Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 15, 2014

10 icon packs to spruce up your boring old Android device;  How to set up streaming video services;  Optimize Wi-Fi for your small business;  TechTip: How to see when an email you sent is opened;  Five free web apps for graphing dynamic data;  Switching from Android to iOS? 11 tips to help make the move;  Sprint to slash pricing starting next week;  Chart shows top game pirated in each state;  World of Warcraft gamers sentenced for neglecting kids;  Ferguson unrest tests legal right to film police;  The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light.

10 icon packs to spruce up your boring old Android device – Feeling uninspired? Try skinning your interface with these icons packs to add some pizzazz to your home screen.

TechTip: How to see when an email you sent is opened – Signals by Hubspot is a free app for Google’s Chrome browser that tracks when someone opens your email. See how it works in this Tech Tip.

How to set up streaming video services – Between Roku, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation — and another half-dozen device names sitting on the tip of my tongue — streaming video is now commonplace. After powering on a streaming device for first time, where do you even begin? I recommend setting up the most popular streaming services, beginning with Netflix, followed by four more popular streaming services.

Chromebook’s big edge over Windows, Macs – Unlike Macs or Windows PCs, Chromebooks don’t have a real OS. And for many, that’s a key advantage.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

YouTube Rolls Out New TV Interface, Starts With Xbox One – YouTube is launching a redesigned HTML5-based TV interface today that will put a stronger emphasis on your playlists and the channels you subscribe to. This new version is rolling out for the Xbox One now and will find its way to other connected devices like the PS3, Roku, smart TVs, streaming players and Blu-ray players soon. Unlike the previous version, which seemed more focused on browsing without being logged in, this new interface puts more emphasis on your subscriptions, personalized recommendations, uploads and history.

How to switch Chrome channels to test new features before they’re cool – Google Chrome’s coolest new features are available only to those who want to live a little closer to the edge. Want a 64-bit version of Chrome? How about DRM support in HTML5? You’re not going to find those in vanilla Chrome just yet. Switching Chrome’s release channels lets you try new features while they’re still in development. Just remember, this early access comes at a cost: stability. It takes only a few steps (albeit careful ones) to switch channels. And if the result is too unreliable for your liking, you can always revert to the stable version.

Gone Google? Optimize Wi-Fi for your small business – Has your small business “Gone Google” but kept your slow network setup? Andy Wolber shows you how to upgrade and optimize Wi-Fi for faster networking.

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Five free web apps for graphing dynamic data – Charting tools have come a long way from the static output offered by spreadsheets. Check out these free online apps that let you create compelling charts using real-time data.

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Switching from Android to iOS? 11 tips to help make the move – Thinking about switching from an Android to an iPhone? iOS 8 could be the right time to say goodbye to the Google OS.

Bumped From Your Hotel? WalkSource Aims To Find You A Free Room Fast – You’re probably familiar with getting bumped from a flight. But have you ever been “walked” from a hotel? Like airlines, hotels book more reservations than they can accommodate to ensure they are always operating at maximum capacity. But sometimes they overbook and have to “walk” their customers — transfer them to another hotel.

Twitter Evaluating How to Attack Comment Trolls – Twitter has committed to evaluating its policies after the daughter of Robin Williams was forced to abandon the social network due to the cruel posts of Internet commenters. Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, told The Washington Post that the micro-blogging site is “in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one.”

Senator Calls On FCC To Hold Net Neutrality Round Tables Outside Of Washington – Senator Patrick Leahy recently called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to host round-table discussions about net neutrality outside of Washington. The agency previously announced that it will hold a number of sessions concerning the open Internet inside of the capital. The FCC should heed the senator’s call and follow through with hosting sessions around the country.

Zappos, MapMyFitness will tell you when you need new running shoes – The fitness tracking app’s community of runners can now track the wear of their most important gear — their shoes — and buy new ones directly from the online retailer within the app.

Security:

Chrome’s Safe Browsing Tool Now Also Protects You From Downloading Deceptive Software – Over the years, Google has added all kinds of security features into Chrome through its Safe Browsing service. It can warn you when you are surfing to a site that it deems unsafe, like malware and phishing sites, but also when you are about to download software from known malware sites. Starting today, Google is expanding this program to include downloads of “deceptive software,” that is programs that pretend to be helpful but actually make changes to your operating system or browser.

Make Passwords Strong And Long – We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. The longer your password (or passphrase) the harder it is for hackers to crack it. Type in a favorite quote or sentence, omitting spaces, and you’ve got a decent passphrase. Yes, there are other types of cracking attacks. Rather than hash every single combination of characters, a dictionary attack hashes combinations of known words, narrowing the scope of the search significantly. But with a long enough password, brute-force cracking would still take centuries. Hackers will crack @u8vRj&R3*4h before they crack StatelyPlumpBuckMulligan or ItWasTheBestOfTimes.

