Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 15, 2014

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted';  3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will;  Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device (free);  Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results;  The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week;  An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary;  iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life;  Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm';  Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose;  How to change your Dropbox password;  Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault;  Kingo Android Root (free);  Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review;  EssentialPIM (free);  Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance.

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted’ – Snapchat tells its more than 100 million users that some third-party apps pose a threat. But the photo-sharing service doesn’t address why outsiders were able to connect to Snapchat in the first place.

3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will – Two-factor authentication helps you protect your online identity even when the companies you do business with are breached or leak your data.

Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device – You have sensitive data on your Android device and you want to keep it from prying eyes. There are plenty of ways to achieve this. One of my new favorite methods is with the Andrognito tool. This free piece of software, found in the Google Play Store, allows you to hide and unhide just about anything on your device. What is nice about this software is that, once hidden, not even you can view it. For all intents and purposes, those hidden files cannot be viewed. One they’re unhidden, it’s as if they never disappeared.

Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results – Despite a recent directive for search firms to better distinguish between paid and natural results, the top three engines appear to have done little to comply. In June 2013, the Federal Trade Commission penned letters to Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, among others, urging them to make sure users can easily identify advertisements. But a new report from Harvard researcher Ben Edelman takes issue with how Google has complied. “While FTC guidelines call for ‘clear’ and ‘prominent’ visual cues to separate advertisements from algorithmic results, Google has moved in the opposite direction,” Edelman said.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week: From budgeting to travel – It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone and Android that stand out and are worth a try.

17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint – This collection of tips is all about the vagaries of the powerful PowerPoint software itself. It’s meant for those with a grasp of the basics and beyond who are looking for that extra little goose to get the most out of the program. We hope with these tricks—some of which will, inevitably, have some advice for better presentations and slideshows—help make your next speaking engagement even more persuasive. Note, these tips are specific to PowerPoint 2013, the latest version.

Windows 10: A new preview build will be out ‘soon’ – Microsoft has announced that over 1 million users are now testing Windows 10 but one aspect that has been overlooked is that a new preview build will be released soon.

Windows 10 Preview stats: Two-thirds of testers live dangerously – Who needs a safety net? A big majority of Windows 10 Technical Preview testers scoff at the safety provided by virtual machines. Here’s how to take the proper precautions before dumping the Preview on your hard drive.

Skype Qik aims to take over mobile video messaging – Skype Qik couldn’t be more simple if it tried. You install the app, use your mobile number to sign up, and then you’re messaging with friends as if you’re texting, but it’s all video. There’s no chat, no audio, or anything else, just pure video messages. To make things even easier, if your friend doesn’t have the app you can still send them a Skype Qik message and they’ll receive an SMS with instructions on how to download Skype Qik. Any video messages will be waiting for them.


An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary – Founders Thibault Duchemin, Pieter Doevendans and Skinner Cheng say one-on-one conversations are easy for the deaf. Either they are speaking with someone who can sign or they can just read lips. However, it’s very hard to follow group conversations with several people speaking at once. This makes it hard to catch things and converse during group meals with friends who don’t sign or at an office meeting where they might miss something important. This app is personal for two of the three founders. Cheng has been deaf since he was two and Duchemin is a coda, meaning he grew up with deaf family members.


The iPhone 6 Plus Gets A One-Handed Keyboard App, And It’s Glorious – While I came around to the iPhone 6 Plus and its unique allure, as told in a post from a couple of days ago, Apple’s big smartphone still isn’t the easiest to use when typing one-handed. Specifically, it’s tricky to get to the requisite punctuation needed to properly express oneself. A new app, helpfully called “One Handed Keyboard,” eliminates this annoyance, with a simple software trick made possible by iOS 8’s support for third-party keyboards.

iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life – Six secret features buried in iOS 8 to help you get more from the operating system keep you safe, and help you get more from your battery.

‘Potential’ App Keeps Tabs on Android Device Battery Levels – Never again will you pick up an Android device to find that you forgot to charge it now that Potential is out for Android. This app (still in beta) will sync the status of your battery, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth across devices so you can view them anywhere. There’s also a Windows app that can be used to check in on all your Android devices without touching them.


Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose – Migrating to the cloud can be overwhelming. This public vs. private cloud comparison simplifies the process by breaking down five points to consider from the start.

Three easy ways to create a collaborative photo album – Special events like holidays, weddings, and school reunions just beg to be captured in pictures—but organizing photos from friends and family after the event can be a pain. It doesn’t have to be! Here are three easy ways to collect everybody’s photos and share them with all participants after your get-together is over.

Bose QuietComfort 25: Possibly the best purchase a frequent flyer can make – The new Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have for business workers who fly often. Take a look at Jordan Golson’s review.



Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm’ – The Sandworm vulnerability gets a fix with this month’s round of corrective fixes for Microsoft software. Internet Explorer gets a fix, too.

YouTube has potentially infected over 100,000 users during the past 30 days – Did you watch something on YouTube during the past couple of months? If you have, you could be infected with a malicious rootkit. According to reports, over 100,000 people have been infected.

Russian hackers use Windows flaw to target NATO and more – Hackers have been in the news on a regular basis — sometimes for their escapades, other times for their convictions. The latest among them is a Russian hacking collective that has been spying on high-profile targets for the last five years. The collective is being referred to as the Sandworm Team by iSight Partners, which made the discovery, due to Dune references spotted in the hackers’ code. The hacking efforts are said to be ongoing even now, and involve phishing tactics to infect the various targets’ computers.

How to change your Dropbox password – Hackers say they’ve stolen millions of Dropbox passwords, though the company says it wasn’t hacked. Either way, now may be a good time to update your password.

Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault – If Dropbox is correct that the Pastebin file of passwords were all reused from other services then they are innocent. The users involved are guilty of laziness.

Google exposes ‘Poodle’ flaw in Web encryption standard – Three Google security engineers uncover a major vulnerability in the older — but still supported — Web encryption standard SSL 3.0. Experts say fixing it is impossible and upgrading will be difficult.

Korea suffers over 106 million privacy breaches in 4 years – South Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, has suffered over 106 million leaks of personal information by the negligence of private companies in the last four years, reports ZDNet Korea’s Cho Mu-hyun.

Company News:

Ireland to phase out “Double Irish” tax trickery, to Google’s chagrin – The move will affect many tech firms that take advantage of this arrangement such as Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. Last year, for example, Google alone cut billions off of its tax bill. Google declared $60 billion worth of revenue in the United States in 2013. Google’s effective tax rate in the United States has fallen dramatically from 21 percent to 15.7 percent in recent years as the company has broadened its use of overseas tax benefits.

Google Shopping Express Expands To More Cities, Rebrands As “Google Express” – Google Shopping Express, rebranded to simply “Google Express” as of this morning, is no longer entirely subsidizing the costs associated with same-day delivery. The program, which offers instant shopping gratification to consumers in a growing number of U.S. cities, is now working to transition its more regular customers into paying members, who subscribe on either a monthly or annual basis for $10/month or $95/year, respectively.

Intel Reports Better-Than-Expected Q3 Revenue Of $14.55B On Strength Of Recovering PC Market – Following the bell, Intel reported its third quarter financial performance, including revenue of $14.55 billion and earnings per share of $0.66. Analysts and the street had expected that Intel would earn $0.65 per share on total top line of $14.45 billion. In its sequentially preceding quarter, Intel earned $0.55 per share on revenue of $13.8 billion. The company’s revenue rose $1.1 billion compared to its year-ago period, or 8 percent. More positively, its operating income rose 30 percent to $4.5 billion.

HP and EMC merger talks called off, says report – Computing giant HP has called off talks with storage-to-virtualisation company EMC over a potential merger, which the company explored ahead of its recently announced consumer and enterprise split. The two companies’ “off-and-on” merger discussions that have reportedly taken place over the past year have officially been put to rest, with an announcement expected to come as early as Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation.

Games and Entertainment:

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review – This release of Sleeping Dogs is the big-time re-up the game needed for the current generation of consoles: Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It still doesn’t look as fantastic as it does when you’re topped-out on a high-end PC, but Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition never looked better on a console. This game was fun and entertaining in an evolved old-school way when it was first released, and it’s all the more entertaining now.


EVOLVE “Big Alpha” beta confirmed for Oct. 30 on Xbox One – Turtle Rock Studios, creator of the Left for Dead series, are readying the launch of a brand new shooter.  Titled “EVOLVE”, the class-based shooter is a multi-platform game that pits four player-controlled hunters against one player-controlled beast.  The game emphasizes team play between the four hunters and proper execution of each player’s given role in order to take down an agile Godzilla-like creature, and the beta release has been confirmed for October 30, 2014.


Humble Mozilla Bundle brings indie games to your browser – Humble Bundle has another, well, bundle, but this time it’s doing something different, new, and quite exciting. The name that has, for some, changed the way you buy games and support game developers, especially indie ones, is now pioneering another with a collection of 8 titles. These aren’t just games you can play on your PC or, in some cases, mobile device. These titles can spring at you right within the confines of one of the most used programs on your computer: your web browser.


Students build Marvel digital timeline that will suck you in – It’s going to take a superhero-like effort to avoid spending the rest of the day browsing through this website celebrating 75 years of Marvel-ousness.


Say hello to and goodbye to your work day.

Don’t Blink: Assassin’s Creed Rogue Is Coming for PC – The best place to play the Assassin’s Creed series remains a Windows PC, if you don’t mind waiting. Ubisoft just confirmed Assassin’s Creed Rogue will hit PC in “early 2015.” It did so in a slightly sneaky way, too: at the close of a brand new story trailer.


Off Topic (Sort of):

The beginning of the people’s Web: 20 years of Netscape – In 1994, only geeks, techies and nerds were using the Web, and then along came Netscape and nothing would be the same.


It may not be pretty by our standards, but Netscape was the first browser to bring the Web to the masses instead of just the techies.

Apple and Facebook are now paying for women employees to freeze their eggs – It sounds like a plot out of a Gattaca-like dystopian movie: giant corporations that pay for the women on their workforces to freeze their reproductive eggs, allowing them to spend more of their most fertile years at the office, delaying having children until later. Yet that’s exactly what two of Silicon Valley’s largest companies are doing in real life in an apparent bid to recruit more women talent, a laudable goal. Facebook and Apple will both cover the costs of egg-freezing procedures up to $20,000 for individual employees, according to NBC News. Facebook’s employees were able to participate in the policy as of this year, while Apple’s policy won’t be available until early 2015, according to the report.

Linux Foundation Backs Open-Source Drone Projects – For better or worse, drones are big business. And while there are still some regulatory issues to be ironed out regarding commercial use in the U.S., that hasn’t stopped the research and development on these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In an effort to accelerate adoption of better, more affordable, and more reliable open source software for UAVs, The Linux Foundation today announced the Dronecode Project. With the help of founding members like 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, Intel, Qualcomm, and more, the Dronecode Project will develop a common, shared open source platform for drones.


U2’s Bono sorry for compulsory ‘Songs of Innocence’ iTunes download – Bono took the opportunity last night to apologise to fans who were forced to download ‘Songs of Innocence’ via iTunes following the iPhone 6 reveal in September and admitted to getting carried away.

Bullet-time video of parkour, breakdancing, gymnastics is awesome – Using a special filming technique, a cinematographer makes the sports of parkour, tricking, breakdancing and gymnastics look even more amazing.


Something to think about:

“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.”

-     Robert Heinlein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Kingo Android Root – Kingo Android Root provides every Android user the easiest and safest way to root their devices for free.

It supports almost all Android models and versions. It also includes a built-in function to remove root from your Android device with just one-click.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP (SP2 or later), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

EssentialPIM – EssentialPIM is a personal information manager that allows you to keep all your information in electronic form. All your appointments, tasks, notes, contacts, password entries and email messages are stored in a graphical and easily accessible form.


Tools to satisfy your calendar, contact management, tasks, notes, password entries and email needs. All data is cross-linked, – link your contacts to appointments and email messages to notes.

Synchronization with all major online services (Google, Yahoo, Funambol, Mobical, AOLSync, GooSync, etc.) and SyncML and CalDAV servers. Outlook, Windows Mobile and Palm synchronization is also available.

Simple printout of any modules and quick export of your data into the most popular formats (iCal, vCard, CSV, HTML).

Strong data protection with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm.

Intuitive interface in many languages including German, Italian, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese and Russian.

EssentialPIM comes in several editions to satisfy any of your organizing needs:

Pro and Free editions – see comparison.

Portable edition – keeps and manages all your personal data on USB stick.

Network edition – a powerful and complete collaboration solution for small to medium size businesses. It can be installed and configured within 10 minutes by an average computer user without a need for a dedicated server.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance – Since 2011, billions of dollars of venture capital investment have poured into public education through private, for-profit technologies that promise to revolutionize education. Designed for the “21st century” classroom, these tools promise to remedy the many, many societal ills facing public education with artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, and other technological advancements.

They are also being used to track and record every move students make in the classroom, grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance and turning education into one of the most data-intensive industries on the face of the earth. The NSA has nothing on the monitoring tools that education technologists have developed in to “personalize” and “adapt” learning for students in public school districts across the United States.

If you have ‘nothing to hide’, here’s where to send your passwords – Nearly every week, I hear someone shrug off privacy issues with a claim that they’re not worried because they have “nothing to hide” from the government.

Let’s put a cork in it, once and for all.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, love him or hate him, offered attendees at his October TED talk a bulletproof argument (as far as I can tell) against the “nothing to hide” argument.

He said:

“Over the last 16 months, as I’ve debated this issue around the world, every single time somebody has said to me, ‘I don’t really worry about invasions of privacy because I don’t have anything to hide,’ I always say the same thing to them.

I get out a pen. I write down my email address. I say, ‘Here’s my email address. What I want you to do when you get home is email me the passwords to all of your email accounts, not just the nice, respectable work one in your name, but all of them, because I want to be able to just troll through what it is you’re doing online, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you’re not a bad person, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide.’

Not a single person has taken me up on that offer. I check that email account religiously all the time. It’s a very desolate place.”

How an FBI Informant Ordered the Hack of British Tabloid ‘The Sun’ – In July of 2011, the website for the British tabloid The Sun announced that media mogul Rupert Murdoch had been found “dead in his garden.”

