Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 8, 2014

House Committee axes NSA bulk phone metadata collection;  How to Use Disposable Gmail Addresses;  Dropbox drops the security notification ball, again;  Market Meltdown: Tech Stock Slaughter Continues;  How to Use Disposable Gmail Addresses;  EndlessTV is a cool way to watch free videos without ads;  12 Techy Mother’s Day Gifts for Under $50;  The best productivity apps for Windows Phone 8;  SwingSmart sensor analyzes your golf swing;  Microsoft: Deceptive downloads and ransomware on the rise;  Yahoo News Digest Comes To Android;  PDF Shaper is a free PDF converter;  Malware infections tripled in late 2013.

Net Neutrality: FCC Boss Smacked by Tech Giants, Internal Dissent – More than 100 Internet companies sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday expressing alarm over the agency’s proposed net neutrality rules, and imploring regulators to protect Internet openness. The letter, which was signed by many of the largest Internet firms in Silicon Valley, was delivered as two FCC commissioners expressed doubts about the direction laid out by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the former top cable and wireless industry lobbyist who is spearheading the new rules.

Market Meltdown: Tech Stock Slaughter Continues – Technology stocks continued their stomach-churning free fall Wednesday, wiping out billions of dollars in shareholder value as investors shunned one-time market darlings. After a remarkable five-year run in which the tech-heavy Nasdaq index rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession to soar 135%, fueling high-flying IPOs from the likes of Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, many tech investors have hit pause. The biggest victims of Wednesday’s carnage were network security firm FireEye (down 24%), AOL (down 21%), Groupon (down 21%), and Candy Crush maker King Digital (down 13%).

Dropbox drops the security notification ball, again – Yet another failure to tell users directly about security vulnerabilities highlights the need not just for mandatory data breach notification laws, but mandatory notification of security and privacy risks.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Use Disposable Gmail Addresses – Use them to thwart spam, get organized or sign up for accounts without using your main address.

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Aomei Partition Assistant review: Windows to Go no longer just for Enterprise users – When the folks at Aomei contacted me about reviewing their Partition Assistant partition manager once again, I was less than enthusiastic. It was, and remains, a fine utility, but it’s a rare user that requires anything more than the old version or Windows’ own Disk Manager and Diskpart utility. Then a bit on the PR blurb caught my eye—creating Windows To Go drives (portable Windows) from any version of Windows 8. Formerly, this was only possible with the Enterprise version. Game on.

Simple and time-saving Google search tricks – During my years of using Google I’ve picked up an arsenal of tips and tricks to help me get to the information I’m looking for faster and more efficiently. Here are six tricks that I use most regularly.

The best productivity apps for Windows Phone 8 – Summary: Check out these useful apps available on the Windows Phone Store to make your work life a little bit easier when you are out of the office.

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EndlessTV is a cool way to watch free videos without ads – A new app called Endless TV mimics the channel surfing experience on your phone or tablet, giving you a continuous stream of videos without the obnoxious pre-roll ads. The app, available now for iOS and Android, is extremely simple to set up and use. Just pick a channel you want to watch, from sources like CNN, the Food Network and ESPN, and Endless TV starts playing a selection of clips without any ads.

12 Techy Mother’s Day Gifts for Under $50 – You were no picnic growing up. That’s not to say that you weren’t an absolutely adorable kid who your mom just loved to bits n bits. (You were!) BUT there were undoubtedly times when your mom probably wanted to murder you. And the good news is you’re reading this now. Which means she didn’t! And for that, don’t you think you owe her a little something?

Most phone theft victims ready to resort to vigilantism, study shows – Call it a sign of the times, but most people responding to a new survey say they would be willing to put themselves in “some amount” of danger in order to retrieve a stolen smartphone. The study, released Wednesday by mobile security firm Lookout, said 68 percent of the people participating in the survey said they were ready to take matters into their own hands. Many smartphones come with location-based features, like Apple’s “Find My iPhone,” which can track a mobile device that’s been lost or stolen. In the case of theft, some phone owners have been tailing their lost devices to the point of confrontations with the supposed thieves. That willingness to engage in vigilantism is worrying to public safety officials.

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WallyHome uses the wiring in your home to detect mold, water damage – In the connected home space, the efforts typically revolve around security. Sure, you don’t want anyone getting into your home unauthorized, but sometimes the real trouble lurks from within. Water damage and mold are two of the more troubling concerns for homeowners, but WallyHome is here to help.

