Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 5, 2014

11 apps that help you save money;  The six most useful Chrome extensions;  miniLock’s powerful file encryption is dead simple to use;  Securely back up personal files with Duplicati (free);  How to use Google as your universal translator;  3 ways to make calls when your cellular signal is terrible;  Anonymous email service ‘Leak’ ready for the masses;  Teach Google Now new voice commands;  Five apps that will help automate your home;  Facebook slapped with $123 million revenge-porn lawsuit;  If you ate at one of these PF Chang’s restaurants, your bank card is at risk;  PayPal’s two-factor authentication is easily beaten;  5 Steam Early Access Games Worth Checking Out;  Want to be in a comic?  Try these three apps; NSA leaker Thomas Drake says Oz security reforms are ‘scary';  Snowden latest: NSA targets Gaza, pumps intelligence to Israel;  10 ways Apple, Google and others will change the way you drive.

11 apps that help you save money – Ready to buy new clothes, dorm furnishings, gadgets, or just want to make sure you can afford to eat? The good news is that you won’t have to spend all of your time looking through the newspaper or local flyers to find the best deals. Here’s a collection of 11 apps that will help you locate coupons, hidden rebates, and tips for getting the best prices everywhere.

The six most useful Chrome extensions – Chrome, as Chromebooks prove, can be used as a universal interface for almost anything you need to do with a computer. One big reason it can be so useful is because of its extensions. They enable you to add everything from minor, but useful tasks, such as copying a link’s text, to major work such as being able to edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files without Microsoft Office. See for yourself, download Chrome, and head to the Chrome Store’s Extension section. I think you’ll like what you find.

Hands-on: miniLock’s powerful file encryption is dead simple to use – The creator of Cryptocat, Nadim Kobeissi, is back with another easy-to-use encryption tool. This time it’s a Chrome app that aims to make it easy to create and share single encrypted files with others. Called miniLock, the app is freely available on the Chrome Web Store. Similar to other encryption tools, miniLock relies on public key cryptography. Under this scheme you have to share your public key with others so they can encrypt files meant for you and only you. But unlike many encryption tools—which are often difficult to use—miniLock is very easy to understand and takes away a lot of the pain typically associated with encryption tools.

Securely back up personal files with Duplicati – Duplicati is a free, open-source (LGPL) backup client that stores incremental, compressed backups on various public cloud services such as Amazon S3 and Microsoft OneDrive, or on private file servers using standard protocols such as WebDAV, SSH, and FTP. Backups with Duplicati are AES-256 encrypted, and the program features a scheduler to ensure that backups are always up to date. Duplicati is maintained by Kenneth Skovhede and René Stach, who have generously offered to answer some questions about managing incremental data storage, cloud security, and backup integrity.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 ways Apple, Google and others will change the way you drive – Apple and Google are driving toward the connected car. Government and car manufacturers are working with them to achieve this. This isn’t just about sending emails or music playback — driving will be changed forever. Your car will speak to you. Here are 10 ways driving will change.

Gimme a boost: 3 ways to make calls when your cellular signal is terrible – In our increasingly connected age, it’s frustrating to find yourself in a place where the cellular connectivity is weak to nonexistent. And that frustration only magnifies when you have to struggle with poor voice quality and dropped calls in your very own home. Geography, money, technology, and the different ways buildings are put together can all factor into why signals from the cell towers will never be perfect. Nevertheless, you have options for boosting that wimpy cell signal—or generating one yourself.

How to use Google as your universal translator – The search giant offers a variety of tools for translating websites and text from one language to another. Here’s how you can tap into Google when you need a decent translator.

Friendly skies likely to remain that way, as feds look to keep ban on in-flight mobile calls – All signs point to the U.S. Department of Transportation putting the kibosh on allowing you to make calls during flights. That’s bad news for hard-charging road warriors, but great news for anyone seated around them.

Twitter feature shows tweets from accounts your friends follow – You’re probably not into all the same things your friends are, which is why you don’t follow the same accounts on Twitter. It seems the micro-blogging service forgot that, and is testing a new feature that would put posts from accounts your friends follow in your feed. It’s an interesting program, but one that goes a step too far for many.

