Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 21, 2014

10 great Android business apps;  4 reasons you’ll like Microsoft’s new OneDrive;  The no-freakout guide to Android security;  9 wireless battery chargers;  10 Apps and Sites That Will Save You Money;  Microsoft launches Office Online;  Play Call of Duty: Ghosts for free this weekend;  10 reasons some XP users refuse to upgrade;  Using Software To Change Your Computer DNS Fast (and Safe);  How action games can improve our visual skills;  Amazon’s Funniest Product Reviews;  $19 Billion for an Effing Text App?  Digital condom electrifies your penis.

Get more done with these 10 great Android business apps – Thanks to a lot of business-friendly smartphone apps, it’s becoming quite possible to make your primary computing device a smartphone. You’re not going to want to write a novel, reconcile your 2013 books, or design your next marketing campaign on one, but you can do a lot of other stuff. All you need are the right apps.

10 Apps and Sites That Will Save You Money – Too many online services claiming to save you money just end up costing you precious time without much in return. Here are 10 free websites and apps that will help you keep more dollars in your wallet.

4 reasons you’ll like Microsoft’s new OneDrive – Microsoft’s rebranding of its cloud-storage service SkyDrive to OneDrive is more than just a name change. Here are four new features that make the service even better.

9 wireless battery chargers: No power? No problem! – Tired of having to fumble for the USB port every time your mobile device runs out of power? With these wireless chargers, just put your device down and let it it power up.

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GEEK SQUEAKS – Using Software To Change Your Computer DNS Fast (and Safe) – The DNS is typically transparent to most of us, but it is important to know that you can alter the DNS settings on your computer to serve specific purposes (such as to protect your kids from porn sites). Manually performing these changes is something most people will not do, fearing they may mess up their computers. An automated solution or way to pick and choose a DNS is through software that is engineered to help you make the changes and to understand those changes.

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Delete WhatsApp warns Facebook-hating German privacy chief - WhatsApp users should ditch the instant messaging service else face privacy issues and potentially seeing new owner Facebook monetize them in intrusive ways, Germany’s data protection commissioner has warned, with the country renewing its anti-Facebook stance amid the $19bn acquisition. Both Facebook and WhatsApp “refuse to comply with European and German data protection regulations” Thilo Weichert, of Germany’s data privacy watchdog ULD, said of the deal. “Even the NSA access to communications data is facilitated by the purchase.” (Hate??  Maybe – just maybe – it’s Facebook’s manipulative behaviour, and total disregard for user privacy that he hates.  Maybe?)

The no-freakout guide to Android security – The second goal, which works well with the first, is to assure you that I have nothing to sell. The ideal malware panic message touted by the major media is invariably followed by cautious words of advice from some lab coat-wearing nerd who just happens to work for such-and-such major anti-malware software developer. Oh, and by the way, they have a solution ready for their happy, safe subscribers.

Improve the look of your slideshows – I’m going to recommend two programs, both of them free and popular. There’s a good chance you’re already using one. They’re both primarily photo organizers, but they also play slideshows. Where best to start a slideshow than in a photo organizer, where you can easily pull up all of your child’s photos from the previous year?

YouTube ushers in new design – On the company’s blogspot today, YouTube announced a couple of changes, most notable among them being a redesign that aims to accommodate screen sizes of all flavors. Users will also see changes to the playlists feature, which makes making and browsing the feature easier.

Online Credit Card Declines Are On the Rise; Consumers Aren’t Happy – When the waiter returns to your table and announces loudly that your credit card has been declined, you want to sink through the floor from embarrassment. Having your card declined at an online merchant doesn’t approach that level of public humiliation, but it’s still not a pleasant experience. According to a report released today, online credit card declines are on the rise, and nobody’s happy about it.

Google makes good on threat, flips ‘kill switch’ on some Chrome add-ons – All extensions on Windows must be installed from the Chrome Web Store; those that were not will be permanently disabled.

Using the Web to Prep for Tax Season – So where to start? Luckily, this year, there are more digital tools than ever to make your e-filing a clean, safe, and paperless option. If you already have your tax software but are scrambling to get your finances in order, check out these digital tools and apps to help you with the tax-prep process.