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Web style guide: What to include to keep your sites looking professional – Ryan Boudreaux advises on what to include when creating or updating a comprehensive web style guide so your sites’ look and feel remain consistent and are easy to maintain.

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SwingSmart sensor analyzes your golf swing – The weather has turned favorable enough in many locations for hitting the golf course, and NewSpin Golf aims to make sure your at the top of your game. Using a combination of a Bluetooth sensor called the SwingSmart and an accompanying app, golfers can see their swings analyzed in a 3D view.

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Yahoo News Digest Comes To Android – Yahoo’s popular News Digest app is now available on Android, and offers two new editions of content: International and Canada. Previously, the app, which gives readers twice-daily digests of news aggregated from other outlets, had only curated news around United States and United Kingdom interests.

Serious about mobile photography? So is Beastgrip – Mobile devices have pretty robust cameras, but lack a lot of functionality we find with dedicated DSLR units. The flash is suspect if you want a great shot, and the various add-ons make finding the right balance hard. If you’ve wanted a way to take some of your standalone camera stuff and use it for your iPhone, Windows Phone or Android device, Beastgrip may be your best bet.

Coming soon: Print your own makeup – “The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money…by charging a huge premium on one thing that technology provides for free. That one thing is colour” said Harvard Business School student Grace Choi, speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt. To help combat this, Choi has created what she is calling Mink: a printer that works just like an inkjet to mix colours to the user’s specification to print custom makeup. All you need is the printer, colour picker software to copy the hexcode of a colour, and print software.

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Microsoft updates ‘Metro-Style’ Skype for better mouse, keyboard usage – Microsoft has updated its Windows 8.1 ‘Modern’ Skype app so that it works better for users interacting with it using mice and keyboards.

Office 365 users: Surface Pros now qualify as PCs or tablets – In a new Office 365 consumer licensing distinction, Microsoft is allowing Surface Pro and Pro 2 users to count their devices as PCs or tablets. Here’s why this matters.

Evernote, LinkedIn team up to tackle business cards – Despite how much recent technology advancements have cut down on the need for paper consumption, there is one piece of analog correspondence that not one tech company has gotten quite right yet. Now, two of the most popular tech services of the moment are teaming up to take another stab at digitizing the tried-and-true method of handing out one’s professional contact information with complete ease in less than a second.

Security:

Microsoft: Deceptive downloads and ransomware on the rise – Microsoft has issued an update to its security intelligence report, and it states that cyber criminals are using deceptive downloads and ransomware more and more to infect PCs.

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Address bar tweak in early Chrome beta puts even savvy users at risk – Researchers at PhishMe, a company that helps prevent organizations from falling victim to phishing and malware attacks, have been testing the trial interface and have found behavior they say could make it easier for attackers to fool end users. By loading up an address with long strings of characters, the researchers were able to completely suppress both the domain name and other address parameters in both the Omnibox and Origin Chip. For instance, when the PhishMe researchers entered the URL –

“hxxp://this.is.a.test.for.longurl.to.test.the.canary.property.in.the.new.chrome.browser.and.see.if.it.works.DOMAINNAME.com/CheckingNowWithSampleURLInHere/eb31ac/?login_id=48ea2b9a-4f1b-4bbb-b573-89524db025e9″ (minus the quotes), the Chrome interface looked like this:

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Symantec Says Antivirus Is Dead, World Rolls Eyes – Earlier this week, Symantec’s senior vice president Brian Dye declared to the Wall Street Journal that antivirus “is dead.” That’s a bit surprising, considering it still accounts for a reported 40 percent of Symantec’s revenue. Plus, Symantec continues to churn out Editors’ Choice award winning products like Norton 360. So is AV really dead? The short answer is “no,” and the long answer is “no no no no no nononononononono.”

Antivirus is Dead: Long Live Antivirus! – An article in The Wall Street Journal this week quoted executives from antivirus pioneer Symantec uttering words that would have been industry heresy a few years ago, declaring antivirus software “dead” and stating that the company is focusing on developing technologies that attack online threats from a different angle. This hardly comes as news for anyone in the security industry who’s been paying attention over the past few years, but I’m writing about it because this is a great example of how the cybercrime underground responds to — and in some cases surpasses — innovations put in place by the good guys. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Malware infections tripled in late 2013 thanks to sneaky browser plugin, Microsoft says – In the third quarter of 2013, an average of 5.8 Windows computers out of every 1,000 were infected with malware, said Tim Rains, director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing division, which tracks security trends targeting the company’s widely used products. That jumped to about 17 computers per 1,000 for the last quarter of the year. Rains attributed the rise to malware called “Rotbrow.” The program masquerades as a browser add-on called “Browser Protector” and is supposedly a security product, Rains said by phone Wednesday. Rotbrow was found on about 59 of every 1,000 computers using its security products, he said.

