Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 5, 2014

Here’s how to extend the life of Windows XP indefinitely;  Silicon Valley defies subpoena secrecy requests;  Top Android tablets (May 2014 edition);  Dealing with internet trolls: a wrestler’s guide;  Download top PC games from EA for free (and legally);  The 100 Best Free PC Games;  5 apps to easily move photos from your phone;  The Best Tech Gifts for Mother’s Day;  Meet John McAfee’s newest project: Chadder;  Australian government apps access smartmobe cams;  Tech history in photos: The heroes who shaped the internet.

Silicon Valley defies subpoena secrecy requests – Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo will now tell users when authorities have filed subpoenas to access their data, defying the government.

Tails – The Secret Agent’s IT Toolkit – TAILS is The Amnesic Incognito Live System; you can’t get much more anonymous than an incognito amnesiac. On one flash drive, it contains everything you need to surf the Web safely, send and receive encrypted e-mail, chat securely, and write those subversive documents, afterwards leaving no trace on the computer you used. It also comes fully endorsed by investigative reporters Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, who have just won Polk Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the NSA/GCHQ scandal [Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald], and by their NSA source: Edward Snowden, security whistleblower extraordinaire. And astonishingly, it’s free!

Here’s how to extend the life of Windows XP indefinitely – I know you love XP and I know you’re tired of wringing your hands every time Microsoft releases a new operating system version, knowing that you’re about to spend a bundle on upgrades and new licenses. Well, thanks to the brilliant minds at 2X Software, the same folks who bring you application and desktop virtualization at a fraction of the cost of a Citrix-based solution, now give you the 2xLifeCyclePlus replacement shell for Windows XP. This free download will allow you to keep your XP-based system indefinitely—or definitely until Microsoft offers you an operating system you’re willing to live with again. You can download the 2xLifeCyclePlus product and install it on top of your current Windows XP. 2X has a 32-bit and a 64-bit version available.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 apps to easily move photos from your phone to your PC – While taking photos on your smartphone is no problem, getting them off your phone and onto your PC can sometimes be a pain. You could just hook your smartphone up to your PC every now and again and just transfer them over a USB cable, but ugh, wires. A better alternative is to put the mobile apps you already have on your phone to work. Several can send pictures to your PC automatically, and one can even do it without leaning on the cloud whatsoever.

The Best Tech Gifts for Mother’s Day – Buying a gift for Mom can be a challenge. The perfect gift will speak to her unique personality and offer enough practicality for her to enjoy using it all year long. We searched high and low and found eight unique gifts that will appeal to a variety of moms, from the fashionista to the movie lover to the active gardener and more.

How to find a reliable network speed test – Your ISP may be delivering slower download and upload speeds than it promised when you signed up, but wide variations in test results could leave you scratching your head.

Top Android tablets (May 2014 edition) – Want a tablet but don’t want to buy a svelte iPad Air or the petite iPad mini because you want to stay away from the Apple walled garden? Not a problem! Here are my top Android tablets for May 2014.

Dealing with internet trolls: a wrestler’s guide – They’re out there. Here’s what you need to know when dealing with the internet’s least pleasant residents.

Twitter tests out mute feature, may soon let you silence annoying tweets – You may soon be able to silence that annoying sportsball chatter in your timeline from Twitter’s mobile app if a screenshot making the rounds is any indication.

Google Glass costs Google just $80 to make, possibly pointing to retail price – None of the components that Google includes in Glass cost more than $20 with the battery clocking in at $1.14, the camera costing $5.66 and the actual glass used costing $3.00. The most expensive element of Google Glass is the processor, which Teardown.com estimates to have cost $13.96. Google claims that these estimates are “absolutely wrong” in a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal but failed to provide accurate numbers. For it’s part, Teardown.com does acknowledge that this is a preliminary teardown and a deeper cost analysis will be provided soon.