Anonymous email service ‘Leak’ ready for the masses – Sometimes, it needs to be said. Whatever “it” is, you need to tell someone, but how can you do that without being the one to confront them? A new service called Leak lets you send emails anonymously, all from a web page. Simply put in an email address, and your relationship to that person, and away you go.

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Facebook Data Privacy Class Action Joined By 11,000 And Counting – On Friday the Europe vs Facebook privacy campaign group kicked off a new legal initiative targeting Facebook — in the form of a class action lawsuit that’s inviting adult non-commercial Facebook users located anywhere outside the US and Canada to join in. Today, the group told TechCrunch its civil action has pulled in some 11,000 participants so far, in the first weekend since launch.

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Fancy memory sticks mount your SSD to your RAM – If you’re building a powerful PC with a size constraint — such as my gaming rig that needed to fit inside an IKEA desk cabinet — you’ll likely end up requiring a case with very specific dimensions, or relying upon non-traditional methods of making all of your components fit. In an attempt to make your life a little less tedious, Apacer is developing DDR3 RAM sticks that have slots into which M.2 SSDs and CFast CompactFlash cards can mount.

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Teach Google Now new voice commands – With the help of an app called Commandr for Google Now, you can toggle Wi-Fi on or off, pause your music, or ask your phone to read your text messages out loud, all by speaking a few simple voice commands.

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HP Reveals Stylish Smartwatch for Men – Hewlett-Packard is partnering with designer Michael Bastian to introduce a stylish smartwatch, which will be available exclusively on Gilt.com this fall. The American fashion designer will develop a “men’s timepiece,” featuring technology engineered by HP. Interested customers can sign up online to receive sale updates. Whereas most smartwatches are marketed toward consumers of either gender, Bastian’s device is meant to be showcased on the wrist of a gentleman—with its 44mm stainless steel case, inlaid button controls, and three interchangeable bands (brown leather, green nylon, or black rubber).

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Five apps that will help automate your home – As Internet of Things technologies catch on, home automation solutions are gaining popularity. Here are several apps that let you automate everything from thermostats to security systems.

How to be a social media team of one: 7 tips – It’s not uncommon to be a solo artist in social media. These seven tips will make your experience easier.

Security:

Researcher says PayPal’s two-factor authentication is easily beaten – A security feature offered by PayPal to help prevent accounts from being taken over by hackers can be easily circumvented, an Australian security researcher has found. Joshua Rogers, a 17-year-old based in Melbourne, found a way to get access to a PayPal account that has enabled two-factor authentication. He published details of the attack on his blog on Monday after he said PayPal failed to fix the flaw despite being notified on June 5.

If you ate at one of these PF Chang’s restaurants, your bank card is at risk – US eatery chain P.F. Chang’s has named 33 of its restaurants that were compromised by bank card fraudsters this year. The company said payment systems at its Chinese bistros in states from California to Florida were infiltrated, allowing crooks to siphon off victims’ credit and debit card details.

Hacker claims planes can be hacked through on-board WiFi – Passenger airplanes are vulnerable to hackers because of their on-board WiFi, says security researcher Ruben Santamarta. According to Santamarta, he has come up with a way to compromise the communications equipment on passenger planes, a serious threat if it is determined to be true.

Researchers to name the most hackable cars at Black Hat – A report to be presented this week at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas will detail which vehicles are most vulnerable to hacker attacks via a car’s Bluetooth, telematics or on-board phone applications. Researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, who in the past have issued reports on the most vulnerable vehicles, intend to release an update showing the most and least hackable cars.

Multi Function p0wnage just getting worse, researcher finds – It is now easier than ever to hack corporate networks through multifunction printers, which can even offer up access to Active Directory accounts according to security consultant Deral Heiland. The mustachioed Rapid 7 tech veteran said his team now gained access to corporate active directory credentials through credentials stored in the latest printers in one in every two attempts. Four years ago they had only a 10 to 15 percent success rate. High end Konica Minolta, Sharp, Dell, Canon and HP enterprise multi function printers spewed usernames, email addresses and passwords from address books, even after some vendors released fixes. They coughed up Active Directory usernames and application data and offered hostname information.

