Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 19, 2014

Six ways to secure your vulnerable network router (pics);  ‘Google for kids’ reportedly in the works;  Four apps that give you free money;  New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security;  10 best Chrome apps for students;  HP Stream is a $199 Windows laptop for Google haters;  Noke Bluetooth padlock unlocks with a smartphone;  Check out the LibreOffice productivity suite (pictures);  Chinese Hackers Steal Personal Data From 4.5M Community Health Systems Patients;  Krysanec RAT Spies On Your Android;  Six Popular Linux Desktop Environments;  Has the US Legal System Always Been Such a Joke?  New tool for grading Iowa kids in gym class? Heart rate monitors;  Wifi Password Revealer (free);  New powers could give ASIO a warrant for the entire internet;  Twitter’s last experiment was unpopular… so they increased it;  Get the most out of your tech while traveling.

Six ways to secure your vulnerable network router (pictures) – Your home router is vulnerable to attacks as soon as you take it out of the box. Here are six things you can do to secure your network.


Four apps that give you free money – That’s right—you’re wasting precious time playing Candy Crush when you could be earning cold, hard cash! (For the purpose of this rhetorical question, using your phone for work email doesn’t count as making money.) Here are four free, awesome, easy-to-use apps that will pay you in cash—sometimes gift cards—just for using your phone in everyday situations. So what are you waiting for? The only thing stopping you from making money is the fact that you haven’t downloaded these apps yet.

‘Google for kids’ reportedly in the works – The only protection against children 13 and under signing up for restricted services is a confirmation page or a checkbox asking them to confirm whether they’re actually over the age of 13. But as anyone who had internet access as a child knows, this is easily bypassed, allowing kids to search potentially dubious content on the web. Google’s rumored new initiative may eliminate this entirely by placing access directly in the hands of parents, who can control and access their childrens’ viewing and browsing habits on services like YouTube via a custom dashboard.

Build and maintain your resume with the help of these five apps – Creating and updating a resume may not be anyone’s idea of fun, but it’s much easier than it used to be. Here are five tools that can simplify the process.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security – The amount of personal data traveling to and from the Internet has exploded, yet many applications and services continue to put user information at risk by not encrypting data sent over wireless networks. Software engineer Tony Webster has a classic solution—shame. Webster decided to see if a little public humiliation could convince companies to better secure their customers’ information. On Saturday, the consultant created a website, HTTP Shaming, and began posting cases of insecure communications, calling out businesses that send their customers’ personal information to the Internet without encrypting it first.

Microsoft Answer Desk 0x50 Stop error message – Microsoft is investigating behavior in which systems may crash with a 0x50 Stop error message (bugcheck) after any of the following updates are installed. Go here for a solution.

Twitter’s last experiment was unpopular… so they increased it – Earlier this month, Twitter quietly began a new experiment which pushed other users’ favorited tweets into your own timeline, as if they were retweets. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t especially welcome, so Twitter has taken the obvious next step: rolled it out to even more people.

10 best Chrome apps for students – Between the Chrome browser’s ubiquity on PCs and the surging potency of online capabilities, Google’s Chrome Web Store plays hosts to a legion of superb web-based applications that can tackle practically any productivity challenge. These 10 Chrome apps will give students (and anyone else!) a well-rounded tool set—one that transforms your browser into a true productivity powerhouse.

bKey battery lives on your keyring for emergency smartphone charging – The most important moments in the life of your smartphone are those minutes right before it runs out of juice. You send those last-second messages to your friends to let them know you are off the grid for a little while, and you venture out into the world without your digital tether until you find an appropriate charging area. The guys at bKey have a cool keyring battery that isn’t likely to save you from completely draining your phone, but it could give you a few more minutes of hope in an emergency.


HP Stream is a $199 Windows laptop for Google haters – What do you get if you rip Chrome OS out of the 14-inch HP Chromebook and stuff Windows 8.1 into it? The HP Stream, a laptop that’s going to fly off store shelves this Christmas with a $199 price tag. This could be one of HP’s hottest sellers ever — it’s priced like a Chromebook but it offers the advantages of the Windows ecosystem.


Here you learn exactly what a Chromebook can do – Interested in buying a Chromebook, but afraid they’re a bit too different from Windows laptops and MacBooks? Or, perhaps you already own a Chromebook, but you’ve yet to explore its capabilities. If either of these two sentences describe your experience, then you’ve come to the right place. Every day this week we’ll focus on a different aspect of Chromebooks, hopefully demystifying them a bit and showing exactly what they’re capable of. So go ahead and bookmark this page, then check back here tomorrow for a new Chromebook post. Wash, rinse, and repeat for a few days.

Simple.TV antenna DVR debuts ability to share recorded TV shows – Simple.TV says it doesn’t anticipate any legal issues for its new feature allowing users to share their recorded shows with up to five others, regardless of whether or not the invitees have the paid service.


Six Popular Linux Desktop Environments – Unlike Windows and OS X, Linux allows you to fully customize not only the look and feel of your desktop, but also its functionality as well as settings, through different “desktop environments”. These desktop environments offer different styles and options, and unavoidably, with choice often comes confusion. Today we’ll do a brief overview of the most popular Linux desktop environments to give you an idea about what each has to offer and what suits you the best.

Tom Hanks’ Typewriter App Shoots To The Top Of The App Store – Tom Hanks’ name can do more than sell a movie, it seems. His recently launched, hipster-ish typewriter app for iPad, Hanx Writer, has now shot to the top of the iTunes App Store, ranking No. 1 in both the Productivity section, as well as Overall. Launched last week, Hanx Writer turns your iPad into an old-fashioned typewriter, offering a pseudo-analog typing experience.


Noke Bluetooth padlock unlocks with a smartphone – FUZ Designs envisions a future where your smartphone replaces your key ring, at least as far as your padlock is concerned. The Noke (pronounced no-key) is a Bluetooth padlock that looks like an ordinary Masterlock, but rather than using a physical key, it unlocks at the presence of your handset.


Get the most out of your tech while traveling – For the next two weeks, we’ll show you the best ways to get the most out of your tech while traveling. Even if you’re just taking a weekend road trip, you’ve come to the right place. Expect a new blog every day focusing on a different aspect of travel.

Check out the LibreOffice productivity suite (pictures) – When you think office suite, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about the word processor. In LibreOffice’s case, that’s Writer: it does everything you’d expect from a modern Microsoft Office clone, including support for comments and tracking changes between multiple users. It will also read older Office documents that Microsoft Word has abandoned, which could come in handy if you have old Word files kicking around.




Chinese Hackers Steal Personal Data From 4.5M Community Health Systems Patients – Community Health Systems, one of the largest hospital operators in the U.S., today announced that hackers stole about 4.5 million records with patient names, addresses, birth data, phone numbers and Social Security numbers. The company says the data was stolen in attacks that occurred between April and June 2014 and the hackers gained access to data from anybody who was referred for or received services from any doctor affiliated with Community Health Systems. The only good news about this breach is that the hackers did not gain access to any medical records.

Krysanec RAT Spies On Your Android – If you saw an app called “The Nasty, Malicious App That Will Record Your Phone Calls and Worse,” you wouldn’t download it. That’s why Android malware creators repackage their nefarious software within legitimate, well-known apps. It’s a common tactic, and one that’s easy to pull off. It’s also the strategy used by Krysanec, a Remote Access Trojan discovered by ESET.

Phishing emails used to hack US Nuclear Regulator – The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, regulator of the nation’s use of nuclear materials and commercial power plants, was compromised three times in as many years, according to a report from Nextgov. Two of the hacks are said to have resulted from someone(s) abroad, while the third responsible party has not yet been identified.

Cracking smart house devices & pwning thousands of PCs via VNC remote access – Pen testers cracked the security of every IoT device within a smart house. Other researchers scanned the Internet and grabbed 30,000 screenshots in an hour of PCs running VNC without a password. Moral of the story? Change default usernames and use a strong password.

Can we make hack-proof computers? – They could be hack proof – or much less hackable – if security were built into them instead of bolted on. Here’s an example of what that means.

Company News:

Symantec folds nine Norton products into one service – Symantec will consolidate its cluttered Norton line of security software, folding nine products into one online service that can be used across desktop computers and mobile devices. The product, in beta now, will simply be called “Norton Security” and cost $79 a year when it goes on sale in North America on Sept. 23, said Gerry Egan, senior director of product management. It replaces Norton Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus and Norton360, among others.

Google Makes It Easier For Advertisers To Track Which Ads Generate Phone Calls – Over the course of the last year, Google’s AdWords advertising platform started launching a number of new products that allow advertisers to link ads and phone calls. Those include click-to-call ads, call metrics and calls as conversion in your AdWords stats, but today, it is taking this concept a bit further with the launch of Website Call Conversions.

New BlackBerry unit to focus on patents, software – BlackBerry said Monday it has created a new business unit that will include its 44,000 patents and several software projects, as the struggling handset maker seeks to find new revenue streams. The unit, called BlackBerry Technology Solutions, will be led by Sandeep Chennakeshu, who has been involved in wireless, semiconductors and other tech sectors for over 25 years. He has served as president of Ericsson Mobile Platforms and chief technology officer of Sony Ericsson, and is a named inventor on 73 patents. Chennakeshu starts immediately as the new unit’s president.

Ethical Quandry? Washington Post Adds Amazon Affiliate Links to Articles – It’s no great secret that making money via affiliate links can be a fairly lucrative business. Some major websites subsist almost entirely on revenues generated by a pay-per-sale system, and one of the bigger programs around is offered by Amazon. As Pando Daily noticed, however, Amazon has added affiliate links into editorial properties that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos now owns. We’re speaking, of course, about The Washington Post, which Bezos bought last year.

Report: Google to launch YouTube Music Key subscription service – According to an exclusive report by Android Police, Google has big plans to turn YouTube into a better place to listen to music. It’s called YouTube Music Key, and it offers ad-free music, audio-only playback, and offline playback. It’ll start at $9.99 a month—which is how much Google Play Music All Access costs now—and new users will be able to try it free for 30 days. That same ten bucks would give you a subscription to Play Music All Access, which would be renamed Google Play Music Key.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Video for Windows Phone gets an update: faster playback, better searches – For those who enjoy watching movies and TV shows on their smartphone or tablet, Windows Phone’s Xbox Video app is a must — and for those who already have it, the latest update makes the app better than ever. Several performance features have been added, including faster playback, better startup time, and refined search results.


Swing Copters Is The Latest Game From The Creator Of Flappy Bird – Take Flappy Bird, make the bird fly vertically and avoid swinging things, and you have Swing Copters, the next mobile game from Dong Nguyen. Because let’s burn more of our time on this earth with mindless games.

How to hide games in your Steam library – Why would you even want to hide games in your Steam library? It’s simple: Between Humble Bundles, Steam Summer sales, (sometimes) separate listings for beta, Mac, and Linux versions of games, and the slew of ways to snag free PC games, your library can quickly become cluttered with titles that you have no intentions of playing anytime soon, if ever. Steam’s new feature is the digital equivalent of spring cleaning.

Bungie’s New Destiny Trailer Detours to Storm-Wracked Venus – From Mars to Venus, it seems Bungie’s counting down planetary locales you’ll be visiting in Destiny, its online-only first-person shooter due out on September 9. Last week saw our band of intrepid heroes stalking the red-duned surface of the fourth rock from the sun, so this week is about the second.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization (HBO) – In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, John Oliver explores the racial inequality in treatment by police as well as the increasing militarization of America’s local police forces.


Why the First Amendment remains a key check and balance to police militarization – The disproportionate impact of police militarization upon poor and minority communities highlights the need to uphold the right to record police activity in a democratic society.

