Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 13, 2014

Rand Paul launches class-action lawsuit to end NSA phone spying;  How to protect your PC in the web’s worst neighborhoods;  Crowdsourced phone book stamps out spam calls;  Set up your Android phone for one-handed use;  Online dating tip: Skip the selfies, guys;  Looking online for love? Swab your cheek;  10 industries 3D printing will disrupt or decimate;  Stay in the know with these five essential news apps;  10 ways to maximize the business value of Google+.

So much for ‘fighting back’ against NSA surveillance. You can blame Silicon Valley for that – Tens of millions protested the Iraq invasion across dozens of countries in 2003, and we still went to war. An online protest saw 75,000 websites blacked out for a day in 2012, which led to the shelving of draft censorship laws. You can blame corporate America’s apathy for this next one.

How to protect your PC in the web’s worst neighborhoods – Your data. Your wallet. Your identity. In the darker corners of the internet, it’s all fair game, and disaster could be one unwitting click away. Protect yourself by learning about the web’s most common dangers, and how to avoid them. Also, take some basic steps to make your PC more resistant to harm.

Crowdsourced phone book stamps out spam calls – Startup Truecaller’s app uses the power of crowds to identify spam callers and block them from contacting you on your mobile phone. The app is like an old school white pages and caller ID, but has been totally reborn for the mobile — social era. Users can take advantage of search and discovery features to identify spam calls.

Americans Are Hungry for Digital Content – According to Nielsen, Americans now own four digital devices, on average, and spend roughly 60 hours per week consuming content across multiple screens.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Slack exits beta with its tool for information overload – With information besieging users from all sides and ending up archived—or not—in email, cloud storage or simply lurking in social media streams, keeping everything organized can be a chore. A service now out of beta from the co-founder of Flickr claims to have a better way. Slack is designed to take all those emails and files—and other content from Twitter, Dropbox and elsewhere—plunk them into its own platform, and make it all easily searchable.

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Set up your Android phone for one-handed use in three easy steps – Most mobile users are on the go and sometimes having both hands free isn’t always an option. Unfortunately, the default Android UI doesn’t always make it easy to operate your phone with one hand. Luckily, you can change that. By in installing a pair of apps and making a few configuration changes, you can set up your Android device for easy, one-handed use.

Make friends in-flight on Virgin America’s new social network – Virgin is using Here On Biz, an iOS app that finds business colleagues near you, to help travelers find LinkedIn connections who are on the same flight, or even in the same airport. Instead of striking up a conversation with your seatmates to find out if you’re all heading to the same conference, you can get straight to work by opening the app and start networking before you even land. The app also finds connections on other Virgin flights.

Chromebooks to get VMware virtual desktop service – VMware will offer virtual desktop services for Google’s Chromebooks, allowing them to run Windows applications on the pared-down laptops based on the Chrome OS. Organizations could save as much as $5,000 per computer by using a combination of Chromebooks and VMware managed services, Google has estimated. VMware desktop virtualization could also provide organizations an easy way to migrate from Windows XP, which Microsoft will stop supporting in April.

Stay in the know with these five essential news apps - Many of us don’t have the time to sit down at a desktop and scour the Internet for news. What we do have time for, however, is catching up with our smartphones and tablets. If you’re lucky enough to be on the Android platform, there are plenty of apps that aggregate news and serve them up with an easy-to-use interface. But which ones? There are quite a lot of news aggregators available. I’ve gone through a good amount of them and found the ones that do the best job of collecting the most relevant news with the friendliest user interface. Here they are.

Shazam gets a new look and useful feature updates – The Shazam app is still a great way to identify an unknown song quickly, and with a new look and more ways to interact with tags, it remains one of the best for entertainment identification and discovery.

Online dating tip: Skip the selfies, guys – What does it take to get someone to notice your online dating profile? Zoosk CEO Shayan Zadeh explains what attracts more clicks for both sexes.

Looking online for love? Swab your cheek – Dating sites are getting more personalized to help you find “the one.” There’s even a DNA test kit to help determine if a suitor is a genetically compatible match. CNET’s Kara Tsuboi tells us about the new trends for dating sites and apps, and how to create an online profile to maximize your chances for getting that first date.

Love me, Tinder: The app that keeps Olympians sane – If you believe US snowboarder Jamie Anderson, the chosen app of all those fit, young Olympic performers is hookup joy Tinder.

10 ways to maximize the business value of Google+ – Google+ offers a more focused, serious take on social networking — and it can give your business a significant boost if you use it the right way.

