Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 7, 2014

Smarten Up! Everyone Needs to Think About Android Security;  The Web can make you lose your religion;  The #1 paid app in the Google Playstore “Virus Shield” is a complete scam;  Netflix vs. Hulu Plus;  The 6 Types of Apps That Are Making You a Worse Person;  Welcome to the Era of Politically Correct Web Browsing;   Sitedrop Turns A Dropbox Folder Into A Visual Workspace;  Google may be launching their own wireless cell phone service;  18 million email addresses and passwords stolen in Germany;  Patent Office blocks Google’s trademark of ‘Glass’;  If President Obama wanted the NSA to quit storing phone metadata, he’d act now.

Smarten Up! Everyone Needs to Think About Android Security – When writing about Android security, I tend to see a lot of the same issue over and over again (SSL, guys! Come on!). We asked Widdit CEO Noam Fine and head of mobile development Nir Orpaz to explain why Android developers make the security choices they do and what needs to be done better after dealing with a security crisis of their own.

Welcome to the Era of Politically Correct Web Browsing – Welcome to the brave new world of socially conscious… web-browsing. In the past, consumers might patronize certain businesses (Whole Foods, say, or Ben & Jerry’s) whose stated missions extended beyond increasing shareholder value and avoided others that might have politically objectionable CEOs or reputations for being anti-abortion (Domino’s Pizza, say) or public positions opposed to certain forms of birth control (Hobby Lobby, for instance). Now we’re boycotting free products such as Firefox and demanding companies dance to the tune called by customers. I think that’s a good thing overall — but it may end up being just as difficult for consumers to live with as it will be for corporations.

XPocalypse Now: Security experts size up the cyberthreats – There are no more lifelines. In a few days, Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows XP support for consumers. With no more updates or security patches available (other than some bare-bones malware support), it’s forecast to be open season on the legacy operating system. But just how bad will the “Windows XPocalypse” be? We spoke to several security experts to find out.

5 key things Windows XP users need to know before buying a new PC – XP has just days of official support left. If you’re thinking about buying a new PC, here are a few tips to help you navigate the aisles of your local electronics retailer.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

iPad at Work: The essential guide for business users 2014 – Apple’s iPad is an impressive piece of technology. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of it as a business tool.

Hands on with the Tablo DVR – Another box to tempt cord-cutters! This one records over-the-air TV and sends it to your tablet or computer—no actual television set required.

wps_clip_image-8500

Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs? – For many people, streaming video services have started filling the gap between sitting in front of the TV when your favorite show comes on and getting a DVR. These supplemental services have become a critical part of our entertainment experience, even going as far as allowing some people to cancel their cable subscriptions altogether, but which is the best all around video streaming service?

Linux Mint programs for Windows XP users – The biggest challenge for Windows XP users switching to Linux Mint is having to change the programs you’ve known and used for years. Fortunately, some programs are available on both Linux and Windows. In addition, there are Linux programs that duplicate the functionality of your favorite Windows programs. For today, I’m going to focus on native Linux and Web-based programs that you can use to duplicate your Windows XP software functionality.

wps_clip_image-3630

Sitedrop Turns A Dropbox Folder Into A Visual Workspace Where You Can Collaborate With Others – Getting everyone to use the same project management software is a challenge, but everyone seems to have a Dropbox account. Hoping to build on top of the consumer-friendly service’s popularity, a new startup called Sitedrop allows you quickly turn any Dropbox folder into a website where you can visually showcase your work and collaborate with others. Sitedrop users are able to view, comment, favorite and even upload files to the online workspace just by dragging a file or link to a Dropbox folder.

Report: More ads are coming to Twitter–a lot more – According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the company is expected to roll out 15 new kinds of ads over the next six months or so. According to the Journal, the new ad initiative will start modestly enough, with a new type of ad that encourages Twitter users to download apps to their smartphones: Clicking the download link will take you to that app’s listing on the App Store.

Here’s a 5-Minute Amazon Fire TV Walkthrough – Hot on the heels of Amazon’s Fire TV announcement on Wednesday, here’s a look at the setup, interface and features now that the streaming TV box is out in the wild.

wps_clip_image-24126

Cortana blows away Siri and Google Now, may bring me back to Windows Phone – I didn’t think too much of the earlier Cortana leaks, but after seeing it perform in person and diving into all that it can do I think this smart personal assistant may even bring people to Windows Phone from iOS and Android.

wps_clip_image-5823

The 6 Types of Apps That Are Making You a Worse Person – Apps can make you healthier (train for a 5k! watch your insulin intake!), more responsible (swipe through your taxes!), and live a more efficient life (find the perfect movie/takeout/girlfriend!), but they can also egg on your more nefarious side. And in the recent months, there’s been a pronounced uptick in apps that drive antisocial, anonymously catty, all around bad behavior–because at the end of the day, there’s a little bit of each and every one of us that’s kind of awful.

