Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 15, 2014

Take control of your smartphone;  Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours;  17 Skype Tips to Help You Master Web Calling, Video Chat;  MakerBot 3D printers coming to Home Depot;  Flaw in Google’s Dropcam sees it turned into SPYCAM;  Add New Voice Commands to Google Now for Android;  A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line, Part 2;  Microsoft hits back against government surveillance, highlights commitment to privacy;  How to sign up for Microsoft’s restored security alert email service;  How to find anything in Evernote: 6 advanced search tips;  Seven hiking apps for hitting the trails;  World Cup final sets records on Facebook, Twitter;  Five DIY mobile app platforms for developers on a tight budget;  ‘Yo’ App Retooled to Alert Israelis of Missile Attacks;  Beware of infected hotel PCs stealing guests’ passwords.

Snowden emails withheld due to US govt concerns about ‘invasion of personal privacy’ – The public disclosure of emails by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, could be an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”, according to a letter from the US Department of State responding to a FOIA request by online publication, The Desk.

(More than a few elected representatives of the U.S. government have publically called for Snowden’s assassination (murder, by any other name) – and yet, the US Department of State is worried about his privacy? The U.S. Government slips a little further into the rabbit hole.)

Take control of your smartphone – There are certain limitations of your smartphone that most of use accept. But what if I told you you didn’t necessarily have to accept your smartphone as it is? And with a few simple tips and tricks, your phone could break free of its artificial constraints.

Commandr Can Add New Voice Commands to Google Now for Android – Google has reworked its Android voice controls dramatically in the last few years, but there are still a number of useful commands missing. There are ways to hack those commands in, but none of them are particularly clean or convenient to use. Commandr changes that–it intercepts voice commands and implements the extra ones without getting in the way too much.

17 Skype Tips to Help You Master Web Calling, Video Chat – Making a call can be as easy as a double-click on a name in your contacts list, but Skype can do much, much more than that. And that’s where these tips can help. Whether you’re talking Skype-to-phone, video chatting, texting, looking for Wi-Fi, having meetings, or need a record of all your calls, Skype can handle it. But you may need some help, and these tips will guide you through.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

‘Yo’ App Retooled to Alert Israelis of Missile Attacks – The “Yo” app was developed as a joke. Download the app, tap on a friend’s name, and they’d get a message from you saying “Yo.” It’s that simple. In fact, the app was created in eight hours and released on April Fools’ day just so people would know it was a gag. But Yo has a new application that’s no laughing matter. Developers in the Middle East are using the app to warn Israelis of possible attacks from rocket fire; users following the handle “RedAlertIsrael” will get a “Yo” at the same time the country’s sirens go off.

Seven hiking apps for hitting the trails – It’s official: Summer has arrived, and with it, longer days with warmer weather. It’s the perfect time to strap on some supportive sneakers and hit the trails. Whether your idea of a great hike is a ten-mile trek through the wilderness, a leisurely stroll through the woods, or a power walk in the urban jungle, apps abound to help you make the most out of the experience. Here are seven that will help you with everything from planning your adventure to logging your journey.

How to find anything in Evernote: 6 advanced search tips – So what are you supposed to do when it comes time to find one of your notes? Manually browsing through them is akin to rifling through a file drawer. Instead, hone in on what you’re looking for using Evernote’s advanced search operators. These modifiers let you find notes based on where or when they were created, which notebook they’re filed in, or even what type of media they contain. Here are the most useful operators for narrowing your searches.

Internet giants press for net neutrality in FCC filing – An association of more than two dozen technology companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Netflix urged the Federal Communications Commission on Monday to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules for wired and mobile networks. The companies want to secure an open Internet for the future, they said in a comment filed by The Internet Association with the FCC. They want to prevent the segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes as that will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users, they said.

World Cup final sets records on Facebook, Twitter – Germany vs. Argentina proves to be the biggest sporting event in Facebook’s history, while Twitter says the game generated the most tweets per minute.


MakerBot 3D printers coming to Home Depot – MakerBot and Home Depot are partnering to introduce 3D printing to the masses. The MakerBot will initially see its way into 12 stores located in California, Illinois, and New York.


A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line, Part II – In this follow up article to our basic Linux command line series we go a bit deeper to discuss file metadata, permissions, timestamps, some new tools like tee, Vim, and more.

These two cases make your iPhone the ultimate toolbox – Your iPhone can do a lot, but it has limitations. What if it could be a phone and a leatherman tool, though? Tasklab has made that possible, bringing a bevy of tools to your favorite device.


Dell’s Chromebook is so popular, it stopped selling them – Chromebooks are popular — and if you doubt that, just ask Dell. The computer manufacturer has halted sales of their 11-inch Chromebook, all because demand was too high. Still available for educational purposes, the average consumer is out of luck for a while.

Windows is rising to the Chromebook price war – HP is readying a $199 Windows notebook for the holidays, as Microsoft pushes Windows 8.1 against Google Chromebooks, one of a number of more affordable PC options. The HP Stream laptop, confirmed during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, will be one of at least three models, though versions from Acer and Toshiba will be slightly more expensive, at $249 apiece.

Wiper Launches Its Secure Messaging App With $2.5 Million In Seed Funding – Today’s paranoid novelists (and the web surfing public) have to keep up with real-life concerns over the National Security Agency, Google’s panopticon, Facebook’s social experimentation, and everything that every telecom provider knows and wants to know about you. Enter anonymous messaging and social networks that don’t collect information about you, or even store any of the things you send through their services.


Raspberry Pi Microcomputer Gets Beefed Up — Still Only Costs $35 – Specifically the new Pi has more USB ports (four instead of two), which also have improved hotplug and overcurrent performance; more GPIO (general purpose input/output pins) — 40 pins up from 26, but keeping the same pinout for the first 26 pins so existing projects will still work — to accommodate more peripheral components (such as LEDs); a Micro SD card slot replacing the prior SD card socket and taking up less space on the board; lower power consumption; improved audio performance; and a neater form factor with USB ports aligned at the edge of the board, composite video moved onto the 3.5mm jack, and four mounting holes positioned to make it easier to fix the Pi in place.


No Raspberry Pi 2 until 2017, software is the focus for now – The Model B+ is a great upgrade because it adds more USB ports, a larger GPIO, replaces the SD card with Micro SD, and has much better mounting holes and lower power consumption. But the processor and RAM haven’t changed. It’s the same tiny PC tweaked into its final form. So when are we going to see a Raspberry Pi version two? According to Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton, we’ll be waiting until 2017 for that to happen.

Over 12 million Nokia Lumia 520s have been sold so far – Microsoft announced today that the Nokia Lumia 520 – which has been sold for as little as $39.99 – is the best-selling handset in its price range, with sales of over 12 million units worldwide so far.


High-Tech Cooler Tops $4M on Kickstarter – So what makes it the coolest cooler around? It features a built-in blender, removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, and USB charger so you’re all hooked up at your next tailgate, backyard barbeque, or camping adventure. Want some piña coladas? No problem. Need to charge your phone? Plug it right in. Coolest Cooler USBLaunched on Kickstarter last week, the Coolest Cooler has already raked in more than $4.1 million from 21,000 backers – well over the original $50,000 goal. And the fundraising campaign still has 46 days to go.


Speed up or slow down your slideshows – Showing photos to friends? If the pictures move too slowly, you bore your audience. If they move to fast, you annoy them. Here’s how to set the speed in several common programs.

Five DIY mobile app platforms for developers on a tight budget – These do-it-yourself platforms allow developers or designers to create mobile apps at a fraction of the cost a third-party would charge. See which one is right for your shop.


“Severe” password manager attacks steal digital keys and data en masse – A research paper scheduled to be presented at a security conference next month underscores the hidden dangers of selecting the wrong products. The researchers examined LastPass and four other Web-based managers and found critical defects in all of them. The worst of the bugs allowed an attacker to remotely siphon plaintext passcodes out of users’ wallets with no outward sign that anything was amiss. LastPass and three of the four other developers have since fixed the flaws, but the findings should serve as a wakeup call. If academic researchers from the University of California at Berkeley can devise these sorts of crippling attacks, so too can crooks who regularly case people’s online bank accounts and other digital assets.

(An “I told you so moment” – regular readers will recall that I have maintained for years that password managers are a fools errand – Should You Forget About Password Safes and Write Down Your Passwords? – Just one more piece of evidence.)

Flaw in Google’s Dropcam sees it turned into SPYCAM – Hackers could inject fake video into popular home surveillance kit Dropcam and use the system to attack networks, researchers Patrick Wardle and Colby Moore say. The wide-ranging attacks were tempered by the need for attackers to have physical access to the devices but the exploits offer the chance to inject video frames into cameras – handy for home robberies – intercept video, and exploit the Heartbleed vulnerability to pull passwords and SSL server’s private key. Wardle said the cameras should be subject to the same security checks as regular computers given their capabilities and vulnerabilities. Dropcam was found to be running Heartbleed-vulnerable versions of OpenSSL and the Unix utility suite BusyBox.

How to sign up for Microsoft’s restored security alert email service – Security professionals, IT administrators and other interested customers can sign up for the mailing list from this page. All that’s needed is a Microsoft account, the username and password combination associated with the company’s services, such as, OneDrive and Office 365.

Beware of infected hotel PCs stealing guests’ passwords, feds warn – The US Secret Service is warning hotel operators to be on the lookout for malware that steals passwords and other sensitive data from guests using PCs in business centers, according to a published report.

Here’s the only safe way to use public PCs – Business center PCs can be dangerous. The only safe way to use such devices is not to use the installed OS.

Fake Google Messenger Reads Your Texts, Records Your Calls – Malwarebytes says that this malicious app is called “Google Korean IM.” During installation, it requests Device Administrator access. Some Android users might not recognize this as problematic, but granting that level of access gives the app far-ranging powers over your phone. Device Admin apps can, for example, lock your phone or completely wipe it. Usually, we only see security apps or certain Google apps requesting this level of access. But because this malware is after information, it uses its Device Admin powers to watch and listen. According to Malwarebytes, the app monitors incoming calls and can even record those phone calls, presumably sending the recordings off to a server somewhere. The app also pays special attention to SMS messages, which the malware sends to a remote server. It can even capture victims’ contact lists.

The game isn’t over yet for Gameover malware – Researchers at Sophos have discovered new variants of Gameover malware—a botnet operation that was shut down by law enforcement just over a month ago.

OAIC finds a garden shed is not a secure place for medical records – The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has ruled that storing medical records in a garden shed is a failure to secure sensitive records.

Advanced Evasion Techniques wreaking havoc on network security – In the never-ending war against security breaches, attackers gaining the upper hand by unleashing zero day attacks, advanced persistent threats (APTs) and other rapidly evolving threats.

Company News:

Microsoft: 785 organizations have come back after trying out Google – Microsoft loves to tout its success, and at WPC, the company mentioned a particularly big win by highlighting 785 corporate customers who had enough of Google and came back to Windows.


LinkedIn buys Newsle to become the Google Alert for your professional life – LinkedIn wants to be more than just a professional networking site you only check when you need to update your job title or confirm a request to connect. That’s why the company keeps adding new features, like integrating Pulse’s newsreader last year and launching its Influencer blog series. On Monday, LinkedIn bought Newsle to become the Google Alert for your professional life.

Yahoo’s Mayer not ready to scoop up AOL, says report – Matchmakers have speculated about the possibility of a merger between Yahoo and AOL for the last couple of years. The rumor mill recycled the story recently after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong — both former Google executives — were spotted having late-night drinks at a media and technology conference last week. But such a tie-up is complicated. While both companies see potential benefits, Mayer has her doubts, according to a report published Monday by Recode.

Apple brings trade-in program to Australia – Australian customers of Apple are now able to trade-in their old devices for in-store credit.

Games and Entertainment:

Take dragons on your next road trip with Microsoft’s new Dragons Adventure game – Based on DreamWorks’s How to Train Your Dragon movies, the game also incorporates real-world data like weather and points of interest to create adventures that last exactly as long as your kids are in the car.


Those buildings and roads your dragon flies over are based on real maps and points of interest pulled in by the game.

GTA V PC release date listed as November 14 – E-tailer Coolshop has listed GTA V on PC with an expected release date of November 14 along with the option to pre-purchase the game. That date fits within the Fall release window and is 6 weeks before Christmas, giving it plenty of time to sell in the most important sales period of the year for video games.


Timberman Is The New Flappy Bird – Gamers looking for a new way to spend time waiting in line or on a commute should go check out Timberman, the latest indie game to take the App Store by storm. According to App Annie data, the game has made its way to the top five apps overall in more than 20 countries and is the most-downloaded game in eight countries as of yesterday. Timberman’s gameplay nails the recipe for addictiveness in a smartphone game. It’s easy to get into — all you’re doing is cutting down a tree by tapping on one side or the other, trying to avoid the descending branches as you progress.


The coolest comic you’ve seen yet is currently on Kickstarter – Modern Polaxis is a comic book and an app. We know, a touch confusing, but the balance imagined with the project is brilliant. A drawn comic gives a foundation for the app, which comic book fans can use to scroll over the page using the camera, finding new detail and animation. Rather than mull around in your own mind what the author was getting at with an illustration, you might end up getting a richer experience.


Answered: 10 Questions About the First Destiny Beta – Bungie’s preliminary Destiny beta soirée kicks off this Thursday, transforming the end of July into more than just a showcase for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us PlayStation 4 remaster. To help everyone get ready, especially if you’re just tuning in, I’ve cobbled together the essentials from various Bungie news posts, FAQs and press releases, including a late-breaking (though unverified) tidbit that outlines what might be in the beta, content-wise.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The future of computing is a battle for your personal information – The organisations that are looking to invent, and dominate the next era of computing are, at their heart, based on advertising revenue, and in the process of owning the future, these companies and their device-based competitors will treat the personal information of consumers as a prized commodity.

Nickel and gadgets: A rash connection? – Allergic reactions to nickel in some gadgets have been noticed for a while. Now, a medical journal report suggests a possible link between rashes and exposure to nickel in Apple’s iPads.

Tech Blogger Tries To Cancel Comcast Service, Hilarity Ensues – If there’s one guy in the world who knows whether or not he wants to cancel his Comcast service, it’s Ryan Block. The former head of Engadget, founder of GDGT, and now product dude at AOL, Block probably knows exactly why he wants to cancel his Comcast service and, presumably, he’s not going to tell you or a Comcast service rep who refuses to take “No” for an answer. The call, which already went on for ten minutes by the time Block decided to record it, is an example of a rep sticking to his script and a customer with the patience of Job (and an understanding of Internet virality) putting up with aural torture in order to show the world how crazy Comcast is.

Unofficial hidden surveillance cam catches cop fighting cop – Miami police are probing footage of a fracas between two officers that was captured on a GoPro and eventually made public on YouTube. The recording is among the latest videos to surface involving police shenanigans, and it underscores that it’s not just the populace under today’s surveillance microscope. Local media describe the video as officer Marcel Jackson stopping a Chevrolet for allegedly unsafe driving. The driver turns out to be Lt. David Ramras, an internal affairs veteran. The video shows the internal affairs officer get out of the car before a tussle eventually ensues. Jackson throws Ramras to the ground and backup officers hit the scene. An online message board used by cops claims Jackson has been relieved of his duties. Miami authorities declined immediate comment.


Rocket scientist adds fins to pans, nearly doubles efficiency – One rocket scientist has turned his attention to cookware, designing a new set of pots and pans that are touted as nearly double the energy efficiency of your ordinary round cookware. What’s different? The addition of fins.


Oracle sexual harassment victim wins $130k on appeal – The Federal Court of Australia has decided to set aside the AU$18,000 amount it originally ordered technology giant, Oracle, to pay to sexually harassed victim and former employee, Rebecca Richardson. Instead, Judge Kenny today bumped up the damages for Oracle to pay Richardson to AU$130,000.

Something to think about:

“The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”

-     Edward Snowden

Today’s Free Downloads:

Dexpot – Dexpot turns your monitor into 20 different virtual desktops. Dexpot creates additional workspaces you can quickly switch between them. Take, for example, Desktop 1 to listen to your favourite music, surf the web on Desktop 2, use Desktop 3 to handle your daily word processing or switch to Desktop 4 for a game of Solitaire.

Different icons, wallpapers, start-ups, and much more can be configured for each desktop.


Has all the features you’d expect from a virtual desktop manager. Looks up to date, tidy and has a lovely design.

Fast set-up. Easy to use.

Can be expanded with plugins. Results in small memory footprint.