8 iPad apps that are complex, powerful and advanced – The iPad isn’t known as a high-end computing device, but these apps prove otherwise. Here’s a look at eight robust apps with uses as varied as home security, computer-assisted design and stock trading.

30 iPhone and iPad tips and tricks to make you faster and more efficientHere are a list of tip and tricks that will help you be more productive when using your iPad and iPhone, whether you use it for work or play. ( Here are?)

Surface Tablets Used at Work More Than iPads – Microsoft thinks its Surface devices are better for work activities than the iPad and Android alternatives, but does corporate America agree? Based on North American usage data, the answer is yes – Surface tablets are actually being used in work settings more than competing gadgets, according to new data from advertising and Web analytics firm Chitika.

Microsoft releases NewsPad blogging tool as open source – Microsoft Research’s Fuse Labs has released NewsPad, a blogging tool for people who wish to collaborate on writing news posts in real time, as an open source project.

Facebook crowdsourcing gives lonely boy 1.4 million friends – For a surprise birthday gift, a Michigan mom creates a Facebook page to show her son — who has Asperger syndrome — that he can have friends all over the world.

Security:

Have a Linksys router? Now’s a good time to update that firmware – Owners and administrators of Linksys home routers are being advised to update and secure their devices following reports of active attacks on a flaw present in at least two models. Researchers with the SANS Institutes Internet Storm Center have received reports of mass attacks on a remote access vulnerability in the Linksys E1000 and E1200. The reports, which were noted by an ISP administrator in Wyoming, claim that some customers running the Linksys routers have had their networks compromised.

Android Gamers: Don’t Fall For Flappy Bird Malware! – This past week, the simple yet challenging game Flappy Bird surprised the world by first becoming insanely popular and then being pulled by its developer. Not surprisingly, attackers have taken notice of the demand for flapping birds and have created their own malicious apps based on the game.

Another Snapchat hack sees users spammed with mysterious photos of smoothies – Many users of the photo-sharing app Snapchat have reported that they are being sent spam messages of photos of smoothies with links that redirect to a recipe for a smoothie on AllRecipes.com.

Email Attack on Vendor Set Up Breach at Target – The breach at Target Corp. that exposed credit card and personal data on more than 110 million consumers appears to have begun with a malware-laced email phishing attack sent to employees at an HVAC firm that did business with the nationwide retailer, according to sources close to the investigation. There is no question that, like Target, Fazio Mechanical was the victim of cybercrime. But investigators close to the case took issue with Fazio’s claim that it was in full compliance with industry practices, and offered another explanation of why it took the Fazio so long to detect the email malware infection: The company’s primary method of detecting malicious software on its internal systems was the free version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Adobe patches two critical vulnerabilities in Shockwave Player – The Shockwave Player update comes one week after Adobe broke out of its regular patching cycle to release an emergency update for Flash Player that addressed an actively exploited vulnerability. Unlike the Flash Player flaw, there are no reports that the Shockwave Player vulnerabilities are being exploited in attacks.

Company News:

Comcast Makes Bid To Acquire Time Warner Cable For $45 Billion – The Time Warner Cable sweepstakes might be over. Just a few months after it was first reported that the second-largest cable firm in the nation was looking to be acquired, Comcast, the number one cable provider, has made an offer of $45.2 billion for the company. According to multiple reports, the deal is set to be officially announced Thursday, with Comcast offering $158.82 per share in an all-stock deal.

Verizon will reportedly unveil ‘More Everything’ plan Thursday – New plan to offer more data at no extra cost, doubled bandwidth, 25GB of cloud storage, and unlimited international messaging, according to a DroidLife report.

NVIDIA surprises with strong Q4 thanks to desktop GPU jump – NVIDIA saw better than expected quarterly revenue in Q4 2013, the company has announced today, reaching $1.14bn amid strong sales of GeForce GTX video cards, and predicting another solid quarter as it renews its push into mobile. Revenue was up 9-percent versus Q3 2013, NVIDIA said, and up 3-percent year-on-year, though net income fell as gross margin and operating expenses climbed.

Microsoft allegedly considering Android apps on Windows, Windows Phone – According to a report by The Verge, Microsoft executives are having a heated debate as to whether allowing Android apps on its operating systems would be beneficial. The report states that “some inside Microsoft favor the idea of simply enabling Android apps inside its Windows and Windows Phone Stores, while others believe it could lead to the death of the Windows platform altogether.” Almost no additional information is given on Microsoft’s alleged Android consideration, however, likely indicating that such talks are preliminary at best.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 Best Gaming Keyboards – When your keyboard doubles as your game controller, it’s more than just a tool for typing. It is to the gamer what the katana is to a samurai (or cyborg ninja). It becomes more than a typing tool—the keyboard becomes a weapon, an extension of yourself, your interface with the digital world. For anyone that cares about PC gaming, it pays to know what makes a keyboard great, what differentiates one from another, and what’s on the market today.