Company News:

Facebook slapped with $123 million revenge-porn lawsuit – For months, Facebook hosted a revenge-porn page dedicated to humiliating one Texas woman with Photoshopped clips of her face pasted onto porn shots, a US woman from Texas is claiming. Facebook’s report abuse procedure got her nowhere; only a police subpoena got through. Is that Report Abuse button actually hooked up to anything, or is it buzzing in an empty room?

LinkedIn paying shorted employees $6 million in unpaid wages, damages – Professional-networking site LinkedIn is agreeing to pay nearly $3.35 million in unpaid overtime to 359 workers, in addition to $2.5 million in damages under a deal announced Monday with the US Department of Labor. The accord covers current and former employees at LinkedIn offices in California, Illinois, Nebraska, and New York. “This company has shown a great deal of integrity by fully cooperating with investigators and stepping up to the plate without hesitation to help make workers whole,” David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, said in a statement.

BlackBerry: Our restructuring is over – now we’re hiring – BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said that the company’s three-year restructuring – which has seen its workforce reduced by 60% to just 7,000 – is now over, and BlackBerry will soon begin hiring again.

Surface damage mounts at Microsoft as red ink hits $1.7B – Microsoft lost money on its Surface tablets throughout its just-concluded 2014 fiscal year, adding hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink.

Games and Entertainment:

5 Steam Early Access Games Worth Checking Out – Last year, Valve announced Steam Early Access, a repository for games that are still in development but available for purchase. With hundreds of options, what should you play? We picked five great games that not only have ambitious projects, but also provide enough content to keep you entertained. Check them out in the slideshow, but a word of warning: some of the featured videos are NSFW, so it might be best to view this at home.

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Flappy Bird returns as Flappy Birds Family – After a long hiatus, ‘Flappy Bird’ has returned. The addictive title that was released in 2013 has now been re-released and includes selectable characters, new obstacles, and a multiplayer mode.

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Want to be in a comic? Try these three apps – Now that Comic-Con is over, we’re sure there is an unpleasant return to reality. The humdrum droll of real life can get you down, but it doesn’t have to. If you want to animate your life, we’ve got a few apps you might want to check out. Whether it be a quick bit of avatar fun, or taking pics and making the moment pop like the animated books you love, these three will help you through it.

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White Xbox One with Sunset Overdrive expected later this year, Madden bundle available 8/26 – Microsoft is preparing to release a couple of Xbox One bundles in the near future and one of them will include a White Xbox One with the highly anticipated upcoming game, Sunset Overdrive.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Robot bees being built to replace real bugs – A little over a year after the first robot insect swarm was introduced by Harvard University’s Robert Wood, the bee problem in the United States hasn’t gotten any better. It’s not a problem of too many bees – on the contrary. Researchers are looking into ways to create artificial bees because of incredible losses of bees – and we need bees to pollinate the food we eat.

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Amid backlash, hotel rescinds $500 fines for “negative” online reviews – Apparently recognizing that restaurants and hotels can live and die by their online ratings, the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, NY included a table-turning clause in their reservation policies: if you book an event at the hotel and a member of your party posts a negative review, the hotel will fine you $500.

As initially reported by Page Six News, the Events and Weddings page on the hotel’s website contained the following language:

If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH, there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any Internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event. If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any Internet site, you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review.

TD Bank’s Automated Thanking Machine touched people’s lives – TD Canada had an idea. It wanted to demonstrated the power of gratitude and thank its loyal customers in the most unforgettable way ever. And so they transformed what seemed like an innocent looking ATM into an “Automated Thanking Machine” and gave these people gifts that may have undoubtedly changed their lives forever.

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Gorgeous astrophotography video shows heavens from Earth – Photographer Gavin Heffernan turns his lens on the night skies from two US national parks to make an awe-inspiring video that looks like something out of a fantasy novel.

