Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 10, 2014

The best free Android apps for teachers;  Amazon Finally Makes Instant Video Available on Android;  The One Slide That Perfectly Illustrates Why Australians Feel Ripped Off;  5 apps business travelers shouldn’t leave home without;  Easy Android file encryption with Encdroid (free);  iTunes users can now download U2’s latest album for free;  The Apple Watch is here, and it’s damn impressive;  MailTime Turns Your Email Inbox Into An SMS Chat Session;  iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus: Apple’s phone gets big and bigger;  Adobe fixes critical flaws in Flash Player, delays Reader and Acrobat updates;  Gain control over app permissions with Ap Ops (free);  EU rejects Google antitrust deal;  Destiny first-look: It’s a small universe after all;  Apple denied retrial in Samsung patent case; Netflix is exploiting our rights in Australia: Foxtel;  The Rise of Mobile Phones from 1916 to Today;  Long lost ship discovery helps put Franklin Expedition to rest.

Be a rock star educator with the best free Android apps for teachers – Whether it is creating engaging lessons, improving behavior, or managing the excessive amount of paperwork that comes with being a teacher, these apps will be a tremendous resource. Many of these apps are ideal for 1:1 environments, where you can instantly get feedback and track assessment data from your students. All of the featured apps are free in the Play Store and work across Android phones and tablets.

Easy Android file encryption with Encdroid – In light of the recent debacle with the iCloud hack, it’s nice to find out you can find some easy-to-use third-party tools on Android to encrypt your more sensitive files and folders. One such tool is Encdroid. This particular encryption tool creates volumes that are compatible with EncFS, so they can be read from Windows, Linux, and Mac. Encdroid allows you to encrypt your files/folders with Dropbox, Google Drive, or the local storage of the device. The app is free and quite simple to use. Let’s walk through the process of installing and using Encdroid to encrypt files and folders within Google Drive.

How to manage your Google location history – Google really is tracking your every move. By default, an Android device records your location and compiles it into a personalized map, complete with timestamps and animation to detail all your moves throughout the day. As creepy as it sounds, it is actually really easy to turn this off and delete the entire location history from Google’s servers. The company even offers a help page for doing so, with the obligatory caveats about differences for specific devices and versions of Android.

Gain control over app permissions with Ap Ops – If you happen to have a rooted Android device and want to gain total control over app permissions, Jack Wallen shows you how with App Ops.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Malware blocking app mysteriously pulled from Play Store – In a time when identity theft and information pinching is prevalent, it seems salient that you’d want something that could protect you from being tracked without your knowledge. Disconnect Mobile does just that, blocking you from being tracked or fed potentially malicious ads. Once removed from the Play Store, Disconnect Mobile came back last night. The return didn’t last long, as Google kicked them out in a few short hours. Google tells Disconnect Mobile they’re in violation of section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement. That section states that no app can interfere with other apps or Android services. There was no detail laid out for Disconnect Mobile, just a blanket excuse for pulling the app.

Apple Pay removes the hassle from online payments – Apple has come up with a whole new way for your to pay, and it is called Apple Pay. With this feature, users can use the card they have on file with iTunes or any card you’ve added to pay for goods, only a simple touch of the TouchID required. This feature will include an option for online payments, as well.

Amazon Finally Makes Instant Video Available on Android – Amazon has a large catalog of streaming video in its Instant Video store, but most Android devices have been locked out of the service until now. After originally being restricted to Fire devices, Amazon has finally released an Instant Video app for all Android devices. The way you get it, though, is quite odd.

5 apps business travelers shouldn’t leave home without – Travel. It’s a fact of life for many professionals. Love it or hate it, chances are good you could use a hand with your plans. Whether it’s booking your flight, finding the perfect seat on the plane, or simply remembering to bring your socks, there’s an app that can help. Here are five of my favorites.

Turn your smartphone into a remote control for your torrent client – The BitTorrent protocol isn’t just for pirates, it’s also a great way to legally download indie documentaries, music, and open source software such as Linux distributions or the Tor Browser. The problem with torrents is that you may across something you’d like to download while browsing on your smartphone or tablet. But how are you going to remember to download that torrent once you’re back at your PC? Remote apps for Android to the rescue. Many major torrent clients offer remote apps on mobile that let you add downloads to an active PC while you’re in the other room or sitting in the back of a taxi downtown.

The Apple Watch is here, and it’s damn impressive – Apple has gone well above what had been imagined by most when it comes to the smartwatch. The design relies on a combination of touch, voice, and a traditional watch crown to handle a whole new kind of UI. They call it the Digital Crown, and it’s designed to control the majority of interactions while also acting as the home button. This square design is smooth and rounded, and comes in the same three colors as the iPhone. Like the variety of phone cases on the market, there are plenty of Apple-made watch bands to personalize the experience.


Over 500 million iTunes users can now download U2’s latest album for free – After months of speculation and rumor, Apple has announced the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay. While these devices and services will undoubtedly become huge news pieces over the next couple of days, what could be lost in the mix is Apple’s announcement that they would be launching U2’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence”, for free on iTunes.


iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus: Apple’s phone gets big and bigger – The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is packing a 1334×750 resolution display with 38% more pixels that the iPhone 5S, while the iPhone 6 Plus manages to be the first iPhone with a 1080p display and 185% more pixels than the 5S. Instead of the highly rumored sapphire display, Apple has opted for what they call Ion-strengthened glass with a better IPS display and an improved backlight. Apple has made the 16GB iPhone 6 available at $199 and the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus available at $299, with 64GB and 128GB versions available for $100 and $200 more respectively.


iPhone 6: 8 Reasons to Buy, 6 Reasons to Wait – Do you really need one of Apple’s bigger iPhones? These 14 pros and cons should help you decide.

How Turnitin Helped Me Catch a Plagiarist – I knew the essay had been plagiarized, but I couldn’t prove it. It’s a predicament I’d heard around the department coffee pot perennially, only this time, I was saying it. I had wasted the afternoon testing free plagiarism checkers like Plagium and the aptly named, yet frustratingly concise (capped at 32-word excerpts), PlagiarismChecker. None of tools had been able to locate any clues. Had my instincts led me astray? It was the last month of the semester. Perhaps all the caffeine had scrambled my judgment. There was something askew with this essay, but I wouldn’t be able to identify what it was until I found iParadigms’ Turnitin.

Google Voice not completely dead, now rolling out to Hangouts – Earlier this year it was rumored that Google was killing off Google Voice completely, opting instead to integrate VoIP features to Hangouts; that rollout has started and you can migrate to it now.


MailTime Turns Your Email Inbox Into An SMS Chat Session – MailTime, which launches today as part of the Startup Battlefield, is designed to change the way in which users interact with email and make it more like text messaging. The app has an intelligent content parsing engine and the ability to summarize long emails in a way that places messages into a conversation view.


Adobe fixes critical flaws in Flash Player, delays Reader and Acrobat updates – Adobe Systems released a critical security update for Flash Player that fixes 12 security vulnerabilities, but pushed back its planned patches for Reader and Acrobat by a week. The Flash Player updates, available for Windows, Mac and Linux, address nine vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution and three that can allow attackers to bypass security features, including memory address randomization and the same-origin policy.

Cisco says ‘Kyle and Stan’ attack is spreading through compromised ad networks – Cisco has spotted some big names serving up malicious advertising: YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! among them. A Borg blogger, Armin Pelkmann, with fellow-authors Shaun Hurley and David McDaniel, writes that what the company calls the “Kyle and Stan” malware campaign began in May, and uses redirects to try and trick users into downloading a new media player that ships malware in its payload. The high-profile serving domains – along with many others – are, of course, receiving the “malvertising” from ad networks that have been tricked into hosting the attack content.

Microsoft Has Just One Critical Patch in September Patch Tuesday – Microsoft is giving administrators a break with a relatively light Patch Tuesday release in September. The company fixed 42 bugs across four bulletins covering Internet Explorer, the .NET Framework, Windows Task Scheduler, and Microsoft Lync. Apply the Internet Explorer update. It may protect you from zero-day attacks.

‘Anti-router’ stops drones, cameras, and Google Glass from connecting to Wi-Fi networks – Are you paranoid that strangers are using drones, security cameras, hidden microphones, or even Google Glass to spy on you? If so, you might be interested in a little device called Cyborg Unplug. Just stick it into a power outlet and watch as it sounds an alarm whenever such a surveillance device enters the vicinity of your home. Even better, you can lock those devices from connecting to your Wi-Fi network. If you’re really looking to make a statement, you can even show those “Glassholes” who’s boss by preventing all surveillance devices near your Cyborg Unplug from connecting to any Wi-Fi network.


Encryption failures fixed in popular PGP email security tool Enigmail – Developers of the popular Enigmail email security extension for Thunderbird have fixed several issues that could have exposed messages users believed to be encrypted. Enigmail provides a graphical user interface in the Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey programs that allows users to digitally sign and encrypt email messages using the OpenPGP standard.

Salesforce warns customers of malware attack – users are being targeted by a new version of a computer Trojan that has typically attacked online banking customers until now. The malware threat is called Dyre or Dyreza and came to light in June. Like most online banking Trojans, it hooks the browser process to capture log-in credentials entered by users on websites belonging to financial institutions.

Company News:

EU rejects Google antitrust deal – Google is known pretty much throughout the world for its innovation in search and development of new technologies, such as self-driving cars that can navigate city streets. This does not mean that they do not encounter trouble from time to time, such as lawsuits from Microsoft, or even scrutiny from regulatory bodies. We covered that the European Union (EU) rejected Google’s antitrust deal last year. In fact, part of the reason of that rejection was probably due to complaints from companies like Microsoft.

Microsoft said to be buying the maker of ‘Minecraft’ for $2 billion – Microsoft is nearing a deal to buy Mojang AB, makers of the Minecraft video game franchise, according to a new report. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal would value Mojang at more than $2 billion and could be signed as soon as this week.

Netflix is exploiting our rights in Australia: Foxtel – Foxtel won’t seek government intervention in stopping Australians from bypassing geoblocks to access Netflix in the United States, stating that it is up to film studios to pressure Netflix to stop ‘exploiting’ a market it hasn’t launched in yet.

