Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 4, 2014

7 all-in-one suites: Anti-malware for all your devices;  Quick guide to Microsoft’s Office for iPad;  CCleaner Comes to Android as a Beta App;  Fastest ISPs 2014: United Kingdom;  The Windows 8 activation-key problem;  Get a $1,776 Mac software bundle for $19.99;  10 reasons why the Ubuntu Phone should be your next mobile device;  Hell no, we won’t go: 10 reasons some XP users refuse to upgrade;  Cyberespionage, Not Cyber Terror, is the Major Threat, Former NSA Director Says;  Self-publishing e-books: How to get started;  Wings Of Fury 2: Return Of The Legend – Free remake.

7 all-in-one suites: Anti-malware for all your devices – Today’s security suites try to protect all (or most) of your devices, and provide Web-based management. We examine how seven major apps compare in terms of features, ease of use and which devices they protect.

Quick guide to Microsoft’s Office for iPad – Microsoft has promised regular Office for iPad updates, so future features should reflect the increasing capabilities of iPad range, but the company has made a pretty good start with this release, subject to a few annoying (and unecessary) limitations designed to drive Office 365 sales.

Facebook Messenger for iPhone Gets Updated to v4.1 with VoIP Calling – Facebook Messenger for iPhone has just been updated to version 4.1 with a notable new feature–free voice calls. Yes, almost a year after this feature came to Android, Facebook has opted to bring VoIP calls to Apple’s platform too. Calls can be placed over WiFi or cellular data, but in the age of capped data plans, WiFi is probably the more appealing option.

Huge Chromebook sales growth. Will 2019 be the year of the Linux desktop? – The Chromebook platform goes from strength to strength. Market researchers say they’re selling faster than ever, predicting 11 million sales (in… err… 2019). And it’s not just consumers buying them. Some enterprises are choosing to move most of their Windows users to Chrome OS — motivated by the XP end-of-life and cost savings.

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Hell no, we won’t go: 10 reasons some XP users refuse to upgrade – Windows XP support may be ending soon, but there are a whole lot of folks who refuse to abandon the soon-to-be sunk ship. These are their stories.

10 reasons why the Ubuntu Phone should be your next mobile device – The Ubuntu Phone is set to launch this year. With more and more major players getting on board as hardware suppliers, you can bet the darling of Linux mobility will slowly find its way into every market imaginable. The big question mark is the US market. With Android and IOS having a stranglehold on US customers, can this new mobile platform make it? I firmly believe that the Ubuntu Phone not only can be your next mobile device, it should be. I’ll give you 10 reasons why.

CCleaner Comes to Android as a Beta App – CCleaner is a well known name in desktop software, and now it’s coming to Android as a beta app. You can try it out right now for free, and all it takes is a few clicks. This app can go through your Android device and identify space that can be reclaimed in mere moments.


The Windows 8 activation-key problem – You can’t reinstall Windows without your activation key. But Windows 8 (and 8.1) don’t make that easy. Here’s what to do about it.

Vine Unveils Private Messaging Feature – You can now privately send your 6-second masterpiece to anyone in your address book, even if they aren’t on Vine.

Privacy program boom coming, once we are done with social media – When the middle-class starts suffering from high levels of identity theft, there will be a privacy programming boom, but don’t expect it to happen while everyone wants to be the next Zuckerberg, says Dr Michio Kaku

Get a $1,776 Mac software bundle for $19.99 – Even if you’re interested in just two of the eight apps collected here, you’ll come out on top.


Fastest ISPs 2014: United Kingdom – U.K. broadband services are regulated by a government watchdog named Ofcom, which said in a 2007 report that over half the U.K. already had broadband, with an average speed of 4.6 Megabits per second (Mbps). According to our results, things have only gotten better—even though the U.K. ranks only No. 29 on Ookla’s list of countries with high-speed broadband. With major players like Virgin Media, BT, and Sky providing service, the question is, who’s the fastest in the U.K.?

Microsoft Store site selling Surface Pro 2 with free Xbox controller and two games – While we keep waiting for Microsoft to release an Xbox gaming version of its Surface tablets, the company is now offering a way to buy a new Surface Pro 2 with a free controller and two games. The special promotion is now running exclusively on the Microsoft Store website.


FireChat Brings Its Anonymous Offline Chat Network To Android – The Android version of FireChat is now available in the Play store. It features a somewhat different user interface, but in terms of functionality, it’s virtually the same app and just like on iOS, you can use it anonymously. While Android doesn’t feature anything like Apple’s Multipeer technology, the team at Open Garden has long worked on using mesh networks to allow users to share network connections. Now it is using this homebuilt framework to power FireChat on Android, too.


Self-publishing e-books: How to get started – It’s not difficult to put out your own e-publication, but there are several decisions to sort through first. We walk you through the process.

Popcorn Time Has A New Home – This cycle of being a virtual rolling stone is the result of the shady nature of the program. Popcorn Time is without question the easiest way to watch pirated, and illegal content. By constantly moving, the program is staying somewhat hidden in the belly of the Internet — that is, until we shoot the new address to the masses.

GemShare is like Yelp written by only people you know – This private reviews network lets you search for and share recommendations for local businesses and services, but only within a community of trusted friends and friends of friends. It’s designed to help you find recommendations quickly by accessing your entire personal network at once.


You Can Now Create Windows And Windows Phone Apps In One Go With Microsoft’s App Studio – Microsoft’s App Studio service is fun. At launch, it supported the creation of simple Windows Phone applications so everyone could get their hands dirty and build something. The service has been upgraded throughout its life, and today picked up a key update: The ability to create a combined Windows and Windows Phone application in one go.

Victory For Euro Consumers As EU Votes To End Roaming Charges, Guarantee Net Neutrality – Some big advances today in the often frustrating, slow moving world of communications regulation: the European Union has voted in favor of ending mobile roaming charges, and also in favor of guaranteeing net neturality on data networks. The decisions come at a key time when net neutrality is under threat in other big markets like the U.S.

How to use Google Drive add-ons – This past March, Google introduced a new app store for its Docs and Sheets service inside of Google Drive. The marketplace offers various add-ons from the company’s developer partners that bring even more functionality to the service. Here’s how you can start adding new features to your documents and spreadsheets inside of Google Drive.


Users face serious threat as hackers take aim at routers, embedded devices – Attacks are likely to continue and manufacturers are largely unprepared to respond, security researchers say. Home routers and other consumer embedded devices are plagued by basic vulnerabilities and can’t be easily secured by non-technical users, which means they’ll likely continue to be targeted in what has already become an increasing trend of mass attacks.

Microsoft reveals final Windows XP and Office 2003 security patches – Microsoft has revealed the security patches it plans to release for many of its software products on Tuesday, including the final ones for Windows XP and Office 2003.

Don’t fall for hot bots as Tinder invaded by malware – Heartbreak isn’t the only thing to worry about in the dating game. If you use Tinder, you could also find yourself chatting up a potential mate with just one thing on its mind: malware. Antivirus company Bitdefender warns that a series of bots have invaded the popular dating app, using alluring profiles to seduce those looking for love before stinging their hapless suitors with dodgy downloads.

iOS 7 bug turns off Find My iPhone and bypasses Activation Lock – Apple builds in security features and the ability to track a lost or stolen iPhone into the iOS 7 and higher operating system. Those features allow a user to track their smartphone if it is lost or stolen and prevent someone from being able to remove the iCloud account tied to the device and avoid tracking. The problem is that an easy to exploit security issue in iOS 7 and higher has been found that makes bypassing those features easy.

Hardcoded Miracast password means anyone can remotely control Philips smart TVs – When it comes to security, “smart” as in smart TV is like an oxymoron. This time Philips hard-coded the default password, which is an uninspired ‘Miracast,’ into the Miracast wireless network. In a nutshell, that means anyone within range could connect to the TV remotely to carry out everything from mischievous to devious acts. Revuln researchers suspect all 2013 Philips smart TVs, due to the firmware version, are at risk.

How much is a security bug report worth to Facebook? About $2,100 – Most of the valid bug reports were filed from India, but they appeared to be of low value – Facebook got 136 flaws from the subcontinent and paid out an average of $1,353 for each. Russians earned the most last year, with 38 submissions earning $3,961 on average. As for the home-grown talent, US researchers found 92 correct flaws, with an average payday of $2,272 each, while the British contingent sent in 40 valid bugs each worth $2,950 on average. Facebook’s highest payout went to Brazilian researcher Reginaldo Silva, who earned $33,500 for finding an XML external entity vulnerability within a PHP page.

Microsoft chases lead in web security with SSL for devs – If there’s been a theme online over the past couple of years, it’s the rise of web service hacks and privacy blunders, and Microsoft is hoping to help developers keep their users safer with a push for SSL. Currently, getting an SSL certificate – which allows the browser to authenticate what it’s showing with the legitimate company behind it – costs money, but as of today Microsoft is offering free SSL security for Azure developers.

Company News:

Brendan Eich Resigns As Mozilla CEO Following Criticism Of His Support For Prop 8 – Recent Mozilla CEO pick Brendan Eich is no longer CEO, according to a new blog post from Mozilla itself (via Re/code). The post, penned by Mozilla’s Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, explains that the company felt it didn’t “move fast enough” to properly address the issues the community had with Eich as they arose, and resolved to “do better.” Eich stepping down is described as his own decision, in order to help Mozilla and its community.

AdBlock Plus spreads its gospel of unintrusive Net advertising – A new manifesto from an ad-blocking company Eyeo tries to build support for the idea that some ads are OK. That’s good for its business, since big advertisers pay to get on its whitelist.

Google ‘Glass’ trademark submission stalled – Google’s effort to register the word ‘Glass’ as a trademark for its wearable electronic glasses has been stalled by the United States’ Trademark Office. While Google has already registered the term ‘Google Glass’ as a trademark, a report in the Wall Street Journal this week revealed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has objected to the ‘Glass’ trademark application, submitted last year.

Western Digital under fire for weeklong My Cloud outage – Customers are annoyed with a lack of communications over the outage of WD’s remote personal storage service, which has also highlighted the vulnerability of such products.

Games and Entertainment:

Why now is the time to become a PC gamer – The new consoles from Microsoft and Sony are available at a store near you, and there are finally some games worth playing on them. As anxious gamers stress over which one to buy, it might be worth stopping and considering for a moment that the correct answer might be neither. Right now is the best time in years to direct the money you’d otherwise spend on an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 toward becoming a PC gamer. This doesn’t have to be a crazy PC gamer master race thing — there are legitimate reasons you might want to do this.

Family Guy launches FarmVille-esque game with a twist – An excellent narrative – Fox and TinyCo, a San Francisco-based mobile game developer, have gone to decent lengths to create an authentic Family Guy experience. And that’s because the two companies are announcing the joint venture they’ve been working on for over a year now: A Family Guy-themed cross-platform mobile game titled Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff.


Unreal Engine 4 Gets Support For Making Linux And SteamOS Games – Unreal Engine 4, the newest version of the game engine that powers many a AAA gaming title, just got a feature that may prove quite important in the near feature: the ability to build games that run on Linux. This news comes just weeks after the entry fee for making an Unreal Engine-powered game got slashed considerably. Instead of requiring weeks of licensing negotiation and hundreds of thousands of dollars up front, Epic Games decided to license Unreal Engine 4 to developers for $19 a month (plus 5 percent of gross revenue).


15 games worth playing on Amazon’s Fire TV – Amazon now lists Fire TV-compatible apps on its online store, including dozens of video channels and a quickly expanding list of over 100 “bonus” games. As expected, there’s a lot of forgettable Android shovelware among the Fire TV’s initial gaming lineup and few exclusive titles. Still, there are some standouts that we’ve enjoyed on other platforms like iOS and Ouya, including…………….

Microsoft to release Age of Mythology: Extended Edition May 8th – A few weeks after a teaser video was released, Microsoft has now confirmed it plans to publish Age of Mythology: Extended Edition. This will be a graphical remake of the 2002 fantasy RTS game that was originally developed by the now defunct Ensemble Studios and will be released via Valve’s Steam service on May 8th. Both the game’s official website and a new trailer went live today, revealing that the remake will have the content of the original Age of Mythology and its expansion pack, The Titans. It will contain a number of graphical upgrades, including better lighting and shadow support, day and night cycles, improved water and more.


Monument Valley Is A Legend In The Making You Must Play Now – Monument Valley is one of those games that you never want to end, and so far, I haven’t been able to play through the entire thing. But it’s also a feast for the eyes, and a game where you can see the level of care taken in creating each individual part of the whole. It’s beautiful in the extreme, and a testament to a time when games were something contained and crafted as a top-to-bottom experience, and not a rough framework to fuel continued commerce through in-app purchases. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you must play this game; paying just $3.99 for a universal app that works on both feels like theft given the quality of the experience so far, and I’m just a few levels in.


Amazon Fire TV as game console: the good, the bad, and the weird – Can a $99 streaming-video box be your next game console? That all depends on your expectations.

Ridley Scott to produce Halo Digital Feature for Microsoft – Ridley Scott is the man that was behind some of the most popular science fiction films of all times. Scott was involved with great films like the Alien franchise and Blade Runner. A Microsoft rep recently confirmed that a project with Ridley Scott as the Executive Producer is in the works. The best news is that the statement did confirm that the project was a Halo digital feature that will launch alter this year. As some might have suspected, the denial of a Halo project being worked on earlier this year was an effort to keep the project secret until Microsoft was ready for the reveal.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Skydiver almost hit by meteorite in midair, has video to prove it – Jumping out of plane several miles above the Earth is already dangerous enough without space rocks bombarding you, but that’s what happened to Anders Helstrup back in 2012. The experienced Norwegian skydiver was filming a jump with some friends when something strange happened — he was almost hit by a meteorite in midair. This wasn’t just a rare occurrence — it’s the first time a meteorite has been filmed in freefall after it has cooled.


Google Project Loon Internet balloon circled the globe in 22 days – Google’s plan to deliver Internet service from balloons seems to be flying along nicely, as the company says one of its balloons just completed “a lap around the world in 22 days, and has just clocked the project’s 500,000th kilometer as it begins its second lap.” Project Loon, unveiled nearly a year ago, is an attempt to use solar-powered balloons to create networks that can send wireless Internet signals to areas that would be hard to reach with wired Internet. The balloons are supposed to form a mesh network 20 kilometers above the ground, with each balloon communicating with its neighbors and ultimately to ground station


White House condemns Samsung’s use of Obama selfie as an ad – Samsung attracted attention Thursday when it turned out to be the force behind what fans thought was a genuine impromptu selfie of Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz and President Barack Obama. Reportedly, the company provided Ortiz, who has an endorsement deal with Samsung, information on “how to share images with fans” prior to his visit.


Nofan’s new fanless CPU cooler has 62 feet of heatpipes – The latest fanless cooler from the appropriately named Nofan Corporation is one of the most unusual I’ve encountered. There doesn’t seem to be much to it, but take a closer look and you’ll find an abundance of heatpipes. In fact, the Nofan CR-80EH boasts 62-feet (19 meters) of copper heatpipe split across 80 pieces of ICEPIPE as Nofan call it.


Tech tattoos: The good, the bad, and the crazy – Facebook logos, binary codes, Steve Jobs quotes — tech-inspired tattoos run the gamut. We found some photos of the most bold, creative, and geeky tattoos out there.


Something to think about:

“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is “thank you,” that would suffice.”

-    Meister Eckhart

Today’s Free Downloads:

SuperTuxKart – SuperTuxKart is a Free 3D kart racing game. You can play with up to 4 friends on one PC, racing against each other or just try to beat the computer (a network multi-player feature is planned). See the great lighthouse or drive through the sand and visit the pyramids. Race underground or in space, watching the stars passing by. Have some rest under the palms on the beach (watching the other karts overtaking you :) ). But don’t eat the bananas! Watch for bowling balls, plungers, bubble gum and cakes thrown by opponents. You can do a single race against other karts, compete in one of several Grand Prix, try to beat the high score in time trials on your own, play battle mode against your friends, and more! SuperTuxKart comes with an add-on manager, so you can download additional karts and tracks in the game. Just click on the add-on button in the main menu of STK to install add-on’s.