It was a lie, of course; a fake article planted by hackers who spent a week flitting in and out of the newspaper’s servers. The cyberattack was part of a campaign against Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire in the midst of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

It was perpetrated, like so many of these things, by a group of anonymous online hackers. Except one of their leaders was an FBI informant.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 14, 2014

Massive list of Dropbox credentials leaked, change your password immediately;  Thousands of Fake Apps Impersonate Facebook, Twitter;  This is why people use phones to film police;  anonabox: Tor in a box for maximum anonymity and freedom;  What to consider when choosing a password manager;  The Alleged Snapchat Leak Looks Real, But It’s Mostly Not Porn;  Five apps to help you organize your personal finances;  When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD;  $65 Windows tablets show up in Hong Kong;  How to get instant scores and sports updates with Google Now;  Popcorn Time Finds A New Home;  Oracle’s 155 bug fixes add to mega Patch Tuesday;  Borderlands: The Pre-sequel review;  Xbox preorder bonuses coming to Microsoft Stores for the holidays;  Google reveals our embarrassing voice search habits.

anonabox: Tor in a box for maximum anonymity and freedom – Some lawmakers and parties have likened the Internet to the Wild Wild West in order to justify putting a clamp on it. For many users, however, that freedom is part and parcel of the Internet’s nature and is necessary for it to survive. To help stem off attempts to curtail the freedom of speech on the Internet, not to mention growing number of spying on users, a group of friends have designed anonabox, a discrete and easy to use networking device that could give the NSA nightmares.


The Alleged Snapchat Leak Looks Real, But It’s Mostly Not Porn – Everything we’ve seen so far, however, suggests what we’ve known for a while now—people generally aren’t using Snapchat to send each other nude photos anymore. The vast majority of the files, wherever they came from, show students in class, dogs running around, and people watching TV. There’s snaps of newborn babies, one of a girl chugging a pot of nacho cheese, lots of selfies, and, yes, there are some vaginas in there—but there’s very little here that people who get off on this shit would want to see.

Google reveals our embarrassing voice search habits – Google recently commissioned a study to show how cool voice search can be, but the findings don’t always show the best side of either teens or adults.

What to consider when choosing a password manager – Many security experts think passwords are no longer sufficient to keep online accounts safe from hackers. But we’re still a long way from widespread adoption of biometrics and alternatives.

8 cutting-edge technologies aimed at eliminating passwords – From electronic pills to digital tattoos, these eight innovations aim to secure systems and identities without us having to remember a password ever again.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD – What kind of external storage do you need? This guide will help you decide how best to spend your money.

Flickr Wall Art: a new integrated printing service – We’ve all had that moment: you snap a picture that turns out so beautiful you want to showcase it on a physical wall. Printing services are ready to make this happen, but they can be a bit of hassle for those who don’t often use them. Some photography hosting websites integrate printing services for this reason, and now Flickr is counted among them. Today the company introduced its new Flickr Wall Art option, which allows users to request a print directly from the photo page.


Five apps to help you organize your personal finances – Manage income and expenses, pay bills, estimate your taxes, and crunch your mortgage costs, all with the help of these handy apps.

$65 Windows tablets show up in Hong Kong, may be coming to a store near you – There are cheap Windows tablets and then there are cheap Windows tablets and thanks to the HKTDC show in Hong Kong, we are now seeing devices that cost as little as $65. So what does this low cost actually get you? You will get a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and an Intel Z3735G quad-core Bay Trail processor. The device is called the EM-i8170, and it is manufactured by Emdoor, which unveiled another low-cost Windows 8.1 device earlier this year – the $99 8-inch EM-i8080, which includes integrated 3G connectivity.


1 million people are helping Microsoft test Windows 10 – Microsoft released its first Windows 10 Technical Preview at the beginning of October, and the company is now revealing that 1 million people are helping test the upcoming operating system through the Windows Insider Program. “That equates to a lot of people using the Windows 10 Technical Preview and sending us feedback,” says Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore. The software maker has received more than 200,000 pieces of feedback on the early version of Windows 10, with top requests that include options to remove the new search and task view buttons, as well as requests for a Start Menu animation or transition.

How to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a Mac – It may seem like mixing oil and water, but as it turns out, installing Windows on your Mac isn’t a violation of natural law—your Retina display won’t melt or anything! In fact, doing so is actually a relatively pain-free process. To give the Windows 10 Technical Preview—a very early pre-release version of Windows 10—a whirl, you don’t even have to pay for a Windows license or already have Windows on your Mac. The Technical Preview is free to test. Intrigued? Let’s dig in.

How to partition your drive before installing Windows 10 – There are a few different options for getting Windows 10 on your device. You can simply install it on a secondary PC over your existing Windows operating system, you can use a virtual PC emulator to test it out or you can partition your hard drive and install it on your primary PC. This guide will show you how to do the last of the three.

Popcorn Time Finds A New Home After The EURid Pulled Its Domain – When your product streams pirated content, it’s safe to expect some complications along the way. The Time4Popcorn fork of the popular Popcorn Time project recently had to find a new domain following the sudden removal of But the developers tell me this latest kerfuffle won’t stop the development of the program and they have already found a new domain.

Bing gets political, builds a hub and makes a few predictions – The team behind Bing has built a new political hub for the upcoming election that aims to help you keep abreast of the election cycle – and it will also put its prediction engine to work too.


How to get instant scores and sports updates with Google Now – Forget fumbling through ten different sports apps and use the power of Google instead so you don’t miss a play.


Massive list of Dropbox credentials leaked, change your password immediately – Dropbox, the popular online storage site, has been compromised and a massive list of users and their passwords have been posted to the web; it is recommended that you change your password immediately.

Dropbox password scam shows up our sloppy infosec – The supposed Dropbox hack that’s really a five-cent scam tells us something important: Information security shouldn’t be here, and it’s mostly the cloud providers’ fault.

Thousands of Fake Apps Impersonate Facebook, Twitter, and More – From my non-scientific observations, it seems pretty clear that browsing and posting to social networks is the most popular use of smartphones. But not all of these social apps are what they seem. According to Cheetah Mobile Threat Lab, attackers are churning out thousands of fake social networking apps, tricking users into giving away their personal information. Cheetah reports that it has detected 15,000 fake social networking apps in less than a year.

Snapsaved Takes Responsibility For Latest Snapchat Leak – Last week, news spread that some 200,000 Snapchat photos had leaked after a third-party app (used to save people’s snaps) was hacked. It was referred to as the Snappening. Snapchat was quick to respond to the situation by saying that the photos had been stolen from a third-party application, but that Snapchat’s servers were never compromised. Turns out, is stepping forward and taking responsibility for the leak. In an update posted to the company’s Facebook page, Snapsaved claims full responsibility and also gives a bit more clarity about what was hacked and what information was made available.

Whitelisting has its place in your company’s antimalware arsenal – First opinions give deep impressions. However, it might be time to give application whitelisting another try since not much else is defeating malware and digital exploits.

Oracle’s 155 bug fixes add to mega Patch Tuesday – Oracle has a large number of fixes lined up for Tuesday, including 25 for Java SE, while Microsoft and Adobe have patches due then too.

Company News:

Sapphire supplier wants to expose details of its deal with Apple – GT Advanced Technologies was to supply Apple with scratch-resistant sapphire glass, but announced Oct. 6 it’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Apple’s confidentiality agreements go too far, put other creditors at a disadvantage, GT Advanced Technologies argues

French Twitter users to be offered Twitter payment service – French Twitter users will be able to send money to one another with a tweet from later this week—but the payment service isn’t run by Twitter. S-Money, a subsidiary of France’s second largest banking group, BPCE, plans to extend its existing mobile payment service to French Twitter users with a payment card, regardless of who they bank with.

Dropbox fixing file-deletion bug, offers year of free service – The online storage site is trying help those who lost files through a technical bug by restoring the files it can and offering free service for a year.

Google’s Schmidt cites Amazon as biggest competitor: Reality or deflection? – Eric Schmidt’s take that Amazon is Google’s biggest search rival grabbed the headlines, but it’s worth parsing his entire speech to see what he’s really after.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox preorder bonuses coming to Microsoft Stores for the holidays – Microsoft Store is using new pre-order bonuses via Xbox Live Rewards and exclusive game content to draw Xbox shoppers to its own retail stores this holiday season.

Borderlands: The Pre-sequel review: Bang, zoom, to the moon – The combination of the new verticality and the new attack option makes the Pre-Sequel feel like an entirely distinct experience. It’s hard to describe how satisfying it is to double jump over an enemy, use a butt slam to send out a wave of icy cold that freezes him in place, and then shatter his frozen body with a shotgun blast to the face. This situation, or something like it, happens all the time in Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. It’s enough to make the staid, stop-and-pop, cover-based action of other first-person shooters seem a bit boring in comparison.


Crowdsourced version of Star Wars Empire Strikes Back complete – While Disney continues work on the latest Star Wars movie, legions of fans have been working hard on producing their own version of Empire Strikes Back, perhaps the best movie of either trilogy. The concept of the project, Empire Strikes Back Uncut, was to allow fans to submit custom 15-second clips that re-imagine scenes from the movie. At the end of it all, the submissions would be stitched together to re-create the classic movie. The project received over 1,500 submissions, and nearly 1/3 of them were selected to create the movie, available for free on YouTube. The film clocks in at over two hours, but the quality of the overall work is top notch, even if some of the submissions were a little weak.


The Best iPad Digital Comic Book Readers – The five iPad digital comic book apps in this roundup include the industry powerhouse, an all-you-can-eat subscription service, as well as lesser-known, but quality offerings. Below is just a taste of what the apps can do; click through to the full reviews for in-depth looks into each digital comic book app’s functionality. If there’s an iPad digital comic book app that you feel we’ve overlooked, drop a line in the comments section. We’re always eager to test new comic book readers.


Comixology (free)

Joe Dirt 2 heads to Crackle: Adam Sandler wins again – It’s high time Adam Sandler received some credit for this massive efforts in creating as many comedy movies as possible over the past several years – Crackle and Netflix know the score. The most recent win for this founder of Happy Madison productions is a long-awaited sequel to the film Joe Dirt. This film will star David Spade in his magnum opus role, returning with the wig he suggests he’s been “sleeping in for years.” He’s “beyond stoked that Joe Dirt will finally hit the screens again on Crackle.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

This is why people use phones to film police – A routine traffic stop in Iowa turns into a police officer trying to trick the driver into admitting he has pot. His reasoning? The driver must have pot because he’s into frisbee golf.


Why a PC belongs in every living room – Today, a generic computer with an HDMI port is the easiest all-in-one media machine to have in your living room. A computer can play console-quality video games. A computer can record television. A computer can do almost anything apps can do, and it can probably do it better and through a web browser. When someone innovates how we consume our entertainment, whether that’s Spotify, Twitch, or a new streaming service, it happens first on a computer.

Federal lawsuit alleges highway guardrails can kill people – The guardrails that line US highways are meant to protect drivers in the event of a crash, but many that have been installed over the past decade may also present a danger. The manufacturer of those guardrails, Trinity Highway Products, is heading to court this week facing allegations that it changed its guardrail design without informing the Federal Highway Administration and has been improperly accepting federal money ever since, according to The New York Times. Separate lawsuits reportedly allege that those changes have led to five deaths and many other injuries in at least 14 accidents across the US.


This Video Shows An Arizona Police Officer Telling An Immigrant He’ll Kill Him If He Moves – “Keep your hands where I can see them, don’t move. You hear me? You have a license? Show me your license now. If you do something, I’ll kill you here. You understand?” Teodulo Sanchez tells BuzzFeed News the officer put a gun in his face during the tense stop, which police dispute.


Breakthrough batteries last 20 years, charge 70 percent in two minutes – If the breakthrough battery tech hits mainstream it could revolutionize electric cars—and end the forced obsolescence of smartphones.

NFL players thumb nose at Beats headphones ban – Ignoring the NFL’s deal with Bose, some NFL players displayed their Beats proudly before games yesterday, despite the threat of fines. Where will this end?

Something to think about:

“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

-     Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today’s Free Downloads:

SlimComputer – If you’ve ever gotten a new PC and it came loaded with promotional programs, toolbars, links to advertising or trial offers, then you know how frustrating these things can be. Community-powered feedback is the key to SlimComputer’s state-of-the-art cleaning. In real time, SlimComputer assesses your new PC to identify programs, toolbars, and startup entries that users vote “optional”. You can then use this data to decide what you want to keep on your computer.


Firefox Environment Backup Extension (FEBE) 8.1 Beta / 8.0.5 Final – FEBE allows you to quickly and easily backup your Firefox extensions. In fact, it goes beyond just backing up — It will actually rebuild your extensions individually into installable .xpi files. Now you can easily synchronize your office and home browsers.

FEBE backs up and restores your extensions, themes, and (optionally) your bookmarks, preferences, cookies. and much more.

Backup as little or as much of your Firefox environment as you wish. Perform backups on demand or schedule daily, weekly, or monthly unattended runs. Sequential backups can be stored in timestamped directories so you can restore back as far as you like.

You may specify “User-defined” items to have FEBE backup Thunderbird, Greasemonkey scripts, or virtually any data on your computer – Firefox related or not.


Windows 10 Transformation Pack 1.0 – Experience Windows 10 without having to install the preview.


Seamless installation and uninstallation giving users safe transformation

Easily configurable in single click with intelligence Metro UI design

Designed for all editions of Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 including Server Editions

Genuine Windows 10 system resources with Metro touches

Smart system files updating with auto-repair and Windows Update friendly

UxStyle memory patching

Windows 10 themes, wallpaper and logon screen

Virtual Desktop from Microsoft

Revived start menu with Metro support

Metro UI desktop emulation with pre-configured gadgets

Aero’s auto-colorization feature


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

America’s biggest police departments are getting spy gear through private charities – Many Americans have recently expressed concerns with the increasing use of military gear by police departments in this country, especially in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri (protests that were themselves sparked by a lethal police shooting).

While it is very easy to focus on militarization after seeing jarring pictures of police pointing automatic rifles at demonstrators, a separate but no less questionable practice has been quietly taking root at some of America’s biggest police departments in the past decade.

As ProPublica reports, the police departments of New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Oakland have all turned to private police foundations in recent years to acquire new crime fighting and law enforcement gear — everything from horses for mounted police units to spy software developed by intelligence contractor Palantir (a grateful LAPD appeared in the following 2013 advertisement for Palantir’s crime investigation platform, which knits together data from a variety of sources, from police reports to license plate readers).

Privacy Group Targets British Spyware Company over Bahrain Surveillance – The rights group Privacy International asked the British government this morning to investigate a surveillance company for enabling spying on Bahraini activists in the U.K.

The company in question, Gamma Group, is a U.K.-based firm that provides surveillance software and other “lawful intercept” technology to governments around the world. Among their products was FinFisher software, which lets spies remotely monitor a computer they’ve infected — accessing files, web traffic, Skype calls and more. Privacy International asked the U.K.’s National Crime Agency to investigate the company.

“Companies like Gamma have been enabling repressive states’ unlawful conduct, but then seeking to suggest that they bear no responsibility for the products that they supply,” said Adriana Edmeades, Privacy International’s legal officer.

Australia: Spies can access my metadata, so why can’t I? My 15-month legal battle with Telstra – The RSPCA, councils and other law-enforcement agencies can obtain reporter Ben Grubb’s internet and phone metadata but Telstra won’t release it to him. Here he details his 15-month fight for access. (recommended by Mal C.)