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Meet MyMail, the mobile-only email platform—no password required – Essentially, My.com consists of four parts: Three services, called MyMail, MyChat, and MyGames, quietly launched last fall.The first two are also apps, which were added to the Android and iOS app stores at that time. MyGames is a portal to games that can be downloaded to Windows PC, Android and iOS devices. The fourth, the My.com email service, launches Thursday. It offers users 150 GB of free email storage, far more than the 15 GB of shared storage that Google gives users via its cloud services, including Gmail. And it will be tied into the MyMail app, which you can already use to manage your other email services.

Meet John McAfee’s newest project: Chadder, a smartphone app that provides encrypted instant messaging – Chadder uses “key server encryption,” which Mr. McAfee says would mean that Chadder’s servers do not see the unencrypted message, and only the recipient of the message would be able to see it. Upon further explanation on the app’s Facebook page, it is detailed that the messages are encrypted using 256 bit AES (which is what is currently used for SSL/TLS) and the encryption keys are handled by a “3rd party.” The post on Facebook explains that it “makes it so [that] the content you send through our servers is only visible to you and the recipients of the message.”

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Two ways you’re wasting your smartphone – At the core, a smartphone is a means of communication: voice calls and text-based communication, both of which represent a very small percentage of what the average smartphone can do. Despite continuous increases in technology, many continue to use their smartphone in the same manner, upgrade after upgrade, and the end result is always the same: a device that is going to waste to some degree, at least in relation to its potential. How does one waste their smartphone?

Nvidia’s awesome Jetson Tegra K1 dev board on sale for just $1 per core – For just under $200, you’re getting a board that ships with the mightiest mobile processor on the market at the moment. You’ll have a generous 2GB of RAM to work with, 16GB of integrated NAND, and an SD card slot, SATA port, and USB 3.0 hookups to add additional storage capacity. Jetson also brings 4K dual display support, and the Kepler GPU boasts the same feature set as Nvidia’s desktop GTX 770 chips. And this is an Nvidia board we’re talking about… so there’s a good chance that it will offer support for Game Stream, too.

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Single board computers, Banana Pi, Raspberry Pi, and more – We all know about the Raspberry Pi, but it’s far from the only single-board computer out there that makers might find both useful and affordable.

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Study: Microsoft Office applications barely used by many employees – Migration to cloud apps could save a fortune, a study says. It also reveals some disturbing trends about how infrequently used these “essential” apps really are.

Is the smartphone ‘kill switch’ really bad for business in California? – Senators who nixed mandatory antitheft software on phones sold in state say it’s bad business. But many won’t say why.

Anti-piracy group warns about malware-riddled sites – fair, or scaremongering? – According to a study carried out by Incopro and published the Industry Trust, all but 1 of 30 sites investigated served malware, potentially unwanted software or some form of credit card fraud. But the report has been described by some as “biased”, “misleading” and “scaremongering through carefully chosen statistics”.

Security:

Watch out, Yahoo! EFF looses BADGER on sites that ignore Do Not Track – In the wake of Yahoo!’s decision to stop honoring browsers’ Do Not Track signals, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a new blacklisting tool that will automatically block tracking cookies from sites that refuse to support DNT. Dubbed Privacy Badger, the tool is available as a browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox that keeps track of any third-party cookies, images, or scripts it finds embedded in the web pages you visit. If these elements appear to be using unique identifiers to track you across multiple sites, Privacy Badger automatically blocks content from the site they came from – unless, the EFF says, the site has made a “strong commitment” to support DNT.

Australian government apps access smartmobe cams but ‘don’t film you’ – Australia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) says apparently-excessive permissions sought by its mobile apps are necessary for service delivery, and don’t put its customers’ privacy at risk. Having noted a complaint by a Twitter user that asking for access to a phone’s camera “to take pictures and videos” seemed excessive, we checked out the permissions sought by the apps, as shown in the screen captures below. In addition to seeking permission to use the camera, the apps ask for:

Personal information – Adding / modifying calendar events, sending e-mails and reading calendar events;

Account access;

Reading phone status and ID; and

Coarse location.

