Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 8, 2013

CIA pays AT&T to search international call database;  The 10 Best Wireless Routers;  IE11 now available for Windows 7;  WinPatrol Plus – guards your PC;  Boost battery life on Android 4.4;  Kindle Fire HD 7″ $99.99 on Black Friday;  Get free Play store cash from Google;  Ultimate WordPress Guide;  Stop Flash Chrome crash;  Edit GIFs without Photoshop;  Peeping Tom claims First Amendment right to upskirt.

The 10 Best Wireless Routers – Which is the best wireless router for you? Choosing the right one will make the difference between frustration and enjoyment.

IE11 now available for Windows 7 – Microsoft has announced that IE11 for Windows 7 is now available for download in 95 languages and that it will be rolling out via Windows update in the near future.

Best Buy selling Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablet for $99.99 on Black Friday – Usually a major retailer’s multi-page ad for Black Friday is leaked online, but Best Buy has revealed a few of its specials via a news report on a Little Rock, Arkansas TV station. A local Best Buy employee shows off some deals, including an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch tablet for $99.99.

WinPatrol Plus stands guard over your PC – WinPatrol Plus has stood guard over Windows PCs for years. But the latest version understands that computer users don’t need to be alerted to absolutely everything happening on their PC.

How to edit GIFs without resorting to Photoshop – Here’s our hands-on with EZgif.com, an easy, web-based tool for people with zero graphics know-how.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to get free Play store cash from Google – Google wants your opinion, so it has released an app called Google Opinion Rewards for Android users. The app is free and only takes a few minutes to set up, with the process requiring you to take a survey. Your answers to the initial survey will be used to customize the surveys you’ll receive on your device in the future.

Chrome On Windows To Start Rejecting Extensions From Outside The Chrome Web Store In January – The leading cause of complaints from its Windows users, Google says, is still due to malicious extensions that override browser settings and change the user experience in unexpected (and undesired) ways.

Kim Dotcom’s ‘Mega’ storage service dumps its beta tag, picks up some new features – Megaupload may be dead and gone, but Mega—the file storage and sharing service that rose from Megaupload’s ashes—is going strong.

The Ultimate WordPress Guide – WordPress is one of the most powerful blogging platforms online. Whether you need a personal outlet, a business site, or want to cultivate a personal brand. Ranging from free, quick-and-easy blogs, to professional news engines, WordPress has something for everyone. (Super tips and advice)

Survey: Americans Intrigued But Skeptical of Wearable Tech – According to a new poll released this week by Harris Interactive, nearly half of Americans (or 46 percent) are at “least a little interested” in owning a watch-like wearable computing device while 27 percent are “very or somewhat interested.” The online survey of 2,577 U.S. adults, conducted between Sept. 18 and 24, also found that nearly half of respondents are at least mildly interested in owning some other type of wearable tech gadget, though fewer expressed interest in headsets or glasses.

GIMP flees SourceForge over dodgy ads and installer – The ads weren’t The GIMP devs’ only beef, as they were willing to tolerate them until SourceForge’s new Windows installer came along. As the devs note, that tool “… bundles third-party offers with Free Software packages. We do not want to support this kind of behavior, and have thus decided to abandon SourceForge.”

Stop the Shockwave Flash Chrome crash – Here’s the problem: Chrome comes with its own version of Flash. In addition, you may have another Flash installation, downloaded from Adobe or bundled with your computer. The trick is to turn one of them off.

Google Maps Update Boosts Street View, Revives Pegman – Google continues to tweak the new Google Maps preview, this week adding a number of features to the next-generation map service, including Pegman and some improvements to Street View.

Microsoft depicts IE11 as robot-fighting anime heroine – Meet Inori Aizawa. According to her Facebook profile she was born in September of 2013, and she’s come to show the world how awesome Internet Explorer 11 is — by single-handedly destroying a legion of evil robots – anime style.

Five settings that increase battery life on Android 4.4 KitKat – With every new operating system comes a fresh set of features that serve up convenience…at the cost of your battery life. In many cases, it’s just not worth having your phone die when you need it most. If you’re looking to get more juice out of your phone’s battery, or are one of the many people with a Nexus 5 plagued by a possible battery issue, change these settings.