Microsoft launches Office Online, gives Office.com a new look – Following weeks of rumours, Microsoft has announced the launch of Office Online – the replacement for its productivity-focused Web Apps – along with a new look for Office.com.

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Facebook’s autoplay video ads are ‘imminent’ – The social network’s march to a mobile-first mindset and delivery mechanism has been persistent and widely recognized, but Facebook is rising to the video occasion with a more deliberate rollout.

$19 Billion for an Effing Text App? – Facebook has announced plans to acquire messaging app WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock, plus another $3 billion in stock that goes directly to WhatsApp employees. In what universe does it make sense for Facebook to pay $19 billion for a glorified text messaging app? That’s 19 times what it spent on Instagram, and analysts thought that was already a steep sale price. Put simply, WhatsApp is as big in messaging as Facebook is in social networking.

What Is WhatsApp? An Explainer – When you heard that Facebook shelled out $16B+ for WhatsApp yesterday, did you ask, “What’s WhatsApp”? You weren’t the only one. While the app has proved its value, at least to the market, it isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in Europe, Latin America, and India.

Hell no, we won’t go: 10 reasons some XP users refuse to upgrade – Windows XP support may be ending soon, but there are a whole lot of folks who refuse to abandon the soon-to-be sunk ship. These are their stories.

Red state, blue state? On Twitter, never the twain shall meet – A new report from Pew suggests that communities on Twitter gather in very different ways around different things, from politics to brands, news to entertainment.

Security:

Adobe releases emergency Flash update amid new zero-day drive-by attacks – The vulnerability, which affects the latest versions of Flash, was being exploited in drive-by attacks on the websites of at least three nonprofit organizations, according to a blog post published Thursday by researchers from security firm FireEye.

First-rate phishing email claims “Your Paypal transaction was declined” – Extremely well-made fake notifications claiming the recipients’ PayPal transaction was declined are doing rounds and trying to trick users sharing personal and financial information. The email – well formatted and sporting the PayPal logo – explains that “unusual activity” from a “suspicious location” has been spotted in the recipients’ account, making them believe that “someone is using your PayPal account without your knowledge.”

Lookout study: hackers target mobile attacks by region – Lookout collected data from more than 50 million users between January and December of 2013. It analyzed the information and broke it down by region and type of attack to get a picture of mobile attack trends. The results are weighted to normalize the differences between life cycles of users in different regions. What stood out is that attackers adapt attack behavior to target regions where the attack is more likely to maximize profit while minimizing potential detection.

Cyberattacks fallout could cost the global economy $3 trillion by 2020 – The global economy has yet to mount an adequate defense against the rise of cyberattacks, according to new research. The impact could be $3 trillion in lost productivity and growth.

Cisco patches IPS, Firewall Services, SIP phone, UCS – A total of six vulnerabilities in Cisco hardware and software products have been disclosed and patched by the company.

Company News:

HP Posts Modest FQ1 Beat With Revenue Of $28.2B, Adjusted EPS Of $0.90 – Today after the close, HP reported a slight beat in its fiscal first quarter, including net revenue of $28.2 billion, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.90. Investors had expected $27.19 billion in revenue, and $0.84 in per-share profit, excluding items.

Microsoft wants UK government to support both Open XML, ODF for documents – Microsoft is urging the U.K. government to support both the Open XML and ODF formats for official documents, rather than just ODF, which Microsoft says will exclude recent versions of Office.

Aereo loses copyright fight, gets banned in 6 states – It’s been clear for some time now: Aereo’s fate will ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court. Arguments are scheduled for this April. Notwithstanding the forthcoming argument at the high court, US District Judge Dale Kimball of Utah has gone ahead and issued a preliminary injunction (PDF), which will ban the Aereo service in Utah as well as the rest of the 10th Circuit, which includes Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

King’s Forthcoming IPO Shows That Mobile Gaming Is Staggeringly Large, But Mature – The $1.8 billion in annual revenue that the Candy Crush Saga-maker earned last year was about $600 million or $700 million more than the whisper numbers I had been hearing at the end of 2013. It signals just how large free-to-play mobile gaming has become compared to older parts of the gaming industry, which deliver titles as finalized, packaged goods at $60 a pop.