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MIT Researchers Can Spy on Your Conversations With a Potato-Chip Bag: There’s eavesdropping, and then there’s this – There’s a new threat to privacy lurking in our midst: potato-chip bags, which scientists can watch closely to figure out what you’re saying in conversations. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Microsoft and Adobe can reconstruct intelligible audio of speech by videotaping and analyzing the tiny vibrations of objects — like potato-chip bags — thanks to a new algorithm they’ve developed.

Something to think about:

Dwight D. Eisenhower exit speech on Jan.17,1961 warning us of the military industrial complex.

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Today’s Free Downloads:

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Download at: vpnbrowser.org

Media Player Classic Home Cinema 1.7.6.139 Beta – Media Player Classic – Home Cinema application was designed to be a Media Player Classic but for home cinema usage.

Supported Decoding:

MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 playback. Media Player Classic is capable of VCD, SVCD and DVD playback, without the need to install any additional software or codecs.

It has built-in codecs for MPEG-2 video and codecs for LPCM, MP2, AC3 and DTS audio, and also contains an improved MPEG splitter that supports playback of VCDs and SVCDs using its VCD/SVCD/XCD Reader. A *.mp4 and MPEG-4 Timed Text support added. An AAC decoding filter makes MPC suitable for AAC playback in MP4.

MPC Home Cinema also has H.264 and VC-1 with DXVA support, DivX, Xvid, and Flash Video formats is available in MPC HC. MPC can also use the QuickTime and the RealPlayer architectures. Media Player Classic supports native playback of OGM and Matroska container formats.

Supported Video, Audio and Image File Formats:

WAV, WMA, MP3, OGG, SND, AU, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, MIDI, MPEG, MPG, MP2, VOB, AC3, DTS, ASX, M3U, PLS, WAX, ASF, WM, WMA, WMV, AVI, CDA, JPEG, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, D2V, MP4, SWF, MOV, QT, FLV, WEBM

Additional Player Features:

Option to remove Tearing.

Better support for Windows Vista and 7, including a release for 64 bits platform.

Full ICC color management

Support for EVR (Enhanced Video Renderer)

Usage of Toolbar images

Supports Subtitles.

Playback and recording of television if a supported TV tuner is installed.

Creation of minidump when MPC HC crashes.

OSD (On Screen Display)

Support Multi-Monitor configuration

Pixel shader to convert BT601 – BT701

YV12 Chroma Upsampling pixel shader

Language Translations.

All features from the Guliverkli MPC Project from Gabest.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA leaker Thomas Drake says Oz security reforms are ‘scary’ – National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake says Australia’s looming national security reforms makes him ‘shudder’, labelling them ambiguous and a plot to stamp out legitimate public-interest whistleblowing.

Drake, who Edward Snowden said was his inspiration for leaking the NSA spy documents, blew the lid in 2006 on the NSA’s massively inefficient Trailblazer Project while at the agency that wasted billions of US dollars in spy operations post 9/11.

He along with NSA colleagues had built ThinThread what he said was a much more efficient intelligence program that cost a fraction of the Trailblazer Project and had more checks and balances in place to prevent wholesale collection of private data.

“A secret is what the Government says is a secret, and what is a special intelligence operation,” Drake told a small gathering of security and privacy pundits in Melbourne on Friday.

“I think it is really designed to deal with people like myself and others who would dare to bring to light those activities that are behind the shield of national security.

“It will send an extraordinarily stark message; ‘even if you see something bad, just shut up’.”

The Australian security reforms, spearheaded by Federal Attorney General George Brandis, would criminalise journalists and activists who would help whistleblowers leak information to the public.

The laws would introduce enhanced abilities for clandestine targeted malware implantation to combat whistleblowing terrorism and impose strict penalties for those who leak sensitive state information.

Drake said the laws will criminalise attempts to reveal corruption and invasions of privacy and urged Australia’s press to rally against the laws to prevent them from coming into effect.