Why spammers persist despite filters and well-informed users – To put it bluntly, some people don’t get it. As George Carlin put it, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” Spammers don’t even need to count on the less intelligent half of humanity. All they need to turn a profit is a very tiny fraction of the population. Now then, about spam filters….

Ferguson, Mo., police site hit with DDoS attack – Hackers have made the St. Louis County Police their new target. The police department’s website has been offline since Wednesday and continued to be down on Thursday. The police have confirmed to several news outlets that they are under “some sort of cyber-attack” and their e-mail has also been down.

Vast majority of hackers believe they’re above the law — survey – When most hackers are infiltrating computer systems, the last thing on their mind is getting caught, according to new data. In fact, despite many highly publicized arrests, 86 percent of hackers believe they will never face repercussions. Password protection software firm Thycotic published the results of a survey on Thursday that looks at what makes hackers tick. The firm interviewed 127 self-identified hackers during Black Hat 2014 earlier this month and came up with some surprising details.

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Company News:

Sprint to slash pricing starting next week, report says – Sprint’s new CEO has only been on the job four days and is already promising employees “disruptive” price cuts as soon as next week, according to a report from Light Reading. Will this move finally stem Sprint’s subscriber losses?

Samsung buys SmartThings in preemptive HomeKit strike – Home automation start-up SmartThings has been snapped up by Samsung, with the South Korean firm grabbing the modular smart home specialist. The deal will see SmartThings – which offers a wireless home hub that connects to various sensors, remote sockets, light bulbs, and other components – operate as an independent company as part of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center group, though it’s still likely to prompt some concerns from avid fans of the firm.

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Microsoft Debated Rebranding Internet Explorer – In a Reddit AMA session, the Internet Explorer team revealed that it has discussed rebranding the browser. The comment was made in response to a query referring to the negative market perception that Internet Explorer garnered during its Dark Age interregnum. It’s fair to say that Internet Explorer has improved rapidly in recent years. Its brand, however, has lagged.

Uber Gives Middle Finger To Ban In Berlin – Berlin’s State Department of Civil and Regulatory Affairs has served up a prohibitive order to Uber this morning saying the San Francisco-based ridesharing service hadn’t done enough to protect the safety of its passengers. The department has threatened Uber with a 25,000 euro (£20,000) fine should it ignore the order. Uber drivers are still in operation in the city, despite the ban.

Games and Entertainment:

Sherlock: The Network review: Crack cases with Holmes and Watson – Fans of BBC’s hit show Sherlock have a long wait for new episodes, as filming is not scheduled to begin until next year. Fortunately, the excellent game Sherlock: The Network can help you get your fix. The game is finally on Android after a popular run on iOS. It is available for both phones and tablets from Google Play. You play as a member of Sherlock’s Homeless Network, sent out to solve crimes that are not important enough for the renowned, highly-functioning sociopath.

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Pinball FX2 offers up free game and Xbox 360 imports for Xbox One – The wait is finally over: Pinball FX2 is now available for free download on the Xbox One. Although the game was supposed to be released on July 31st, Zen Studios ended up pushing the release date back once Microsoft confirmed that they would allow previously purchased tables to be imported into the Xbox One version, and that was the right decision to make.

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Surgeon Simulator Comes to Android, Fake Medical License in Hand – Android users have been begging and pleading with the developers of Surgeon Simulator for months to bring the title to Android, and now it has finally happened. The Android trailer is even a delightful little troll in honor of all the Android fans who complained since the title came out on iOS. Surgeon Simulator, much like the developers, has a sense of humor.

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Chart shows top game pirated in each state; Watch Dogs tops the list – Despite numerous efforts to stomp out piracy, Internet goers still turn to bittorrent and other sources to procure digital wares. Movoto has taken an extensive look at game pirating and broken the information down by state, revealing what game is being most pirated in each state.

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Sneak Peek: World of Warcraft’s ‘Warlords of Draenor’ – Blizzard has officially kicked off the next phase of its massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft. A brand-new cinematic for the game’s fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was revealed today at a special community event in Los Angeles — as was its release date: Nov. 13.

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Minecraft convention cancelled, organizers disappear with money – The organizers between a big unofficial conference set to take place in New York City in July seem to have pulled off a grand scam, despite their previous proclamation on Twitter of, “PLEASE NOTE WE ARE NOT A SCAM.” The folks behind it cancelled the event at the last minute, promising refunds, only to disappear seemingly without a trace.