8 Ways to Get Your Posts Seen More on Facebook – A recent study estimated that brand posts on Facebook are typically seen by about 6 percent of a page’s fans, and that figure is expected to fall further this year. The decline has created a growing tension between brands, which have used social media for free marketing for a decade, and Facebook, which is trying to boost its thriving advertising business and manage a deluge of content from individual users and Pages. Despite the angry reaction, Facebook will continue to nudge brands toward paying to reach more of their fans. But there are some strategies page owners can implement to make their free posts more effective. Here’s a guide to making your Facebook Page work for you in the pay-to-play era.

Security:

The #1 paid app in the Google Playstore “Virus Shield” is a complete scam – The $3.99 app “Virus Shield” by Deviant Solutions doesn’t protect the user’s privacy, scan for malware, speed up the user’s phone or block ads. However it has 10,000 downloads and a 4.7 star rating.

18 million email addresses and passwords stolen in Germany – The stolen identities were discovered in the context of an investigation into a botnet which is being used to send spam emails from stolen email addresses, according to the BSI. “The botnet is still in operation,” according to a statement issued on Monday by the BSI, and “the stolen identities are being actively exploited.” Of the 18 million email users affected, three million are based in Germany. The BSI has been working in collaboration with email service providers in the country — including Deutsche Telekom, GMX, and Vodafone — to notify those who may be affected.

Microsoft will block adware without easy uninstall – Microsoft has toughened its criteria for classifying programs as adware and gave developers three months to conform with the new principles or risk having their programs blocked by the company’s security products. The most important change in Microsoft’s policy is that adware programs will be blocked by default starting July 1. In the past such programs were allowed to run until users chose one of the recommended actions offered by the company’s security software.

Samsung Adding Anti-theft Solutions to Smartphones – The world’s largest mobile-phone maker said users will be able to activate for free its “Find My Mobile” and “Reactivation Lock” anti-theft features to protect the soon-to-be-released Galaxy 5 S

Company News:

Google Pays Another Tiny Fine In Europe — $1.4M — For Street View Privacy Concerns – Google has paid a €1 million ($1.4 million) fine in Italy levied by the country’s data protection watchdog for complaints relating to its Street View street-level image capturing cars that date back to 2010. Google has also previously been fined in Europe on privacy grounds relating to its early 2012 decision to unify the privacy policies of more than 70 different products. Google was fined around $200,000 in France in January for privacy infringements relating to that decision. Spain also levied a $1.3 million fine back in December for the same issue. Even cumulatively such amounts pale into insignificance for a company of Google’s size — underlining the regulatory difficulties of reigning in any overreaching behaviour by the U.S. tech giant.

Yahoo reportedly eyes push into original video programming – Internet company plans to acquire high-end original programming, joining the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Mozilla denies pushing CEO to resign – In response to the outcry over his resignation, Mozilla has published an extensive FAQ on the resignation of its controversial short-term CEO Brendan Eich.

Google may be launching their own wireless cell phone service – Google may be venturing further into everyday life by launching their very own wireless cell phone service to compete with companies such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Games and Entertainment:

8 Game of Thrones Parodies That Will Forever Ruin the Show for You – The Game of Thrones credits sequence is, hands down, the best opener in television history. The sprawling clockwork map animation perfectly encapsulates George R. R. Martin’s vast fantasy universe. And it’s all accompanied by an epic orchestral score that makes you just want to head out into the forest in search of a small village to conquer. Rarr!!! We scoured the YouTube-iverse in search of the most inventive reinventions, mash-ups, and smash-ups of the Game of Thrones opener. While some are funny and some are just bizarre, we can promise that you will never be able to watch GoT the same ever again! Enjoy! And also, sorry!

5 million gamers signed up to play The Elder Scrolls Online beta – Bethesda has released an infographic demonstrating just how much interest The Elder Scrolls Online has generated, with the main takeaway being how many gamers signed up to play before launch. In total, over 5 million people registered to take part in the beta. That’s a figure most developers would kill to count as a sales total for their game, MMO or not.

wps_clip_image-27162

DirectX 12: A game changer for Xbox One – Microsoft demonstrates DirectX 12 doubling the framerate of games at Build 2014 which will help push the Xbox One deeper into next generation gaming and will enhance the user experience. With relatively little effort by developers, upcoming Xbox One games, PC Games and Windows Phone games will see a doubling in graphics performance. Suddenly, that Xbox One game that struggled at 720p will be able to reach fantastic performance at 1080p. For developers, this is a game changer.