Suspected Russian “Sandworm” cyber spies targeted NATO, Ukraine – A group of cyber spies targeted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Ukrainian and Polish government agencies, and a variety of sensitive European industries over the last year, in some cases using a previously unknown flaw in Windows systems to infiltrate targets, according to a research report released on Tuesday.

Dubbed “Sandworm” by iSIGHT Partners, the security consultancy that discovered the zero-day attack, the campaign is suspected to be Russian in origin based on technical details, the malware tools used, and the chosen targets, which also included government agencies in Europe and academics in the United States. If confirmed, the attack is an uncommon look into Russia’s cyber-espionage capabilities.

The Sandworm Team, named because its members include references from Frank Herbert’s Dune series in their code, also used a previously unknown software flaw, or 0day vulnerability, to compromise some targets. Using the security hole, the Sandworm group could execute their attacks on systems running up-to-date versions of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT. Microsoft plans to release a patch for the flaw during its regular updates on Tuesday.

Daum Kakao boss says privacy comes before the law – In an emergency press conference held in Seoul, Daum Kakao co-CEO Lee Sir-goo said that going forward, the company will refuse all warrants from prosecutors for access mobile text messages saved on the firm’s mobile messenger service Kakao Talk, saying that “privacy comes before the law”.

“We have decided to never discuss even the possibility of giving prosecutors access to the users’ data that we store with related authorities,” said Lee. “It is because privacy is more important than any law.

“When there is no social consensus between law and privacy, we will in all circumstances implement a policy that puts privacy first,” said the co-CEO in a stern tone.

Lee said that if his stance is considered illegal, he himself and the company will take full legal responsibility.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 13, 2014

My favorite Windows desktop utilities;  UK to draft revenge porn law;  New Google Trial Hooks You Up with a Doctor;  Smartphone camera shootout: iPhone 6 Plus takes on six top challengers (pictures);  How to access Hyperlapse’s hidden settings;  Photo-sharing app protects your pics from screenshots;  Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips;  Kmart latest retailer to have its payment systems hacked;  100,000 Snapchat photos get leaked;  Fable Legends beta goes live October 16;  Tech Stocks Show Weakness;  The beginner’s guide to game streaming with Twitch;  Watch a hawk defend its turf against a quadcopter;  FotoSketcher (free);  Why Privacy Matters: A TED Talk by Glenn Greenwald.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow travellers in the  Great White North.


My favorite Windows desktop utilities – Who says the Windows desktop is dead? These are the six essential utilities Ed Bott installs on every new Windows PC, and they work with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or even the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

UK to draft revenge porn law – People who post explicit images of former partners online could soon face prison time as ministers from the UK are working on a law to counter the increasing threat of “revenge porn.” In the UK alone, there have been 149 registered cases of revenge porn which also include offenders as young as 11 years of age. However, there has been no law to treat these offenses. The government has now shown concern, and with the help of a few ministers, will be drafting a law to send offenders to a maximum prison sentence of two years.

A Marketing Firm Could Be Looking at Your Selfies – That picture you posted on Instagram from the beach last week might have more useful data in it than you think. Where are you? What do you have in your hand? Do you look happy or sad? What are you wearing? These are all questions that can help advertisers target their marketing to consumers, so a crop of new digital marketing companies has begun analyzing photos posted on Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and other photo-sharing sites to look for these trends and insights.

Smartphone camera shootout: iPhone 6 Plus takes on six top challengers (pictures) – Smartphones are often the only camera most people have with them — and most of these smartphones will give you good results. See for yourself.

New Google Trial Hooks You Up with a Doctor When Symptom-Searching – The trial is currently free for users, so feel free to chat up a doctor if Google gives you the option to do so when you’re searching about your symptoms.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Phablet vs. mini-tablet: The big choice between two smallish devices – As phones grow and tablets shrink, they’re merging in form, but not always in function. We size up the key specs and differences you should care about.

Get Google Now reminders for multiple calendars – Want to get reminders for events that aren’t on your primary Google calendar? Check out these tips for troubleshooting which events appear in Google Now on Android.

How to access Hyperlapse’s hidden settings – A large part of Hyperlapse’s charm is its simplicity that lets you create a time-lapse video with a few taps of your finger. Should you want more control of your output, the app has a hidden Labs feature where you can adjust a number of settings, including resolution, frame rate, and various sound levels.

Need help with Windows 10? There’s a forum for that – With Windows 10 technical preview now out, we know that many of you have questions that are specific to your install and to help answer these questions, we have a forum available.

Photo-sharing app protects your pics from screenshots – A new photo-sharing app uses a common optical illusion to make your sent snaps a lot harder for the receiver to screenshot.


Google: One in ten ‘Right to be forgotten’ requests originate from the UK – Google has released figures in which show that one in ten requests to be removed from search results under the European “right to be forgotten” laws have originated from the UK. Google claims they have evaluated 498,737 links for removal since May of this year, including 63,616 pages originating from requests by UK citizens. In total, 18,403 requests were submitted which is the third highest in the EU; Google honoured just 35% of those requests, resulting in the removal of 18,459 links.

It might be time to kiss the iPod goodbye – Apple’s latest event is happening next week, and we’re all fairly certain what we’re getting. New iPads are likely on the horizon, and we’re expecting something in the way of Mac and iMac to come as well. Though we’re not expecting apple to unleash that massive iPad Pro we’ve been hearing about just yet, there’s good reason to think another of their products is falling by the wayside yet again. If we’re being totally honest, there might be good reason for it to slip quietly away, too.

What the SketchFactor app can tell us about the ethics of data use and crowdsourcing – The SketchFactor app identifies neighborhoods’ “sketchiness” through publicly available data, as well as user updates that other users can vote on. The crowdsourcing aspect has led to controversy.


A screenshot of the SketchFactor app.


Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips: “Get Rid Of Dropbox,” Avoid Facebook And Google – According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google. Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy.

Kmart is the latest retailer to have its payment systems hacked – Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and PF Changs have all had their payment systems hacked in recent months — now you can add Kmart to that list. According to a recent SEC filing and confirmed in a statement from the company, the Sears-owned department store chain discovered on October 9th that its “payment data systems had been breached” by hackers, and the company believes that “certain debit and credit card numbers have been compromised.” Unfortunately, it’s not clear yet how extensive this attack was, but the company does note that it believes it was vulnerable from early September through yesterday, when it removed the malware responsible for the attack.

Fallout from the JPMorgan Chase breach – Most articles about the 76 million or so names and addresses that were stolen from JP Morgan Chase bank focus on the danger of phishing emails. But email is not the only way bad guys can abuse stolen data. They may also try to scam victims on the telephone. I ran across a couple articles on the Chase breach that mentioned telephone abuse, but each omitted an important point – you can’t trust caller ID.

100,000 Snapchat photos get leaked, but Snapchat isn’t to blame – A third-party web app for Snapchat saved snapped photos to its server, allowing hackers to get at them.

Blackphone is working on a secure tablet – The world has turned its attention towards the issue of privacy in the digital age, particularly one where the government is known to spy on data through all sorts of insidious and legally dubious means. That reality has prompted many different products tailored towards keeping private data away from prying eyes: encrypted messaging platforms, locked down email services, and, of course, the Blackphone. The folks behind the latter device have revealed to CNBC that a tablet is now in the works.

Company News:

Tech Stocks Show Weakness Amid Uncertain Global Economy – The carnage was widespread, with giants taking a stumble — Microsoft, -3.97%; Google, 2.92%; Facebook, -3.95%; LinkedIn, -3.84%; Yahoo, -3.65%; and Alibaba, -3.28% — and newcomers joining in the general mayhem. MobileIron fell 6.92%. ZenDesk was off 8.06%. GoPro dropped 4.63%, Twitter fell 8.84%, And Arista Networks shed 8.96%. (Data: Google Finance.) If you were holding tech stocks on Friday morning, and didn’t sell, you were far less wealthy by the end of the day. As BusinessInsider noted earlier today, the NASDAQ lost over 4% last week, a sharp contraction.

A thousand Foxconn employees walk out in protest – It seems Foxconn is once again in the public’s eye thanks to the way they treat their workers. Employees are protesting for higher wages and better conditions at one of the company’s plants.

Google releases “Right to be Forgotten” transparency report – When Google was made to start accepting and acknowledging URL takedown requests in Europe — the famed “Right to be Forgotten” issue — they were almost immediately inundated with more than they could handle. In the first day alone, Google received over 12,000 requests from netizens, and it doesn’t look to have slowed down much. Yesterday, Google released info about those takedown requests, and the metrics are staggering. In the short time it’s been available, Google has seen over half a million takedown submissions.

Former Infosys recruiter says he was told not to hire U.S. workers – The case, filed in federal court in Wisconsin, is from four IT workers around the country who are suing the company for “ongoing national origin and race discrimination.” An amended complaint was posted online by one of the attorneys representing the workers, and filed with the court last week. It includes an account by Samuel Marrero, who worked as a recruiter in Infosys’s talent acquisition unit from 2011 until May 2013. In weekly conference calls held by company officials, the lawsuit says, recruiters were encouraged to focus their efforts on Indian candidates and “stick to the talent we’re used to.”

Uber gets an F from the Better Business Bureau – Customers call in a slew of complaints about the ride-sharing service — ranging from allegedly being overcharged by hundreds of dollars to having troubles with customer service.

Games and Entertainment:

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is all about the journey, and the journey here is spectacular both visually and narratively. This game is something special.


Fable Legends beta goes live October 16, apply for access – Lionhead Studios just updated its main webpage with the announcement of a multiplayer beta for the upcoming Fable Legends video game. Scheduled to go live on October 16, 2014, Lionhead is now accepting applications for gamers to take part in a multiplayer beta prior to the final game launch. As far as we know, Fable Legends is tailored to be a 4v1 multiplayer game based in the fictional world of Albion. Unlike previous Fable titles, Fable Legends looks to take a Titanfall approach by tailoring the majority of the game to a multiplayer experience instead of the solo story focus that the franchise is known for.


The beginner’s guide to game streaming with Twitch – Used to be, there was pretty much one way to interact with a video game: You sat down and played it. Maybe you spent a while watching an older friend or sibling play, but gaming was never what you’d call a “spectator sport.” That’s all changed in the last couple of years, with the advent of YouTube gaming celebrities and the booming popularity of online streaming service Twitch. Firing up a stream and watching someone else play a thousand miles away is now a perfectly legitimate way to enjoy a game. Best of all, anyone is free to participate on either side of the stream—and if you want to be the one gaming in front of a live audience, you can start doing it today, for free. Here’s how.

Never Ending Tower for iOS: A Tetris-Jenga Hybrid – Not every game on your iPhone or iPad needs to have console-quality 3D graphics rendered at a zillion frames per second. Sometimes a simple physics-based arcade game is a better use of your downtime. Never Ending Tower is a new title for iPhone and iPad that encourages you to build a tower as tall as possible without losing a brick. It’s half Tetris and half Jenga.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Select seven to hold ‘Internet reboot’ keys – Seven people across the world will hold a keycard, which, when put together will reboot the key part of the World Wide Web. It sounds like something out of a spy thriller movie or an episode of South Park, but this safeguarding measure is to ensure the Internet can be restarted in the event of natural or man-made disaster.


Flight attendants take FAA to court to reinstate ban on electronics use – Remember how pleased frequent travelers were late last year when the Federal Aviation Administration finally started allowing airline passengers to use their personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing? Well, it turns out there’s one group of people who aren’t very happy with the change, and are now trying to get the ban on smartphones and tablets put back in place. Flight attendants have taken the FAA to the U.S. Court of Appeals with their main concern being the issue of safety.

Watch a hawk defend its turf against a quadcopter in the only way it knows – Not since James Cameron’s 2009’s masterpiece Avatar has there been such a struggle over the use of resources, and machine versus animal. That is one way you could describe this 39-second clip of a hawk defending its turf against a quadcopter drone flown by a puny earthbound human. Luckily a camera captured the whole thing, so we know who the real aggressor was.


Slow credit card verification lands Florida man in jail – Last week a man was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, FL when his two credit cards were declined after he spent $600 on bottle service at a nightclub. The story wouldn’t be all that interesting were it not for the fact that the man, Don Marcani, had not reached his credit limit that night. In fact, he was able to pay his $1,000 bail the next morning using one of the credit cards that was declined earlier.

Enough with the non-existent wearables already – What’s wrong with wearables? Not enough of them are real products, and many may never be. And if there’s one thing a new market doesn’t need, it’s vaporware.

Obama: I want the FCC to ban paid Internet fast lanes: President is “unequivocally committed to net neutrality.” – President Barack Obama yesterday said he is still “unequivocally committed to net neutrality” and that he wants the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules that prevent Internet service providers from creating paid fast lanes. Obama pointed out that the FCC is “an independent agency” but said he wants the commission to prevent paid prioritization.

Barcelona Comedy Club Has Patrons Paying Per Laugh – This one sounds like a joke in itself—and we half suspect it is—but here goes. According to reports from the BBC, among other sources, a comedy club in Barcelona has switched over to a new, somewhat ingenious scheme for charging patrons for the funnies. Literally, they’re doing just that. Facial recognition software built into tablet computers attached to the back of each chair at Barcelona’s Teatreneu club notes when a person has been laughing during the show. Each laugh costs a total of 0.3 euros (roughly 38 cents), and patrons can be billed up to 24 euros in total (around $30) for their evening.


Something to think about:

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”

-     Hubert H. Humphrey

Today’s Free Downloads:

Manager Desktop Edition – Manager is free accounting software for small business. Windows, Mac and Linux.


Money In: Every time you receive money, it should be recorded in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you put money into bank account, cash register or into your own pocket. Every time you receive money

Money Out: Every time you spend money, it will appear in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you take money from your bank account or from your own pocket. Every time you spend money

Sales Invoices: This module contains all invoices that you have issued to your customers and other debtors. It provides useful reports such as Aged receivables which will assist you analyze your debtors further

Purchase Invoices: This module will show all the bills that you have received from your suppliers and other creditors. It provides useful reports such as Aged payables which will assist you analyze your creditors further

Contact Directory: Do you need to view history or contact details on person or organisation you’ve been dealing with? Then Contact Directory is the module that will provide you with all information you require

Chart of Accounts: This module shows all accounts that are used in your accounting system. Accounts are being created automatically so if you are not familiar with Chart of accounts, you don’t need to worry about this module

Journal Entries: Usually only skilled accountants and bookkeepers are using this module to set opening balances or adjust account balances on financial statements. If you are not familiar with journal entries, you don’t need them

Reports: Many reports available such as Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, Tax Summary, General Ledger Summary, Aged Receivables, Aged Payables and more depending on your country and other settings


FotoSketcher - FotoSketcher is a 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically. If you want to turn a portrait, the photograph of your house or a beautiful landscape into a painting, a sketch or a drawing then look no further, FotoSketcher will do the job in just a few seconds.