Apple denied retrial in Samsung patent case – Apple will not be allowed a new trial on damages for infringement of its patents by Samsung Electronics, a U.S. court decided Monday. Apple had asked Judge Lucy Koh in the San Jose division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for a retrial over some patents. It made the request after a jury awarded it $119.6 million in damages in May, much less than the $2 billion it had asked for.

Snapchat settles suit with booted co-founder Reggie Brown – After much legal wrangling, the fraternity brothers come to an agreement about the early development of the ephemeral messaging app. launches new European data center in France – With a UK data center set to open this fall, Salesforce plans to expand its European base by also moving in to France and Germany.

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny first-look: It’s a small universe after all – Enough paper-thin preview events, enough alphas, and enough betas: As of midnight early Tuesday morning, we at Ars finally began fulfilling our Destiny. The long-hyped online shooter from Bungie launched on four consoles simultaneously overnight, and with no major press or critical preview period to speak of, we are only a brief number of missions, multiplayer battles, and public events into our loot-loaded, outer-space quest.


Madden NFL 15 update will scrub all traces of Ray Rice from game – Amidst all the controversy surrounding disgraced NFL player Ray Rice, who was captured on video hitting his fiance in an elevator, comes news that he will be scrubbed from Madden NFL 15 with an upcoming game update. EA confirmed the plan to USA Today’s Brett Molina.

When We Play Video Games, Who Are We? – That players have choices is considered one of the medium’s exciting traits, but I always struggled a little bit to connect to games that have that kind of openness—am I playing a character, or am I being me?


Asus squeezes a fanless dual-GPU Radeon 290x card into a single slot – As graphics cards have become ever more powerful we’ve seen them move to a form factor that takes up the space of two slots on your motherboard. It’s required to fit in the necessary cooling for all that processing power. However, Asus is bucking the trend and has managed to produce a single-slot dual-GPU card thanks to the use of a water block as standard.


VIDEO: Teens React to the Original NES – In 1983, Nintendo released one of the best-selling consoles ever and helped to revitalize the video game market. But by today’s standards, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is rather quaint. When the Fine Brothers—producers of the popular “Kids React to…” Web series—presented the retro machine to a group of teens, most scoffed at the dated technology. “It looks like a brick,” 15-year-old Michael said. “From like 1920,” twin sister Miracle added.


Watch the DuckTales opening sequence filmed with real ducks – The folks over at official Disney blog Oh My Disney have sure been busy. To kick off 90s week, they’ve decided to celebrate a 90s Disney icon: DuckTales, starring Huey, Dewey, Louie, and their uncle, Scrooge McDuck. And not just any old how, either: from somewhere, the team has rustled up a bunch of ducks and put them in adorable little hats and aeroplanes to recreate the opening sequence: Scrooge’s money vault, Launchpad McQuack flying his plane, even the famous submarine scene — although sadly lacking the shark kiss. Watch it below — along with the original opening sequence for a side-by-side comparison, if you like — for an adorably fluffy trip down memory lane.


Off Topic (Sort of):

The One Slide That Perfectly Illustrates Why Australians Feel Ripped Off – The slide was presented by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and shows the long delays and exorbitant charges laid on Australians with regards to film, TV and music using three recent examples.


Amazon owns to stop you using it in anger – The majority of Amazon’s employees are focused on ensuring the company can sell as many products as possible and deliver them on time to very happy customers. But sometimes that’s not possible, customers get angry, and they need to vent. Amazon is well aware that this can happen, and so it is buying up anti-Amazon domain names to ensure angry people can’t use them.

iPhone: A visual history – In early 2007 Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone. Designed to “reinvent the phone,” Apple’s iPhone has revolutionized smartphones and shaped the industry into what it is today. The first iPhone mixed a capacitive 3.5-inch multi-touch display with touch-optimized software in a simple package that was unlike anything else on the market. Over the last seven years, Apple has refined and tweaked its iPhone into what it is today: the iPhone 6.


The Rise of Mobile Phones from 1916 to Today – Here’s how portable telephones — and the ways we use them — have evolved over the past century, from the front lines of World War I to selfies with the Queen.



1980 – An early mobile phone during the Iranian Embassy siege at Princes Gate in South Kensington, London.

Long lost ship discovery helps put Franklin Expedition to rest – More than a century ago, two British ships took off to explore the Arctic with a total of 129 men, seeking to chart the Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, both ships disappeared with all on-board, and for the past several years, the Canadian government has been searching for the ships’ remains. Today it announced that one has been located.


Reddit is a failed state – As Reddit trips over itself trying to contain its stolen nude photo problem, CEO Yishan Wong finally addressed the controversy on Saturday by releasing a remarkably clueless manifesto. Reddit, he wrote, is “not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community.” So, then, what type of government is Reddit? It’s the kind any reasonable person would want to overthrow.

Something to think about:

“Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn’t have in your home.”

-     David Frost

Today’s Free Downloads:

VirtualBox – VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.


Modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a client/server design. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a virtual machine in a typical virtual machine GUI and then control that machine from the command line, or possibly remotely. VirtualBox also comes with a full Software Development Kit: even though it is Open Source Software, you don’t have to hack the source to write a new interface for VirtualBox.

Virtual machine descriptions in XML. The configuration settings of virtual machines are stored entirely in XML and are independent of the local machines. Virtual machine definitions can therefore easily be ported to other computers.

Guest Additions for Windows and Linux. VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows and Linux virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. Among the features provided by these Guest Additions are mouse pointer integration and arbitrary screen solutions (e.g. by resizing the guest window).

Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as “shared folders”, which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.

A number of extra features are available with the full VirtualBox release only.

Virtual USB Controllers. VirtualBox implements a virtual USB controller and allows you to connect arbitrary USB devices to your virtual machines without having to install device specific drivers on the host.

Remote Desktop Protocol. Unlike any other virtualization software, VirtualBox fully supports the standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A virtual machine can act as an RDP server, allowing you to “run” the virtual machine remotely on some thin client that merely displays the RDP data.

USB over RDP. With this unique feature, a virtual machine that acts as an RDP server can still access arbitrary USB devices that are connected on the RDP client. This way, a powerful server machine can virtualize a lot of thin clients that merely need to display RDP data and have USB devices plugged in.


Emsisoft Emergency Kit 9 – A collection of programs that can be used without a software installation to scan and clean infected computers for malware.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner

With the Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner you have got the powerful Emsisoft Scanner including graphical user interface. Search the infected PC for Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Dialers, Keyloggers and other malign programs.

Run the Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner with a double click on a2emergencykit.exe. Found Malware can be moved to quarantine or finally deleted.

Emsisoft Commandline Scanner

This scanner contains the same functionality as the Emergency Kit Scanner but without a graphical user interface. The commandline tool is made for professional users and can be used perfectly for batch jobs.

To run the Emsisoft Commandline Scanner, do the following actions:

- Open a command prompt window (Run: cmd.exe)

- Switch to the drive of the USB Stick (e.g.: f :) and then to the folder of the executable files (e.g.: cd run)

- Run the scanner by typing: a2cmd.exe

Next you will see a help page describing all available parameters.

Next is an example to scan drive c: with enabled Memory, Traces (Registry) and Cookie scan with active Heuristic module and archive support. Found Malware is moved to quarantine.

a2cmd.exe /f=”c:” /m /t /c /h /a /q=”c:quarantine”

Emsisoft HiJackFree

HiJackFree helps advanced users to detect and remove Malware manually. With HiJackFree you can manage all active processes, services, drivers, autoruns, open ports, hosts file entries and many more. For your full control over your system.

Emsisoft BlitzBlank

BlitzBlank is a tool for experienced users and all those who must deal with Malware on a daily basis. Malware infections are not always easy to clean up. These days the software pests use clever techniques to protect themselves from being deleted. In more and more cases it is almost impossible to delete a Malware file while Windows is running. BlitzBlank deletes files, Registry entries and drivers at boot time before Windows and all other programs are loaded.

Self made Emergency USB stick

Expand the content of the Emsisoft Emergency Kit to an USB stick and make your own universal tool to scan and clean infected PCs.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International – Privacy International has taken the “Five-Eyes” spying issue to court, filing a demand that the agreements between participant countries – the US, the (currently) UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – be made public. As its filing states, the court action follows a freedom of information (FOI) request for information about the UK’s GCHQ, which Privacy International filed mainly with the aim of getting a rejection. That FOI request was rejected (as the privacy group knew it would be) because GCHQ is specifically exempted from FOI laws. Similar requests were filed and turned down in the other four countries party to the “Five-Eyes” agreements.

As the group explains, “Privacy International has asked the European Court of Human Rights to rule that intelligence agencies should not be entitled to keep the details of such arrangements hidden from the public.”

Microsoft agrees to contempt order so e-mail privacy case can be appealed – Microsoft has reached a deal with the US government in which it will agree to be held in contempt of court in order to move an e-mail privacy case on to appeal.

The case is over a government demand for e-mails stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin, Ireland, that are related to an investigation into narcotics trafficking.

The Obama administration has said that the company must comply with valid warrants for data, even when the data is held overseas. Microsoft say that’s wrong and that the ability to enforce US law stops at the nation’s borders.

It’s a case with big implications, but it got mired down in procedural confusion after US District Judge Loretta Preska sided with the government. Microsoft stated that it would still not hand over the e-mail and would continue to an appeals court; the government said that if Microsoft wanted to do that, it should be held in contempt.

“Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court,” Microsoft said in a statement last week. “This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen.”

As of yesterday, the procedural disagreement appears to be resolved. Microsoft and the Department of Justice agreed to a deal in which it would be held in contempt, but not be punished in any way—for now. The government said it “reserves its right to seek sanctions” if the situation changes.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 9, 2014

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads;  12 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss;  E Fun introduces $79 quad-core Android tablet;  Disconnect for Android Returns to Google Play;  This is what social media is doing to your brain;  Heavy VPN users are probably pirates says BBC;  Hackers launch Apple ID phishing campaign;  Clear the Clutter With Office Delve;  Amazon Drone Store: a new section dedicated to UAVs;  Microsoft details October’s major Xbox One update;  Hitman GO is Free on iOS with a Promo Code from IGN;  Why do dead alkaline batteries bounce?  Behold, the world’s first Intelligent Car (1956);  Lansweeper (free);  Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (free).