Titanfall preview: Frenetic robot-on-robot violence – Now open for beta test signups, surprisingly smart Titanfall is more than a Call of Duty clone.

Amateur Surgeon 3 Lands on Android, Still Requires No Medical Training – The newly arrived Android game Amateur Surgeon 3 requires steady hands and quick thinking, but virtual lives depend on you! This game is arriving in Google Play after a stupendously popular run on iOS. The first two games fell flat on Android thanks to poor design and touchscreen implementation, but maybe third time’s the charm.

Microsoft to finally ship Xbox One headset adapter in early March – Microsoft will finally ship the promised headset adapter for the Xbox One sometime in early March for $24.99, allowing some older headsets to work with the company’s newest console.

Xbox One Media Remote gets outed on Amazon – Microsoft’s ‘all-in-one’ entertainment centre looks set to get a traditional remote control option, with the discovery on Amazon of a listing for the ‘Xbox One Media Remote’, expected next month.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Keen On… The Hippies: How The Counterculture Ruined The Internet – As the author of two important books, From Counterculture to Cyberculture and the recently released The Democratic Sound, Turner has spent much of his academic life studying the intellectual history of the Internet. And Turner isn’t happy with what he’s found. Hippies like Stewart Brand, Steve Jobs and Kevin Kelly created the idea of the Internet in their own image, he says. It reflects their dream of “living on the edge” and escaping the rules of society. The problem, Turner says, is that the hippie ideal of escaping authority and doing one’s own thing has spawned companies like Google and Facebook that are indifferent to everything around them.

EEG cap lets you wirelessly control a quadcopter with your mind – The University of Minnesota working with the National Science Foundation has decided to use quadcopters to help perfect a thought-controlled system. That’s right, a research team has managed to create a system where you control the movement of a quadcopter just by thinking about where you want it to go. The point of the research is to create a useful interface for people who suffer with disabilities that limit movement or paralysis. When combined with the correct equipment it could allow them to carry out everyday activities that would otherwise be impossible without the aid of a caregiver.

Rotten to the core: Apple’s 10 greatest FAILS – To be fair, some of its failures have been truly glorious. The oft-criticised Power Mac G4 Cube may have been overpriced and underpowered, but it was a marvel of engineering that remains unmatched by most desktop PC designs to this day. But there have also been disasters, many of them entirely self-inflicted. The “Antennagate” episode from 2010 was the most recent example of this, but there have been many others, such as the rash of failures among early Time Capsule devices that led Apple to simply wash its hands of them as soon as they were out of warranty.

Toyota recalls 1.9 million Prius to perform a 40 minute software update – In this day and age of everything being connected, we expect software problems to be solved with a patch that we receive over the Internet. Japanese car manufacturer Toyota seems to have forgotten that was an option when designing the Prius hybrid, as it is now having to do an expensive and time consuming recall of some 1.9 million cars.

Steve Jobs’ time capsule — a closer look – “Diggers” found the time capsule containing Jobs’ mouse that International Design Conference organizers buried, and lost, in Aspen, Colo., in 1983. CNET has video from the excavation.

Steve Jobs’ Lisa mouse, which was hidden inside a time capsule, buried and lost in Aspen, Colo., for 30 years.

(Credit: Mike Durkin)

Smartphones, smart TVs, and now… smart diapers? – Researchers at the University of Tokyo make a super-thin sensor that can go inside diapers to alert caretakers when it’s time for a change.

10 industries 3D printing will disrupt or decimate – As it evolves, 3D printing technology is destined to transform almost every major industry and change the way we live, work, and play in the future.

Something to think about:

I think the world is run by ‘C’ students.”

-      Al McGuire

Today’s Free Downloads:

Chrome Password Decrypter – Chrome Password Decryptor is the FREE tool to instantly recover all stored passwords from Google Chrome browser. It will automatically detect the default Chrome profile path for the current user and displays all the stored login passwords in clear text after decrypting them. It also shows all the blacklisted website entries for which user has prompted Chrome to not to remember the passwords.

Chrome Remote Desktop – Chrome Remote Desktop allows users to remotely access another computer through Google Chrome or a Chromebook. Computers can be made available on an short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files. All connections are fully secured.