Net Share Monitor – Net Share Monitor is the free software to monitor your shared files from unknown users in the network. Whenever any remote user accesses your Shared Files, Net Share Monitor alerts you by blinking the icon in the systray or making the alert sound. For each connection, it shows the IP address, user name & shared files being accessed by the remote host. In addition to this, your can also monitor your system from hackers (Null Session Detection) and worms (pipebrowse) which spreads through network shares. New HTML based Live Session Logging helps you to keep track of all the remote systems connected to your file shares. Each connection log records the time of the event, IP address of remote host, user name and type of event. Also ‘Accessed File Logging’ helps you to know all the shared files accessed by remote user during the session.


Wings Of Fury 2: Return Of The Legend – Free remake of classical arcade shooting game with modern 3d graphics including some nice special effects. The game rules remained the same – plane moves left & right. Your mission is to fight enemy installations, ships, planes and soldiers. Plane can be equipped with bombs, topedoes or rockets. Machine gun is always available. Aircraft carrier is the place where the plane is repaired & resupplied. Successful take off and touch down is essential. Several mission types (bombing run, assasination, naval, dogfight). Levels differ by landscape, enemy force and daytime. Modding capabilities.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Cyberespionage, Not Cyber Terror, is the Major Threat, Former NSA Director Says – The list of threats on the Internet is long and getting longer each day. Cybercrime, nation-state attackers, cyber espionage and hacktivists all threaten the security and stability of the network and its users in one way or another. But the one threat that some experts have warned about for years and has never emerged is cyber terrorism, a former top U.S. intelligence official said. In the years after 9/11, as the Internet became an integral part of daily life in much of the world, some in the national security community warned that the network also would become a key conduit for terrorist attacks against a variety of targets. Utilities, critical infrastructure, banks and other vital pieces of the global economy would be choice targets for groups seeking to wreak havoc via electronic attacks. However, those attacks have not materialized. “I don’t have a single example of cyber terrorism. Not one incident,” Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA and NSA, said during a keynote speech at the Systems Engineering DC conference here Thursday.

U.S. Created “Cuban Twitter” To Stir Dissent, Sought Funding From Jack Dorsey, AP Reports – The U.S. government created its own version of Twitter based on SMS messaging to help undermine the Cuban government, according to a new, eye-opening report by the Associated Press today. The report details efforts by a team of tech contractors to build and launch a messaging network in Cuba that would be hidden away from the country’s strict surveillance and control of the flow of information. The network was called ‘ZunZuneo,’ which is Cuban slang for the song of the hummingbird, and it was designed to be essentially a so-called “Cuban Twitter” that could function without the web and build an audience using safe content initially, like talk about sports, music and extreme weather systems moving through the area. Once there was an audience, in terms of enough regular active users, the plan was to flip the switch on content that was critical of the ruling powers, and also intent on motivating political action activities called “smart mobs” in documents obtained by the AP. ZunZuneo had around 40,000 Cubans on its network at its peak popularity, and at no time did the network make anyone aware that it was involved with the U.S. government or its contractors. That’s by design, and the AP’s documents are quoted as saying that the absence of mention of the U.S.’ involvement was “absolutely critical” to both the success of the service and the mission. That’s likely because they wanted the political activism that resulted to seem self-directed and grassroots in nature.

Box’s Aaron Levie: We haven’t received any NSA requests – The enterprise storage company Box is headed toward an initial public offering, so there are certain things CEO Aaron Levie can’t talk about in the quiet period leading up to the company’s stock market debut. But on Thursday, there was one topic the normally outspoken CEO was happy to remark on: the National Security Agency. “We haven’t received any NSA requests,” said Levie, speaking at the Demo Enterprise conference here. Although he added that the company has in the past received subpoenas from other places. Because of the nature of Box’s business, dealing mostly with companies, he said snooping from the government agency hasn’t been a problem. Tech companies have been on the defensive about privacy and security since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents to the press last year about the agency’s spying tactics. Silicon Valley giants have since then released regular transparency reports that detail information requests made by the federal government.

Dutch authorities now allowed to film citizens using drones – The Dutch parliament has approved legislation that will allow drones to be used for video surveillance of the country’s citizens. Almost all political parties voted in favour of an amendment to the snappily named municipal act relating to the extension of the authority of the mayor to deploy camera surveillance, which had been proposed by two MPs, Ivo Opstelten and Ronald Plasterk. With the amendment now voted into law, in the near future, Dutch municipalities will be allowed to use mobile cameras, including drones, to monitor residents. According to the amendment, existing legislation relating to camera surveillance needed to be extended to allow law enforcement agencies to intervene in the event of persistent disturbances that that move between areas — for example, a riot spreading between neighbourhoods. Under the new legislation, it’s now up to the mayor of a city to decide what form of camera surveillance should be used: fixed, vehicle mounted, or airborne.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 3, 2014

8 Things You Need to Know About Windows 8.1 Update;  Amazon Officially Unveils Amazon Fire TV;  Streaming Hub Showdown: Amazon Fire TV vs. Roku;  Android: Bitdefender Better Than Ever;  Laptop makeover: 5 ways to extend its useful life;  Google Voice: Configuring a complex home office;  Samsung launches “Smart Home” Android app;  Windows XP still going strong;  Get your hands dirty with new network security tools;  Your LinkedIn e-mail address is officially vulnerable;  Is high-resolution audio really as good as it sounds? Smarter People are More Trusting;  Force OneDrive to sort your files in a specific order across all your devices.

8 Things You Need to Know About Windows 8.1 Update – The latest version of Windows doesn’t even get a new version number, but it has some key tweaks that should finally appease desktop and laptop users—and it’s better than ever on tablets.

Laptop makeover: 5 ways to extend its useful life – No matter how hard you try or how meticulously you care for it, your notebook is going to show signs of age over time. Keycaps wear down and get that off-putting, shiny-plastic look. Dirt, crumbs, and gunk get stuck in the keyboard and other crevices, while lint and dust build up in virtually every crack, seam and open port. Don’t forget those inevitable scratches and nicks, either. The same degradations are going on inside your laptop, too: Dense heatsinks become clogged with gunk. Thermal interface materials weaken and loosen the bond between said heatsink and your processor. All of it conspires to cause your laptop to overheat, whir loudly, or become instable or even fail (in extreme-enough conditions).

Android: A Fresh Coat of Paint Makes Bitdefender Better Than Ever – I’ve looked at a lot of Android security apps, and finding an app that does it all is pretty tricky. It needs to be easy on your smartphone’s limited resources, but also robust enough to defend against malicious applications. It also needs to go further, and protect your device with anti-theft tools since loss and theft are still the biggest threats to Android users. Oh, and one more thing: it needs to look the part. Bitdefender has done a good job in most of these departments for a while, but I was especially pleased to see a recent update that battened down all the hatches and put a new coat of paint over this powerful security app.

Force OneDrive to sort your files in a specific order across all your devices – OneDrive is a great cloud storage service, but sometimes it organizes your files on Android and iOS tablets in ways you didn’t expect. Here’s how to fix that.

Google Voice: Configuring a complex home office – Here’s how you can set up a complex home office with two phone line and Google Voice. This is the Mark I attempt at a solution. It works, but we found better options, especially since Google is deprecating the XMPP protocol.

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Get your hands dirty with new network security tools – Network monitoring tools have slowly evolved into one of the most important allies for those looking to keep connectivity secure and garner the knowledge needed to protect their networks.

Microsoft’s universal Windows apps run on tablets, phones, Xbox, and PCs – The holy grail is real: At Wednesday Build conference keynote, Microsoft CVP of operating systems David Treadmill announced that universal apps are coming to the Windows ecosystem, thanks to Windows RunTime coming to Windows Phone 8.1. In other words, developers will be able to write one app using common code and have it work across phones, tablets, PCs, and yes, even the Xbox One—something that Apple and Android can’t claim. Developers will also be able to create tailored experiences for each device type, if they so choose, but reuse the bulk of the code for all the apps.

Amazon Officially Unveils Amazon Fire TV, A Tiny $99 Media Streaming Box Available Today – The ecommerce giant Amazon has delved even further into the hardware space with the launch of a long-rumored streaming media device called the Amazon Fire TV. It said that it has watched these devices sell on its platform for a long time now, so it knows what is and isn’t working for customers, hence its decision to try to do this better than anyone else out there, by “invent[ing] and simplify[ing].”


Streaming Hub Showdown: Amazon Fire TV vs. Roku – Amazon finally took the wraps off of its latest bid for living room dominance—the Fire TV. With Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and a plethora of other media services on tap, Amazon’s streaming media box looks as well-equipped as any, but enters a fairly saturated field. Though Apple TV and Google Chromecast have their own following, the big name and long-established leader in the streaming media arena is Roku. So is the Amazon Fire TV ready for primetime and how does it compare with the latest Roku 3? Read on for our side-by-side comparison.

Kodak Moments HD for iPad Plugs into Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram to Make Neat Photobooks – Kodak might not be the photographic powerhouse it once was, but it’s still kicking and releasing apps. The new Kodak Moments HD app makes it easy to build a custom photo book or choose prints that are shipped right to you, or printed at local stores. This is an iPad-only app that combines features from several of Kodak’s iPhone apps into one package.


Microsoft Updates IE11 With Enterprise Mode On Desktop, Reading And Data-Saving Modes On Mobile – As part of its Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft today also announced an update to its Internet Explorer 11 browser. While the changes on the desktop are mostly about enterprise users, the F12 developer tools and bringing the interface up to par with the overall Windows update, this is the first time IE11 comes to mobile.


Future Windows 8.1 update will finally bring back the Start menu – The new Windows 8.1 update coming out next week introduces some features friendly to mouse and keyboard users, but another future update is bringing back the one thing that people have complained about most when it comes to Windows 8: it will introduce a new version of the classic Windows Start menu that combines features from the pre-Windows 8 menu with new Windows 8 concepts like Live Tiles.


OKCupid pulls Firefox boycott letter – Firefox users are no longer being urged to boycott the browser after OKCupid protested the anti-gay views expressed by Mozilla’s new CEO.

Microservers: What you need to know – Businesses are experimenting with clusters of high-density, low-power servers known as microservers, which are suited to the growing number of hyperscale workloads found inside modern data centers. Here’s why they matter.


Canonical Shuts Down Cloud Storage Service Ubuntu One – Ubuntu One accounts were used in other parts of the Ubuntu ecosystem. These accounts won’t cease to function. You will still be able to log in with your account, attach a credit card in order to buy apps and more. Starting today, users can’t buy more space. On June 1st, syncing will stop. And on July 31st, Canonical will wipe out all the data from its servers. You will still have all your data on your local hard drive as long as it’s up to date. Annual subscribers will get a refund.

USB-IF posts first photos of new reversible Type-C connector – These are the different types of connectors you have to be aware of to use your current USB-equipped computers, phones, tablets, printers, and whatever other accessories you might have. The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) wants to simplify this problem by rallying behind the new Type-C connector, a new specification designed to replace current Type-A and Type-B plugs of all sizes. While we already knew that the USB Type-C connector would be smaller than many existing connectors and that (like Apple’s Lightning cables) it would be reversible, we didn’t know exactly what it would look like before today.


Windows XP still going strong despite looming end of support deadline – The latest numbers from NetMarketShare show Windows XP is going strong, powering 27.69 percent of all worldwide PC usage during the month of March. That’s a very small drop from January, when XP actually grew by 0.25 percentage points for 29.23 percent of worldwide PC usage. First introduced in 2001, Windows XP is still the second most popular version of Windows, surpassed only by Windows 7.

Microsoft issues mea culpa in wake of Hotmail email probe, seeks to restore customer trust – Microsoft’s criticisms of Google for scanning email to serve ads ring hollow with disclosures that the company probed a blogger’s email account. Will Microsoft’s TOS changes restore customer trust?

Productivity is low on US mobile user priority list as gaming and social networks dominate – Smartphones and tablets seem to be everywhere today, but a recent Flurry study shows most of the time US users spend with those devices is for gaming, social networking, and entertainment.


Your LinkedIn e-mail address is officially vulnerable – A browser extension called Sell Hack which is available for Firefox, Safari and Chrome allows you to uncover a user’s e-mail address, regardless of whether or not you are connected to him/her. The tool was supposedly created for marketing professionals, however in reality that professional could simply use LinkedIn paid version. Sell Hack have said that they aren’t doing anything illegal, instead they insist that they are simply the ones doing the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to. LinkedIn don’t seem to be seeing things that way, making sure that they do everything in their power to shut down Sell Hack.


See global cyberthreats mapped in real time – Where does your country rank when it comes to malware infection rates? A cool-looking but scary interactive map from Kaspersky Lab has answers – You spin the 3D globe using a mouse and zoom in or out with a scroll wheel. Click on a country, and you’ll see the number and type of threats detected there since 12 a.m. GMT and the position that nation holds on the world’s “most-infected” list. (The US showed up at No. 3 at the time of this writing, with Russia and India holding the first and second slots, respectively; the rankings shift depending on the time of day, however.)


Anti-media cybercrime spree continues: Al Arabiya hacked by NullCrew – After hacking and humiliating Comcast in February, NullCrew is back with HorsemenLulz in a successful hack on the mail servers of the second biggest media company in the Arab world, Al Arabiya.

DVR Infected with Bitcoin Mining Malware – Johannes Ullrich of the SANS Institute claims to have found malware infecting digital video recorders (DVR) predominately used to record footage captured by surveillance camera systems. Oddly enough, Ullrich claims that one of the two binaries of malware implicated in this attack scheme appears to be a Bitcoin miner. The other, he says, looks like a HTTP agent that likely makes it easier to download further tools or malware. However, at the present time, the malware seems to only be scanning for other vulnerable devices.

Researchers Divulge 30 Oracle Java Cloud Service Bugs – Upset with the vulnerability handling process at Oracle, researchers yesterday disclosed more than two dozen outstanding issues with the company’s Java Cloud Service platform. Researchers at Security Explorations published two reports, complete with proof of concept codes, explaining 30 different vulnerabilities in the platform, including implementation and configuration weaknesses, problems that could let users access other users’ applications, and an issue that could leave the service open to a remote code execution attack.

Company News:

Microsoft Will Slash The Price Of Windows To Zero For Phones, Small Tablets – Today at the tail end of its keynote, Microsoft announced two pricing decisions that were frankly surprising: Windows for devices that have a screen size of less than 9″ will cost nothing. Also, a future version of Windows for the ‘Internet of Things’ will be priced at zero. This means that Microsoft will not collect royalties from OEMs on Windows Phone handsets, or on small Windows 8 tablets. Not charging for Windows is a sea change for Microsoft. It’s a bet that spurring OEM support and competing on end-user price will help drive adoption of its platforms.

Greenpeace Dings Amazon, Hails Apple, Google And Facebook In New Green Net Report – Environmental watchdog agency Greenpeace is looking at the ecological performance of the world’s leading Internet companies once again, and this latest report finds that Apple, Facebook and Google are doing the most to lead the charge towards a sustainably powered Internet, while Amazon, and specifically AWS, is dragging everybody down. AWS is one of the world’s leading distributed hosting providers, but it doesn’t reveal any details about its energy footprint to either its customers or the public in general, which is what has it running afoul of Greenpeace’s rankings.

Samsung launches “Smart Home” Android app and two compatible appliances – Samsung is jumping into the nascent smart home market with the appropriately named “Samsung Smart Home” service. The service is launching in the United States and Korea today via an Android app and a small handful of compatible appliances. Samsung didn’t elaborate on what the app does right now, but the company did say that users can “manage” compatible devices that are connected to a home network.

“If We Lose, We’re Finished,” Said Aereo Investor Barry Diller – It’s win or go home for Aereo. “[Aereo] probably will not be able to continue,” key Aereo investor Barry Diller told Bloomberg TV about the company’s Supreme Court case. He added that there might be some salvageable material. There isn’t a plan B.

Games and Entertainment:

Amazon’s Fire TV Will Offer Gamers Many Ways To Play, And A $40 Dedicated Controller – Amazon has revealed its Fire TV streaming media home theater device, and it embraces gaming in a way that most of its competitors don’t. Amazon revealed that it’ll soon have thousands of titles available in its library, but these should expand beyond just casual titles, and will be playable using various types of input, depending on what kind of game you’re playing.