Has the US Legal System Always Been Such a Joke? – Between the daily drip of stories about paramilitary police forces exerting their will on minorities in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and the regular escape from punishment by rich white bankers, it’s easy to be cynical about law and order in America. Is A Place Where Women Can Engage In Real Talk Online — No Men Allowed – When women are with other women that they trust, they often can be completely honest and comfortable in a way that they may not be in more mixed company. A website called aims to be the go-to place where women can speak honestly with each other online, deliberately away from the male gender — a sort of Ladies Four O’Clock Club for the online world. The bootstrapped startup, which is co-founded by CEO Susan Johnson and CTO Neal Kemp, is launching this week out of the current class of Y Combinator.

Omote uses light to project virtual makeup and real-time animations on your face – A team of artists and computer graphics designers have created a projection mapping system that you need to see to believe. Omote uses advanced face tracking technology to project precise images onto a user’s face that can simulate anything from makeup to cascading water. It all happens in real time, and you can see it demonstrated in the incredible video below.


New tool for grading Iowa kids in gym class? Heart rate monitors – The Dubuque Community School District, you see, has decided that starting this year middle- and high-school students must wear heart monitors in gym class to see if they’re really making an effort to lose their quarterpounders, macs and cheeses. As ABC’s “Good Morning America” explained it, the results will be transferred to an iPad and projected onto a big screen in the gym. I can imagine that feelings will be torn about this exercise. You see, their measured gym performance is to become part of the students’ report card.

(The thin edge of the wedge? Is this a precursor to your employer monitoring your brain waves to ensure you’re reaching maximum productivity – 100% of the time? You decide if this is my attempt at humour – or not.)

Vehicle-to-vehicle networks could save over 1,000 lives a year, US says – The U.S. government wants to force cars to talk to each other over wireless networks, saying that could save more than 1,000 lives every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking input about a possible federal standard for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, which would let cars automatically exchange information, such as whether they’re close to each other. The agency will accept comments from the public and industry for 60 days from when the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) is published in the Federal Register.

First Smartphone Turns 20: Fun Facts About Simon – A tip of the hat to Simon, long referenced as the first smartphone. It went on sale to the public on August 16, 1994 and packed a touchscreen, email capability and more, paving the way for our modern-day wondergadgets. Here’s a look at some of Simon’s history.


An original IBM Simon Personal Communicator is placed next to an Apple iPhone 4S at the Science Museum on August 15, 2014 in London, England.

Something to think about:

“We think having faith means being convinced God exists in the same way we are convinced a chair exists. People who cannot be completely convinced of God’s existence think faith is impossible for them. Not so. People who doubt can have great faith because faith is something you do, not something you think. In fact, the greater your doubt the more heroic your faith.”

-     Real Live Preacher

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wifi Password Revealer – WiFi password revealer is a small freeware utility which will show you all your saved WiFi passwords. If you forgot or lost password to your wireless network – this tool is for you.

For Windows XP and 2003 Server users. your passwords will be recovered as 64 HEX digits, and not exact password which you have entered. This is NOT a bug. Windows XP automatically converts them into this form, and it can’t be converted back. But you can still use this HEX digits instead of real password in order to connect to your wirelesss network.

Administrator rights are required on your PC in order to decrypt stored passwords.


Opera 23 – A full-featured final version of Opera Next Internet browser, integrating modern style with powerful features, Opera gives you the freedom to truly open the web and explore. Includes pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, integrated searches, and advanced functions like Opera’s groundbreaking E-mail program, RSS Newsfeeds and IRC chat. And because we know that our users have different needs, you can customize the look and content of your Opera browser with a few clicks of the mouse.


Find something unexpected

The Discover feature gives you top-quality news and entertainment from around the globe. Enjoy new content from a variety of categories and read articles from your region, in your language.

Search and navigate easily

Opera has one intuitive, powerful location for searching and navigating the web. Search using multiple providers and view site suggestions as you type.

Browse with style

Opera’s interface combines precision and quality. Integrating modern style with powerful features, Opera gives you the freedom to truly open the web and explore.

Speed up on slow networks

Off-Road mode compresses pages for faster, all-conditions browsing. It helps you stay online when your connection slows down.

Organize your favorites

An enhanced Speed Dial groups your top-visited sites directly on a custom start page. Quickly search and access your favorite content with refined searching and grouping options.

Keep what you find

Found something you’ll want to come back to? The Stash feature captures a page with one easy click and organizes your pages into a simple, sophisticated list. Scan your Stash in a resizable page preview or search what you’ve saved, by keywords.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New powers could give ASIO a warrant for the entire internet

Summary: The broad definition of a ‘network’ in new national security legislation could give Australia’s top spy agency access to just about every computer on the internet, according to legal experts.

New national security legislation designed to make it easy for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to tap, access, and disrupt target and third-party computers and networks is so broad that it could in effect give ASIO access to every computer on the internet, according to legal experts.

Attorney-General George Brandis introduced legislation into the parliament last month that would expand the powers of ASIO, and its ability to access computers or computer networks under warrant as part of intelligence gathering, including the ability to access third party computers in order to gain access to a target computer under a warrant.

Two legal experts appearing before the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security investigating the legislation yesterday warned that the drafting of the legislation could potentially mean that almost any computer in the world could be accessed.

“I guess our major concern is more the situation where, say, computer networks could extend to any computer located on university premises where a person is studying, or all the computers where a person otherwise might work. But our main concern is that that idea of a network is not defined by even such a physical restriction as that,” University of New South Wales law lecturer Keiran Hardy said.

“Some requirements like having reasonable grounds to believe that the person had access to other computers, or a kind of last-resort provision that other means of obtaining that intelligence, aside from accessing multiple computers, might in some way sensibly limit that, whereas there is nothing in the legislation so far to even explain what the potential limits of that definition might be.”

UNSW’s Professor George Williams said it could extend as far as the entire internet.

NSA/GCHQ/CSEC Infecting Innocent Computers Worldwide

There’s a new story on the c’t magazin website about a 5-Eyes program to infect computers around the world for use as launching pads for attacks. These are not target computers; these are innocent third parties.

The article actually talks about several government programs. HACIENDA is a GCHQ program to port-scan entire countries, looking for vulnerable computers to attack. According to the GCHQ slide from 2009, they’ve completed port scans of 27 different countries and are prepared to do more.

The point of this is to create ORBs, or Operational Relay Boxes. Basically, these are computers that sit between the attacker and the target, and are designed to obscure the true origins of an attack. Slides from the Canadian CSEC talk about how this process is being automated: “2-3 times/year, 1 day focused effort to acquire as many new ORBs as possible in as many non 5-Eyes countries as possible.” They’ve automated this process into something codenamed LANDMARK, and together with a knowledge engine codenamed OLYMPIA, 24 people were able to identify “a list of 3000+ potential ORBs” in 5-8 hours. The presentation does not go on to say whether all of those computers were actually infected.

Slides from the UK’s GCHQ also talk about ORB detection, as part of a program called MUGSHOT. It, too, is happy with the automatic process: “Initial ten fold increase in Orb identification rate over manual process.” There are also NSA slides that talk about the hacking process, but there’s not much new in them.

The slides never say how many of the “potential ORBs” CESG discovers or the computers that register positive in GCHQ’s “Orb identification” are actually infected, but they’re all stored in a database for future use. The Canadian slides talk about how some of that information was shared with the NSA.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 18, 2014

Beware of fake “Gmail suspicious login” warnings;  Big Brother Business Is Always Watching You;  Get discounts on new tech for class;  Switchr: Android task switching made easy;  The struggle to stop work taking over our lives;  Apps to Keep Your Family Organized;  More must-have Google Chrome extensions;  Mom creates app so that kids can’t ignore her calls;  Microsoft pulls security patch after reports of BSOD and system crashes;  Microsoft Issues Hotfix for Internet Explorer Slowdowns;  Turn Any YouTube Video Into A GIF;  British spy agency scanned for vulnerable systems in 32 countries;  Supervalu latest major company to fall victim to cyberattack;  Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA;  EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition.

The digital fightback: The struggle to stop work taking over our lives – While the working day may nominally be 9am – 5.30pm try to stick to those hours in many companies and you risk being labelled a part-timer. Modern information technology has further blurred the boundaries between work and play, with the advent of email and smartphones meaning we’re rarely out of contact with the office. And even if your boss respects your private time, there’s no guarantee clients will think twice about hauling you away from your family. However, a growing number of organisations are pushing back against the creeping extension of the working day.

Get discounts on new tech for class – Buying new technology for class can really eat into your budget. If you want to have some money left over after you’ve bought the necessities, then it’s time to start shopping the student sales. Whether you’re looking to buy a new laptop, tablet, or even a mini fridge, these are some of the best sites to shop. Check out these deep discounts and exclusive sales for students that can help you find the right gear for the year.

Switchr: Android task switching made easy – Every once in a while, you come across an Android app that makes you wonder why that particular feature, service, or behavior isn’t included in the default build of the platform. One such app is Switchr, which allows you to re-open running apps from an elegant dock. You no longer have to go through the app history and then select the app you want to run. Instead, just swipe from the left and tap the app you want to open. It’s that simple and incredibly handy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Big Brother Business Is Always Watching You – Whether you like it or not, there are cameras everywhere that are watching you. In retail stores, on the streets, in the office, it doesn’t seem like you can escape them. What do businesses do with all this footage, and what future plans are in store for video surveillance? Video security company Eagle Eye Networks released a recent report that details some of the key trends happening in business use of surveillance systems.

Ferguson, Mo., police agree: Everyone can film us – The ACLU in Missouri meets with authorities to clarify the First Amendment right of anyone to film the police, as long as those filming aren’t obstructive. After incidents in which police officers have been filmed on cell phones performing their duties in a questionable manner, police forces across America have been reinforcing to their officers that the right to film is, indeed, a First Amendment right.

More must-have Google Chrome extensions – The Google Chrome browser is a great web browser, but with the addition of a few extensions, a great browsing experience can be transformed into a superb browsing experience.

Here Are Some Apps to Keep Your Family Organized – Appointments, medications, game schedules, chores — to make a household run smoothly, you need a safe place to store and share information. That’s where apps come in handy. I found apps that fit every family from traditional nuclear families — parents and kids living under one roof — to grown children taking care of parents to divorced parents with joint custody to people who want to track their pet’s care. Plus, there are specialized apps for playdates, carpooling and chores.

Not sure you want to buy a Chromebook this fall? Try out Chrome OS in Windows first – If you’re considering a Chromebook for school, whether a teacher or student, there’s a lot to like, including a relatively low price and fast boot times. In late 2013, Google introduced Windows 8 mode for Chrome for PCs running the latest versions of Windows. Windows 8 mode for Chrome is pretty much the Chrome OS experience, and will give you a good idea about what it’s like to run Chrome OS full-time.

Mom creates app so that kids can’t ignore her calls – Sharon Standifird served in the Gulf War. She’s climbed mountains. So how hard could it be to get her kids to show a little respect? Her teens, you see, tended to do what teens do. So when she called them on their cell phones, their natural instinct was to press “ignore.” What’s a mom to do? Get mad? Or get spectacularly, ingeniously even? She chose the latter. She began to consider what sort of app might get her teens to see the light. The result was Ignore No More. This charming addition to her kids’ phones does something very simple: if the kids don’t pick up mom’s calls, the app locks their phones.


The Premier League has had it up to here with all your soccer Vines – England’s Premier League is a waving a red card at fans who plan on recording goals and posting the six-second clips to Vine. It saw that Twitter accounts like FootballVines have hundreds of thousands of followers. And on the eve of its 2014-15 season, it took the airwaves with a simple message aimed squarely at its fanbase: No more fun of any kind.


If the Premier League has its way, you’ll be seeing fewer posts like these in your Twitter feed.

Microsoft pulls security patch after reports of BSOD and system crashes – A recent Patch Tuesday security update has been pulled by Microsoft after receiving reports from users getting the Blue Screen of Death, after installing the update. According to Microsoft’s support website, the security update had various issues and it could cause Windows not to boot in some cases; the company has stopped distributing the update through Windows Update as well as its website.

Microsoft Issues Hotfix for Internet Explorer Slowdowns – Having some trouble with your Web browser? Specifically, Internet Explorer? If you’ve noticed that your Microsoft browser has felt as if it’s been crawling to a halt lately, then we have some good news for you: Microsoft knows about the issue and has recently issued a hotfix to correct it.

