Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 30, 2014

Password breaches: End-user carnage is unspoken heartache;  18 Streaming TV Boxes Ranked from Worst to First;  Windows maintenance, done dirt-cheap;  Make browsing the web faster and more efficient on Android;   Why, and how, to encrypt your Android device;  Google Camera update: fisheye, timer, and more;  Bombshell TrueCrypt advisory: Backdoor? Hack? Hoax? None of the above?  TrueCrypt turmoil latest: Bruce Schneier reveals what he’ll use instead;  RATs Come to Android;  Intel unveils new tech for self-driving cars;  How to get the free back massage you deserve;  LinuxLive USB Creator (free);  Malvertising rise pushes ad industry to action.

Password breaches: End-user carnage is unspoken heartache – From a corporate perspective, the reputation backlash and financial hit from a password or data breach has become so stifling that Spotify reacted this week to the theft of a single user’s data by asking nearly 40 million other customers to change their passwords. Target’s breach bill could eventually top $1 billion — 2.8 percent of its market cap. The CIO and the CEO have resigned. The company’s year-over-year 2013 fourth-quarter profits were down 46 percent. The end-user carnage? Unknown because losing your personal data can easily turn into 20-miles of uncharted broken glass. Wait until your biometric data is hijacked. Try changing your fingerprint, or iris scan – or undergoing a nose job, chin lift, or eye-lid reconstruction — to update your biometric passcodes.

18 Streaming TV Boxes Ranked from Worst to First – Which streaming device should you pick? Clearly, a lot comes down to content. If you’re a Yupp TV fanatic, you’ll pick the Sony NSZ-GS8, ASUS Cube, or VIZIO Co-Star LT. Decision made. Suppose, however, you’d simply like a nice blend of Netflix and Hulu, plus the ability to use your friend’s roommate’s password to access HBO Go? We set out to rank the 18 most recent streaming media players based on specs, features, usability and expert reviews. We considered every major streamer released or updated since January 2013.

Windows maintenance, done dirt-cheap – To read the advertising by Windows maintenance suite vendors, you’d think Microsoft sells technologically challenged operating systems that will function properly only with the grace of third-party intervention. In truth, the utilities that Microsoft has included with all its operating systems since XP, a select freebie or two, and a modicum of knowledge are all you need. (And if you can automate some maintenance tasks, all the better.) Here’s how to keep Windows humming as sweetly as when it was first installed.

How to make browsing the web faster and more efficient on Android – Smartphones deliver a gigantic world of online content to you wherever you are, one page at a time. But that’s sort of the problem: One. Page. At. A. Time. The fundamentally modal nature of browsing the web on a mobile device leaves you staring at a page while you wait for it to load, and the myriad of sluggish URL shorteners and awful mobile webpages certainly don’t help. With a few tweaks and apps, you can make browsing the web on Android a faster, more efficient experience.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Why, and how, to encrypt your Android device – There was a time, not so long ago, that the encryption of an electronic device might have caused others to assume that you had something to hide. Well, things have changed. We live in a post-Snowden world where it is simply wise to assume that your data is being monitored, or at least cached, by other agencies. And with phone and tablet thefts being so common, making sure a thief can’t explore your digital life is of paramount importance. Locking down your ones and zeros isn’t just for the paranoid anymore. One of the simplest places to start is to encrypt your Android device—scrambling its embedded data.

Google Camera update: fisheye, timer, and more – Digital photography enthusiasts, rejoice (if you’re on Android, anyway): Google has pushed out an update for Google Camera, bringing with it some requested features following the major change that took place last month, among them being a couple new panorama modes.

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Bombshell TrueCrypt advisory: Backdoor? Hack? Hoax? None of the above? – Wednesday’s bombshell advisory declaring TrueCrypt unsafe to use touched off a tsunami of comments on Ars, Twitter, and elsewhere. At times, the armchair pundits sounded like characters in Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie JFK, as they speculated wildly—and contradictorily—about what was behind a notice that left so many more questions than answers. Here are some of the more common theories, along with facts that either support or challenge their accuracy.

Sunrise Calendar Rises on Android and Looks Good Doing It – The latest app to make its way over to Android from iOS is Sunrise Calendar, which has proven itself a worthy competitor to Fantastical on Apple’s platform. Now that Sunrise is on Android, it offers yet another way to keep multiple calendars synced across devices and platforms. If you like pretty apps, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer looking calendar. If you like functionality, this is still solid.