Xbox One SmartGlass app gets a new beta version on Android, Windows and Windows Phone – The “second-screen” application allows Xbox One users to navigate the dashboard from their smartphone or tablet, along with accessing the console’s Internet Explorer so they can surf the Internet on their big screen TV and snap Xbox One apps to the side. The app also lets users view their Xbox One achievements and friends list and access special extra content for games like “Dead Rising 3″ and movies such as “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Microsoft has launched on the various app stores, a testing version of the SmartGlass app in addition to the stable version to get feedback from enthusiasts regarding new features and usage scenarios. According to the app’s listing, Microsoft suggests that the users try out the following scenarios while using the app and provide feedback.


This is what Half-Life 2 would look like in Unreal Engine 4 – An art project from an interested fan reimagines the opening level of Half Life 2 with all the visual fidelity of Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, and it looks amazing.


Social Casino Games Are Among The Most Lucrative Mobile Gaming Categories – Though they receive much less attention than other apps, social casino games are one of the top-grossing categories in mobile gaming, says a new report by Distimo. The report used data from Distimo AppIQ to see how much revenue different publishers are making in the iOS App Store and Google Play.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Is high-resolution audio really as good as it sounds? – We look at whether the higher audio quality is really worth the extra cost of stocking your music library with high-resolution recordings.

Fingerprints can reveal gender, drug use, what was recently eaten – A pilot study in the UK has the potential to gather a huge amount of new information from a simple fingerprint — from gender to what the suspect had for lunch. The research is being conducted by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University, working closely with West Yorkshire Police. They aren’t interested in the pattern of swirls and arches in the print, but what substances might have been on the suspect’s fingers when the print was left. Even tiny traces of proteins and pharmacological compounds can be identified in the team’s mass spectrometer.

Google Maps traverses Cambodia’s centuries-old Angkor temples – While Cambodia is a difficult place for most people to get to, Google is letting people around the world take in Angkor’s jaw-dropping temples from their desktops and mobile devices. The Web giant launched its newest Street View trek on Wednesday — Temples of Angkor — which takes armchair travelers in and out of ancient structures hidden in Cambodia’s jungle.


Generalized Trust and Intelligence in the United States: Smarter People are More Trusting – Both vocabulary and question comprehension were positively correlated with generalized trust. Those with the highest vocab scores were 34 percent more likely to trust others than those with the lowest scores, and someone who had a good perceived understanding of the survey questions was 11 percent more likely to trust others than someone with a perceived poor understanding. The correlation stayed strong even when researchers controlled for socio-economic class. This study, too, found a correlation between trust and self-reported health and happiness. The trusting were 6 percent more likely to say they were “very happy,” and 7 percent more likely to report good or excellent health.

Ad tracking: Is anything being done? – With online tracking on the rise and Do Not Track efforts moving ahead slowly, users and browser vendors have been taking matters into their own hands.

Demand for Pricey Premium Phones Dwindling – Phones are getting more and more extravagant with every new generation — bigger and better screens, faster processors, more features — but are consumers over it? According to a new report from Gartner, the answer could be yes. The market research firm on Wednesday said a major shift is occurring in the smartphone market as consumers increasingly turn their attention towards lower-priced handsets, instead of the pricey premium options. Buyers in mature countries, such as the U.S., now prefer “midtier premium phones” while demand for more expensive devices is dwindling. Meanwhile, those in emerging markets still favor low-end basic Android phones.

Something to think about:

“My favorite thing about the Internet is that you get to go into the private world of real creeps without having to smell them.”

-    Penn Jillette

Today’s Free Downloads:

Core FTP LE  – This free, secure FTP client gives you a fast, easy, reliable way to update and maintain your website via FTP. It also provides a secure method (via SSL, TLS, or SFTP) to upload / download files to and from FTP servers. Check out the list of features and you’ll find almost every feature you need, all in a free ftp program. There are no popup ads, advertising or spyware and you’re never asked or reminded to register.


Homedale – With Homedale you can monitor the signal strength of multiple WLAN Access Points. You can view a summary of all available access points with their: signal strength, encryption [WEP/WPA/WPA2], speed, channel’’, other settings. You can also see the signal strength of selected access points in a graph over the time. With a right mouse click, you can start logging and create a screenshot.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Box wants to let businesses control cloud encryption keys “this year” – Government data requests might be thwarted if customers own the encryption keys – Box CEO Aaron Levie told Ars last September that the cloud storage company is trying to build a service that would let customers store data in Box data centers but would keep encryption keys in-house. Today, he said it might be available before the end of this year. Such a system could make it impossible for Box to turn customer data over to the government in a readable format. “In the history of our entire company this has never happened to an enterprise customer,” he said, referring to “blind subpoenas” in which the government demands access to a customer’s data without that customer being told. But government requests are still a risk.

Yahoo Bolsters Encryption Between Data Centers, Promises New, Encrypted Messenger In “Months” – Yahoo was one of two companies that the NSA targeted with its MUSCULAR program, which tapped data cables between the foreign data centers of Yahoo and Google. A similar program had been found illegal in the United States. Google has made similar efforts to bolster encryption. For users searching from the Yahoo homepage, and across most of its network, searches that are executed by users will be encrypted by default. Looking ahead, Yahoo will release a new version of Yahoo Messenger that will feature encryption in the “coming months.” This should cover video chatting, as well. In conversation, Yahoo’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, stated that the company’s goal is to have “all data” sent to and from its users safely encrypted. And “invisibly,” importantly, meaning that user friction relating to the changes will be minimal. Partner companies that can’t hack it and can’t meet Yahoo’s new encryption standards are being shown the door. Stamos stated that some providers of ads to Yahoo Mail have already departed, as they couldn’t meet new standards.

The Continuing Public/Private Surveillance Partnership – The U.S. intelligence community is still playing word games with us. The NSA collects our data based on four different legal authorities: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, Executive Order 12333 of 1981 and modified in 2004 and 2008, Section 215 of the Patriot Act of 2001, and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008. Be careful when someone from the intelligence community uses the caveat “not under this program” or “not under this authority”; almost certainly it means that whatever it is they’re denying is done under some other program or authority. So when De said that companies knew about NSA collection under Section 702, it doesn’t mean they knew about the other collection programs. The big Internet companies know of PRISM — although not under that code name — because that’s how the program works; the NSA serves them with FISA orders. Those same companies did not know about any of the other surveillance against their users conducted on the far more permissive EO 12333. Google and Yahoo did not know about MUSCULAR, the NSA’s secret program to eavesdrop on their trunk connections between data centers. Facebook did not know about QUANTUMHAND, the NSA’s secret program to attack Facebook users. And none of the target companies knew that the NSA was harvesting their users’ address books and buddy lists. These companies are certainly pissed that the publicity surrounding the NSA’s actions is undermining their users’ trust in their services, and they’re losing money because of it. Cisco, IBM, cloud service providers, and others have announced that they’re losing billions, mostly in foreign sales.

Turkish court deems country’s Twitter ban unconstitutional – Though Turkey’s Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, recently used his power to block Twitter in the country, local courts have piped up in opposition to this move. Turkey’s constitutional court ruled Wednesday that the ban on Twitter was a violation of freedom of expression and individual rights, according to Reuters. This is the biggest legal challenge the ban has yet received. At hearing the news, Twitter’s global public policy team tweeted, “We welcome this Constitutional Court ruling, and hope to have Twitter access restored in Turkey soon.” The Turkish government took Twitter offline for the country’s 76 million citizens on March 20 following actions by Erdogan. An unabashed critic of social networks, Erdogan threatened to “wipe out” the site in the wake of a political corruption scandal that has embarrassed the government through news, videos, and images posted on the microblogging site. “We will wipe out Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says,” Erdogan said last month. “They will see the Turkish republic’s strength.”


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 2, 2014

NSA searched U.S. calls, emails without warrant;  10 tips to protect your tax return from theft and fraud;  Link Bubble: A better way to handle links in Android;  Intel launches $99 MinnowBoard Max;  7 easy tips to extend your PC’s lifespan;  Stop Instagram from sharing your likes on Facebook;  The Secret iOS Feature That Could Change the Internet;  If your broadband is dead, BT may have stolen your line;  42 days to go for XP – 8 tips if you aren’t going to make it;  NSA isn’t evil, says noted civil libertarian;  Hack of exposes password data, messages for 158,000 users;  HBO Plans ‘Game of Thrones’ Marathon;  Good Porn, Better Malware?

NSA searched U.S. calls, emails without warrant, U.S. intelligence chief admits – For the first time, the highest ranking U.S. intelligence community official admitted to two senators that the NSA used a “backdoor” in surveillance laws to conduct the searches.

Google tells Supreme Court it’s legal to packet sniff open Wi-Fi networks – Google wants the Supreme Court to reverse a decision concluding that the media giant could be held liable for hijacking data on unencrypted Wi-Fi routers via its Street View cars. The legal flap should concern anybody who uses open Wi-Fi connections in public places like coffee houses and restaurants. That’s because Google claims it is not illegal to intercept data from Wi-Fi signals that are not password protected.

42 days to go for XP – 8 tips if you aren’t going to make it – We’ll leave out the guilt trips about how your ever-weaker security will put the rest of us at ever-greater risk. And we’ll skip over our surprise if your objection is that you don’t like the fact that Microsoft is asking you to pay to upgrade, but you aren’t willing to put your mouth where your money isn’t, and switch to a free alternative. (There are many, including Linux and various incarnations of BSD.) Instead, we’ll assume there are unavoidable reasons why you have to keep sailing on the Steam Ship Windows XP for a while longer, and simply present you with a list of eight tips.

The Secret iOS Feature That Could Change the Internet – A few weeks ago, a messaging app called FireChat launched. It looks, at first, like just about any other messaging app in an already very crowded market, but FireChat is sneakily subversive and quite possibly the most important thing to happen to the Internet since international network hubs began to form in 1995.

7 easy tips to extend your PC’s lifespan – PCs aren’t as pricey as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean you want to swap them out all the time, especially since processor technology long ago reached a “good enough” point for many people. Most modern programs can run just fine on PCs that are six or seven years old—or even older!—and the push to move many services to the cloud is only making older PCs less of a drag on productivity. Keeping your system physically clean, following some basic preventive measures, and exercising common sense in daily use can add years of life to your PC.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Clean up files on your Android device – Files you’ve downloaded, photos you’ve taken, as well as data stored by apps, are major contributors to unnecessary clutter on your Android device. By cleaning out a few things, you gain space for new apps, system updates, or maybe a larger portion of your music collection. Here are a few suggestions for taking back your internal and SD card storage:

10 tips to protect your tax return from theft and fraud – As far as cyber criminals are concerned, tax season means open season. This time of year is a favorite for phishing scams and fraud, second only to the holidays. With a little awareness and common sense, though, you can avoid being a victim and make sure your tax refund ends up in your pocket.

Stop Instagram from sharing your likes on Facebook – Are you oversharing on Facebook? You might be and not know it if you haven’t checked your Instagram settings in a while.

No joke: Comedy Central app launches with 200 episodes – Comedy Central’s new app replaces show-specific apps, creating a one-stop spot with free full episodes of “The Daily Show,” “South Park,” and more.


Five free web-based tools that make diagramming a snap – Whether you need to create a flowchart, a use case diagram, a mobile device interface mockup, or network design specs, one of these free web-based tools will simplify the task.

If your broadband is dead, BT may have stolen your line – BT engineers have been accused of pilfering lines and leaving customers in the lurch in order to set up new connections. It happens all the time, according to some.

Batter Up: The best ways to watch baseball on your digital devices – Another baseball season is underway, and tech-savvy fans have more ways than ever to stream high-quality video and audio at their command. Here are all the options available so that you never have to miss a single pitch.

Chromebook shipments hit 2 million mark in 2013 – While that’s only a small dent in the overall PC market, which counts annual shipments in the hundreds of millions, it’s making waves in key segments like education.

Google lets you check out what your friends have been up to in the Play store – It sounds like it’s meant to help foster a community where users can bond over favorite apps and connect in that manner, but it also helps you check out what your friends have been downloading lately. It’s a little like the Google Games app portal, except that it includes applications of all types—so it’s more like an expanded version of the recent activity panel in the Google Play app for Android.

Ultrakam Brings 2K Video Recording to iPhone – Apple limited the video capture resolution on the iPhone 5s to 1080p, which is higher than the device’s screen resolution already. However, some owners are a little miffed that Apple is hanging back as Android devices start shooting 4K video. Well, you can get part of the way there with the new Ultrakam app for iPhone 5 and 5s. This app lets you take 2K video with the existing 8MP image sensor.


Link Bubble: A better way to handle links in Android – There’s an app for Android that will completely change the way you interact with links. Jack Wallen introduces you to what should be the default behavior in Android.

Synology offers a Dropbox substitute—meet the personal cloud – Synology’s service functions largely work like a Dropbox clone, except you get to run both the server and the client. Once you set it up on one of the company’s NAS boxes, any computer running the client software can connect. On the client side, files are stored locally, and any changes are synched back to the remote copy. Although this is labeled a cloud service, a cloud is technically an amorphous pool of storage devices where files may be split up and have pieces stored in multiple locations. This provides redundancy both on the storage level—if any one disk fails, the scattered bits of your file will always be able to rebuild the whole. But it also provides redundancy on the network level. Even if an entire facility is offline, there’s a chance that your file’s bits will all be somewhere else.


Intel launches $99 MinnowBoard Max – This version of the MinnowBoard makes significant strides over the last version, which came out last summer for $199. That’s a big jump over the super-affordable Raspberry Pi, but the MinnowBoard Max drops the price to $99 while also improving the hardware. The board has been scaled down from 4.2 x 4.2-inches to just 3.9-inches square. Just for reference, the Raspberry Pi is 3.37 x 2.21-inches. This version of Intel’s micro-computer runs on an Atom E3800 (Bay Trail-I). This is a full system-on-a-chip with a storage controller and Intel HD 400 graphics, which makes it considerably more powerful and efficient than the E640 used in the last version. This is also one of the few 64-bit SBCs you can buy. There is out-of-the-box support for Android 4.4 and Linux operating systems.


Mt. Gox CEO ordered to US for questioning on missing bitcoins – The imploded exchange’s saga continues as a US bankruptcy judge orders Mark Karpeles to better explain the disappearance of 650,000 bitcoins.

Three features to help make presentations with Google Slides – Google’s office suite may not be as feature rich as Microsoft’s Office, but the apps are easy to use. These simple features make it even easier to build Google Slides presentations.



Hack of exposes password data, messages for 158,000 users: Huge file circulating online contains e-mail addresses, full message histories – The breach occurred no later than last week, when a full copy of the purloined forum data became widely available, Scott A. McIntyre, a security researcher in Australia, told Ars. On Tuesday, officials from password management service LastPass began warning customers with e-mail addresses included in an 800 megabyte file that’s still circulating online. The file contains personal data associated with 158,128 user accounts, about 172,000 e-mail addresses, and the cryptographically scrambled passwords that corresponded to those Boxee accounts, LastPass said. The dump also included a wealth of other details, such as user birth dates, IP addresses, site activity, full message histories, and password changes. All user messages sent through the service were included as part of the leak.

Texan liquor chain Spec’s leaks 550k card details in 17 month breach – Spec’s logoA chain of liquor stores based in Houston, Texas may have leaked as many as 550,000 sets of customer bank and card records after some of its systems were compromised for close to 17 months. Spec’s, a family-run chain which is apparently the fifth largest wine seller in the US, operates over 165 stores, of which 34 are thought to have been affected by the breach.

Good Porn, Better Malware? – On March 18th, Malwarebytes detected serving a drive-by download that originated from iframe injections. The domain inside this iframe leads to a redirect to an exploit kit landing page that prepares various exploits to be launched on users. Malwarebytes reported that it served Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight exploits. In response to the’s malware attack, Google initially blacklisted the porn site but then removed the warning while malware on the site was still active. has since claimed its servers are clean and the site displays a disclaimer about the hack when you visit it. You probably believe porn sites are obvious hosts of malware. While you might think this latest hack at proves you right, cyber crooks aren’t really interested in the content of porn websites.