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about podcasting, but were afraid to ask – There is very little stopping you from making your own podcast. If you can speak, you can podcast. Still, many interested in making their own podcast, don’t have the slightest clue where to actually begin. Until now. In our five part series on making a podcast from scratch, we take you from coming up with a basic premise, to recording, to finally delivering something compelling for the entire world to listen to. Below you’ll see links to our first four parts. Look for Part 5 soon.

Moto 360 price prematurely confirmed by Best Buy – It’s fair to say that the Moto 360 is the smartwatch most would-be Android Wear wearers are waiting for, but so far Motorola has been reluctant to confirm exactly how much the circular wearable will cost. Official details will almost certainly come at Motorola’s September 4th event, but a premature product listing at Best Buy may have let the cat out of the bag early.


The trouble with trolls (and how to beat them) – Zelda Williams was driven off of Twitter by a troll or trolls using the names PimpStory and MrGoosebuster. The accounts sent her messages and pictures that are too horrible to relate here. She tweeted to her followers: “Please report @PimpStory @MrGoosebuster. I’m shaking. I can’t. Please.” This event is the trolling crisis in a nutshell. A vulnerable person. A sociopath or two on social media tormenting that person without consequence, totally beyond the reach of everyone (in fact, the pain caused and the attention grabbed rewarded them). Can anything be done about it? The answer is yes. But first let’s understand the new world of online trolling.

Mozilla launches its new $170 dual-core developer phone, the Flame – Mozilla has launched its new developer device for Firefox OS, and it’s not exactly a flagship. Mozilla says that its new ‘Flame’ handset is “a milestone in Firefox OS device releases”, but its spec sheet puts it roughly on par with many new entry-level devices recently announced by manufacturers on other platforms. For $170 USD (€127 EUR / £102 GBP), including worldwide shipping, you’ll get a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboard storage (with a microSD slot for cards up to 32GB) and a 4.5-inch FWVGA (854x480px) display. There’s also a 5MP rear camera and 2MP front-camera.


Facebook test puts satire tag next to link titles – There’s always that one Facebook friend – You know who we’re talking about. A link to an Onion article gets posted, and that friend goes off about it, ranting about the satire they’re oblivious to, giving everyone else a private snicker before someone finally points out the nature of the website. Facebook is working on a new tag that could bring these entertaining episodes to an end.

Turn Any YouTube Video Into A GIF By Just Adding “GIF” To The URL – Want to turn something on YouTube into a GIF, but don’t want to futz with downloading third-party apps or digging around for an online converter? Here’s a handy, easy to remember trick: just add “GIF” to the beginning of the URL. After “www.” and before “”


Windows 9 preview could materialize as soon as next month – Microsoft could be shipping a preview release of the next major version of Windows—codenamed “Threshold” and expected to be named “Windows 9″—in either late September or early October, according to sources speaking to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The preview will be widely available to anyone who wants to install it. The final version of the operating system is currently believed to be scheduled for spring 2015.

What’s the optimum number of speakers for your home theater, 1 to 34, and counting – No doubt about it, adding speakers produces superior sound envelopment, but maybe one speaker is all you need.


Supervalu latest major company to fall victim to cyberattack – Supervalu, one of the largest grocery chains in the US, with both company-owned and franchised locations, has fallen victim to a cyberattack, the company announced Friday. Malicious hackers targeted the part of Supervalu’s network that handles credit card transactions and may have stolen credit card information, including expiration dates, actual card numbers, and, potentially, cardholders’ names.

Beware of fake “Gmail suspicious login” warnings – Malicious emails impersonating Gmail Account Services have been spotted hitting inboxes around the world, falsely claiming that the users’ Gmail account has been logged into from an unrecognized device.

Report: British spy agency scanned for vulnerable systems in 32 countries – British intelligence agency GCHQ used port scanning as part of the “Hacienda” program to find vulnerable systems it and other agencies could compromise across at least 27 countries, German news site Heise Online has revealed. The use of so-called port scanning has long been a trusty tool used by hackers to find systems they can potentially access. In top-secret documents published by Heise on Friday, it is revealed that in 2009, GCHQ started using the technology against entire nations.

Who needs hackers? ‘Password1′ opens a third of all biz doors – Hundreds of thousands of hashed corporate passwords have been cracked within minutes by penetration testers using graphics processing units. The 626,718 passwords were harvested during penetration tests over the last two years conducted across corporate America by Trustwave infosec geeks. The firm’s threat intelligence manager Karl Sigler said in a post that half of the plundered passwords were cracked within “the first few minutes”. “We eventually cracked 576,533 or almost 92 percent of the sample within a period of 31 days,” Sigler said.


Australia: Political clash of luddite QCs and tech are a dangerous combination – Australia faces a dangerous conflation of technology-driven surveillance and an almost total lack of technical comprehension from the political class.

Google starts warning users about deceptive downloads – Google has announced a welcome change to its Safe Browsing service: starting next week, Google Chrome will also warn users about attempts to make them download software that can adversely affect their Internet browsing.


Safe Browsing is a web service that is also used by Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari browsers, and warns users about unsafe websites (malware, phishing), attack sites, and alerts webmasters if their sites have been hacked.

Company News:

Rimini Street did steal Oracle’s intellectual property, judge says – A federal judge has dismissed a defamation claim against Oracle by third-party support vendor Rimini Street, saying Oracle was telling the truth when it accused the company of “massive theft” of its software. Rimini is defending itself against an Oracle suit claiming it stole Oracle’s intellectual property. This week’s ruling is a major setback for the third-party support provider.

Ebay may begin accepting Bitcoin payments via its Braintree platform – Several large and notable companies have started accepting Bitcoin in recent months including Dell, Dish, Expedia, and Overstock. But the crypto-currency may be on the verge of snagging its biggest supporter yet: eBay. The online commerce giant is reportedly in talks with Bitcoin transaction providers to allow Bitcoin payments on eBay-owned payment processor Braintree, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yes, in the coming months you may be able to pay for your Github subscription and Uber rides via Bitcoin.

Google Acquires Image-Recognition Expert Jetpac for Undisclosed Sum – It’s unclear just what Jetpac’s expertise in image-recognition techniques might do at Google, but you can bet the search giant will think of quite a few things.

Xbox Entertainment Studios not quite dead yet – The Hollywood Reporter says that Microsoft is in talks with Warner Bros. to revive its shuttered business for developing original video content.

Games and Entertainment:

There’s Life on Mars in Bungie’s Latest Destiny Trailer – Is it really mid-August already? We’ve less than a month until Destiny lands on September 9 for PlayStation and Xbox platforms like a thermobaric bunker-buster, taking the wind out of everything else’s sails through September’s remainder and possibly beyond. We spent the beta period that just ended exclusively exploring alien-infested ruins on Earth, so the latest trailer should be of more than passing interest as it highlights a very different off-planet locale central to the game’s sprawling mythology, and one we’ve only glimpsed so far: the planet Mars, hundreds of years in our future.


14 games that feel like school – It’s time for school again—bad news for students, and great news for anyone who doesn’t like kids hanging out on their lawn. But who needs to go back to school when you have our PCWorld 2014 Gaming Course Catalog? Learn Astrophysics from Kerbal Space Program! Learn European History from Crusader Kings II! Learn…something… from Frog Fractions! If anyone asks, just say you’re doing homework.


Chemistry 103: Spacechem

EverQuest: The Darkened Sea updates the game that won’t die – EverQuest gamers are getting a new expansion pack, the 21st to have been released for the incredibly long-running online game series, with The Darkened Sea set to go live this October. Confirmed during Sony Online Entertainment’s SOE Live conference this week, the expansion will add a further eight zones to the game among other tweaks.


Girl power: 10 films full of remarkable women, streaming on Netflix – It’s no secret that the movie business has long been a men’s club, but it doesn’t have to be that way. These 10 films, currently streaming on Netflix, show that great things can happen when men and women work together to create more opportunities for women behind the scenes and in front of the camera. And adding some truly interesting female characters never hurts, either. In fact, we found so many performances worth celebrating that there’s a bonus list of 10 more girl-power films at the bottom.

Two ways Silent Hills / P.T gets even scarier – This week we’re having a look at a number of ways in which the Silent Hill trailer released this week becomes more terrifying than it already is. The name “P.T” stands for “Playable Trailer” and was revealed in full just hours after it was first released thanks to one intrepid gamer. The game is beyond scary – no limits, scream-belching horrifying – and it’s not even released as a full title yet.


Off Topic (Sort of):

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange leaving Ecuador Embassy ‘soon’ – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in London for the past two years, has confirmed he will leave the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian Embassy “soon.”

Richard III bone chemistry reveals royal life of luxury – According to a study performed by the British Geological Survey and researchers at the University of Leicester, the king changed location and diet early in his childhood, and then, when he was crowned king 26 months before his death at the Battle of Bosworth, started eating a richer diet associated with his change in status.


The Renovo Coupe is the new poster child for extreme EV – Forget Tesla. That’s perhaps not the official tagline for Renovo Motors and its striking new electric coupe, but it’s not hard to see the retro racer as a push back against Elon Musk’s polished bid to take EVs mainstream. Unveiled at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Renovo Coupe makes some big claims, too, like 0-60 mph in under 3.4 seconds.


Stunning 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sets $38.1m record – A beautiful Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta has set a new global auction record this week, with the 1962 coupe seeing bidding hit $38.1m. The sale – which eclipses the previous record holder, a Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 racer dating back to 1954, on which the hammer dropped at $29.7m last year – took place in California at Bonhams auction house.


Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA – Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter and labelled Google worse than the NSA. Here’s The Dirty Digger’s missive:


That Murdoch is hardly a paragon of privacy is being pointed out long and loud in replies to the Tweet, which aren’t shy of asking just how The News of the World’s infamous phone-hacking practices give the News Limited supremo a platform from which to criticise anyone else’s position on privacy.

Prototype Plane Ditches Windows for Panoramic Screens – Instead of windows in its rather small primary seating area, the Ixion Windowless Jet uses giant screens that line the left and right walls of the plane’s cabin, as well as its ceiling. In Technicron Design’s renderings, the displays provide a beautiful view of what passengers might otherwise see if those areas were instead covered in glass.


Internet tops cable TV in subscriber numbers for the first time – For the first time in the United States, the largest service providers saw more Internet subscribers than cable TV subscribers. The information comes from the Leichtman Research Group, which says that by the end of this year’s second quarter, there were 49,915,000 total broadband subscribers versus 49,910,000 cable TV subscribers.

Silicon Valley tech execs behaving badly – Acts of arrogance are a time-honored tradition among the Silicon Valley digerati. Tech billionaires and power-crazed chief executives live in their own worlds in which codes of social conduct — even some laws – don’t apply. Or, at least, these execs don’t think they do. It seems almost every day some news breaks about a tech titan acting in a way that leave us shaking our heads. Here is a list of a dozen doozies.

Something to think about:

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

-      Carl Sagan

Today’s Free Downloads:

Windows Tweaker – Windows Tweaker is a free Windows tweaking utility using which you can tweak your Windows 8/7 both x86 and x64 systems are supported. It contains several tweaks grouped into 11 main categories, and access to 38 Windows tools (Device Manager, Registry Editor, DirectX Troubleshooter, Advanced Disk Cleanup, etc) all in a single place.


Has over 100 useful tweaks for your Windows 8/7 which you can’t find available, by default in Windows.

A one-stop place for all your important tweaks bundled in a single place.

Highly reliable and doesn’t affect your system in any way. All the applied tweaks can be safely undone, without leaving any traces (our main focus is reliability).

Small, efficient and easy to use tweaker.

You can enhance your Windows for smooth running, faster performance and lower memory consumption.

What more??? You can even schedule Shutdowns, configure startup programs and hide files/folders with System File privileges very easily.


XBMC - XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, Windows, and the original Xbox. Created in 2003 by a group of like minded programmers, XBMC is a non-profit project run and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 50 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 30 languages.

