Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 29, 2014

Internet Explorer Security Flaw: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself;  US arrogance puts further doubt on cloud data sovereignty;  Zero-day Flash bug under active attack in Windows;  Get started using Google Play Music;  Group Video Calling Goes Free On Skype;  Spring cleaning: Turn old movies and video games into cash;  Popcorn Time Is Coming To Android;  How to install Ubuntu and keep Windows;  20 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know;  AOL confirms security breach from spam attack;  Unpickable lock promises to keep your bike extra safe.

Internet Explorer Security Flaw: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself – A security flaw affecting most versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser is making the rounds. If you use IE, you’ll want to follow one or more of these four steps in order to keep yourself safe.

When $324 Million Isn’t Nearly Enough – Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe have agreed to a $324 million settlement in response to a suit brought by employees of the firms who were financially impacted by their agreements to not hire from each other. That action suppressed the wages of their staff. The $324 million figure is paltry and an embarrassment. (Modern day pirates operate in our midst, and we simply shrug. In a nutshell – Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe stole vast sums of money. Yet, no one – no one – has faced the only legitimate sanction – criminal charges. Why not? Please do however, continue to teach your children that honesty is the best policy – sarcasm off)

US arrogance puts further doubt on cloud data sovereignty – Customers of U.S. cloud providers should seriously rethink their service contracts, following a U.S. judge’s obnoxious ruling that local search warrants must include customer data stored overseas.

New ways to manage mobile device security – Mobile devices increase productivity and extend services beyond the office, but also add security concerns, particularly with BYOD. Mobile security management can help.

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Get started using Google Play Music – Google Play Music offers many powerful features to help centralize and manage a music library for free.

Google Plus is turning negative, but don’t bet on it going away – Vic Gundotra’s resignation has cast doubt on the future of Google Plus, the social networking site he launched in 2011. But despite forecasts of doom, the survival of Orkut suggests Google won’t close it down.

Group Video Calling Goes Free On Skype For Mac, Windows And Xbox One – Skype introduced group video calling officially back in 2010, and offers support for up to 10 people, but the feature has been a premium service for paying customers since it exited beta. The group calling feature is now free, however, with Skype announcing general availability for everyone on Windows, Mac and Xbox One today.

Reset your Android phone to the default launcher – Few third-party launchers have an “exit” option. So how do you undo this change?

Spring cleaning: Turn old movies and video games into cash – While DVDs make for fun drink coasters and game cases make for good door stops, there’s a better use for all involved. Take your movies and games and turn them into money. There are a few methods to make this happen, but before I cover them, I need to make sure I point out the obvious: the discs themselves have to be playable. A disc with a ton of scratches that skips or is unplayable is better off as a Frisbee — and retailers aren’t afraid to tell you that.

Key questions when selecting a cloud-based provider – Companies should remember to align potential benefits with business objectives, and be prepared to ask vendors critical questions about the architecture and management of the service being considered.

Popcorn Time Is Coming To Android As Soon As Tomorrow – Popcorn Time’s evolution continues. A popular fork of the original software is launching on Android as soon as tomorrow, one of the developers tells TechCrunch. The software also recently gained TV shows from HBO and others, making it a one-stop-shop for all your pirating needs.

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Microsoft increases OneDrive For Business storage space to 1TB per user – Microsoft has announced it has increased the amoung of storage space for OneDrive For Business from 25GB to 1TB per user, along with offering the same amount of space for Office 365 ProPlus customers.

How to install Ubuntu and keep Windows – Ubuntu offers three ways to launch the operating system without hurting Windows. Two of these options require a bootable Ubuntu CD or flash drive, so I’ll first discuss how to set up those devices.

20 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know – You’ve probably heard of Evernote. Some call it a note-taking service, or an organization tool, or an archiving platform, but none of those terms are enough to convey just how much you can do with it. Evernote is, quite simply, an online spot to store anything and everything you might find of interest later. The more you add, the more useful it becomes.

Security:

Windows XP users won’t get a patch for serious Internet Explorer 0-day exploit – Microsoft gave plenty of warning about the end of Windows XP support. Now it’s time to see what happens when a high-priority security advisory is issued and Windows XP users can’t get their hands on the fix.

AOL confirms security breach from spam attack – AOL has issued a warning to users that their personal information has been stolen by attackers, a week after the security of its servers was questioned. The net giant on Monday said that the same hackers behind last week’s spam deluge were able to infiltrate its servers and lift information including email addresses, contact lists and home mailing addresses. Additionally, encrypted passwords and security question-answer pairs were stolen.

