Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 1, 2014

NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize;  Facebook Is Giving ‘Privacy Checkups’ to Certain Users;  10 Tips and Tricks for Finding the Best Groupon Deals;  Rebunking Google’s Glass “myth” debunking;  Prevent Twitter Users Tagging You In Photos;  Major League Baseball’s “At Bat” App Gets Updated;  Leak: Android 4.4.3 bug fixes on their way;  How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC;  Untraceable $20 device can allow hacker to control a car;  Cover-Based Robot Shooter EPOCH 2 Hits Android;  50 Best Websites: 5 You May Not Know;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies;  Solar flare Wednesday could mean ‘radio blackout’ for GPS, communications;  Digital tattoo deals drugs for next-gen earables;  Yahoo reportedly launching YouTube rival.

Share Too Much? Facebook Is Giving ‘Privacy Checkups’ to Certain Users – Facebook, in an effort to educate about the different privacy options available on the social network, has begun rolling out a ‘Privacy Checkup’ initiative to select users of the site. According to those familiar with the new feature, you’ll only get a Privacy Checkup if your account is set to post publicly – that is, if your settings have you sharing beyond your immediate group of Facebook friends.

Rebunking Google’s Glass “myth” debunking – Google’s published a listicle about what it says are the Top 10 Glass Myths. Here’s Naked Security’s security- and privacy-centric view of some of those “myths.”

Google’s April Fools’ prank puts Pokemon in the real world – The search giant’s latest addition to its Maps smartphone app includes 150 “catchable” Pokemon, part of a hoax we can only hope foreshadows augmented reality uses down the line.

10 Tips and Tricks for Finding the Best Groupon Deals – For investors, Groupon is still a work in progress, but for consumers, today’s Groupon is a constantly updated, full-service shopping destination that just happens to have every single thing on sale – in other words, the 2014 version of a (digital) shopping outlet. But how can you make the best of what Groupon has to offer? To sort through the madness, consider the following 10 tips.

With FaceСrypt iPhone app, your face unlocks Web sites – The latest version of FaceCrypt’s iPhone app adds its own browser so you can more easily access password-protected Web sites with facial recognition.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Prevent Twitter Users Tagging You In Photos – Twitter recently introduced several new features designed “to make photos on Twitter more social”, including the ability to ‘tag’ people in photos. This means your name can be ‘tagged’ (or associated) with any photo, regardless of whether you actually appear in it or not. I can only imagine how spammers’ eyes must have lit up when they heard this news, and in typical social media fashion, Twitter decided to turn this feature on by default.

Geek Squeaks – Featuring An Antivirus With Practically No Impact On Your PC’s Performance – When it comes to the frontline protection of my PC at home (on the cheap), I personally depend on the FREE edition of Bitdefender. What I especially like about Bitdefender is its’ reputation for providing ironclad security without slowing down your computer and that it is virtually maintenance free (built in autoscan that focuses virus detection efforts on risky areas).

Gather similar files from multiple folders and copy them in one simple step – You have photos, or documents, or any kind of file with the same extension, scattered hither and yon on your hard drive. Wouldn’t it be great to get them all together in one place? Here are two ways to grab all of them easily.

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Google kicks all porn out of the Play Store, even the soft stuff – The Play Store has always had fairly clear rules about porn, despite the comical videos to the contrary back when Apple dropped the hammer on sexually explicit content in the early days of iOS. The biggest different between Apple and Google’s rules up until recently had been what was considered “erotic” content. Animated wallpapers with jiggling body parts and apps that are essentially web scrapes of nude or very nearly nude models and actresses. Starting very soon, all of that content is going to be forcibly removed from the Google Play Store.

Major League Baseball’s “At Bat” App Gets Updated To Support Expanded Instant Replay – It’s opening day for the first Major League Baseball season to feature “expanded instant replay,” a system that allows reviews of umpires’ calls through video footage. As for the At Bat app, it’s available for iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle Fire, BlackBerry 10, and Windows Phone 8. It offers a variety of video content, including the MLB.TV Game of the Day and an archive of classic games, for $2.99 a month (it’s free for MLB.TV Premium subscribers). With the update, the app will also feature instant replay footage — the same footage that was used by umpires at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York to make their decisions. (You can see the “review” label for the footage in the iPhone screenshot below.)

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9 stylish wearables that won’t make you look like a high-tech dork – Most wearable tech looks like it was designed for Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. We’re talking smartwatches, smartglasses and activity trackers that only an inveterate nerd could love. I haven’t personally tested all the following wearables, but I think they represent the best-looking examples of the wearables explosion. Tastes vary, but I trust there’s not a coitus deal-breaker among them.