Company News:

Microsoft Build 2014 is here: What to expect – Microsoft’s Build 2014 opens April 2nd, a chance for new CEO Satya Nadella to not only convince developers and the industry that his “mobile first, cloud first” strategy makes sense, but that Microsoft has the skills to deliver on it. After impressing with the Office for iPad launch, Nadella has a far bigger audience to preach The Windows Way to at Build, though there are plenty of balls in the air that he still needs to keep moving.

BlackBerry will not renew tie-up with T-Mobile – BlackBerry will not renew the license of T-Mobile US to sell its products when it expires later this month, the smartphone maker said. The announcement by the Canadian company comes after a dispute in February with the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S. for promoting Apple’s iPhone 5s at a discount to its BlackBerry customers.

14 million daily Windows Store/Windows Phone app downloads – Signage put up by Microsoft as part of its upcoming BUILD 2014 developer conference reveales that it is recording a combined 14 million daily app downloads for Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.

HP pays $57 million to finally put WebOS behind it – The company settles a class-action lawsuit that accused its leadership of rash decision-making that left shareholders out in the cold.

Twitter buys social TV firms Mesagraph, SecondSync – Twitter has purchased TV analytics specialists and social TV firms Mesagraph and SecondSync, which suggests that the company may want advertizers and broadcasters to make better use of the microblogging platform for content promotion.

Games and Entertainment:

HBO Plans ‘Game of Thrones’ Marathon, Online Viewer’s Guide – HBO is gearing up for the fourth season of its hit series, Game of Thrones, with a marathon of previous seasons on HBO2 this weekend, as well as the launch of a Game of Thrones Viewer’s Guide on The GoT marathon kicks off Friday at 9 a.m. Eastern with West Coast HBO subscribers getting a delayed feed that begins at 9 a.m. Pacific. The premium cable channel will run all 30 episodes of the first three seasons of the acclaimed sword-and-sorcery series for 60 straight hours, ending at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on April 6, just in time for the Season 4 premiere on the HBO main channel. HBO GO users can also catch up on the show at their leisure.


Heroes of the Storm Alpha invites issued: gameplay streaming begins – This week the folks behind Blizzard Entertainment’s release of the next-generation Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game Heroes of the Storm have begun inviting players to the Alpha. This means that the game will be able to be played in a limited capacity, with only those with invites allowed to take part in the game until Beta mode begins. This game is being live streamed by a number of Alpha players through Twitch this afternoon as well.


PS4 ships 7 million worldwide, outsells Xbox One in Europe 7:1 – That 7:1 sales lead accounts for (more or less) the last week in March, beginning on the 17. During that period, the PS4 sold 180,000 units, while the Xbox One only managed 25,000. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the Xbox One’s biggest game, Titanfall, released just one week prior, and did not appear to help sell the console just one week later.


Microsoft reveals new Xbox Video features, including cross-device resume – Microsoft has announced plans to introduce a number of new features for its Xbox One console, including a way to resume watching an Xbox Video clip from another device.


Five Nintendo GBA game trailers for the Wii U virtual console are out – A few days ago, we mentioned that the Nintendo Wii U game console would be getting several new games for the virtual console that originated on the Nintendo Game Boy Advance portable console. Eight titles will be coming starting on April 3. All of the games will be available for gamers that want some retro action in North America and Europe.

Some Oculus VR employees received death threats after Facebook deal – Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey stated that company employees, and even some of their family members, have received death threats since their deal to be acquired by Facebook was announced.

Netflix loses Fox series ’24′ to Amazon – Amazon has gained the exclusive streaming rights to the acclaimed Fox series, 24. The deal will also include the new 24 series, 24: Live Another Day which will debut first on Fox on May 5th.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Colorado Town Won’t Issue Drone-Hunting Licenses – Voters in the town of Deer Trail, Colo., voted down a unique proposal that highlighted unhappiness with government surveillance and would have allowed residents to get licenses to shoot down drones in local airspace

Microbes blamed for Earth’s biggest mass-extinction – The biggest mass extinction known to affect Earth likely had the smallest of causes, scientists at MIT have concluded, blaming microbes for killing out around 90-percent of every species on the planet 252 million years ago. The huge wipe-out – which, it had previously been speculated, could have been the result of an asteroid strike or uncontrollable volcanic eruptions – was, new fossil research indicates, the result of vast quantities of carbon dioxide or methane changing ocean chemistry and throwing the climate into a tailspin.

Weedmaps Spends Some Of Its $30M To Legalize Pot In NYC – To put it bluntly, Weedmaps is no joke. The Yelp of marijuana dispensaries has grown to $20 million in yearly revenue, and now it’s saying “High, NYC” with a Times Square jumbotron campaign to legalize pot. For the next 60 days, an 8-second Weedmaps ad will blaze across the CBS Super Screen pointing New Yorkers a site of legalization resources and a petition.

Apple receives patent for interchangeable iPhone camera lenses – Apple’s proposed fastening mechanism would use a series of small bayonet mounts located on both the phone and the lens. Rotating the lens in one direction would align the bayonets on both ends, attaching the lens to the camera; rotating it in the opposite direction would detach them. The patent also says that the lens and the phone could be detached from one another by force, presumably to protect the phone from damage if the lens was hit or dropped: “the attachment mechanisms may separate such that force applied to a first device may not be fully transferred to the second device, and thereby the second device may be protected.”


Lego is a tool of Satan, says priest – Citing research from New Zealand and his own observation of Lego’s Zombie characters and Monster Fighters, Poland’s Father Slawomir Kostrzewa warns that children are being led into a world of death and darkness by the formerly lovable toy.

Google’s 12 biggest product debacles of all time – Google is widely regarded as one of the most innovative companies of our time, but it also runs lots of failed experiments. Here are the top 12 products where Google missed the mark.

Something to think about:

“In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.”

-    Paul Harvey

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweakers – A portable application that provides several tweaks to improve your system performance. Not for novice users.




NeoRouter Free – The NeoRouter Free application was designed to help you manage and connect to all your computers from anywhere. It gracefully integrates Remote Access, File Sharing, Virtual Private Network, User and Access Management.

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.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA phone metadata collection program renewed for 90 days – The Obama Administration has secured a 90-day extension of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) controversial authority to collect phone metadata records on U.S. customers under Section 215 of the U.S.A Patriot Act. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which oversees the data collection program, granted a reauthorization request filed by the U.S. Justice Department last week. The court’s order expires on June 20. It basically grants the NSA continued authority to collect phone record information such as the originating and dialed number, call time and duration, location data, calling card numbers and other data belonging to U.S. phone customers.

What, besides phone records, does the NSA collect in bulk? – Last Thursday, the Obama Administration announced details of its plan to overhaul the government’s bulk phone-records collection program, previously authorized under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. Under the proposed changes, the National Security Agency would no longer be in the business of collecting call records in bulk. Rather, the agency will be required to go directly to phone companies to obtain records, and it will need prior permission from a judge to access such information. Some, like Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union, have praised this action, calling the White House proposal “a crucial first step toward reining in the NSA’s overreaching surveillance,” according to NPR. Even NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden described this moment as “a turning point.”

NSA isn’t evil, says noted civil libertarian – Civil liberties and privacy groups have long criticized the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), but those critics became louder last summer after details of the agency’s data collection activities were disclosed in classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Amid the criticism is a surprising take on the NSA by Geoffrey Stone, a civil libertarian and member of the National Advisory Council of the American Civil Liberties Union. In a blog post on the Huffington Post news site, Stone defended the agency, and its data collection. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago and former chairman of the American Constitution Society, was a member of the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies established by the White House last summer to review the NSA’s surveillance practices in light of the Snowden incident.

Utah city ordered to provide water records for enormous NSA facility – For years now, reliable information about a massive new National Security Agency data center in Bluffdale, Utah has been hard to come by. The data center is believed to be the central node for the storage and analysis of the NSA’s data collection programs, storing exabytes (1 exabyte = 1 billion gigabytes) of data. In October 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Utah Data Center had experienced “10 [electrical] meltdowns in the past 13 months.” The paper added that the Utah site continuously draws 65 megawatts of power, “which could power a small city of at least 20,000.” Bluffdale itself is a small city of 8,000 people, just south of Salt Lake City—it is also the headquarters of the Apostolic United Brethren, a Mormon fundamentalist group. But now, a small sliver of information—how much water the NSA facility uses—may soon become available. Following a new ruling issued last week by the State Records Committee, Bluffdale now has just under a month to furnish municipal water records related to the Utah Data Center to a Salt Lake Tribune reporter or to appeal the decision to a state court.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 1, 2014

NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize;  Facebook Is Giving ‘Privacy Checkups’ to Certain Users;  10 Tips and Tricks for Finding the Best Groupon Deals;  Rebunking Google’s Glass “myth” debunking;  Prevent Twitter Users Tagging You In Photos;  Major League Baseball’s “At Bat” App Gets Updated;  Leak: Android 4.4.3 bug fixes on their way;  How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC;  Untraceable $20 device can allow hacker to control a car;  Cover-Based Robot Shooter EPOCH 2 Hits Android;  50 Best Websites: 5 You May Not Know;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies;  Solar flare Wednesday could mean ‘radio blackout’ for GPS, communications;  Digital tattoo deals drugs for next-gen earables;  Yahoo reportedly launching YouTube rival.

Share Too Much? Facebook Is Giving ‘Privacy Checkups’ to Certain Users – Facebook, in an effort to educate about the different privacy options available on the social network, has begun rolling out a ‘Privacy Checkup’ initiative to select users of the site. According to those familiar with the new feature, you’ll only get a Privacy Checkup if your account is set to post publicly – that is, if your settings have you sharing beyond your immediate group of Facebook friends.

Rebunking Google’s Glass “myth” debunking – Google’s published a listicle about what it says are the Top 10 Glass Myths. Here’s Naked Security’s security- and privacy-centric view of some of those “myths.”

Google’s April Fools’ prank puts Pokemon in the real world – The search giant’s latest addition to its Maps smartphone app includes 150 “catchable” Pokemon, part of a hoax we can only hope foreshadows augmented reality uses down the line.

10 Tips and Tricks for Finding the Best Groupon Deals – For investors, Groupon is still a work in progress, but for consumers, today’s Groupon is a constantly updated, full-service shopping destination that just happens to have every single thing on sale – in other words, the 2014 version of a (digital) shopping outlet. But how can you make the best of what Groupon has to offer? To sort through the madness, consider the following 10 tips.

With FaceСrypt iPhone app, your face unlocks Web sites – The latest version of FaceCrypt’s iPhone app adds its own browser so you can more easily access password-protected Web sites with facial recognition.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Prevent Twitter Users Tagging You In Photos – Twitter recently introduced several new features designed “to make photos on Twitter more social”, including the ability to ‘tag’ people in photos. This means your name can be ‘tagged’ (or associated) with any photo, regardless of whether you actually appear in it or not. I can only imagine how spammers’ eyes must have lit up when they heard this news, and in typical social media fashion, Twitter decided to turn this feature on by default.

Geek Squeaks – Featuring An Antivirus With Practically No Impact On Your PC’s Performance – When it comes to the frontline protection of my PC at home (on the cheap), I personally depend on the FREE edition of Bitdefender. What I especially like about Bitdefender is its’ reputation for providing ironclad security without slowing down your computer and that it is virtually maintenance free (built in autoscan that focuses virus detection efforts on risky areas).

Gather similar files from multiple folders and copy them in one simple step – You have photos, or documents, or any kind of file with the same extension, scattered hither and yon on your hard drive. Wouldn’t it be great to get them all together in one place? Here are two ways to grab all of them easily.


Google kicks all porn out of the Play Store, even the soft stuff – The Play Store has always had fairly clear rules about porn, despite the comical videos to the contrary back when Apple dropped the hammer on sexually explicit content in the early days of iOS. The biggest different between Apple and Google’s rules up until recently had been what was considered “erotic” content. Animated wallpapers with jiggling body parts and apps that are essentially web scrapes of nude or very nearly nude models and actresses. Starting very soon, all of that content is going to be forcibly removed from the Google Play Store.

Major League Baseball’s “At Bat” App Gets Updated To Support Expanded Instant Replay – It’s opening day for the first Major League Baseball season to feature “expanded instant replay,” a system that allows reviews of umpires’ calls through video footage. As for the At Bat app, it’s available for iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle Fire, BlackBerry 10, and Windows Phone 8. It offers a variety of video content, including the MLB.TV Game of the Day and an archive of classic games, for $2.99 a month (it’s free for MLB.TV Premium subscribers). With the update, the app will also feature instant replay footage — the same footage that was used by umpires at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York to make their decisions. (You can see the “review” label for the footage in the iPhone screenshot below.)


9 stylish wearables that won’t make you look like a high-tech dork – Most wearable tech looks like it was designed for Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. We’re talking smartwatches, smartglasses and activity trackers that only an inveterate nerd could love. I haven’t personally tested all the following wearables, but I think they represent the best-looking examples of the wearables explosion. Tastes vary, but I trust there’s not a coitus deal-breaker among them.


OkCupid asks users to ditch Firefox over Mozilla CEO gay rights controversy – Dating site OkCupid has asked its users to boycott Firefox, calling Mozilla’s chief executive “an opponent of equal rights for gay couples”, as opposition to the CEO’s appointment continues to grow.

Leak: Android 4.4.3 bug fixes on their way – A source close to Android Police most recently said that there could be upward of two dozen fixes in the next OS release. As it stands today, many of these features may not be noticeable to the average user. With that in mind, we could look for fixes for features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, the camera, data usage, and USB debugging.

How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC – Installing Linux Mint on a Windows 8.x PC with Secure Boot on can be a pain, but on an XP system it’s easy. So, if you’re considering switching out XP for Linux Mint, here’s how you’d go about it.


Report: Smartphone kill-switch could save consumers $2.6 billion per year – Law enforcement officials and politicians are pressuring cellular carriers to make such technology standard on all phones shipped in the U.S. in response to the increasing number of smartphone thefts. They believe the so-called “kill switch” would reduce the number of thefts if stolen phones were routinely locked so they became useless. But carriers have resisted these requests and there are now bills proposed at the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and California State Senate that would mandate such a system.

FCC clears the way for gigabit Wi-Fi – The Federal Communications Commission on Monday voted unanimously to open up an additional 100MHz for Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the 5GHz band of spectrum, and remove indoor-only restrictions on Wi-Fi devices and increase the amount of power they can use in the 5.15 to 5.25 GHz band of spectrum. The restrictions had been in place to protect Globalstar, which provides mobile and fixed satellite services in that area of spectrum.

50 Best Websites: 5 You May Not Know – Shea Hess explores five websites — including,,, and boingboing — on this year’s 50 Best list



Untraceable $20 device can allow hacker to control a car ‘from miles away’ – A six-character password securing a Tesla Model S account was called a potential security threat that might allow an attacker to unlock the doors, but a scarier potential threat discussed at Black Hat Asia is a $20 ‘untraceable’ device that could allow an attacker to remotely take control of a car from ‘miles away.’

Google Cracks Down on Sketchy Android Apps – Google hopes an updated Google Play Developer Program Policy will help cut down on deceptive advertising in mobile applications. The new approach imposes on developers more specific rules regarding what content Android apps can display, and makes developers responsible for ensuring their partner affiliates are not employing shady practices. That includes tricking users into downloading apps via pop-up ads that simulate official Android OS notifications.

Google Glass recording without permission could become illegal in Australia – The country’s considering an overhaul of privacy laws that could make it illegal to record private conversations or activities without consent via Google Glass or similar wearable technologies.

Company News:

Oracle overtakes IBM as second-largest software vendor, Gartner says – Oracle has overtaken rival IBM as the world’s second-largest software vendor by pulling in US$29.6 billion in software revenue during 2013, according to analyst firm Gartner. Microsoft retained its first-place ranking, at $65.7 billion in software revenue, while IBM moved down to third place with $29.1 billion. SAP remained in fourth place, at $18.5 billion, Gartner said. Symantec, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, VMware, CA Technologies and rounded out the top 10 vendors. Others accounted for $234.6 billion of the $407.3 billion total.