Stunning 3D transition effects. Only if you like them. Supports stylish wallpaper clocks (*.wcz).


Soluto - Frustrated by your sluggish and unresponsive PC? Soluto is bringing an end to PC user frustration with transparency, killer technology, and your help.

Soluto allows you to understand your boot, discover which applications are slowing it down (and keep running later in the background, affecting your ongoing experience), and allows you to significantly improve it. While Soluto focuses on the boot, it already researches for frustrations and helps map the PC Genome, allowing you to share your wisdom with others.



Checkout my older review of Saluto – Soluto Latest Release – Fixes Crashes And Speeds Up Your Boot Time.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours – Global governments, the tech sector, and scholars are closely following a legal flap in which the US Justice Department claims that Microsoft must hand over e-mail stored in Dublin, Ireland.

In essence, President Barack Obama’s administration claims that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. It’s a position Microsoft and companies like Apple say is wrong, arguing that the enforcement of US law stops at the border.

A magistrate judge has already sided with the government’s position, ruling in April that “the basic principle that an entity lawfully obligated to produce information must do so regardless of the location of that information.” Microsoft appealed to a federal judge, and the case is set to be heard on July 31.

In its briefs filed last week, the US government said that content stored online doesn’t enjoy the same type of Fourth Amendment protections as data stored in the physical world. The government cited (PDF) the Stored Communications Act (SCA), a President Ronald Reagan-era regulation:

Overseas records must be disclosed domestically when a valid subpoena, order, or warrant compels their production. The disclosure of records under such circumstances has never been considered tantamount to a physical search under Fourth Amendment principles, and Microsoft is mistaken to argue that the SCA provides for an overseas search here. As there is no overseas search or seizure, Microsoft’s reliance on principles of extra-territoriality and comity falls wide of the mark.

Microsoft said the decision has wide-ranging, global implications. “Congress has not authorized the issuance of warrants that reach outside US territory,” Microsoft’s attorneys wrote. “The government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility.”

Microsoft hits back against government surveillance, highlights commitment to privacy – Microsoft has not been shy about combating the accusations made against the company that they are working with government agencies and allowing them to access their data at will. After the Snowden leaks, Microsoft took a hit to its reputation after it was stated that they were helping the NSA crack encryption keys. Microsoft was not alone in being called out by the leaks but for a company building out a billion dollar cloud business, the brand needs to be protected.

In the past, Microsoft has publicly called out the current practices that are used to collect data and they are actively taking a stance to protect client data. This point came up again today as Kevin Turner, near the end of his presentation, hit home the point that Microsoft does not engineer backdoors into its products to allow third parties – including governments and security agencies – to indiscriminately access its users’ data, nor has it ever done so.

Further, he stated that the company has not provided the government encryption keys to its data and that they have never provided business or government data in response to a national security order.

The intentions of these statements were clear at WPC: to reassure its partners that its cloud is secure and no government agency has access to its services. Why is this important? WPC is the company’s largest partner event of the year and Microsoft needs these third parties to keep pushing their services, and by asserting their control over privacy, it alleviates a key concern for these partners.


GCHQ Catalog of Exploit Tools – The latest Snowden story is a catalog of exploit tools from JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), a unit of the British GCHQ, for both surveillance and propaganda. It’s a list of code names and short descriptions, such as these:

    GLASSBACK: Technique of getting a targets IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.

  MINIATURE HERO: Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.

  MOUTH: Tool for collection for downloading a user’s files from

PHOTON TORPEDO: A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user.

SILVER SPECTOR: Allows batch Nmap scanning over Tor.

SPRING BISHOP: Find private photographs of targets on Facebook.

ANGRY PIRATE: is a tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer.

BUMPERCAR+: is an automated system developed by JTRIG CITD to support JTRIG BUMPERCAR operations. BUMPERCAR operations are used to disrupt and deny Internet-based terror videos or other materials. The techniques employs the services provided by upload providers to report offensive materials.

BOMB BAY: is the capacity to increase website hits/rankings.

BURLESQUE: is the capacity to send spoofed SMS messages.

CLEAN SWEEP: Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries.

CONCRETE DONKEY: is the capacity to scatter an audio message to a large number of telephones, or repeatedely bomb a target number with the same message.

  GATEWAY: Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website.

GESTATOR: amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).

SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets.

SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online.

SWAMP DONKEY: is a tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine

UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).

WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.

HAVLOCK: Real-time website cloning techniques allowing on-the-fly alterations.

HUSK: Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform.

There’s lots more. Go read the rest. This is a big deal, as big as the TAO catalog from December.

ISPs ‘blindsided’ by’s ‘emergency’ data retention and investigation powers law – The Tory-led government’s “emergency” data retention and investigation powers (Drip) bill currently being rushed through Parliament has caught ISPs off guard, it has emerged.

The Register understands that telcos were only gently briefed on the plans ahead of last week’s announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron. An industry source said ISPs had been “blindsided” by the move, which came days before politicos break for summer recess.

The bill surprised many by quickly securing cross-party support prior to its publication last Thursday. At the same time, Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg – whose Liberal Democrat Party had opposed Home Secretary Theresa May’s lobby for a Communications Data law, colloquially dubbed a “snooper’s charter” – insisted that the legislative push would not extend the UK’s surveillance powers.

Instead, the PM claimed that holes needed to be plugged as a matter of urgency following a European Court of Justice ruling that ripped up the Data Retention Directive in April this year.

In the name of security, German NSA committee may turn to typewriters – Patrick Sensburg, chairman of the German parliament’s National Security Agency investigative committee, now says he’s considering expanding the use of manual typewriters to carry out his group’s work.

In an appearance (German language) Monday morning on German public television, Sensburg said that the committee is taking its operational security very seriously. “In fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it’s even a non-electronic typewriter,” he said.

If Sensburg’s suggestion takes flight, the country would be taking a page out of the Russian playbook. Last year, the agency in charge of securing communications from the Kremlin announced that it wanted to spend 486,000 rubles (about $14,800) to buy 20 electric typewriters as a way to avoid digital leaks.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 14, 2014

Police drop plans to photograph teen’s erection in sexting case;  Why we need an underground Google;  New app CitizenMe helps you control your online identity;  Speed up your PC’s boot time by finding the worst startup offenders;  Never miss a call on your Android device again with Flash On Call;  Dropbox Adding Speedier ‘Streaming Sync’ Feature;  Viral video: First, strangers kissed; now (surprise) they disrobe;  CrossOver 13.2: Installing Windows program on Linux just got easier; Essential ‘must-have’ apps for small businesses;  Recover deleted files from iPhones, iPads and Android devices;  What would make you quit Facebook? Here’s what you said;  Oracle to release 115 security patches; LastPass Finds Security Holes In Its Online Password Manager;  5 games to keep World Cup fever alive;  Slice 5.0 is a must-have app for online shoppers;  Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction;  Yahoo female executive sued for sexual harassment.

Police drop plans to photograph teen’s erection in sexting case – The decision was made yesterday following a global outcry. In response, the Manassas City police department—which is investigating the case—said Thursday that it would let the search warrant expire. In a statement, the department said, “It is not the policy of the Manassas City Police or the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature and no such procedures have been conducted in this case.” Manassas City Manager Patrick Pate said the town has been bombarded with angry calls from across the US—and the world—about the case.

(IT OBVIOUSLY IS THE POLICY – since these deviant bastards had obtained a warrant and would have enforced it without the show of overwhelming disgust voiced by those of us who understand the importance of speaking out against government insanity. This shouldn’t stop here however – the lunatics behind this should be publically identified (each and every one of them) – and, held up to public ridicule and shaming that they so richly deserve. These “Cops are Tops” alright. Right at the top of the dung heap where they have lots of company!) 

New app CitizenMe helps you control your online identity – An iOS app named CitizenMe will help you understand just what a company might know about you. By scanning your phone for accounts like Google or Twitter (it uses a Facebook log-in, ironically), you get info on what permissions you give the service in question. All the permissions in the privacy policy are laid out in a very simple format, color-coded green, yellow, or red depending on the level of alertness CitizenMe think is required. Red would be something eyebrow-raising, like “we share your pics with other services”.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Speed up your PC’s boot time by finding the worst startup offenders – One of the pains of Windows is how long it takes for an older PC to start up. Sometimes this can be caused by hardware problems like a faulty hard drive, but more often than not the culprits are all those programs trying to activate at boot. As you install more programs on your system, you inevitably end up with more apps that want to insert themselves into your PC’s startup routine. Some of those operations are critical and shouldn’t be turned off such as antivirus, but many are really unnecessary. (Alternatively, download and install WinPatrol (free) and run “Manage Startup Programs” – voila, done!)


Screenshot from my personal system.

What would make you quit Facebook? Here’s what you said – Last week we asked our readers to take a poll about Facebook’s controversial social experiment on thousands of unknowing users. Lots of you responded – more than 1,000 – and we received a lot of great comments. Here’s what you said …

Essential ‘must-have’ apps for small businesses – Summary: What mobile apps can make running a business easier and less time consuming for SMBs?

Why we need an underground Google – Governments are forcing search engines to show wrong results. It’s time for search engines to go rogue so they can be right. Many parts of the Internet are hard to index, or are blocked from being indexed by their owners. Companies like Google have worked hard to surface and bring light to the “deep, dark” recesses of the global web on a technical level. But in the past few years, a disturbing trend has emerged where governments — either through law or technical means or by the control of the companies that provide access — have forced inaccuracy, omissions and misleading results on the world’s major search engines.

Microsoft: ‘Right to be forgotten’ coming soon to Bing in Europe – Microsoft says it will soon provide a form to accept removal requests for Bing search results under the European ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, but exactly how soon it will launch remains unclear.

Dropbox Adding Speedier ‘Streaming Sync’ Feature – If you’ve ever found yourself waiting endlessly for a Dropbox file to sync, we have some good news. Dropbox has added a brand-new feature to its desktop client that promises faster file synchronization between devices. The new featured, dubbed “streaming sync,” doesn’t require you to do a thing beyond your standard dragging and dropping of files into your magical Dropbox folder.

CrossOver 13.2: Installing Windows program on Linux just got easier – Sometimes, you really need a Windows desktop application, even if you’re a die-hard Linux user. For those times, I recommend CodeWeavers’ CrossOver. Better still, the latest version makes installing Windows programs on Linux systems easier than ever. Office running on Mint Linux with CrossOver. Microsoft Office 2010 running on Linux? Sure, it’s easy to do with CodeWeavers’ CrossOver.


Microsoft Office 2010 running on Linux? Sure, it’s easy to do with CodeWeavers’ CrossOver.

Viral video: First, strangers kissed; now (surprise) they disrobe – I want to reveal some secrets for making sure your YouTube video goes viral. Inserting cats almost never fails. Nudity and sex also help enormously. There are clear and deep psychological reasons for this. Appealing to the essentially animalistic nature of humans is just one. So how clever of filmmaker Tatiana Pilieva to follow up her runaway viral success, which featured alleged strangers kissing each other, with something even more bracingly viral. Yes, alleged strangers taking each other’s clothes off and lying down.


Microsoft is looking for beta testers for OneNote – Microsoft is looking for beta testers to try out an update for OneNote on Android and has a put up a registration page that takes a few seconds to fill out if you are interested in trying out the app.

Gamer raided by SWAT live on Twitch over prank call – While playing Counter-Strike live on Twitch, gamer Jordan Gilbert was raided by his local SWAT team over what turned out to be a prank call. His camera caught the raid on video, with it being posted on YouTube for all to see. The relevant part of what went down is posted in the YouTube video below, with the small box on the right side of the capture showing the officers briefly searching what appears to be the gamer’s bedroom.


Twitter Adds Metrics to Tweet Activity Dashboard – Twitter this week refreshed its tweet activity dashboard, offering more detailed insights into how your 140-word masterpieces are performing. Until now, the dashboard measured a tweet’s impact based on the number of retweets and favorites it received. This information is still available in the new dashboard, but it also now shows details about how people are engaging with your tweets and how many impressions they have raked in.

Never miss a call on your Android device again with Flash On Call – There are so many times when I have to place my phone on mute, that I often forget to un-silence the beast. When that happens, I miss calls. With the help of a handy little app called Flash On Call, those missed calls are a thing of the past. The idea behind the app (and the host of similar apps) is to use the smartphone’s built-in flash to do its thing and alert the user of an incoming call (or SMS).

Slice 5.0 is a must-have app for online shoppers – This free app puts all your receipts in one place and notifies you of price drops, package delivery, and more.


Slice for iOS can list your purchases in a collapsed or expanded view – Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET.

Microsoft launches Windows Apportals – Microsoft has announced Windows Apportals, a new line-of-business app management tool for business and enterprise, bringing together Modern apps, web apps and Windows 7 applications in a single hub.

New Start menu leaks in Windows build 9788 – Well here it is. A new leak shows the Start menu in a leaked build of Windows ‘Threshold’ and it looks exactly like the one that was shown off at Microsoft’s Build conference earlier this year.


Netflix ranked second in Australia despite geo-blocking: Pocketbook – The absence of an official Australian launch, along with an active geo-blocking campaign, has not prevented Netflix from becoming the second most popular subscription media platform in the country, according to new research by Pocketbook.

Recover deleted files from iPhones, iPads and Android devices – Lost some important data on your iPhone, iPad or Android device? Here are some tools that might be able to help you get it back.


Oracle to release 115 security patches – Oracle is planning to release 115 security patches for vulnerabilities affecting a wide array of its products, including its flagship database, Java SE, Fusion Middleware and business applications. The update includes fixes for 20 weaknesses in Java SE, all of which can be exploited by an attacker remotely, without the need for login credentials, Oracle said in an announcement prior to Tuesday’s patch release. Oracle releases patches on a quarterly basis. The last update, in April, delivered 104 fixes.

Gmail users on iOS at risk of data interception – Apple users accessing Gmail on mobile devices could be at risk of having their data intercepted, a mobile security company said Thursday. The reason is Google has not yet implemented a security technology that would prevent attackers from viewing and modifying encrypted communications exchanged with the Web giant, wrote Avi Bashan, chief information security officer for Lacoon Mobile Security, based in Israel and the U.S.

LastPass Finds Security Holes In Its Online Password Manager, Doesn’t Think Anyone – When you’re in charge of keeping many hundreds of thousands of passwords under lock and key, trust is everything. Maintaining that trust means fessing up when things go wrong — even if it’s something you don’t think affected your users. Such is the case today for LastPass, a popular password manager for Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera. They’ve just published details of two security exploits discovered lurking in their products, though they say they don’t believe the exploits were ever used maliciously.

Google changing Chrome malware, phishing warnings – New designs for interstitial warning pages for malware and phishing sites detected by Google Safe Browsing are simpler.


The 5 biggest data breaches of 2014 (so far) – In the battle to keep your personal information private, it’s not just hackers you have to worry about but lax security and stupidity. A survey of data breaches in the first six months of this year shows an increasing number of incidents in which data, including names and addresses, credit card and Social Security numbers, and medical records was lost to criminals or exposed.

Company News:

Apple quickly counters China claim of iPhone spying: Fast response shows how important the market is to the U.S. Company – Apple on Saturday denied claims by China’s state-run television that its iPhones track owners’ locations. The 600-word message was linked from Apple China’s home page.

Amazon finds a simple way to bypass a new French law – Amazon France has changed their shipping price in order to comply with a new law that went into effect starting this week. The €0.01 shipping cost will still allow Amazon to offer great prices.

Motorola loses patent suit in Germany, Moto G and X faces ban and recalls – The Mannheim Regional Court in Germany found Motorola guilty of infringing on a patent held by engineering firm LPKF, and now Motorola has to stop selling the Moto G and X, and recall some devices.

Samsung discovers child labor evidence, suspends supplier – Samsung has suspended business with a supplier following the discovery of ‘evidence’ related to the use of child labor.

Games and Entertainment:

5 games to keep World Cup fever alive – Well, the World Cup is over—time to stop thinking about soccer for another four years, right? It’s a sensation that many of us are no doubt familiar with. Want to change that? Get interactive! Perhaps you’re not up for joining a local league, but investing time in soccer video games can keep you immersed in the culture and also help you learn the little intricacies of the so-called beautiful game. Here’s a look at five of the most entertaining mobile options around, all of which can help stoke the footie flames so they don’t fade.