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OkCupid asks users to ditch Firefox over Mozilla CEO gay rights controversy – Dating site OkCupid has asked its users to boycott Firefox, calling Mozilla’s chief executive “an opponent of equal rights for gay couples”, as opposition to the CEO’s appointment continues to grow.

Leak: Android 4.4.3 bug fixes on their way – A source close to Android Police most recently said that there could be upward of two dozen fixes in the next OS release. As it stands today, many of these features may not be noticeable to the average user. With that in mind, we could look for fixes for features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, the camera, data usage, and USB debugging.

How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC – Installing Linux Mint on a Windows 8.x PC with Secure Boot on can be a pain, but on an XP system it’s easy. So, if you’re considering switching out XP for Linux Mint, here’s how you’d go about it.

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Report: Smartphone kill-switch could save consumers $2.6 billion per year – Law enforcement officials and politicians are pressuring cellular carriers to make such technology standard on all phones shipped in the U.S. in response to the increasing number of smartphone thefts. They believe the so-called “kill switch” would reduce the number of thefts if stolen phones were routinely locked so they became useless. But carriers have resisted these requests and there are now bills proposed at the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and California State Senate that would mandate such a system.

FCC clears the way for gigabit Wi-Fi – The Federal Communications Commission on Monday voted unanimously to open up an additional 100MHz for Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the 5GHz band of spectrum, and remove indoor-only restrictions on Wi-Fi devices and increase the amount of power they can use in the 5.15 to 5.25 GHz band of spectrum. The restrictions had been in place to protect Globalstar, which provides mobile and fixed satellite services in that area of spectrum.

50 Best Websites: 5 You May Not Know – Shea Hess explores five websites — including omgpop.com, yelp.com, fora.tv., popurls.com and boingboing — on this year’s 50 Best list

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Security:

Untraceable $20 device can allow hacker to control a car ‘from miles away’ – A six-character password securing a Tesla Model S account was called a potential security threat that might allow an attacker to unlock the doors, but a scarier potential threat discussed at Black Hat Asia is a $20 ‘untraceable’ device that could allow an attacker to remotely take control of a car from ‘miles away.’

Google Cracks Down on Sketchy Android Apps – Google hopes an updated Google Play Developer Program Policy will help cut down on deceptive advertising in mobile applications. The new approach imposes on developers more specific rules regarding what content Android apps can display, and makes developers responsible for ensuring their partner affiliates are not employing shady practices. That includes tricking users into downloading apps via pop-up ads that simulate official Android OS notifications.

Google Glass recording without permission could become illegal in Australia – The country’s considering an overhaul of privacy laws that could make it illegal to record private conversations or activities without consent via Google Glass or similar wearable technologies.

Company News:

Oracle overtakes IBM as second-largest software vendor, Gartner says – Oracle has overtaken rival IBM as the world’s second-largest software vendor by pulling in US$29.6 billion in software revenue during 2013, according to analyst firm Gartner. Microsoft retained its first-place ranking, at $65.7 billion in software revenue, while IBM moved down to third place with $29.1 billion. SAP remained in fourth place, at $18.5 billion, Gartner said. Symantec, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, VMware, CA Technologies and Salesforce.com rounded out the top 10 vendors. Others accounted for $234.6 billion of the $407.3 billion total.

Yahoo reportedly launching YouTube rival – Reports are circulating that Yahoo is looking to launch a video site that would go up against Google’s behemoth YouTube. The rumors largely stem from a Re/Code report late last week that cited anonymous sources saying Yahoo is looking to not only launch a YouTube competitor in the next few months but also is trying to pluck some of the video-sharing site’s stars and favorite networks. A Yahoo spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

Amazon’s German workers go on strike again over pay – About half of the workers at Amazon’s distribution center in Leipzig — 500 people — have gone on strike, according to a report.

Workers at Samsung supplier in China win pay hike after strike – More than a thousand workers at the Dongguan-based Shanmukang Technology managed to not only win a better overtime rate on weekdays and weekends, but also double their monthly pay, after a simultaneous strike staged by workers from different depts.

Industrial Toys Raises $5M From Accel To Build Tablet Games For Serious Players – Accel’s Vas Natarajan, who’s joining the Industrial Toys board, said that when there’s “a big platform shift” in gaming, it creates new opportunities to build “big, independent game companies.” In this case, even though the firm has already made big bets on Angry Birds-maker Rovio and Clash of Clans-maker Supercell (among others), Natarajan suggested there’s still room for a tablet-focused developer that’s less focused on casual gamers and more on the “core” gaming audience.

