Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 12, 2014

Most people think public Wi-Fi is safe. Seriously?  How to kill unwanted processes and applications that slow down Windows;  How to send Facebook messages without the Messenger app; Shield Tablet review: The best tablet for gamers, but…;  Microsoft Readies $25 Feature Phone;  Nest thermostat turned into a smart spy in 15 seconds;  Dropbox for Android Gets Office Doc Previews;  YouTube for Android gets Quad HD playback;  First trailer for ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ multiplayer released;  Microsoft just made your shaky GoPro video watchable;   20 essential Roku channels for dedicated couch potatoes;  Our Bodies, Our Selfies: The Feminist Photo Revolution;  Advanced SystemCare 8 Free Beta 1.0;  Have our mobile devices become our enemies? Tech Companies, ACLU Voice Support For Facebook In Data Search Warrant Case.

Most people think public Wi-Fi is safe. Seriously? – Talk about dismaying numbers! In Ofcom’s recent report, three quarters of the public were unconcerned about security when accessing Wi-Fi outside of their homes, and were quite happy to do *anything* on public Wi-Fi. Help us educate them, please!

Have our mobile devices become our enemies? – Mobile devices were the epitome of personal devices, and users trusted them with everything. Is that perception changing, and if so, what does that mean for mobility?

Can we talk before we arrive in our technical dystopia? – As consumers continue to freely give away their personal information to corporate giants looking to monetise such information, and the extent of government surveillance across the world is still being learned, Alastair MacGibbon says it is time to have a rational conversation about technology’s impact on society.

How to kill unwanted processes and applications that slow down Windows – Windows PCs run a whole lot of code in the background, much of which slows you down and provides little or no benefit. Here’s how to stop them.

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Dropbox for Android Gets Office Doc Previews, Android L Fixes, and Better Search – The Dropbox app on Android gets the job done, but it’s not the prettiest thing in the world. Today’s update doesn’t really change that, but it does bring some useful new features to the table that should make it easier to manage documents saved in your cloud space from a phone or tablet

How to send Facebook messages without the Messenger app – If you’re a Facebook user, you’re probably aware by now that you can no longer send and receive messages from within the mobile app. The company now requires you to use the standalone Messenger app for mobile chats. Fortunately, there are two ways to deal with this.

Intel unwraps Core M chip that lets PCs run sans fans – The new 14 nanometer processor, codenamed Broadwell, allows for computers that are less than 9 millimeters thick, about a third the thickness of PCs from 2010.

Microsoft Readies $25 Feature Phone – Whether in the market for your first cell phone or just looking for a backup device while on vacation, the Nokia 130 comes with a 1.8-inch color display and a battery that lasts up to 36 days on standby. It also boasts a built-in video player, a music player with up to 46 hours playback on a single charge, and everyday essentials like a flashlight, FM radio, and USB charging.

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Beware of Bitcoin, US consumer agency warns – The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has posted a bulletin warning of the risks associated with the virtual currency, including exposure to hackers and scammers. Bitcoin advocates say it paints an incomplete picture.

Little app of horrors – A word of warning: the photographs found on the mobile application Figure 1 may make your stomach turn. They include—and you should skip to the next paragraph if descriptions of medical injuries will nauseate you—a swollen bloody thumb, recently reconstructed after a fireworks injury; a 17 year-old’s foot charred black by an electrical burn; and a worm pulled from a patient’s anus. Yes, really. This is the stuff that medical professionals don’t see everyday, which is exactly why they’re flocking to this photo-sharing app.

Shield Tablet review: The best tablet for gamers, but not for everyone else – Nvidia scores with the highest-performaning Android tablet, but non-gamers may find it hard to live with some of the tablet’s annoyances.

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10 things about (the Internet of) things – We’ve all heard about the promise of the Internet of Things, where your alarm clock will start your coffee maker and your refridgerator will tell you when it is time to buy new milk. That future is coming — many think it will even be here by 2025. But if you can’t wait that long for IoT, here are 10 things that are bringing the hyperconnected future to you today.

YouTube for Android gets Quad HD playback option – Google has made changes to its YouTube app on Android to introduce playback support for 1440p content, allowing devices with Quad HD screens to stream and display video at their full resolution.

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Snapchat Is Now The #3 Social App Among Millennials – That means the app is more popular than Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ or Tumblr among the millennial demographic, which comScore defines as those between the ages of 18 and 34. Millennials are the youngest, most active generation of mobile social networking users, and their habits are setting the stage to be the new “default” for the generations that follow, like Generation Z or Generation Alpha, or whatever we’re calling the born-with-iPad-in-hand kids.