How Steam in-home streaming can turn your old laptop or Windows tablet into a PC gaming force – The new in-home streaming feature Valve recently introduced in its blockbuster Steam gaming platform can turn any laptop into a full-fledged gaming machine—even older notebooks with ho-hum power, or Linux or OS X machines or Windows 8 tablets. It’s all done by streaming games from your primary gaming PC to any computer in your house in OnLive-like fashion, but Steam’s in-home streaming only works on your home network—and it’s dead simple to set up.


Using Steam’s in-home streaming feature to stream Assassin’s Creed IV from a desktop with a Radeon 7850 graphics card (the black display) to an 8-year-old MacBook. Games run full-screen on both devices during streaming.

South Park to move behind Hulu’s paywall and end unlimited free streaming – Since 2008, fans of the Comedy Central cartoon South Park have been able to stream the show’s entire library (minus a few permanently redacted episodes) from the South Park Studios site. But according to a new post on the show’s official blog, this fan-friendly unlimited streaming arrangement will soon be ending: South Park is moving to Hulu. Folks who want to watch more than a limited selection of old South Park episodes will either have to resort to physical media or begin paying $7.99 per month to subscribe to Hulu Plus.


Xbox exec: lower frame rates and screen resolutions are imperceptible on Xbox One – Microsoft’s management team clearly still hasn’t got the message when it comes to commenting on the performance of their latest games console. Harvey Eagle, the Xbox UK marketing boss has demonstrated that this week by claiming gamers can’t tell the difference if a game runs at a lower resolution and frame rate on Xbox One. I, and probably millions of other gamers out there, disagree. Informing gamers they can’t tell the difference is not great marketing and a little insulting.

Doctor Who Season 8 full length trailer depicts a doubting Time Lord – This is definitely not your grandfather’s Doctor Who. BBC has just released the first full length trailer for the upcoming Series 8 of the much-loved science fiction series. This time, however, the atmosphere is a bit different, a bit charged you could say. Doctor Who isn’t going through time just to save the universe per se. He is going through time to save the universe from himself. Doctor Who fans are undoubtedly all fueled up by now and are just counting the days before the series premieres 23rd August on BBC One.

Off Topic (Sort of):

German Cartel Office Says Google, Other Tech Giants Could Be Regulated Like Utilities – Germany has not been the biggest fan of tech giants that it believes overreach their influence. Now, a report claims that it is considering a new way to deal with them: regulating them like utilities. If the reports about the German proposals are accurate, they are a sign that even without a change in that European ruling, Google could potentially face problems in individual countries.

Yahoo female executive sued for sexual harassment – A major executive at Yahoo was named in a lawsuit Friday that accuses her of sexually harassing a female employee who reported to her. Maria Zhang, a senior director of engineering, plays a key role in Yahoo’s mobile efforts — an important piece in Yahoo’s strategy to turn around the lumbering Internet portal. Zhang heads content and developer-tool teams for several of the company’s mobile properties, including Yahoo Sports and News Digest. According to the lawsuit, Nan Shi, a principle software engineer, was forced by Zhang to have sex with her on multiple occasions. When Shi began to resist her advances, Zhang allegedly responded by removing Shi as a project lead and giving her a negative performance review.

Watch: DARPA shows off first successful test of STEERABLE bullet – The video, shot at a government firing range in February and April, shows two .50-cal rounds maneuvering in flight towards the target spot. The second manages two course corrections before hitting its target.


Police beating of woman goes viral, rekindles images of Rodney King – “This is not just jabs, they are hooks. Those are lights-out punches. Those aren’t like taps. You see it, you heard it. It was like ‘thump, thump, thump’ and then you see her head bouncing ‘bam, bam’ on the concrete. Then you hear her screaming, ‘No, don’t, stop.’ Then you even—at the end where she has her hands up like this—when it’s clear there is no more resistance, he takes another four or five shots.” The assault—which has generated millions of hits on YouTube and elsewhere—has prompted protests seeking justice, politicians demanding a federal inquiry, threats of lawsuits, and outrage against the CHP.

(This animal (with full apologies to all animals), will walk away from this (despite graphic evidence of criminal assault), since he is protected by a Mafia style “brotherhood”. It happens all too often. Keep on believing that this won’t happen to you – until it does. If you believe that your social status will offer you some protection – you have not been paying attention.)


Is there more police brutality, or is the rise in technology bringing it to light? – Police brutality has been a problem for many years in the United States. The police have taken their brutality a step further and have begun killing innocent people. In 2007 USA Today featured a story about the rise of police brutality since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. USA Today stated that the use of excessive force increased by 25 percent from 2001 to 2007. In reality, I do not think that police brutality is increasing. I think that the number of police being caught is increasing. With new technology come new methods of documenting what happens.


Yellowstone National Park limits visitor access because roads are melting – Asphalt is pretty neat stuff. Heat it up, mix it, lay it down, pack it, and you’ve got a nice, smooth roadway for people to drive on. Heat it back up, and you’ve got the potential for both hilarity and enormous problems. That’s exactly what Yellowstone National Park is contending with right now. Stretches of the Park’s paved roads are sweating, blistering, and melting. As bizarre and alarming as it might sound to tourists, according to park officials it’s all perfectly normal stuff.


13 bits of classic software whose code is now accessible – The source code behind proprietary software doesn’t always remain hidden forever. Here’s a baker’s dozen examples where the code behind well-known applications has come to light.

FCC Votes to Require Closed Captioning for Web Clips – The Federal Communications Commission today unanimously approved a rule that will require closed captioning for certain online videos. The move extends rules that the agency adopted in 2012 to require closed captioning on video clips, not just full-length videos. Once in place, the rules will require broadcasters, cable, and satellite distributors to caption clips that are played on TV and then posted on a website or mobile app.

Something to think about:

“The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.”

-    George W. Bush – Speech to UN General Assembly, September 21, 2004

Today’s Free Downloads:

PasteCopy.NET – PasteCopy.NET enlarges the capacity of Windows Clipboard and lets you organize csv (Comma separated values), html, rtf (Rich Text Format), text, unicode text & images into customizable categories. The supported formats can be previewed and copied to Windows Clipboard with a mouse-click, or by keyboard navigation. PasteCopy.NET is a portable* freeware tool, and can run from a USB memory stick.


Portable freeware tool

AutoFill (-Forms)

Auto- Copy & Paste Windows Clipboard

Convert html to rtf or txt (-automatically)

Convert rtf to txt (-automatically)

(Auto-) resizable/hide preview

Mouse-hover/keystroke preview

Clipboard-content preview

Export and print function

Multilingual support


BlitzSound – BlitzSound – it’s a simple application, which can capture your special moments and pieces of your favorite song from a youtube video, or a TeamSpeak3/Skype conversation without any problem.


One press of the button screenshot.

One press of the button selected screenshot

One press of the button record everything you hear.

YouTube Extension, download and convert from youtube with ease.

Limitations – Requires Microsoft .NET Framework.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction – On July 20, 2013, agents of the U.K. government entered The Guardian newsroom in London and compelled them to physically destroy the computers they were using to report on the Edward Snowden archive. The Guardian reported this a month later after my partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for 11 hours under a British terrorism law and had all of his electronic equipment seized. At the time, the Obama administration—while admitting that it was told in advance of the Heathrow detention—pretended that it knew nothing about the forced laptop destruction and would never approve of such attacks on press freedom. From the August 20, 2013, press briefing by then-deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest:

Q: A last one on the NSA—The Guardian newspaper, following on everything that was discussed yesterday—The Guardian is saying that British authorities destroyed several hard drives, because they wanted to keep secrets that Edward Snowden had leaked from actually getting out.  They were stored in The Guardian‘s—they had some hard drives there at their offices.  British authorities went in there and destroyed these hard drives. Did the American government get a heads up about that the way you did about the person being detained?

MR. EARNEST:  I’ve seen the published reports of those accusations, but I don’t have any information for you on that.

Q: And does the U.S. government think it’s appropriate for a government, especially one of our allies, to go in and destroy hard drives? Is that something this administration would do?

MR. EARNEST: The only thing I know about this are the public reports about this, so it’s hard for me to evaluate the propriety of what they did based on incomplete knowledge of what happened.

Q: But this administration would not do that, would not go into an American media company and destroy hard drives, even if it meant trying to protect national security, you don’t think?

MR. EARNEST: It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate.

But emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) prove that senior Obama national security officials— including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander—not only knew in advance that U.K. officials intended to force The Guardian to destroy their computers, but overtly celebrated it.

One email, dated July 19 (the day prior to the destruction) bears the subject line “Guardian data being destroyed” and is from NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett to Alexander. He writes: “Good news, at least on this front.” The next day, almost immediately after the computers were destroyed, Alexander emailed Ledgett: ”Can you confirm this actually occurred?” Hours later, under the same subject line, Clapper emailed Alexander, saying: “Thanks Keith … appreciate the conversation today”.

It’s hardly surprising that the Obama Administration was fully informed in advance: It’s virtually inconceivable that notoriously subservient London officials would ever take any meaningful action without the advance knowledge and permission of their Washington overseers. There are, however, several notable points from these new disclosures……


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 11, 2014

Silent Circle Takes on Skype With Expanded Encrypted Calling;  Spotify launches invite queue for Canadian users;  What are all those other Microsoft updates?  Create a Google-free Android phone;  Video: How to Properly Delete Your Android Phone or Tablet Data;  Study: Most apps in the App Store are “zombies”;  11 ways LXLE Linux will make you forget all about XP;  The host with the most: make party planning easier with apps;  Hands-on iPad games with real pieces give kids new ways to play;  Sales of Big Smartphones Are Totally Killing Tablets;  Computer shutting down on its own? Maybe it’s time to play it cool;  Adobe Flash: The most INSECURE program on a UK user’s PC;  RocketSkates bring motors to your feet.

Silent Circle Takes on Skype With Expanded Encrypted Calling – The privacy-focused communications firm on Thursday announced a major international expansion of its so-called “Out-Circle” feature, which lets members make and receive encrypted calls to non-subscribers. Beginning today, those who enroll in Silent Circle’s encrypted international calling plans will receive a unique 10-digit Silent Phone number letting them chat with their friends in 79 countries without roaming charges, even if those people are not Silent Circle subscribers.

FreedomPop’s Free Mobile Service Goes International – FreedomPop’s free mobile service company is going global. The company is partnering with Dutch carrier KPN to test drive its service in Belgium. If all goes well, FreedomPop will expand to the U.K, Germany, France, Spain, and the Pacific Rim with additional carrier partners. FreedomPop arrived in 2012 with the intention of rewriting the rules of the telecom industry. Last year, it launched a free phone service using Sprint’s network, with calling and texting going through a voice-over-IP system.

Computer shutting down on its own? Maybe it’s time to play it cool – Heating problems are almost always ventilation problems. Most PCs use several fans to circulate air through the case to bring down the temperature. If your PC is getting too hot too often, something is probably blocking the ventilation. Desktops and laptops have different ventilation issues. Here’s how to fix each. (Quick Tip – install Open Hardware Monitor. Open Hardware Monitor is free open source software that monitors temperature sensors, fan speeds, voltages, load and clock speeds of a computer.)

Video: How to Properly Delete Your Android Phone or Tablet Data – Here’s an extra step to ensure it’s safe to get rid of your old Android device.

What are all those other Microsoft updates? – Microsoft released a lot more than security updates yesterday, as they do every month.  If you know where to look, you can keep on top of the non-security updates.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Secret to Happiness: Quit Facebook for 99 Days? – If that sounds like bliss, head over to the campaign’s website to join the experiment, dubbed 99 Days of Freedom. Participants are asked to post a “time-off” image as their profile picture and create a personal countdown to share on the social network, letting all your friends know what’s up. From there, you’ll receive anonymous “happiness surveys” at the 33-, 66-, and 99-day marks. The results will be posted to the group’s website as they’re compiled. There’s also a message board through which participants can anonymously share how the break from Facebook is affecting their lives.

11 ways LXLE Linux will make you forget all about XP – Windows XP’s long run may have finally come to an end, but that doesn’t mean your XP-era hardware has to go too. No indeed: There are numerous options available in the Linux world, and one shining example is LXLE. A brand-new LXLE 14.04 made its debut a few weeks ago, and it’s packed with new features while remaining lightweight and speedy. With an XP mode among several other desktop options, this zippy OS needs less than a minute to boot and get online. Don’t try that on your Windows machine. Ready for a look? Read on, then, and see what your older PC hardware could be doing.


Spotify launches invite queue for Canadian users – The long-awaited arrival of Spotify in Canada is nearing, if a new pre-invite queue page that has surfaced is any indication. Interested parties in Canada can now submit their email address to get in line for an invitation to the music service.


Microsoft updates Skype for Mac – Microsoft has updated Skype for Mac, bringing various stability improvements and bug fixes, including resolving an issue that would sometimes cause the app to crash when sending or receiving files.

Study: Most apps in the App Store are “zombies” – When announcing the prowess of their respective app marketplaces, both Google and Apple like to discuss how many apps there are. They don’t discuss the actual makeup of their marketplaces, though. A recent study notes that up to 80% of apps in the App Store are “zombie” apps — and no, we don’t mean games.

Advanced Android: Creating your own Google-free Android phone – When you buy an Android phone or tablet, it’s the expectation that Google will be deeply integrated. However, what if you don’t want to use Google’s services or apps because of privacy or ethical concerns? Android is open source, so there’s nothing stopping you from doing just that. Leaving the relative safety of the Google ecosystem means you’re cut off from all the usual apps and tools, but it’s quite possible to leave Mountain View beyond as you take your Android experience to the expert level.

Sales of Big Smartphones Are Totally Killing Tablets – The rising popularity of bigger ‘phablet’ smartphones is hurting tablet sales. Tablet PC shipments fell in the first quarter of 2014 for the first time, a sign that customers are turning to large-screen smartphones instead of products like the Apple iPad. The study forecasts that in 2014 the year-on-year growth rate of tablet PC sales — once a primary growth driver for the smart device market, especially after the iPad debuted in 2010 — will fall 14%, a revised estimate that docked NPD’s original predicted growth rate by 3%. By 2017, the rate will slow to single digits.

The host with the most: make party planning easier with apps – Don’t let your big bash become a big burden. Use these tips to remove the stress and crank up the fun for your next party.

Hands-on iPad games with real pieces give kids new ways to play – The iPad can be tons of fun for kids, but the trick is to balance hands-off activities like watching a movie with hands-on projects like making your own. Osmo is hands on—it’s a set of iPad games played with real-world pieces, and unique stand with a red plastic piece that redirects the iPad’s front-facing camera to the game pieces as your child interacts with them on a table or floor.

Open links in new tabs without loading them with Silent Tab – Firefox add-on adds an option to open a link in a new tab without loading the page until you switch to the tab.

New site: We’ll tell you how mansion owners made their money – Mansion Map is a faintly creepy new site that lets you discover who lives in the biggest houses and how the 1 percent of the 1 percent made their money.


I wonder who lives there. Mansion Map

Marketing to women on social media: 5 tips for doing it better – Forget about pictures of women smiling eating salads. Here are 5 ways to update your brand’s approach to reaching women online. Women control the majority of household spending but still experience a disconnect in the ways brands talk to them.

‘Apple is TERRIFIED of women’s bodies and women’s pleasure’ – Apple is weathering a sexism storm after its website apparently refused to engrave a raunchy poem on a newly ordered iPhone. Enraged that the California giant allowed penis, dick and similar words to be engraved on mobes – but, crucially, not clit – men and women in favour of equal opportunities have given Apple boss Tim Cook a piece of their mind on Twitter. Using the hashtag myclitmychoice, huge numbers of angry feminists demanded the iThing CEO step in, and allow them to engrave various names for lady parts on their new gadgets. (Apple is hardly alone in it’s despicable behaviour. Facebook comes to mind as a misogynistic pile of crap. I often wonder, if the misfits who fail to address gender issues have a mother, sister, wife, girlfriend……. or, were they simply hatched out behind the barn.)

Big data is just a big, distracting bubble, soon to burst – Business has bought into the mythology of big data and pervasive “surveillance-based marketing and advertising”, but its time is coming to an end, says ‘Doc’ Searls. Big data, he said, is nothing more than the myth that collecting vast amounts of data can help companies know customers better than those customers even know themselves.


Adobe Flash: The most INSECURE program on a UK user’s PC – Adobe Flash Player was the most insecure program installed on UK computer users PCs throughout the second quarter of 2014, according to stats from vulnerability management firm Secunia. Nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) UK PC users were found to have an end-of-life version of Adobe Flash Player 13 installed during Q2 2014. Users had not updated to version 14.