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads – Google’s search engine, browser, and other products present a Faustian bargain: In exchange for excellent, free Google services your data is used for advertising. And for some it’s getting to be too much. If you’ve decided that keeping all your eggs in one online basket is unwise, there are viable alternatives. Some are arguably not as full-featured as what Google has. But using your email without ads or knowing that performing a web search won’t result in a ton of related advertisements may be enough to encourage you to go on a Google-free diet.

E Fun introduces $79 quad-core Android tablet – For only $10 more than the price of a non-touchscreen Kindle, you can get a full-featured Nextbook tablet. Surely there must be a catch?

12 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss – After a brief hiatus, Firefox 31 recently nabbed a PCMag Editors’ Choice award for best browser. We were impressed inside and out; Mozilla’s under-the-hood upgrades shined through in our lab tests and we were positively smitten with the browser’s stylish new layout (if you’ve been lured away by other browsers in recent years, Firefox is a far sexier beast than the one you may remember).

This is what social media is doing to your brain – Can you become addicted to social media? Are active social-media users better at multitasking? A video from AsapSCIENCE shows us how social media is changing our brains.

Spotify video ads inbound: Watch a 30-sec mobile ad, get 30 minutes of nonstop music – Spotify is all about audio, but soon ads on the streaming service won’t be. The new video ads will show up on the desktop and mobile, but smartphone and tablet users will have the opportunity to swap up to 30 seconds of their attention for 30 minutes of ad-free music.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

A router and an extender: When your laptop doesn’t know which to use – If you carry a laptop, tablet, or smartphone through a home with multiple access points (such as routers and range extenders), the device should latch onto the access point with the strongest signal—presumably the closest one. Therefore, it should appear to be continually connected as you move from room to room. But technology doesn’t always behave the way it should.

Clear the Clutter With Office Delve – With so many Internet-based services to keep us organized, connected, and synergized, the influx of information can have the counterproductive effect of being completely overwhelming. With that in mind, Microsoft has released Office Delve for Office 365 business customers. Essentially, the service will work across Office to pull the most relevant data into one app. Everything is presented in a card-based design, sort of like Pinterest or Flipboard for work.

Disconnect for Android Returns to Google Play with Anti-Tracking Features Intact – You are no longer an anonymous specter floating through the internet tubes. These days there is a massive network of tracking cookies and ads that keep tabs on you to more effectively sell you stuff. Some might say that’s the price for all this free content, but if you’re not cool with it, there’s an Android app that can help.


Motorola Turbo Charger claims to deliver 8 hours of battery life on a 15 minute charge – The Motorola Turbo Charger utilizes Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology to deliver what it claims is 8 hours of battery life in just a 15 minute charge. But is it truly what its cracked up to be?


Heavy VPN users are probably pirates says BBC – BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC that markets its products around the world, has told Australia’s government that heavy users of “IP obfuscation tools” are so suspicious that internet service providers (ISPs) should consider them as likely content pirates. The organisation states that case in a submission (PDF) to Australia’s consultation online copyright infringement, a government effort to decide how the nation should deal with illegal downloading of films and television shows.

(There ya go! Not only are you a potential threat to state security (according to the NSA), if you connect through a VPN – but the BBC considers you a likely pirate. How long then, until a government, or governments, consider outlawing VPNs as an enterprise protection measure? Far fetched? Stay tuned.)


Instagram, Grindr, and more popular Android apps put user privacy at risk, researcher says – The findings comes from the University of New Haven’s Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHcFREG), which earlier this year found vulnerabilities in the messaging applications WhatsApp and Viber. This time, they expanded their analysis to a broader range of Android applications, looking for weaknesses that could put data at risk of interception. The group will release one video a day this week on their YouTube channel highlighting their findings, which they say could affect upwards of 1 billion users.

Hackers launch Apple ID phishing campaign playing on iCloud security worries – The hackers behind the Kelihos botnet are trying to capitalize on users’ increased awareness about the security of Apple online accounts through a new phishing campaign. The fake messages instruct users to click on a link if they didn’t initiate the purchase. The link leads to a phishing site that masquerades as the Apple ID log-in page and harvests credentials inputted by users for later misuse.

Home Depot Finally Confirms Its Payment System Was Hacked For Months – Remember that “suspicious activity” that Home Depot was looking into last week? Six days later, the company has at last publicly confirmed that the “suspicious activity” was a breach of its payments system. Credit card data was exposed, though Home Depot is quick to note that PINs were not. If you used a credit card at Home Depot in the past 4-5 months, you should consider it stolen.

iCloud now notifies you if account accessed via web – Of course, this isn’t a security stopgap. If someone other than you accessed your iCloud account, they may have made off with documents or pictures. All you’d really get is an early notification, and a prompt to change your password if necessary. Still, it shows Apple is taking the cloud seriously, and is continually working on fixing issues as they see fit.

Comcast Wi-Fi serving self-promotional ads via JavaScript injection – Comcast has begun serving Comcast ads to devices connected to one of its 3.5 million publicly accessible Wi-Fi hotspots across the US. Comcast’s decision to inject data into websites raises security concerns and arguably cuts to the core of the ongoing net neutrality debate. The advertisements may appear about every seven minutes or so, he said, and they last for just seconds before trailing away. Douglas said the advertising campaign only applies to Xfinity’s publicly available Wi-Fi hot spots that dot the landscape. Comcast customers connected to their own Xfinity Wi-Fi routers when they’re at home are not affected, he said.


A snippet from a JavaScript file Comcast injected into an Internet surfer’s visit to the site Mediagazer.

(Is this HACKING – or not?)

CloudAlloy Makes Docs In The Cloud More Secure By Breaking Them Into Pieces – One of the key issues facing companies when they put their content in the cloud is security, but what if you could send your documents to the cloud without security concerns? CloudAlloy, a company displaying at the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt this week, breaks your documents into pieces, spreading them across the cloud services and putting them back together whenever you call the document.

Company News:

Amazon Drone Store: a new section dedicated to UAVs – Amazon’s drone delivery service mightn’t be a reality, but your ability to buy drones through the Internet retailer is, and it just made the task a bit simpler. The company has rolled out a new section aptly called the Amazon Drone Store, which is dedicated to UAVs of all sorts and their related gear.


Facebook Hits 100M Users In Africa, Half The Continent’s Internet-Connected Population – The news suggests that if drones, satellites, and deals for free access from local carriers can spread the Internet to more people around the world in places like India and South America, a big percentage of them will become consistent Facebook users.

Netflix Joins Sept. 10 ‘Internet Slowdown’ Event – On Sept. 10, a number of top startups – from Kickstarter and Etsy to Reddit and WordPress – will add widgets to their sites that display the dreaded “loading” wheel one might see when trying to watch a video over a slow connection. Unlike the 2012 Internet blackout day in protest of SOPA and PIPA, the “Slowdown” event won’t actually slow service on these companies’ websites. Instead, it will serve as “a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House.”

Alcatel OneTouch says it plans to launch Windows Phone tablets, including 10-inch device – Alcatel OneTouch launched a Windows Phone 7.8 device back in 2012, but its chief marketing officer says it plans to return with tablets running Windows Phone, including a 10-inch device.

Another victory for Kim Dotcom, he’s getting all Megaupload data back – Megaupload, shut down in January 2012, is getting back the data confiscated by the FBI at the time of said shut down. It’s a small victory for both founder Kim Dotcom and the users that paid him.

Tinder settles sexual harassment lawsuit with former exec – A lawsuit from a former employee accused the dating app’s co-founders of condoning a “frat-like” environment, in which she was called disparaging names.

Games and Entertainment:

Hitman GO is Free on iOS with a Promo Code from IGN – Are you interested in picking up one of the best strategy games ever to grace a mobile device? You don’t even have to pay full price. In fact, there’s no price. Hitman GO is currently available for free on iOS via a promotion on IGN. Just click a few buttons, and you’ll get a promo code to download the game for free.  It’s a very polished game with lots of content and more arriving all the time. It’s more than worth the usual $4.99 asking price, but for free you really can’t complain.


Microsoft details October’s major Xbox One update with a video preview – Microsoft is planning on adding a wealth of new features to Xbox One over the coming months, and they’ve posted a new video showcasing all of the new additions coming in October.


Bungie opts to hold off on early reviews for Destiny – No early reviews for ‘Destiny’ as Bungie opts to hold off reviews until after the game has launched so that reviewers can explore more of the game before publishing scores.


White PlayStation 4 (DS4) controllers USA release tomorrow – Just in time for the midnight release of Destiny, Sony is releasing their “Glacier White” DualShock 4 controllers to the public. These controllers will be available inside the United States through Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and GameStop as early as tomorrow morning. Pre-orders start today, if you (for some reason) believe they’ll sell out before you can hit the store.


Gamdias EROS V2 gaming headset Review – High quality headsets aren’t often cheap – the folks at Gamdias are hoping to change that. Releasing the Gamdias EROS V2 earlier this year, the team behind the gaming company made an awesome combination: a surprisingly pleasant gaming headset experience with a price that won’t eviscerate your wallet.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Incredible vintage Soviet space gear headed for auction – An auction on September 13 will see the sale of 104 pieces of memorabilia from the Soviet space program, including a cognac bottle signed by Yuri Gagarin.


Why do dead alkaline batteries bounce? – You might have heard that the difference between a dead and good alkaline battery can be determined by seeing which one bounces when dropped. A battery with usable capacity doesn’t bounce, but a dead once bounces quite a bit when dropped. If you are curious why that is, a genial older gentleman has a YouTube video that explains everything.


Behold, the world’s first Intelligent Car – Amid chat of a new wave of smart vehicles for their Cadillac line this week, General Motors also made note of the first “Smart Car” they ever produced. Amongst the first smart vehicle concepts to have ever graced the showroom floor was the Firebird II. Today we’re having a brief look at what the future looked like in 1956.


Superman gets limited edition coins from Canadian mint – For a superhero whose earliest battle cry was “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”, this might have been that last thing you’d expect. But perhaps proving that Superman’s appeal, message, and influence reaches beyond the borders of any single country, or planet for that matter, the Royal Canadian Mint is giving tribute to the fictional alien who has made our planet his home.