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Google deflects YouTube streaming blame with Video Quality Report – We’ve all been there; that YouTube video stops loading, and you curse the service under your breath. To explain away the troubles, Google has released their Video Quality Report in the US, which gives us an idea of whether it’s Google that can’t get video to us, or (more likely) our Internet Service Provider (ISP) who is flatlining our cat videos.

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So you want to be an Android developer? Start with these resources – William J. Francis answers a question he is frequently asked by readers — how do I become an Android developer? — by offering advice to newbies and sharing go-to resource links.

Big data does conception: Ovuline’s curious sex map – The number one medical app on iTunes, Ovia, uses big data to help women get pregnant. Parent company Ovuline just released a user data sex map showing conservative states lead in “getting it on” to win the baby race.

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Security:

RATs Come to Android: It’s Scary, But You’re (Probably) Safe – If you saw the Edward Snowden interview yesterday, you know that government agencies can own your phone “the minute it connects to their network.” They can turn on the phone, monitor your traffic…and plant Remote Access Trojans, or RATs. RATs have been a problem on personal computers (all personal computers) for years, but now they’re making the jump to Android.

TrueCrypt turmoil latest: Bruce Schneier reveals what he’ll use instead – The TrueCrypt project abruptly imploded on Wednesday – leaving folks in the infosec world scratching heads and scrambling to recommend alternatives. In the past hour, crypto-guru Bruce Schneier has told us he’s switched back to Symantec’s PGPDisk to encrypt his data. “I have no idea what’s going on with TrueCrypt,” he added on his blog. “Speculations include a massive hack of the TrueCrypt developers, some Lavabit-like forced shutdown, and an internal power struggle within TrueCrypt. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what develops.”

Bitcoin Jesus turns the tables on hacker, offers $20,000 bounty for his identity – Cheap password hacks. Extortion. It’s just another day’s work for a cybercriminal in 2014. Recently, however, one criminal learned that not all victims are going to roll over and give in to demands. Bitcoin icon Roger Ver decided to turn the tables on his attacker. Ver’s response? Send Nitrous a link to a public Facebook post in which a $20,000 bounty was offered to anyone who could uncover his identity and help authorities track him down.

Malvertising rise pushes ad industry to action – Online ads can be annoying, but increasingly they’re malicious, too. In the wake of a highly publicized “malvertising” incident last December, during which attackers were able to deliver malware through online ads published on Yahoo.com, that question is now top of mind for some.

Latest eBay flaw is a rookie mistake for a website – In the wake of revealing that it was the victim of a data breach, researchers have discovered that the eBay site also suffers from serious security issues.

Company News:

Microsoft and Salesforce.com officially announce partnership – The rumours were true, Microsoft and Salesforce today announced deal which will see the two cloud services blend together to help customers be “more productive” with salesforce heading to Office 365.

Appeals court nixes Apple bid to delay e-books damages trial – In a brief order, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals denied Apple’s petition for an emergency stay of district court proceedings pending resolution of an appeal concerning the case’s class status. The three-judge panel determined that an immediate appeal was “unwarranted,” clearing the way for the attorneys general in 33 states to pursue hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Apple.

Dish Network becomes largest company so far to accept Bitcoin payments – The satellite TV provider Dish Network has announced it will start accepting Bitcoin payments starting in the third quarter of this year, becoming the largest company yet to embrace the currency.

Intel unveils new tech for self-driving cars – Intel has announced the commercial release of a new family of hardware and software products designed for automotive safety and entertainment technology, with the ultimate goal of helping to deliver self-driving cars to the market. According to Intel, its new family of In-Vehicle Solutions products are designed to enable car makers and their suppliers to “quickly and easily deliver in-vehicle experiences”, and includes processors, operating system, and development kits.

Games and Entertainment:

Dragon Quest 8 Is Now Playable on an iPhone, iPad or Android Device – One of Japanese game studio Level-5’s most critically acclaimed roleplaying game is now available for $20 on iOS or Android phones and tablets, and includes tweaks to both the gameplay and graphics.

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Microsoft confirms ‘Quantum Break’ coming in 2015 to Xbox One – Microsoft has now confirmed that Quantum Break, one of the first Xbox One games that was announced over a year ago, will now be released in 2015, with more details at Gamescom in August.

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War Thunder Ground Forces hit the tanks, PS4 FTP in June – There’s nothing like a good free World War II massively multiplayer online game to start your early weekend off right. War Thunder is one of several of such games out on the market today – you’ll also find World of Warplanes (with airplanes) and World of Tanks (with tanks), but until now, no game with the whole shebang. While we’re still waiting for the troops, War Thunder Ground Forces brings on both tanks and planes in one single battlefield.