Thanks to FotoSketcher you can create stunning images to make original gifts for your friends or relatives. Create birthday cards, season’s greetings stationary or simply print your work of art and hang it on the wall.

Different styles are available: pencil sketch, pen and ink drawing, various painting renderings. You can also improve your original photo with simple tools (enhance contrast, sharpen, simplify image, increase luminosity, color saturation etc…).

FotoSketcher is completely free and does not contain any adware, spyware or virus. It runs on any version of Microsoft Windows (sorry, no Mac version available).


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CORE SECRETS: NSA SABOTEURS IN CHINA AND GERMANY – The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use “physical subversion” to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The agency has used “under cover” operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms.


Snowden Attacks “Anything Goes” Privacy Intrusions Of British Spy Agencies – In what amounts to a wake up call directed at a British public generally considered apathetic on privacy issues, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that U.K. spy agencies are using digital technology to conduct mass population surveillance without any checks and balances at all — overreaching and encroaching on privacy rights in a way that he characterized as even worse than the U.S. National Security Agency’s inroads into citizens’ rights.

Why Privacy Matters: A TED Talk by Glenn Greenwald – “Mass surveillance suppresses our own freedom in all sorts of ways, rendering off-limits choices without our knowing it’s even happened.”


Former NSA director had thousands personally invested in obscure tech firms – New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms.

Each year disclosed has a checked box next to this statement: “Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist.”

Alexander repeatedly made the public case that the American public is at “greater risk” from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. Statements such as those could have a positive impact on the companies he was invested in, which could have eventually helped his personal bottom line.

NSA refuses to reveal what it has leaked – A lot of information has been leaked about the government and its various agencies, not the least of which being the NSA. Of course, not all leaks are unauthorized — the government itself will leak its own information at times, the reasons for which are varied and, despite requests otherwise, still secret. A recent Freedom of Information Act request for information about what leaks the government has made was denied due to claims of posing a potential threat to national security.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 10, 2014

Spot phishing scams and don’t take the bait;  Google Now crushes Siri and Cortana;  Create Your Own Bootable Tech Toolbox;  Better email apps for your iPhone (Android too!);  Create Your Own Polls on Google+;  How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview as a virtual machine;  Why you can’t use all of your RAM;  Malware Hack Dips Into Dairy Queen Customer Data;  Tumblr wants to be the new YouTube ;  Android SMS worm Selfmite is back, more aggressive than ever;  Free: EA’s Dragon Age: Origins is on the house;  Trojan Disguised as Nude Emma Watson Facebook Viral Video;  One In Three U.K. Children Now Owns A Tablet;  Red Bull owes you $10 unless you did, in fact, grow wings;  XYplorer Free Edition;  Honeyview: Ultrafast Image Viewer (free);  Android upgrades simplified: Which manufacturers can you trust?

Spot phishing scams and don’t take the bait – Can you recognize a phishing scam email when you see one? Do you know what signs to look for to identify a phishing attack, and avoid becoming a victim? In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, PhishMe has developed an infographic with helpful tips to keep you safe and secure. PhishMe points out the usual, common-sense things you should do to avoid getting compromised—by either phishing scams or malware exploits.

Create Your Own Bootable Tech Toolbox With AOMEI PE Builder – I am going to start off this blog post with this statement, “If you are someone who is often called upon to troubleshoot a Windows Based PC, then AOMEI PE Builder FREE is the first step in creating your very own bootable tech toolbox.” AOMEI PE Builder FREE will walk you through the process of creating a bootable (and customizable) disk, based on the WindowsPE environment, that will allow you to perform system maintenance, troubleshooting and fast recovery tasks when the computer is corrupted (i.e. by malware) or cannot be used.

Google Now crushes Siri and Cortana in a head to head knowledge challenge – There is nothing sweeter than pulling out your phone, asking it a question, and getting back the one obscure piece of information you need to settle a debate or win a drunken bet. Smartphones from Google, Apple, and Microsoft all offer a personal assistant who claims to be flush with knowledge drawn from around the web. But when it comes to providing useful answers, a new study shows there is a clear choice when you’re stumped and need to phone a friend.

Better email apps for your iPhone – Whether you’re a power user who craves more control over how you organize your email, or you feel overwhelmed by your inbox, there’s an app that can help you. I’ve rounded up five valuable email apps for your iPhone or iPad that can help change the way you deal with your inbox, or just make the process of reading and responding to messages more productive. All of these apps are available for Android as well, though Acompli is still in beta.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Android upgrades simplified: Which manufacturers can you trust? – In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, Google’s on the brink of launching one of its biggest-ever updates to Android: the thus-far-unnamed Android “L” release. Android “L” will introduce a whole new design language for the platform along with a revamped lock screen and plenty of fresh features. The big question, though, is when the upgrade will reach your device. Based on their performance in the recent past, here’s the lowdown on how the major Android phone-makers tend to treat OS updates.

Weebly Debuts An iPad App For Building And Managing Websites – Weebly has quietly grown to power a large number of publisher and e-commerce sites over the years, and now it’s rolling out a whole new way for users to build experiences on its platform. With the launch of a new iPad app, the company is launching what could be the easiest website creation tool out there.

How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview as a virtual machine – Windows 10 has arrived! Ready to take it for a spin? You have a couple options. If you have an old PC lying around, you could install Windows 10 from a flash drive. But I think the better approach is to run the new OS inside a “sandbox,” a virtual machine that won’t affect your system in any way (except for borrowing some space on the hard drive). Indeed, thanks to free virtualization software, you can run Windows 10 on your current PC — then remove it when you’ve seen enough (or the Technical Preview expires, whichever comes first). The entire process takes about 30 minutes — maybe longer depending on the speed of your PC. Here’s how to make it happen.

Hands On: Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter – If you own a Windows Phone, Surface or Windows 8.1 machine that supports Miracast, Microsoft has a new peripheral that allows you to project your screen to another display. The product is being pitched as an easy way to share your screen with another device wirelessly, and it costs $60. The device is quite simple. It comes in a small gray box and has an HDMI connection on one end and a USB port on the other side. The USB is needed to power the peripheral, which means when connecting it to a HDTV, you will need to make sure the TV has a spare USB port.

Create Your Own Polls on Google+ – Google just introduced a handy new feature for Google+ that should help you answer serious questions like which James Bond movie is best, or whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the ultimate basketballer. The next time you need to settle a debate like this, click over to Google+ and create a poll.

Skype gets a new UI, downloads now available for Windows and OS X – Microsoft has released an update for Skype that updates the UI of both the Windows and OS X version and there a couple new features too; the download links are posted after the jump.


Google launches a much better Hangouts app for your desktop – There’s no need to have a browser window open, but you’ll need Chrome running somewhere in the background to use the new Hangouts Chrome App. “You’ll get all your messages as long as you have the app running, and your chats will sync across Hangouts on all your devices,” says Google. And of course there’s voice calling (and full Google Voice integration) built in. It sounds like a nice improvement for Windows and Chromebook users; hopefully we’ll see something similar on Mac at some point.


Imgur To Convert Uploaded GIFs Into Videos – Social image sharing site Imgur today announced Project GIFV, an internal initiative to drag the GIF format we all know and love out of the 90s and into the modern, HTML5-powered web. Going forward, the site will convert all images uploaded in GIF format to lightweight MP4 videos.

Back to the Future gets a banner that delivers breaking news in the form of tweets – Following Microsoft’s relaunch of, it has now introduced a new breaking news banner with Twitter on its homepage, which shows tweets from trusted sources as major news events are developing. A Microsoft representative told us that the breaking news banner will be used selectively, and will only be put into action when there is a major news event ‘spiking’ in activity on Twitter.

New Lenovo Yoga tablet hides a surprise: A projector for impromptu movie nights – Now here’s a party trick: Stream video from your tablet onto the wall. That’s the fun new feature on Lenovo’s 13-inch Tablet 2 Pro. The company also announced 8-inch and 10-inch Yoga tablets.

Why you can’t use all of your RAM – Your PC has 4GB of RAM, or maybe even 8GB. But Windows doesn’t even use 4GB. Here’s what’s going on.


Microsoft slates critical Windows, IE fixes for next week – Microsoft today said it will release nine security updates next week, twice the number of last month, with fixes slated for Internet Explorer (IE), Windows, SharePoint Server and Web app developer tools. Three of the nine were rated “critical,” Microsoft’s most serious threat ranking. Five others were tagged “important,” the next step down in the company’s four-level scoring system, while the ninth was labeled “moderate.”

Malware Hack Dips Into Dairy Queen Customer Data – Dairy Queen announced on Thursday that its customer data had been compromised by malware. The ice cream chain said the breach affected 395 of its over 4,500 locations in the United States. The hacked information contained the names and credit card information of past customers. Fewer than 600,000 cards were affected. Dairy Queen has provided a list of targeted locations.

Android SMS worm Selfmite is back, more aggressive than ever – A new version of the worm is causing infected devices to send thousands of spam text messages and has spread to 16 countries

Trojan Disguised as Nude Emma Watson Facebook Viral Video – The leaked video of the 24-year-old actress is actually a harmful Trojan that could be used to seize control of Facebook accounts and steal personal data. Clicking on the link redirects the user to a fake YouTube site. The page then asks you to update Flash Player so you can watch the video. The download, not surprisingly, isn’t legit. Instead, it loads malware that even uses the real Flash Player icon and drops the virus in “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer.” Once the malware is installed,  the attackers can steal personal data, profit from subscribing victims to SMS scams, and access the victims’ Facebook account or saved cookies.

Company News:

Activist Investor Carl Icahn Asks Apple To Speed Up Share Repurchase Program – Apple CEO Tim Cook received another letter from activist investor Carl Icahn today, which marks the second time the shareholder has lobbied Apple to step up its repurchase program. The letter details the request at length, commending Apple on its recent iPhone 6 launch and Cook on his leadership, but asks Apple to “meaningfully accelerate and increase the magnitude of share repurchases,” in light of “the persistently excessive liquidity of $133 billion net cash on Apple’s balance sheet.”

Report: Tumblr wants to be the new YouTube – Yahoo’s Tumblr platform is a subtle social layer populated by quite a bit of original content. Since purchasing it for $1.1 billion, Yahoo has left Tumblr alone, but that could change. According to several sources speaking to Business Insider, Tumblr is being prepped for a big fight with an even bigger social entity full of creative folk. Yahoo is exploring turning Tumblr into a YouTube opponent, and even discussing whether they should poach existing YouTube talent for the new-look Tumblr.

Satya Nadella is in hot water over a comment about women and pay, listen to it here – Earlier today, Satya Nadella was interviewed Grace Hooper Celebration keynote by Maria Klawe but a comment about women and asking for a raise has landed the CEO in some hot water.

Nadella: ‘I answered that question completely wrong’ – Satya Nadella has posted a memo about his comment on stage at the Grace Hopper Conference where he says that when he answered the question about a raise, he was “completely wrong”.


Amazon looking to open retail store in Manhattan – A lot of talk has been circulating about Google taking a page from the Apple book and creating their own retail space. With so many products in their arsenal, it makes sense to have an actual retail space for fans to try and buy. Their pop-up shops last year were half a step, but it seems Amazon may be going all-in on retail, picking up where Google left off. Sources now say Amazon will have an actual brick-and-mortar store this year.

Symantec Confirms Plans to Split in Two – Following the lead of HP and eBay, computer security firm Symantec on Thursday afternoon confirmed rumors that it plans to split in two. One of the remaining companies will focus on security while the other will focus on information management. In a statement about the move, Symantec said that creating two standalone businesses will allow each company to “maximize its respective growth opportunities and drive greater shareholder value.”

Games and Entertainment:

EA’s Dragon Age: Origins is on the house – This top-rated fantasy RPG normally sells for $20. For a limited time, get it free, no strings attached. To clarify, once you get the game, it’s yours to keep. And play. Forever. The time limitation: The giveaway itself ends Oct. 14. If you’re overseas or off-planet and don’t return until Oct. 15, well, no freebie for you.


Seriously Launches Its First Game, Best Fiends – About a year ago, a small portion of the Rovio executive team broke away to start their own company. Seriously. No, that’s what it’s called: Seriously. So Seriously launches and decides it wants to run the same general play as Rovio did with Angry Birds, creating an addictive game that can then turn into its own media and merchandise brand. Today, that journey begins with the launch of Seriously’s first game, Best Fiends. The game launches exclusively on iOS right now, asking users to begin a puzzle-based adventure with brand new, yet lovable characters.


Oculus Rift support unlocked in Alien: Isolation – If there was every a perfect showcase game for the Oculus Rift then Alien: Isolation is it. Even publisher Sega and developer The Creative Assembly agreed and demonstrated Oculus Rift support working in the game back in June at E3. However, the final game has now shipped and Oculus Rift support is not included. But it turns out The Creative Assembly didn’t bother to remove the code, they just disabled it in the final build. So modders in the subreddit /r/Oculus set about unlocking the functionality and it turned out to be a relatively simple task.


Toys to Life: the cost of collectible figure gaming – The explosive popularity of the so-called Toys to Life category of games cannot be denied. The ability to take a collectible figure, place it on a tray, and see that figure come to life in your game as a playable character is an incredibly compelling experience for younger gamers. Toys to Life games are only going to grow more popular over the next couple of years, especially now that Nintendo has joined the fray not only with their own Amiibo figures, but with a new 3DS that supports this technology in a portable container. In order to make the best decisions here, you should know exactly what your bank account is up against.


Ryse: Son of Rome (PC) review: Former Xbox One exclusive tests your system and your patience – Crytek brings its Xbox One launch exclusive over to the PC and it’s not great. But you should probably buy it anyway.


Off Topic (Sort of):

3D printed car takes 2-days to build, 40 mph top speed – You can 3D print just about anything these days from parts for assault rifles to components for just about anything else you can think of. We have talked about a company in the past called Local Motors that has developed cars using 3D printed parts. Local Motors is based in Arizona has built what it claims to be the world’s first fully functional 3D printed electric car. The vehicle is called the Strati and has 49 parts.


One In Three U.K. Children Now Owns A Tablet – Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp Use Also Rising – Last October research put out by the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, highlighted rising usage of tablets among kids. Unsurprisingly that trend has continued, with Ofcom’s 2014 annual report exploring parents’ and children’s media use finding that tablet ownership by children in the U.K. has now risen as high as one in three.


Hydrophobic shirt confirmed: hands-on with Threadsmiths first tee – There’s nothing quite like a t-shirt that can’t get wet. The folks at Threadsmiths, an Australian company that’s got their hands on a technology that works surprisingly well: it repels liquid. You can literally pour a glass of water on a Threadsmiths t-shirt and it’ll come splashing off. Drop drips of water on Threadsmiths’ material on a flat surface and that water will bead up. At first it seems like magic – but it’s very real. And really quite awesome, as well.