While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Supporting an almost endless range of remote controls, and combined with its beautiful interface and powerful skinning engine, XBMC feels very natural to use from the couch and is the ideal solution for your home theater.

Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: XBMC can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive, and even files inside ZIP and RAR archives. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.


EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition – EASEUS Todo Backup Free provides several of the key features from EASEUS Todo Backup Workstation to protect your PC.

Users are faced with the essential challenge: the need to secure their PC and important files, such as system, family photos, music, applications, personal data and financial documents. If you lose any files you like or need to go back to an earlier version, don’t worry, you can recover them in time. It is a complete free backup and recovery solution for home users.


System Backup and Recovery

Backup Schedule

File and Folder Backup

Incremental disk/partition backup

Backup Management to manage the backup tasks and plans

Disk Tools like clone disk, wipe disk

Backup to external hard drive, CD/DVD, NAS for double protection

Schedule backup ongoing indicator to timely notify whether your schedule is ongoing or not.

Backup network shared files

One-click system backup & recovery.

Support dynamic disk – back up and clone dynamic volume.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Boston PD used facial recognition surveillance during 2013 music festival – During the 2013 Boston Calling music festivals, the Boston police department used a facial recognition surveillance system to keep an eye on those who attended. Thousands of faces were captured, according to Dig Boston, via ten cameras that could perform so-called “intelligent video analysis” in real time.

The story is an interesting one, something that revolves around Dig Boston’s reporters “searching the deep web” and spotting unsecured documents related to the Boston Calling surveillance programs. IBM is said to have worked with law enforcement in providing a facial recognition system that would tag “every person” that attended.

IBM is said to have licensed an Intelligent Operations Center, and at the heart of it all was a system being tested via Boston Calling surveillance that analyzed, in real time, things like faces and bodies, skin color, clothing, traffic patterns, and more. In addition, information nabbed from social networks was integrated in real time and factored into the overall equation.

There is a division between what the Boston PD says about the discovery and what the alleged documents reveal. According to Dig Boston, the docs have photos of police officers watching the IBM system while the music festival took place, but a statement from the department said, “BPD was not part of this initiative. We do not and have not used or possess this type of technology.”

Boston Mayor’s press secretary had different things to say, however, confirming that surveillance was used during the two music festivals, summing it up by saying that ultimately the city didn’t go with the software, because it had “not seen a clear use case for this software that held practical value for the City’s public safety needs.”

Revealed … GCHQ’s incredible hacking tool to sweep net for vulnerabilities: Nmap – For the past five years, British spying nerve-center GCHQ has been port scanning internet-connected computers in 27 countries – in a exhaustive hunt for systems to potentially exploit.

That bombshell comes amid fresh leaks detailing the dragnet surveillance programs operated by the Five Eyes nations: America, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

German publisher Heise reports that the HACIENDA program scans open ports on all public-facing servers to seek out vulnerable systems – a basic reconnaissance strategy adopted by countless hackers and other curious folk.

As well as simple port scans, GCHQ also stashes the banner text sent by some server software to connecting clients, and other data.

Assuming the server is telling the truth, these banners can be useful because they typically declare the version number and name of the software – this is information that can be used to look up exploits for known vulnerabilities in the code. And we all know GCHQ et al love vulnerabilities.

Time to ditch HTTP – govt malware injection kit thrust into spotlight – A new report form the Toronto-based internet watchdog Citizen Lab has shown cases of governments running network injection attacks that can deliver malware via any HTTP web connection.

The dossier looks at two hacking tools created by the Italian firm Hacking Team and the German biz FinFisher that use the injection attack vector. Both firms claim to sell only to government sources, although leaked documents suggest at least one sale to a private security company has taken place.

The attack works if a spy or other miscreant fits a Hacking Team or FinFisher appliance in the telecommunications company used by the target. Once the victim’s IP address is known, the injection server can identify his or her connections to website, intercept the passing unencrypted HTTP stream and insert malicious code into the web page.

This happens without any user interaction at all; the inserted code then exploits vulnerabilities in the victim’s computer – perhaps a Flash plugin or browser zero-day – to infect it with spying malware. Governments tend to stockpile exploits for various devices and operating systems.

Citizen Lab says YouTube and Microsoft Live login pages are heavily targeted.

Report: German spy agency inadvertently eavesdropped on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry – To say that this alleged incident puts German officials in an awkward spot would be quite the understatement, especially considering how, in October of last year, word leaked out that the National Security Agency had spied on 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The key difference, of course, is that BND’s recorded Kerry and Clinton accidentally, while the NSA’s monitoring of world leaders’ calls was, by all accounts, an intentional act.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 “” 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.


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.


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 — 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,, 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.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 14, 2014

Snowden reveals automated NSA cyberwarfare program;  Microsoft Urges Reform Of U.S. Government’s Surveillance Practices;  11 apps for surviving natural disasters;  Why LastPass is best password manager on Android;  Word wranglers: 5 apps that make writing easier;  Dash’s Smart Driving App Arrives On iPhone;  Affordable phones built to withstand college;  The Best Photo-Sharing Sites;  Patch critical flaw in Adobe Reader and Acrobat;  Panda Free Antivirus;  Pocket router uses TOR to protect your WiFi traffic;  Awesome tech in the movies: 10 instances;  Sony brings gaming to US and Europe for $99 with Playstation TV;  30 Years of Windows and Not Fixing the Obvious;  These Vintage Computer Ads Show We’ve Come a Long, Long Way.

Snowden reveals automated NSA cyberwarfare program – The U.S. National Security Agency has a cyberwarfare program that hunts for foreign cyberattacks and is able to strike back without human intervention, according to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The NSA cyberwarfare program, called MonsterMind, uses software to look for traffic patterns indicating possible foreign cyberattacks, according to Snowden, quoted in a lengthy profile in Wired. MonsterMind could automatically block a cyberattack from entering the U.S., then retaliate against the attackers, according to the Wired story.

6 Things We Learned From Wired’s Huge New Interview With Edward Snowden – James Bamford of Wired has published an in-depth interview with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden after “spending three solid days over several weeks” with the 31-year-old American in Moscow. Here are things that we found interesting, as reported by Bamford.

Why LastPass is best password manager on Android – LastPass is a solid password manager that is the most pain-free and secure method for stepping up your security on Android. While 1Password and other competitors have good solutions, LastPass connects more deeply to Android-specific features, like syncing passwords across the desktop, browser, and mobile apps.

11 apps for surviving natural disasters – It’s shark week on TV, but for many of us danger is closer to home. Summer is the season for tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires — do you know what to do in case of emergency? Boost your chances of survival with our top 11 natural disaster apps.

Word wranglers: 5 apps that make writing easier – Quick: Picture a writer in your head. An image of a bearded old man, hunched over a clackety typewriter may come to mind. But these days, a writer is more likely to be tapping away at a tablet or even a smartphone, composing anything from a business document to the next great American novel. No matter what it is you’re writing, these apps can help make the process a little easier.

Dress up your Word document with page numbers, a table of contents and more – No matter how great your idea is, the difference between your business proposal and someone else’s could boil down to the look and feel. A title page, header and footer, table of contents, and other elements separate a professional-looking document from a dull sea of text. It’s worth your time to learn how Word’s tools and wizards make such formatting easy—and keep exploring other ways to present your work in the best possible light.

Toshiba Encore 2 review: This Windows 8 tablet goes easy on your wallet – Microsoft sparked a race to the bottom with the introduction of Windows 8.1 with Bing. And Toshiba cut the bottom out of the bottom line with its Encore 2 series, bringing Windows tablets down to the price of mainstream Android tablets. The 10-inch version reviewed here will set you back just $270, and the smaller 8-inch version costs just $200. What compromises must you put up with at prices that low? Surprisingly few.


Dash’s Smart Driving App Arrives On iPhone – The Dash smart driving assistant that made its debut earlier this year on Android has launched on iPhone answering one of the most frequently heard requests from its users. The Dash app, which is backed by Techstars New York, connects to any ODB-II dongle that you can get for your car (most cars made since 1996 should have one that’s easily accessible) providing feedback about your trips like fuel efficiency and even info about vehicle diagnostics.

Back-to-school tech: Affordable phones built to withstand college – A recent survey shows that 50 percent of college students break their phones. Here are some low-cost options and warranty plans to protect your investment.

The Best Photo-Sharing Sites – Digital cameras and smartphones mean that most of us have a ton of photos scattered everywhere, from phones and computer hard drives to Facebook and Instagram profiles. But what happens when you switch phones, upgrade computers or simply want to search all your photos at once?

These Vintage Computer Ads Show We’ve Come a Long, Long Way – These ads from the 70’s and 80’s remind us of a time when computers came in briefcases and cost “Under $18,000!”



Users told to patch critical flaw in Adobe Reader and Acrobat – The vulnerability allows attackers to escape the sandbox protection of Reader and Acrobat X and XI in order to execute code with elevated privileges on the Windows platform. Adobe addressed the flaw in the newly released 11.0.08 and 10.1.11 versions of the two products. The company also released new versions of Flash Player for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as updates for the Adobe AIR framework, its SDK (software development kit) and compiler.

(Déjà vu – over and over, and over and over, and over and over…..…………….. again.

Take a peek at one of my older articles on why you should consider an alternative to Adobe Reader.

Excerpt – FOUR Free Alternatives To Adobe Reader Malware Magnet (March 2011) – “If you continue to use Adobe Reader, make sure you install the latest version. Users who continue running older versions of Adobe software (not uncommon), is a major element in cyber crooks successful manipulation of this application. Better yet – don’t even consider running Adobe Reader. Instead, choose one of a number of much faster, more streamlined free applications.”)

PORTAL pocket router uses TOR to protect your WiFi traffic – Privacy concerns continue to grow, and efforts to make sure that one’s digital world stays private — or, at least, as private as possible — are at an all-time high. Edward Snowden has famously advised the public to use encryption to keep out prying eyes. This has lead to the creation of what amounts to a portable security-centric travel router.

BlackBerry patches vulnerabilities in BlackBerry OS, enterprise server software – BlackBerry OS version was released for the company’s Z10, Z30, Q10 and Q5 phone models. It fixes an authentication bypass vulnerability that could allow attackers connected to the same wireless network as affected devices to read or modify data stored on them. The flaw can only be exploited on devices that have the Wi-Fi file-sharing service running, a service that’s not enabled by default.

Virtual servers: No safer than any other kind – Once upon a time, we used to think in terms of one hardware server equals one server operating system. Then, along came KVM, Hyper-V, VMware, and all the rest of the virtual machine (VM) hypervisors and more recently Docker with its containers. Now the idea of a single server operating system on a solo box is downright quaint. Don’t think, however, that just because your servers are virtual instead of physical that they are somehow safer from security threats. They’re not.

Company News:

Dead Steve Jobs sued by own shareholders in no-poach pact brouhaha – Apple is once again facing a lawsuit, this time from its own shareholders over its no-poaching-of-staff pacts with rivals. A lawsuit [PDF] filed in California’s San Jose District Court earlier this week claims the Cupertino giant misled investors and damaged the value of the company by striking a fishy hiring agreement with other corporations. The suit notes that Jobs (whose estate is listed as a defendant in the case) was particularly egregious in sealing deals with rival execs. “Jobs’s conduct is a reminder that even widely respected businessmen can knowingly commit unlawful acts in the zealous pursuit of profits,” the suit alleges. “In this case, Jobs and the other Individual Defendants knowingly caused Apple to enter into agreements that violated California law and U.S. antitrust laws.”

T-Mobile planning to throttle some unlimited data users – In the recent months, there has been a trend between cell phone service providers to throttle heavy data users. Following the fad, T-Mobile has joined the party, according to a leaked memo. The memo states that on August 17, the company will begin to throttle users that are misusing their unlimited data service by using it for peer-to-peer file sharing and tethering for use outside of the terms and conditions when they signed up.