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TwoDots Hits iPad and iPhone with More Strategic Gameplay than the Original – Dots was one of the surprise hits of mobile gaming last year with its minimalistic, yet highly addictive gameplay. Now the sequel has arrived on iOS with many of the same mechanics, but a few new twists as well. You’re still connecting the dots in TwoDots, but now you have a purpose.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Even limited to 25 mph, Google’s car will arrive faster than you think – Google’s new self-driving car prototype surprised even robo-car experts and suggests the company is further along than expected.

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Wave a hand to make your apartment feel bigger – If you’re worried about the decrease of affordable living space in urban areas, you can breathe a little easier. MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places research group is on the case. With the wave of your hand, this 182-square-foot mechanical box will respond to your gestures, pulling components out to turn empty floor space into a bedroom, office, living room, or dining room, and tucking them back in when you don’t need them anymore. What’s more, the overall contraption can be pushed around to expand a bathroom to twice its size or double a kitchen’s counter space, thus maximizing the limited space in small abodes.

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Video screenshot by Rusty Blazenhoff/CNET

How to get the free back massage you deserve – Bky kid makes it even easier for children to run all over their parents, in a good way, with its cool line of Play Mat T-shirts. Each tee has a fun track printed on the back, so kids can run their toy trucks and trains all over them, inadvertently giving grown-ups a massage of sorts. These specially designed shirts are available at the bky kid Etsy shop in sizes for men and women, at around $23 (roughly £14, AU$25). Take a look, there’s even a space-themed glow-in-the dark version.

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High school Photoshops yearbook photos to show less female skin – Technology is a great way to change how things truly are. It takes reality and makes it virtual. It takes intelligence and makes it artificial. Now one Utah high school has used technology to make teenagers more modest. Anyone familiar with teenagers knows this isn’t easy. However, in this case, the modesty I’m talking about is less spiritual than physical. For, as KSTU-TV reports, Wasatch High School decided to whip out its Photoshop skills in order to make female students look more, well, demure in their yearbook photos. Naturally, demure in Utah means exhibiting less flesh. The less flesh a woman exhibits, the less impropriety there is likely to be. (Huh??)

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KSTU-TV screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Something to think about:

“Honesty pays, but it doesn’t seem to pay enough to suit some people.”

-    Kin Hubbard

Today’s Free Downloads:

MicroSIP – MicroSIP – open source portable SIP softphone based on PJSIP stack for Windows OS.

It allows you to make high quality VoIP calls (person-to-person or on regular telephones) via open SIP protocol. From cloud of SIP providers you can choose best for you, register account and use it with MicroSIP. You’ll get free person-to-person calls and cheap international calls.

Main features in MicroSIP:

Small footprint (>2.5MB) and RAM usage (>5MB) – written in C and C++ with minimal possible system resources usage

Usability – user friendly in daily usage

Functionality – voice, messaging, presence, video h264 and h263+

Compatibility – strongly conform to SIP standards

Voice quality – supports best voice codecs: speex@8,16,32kHz, iLBC@8kHz, GSM@8kHz, G.711@8kHz (PCMU and PCMA), G.722@16kHz, G.729@8kHz, SILK@8,12,16,24kHz, Linear PCM@8,16,44kHz

Privacy – configurable encryption TLS / SRTP for control and media

Portability – stores setting in ini file

Multilanguage – included localization files for brazilian, bulgarian, chinese, dutch, estonian, finnish, french, german, hebrew, hungarian, italian, korean, norwegian, polish, russian, spanish, swedish, and ukrainian.

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LinuxLive USB Creator – LiLi USB Creator is a handy, easy to use application designed to enable you to create a bootable Live USB key with a Linux on it.

This software also offers an exclusive option of automatic virtualization to directly run Linux in Windows without any configuration nor installation.

Features:

Free and Open-source

LiLi is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anybody. All you have to do is to pick up a Linux in the list and give it a try.

No reboot needed

Are you sick of having to reboot your PC to try Linux ? No need with LiLi. It has a built-in virtualization feature that lets you run your Linux in Windows just out of the box !

Supports many Linux distributions

Wow ! Did you see that never-ending list ? They are almost all there : Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux …

Persistence

Having a Live USB is better than just using a Live CD because you can even save your datas and install softwares. This feature is called persistence (available only on selected Linux).

SmartClean & SmartDownload

SmartClean uninstalls properly any previous Live USB installs and SmartDownload lets you download any supported Linux in 2 clicks automatically selecting the best mirror to download it.SmartClean also lets you clean your USB key in one click.