Zero-day Flash bug under active attack in Windows threatens OS X, Linux too – A day after reports that attackers are exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, researchers warned of a separate active campaign that was targeting a critical vulnerability in fully patched versions of Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash media player.

‘Triple handshake’ bug another big problem for TLS/SSL – You could miss it if you weren’t paying close attention through all the Heartbleed blather, but last week Apple patched a severe problem in their TLS/SSL code in iOS and OS X. An attacker in a privileged position, i.e., between two parties engaged in SSL/TLS (henceforth just “TLS”), could intercept and decode communications or inject commands and data. The bad news is that this isn’t just a bug in Apple’s code; it’s a bug in the TLS protocol itself, a protocol which appears to be quite a mess.

Company News:

AMD Beema and Mullins Low-Power APU Preview – Low power computing is an extremely important market for chipset and device manufacturers alike. ARM has already established itself in this area and their products and derivatives from manufacturers like Qualcomm are nearly universally found in iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Intel may be a market share leader in this space, but AMD believes that their next generation chips will be the best. A refinement of their work on APUs in the past few years, the new chips – ‘Beema’ for mainstream laptops, and ‘Mullins’ for low power tablets – are set to be strong contenders up against Intel’s Bay Trail and low-power Haswell offerings.

Microsoft and OEMs offer Windows 8.1 devices to U.S. schools starting under $300 – Microsoft has announced a new program for U.S. school systems that will allow them to purchase Windows 8.1 devices from various OEMs with prices that start at under $300 each.

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Rovio releases earnings, shows ‘Angry Birds’ not enough – Rovio, the studio behind the once-popular Angry Birds franchise, has released their 2013 earnings. The 37 million euro in earnings suggests a healthy game studio, but when compared to the 77 million euro brought in for 2012, things may not be so rosy for the Angry Birds team. Further clouding their future is net profits of 26.9 million euro — a big drop-off from the 55.5 million euro earned in 2012.

Games and Entertainment:

PC gaming now brings in more money than console gaming – Anyone who has been playing games on the PC for a while has likely gotten used to regular, overblown pronouncements that computer gaming is on the verge of dying in the face of cheaper, easier-to-use console competition. Gamers weary of rebuffing those charges should take heart from recent statements from DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole that PC gaming is far from dying—and it’s actually outperforming the console sector overall these days.

Child of Light Review: A World as Lovely as It Is Dark and Deep – It’s easy to be seduced by the visual charm and intricacy of a game like Child of Light. It has so little competition, and high fidelity hand-drawn artwork looks prettier than ever on high-definition television screens with resolutions approaching the point at which individual pixels become as undifferentiated as paint on canvas.

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Slightly Mad Studios has made Project Cars look better than real life – The ultimate aim of simulation games is to present a world that is as close to real life as possible, both in experience and visuals. With forthcoming racing title Project Cars, it looks as though developer Slightly Mad Studios hasn’t just matched real life with the visuals, they’ve exceeded it. Don’t believe that’s possible with current gaming hardware? Just watch the video before making up your mind.

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Gears of War, Age of Empires and more Microsoft games could be turned into Xbox TV shows – Microsoft is looking into turning some of its other game properties into TV series that would be shown as part of its Xbox Originals program, including Gears of Wars, Age of Empires and more.

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Yahoo to launch original comedy series – Not to be outdone by the growing proliferation of original series TV shows, Yahoo plans to launch its own television-length comedy series (two of them, to be precise), which will be made available to viewers on the company’s mobile apps and websites.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s self-driving cars now able to navigate crowded city streets – Google’s self-driving cars are getting smarter. After logging nearly 700,000 miles without a driver, the autonomous cars are capable of reacting to a multitude of scenarios unique to city driving. The company released a video which shows one of the cars driving through Mountain View, California, home of Google’s global headquarters. The autonomous car was able to safely navigate a parked car protruding into its lane, avoid a biker weaving in and out of the bike lane, and approach railroad crossings with prudent caution.

Canada’s National Parks Are Getting Wi-Fi: Expect a Flood of Grizzly Selfies – Canada has decided to install wi-fi at up to 20 thrillingly remote locations in some of its stunning national parks. Because what good is enjoying the solitude of the great outdoors when you can’t upload some photos to Facebook?

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Unpickable lock promises to keep your bike extra safe – A new bike lock has shown up that has been dubbed the Forever Lock, and it’s approaching the lock from an entirely unique perspective, one that will undoubtedly require a bit of reverse engineering before someone can free it from whatever it is connected to without a key.