NASA releases video preview of Orion’s December test flight – NASA has enlisted the engineering expertise of private industry to begin sending humans into space from the US once again, but that’s only part of NASA’s manned space flight plans. The Orion program is NASA’s version of a next generation launch system for missions to deep space, and it’s going to get its first real world test late this year. NASA has been so kind as to put together a seven minute video detailing Orion’s first mission. It won’t carry and people when it lifts off December 4, but this is a huge step for the Orion program, which was almost scrapped several times.


Red Bull owes you $10 unless you did, in fact, grow wings – A successful lawsuit filed by Red Bull enthusiast Benjamin Careathers has taken hold this week. Careathers filed a claim with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York back in 2013, suggesting that Red Bull does not actually give you energy in any way different from a common cup of coffee. Because of this, Red Bull has been accused of false advertising. Because of this, Red Bull has settled for $13 million dollars – of which you may be entitled to $10 USD.


Something to think about:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-      Maya Angelou

Today’s Free Downloads:

XYplorer Free Edition – XYplorer is a tabbed file manager for Windows. It features a powerful file search, a versatile preview, a highly customizable interface, optional dual pane, and a large array of unique ways to efficiently automate frequently recurring tasks. It’s fast and light, it’s innovative, and it’s portable.


Tabbed Browsing

Dual Pane

6 key navigation

Dual Breadcrumb Bars

Mini Tree

Queued File Operations

Zip Support

Batch rename

Duplicate File Finder

One-click Previews

Folder View Settings

Much more

XYplorerFree, the XYplorer Free Edition, is a free feature-limited version of XYplorer.


Honeyview: Ultrafast Image Viewer – Honeyview is a very fast image viewer supporting various formats.

It also supports viewing the images in compressed ZIP, RAR, or 7z files without extraction.

If an image has GPS information, the location can be viewed on Google Maps, and users can store preferred photos.


Ultrafast rendering with optimized image processing.

Support for BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, PSD, DDS, JXR, WebP, J2K, JP2, TGA, TIFF, PCX, PNM, and PPM formats.

Support for RAW image formats including DNG, CR2, CRW, NEF, NRW, ORF, RW2, PEF, SR2, and RAF.

Support for direct view from compressed file formats including ZIP, RAR, 7Z, LZH, TAR, ALZ, and EGG.

Various display options including Fill and Parallel View modes.

‘Photo folder’ function in which to store any preferred pictures.

Direct location view on Google Maps with GPS information included in photos.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: Even the Secrets We Tell You Are Too Secret For You To Know About – It’s an assertion that defies common sense but speaks volumes about how the U.S. intelligence complex dodges accountability: The National Security Agency is arguing that even the secrets it has intentionally disclosed to reporters are still so secret that disclosing their disclosure threatens national security.

Smartphones ‘remotely wiped’ in police custody, as encryption vs. law enforcement heats up – British police are warning that smartphones in custody for forensics and ongoing investigations are being remotely wiped, potentially killing vital evidence.

Panel says NSA surveillance is a threat to the Internet’s survival – Imagine a future where a single unified Internet no longer exists, instead being replaced by locked down local versions that exist, primarily, to keep prying eyes away from data that is private. Such is one possibility posed by current government Internet surveillance, largely resting on the NSA’s shoulders, according to a panel that recently gathered to discuss the issue. Senator Ron Wyden set up the discussion panel, and many big-name individuals from within the tech industry took part, including Google’s Eric Schmidt and Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith. The topic is a serious one, and dire warnings were given.

Court Spotlights the FBI’s Super-Secret National Security Letters – Can the government make demands for data entirely in secret? – That was the question yesterday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, where government lawyers argued that National Security Letters — FBI requests for information that are so secret they can’t be publicly acknowledged by the recipients — were essential to counterterrorism investigations. The telecom company and internet provider that have challenged the National Security Letters (known as NSLs) still can’t even be named.

Last year, in a sharp rebuke to the government, a judge found that the gag order that comes with NSLs violated the First Amendment. The nondisclosure rule “significantly infringe[s] on speech regarding controversial government powers,” U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, of Northern California, wrote in March 2013. She also ordered that the FBI stop sending out NSLs entirely, but put the order on hold to give the government a chance to appeal.

The government, predictably, did appeal, and in arguments yesterday before the 9th Circuit, a Justice Department lawyer said that they would lose “an extremely useful tool” if the court upholds the ban on NSLs. (Documents related to the case can be found here.)

Police Act Furious About Encrypted Phones But Still Love Them. Here’s Why – Critics including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James Comey, and Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier are claiming that these new security features will help kidnappers, sexual predators, and terrorists, and will endanger countless lives, all because police will have a harder time cracking into phones. Or as the Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives put it in an interview with The Washington Post, strong encryption means “Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile.”


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 9, 2014

DEA agent steals woman’s identity and photos to lure in suspects on Facebook;  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps;  Google Now tells you bills are due; does it go too far?  Windows 10: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers;  Google releases News & Weather app for iOS;  NHL app hits the ice with a new look for 2014-2015 season;  Microsoft Research releases Xim, a photo sharing app with a twist;  Keep tabs on your time with Jiffy;  Google pays $75K in bug bounties to fix 159 Chrome flaws;  Free game alert: EA’s giving away Dragon Age: Origins;  OnLive opens wide its 250-game PlayPack vault today, for free;  Ballmer, Gates no longer pals;  10 YouTube Videos That Will Change How You Think;  NSA spying will shatter the internet, Silicon Valley bosses warn.

DEA agent steals woman’s identity and photos to lure in suspects on Facebook – The woman gave up her rights when she handed over her phone in an arrest, the Feds are claiming in a court case, so that makes it OK for a DEA agent to put up a bogus account in her name, post her private photos, friend a fugitive, and accept friend requests. Privacy experts call it an alarming expansion of the notion of “consent.”

5 ways to take charge of your smartphone’s home screen – If the only change you’ve made to your iPhone or Android phone’s home screen is to swap out the wallpaper and rearrange a few icons, you’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. Indeed, you can make your phone’s home screen your very own in ways from subtle to massive, from adding shortcuts for your favorite contacts to tucking little-used apps into folders. And if you’re the proud owner of an Android phone, you can actually revamp your entire home screen, from top to bottom.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”… and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years. Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands. The part of the phrase in [brackets] can be replaced with any similar term you choose. If Google Now doesn’t get your spoken commands right, you can correct it by saying “No, I said…” and trying the phrase again.

Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps – Most of the big broadcast and cable TV networks are offering free streaming apps for Android, complete with full episodes of their most popular shows—everything from About a Boy and America’s Next Top Model to Duck Dynasty and Scandal. We’ve rounded up 10 free TV apps that offer at least some of their full episodes without verifying a cable or satellite subscription, or requiring any other sort of payment beyond sitting through a few advertisements. Indeed, some of the best apps on our list serve up all their episodes for free, no pay-TV login required.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Now tells you bills are due; does it go too far? – If you get emailed reminders about bills sent to your Gmail inbox, you may end up with a Google Now card reminding you to pay your bill. The feature is meant to be handy, but it seems a few users aren’t too pleased with Google scanning their emails to find bills. Here’s how it works: Google scans your Gmail for bill reminders — that happens without you even knowing or asking it to. In Google Now (or the Google Search app), tap on the mic icon in the search bar. Tell Google “show me my bills”, or “my bills due this week”, and cards based on your emailed bills pop up.

Windows 10: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers – There’s more to Windows 10 than just the revamped Start menu. I’ve been fielding questions from readers about the new release. Why is it called Windows 10? Does it really contain a keylogger? And what happened to Internet Explorer?

Windows 10: Keyboard gets predictive text – Windows 10 is full of unannounced features and, while using the OS, we’re regularly coming across new ones – and this time around, the keyboard is getting predictive text input like Windows Phone.

HTC Zoe Photo App Gets a Boost – The Android version is out of beta and available on all devices with the necessary specs to run it. There is also an iOS version that will be rolling out soon. That raises the question, what is Zoe? On HTC phones, Zoe is a feature within the camera app that lets you take multiple photos as part of a short video. There are all sorts of effects and tools for manipulating that, but the app for other devices is just about the remixing part of the HTC experience. Zoe allows you to take the photos and videos you’ve created and cut them together into a quick montage with music and video effects.


Microsoft Research releases Xim, a photo sharing app with a twist – Microsoft Research is always working on unique projects that span many different applications. From disappearing messages to streaming online games, there is no limit to what they cover. And their latest project, Xim, seems like any other photo sharing app, until you look a little deeper. Xim is Microsoft Research’s latest application and it allows you to easily share photos with any of your contacts. While there are dozens of apps that can already do this, Xim lets you have control over the experience.


Microsoft clears the air on Windows 10 “keylogger” – Is it scary that Microsoft can theoretically see everything you type in the Windows 10 Technical Preview? To some, sure. But we’re not meant to be using the preview for daily computing or any tasks that might involve sensitive data. The software is exactly what Microsoft said it is: an unfinished OS that they need help testing. If you’re willing to test it, you’re willing to have your usage analyzed. If you’ve actually read through an EULA before — particularly one for a piece of software that’s still a work in progress — you know this is something companies do. Microsoft didn’t hide the fact that they were going to with the Windows 10 Technical Preview, either. It’s all right there in the EULA in plain English.

Google Chromecast Is The Top “Connected Device” App – Google’s Chromecast is the most popular “connected device” – or so infers a new report from app analytics firm App Annie, which analyzed the top apps associated with connected devices across both iTunes and Google Play in the U.S. Gartner says that there will be 26 billion connected devices globally by 2020 – an astounding figure – but one that makes more sense when you start to think about the connected devices you already use in your own home – DVRs, game consoles, smartwatches, wireless printers, and more.


Google releases News & Weather app for iOS – Formerly available just for Android devices, the app lets you personalize topics you want to see and check on the weather in your own city or anywhere else in the world.


NHL app hits the ice with a new look for 2014-2015 season – NHL fans will have a new way to experience all the league has to offer with a brand new mobile app on Android and iOS platforms.


Manage your business card collection with these five free apps – Without a reliable way to capture business card info, you can lose track of valuable contacts. Tom Merritt looks at five apps that simplify the task.

Keep tabs on your time with Jiffy – Jack Wallen shows you how to keep track of task time with Jiffy and how to use it across multiple Android devices.

Google Street View Now Rides Camel-Back Into the Arabian Desert – For adventurous types who are short on sunscreen, Google Maps has just extended its street view deep into the Arabian Desert. The trek cuts a narrow path through the Liwa desert, 150 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi, winding through an endless stretch of sand dunes measuring upwards of 40 meters in height. But the coolest feature is possibly the view straight down to the ground, where a silhouette of Google’s streetview camera can be seen mounted atop a camel’s back.


30-Second Tech Trick: Download All Your Tweets at Once – Seamlessly relive precious, precious memories.


Google pays $75K in bug bounties to fix 159 Chrome flaws – Google yesterday released Chrome 38, paying out more than $75,000 in bounties for some of the 159 vulnerabilities patched in the massive security update. Also, contrary to what Google said in August but in line with its change-of-mind last month, Chrome 38 remained a 32-bit application on OS X, the operating system for Apple’s Mac line. Of the 159 bugs quashed in Chrome 38, 113 — or 71% — were “relatively minor fixes,” according to Google. Those vulnerabilities had been found using MemorySanitizer, a Google-made tool for sniffing out memory initialization flaws.

IBM says most security breaches are due to human error – A recently released report from computing giant IBM attributes some 95% of IT security breaches to human error and that over 75% of attacks are targeted at just five industries, proving when it comes to security, people are the real problem.

45% of Android devices still have a vulnerable browser installed – Around 45 percent of Android devices have a browser that is vulnerable to two serious security issues, but some countries have a considerably larger percentage of affected users than others, according to data from mobile security firm Lookout. The two security issues were discovered over the past month by a security researcher named Rafay Baloch and were described as a privacy disaster by other researchers. They allow an attacker to bypass a core security boundary, called the same-origin policy (SOP), that exists in all browsers.

Company News:

AT&T to pay $105 million for ‘cramming’ extra charges into customer bills – The US government is slapping down AT&T for allowing extra charges on customers’ phone bills with what it calls the “largest cramming settlement in history.” The news was announced on Wednesday in a joint press conference held by the FCC, the FTC, and all state attorneys general, who worked together on the resolution. That resolution concerns what’s known as “mobile cramming,” in which third parties can pass charges along to phone companies for spam SMS messages or things like daily horoscopes and “fun facts.” Federal investigators found that for years, AT&T made hundreds of millions of dollars by taking 35 percent of these unwanted charges, dodging complaints from customers and reassuring the companies themselves.

Google asks Supreme Court to decide Oracle’s Android copyright case – Google has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a copyright infringement case that some developers think could have a big impact on their ability to innovate in software. The case was brought by Oracle four years ago and accuses Google of infringing patents and copyrights related to Java in its Android mobile OS. Google emerged largely victorious from a lower court trial but an appeals court overturned that ruling in May. Google now wants the highest court in the U.S. to hear its case.

Symantec may split into separate security and storage businesses – Taking a cue from Hewlett-Packard and eBay, Symantec is said to be in talks to carve out the company into two entities. One of the entities will focus on storage while the other will address the security business, reported Bloomberg, citing people who asked not to be identified because the conversations are private. An announcement of the split, which is supported by CEO Michael Brown, could be made in a few weeks, according to the report. Symantec’s spokeswoman Kristen Batch said via email that the company does not comment on rumors.

AMD’s CEO steps down, COO takes over – AMD named Lisa Su, its chief operating officer, as its new CEO, effective immediately, replacing Rory Read as the struggling maker of PC chips continues its attempt at a turnaround. Su, 44 years old, joined AMD in 2012, and most recently has been responsible for integrating AMD’s business units, sales, global operations and infrastructure enablement teams. Before coming to the chipmaker, she worked at chipmaker Freescale and at IBM.

Games and Entertainment:

Free game alert: EA’s giving away Dragon Age: Origins ahead of sequel’s launch – The freebie only applies to the standard edition of Dragon Age: Origins, so you’ll unfortunately miss out on the lengthy Awakening expansion and a few smaller pieces of DLC unless you decide to buy the (mostly excellent) extra content. Regardless, it’s a fantastic fantasy RPG—the closest BioWare’s ever come to the morally ambiguous storytelling of The Witcher—and definitely worth picking up if you haven’t played it before. Or, for that matter, if you played it on last-gen consoles and don’t ever want to hook those things back up again.


OnLive opens wide its 250-game PlayPack vault tomorrow, for free – Cloud gaming service OnLive said that the company will throw open its PlayPack vault in support of the Extra Life charity for 24 hours beginning Thursday, allowing gamers to play more than 250 games on the service for free. Although the effort clearly promotes OnLive’s own services, the company is also raising money for Extra Life, a gaming marathon that helps raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network of 170 hospitals across America. The PlayPack is free, but those that raise money for Extra Life will also receive prizes that scale up according to the amount of money donated or raised.