Yahoo reportedly launching YouTube rival – Reports are circulating that Yahoo is looking to launch a video site that would go up against Google’s behemoth YouTube. The rumors largely stem from a Re/Code report late last week that cited anonymous sources saying Yahoo is looking to not only launch a YouTube competitor in the next few months but also is trying to pluck some of the video-sharing site’s stars and favorite networks. A Yahoo spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

Amazon’s German workers go on strike again over pay – About half of the workers at Amazon’s distribution center in Leipzig — 500 people — have gone on strike, according to a report.

Workers at Samsung supplier in China win pay hike after strike – More than a thousand workers at the Dongguan-based Shanmukang Technology managed to not only win a better overtime rate on weekdays and weekends, but also double their monthly pay, after a simultaneous strike staged by workers from different depts.

Industrial Toys Raises $5M From Accel To Build Tablet Games For Serious Players – Accel’s Vas Natarajan, who’s joining the Industrial Toys board, said that when there’s “a big platform shift” in gaming, it creates new opportunities to build “big, independent game companies.” In this case, even though the firm has already made big bets on Angry Birds-maker Rovio and Clash of Clans-maker Supercell (among others), Natarajan suggested there’s still room for a tablet-focused developer that’s less focused on casual gamers and more on the “core” gaming audience.

Apple and Samsung begin second patent court fight today in U.S. – In August 2012, a jury in San Jose, California awarded Apple over one billion dollars, agreeing with the company that rival Samsung had violated a number of its patents. Today, the two tech businesses begin a second legal battle in San Jose and once again it’s over patent infringement claims.

Huawei hits record sales despite security fears – 2013 was a good year for Chinese manufacturer Huawei, now third in the mobile phone market despite security concerns.

Games and Entertainment:

Cover-Based Robot Shooter EPOCH 2 Hits Android – After a few months of being an iOS exclusive, EPOCH 2 has arrived in the Play Store for Android devices. This cover-based shooter is the follow-up to 2011′s EPOCH and shares much of its DNA. In a post-apocalyptic future, heavily armed robots are battling to decide the ultimate fate of humanity, and you’re right in the thick of it.


“Pirate Bay Bundle” shares 101 little-known indie games via BitTorrent – The Pirate Bay Bundle is a free collection of 101 small indie titles that I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard of, let alone played. Curator Moshboy describes the collection as an extension of his Underrated Indie Games series of YouTube videos. “Some were made for game jams, others were made just because, some are made by celebrated game makers, many are made by folks that you won’t know,” Moshboy explains. “Many are usually only available to play in your browser, but I managed to convince these wonderful folks to provide me with offline versions.”

‘Hitman Absolution,’ ‘Deadlight’ will be April’s free Xbox Live Gold games – From April 16-30, Xbox Live Gold subscribers can download Deadlight for free. The game, which normally costs $14.99, comes from developer Tequila Works and publisher Microsoft Studios. First released in August 2012, the game is a side-scrolling action title of a man tries to fight off zombies in a post-apocalypse Seattle.


20 Video Games to Watch for Spring 2014 – Check out our springtime list of PC, console and handheld video games to keep an eye on.

The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – Movie prices are soaring, and it’s easier than ever to illegally obtain movies, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a robust online-bootleg culture. Some people torrent flicks and others watch illegal streams; both camps contribute to TorrentFreak’s weekly most pirated movies list.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Solar flare Wednesday could mean ‘radio blackout’ for GPS, communications – The sun emitted what NASA is calling a “significant” solar flare on Saturday that could affect communications systems on Earth on Wednesday. The National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center is calling the eruption a radio blackout event. The center reported that the solar flare could affect satellites and cause GPS errors. Electrical power lines could be hit by extra current, and high frequency communications could be blocked when the radiation hits Earth.

When parents limit screen time, kids behave, sleep, and test better – Since the average kid is in front of a screen more than 40 hours a week, researchers say even small limits on screen time can reap multiple health benefits.


Digital tattoo deals drugs for next-gen wearables – Described in a new research paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, the multifunction wearable device – also billed as “electronic skin” – is made of a tissue-like polymeric substrate layered up with different chunks of slimline functionality. So, there are sensors that can track skin temperature and how the body is moving, and a chunk of resistive RAM storage to keep track of the data that’s collected. The drug layer can be controlled by the patch itself, using heat to release medication that’s absorbed through the skin.


Can you tell a man’s intelligence simply by looking at him? Yes – So says a Czech study – but the same doesn’t hold true for women – A group of Czech researchers has conducted a study in which they determined that the perceived intelligence of men correlates strongly with their actual intelligence – but the same doesn’t hold true for women. The study was based on still photos of 40 male and 40 female biology students at Charles University in Prague. “The subjects were instructed to adopt a neutral, non-smiling expression,” the paper details, “and avoid facial cosmetics, jewellery, and other decorations. The photos were cropped to place the eyes horizontally at the same height and leave a standard length of neck visible.”


3D printed UAV can be assembled and flying in under 24 hours – A team of engineers working out of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield has successfully 3D printed a UAV. Not only that, but the whole construction process took less than 24 hours, only required ABS plastic as a base material, and ended up being very cheap to manufacture (although they haven’t specified exactly how much).


BMW i8 will force fake engine noise and howl at pedestrians – BMW’s i8 supercar may run on electricity but that doesn’t mean the Germany marque has forgotten about aural performance: both inside and out. A new video showing how the i8 performs in Sport Mode – which you can see after the cut – shows that not only is the speed there, with the BMW doing 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, but it makes a pretty distinctive noise while it does it, despite only having a very small gasoline engine.


Something to think about:

“Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.”

-    Mike Ditka

Today’s Free Downloads:

PrivaZer – When you use your PC (at home or working at your office), go on the Internet, watch a video, download, copy/remove files on your PC, install/uninstall or use software, etc., you always leave sensitive traces which: make your PC slower and cluttered – reduces free space available and – puts you at risk for a bad consequence: what you have done could be easily recovered by analyzing your PC with an expert recovery software or with more advanced techniques. PrivaZer allows you to: See exactly what can still be recovered of your past activities on your PC at home or at work. Clean in-depth unwanted traces of what you’ve done watched, downloaded, deleted, etc. and prevent recovery. Master your security & freedom. Free up disk space. Keep your PC fit and secure!!! (The following screen shot is from my personal system.)


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



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize – Over the last 40 years, the U.S. government has relied on extreme fear-mongering to demonize transparency. In sum, every time an unwanted whistleblower steps forward, we are treated to the same messaging: You’re all going to die because of these leakers and the journalists who publish their disclosures! Lest you think that’s hyperbole, consider this headline from last week based on an interview with outgoing NSA chief Keith Alexander:


The NSA engages in this fear-mongering not only publicly but also privately. As part of its efforts to persuade news organizations not to publish newsworthy stories from Snowden materials, its representatives constantly say the same thing: If you publish what we’re doing, it will endanger lives, including NSA personnel, by making people angry about what we’re doing in their countries and want to attack us. But whenever it suits the agency to do so–meaning when it wants to propagandize on its own behalf–the NSA casually discloses even its most top secret activities in the very countries where such retaliation is most likely. Anonymous ex-officials boasted to the Washington Post last July in detail about the role the agency plays in helping kill people by drones. The Post dutifully headlined its story: “NSA Growth Fueled by Need to Target Terrorists.”

Report: RSA endowed crypto product with second NSA-influenced code – Security provider RSA endowed its BSAFE cryptography toolkit with a second NSA-influenced random number generator (RNG) that’s so weak it makes it easier for eavesdroppers to decrypt protected communications, Reuters reported Monday. Citing soon-to-be-published research from several universities, Reuters said the Extended Random extension for secure websites allows attackers to work tens of thousands of times faster when breaking cryptography that uses the Dual EC_DRBG algorithm to generate the random numbers that populate a specific cryptographic key. Dual EC_DRBG is a pseudo-random number generator that was developed by cryptographers from the National Security Agency and was the default RNG in BSAFE even after researchers demonstrated weaknesses so severe that many suspected they were introduced intentionally so the US spy agency could exploit them to crack encrypted communications of people it wanted to monitor. In December, Reuters reported that the NSA paid RSA $10 million to give Dual EC_DRBG its favored position in BSAFE.

Transatlantic cables will bypass USA to avoid NSA spying – A jointly funded, €135 million project will enable Brazil and the EU to bypass US-owned transatlantic cables, The New York Times reported, with plans to lay a modern high capacity fibre-optic cable from Lisbon, Portugal to Fortaleza, Brazil. With her typical antipathy towards the US after past NSA email hacks, the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, said during the joint EU – Brazil news statement:

We have to respect privacy, human rights and the sovereignty of nations. We don’t want businesses to be spied upon. The internet is one of the best things man has ever invented. So we agreed for the need to guarantee the neutrality of the network, a democratic area where we can protect freedom of expression.

President of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, also suggested the importance of bypassing the US whilst avoiding any blatant public criticism of NSA activity:

We will continue to enhance data protection and global privacy standards. A new fibre-optic submarine cable, connecting Latin America directly with Europe, would make an important contribution to these efforts.

This reads like an epic effort to sideline the USA from the rest of the Americas.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 31, 2014

World Backup Day: Do you backup your files?  UK will finally allow citizens to legally rip CDs;  Refresh your PC for spring with these top apps;   Malwarebytes 2.0 Still Tough on Malware;  Three essential tools for solving the worst Wi-Fi headaches;  Beginner’s guide to Google Now voice-activated personal assistant;  Ubuntu 14.04 is slickest Linux desktop ever;  Why Linux Mint is a worthwhile Windows XP replacement;  Watch out for photos containing malware;  The problem with cloud security cameras;  Microsoft will no longer look through your Hotmail to investigate leaks.

World Backup Day: Do you backup your files? – How protected is your digital life? If your house burned to the ground, would you still have your important photos, documents, financial information and more? Or would you be back at square one?


UK will finally allow citizens to legally rip CDs – An update to UK copyright law means that from June 1, 2014 it will no longer be illegal to make copies of CDs—or e-books or any other media—that you have bought for personal use. It will remain, however, illegal to make copies at home for friends and family. (So no passing on those ripped CDs, people!) If you want to give the CD to a loved one, you should make sure you delete any personal copies you have made from it, explains the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

10 cool Bluetooth devices for your iPhone or Android – It’s an odd thought: peripherals for your smartphone, which itself is often considered a peripheral to your computer. But as mobile devices become computing devices in their own right, a cornucopia of peripherals is emerging.

Three essential tools for solving the worst Wi-Fi headaches – Thanks to improvements to routers and network management software, connecting to Wi-Fi is vastly easier than it used to be. But that doesn’t mean the experience is seamless quite yet. Even now you can still run into problems like poor signal quality, dropped connections, lack of public hotspots, and slow speeds. Sick of the hiccups? These three programs can help take the headache out of Wi-Fi woes.

Beginner’s guide to Google Now voice-activated personal assistant -  Learn how to configure and use Google Now, Android’s voice-driven personal assistant and Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri. With the release of Android 4.4 and phones like the Moto X and Nexus, Google Now has become a seriously useful tool. In this TechRepublic Two Minute Drill, Jack Wallen shows you how to set up Google Now and demonstrates a few ways it can help make your Android experience hands-free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How Dropbox Knows When You’re Sharing Copyrighted Stuff (Without Actually Looking At Your Stuff) – The system is neither new, nor sketchy. It’s been in place for years, and it’s about as unsketchy as an anti-copyright infringement system can get. It allows Dropbox to block pre-selected files from being shared from person-to-person (thus keeping Dropbox from getting raided by the Feds), without their anti-infringement system having any idea what most of your files actually are.

Refresh your PC for spring with these top apps – Every machine needs tune-ups, and that includes your PC. Without regular cleaning and updates, your system performance suffers, slowed down by hefty files and unneeded software. Fortunately, many fine — and free! — utilities can do the system spring cleaning for you. Here’s a roundup of our favorites.

Six clicks: Weird tricks that will actually make you happier with Windows 8.1 – Each new update chips away at the annoyances of Windows 8. Here are six power features that are new or improved with the Windows 8.1 update due in a couple of weeks.

Microsoft’s freemium Office apps jump to top of iPad chart – Microsoft’s new Office for iPad apps vaulted to the top of the free application chart on Apple’s App Store shortly after their Thursday debut. The long-awaited, highly anticipated apps — Word, Excel and PowerPoint — were ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 early today on the App Store’s free iPad app list. OneNote, which had already been in the App Store — it was also refreshed yesterday — held down the No. 4 spot, giving Microsoft four of the top five for the iPad.

Malwarebytes 2.0 Still Tough on Malware, Now with a Pretty Face – After ten years of version 1.x, Malwarebytes has finally released version 2.0. The powerful malware-fighting tools are all still there, but the package is a lot better looking. A new dashboard page displays security status; if anything isn’t right, you just click Fix Now. And you can track progress of updates and scans right in the dashboard. Rootkit detection, once a separate component, is now integrated. A variety of other once-awkward mechanisms have been streamlined for ease of use. It’s quite an improvement. Want to know more? Read my full review. Malwarebytes remains our Editors’ Choice for free, cleanup-only antivirus.


Ubuntu 14.04 is slickest Linux desktop ever – Ubuntu LTS releases understandably tend toward the conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to new features. You’re not going to see Unity 8 in this release, nor will there be any trace of the Mir graphics stack that Canonical is hoping will – one day – support both its desktop and mobile offerings. Rather, this release sees a bunch of small, incremental improvements to Unity and the addition of some long-missing features Canonical had previously rejected. It’s the latter that makes Trusty Tahr the most surprising, particularly since, in both cases, Ubuntu developers explicitly rejected the ideas when they were initially proposed.


16 weirdest places you’ll find Linux – Linux is everywhere, from desktops and servers to phones and televisions. Let’s take a look at some of the stranger places you’ll find Linux installed.

Why Linux Mint is a worthwhile Windows XP replacement – XP’s support life is quickly coming to an end. Fortunately for Windows XP users, there’s a Linux desktop–Linux Mint–that has the same look and feel but with far better security and speed.


hereO is a trendy GPS watch for kids – Mobile technology and mobile devices are so prevalent today that it totally make sense to employ those not just to make our lives easier but keep our families safer as well. hereO offers just that, injecting GPS technology into a watch that, at the same time, looks cool enough that kids will want to keep them on.


WD brings out new Thunderbolted external drive – WD has bought out a Thunderbolted My Passport Pro external drive with power delivered over the speedy data cable. It comes in 2TB and 4TB capacities using two 2.5-inch drives, with either RAID 0 (striping) or RAID 1 (mirroring) for MAC users. RAID 0 delivers up to 233MB/sec bandwidth with the 2TB unit but 230MB/sec with the 4TB unit, using the integrated Thunderbolt cable. WD says that’s roughly twice as fast as USB 3.0 with RAID 0 set, when transferring a 22GB high-definition video file.


Demonoid returns after nearly two years, popular Bittorrent tracker is back online – Community based BitTorrent tracker and website, Demonoid, has made a comeback after being down for nearly two years due to various copyright infringement complaints from governments around the world.

Proposed mandatory age checks for porn sites for UK visitors – Increased crackdowns are being proposed by UK industry (Video-on-Demand) watchdogs Atvod in a bid to reduce the access rate of pornograhpy by children (minors under 18 years of age by UK law).

3 app building services for building an Android business app – You have a business and you want to expand that business into the realm of mobility. Unfortunately, you don’t have the finances to hire a programmer to create an Android app that would take your niche shop out into the world. Thankfully, there are sites available that allow you to build that app without having to write a single line of code. Unfortunately, these services have yet to reach a sort of ‘drag and drop Nirvana’ where you can piece together a full-fledged, powerhouse app; but for anyone wanting to get their business known via mobile apps, this is the way to go.