Leaked docs reveal power of malware-for-government product ‘FinFisher’ – A string of documents detailing the operations and effectiveness of the FinFisher suite of surveillance platforms appears to have been leaked.

The documents, some dated 4 April this year, detail the anti-virus detection rates of the FinFisher spyware which German based Gamma Group sold to governments and law enforcement agencies.

The leaks were posted to cyberlocker Dropbox by a parody Gamma Group Twitter account (@GammaGroupPR) that began posting links to the documents and satirical tweets today.

It proclaimed to the amusement of followers that the products were being sold to the general public because the company had “run out of governments to sell to”.

Gamma Group and the operator of the fake Twitter account did not confirm the legitimacy of the documents or whether the company was breached by the time of publication. However the documents did not appear to have been posted elsewhere and included a purported screen shot of a customer’s FinSpy installation.

Information on Gamma Group’s spy kit was last leaked to Wikileaks in October 2011 under the Spy Files. Since then the targeted malware offerings had become under fire from activist and privacy groups.

One spreadsheet titled FinFisher Products Extended Antivirus Test dated April shows how the software performed against 35 popular anti-virus products with most ‘passing’. That means FinFisher would probably not be detected by a targeted users’ security systems.

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Snowden latest: NSA targets Gaza, pumps intelligence to Israel – According to the latest drop of leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the US spy agency provides financial assistance, weapons and signals intelligence to Israel.

The Intercept reports that Canadian, British and Jordanian signals intelligence is also shared with Israel. This intelligence relates to Palestinian targets, including those in Gaza, according to the documents handed to Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald.

According to Greenwald, one document dated April 2013 reads: “[The] NSA maintains a far-reaching technical and analytic relationship with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU) sharing information on access, intercept, targeting, language, analysis and reporting.”

Another top-secret document appears to detail a 2009 cooperative surveillance-sharing relationship effort, code named “YESTERNIGHT” by the NSA, GCHQ, and the ISNU. The timing of the sharing arrangement coincides with the 2009 “Cast Lead” Israeli attack on Gaza that marked the last significant conflict in the area before the current, ongoing hostilities.

“[The] new Snowden documents illustrate a crucial fact: Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government, which is anything but a neutral, peace-brokering party in these attacks,” wrote Greenwald. “The relationship between the NSA and its partners on the one hand, and the Israeli spying agency on the other, is at the center of that enabling.”

8 Comments

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

8 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 5, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    ‘Snowden latest: NSA targets Gaza, pumps intelligence to Israel’

    The raw data on Americans, just plain old citizens collected by the NSA is shared with Israel. The following was published in the Guardian September 2013:

    >>The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals…

    According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.<<
    How are things in Canada do you think?

    Best wishes as always,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      Certainly, members of the 5 Eyes (including Canada), do this sort of thing routinely. In doing so, they can evade specific legal restrictions in place within their own countries by grabbing data provided by their offshore partners in crime.

      The U.S. is continually on the wrong side of history in it’s support of Israeli aggression, and the rest of the world continues to pay for the backlash generated by this unsustainable American support for brutality. We need to do all we can to suppress this state sanctioned murder of innocents.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. delenn13

    Hey Bill,
    A friend of mine was checking this out… About us. | Free VPN Browser Globus and he found this…About us. Contact details. | Free VPN Browser Woogamble. Seems to have the same contact info. Have you tried either?

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Yep, I gave the browser a bit of a run – not bad. I plan on keeping it on the system for a few weeks to get a better feel.

      I’m not surprised to see the connection. Seems like an natural expansion into the mainstream.

      Have a super weekend. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  3. John

    Belatedly checked into the anonymous email service called “Leak” and discovered this message: “Due to the huge success of Leak, we were forced by third parties to suspend the service. We’ll try to fix this.”

    • Thanks for that John.

      I did a few Google searches using different parameters – but, very little info on this. What little info there was, seemed less than positive.

      It may well be, since the developers are French, that they have run afoul of France’s very tough anti-bullying laws. Admittedly, just a guess. :)

      Best,

      Bill

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