No invasion of privacy law under current government: Information Commissioner – The Australian Law Reform Commission recommends new laws to cover serious invasion of privacy, but the current Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, doesn’t support the idea.

Company News:

In one short year, AOL’s quarterly profits plunged 66 percent – According to a new quarterly earnings report issued on Wednesday, AOL’s first-quarter profits plummeted by two-thirds compared to the same period last year, reaching just $8.7 million. The company’s stock has tanked by more than 20 percent as of this writing. While many companies would be happy to take in several million dollars in profits, AOL has been on a slow decline for many years. At the end of 2011, AOL had 3.3 million subscribers, a number that fell to 2.8 million by the end of 2012 and to 2.5 million by the end of 2013. That number dropped further to 2.4 million at the end of the first quarter.

Apple now second only to Amazon in online retail with $18.3 billion in revenue – According to data from Internet Retailer (via the Wall Street Journal), Apple is now the second largest online retailer, trailing only behind Amazon. Ousting Staples, Apple grew 24% last year to reach a revenue of $18.3 billion from online sales from their Apple.com website. This includes Apple’s hardware sales, the App Store and iTunes with hardware sales being added as a data point by Internet Retailer this year, giving Apple a slight boost in recorded sales.

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Games and Entertainment:

God of War PS4 release tapped – This week there’s word that our favorite god-smasher Kratos may be making his way to the PlayStation 4 sooner than expected. This fellow has been the star of a couple of games that will be coming to the PlayStation Vita in the form of God of War Collection. We wouldn’t be surprised if the same title also came to PlayStation 4 digitally.

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Nintendo Says No to Gay Weddings in Upcoming Game – Nintendo delicately rebuffed requests from gay gamers to simulate same-sex weddings in its upcoming release, Tomodachi Life, saying that they “never intended to make any form of social commentary”

Rovio’s Upcoming Retry Borrows from Flappy Bird, Adds In-App Purchases – Just like Flappy Bird, Retry is a 2D side scrolling game that requires you to maneuver through a series of obstacles. Flappy Bird was extremely simple—it was just an endless maze of pipes. Retry at least mixes things up with different objects, angles, and deeper controls.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Google Street View mod shows your town under water – The US government says climate change is already happening and that it’s affecting every region of the nation. To make that key finding of this week’s National Climate Assessment a little more real for those of us who tend to tune out anytime anyone uses the word “assessment,” a new Google Street View-powered site shows what the world’s cities would look like flooded by rising sea levels.

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BMW i Solar Carport Concept powers i8 and home – Plugging in an electric car to recharge often happens in the dark confines of a garage, but BMW wants to brings its u3 and i8 EV range into the light with a new BMW i Solar Carport Concept. Mounting translucent solar panels on top of a bamboo frame – the wood picked for its rapid regrowth – the carport could be entirely off-grid, BMW claims, though you’d obviously need to get enough sun.

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Level 3 claims unnamed ISPs are “deliberately” slowing down Internet speeds – A vice-president at Internet backbone provider Level 3 claims six unnamed ISPs are “deliberately” refusing to upgrade their networks and in so doing have caused net speeds to decrease.

Watch gorgeous HD video from the space station – I know I’ll never get a chance to step a floating foot on the International Space Station, but I can at least tap into the spectacular views with a new live-streaming video offering from NASA. The High Definition Earth Viewing experiment involves cameras mounted outside the station. It is fed to all us earthlings on the Ustream website. The stream was supposed to be up and running a few days back, but ran into some technical difficulties. That has now been resolved, and the video is pouring in. The images are fascinating, showing a silently rotating marble of blue below, mottled with clouds.

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5 signs it’s time to leave your day job and become an entrepreneur – Entrepreneurship isn’t really something you can measure, but there are ways to tell when the timing is right. Here are five signs that you might be ready for life as a founder.

Something to think about:

“Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”

-    Will Rogers

Today’s Free Downloads:

PDF Shaper – PDF Shaper is a free PDF converter and extractor with easy-to-use user interface and many useful features such as multipage and batch PDF conversion, tab formatting, extraction of specified elements.