How Fandango and Credit Karma exposed millions of smartphone users’ data – Developers of two popular smartphone apps—Fandango and Credit Karma—have been caught transmitting passwords, social security numbers, birth dates, and other highly sensitive user data over the Internet without properly encrypting it first, officials with the Federal Trade Commission said. As a result, it was trivial for hackers to intercept the data when people used the apps on both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems, complaints filed by the FTC alleged. The complaints leveled charges of other shortcomings in the developers’ security, including the failure to properly test and audit the safety of apps before making them available for download. The improper encryption, which security experts warn is akin to having no encryption at all, was allowed to persist for four years at Fandango. The company also failed to have an adequate process for receiving vulnerability reports from researchers and other third parties, FTC officials said.

Watch out for photos containing malware – Cybercriminals use images in a number of ways to infect your computer. In most cases, the photo itself is harmless; it’s just a trick to get you to do something stupid. But sometimes, a .jpg file itself will contain malicious code. Let’s look at a few ways in which an image can contain some real bad news.

Journalists increasingly under fire from hackers, Google researchers show – According to a new paper authored by two Google security engineers, 21 out of the world’s top 25 news organizations have been successfully hacked by state-sponsored actors. Among targets of hacking attacks, journalists were “massively over-represented,” Shane Huntley, one of the paper’s authors, told the news wire. Google has been monitoring such attacks, which are often sponsored by foreign governments that seek sensitive information held by journalistic enterprises, in many cases related to secretive corporate and governmental operations.

Microsoft will no longer look through your Hotmail to investigate leaks – Amid widespread privacy concerns in the wake of a leak investigation, Microsoft has announced a change in the way it handles private customer accounts. Under the new policy, effective immediately, any investigation that suggests that Microsoft’s services have been used to traffic stolen Microsoft intellectual property will no longer result in Microsoft accessing private account information. Instead, the investigation will be handed over to law enforcement agencies, and it will be for those agencies to demand access to necessary private information.

The problem with cloud security cameras – Wi-Fi security cameras are great for giving you piece of mind or checking on the kids and babysitter while you’re out. But after working with several models for about six months I’ve come to realize that in some situations they’re no substitute for a professionally managed home security system.

Banks pulls out of class-action suit against Target, Trustwave – One of the two banks suing Target and security vendor Trustwave over responsibility for one the largest data breaches in history has pulled out of the lawsuit. Trustmark National Bank, of New York, filed a notice of dismissal of its claims on Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. It had joined Green Bank of Houston in the class-action suit, which claims Target and Trustwave failed to stop the theft of 40 million payment card details and 70 million other personal records.

Company News:

Google Cracks Down On Deceptive Ads And Other Shady Behaviors Found In Android Apps – Android apps are about to get cleaned up. That is, if the recently added changes to the Google Play Developer Program Policy are actually enforced. Google this week updated its policy that dictates to app developers what sort of content their apps are permitted to display, with a number of rules designed to crack down on shady and deceptive ads. to end their subscription music service on April 28 – The company stated that they had to make “some very difficult decisions surrounding [their] core products and services” which led them to shut down their subscription music service.

Half of Mozilla’s board resign over the choice of Brendan Eich as Mozilla CEO – Three members of Mozilla’s six-member board have reportedly stepped down over the choice of Brendan Eich as the new CEO. The three Mozilla board members to resign are former Mozilla CEO and current head of AVG Gary Kovacs, another former CEO named John Lilly, and Ellen Siminoff, CEO of the online education startup Shmoop. The reason for their departure appears to be focused around their demands for someone from outside Mozilla with a background in the mobile industry, presumably to help push Firefox OS and to seize a larger share of the mobile browser market.

BlackBerry reveals when to expect BBM for Windows Phone – BlackBerry’s CEO, John Chen, has given a clearer timeframe on when the company will launch its BBM app for Windows Phone, adding that some Lumia and Nokia X handsets will come with BBM pre-installed.

Games and Entertainment:

Two years later, Reaper of Souls is the Diablo III we always wanted – The battle for the soul of Diablo III is over. “What kind of game is this?” was a question asked from its very start, thanks to the seemingly over-the-top, always-online infrastructure that marred the game’s launch. This was exacerbated by the institution of in-game Auction Houses trading in both in-game gold and real money, a system loved by gold sellers but loathed by pretty much everyone else. Then there was the overly self-serious storyline, an odd fit for a game intended to be played and replayed at higher and higher difficulties. Now, after two years of play and patching, Diablo III has finally realized what it wants to be—and it’s much better for it.


Origin goes all-digital: EA’s store ditching disks – Come April 4th and all of the games at EA’s Origin game store will be available as digital downloads only. What this means is that the store has phased out discs, hence shoppers will no longer be able to buy a physical collection. The digital downloads will be available for PC and Macs.

Study: Most Millennials Don’t Watch TV on the TV – For younger millennials aged 14 to 24, the bulk of entertainment time is spent on laptops, smartphones, tablets and Internet-connected video gaming systems — with only 44 percent of them watching TV on a television, according to a new study.

Star Wars VII may trigger new Indiana Jones trilogy without Harrison Ford – It’s strange how things work out sometimes. For anyone who was old enough to watch Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark when it first released back in 1981, there is only one Indy, and that’s Harrison Ford. He’s since done three more movies in the series, and a fifth has been talked about ever since the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit theaters. The problem is, Ford is now 71 years old. Although still capable of handling a whip and a gun, Harrison Ford may not be Indiana Jones in the next movie. But it isn’t his age that would stop him. No, it’s an even bigger movie franchise called Star Wars.

Off Topic (Sort of):

J. Edgar Hoover would have loved the internet – The case of Edward Snowden and the subsequent revelations about the behaviors of the NSA raise serious questions about privacy, liberty and the future role of the internet, by way of J. Edgar Hoover.

Facebook ‘I drank’ post not best idea for woman on DUI probation – The day after St. Patrick’s Day, a young woman has to take a random breathalyzer test. She passes. She goes on Facebook to say she’d actually been drinking. Guess what happens next.

The Improbable Rise Of Roku – In 10 years, when we look back and think about which companies fundamentally changed the way viewers get their TV shows delivered to them, will Roku be a part of the conversation? Based on what the company has done to date, and where it’s going, it seems likely.


The Internet Is Held Together With Bubble Gum And Baling Wire – Did you know that, to quote an angry hacker: The Internet from every angle has always been a house of cards held together with defective duct tape. It’s a miracle that anything works at all. Those who understand a lot of the technology involved generally hate it, but at the same time are astounded that for end users, things seem to usually work rather well.

Architects in Amsterdam to construct full-scale 3D printed homes – The convenience of 3D printing has moved away from industrial design and products to architecture. We are not talking about scale models to showcase the blueprints or interiors, but in fact full-scale homes. The 3D Print Canal House designed by Dus Architects is as close to a concept structure as it is to art, and will soon dot the landscape of Amsterdam.

Physics explained in 10 mind-bending GIFs – Just because the laws of physics are consistent, that certainly doesn’t mean they always make sense to our squishy mammal brains. Our day to day experiences don’t include advanced materials, superconducting magnets, or extreme temperatures. You might be sure your eyes are deceiving you when dealing with something like that, but it’s just science. We’re going to use GIFs to zero in on just that kind of thing — weird physics that makes you scratch your head. Don’t worry, we’ll explain it all too.


Something to think about:

“Be kind – Remember every one you meet is fighting a battle – everybody’s lonesome.”

-    Marion Parker

Today’s Free Downloads:

Gom Player – A multimedia player which can play most of the differently encoded video formats that include AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, XviD, and more with its own built-in codec system. GOM Player supports most of the condecs (AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, and plus more) by its own embedded codec system that you won’t have to look for appropriate codecs everytime when you can’t play a certain video format. GOM is also able to play incomplete or damaged AVI file by skipping the damaged frames. And it can also playback Locked Media Files while downloading or sharing (with real-time index rebuilding under certain condition: AVI downloading in consecutive order). GOM also supports HTTP Streaming ASF/OGG/MP3/AAC/MPEG PS/MPEG TS: Only work with internal splitters). GOM also support its own skins, Subtitle, Overlay Mixer features, Optimized buffer for streaming Automatic ASF source filter, Keys Remapping, Superspeed/High Mode, Enhanced Filter Rendering and full-Unicode.


MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter – You like to listen to music on YouTube or Vimeo and want to save it for offline playing. Or you want to download soundtrack of a new movie. Then MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter is the best choice for you. Better than online converters. Downloads highest available quality. YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Dailymotion, VEVO. Simultaneous downloads. Simple tag editor. Allows saving in original quality. Playlist support. Importing to iTunes. (Awesome application!)


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Der Spiegel: NSA Put Merkel on List of 122 Targeted Leaders – Secret documents newly disclosed by the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday shed more light on how aggressively the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have targeted Germany for surveillance. A series of classified files from the archive provided to reporters by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also seen by The Intercept, reveal that the NSA appears to have included Merkel in a surveillance database alongside more than 100 others foreign leaders. The documents also confirm for the first time that, in March 2013, the NSA obtained a top-secret court order against Germany as part of U.S. government efforts to monitor communications related to the country. Meanwhile, the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters targeted three German companies in a clandestine operation that involved infiltrating the companies’ computer servers and eavesdropping on the communications of their staff. Der Spiegel, which has already sketched out over several stories the vast extent of American and British targeting of German people and institutions, broke the news last October that Merkel’s cellphone calls were being tapped by the NSA – sparking a diplomatic backlash that strained US-Germany relations. Now a new document, dated 2009, indicates that Merkel was targeted in a broader NSA surveillance effort. She appears to have been placed in the NSA’s so-called “Target Knowledge Base“ (TKB), which Der Spiegel described as the central agency database of individual targets. An internal NSA description states that employees can use it to analyze “complete profiles“ of targeted people.

NSA’s UK partner targets German companies, says report – A new report based on the trove of NSA documents leaked to journalists last year by Edward Snowden says the agency’s UK counterpart, the GCHQ, spied on German Internet firms, and it provides more information on the NSA’s efforts to monitor German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The report, published in German magazine Der Spiegel, quotes one of the documents as saying that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters sought “development of in-depth knowledge of key satellite IP service providers in Germany,” with an eye toward, as the publication puts it, “developing wider knowledge of Internet traffic flowing through Germany.” The GCHQ was not only interested in surveilling Net traffic, it also wanted to, Der Spiegel reports, “identify important customers of the German teleport providers, their technology suppliers as well as future technical trends in their business sector,” and the intelligence outfit also targeted company employees, especially engineers, for monitoring.


US Takes a Break From Condemning Tyranny to Celebrate Obama’s Visit to Saudi Arabia – Today, Obama arrives in Riyadh to assure the Saudi monarchs that the US is as committed as ever to its close partnership in the wake of Saudi anxiety. He’ll meet with King Abdullah, “the president’s third official meeting with the king in six years.” The purpose of this trip: “trying to smooth relations with Saudi Arabia without making the longtime US ally seem like an afterthought.” Indeed, “top presidential advisors say the visit is an ‘investment’ in one of the most important US relationships in the Middle East.” If you want to justify all of this by cynically arguing that it benefits the US to support repressive and brutal tyrannies, go ahead. At least that’s an honest posture. But don’t run around acting as though the US is some sort of stalwart opponent of political repression and human rights violations when the exact opposite is so plainly true. And if you’re someone who has worked extensively to provide the world’s worst regimes with all sorts of vital support, don’t hold yourself out as the leader of the mob condemning others for expressing support for far more benign governments.

US to strengthen privacy rights for Euro bods’ personal data transfers: Makes commitment under ‘Safe Harbour’ framework – The US will take steps before the summer to comprehensively strengthen the “Safe Harbour” framework that helps facilitate some transfers of personal data to the US from the EU. The commitment to improve privacy protections (10-page/445KB PDF) was contained in a joint statement issued on behalf of senior officials from the EU and US, including president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and US president Barack Obama. It follows a threat from the European Parliament to veto any future trade agreement between the EU and US unless safeguards for EU citizens’ privacy rights were improved by the US.

China’s CERT blames US for a THIRD of all attacks on Middle Kingdom PCs: Government sites declared a ‘disaster area’ – China’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CNCERT) has claimed in a new report that backdoor attacks on systems jumped by over 50 per cent over the past year, and once again fingered the US as the main culprit in 2013. It claimed that 15,000 “hosts” taken over by “APT Trojan”, while 61,000 sites were hit by backdoor attacks launched from overseas in 2013, a rise of 62 per cent. In total, 10.9 million Chinese PCs were infected and controlled from outside the Great Firewall last year with the US accounting for 30.2 per cent of attacks. South Korea and Hong Kong were also named as common attack sources. Akamai’s most recent State of the Internet report, for example, claims the top two countries by attack source are China (35 per cent) and Indonesia (20 per cent), with the US some way behind in third with 11 per cent. That said, if the Snowden leaks can be believed, the US is doing itself no favours in the battle against China for the moral high ground.

Huawei on NSA: If foreign spies attacked a US firm, there’d be “outrage” – It’s been a week since revelations that the National Security Agency infiltrated the systems of Huawei, and the Chinese technology company is still trying to determine the extent of the attacks and whether they are still going on. In an interview with Ars yesterday, Huawei VP of external affairs Bill Plummer said, “We’re very early in the process of determining what has happened… The goal is ‘let’s find out what, if anything, happened, and let’s make sure it’s not still happening, and let’s take the appropriate measures to make sure it can’t happen in the future.” What is certain is that Huawei argues that the US government’s actions are unacceptable.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 28, 2014

Angry Birds Shares Your Data Far and Wide;  5 top mobile apps;  10 top Excel keyboard shortcuts;  The secret to saving a wet phone or tablet;  Adapter gives iPhone camera mega magnification;  Wrap your traffic: Configure a VPN on Chromebooks;  3 storage tips to save space on your iOS devices;  Get Facebook Hack Notifications for Your Account;  11 Google Search Tips Everyone Should Know;  EventSentry (free);  Facebook Password Decryptor (free).

Angry Birds Shares Your Data Far and Wide – The Android version of Angry Birds available on Google Play, last updated March 4, shares personal information such as age, gender and address along with device information with multiple parties, according to a blog post by FireEye researchers Jimmy Su, Jinjian Zhai, and Tao Wei. Users who play the game without a Rovio account are also sharing information about their devices without realizing it, the post said. This isn’t the first time Rovio, the developers behind the very popular Angry Birds apps, has been shown to share user data a little too widely.

Office For iPhone And Android Is Now Free – Along with a new version of Office for iPad, Microsoft made Office for iPhone and Android smartphones free today. The apps have updated in the respective app stores and can be snagged here for iPhone and here for Android. The change log notes that the apps are free for “home use.” As Emil Protalinski pointed out earlier today, this seems to imply that “Microsoft still plans to require that businesses have an Office 365 subscription.”

5 top mobile apps – When you find a good mobile app, it changes the utility of your device. There are other good apps on each mobile platform, but these five are my picks for the best in five genres most everyone uses.

3 storage tips to save space on your iOS devices – Don’t get stuck without any space for new photos, music, or apps. We’ll show you three space-saving tricks to get the most out of your iOS devices.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

11 Google Search Tips Everyone Should Know – Searching the web for information is a skill. Yes, you can enter a term into Google and find information, but by using a few simple tricks, you can quickly and easily whittle down your results to get exactly the information you’re looking for.

Organize (almost) every aspect of your life with these seven apps – When it comes to scheduling specialized events, or specific aspects of your life, generic calendar apps just can’t cut it. Luckily, scheduling apps don’t stop at calendars, and there are actually several apps dedicated to helping you organize different parts of your life—they help you plan meals, schedule workouts, and stay on top of bills and car maintenance. If you want to organize every minute detail of your life, here are seven apps that can help get you started.

AlarmPad review: A glimpse at the future of alarm apps – Waking up in the morning is a drag. We’ve seen some spectacular alarm clock solutions over the years, like Clocky, the alarm clock on wheels that jumps off your nightstand and blazes around the room chaotically until you get out of bed. Maybe chasing your alarm clock around the room isn’t what you had in mind at 6:30 in the morning. Maybe all you need is a better alarm clock app.

Wrap your traffic: Configure a VPN on Chromebooks – Google secures your data, and a VPN protects your network traffic. Learn how to configure VPN on a Chromebook to browse securely anywhere.