Apple and Samsung begin second patent court fight today in U.S. – In August 2012, a jury in San Jose, California awarded Apple over one billion dollars, agreeing with the company that rival Samsung had violated a number of its patents. Today, the two tech businesses begin a second legal battle in San Jose and once again it’s over patent infringement claims.

Huawei hits record sales despite security fears – 2013 was a good year for Chinese manufacturer Huawei, now third in the mobile phone market despite security concerns.

Games and Entertainment:

Cover-Based Robot Shooter EPOCH 2 Hits Android – After a few months of being an iOS exclusive, EPOCH 2 has arrived in the Play Store for Android devices. This cover-based shooter is the follow-up to 2011′s EPOCH and shares much of its DNA. In a post-apocalyptic future, heavily armed robots are battling to decide the ultimate fate of humanity, and you’re right in the thick of it.

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“Pirate Bay Bundle” shares 101 little-known indie games via BitTorrent – The Pirate Bay Bundle is a free collection of 101 small indie titles that I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard of, let alone played. Curator Moshboy describes the collection as an extension of his Underrated Indie Games series of YouTube videos. “Some were made for game jams, others were made just because, some are made by celebrated game makers, many are made by folks that you won’t know,” Moshboy explains. “Many are usually only available to play in your browser, but I managed to convince these wonderful folks to provide me with offline versions.”

‘Hitman Absolution,’ ‘Deadlight’ will be April’s free Xbox Live Gold games – From April 16-30, Xbox Live Gold subscribers can download Deadlight for free. The game, which normally costs $14.99, comes from developer Tequila Works and publisher Microsoft Studios. First released in August 2012, the game is a side-scrolling action title of a man tries to fight off zombies in a post-apocalypse Seattle.

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20 Video Games to Watch for Spring 2014 – Check out our springtime list of PC, console and handheld video games to keep an eye on.

The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – Movie prices are soaring, and it’s easier than ever to illegally obtain movies, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a robust online-bootleg culture. Some people torrent flicks and others watch illegal streams; both camps contribute to TorrentFreak’s weekly most pirated movies list.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Solar flare Wednesday could mean ‘radio blackout’ for GPS, communications – The sun emitted what NASA is calling a “significant” solar flare on Saturday that could affect communications systems on Earth on Wednesday. The National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center is calling the eruption a radio blackout event. The center reported that the solar flare could affect satellites and cause GPS errors. Electrical power lines could be hit by extra current, and high frequency communications could be blocked when the radiation hits Earth.

When parents limit screen time, kids behave, sleep, and test better – Since the average kid is in front of a screen more than 40 hours a week, researchers say even small limits on screen time can reap multiple health benefits.

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Digital tattoo deals drugs for next-gen wearables – Described in a new research paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, the multifunction wearable device – also billed as “electronic skin” – is made of a tissue-like polymeric substrate layered up with different chunks of slimline functionality. So, there are sensors that can track skin temperature and how the body is moving, and a chunk of resistive RAM storage to keep track of the data that’s collected. The drug layer can be controlled by the patch itself, using heat to release medication that’s absorbed through the skin.

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Can you tell a man’s intelligence simply by looking at him? Yes – So says a Czech study – but the same doesn’t hold true for women – A group of Czech researchers has conducted a study in which they determined that the perceived intelligence of men correlates strongly with their actual intelligence – but the same doesn’t hold true for women. The study was based on still photos of 40 male and 40 female biology students at Charles University in Prague. “The subjects were instructed to adopt a neutral, non-smiling expression,” the paper details, “and avoid facial cosmetics, jewellery, and other decorations. The photos were cropped to place the eyes horizontally at the same height and leave a standard length of neck visible.”

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3D printed UAV can be assembled and flying in under 24 hours – A team of engineers working out of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield has successfully 3D printed a UAV. Not only that, but the whole construction process took less than 24 hours, only required ABS plastic as a base material, and ended up being very cheap to manufacture (although they haven’t specified exactly how much).

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BMW i8 will force fake engine noise and howl at pedestrians – BMW’s i8 supercar may run on electricity but that doesn’t mean the Germany marque has forgotten about aural performance: both inside and out. A new video showing how the i8 performs in Sport Mode – which you can see after the cut – shows that not only is the speed there, with the BMW doing 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, but it makes a pretty distinctive noise while it does it, despite only having a very small gasoline engine.

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Something to think about:

“Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.”

-    Mike Ditka

Today’s Free Downloads:

PrivaZer – When you use your PC (at home or working at your office), go on the Internet, watch a video, download, copy/remove files on your PC, install/uninstall or use software, etc., you always leave sensitive traces which: make your PC slower and cluttered – reduces free space available and – puts you at risk for a bad consequence: what you have done could be easily recovered by analyzing your PC with an expert recovery software or with more advanced techniques. PrivaZer allows you to: See exactly what can still be recovered of your past activities on your PC at home or at work. Clean in-depth unwanted traces of what you’ve done watched, downloaded, deleted, etc. and prevent recovery. Master your security & freedom. Free up disk space. Keep your PC fit and secure!!! (The following screen shot is from my personal system.)