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The first public beta of Elementary OS ‘Freya’ has been released – Elementary OS Freya is a favorite of Neowinian GNU/Linux users, and rightfully so. Something that GNU/Linux users had often suffered in compared to Windows and OSX users is a beautiful out-of-the-box design (although some would disagree that Windows still deserves to fall in that category). Something that came out of left-field for GNU/Linux users, initially as just a desktop environment that slowly progressed to a full-blown distribution, was Elementary OS.

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Chromebooks get more useful with Elementary OS Beta – Not that a Chromebook isn’t in itself useful enough for the masses, but the team behind the Linux-based operating system Elementary OS are aiming to make functionality easy. Using an installation format called “ChromeeOS”, users will be able to boot into either Chrome OS or Elementary OS whenever they like.

Microsoft just made your shaky GoPro video watchable – Wearable cameras like GoPro do a great job of giving a first-person view of extreme sports and other activities, but their often jerky footage can also end up doing a good job of triggering nausea. That’s where Microsoft Research’s new Hyperlapse system comes in, timelapse videos that run smoothly and pretty much jerk-free, despite coming from raw footage that jumps around madly. The Microsoft Research team is working on a Windows app which would allow GoPro and other sports camera users to work out their own Hyperlapse videos too.

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Security:

Black Hat: Nest thermostat turned into a smart spy in 15 seconds – No, the Nest thermostat can’t be remotely hacked. But you might think twice about buying one from somewhere other than Nest since a persistent backdoor can be added in about 15 seconds…a backdoor that you would have no way of knowing was there and was being used against you.

Meet WordHound, the tool that puts a personal touch on password cracking – Dubbed WordHound, the freely available tool scours press releases, white papers, and Twitter accounts belonging to companies or sites that have recently suffered security breaches. The software then generates a list of commonly found words or phrases that attackers can use when trying to convert cryptographic hashes from compromised password databases into the corresponding plaintext passcodes. The tool, devised by security consultant Matthew Marx, was unveiled Wednesday at Passwords 14 conference in Las Vegas.

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Blackphone “hacked”, root access gained via debug – Blackphone was originally billed as the most secure Android phone you could get. That claim may have been upended, as a hacker going by the handle @TeamAndIRC has gained root access using the Android Debugging Bridge (ADB). Blackphone is mildly disputing the security exploit, but also commend the team for bringing it to light.

Company News:

There’s no free lunch for short-changed Silicon Valley workers – US judge rules that more than 64,000 tech workers have a strong claim against Silicon Valley’s most successful companies in a lengthy conspiracy to hold down their wages and careers.

(Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe – imprison each and every company scumbag who had a hand in this unscrupulous and despotic scheme to devalue their own employees. These morally corrupt throwbacks to the Robber Baron era, not satisfied with compensation packages which should in themselves be dramatically curtailed, stole from the very people who’s efforts create an opportunity for these pigs to line up at the unsupportable compensation package trough.

In any other industry, this criminal activity would have destroyed multiple careers – but, not in an industry where bullshit and bravado form the basis for an ongoing business environment.

The overriding question that needs to be asked is – since these companies steal from their own employees, how often, and under what circumstances, have they stolen from you?

Companies like these don’t steal from their customers you say? Then read the eye opener directly below.)

Comcast conveniently forgets “no fees” promise until confronted by recording – Two weeks ago, in the wake of Ryan Block’s nightmare of a cancellation call, Comcast Chief Operating Officer Dave Watson issued an internal memo saying that the recording was “painful to listen to.” He exhorted his employees to “do better.” Unfortunately for Watson, another call surfaced on Sunday that will likely be just as painful: a fellow named Tim Davis called Comcast to contest some bogus charges on his bill and only managed to get them refunded because he had recordings of previous Comcast calls.

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Amazon to publishers: you think too small about cheap e-books: In the war for cheap e-books, Amazon tries to take shots at its opponent—and fails – Amazon is fighting hard to maintain its image as authors and customers slowly tear it apart over its fight for low e-book prices. As the fight carries on, it’s clear Amazon knows it has a retail reputation to lose, but the company is unsure how to reconcile that with the business dealings coming to light over the last few months.

Lyft accuses rival Uber of dirty ride-sharing tricks – Lyft says that Uber employees have ordered and cancelled thousands of Lyft rides since last fall, hurting its business.

CBS will start producing original programming for online streaming services – If you can’t beat ‘em… The company won’t talk specifics yet, but it looks like a CBS show may soon debut online instead of the on company’s television broadcast network.

Games and Entertainment:

First trailer for ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ multiplayer released – Slegehammer said the game will include all the traditional Call of Duty modes as well as some new modes, such as a Uplink, which sees players competing for a satellite drone to be thrown or jumped into the opposing team’s goal, similar to a game of football. “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” will be released for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on Nov. 4, though gamers who pre-order will receive it a day early. Those gamers will also receive two custom weapons and a special double-XP event the day before the game’s full retail release.

