops are also portable, tablets offer more ease in portability. You don’t have to bring bulky adapters to recharge a battery, and you don’t have to find a table or other surface to setup comfortably. You don’t even need a carrying case for a tablet.

You can easily carry a tablet in your hand and work with it anywhere — no setup or surface space required.

Adaptability

A tablet combines the features of a laptop and your smart phone. You can download apps to do just about anything you need to do. Depending on the model of tablet, you can take photos, type documents, surf the web, and much more. For more advanced work, there are programs or add-ons you can purchase to expand the capabilities of your tablet.

Entertainment

Tablets are a great source of entertainment. You can use them to connect to the web, or you can download games and other fun apps. You can also use it as an e-reader, or you can watch movies and television shows on it. You can do all of these things anywhere, at any time, right in the palm of your hand.

The question of whether or not you need a tablet is a personal one that only you can definitively answer. However, a tablet offers many benefits that you can consider when making your decision, including affordability, portability, adaptability, and entertainment.

Do you own a tablet? Which model did you choose? Tell us what influenced your decision in the comments!

This guest post is contributed by Heather Green.  Heather is a Christian mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice on different types of nurses and online resources.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Tablet Computing