Fire at Internet Archive destroys equipment and materials, but data safe – The Internet Archive is working to produce a full assessment of the damaged and destroyed materials; meanwhile, it is continuing its scanning efforts at an alternate location. In addition to assistance in the form of donations, the group is also asking for more materials to be donated for scanning in order to keep the scanning employees affected by the fire working.

Create mobile app prototypes for free with Clank – Learn how to use the Clank open source framework to create a demo application for an iOS device.

Panasonic 4K tablet heads to US in January – The 20-inch 4K tablet, which boasts a 3,840×2,560-pixel resolution, will reportedly go on sale in the US in January for a whopping $6,000.

Security:

Microsoft to release three critical Windows 8.1 security updates Nov. 12 – Microsoft has announced it will release eight security bulletins for its latest ‘Patch Tuesday’ updates on November 12th, including three critical bulletins for Windows 8.1 and other Windows versions.

Exploits of critical Microsoft zero day more widespread than thought: At least two hacker gangs exploit TIFF vulnerability to hijack users’ computers – The critical Microsoft Windows and Office vulnerability that came to light two days ago is being more widely exploited than previously reported, making it more urgent that end users install a temporary fix right away.

Microsoft narrows down the software affected by recent exploits – Today’s post stated that so far the only attacks have been directed against Office 2007 running on Windows XP. The exploit itself affects Office 2003 and 2007 and is present regardless of the version of Windows that are used by those programs. Office 2010 also has the exploit, but only when used on a PC with Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.

Hackers make off with thousands of Bitcoins in Inputs.io breach – As Bitcoins see a steady climb in value, some unfortunate folks have found their accounts drained thanks to hackers who breached Inputs.io, taking a total of 4100 bitcoins. At present exchange rates, this amounts to about $1,230,000 USD, and unfortunately for those who were affected, the bitcoin wallet does not have the funds or other means to pay back the lost sums.

NSA Tangled Up In Russian Ransomware Threats – Is the NSA demanding that you pay up for a cybercrime? How outrageous is that? Luckily, the NSA isn’t actually behind any of this. This is just another scamto get your money involving fake law enforcement. In a recent blog post, IT security company Blue Coat addressed last week’s attacks on visitors to the php.net Web site. Their investigation revealed that one of the sneakier ransomware applications wrote ransom notes to victims using personal information the victims believed was from the NSA.

Company News:

Twitter IPO sees early 73% rise on NYSE – Twitter begins its journey into the public realm with their Initial Public Offering, seeing a relatively quick rise in price of each share in early hours of trading. The Twitter IPO began with the company offering up 70 million shares with stock priced at a cool $26 USD per share. Soon after the initial offering, the first trade was made at $45.10 a share, making an impressive 73% jump right off the bat.

Facebook expands in Europe as it scoops up new employees – Facebook is moving to bigger offices in London and Dublin to accommodate its rapidly expanding European workforce.

NVIDIA 2014 Q3 results show revenues up over previous quarter – As of this past quarter, which ended on October 27, NVIDIA pulled in $1.054 billion, a jump of 7.9-percent over Q2′s $977.2 million in GAAP revenues. The year-on-year numbers aren’t so favorable, however, showing a decrease of 12.5-percent.

Surging mobile sales help PC king Lenovo haul in cash – Chinese PC maker Lenovo posted a 36 percent year-over-year growth in its net profit in the third quarter, with demand for the company’s smartphones and tablets continuing to outpace shipments for its PC products.

Apple stores to mysteriously close early Nov 17 and 18 – A number of Apple stores around the world are mysteriously set to close early next weekend. Several stores in Canada and stores in other countries will be operating under special hours on November 17 and November 18. Exactly why the stores are closing early is unknown.

Dell faces scrutiny for alleged labor violations at factories in China – Workers at four Dell suppliers in China are allegedly enduring long overtime hours and facing exposure to toxic fumes, according to new reports from watchdog groups.

Firefox gets mobile foothold from Android preinstallation deals – Second-tier phones and tablets from Gigabyte and Kobo will have the mobile browser built in, a move that could help Mozilla’s ambition of having more mobile influence.