Emergency Windows update revokes dozens of bogus Google, Yahoo SSL certificates – Microsoft has issued an emergency update for most supported versions of Windows to prevent attacks that abuse recently issued digital certificates impersonating Google and Yahoo. Company officials warned undiscovered fraudulent credentials for other domains may still be in the wild. Thursday’s unscheduled update effectively blocks 45 highly sensitive secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates that hackers managed to generate after compromising systems operated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of India.


Protecting email at a hacker conference – The upcoming hacker conferences, HOPE, Black Hat and DEFCON make this a good time to think about email security. Rather than end to end security, which requires both the sender and recipient to use the same security software, my focus here is on securing normal ordinary boring email. Hackers make for great headlines, but these techniques apply in any hostile environment. A case could be made that they apply on any shared network.

International law enforcement operation disrupts Shylock banking malware – Police from eight countries together with several private security companies disrupted the online infrastructure used by cybercriminals to control computers infected with a malware program called Shylock. Shylock is a Trojan program that first appeared in 2011, primarily targeting online banking. The threat is named after a fictional character in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” because it includes fragments from the play in its binary files.

Company News:

Satya Nadella’s Vision For A New Microsoft – This morning Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella released an internal memo detailing his vision for the company’s future. The new chief executive used the missive as a way to signal an intentional break with the past.

EU court upholds record €152m Telefonica antitrust fine – The huge fine, handed down for abusing its dominant broadband position, will have to be paid in full by Telefonica after its latest appeal failed.

FTC Takes Legal Action Against Amazon For Unauthorized In-app Purchases – The filing follows Amazon’s refusal to comply with the FTC’s request to implement a “consent” model similar to the one Apple conceded to earlier this year, according to a letter Amazon sent to the FTC last week. Amazon believes it already has implemented effective parental controls consistent with the model the FTC settled on with Apple, and it says it refunded customers who complained of children making in-app purchases without their permission. (You can be sure that when Amazon is found in violation of the FTC’s directive, any fine (and that is debatable), will be a fraction of the fine imposed on Telefonica – as per the article above.)

Amazon wants FAA to let them stretch their drone wings – Do you remember those Amazon drones, the ones the company thinks will be delivering your packages? Those are a real thing, and Amazon is trying to make a go of it. They’ve sent a letter to the FAA asking to test the drones on longer flights. Their goal is innovation, as they say they need to let the little guys stretch their proverbial wings.

Games and Entertainment:

Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm is going to work, and we’re all going to love it – After playing the technical alpha for a little while, the success of Blizzard’s official attempt at a MOBA isn’t actually a question worth answering. Instead, you’re better off measuring how much of your life you plan to offer as tribute when the game finally launches.


Seven years on, Halo 3′s last known Easter egg has been discovered – The next chapter in the hugely successful Halo series is due to arrive next year, with the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, and Xbox One gamers have the added excitement of the remastered ‘Master Chief Collection’ to look forward to as well. But as many look to the future, one tiny element in an earlier game has eluded discovery – until now. What appears to be the final ‘Easter egg’ hidden in Halo 3 has now been discovered, ending a search that has lasted almost seven years since the game’s launch in September 2007.

The Incredibly Difficult Wayward Souls Comes to Android in Search of More Gamers to Torment – There’s a bit of a trend lately to make games harder again. Maybe you remember playing games on the NES back in the day and dying for real. As in, “game over, all your hard work is lost,” kind of dying. The dungeon crawler Wayward Souls arrived on iOS a few months ago with punishing difficulty and permanent death. Now it has been ported over to Android so a whole new group of gamers can throw their devices in frustration.


Watch Dogs Has Shipped 8 Million Copies to Date, Says Ubisoft – This is what lots of buildup and unparalleled anticipation will buy you: 8 million copies shipped of a game that’s really not too shabby, but at the same time nothing like the breakthrough event Ubisoft pitched it as in the lengthy lead-up to its debut.

Off Topic (Sort of):

RocketSkates bring motors to your feet – Skateboards, bicycles, even scooters — all valid ways to get around, but none quite as eye-catching as the RocketSkates, a Kickstarter effort that has hit its funding goal and promises to shuttle you around town using nothing but your feet.


Tech Company With $39 In Assets Now Worth More Than $6B – Are we in a bubble? We’re in a bubble. CYNK Technology, a ‘company’ with a grand total of $39 in assets, has seen its share price rise dramatically, spiking to a valuation of more than $6 billion in a matter of days. The company’s 52-week low valued the firm at less than $18 million.

Windsor cops arrest man over Facebook video that showed police HQ being ‘shot’ with rocket – A 44-year-old man is facing a criminal charge because he allegedly posted on Facebook a video using a phone app depicting police headquarters being blown up.


Comment following this newspaper article – “Would it still have been a crime if he used ‘zombies’ rather than a rocket launcher on the same app? Absolutely ridiculous waste of tax dollars. It will get tossed out of court and I hope he sues.”

Y2K bug sends draft notices to 14,000 19th century Pennsylvanians – Remember that whole Y2K thing? I sure do, what with my older brother furiously correcting COBOL code for panicked businesses throughout northeast Ohio. Amazingly, 15 years later Y2K bugs are still causing shenanigans: thousands of Pennsylvania citizens — most of whom died many, many years ago — were just sent draft notices by the U.S. Army.


Couple jailed for selling both their sons to fund in-game item purchases – An unwed couple in China are currently in jail awaiting trial after they sold not one, but both of their sons in order to be able to buy items in their favorite free-to-play online games. The first son was not a planned pregnancy and the father did not want to pay for his upbringing, so they decided to sell him to a child trafficker. Typically these children are then sold on to Chinese couples wanting a child, to orphanages for sales overseas, or even to street gangs!


This guy turned his basement into the Starship Enterprise – Anthony Sforza can count himself among the most dedicated “Star Trek” fans of all time. Over the course of the last three years, Sforza logged over 1,500 hours working primarily at night to convert his basement into an awesome, livable tribute to the Starship Enterprise.


The Most Common Misconceptions About 8 Big Tech Companies – The Internet has an established narrative for every big tech company. There are the innovators and the copycats, the rising stars and the dying veterans, the money-makers and the time-wasters. While there’s probably a little truth in all of these labels, each company’s story is built around a common misconception. So here’s my take on what we tend to get wrong about eight of the biggest tech titans.

Something to think about:

“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”

-     Elie Wiesel

Today’s Free Downloads:

StudioLine Photo Basic – StudioLine Photo Basic is an easy-to-use yet powerful management and editing software for digital photos. Images can be imported from camera, scanner and all popular file formats.

The image archive is the central database where you conveniently categorize your images and add keywords and descriptions. Standard IPTC and Exif tags are fully supported. 30 professional image tools are included to improve exposure problems, red-eye effects, color tones, etc.

Photos can be printed, emailed or uploaded as web galleries. CD/DVD writing is included.

New Customizable User Interface – The newly designed user interface offers panes for you to neatly organize descriptors, hints and image/folder information. Size, move, dock or hide panes to perfectly adapt StudioLine to your work flow. Even image tools can be restricted to a pane so that they don’t obstruct your view of your images.

XML Format for Exchanging Data with Other Applications – StudioLine Photo 3 can export metadata in XML format. This standard format simplifies the exchange of image descriptors with other applications.

Backup Reminders – A new backup assistant can remind you in regular intervals to backup your images and offer to launch the appropriate backup task. You choose whether the reminder is based on days elapsed or the number of new images.

Expanded Database Search by Time Spans – The new search engine has intuitive controls to restrict the search to a certain time span. This makes it even easier to find images of a particular event.

Convenient Search and Replace – The new function to replace image descriptors is ideal for correction spelling mistakes or to standardize similar keywords, e.g., “vintage car” vs. “classic car”.

Special Export and Email Filters – StudioLine Photo Classic 3 offers special filters for exporting and emailing. Images canbe cropped, sharpened and overlaid with text to prepare them for a particular one-timeuse.

Web-Gallery Design Wizard – Make up your own web gallery designs with the help of the new wizard. You choose the thumbnail size, borders, backgrounds and the use of image descriptors. Detail view pages with navigation links are designed in the same fashion. You can save your creations for later reuse.

Loading and Managing Media Files – With StudioLine Photo Classic 3 you also load and manage the audio and video files recorded by your digital camera. A new icon in the image archive allows you to play any voice annotation that you associated with an image.

Transition Effects for Slide Shows – The updated slide show offers a wide range of transition effects. You can pick your favorite or have StudioLine randomize the effect for each image.

Limitations: After installation you’ll be able to test all functions of StudioLine Photo Basic for 30 days. To continue using StudioLine Photo Basic 3 as a home user at no cost, simply request the complimentary activation code. StudioLine Photo Basic is only “Freeware” for personal use. Business or other commercial use requires purchase of a license.


Speak-A-Message – Speak-A-Message offers the widest range of features for voice recording and voice email. Audio recording is three times faster than typing, great fun and lets you communicate with a more personal touch! New: Post your voice and photo messages to Facebook!

Speak-A-Message can automatically convert voice messages into text (requires Windows 7 or Vista). No need to type!


Record audio, voice and photo messages

Send voice emails

Upload to Facebook

Automatically convert voice messages into text

Insert voice comments into MS Word documents*

Add sound effects, dubbing


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Fast Tracks Emergency Surveillance Law – The UK government has confirmed it will introduce emergency legislation next week that will require Internet and phone companies to keep records of customer metadata.

It said the aim of the new emergency legislation is to maintain existing data retention powers, after a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling — back in April — struck down European data retention powers on the grounds that they were too broad.

The UK government argues that without a new law, communications companies might start deleting user metadata, which would jeopardise law enforcement and security agencies’ abilities to conduct investigations and gather retrospective data for “evidential purposes.”

The coalition has secured cross-party support for the move, meaning it will be able to rush the legislation through parliament with the support of opposition MPs.

That support has been secured on the basis of the law having a two-year sunset clause, and a new oversight board being set up to have eyes on the functioning of the powers and ensure civil liberties are “properly considered” in the formulation of new counter-terrorism policy.

The board will be called The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and will be based on a US model — with the government citing David Anderson’s existing role as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation as its inspiration here. The board will report annually, detailing the frequency with which the police and security services are using the powers.

(The UK continues apace, setting new standards for western Europe’s premier failed democracy.)

Germany asks US intelligence chief in country to leave over spying affair – The top American intelligence officer in Germany has been asked to leave the country in the wake of revelations about National Security Agency spying and two recent cases in which the U.S. reportedly recruited German spies.

The request was made after months of questions about the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany went unanswered, the German federal government said in a news release Thursday.

A Parliamentary committee has been established to investigate U.S. intelligence operations in Germany, the government statement noted.

On July 2, an employee of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) intelligence agency was arrested, according to news reports.

The employee was arrested under suspicion of passing on information to Russian intelligence services, and also because he allegedly received money to pass information to a U.S. contact, according to reports. The information allegedly included details about the Parliamentary investigation into U.S. spying, according to German news media reports. German authorities confirmed the arrest.

(Until such time as the economic consequences to the American economy of Obama’s attacks against the WORLD become apparent (not only in IT), there is little hope that the troglodytes who continue to implement this unprecedented and ultimately self-defeating fiasco will admit their culpability. And damn, are they culpable.)


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 10, 2014

The U.S. military is studying your Facebook and Twitter habits;  Leaked Yelp docs say Google is gaming search results;  Can You Really Buy an iPad for $1.10?  Apple Is Dumping Old iPhones for Cheap on eBay;  Finally, A Way To Find Movies Worth Watching On Netflix;  In sexting case, Virginia prosecutors want to photo teen’s erect genitalia;  Microsoft gives away nearly 300 free, tip-packed ebooks and resource guides;  The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition;  Microsoft Flight Simulator returns!  Roku beats Apple TV — again — on usage, purchases;  Cutting the cord: Why I kicked my cable TV company to the curb;  Download Avira Free Antivirus;  Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, get optional July updates.

The U.S. military is not-so-shockingly studying your Facebook and Twitter habits – The Guardian reported Tuesday that DARPA, the Defense Department’s research arm, has given millions of dollars to projects that examine activity on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Pinterest, and other social networks as part of its Social Media in Strategic Communication program. According to the newspaper, one of the studies involved sending messages to users to gauge their responses. DARPA even looked at Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber’s Twitter accounts to determine how messages spread across the network.

Can You Really Buy an iPad for $1.10? – Auction sites like QuiBids,, HappyBidDay, and others might sound like they are magically underpriced versions of eBay, but they’re not traditional auctions. Rather, they’re penny-auction sites, a hybrid of auctions and gambling. On penny-auction sites, bids cost money and that money is gone whether or not you win. If that sounds a lot like gambling, more than a few have sued claiming that very thing.

Apple Is Dumping Old iPhones for Cheap on eBay – If you move quickly and don’t mind older technology, you can buy an unlocked iPhone 5 from Apple for a lot less than its asking price. As AppleInsider points out, Apple is currently selling “Certified Pre-Owned” iPhone 5 models on eBay. The 16 GB version, in either white or black, is selling for $449, which is $200 off the original price. That’s also $100 cheaper than the current iPhone 5c, which has nearly identical tech specs.

Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 get optional July updates – During the recent Patch Tuesday, which took place on 8th July, Microsoft patched two critical bugs and as many as 29 vulnerabilities, out of which 24 were related to Internet Explorer alone. Now, Microsoft has announced a few updates to address issues in their latest operating systems. Some of the issues covered by these updates include, fixes for translation and localization, USB related bugs, sleep issues on Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2, request failures and networking issues.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Feed your greed for speed by installing SSDs in RAID 0 – Tired of waiting while your top-of-the-line SSD loads files? Is what once seemed blindingly fast just not cutting it any more? Relax, you’re not the only one suffering with Greed for Speed (GFS). Plenty of velocity addicts are stricken with the same affliction. Let us help. In this, the first step in PCWorld’s exclusive one-step program for the amelioration of GFS symptoms (extreme anxiety at the least pause in program launch, tantrums over large file load times, etc.), we’ll show you how to nearly double the performance of even the fastest SSD.

SpeakingPhoto Attaches Sound to Pictures for Simple Mobile Storytelling – So if a picture is worth a thousand words, then you add some more words, does that make it more than one picture? Philosophical conundrums aside, SpeakingPhoto is an app for Android and iOS that lets you do just that–add a recording to your snapshots , then share the resulting video or share it with others. It has been on iOS for a while, but the developers just came over to Android a few weeks back.


Microsoft gives away nearly 300 free, tip-packed ebooks and resource guides – As he’s done in years past, Microsoft senior sales excellence manager Eric Ligman has compiled a veritable flood of free Microsoft ebooks and other resources, offering up nearly 300 gratis guides for your reading pleasure. There’s a hefty Windows 7 Power Guide up for grabs, as well as “Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals,” clocking in at 139 pages, and a teen-focused “Own Your Space—Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online” all the way at the bottom of the page.

Finally, A Way To Find Movies Worth Watching On Netflix – Netflix is like the candy dish at your grandmother’s house. Most of the movies are crap, but you know, buried somewhere in there, is something worth your time. A Better Queue is a site dedicated to finding the Werther’s Originals in Netflix based on Rotten Tomatoes ratings.


The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition – Detecting a niche in the market for family-friendly devices, a number of tech firms have begun offering tablet computers aimed at the younger generation. Whether you’re looking for an entertainment, education-based or budget-friendly tablet, here are a number of options suitable for you — and tips on how to keep your device child-proof.

You can now mirror your Android screen to your TV with Chromecast – Users will now be able to share whatever is on their phone or tablet screen to Chromecast and see it replicated – albeit much larger – on their TV. Simply open the Chromecast app on your device, and tap the ‘Cast Screen’ button in the navigation drawer – it’s as simple as that. It’s even easier on Nexus devices, which includes support for activating screen-casting via Android’s integrated quick settings menu.


LG’s KizON band lets parents track, call, and listen in on their kids – While we certainly live in an age of connected homes and connected adults, kids aren’t usually the target demographic for technology outside of the home. LG’s new KizON wrist band is a unique exception to this rule, but that’s because it exists as a digital tether between children and their parents.



Botnet brute-forces remote access to point-of-sale systems – Thousands of compromised computers are actively trying to break into point-of-sale (POS) systems using brute-force techniques to guess remote administration credentials. The computers are part of a botnet, dubbed BrutPOS by researchers from security firm FireEye, that has been active since at least February. The botnet scans attacker-specified IP (Internet Protocol) address ranges for systems that accept Remote Desktop Protocol (port 3389) connections. When an RDP service is identified, the BrutPOS malware attempts to log in with user names and passwords from a predefined list.