Alien: Isolation is just the first of the age of Terror Games – When I played Alien: Isolation for the first time, I got sick to my stomach. It was a physical necessity that I stop playing – and I hadn’t even seen the Alien itself yet. Now is the next age of the horror game. Not just horror for the gamer – not just a place where you can get out an tune out. Instead you’re trapped in a space station with the perfect organism, one that cannot be killed, one that’s never been so real to you as it is here and now, discovering you having a nervous breakdown in a staff locker.


The Best Android Digital Comic Book Apps – The eight Android readers in this roundup represent the best digital comic book apps that we’ve reviewed. The summaries for each app below only scratch the surface of what these readers can do; check out the full reviews for a big picture view of each digital comic book app’s functionality.


Want to Visit a Slice of Destiny DLC Bungie Hasn’t Unlocked Yet? – This is what happens when boredom ensues in Destiny: you spy a tantalizing column of light, notice the architectural lattice surrounding it, nose around the framework until you discover a way to leap into that column of light, and presto: Scotty’s beaming you up.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Ballmer, Gates no longer pals; blame Nokia, Vista – It seems the Nokia deal former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pulled off right before leaving the company had a strong ripple effect. Not only is Microsoft feeling the squeeze to produce great handsets and carry on Nokia’s legacy, but a friendship was ruined in the process. Ballmer and Bill Gates are apparently on the outs, and are no longer on speaking terms with one another. The reason for the former besties not talking to one another is that Nokia buy, and Ballmer’s actions shortly after.

A Brief History Of Tesla – When Tesla went public in 2010, it became the first American car company to do so since Ford Motor Company in 1956. Since then, Tesla’s stock has soared as the company keeps rolling out new features and models while simultaneously capturing the imagination of a curious public. What follows is a brief history of Tesla starting at its founding not by Elon Musk, but Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in July 2003.


Kid tapes cop smashing car window, dragging man away after tasering him – A 14-year-old boy’s videotape of an Indiana cop smashing an ax though a vehicle window, shooting the passenger with a stun gun, and ripping him from the vehicle has become the subject of an excessive force lawsuit. Monday’s lawsuit [PDF] is among the most recent in a wave of police encounters gone awry that have been captured on video and resulted in legal action. The incident was filmed two weeks ago in Hammond, Indiana, and it started with a motorist being stopped and pulled over for allegedly not wearing a seatbelt.


Watch: VR drones race like Speeder Bikes in the French Alps – Racing tiny flying devices through the forest would have been awesome enough, but no, these folks went the extra mile. They’ve added virtual reality headsets to the mix. With cameras (like GoPro) mounted on their drones, they connect to headsets and travel along with their drones in real time.


DARPA video puts you in cockpit of superhero-style combat vehicle – If there’s any real-world equivalent to Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. organization in the US, it’s got to be DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency clearly has the most futuristic tech toys and concepts around, as we recently saw with its jetpack that boosts human running speeds. Plus there was all that self-destructing spy tech DARPA talked about earlier this year. Now comes a concept for a new combat vehicle, shown in the video below, that looks like it could easily take on the Batmobile.


Why we live in an anti-tech age – Though it seems as if we’re surrounded by innovative products, services and technologies, there’s a growing counter argument that we’re living in a dismal era. Science is hated. Real technological progress has stalled. And what we call innovation today really isn’t very innovative. Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, billionaire investor and author, is among those challenging the notion of innovation and progress. Thiel, who earned undergraduate and law degrees at Stanford University, spoke at the Gartner Symposium/IT this week about why the march of progress seems to have stalled.

10 YouTube Videos That Will Change How You Think – While you may think of YouTube as a place to check out the latest in funny animal videos, there’s a lot of content that caters to the brain rather than the funny bone. We’ve found the best and brightest videos for you to enjoy when you need to stretch your mental muscles. These cover a variety of topics, but they’re all guaranteed to make you look at the world around you at least a little bit differently.

Something to think about:

“Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”

-      Robert Heinlein

Today’s Free Downloads:

ImageCacheViewer – ImageCacheViewer is a simple tool that scans the cache of your Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome), and lists the images displayed in the Web sites that you recently visited.

For every cached image file, the following information is displayed: URL of the image, Web browser that was used to visit the page, image type, date/time of the image, browsing time, and file size.

When selecting a cache item in the upper pane of ImageCacheViewer, the image is displayed in the lower pane, and you can copy the image to the clipboard by pressing Ctrl+M.


Clipboard Help+Spell – Clipboard Help+Spell is a clipboard history utility with the following features:

Database stores history of all past text and image clipboard entries for easy viewing, modification, and search

Use it for keeping hierarchical notes – search, sort, filter by text, modification date, last view date

Super easy and super fast search function – or use complex filters if you need them – you’ll never have a problem finding a note again!

Organize your notes and clips any way you want – show them all or view by group or category; view your clips any way you like

High-quality spellcheck – underlined mistakes; learning spellchecker

Configurable hotkeys for common functions

Powerful text formatting options – make your own presets for common functions

Simple functions for copying and pasting into and out of other applications


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA spying will shatter the internet, Silicon Valley bosses warn – Top Silicon Valley execs have warned that the NSA’s continued surveillance of innocent people will rupture the internet – which is bad news for business.

Oh, and bad news for hundreds of thousands of workers, and America’s moral authority, too.

The suits were speaking at a roundtable organized by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday. Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt and John Lilly, a partner at venerable VC firm Greylock Partners, were on the panel, along with Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith and his counterpart at Facebook, Colin Stretch, and Dropbox, Ramsey Homsany.

“It is time to end the digital dragnet, which harms American liberty and the American economy without making the country safer. The US government should stop requiring American companies to participate in the suspicionless collection of their customers’ data, and begin the process of rebuilding trust both at home and abroad,” said Senator Wyden.

“The United States – here in Silicon Valley, up in the Silicon Forest of the State of Oregon that I am so proud to represent, and in tech campuses and garage start-ups across the country – has the best technologies and the best ideas to drive high-tech innovation. It is policy malpractice to squander that capital for no clear security gain.”

Gov’t seeks to hold on to security letter “gag orders,” banned by 2013 ruling – A San Francisco federal appeals court heard arguments today in an activist lawsuit seeking to ban National Security Letters, or NSLs, as unconstitutional. NSLs are one of the more controversial tools used by the FBI to conduct investigations, as they include a gag order preventing the recipient from talking about the fact that they got an NSL.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the NSLs as unconstitutional in 2011, well before the Snowden disclosures about widespread surveillance. Their two clients are unnamed, but one is a telecom company and one is an Internet company. The two “service providers” want to speak out about the fact that they received letters, but can’t. In April of last year, they won a stunning victory, when US District Judge Susan Ilston agreed with EFF that the letters are unconstitutional. The gag order stopping EFF’s clients from discussing “controversial government powers” violates the First Amendment, Ilston ruled.

The government has appealed the proceeding. Today, almost 19 months after Ilston’s order came out, a three-judge appeals panel heard arguments from both sides.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 8, 2014

Get a free year of RoboForm Everywhere;  Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web; Three free tools that reveal your PC’s deepest details;  Monster banking Trojan botnet claims 500,000 victims;  Guide: How to create Windows 10 install media;  Swap files between your Android device and Chromebook;  Apple TV gets HomeKit functionality;  Teens love iPhone more, use Facebook a lot less;  Dozens of European ATMs rooted;  Kano’s DIY computer teaches kids to code;  AT&T Warns of Data Breach After Employee Snooping;  Huge spike in mobile malware targets Android;  ‘Myst’ is getting a TV series;  Jennifer Lawrence says nude photo theft is a ‘sex crime';  History of the Personal Computer, Part 4;  Twitter sues US government;  Car tech and Siri slammed for driver distraction.

Get a free year of RoboForm Everywhere – Because it’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (man, it just comes earlier every year, doesn’t it?), the good folks at RoboForm are giving away their great product: RoboForm Everywhere. Specifically, you can get a one-year subscription absolutely free. Regular price: $19.95. As you might expect, this offer is good for new users only. If you’re already a user, you can save 20 percent on a subscription renewal. (Just click the corresponding button on the promo page.) Come October 2015, you can decide if you want to continue. I suspect you’ll want to.


Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your ‘privacy is important’ – Adobe confirmed its Digital Editions software insecurely phones home your ebook reading history to Adobe – to thwart piracy. And the company insisted the secret snooping is covered in its terms and conditions. Version 4 of the application makes a note of every page read, and when, in the digital tomes it accesses, and then sends that data over the internet unencrypted to Adobe. This Orwellian mechanism was spotted by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader blog; the plaintext information transmitted also includes the title, publisher, and other metadata about the ebooks. This data is needed, we’re told, for enforcing the usage licenses covering the books.

Three free tools that reveal your PC’s deepest details (including product keys) – Maybe you want to check how much RAM your PC has. Maybe you want to know how fast your processor is, or the voltages being supplied to your PC components. Perhaps you’ve lost a software product key or are trying to figure out exactly which driver your printer is using. Some—but not all—of that info you can just grab from Windows itself, but it’s spread across different locations and a pain to navigate to. A better option is to try out a number of third-party apps that can analyze your system and supply all the information you need. Here’s a look at three free, easy-to-use programs that deliver just that kind of information—and then some.

Facebook reportedly working on app to let people interact anonymously – Facebook is reportedly building a standalone app that will let its users interact and communicate under the cloak of anonymity. If true, it would mark a huge departure from the company’s traditional approach to connecting people; real names and identity have long been central to Facebook’s model. The New York Times says this app, which has been developed under the eye of acquihire Josh Miller, would allow Facebook users to ditch their real names in favor of pseudonyms that would theoretically make them feel more comfortable discussing a range of topics with other people.

Guide: How to create Windows 10 install media using tools – Following up on our original guide to creating Windows USB installation media, we’ve addressed some of the feedback around tools, specifically Rufus and the Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Registry tweak enables faster start-up for Apps in Windows 10 – Since Windows Vista, Microsoft added in a start-up delay for apps, and it’s pretty noticeable in Windows 8 and 10. However, this can be disabled, which results in apps starting quicker on boot.

Kano’s DIY computer teaches kids to code, and now it’s available to everyone – Kano, the runaway Kickstarter success that raised $1.52 million on a promise to teach kids how to code and assemble a Raspberry Pi-based computer, is now widely available to the public. Priced at $149.99, the kit includes everything you need to get started — other than a display, which you’ll need to provide yourself. Based on Linux, Kano OS is kid-friendly through and through, with a leveling system that rewards users as they modify games like Snake, Pong, and even Minecraft. You can change the way games behave by experimenting with “Kano Blocks,” which look like puzzle pieces to the user, but actually spit out real Python code based on what you do with them.


Swap files between your Android device and Chromebook with latest update – You can finally plug your Android device into a Chromebook and transfer files between the two. The catch-up feature joins the usual bug fixes and security improvements in the latest update to Chrome OS. The new version should hit all Chrome OS devices over the next few days—unless you have a Chromebox. Google doesn’t offer any details as to when this will land on those devices. The update adds support for Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), a standard used by Windows, Mac, and Linux for moving files between devices.

Apple TV gets HomeKit functionality via update – Apple TV might just be the best platform you’ll have for a connected home. An update to the software today shows how Apple could leverage the device to make HomeKit reliably cool. If you’ve got Apple’s set-top box, it may be your go-between for controlling your home from your smartphone.

Polyvore creates ‘style graph’ to help you buy more clothes – The image-heavy social media site rolls out a new iOS app that attempts to do what Amazon can’t: personalized fashion recommendations for each of its users.


Forget Apple Pay: Plastc wants to make your wallet smarter – Does the world need another alternative payment method? Plastc believes so, promising the most security as well as the most convenience with its touchscreen-blessed credit and debit card replacement. Capable of switching between a traditional payment card, a loyalty or gift card, or even an access card to your office, Plastc has a magnetic strip that can be re-written on the fly so as to change its identity depending on where you’re using it and what you want to use it for, all controlled with an app on your smartphone and an E Ink panel on the card itself. It’s an ambitious system, and will require some careful negotiation in order to get payment providers, retailers, and of course shoppers themselves onboard. Still, Plastc believes the payoff is worth it; the card is up for preorder now, at $155 apiece, and is expected to ship in summer 2015.

Livestream update frees GoPro from PC shackles – What’s more exhilarating than watching a death-defying GoPro action camera footage taken yesterday or even just earlier today? Why, watching a death-defying GoPro action camera footage as it happens, of course. An update to the Livestream iOS app has just made that possible, removing the computer from the live streaming equation. All you need now is a GoPro Hero and an iPhone.


Microsoft, 13 other firms take student privacy pledge – Microsoft and other companies that provide education technologies and services to U.S. schools aim to assuage parents’ concerns about the collection and handling of student data with a pledge to protect that data. The companies signing the pledge are, however, only a small section of providers to the kindergarten to 12th grade education sector. The pledge may also be an attempt to propose self-regulation as an alternative to tighter federal laws.

Teens love iPhone more, use Facebook a lot less, says survey – More teens say their next phone will be an iPhone, Piper Jaffray finds, but the teen jury is still very much out on the iWatch.


Monster banking Trojan botnet claims 500,000 victims – Security researchers have uncovered the infrastructure behind one of largest and most voracious banking Trojan networks uncovered to date. The Qbot (aka Qakbot) botnet apparently infected 500,000 systems before sniffing “conversations” – including account credentials – for a whopping 800,000 online banking transactions. More than half (59 per cent) of sniffed sessions were reportedly from accounts at five of the largest US banks.

AT&T Warns of Data Breach After Employee Snooping – For the second time this year, AT&T has fallen victim to a data breach at the hands of its employees. About 1,600 customers were affected by the August violation, in which an AT&T worker broke the company’s privacy policy. AT&T is sending Vermont-based customers a letter—penned by director of finance and billing operations Michael Chiaramonte and posted to the website of the state’s Attorney General—alerting them to the misuse of personal information.

Dozens of European ATMs rooted, allowing criminals to easily cash out – The malware, which Kaspersky dubbed ‘Tyupkin,’ allows low-level thieves, known as money mules, access to the machines at certain times of day using an intermittently changing code, similar to the six-digit electronic tokens used for security in the financial industry. More than 50 ATMs in Eastern Europe and Russia were found to have been infected with the malware to date, leading to the theft of currency equivalent to millions of dollars, according to the statement.

Yahoo: Server Attack Not Shellshock – Hackers looking to exploit the Shellshock bug on Yahoo’s network inadvertently stumbled on another flaw within the Internet firm’s servers. Yahoo has since fixed the bug, and promised that no user data was affected.