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Canadian ISPs ‘boomerang routing’ traffic through the snoopy US – A new report on carriers and transparency found that the country’s internet lords aren’t being upfront about shuffling intra-Canadian traffic through the US, which means that data resides where the NSA can get its hands on it and Canadian privacy laws don’t pertain. (As an illustration of the corrupt practices of the current despotic Canadian government, it should be noted that this same government lost 5 Supreme Court decisions in the past 6 weeks. In other words, this criminal government (and yes, they are criminals), has been rebuffed at a constitutional level. The next chapter will see Stephen Harper and his band of morally corrupt conservative troglodytes (the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Tea Party), relegated to the garbage heap of history in the upcoming 2015 election. It can’t happen soon enough.)

Company News:

Google hit by another antitrust sueball: This time it’s about ‘illegal monopoly’ of mobile search – Consumer rights law firm Hagens Berman said in a statement that the Chocolate Factory had “financially and creatively stagnated the American market of internet and mobile search” with its alleged monopoly. The lawsuit is claiming that Android is furthering Google’s monopoly over search by using Mobile Application Distribution Agreements to force mobile-makers to preload its own suite of applications onto devices. These deals are hampering the market and keeping the price of devices from manufacturers like Samsung and HTC artificially high, the firm said.

eBay To Settle Antitrust Suit Regarding Its Hiring Practices For $3.75M – This week eBay announced that it has agreed to a settlement with the United States Department of Justice, and the Attorney General of California, regarding a non-hire agreement with Intuit. The settlement will include the company paying out $3.75 million to cover compensation to impacted employees, along with various fees and costs. The settlement will need court approval before it is final.

PayPal Strategy Exec ‘No Longer With The Company’ After Sending Inappropriate Tweets – PayPal’s new director of strategy Rakesh “Rocky” Agrawal is interviewing. The company publicly confirmed that the relatively new hire is “no longer with the company” after sending a series of bizarre and insulting tweets last night.

Google buys Rangespan to improve your online shopping experience – Google has been keen to bolster their online shopping initiatives, and a recent acquisition should really ramp up those efforts. Google has purchased Rangespan for an undisclosed amount. The service is a back-end solution for online retailers, which aims to help them stay ahead of shopping trends.

Games and Entertainment:

Download top PC games from EA for free (and legally) – EA’s PC platform Origin has launched a promotion offering a free game, every month to each user. The scheme named “On the House” is available to anybody who registers before the 8th of May and installs the client software. Currently Dead Space is available for download, the popular third-person survival horror game. The title will change each month so don’t worry if this particular one is not for you. Although, once you click download, it’s yours to keep with no strings attached.

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Microsoft to launch Snap Attack for Windows and Windows Phone tomorrow – Microsoft will be launching a brand new word game based on Scrabble called “Snap Attack” for Windows and Windows Phone on Tuesday. Snap Attack is a game similar to Scrabble, developed by the makers of the popular word game Wordament. Wordament, which became the first Xbox Live enabled game available on Android and iOS, boasts a total of 1 million active players and Microsoft is expecting to emulate similar success with Snap Attack.

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Bethesda says Wolfenstein needs a Core i7 to run like a next-gen game – Bethesda has decided in its wisdom to only inform us of the PC specification you require to play Wolfenstein: The New Order at 60fps while experiencing it as a next-gen game. That sounds suspiciously like a recommended spec to this seasoned gamer. So, to experience Wolfenstein as the developer intended, you’re going to need a rig consisting of at least the following:

    Intel Core i7 or equivalent AMD

4GB RAM

50 GB free HDD space

GeForce 460 or ATI Radeon HD 6850

64-bit Windows 7/Windows 8

The 100 Best Free PC Games – Whether you’re broke or just frugal, free is a price point that appeals to everybody’s purse. We’ve collated the 100 best free PC games guaranteed to deliver a near endless stream of complementary entertainment. All you need to spend here is your time. (This article is a year old – but, still worth checking out.)