Meet Some Australian Families Giving Their Children Medicinal Cannabis – They don’t need a bag packed at night any more, they can go to bed without preparing for the worst, and their kids are energetic, whereas before they were just zonked out all the time. The only thing bad about the kid-friendly marijuana tincture they use is that it’s hard to get. Two questions emerge here: is medicinal cannabis is actually medicinal? And if so, will removing it adversely affect sick children. To find out, we spoke to some of the parents around the country who use the Mullaway tincture. Here’s what they said.

Why Steve Ballmer wrote Windows’ classic Crtl+Alt+Delete text himself – Windows is famous for its blue screen of death, but back in the early days of the operating system, that familiar blue hue wasn’t limited to system-crashing errors alone. Windows 3.x featured a similar CRTL + ALT + DELETE screen that provided you with various options for misbehaving programs. And as it turns out, those options were written by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer himself, who led the company’s Systems Division at the time, according to Microsoft veteran Raymond Chen.


Something to think about:

“It’s the company, not the cooking, that makes a meal.”

-    Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Sky, 2006

Today’s Free Downloads:

Lansweeper – Lansweeper is an automated network discovery and asset management tool which scans all your computers and devices and displays them in an easy accessible web interface. There is no need to install any agents on the computers, all scanning is done by standard build-in functionality.

Software inventory – With Lansweeper it’s easy to track and audit all your installed software, you can create powerful software inventory reports to find out which application is installed on which computer. Google unknown software and publishers right from the web interface and find out who is running software that’s not up to date.

Hardware inventory – Lansweeper cannot only detect all hardware devices in your computers but with it’s change tracking it can find out when a device was changed or removed. Not only does Lansweeper scans windows devices, it also gathers details about all other IP enabled devices on your network from the network discovery scan. (Linux, Printers, Routers, …)

License compliance – If you want to keep all software and operating systems licenses up to date it can be a time consuming work. With Lansweeper computer inventory it doesn’t need to be… The webinterface will tell you how many software versions are installed and how much licenses you are missing.

Compliance reporting – Every company needs policies to get a smooth running network. Compliance reporting and the dashboard can help you to make all kinds of asset management reports. Who doesn’t have the latest version of our virus scanner, Who is missing the latest patch for our ERP solution. The only limit is your imagination…

Active directory integration – Lansweeper gathers all active directory user and computer details for your scanned machines. Create reports based on OU, integrate user pictures, Clean up your Active directory…

Eventlog integration – Every windows computer logs errors into the Eventlog. Thanks to Lansweeper you can now consolidate all these errors and get an alert e-mail as soon as an important error occurs.


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

JPEGsnoop – Ever wondered if that UFO photo or sasquatch sighting is a fake? … or if that camera manufacturer’s sample images have been touched up?

Simply open an image in JPEGsnoop and scroll down to the section titled, *** Searching Compression Signatures ***. This option can be enabled/disabled with the Signature Search item in the Options menu.

The utility will compare the compression characteristics of the photo against an internal database of thousands of camera “signatures” to locate a match. If a match is found, the matching digital camera or editor is shown. If the signature matches a photo editor (such as Photoshop), then there is a good chance that the photo has been edited (i.e. not original!).

The assessment line indicates one of four possible outcomes:

Class 1 – Image is processed/edited

Class 2 – Image has high probability of being processed/edited

Class 3 – Image has high probability of being original — NOTE: Please see description below!

Class 4 – Uncertain if processed or original


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden shouldn’t be extradited to US if he testifies about NSA spying, says Swiss gov: Extradition could be off the cards, says attorney general – According to two separate reports in Swiss newspapers Sonntags Zeitung and Le Matin published on Sunday, Snowden would not be extradited to the US if he stands as a “witness in criminal proceedings, or [appears] as part of a parliamentary inquiry” in Switzerland.

That’s apparently the opinion of the country’s attorney general, who expressed that view in November last year to help work out legalities relating to any potential visit from whistleblower Snowden.

The two newspapers reported the Swiss government law advisor’s opinion, after viewing a confidential document.

The top Swiss lawyer added that any US efforts to extradite Snowden if he were to testify in Switzerland would be considered “political” and thereby rejected by authorities in the country.

Only “higher state obligations” could overrule that position, the AG reportedly added.

Report: Congress won’t shut down NSA database this year: USA Freedom Act even has support from James Clapper, but still can’t pass – Despite widespread support, a bill that would put limits on widespread surveillance is unlikely to get a vote before the elections—or even after them.

According to National Journal, the USA Freedom Act, which would essentially stop the government’s bulk collection of telephone call data, is flailing. The bill is struggling despite the fact that it won a stunning new supporter last week: Director of Intelligence James Clapper, one of the top defenders of the surveillance programs.

A Senate staffer told NJ that it was “extremely unlikely” the bill would be considered in September. It was originally introduced in July by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and it has co-sponsors ranging from liberal senators like Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) to Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

But multiple sources told National Journal that the measure “is not a top priority” for a Senate packed with other concerns. The failure to pass the USA Freedom Act, which still had plenty of problems, will top off a Congress in which virtually no progress was made on any significant tech policy issue.

The compromise bill was fleshed out in the Senate after a weaker version in the House was denounced by reform-minded groups. However, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology are on board with the Leahy bill, which they see as an imperfect but necessary compromise.

The USA Freedom Act would leave the call data in the hands of the phone companies, creating a system in which intelligence agencies would have to ask for data related to a “specific selection term” such as a phone number or name.

Who wins when cops wear cameras? – If nothing else, this summer from hell has put out-of-control policing front and center in the American conversation. Once Staten Island resident Eric Garner was killed by an NYPD officer’s apparently illegal choke hold in July, the floodgates opened and flagrant civil liberties violations seemed to be all around us.

The deluge culminated in the macabre spectacle that was the the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and its cartoonishly militarized aftermath. Now Ferguson cops are wearing cameras in a nod to concerns about their treatment of black citizens in the St. Louis suburb; such devices are already used (at least on a trial basis) in cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas, and Seattle. And on Thursday, embattled New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that the NYPD would launch its own camera pilot program.

But how big of a deal is it for local police to sport a recording device, and more importantly, do cameras actually reduce police brutality?


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 8, 2014

The U.S. government’s secret plans to spy for American corporations;  Is Windows XP still safe? The answer is a resounding yes;   You need to know about NFC and mobile payments. Here’s why;  Very handy! Six helpful add-ons for Gmail;  Automate your morning programs with Windows Task Scheduler;  ChitChat is Snapchat for voice messages;  The 10 best websites for students;  Home Depot hit by same malware used in massive Target breach;  Botnet malware discovered on server;  Stephen Hawking: God particle could wipe out the universe;  The Sims 4 cheat codes;  Coffee shop bans laptops and tablets, business grows;  Meet the shadowy tech brokers that deliver your data to the NSA;  The game is not yet over for Gameover Zeus botnet;  Google recommends pronounceable passwords.

Windows XP security – Though Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April, the popular OS refuses to die. Roughly 25 percent of desktop users are clinging to the OS, meaning XP still has four times as many users as Windows 8 or 8.1, according to NetMarketShare. Recently, independent security lab AV-Test investigated whether the outdated XP can be adequately protected. Is Windows XP still safe? The answer is a resounding yes.

You need to know about NFC and mobile payments. Here’s why – Rumored to be in Apple’s new devices, NFC is poised to play an important role in the way we use our phones, especially when it comes to mobile payments. Here’s how it works.

ChitChat is Snapchat for voice messages – To send a message, you need to tap and hold the relevant contact icon while speaking your message (which may mean holding your iPhone’s mike a little awkwardly to your mouth), releasing when done. As soon as you release, the message sends automatically. Once your contact has heard your message it is deleted, and listening to messages just requires one quick tap on a contact’s pic to access them. You can also send messages to multiple contacts at once.

Very handy! Six helpful add-ons for Gmail – A few weeks ago, I migrated from Outlook to Gmail. Since I made the move, I’ve been exploring Chrome and Gmail extensions to find the ones that would best suit my needs. I’ve been relatively frugal in my choices, because I didn’t want to add too much at one time. For those of you who are curious, the following are the six add-ons I’ve found most useful so far.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Chrome extension for the Pinterest-obsessed – Pinterest, the social bookmarking juggernaut, unveiled a Google Chrome browser extension today that turns your boring “new tab” pages into a daily dashboard with an oversize Pinterest pin. Meaning, every time you open a new tab in Chrome to search the web or go to a website, you’re greeted with a pinned photo that fills the window.

Best Android smartphones (September 2014 edition) – Looking for a new smartphone but aren’t interested in an iPhone? Don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. Here is a selection of the best Android phones currently available on the market (September 2014). So whether you’re after a handset for personal use, or one suited to BYOD, there bound to be an Android smartphone here for you.

Automate your morning programs with Windows Task Scheduler – If you ask me, the best tool for your computer is automation. Get it to do some of the mundane things you need to get done in the day or that make your work life just a little bit easier. One way to do that is to use the built-in Task Scheduler for Windows. A simple, but also strangely satisfying use for Task Scheduler is to fire up all the programs you need to get going during your morning work routine. In our case, we’ll use Excel, Firefox, and Skype as examples.


The 10 best websites for students – Whether you’re looking to make sense of an obscure topic or want to avoid breaking the bank on that political science textbook, the Internet has a solution. We’ve compiled ten of the best resources for research, report writing, cheap textbooks, and even finding a date with a fellow student from your university—because college isn’t all about schoolwork.

Google Glass goes mainstream, now listed in the Play Store – It would appear as though Google has officially made its wearable face computer a member of the family, because you can now order the Explorer Edition of Google Glass and all of its accessories through the Play Store.

Windows Threshold Technical Preview: It’s all about feedback, feedback, feedback – Windows Threshold is getting really darn close to being ready for its public release. With the 30th of September quickly approaching, Microsoft is starting to put the final pieces together to create a release of the build that is ready for public consumption. Mary Jo Foley was the first to grab this bit of news and since we had heard the same thing and could add a bit more, we figured we would add some color to the reasoning why they want feedback and what to expect. The short answer to why they are focusing so heavily on user feedback is not just about polishing the experience for user – it’s also because the enterprise hates Windows 8.

Reddit Bans Major Subreddit Promoting Celebrity Nude Picture Hack – The Web’s talk of the town—Reddit this time, not 4chan—has taken quite a bit of flak this week for its role in the big celebrity naked picture hack. While a number of online entities passed the batch of images and videos around like digital trading cards, an entire Reddit sub-community entitled “The Fappening” quickly became the files’ bridge to a more mainstream audience. Said subreddit has since been banned by Reddit administrators, mostly due to the fact that it’s been the epicenter for related Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests related to the photos—and the fact that said subreddit’s users keep posting them.