Crypto certificates impersonating Google and Yahoo pose threat to Windows users – People using Internet Explorer and possibly other Windows applications could be at risk of attacks that abuse counterfeit encryption certificates recently discovered masquerading as legitimate credentials for Google, Yahoo and possibly an unlimited number of other Internet properties.

Your favorite mobile apps leave a trail of cookie crumbs: We monitor our own smartphone traffic to see how much data apps are giving up – Many mobile apps are just Web applications wrapped in a package for an app store—they send cookies back to the same server to identify the user and provide location information and other data about a device to the application vendor, third parties, or anyone who happens to be watching network traffic. Taken together with other data, these cookies can be used to track individuals as they wander the world, posing a significant privacy risk. There are other components of the Web content consumed by mobile apps that can be used in tracking.

Don’t be a bonehead: Run antivirus on your Mac – Choosing not to run antivirus on a Mac is a boneheaded move that people choose to make based on nothing more than fanboy idealism, and has no place in the real world. Doubly so if your Mac takes on BYOD duties.

Malaysia Is Becoming a Global Hub For Internet Scams Preying on the Lovelorn – The conmen typically hail from Nigeria or Ghana and dupe lonely, middle-aged men and women from the U.S. and Western Europe through matchmaking services like, reports Reuters. A dozen new cases are reported to the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur every week, with scam complaints forming four-fifths of new work for duty officers. “This is a serious issue hurting many Americans financially and emotionally,” said a U.S. embassy spokesperson. “We would hope that through publicity more Americans would be made aware of these scams.”

Company News:

Leaked Yelp docs say Google is gaming search results – Google search is often thought of as an even playing field where we can get the results we want. Over time, Google has begun leaning on their own services — and thus information. That’s not concerning to most users, but what about other services? Recently leaked internal documents at Yelp insist Google is toying with Search results regionally to deceive regulators and mislead users.

Roku beats Apple TV — again — on usage, purchases – Roku is No. 1 for set-top-box purchases and usage, and the gulf between it and No. 2 Apple is widening, a study says — but opportunity may rouse the sleeping giant.


Microsoft settles with No-IP in botnet hunt, after seizing its domains – Microsoft has reached a settlement with domain provider No-IP to disable some of its domains, after taking control of part of its network to shut down a botnet. In the course of combating the spread of the malware, Microsoft took control of more than 20 No-IP domains, knocking out service for the provider’s customers, some of whom were not even affected by the malware. In a statement released Wednesday by Microsoft and No-IP, Microsoft said it “regrets any inconvenience these customers may have experienced.”

Aereo believes it can operate despite Supreme Court ruling – In a lower court filing, the streaming TV service takes a new legal tack saying it could be eligible to license television content the same as cable companies.

Games and Entertainment:

The sky’s the limit as Microsoft Flight Simulator returns! – One of the most enduring titles of PC gaming came to an end in 2009, as Microsoft shut down the studio responsible for development of the Flight Simulator series. But now, Microsoft Flight Simulator has been cleared for take-off once more, as the company has signed a global licensing deal for its development, which will soon see the game sold on Steam for the first time.


MOBA Games Come Of Age On The iPad With Hammer & Chisel’s Fates Forever – There are a few notable contenders vying to make the tablet’s definitive MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game. One, which made its debut this week, is Fates Forever.


Battleborn – the MOBA that Borderlands creator Gearbox wants you to play – The folks behind Borderlands are taking their talents to the increasingly crowded MOBA genre with a new title called Battleborn. Details surrounding what Gearbox is calling a “hero shooter” are still a little scarce, but so far it looks like this game could actually be something new and interesting in the genre.


Grim Fandango remaster confirmed for PC (of course) – Yes, despite the implication at E3 that this was a Sony exclusive, the game will indeed be coming to its true and rightful PC home. And Mac. And Linux. It’s not really a surprise, considering Grim Fandango creator/Double Fine founder Tim Schafer tweeted about “other platforms” during E3, but still—go ahead and heave a sigh of relief.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Nissan invented something every car needs – What with airbags, electronic stability control, and crumple zones galore, you could be forgiven for thinking there was no safety feature left untouched on the modern car, but Nissan would prove you wrong. The humble rear-view mirror is next in line for a smart update, and as Nissan showed me with its prototype system, the way we look around our car is well overdue a high-tech update.


In sexting case, Virginia prosecutors want to photo teen’s genitalia – A Virginia teen is facing felony charges for allegedly sexting his girlfriend a video of his penis, and the authorities want to photograph his erect genitalia to bolster their case, according to news reports. If found guilty, the 17-year-old boy, whose name Ars is withholding, could be jailed until his 21st birthday and be forced to register as a sex offender. The boy’s attorney said that Prince William County prosecutors have obtained a warrant allowing them to photograph the boy’s erect private parts, a development his attorney is fighting along with the accusations. (The prosecutors should be subjected to a battery of tests designed to expose their deviancy. What a sick group!)

Cutting the cord: Why I kicked my cable TV company to the curb – I decided I was sick of spending crazy amounts of money for video content I could get for free, or for far less using various streaming services.

Prostitute accused in Google exec’s death – Police have arrested a high-end escort for suspicion of murder in the death of a Google executive, according to a police statement and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The executive, 51-year-old Forrest Timothy Hayes, is said to have overdosed on heroin last November on a yacht in Santa Cruz, Calif., after allegedly being injected by Alix Catherine Tichelman. Tichelman is a 26-year-old call girl from Georgia who police said Hayes had an ongoing relationship with.

Telecom-Funded Congressional Group: Don’t Regulate Telecom Industry! – At an event funded by the telecom industry, organizations funded by the telecom industry argue against – wait for it! – regulating the telecom industry.

World Cup’s Germany-Brazil game is most-tweeted sports event – The social network tweeted yesterday that there were 35.6 million tweets published during the match between Brazil and Germany, making it “the most-discussed single sports game ever on Twitter.” Brazil’s Júlio César and Germany’s Miroslav Klose were the most-mentioned players from the match.

Something to think about:

“A good man would prefer to be defeated than to defeat injustice by evil means.”

-    Sallust (86 BC – 34 BC)

Today’s Free Downloads:

Skype – With Skype’s free software – by the way, it works seamlessly with your internet connection – you can chat away with free Skype-to-Skype calls and never worry about cost, time or distance. Share the love and get your friends to download Skype so you can talk, chat or make video calls for nothing. You can also make local, long distance and international calls to phones and mobiles at great rates too.

You can use it on a computer or get Skype on your mobile so you can keep in touch on the move, whatever you’re up to. Skype works on a wide range of mobiles, plus on devices like the PlayStation Portable (PSP). There’s also a great range of WiFi and cordless phones with Skype built-in.

Just for starters you can instant message with anyone on your contact list or even use group chat to chat with up to a hundred people. You could hold a conference call with up to nine other people to organise a get-together and then use SkypeFind to search for the perfect venue to hold it.

There are also really cool video features. All you need is a webcam to make free video calls or even take photos of yourself to personalise Skype.

Use Skype to give your friends a call and voice chat with them at the highest quality on the market.


Make free calls to anyone else on Skype, anywhere in the world

See who you are talking to with free video calls

Chat with up to 100 people in group chats

Conference call with up to four people for free

Call ordinary phones with SkypeOut

Superior sound quality

Works with all firewall, NAT and routers ? nothing to configure!

Friends list shows you when your Skype friends are online and ready to talk or chat

Super-simple and easy to use

Your calls are encrypted “end-to-end” in order to safeguard your privacy

Avira Free Antivirus – Avira AntiVir Personal FREE Antivirus was developed to be a reliable free antivirus solution, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system and reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection to home-users, for personal use only, and is not for business or commercial use.

Avira AntiVir Personal gives you the following functions:

Control Center for monitoring, administering and controlling the entire program

Central configuration with user-friendly standard and advanced options and context-sensitive help

Scanner (On-Demand Scan) with profile-controlled and configurable search for all known types of virus and malware

Integration into the Windows Vista User Account Control allows you to carry out tasks requiring administrator rights

Guard (On-Access Scan) for continuous monitoring of all file access attempts

Integrated quarantine management to isolate and process suspicious files

Rootkit protection for detecting hidden malware installed in your computer system (rootkits) (Only for 32-bit systems)

Direct access to detailed information on the detected viruses and malware via the Internet

Simple and quick updates to the program, virus definitions, and search engine through Single File Update and incremental VDF updates via a webserver on the Internet

Integrated Scheduler to plan one-off or recurring tasks, such as updates or test runs

Very high rates of virus and malware detection using innovative search technologies (search engines) and heuristic search processes

Detection of all common archive types, including detection of nested archives and smart extensions

High-performance multithreading function (simultaneous high-speed scanning of multiple files)


AntiVir protection against viruses, worms and Trojans AntiDialer protection against expensive dialers

AntiRootkit protection against hidden rootkits

Faster Scanning up to 20% faster

AntiPhishing protection against phishing

AntiSpyware protection against spyware and adware NetbookSupport for laptops with low resolution

QuickRemoval eliminates viruses at the push of a button


Avira AntiVir Personal is free for personal use only.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Anger mounts as Germany unearths second U.S. spy suspect – German politicians reacted angrily on Wednesday to news of a suspected U.S. spy in the Defence Ministry, which came days after the arrest of a German foreign intelligence agency worker as a double agent.

After the federal prosecutors said authorities had conducted searches in connection with a second spying case, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partners said Washington should remove any U.S. embassy staff involved and cease spying on its ally.

Security sources told Reuters the latest suspect was from the military and worked in the Defence Ministry in Berlin, but no arrest appeared to have been made. The ministry confirmed its premises had been searched but gave no further details.

“It is not yet clear what is behind this,” Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, in an excerpt of Thursday’s edition.

Merkel has already said the arrest last week of a BND foreign intelligence officer for spying for NATO ally the United States would, if confirmed, be a “serious case”. But she also says it will not affect transatlantic free trade talks.

The chancellor faces criticism for not taking President Barack Obama to task sufficiently for surveillance in Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency, which monitored her own mobile phone. The new cases put further pressure on Merkel to react.

Civil Rights Organizations Demand Answers From White House on Surveillance of Muslim Leaders – In the wake of our story this morning reporting on the FBI and NSA’s monitoring of prominent Muslim-Americans, a coalition of 44 civil rights groups organized by the American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter to President Obama demanding  a “full public accounting” of the government’s “targeting of community leaders” for surveillance. Separately, the White House told the Guardian that it has asked the intelligence community to “review their training and policy materials for racial or religious bias” after we published an internal instructional memo that referred to a hypothetical surveillance target as “Mohammed Raghead.”

The joint letter, which also requests meetings with President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and FBI Director James Comey, compares the surveillance detailed by the Intercept—including the monitoring of Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Committee on American-Islamic Relations—to the government’s history of spying on political dissidents:

In an earlier era, during the 1960s and 1970s, civil rights leaders, activists and members of minority communities were subjected to unlawful and abusive government surveillance based not on what they had done, but what they believed and who they were. Despite reform efforts, abusive practices continue today. Federal, state, and local law enforcement are targeting entire communities—particularly American Muslims—for secret surveillance based on their race, religion, ethnicity or national origin.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to the letter. But White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Guardian that the administration takes the publication of the memorandum using an ethnic slur “extremely seriously”:

Upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested that the director of national intelligence undertake an assessment of intelligence community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance, and as necessary, make any recommendations changes or additional reforms.

An earlier response to the story by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice—which repeatedly refused to discuss the story with The Intercept prior to publication—denied that any individuals had been targeted for surveillance solely for political dissent or an ethnic basis and stressed that “with limited exceptions…intelligence agencies must have a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to target any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident for electronic surveillance.”

American Surveillance Victim Is Not Surprised The NSA Was Spying – Hooshang Amirahmadi feels like a celebrity. That’s what happens after Glenn Greenwald publishes your name, with consent of course, as one of five identified Muslim-Americans monitored by the National Security Agency and the FBI.

Amirahmadi is a professor of international relations at Rutgers University. He says he has been swamped with interview requests since The Intercept published a report about how the NSA monitored several Muslim-Americans allegedly due to their religious beliefs, which the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice on Court-ordered Legal Surveillance of U.S. Persons refuted.

Despite the surveillance revelation, Amirahmadi, who describes himself as a peace activist, wasn’t surprised or angry when Greenwald and his team told him about the government’s surveillance about a month ago.

“The reason I’m not surprised is because I personally have spent 25 years in U.S.-Iran relations and that relation has been the most inimical in the last three decades of any foreign policy matter,” he said. “So it’s not easy to be in the middle of two enemies, and obviously you expect to be suspected.”

He has been on the faculty at Rutgers since 1983, and is the former director of the university’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He is the founder and president of the American Iranian Council, a public policy think tank that delves into U.S.-Iran relations.

Global protest calls for canning SOPA-by-stealth treaty’s IP bits – Fears about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have surfaced again, with a pair of open letters calling on negotiators to remove provisions applying to intellectual property.

The TPP is a treaty being negotiated among Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Controversially, the treaty’s full text has not been released for public scrutiny: citizens of the negotiating nations have generally been told the treaty is in their best interests and they therefore needn’t ask too many questions.

That may not sound too bad if you live in non-participating nations, save for two things.

The first is that the TPP is thought to contain provisions a lot like those contained in the hated, and ultimately defeated, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The second is that the USA likes to harmonise its relationships, so if the TPP gets up it will be a way for the USA to bring SOPA to the world, by stealth.

The second letter (PDF) attacks the expected TPP provision to extend copyright to 50 years beyond the death of a content creator on the grounds that the public domain is stronger the more stuff is in it. Extending copyright, the letter adds, just puts more cash into publishers’ pockets at the expense of the rest of us.

Verizon Fielded 150K User Data Requests This Year – The U.S. government made approximately 150,000 requests for Verizon customer information in the first half of 2014, the nation’s largest mobile carrier reported on Tuesday.

From January until June, Verizon received 72,342 subpoenas, 37,327 court orders, and 14,977 warrants from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the company said in its latest transparency report. Verizon also received 24,257 emergency requests and between 0 and 999 National Security Letters from the FBI in the first half of 2014.

Verizon said the “vast majority” of the requests it received related to consumer customers. The company got “very few” demands regarding its enterprise customers.

“We do not release customer information unless authorized by law, such as a valid law enforcement demand or an appropriate request in an emergency involving the danger of death or serious physical injury,” the report notes.

In the first half of the year, Verizon rejected approximately 3 percent of the subpoenas and approximately 4.5 percent of court orders and warrants it received.

Report: Snowden applies for extended asylum in Russia – U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has applied for extended asylum in Russia, according to news reports.

Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has leaked details of the agency’s worldwide surveillance activities, will seek an extension after Russia’s approval for him to stay expires on July 31, according to a Wednesday report in Russia news site

Snowden, living in Russia for the past year, has submitted documents to “prolong his stay,” said his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, quoted in the story.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 9, 2014

NSA Spying Hurts Cybersecurity for All of Us Say Privacy Advocates;  The Best Drone Videos From Around the Web;  By Selling Your Smartphone You’re Selling Yourself;  New Google Drive rolling out to users;  Patch alert: Update browsers’ Flash ASAP to block log-on theft;  AdBlock Plus sued by German marketing companies;  Windows 7 mainstream support ends in January 2015;  10 sites with stunning visual data that will change your world view;  2 Radical Free Games for Xbox One;  Hillary Clinton Denounces NSA Surveillance On German Chancellor; Partition Wizard Home Edition (free);  How to organize your Windows Start menu;  Declutter your Android apps with Nova Launcher;  Six World Cup social media highlights;  Watch YouTube explode with classic concerts.

NSA Spying Hurts Cybersecurity for All of Us Say Privacy Advocates – The surveillance debate has focused on the legality of spying on Americans but some say the biggest danger is in the methods the NSA uses.

Android reset doesn’t wipe your personal info – Businesses, beware! Vast amounts of personal data and photos can be recovered from second-hand Android smartphones, even if users have reset them to factory condition. With large numbers of Android phones now used by businesses, it’s also a threat to company data. Nowadays, this may well include banking data.

More on this:

By Selling Your Smartphone You’re Selling Yourself – Sometimes you can get a nice trade-in when you upgrade your old phone to the latest model. When that’s not possible, many electronics vendors offer a decent buy-back program. But if you’re already familiar with selling online through eBay or similar services, you may find it convenient to just put your old phone up for sale. When you click “Erase everything” on the phone, all your data is safely erased, right? Well, no. Forensic data recovery by researchers at Avast found that supposedly-erased phones harbored thousands of items of personal data, some of them significant.