Missing Pieces: Wrapping up the week’s must-know gaming news – Disney Infinity 2.0, BioShock in Unreal Engine 4, and an Xbox for China—April 28 marked a week of new beginnings, and we have all the best gaming news inside.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Now you can see what it’s like to be standing on Mars – No, Google Street View didn’t come to Mars (but we’re thinking about pre-writing the story anyway for when that inevitably happens). Instead, panoramic photographer Andrew Bodrov put together a Street View-like image that allows you to pan around Mars from the Curiosity rover’s point of view. The image, in which you can zoom and pan around below, is composed of 138 individual pictures. He did a phenomenal job, because the seams are barely noticeable, unlike Street View. At a glance, you might assume the landscape is some random desert on Earth, but after carefully examining the landscape, you’ll notice there’s something alien about it. The ground has tints of blue and purple, and the sky has a weird, blurry hue.

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License plate reader firm releases dubious poll to show public support – What should you do when you want to avoid bad press for your surveillance technology manufacturing company? You could release questionable polls seemingly aimed to skew public perception. Or, you could include possibly illegal language explicitly designed to block media from learning more about your product’s use and capabilities. Vigilant Solutions does both. The company, based in Livermore, California, 44 miles east of San Francisco, sells license plate reader gear. However, Vigilant is known best for gathering together a massive collection of license plate reader (LPR) records and claims to own the world’s largest private LPR dataset, with more than 550 million entries. Tens of thousands of law enforcement agents nationwide have access to this database.

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Steve Ballmer Now Owns More Microsoft Stock Than Bill Gates – Bill Gates sold 4.6 million Microsoft shares recently, an SEC filing released today indicates. That action lowered his holdings to 330,141,164 shares in the company. Former CEO Steve Ballmer owns 333,252,990 shares.

Tech history in photos: The heroes who shaped the internet – Many innovators have played a role in making the internet what it is today. Here are 10 people who might not have built the internet, but they helped shape the modern internet experience.

Something to think about:

“Of course, we rolled out healthcare.gov. That could have gone better. In 2008 my slogan was, ‘Yes We Can.’ In 2013 my slogan was, ‘Control-Alt-Delete.’”

-      Barack Obama   (2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.)

Today’s Free Downloads:

World of Warplanes – World of Warplanes is a multiplayer online game dedicated to the “golden age” of the world’s combat aircraft. This project continues the “war saga” that began with the award-winning online sensation World of Tanks and gives players the freedom to lift off, leaving battlefields laden with smoke and destruction, getting a first-hand opportunity to engage in an endless number of battles for air superiority.

The main game mode in World of Warplanes organizes battles between two teams of 15 players who meet in air battle over a variety of locations. Victory can be achieved by destroying all the opposing planes or earning advantage points by eliminating the enemy’s ground targets. At the same time, both approaches to victory — teamwork and a player’s individual contribution — are important, because any pilot has the power to turn the tables in World of Warplanes.

The period represented in the game is one of the most captivating and challenging in the history of aircraft engineering. One may start a piloting career with biplanes of the 1930s, move on to legendary WWII warplanes, and end up with jet fighters of the Korean War, predecessors of modern aircrafts.

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BlackBeltPrivacy Tor+WASTE – Tor helps keep you safe online.. WASTE enables secure content exchange. A usability enhanced Tor+WASTE+darkRendezvous(). An installer, for Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Win7 32/64, Linux (WINE).

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Auslogics Browser Care – This unique tool lets you take back full control of all browsers installed on your PC. Clean up, speed up and keep your web browsers well-maintained for top performance!

Remove unwanted toolbars or plugins

Change hijacked home page to the page you want

Set your preferred search engine as default

Clear cache to unclutter your drive and speed up your browser

Manage all installed browsers from one place

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Glenn Greenwald Debates Former NSA Director Michael Hayden – From Toronto, Canada, watch The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald team up with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to debate state surveillance with former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Greenwald and Ohanian will argue against the motion “be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms.”