Hands-on with Makulu Linux 5 Xfce: The most fun you can have with Linux? – I’m going to start by getting right to the point with two very simple, and very clear, statements.     One: this is not a distribution for beginners; such users would be very likely to be traumatised by exposure to Makulu. Two: I love this distribution. Makulu is so much fun I’m going to have a hard time conveying the feeling. I’m pretty sure there are places where it’s illegal to have this much fun.


Swarovski adapter gives iPhone camera mega magnification – The maker of binoculars and spotting scopes has a $145 adapter that turns your fancy smartphone into a camera with a supertelephoto lens.


The secret to saving a wet phone or tablet – Most of the old wives’ tales about saving wet phones just don’t work. The bag of rice, a sunny window sill, a hair dryer, and the horrid oven method will quickly get you (and your phone) nowhere. Having suffered through several waterlogged phones and sacrificial experiments, I’ve found only one unexpected method to be reliable. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this before any mishap, be sure to stock up on the supplies so that you’re ready when your phone takes a dive.

Google really does Scroogle, regulator says – A UK regulator approves a Microsoft ad that claims Google scans every word of your e-mails, while Redmond only scans them for viruses and spam.


Google Music lets you update your library through Chrome – Previously, Google Music users have only been able to do so with the Music Manager desktop application, which meant dropping the physical music file into the designated music folder, and then waiting for the app to sync it up to an account up in the cloud. To enable the ability to upload music through Chrome, simply flip the switch in Labs. The feature will also introduce a nifty little mini player and let you download music from your library without installing the Music Manager.

Roku Streaming Stick 2014 ready to battle Chromecast now – We don’t blame you for being smitten by our comparison chart between the 2014 Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) and Chromecast. We bet it enticed you enough to want the HDMI version bad. The news is that the stick is now ready to ship, so if you place an order now, it should get going within the next couple of days.


Apple patent aims to keep idiots from falling into mall fountains – The plan is simple. A sort of augmented reality messaging app that turns on the iPhone rear-facing camera and displays what’s in front of you behind your text balloons. Theoretically, then, you might notice things like a water fountain in your path and stop walking before you fall face-first into it.

Use Malwarebytes wisely to prevent Android slowdowns – Malwarebytes is a great app for protecting your Android device. However, if you find this tool taking up too much of your devices resources, Jack Wallen has the solution.

10 top Excel keyboard shortcuts – The problem with a list of hundreds of shortcut keys is that it is overwhelming. You cannot possibly absorb 233 new shortcut keys and start using them. The following sections cover some of my favorite shortcut keys. Try to incorporate one new shortcut key every week into your Excel routine.

Now you can buy a computer-powered rifle on the Internet with Bitcoins – Buying a weapon with Bitcoin used to mean visiting the seedier realms of the Internet, such as the now-shuttered Silk Road and its various clones. But now you’ll finally be able to trade Bitcoin for a rifle on the up-and-up. Texas-based TrackingPoint said Thursday that customers could now purchase all of the company’s products with Bitcoin.


Ex-Spotify Engineers Raise $2.2 Million For Lookback, A Mobile App Screen Recorder For User Testing – A team of ex-Spotify engineers has raised $2.2 million in seed funding for Lookback, a platform allowing developers to record onscreen activity within mobile apps – and even record the user’s face and voice, so they can explain what they’re doing when they encounter a bug or some other problem.

Hate Windows 8? How about a return to DOS? – If you find yourself complaining about Windows 8, you should try using the early versions of MS-DOS — or any version of it. You’ll come screaming back to Windows 8 in a heartbeat. Everything was accomplished via a command-line interface, every program you installed had a completely different look and feel and worked differently — if you could manage to install them, that is. Forget graphics. As for mice, they were still only rodents.

Here are 6 Facebook-free virtual reality alternatives – If you’re looking for an alternative to Oculus Rift that doesn’t involve Facebook, you’ll eventually have options, but right now it’s slim pickings even for developers and early adopters. Here are a handful of competitors on the horizon.

Songza’s new weather-based playlists will have you singing in the rain – Streaming music service Songza has always tried to pick the right songs for your mood, but until now it hasn’t been able to factor in the weather. A new partnership with The Weather Channel allows Songza to tap into local forecasts, and suggest playlists based on what’s happening outside. Users will soon see an option for weather-based playlists in the Concierge section of Songza’s apps and Website.


Tablets to Continue Eating Away at PC Share in 2014 – Gartner predicts that worldwide shipments of desktops and laptops will land at 276.7 million this year, down from 296.1 million last year. By 2015, that will drop even further to 263 million. Tablets, meanwhile, will see a nice jump this year – from 195.4 million units shipped in 2013 to 270.7 million this year and 349.1 million in 2015. That will be aided by adoption of tablets in markets outside of the U.S. – and by people buying devices other than the Apple iPad.


Multiple Pinterest Accounts Hacked, Flooded With Butt Pics – If you log onto Pinterest and see that one of your friends has suddenly developed a fixation with weight loss ads and butt pics like the ones below, don’t click on the pins. Multiple accounts have been hacked over the last hour and flooded with spam. We’ve emailed Pinterest for comment. To keep your account safe and free from unwanted butt pics and other spam, report suspicious pins, be wary about third-party apps, and check destination links before you repin content.


Philips Smart TVs wide open to Gmail cookie theft, other serious hacks – The hacks work against Philips Smart televisions that have a feature known as Miracast enabled, Luigi Auriemma, a researcher with Malta-based ReVuln (Twitter handle @revuln), told Ars. Miracast allows TVs to act as Wi-Fi access points that nearby computers and smartphones can connect to so their screen output can be displayed on the larger set. The hacking vulnerability is the result of a recent firmware update that allows anyone within range to connect to the TV, as long as they know the hard-coded authentication password “Miracast.”


30-Second Tech Trick: Get Facebook Hack Notifications for Your Account – Here’s how to sign up to receive an email or a text message if a stranger logs into your Facebook account.

Experts Found That Mt.Gox Lost A Mere 386 Bitcoin Due To Transaction Malleability – In the long, kabuki saga that is the fall of Mt.Gox, one point seemed always clear: the company lost loads of bitcoin to hackers using a bug called transaction malleability. It seems, however that this is wrong. According to a team at the ETH Zurich University, the company allegedly lost only 386 BTC or $200,000, nowhere close to the 744,408 bitcoins rumored to have been lost in the attack.

School pays teen $70K after taking her Facebook password – A Minnesota teen posts disparaging remarks about a teacher’s aide on Facebook. The school takes action. Now it has decided to pay for that action.

How hackers use employees to break through security walls – Employees are prime targets for cybercrime attacks against your company. Find out the six top ways criminals gain access to your valuable data, IP, and more.

Company News:

Google, Facebook, Twitter face lawsuit over ‘illegible, incomprehensible’ privacy policies – A French consumer group is taking action over the three companies’ refusal to alter their terms and conditions on privacy – including sending French users to documents in English.

India Fines Google For Not Complying With Antitrust Probe – India’s competition watchdog has imposed a fine of $166,000 on Google for delay in submitting details needed as part of a two-year-old antitrust probe. The probe focuses on whether Google abused its dominant position in the business of Internet search and advertising.

Judge throws out lawsuit lobbed at Facebook for using kids’ pics in targeted ads – The suit accused the firm of “commercial misappropriation” of the names and pics of minors who were using the social network by sticking them in targeted advertising. The case was hoping for class action status representing all minors who had used Facebook and had their names stuck in an ad. But District Judge Richard Seeborg said that the folks trying to sue Facebook had failed to show that its “statement of rights and responsibilities” (SRR) was unenforceable. This statement, which governs the use of the site, was equivalent to written consent to the use of their names and profile photos for anyone who signed up, the judge said.

Sprint chairman: US market needs real price war – Masayoshi Son tells attendees at the CCA Expo in Texas that the company needs more than its partnerships with rural operators to take on the duopoly of AT&T and Verizon.

Games and Entertainment:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Game Launches on Android – After teasing it a few weeks ago, Gameloft has released the new Captain America game on Android. An iOS version is coming soon, but for the time being we’re defending truth, justice, and the American way on Android alone. Unlike most of Gameloft’s Marvel tie-ins, this game is a beat ‘em up as opposed to an open world adventure. Though, it might still strike your fancy.


Amazon may soon provide free video streaming for all: A Prime membership may no longer be needed – Amazon is gearing up to launch a free video streaming service for both television and music videos, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The videos would be ad-supported in the vein of Hulu and YouTube, and the service would reportedly follow the launch of Amazon’s as-yet-unannounced streaming device.


Evolve preview: Playing as the evil monster for once—and loving it – Playing as part of a four-person monster-hunting team in a recent hands-on demo of Evolve went pretty much as I expected. My team’s first match in the new cooperative first-person shooter—which is being made by Left 4 Dead developers Turtle Rock Studios for 2K Games—saw one team member lending support with heavy weapons, another keeping the team alive, a third trapping the monster, and a fourth (me, in this case) killing that monster. All in all, it was an enjoyable if somewhat standard variant on class-based, co-op, first-person shooters like Left 4 Dead or Battlefield. But it was playing as that monster that really made me eager to keep playing.


On the fence about Watch Dogs? This new video will change that – Ubisoft has successfully captures the hearts and minds of gamers all over the world with Watch Dogs. This next gen game brings together so many great gameplay elements, it’s hard to describe in a sentence or two what exactly that game is about. As it turns out, this is both a good thing and a bad thing, as some would-be preorderers are left wondering how gameplay is actually going to work.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch as driver’s phone captures celestial road rage instant karma – On a Florida highway, a man is tailgating in his very large truck. He finally offers the driver he’s following his middle finger. Then the gods offer him retribution. Now it’s all over YouTube.

iFixit boss: Apple has ‘done everything it can to put repair guys out of business’ – Fixing and upgrading iOS devices can be a rewarding business opportunity, so long as you don’t mind having to fight Apple every step of the way. So says the founder of iFixit, who spoke at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco on Thursday. The repair outfit’s CEO Kyle Wiens said there is little or no information for servicing the handheld gizmos: everything his company does, from its famous tear downs of new hardware to the manuals and how-to guides it publishes, are put together without any more access to Apple than is enjoyed by the average person on the street.

Watch a woman receive a 3D-printed skull implant – The surgery took place three months ago, and the medical team is happy to report that the young woman’s condition has improved dramatically. Her vision has been fully restored and go so far as to say that she’s now symptom-free. And because of the high level of precision that the Australian fabricators were able to achieve, there’s virtually no way to tell that a massive portion of her skull has been replaced.


Foodini Is A 3D Printer That Lets You Print Dishes With Fresh Ingredients – Foodini is a 3D printer for foodstuffs. Its Florida-based makers are hoping their time-saving device becomes as ubiquitous on kitchen countertops as the microwave oven has become but also gets more people cooking with fresh ingredients, rather than reaching for that pre-processed packet.


Do ‘smart pills’ really make you smart? – It’s one of the dirty little secrets of high-level academia: drugs. No, not hard drugs like cocaine or heroine (though don’t underestimate the use of LSD among geniuses). Just as we find at the highest levels of sport, many of the giants of intellectual achievement are using drugs to improve their performance. For a mathematician, that means one thing: cognitive enhancement. But is there any truth the idea that “smart drugs” can make a normal person better?

Facebook working on drones for mission – Earlier this month, word surfaced that Facebook would be acquiring Titan Aerospace, maker of drones, to help bring Internet access to under-connected areas around the world. Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s Connectivity Labs is working on building drones, among other things, to accomplish that goal.


4D theater opens in LA this summer with moving seats and smells – About a year ago, Japan got its first 4-D movie using 4DX technology when Iron Man 3 hit theaters. The US is set to get its first 4-D theater this summer when a South Korean firm called CJ Group brings a 4-D theater to Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14 in LA.

Something to think about:

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

-   Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Today’s Free Downloads:

Pixopedia – MajorGeek Says: Pixopedia is another free graphics program to add to your collection. It comes portable so it’s is easy to run and move around and has a lot of the features you find in the competition and maybe more. One of the coolest features I found was the ability to use buttons or tool panels. Once you become familiar with the buttons or icons that surround the program, it becomes easy to simply click on an icon rather than go to the standard panels. It will take a bit of getting used to with a new program, but it’s neat. There are a ton of shapes, brushes and other filters available. Give this one a whirl, I think you will be impressed.

Facebook Password Decryptor – Facebook Password Decryptor is the FREE software to instantly recover Facebook account passwords stored by popular Web Browsers and Messengers. Most of the applications store the Login passwords to prevent hassle of entering the password every time by the user. Often these applications use their own proprietary encryption mechanism to store the login passwords including Facebook account passwords. FacebookPasswordDecryptor automatically crawls through each of these applications and instantly recovers the encrypted Facebook account password. It presents both GUI interface as well as command line version, the later is more helpful for Penetration testers in their work. Apart from normal users who can use it to recover their lost password, it can come in handy for Forensic officials who can get hold of any stored Facebook Login passwords which can give vital clue in their investigation.


EventSentry – Failed service? Defective hard drive in a RAID? Database running out of space? Intrusion attempts resulting in logon failures? Performance bottlenecks? EventSentry will notify you immediately when important events occur and take corrective action before they result in expensive disruptions. The modular design and wide spectrum of features make EventSentry suitable for just about any scenario – including compliance, health & network monitoring, troubleshooting, inventory and much more.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google Sees Government Requests For Information Balloon 120% Over Four Years – Google has seen a tremendous increase in requests for information made by the government, the company revealed in an update to its Transparency Report today. The updated report includes the number of requests made during the second half of 2013, and Google notes in its blog post announcing the news that total requests are up 120 percent since Google first began publishing these numbers. Google admits that its total user base has increased as well over that time, but also says that more governments around the world are making requests than ever before. The new Transparency Report now also shows governments that made fewer than 30 requests during a six-month period, which were previously excluded from the document.

Australian government requests to Google increase fivefold – Australian law enforcement and government agencies have ramped up their requests to Google for user information since Google began disclosing the number requests it receives in 2009 by a factor of five. In the latest transparency report statistics released by the internet giant overnight, the number of times Australian government agencies that requested user information for criminal investigations was up to 780 requests relating to 944 accounts for the six months ending December 31, 2013. This is up from 645 requests for 807 accounts in the previous six-month period. Google handed over some information from those requests in the last six months of 2013 around 70 percent of the time, the company said. Accessing information from Google is increasingly becoming a tool used by law enforcement agencies in Australia, with the number of requests over the past four years increasing fivefold from 155 requests in the six months to December 31 2009, up to 780 in the last six months of 2013.

Obama says it’s time for the government to get out of phone metadata business – President Barack Obama has said he wants to shut down the telephone surveillance program that has been the subject of intense controversy since it was revealed in top-secret documents published last summer. The US government will stop maintaining its database of telephone call “metadata,” which includes all numbers dialed in the US as well as their duration and other data. A fact sheet lays out the details of the changes, and they are significant. The data itself will still exist in the hands of the phone companies, as it always has (it’s the same data on your telephone bill), but it can only be queried when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approves requests for specific numbers. That’s the difference between the government going to a judge and saying “We’d like to see the metadata for 555-123-4567 and all of his/her contacts” and the government already having all those contacts in its own database with no supervision for individual searches.

How the NSA would get phone data under Obama administration’s new plan – One of the key points in the “fact sheet” that the White House published today about its plan to end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone record data is that while the NSA will no longer have possession of phone data, it will still have access to it. Under the newly proposed program, the White House document notes, the NSA would still have the ability to request data without a new court order in an emergency, and “[telecommunications] companies would be compelled by court order to provide technical assistance to ensure that the records can be queried and that results are transmitted to the government in a usable format and in a timely manner.” In order to be able to live up to that mandate and deliver datasets for all numbers that are two “hops” from a specified phone number in a “timely manner,” one of two things would have to happen: telecom companies would have to have the capability to perform the same sort of analytic searches that the NSA currently performs with its Mainway database onsite; or the NSA would have to be able to make its own index of telco databases that would allow it to perform such searches. And while in either scenario the data available to the NSA would be a much smaller amount than what the agency currently retains (5 years’ worth), it would still give the NSA the ability to request large swaths of phone record data.