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AVG LinkScanner – AVG LinkScanner is up and running immediately from the moment of installation. All basic settings have been pre-set by the manufacturer, so most of the time you will not have to worry about anything – just let AVG work in the background and protect you without any effort on your part. However, there might be situations where you need to adjust the program settings, or decide what to do with a virus infected file; this help system is here to provide detailed information and assist you with any task. Get AVG LinkScanner and enhance your online protection!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize – Over the last 40 years, the U.S. government has relied on extreme fear-mongering to demonize transparency. In sum, every time an unwanted whistleblower steps forward, we are treated to the same messaging: You’re all going to die because of these leakers and the journalists who publish their disclosures! Lest you think that’s hyperbole, consider this headline from last week based on an interview with outgoing NSA chief Keith Alexander:

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The NSA engages in this fear-mongering not only publicly but also privately. As part of its efforts to persuade news organizations not to publish newsworthy stories from Snowden materials, its representatives constantly say the same thing: If you publish what we’re doing, it will endanger lives, including NSA personnel, by making people angry about what we’re doing in their countries and want to attack us. But whenever it suits the agency to do so–meaning when it wants to propagandize on its own behalf–the NSA casually discloses even its most top secret activities in the very countries where such retaliation is most likely. Anonymous ex-officials boasted to the Washington Post last July in detail about the role the agency plays in helping kill people by drones. The Post dutifully headlined its story: “NSA Growth Fueled by Need to Target Terrorists.”

Report: RSA endowed crypto product with second NSA-influenced code – Security provider RSA endowed its BSAFE cryptography toolkit with a second NSA-influenced random number generator (RNG) that’s so weak it makes it easier for eavesdroppers to decrypt protected communications, Reuters reported Monday. Citing soon-to-be-published research from several universities, Reuters said the Extended Random extension for secure websites allows attackers to work tens of thousands of times faster when breaking cryptography that uses the Dual EC_DRBG algorithm to generate the random numbers that populate a specific cryptographic key. Dual EC_DRBG is a pseudo-random number generator that was developed by cryptographers from the National Security Agency and was the default RNG in BSAFE even after researchers demonstrated weaknesses so severe that many suspected they were introduced intentionally so the US spy agency could exploit them to crack encrypted communications of people it wanted to monitor. In December, Reuters reported that the NSA paid RSA $10 million to give Dual EC_DRBG its favored position in BSAFE.

Transatlantic cables will bypass USA to avoid NSA spying – A jointly funded, €135 million project will enable Brazil and the EU to bypass US-owned transatlantic cables, The New York Times reported, with plans to lay a modern high capacity fibre-optic cable from Lisbon, Portugal to Fortaleza, Brazil. With her typical antipathy towards the US after past NSA email hacks, the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, said during the joint EU – Brazil news statement:

We have to respect privacy, human rights and the sovereignty of nations. We don’t want businesses to be spied upon. The internet is one of the best things man has ever invented. So we agreed for the need to guarantee the neutrality of the network, a democratic area where we can protect freedom of expression.

President of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, also suggested the importance of bypassing the US whilst avoiding any blatant public criticism of NSA activity:

We will continue to enhance data protection and global privacy standards. A new fibre-optic submarine cable, connecting Latin America directly with Europe, would make an important contribution to these efforts.

This reads like an epic effort to sideline the USA from the rest of the Americas.

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6 Comments

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

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 1, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill!
    PrivaZer sounds like Bleach-Bit is that true? And if so is B-B adequate enough for use or is this new one more secure?
    Thanks, as always,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      It does sound like BleachBit – ‘cuz it’s just like it. :)

      Is one better than the other? It’s a coin toss really. The main reason I’m running with PrivaZer currently is, a major conflict I had with an AV I was testing, and BleachBit. The AV wouldn’t allow BleachBit to deal with certain system files and, no matter the exceptions I wrote into the AV, no joy.

      So, being into “easy”, I just switched apps. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Thank you Bill for featuring Geek Squeaks… I am truly amazed with your site and the amount of the information you are putting out there.

    Rick

    • Hey Rick,

      As a fellow user of Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (I agree with your assessment), and since I no longer have the time to write reviews, the best way to introduce readers to this terrific app was to sent them over to a site known for its sound judgement. So hey, thank you. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    I run with BOTH Bleachbit and Privazer (and CCleaner). Can never be too careful.

    Cheers