Lego Fusion Town Master review: It’s like The Sims with Legos – Build a town, complete missions, and keep your little yellow citizens smiling with this clever game that mixes low-tech bricks with a high-tech app for phones and tablets.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

X-ray gifs show human joints in motion – Lots of people get X-rays. There’s something fascinating about seeing what’s beneath your skin with such clarity: the bones you know are there, but — hopefully — remain hidden. It’s not often, however, that we get to see real skeletons, not animations, in motion. A series of gifs created by designer and developer Cameron Drake in collaboration with and for orthopaedic surgeon Dr Noah Weiss showcases some of these motions. Dr Weiss conceived the idea and took the X-ray footage (which can be seen on his YouTube channel), and Drake converted them into gifs for Dr Weiss’ website.

World of Warcraft gamers sentenced for neglecting kids – Unfortunately, stories about children neglected by parents who become obsessed with a video game aren’t unheard of, and latest to the list is a married couple from Anaheim, California. The parents, obsessed with playing World of Warcraft, were arrested and later sentenced for failing to feed and care for their children. The abuse was said to have lasted for three years, with both the parents playing WoW while their mobile home fell down around them — the kitchen was said to be full of mold and spider webs, trash, and other nasties.

Customer claims Apple Store printed homophobic slur on his receipt – A man alleges that he visited an Apple Store in Portland, Oregon, and left with a homophobic slur printed on his receipt, entered by the store employee that served him. The employee apparently entered the customer Adam Catanzarite’s email address on the account as “f@g.com” Catanzarite took to Facebook to share a photo of the receipt, apparently showing that his email address was indeed entered that way on an actual Apple Store receipt. “I got called a f@g by an Apple employee here in Portland,” he said.

Something to think about:

“Any community’s arm of force – military, police, security – needs people in it who can do necessary evil, and yet not be made evil by it. To do only the necessary and no more. To constantly question the assumptions, to stop the slide into atrocity.”

-      Lois McMaster Bujold

Today’s Free Downloads:

Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool August 14, 2014 – Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool is a utility designed to remove all types of threats from computers. Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool uses the effective detection algorithms realized in Kaspersky Anti-Virus and AVZ.

Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool does not provide resident protection for your computer. After disinfecting a computer, you are supposed to remove the tool and install a full version of antivirus software.

Advantages:

Simplified interface.

Can be installed to an infected computer (Safe Mode supported).

Composite scan and disinfection system: signature detection and heuristic analyzer.

Gathering system information and interactive creation of scripts for disinfection.

General functions:

Automatic and manual removal of virus, Trojans and worms.

Automatic and manual removal of Spyware and Adware modules.

Automatic and manual removal of all types of rootkits.

Known issues:

System memory scan is unavailable in x64 versions of Windows XP / Vista / 7 due to specific features of application system drivers.

Impossible to rename application folder if User Account Control is enabled in Windows Vista settings and application Self-Defence disabled.

Support rules for Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool:

Technical support is provided only for users of Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Kaspersky Internet Security. If you are not a user of a Kaspersky Lab product, then in order to get technical support available for the tool, visit Kaspersky Lab

MP3 Skype Recorder – This software is designed to record Skype calls even ones over landlines. The recordings can be saved at the desired bit-rate and in mono or stereo.

Features:

Automatic or manual recording capabilities.

Compact format of stored records (mp3 files).

May be used to record P2P, SkypeOut calls and calls made to Online number.

Capable to track simultaneous calls and to save them separately.

Easy integration with Skype Conference recording.

Intuitive easy to use interface.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Ferguson unrest tests legal right to film police – Reports from Ferguson suggest that police — many from St. Louis County — have become aggressive in their requests for members of the media and others to stop filming with their cell phones and other cameras.

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, who was arrested along with the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly, says he was brusquely asked by the police to stop filming.

Over the last couple of years, as cell phones have become almost ubiquitous, police officers in various parts of the US have become irked at being filmed in the course of their duty. Some situations seemed trivial, others severe.

Police have even been accused of erasing cell phone footage of their behavior footage taken by bystanders.

The law, though, has only really been tested since 2011. Legal decisions move far more slowly than technological developments.

In essence, though, citizens have the First Amendment right to film police officers in their line of duty in any public place. The only caveat is that those filming shouldn’t be obstructing the officers in the process.

The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson – The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarization” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”

The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.

It is the destructive by-product of several decades of deliberate militarization of American policing, a trend that received a sustained (and ongoing) steroid injection in the form of a still-flowing, post-9/11 federal funding bonanza, all justified in the name of “homeland security.” This has resulted in a domestic police force that looks, thinks, and acts more like an invading and occupying military than a community-based force to protect the public.