With the Core M, Intel promises thinner, cooler, more powerful PCs – Intel formally launches its Core M chips for notebooks and tablets, the first wave of its new Broadwell generation of chips. Expect dramatic improvements in performance and battery life, Intel says.


Home Depot hit by same malware used in massive Target breach – The malware used in the massive Target data breach last December, which affected more than 110 million people, has now hit customers from almost every single Home Depot store in the United States. It is unknown exactly how many customers were affected in Home Depot’s data breach, but considering the number of retail stores affected, it’s not unlikely that the count could number in the millions. Since the attack used BlackPOS, the same malware used in the Target breach, Home Depot’s breach may include credit card numbers, ZIP code data, and other sensitive personal information.

Google recommends pronounceable passwords – Google has updated its password manager to recommend pronounceable passwords within its flagship Chrome browser. The experimental feature was the latest development which could make it into the regular versions of Chrome as part of steady improvements to its password capture, storage and generation. The update is Google’s latest encroachment into the territory of online password management dominated by LastPass and 1Password, who could well feel threatened as Chrome builds in functionality they once offered as third-party value adds.


Will iCloud ‘hack’ help kill online security questions? – There is no such thing as a “private naked selfie” and Apple’s online security questions don’t improve the situation. Kevin Rose said it’s high time to kill such security questions, or else “we might as well change all of our passwords to ‘1234’ and hope for the best.”


Feds say NSA “bogeyman” did not find Silk Road’s servers – The FBI easily found the main server of the now-defunct Silk Road online drug-selling site, and didn’t need the National Security’s help, federal prosecutors said in a Friday court filing. The authorities said Friday that the FBI figured out the server’s IP address through a misconfiguration in the site’s login window. They said that a US warrant wasn’t required to search the Icelandic server because “warrants are not required for searches by foreign authorities of property overseas.”

Why Breach Detection Is Your New Must-Have, Cyber Security Tool – Cyber attacks are all over the news, and it seems like no one is immune — Home Depot, Target, Adobe and eBay included. So why are CIOs still fighting cyber criminals with one hand tied behind their backs? Shockingly, most companies are still relying on outdated, only partially effective methods to protect their sensitive data, mainly with technology that focuses on preventing incoming attacks. But actually stopping bad guys from slipping inside enterprise networks and getting their hands on sensitive data is nearly impossible these days. In fact, among organizations with over 5,000 computers, over 90 percent have an active breach of some sort at any given time. What’s worse, those organizations may not even know about it.


The game is not yet over for Gameover Zeus botnet – If you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you know the trope where the hero seemingly kills the monster, but as soon as he turns his back to walk away the monster regains consciousness and attacks again with renewed vigor. According to the latest report from F-Secure, that’s the sort of scenario we might be looking at with the Gameover Zeus botnet.


Botnet malware discovered on server – A server connected to had botnet malware on it, but the malicious code was never used and no personal information was compromised.

Company News:

Microsoft has removed its Bing Image Widget – Following a lawsuit from Getty Images over copyright infringement, Microsoft has bit the bullet and removed the beta version of its Bing Image Widget, which allowed site owners to easily embed media.

Alibaba Proposes To Go Public For As Much as $66 Per Share, Valuing The Firm At More Than $160B – Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant run by Jack Ma, has submitted F-1 paperwork to the SEC with the expectation that it will go public on September 8 under the NYSE symbol BABA. The filing appeared on today. 20.1 million shares will be on offer. Japanese investor Softbank currently owns 34 percent of the company while Yahoo owns 22 percent. The initial price is expected to hit at $60-66 per share with an initial valuation of up to $162 billion. At that valuation, Softbank’s share of the firm is worth around $55 billion, and Yahoo’s stake is worth more than $36 billion.

Facebook Highlights Its 1 Billion Video Views Per Day Reach By Adding View Counts – To prove to advertisers and the world that it’s not just YouTube that has massive video engagement online, Facebook today announced it now delivers 1 billion video views per day and will begin showing everyone view counts on videos posted by Pages and public figures. This could convince advertisers shifting TV ad spend to digital to look to Facebook, which recently bought video adtech company LiveRail for between $400 million and $500 million in July.

Microsoft is moving away from Windows Phone and towards ‘Windows’ for your phone – Looking at the trail of evidence, it becomes clear that for Windows Phone, the future is Windows for your phone as Microsoft looks to pivot products around the Windows brand

Nest expands into Europe, reveals new parterships – Nest today announced it is expanding further into Europe. Its Thermostat and Protect products will be available to buy from official channels at the end of the September in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland. Nest says that people use its products in 120 different countries already, having bought them online, even though they are not set up properly for that country’s heating system. After the UK, where Nest products are already on sale, the new countries announced today are some of the most popular countries for imported Nest usage in Europe.

Games and Entertainment:

Dreadnought preview: It’s like World of Tanks and Battlestar Galactica had a baby – Here’s the easiest way to describe Dreadnought—the way it was described to me, and presumably the way it was described to everyone at PAX, and it’s the first thing you think of when you play the game. Remember that scene in Battlestar Galactica where the ship warps in the atmosphere? Yeah, of course you do unless you didn’t watch Battlestar Galactica in which case who are you? Dreadnought is that scene.


A heavy support vehicle attacking a light dreadnought.

You Should Play: Hazumino – If you like Tetris, platformers, endless runners, and multi-tasking, I have the perfect game for you. Hazumino is a brilliant—and totally bizarre—mash-up of everything that is awesome. It’s a platformer à la Super Mario. It’s an endless runner à la Robot Unicorn Attack. It’s a block-stacking game à la Tetris. And it’s all of these things at the same time.


Six mathematical apps for Adventure Time fans – Adventure Time is easily one of the weirdest, most creative things on television today, and it’s also the rare show that means so much to kids and adults alike—and sometimes for different reasons altogether. The cartoon is alternately silly and sentimental, absurdist and still surprisingly relatable. It’s a curious concoction, to be sure, but a rather wonderful one overall. Looking for ways to stoke your Adventure Time enthusiasm on the go? Here are six entertaining apps that will do just that.

The new Lego Slave I set is a stunning Star Wars tribute – When Lego offered up a Slave I set back in 2010, I was pretty excited to see it… but the original doesn’t hold a candle to the one that’s coming out this year. Lego has updated Slave I for the 2014 holiday season, and it’s an amazingly faithful reproduction of the bounty hunter’s ship. If you look in the bottom left corner of the box, you’ll see why that’s the case: it’s part of the Lego Ultimate Collector Series. The “low-fi” 2010 set was just 573 pieces. The Ultimate Collector’s Slave I? It’s packed with nearly 2,000 pieces.


The Sims 4 cheat codes – The Sims is one of the few games that still openly permits the use of cheat codes. Here are the codes for the newly launched The Sims 4.


Off Topic (Sort of):

You can thank Brit funnyman John Oliver for fixing US broadband policy, beams Netflix – Netflix CEO Reed Hastings thinks Americans owe a debt to British satirist John Oliver for the FCC’s tough stance this week on broadband monopolies in the US. The comment references Oliver’s campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of net neutrality. Hastings reckons Oliver’s mocking of the FCC’s handling of the net neutrality debate has made the watchdog shake up its priorities.


Cable companies want to unbundle broadcast TV, and broadcasters are angry – A group called that represents local broadcasters and other organizations today criticized the American Cable Association (ACA) for supporting Local Choice. “We believe ‘Local Choice’ represents a frontal assault on free and local TV broadcasting,” TVfreedom Public Affairs Director Robert Kenny wrote. “It would tilt television’s balance of power in favor of pay-TV providers at the expense of broadcasters invested in localism. It would cost consumers more on their monthly bills, and do nothing to address shoddy pay-TV service or the deceptive billing practices of cable and satellite TV providers.”

Stephen Hawking: God particle could wipe out the universe – In a preface to new book, the famed physicist fears the Higgs Boson becoming unstable and causing a “catastrophic vacuum decay.” But how likely is that really?

GM plans to launch hands-free driving by 2016 – General Motors announced Sunday it plans to introduce Cadillac models in two years that incorporate hands-free driving and Wi-Fi-enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communications to exchange traffic information with similarly equipped vehicles.

Coffee shop bans laptops and tablets, business grows – A Vermont bakery and coffee shop shuts off its Wi-Fi and discovers that people quite like it.

Something to think about:

“Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.”

-     Alvin Toffler

Today’s Free Downloads:

recALL – recALL allows quick recovery of passwords from more than 180 programs (email, web browsers, instant messengers, FTP clients, wireless, etc) and license keys from nearly 800 applications. recALL it the world’s first program that allows you to recover most of the password and also a license from damaged operating systems through native support of the systems registry files Windows.

Due to the unique function emulation FTP, POP3 and SMTP can recover passwords from any application supporting these protocols, even if the program is not yet supported in recALL.


PCFerret – PCFerret is designed to produce reports for the novice user and technical support departments, and perform analysis of a PC’s content.

It is ideal for troubleshooting and for clients to be able to provide technical support departments with accurate information relating to their system’s configuration. The report can be viewed on screen, printed for faxing, or saved as a single HTML formatted file, ready for emailing as an attachment.


Detailed System Report

Password Generator

ADS (Alternate Data Stream) Detection

File Analysis

Find File By Type (Content)

Reboot Operations

Detect Tor Browser

Additional Information


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The U.S. government’s secret plans to spy for American corporations – Throughout the last year, the U.S. government has repeatedly insisted that it does not engage in economic and industrial espionage, in an effort to distinguish its own spying from China’s infiltrations of Google, Nortel, and other corporate targets. So critical is this denial to the U.S. government that last August, an NSA spokesperson emailed The Washington Post to say (emphasis in original): “The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

After that categorical statement to the Post, the NSA was caught spying on plainly financial targets such as the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras; economic summits; international credit card and banking systems; the EU antitrust commissioner investigating Google, Microsoft, and Intel; and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In response, the U.S. modified its denial to acknowledge that it does engage in economic spying, but unlike China, the spying is never done to benefit American corporations.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for instance, responded to the Petrobras revelations by claiming: “It is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters…. What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of—or give intelligence we collect to—U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”

But a secret 2009 report issued by Clapper’s own office explicitly contemplates doing exactly that. The document, the 2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review—provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—is a fascinating window into the mindset of America’s spies as they identify future threats to the U.S. and lay out the actions the U.S. intelligence community should take in response.