Cisco slashing up to 6,000 jobs – Cisco Systems will cut as many as 6,000 jobs over the next 12 months, saying it needs to shift resources to growing businesses such as cloud, software and security. The move will be a reorganization rather than a net reduction, the company said. It needs to cut jobs because the product categories where it sees the strongest growth, such as security, require special skills, so it needs to make room for workers in those areas, it said.

Games and Entertainment:

Sony brings gaming to US and Europe for $99 with Playstation TV – Sony has said that it will launch the PlayStation TV box – which includes the ability to play games via its PlayStation Now game-streaming service – in the US ($99) and Europe (€99) later this year


Yep, Activision Is Bringing Back Sierra (And Kings Quest!) – Just a quick update for everyone who geeked out with us last week at the idea of Activision bringing back the legendary gaming brand that is Sierra: It’s happening. Details are still pretty light, but Activision made the revival official at the Gamescom conference this week. If the options, then, were “let Sierra’s old games fade away forever,” “spend a ton of money to hire a bunch of new developers/artists to try to recreate something that resembles Sierra in its glory days,” or “let carefully selected indie developers with proven track records take a stab at making these old series great again,” I’m glad they went with Door No. 3.


Metal Gear Solid V gameplay demo full rundown – Today we’re watching Meal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in some (what appears to be) live gameplay straight from Gamescom. As our demonstration captain suggests, this is the most advanced version of Metal Gear Solid 5 (or V) that we’ve yet seen, modified and changed since E3 2014. What you’ll see below is a full video of this demonstration for your perusal.


Respawn announces third ‘Titanfall’ map pack, ‘IMC Rising’ – The map pack, “IMC Rising,” was announced at Germany’s Gamescom conference today, and it will include three new maps: Blackwater, Zone 18 and Sandtrap. No details were provided about the maps, however, other than the fact that the DLC will cost $10, the same price as the last two map packs, and it will release “this fall.” Those who purchased the $25 “Titanfall” season pass will also receive the map pack, which is the third and final DLC in the subscription.


How one Diablo 3 player pulled in $130,000 from the Real Money Auction House – Our anonymous Diablo 3 player, who recently published his recipe for success online, figured out quickly that gold was a trivial thing to get a hold of when compared to items. Through scripted bot accounts, he crawled the auction house looking for high value items that had been lazily posted for fractions of what the economy had decided their worth was. When the RMAH was launched, he was able to use these bot accounts to purchase items for comparably little in-game gold and sell that same item on another account for cash.

Robin Williams will be memorialized with WoW in-game character – The shock of Robin Williams’ passing is still very fresh. The actor who made millions happy with his intensely paced brand of comedy was also an avid gamer. In honor of his love for World of Warcraft, Blizzard — the Development house responsible for the online RPG — will memorialize him as a character.

Inside the Cup: Cuphead is a 1930′s cartoon video game come to life – Welcome to Cuphead, a game that will have you doing a double-take when you first see it, no matter what environment you’re coming from. Be you a hardcore gamer or someone who hasn’t played a video game since PONG, Cuphead aims to capture your imagination, visuals first.


Awesome tech in the movies: 10 instances – Movie tech gets to implement imagination and play outside the realm of reality. Here are 10 examples of cool ways tech has taken flight in cinema.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Florida man used Siri to dump body of dead roommate – Pedro Bravo, a 20-year-old man from Florida, is accused of strangling Christian Aguilar in September of 2012. Bravo reportedly got upset when Aguilar began dating his ex-girlfriend. The body of Christian Aguilar was found in a shallow grave a few weeks later. During the investigation into Bravo, police obtained his cell phone records. They found he used his iPhone flashlight several times between around 11:30pm and midnight the day Aguilar disappeared. During that time, he told Siri “I need to hide my roommate”.

Here’s another Comcast cancellation horror story, with video evidence – This story will sound familiar, but it’s not a repeat. A month after AOL’s Ryan Block posted an audio recording of a Comcast cancellation call that even a Comcast executive called “painful to listen to,” another customer has posted a video showing how difficult it was for him to cancel service.


30 Years of Windows and Not Fixing the Obvious – You would think that after 30 years of Windows, many of the obvious and consistent flaws would be fixed. Are they unfixable? Or are the people at Microsoft who can fix them uninterested?

The Internet of Things is here and there — but not everywhere yet – The Internet of Things is still too hard. Even some of its biggest backers say so. For all the long-term optimism at the M2M Evolution conference this week in Las Vegas, many vendors and analysts are starkly realistic about how far the vaunted set of technologies for connected objects still has to go. IoT is already saving money for some enterprises and boosting revenue for others, but it hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. That’s partly because it’s too complicated to deploy, some say.

Anonymous Releases Purported Audio Tapes of Brown Killing – Members of Anonymous launched what they are calling OpFerguson in response to the shooting of Michael Brown after an altercation with an unnamed officer and reports that his body was left in one place for hours without medical assistance being called in. The Missouri teen was reportedly shot by the officer several times on Saturday in Ferguson, a town with a majority African American population and a police force that is predominantly white.


Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

Panda Free Antivirus – Panda Free Antivirus is fast and free, boasts the top score in real-world protection, and offers a USB drive cleaner.


High security scores: Panda Free Antivirus scored an impressive 99.9 percent in real-world protection from AV-Comparatives, edging Bitdefender out of the top spot. Scanning in full mode took us about six minutes, which is fast for a free scanner.

Easy USB rescue setup: Panda includes a rescue USB tool that scans and removes viruses from your hard drive. The walk-through will show you how to install Panda Cloud Cleaner onto your flash drive, so that you can then boot your PC with Cloud Cleaner running.

Metro-like design: Panda Free Antivirus comes dressed like Windows 8. Each tiled module behaves similarly to the Windows 8 tile screen, complete with rearrangeable boxes and colors. Add more tools by upgrading to one of the premium versions.


Browser tampering: Panda includes some minor annoyances during installation. If you miss the opt-out prompt, your default browser search will automatically change to Yahoo, and your home page will be taken over by MyStart. You can avoid these results, but some users will still find the behavior annoying.

Bottom Line:

Panda Free Antivirus has significantly boosted its protection score. As you make your way up through the pro versions, Panda Antivirus begins offering some of the more compelling tools, like backup schedulers, and removes browser offers from the installation process. The modern, Windows-8-style look hasn’t changed much from last year’s appearance, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Panda Free Antivirus doesn’t offer a lot of bonus tools but is a solid release that will protect your PC.

This is a CNET “secure download” – strict attention to the install process is required in order to avoid the crap normally offloaded by Cnet’s “secure download.”


AVG LinkScanner – Nowadays, there are far more threats out there than plain viruses. You have probably come across the term spyware as well, however, authors of malicious codes and dangerous websites are very innovative, and new kinds of threats emerge quite often, the vast majority of which are on the Internet. Here are some of the most common:

Exploit is a malicious code that takes advantage of a flaw or vulnerability in an operating system, Internet browser, or other essential program.

Social engineering is a common term for various techniques used to trick people into giving away their personal information (passwords, bank account details, credit card numbers etc.). A typical example of social engineering is phishing – an attempt to acquire sensitive personal data by shamming a trustworthy and well-known organization. Usually, the potential victims are contacted by a bulk e-mail asking them to e.g. update their bank account details. In order to do that, they are invited to follow the link provided which then leads to a fake website of the bank.

Scam can be also considered a kind of social engineering; it includes false job offers, or ones that will abuse the workers for illegal activities, summons to withdraw a large sum of money, fraudulent lotteries and the like.

Hoax is a bulk e-mail containing dangerous, alarming or just bothering and useless information. Many of the above threats use hoax e-mail messages to spread.

Finally, malicious websites are ones that deliberately install malicious software on your computer, and hacked sites do just the same, only these are legitimate websites that have been compromised into infecting visitors.

AVG LinkScanner is here to protect you from all these online threats.

AVG LinkScanner is up and running immediately from the moment of installation. All basic settings have been pre-set by the manufacturer, so most of the time you will not have to worry about anything – just let AVG work in the background and protect you without any effort on your part. However, there might be situations where you need to adjust the program settings, or decide what to do with a virus infected file; this help system is here to provide detailed information and assist you with any task.

IP Camera Viewer – IP Camera Viewer allows you to view live video from your USB or IP cameras on your PC. Use any USB or IP camera to keep an eye on your home, office, parking area or anywhere you need security.

View video from multiple IP cameras directly to your computer. Currently more than 1500 different IP camera models from leading camera manufactures are supported. It includes Axis, Canon, D-Link, Foscam, Panasonic, Mobotix, Pixord, Sony, Toshiba, Vivotek and many more. You can send a request to our technical team if your camera or model is not listed in our application. Virtually all USB cameras work with IP Camera Viewer.

You can control and view up to 4 camera feeds simultaneously. Get a live preview from multiple cameras with this light-weight application. IP Camera Viewer’s centralized camera and layout management allows you to view your cameras from multiple remote locations on a single screen. You can change the arrangement and preview layout of the cameras, for your security needs.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden Reveals NSA Intervention In Syria, Hacking Program Compelled Him To Leak Documents – Many in the media have conjectured that supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were responsible for a series of Internet outages in Syria in 2012. But National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden asserts at least one was caused by the U.S. government.

Snowden went public with this claim for the first time in a recent interview with another NSA whistleblower, James Bamford, published today in Wired Magazine. Snowden’s basis for this claim seems more flimsy than past revelations (it doesn’t seem like he has documents to back it up), and it is based on the word of one source. At first glance the assertion seemed to be fantastical, but so have other Snowden claims before they were confirmed.

By the time he went to work for Booz Allen in the spring of 2013, Snowden was thoroughly disillusioned, yet he had not lost his capacity for shock. One day an intelligence officer told him that TAO—a division of NSA hackers—had attempted in 2012 to remotely install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Internet service provider in Syria, which was in the midst of a prolonged civil war. This would have given the NSA access to email and other Internet traffic from much of the country. But something went wrong, and the router was bricked instead—rendered totally inoperable. The failure of this router caused Syria to suddenly lose all connection to the Internet—although the public didn’t know that the US government was responsible

The Wired interview gave an unprecedented perspective into why Snowden decided to steal a trove of documents from the NSA and disperse them to journalists in 2013. Following the Syria revelation, Snowden discovered a quick, automated system that responds to cyberthreats, known as MonsterMind. The program also was first disclosed in the Wired interview.

The system’s automated nature is dangerous, according to Snowden, who said that cyber attacks can be “spoofed,” implying that an automatic response could hit the wrong target. According to the interview, Snowden “views MonsterMind as the ultimate threat to privacy” due to its need to acquire huge amounts of communications data.

Snowden points out that to analyze “all traffic flows,” you have to “[intercept] all traffic flows.” Such an effort would violate the Fourth Amendment, according to Snowden, as the government would be “seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing.”

Microsoft Urges Reform Of U.S. Government’s Surveillance Practices – In a set of comments regarding “big data,” submitted in response to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) request for public input, Microsoft listed a number of changes to how the U.S. government handles surveillance and digital privacy that it thinks would help build “confidence in the cloud.”

Its list, while not surprising in its content, is worth noting as it puts the weight of Microsoft’s stature in the technology industry, a group of companies that have been somewhat muted in their public response to sweeping revelations regarding pervasive government surveillance.

Here’s Microsoft’s list of what it calls a “minimum” set of steps that the government should follow:

Update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to address changes in technology.

Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to ensure that its proceedings are the product of the adversarial process that is the hallmark of our judicial system.

Commit not to hack data centers or cables.

Increase transparency about the amount and types of information collected through intelligence surveillance.

End bulk collection of data of telephone records.

Work with our international allies to improve the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process, and use that process to obtain digital evidence stored overseas, rather than using unilateral processes.

Justice Department asks court to vacate stay in Microsoft email privacy case – The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a New York court to vacate a stay on an order that would require Microsoft to turn over to the government certain emails held abroad.

The company, which had asked for the stay to pursue an appeal, may now have to refuse to comply with the order after the stay is lifted for its appeal to be acceptable by the appeals court, according to the plan outlined by DOJ to the court, citing a “jurisdictional defect.”

Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected Microsoft’s appeal of an earlier ruling requiring it to turn over the emails stored in the company’s facility in Dublin, Ireland, but ruled that the company will not have to turn over the emails while it pursues an appeal.

In a letter to the judge on Tuesday, the DOJ, which had earlier consented to the stay, points to the issue that Judge Preska’s decision was not a final, appealable order from the point of the view of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Microsoft has, meanwhile, informed the district court that it has appealed to the 2nd Circuit from the order entered by the district court on July 31.

Many US companies failing to uphold EU privacy rules, privacy group claims in FTC complaint – At least thirty US companies are “failing to provide” safeguards for European citizens promised by the US government, a new complaint alleges.

A filing submitted to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday by the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) claims Salesforce, Adobe, AOL, and other companies are “compiling, using, and sharing EU consumers’ personal information without their awareness and meaningful consent, in violation the Safe Harbor framework.”

“Petraeus-gate,” some U.S. pundits are calling it. How significant is it that even the head of the CIA can have his emails read by an albeit friendly domestic intelligence agency, which can lead to his resignation and global, and very public humiliation? Here’s how.

The US-EU Safe Harbor regulations allow European data, which is generally not allowed to leave the continent, to enter and reside on US servers so long as the same strong data protection and privacy rules are adhered to.

The self-certifying system, however, has come under heavy fire, not least European officials, as being inadequate in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures, which detailed massive surveillance by the US National Security Agency.

Based in Washington, DC, the privacy group calls on the FTC, which manages and ensures the validity of the US-EU Safe Harbor rules, to investigate the thirty named companies, which the CDD claims they are involved in, among other things, “data profiling and online targeting.”

“All of the companies, we believe, fall far short of the commitments they have made under the Safe Harbor,” a summary of the filing says.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 13, 2014

Can Your Security Software Block Exploit Attacks?  How to Record Your Customer Service Calls;  Track who’s buying politicians with “Greenhouse” browser add-on;  Dropbox with QuickDrop for Chrome;  The Best Upcoming Cell Phones;  Om One: a levitating speaker you never knew you wanted;  How to install a new hard drive in your desktop PC;  How to securely overwrite deleted files with a built-in Windows tool;  8.5 percent of Twitter accounts are bots;  Google tightens Gmail spam filtering;  The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go;  Geek Answers: Why do we have blood types?  The Glov Will Make You The Inspector Gadget Of Sex Toys;  Nero MediaHome (free);  NSA Internet Metadata Program Collected More Than Was Allowed, Shared Data Too Broadly.

Can Your Security Software Block Exploit Attacks? – A typical exploit kit contains numerous attacks that gain control of victim computers through security holes in the operating system, in the browser, or in common applications. If you fail to keep your software updated, a security suite is your only defense. A recent test by China-based PC Security Labs showed that some products are much more effective than others at this particular task.

Track who’s buying politicians with “Greenhouse” browser add-on – Nicholas Rubin, a 16-year-old programmer from Seattle, has created a browser add-on that makes it incredibly easy to see the influence of money in US politics. Rubin calls the add-on Greenhouse, and it does something so brilliantly simple that once you use it you’ll wonder why news sites didn’t think of this themselves. Greenhouse pulls in campaign contribution data for every Senator and Representative, including the total amount of money received and a breakdown by industry and size of donation. It then combines this with a parser that finds the names of Senators and Representatives in the current page and highlights them. Hover your mouse over the highlighted names and it displays their top campaign contributors.

Dropbox with QuickDrop for Chrome – The QuickDrop extension gives you access to your Dropbox files and folders from a browser button and lets you upload files simply by dragging and dropping them to Chrome.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Opens Classroom, Its Learning Management Tool, To All Teachers – Classroom, which is now available in 42 languages, gives teachers access to a content management system that allows them to post updates and homework assignments, add and remove students from their classes, and provide them with feedback (including grades). Unsurprisingly, the service is deeply integrated with Google Drive and the productivity applications, such as Google Docs and Slide. The service is free for schools as part of the Google Apps for Education suite.

How to Record Your Customer Service Calls – Tired of reneged promises and bogus charges? Flip the script on shady customer service and get it all on the record. Here are a few simple ways to record your next phone call.

Internet hiccups today? You’re not alone. Here’s why – It’s not just you. Many Internet providers have been having trouble as they run into long expected (but not adequately prepared for) routing table problems.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free – You still need standard signature-based antivirus protection —those old viruses, Trojans, and other malicious programs aren’t going away. But antivirus alone isn’t sufficient to protect you against zero-day exploits. Zero-day means it’s never been seen before, so there’s no way a signature could exist. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free, the free, feature-limited version of Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Premium, protects against exploits and doesn’t need any signatures. Read my review of the premium edition, everything in that review applies to the free edition as well, with a few exceptions that ‘ll summarize here.

(I’ve been running with this freebie since the initial beta release – as per the following screen shot. A worthwhile addition to a layered security approach.)


The Best Upcoming Cell Phones – In the market for a new mobile phone? Don’t pull the trigger just yet: These models look promising. Many of these devices will see September launches and October or November releases as they filter onto the four major U.S. wireless carriers. We’ll have reviews of all of them as they hit the U.S., of course. Take a look at our top 10 upcoming cell phones below.

Twitter video ads enter beta, are heading to your feed – Video advertisements are heading to your Twitter feed, with the company announcing that after months of testing, it is pushing its so-called Promoted Video platform into beta mode. Fortunately, the ads won’t auto-play when you scroll past them.

Yelp reviewers file class-action suit, want compensation – Should you get paid for reviewing restaurants and other businesses on Yelp? More to the point, did you know a group of people already do? A new class-action lawsuit, filed by Yelp reviewers, aims to pay you for reviews.

Messenger app users worry how Facebook uses a device’s phone, camera – Facebook ignited a flood of criticism last week when it began requiring mobile users to load its Messenger app for Android and iOS separate from its basic Facebook app. Some users complained about having to use the separate app to send messages, photos or videos to their friends. Other users were concerned that the Messenger app stinks of Orwellian 1984-style invasions of privacy.


5 Reasons We Love Facebook Messenger – The Android Messenger app requests permission to take pictures and videos; record audio; receive text messages; and read your contacts – all things you need to contact and interact with your Facebook friends within the app. So, is it really a big deal? Should you avoid Messenger or is it a handy tool? We polled the PCMag staff to see what they thought about Messenger, and most had good things to say, save for those concerned about the permissions snafu and the extra space eaten up by Messenger. Here’s a rundown of their favorite features.

Microsoft turns (almost) any camera into a Kinect – Microsoft has been working on ways to make any regular 2D camera capture depth, meaning it could do some of the same things a Kinect does. As you can see in the video below the team managed to pull this off and we might see this tech all around in the near future. What’s really impressive is that this works with many types of cameras. The research team used a smartphone as well as a regular webcam and both managed to achieve some impressive results. Of course the cameras have to be slightly modified but that’s only to permit more IR light to hit the sensor.


Om One: a levitating speaker you never knew you wanted – Bluetooth speakers are fairly boring in today’s market, but this one has set itself apart. So far apart, it’s not even touching anything. The Om One is a levitating Bluetooth speaker that has no wires during operation, and can be taken with you wherever you like.


Create a full realistic 3D avatar of yourself with Kinect for Windows v2 – Microsoft finally began shipping its second-generation Kinect sensor for Windows last month, priced at $199. Just a few weeks on, developers are already beginning to share some of the results of their efforts using the latest Kinect version. One such example, highlighted this week by Microsoft, is Mixamo, a 3D animation platform based in San Francisco. Mixamo created Fuse, a 3D modelling software suite that uses Kinect for Windows v2 to take a scan your body, and create a realistic 3D avatar of you on screen – one that actually looks like you.


Microsoft Updates Windows 8.1 And Surface Tablets – It’s a big day in the Windows world, with Microsoft rolling out a grip of security patches, updates for Surface tablets, and new capabilities for Windows 8.1 as part of its August update. Nine security updates are part of the package, addressing what Microsoft calls “37 unique Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.” The Surface updates are a bit more interesting, impacting Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro and Surface RT devices. Expect a mix of stability improvements and hardware tweaks.

How to install a new hard drive in your desktop PC – Installing an internal hard drive is one of the more straightforward upgrades out there—and is often a better option than using external drives that are slower and may be dropped or misplaced. The process usually requires no more than mounting it, connecting a couple of cables, and formatting the drive for use. Still, there are a few things you should know to make installation as smooth as possible.

Next gen reversible USB system released – The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced the release of its next generation USB Type-C specification, delivering a reversible cable and connector system to the market almost two years after Apple did the same with its proprietary Lightning cable.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 beta is ready for testing – Want a more up-to-date Red Hat Enterprise Linux but not ready to jump all the way the RHEL 7? Then this beta is for you.


How to securely overwrite deleted files with a built-in Windows tool – When you delete a file in Windows, you’re just removing the pointer. The data is still there. Here’s how to make sure that data is gone, baby, gone.


Google tightens Gmail spam filtering – The company is tackling scammers’ use of similar Unicode characters for tricking users into going to malicious websites.

8.5 percent of Twitter accounts are bots – Twitter has confirmed in official documentation that 23 million – around 8.5 percent – of its 271 million monthly active users are actually automated ‘bot’ accounts, and not authored by real people.

Financial firms not offering two factor authentication – None of the financial firms mentioned in a recent New York Times article offered two factor authenticaton. But, even if they did, you should still use a Chromebook in Guest Mode for financial transactions.

ATM Skimming: A Refresher – Card skimming is not as well-known to the general public as phishing in this part of the globe. Fortunately, most major banks have stepped up their efforts to safeguard their clients from potential card cloning and fraud in general. Despite these, however, getting users involved by making them aware of tactics and skimming devices can result in very effective anti-fraud efforts. That said, dishing out some helpful resources at this point is timely.


Facebook ordered to disclose records on underage users – Facebook says it doesn’t keep them longer than six months, but a court in Belfast is nonetheless ordering it to hand over any records it might have or control about its underage users. The case concerns a girl who, starting at the age of 11, took out four Facebook accounts and used them to post sexually suggestive photos.

Company News:

OnePlus holds misguided beauty contest for women to bolster ailing image – In a move that’s guaranteed to go down in history as one of the most misguided attempts at positive PR in history, OnePlus has initiated a “ladies first” contest for smartphone invites. The best part? Contestants don’t get the chance to win a phone, they get the chance to win an “invite” to purchase a phone. Oh, and a T-shirt, of course.


Why Amazon won’t stop picking fights with its partners – The online retailer ramps up its public war with publishers and studios in the name of pricing. Will consumers care?

Yahoo acquires ‘Pandora for places’ startup Zofari – Yahoo has added yet another startup to the fold with the purchase of app developer Zofari, a provider of location-based recommendations.

Games and Entertainment:

The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go – With a few minutes to spare, and one hand free, you need to find some games you can play with the same hand you’re holding your phone with. Your choices aren’t as limited as you might think. You’ll find that most of the titles are designed specifically with the portrait orientation in mind. However, some games are good enough to bend the rules, and you’ll see a couple games sprinkled in that are played in landscape mode.

Goat Simulator coming to iOS, Android, and Xbox – Goat Simulator was originally released as a kind of joke; a really good joke, too. Since capturing the simple mindset of those of us who found favor in pretending to be a goat, the game has spread like wildfire for the desktop. Now it seems iOS, Android, and Xbox are getting in on the fun, too.


Xbox One Getting Mobile TV Streaming, Plus DLNA And USB Playback – Microsoft is still listening to fans when it comes to adding features to the Xbox One. A new update that will begin rolling out to people in the early access program this month adds a number of top requests, including media playback from USB or DLNA that will support a bunch of new file formats, including mpeg 2 TS and MKVs. The One will also gain the ability to stream TV on a local network to smartphones and tablets running the Xbox SmartGlass app.