WhatsApp passed on Google’s $10 billion offer before Facebook deal – A new report based on information from industry sources has claimed that Google had offered $10 billion for WhatsApp before it turned towards Facebook for a deal valued at around $19 billion.

Facebook WhatsApp buy triggers unexpected BlackBerry boost – Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp has perhaps surprisingly given ailing BlackBerry a boost, as the Canadian company’s share price jumped amid speculation that messaging service BBM could be worth more than previously believed. The Canadian firm’s share price is up more than 5-percent today – and was up more than 9-percent in after-hours trading yesterday – as investors question whether BBM might be the undervalued star of BlackBerry’s portfolio of services.

Games and Entertainment:

Play Call of Duty: Ghosts for free this weekend – You like free? You like Call of Duty? Well you are in luck, person who likes both of those popular things. This weekend only, you can play Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer and admire its incredible fish AI for free through Steam. You can also purchase the full game for $30, or 50 percent off its normal $60 list price.

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Microsoft Reveals Xbox One Media Remote – Meet the Xbox One Media Remote, which will be available in early March for $24.99. Unveiled Thursday, the handy device lets you control video playback for Blu-ray movies and streaming video on the Xbox One. There’s also a OneGuide button, which provides one-touch access to your favorite TV shows and movies through the Xbox program guide, Microsoft said.

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How action games can improve our visual skills – At this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the University of Rochester’s Daphne Bavelier described her work on how video games affect the visual system. Bavelier’s work focuses on action games and goes back over a decade. In that span, she has generated lots of evidence that the games are capable of improving the visual system by enhancing the functions of the brain regions that process sight.

Call of Duty: Ghosts: Customization Packs get ducky – Today Call of Duty: Ghosts will be updated with a collection of “customization packs” that allow the user to see their gear covered with oddities. Supposing you enjoyed the holiday-themed layout for your deadly firearm in Call of Duty: Ghosts at the end of last year, the folks responsible for keeping the game fresh have just what the doctor ordered. Several new packs released this week include Ducky, Inferno, Circuit, and no less than Space Cats.

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Microsoft begins selecting users to beta test next Xbox One update – Microsoft will allow “select Xbox Live members” to beta test the next update for its Xbox One console, with users receiving invitations to the program beginning today. The beta starts next week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Amazon’s Funniest Product Reviews – There exists on the Internet another world. Not the Dark Web, currently getting its day in the sun thanks to season two of House of Cards, but the hidden world of comedy, where average Web users team up to ridicule products sold online. There is no greater place to find these hidden gems than the product reviews on Amazon.com, the Internet super-store that sells everything from potted meat to peat moss.

The $6950 Android coffee table with Core i7, 16GB RAM – Plans are in the works to launch a coffee table – with 1080p display, 3.7GHz Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and 500GB of storage – later this year, running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and costing upwards of $6950.

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Woman jailed after recording traffic stop on phone sues – A woman is stopped for a routine traffic offense. She decides to use her cell phone to record the conversation with the police officer and is immediately told she is committing a felony by doing so. She is now suing.

Electric Eel digital condom electrifies your penis, but in a good way – Created by Andrew Quitmeyer, the Electric Eel is an open source digital condom that performs the action of its namesake ocean dweller and delivers mild electric stimulation to the wearer’s penis. The final product promises to be less terrifying than the above image of a condom hooked up to a battery. The current prototype is built with a conductive fabric and Lilypad microcontroller. It sends a small shock through the bottom of the condom in order to provide stimulation to the underside of the penis. (I’m shocked! Surprised smile )

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Armatix iP1 smart gun only fires if user is wearing a special watch – Firearm safety is a big deal for every one around the country. People have to keep guns out of the reach of children and keep unauthorized users from getting their hands on weapons. A new handgun has turned up in California that is one of the first smart guns.