Games and Entertainment:

GTA Online stimulus package arrives: software fix today – This week the folks at Rockstar Games have begun pushing a real-deal set of fixes for the Grand Theft Auto Online environment. This piece of the GTA:V or Grand Theft Auto 5 universe saw some heavy oddities going on online when the service was launched including loss of progress, vehicles disappearing in garages, and straight up goofs in modifications. This week Rockstar’s big fixes are in order along with the stimulus package they promised for early adopters.

Listen up! 5 gaming headsets vie for sound supremacy – A helicopter circles overhead. The harsh stutter of automatic weapons crackles in the distance, but what you’re most concerned about right now is the crunch of boots on gravel. Someone—friend or foe—is approaching. A high-quality headset can help you precisely identify the location of those audio cues. Crisp, clear sound can mean the difference between life and death when you’re gaming, rendering your headset as vital to your virtual well-being as any weapon.

Marvel Teaming With Netflix For Four New Superhero Shows And One Miniseries – Marvel and Netflix are teaming up for a sprawling, multi-year content partnership that will focus on NYC heroes centered in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, the company announced today. This will involve the creation of four new serialized shows, culminating in a multi-part miniseries tying the characters in each together.

Microsoft now focused on ‘core’ PC games after Windows 8 launch’s casual titles – A Microsoft executive has promised the company is focusing on “core” PC games after Windows 8′s launch had several casual titles. The studio allegedly has a large amount of PC titles in development.

PlayStation 4 launch apps detailed with Netflix, Hulu Plus, GameCenter and more – As the PlayStation 4′s launch later this month closes in, Sony has announced the apps that will be available with the gaming console upon its launch. With the console will come some big-name apps that many gamers enjoy, including a handful of entertainment apps, as well as offerings for sports fans and some free entertainment options.

Off Topic (Sort of):

‘So, that’s why it’s called Bluetooth!’ and other surprising tech name origins – The stories of how some of the world’s biggest brands and technologies came up with their names open a window to a different era—a simpler time before Web squatters took all the normal names and corporations focus-grouped language to death. Here we present the hidden—and occasionally accidental—histories behind some of the biggest names in tech.

Police need judge’s specific permission to search computers, Supreme Court of Canada rules – Police entering a home with a search warrant have no right to search any computers they find unless a judge has given them specific permission, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously on Thursday. “It is difficult to imagine a more intrusive invasion of privacy than the search of a personal or home computer,” Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote for the court.

Alleged Peeping Tom claims First Amendment right to upskirt – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is mulling just whether an alleged upskirter’s right to snap women’s nether regions is defended by the US constitution, and indeed whether women who unwittingly expose themselves in public have any right to privacy.

Engineers study urinal splashing, offer aiming tips – A group of Brigham Young University fluid-dynamics researchers apply the laws of physics to urinal splash-back to help guys pee-fect their aim.

What’s a zit’s life span? ScanZ aims to help clear that up – Device takes transdermal images, which are sent to a smartphone app and then run through algorithms developed at the Mayo Clinic that help predict when zits are likely to disappear.

Scientists find some bacteria may thrive in zero gravity – As if space wasn’t already dangerous enough, some newly reported research on bacterial growth in orbit indicates some strains of microorganisms can thrive in zero gravity, even if they are deprived of nutrients. This could change the way astronauts prepare for and live in space, especially as the prospect of long-term space flight becomes more real.

Engineers Build The World’s First Real 3D-Printed Gun – The Liberator, for all the hoopla, was not really a gun. This 3D-printed firearm, on the other hand, is a gun. It is a copy of a 1911 made using public-domain plans and a laser sintering system that solidifies metal powder. It fires just like a real semi-automatic pistol The gun, created by Solid Concepts, is completely legal.

‘Comet of the Century’ ISON coming into view this week’ - It could be the brightest comet in decades, or even centuries, and it’s coming to visit for the holidays. It might also fizzle out.

Something to think about:

From J.K. Galbraith’s The Affluent Society:

“The family which takes its mauve and cerise, air-conditioned, power-steered and power-braked automobile out for a tour passes through cities that are badly paved, made hideous by litter, blighted buildings, billboards, and posts for wires that should long since have been put underground… They picnic on exquisitely packaged food from a portable icebox by a polluted stream and go on to spend the night at a park which is a menace to public health and morals. Just before dozing off on an air mattress, beneath a nylon tent, amid the stench of decaying refuse, they may reflect vaguely on the curious unevenness of their blessings” (suggested by Michael F.)