YouTube Latest Site To Be Blocked In Turkey – YouTube is the latest victim in Turkey’s ongoing assault on social media. This comes one week after Turkey revoked access to Twitter within its borders. A Google spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that some users in Turkey is not able to access YouTube and it is not caused by an a technical issue on its side. The company is looking into the situation. The removal of YouTube happened just hours after a leaked recording was published on YouTube that was reportedly a conversation of Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief and a top general discussing different plans that could lead Turkey into war with Jihadist militants in Syria.

Feds want an expanded ability to hack criminal suspects’ computers – The United States Department of Justice wants to broaden its ability to hack criminal suspects’ computers according to a new legal proposal that was first published by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. If passed as currently drafted, federal authorities would gain an expanded ability to conduct “remote access” under a warrant against a target computer whose location is unknown or outside of a given judicial district. It would also apply in cases where that computer is part of a larger network of computers spread across multiple judicial districts. In the United States, federal warrants are issued by judges who serve one of the 94 federal judicial districts and are typically only valid for that particular jurisdiction. The 402-page document entitled “Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules” is scheduled to be discussed at an upcoming Department of Justice (DOJ) meeting next month in New Orleans.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 27, 2014

10 tried-and-tested Windows desktop apps;  Browse incognito with Disconnect and Silo;  Download PhotoDirector 4 for Free;  Bitwig Studio on Linux;  Internet Rages Against the Oculus Facebook Machine;  Twitter adds photo-sharing features;  Stolen Twitter accounts ‘more valuable’ than credit cards;  Price war! Amazon cuts cloud costs;  If you want to spot a liar, trust your gut;  10 Wacky Movie Depictions of Virtual Reality;  When is a mobile app a medical device?  Brazil passes groundbreaking Internet governance Bill;  Macrium Reflect Free Edition.

Hackonomics: ‘Cyber Black Market’ more profitable than illegal drug trade – A new report by RAND commissioned by Juniper Networks has some eyebrow-raising conclusions about the black market for hacks, cracks, data theft, botnets, and zero days.


10 apps for your Windows PC – For all the talk of cloud computing and tablets and smartphones, the majority of tech workers still use a PC desktop or laptop. On that front, here are 10 tried-and-tested desktop apps that soup up your Windows PC experience — whether you need help with audio, images, video, security, productivity or even backup.

How to hide your online searches: We browse incognito with Disconnect and Silo – Services that mask your identity online can preserve your privacy, but they can also be slow and unwieldy. Disconnect said Monday it had tweaked and upgraded its search capabilities to improve its speed, while Silo, an anonymous browser vendor, recently launched a personal edition for individuals. Neither service gives the full functionality of a virtual private network, which can route the data sent to and from your router through a private “tunnel” that can anonymize your own IP. Silo comes close, but it includes a deliberate handicap: It prevents audio from playing within the browser, which makes it unusable for viewing videos of any sort.

Download PhotoDirector 4 for Free – For a limited time, PCMag readers can download an exclusive copy of PhotoDirector 4 from Cyberlink. Photo-management features include facial-recognition technology, Native RAW support, 16-bit color support, add and edit IPTC metadata capabilities (shutter speed, exposure, capture date, etc.) and various view models that allow you to flag, rotate, and label photos. Adjustment tools include HDR effects, target area enhancements, noise reduction, white balance, sharpening, and more.

OneNote vs. Evernote: A personal take on two great note-taking apps – With Microsoft’s release of OneNote for the Mac and iOS , and its announcement that the Windows application is now free as well, the company has taken dead aim at the popular program Evernote. The two applications now both work on the same platforms (including mobile OSes such as Android, iOS and Windows Phone), sync your notes to your devices and include Web-based versions. But they also have some very distinct differences. So which is better?

Google Voice: Beyond Gmail. Get voicemail and texts using any email client you want – Learn how you can receive transcribed voicemail messages and texts in any email client you want. This article assumes you’ve already got a working Google Voice account and it’s linked to your phone. If you don’t, please read the earlier articles in this series. We are also aware of the rumors that Google may end-of-life Google Voice or migrate its functionality more fully into Hangouts and, if that happens, we’ll update this series with all your best options.

LastPass for Android Gets Autofill Support Across All Apps and Browsers – As we’re forced to choose ever more complicated and diverse passwords to keep one step ahead of the scammers, it’s getting increasingly hard to keep track of it all. The LastPass Android app used to be little more than a custom browser with your passwords built-in, but with the most recent update LastPass gains the ability to fill in your passwords across all your apps and browsers.


Timehop Brings Its Mobile Time Machine To Android – Timehop, the mobile app offering a way to recall your past one day at a time by displaying your old photos and posts from Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare and Twitter, is now launching its service on Android. The app, for those unfamiliar, is a simple service that lets you look back on what happened on this day last year, and the year prior, and so on. It’s a “this day in history” kind of thing, but only for your own content.

Pedius Lets Italy’s Deaf Make Phone Calls, With More Countries To Come – Pedius is a four month-old Italian start-up that has an app currently available for Android that enables the deaf to make phone calls. The user texts a message, and that text translates to speech at the other side of the phone call. There is also a clean-looking website to accompany it, and, although it is currently available only in Italian, it is soon set to expand to Brazil, the United States.

Internet Rages Against the Oculus, Facebook Machine – After Facebook announced that it would acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion, the Internet exploded with angry tweets, comments, and other virtual vitriol. Most took to Twitter to express their rage. But some who had backed the $2.5 million Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign went to the project’s comment page to air their feelings. And in perhaps the most ironic twist of them all, there were many who used the Facebook commenting system on Oculus VR’s announcement to proclaim “DO NOT WANT” and “Boycott.”

Bitwig Studio on Linux: Can one top-tier app change the game? – Face it Linux users—if Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and other popular applications were available for your platform, your club would be a lot less exclusive. No disrespect to the Linux development community, which does some stellar work, but that’s the cold, hard truth in the consumer space. That’s also why the Ubuntu Linux (64-bit) release of a top-tier music creation application by the name of Bitwig Studio is huge news and a possible harbinger. It will also ship for Windows and OS X—Bitwig isn’t crazy.


CloudOn offers 6 months of virtual Office for free – CloudOn has offered a virtualized version of Office 2010 for the iPhone and iPad, plus Android phones, over the course of the last two years. Last September, the company expanded from an app-based model to the browser. CloudOn charges $3.99 for a list of features it turns on as part of what it calls CloudOn Pro: watermarking, footnotes, and bibliographies, to name a few. Now, the company says it will waive those fees for six months, as a way to lure new business. The discount will apply to both new and existing customers.

Twitter adds photo-sharing features as Instagram nips at the network’s heels – Twitter isn’t a social network built around photos, but it has to adapt to what people want. The apps now let you tag up to 10 friends in a photo without using any of the 140 precious characters you’re allotted per tweet. Perhaps that’s what Twitter news chief Vivian Schiller was talking about when she recently mentioned getting rid of the network “scaffolding,” the inside language that scares away new users.

4 postcard-sending apps compared, for when Snapchat just won’t cut it – Remember back when it was exciting to get a delivery in the mail? You know, inside that small metal bin mounted to a wooden post at the end of your driveway? Well now you can bring back that nostalgia and conquer the digital divide by mailing out real world, physical postcards straight from your Android phone. We took 4 postcard apps through their paces to compare features, delivery times, cost and of course, the quality of the printed photo postcard itself.


In rare move, banks sue Target’s security auditor – In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago, Trustmark National Bank and Green Bank N.A, sued both Target and Trustwave for not doing enough to protect customer payment card data. The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, accused both companies of negligence, deceptive practices, negligent misrepresentation and other misdeeds. The suit seeks compensatory and statutory damages for what the banks claimed were the losses they sustained in canceling and reissuing credit and debit cards that were exposed in the Target data breach.

Gameover malware targets accounts on employment websites – A new variant of the Gameover computer Trojan is targeting job seekers and recruiters by attempting to steal log-in credentials for and accounts. Gameover is one of several Trojan programs that are based on the infamous Zeus banking malware, whose source code was leaked on the Internet in 2011. Like Zeus, Gameover can steal log-in credentials and other sensitive information by injecting rogue Web forms into legitimate websites when accessed from infected computers.

Project iGuardian Urges Kids to ‘Think Before You Click’ – The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), this week launched Project iGuardian, a national cyber-safety campaign aimed at quelling the number of children who fall victim to online sexual predators. As part of the campaign, federal and local law enforcement representatives will visit schools and youth groups across the country to spread a simple but crucial message: Think before you click.

Six clicks: How hackers use employees to break through security walls – Employees are prime targets for cybercrime attacks against your company. Find out the six top ways criminals gain access to your valuable data, IP, and more.

Hackonomics: Stolen Twitter accounts ‘more valuable’ than credit cards – According to a new report, the value of Twitter accounts on the black market for hacked wares has eclipsed the value of stolen credit card data.

Company News:

Microsoft And Dell Sign Patent Royalty Agreement For Android And Chrome OS Devices – Today Dell and Microsoft announced that they have signed an agreement relating to intellectual property, which will see the two companies “license each company’s applicable” patents regarding Android and Chrome OS devices, as well as Xbox consoles. So Dell will pay Microsoft dollars when it ships devices running Google’s operating systems. The companies mention Xbox consoles because Dell, it turns out, has some IP with surface area to the device.  Dell likely got a discount on its royalty payments as a result.

Candy Crush Saga maker King down over 15 percent following stock IPO – The stock market seems less than bullish on Candy Crush Saga maker King’s initial public offering this morning. As of this writing, the company’s stock is trading down roughly 13 percent from its $22.50 initial asking price on the New York Stock Exchange. King ended its first day of trading down 15.56 percent from its opening value. That’s the worst first-day performance for a major US IPO in the last 15 years, according to an analysis by Rennaisance Capital.

Price war! Amazon cuts cloud costs to counter Google – The price war among major cloud providers continues, with Amazon Web Services announcing Wednesday that it is lowering the prices of a number of its cloud services, one day after Google slashed prices. The round of price cuts, which take effect Tuesday, will be the 42nd for the company since its launch eight years ago, he said.

Microsoft to unveil Enterprise Mobility Suite alongside Office for iPad – Microsoft is readying a new Enterprise Mobility Suite bundle to help enterprise users better manage Windows, Android and iOS devices, sources say.

Box bolsters cloud platform for better scaling, adds new pricing plan – As Box prepares for its Wall Street debut, the enterprise cloud company is tying up loose ends for developers too.

Games and Entertainment:

Wolfenstein: TNO gameplay trailer and release dates hit the train – It’s now been made clear that the game Wolfenstein: The New Order will not only be a worldwide launch of a game, but a simultaneous worldwide launch as well. In North America, Europe, and Australia too, you’ll find this game releasing on May 20th, 2014. Also pushed today was the first gameplay trailer – right off the bat and we’re already in the game – and it looks terrifying.


Microsoft will now tell you if you are a jerk on Xbox Live – Microsoft has announced that starting later this month, it will begin to send notifications to some Xbox One players if their online gaming reputations are getting lower and need some work.


Titanfall DLC won’t be free, but new game modes will – In a move that’s all too rare in our modern profit-by-download world of DLC packs for games, Respawn Entertainment has revealed that they’ll be pushing new game modes to Titanfall for free. Sitting aside from the normal DLC packs – which will cost cash – EA Games and Respawn Entertainment will be sending up downloads for a variety of game modes to add to the Classic Modes list already in order. This news comes not long after the first big patch was made to Titanfall this past weekend.


Simpsons minifigs revealed ahead of May 4th Lego episode – They’re due to go on sale in May, and all (well, nearly all) the classic Simpsons characters are there. If you don’t feel like shelling out $200 for 742 Evergreen Terrace you’re still going to be able to get your hands on the whole family. Like other minifig releases, these ones are going to be blind packed. You’ll need a little luck on your side to score them all, or at least several minutes to pick up packs and squeeze them until you know who’s inside.


Off Topic (Sort of):

If you want to spot a liar, trust your gut, research says – Research from UC Berkeley suggests that instinct is a far better judge of the mendacious than is any rational process.

Mind-reading breakthrough can recreate the faces you see in your brain – A team of Yale researchers, led by a then-undergraduate student, have made an astonishing step forward in brain science. The (perhaps unsettling) breakthrough allows scientists to use a medical imaging machine and a well-trained algorithm to visually reconstruct faces seen by test subjects. As seen below, their technique returns some results with a truly astonishing level of accuracy. Oddly, their results seem to have been possible specifically because the brain processes faces in such a unique and distributed way. This study takes the field’s greatest and most intractable problem and leverages it to truly impressive effect.


When is a mobile app a medical device? The future of healthcare may depend on the answer – The potential of medical apps to improve care and lower costs is enormous. But if developers don’t know how these apps will be regulated, they’re going to spend their time on other pursuits rather than gamble on what regulators might do in the future.

Data storage — then and now – As the size of storage drives shrink, capacity increases — dramatically. Here is a look at how data storage has changed over the last six decades.


10 Wacky Movie Depictions of Virtual Reality – Hollywood has certainly not shied away from depicting virtual reality, sometimes to hilarious effect. But while virtual reality has been in the news recently thanks to the Oculus Rift and Sony’s new Project Morpheus, many people still regard it as a somewhat antiquated technology from the 90s that never really took off. In an age where our gadgets are getting smaller and smaller, who wants to strap on a massive piece of headgear (and possibly vomit all over the place)?


NASA wants you to pick the design of its Mars-bound space suits – NASA has a cool new suit prototype, but it needs the public to pick the look! Choose from one of three different suit designs and influence the content of humanity’s greatest upcoming photo-ops.

Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

World Of Tanks – World of Tanks is a team-based massively multiplayer online game dedicated to armored warfare in the mid-20th century. Throw yourself into epic tank battles shoulder to shoulder with other steel cowboys to dominate the world with tank supremacy! You’re about to set foot into a world full of epic tank battles, furious skirmishes, and high-octane excitement. We’re talking, of course, about World of Tanks, the premier multiplayer game for armored warfare.


Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Brazil passes groundbreaking Internet governance Bill – Brazil has made history with the approval of a groundbreaking post-Snowden Bill which sets out principles, rights and guarantees for Internet users. Last night (25), an overwhelming majority of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted in favor of the Marco Civil da Internet and its provisions around net neutrality, right to privacy and freedom of expression online. The Bill, which now needs to be cleared by the Senate before it is sanctioned by president Dilma Rousseff, had its voting postponed several times in the last three years. It gained prominence after the NSA spying scandal and became the center of a political minefield due to disagreement over several crucial points. The provisions around net neutrality are a key reason why the Bill is considered a major victory for the civil society and activists alike. Just as in other countries, telcos want to maintain their ability to favor certain internet services over others to their own commercial advantage – if it becomes law, the Marco Civil will ensure that this can’t happen.

Twitter Files For Lawsuits In Turkish Courts To Challenge The Country’s Access Ban – Twitter has just announced that it has formally joined the cause of those defending use of its service in Turkey, by filing petitions for lawsuits in a number of Turkish courts after working with its Turkish attorney over the course of the past few days. The petitions ask that the ban be lifted formally, and join the existing chorus of Turkish legal community members, citizens and journalists who have already succeeded in winning a stay of the Turkish government’s application to block the service entirely. Twitter says that the proposed ban is a series of three court orders that it wasn’t privy to before the ban was enacted, which include two that the company claims relate to content on their network that violate their own terms of service, and have accordingly been removed. The last one, which deals with a tweet accusing a former minister of corruption, isn’t in violation of Twitter’s ToS, so the social network is petitioning the courts to overturn that remaining order.

Turkish Court Halts The Government’s Application To Ban Twitter – A Turkish court has granted a motion for a stay of execution of the Turkish government’s application to block Twitter in the country. The decision was taken following appeals to the courts by the Turkish Bar Association, the Journalists’ Association of Turkey and some opposition politicians, reports local tech blog Webrazzi. Lawyers argued that the Telecommunications Authority of Turkey, which, under government pressure, blocked Twitter, must remove the ban immediately.


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