And a lot more!

Intelligent processing : LiLi works with many Linux, even if they are not officially supported

Hidden install : LiLi hides the Linux install, your key stays clean

File integrity : tells you if your ISO is corrupted

Keeps your data on your USB device (format only if needed)

Intelligent format : can format disks bigger than 32 GB

Auto-Update : automatic updates when new Linux distributions are available

Also works with .IMG files (experimental)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden never blew a whistle, US spy boss claims – NSA leaker Edward Snowden says he repeatedly raised concerns with his superiors and with oversight groups that the scope of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs was too broad, but the government claims that isn’t the case.

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams on Wednesday – the first time Snowden has appeared on US television since fleeing the country in May 2013 – the former intelligence contractor said that his attempts to question the legality of the NSA’s programs fell on deaf ears.

“I actually did go through channels, and that is documented,” Snowden said. “The NSA has records, they have copies of emails, right now, to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me, raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities.”

But the US government claims the only email communication it can find between Snowden and the NSA’s Office of General Counsel is on a trivial legal matter, and that it “did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence posted an image of Snowden’s email and its redacted reply on its IC on the Record Tumblr site.

Turkish court axes YouTube ban over free speech concerns – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempts to restrict social media and Internet usage have been struck down for a second time by the country’s highest court.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court struck down a ban on video-sharing site YouTube in the country on Thursday, less than two months after the court ruled that Erdogan’s Twitter ban was also against the law.

The May 29 ruling strikes down the blockade, which was imposed on March 27. The next step is for the Transportation and Communication Ministry and the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) to implement the court’s order. The ban had been appealed by YouTube, Turkish scholar Kerem Altıparmak, and President Metin Feyzioğlu of the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations.

The YouTube ban has contributed to large-scale demonstrations and protests about the government’s increasingly restrictive policies. YouTube declined to comment for this story.

Edward Snowden: ‘Fourth Amendment no longer exists’ – In an interview with NBC News that aired Wednesday night, the NSA whistleblower who leaked sensitive government documents through the media, said the amendment that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures “as it was written no longer exists.” Specifically, Snowden accused the US government of deciding in secret and without any public debate to separate the search and seizure aspects of the amendment.

“All of your private records,” Snowden told NBC’s Brian Williams. “All of your private communications, all of your transactions, all of your associations, who you talk to, who you love, what you buy, what you read, all of these things can be seized and then held by the government and then searched later for any reason, hardly without any justification, without any reason, without any real oversight, without any real accountability for those who do wrong.”

As a result, Snowden said, the Fourth Amendment now no longer holds the same meaning it once held.

US tries to debunk Snowden email claims – The US government has released an email by Edward Snowden in a bid to debunk his claim that he raised concerns about mass spying programs before fleeing and engineering huge media leaks.

Snowden, now exiled in Russia, said in an interview aired by NBC on Wednesday that he had gone through official channels to question the legality of National Security Agency surveillance.

The former intelligence contractor mentioned a specific email he had written to the NSA general counsel’s office detailing his concerns.

In response, the agency released what President Barack Obama’s administration said was the only such communication found in the archives from Snowden on the issue, and said it did not prove his claims.

But Snowden subsequently told The Washington Post the NSA’s release was “incomplete”, pointing to additional correspondence with the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate.

Snowden said he had also raised concerns about the NSA’s use of data from major US internet companies.

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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 30, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    “In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues”
    Sadly here in the US it looks like the Obama regime is pushing back against the civilians:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/28/inside-the-ring-directive-outlines-obamas-policy-t/
    A defense official stated, “this appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens.”
    Now maybe this is a tempest in a teacup but after this regime has bought BILLIONS of rounds of ammo in the last 2 years it does give one pause.
    Hope you have a great weekend and I thank you, Bill, for standing up for our freedoms.
    Best,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      I need look no further than the militarization of local police forces (including rinky-dink, hole-in-the-wall, one-horse small town police forces), to be satisfied that your comment is accurate. Police violence is out of control here in Canada, and in the U.S. A Google search under “police brutality” returns more than 6 million videos. It’s hardly a stretch to conclude that these videos represent the tiniest tip of the iceberg.

      Frankly, the laws need to be updated to provide a legal framework under which citizens are empowered to fight back with violence against out of control violent cops. It’s time that we forced politicians to get a backbone and rein in these jackbooted black clad bastards (a flash-bang grenade in a child’s playpen – in any man’s lexicon, terrorists!) As it is, it would be difficult to argue that we do not live in a police state.

      Best,

      Bill