Report: Huge spike in mobile malware targets Android, especially mobile payments – Two very predictable traits drive cybercriminals: First, they tend to focus on targets with the highest odds of success. Second, they prefer attacks that generate profit. A new joint report from Kaspersky Lab and INTERPOL underscores how these two factors contribute to concerning trends in mobile threats. The Mobile Cyber Threats report analyzes mobile malware data collected from Kaspersky’s cloud-based Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) during the period of August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014, for over 5 million Android smartphones and tablets protected by Kaspersky security products.

Bugzilla zero-day can reveal zero-day vulnerabilities in top open-source projects – Hackers could have had an inside track on unpatched flaws in major software projects because of a critical vulnerability in Bugzilla, a system that many developers use to track and discuss bugs in their code. Patches released Monday for Bugzilla address a privilege escalation vulnerability that could have allowed attackers to gain administrative access to software bug trackers based on the open-source application.

Company News:

Report: Huge Nokia Plant in India Shutting Down – Nokia will reportedly close a manufacturing plant in India amidst an ongoing dispute with the country’s tax authorities. As reported by Reuters, the massive plant – which employs some 20,000 workers – will shut down on Nov. 1. The future of the plant, which makes phones, has been in question ever since Microsoft purchased Nokia’s handset business. According to a Times of India report from April, workers went on strike in 2013, and demanded that the Chennai plant be included in the Microsoft-Nokia deal, but tax issues hampered a deal.

Facebook Launches Hyper-Local Ads Targeted To People Within A Mile Of A Business – Facebook’s mobile ubiquity and push for always-on location sharing came to fruition today with the launch of hyper-local advertising that could convince people to visit stores they’re nearby. Soon, brick-and-mortar businesses will be able to target ads to anyone who lives or was recently within a specific distance of their store. Advertisers can set a radius as small as a mile and the ads will show up on people’s phones or web browsers. These new Local Awareness ads will be available for US business owners in a few weeks, and around the globe in the next several months.

IBM’s Watson lands new partners and open’s NYC office – IBM’s $1bn bet on its cognitive computing platform Watson is paying dividends, with the company announcing a slew of new Watson partners, clients and the grand opening of its New York City office. Ten months on from IBM’s first signal that it would make greater efforts to commercialise Watson, the company is showing off how its investment is bearing fruit, announcing a bevy of new clients and startups that are using Watson to power their own cognitive services and apps.

After eBay and HP’s breakups, Symantec may be next in line for a split – Symantec may be poised to join the list of tech heavyweights opting to split: according to a report from Bloomberg, the company is considering carving up its storage and security businesses into two companies. According to sources of the publication with knowledge of Symantec’s plans, the company is weighing up options to form two entities, with one focused on selling security products and another specialising in storage.

Games and Entertainment:

Project Spark, Microsoft’s free game creation game, hits Windows 8 and Xbox One – Microsoft has removed the “beta” tag from Project Spark, a program that lets users create and share their own games. Project Spark launched in beta six months ago, after being announced by Microsoft in 2013. It lets users design their own game worlds, create characters, and set up rules using if-then triggers. No programming knowledge is necessary, and it seems that users can create fairly complex games (including Tetris, Pinball and tower defense) with enough time and effort. Users have already created more than 70,000 game levels in the beta.


‘Myst’ is getting a TV series – Myst, one of the most popular PC games ever, is about to make a comeback on television and computer screens. Legendary TV & Digital Media — the smaller-screen arm of Legendary Pictures, which has co-produced big-screen trilogies like The Hangover and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies — has signed a deal to make a dramatic series with Cyan Worlds, the company behind the beloved point-and-click adventure game from the 1990s.


Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry reunite in ‘LittleBigPlanet 3′ voice cast – Hugh Laurie, best known to American audiences as the surly Dr. House MD, will reprise his comedic partnership with old pal Stephen Fry in the upcoming LittleBigPlanet 3 game for the PS3 and PS4. Starring as the villainous Newton, Laurie will be “the dastardly counterpart” to Fry’s warm and friendly Narrator. Joining them on the LittleBigPlanet 3 cast will be Nolan North, the man responsible for giving voice to Uncharted’s Nathan Drake and Assassin’s Creed’s Desmond Miles, along with English comedian Peter Serafinowicz. Let the charming fun begin.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Jennifer Lawrence says nude photo theft is a ‘sex crime’ – Lawrence says that the distribution of her photos isn’t a scandal but a “sexual violation,” and one that underscores the need for better legal protections. “It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible,” she tells VF. “Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

Mercedes built a self-driving truck that could save thousands of lives every year – The Future Truck 2025 can’t navigate city streets autonomously like Google’s fleet of cars, but is perfectly capable of holding its own on the open road — and that’s where sleep-deprived truck drivers most often pose a threat to people driving smaller passenger vehicles. Using a combination of advanced dual cameras, radar sensors, and the latest blind-spot technology (Mercedes refers to the system as “Highway Pilot”), the Future Truck 2025 analyzes the road to get a sense of surrounding traffic and terrain. The “highway” part of that is critical; a driver is still required to get the truck onto the interstate and successfully merge into traffic.


Volvo’s counting on these sensors to end fatal accidents by 2020 – Volvo is aiming no fatal accidents for those in one of the safety-obsessed Swedish firm’s cars by 2020, cooking up a complex 360-degree sensor and vision system that could also open the door to autonomous vehicles. The culmination of Volvo’s four year Non-Hit Car and Truck project, the technology combines data from a wide range of sensors – including cameras, GPS, and others – into a single perspective of the car’s environment, rather than treating each system as discrete as per most current vehicles, and even teaching vehicles how to plan an escape route.


Comcast reportedly called subscriber’s employer to complain about complaint – Comcast isn’t viewed favorably by many consumers, and received a lot of criticism this past summer when a recording was published revealing the difficulty a subscriber had when trying to cancel his service. The latest complaint is worse, as surprising as that may be, and it ends on a sad note: Comcast reportedly contacted the subscriber’s employer and lied about conversations that took place, leading to the subscriber being fired from his job, and now refuses to release any copies of the conversations to prove they did, indeed, happen. The information comes from The Consumerist, which details the plight of former Comcast subscriber Conal, who is said to have signed up for service early last year. The subscription kicked off with issues regarding charges for set-top boxes that he did not activate, and issues with missing bills due to Conal’s last name being misspelled.

TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 4 – The mighty Wintel empire – This is the fourth installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the invention of the transistor to modern day chips.

Car tech and Siri slammed for driver distraction – Capable but complex infotainment systems built into modern car dashboards are dangerously distracting, a driver safety study has concluded, while voice controlled systems like Apple’s Siri have been equally criticized. Hands-free tech intended to maintain a driver’s grip on the wheel can, ironically, cause greater cognitive distraction than actually picking up a phone, a study by the AAA and the University of Utah revealed, testing a number of basic tasks like making calls or changing radio station across cars from Toyota, Mercedes, and other marques.

Something to think about:

“It’s not a matter of whether or not someone’s watching over you. It’s just a question of their intentions.”

-    Randy K. Milholland

Today’s Free Downloads:

Comodo BackUp – Comodo BackUp is the straightforward and powerful utility that allows users to quickly and easily create backup copies of critical data.

Free of charge, its features include different types of backups such as disk and partitions backup, files and directories backup, entire registry backup, custom registry keys backup, user settings backup, mail accounts backup, messenger clients backup and system state backup.

Additional features are available such as e-mail reporting, extensive report logs, advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, password encryption with multiple encryption algorithms, history list for backups and more.

Comodo BackUp is integrated into windows explorer so you can backup files and folders with a simple click.

Protect yourself against ever losing those critical files that took hours to create.

Schedule backups to run automatically at a time that suits you. Send E-mail notifications to team members about the status of a backup job Save Disk space by compressing your backups as compressed CBU files.

Configure in minutes with our intuitive interface Suitable for both beginners and network administrators alike, Comodo BackUp can be set to run at logon before starting your work day, then you can easily restore your data if necessary with a double click.

We all know that making regular backups is a good idea – you’d do it if you knew where to begin, right?


Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, formerly ExploitShield by ZeroVulnerabilityLabs, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

Popular software programs contain millions of line of code. Bad guys exploit flaws (vulnerabilities) in the code to deliver malware. Except when they can’t. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit wraps three layers of security around popular browsers and applications, preventing exploits from compromising vulnerable code. Not an antivirus, but compatible with most antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a small, specialized shield designed to protect you against one of the most dangerous forms of malware attacks.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit:

Protects Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsers

Protects browser components, including Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Shockwave

Defends against drive-by download attacks

Shields vulnerable applications, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Apple Quicktime, and VLC Player

Blocks unknown and common exploit kits, including Blackhole, Sakura, Phoenix, and Incognito

Is compatible with most common anti-malware and antivirus products

Doesn’t use a signature database—no need for constant updating

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EU’s likely next digital chief takes a swipe at US over data protection – Wasting no time, the European commissioner who could soon be co-leading the EU’s digital agenda is already firing warning shots at the U.S. over data protection.

Andrus Ansip used his confirmation hearing before the European Parliament Monday to warn that the EU might suspend the Safe Harbor data-sharing agreement if U.S. lawmakers don’t get their act together when it comes to protecting European citizen’s data. Ansip is the nominee expected to take over the digital agenda along with Günther Oettinger in a realignment of the Commission’s oversight of that area when Neelie Kroes steps down Nov. 1.

“Safe Harbor is not safe to today,” the 58-year-old former Estonian prime minister said. “Americans have to provide real trust to European citizens. When it comes to protecting data, similar rules and safeguards should apply to all companies wherever they are based. To be worthy of their name, Safe Harbors do need to be safe.

Suspending the data agreement would have major implications for companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, among others, that process data in the U.S. from European citizens. EU laws prohibit the transfer of personal data to non-EU countries that do not meet the EU’s data-protection standards. As part of Safe Harbor, U.S. companies are supposed to meet EU standards in providing data protections for Europeans.

But European citizens are really worried about how the U.S. uses its national security exception, Ansip said. “If we will not get clear answers on how this exception will be used, then of course suspension as an option will stay on the table,” he said.

Twitter sues US government so it can release more information about national security requests – Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US government, alleging that its First Amendment rights to free speech are being violated by rules that prevent it from disclosing the quantity of national security requests it receives. Twitter is currently able to publish the number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders it receives in extremely broad ranges — such as between “0 and 999″ — and it argues that this is not narrow enough. It also argues that it should be able to inform the public of what orders it has not received, whereas currently zero falls within that enormous range.

“When the government intrudes on speech, the First Amendment requires that it do so in the most limited way possible,” Twitter writes in a court filing. “The government has failed to meet this obligation.”

Britain’s snooping powers are ‘too weak’, says NCA chief – Keith Bristow, head of of the National Crime Agency (the UK’s FBI), is arguing Britain’s snooping powers are “too weak”.

In an interview with The Guardian, the NCA’s director general said police need new powers to monitor data about emails and phone calls. He admits many don’t see the police case for comms data snooping while arguing that it is nonetheless necessary in order to keep the public safe from serious criminals and terrorists.

“What we have needs to be modernised… we are losing capability and coverage of serious criminals,” Bristow told the left-leaning broadsheet. “Some of our capability is challenged. Very significantly challenged,” he added.

Home Secretary Theresa May last week committed the Conservatives to implementing a communications data bill if the Tories win the general election next year. Giving the state greater access to communications data has been dubbed a “snoopers’ charter” by critics, with some even going so far as to compare it Soviet-era state surveillance.

US says it can hack into foreign-based servers without warrants – The US government may hack into servers outside the country without a warrant, the Justice Department said in a new legal filling in the ongoing prosecution of Ross Ulbricht. The government believes that Ulbricht is the operator of the Silk Road illicit drug website.

Monday’s filing in New York federal court centers on the legal brouhaha of how the government found the Silk Road servers in Iceland. Ulbricht said last week that the government’s position—that a leaky CAPTCHA on the site’s login led them to the IP address—was “implausible” and that the government (perhaps the National Security Agency) may have unlawfully hacked into the site to discover its whereabouts.

“In any event, even if the FBI had somehow ‘hacked’ into the SR Server in order to identify its IP address, such an investigative measure would not have run afoul of the Fourth Amendment,” Turner wrote. “Because the SR Server was located outside the United States, the Fourth Amendment would not have required a warrant to search the server, whether for its IP address or otherwise.”

Turner added, “Given that the SR Server was hosting a blatantly criminal website, it would have been reasonable for the FBI to ‘hack’ into it in order to search it, as any such ‘hack’ would simply have constituted a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary.”

NSA’s internal watchdog defends privacy practices – The U.S. National Security Agency takes multiple steps to protect the privacy of the information it collects about U.S. residents under a secretive surveillance program, according to a report from the agency’s privacy office.

Surveillance under presidential Executive Order 12333, which dates back to 1981, generally sets the ground rules for the NSA’s overseas surveillance. It allows the agency to keep the content of U.S. citizens’ communications if they are collected “incidentally” while the agency is targeting overseas communications.

But the surveillance of U.S. residents is conducted with several privacy safeguards in place, ensuring that the NSA collects the right information from the right targets and does not share the collected information inappropriately, according to the NSA Civil Liberties and Privacy Office report, released Tuesday.

NSA safeguards include privacy training for every employee, an oath of office that requires all employees to protect privacy and civil liberties and privacy oversight by six internal organizations, including the office that prepared Tuesday’s report.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 7, 2014

Tips for Stopping Identity Theft;  Camera51 for Android Helps You Take Better Photos;  Guard your privacy online;  Windows 10: How to uninstall preview updates;  Battery Widget Reborn v2.0 Gets Android L Makeover;  Skype will block local calls in India starting November 10th;  Bing integrates song lyrics into search results;  Microsoft scores poorly in latest virus protection test for Windows 7;  All about drive letters and drive names;  Yahoo confirms servers infected;  Angry Birds Transformers Trojan targets Android;  Assassin’s Creed Unity Will Only Run at 1080p on PCs;  Zuckerberg is world’s best CEO, Twitter the eighth wonder;  Australia Wants To Light Up With Massive #YesToPot Campaign;  Alien: Isolation Review;  iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars;  Zoner Photo Studio Free.

Guard your privacy online – Not every moment needs to be shared on the Internet. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. It’s become increasingly difficult to be both online and maintain your own privacy. Here are some tips to help you take control of what you share online. Eric Franklin will run through what you need to know to fully move off the grid of the Web. Sharon Profis will go over the process of deleting any trace of you from Facebook. And I’ll show you two methods for erasing geolocation data from your photos.

Tips for Stopping Identity Theft – Identity thieves can use your personal information to open and max out multiple credit cards, apply for loans and place deposits on big-ticket items. This activity all goes onto your credit profile, eventually sinking your credit rating. Yet you might never find out about the unauthorized activity until the debt collectors come calling or you find yourself summarily rejected for a loan or mortgage application. So what can you do to thwart identity thieves?