‘Best Fiends’ Targets Angry Birds, Candy Crush – Seriously, the new kid on the mobile gaming block, has wasted no time making a play for the in-crowd. The startup today launched its Best Fiends website, providing a first look at an animated game heading to your smartphone or tablet in October.


Steam beta code hints at music, movies and TV shows on the way – Modern consoles offer not just gaming, but also access to a wide variety of entertainment services. It seems that this reality is not lost on Valve, as BGR reports. Twitter account @SteamDB noted that numerous new app types appear to be supported in the latest Steam beta update. Movies, TV shows, plugins and music are new additions that were not present in previous releases.


Sony Teases A Virtual Couch Mode For PS4 Multiplayer – Even If Your Friend Doesn’t Own  – The Share Play features include two new remote multiplayer modes, both of which give players the chance to experience playing with friends despite not actually owning their friends’ games. Pass The Controller lets two players alternate turns on a game, as if they’re sitting next to each other on a couch – passing the controller back and forth – in the same room. This means you can play fighters or have collaborative gameplay without one of the people involved actually owning the game. This is literally game changing. It greatly lowers the cost of entry for having great multiplayer experiences, and hopefully it gets picked up by a number of developers.

GameStop’s simplified trade-in pricing has 4 tiers, here’s how it works – GameStop was rumored to be removing all the complexity from its trade-in program last week, and the company has now confirmed it is doing exactly that. Next time you go to trade in a game at your local GameStop you can expect just 4 tiers of pricing rather than the 10+ you had to choose from before.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Geek Answers: Why do we have blood types? – Blood types are terribly inconvenient, aren’t they? In the case of injury or disease, you can’t just take blood from any nearby warm body and transfuse it into someone. No, their blood types have to match, but have you ever wondered what that collection of letters and mathematical operators really means? I mean, why do we have blood types anyway?


The Glov Will Make You The Inspector Gadget Of Sex Toys – The Glov is meant to solve the problem of putting any real effort into pleasuring yourself. The Glov lets you attach a fun sex toy to the end of an admittedly awkward glove so that you can use much less energy to get things going, so to speak. Obviously, this thing may make you look like the Inspector Gadget of sex toys, but at the same time, it could make you the Inspector Gadget of sex toys. Think about it.


Steve Ballmer is $2b lighter after Los Angeles Clippers purchase comes to a close – It’s official, after months of delays, ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is the new owner of the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Clippers. The decision became final this morning after disgraced former owner Donald Sterling, tried to prevent the sale, resulting in months of legal battles. The courts have ruled in favor that Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, had the authority to sell the team on behalf of her husband; Steve Ballmer will pay $2 billion dollars for the team.

Facial recognition tech leads feds to fugitive after 14 years – In 2000, after being accused of child sex abuse and kidnapping in New Mexico, Neil Stammer skipped town and went underground. Fourteen years later he was arrested in Nepal. How did the authorities catch this fugitive? Facial recognition technology.


The IBM PC: Was it really only 33 years ago? – It might seem to some that the IBM PC was invented aeons ago, but for me it seems like happened only yesterday and my, it was exciting.


Something to think about:

“Walk a mile in my shoes

Walk a mile in my shoes

Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse

Walk a mile in my shoes”

-     Joe South

Today’s Free Downloads:

Nero MediaHome – Organize, manage and control all of your media from one place.

One-Click Copying – Whether it’s a home video of your baby’s first step or a series of clips from your skydiving trip, these are the memories that are worth saving. Make backup copies of your favorite videos onto DVD and Blu-ray Disc to watch and relive those unique moments anytime your heart desires.

One-Click Sync and Upload – From your digital camera to your Android™ phone or from your PC to tablet, no matter what you’re moving, all it takes is one click. Import, sync and convert your favorite tunes to your Android phone, import photos from your digital camera or watch a movie on your tablet and never worry if it’s in the correct format or not. – With Nero MediaHome.

Play everything – Party video from your mobile phone? Vacation videos from your AVCHD digital camera? Or your favorite HD movie on Blu-ray Disc? You’ve got digital content from so many places, sometimes it’s a hassle to have to format your files before enjoying them—until now. Nero MediaHome Playback gives you the freedom to play it all straight through, no matter where the video clip is from or which camera took the photo. We’ll deal with the formatting so you can sit back and enjoy. – With Nero MediaHome Playback.

Face the World – A photo captures a moment, but a slideshow tells a story. Share the stories from your life with friends, family, and the world. We make it easy to create and share your slideshows of life’s finest moments to Facebook or YouTube.


Counter-Strike Online – Counter-Strike Online brings you the same action packed game as the original plus new feature, weapons, maps and mods. And zombies!

Survive the onslaught of the undead in the Dark City. Turn the day into your ally and use it as an advantage over the zombies. But when darkness falls, all hell breaks loose and the zombies turn the tables on the survivors. Be wary of the Night Stalker as he walks among the living…


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting – On August 1, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast a story by NPR national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston touting explosive claims from what she called “a tech firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” That firm, Recorded Future, worked together with “a cyber expert, Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs,” to produce a new report that purported to vindicate the repeated accusation from U.S. officials that “revelations from former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden harmed national security and allowed terrorists to develop their own countermeasures.”

The “big data firm,” reported NPR, says that it now “has tangible evidence” proving the government’s accusations. Temple-Raston’s four-minute, 12-second story devoted the first 3 minutes and 20 seconds to uncritically repeating the report’s key conclusion that ”just months after the Snowden documents were released, al-Qaeda dramatically changed the way its operatives interacted online” and, post-Snowden, “al-Qaeda didn’t just tinker at the edges of its seven-year-old encryption software; it overhauled it.” The only skepticism in the NPR report was relegated to 44 seconds at the end when she quoted security expert Bruce Schneier, who questioned the causal relationship between the Snowden disclosures and the new terrorist encryption programs, as well as the efficacy of the new encryption.

With this report, Temple-Raston seriously misled NPR’s millions of listeners. To begin with, Recorded Future, the outfit that produced the government-affirming report, is anything but independent. To the contrary, it is funded by the CIA and U.S. intelligence community with millions of dollars. Back in 2010, it also filed forms to become a vendor for the NSA. (In response to questions from The Intercept, the company’s vice president Jason Hines refused to say whether it works for the NSA, telling us that we should go FOIA that information if we want to know. But according to public reports, Recorded Future “earns most of its revenue from selling to Wall Street quants and intelligence agencies.”)

NSA Internet Metadata Program Collected More Than Was Allowed, Shared Data Too Broadly –  now-defunct National Security Agency (NSA) bulk collection program that collected information about online communications exceeded its authority, collected too much, and shared that information too freely, recently declassified court documents show.

The program collected, according to the official IC On The Record Tumblr page, “certain electronic communications metadata such as the ‘to,’ ‘from,’ and ‘cc’ lines of an email and the email’s time and date.” The compliance issues detailed below are generally self-reported, and thus cannot be treated as the full extent of the NSA’s overreaches of its authority during the life of the particular program.

The government, the document indicates, “acknowledges that NSA exceeded the scope of authorized acquisition continuously during the more than [redacted] years of acquisition under [the] orders.”

According to the document, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, which in this post is referred to as the FISA court) authorized the NSA to “engage in the bulk acquisition of specified categories of metadata about Internet communications.” Queries were to be executed through the use of “seed” accounts, which the material defines as “Internet accounts for which there was a reasonable articulable suspicion (‘RAS’) that they were associated with a targeted international terrorist group.”

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

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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!



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.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 11, 2014

These 3 Chrome extensions make encryption easier for everyone;  7 back-to-school apps to help you make the grade;  GeckoEye: a security camera puck powered by the sun;  The best Chromebooks for school; How to Tell If The Spies Are Watching You, for Cheap;  What my kid learned with a Little Scholar tablet;  3 data recovery applications for OS X;  Facebook Color Scheme Scam returns: don’t be fooled;  Home routers supplied by ISPs can be compromised en masse;  All you need to know about the ‘X-Men’ movies in 3 minutes;  Battlefield 4 goes free to play on PC for 168 hours;  What are Online Problematic Situations: EU Kids Speak Up;  Beware of US-based Tech Support Scams;  Hackers Unveil Their Plan to Change Email Forever;  Hackers to Auto CEOs: Build Secure Cars!

The best Chromebooks for school – Chromebooks have proven to be wildly popular in schools. More than a million Chromebooks were sold to schools this spring alone. Chromebooks also come with their built-in advantages: They require no anti-virus programs, they boot up in fewer than 10 seconds, they automatically update to the newest patches without any fuss or muss, and with them you can use a wide variety of educational and productivity programs

7 back-to-school apps to help you make the grade – You’re already dreading the early wake-up times and the terrifying tests and term papers that are par for the coursework. While we can’t excuse you from that 8 a.m. class or from the pop quiz that you’re so not prepared for, we can recommend seven educational apps to ease and enrich the coming school year.

These 3 Chrome extensions make encryption easier for everyone – Thanks to the fallout from the revelations about the U.S. government’s surveillance tactics, people are starting to take interest in using encryption tools for keeping email, files, and instant messaging private. Lately, some easy-to-use encryption tools have popped up that are very well designed and don’t require you to dramatically change your usage habits. Here’s a look at three of them.

Keep your laptop secure on campus – Learn how to prevent your laptop from being a target for thieves, and what precautions to take to improve your odds of recovering it in case it gets stolen.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to calibrate your TV for movies, sports, and games – One size or setting does not fit all. By adjusting the picture modes that your TV offers, you can improve the image quality for your various entertainment pursuits.

Required Viewing: Dan Geer’s Black Hat Keynote on the Philosophy and Future of the Internet – At this year’s Black Hat convention in Las Vegas, Dan Geer delivered a sobering, thought-provoking key note speech on the current state of Internet technology, the role of government, and his ten suggestions for the future. Watch the video. It’s a veritable feast for thought.


What my kid learned with a Little Scholar tablet – There’s myriad educational apps and devices out there, and Crave’s Eric Mack has found many of them disappointing, but he reports that School Zone’s Android tablet is a notable exception.


How to Tell If The Spies Are Watching You, for Cheap – A university professor described to DEF CON attendees how the ordinary citizenry could shield their activities, without having to robbing a bank to fund the project. “Our government’s assault on the Constitution is pretty well known,” Phil Polstra, an associate professor of digital forensics at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, said on Friday. Here are two ways you can tell you are being spied on and how to protect against it, on the cheap.

GeckoEye: a security camera puck powered by the sun – Security cameras serve an obvious purpose: to keep an eye on your possessions in case something happens to them. As technology morphs, these cameras have become smaller and more useful. One such camera is the GeckoEye, a puck-shaped camera that can be fit onto any surface, drawing its power from the sun. The GeckoEye is a round disc measuring in at 45mm, featuring a camera in the middle and an integrated solar panel. The maker says its security camera can be mounted anywhere using sticky tape, and will stay powered on its own via the solar panel.


Nostalgia alert: Microsoft rebuilds original 1994 home page – Experience the early days of the Web with a faithful re-creation of as it existed 20 years ago.


3 data recovery applications for OS X – There are numerous types of data recovery software available and even apps that are designed to support multiple OSs — ones that are Linux-based or boot into a specialized DOS-like environment from Live CDs — but they may or may not support all of the native features of OS X. In this article, we’ll focus only on software that runs natively on OS X.

OS X Tip: Sharing your internet connection – Here’s how to share a single internet connection – perhaps from an ethernet data port – with all your other devices.

What are Online Problematic Situations: EU Kids Speak Up – The London School of Economics and Political Science, in partnership with the EU Kids Online Network, published a long white paper (171 pages!) about what children perceived as online problematic situations (OPS), in contrast to what researchers and/or parents thought were problematic, and why. The report also highlighted the types of risks children are aware of, what the negative consequences are when one engages in or observes risky behaviour online, how they react to them, and what they do to avoid these situations.