India government: ‘net should not be censored: Except, of course, when it should – India’s communications and IT minister, tasked with attracting foreign investors to the country’s tech sector, has defended controversial IT laws while saying that Internet censorship should be minimal.

Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made the remarks to The Hindu Business Line in response to criticisms of Section 66 of the country’s IT Act.

While many countries forbid using telecommunications services to menace or threaten, the Indian law goes further by criminalising the publication of false information for, among other things, the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience.

As a result, as Index on Censorship notes, Facebook posts are increasingly landing individuals in front of the courts.

Meet the shadowy tech brokers that deliver your data to the NSA – Picture two federal agents knocking at your door, ready to serve you a top secret order from the U.S. government, demanding that you hand over every shred of data you own — from usernames and passwords, phone records, emails, and social networking and credit card data.

You can’t tell anyone, and your only viable option is to comply.

For some U.S. Internet service providers (ISP) and phone companies, this scenario happens — and often. Just one ISP hit by a broad-ranging warrant has the potential to affect the privacy of millions of Americans.

But when one Atlanta, Georgia-based Internet provider was served a top-secret data request, there wasn’t a suited-and-booted federal agent in sight.

Why? Because the order was served on a so-called “trusted third-party,” which handles the request, served fresh from the secretive Washington D.C.-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. With permission from their ISP customers, these third-parties discreetly wiretap their networks at the behest of law enforcement agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and even intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA).

By implementing these government data requests with precision and accuracy, trusted third-parties — like Neustar, Subsentio, and Yaana — can turn reasonable profits for their services.

Little is known about these types of companies, which act as outsourced data brokers between small and major U.S. ISPs and phone companies, and the federal government. Under the 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), any company considered a “communications provider” has to allow government agencies access when a valid court order is served. No matter how big or small, even companies whose legal and financial resources are limited do not escape federal wiretapping laws.

On a typical day, these trusted third-parties can handle anything from subpoenas to search warrants and court orders, demanding the transfer of a person’s data to law enforcement. They are also cleared to work with classified and highly secretive FISA warrants. A single FISA order can be wide enough to force a company to turn over its entire store of customer data.

Off-the-grid texting device GoTenna attracts antisurveillance crowd – Daniel Levy, a Web developer living in the Puna District of Hawaii, lived through a 12-day blackout after a rather vicious hurricane earlier this summer. Many residents in his community were stuck powerless until the local utility company restored the grid, while some subsisted on solar energy. It was after that, Levy said, that he sought a solution and came upon GoTenna.

The gadget — a small Bluetooth-enabled rod packed to the brim with modern radio innards — lets you create your own private, secure communication network for sending messages without cell service using your smartphone. Though marketed toward outdoors and emergency situations like hiking and disaster relief, GoTenna is getting a boost from the cryptography community. Levy, whose neighborhood gets little to zero reliable cell service, happens to represent both. He’s among the more than 25 percent of GoTenna preorder customers who paid for the product with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

“We do not need to be dependent on centralized industries for our communication, which is a very important part of our modern lives,” Levy told CNET. The developer runs, a peer-to-peer credit and collaboration-focused social network currently in development that aims to take the decentralization and financial empowerment elements of Bitcoin and apply them to his local community in Hawaii. He’s considering integrating with GoTenna’s application programming interface (API) to link the gadget with his software platform.

“With GoTenna, we can create our own, decentralized mesh network that we own, and be in control of the data that we create,” he said. Levy said he wouldn’t have purchased GoTenna had the company not accepted Bitcoin as payment, nor if the device’s communication lines had not been end-to-end encrypted and the messages never stored, he said. “If it proves to be useful, I would like to encourage my community to start utilizing these devices.”


A mobile accessory that lets you communicate without cell service has taken off with Bitcoin enthusiasts, in part because it prevents spying eyes.

The pentagon is giving grenade launchers to campus police – The Pentagon’s 1033 program, which allows the Defense Department to unload its excess military equipment onto local police forces, has quietly overflowed onto college campuses. According to documents obtained by the website Muckrock, more than 100 campus police forces have received military materials from the Pentagon. Schools that participate in the program range from liberal arts to community colleges to the entire University of Texas system. Emory, Rice, Perdue, and the University of California, Berkeley, are all on the list.

In 1990, Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act, including the magnanimous section 1208, which since 1996 has been known as program 1033. Over the last 17 years, this trickle-down gift economy has distributed more than $4.3 billion worth of equipment, according to program administrators. As Ferguson police rolled up to peaceful protesters in military-grade tanks, firing tear gas and rubber bullets, President Obama ordered a review of the program, which reached new highs in regifting under his tenure.

It’s clear why a review of the program is in order, because it isn’t clear at all what sort of equipment these colleges are receiving. David Perry, the president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, told Politico that 1033 mostly funnels “small items” to college police forces for daily use. These could be anything from office supplies or uniforms or car parts, but it’s probably not all that tame. Campus Safety magazine recommends that universities take part in the 1033 program to cover a range of needs from storage units to grenade launchers. That is, after all, what the program was designed to achieve.

But program 1033 doesn’t even come close to explaining all the ways in which campus police have been militarized over the past two decades. Colleges can also apply for Homeland Security grants, the same ones made available to every municipal police department in the country after 9/11. In 2012, UC Berkeley tried to use the program to purchase an eight-ton armored truck. After a backlash, university officials ultimately decided the truck was “not the best choice for a university setting.” The following year, Ohio State University acquired a mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle. So far, it has yet to be targeted.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 5, 2014

Meet the Russian-made tool that grabs nude selfies from iCloud accounts;  FCC chief: Broadband competition doesn’t exist;  Big tech companies plan “Internet Slowdown” to fight for net neutrality;  Five apps to expand Word 2013’s feature set;  Supercharge your Android contacts with Groups;  Acer Chromebook 13 FHD Review;  Tech-shy baby boomers get low-cost tablet from AARP, Intel;  Chrome OS update: Multi-User activated;  Facebook To Re-Educate All Users With A Privacy Checkup;  Apple to add security alerts in the wake of iCloud hacking scandal;  Microsoft plans critical IE update next week;  Adobe to release Acrobat, Reader updates;  Microsoft Will Give You Any Xbox One Game If You Buy The Console Next Week;  EA Launches ‘Madden GIFerator’ for Your Looping Pleasure;  The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch;  Comodo BackUp (free);  Auslogics Browser Care (free).

All your data are belong to us (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud) – Even if the data is secure, there’s also no guarantee that the company housing the data will keep your data secure from both internal and external threats. Do you read all of the the Terms of Service agreements before using an online service, and then again every time they’re updated? If not, you risk companies slipping verbiage past you that takes away your ownership rights or worse. The question to ask is whether we should trust our data in the cloud. The answer isn’t as straight forward as it may initially appear, regardless of what side of the argument you fall on.

Meet the Russian-made tool that grabs nude selfies from iCloud accounts – There’s a seedy trade in compromising photos stored in Apple iCloud accounts, and it is in part aided by a software program that cleanly collects the data. Some of the nude celebrity photos are believed to have first been circulated on Anon-IB, a definitely not safe-for-work forum. As reported by Wired, the forum is full of offers for iCloud “ripping,” or downloading the entire contents of an account. The software tool they’re using is Moscow-based Elcomsoft’s Phone Password Breaker, or EPPB, one of many forensic tools the company develops for law enforcement and other clients.


Cracked versions of a forensic tool called the Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker are being used to download entire contents of iCloud accounts.

How to prepare your iPhone or iPad for iOS 8 – Apple announced the eighth major release of its iOS mobile operating system at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The latest version of iOS include improvements to the Siri voice assistant, a new health and wellness app, and revamped notifications, among other things. With iOS 8 slated to arrive on devices in the coming weeks, now is the perfect time to ensure that your iPhone or iPad is prepared to receive the update. These tips will help make the transition to iOS 8 from iOS 7 as smooth as possible.

Five apps to expand Word 2013’s feature set – Why leave your document to use an external tool when you can integrate the functionality you need into Word? Check out these five free mini apps to add power to Word 2013.

FCC chief: Broadband competition doesn’t exist – FCC head calls truly high-speed Net access a modern-day essential but says most Americans “have no competitive choice,” a position that could perturb Comcast and AT&T.

How to enable and disable Netflix’s new private recommendations – Netflix added a feature that lets you make movie and TV recommendations to friends. Learn how it works and how, should it get spammy, to turn it off.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Supercharge your Android contacts with Groups – Android expert Jack Wallen shows you how Contact Groups can help you communicate and work more efficiently and effectively.

Tech-shy baby boomers get low-cost tablet from AARP, Intel – Technology can be daunting for users of a certain age, but Intel and AARP are offering help with a simple-to-use tablet. The RealPad tablet is aimed at users who are 50 and older, the age range for AARP membership, and shy of technology. Simplicity is key: The tablet provides quick access to email, Web sites, social networks, multimedia and ebooks through a user interface with large icons. “Now there’s no excuse for not having a tablet. RealPad makes it easy to connect, share and learn,” the RealPad website proclaims. The tablet, which has a 7.85-inch screen and is based on the Android OS, will sell for $189 starting in mid-October through Walmart’s website.


Huawei’s huge, octa-core Ascend Mate 7 (pictures) – The Huawei Ascend Mate is an enormous 6-inch phone with an ultra high definition display, octal-core processor and fingerprint scanner.


Hands-on: Tempo brings its super-smart calendaring to iPad – Tempo, a powerful calendar app for the iPhone, goes beyond just displaying events and dates, instead pulling together multiple calendars and contextual data to serve as a digital assistant. It’s a productivity powerhouse on the iPhone, but until now has been missing from the iPad. This is finally being rectified, as starting on Thursday Tempo is available as a universal app.

Acer Chromebook 13 FHD Review – With the Acer Chomebook 13, the brand summons the NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor to stand out from the pack. With high-end processing power the likes of which only otherwise rest inside the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, what else is needed to create the perfect Chromebook? How about one of the finest keyboard we’ve experienced on a Chromebook as well as a trackpad that would make most Windows notebooks jealous?