Microsoft Garage Mouse Without Borders – Mouse without Borders is a product that makes you the captain of your computer fleet by allowing you to control up to four computers from a single mouse and keyboard. This means that with Mouse without Borders you can copy text or drag and drop files across computers. Mouse Without Borders was designed for people who use many computers in the same room. For example, a laptop or tablet that you take to meetings might sit right alongside the desktop PC in your office.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Rand Paul launches class-action lawsuit to end NSA phone spying – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has filed a lawsuit against President Obama and three top national security officials, seeking an end to what the suit describes as the US government’s “mass, suspicionless, non-particularized” collection of data on US residents’ phone calls. “The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants,” Paul said in a statement – a reference to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which explicitly forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures.” In addition to President Obama, the suit names Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Keith Alexander, and FBI director James Comey, Jr. as codefendants.

White House Unveils Cybersecurity Plan For Big Firms, Looks To Silicon Valley Next – The Obama administration unveiled Wednesday a long-awaited plan for bolstering the cybersecurity of critical-infrastructure providers — including big information technology and communications companies — and is gearing up to try to enlist smaller Silicon Valley shops in its battle against hackers. Top officials at the White House presented the so-called Cybersecurity Framework, a 39-page plan for the federal government and critical-infrastructure providers (both private and public) to share more data with each other about cyber threats. It was spurred by an executive order that President Obama signed in February 2013 calling for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and private firms to craft a voluntary framework for thwarting cyber attacks from nefarious hackers and nation states. The new framework “provides, for lack of a better phrase, a common language to discuss cybersecurity,” Lisa Monaco, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said in an afternoon presentation.

What tear gas taught me about Twitter and the NSA: It’s time to rethink our nightmares about surveillance – Snowden didn’t just reveal specifics of what the NSA is doing—he also exposed an alliance of surveillance made up of governments and Internet corporations. This alliance can monitor almost every click, and often does. (In fact, non-clicks are also scrutinized: Facebook tracks status updates that people start and then delete, so as to better understand why they decide not to post.) These clicks are increasingly linked to records of our offline lives. Commercial voter databases boast of knowing the IP, or Internet protocol, address of almost all U.S. voters. They can take data associated with this address and connect it with voting records, finances, purchases, criminal records, salary records, and other information.

Snowden pilfered coworker’s password to access data – Edward Snowden’s breach of NSA data prompted a sweeping internal investigation into how he managed to pull off his mission. According to an agency memo acquired by the folks at NBC News, Snowden managed to access some of the data in part by stealing one of his coworker’s passwords. That coworker has since been stripped of his security clearance and has resigned.

Australian attorney-general ‘embarrassing and borderline hysterical’ on Snowden - Australian Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has refused to back down from remarks where he labelled former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a traitor who has put Australian lives at risk.

6 Comments

Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 13, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    “Email Attack on Vendor Set Up Breach at Target”

    ‘The company’s primary method of detecting malicious software on its internal systems was the free version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.’

    As the author mentions it does not have the real-time protection that the pro model has, and I think it is despicable that a corporation would cheat MBAM like that, and it shows, once again, that no matter what AV you use it cannot save human stupidity as in this phishing attack. However why didn’t MBAM pick up the malware on a routine scan??? I realize that the information, at this point is rather sketchy but I thought MBAM could catch almost everything AFTER THE FACT.

    As I’ve said previously this blog is the FIRST news source I turn to each day, it is THAT important.

    As always Bill I wish you the very best,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      “I think it is despicable that a corporation would cheat MBAM like that” – couldn’t agree more. I suspect that more than a few heads, in this poor excuse for an enterprise, will be struck off. Hopefully.

      Rather than scan with my installed security app (currently Bitdefender Free Edition – a cloud app), I run the free version of MBAM daily on all my machines. I’m pretty comfortable with that.

      I will point out however, I run with a number of additional security apps – CurrPorts and WiFi Guard – both of which keep track of network connections.

      Have a great weekend. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  2. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Re: “I think the world is run by ‘C’ students.”

    Response 1. Flattery will get you nowhere.

    Response 2. Wonder what the C stands for?

    Hope you’re having a great weekend.

    Kind regards,

    John

  3. The free version of MBAM does not detect everything and I don’t think you will find a reference where they claim to. MBAM does not compete with full av suites which is why they often say they are compatible with other antivirus products. MBAM specializes in a smaller list of malware and doing a great job at removing it.

    That said, any company that uses only one av product is just about asking for it. No one product comes close to catching everything. Every time I run multiple av products against an infected computer, the 4th and 5th product always catches stuff the first few missed.