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Pokémon X and Y toys and cards in the next McDonald’s Happy Meal – Just after its Skylanders and My Little Pony campaign, McDonald’s will continue its relentless assault on kids’ toys that adults will actually want, and will release these Pokémon items. Each toy, seen below, can be scanned into McDonald’s mobile app in order to unlock mini-games.

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LendUp Raises $50 Million To Disrupt Payday Lending – LendUp wants to redefine payday lending and make the loan experience for the millions of unbanked Americans more fair and transparent. Rather than force Americans to turn to predatory lenders and banks, with their high interest rates, LendUp wants to give those looking for a speedy fix to a short-term financial need a way to borrow money without hidden fees, costly rollovers and high interest rates.

Something to think about:

“Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

-    Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Multi Commander – Multi Commander is a multi-tabbed file manager that is an alternative to the standard Windows Explorer. It uses the very popular and efficient dual-panel layout. Multi Commander has a everything you need in your daily works with files to make your work fast and efficient. It has all the standard features like a file manager has like copy, move, rename, view. But Multi Commanders big strength is the special features that allow you to do advanced task with ease. Like Auto-unpacking, Auto-sorting, Browse inside archives, Workspace support, Scripting, Searching and a lot more. And it allows you to do everything from the keyboard.

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Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner – Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner checks your system for Windows Vulnerabilities. It guides you to update with the right patch to make your system secure. This program is updated regularly by Proland Software to detect all the vulnerabilities discovered. Once the Scan is completed, Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner lists the vulnerabilities detected, their risk level and the download location of the patch. It also creates the log file named Protector_Plus_Windows_Vulnerability_Scan.htm in the folder from where Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner was executed.

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Media Player Classic Home Cinema – Media Player Classic – Home Cinema application was designed to be a Media Player Classic but for home cinema usage.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

In search of a Magna Carta for the web, the best place to start is with data – The NSA files reveal the tip of a data privacy iceberg about to be struck by a Titanic number of ordinary consumers. Isn’t it time to solve the problems around data privacy?

After Heartbleed, NSA reveals some flaws are kept secret – It’s no secret that the National Security Agency is full of secrets. But, in a rare move, the White House disclosed Monday a bit more about how the NSA works.

In a blog post, White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel detailed when the NSA keeps security vulnerabilities under wraps and when it lets the public know they exist.

“Building up a huge stockpile of undisclosed vulnerabilities while leaving the Internet vulnerable and the American people unprotected would not be in our national security interest,” Daniel wrote. “But that is not the same as arguing that we should completely forgo this tool as a way to conduct intelligence collection, and better protect our country in the long-run.”

Earlier this month, news of the massive Heartbleed bug reverberated across the Internet showing how easily people’s online data could be accessed. This particularly nasty vulnerability — which has the capability to potentially extract people’s usernames, passwords, and credit card information — is said to have affected up to 500,000 websites, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and many more.

Initially, it was reported that the NSA was aware of Heartbleed and failed to let the American public know about its existence, but the agency was quick to deny those allegations.

In his blog post, Daniel reiterates that the government had no knowledge of Heartbleed.

Guardian wins three Webby awards – The Guardian’s NSA Files: Decoded, which gave web users a chance to learn what Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass government surveillance might mean for them, won the Webby in the best practices category.

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John Oliver turns the screw on Keith Alexander – For the first twentysome minutes of the first episode of his new half-hour HBO show, John Oliver seemed in danger of bombing. Then he trapped General Keith Alexander, the recently retired head of the National Security Agency, on camera, and made him sit through a series of NSA rebranding suggestions that included a kitten called Mr Tiggles and, simply, “the Washington Redskins”.

The host gleefully turned the screws on the spy. The general soldiered on. The live studio audience, watching the segment on tape, roared and applauded.

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9 Comments

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

9 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 29, 2014

  1. styman

    hi bill i am still reading you. so are some of my friends now. they were always asking me where was i getting so much update to date information.

  2. Hi Bill,

    Sorry to hear you were sick all this time. I assumed you had just hit an extra busy spot. Good to see you back in the saddle and riding tall though.

    • Hey Aseem,

      Yeah, it’s good to be back.

      BTW, if you have the time, I could use your input once again on the NSA stuff. If, you’ve got the time. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Nice to have you back,
    Do you know of an easy way to stream Popcorn Time to your TV ???
    Since it’s strictly a desktop service, Google Cast doesn’t work.
    Thanks,

    Bob

    • Hi Bob,

      I’m sorry, I don’t.

      For Net programming, I run directly from my Playbook via a mini HDMI cable to a TV (sort of a semi-permanent hookup.)

      Best,

      Bill