Facebook Color Scheme Scam returns: don’t be fooled – There’s a malicious group of tricksters out there this week with the same game as they’ve had for several years. They suggest you’ll be able to change the color and/or layout of your Facebook homepage, you agree to their terms, and they steal your information. We implore you to let all of your Facebook friends know – DO NOT FALL FOR THIS TRICK.


Home routers supplied by ISPs can be compromised en masse – Specialized servers used by many ISPs to manage routers and other gateway devices provisioned to their customers are accessible from the Internet and can easily be taken over by attackers, researchers warn. By gaining access to such servers, hackers or intelligence agencies could potentially compromise millions of routers and implicitly the home networks they serve, said Shahar Tal, a security researcher at Check Point Software Technologies. Tal gave a presentation Saturday at the DefCon security conference in Las Vegas.

Beware of US-based Tech Support Scams – Most people associate tech support scams (AKA the fake Microsoft support call) with technicians sitting in a crowded and buzzing boiler room somewhere offshore. Indeed all of the tech support scams we have tracked so far were with companies located either in Mumbai, Kolkata or elsewhere in India. But last month, we stumbled upon fake warning pages urging users to call a number for ‘emergency tech support’. When we rang the number, we were surprised to hear that the technician sounded American. It turned out that their company was based in ‘the sunshine state‘ of Florida, USA.

The 10 most terrifying security nightmares revealed at the Black Hat and Def Con hacker – If the past is any indication, most of these exploits are scarier in theory than in fact—but they still offer a startling glimpse into the dangers inherent in an increasingly connected world. Here are the creepiest security stories coming out of Black Hat and Def Con in 2014.

Hackers to Auto CEOs: Build Secure Cars! – A group of security researchers determined to make the physical world a safer place demanded automobile manufacturers to build cars designed to withstand cyber attacks. The group, with the moniker “I am the Cavalry,” released an open letter to “Automotive CEOs” through Reuters, posted a copy on its website, and launched a petition, to call on automobile industry executives to implement its Five Star Automotive Cyber Safety Program. The pillars of the program includes safety by design, third-party collaboration, evidence capture, security updates, and segmentation and isolation.

Microsoft to drop support for old versions of Internet Explorer – Microsoft announced today that it’s dropping support, including security updates, for older Internet Explorer versions. The changes, which take effect in 18 months, are meant to push the vast Windows installed base to Internet Explorer 11.

Company News:

Andreessen Horowitz invests $50M in BuzzFeed – Entertainment and news site BuzzFeed has closed a $50 million investment from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz. The New York-based company, which was founded in 2006, tracks and serves up the content that is getting the most attention on the Internet to its 150 million average monthly viewers. The investment gives the company a valuation of $850 million, according to the New York Times, which first reported the investment.

Amazon’s latest spat is with Disney, and movie pre-orders are in the crossfire – Amazon is once again nixing movie pre-orders, this time against Disney, likely as a move to “motivate” negotiations in a direction it considers more favorable. Neither Disney or Amazon have commented on the matter, but it has been noted that recent Disney movies like Guardians of the Galaxy are not available for pre-order on Amazon.

Amazon Publishes Hachette CEO’s Email in Latest Salvo Over E-Book Pricing – In its latest move in an escalating battle over e-book pricing, Amazon attacked book publisher Hachette in a strongly-worded letter Saturday which includes the Hachette CEO’s email address and encourages authors to contact him directly.

Games and Entertainment:

All you need to know about the ‘X-Men’ movies in 3 minutes – So what do you do if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 14 years and need to catch up on all seven films — quick? You turn to Mashable’s new TL;DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch) YouTube video: “Every ‘X-Men’ Film in Less Than Three Minutes.”

(According to this writer, I’ve been “living under a rock for 14 years.” I’ve not yet seen an X-Men movie. On the other hand, I’ve read approximately 588 books – 3.5 books per month on average, during those 14 years. 

I’m not knocking movies (to each his own, and all that) – but personally, given what often passes for entertainment on the big screen these days, I’ll take a book as a first preference. Paper, not an eReader edition.)


Battlefield 4 goes free to play on PC for 168 hours – Between now and August 14 anyone with an Origin account, or anyone setting one up just for this offer, can claim 168 hours (7 full days) worth of free play time in the game. EA refers to this as Origin Game Time, and they’ve used it before to entice people to play and buy Titanfall. The main difference this time being the 168 hour time limit rather than the comparably stingy 48 hours Titanfall got.


Microsoft puts the focus on Xbox One multiplayer games in new ad – Microsoft has posted a new Xbox One advertisement showcasing some of the new games heading to the console in the coming months. The advertisement, which dramatically puts the focus on the multiplayer and team elements of gaming, was posted to the official Xbox channel on YouTube earlier today. The upcoming games which make an appearance in the ad include Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo: Master Chief Collection, Evolve and Sunset Overdrive.


Mobile MMORPG Order and Chaos Is Now Free-to-Play – Gameloft is one of the most well-known developers of high-end mobile games on both Android and iOS. Among its popular franchises are Modern Warfare shooters and the Asphalt arcade-style racers. The developer’s MMORPG Order and Chaos has also proven popular, even with the hefty $6.99 asking price. However, this week that game dropped to free on iOS and Android.


Meet the most insanely authentic flight sims ever: IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad and Ilya Muromets – “This is how we do games: To understand what it’s like to dogfight, we just go outside of Moscow, put ourselves in planes, and do some dogfighting,” says IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad’s producer Albert Zhiltsov, showing me a video of the team flying maneuvers in real planes. It’s crazy. It’s commitment. It’s just a small part of what makes 1C Game Studios—built from the original IL-2 franchise owners 1C Company and Rise of Flight creator 777 Studios—a flight simulator dream-team.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Surveillance in the Movies: Fact vs. Fiction – For those of us who don’t work at a spy agency, the “intel” we’ve gathered on what state surveillance is like comes primarily from movies and TV shows. But just how realistic are those portrayals? A panel of experts at Defcon, one of the world’s top hacker conferences taking place in Las Vegas over the weekend, had some answers.


The Simpsons Movie (2007)


The Company You Keep (2012)

Laziness at the expense of privacy and freedom: John McAfee – John McAfee, founder of the antivirus software company that bears his name, has called out laziness and the likes of Google as two of the contributing factors to the “eroded nature of privacy in our lives today”.

Tech Companies Praise The President For Speaking Out In Favor Of Net Neutrality – President Barack Obama spoke in favor of net neutrality this week, pushing back against the idea of paid prioritization, which many call Internet “fast lanes.” Following the president’s comments, a number of technology companies joined cultural and privacy groups in praising the American leader.

FCC chairman downplays net neutrality differences with Obama – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman’s view of net neutrality rules and President Barack Obama’s are not as different as some reports this week have suggested, the chairman said Friday. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat appointed by Obama, downplayed news reports suggesting Obama wants stronger net neutrality rules than he does.

Almost one in six doctor visits will be virtual this year – With an aging Baby Boomer population and broadband bandwidth improved a hundredfold from a decade ago, telemedicine is exploding as a convenient and less costly alternative to the traditional visit to the doctors’ office. This year in the U.S. and Canada, 75 million of 600 million appointments with general practitioners will involve electronic visits, or eVisits, according to new research from Deloitte.

Pizza Gio is Australia’s first pizza vending machine – It might sound like pie in the sky, but pizza vending machines have finally arrived in Australia, following examples in France, the US, and Italy. The Pizza Gio machine vends two varieties of 11-inch artisan pizzas, cooked on demand in under three minutes. It’s the brainchild of George Pompei, the owner of Pompei’s pizzeria and Italian restaurant in Sydney’s Bondi Beach.


Something to think about:

“If everybody knew everything about everybody else, what would human behavior become? We would be limited to the least common denominator of human behavior: those behaviors which no one would find offensive. “We cannot have intrusions into our lives and still have freedom.”

-      John McAfee

Today’s Free Downloads:

Restore Point Creator – Create and manage System Restore Points quickly and easily, all from a free simple program. No more drilling through multiple menus in Windows just to create a System Restore Point, now all you have to do is run this program and that’s it. Follow the simple program layout and you have your System Restore Point created in no time at all.

Plus, for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8, creating System Restore Points is even quicker and easier with this program. Just pin this program to the Taskbar and you have the ability to quickly create System Restore Points using one of the two pinned Tasks (“Create System Checkpoint” and “Create Custom Named”) that the program creates. It’s that simple.


FileFriend - MajorGeek says: FileFriend lets you password protect, split and join and password protect your files, even inside images.

It’s a real Swiss army knife of file security. The interface should be easy even for inexperienced users. The first tab lets you split files into many pieces and the second tab allows you to rejoin them. Imaging hiding your favorite files you don’t want seen in 10, 20 or even 1,000 different pieces. The third tab lets you encrypt any file or folder. Finally, the fourth tab lets you not only password protect your jpeg files but also to hide files inside your jpeg images. Each section has a few additional options, but again this one is simple to use and a must have for anyone trying to protect their files.

There is no help file but you won’t be needing it.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED – Defcon 22 A killer combination of rapidly advancing technology and a desire for greater privacy among the public should condemn current surveillance state to an historical anachronism, according to PGP creator Phil Zimmermann.

In an extended talk at Defcon 22 in Las Vegas, Zimmermann said it might seem as though the intelligence agencies have the whip hand at the moment but mankind had faced this situation before. He also said the abolition of slavery and absolute monarchy, and the achievement for civil rights, also once looked unlikely but were achieved.

Zimmermann praised the release of information by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, saying his efforts have alerted the populace to the real state of affairs and made people much more concerned about privacy. The revelations had also forced the technology industry to “up its game” and provide products to meet that demand, he opined.

Russia now requires ID for access to public WiFi – Modern Russia seems to be edging on totalitarianism, and the latest development doesn’t help that notion. Public WiFi hotspots in Russia now require identification to log in, and companies must make it known to the government who is using their connections. The legislation, though over-reaching and drawing the ire of many, is said to be a measure to stop terrorism.

Signed into law on July 31 by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the announcement was made just today. Companies have said they aren’t even certain how to report who is using their WiFi network. Accessing the public networks is done by registering your mobile phone number, after which you can have a code sent to you to log-in to the network where you happen to be. The number is linked to your ID, suggesting you’d need to register with the Government each time you change numbers. The method also requires updating your info every six months.

Malaysia mulls Facebook ban, cites public complaints – The Malaysian government says it is evaluating the need to ban access to Facebook following incidents of abuse on the social media, but critics argue any move to do so is primitive and will face strong opposition.

“If the people [of Malaysia] are of the opinion that Facebook should be closed, we are prepared to look into the matter,” Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek told local reporters after an Umno meeting over the weekend. The ministry is currently gathering public views on this issue, he said, noting that it had received 2,000 complaints involving abuse on the website.

However, he admitted that mandating a ban on Facebook would be “a radical approach”, reported local news agency Bernama. Ahmad Shabery added that it would be “quite impossible” to shut down access when there were 15 million Facebook accounts in Malaysia.

Hackers Unveil Their Plan to Change Email Forever – The creator of an ultra-secure email service once said to be used by Edward Snowden unveiled his next project at a major hacker conference Friday: he and others like him want to change the very nature of email forever.

Ladar Levison, creator of the Lavabit encrypted email provider, was forced in August of last year to give investigators access to an account reportedly used by Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker, after a tug-of-war with federal authorities. But rather than compromise the privacy of his other 400,000-plus email users, Levison says, he shut the entire project down. A similar encrypted email provider, Silent Circle, took heed and shuttered its own service to pre-empt any federal authorities that might come demanding information from it as well.

Out of those ashes, Levison and others launched the Dark Mail project, which is developing Dime, a set of new email protocols its creators hope will revolutionize the way the world communicates online.

“If I sound a little bit upset, it’s because I am,” Levison told a packed ballroom Friday at Defcon, a top hacker conference held annually in Las Vegas.

“I’m not upset that I got railroaded and I had to shut down my business,” said Levison. “I’m upset because we need a Mil-Spec [military grade] cryptographic mail system for the entire planet just to be able to talk to our friends and family without any kind of fear of government surveillance.”

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