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Amazon Finally Brings Official Sev Zero Companion App to Play Store – Amazon has been busy cultivating it’s own little corner of Android with the Fire brand. There are Fire tablets, the Fire TV box, and now even a Fire Phone. Through all of that, Amazon has been holding some of its exclusive content back from other Android devices. Now at least some of it is coming to the Play Store with the launch of the Sev Zero: Air Support companion app. Sev Zero on the Fire TV is a third-person shooter—well, mostly.

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20 essential Roku channels for dedicated couch potatoes – While you won’t be able to stream your iTunes or Google Play purchases out of the box, Roku’s diverse library still covers an enormous array of genres to fit every taste, from instructional podcasts to the latest Hollywood hits. But with more than 1,500 channels, it can be difficult to navigate them all. That’s why we’ve narrowed the list down to 20 you absolutely need to install.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Skully Augmented Reality Motorcycle Helmet on Sale – Skully is now taking pre-orders for its AR-1 motorcycle helmet, which integrates a heads-up display for driving directions, incoming calls, speed data, and more. Information is displayed about 10 feet in front of the rider; in a video demo (below), it looks similar to alerts you might receive on Google Glass. The AR-1 made its debut in 2013 in beta, but it is now (almost) ready for primetime. Skully is taking pre-orders on Indiegogo, where the AR-1 is available at an introductory price of $1,399; it will eventually retail for $1,499. Skully expects to ship the AR-1 in May 2015.

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Irrational Fear of Risks Against Our Children – There’s a horrible story of a South Carolina mother arrested for letting her 9-year-old daughter play alone at a park while she was at work. The article linked to another article about a woman convicted of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” for leaving her 4-year-old son in the car for a few minutes. That article contains some excellent commentary by the very sensible Free Range Kids blogger Lenore Skenazy:

See all 135 NASA Space Shuttle launches in one video montage – America is still without a dedicated orbital spacecraft following the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Still, the Shuttle had a pretty good run, having made its first flight way back in 1981. Now you can check out every one of the 135 Shuttle launches in one convenient two hour YouTube video. Okay, maybe “convenient” isn’t the right word, but it’s still an awesome resource.

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Our Bodies, Our Selfies: The Feminist Photo Revolution – Self-portraits have been an outlet for feminist expression, and subversion, for a long time. But when it comes to modern-day beauty representations, what we see daily is often a familiar spectrum of vanilla: white, gaunt, emotionless and airbrushed beyond recognition. Selfies are pushing back against that beauty ideal, through thousands of images of “real” women that they’ve created and shared themselves. “Selfies open up deep issues about who controls the image of women,” says Peggy Phelan, an art and English professor at Stanford University and the author of a recent essay about feminist selfies. “Selfies make possible a vast array of gazes that simply were not seen before.”

Enroll your outdoor cat in a GPS cat-tracking project – Cat Tracker is open to cat owners who are cool with making a DIY GPS harness, setting the cat loose for nine days, and then uploading the data to the project runners. As a result, you get to see where your kitty roamed during that time and the researchers learn more about the movement patterns of cats. The project is run by Your Wild Life, a team of biologists and citizen-scientists, in collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science and animal movement database organization Movebank.

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Something to think about:

“All the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.”

-   Harry S Truman

Today’s Free Downloads:

Synei System Utilities – Synei System Utilities is a complete care package for your computer! This program will clean, speed up, maintain, secure, and repair your system to make your computer run like brand new.

Features:

Optimization you can actually feel – Built precisely for maximum optimization. Compare with other optimization software and experience how our product makes your computer much faster.

Defrag your hard drives – Reorganizes files in your PC’s hard drives, so the files are systematized, which helps your PC achieve tasks quicker.

Customize to your preference – It’s highly customizable. Choose from multiple designed themes or create your own! Easily choose your desired settings to desired color.

You won’t even notice it running – There are many similar programs out there that not only constantly nag you with annoying pop ups or advertisement, but they also use up huge amounts of background resource. You’ll never get that from us; our programs are very light on resource and nag free.

Several Utilities on a simple interface – Whatever utility you need, it’s always there, whether you need disk cleaning or backing up. Don’t bog down your computer by installing several different utilities.

TuneUP Your System – Boosts your system and internet. It automatically modifies your registry settings for quality performance, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Don’t want to install? No problem! We offer both the installer and portable version. Portable version lets you run the program without installation. You can also take it with you and load it from anywhere, such as on a USB Drive.

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Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

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Advanced SystemCare 8 Free Beta 1.0 – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech Companies, ACLU Voice Support For Facebook In Data Search Warrant Case – A group of tech giants and civil liberties groups voiced their support on Friday for Facebook as it continues its legal battle to return private data collected in a set of bulk search warrants to its users and prevent future searches.