How to organize your Windows Start menu – Every program you install in Windows 7 creates its own Start menu folder or at least its own free-floating shortcut. Some programs nicely ask you where you want to install their shortcuts, but most just dump them haphazardly into their own folders. The more programs you install, the more crowded and cluttered the All Programs menu becomes, especially with folders, subfolders, and shortcuts for items you may not even need. In Windows 7, such a setup forces you to keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling down the list of programs until you find the folder or shortcut you want. So how can you manage your Start menu programs so they don’t remain a disorganized clutter?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New Google Drive rolling out to users – Google Drive is being updated today, bringing in an updated UI and usability tweaks. The update is rolling out slowly, but the differences are notable. Simpler and more effective, Drive is starting to look more like a desktop solution than a web-solution-gone-laptop.

Declutter your Android apps with Nova Launcher – Imagine not having to scroll through countless apps to find the one you want. Sure, you might know exactly what that icon looks like, but it’s easy for nearly any launcher to get lost in your collection of installed apps. Nova Launcher fixes this issue by allowing you to set up App Drawer Groups. This means you can have a group for Networking tools, Games, Productivity tools…you name it.

Three critical laptop accessories for summertime travel – Before you head out on your great summer vacation, you’ll want to make sure you pack well not only for yourself but your laptop as well. No matter if you’re headed across the country in a VW bus or across the Atlantic on a 777, here are three critical laptop accessories no summer traveler can do without.

Five awesome devices for your Wink connected home setup – You want a connected home, but what about the expense involved? Quirky’s Wink Hub makes having a connected home a pretty streamlined endeavor, serving as a base platform for all your connected devices. The hub itself is low-cost and readily available, but what about the devices that link to it? Here are five that we really like for starting your connected home project.

Australian government visualises geospatial data on National Map – The Australian government has launched a single platform containing a number of the data sets released by the government, including broadband availability and quality.


‘Netflix for torrents’ app Popcorn Time adds Chromecast support – Apparently Chromecast viewers can eat their popcorn and watch it too: The “Netflix for pirates” app Popcorn Time can now stream pirated movies directly to Chromecast-enabled HDTVs. As of now, a Windows version of Popcorn Time with Chromecast support is in alpha, and Mac and Android versions are on their way. Beta versions of the apps without Chromecast support are already available for Android, Mac OS X 10.7 and above, Windows XP and above, and Linux 32/64 bit.

10 sites with stunning visual data that will change your world view – Mere words and concepts don’t drive home the sheer magnitude of the things buzzing all around us, all the time. For some things, actually seeing the data in real-time visualizations hits you in a far more visceral way than a wall o’ text ever could. These websites will change the way you see the world. If nothing else, you’ll never view your Facebook posts in the same, lighthearted way ever again.


Digital Shadow

The Weather Channel for Android Gets Contentious Redesign in v5.0 – There are plenty of weather apps on Android, but The Weather Channel app is far and away the most popular one with more than 50 million downloads. That could mean a lot of very unhappy people very soon as a v5.0 update is slowly rolling out. People, it seems, are not happy with the changes.


Watch YouTube explode with classic concerts – A vast trove of music concerts has arrived on YouTube this week thanks to the folks at Wolfgang’s Vault. That’s “Where Live Music Lives”, if you did not know, Wolfgang’s Vault being the pusher of Music Vault, the YouTube channel where you can see it all happen now. Bands from Bob Dylan to Fleet Foxes, Deer Tick to The Who – all appear in this 1,600+ video collection. In the very short amount of time this network has been online, under cover, it’s already gotten a whopping 10.8 million views.


Sony has announced its selfie phone – Yesterday, Sony teased on Twitter with a post “see your #selfies in a whole new light”, bringing speculation that they might be releasing a new handset. Today, Sony has unveiled a new selfie-centric device, the Xperia C3. The Xperia handset will feature a 5MP wide-angle front-facing camera with LED flash, optimized for taking better “selfies”.


CartoDB’s Odyssey.js Is An Open-Source Tool For Telling Stories With Interactive Maps – Everything happens somewhere. That’s the logic behind Odyssey.js, an open-source tool that utilizes maps to help turn data into interactive multimedia stories without the user needing coding skills. With a $35,000 grant from the Knight Prototype Fund, creators of the cloud-computing platform CartoDB have released a beta of the open-source tool today.


Windows 7 mainstream support ends in January 2015, but it’s not time to freak out yet – The good news here is that for users of Windows 7, you don’t have much to worry about. The end of mainstream support indicates that the company will no longer build out features or deliver enhancements other than security updates. The mainstream support is typically a window of 5 years post launch, following this there is a period of extended support that lasts for an additional 5 years. In January, Windows 7 will transition into the extended support state, so your machine will be safe.

BlackBerry reveals why the Passport is hip to be square: It’s all about the spreadsheets – BlackBerry’s Passport has inspired a lot of head-scratching, but the company reckons it does have a good reason for going out on a square limb.



Patch alert: Update browsers’ Flash ASAP to block log-on theft – Users of Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) and IE11 can rest easy today knowing that their browsers will automatically update to the latest version of Adobe Flash, which will block a credential-stealing attack disclosed earlier in the day. Those who rely on Apple’s Safari, pre-IE10 editions of IE, Mozilla’s Firefox and Opera Software’s Opera, however, should hustle to the Adobe website to download and install the latest version of Flash, security experts advised.

More on this:

“Weaponized” exploit can steal sensitive user data on eBay, Tumblr, et al – A serious attack involving a widely used Web communication format is exposing millions of end users’ authentication credentials on sites including eBay, Tumblr, and Instagram, a well-respected security researcher said Tuesday. The exploit—which stems from the ease of embedding malicious commands into Adobe Flash files before they’re executed—has been largely mitigated by a Flash security update Adobe released Tuesday morning to coincide with a technical analysis of the threat, including proof-of-concept exploit code. It will take days or weeks for a meaningful percentage of end users to install the fix, so the researcher who wrote the advisory is warning engineers at large websites to make server-side changes that will minimize the damage attackers can inflict on visitors.

Vulnerability in AVG security toolbar puts IE users at risk – The toolbar, also known as AVG SafeGuard, supports Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox running on Windows XP and later, and is often bundled as an optional installation with popular free software programs. According to researchers from the CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) at Carnegie Mellon University, versions 18.1.6 and older of AVG Secure Search and AVG SafeGuard install an ActiveX control called ScriptHelperApi in Internet Explorer that exposes sensitive functionality to websites.

Company News:

AdBlock Plus sued by German marketing companies – The popular extension, available for all web browsers, blocks advertisements on websites, which is the primary source of revenue for marketing companies. Adblock Plus vendors have a controversial arrangement with some websites which have been whitelisted from the extension by default. Now, a number of advertising companies in Germany have been reported to have filed lawsuits against Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus. The companies believe that the business model of Adblock Plus is illegal. It was recently reported that Google has been paying money in order to allow its ads to pass through Adblock Plus.

Former Mozilla CEO would’ve transformed Firefox into a pro-privacy anti-Chrome – Short-lived Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich says Firefox’s key to success lies in differentiation, starting with Google’s gobbling of your personal info.

BlackBerry Is One Of The Hottest Stocks Of 2014, Seriously – Don’t look now, but BlackBerry — you know, the butt of most cell phone jokes — is mounting an impressive comeback. BlackBerry’s stock is up 50 percent on the year and one of the best performers in its sector. In 2014 BlackBerry’s stock is outperforming all its peers. At the beginning of the year, the company’s stock was languishing at $7.44 a share. Yesterday it closed at $11.21. The stock is also up in trading today.

As smartphone sales tank, Samsung stares down a 25% drop in profits – Samsung Electronics is warning investors of a third straight quarter of declining profits. For Q2, the company is expecting a 22-26.5 percent drop in profits from a year earlier, thanks largely to piles of unsold smartphones. Smartphone sales have been Samsung’s primary driver of growth over the last few years, and the company is now facing a situation where many potential buyers already have a phone that’s “good enough.”

Games and Entertainment:

Respawn announces second ‘Titanfall’ DLC, ‘Frontier’s Edge’ – “Titanfall” has easily been one of the year’s biggest original game releases thus far, and it’s about to get even bigger with the release of its second downloadable content package, “Frontier’s Edge.” Announced today by Respawn, the game’s developer, “Frontier’s Edge” will feature three new maps, which are described as “the isolated mining outpost of Dig Site, the exclusive beach resort of Haven and the mining hub on the side of a mountain known as Export.” No media was released of the new maps, however, and a release date wasn’t announced.


The Xbox One Just Learned A Few New Tricks – Another month, another itty-bitty update to the Xbox One. The Xbox One’s July update doesn’t bring any earth shattering features (like, say, a version of Hulu that doesn’t break in the last two minutes of literally every show I try to watch), but it does pack a few new tricks you might not notice on your own. Here’s the new stuff, which should be rolling out right about now…

Microsoft will give Xbox 360 owners $75 credit to buy an Xbox One – Own an Xbox 360 and don’t yet have an Xbox One? You may want to purchase one before the end of the month, as Microsoft will give you a $75 digital credit to use on games and other digital downloads. As spotted by NeoGAF user BeforeU, Xbox 360 owners are now being presented with an ad that promotes the deal, which lasts until 11:59 p.m. PST July 31.


Let your creativity flow with the ‘Project Spark Starter Pack’ for Xbox One, coming this October – There has been much hype concerning “Project Spark,” a game that allows you to design your own experiences. The game was first demoed back in 2013 at E3, showing off the ability to create a world in about a minute, adding bad guys and even your own pet rock. With such an original concept, many consumers were wondering when the game would be released. Today on Xbox Wire, they have announced that a retail version of the game would be available for the Xbox One on October 7 for North and South America, October 9 in Asian countries, and October 10 for Europe.


Star Trek and Archer combine to make a hilarious abomination – Splicing audio and video from sources that don’t really belong together is a time honored tradition among silly folks who like a good laugh, and as video editing tech becomes cheaper and more powerful, it only gets easier for this sort of thing to happen. Star Trek is often a target for this kind of thing, due to its popularity and the volume of content. As a result, there are now three episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series where the audio has been replaced with bits from multiple episodes of the FX original series Archer. The end result, which the creators lovingly refer to as Starcher Trek, is nothing short of riotously funny.


Double Review: 2 Radical Free Games for Xbox One – This month two games are popping up free for Xbox Live Gold members: “Max: the Curse of Brotherhood” and “Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition.” Both games are generally considered to be “indy”, and they certainly play that way – but they’re bringing a fine mix of nostalgia and high-end graphics (flat as they may be) that give us pause.


Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s raining smartphones in India – The Gods seem to be smiling down upon the Indian cell phone consumer. Never before in the country’s history have they been so spoilt for choice. For the past few years, it was local players like Micromax and Karbonn who began offering cheaper yet slick alternatives to brands like Samsung. Then came the MotoG which was a bonafide star and vanquished the Micromaxs as well as Samsungs of the world in its category. A little after that came Nokia’s attractive X series of budget smartphone (under Rs 10,000 or US$166) that hitched its wagon to the Android platorm. And, just a few days ago, I wrote about Firefox’s potentially revolutionary US$25 phone soon to be manufactured and flogged in India by local manufacturers Spice and Intex.


Xiaomi’s Mi3 5 inch Smartphone is destined to vanquish most phones in the category

The Best Drone Videos From Around the Web – Drones can act as flying cameras — they can go where we can’t, get footage we can’t. Here, TIME has collected some of the coolest drone videos from around the web. Enjoy!


Nerf Rhino-Fire will leave your foes begging for mercy – The world of dart tag just got a whole lot more dangerous, thanks to some mad genius in the Nerf design lab. A new blaster popped up early on Amazon, and it’s darn near the Nerf equivalent of the Death Machine from Call of Duty. You don’t get that kind of firepower without deep power reserves. The Rhino-Fire will require six D-cell batteries. That adds around a kilogram of weight, but no worries: Nerf has included a tripod so that you can camp and dominate your enemies without breaking a sweat.


Google’s Larry Page envisions a world with less work – In a Fireside chat with Vinod Khosla, both Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin talked a lot about Google and the world surrounding it, with the entire chat (featured in the video below) lasting a bit over 40 minutes. Among the different topics was discussion about our working future.


How Your Tech Is Made – While your mass-produced gadget may not get the due respect it deserves on Etsy or at your local artisanal market, keep in mind that it takes just as much time, blood, sweat, and tears (if not more) to create that gadget (and all the other ones just like it) as it does for the solitary artiste to hone their craft into a singular unique item. Here we present 11 behind-the-scenes glimpses into how all the hottest electronics of today are made.


Zuckerberg: Everyone Should Have Basic Web Access – Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg this week argued that a basic level of Internet service should be as readily available as access to 911. “In the future, everyone should have access to basic Internet services … even if they haven’t paid for a data plan,” Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “And just as basic phone services encouraged more people to get phones, basic Internet services will encourage many more people to get a data plan.” He pointed to the fact that anyone can call 911 even without a phone plan. A similar option for the Web should also exist, he argued.

Urban Airship CEO takes leave amid sexual assault probe – Scott Kveton, co-founder of the push notification startup, tells employees that he had been thinking about stepping aside for a while but the decision was accelerated by a story about his “personal situation.”

Six World Cup social media highlights – As the biggest soccer tournament in the world reaches its final stages, there is no doubt that this has been the most social World Cup ever. We list some of the social media highlights of the event so far.

Something to think about:

“At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas.”

-    Aldous Huxley

Today’s Free Downloads:

Partition Wizard Home Edition – MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition is a free partition manager software designed by MiniTool Solution Ltd. Our partition manager supports 32/64 bit Windows Operating System including Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Home users can perform complicated partition operations by using this powerful yet free partition manager to manage their hard disk. Functions include: Resizing partitions, Copying partitions, Create partition, Delete partition, Format partition, Convert partition, Explore partition, Hide partition, Change drive letter, Set active partition, Partition Recovery.

MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition is designated for home user only, to use MiniTool Partition Wizard in a business environment, MiniTool Partition Wizard Professional Edition is required.


Support RAID.

Extend system partition to maximize computer performance.

Manage the hard disk for substantial performance increase.

Create, Delete and Format partitions with simple steps.

Disk Copy to protect or transfer data.

Support disk and partition size larger than 2 TB.

Convert partition format from FAT to NTFS.

Partition Copy: Copy the entire content of one hard disk to another.

Copy Disk Wizard: Copy the entire hard disk to another without having to reinstall Windows.

Disk Map – Visually demonstrate your disk/partition configuration; preview the changes before applying.

Hide/unhide partition, set active partition, etc. – Change partition properties easily.

Explore FAT/NTFS partition.

Set partition as primary.

Set partition as logical.

Rebuild MBR.

Disk Surface Test.

Partition Surface Test.

Change Partition Serial Number.

Change Partition Type ID.

Hot Extend Partition without reboot.


LastActivityView - LastActivityView is a tool for Windows operating system that collects information from various sources on a running system, and displays a log of actions made by the user and events occurred on this computer.

The activity displayed by LastActivityView includes: Running .exe file, Opening open/save dialog-box, Opening file/folder from Explorer or other software, software installation, system shutdown/start, application or system crash, network connection/disconnection and more…

You can easily export this information into csv/tab-delimited/xml/html file or copy it to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other software.


Another neat tool from NirSoft! They pump out the most interesting freeware – especially if you consider yourself a bit of a hobbyist, geek, techie, whatever, on the PC. Take a run over to their site for a look-see at the offerings.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On – The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”—short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.

The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008. Many of the email addresses on the list appear to belong to foreigners whom the government believes are linked to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Among the Americans on the list are individuals long accused of terrorist activity, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

But a three-month investigation by The Intercept—including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process—reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens.

Hillary Clinton Denounces NSA Surveillance On German Chancellor – Hillary Clinton criticized the National Security Agency (NSA) for spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, calling it “absolutely wrong” in an interview with German media outlet Spiegel published Tuesday.

Former government contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed in October that Merkel’s phone calls were intercepted by the NSA, damaging diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Germany.

Tensions have only escalated in the wake of a new spying scandal this week. Germany is currently in an uproar over reports a German intelligence service accused of spying was working for the United States. Merkel has said it will be a “serious case” if the recent spying allegations were true.