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Google’s Project Tango smartphone can map a room from your pocket – Project Tango comes in the form of a prototype Android smartphone that has the capability to learn the layout and dimensions of a space just by moving around within it. It functions by utilizing a depth sensor and motion-tracking camera to discern a given layout and build a 3D map.

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Steve Jobs slated to grace US postage stamp in 2015 – List of approved subjects obtained by The Washington Post reflects a shift toward more popular individuals as a new revenue source for the cash-strapped service.

Something to think about:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness only power, pure power… The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

-       George Orwell, 1984

Today’s Free Downloads:

TSR Watermark Image – TSR Watermark Image software, is a free program for personal use that can add digital watermarks to all your images, photos and pictures with the transparency you decide. The program can also resize the images before the digital watermark is added. When creating the watermark, you can use either text or another picture as the source of the watermark. If you want to add the watermark to the background, you can set the logo or the text to be more or less transparent, and define the transparency color on the image or select the first pixel in the upper left corner as transparency color. The version available for download is the full version, no missing features, no nag screen, no popup and no commercials!.

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Windows Live Mesh - Using the Windows Live Mesh application and the Devices website, you can finally stop emailing files to yourself, carrying them around on a USB drive, or worrying whether the version you have with you is the latest. Keep up-to-date copies of documents, photos, and other files on all of your computers, whether PC or Mac. Even if your computer is offline, you can still view and work on the files you need. Editor’s Note: This download will offer to install any of the Windows Live tools including Mail, Photo Gallery, Messenger, Family Safety, Live Writer, Movie Maker and Live Mesh.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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Attorney Client Privilege and the NSA – The New York Times recently reported that the NSA, through intermediaries in Australia, was actively engaged in collecting communications between the Government of Indonesia and their U.S. law firm hired in connection with a trade dispute. The case, and its logical consequences, raises the questions of whether or not there is anything left of the time-honored and venerated privilege of communications between lawyers and their clients. If the U.S. government has its way, the answer will be, “probably not.” The attorney client privilege, and a related doctrine called attorney work product protection, protects both communications between attorneys (and their agents) and clients or prospective clients, which are intended to provide legal advice or representation. A creature of the common law (although codified in some jurisdictions) the privilege exists because it is in the interest of the government and society that people feel free to seek out such advice and representation. The privilege is (for the most part) inviolate. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Federal License Plate Reader Database sought by Homeland Security – This week a job listing posted by the Department of Homeland Security has suggested that they’re aiming for a Federal License Plate Reader Database in the near future. This database would hold instant connections to the people behind the wheel at any given time. License plate readers are not a new idea – a massive database containing every license plate ever made certainly would be a new concept.

Writing The Snowden Files: ‘The paragraph began to self-delete’ – Was it the NSA? GCHQ? A Russian hacker? Who was secretly reading his book on Snowden while he wrote it, wonders Luke Harding. I was writing a chapter on the NSA’s close, and largely hidden, relationship with Silicon Valley. I wrote that Snowden’s revelations had damaged US tech companies and their bottom line. Something odd happened. The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish. When I tried to close my OpenOffice file the keyboard began flashing and bleeping. Over the next few weeks these incidents of remote deletion happened several times. There was no fixed pattern but it tended to occur when I wrote disparagingly of the NSA. All authors expect criticism. But criticism before publication by an anonymous, divine third party is something novel. I began to leave notes for my secret reader. I tried to be polite, but irritation crept in. Once I wrote: “Good morning. I don’t mind you reading my manuscript – you’re doing so already – but I’d be grateful if you don’t delete it. Thank you.” There was no reply. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Is Venezuela blocking the Internet amid violence? – Widespread student-led protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s administration erupted last week. While the government is working to maintain its control of the country, the protesters are calling for Maduro’s resignation due to high crime, political repression, and inflation, according to Reuters. On Thursday there were local reports of Internet blackouts in the western state of Tachira and a complete shutdown of the Internet provider in the state capital San Cristobal, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. These blackouts come on the heels of the government removing television stations from cable networks and working to get opposition leaders and protesters censored on Twitter, according to Bloomberg. Last week, Twitter confirmed the Venezuelan government was able to block certain users’ online images.

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