Chrome OS update: Multi-User activated – Right on time! Right as we’ve published our new Acer Chromebook 13 FHD Review this morning, the newest update to Chrome OS has arrived. This update includes Multi Sign in support, App Info view in the Chrome launcher, and Save to Google Drive in Incognito Mode. You can grab this Chrome OS update right this minute.

Ikea Parodies Apple With ‘Bookbook’ Video – If you’re familiar with Apple’s marketing videos, you’ll appreciate the blatant homage (or mocking) that Ikea delivers to promote the unveiling of its new “Bookbook.” No, that’s not the Swedish word for nightstand or an e-reader. The “Bookbook” is, in actuality, Ikea’s annual catalog. That’s it. Nothing fancy. But that’s the joke behind the company’s big buildup and lush descriptions of the “product” within the Bookbook’s teaser video.


Twitpic is shutting down September 25th, blames Twitter – Long before Twitter had its own built-in image hosting service, there was Twitpic. The image host was launched in 2008 and has been a prominent Twitter tool ever since, but the company has announced today that it’s closing its doors on September 25th. According to the blog post, Twitter is to blame for Twitpic’s untimely demise.

Nokia Screen Sharing pipes Lumia to TV via NFC coaster – How many times have you bothered connecting your smartphone to your TV? Microsoft is aiming to make the answer “at least once” with the new Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones, a circular set-top box with a companion NFC plate intended to ease the pairing process.



Facebook To Re-Educate All Users With A Privacy Checkup On Their Posts, Apps, And Profiles – The top gripe about Facebook is that people don’t know who they’re sharing with, so in the coming days Facebook will push everyone through a multi-step privacy checkup that reminds who they share statuses with, what apps they’ve given permissions, and what’s visible on their profile. A cutesy blue dinosaur will lead people through the process which was originally tested in March but is now getting shown to everyone. If Facebook can get users to endure the little chore while making them more confident about who they share with, they might be willing to post more frequently and wider range of content to the social network.


Apple to add security alerts in the wake of iCloud hacking scandal – Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has announced in an interview that the company would be adding new security features to iCloud, including alerts that notify you if someone tries to change your password.


Microsoft plans critical IE update next week – Microsoft today announced that it will issue just four security updates to customers next week, with the usual patches for Internet Explorer plus others for Windows, the .Net Framework and Lync, the company’s communications server software. Only the IE update was rated “critical,” Microsoft’s most serious threat ranking. The others were tagged as “important,” the next step down in the company’s four-level scoring system.

Hackers exploit critical vulnerability in popular WordPress theme component – WordPress admins should check if their sites use the Slider Revolution plug-in and update it immediately, researchers said.

Adobe to release Acrobat, Reader updates – On Tuesday, about the time that Microsoft issues its Patch Tuesday Windows updates, Adobe will release new versions of Reader and Acrobat.

Company News:

Google To Pay Out At Least $19M To Settle FTC Complaint On Kids In-App Charges – The settlement requires Google to contact all consumers who placed an in-app charge to inform them of the refund process for unauthorized in-app charges by children within 15 days of the order being finalized. Google must make these refunds promptly, upon request from an account holder, the FTC notes, continuing: “Should Google issue less than $19 million in refunds to consumers within the 12 months after the settlement becomes final, the company must remit the balance to the Commission for use in providing additional remedies to consumers or for return to the U.S. Treasury.”

Microsoft is being sued over its Bing Image Widget – Getty Images is suing Microsoft over its Bing Image Widget, claiming that the online tool facilitates a “massive infringement” of copyrighted images, and insisting that it be disabled immediately.

Cleaning Startup Homejoy Launches Its First iPhone App – Two years after Homejoy first launched its home cleaning service, the startup is releasing an iPhone app — its first native experience for smartphones. It seems a little crazy for a current-day, consumer-facing startup to wait that long to build a real presence on mobile, particularly when you’re talking about a company as well-funded as Homejoy.

NVIDIA Sues Samsung and Qualcomm, Tries To Get Samsung Galaxy Devices Blocked From The U.S. – Ready for another big patent battle? NVIDIA has just filed patent lawsuits against both Samsung and Qualcomm, claiming the companies are infringing upon its graphics chip patents. The end goal? To block the shipment of Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets until Samsung coughs up patent licensing fees. In a blog post on the matter, NVIDIA notes that it tried to negotiate with Samsung directly but was unable to reach a deal.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft Will Give You Any Xbox One Game If You Buy The Console Next Week – Thinking about picking up an Xbox One to play some Destiny when it launches? You might want to wait a few days. Do that, and you’ll get Destiny — or literally any other Xbox One game — for free. From September 7th to September 13th, every Xbox One console bought at a retailer comes with an Xbox One game of your choosing. Want Destiny? Okay! Titanfall? That’s fine too. Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare? I’ll probably make fun of your decision making skills, but okay! If it’s $59.99 or under, Microsoft will eat the bill.

Destiny trailer will leave you begging for a movie – Bungie has been laying it on thick for the last week in preparation for the September 9 launch of Destiny, but today’s trailer is something completely different. Instead of the usual in-game content or cinematic fun, Bungie has treated us to a little bit of what Destiny would look like as a live action film.


Watch as Star Trek: TOG continues with new actors – There’s a nerd movement happening with new Star Trek: The Original Series episodes being made with quality of the highest order. No, they’re not made by the official Star Trek team. Yes, they are amazing.


The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch – Game streaming has grown to become a huge part of the Internet. It’s so big that Amazon and Google were both looking to spend big bucks to acquire top game streaming website Twitch. The deal eventually went to Amazon, which spent $970 million dollars for the service. That amount may seem odd for people who aren’t familiar with the service, but Twitch’s traffic is huge. In fact, Twitch gaming streams generate more traffic than HBO Go. Interested in broadcasting your gameplay to the world? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about setting up a Twitch game stream.

Pirate copies of The Sims 4 slowly pixelate the screen – Game developers over the years have come up with some pretty novel implementations of anti-piracy. Not DRM as we typically see it, but measures that slowly break or tweak a game sometimes without the pirate player realizing what’s happening. The latest example of this can be seen in The Sims 4. Developer Maxis has decided to reward pirates playing the latest in The Sims releases with pixelation.


EA Launches ‘Madden GIFerator’ for Your Looping Pleasure – Its newly launched “Madden GIFerator” will allow football fanatics to create their own GIFs from pre-generated, in-game imagery. You pick the player and the movement, select from an assortment of backgrounds to stick behind them (up to and including a haunted castle or a field of cherry blossoms), and give them a caption (nothing naughty). Once done, you can then share your clever insights with your friends by tossing them a link or posting the GIF on your favorite social media site.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Big tech companies plan “Internet Slowdown” to fight for net neutrality – Next week, some of the biggest tech companies will lead a symbolic “Internet Slowdown” to protest the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality proposal. “Several top websites—including Etsy, Kickstarter, Foursquare, WordPress, Vimeo, reddit, Mozilla, Imgur, Meetup, Cheezburger, Namecheap, Bittorrent,, StartPage, BoingBoing, and Dwolla—announced that they will be joining more than 35 advocacy organizations and hundreds of thousands of activists in a day of action that will give a glimpse into what the Internet might look like if the FCC’s proposed rules go into effect,” a blog post today from the advocacy group “Fight for the Future” said.


Dyson 360 Eye turns the robot vacuum world on its head with a bot that can see – The 360 Eye weighs 5.22lbs and is capable of holding 0.4 liters of collected dirt. The battery will last 20 minutes without any drop in performance and then it docks and recharges itself ready for another run. You also don’t have to worry about it getting stuck on an obstacle. As well as that intelligent vision system Dyson placed continuous tank tracks on the 360 Eye’s base, meaning consistent travel across all floor types and small obstacles. The Dyson 360 Eye will be released in limited quantities in Japan this year and the release date for the United States is expected to be Fall 2015. With 31 software engineers having worked on it and some 420 patents pending, we’re expecting the Dyson 360 Eye to be something a bit special.


LEGO now the world’s top toymaker – If it wasn’t already obvious by the massive amount of visibility the LEGO brand has in your daily life by now, LEGO is a massively successful brand. They’ve made their massiveness official with an announcement during their most recent earnings call. This week LEGO has become the most successful toymaker in the world.


Quantum physics just solved one of the great paradoxes of time travel – The actual experiment claims to have confirmed a principle called self-consistency, which basically states that if a particle went back in time it would have a certain probability of emerging and self-interfering across time, and that that probability is fixed to that probability that it will enter the CTC and go back in time. The upshot is that any object traveling backward in time actually has a sort of multi-dimensional probability distribution — much like an electron is in all places within its positional probability distribution. If you’re interested, below you can watch a (long) lecture by one of the lead researchers on the topic of time travel.


New toilet paper makes your bathroom life worth living – Each year, 17 billion cardboard toilet paper tubes are thrown away, enough to fill the Empire State Building twice over. Aside from the garbage it creates, the cardboard tube is — joking of bathroom quality of life aside — a tedious annoyance. Cutting out tedium — however slight — is always welcomed, and Kimberly-Clark engineers have developed a toilet paper roll without the tube. Never again will you have to walk from the bathroom all the way to the recycling bin after you finish off a roll.


Something to think about:

“Actions have consequences…first rule of life. And the second rule is this – you are the only one responsible for your own actions.”

-     Holly Lisle

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? Comodo BackUp makes it easy to be safe and secure by reducing the usually complex task of backup configuration to a few clicks of the mouse.


Auslogics Browser Care – This unique tool lets you take back full control of all browsers installed on your PC. Clean up, speed up and keep your web browsers well-maintained for top performance!

Remove unwanted toolbars or plugins

Change hijacked home page to the page you want

Set your preferred search engine as default

Clear cache to unclutter your drive and speed up your browser

Manage all installed browsers from one place


PasswordFox – PasswordFox is a small password recovery tool that allows you to view the user names and passwords stored by Mozilla Firefox Web browser.

By default, PasswordFox displays the passwords stored in your current profile, but you can easily select to watch the passwords of any other Firefox profile. For each password entry, the following information is displayed: Record Index, Web Site, User Name, Password, User Name Field, Password Field, and the Signons filename.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The CIA’s Mop-Up Man: L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories With Agency Before Publication – A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.