Today’s Free Downloads:

PhoneTrans 3.6.6 – Spice up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch by transferring music, Apps, movies, music videos, and more.

Windows Firewall Control 4.0.3.0 – Windows Firewall Control is a nifty little application which extends the functionality of the Windows Firewall and provides quick access to the most frequent options of Windows Firewall. It runs in the system tray and allows user to control the native firewall easily without having to waste time by navigating to the specific part of the firewall. This is the best tool to manage the native firewall from Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Driver Booster 1.1 – Driver Booster is a brand new driver updating tool. It protects your PC from hardware failures, conflicts, and resolves system crash problems caused by outdated drivers. All old drivers can be detected by simply clicking on the “Scan” button, and then you just need to click “Update All” button to refresh these outdated drivers. Compared with other driver updating tools, IObit Driver Booster can improve your PC performance for gaming as well.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CIA pays AT&T to search international call database: AT&T is paid more than $10 million annually to search records, NY Times reports – AT&T retains the data, but it performs searches against its databases for specific phone numbers upon request from the CIA, the Times’ Charlie Savage reports, citing unnamed government officials. AT&T’s international call database includes not only the records of AT&T customers but of any call that transits the company’s international network equipment—including Americans’ international calls.

Should NSA surveillance influence your business cloud buying decisions? – Summary: Our IT security experts debate the impact that NSA surveillance revelations can have on your business. (The moderator has delivered a final verdict.)

“We have to make surveillance expensive again” says Bruce Schneier – The ongoing revelations of governmental electronic spying point to a problem larger than National Security Agency malfeasance, or even of security weaknesses. Rather the controversy arising from Edward Snowden’s leaked documents suggest we face unresolved issues around data ownership, argued security expert Bruce Schneier.

Does F-Secure’s antivirus turn a blind eye to spook spyware? CEO hits back – Antivirus maker F-Secure has responded to privacy campaigners’ concerns over the handling of spook-grade surveillance malware – by insisting its security software slays government spyware wherever it can. In an open letter to the Bits of Freedom team, F-Secure president and chief exec Christian Fredrikson said his firm stands by its 2001 vow to not discriminate in favor of intelligence agencies when block potentially malicious code.

As US gov’t surveillance watchdog group opens for business, questions linger – Monday’s hearing saw testimony from legal officials from the Department of Justice, the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI. The government officials largely argued for the continuation of their programs as is. In particular, there was forceful defense of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for the bulk telecom metadata handover to the government.

NSA spying poisons the cloud market – A PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey found 54 percent of German companies find the cloud risky after learning of NSA spying. An earlier study by PwC finds that 84% of CEOs are confident about cyber security. If they only knew the truth.

NSA spying prompts open TrueCrypt encryption software audit to go viral – A unique effort to crowdsource a security audit of the popular TrueCrypt open source encryption software appears to be going viral three weeks after it was launched by two U.S. based researchers in response to concerns that the National Security Agency may have tampered with it. The intiative has so far garnered more than $57,000 in donations and bitcoins and attracted over 1,000 volunteers from 30 countries, including a techncial advisory group comprised of some of the world’s best regarded cryptographers.

3 Comments

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 8, 2013

  1. ‘Chrome On Windows To Start Rejecting Extensions From Outside The Chrome Web Store In January – The leading cause of complaints from its Windows users, Google says, is still due to malicious extensions that override browser settings and change the user experience in unexpected (and undesired) ways.’

    Hey Bill
    Do you think Google’s alibi is acceptable? First, Firefox users can’t fully use Chrome apps in Windows. Then Google tightens the screw. Isn’t that shameless?
    poch

    • Hey Poch,

      First, let me say that I hope you and your family are safe and well following that incredible storm that struck. Stay safe my friend.

      I understand that you might feel that Google is tightening the screws – but, the bigger obligation Google has is to protect the weaker members of our Internet “fraternity.” In other words, the 90% of users who choose to engage with the Internet despite atrocious security preparations and knowledge, need blanket protection.

      Stupidity still rules, I’m afraid.

      Best,

      Bill

      • lol I definitely see your point Bill.
        Concerning the storm, thank you sir. We in NCR sufferred only brief brownouts due to strong winds. As always, our provinces take beatings from storms.