Space Sim FTL Begins its Perilous Mission on iPad – FTL is one of the most addictive space faring simulation games you can play right now, and it has just crossed over from PC to iPad. In FTL you are the captain of a ship with an important mission. You must reach Galactic Federation HQ, but there are hostile aliens, vicious rebels, and dangerous star systems in your path.

wps_clip_image-21666

Microsoft adds a gaming bundle for the Surface Pro 2 – Having thoroughly pushed the productivity angle for the Surface Pro 2, Microsoft is now turning to gamers with a new bundle. The Surface Pro 2 Geek and Sundry bundle includes an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows, a downloadable copy of Farming Simulator 2013, and downloadable content for the free-to-play game War Thunder. The bundle costs the same as the Surface Pro 2 by itself, starting at $899 for the 64GB model. Microsoft says this is a limited-time offer, good through May 1 or while supplies last.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Anti-Tech Protesters Are Telling Kevin Rose’s Neighbors That He’s A “Parasite” – Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose says that his San Francisco home was visited by protesters today, who held up a banner calling him a “parasite” and distributed leaflets with the same message. What did he do to deserve this? Well, he invested in startups. Rose posted a photo on Instagram of what he said was a flyer distributed to his neighbors. It says, in part:

wps_clip_image-5553

The Web can make you lose your religion, study says – Research published in the MIT Technology Review offers that there seems a direct link between increased use of the Internet and a decline in religious dedication.

Patent Office blocks Google’s trademark of ‘Glass’ – The Trademark Office has two big concerns. The first problem is that simply being titled Glass might have the trademark confused with every other pending tech trademark that also uses the term. The second issue is that, even if Google’s Glass were the only product that employs the word, it’s still “merely descriptive,” and words that only describe a product don’t receive trademark protection. It needs to show some type of “distinctiveness.” As the Wall Street Journal points out, a salsa company couldn’t trademark the term “spicy sauce” for that reason.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ makes it easy for anyone to fly a drone – Lately, we’ve seen drones move from potentially militaristic purposes to potentially crazy uses, like making deliveries for Amazon or even snooping WiFi hotspot connections. DJI’s new Phantom 2 Vision+ has a less nefarious purpose of making impossible shots possible and even makes it easy for less experienced quadcopter pilots to do so.

wps_clip_image-1346

NYC Firefighters, Police in Vicious Brawl During Charity Hockey Match – What began as a charity hockey match between New York City police officers and firefighters later erupted into bedlam as the benches cleared and punches were exchanged on the ice in Long Island on Sunday. (A hockey MATCH? Is that sorta like a baseball MATCH?)

wps_clip_image-16450

Expect an irate call if you try to hack your Tesla Model S – Once upon a time it was a rite of passage for car lovers to get under the hood and tinker with the mechanics; in the modern world of EVs, that’s been upgraded to hacking access to the computer systems, as one Tesla Model S owner discovered. Some investigation of a mysterious port turned out to be a hidden ethernet link into the Model S’ internal communications system, as well as a shortcut to getting an irate call from Tesla itself warning owners not to fiddle lest they be accused of “industrial espionage”.

Something to think about:

“Wrong should not win by technicalities”

-     Aeschylus

Today’s Free Downloads:

Classic Shell – Classic Shell is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it. The main features are – Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins. Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs. Find programs, settings, files and documents. Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer. Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer.

wps_clip_image-19551

WOT for Chrome – Web of Trust (WOT) is a website reputation and review service that helps people make informed decisions about whether to trust a website or not. Also available for Internet Explorer and Firefox. WOT displays a colored traffic light next to website links to show you which sites people trust for safe searching, surfing and shopping online: green for good, red for bad, and yellow as a warning to be cautious. The icons are shown in popular search engine results, social media, online email, shortened URL’s, and lots of other sites. WOT shows you which websites you can trust based on millions of users’ experiences around the world to help you stay safe when you search, surf, and shop online.

wps_clip_image-8503

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

ACLU launches user-friendly database of every Snowden doc: Search all now-public NSA surveillance docs at your leisure – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a searchable online database that contains all of the documents obtained by Edward Snowden and made public since last June. “These documents stand as primary source evidence of our government’s interpretation of its authority to engage in sweeping surveillance activities at home and abroad, and how it carries out that surveillance,” Emily Weinrebe of the ACLU’s National Security project wrote on Thursday. “The ACLU hopes to facilitate this debate by making these documents more easily accessible and understandable,” Weinrebe wrote. “Toward that end, today we are launching the NSA Documents Database.” The database is searchable by document title, category, or full-text content, allowing anyone with online access to delve through all the documents and find information on whatever previously secret government info-slurping they’re interested in.