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streamWriter – streamWriter is a free internet-radio application. streamWriter will record as many streams as you want at the same time (MP3/AAC), automatically record a wishlist’s song when it’s playing on a stream, schedule recordings, apply effects to recorded songs and more.

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TraceRouteOK – Traceroute track the path that your data travels over the WWW, internet, or the local network. There are many programs of this type, but this is optimized for fast list of data track and quick query of the data route.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

House Committee axes NSA bulk phone metadata collection – A House committee on Wednesday unanimously voted to end the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone metadata collection program. The vote by the House Judiciary Committee was 32-0. The measure moves to the full House, where its passage is uncertain.

“Today’s strong, bipartisan vote by the House Judiciary Committee takes us one step closer to ending bulk collection once and for all and safeguards Americans’ civil liberties as our intelligence community keeps us safe from foreign enemies who wish us harm,” committee lawmakers said in a joint statement.

News outlets say US drone ban breaches First Amendment – A coalition of more than a dozen news outlets is telling the Obama administration that its ban on the commercial use of drones—and “drone journalism” in general—goes against the First Amendment.

“This overly broad policy, implemented through a patchwork of regulatory and policy statements and an ad hoc cease-and-desist enforcement process, has an impermissible chilling effect on the First Amendment newsgathering rights of journalists,” the media told the National Transportation Safety Board.

The filing was submitted in a Federal Aviation Administration appeal to a National Transportation Safety Board administrative judge’s ruling that said the FAA illegally adopted the ban on the commercial use of small drones, and therefore the 2007 regulations are unenforceable.

Tuesday’s filing comes four days after the National Park Service announced a rule barring all drone flights from Yosemite, a regulation that experts said was legally questionable.

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Obama court nominee wrote memos authorizing drone attacks on Americans – A President Barack Obama nominee to a federal appeals court is mired in controversy amid revelations that the former Justice Department lawyer had written government memos legally justifying the killing of an American overseas with a drone. In response to concerns from senators and the American Civil Liberties Union, the White House agreed this week to allow lawmakers to review at least one of the memos from David Barron, now a Harvard Law School scholar, in a classified setting.

The bruhaha over the nominee to the US First Circuit Court of Appeals is reminiscent of the flap over a President George W. Bush nominee to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals. Before Bush elevated Jay Bybee to the Ninth Circuit, Bybee, as an assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, had signed off on John Yoo’s now-famous torture memos authorizing waterboarding and other torture methods in 2002.

Interview transcript: former head of the NSA and commander of the US cyber command, General Keith Alexander – Recently retired director of the US National Security Agency and commander of the US Cyber Command General Keith Alexander was interviewed by Australian Financial Review contributing editor Christopher Joye. This is a full transcript of the conversation. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Apple releases guidelines for law enforcement data requests – Apple has published a new set of guidelines regarding how law enforcement agencies and other government entities may request information from the company about user data.

The new rules, which were posted to Apple’s website late Wednesday, reflect Apple’s move toward notifying its customers when it receives law enforcement requests for user data.

“Apple will notify its customers when their personal information is being sought in response to legal process except where providing notice is prohibited by the legal process itself, by a court order Apple receives (e.g., an order under 18 U.S.C. §2705(b)), or by applicable law or where Apple, in its sole discretion, believes that providing notice could create a risk of injury or death to an identifiable individual or group of individuals or in situations where the case relates to child endangerment,” the guidelines state.

Apple’s new rules specify how agencies should file their request and what information they could expect to receive upon the receipt of a valid search warrant. However, the guidelines do not apply to requests made outside the US Apple’s local subsidiaries.

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4 Comments

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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 8, 2014

  1. Fred

    In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues
    Billl I take comfort in something you said a while ago:
    “If history can be relied on, and it can – WE WILL OVERCOME.”
    So when I read things such as in this section or like this recent article I keep you wise words in mind. BTW this is an “Internet ID” test program but you KNOW they will be making this mandatory for ALL internet down the line. As I always said Orwell was a Pollyanna compared to today’s thugs:

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-white-house-wants-to-issue-you-an-online-id

    • Hi Fred,

      The past does provide us with more than sufficient evidence that we (the people), will always take back what has been taken away by those who’s interests conflict with personal freedom and civil liberties. The manner and the method employed to rid society of dogmatic ideologically driven shysters would not always be considered civilized – but, in my view, whatever it takes the rid the world of parasitic pricks is justified. What could be worse than being afraid of one’s own government?

      BTW, I’ve posted your referred article into Monday’s TNN. So, thanks for that.

      Have a great weekend. :)

      Best,

      Bill