As is true for most issues of excessive and abusive policing, police militarization is overwhelmingly and disproportionately directed at minorities and poor communities, ensuring that the problem largely festers in the dark. Americans are now so accustomed to seeing police officers decked in camouflage and Robocop-style costumes, riding in armored vehicles and carrying automatic weapons first introduced during the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, that it has become normalized. But those who bear the brunt of this transformation are those who lack loud megaphones; their complaints of the inevitable and severe abuse that results have largely been met with indifference.

If anything positive can come from the Ferguson travesties, it is that the completely out-of-control orgy of domestic police militarization receives long-overdue attention and reining in.

AOL, Adobe, Salesforce Among 30 US Companies Said To Be Violating EU Data Transfer Deal – Thirty U.S. companies — including software giant Adobe, TechCrunch owner AOL and SaaS CRM purveyor Salesforce.com — have been identified as in probable violation of a EU-US agreement aimed at safeguarding personal data transfers in a complaint filed with the FTC by US consumer privacy rights NGO the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD).

The Safe Harbour agreement between the EU and the U..S governs the transatlantic transfer of personal data for commercial purposes — such as for cloud-based digital services where EU citizens’ data is stored and processed in the US. An agreement is necessary for personal data to flow from Europe to the US because the EU has a more formalised system of privacy legislation than the US. The FTC enforces Safe Harbour certifications in the US.

The list of companies named in the filing includes: Acxiom, Adara Media, Adobe, Adometry, Alterian, AOL, AppNexus, Bizo, BlueKai, Criteo, Datalogix, DataXu, EveryScreen Media, ExactTarget, Gigya, HasOffers, Jumptap, Lithium, Lotame, Marketo, MediaMath, Merkle, Neustar, PubMatic, Salesforce.com, SDL, SpredFast, Sprinklr, Turn, and Xaxis.

The named companies include data brokers, data management platforms and profilers and mobile marketers — in other words, companies who make it their business to join digital dots of personal information to flesh out detailed profiles of consumers to sell on to advertisers.

The CDD says its filing provides “factual information and legal analysis on probable violations of Safe Harbor commitments that materially mislead EU consumers”.

Five American Muslims sue FBI, attorney general over travel watch list – A group of five Muslims (four of whom are United States citizens) have sued top American government officials, alleging that their constitutional rights have been violated for having been put on a federal watch list.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday in federal court in Detroit, accuses numerous leaders—including the attorney general, the directors of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and others—of violating their constitutional rights to due process and the right to be free from religious discrimination.

In the complaint, each person outlines a similar story: being detained at the border, often having digital devices seized, and being subject to prolonged physical searches. One was told that he was on the no-fly list and was later offered a chance to work on behalf of federal law enforcement in exchange for removal. He seems to have declined.

“This is the most common complaint that our office receives,” Lena Masri, the plaintiffs’ attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Ars. “Each of these plaintiffs has exhausted the only remedy available to them, which is an inquiry process, which is futile. Each of these plaintiffs is representative of American Muslims.”

The federal government has 60 days to formally respond to the lawsuit—the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

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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 15, 2014

  1. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Re: Make Passwords Strong And Long.

    “Hackers will crack @u8vRj&R3*4h before they crack StatelyPlumpBuckMulligan or ItWasTheBestOfTimes.”

    This comes as a big surprise to me as I always believed dictionary words were easier to crack, I use RoboForm to generate random passwords (other password managers are available ;)). Certainly those passwords are normally between 16 and 20 characters. I know longer ones would be more secure but there are occasions when it is necessary to enter them longhand and a 60 random character password would be a real pain. AlasPoorYorikIKnewHimHoratio would be much easier. Some sites even restrict the number of characters you can use.

    It appears from this article that all that is required to create secure passwords is a dictionary of quotations and to run the words together. Perhaps the old joke about the guy who, when told the password must contain 8 characters, used SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs was not so stupid after all.

    A very interesting article, thanks.

    Kind regards,
    John

    • Hi John,

      lol! Got a burst of coffee up the nose from that one. Very funny!

      I mentioned last year (the year before?), that I often get the idea for a password from my “real world” paper calender (free), which comes by way of my taxi company – the kind (the calendar, that is), that’s full of little info tidbits. So, I find it easy to update passwords simply by choosing phrases from the calendar. I’ve long made it a habit of capitalizing the first letter in each word followed by a 4 digit number.

      Doesn’t seem to matter much in the overall scheme of things. We’re way past the day when only our own stupidity (lack of knowledge?), was the overriding cybersecurity threat. Now, it’s the incredible stupidity, the lack of care, amateurish negligence, lack of timely disclosure, insider corruption, and a host of other gaffes and breaches committed by our various Internet tie-ins. Makes me sad.

      Best,

      Bill

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