The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket – This week, the Associated Press exposed a secret program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development to create “a Twitter-like Cuban communications network” run through “secret shell companies” in order to create the false appearance of being a privately owned operation. Unbeknownst to the service’s Cuban users was the fact that “American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes”–specifically, to manipulate those users in order to foment dissent in Cuba and subvert its government. According to top-secret documents published today by The Intercept, this sort of operation is frequently discussed at western intelligence agencies, which have plotted ways to covertly use social media for ”propaganda,” “deception,” “mass messaging,” and “pushing stories.” These ideas–discussions of how to exploit the internet, specifically social media, to surreptitiously disseminate viewpoints friendly to western interests and spread false or damaging information about targets–appear repeatedly throughout the archive of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Documents prepared by NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ–and previously published by The Intercept as well as some by NBC News–detailed several of those programs, including a unit devoted in part to “discrediting” the agency’s enemies with false information spread online.

If President Obama wanted the NSA to quit storing phone metadata, he’d act now – President Barack Obama says he wants Congress to adopt legislation that would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata, a surveillance initiative exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. As it currently operates, the NSA’s collection program gathers and stores the metadata of every call made to and from the United States. President Obama’s plan, proposed by a presidential panel he commissioned, would prevent the government from tapping into the trillions of records for political or other purposes. Under the plan, the NSA would be required to get authorization from a secret court before demanding that telecoms hand over calling metadata of specified terror targets and their associated contacts. “I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk,” Obama said. “Instead, the data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today.” Rights groups are applauding the move. But they say it’s virtually a meaningless gesture in its current form.

Snowden leaks erode trust in Internet companies, government – Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data collection practices have eroded the public’s trust in major technology companies — and in the Internet, a Harris Interactive survey found. Harris polled over 2,000 U.S. adults for their opinions on surveillance, data gathering, Internet privacy and trust in a post-Snowden era. About 85% of those polled were at least somewhat familiar with Snowden’s leaks about government surveillance and some 80% wanted Congress to implement new laws for curbing the NSA. Despite that, over half believed that mass surveillance helps prevent terrorism and an almost equal number felt that Internet companies should cooperate with the government’s efforts in this regard. Somewhat paradoxically though, two out of three survey respondents also felt betrayed because ISPs and other online companies are working secretly with the government to collect and monitor the communications of private citizens. About 60% are less trusting of ISPs and other technology companies than before the revelations.

4 Comments

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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 7, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: Politically Correct Web Browsing

    I think this whole episode regarding Mozilla is a load of shit, frankly. So the guy is against gay marriage – so what. Isn’t he allowed to have his own personal view. Does this view stop him from performing his functions as head of Mozilla?. Of course not. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether for or against gay marriage, or whatever the topic may be at the time.

    Equality works both ways. I think this guy has been hard done by.

    Just my view.

    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      Agreed.

      I don’t want to write an essay on this – although, it probably deserves one. :)

      All my adult life I’ve been a supporter of gay rights – a simple extension of my strong support for human rights and human dignity. Through those years, I’ve witnessed the vileness, the physical and emotional cruelty, the twisted legal rationale and application of onerous laws…………………, the straight world has thrown in the way of same sex relationships.

      When I see the web come alive with comments that are supportive of a movement which employs the same type of bullshit manipulative techniques once used against the gay community, the stink of hypocrisy becomes overpowering.

      “Equality works both ways. I think this guy has been hard done by.” – says it all.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Classic Shell
    The missing item in Windows 8 that could have made this version a success instead of a failure.
    I’m glad that I discovered Classic Shell very early in the beta testing stages of Windows 8 and because if that, didn’t get discouraged I found out all of the good things in Windows 8 which is now Windows 8.1 and for some of us, an unnamed update to Windows 8.1 has already been made available.
    This update still hasn’t given us a true start menu. It’s promised for a future update.
    That update will be available to everyone using windows 8.1 tomorrow for patch Tuesday.