Clinton did not comment on the current controversy, saying an investigation was underway and she only knew what she read.

“But clearly, we have to do a much better job in working together between Germany and the United States to sort out what the appropriate lines of cooperation are on intelligence and security,” Clinton told Spiegel. “I think the cooperation is necessary for our security, but we don’t want to undermine it by raising doubts again and again.”

Clinton declined to comment on whether or not she thought it was “taboo” for the U.S. to acquire a source within the German intelligence service. She emphasized the U.S. could not enter a no-spy agreement with any country, including Germany. The Obama administration dismissed requests for such an agreement after the revelation last fall about the NSA’s surveillance practices.

Clinton was also asked if Merkel deserved an apology, and sidestepped the question, saying Merkel and President Barack Obama have “had numerous talks.” When pressed, she said she was sorry, but noted she was no longer in government.

UK extends device charge test to all air travellers – All air passengers flying into or out of British airports, and not just those on US-bound flights, must ensure their electronic devices are charged.

Advice issued at the weekend concerned passengers flying to the US, but on Tuesday night the British the Department for Transport widened the instruction to affect anyone flying into or out of the UK.

A spokesman for the department said: “In line with the US advice, passengers on some routes into and out of the UK may now also be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are powered up or face not being allowed to bring the device on to the aircraft.

“Passengers flying into or out of the UK are therefore advised to make sure electronic devices being carried in their hand luggage are charged before they travel.”

No specific routes have been highlighted, and the spokesman said they hope to “minimise disruption as far as possible”.

New restrictions requiring all electronic devices, including mobile phones and tablets, to be charged so they can be switched on for security staff were announced by US authorities on Sunday.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 8, 2014

German Mistrust of the U.S. Deepens Amid Latest Spy Scandals; You don’t know Docs from Drive: Google’s productivity apps, explained;  Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS;  How to use your Android tablet as a second laptop screen;  How to Delete Yourself from the Internet;  Free Red Hat clone CentOS-7;  10 ways your memory fails you;  One of my sites got hacked, and it’s my own fault;  50 Best Android Apps for 2014;  SCOTUS cell phone case may hold big repercussions (Q&A);  Apple has released beta 3 of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10;  Mom Banned From Facebook Over Coppertone Ad Recreation;  Wink’s Connected Home Collection Arrives At Home Depot.

German Mistrust of the U.S. Deepens Amid Latest Spy Scandals – Last week alone saw two separate scandals involving U.S. espionage in Germany. The first one broke on Thursday, when German media reported that the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, has been spying on a German privacy advocate who works to protect Internet users from the snooping of … the NSA. The following day, July 4, a second scandal broke in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media, which reported that an employee of Germany’s foreign-intelligence service, the BND, had confessed to selling secrets to the U.S. government. New details of that case continued to emerge on Monday, with Reuters reporting that the CIA was involved in the spying operation that led to the man’s recruitment.

You don’t know Docs from Drive: Google’s productivity apps, explained – Docs or Drive? Apps for Business or Drive for Work? Follow our guide to determine which Google service offers what, and which one is best for you.

How to Delete Yourself from the Internet – With our digital footprints expanding, we are relaying more personal data than ever to trackers, hackers and marketers with and without our consent. Are we sharing too much? Do we have the right not to be tracked? Is withdrawing from the Internet entirely to preserve your privacy even possible? Let’s go over each of these issues.

Some files need encryption and some files don’t – Of course there are exceptions. If you’re an accountant, a lawyer, or a spy, you probably should have your entire hard drive encrypted. If everything you work on is confidential, then everything has to be protected. But what should the rest of us encrypt? Bank statements and legal documents, of course. Any file containing your (or anyone else’s) social security number, bank account information, driver’s license, or credit card information should be encrypted.

50 Best Android Apps for 2014 – From high-end Android handsets to low-cost prepaid phones, you’re not getting the full value unless you load up on great apps. We’re here to help, with recommendations for news, weather, productivity, task management and more.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Brush up on classic literature with these immersive apps – Back in the early days of personal computing, the promise of interactive, multimedia, hypertext books was exciting, notably with Voyager’s Expanded Books. But in those days, the limits of technology prevented those “books” from gaining a foothold. The iPad offers such powerful features—and excellent resolution—that truly enhanced books are possible. Here are six apps for the iPad that have popped up in recent years that look at great literature, paying homage to fantastic works while adding new layers.

Free Red Hat clone CentOS-7 is full of Linux Container love – The CentOS Project has announced general availability of CentOS-7, the first release of the free Linux distro based on the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7. It’s also the first major CentOS release to ship since the CentOS Project entered into a new funding and co-development partnership with Red Hat in January. Because CentOS-7 is built from the freely available RHEL 7 source code tree, its feature set closely mirrors that of Red Hat’s latest OS, which shipped in June after a six-month beta period.

Apple has released beta 3 of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 – If you are running either of Apple’s next-generation operating systems, there is a new beta to download but you should do so with caution as these builds are not intended for production devices.

How to use your Android tablet as a second laptop screen – There’s no denying that multiple monitors is a boost to productivity. It’s convenient, and lets you keep an eye on more windows at once, so none of those important interruptions go unanswered. But in an age of ubiquitous laptops, the whole multi-monitor thing sort of ties you down. It’s not like you’re going to lug around a monitor to use as a display with your laptop. Fortunately, there’s a smaller, lighter alternative: use your Android tablet as overflow screen. Plus, you can use the Android device for touchscreen computer input.


Wink’s Connected Home Collection Arrives At Home Depot – The Wink platform is basically a central hub for devices from manufacturers, including Dropcam, Honeywell, Quirky, Schalge, Kwikset, Honeywell and more, giving users a single app for either iOS or Android from which to customize and control them all. Wink gets its compatible products on store shelves in over 2,000 U.S. retail locations today, with branding tied to 60 Wink-certified products ranging from light dimmers, to air conditions, to smart locks and beyond.


Paid Android Wear Apps Currently Impossible Thanks to DRM – Developers finally got their hands on the final version of the Android Wear SDK at Google I/O last month, and have set to work building apps for Google’s smart watch platform. Wear apps don’t work exactly like regular Android apps, and that seems to have led to some unintended consequences. It is currently impossible to distribute a traditional paid app via Google Play for Android Wear.


BlackBerry Explains The Passport, Its Square Tablet… Phone Thing – BlackBerry previously gave us a sneak peek at a device that’s as category-busting as the revolutionary Padfone, called the Passport. I expressed my …uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the design decisions made in creating this 4.5-inch square thing with a hardware keyboard then. But now it’s BlackBerry’s turn to articulate some of its reasoning behind the Passport, with a blog post in which it avoids calling it either a phone or a tablet directly.


Mom Banned From Facebook Over Coppertone Ad Recreation – You know that adorable vintage Coppertone ad where the little girl is getting her bathing suit pulled down by a dog? It’s perfectly innocent, right? Well, Facebook apparently doesn’t think so. One North Carolina mom was recently banned from the social network after recreating the iconic image with her daughter. Photographer Jill White was on a trip to the beach when she decided to copy the famous “Coppertone girl” pose from the 1950s ad. Her daughter stood at the shoreline as a friend pulled down her red checkered bathing suit, exposing the 2 year-old’s bare bottom and tan line. The mom posted it to the Coppertone Facebook page, thinking it was clever and cute. But not everyone agreed.

wps_clip_image-31480 wps_clip_image-32076

Rumor: Microsoft’s ‘Windows 9′ campaign begins this fall – Microsoft plans to launch “Windows 9” this fall, backed by a substantial advertising campaign, according to Russian leaker Wzor. The Russian blogger also predicted that the release will be accompanied with a new distribution method that will be keyed to the user’s PC and the online Microsoft Store, rather than an activation key that will be sold and/or distributed to an individual user.

Microsoft adds Yammer to more Office 365 editions – Microsoft will bundle Yammer with more editions of Office 365, adding the enterprise social-networking product to the suite’s editions for schools and midsize businesses. Existing subscribers of Office 365 Midsize Business and Office 365 Education plans will get licenses for Yammer’s Enterprise edition at no additional cost, the company said Monday.


Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS – Those convinced that the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) will become a hackers’ playground were given more grist for their mill with news on Friday that security researchers have discovered a weakness in Wi-Fi/mesh networked lightbulbs. Researchers at Context Information Security discovered that LED light bulbs from manufacturer LIFX – which are designed to be controlled from a smartphone – have security weaknesses. By gaining access to the master bulb, Context was able to control all connected lightbulbs and expose user network configurations.

‘Warbiking’ highlights the need for better wireless security – Don’t let the lycra fool you: James Lyne isn’t your traditional cyclist. Lyne has a high-tech rig installed on his bike that sniffs out Wi-Fi networks and lets him see just what their security is like. He calls it warbiking — named after the old-school wardriving in the early days of wireless networks — and last week we took a ride with him around Sydney. Sydney is just the latest stop on Lyne’s World of Warbiking tour — he’s been through Hanoi, London, San Francisco and more. While in town, Lyne’s ride scanned a total of 34,476 networks with some depressing results.

One of my sites got hacked, and it’s my own fault – No web site can be stuck in time, even if the content is. The server software and security systems supporting a web site must be constantly updated to prevent incursion and corruption.

Company News:

Oculus buys RakNet, whose engine revved up ‘Minecraft,’ ‘Lego Universe’ – Virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR, which is being bought by Facebook, has acquired RakNet, an open-source C++ coding engine for games, as part of its plan to develop more software for its head-mounted device ahead of a consumer launch. The deal was the second announced by Oculus in the last two weeks and comes after Facebook said in March that it would acquire Oculus for $US2 billion.

AMC’s answer to Netflix is to spend $600 million on recliner seats in theaters – AMC is spending $600 million to reseat a large portion of its chain theaters with comfy, puffy, fully reclining seats like you’d have in your living room. Yes, the company has to remove a bunch of its existing seating in order to fit the larger seats — which means AMC’s strategy to get more people in theaters will actually lessen how many people can actually fit in them. If the seats AMC would remove are usually empty anyway, then sprucing up the often-used seats shouldn’t hurt attendance, and would instead — AMC hopes — raise it.


Isis mobile wallet is rebranding to avoid sharing a name with the terrorist group – Isis, the mobile payment system which launched last year, has announced that they will rebrand and change their name to avoid similarities with the militant Jihadist group of the same name.

Foxconn to deploy 10,000 robots on assembly lines to replace human workers – According to comments made by CEO Terry Gou in a recent shareholders’ meeting, Apple manufacturer Foxconn may soon roll out robots on its assembly lines in order to replace human workers and cut down on manufacturing costs. The robots, which could potentially help construct Apple’s rumored-to-be-upcoming iPhone 6, are in the final stages of testing and are set to be deployed in at least one Foxconn factory in the future. The robot worker plan was first announced in 2011, and the ‘Foxbots’ are entering the final stages of testing — which means that they could see deployment on Foxconn assembly lines very soon.

Google steps up e-commerce war with Amazon, report says – The search giant plans to go after Amazon in an effort to beef up product search and e-commerce offerings. Google’s first target: groceries.


Google looks to bolster its e-commerce offerings – Screenshot by Richard Nieva/CNET

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny beta dates announced, Xbox One gets it last – Starting June 17 at 10am Pacific, select PS4 and PS3 owners who have pre-ordered the game will be granted access to check out what Activision calls a “diverse sampling of major activities featured in the full game.” This beta will conclude on July 21, and will open back up on July 23 at 10am Pacific. The second opening will see the addition of select Xbox One and Xbox 360 players who have pre-ordered the game, with the flood gates opening to all pre-order participants on July 27.


Guardians of the Galaxy trailer: extended look at the team – Guardians of the Galaxy has been teased from many angles: trailers galore, a playlist of the upcoming movie soundtrack, and even a 17 minute look at the film for those who don’t fear spoilers. Latest among them is a new trailer showing off extended footage of the team.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Music abilities come from DNA, not practice: so says study – According to a study published in the latest release of Psychological Science would suggest that most musical skill comes from your genes. If you happen to be the descendent of a musical genius, you may want to get practicing – it would seem that you’ll have a lot easier time finding success than your less fortunate associates with less musically-inclined parents.

10 ways your memory fails you – Who hasn’t walked from one room to another and completely forgotten what they were going to do when they got there? Or had either a name or word on the tip of their tongue, but just couldn’t manage to put their finger on what it was? These are just 2 of the 10 ten examples of ways we can’t completely trust our memories, according to this new video from AllTime10s, purveyor of top-10 lists. The video, based on various studies on memory, explains 10 ways our memories aren’t always accurate, such as our tendency to believe that events occurred much more recently than they actually did.


Bankers beware: Technology is going to get you (and none of us will care) – Technology is about to take a big slice of the traditional banking business. Bankers have been slow to see what’s coming, but they’re starting to realize what’s at stake.

Nature’s fireworks: 10 stunning volcanic GIFs – Volcanoes give us a tantalizing peek at the interior workings of the Earth — the hellish inferno raging beneath the crust. Totally fascinating to observe, of course, but the GIFs keep you nice and safe at home. No heat-resistant environmental suits required.


Something to think about:

“A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.”

-     Granville Hicks

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

SCOTUS cell phone case may hold big repercussions (Q&A) – The US Supreme Court came out strongly in favor of personal privacy last month, unanimously declaring that law enforcement must first obtain a warrant before searching someone’s cell phone. But one of the lawyers who helped argue the case says many questions about you, your smartphone and privacy remain.

Key legal issues involving mobile devices have yet to be decided, such as how long law enforcement can store seized data and whether police are allowed to compel someone to provide the password of a locked mobile device.

“The court spent about 20 years wrestling with how the Constitution and search and seizure work in the context of an automobile. I think that’s basically what we’re going to see now,” says Bronson James, an attorney and former network engineer from Portland, Ore., who spent more than a decade arguing against warrantless searches of mobile devices in lower courts. “We’re going to see 10, maybe 20 years of litigation about computing, digital data, mobile computing, and how that interplays with the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and a number of issues.”

James was part of the team assembled by lead attorney Jeffrey Fisher to produce some briefs in Riley v. California, one of two cases decided by last month’s Supreme Court opinion. In the Riley case, a San Diego man was charged for having concealed weapons, but was then charged and convicted of attempted murder after police found photos and other records on his phone.

“All of these things flow out of Riley and it’s going to be a fascinating time,” James said. “There’s so much more to flesh this out in our court system that we’re going to be talking about this a lot.”

James spoke with CNET last week about the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling and what it felt like to come out victorious after years of defeats.

The Privacy Implications Of NSA Searches Should Not Be Minimized – The Obama administration on Sunday attempted to downplay the damning revelations made in the Washington Post about the NSA’s broad data sweeps under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA).

In response, officials told the New York Times that “the agency routinely filters out the communications of Americans and information that is of no intelligence value.”

The administration’s response quickly jumping to the NSA’s defense is in line with its previous pattern of standing in front of the agency whenever damaging news leaked about its practices. Soon after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s first revelations were published last year, President Barack Obama staunchly supported the surveillance programs. His stance softened as public outcry grew, and he suggested reforms including an overhaul of the collection of telephony metadata program in January.

Almost half of the communications in a large trove collected under Section 702 that Snowden supplied to The Post last year contained e-mail addresses or other details the NSA identified as belonging to U.S. citizens. More than 65,000 references were “masked” to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 email addresses in the files that were not minimized that could be linked to Americans. In the same initial June 2013 speech, Obama said Americans’ emails weren’t being collected.

The government’s claim that information found to be “of no intelligence value” is filtered seems farcical when the report revealed that the Snowden cache included a photo of a young girl smiling in front of a mosque and school children’s academic transcripts.

‘Voluntary’ oversight for Australian agencies blocking sites – Australian government agencies can ‘voluntarily’ inform the Communications Department each time they ask ISPs to block websites under Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, but none have done so since September last year, the department has told ZDNet.

Over a year since it was first revealed that government agencies had been using a power in the Telecommunications Act to ask ISPs to block websites believed to be in breach of Australian law, the government still has yet to decide how to improve accountability over the practice.

The power only gained public attention after it was revealed that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) had accidentally blocked 250,000 websites in April 2013 when seeking to block websites associated with investment fraud, including the website of Melbourne Free University.

At the time, it was suggested that three government agencies including ASIC, the Australian Federal Police, and one other national security agency had used the power, but there was no oversight into the power across the entire government.

Given the controversy, in June last year, then-Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he had directed his department to begin looking into how to improve the transparency and regulation of agencies that have been using the power, and the department began working on a discussion paper into the use of the powers, which never saw the light of day prior to the September election that saw the Coalition opposition elected into government.