Facebook disclosed in June that a New York court forced the company to turn over personal data for almost 400 users in a disability fraud case. Although only 62 of the people were actually indicted in the case, the government retained private data for more than 300 people it did not charge. Facebook first turned over the data months ago, but the company could not disclose it to its customers because the court enforced a gag order.

In June Facebook filed an appellate brief in June to drive the court to return the data — which included photos and private messages — back to its users. The court responded by lifting the gag order on the case, allowing Facebook to at least inform the Facebook users that their data had been swept up in the bulk collection.

On Friday Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Meetup, Tumblr, New York Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU filed amicus briefs supporting Facebook.

In the first brief, Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yelp called the gag order that accompanied the court’s warrant unconstitutional, accusing the court of violating the First Amendment.

US court rules in favor of providing officials access to entire email account – A Judge in Columbia ruled that providing law enforcement with access to an entire email account in an investigation did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of property.

The order Friday by Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia reversed an earlier decision by Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola who refused to allow a two-step procedure whereby law enforcement is provided all emails relating to a target account, and is then allowed to examine the emails at a separate location to identify evidence.

The striking down of Judge Facciola’s ruling will likely fuel the privacy debate in the country. A New York judge defended last month his order that gave the government access to all content of the Gmail account of a target in a money laundering investigation.

Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that courts have long recognized the practical need for law enforcement to seize documents if only to determine whether they fall within the warrant.

The opinion was at odds with decisions by judges in several courts, Judge Gorenstein noted.

In his review, Judge Roberts appears to have taken a similar view on the issue as Judge Gorenstein in New York.

Judge affirms probationer has a right to tape police officer in her home: Ruling is one of many nationwide supporting right to record police – In February 2011, plaintiff Mary Crago was visited by three police officers, including defendant Officer Kenneth Leonard. Leonard was working on the Sacramento Police Department’s Metal Theft Task Force, and he was tipped off that Crago may have been involved in a theft involving a vehicle battery. Since Crago was on searchable probation, the officers entered her home—the door was open—and they found Crago “sitting on a mattress, digging furiously through a purse.”

According to court documents, “Inside the purse, defendant found a four-inch glass pipe and a small baggie with white residue. The white residue subsequently tested positive for methamphetamine.” Crago did not resist the officers’ search, but she allegedly told Leonard that she was recording the search on her laptop. Leonard then took her laptop and deleted her recording, telling her that recording was forbidden.

Crago then sued, saying her right to record the police in her home was protected by the First Amendment.

Father of PGP encryption: Telcos need to get out of bed with governments – Phil Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy public-key encryption, has some experience when it comes to the politics of crypto. During the “crypto wars” of the 1990s, Zimmermann fought to convince the US government to stop classifying PGP as a “munition” and shut down the Clipper Chip program—an effort to create a government-mandated encryption processor that would have given the NSA a back door into all encrypted electronic communication. Now Zimmermann and the company he co-founded are working to convince telecommunications companies—mostly overseas—that it’s time to end their nearly century-long cozy relationship with governments.

Zimmermann compared telephone companies’ thinking with the long-held belief that tomatoes were toxic until it was demonstrated they weren’t. “For a long time, for a hundred years, phone companies around the world have created a culture around themselves that is very cooperative with governments in invading people’s privacy. And these phone companies tend to think that there’s no other way—that they can’t break from this culture, that the tomatoes are poisonous,” he said.

Amtrak employee sold customer data to DEA for two decades – A former Amtrak employee has been giving passenger information to the Drug Enforcement Administration in exchange for money for nearly two decades, according to reports from the Whittier Daily News. A total of over $854,460 changed hands over the last 20 years, despite the fact that information relevant to the DEA’s work could have been obtained from Amtrak for free.

The employee, described as a “secretary to a train and engine crew” in a summary obtained by the AP, was selling the customer data with Amtrak’s approval. Amtrak and other transportation companies collect information from their customers including credit card numbers, travel itineraries, emergency contact info, passport numbers, and dates of birth. When booking tickets online in recent years, Amtrak has also collected phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

The Whittier Daily News points out that Amtrak’s corporate privacy policy allows the company to share this information with “certain trustworthy business partners,” however, the secretary’s actions didn’t happen under this sanction.

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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 – August 12, 2014

  1. Your article on using task manager to remove things that slow down your computer or are unwanted is very misleading. Most of the things in the process management section are REQUIRED system devices and either can’t be killed or if killed can have drastic effects on your computer. They are also only temporary, meaning that a reboot returns them all to their previous state. Very disappointed in that advice from an otherwise very good advice blog.

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