Gmail Tips: Get Organized with Labels and Filters – First order of business: never delete messages. We’re going to archive them instead. This is the equivalent of taking every piece of physical mail that’s ever been sent to your house and putting it in your basement instead of throwing the mail you don’t need or don’t care about away. If you do this in real life, you’re crazy. If you don’t do this online, you’re crazy.

Skype will block local calls in India starting November 10th – Skype is either changing, or being forced to change, its strategy in India. The Microsoft service will no longer offer landline and mobile calls for Indian residents starting November 10th. This change came pretty much out of the blue and was announced by Skype on one of their support channels. According to their announcement, starting November 10th the local Indian subscriptions will no longer be valid. As such they recommend users either cancel or use up their credit by that date to avoid losing money.

Google Voice MMS support on almost 100 carriers rolls out – Google has been busy making a lot of changes with Google Voice and Hangouts, including most notably further integration between the two services into one handy single app. In an effort to expand the service’s usefulness for users, the Internet giant has announced that following busy work with almost 100 carriers across the United States and Canada, it has made available support for MMS messages in Google Voice from a large roster of carriers, among them being such notable entities as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Rogers.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Gmail updates for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus displays – Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference, like apps that take proper advantage of the extra screen real-estate of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, so consider it welcome news that Gmail has updated for iOS 8. The new app – with the tongue-in-cheek version number of 3.1415926 – answers the big, lingering complaint Gmail users had since the new Apple smartphones were launched, namely that the scaling was still intended for a 4-inch panel. Now, though, you get far more on your screen than you did before.

Camera51 for Android Helps You Take Better Photos – Having a good camera on your Android phone is only half the battle. Well, less than half depending on who you ask. You also need to consider the framing and composition of a shot to get the best results. Camera51 claims it can analyze your frame and suggest the ideal positioning based on the same principles used by professional photographers.

Battery Widget Reborn v2.0 Gets Android L Makeover – Just search the Play Store for “battery widget” and you’ll get page upon page of results. Right near the top, however, will be Battery Widget Reborn. This super-popular app is more than just a widget, and it’s getting a huge update with v2.0, which moves it into the Android L era.


Plex on Xbox One makes streaming your movie library easy and elegant – When setting up Plex Media Server on a PC or Mac, you just point it to wherever your media is stored, and it’ll automatically pull in high-res artwork, descriptions, cast information, and ratings. It’s basically effortless; Plex organizes all your stuff and puts a beautiful user interface on top of everything. Once it’s set up, you can watch your content using Plex apps across smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, and now video game consoles. Plex was already compatible with Xbox 360 over DLNA, but this marks the first time the company has brought a native experience to gaming devices.


Windows 10: How to uninstall preview updates – If you have Windows 10 installed and you download an update that causes your machine to crash, Microsoft has included an easy way to remove newly installed updates from your machine.

Bing integrates song lyrics into search results – We’ve all been there. A classic song gets stuck in your head, but all you can remember is, “Boom, Boom, Boom let’s go back to my room, na na na na na na na na na na na na na.” Technology to the rescue! Bing wants to take some of the hassle out of the age-old agony of remembering song lyrics. Microsoft recently announced that solving this problem is now as easy as typing the song name and “lyrics” into Bing. The search engine will then show the complete lyrics for the song in its search results page.

This App Avoided Being Made Useless By Using The iPhone’s Charger (But Not For Charging) – Remember Cycloramic? It was one of our favorite iOS apps last year. It allows you to take hands-free 360-degree selfie panoramics by using the iPhone’s vibrating motor to propel it around your desk. A key component of this trick, though, was that the last few iPhones have had squared edges. Those edges allowed the phone to be placed upright for proper pano-selfie framing. Otherwise, you’re just taking a picture of your ceiling. But wait! The iPhone 6 has round edges. It can’t stand upright on its own. Cycloramic is doomed, right? Nope! As it turns out, people who come up with super clever ideas can also come up with super clever workarounds.


Cirqle Debuts A Photo-Sharing App For Groups That Works Offline – The addition of an offline mode for social media-based collaboration is a timely twist for this nearly year-old app, and one that could finally see it getting picked up by a wider audience. (The app isn’t currently showing up on the App Store charts, according to App Annie.) Offline social networking and communications apps are now picking up, as technology is helping those living under more authoritarian regimes tap into broader networks even without a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.

All about drive letters and drive names – Paras Bansal’s hard drive has three partitions with the same name. I explain how to change drive letters and names, and why Paras’ situation may be confusing, but not serious.

Tzukuri’s smart sunglasses send alerts when you’ve left them behind – The glasses use Apple’s iBeacon technology to pair with a nearby iPhone, letting the two devices communicate over Bluetooth LE. As users move farther away from the glasses, they receive a series of three iPhone notifications in 15-foot increments. Users can open the Tzukuri app to see the glasses’ last known location and can use a proximity tracker to find the glasses when they’re within 25 feet. (The app does let users turn off notifications in certain places to avoid being pestered at home or at work.)



Microsoft scores poorly in latest virus protection test for Windows 7 – AV-TEST Institute’s August 2014 (Windows 7 SP1) test results are now available. The company reports on 33 antivirus applications: 24 consumer-oriented antivirus programs and 9 corporate-endpoint protection packages. This article focuses on the corporate antivirus test results, the consumer antivirus test results are posted here. Here’s more about AV-TEST and how the company works.


Yahoo confirms servers infected – but not by Shellshock – Yahoo says no customer data was placed at risk after servers were infiltrated by malware — and the insidious Shellshock bug was not at fault.

Advertising beacons discovered in hundreds of NYC phone booths – As New York City looks to upgrade its phone booths, the boxes may be getting more technology than many citizens realize. This weekend, a Buzzfeed investigation found approximately 500 advertising beacons in Manhattan phone booths, all installed without a formal approval process or public comment period. In response to the report, the city has announced it will remove the beacons “in the coming days.” Beacon devices work over Bluetooth, typically looking for phones running a Beacon-enabled app (typically from a store or brand) and sending a push notification once that phone is in range.

Angry Birds Transformers Trojan targets Android, warns ‘Obey or be hacked’ – Malware targeting Android devices pretends to be the new Angry Birds Transformers game, but wipes data from the device’s storage, blocks the Facebook app, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and text messages, spamming friends every five seconds with the same warning the owner sees: ‘Obey or Be Hacked.’


Company News:

Samsung’s Q3 2014 profits nosedived – The past couple years have been kind to Samsung, which has seen record profits and all sorts of bragging rights. That reign held steady for quite a while as the Korean company pumped out mobile gadgets that found favor with consumers. Those numbers started stumbling this year, however, and by the looks of things has taken a massive blow in the third quarter of this year. Such information comes from a regulatory filing, which shows the company is expecting its profits to come in at a three-year low.

Facebook now officially owns WhatsApp – Eight months after announcing its intent to acquire messaging giant WhatsApp, the deal has finally gone through. Facebook announced the closing of the deal with the SEC in the United States, and with the European Commission in Europe. Since the deal was announced for $19 billion, its price tag has actually increased to a whopping $21.8 billion. This is in part due to Facebook’s rising stock price over the last several months, Recode points out.

Games and Entertainment:

Alien: Isolation Review – Either you’re going to love this game or you’re going to hate it. There’s a lot riding on elements of fandom, terror, and gameplay here. You really have to ask yourself a few questions before you take the plunge. We really should make a flowchart for you in deciding whether or not to allow yourself to experience this game, starting with the key – have you seen the original ALIEN film?


It’s not a bug: Shadow of Mordor allows for never-ending combos – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has only been out a few days, but the general feedback is that Monolith has done a good job with this action RPG. It’s not the longest of games, but it is one where there’s a constant need for tactics combined with some genuinely fun combat you just keep coming back to. Now it seems the combos performed in the game can be chained together…forever.


Assassin’s Creed Unity Will Only Run at 1080p on PCs – Ubisoft’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity, a sneaking game about two secret societies warring during the French Revolution, will only be capable of 1080p display resolution if you’re rocking a Windows PC. The 1920-by-1080 club’s doors are officially closed to game consoles, says Ubisoft. What’s more, both consoles will top out at 30 frames per second (enthusiasts tend to prefer games that run at 60).

Off Topic (Sort of):

Zuckerberg is world’s best CEO, Twitter the eighth wonder, says Marc Andreessen – The venture capitalist has been tweeting up a storm, sharing his thoughts on everything from startups to activist shareholders. In an exclusive interview, Andreessen offers his take on the Apple Watch, bitcoin and dot-com blunders.

The Navy is building robotic weaponized boats – As a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, loaded with 60 aircraft and more than 6,000 sailors, heads toward port, it’s protected by a group of 10 or more small boats. The boats move around the ship, scanning for suspicious and potentially hostile vessels coming too close. If they spot a potential adversary, they race toward the intruder, working together to swarm around it and block it from getting any closer. If necessary, they can destroy an attacking vessel. What makes this scenario unique is that these small boats are unmanned. No one’s driving them or on the look out. No one’s manning the machine gun.


Floating bike highway proposed for London’s River Thames – A group of architects, engineers, and artists proposed a novel way of creating protected bike lanes in traffic-clogged London: a floating bike highway along the Thames. The path, called the Thames Deckway, would run east-west along the river’s southern bank for about seven miles, from Battersea to Canary Wharf.


Australia Wants To Light Up With Massive #YesToPot Campaign – An innovative online and street campaign run by SBS has revealed, somewhat unsurprisingly, Australians overwhelmingly want to smoke weed legally.


Why do contextual ads fail? – Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon violate our privacy in order to show us relevant ads. So why do their ads miss the mark?

Microsoft’s FlexSense Project Is A Thin Sensor Layer To Make Your Tablet Awesome – The merry band of scientists over at Microsoft Research — who apparently get paid to have fun and speak with fixed tones over videos — have put together something called FlexSense, a flat piece of bendable material loaded with sensors. You torque it, and it accepts the “deformation” input. That means it can tell how you are bending it and translates that information for the application you’re using. Imagine doodling a picture with multiple layers, and lifting up the corner of your FlexSense to reveal the layer below that you’re working on. Or turning pages of a digital book by bending a part of your FlexSense. Any place you can imagine flexing or bending material, FlexSense could fit.


To Kidfinity and beyond? iPad bests all brands among 6- to 12-year-olds – Research company Smarty Pants asked kids and moms about their favorite brands. Disney cracks kids’ top 10, but McDonald’s may need a happy meal: It only ranks 15th.


Something to think about:

“You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught.”

-    South Pacific – Broadway Show

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder – Auslogics Duplicate File Finder will find and remove duplicate files so you won’t experience lack of free disk space!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows you to find duplicate files by content, regardless other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names. Give Auslogics Duplicate File Finder a try to see what it’s really capable of!


Improve computer performance by deleting duplicate files

Identical files not only waste your hard disk space, but also may cause system slowdowns. By deleting duplicate files you can reduce time needed to defragment your hard drives and minimize time used by antivirus to scan your computer.

Sort and organize your media collections

Media files collections, such as music, video, images and photos, often become the primary source of identical files. If you have a music collection of several hundreds or even thousands mp3-files, you may want to sort them by deleting identical tracks.

With Auslogics Duplicate File Finder you can organize your media files and increase free disk space needed to enlarge your collection.

Find duplicate files by content!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows the program to search for duplicate files by content, regardless of other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names.


Zoner Photo Studio Free – Manage, edit, and share your photos faster and more easily than ever before! This free software is the new way to work on your pictures with less hassle and more fun than you’ve ever seen. It’s made for everyone, and will make you feel like a pro.


Download pictures easily

Get organized with Sort Pictures

Quickly find any picture

Describe and tag your pictures

Geotag to show where you took your shots

EditFrom simple touchups and one-click fixes to fancy

creative work, it’s all here.

Quick Fix – fix it all in one click

Remove red eye, wrinkles, and more

Add cool effects

Fix exposure problems fast

Sharpen blurred pictures

Turn your pictures into panoramas…

Share them with Facebook friends

Publish them on Flickr

Quick, impressive calendars


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars – Last week, Apple announced that it is closing a serious security vulnerability in the iPhone. It used to be that the phone’s encryption only protected a small amount of the data, and Apple had the ability to bypass security on the rest of it.

From now on, all the phone’s data is protected. It can no longer be accessed by criminals, governments, or rogue employees. Access to it can no longer be demanded by totalitarian governments. A user’s iPhone data is now more secure.

To hear US law enforcement respond, you’d think Apple’s move heralded an unstoppable crime wave. See, the FBI had been using that vulnerability to get into people’s iPhones. In the words of cyberlaw professor Orin Kerr, “How is the public interest served by a policy that only thwarts lawful search warrants?”

Ah, but that’s the thing: You can’t build a backdoor that only the good guys can walk through. Encryption protects against cybercriminals, industrial competitors, the Chinese secret police and the FBI. You’re either vulnerable to eavesdropping by any of them, or you’re secure from eavesdropping from all of them.

Backdoor access built for the good guys is routinely used by the bad guys. In 2005, some unknown group surreptitiously used the lawful-intercept capabilities built into the Greek cell phone system. The same thing happened in Italy in 2006.

In 2010, Chinese hackers subverted an intercept system Google had put into Gmail to comply with US government surveillance requests. Back doors in our cell phone system are currently being exploited by the FBI and unknown others.

This doesn’t stop the FBI and Justice Department from pumping up the fear. Attorney General Eric Holder threatened us with kidnappers and sexual predators.

The former head of the FBI’s criminal investigative division went even further, conjuring up kidnappers who are also sexual predators. And, of course, terrorists.

Surveillance drives South Koreans to encrypted messaging apps – Two weeks ago, Kakao Talk users in South Korea users got an unpleasant surprise. After months of enduring public criticism, President Park Geun-Hye announced a crackdown on any messages deemed as insulting to her or generally rumor-mongering — including private messages sent through Kakao Talk, a Korean messaging app akin to WhatsApp or iMessage. Prosecutors began actively monitoring the service for violations, promising punishment for anyone spreading inappropriate content.

In response to the crackdown, South Koreans have voted with their feet, heading en masse to encrypted chat programs hosted outside the country, particularly an app called Telegram known for its encryption features. Based in Germany, Telegram reports roughly 1.5 million new South Korean users have signed up in the past seven days, giving the app more than 50 million users worldwide. Telegram’s Markus Ra says it’s not the only country where government controls have made Telegram an attractive option. “People frequently come to Telegram looking for extra security — some of them from countries with censorship issues,” Ra says. “What really makes us happy is that the users stay when the privacy scandals have died away.”

Telegram offers an option for “secret chats” that use end-to-end encryption, which means that the company facilitates key exchange but doesn’t hold the keys itself and can’t decrypt any of the messages. Created by Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov, the app’s offshore location makes legal compulsion much more difficult for South Korean prosecutors. Telegram’s South Korean user base is still just a fraction of Kakao’s 35 million users — the vast majority of cell-phone owners in South Korea — but the rapid growth shows how much privacy features can pay off in the face of high-profile censorship.

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