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Big tech companies are defying U.S. authorities for the sake of transparency – Many big technology companies such as Facebook and Google are moving away from keeping government requests a secret from the people. They say that people have a right to know in advance of what data the government is seizing for investigations. They’re giving many people a chance to testify against these disclosures. However, prosecutors have warned that the companies may undermine cases by informing criminals, and in doing so the criminals may end up deleting incriminating data.

According to The Washington Post, The industry is trying to move away from being compliant after last year’s NSA revelations. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google are updating their policies to be more transparent with users, unless specifically gagged by a judge, or another legal authority figure. Yahoo also announced similar changes in July. It is said that many companies will begin to ignore requests to not alert users of the data being collected, and that investigators let go of data demands to stop suspects learn of the inquiries.

Where is Canada’s rage over digital surveillance? – In the United States, people didn’t bury their heads in the sand when they learned about the pervasiveness of government surveillance, they did something.

According to a Harris Interactive poll, 47 per cent of American adults changed their behaviour on learning about NSA spying. About 25 per cent said they have decreased their online banking, shopping and email use, for example.

Here in Canada, similar information was gathered by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and Nanos Research. A strong majority, 60 per cent of respondents, said they would do nothing if they suspected the government was spying on them. The disparity in the two responses has been taken as further proof of Canadians’ passive and polite deference to authority.

But there is a crucial difference between asking people what they have done since they learned that they are being spied on, and what they would do if they suspected this.

The real distinction between America and Canada in this instance is one of certainty: thanks to Edward Snowden, Americans know for a fact that their government has been spying indiscriminately on millions of them.

What do we in turn know about CSEC, our NSA equivalent? The little information that has been reported about them is troubling. What we don’t know is terrifying.

The Associations behind FBI’s No Fly Informant Coercion – Before I disappeared on my trip last week, the WaPo and others reported on a new suit against the FBI for using the No Fly list to coerce Muslims to become informants, one of whom, Naveed Shinwari, talked about it with Democracy Now as well.

WaPo included a quote from a former senior FBI official dismissing the notion that someone might be added to the No Fly lists to coerce them to inform.

A former senior FBI official said that there are criteria for putting people on the list and that refusing to work as a confidential informant is not one of them.

“That’s not a reason,” the former official said. “It has nothing to do with potential threats to aviation.”

That is, FSFBIO claims there are criteria that must be met before placing someone on the No Fly list.

Let’s take the FSFBIO at his (or her) word, and imagine that the FBI singled out the four plaintiffs in this suit for some reason, and only then used the No Fly status as leverage to try to coerce an informant. Because the sort of things that appear to have gotten the FBI interested in these plaintiffs is just as telling as that, after learning the men weren’t threats, the FBI then tried to use their No Fly status to flip them.

At least according to the complaint, the FBI seems to have focused on these men because of who they knew or what they may have done online. (recommended by Aseem S.)

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 5, 2014

  1. Keith

    Sorry Bill, you’re misinformed on the USA Tea Party. I’m sure it was done by many reports of the news media who distort and ridicule all things good and support the status-quo that leads us toward death. The Tea Party is for freedom and prosperity of the USA, making the US government accountable and ethical to its citizens and getting back to the Constitution.

    • Hi Keith,

      You’ve highlighted an issue which is fundamental to our understanding of the “news” – or, should be. And that is – we are repeatedly lied to (some might say that the news is being “shaped”), by all factions involved in political debate. So, I agree in principle with your comment – “the Tea Party is for freedom and prosperity of the USA, making the US government accountable and ethical to its citizens and getting back to the Constitution.”

      Even so, it’s my view that some representatives of the Tea Party (much like the Conservative government here in Canada), are experts at shooting themselves in the foot. And, as per my previous statement, it naturally follows that those with an interest will capitalize, and shape the “news” accordingly. Fair? I think not. Reality? Unfortunately so.

      As for the status-quo – you couldn’t be more right. We simply cannot continue to support the mess we’re in – all of us – no matter where we live.

      Thanks for commenting Keith on a hugely divisive issue.

      Best,

      Bill