In December, the Communications Department told ZDNet that it was “consulting with agencies” on the use of Section 313 to block websites.

Seven months later, however, and the government has yet to reach a decision on how to provide greater transparency into Section 313 powers. The Department of Communications also confirmed it still has no mandatory oversight over agencies asking ISPs to block websites.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 7, 2014

The NSA Thinks You Are an Extremist If You Care About Privacy;  TSA Will Now Block Dead Devices At Some Airports;  Stop Your Android Device From Broadcasting Your Location;  After psych study, Facebook’s mood shows disconnect;  4 Reasons Nobody Cares About Smartwatches;  8 Geeky Summer Projects to Keep Kids Busy;  Popjam is ‘walled-garden’ Instagram for kids;  Five powerful open source audio editors;  Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now;  Google Tightens Noose on Adult AdWords Ads;  Totally rad films from the ’80s and ’90s on Netflix;  Fireworks from a drone’s perspective; KeePass Password Safe (free).

Charge Your Phone Before Flying! TSA Will Now Block Dead Devices At Some Airports – We’ve all been there: you’re standing in the security line at the airport. The TSA agent is mad at you about a water bottle, or a pair of scissors, or some other thing you forgot was even in your bag. Get rid of it, or you’re not flying. What if that thing keeping you off your flight was your dead iPhone? This afternoon, the TSA published an announcement stating that passengers boarding flights to the US from “certain overseas airports” (the specific airports go unnamed) will first need to prove that “all electronic devices” they’ve packed can be powered up. No power? No flight — at least not while you’re carrying that dead device. (Security theatre taken to new heights. What’s next on their “scare the crap out of everyone” agenda. This one goes hand in hand with – US warns terrorists considering surgically implanted bombs.)

The NSA Thinks You Are an Extremist If You Care About Privacy – According to the report, the NSA flags anyone using the Tor network for long-term surveillance and retention. Say you were curious about this Tor thing you keep hearing about and visited the Tor Project’s Website to get more information (but don’t use Tor). No matter. Just visiting the site could potentially get you on the NSA watch list. Search for Tor, Tails, or any number of privacy tools online is enough to flag you as an extremist by the NSA. In fact, just reading about news articles here on SecurityWatch or checking out reviews of privacy services on PCMag could have gotten you tagged. How ridiculous is that? And so disturbing.

Gov’t, corporations the most dangerous threats to the internet, say internet experts – Internet blackouts in war-torn countries, censorship masquerading as protective forces in the UK and beyond, CISPA and SOPA, lacklustre and naive attempts to stem the flow of file sharing by firms rather than tackling the core route of content access, and regulations pushed through by those who understand nothing of the web (who can forget the UK Police Commissioner’s claim that “Tor is 90 percent of the internet”?) — the list of forces attempting to wrestle control of the internet carries on. It is these factors, rather than cybercrime or hacking, that internet experts believe pose the greatest threat to the internet in the next 20 years.

After psych study, Facebook’s mood shows disconnect – Even the journal that published the results of Facebook’s manipulation of news feeds has expressed concern. But Facebook seems to be saying “Come on, stop complaining.” “We never meant to upset you,” uttered by COO Sheryl Sandberg, seems a curiously inadequate reaction to the news that Facebook believes there is nothing fundamentally wrong with mind-messing for unexplained purposes and entirely in secret.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

4 Reasons Nobody Cares About Smartwatches – If you watched Google present Android Wear last week, you’d think the smartwatch was the hottest product on the market. What could be better than an intelligent timepiece that can take calls and understand voice commands? It turns out nobody cares. So we asked ourselves: why isn’t the smartwatch as popular as its wrist-based cousin, the fitness tracker? Why hasn’t the mainstream market bought in? Here are four reasons.

Stop Your Android Device From Broadcasting Your Location – If you were at a Starbucks or any other company that has its name as part of the WiFi network name, someone accessing the device’s location signal would know where you’ve been, and where you went next. Considering many of the WiFi networks tend to have fairly descriptive names, the potential of your movements tracked is pretty high.  “This data is arguably more dangerous than that leaked in previous location data scandals because it clearly denotes in human language places that you’ve spent enough time to use the Wi-Fi,” the EFF said.

Firefox falls to record low in overall browser share – Firefox’s user share on all platforms — desktop and mobile — has plunged in the last two months as its desktop browser continued to bleed and efforts to capture users on smartphones fell short.

8 Geeky Summer Projects to Keep Kids Busy – With the rise of sites like Pinterest, it’s easier than ever to find creative projects to keep the little ones entertained. Unfortunately, some require a Ph.D. in crafting (check out for a laugh). But you don’t have to be Martha Stewart (or Bill Nye the Science Guy) to have some geeky, crafty fun this summer.Pinterest is a treasure trove of possible projects, but we found eight that will (hopefully) not cause too much of a mess and keep the kids (as well as mom and dad) intrigued.


Popjam is ‘walled-garden’ Instagram for kids, from Moshi Monsters maker – London-based tech company Mind Candy says its latest app, released today, is a safe alternative to Snapchat and Tumblr, where “kids can be kids.”


This little Sony will pump up the sound of your headphones – The Audiophiliac oohs and aahs over Sony’s portable PHA-2 digital converter and headphone amplifier.


Five powerful open source audio editors – A solid audio editor might not seem to belong at the top of your must-have list. It is, however, a tool that can go a long way toward helping you with your business. How? With an audio editor, you can add audio to your business website, create and edit a podcast to help promote your service or product, record and submit audio for radio ads, and more. But what software titles are available from the open source community? Believe it or not, some of the finest audio editors available are open source and offer power and options you might expect only in costly, proprietary software. Let’s take a look at five open source audio editors and see if there’s one that will fit your bill.

In the Wake of Apparent Revenge Killing, New Israeli ‘Kidnap App’ Adapted for Palestinians – In the first two weeks after three Israeli teenagers were abducted on the West Bank, over 60,000 Israelis downloaded a new smartphone app designed to alert police to your abduction and guide them to the place you are being held. Then a Palestinian teen earlier this week was forced into a car and killed in what police suspect was a revenge killing, hastening development of an Arabic version of the same free software.

Thoughts from a tablet addict: What I own and why – When you consider that I own four of them, you’d be justified calling me a tablet addict. Here’s what I use and why they work for me. Hopefully, this glimpse into my tablet world will help those thinking about buying a tablet. If you have a favorite mobile OS, your choice is easier. If not, the field is wide open as I find the three platforms to be just about even for typical tablet functions. As for screen size, get the smallest you can comfortably use if you plan to take it on the road. On the other hand, if you plan on just using it at home, get a big one. You’ll appreciate the screen real estate.


Quebec mom reels in alleged pedophile on Facebook – A Quebec mother posed as her 12-year-old stepdaughter for four weeks on Facebook to catch an alleged pedophile, QMI Agency has learned. Her sleuthing led to the arrest of Martin Schanck, 24, of Coteau-du-Lac, Que., who is scheduled to appear in court Saturday for allegedly luring five children on the Internet. The mother, who withheld her name to protect her daughter, said her girl received a Facebook message in March from someone posing as a 14-year-old named Sabrina Poirier. The conversation quickly took a sexual turn, the mother said. Sabrina sent a photograph of an erect penis, claiming it was an ex-boyfriend’s. That’s when the 27-year-old mother took action.

Attack on Dailymotion redirected visitors to exploits – Attackers injected malicious code into, a popular video sharing website, and redirected visitors to Web-based exploits that installed malware. The flaws that Sweet Orange attempted to exploit are: CVE-2013-2551, patched by Microsoft in Internet Explorer in May 2013; CVE-2013-2460, patched by Oracle in Java in June 2013; and CVE-2014-0515, patched by Adobe in Flash Player in April.

Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now – WordPress powers over 70 million Websites around the world, making it an attractive target for cyber-criminals. Attackers frequently hijack vulnerable WordPress installations to host spam pages and other malicious content. Researchers have uncovered a number of serious vulnerabilities in these popular WordPress plugins over the last few weeks. Check your administrator dashboard and make sure you have the latest versions installed.

Microsoft increases Outlook and OneDrive security and opens a transparency center – In the wake of security concerns and a PR nightmare following allegations of spying by governmental organizations, Microsoft steps up security for its cloud products and opens a transparency center.

Company News:

Xiaomi claims it sold 50,000 Mi Pads in under four minutes – Chinese electronics company Xiaomi is claiming that they have sold 50,000 of their latest tablet, the Mi Pad, in less than four minutes. It comes as no surprise considering this tablet is packed with an immense amount of power and priced to compete. The 7.9″ Android tablet is a direct competitor to the iPad Mini Retina with prices starting at $240 USD.


Google Tightens Noose on Adult AdWords Ads – Bad news for porn websites promoters. Starting soon, Google will be enforcing the “no super-naughty ads” provision of its AdWords policies that it first posted in March. Google has started to email advertisers to remind them of the coming crackdown on risqué advertising. While the company isn’t banning adult advertising in general, it is greatly tightening the definition of what it will allow on AdWords.

Oculus halts sales in China to stop resellers from hawking development kits – Developers in China who want an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will have to wait a while to get one, it seems: As reported by Eurogamer, Oculus VR has “suspended” sales of the current Oculus Rift development kit (DK2) because too many people were buying the kits to resell them for a profit.

iWatch imminent, Apple hires sales exec from Swiss watchmaker – The company nabs the vice president of sales and retail from Tag Heuer, as it reportedly gears up to launch an iWatch later this year.

IBM aims to collaborate with Beijing on energy, health issues – IBM said its research labs will aim to help China revamp its energy system and healthcare over the next 10 years via big data, the Internet of Things and cognitive computing. The effort is led by IBM’s China research unit. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. IBM said it had a collaboration agreement with the Beijing Municipal Government. The two parties will work on air pollution and try to leverage cognitive computing, optical sensors and other tools to predict weather, climate and the pollution hit.

Games and Entertainment:

Monster versus hunter game Evolve opens alpha test sign-ups, but act quick – Turtle Rock Studios is giving you the chance to sign up for a limited alpha of Evolve, its monster-versus-hunters multiplayer game that’s one part Left 4 Dead, one part Big Game Hunter. The game’s not officially out until October 21, but you have a chance to get in early if you take a brief hardware survey. Caveats: The alpha is PC-only, limited to the United States and Canada, and you must have a working Steam account to participate.


How Real Will Wearable Games Be? – Wearables, primarily smartwatches, are in many ways a compelling idea. Yet do the actual wearables we’re seeing offer anything like that? From a gaming standpoint are they really that big of a deal, or are they more a case of high-hopes and maybe-one-days?


PSA: Japan’s biggest ‘00s RPG series, Monster Hunter, finally on iOS – Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, priced at $14.99 for both iPhone and iPad, doesn’t crib from last year’s Monster Hunter 3G release on 3DS; instead this is a port of the 2009 PSP game Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G, presumably because its wimpier 3D assets would run efficiently across iOS devices. The only changes involve MFi controller support, which includes a camera stick that the original didn’t have, along with touch-screen controls.


EA blames a ‘system error’ that charged $5 for demos – Xbox One gamers across the globe are discovering that EA game demos are hit with a $4.99 pricetag, even if they were previously free. FIFA 14, which was released last year, and EA Sports UFC, which was made available last month, both feature the charge for the normally free downloads. EA admits that the charge was due to an “error in the system” and has said that the games have been restored to free of charge. Various sources have confirmed that the paid demos were available in the USA, UK, and Australia.


Totally rad films from the ’80s and ’90s on Netflix – Perhaps only the most visionary souls could have possibly foreseen the days when these movies could be watched instantly, at the push of a button, from a computer or even a smartphone. Yet here they are. And guess what—some of the movies from those bygone decades are still pretty good.


Primal Fear – ★★★★☆

Off Topic (Sort of):

Swiss castle recreated in stunning 3D with the help of a drone – The image of Chillon Castle you’re looking at wasn’t painstakingly created by digital artists and 3D modelers. It was actually produced by stitching together more than 6,200 photos. The result: a stunning 3D reproduction of one of Switzerland’s most visited tourist destinations that’s accurate to between 5mm and 20cm. This wasn’t just an outside flyby, either. The castle’s entire interior has been reproduced, too.


U.S. Military’s TALOS Project tapped Hollywood designer – It is not unusual for Hollywood to refer to the US Military personnel for realistic movie plot, but this time it is the other way around. Legacy Effects, the company known for designing props for movies such as Iron Man and RoboCop has been hired by the U.S. Military to design a war suit to protect soldiers in the field.


Fireworks from a drone’s perspective – Believe it or not, throughout the drone’s flight, no damage was recorded. The drone itself was not damaged, regardless of how close several calls were in the process. While he very well could have gotten in loads of trouble for floating above a public arena where controlled explosives were being fired, Jos Stinglingh also sustained no damage to his record.


Remote-controlled chip could be the future of contraceptives – The chip, just 20 x 20 x 7 millimetres, is designed to last up to 16 years — about half of a woman’s reproductive lifespan — delivering a daily dose of 30mg of levonorgestrel, used in several hormonal contraceptives and emergency contraceptives. In the event a couple wants to conceive, the woman can use a remote control to turn the chip off, and then back on again when she needs to.

Something to think about:

“If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.”

-     Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

KeePass Password Safe – Today you need to remember many passwords. You need a password for the Windows network logon, your e-mail account, your homepage’s ftp password, online passwords (like CodeProject member account), etc. etc. etc. The list is endless. Also, you should use different passwords for each account. Because if you use only one password everywhere and someone gets this password you have a problem… A serious problem. The thief would have access to your e-mail account, homepage, etc. Unimaginable.

KeePass is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish).

Limitations: Requires Microsoft .Net Framework installed.


Why Can’t I Connect? – “Why Can’t I Connect” makes it easier to resolve TCP/IP connection errors. Use it to diagnose connections to common server types and create generic clients and / or servers. A source tar, a 32 bit rpm, a 32 bit deb, and a 32 bit Windows install exe are available.

The 32 bit Windows executable runs fine in 64 bit Windows systems. 64 bit Linux systems, however, should compile from source.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New Snowden leak: Of 160,000 intercepted messages, only 10% from official targets – Late Saturday night, the Washington Post dropped a bombshell of a report related to a trove of documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The documents included 160,000 e-mail and instant-message conversations intercepted by the NSA, as well as 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts. The Washington Post says that the information spans from 2009 to 2012.

This article is the first acknowledgement that the cache of documents from Snowden includes not just documents describing how NSA operates, but actual intercepted communications. Those communications include both intelligence targets, as well as “people who may cross a target’s path,” the Post explained.

In the Post’s analysis, “nearly half” of the files contained details that the NSA had marked as belonging to US citizens or residents, which the agency masked, or “minimized,” to protect those citizens’ privacy. Still, despite the 65,000 minimized references to Americans that the Post found in the cache, 900 additional e-mail addreses were found unmasked “that could be strongly linked to US citizens or US residents.”

Who Watches The Watchmen? – In honor of the Fourth of July, let’s talk a little about how horrifically paranoid and counterproductive the US government has become. And I’m not even talking about Congress! Instead I mean our old friend the No Such Agency, who, it turns out, have been singling out for special treatment anyone who displays any interest in tools which might make the NSA’s life more difficult.

Go on, read the source code yourself, courtesy of a recent report from Jacob Appelbaum1 and co. The message is clear: if you do not accept that the NSA has every right to spy on everything everyone does (oh, and store that data forever to be used against us in the future) then you are the enemy! For sheer horrifyingly hilarious absurdity this reminds me of the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

Crypto thwarts TINY MINORITY of Feds’ snooping efforts – US government court-sanctioned wiretaps were sometimes defeated by encryption, according to official figures on law enforcement eavesdropping released this week.

State police were unable to circumvent the encryption used by criminal suspects in nine cases last year, while plain text was recovered in 32 of 41 cases where use of cryptography was a factor last year. By comparison, law enforcement was stymied by crypto in four cases during 2012.

Prior to two years ago, crypto had never prevented cops from snooping on a criminal suspect, Wired reports. Crypto had been used by criminal suspects in cases dating back as early as 2004 but its use had never been successful until much more recently.

Federal and state police snooped on US suspects’ phone calls, text messages, and other communications 3,576 times in 2013, an increase of five per cent from 2012. This means that crypto was a factor in just one in 100 cases. The vast majority of investigations (87 per cent) involved drugs.

Only one wiretap application in a domestic criminal case was denied during the whole of 2013.


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