“I’m working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys,” Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be “reassuring to the public” about CIA drone strikes. In another, after a series of back-and-forth emails about a pending story on CIA operations in Yemen, he sent a full draft of an unpublished report along with the subject line, “does this look better?” In another, he directly asks the flack: “You wouldn’t put out disinformation on this, would you?”

Google X VP now USA’s new Chief Technology Officer – Today the White House has named Google’s Megan Smith the United States’ new Chief Technology Officer. President Obama has also named former Twitter lawyer Alexander Macgillivray the new Deputy US CTO.

This update to the roster sends Todd Park out and Smith in. Smith is also the Vice President of Google X at Google and on the boards of Vital Voices and MIT. She co-founded the Malala Fund and is a member of the USAID Advisory Committee on Voluntary Aid.


Above you’ll see Smith speaking at Google’s Startup Grind 2014.

The position of CTO was initiated by President Obama and has been held by two others before now. Aneesh Chopra held the position first, starting in April of 2009. Chopra was succeeded by Todd Park in early 2012. This position was formerly called the much more wordy “Assistant to the President, Associate Director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.”

Top DOJ, intelligence officials back bill to end bulk phone collection – Two top officials in the Obama administration, including the director of national intelligence, have voiced support for a Senate bill that would end the U.S. National Security Agency’s bulk collection of domestic telephone records.

The Senate version of the USA Freedom Act, which would allow the NSA to collect U.S. phone records only after targeting specific selection terms, “should provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a letter this week to the bill’s sponsor.

The bill “preserves essential intelligence community capabilities,” the two officials wrote to Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. The bill is “a reasonable compromise that enhances privacy and civil liberties and increases transparency,” they added.

The support from Clapper and Holder is a turnaround from late last year, when officials with the DOJ and ODNI said the USA Freedom Act would hinder U.S. terrorist tracking efforts. The Senate is likely to act on the USA Freedom Act after it returns from summer recess next week.

Chinese man sues state telecom firm for blocking Google – A 26-year-old in China is suing one of the country’s state telecommunication firms for disrupting access to Google after the government started blocking the company’s services in May.

Wang Long, a legal practitioner, filed the lawsuit in a Shenzhen court, which heard his case on Thursday. One Chinese state-run publication said its the first time a local resident has sued a company for failing to provide access to Google.

The legal action came about when Wang found that he could no longer access Google’s Hong Kong search engine and Gmail from his Internet and mobile service provider China Unicom. He is now demanding that China Unicom provide an explanation, and refund his Internet broadband and mobile charges from the past five months.

China started completely cutting access to Google services in late May, without stating why. The blocking occurred just as the 25th year anniversary to the Tiananmen Square massacre approached.

The country is notorious for censoring online discussion on anti-government topics, and local authorities have already blocked access to other U.S. websites including Facebook and Twitter.

Many Chinese Internet users have been commenting on the lawsuit, expecting it to be struck down in court, Wang said in an interview on Friday.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 4, 2014

Wake up: The celebrity nudes hack is everyone’s problem;  Learn How to Save Your Selfies from Hackers in 1 Easy Step;  Easy steps for better Google Drive security;  30-Second Tech Trick: Make Animated GIFs from YouTube Videos;  Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere;  10 best mobile apps for students;  Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet costs $119.99, includes a year of Office 365;  Windows Cortana can now predict NFL football games;  Firefox adds protection against rogue SSL certificates;  Microsoft Will Mass-Produce Its Big-Ass Touchscreens;  CodeSpells: Write code, invent magic spells;  Apple, Google resume talks with tech workers in wage-fixing suit;  30 Incredible Vintage Tech Commercials;  Insurers will now be able to track driver behavior via smartphones;  Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal.

Wake up: The celebrity nudes hack is everyone’s problem – The celebrity nudes hacking scandal is a good reminder that a “just say no” approach isn’t going to stop anyone from sexting anytime soon. This issue isn’t a story about “right” or “wrong” ways of thinking about privacy — it’s a wake-up call about security and sexuality. However, this could have been a story about any app, or any of a zillion privacy breaches in the past couple of years. The amount of private data theft going on right now is insane.

Learn How to Save Your Selfies from Hackers in 1 Easy Step – You may not be Jennifer Lawrence, but nobody wants their selfies — nude or otherwise — leaked on the Internet. It’s not foolproof, but there is one easy step you can take to help make sure your most private of photos never end up on the web.

Easy steps for better Google Drive security – In light of the recent iOS cloud breach, it’s imperative to secure your Google Drive account. Jack Wallen offers up a few tips to help tighten down Drive.

Apple security breach causes investor panic, stock slide ahead of iPhone 6 launch – The tech giant’s stock price has plummeted over the past 24 hours, sending Apple shares to a low not experienced since January.

Can disappearing message apps keep your private pics from prying eyes? – I can’t in good conscience recommend taking or sharing photos you don’t want anyone other than your partner to see, because this is the 21st century and if someone wants your stuff, they’re going to get it. But if you really want to share private photos and trust your significant other not to splatter your nudes all over 4chan and Reddit—another big if—then ephemeral messaging apps have their advantages.

30-Second Tech Trick: Make Animated GIFs from YouTube Videos – I made one of me crying on a five-second loop for…reasons.


10 best mobile apps for students – The lazy days of summer are over and it’s time to go back to school. That means it’s also time to top off your tablet or smartphone with the tools you need to succeed. We combed through the glut of educational apps in search of some that will help you manage your course load, prepare for exams, and even get you to class on time. These 10 made our Dean’s List.

Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere – The 2014 NFL season kicks off Thursday night. We run down all of your options — from broadcast TV to mobile streaming — for catching all the football action this fall.


Watch up to eight games at once on Sunday Ticket’s Mix channel, offered via DirecTV.

How to automate your Facebook and Twitter posts with Buffer – The way Buffer works is simple: Instead of posting directly to your social media service, you create a post in Buffer that’s added to a queue and published according to a schedule you specify. That means you can prepare those funny cat videos all at once but post them to your profiles over time so you don’t overwhelm your friends and followers with cuddly cuteness. And you can have a real life, as well. Buffer is super easy to use, and a basic account is free, so let’s get started.

Acer’s new 8-inch tablets come with Windows or Android, both priced at $150 – Acer’s new 8-inch Iconia tablet costs just $150, and runs either Android 4.4 or Windows 8.1 – but the Windows version also includes an enticing freebie: a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal.


Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet costs $119.99, includes a year of Office 365 – At just $119.99, the Encore Mini is one of the most affordable Windows devices ever, and features a 7-inch 1024x600px display. It also comes with full-fat Windows 8.1, rather than the more limited Windows RT, and the deal is made even sweeter with the inclusion of a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription – including 1TB of OneDrive storage – which would usually cost $6.99 a month, or $69.99 a year.


Fox Sports Go To Stream 101 NFL Games Online And On Tablets This Season – Once upon a time, it was rare to see sports streamed online, but that’s no longer true. As more and more audiences are turning to their laptops, mobile phones and tablets to watch streams of their favorite sports teams, broadcasters are increasingly making those matches available on those devices. The latest is Fox Sports, which will stream 101 NFL games it has rights to this season.

How to: Using a tablet as a mobile hotspot – Most have heard of using a phone as a mobile hotspot to get laptops online. Tablets can also do that, and here’s how to do it right.

Skype for Xbox One update adds photo viewing and enhanced snap experience – Team Skype at Microsoft have rolled out an update for the Xbox One that brings photo viewing and an overall better snap experience to the console. That, and more!

Netflix updates Xbox One app with new layout users hate, removes key features – Netflix updated its Xbox One app, bringing a new interface users hate and cutting many features, such as voice navigation options, all gesture controls and the “continue watching” section.

Windows Cortana can now predict NFL football games – This week the folks at Microsoft responsible for bringing next-generation or otherwise awesome oddities to Cortana have done so. They’ve brought a feature that, even if you don’t watch football in the USA, you can use. You can use it and feel like a pro when you’ve correctly predicted that the Minnesota Vikings will win the Superbowl. Based on previous scores of games between the two playing in a game, statistics, and stadium conditions, Microsoft will predict your next game.

Logitech outs polyamorous K480 Bluetooth keyboard – Logitech has launched a new Bluetooth keyboard for the gadget-unfaithful, with the Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 able to switch between three different devices at the caress of a dial. Intended to jump between your PC or Mac, your tablet, and your phone – or any other combination of devices, in fact – the K480 also finds room for shortcuts for the more popular platforms.


Transitioning from Windows to Linux administration: A guide for newcomers, Part II – Windows and Linux are operating systems with many similarities and differences. Learn some tips to help cross the bridge between the two in the second of a multi-part series. (Registration required.)

Get a GoGroove Bluetooth multimedia remote for $19.99 – Compatible with Android and iOS devices, this handy little clicker has shuttle, shutter, and even voice controls.



Attack hijacks DNS settings on home routers in Brazil – An ongoing attack in Brazil tricks users into visiting malicious websites that attempt to silently change the Domain Name System settings of their home routers. If the attack is successful, the routers are reconfigured to use rogue DNS servers that redirect victims to phishing pages when they open banking sites, said Fabio Assolini, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, in a blog post Tuesday.

Firefox adds protection against rogue SSL certificates – Mozilla has added a defense in its latest version of Firefox that would help prevent hackers from intercepting data intended for major online services. The feature, known as certificate key pinning, allows online services to specify which SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Security Layer) certificates are valid for their services. The certificates are used to verify a site is legitimate and to encrypt data traffic.

CNN ‘tech analyst’ on NUDE CELEBS: WHO IS this mystery ‘4chan’ PERSON? – “If your password is password, change the ‘s’ to a dollar sign.” That’s the advice from US news network CNN’s “technology analyst” Brett Larson, who also thinks that anarchic message board 4chan is some sysadmin bloke who knew how to “hack things” so he could leak saucy, private photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities.


(The usual mass media misrepresentation of security issues, presented by the usual tech moron – masquerading as an expert. Little wonder then, that average users continue to misunderstand security issues.)

Mac Antivirus Products Prove Effective in Whole-Product Test – Yesterday I commented on how rarely we see Mac antivirus products put to the test, compared to the widespread lab testing of PC antivirus. Wouldn’t you know it, another major testing lab has just released Mac antivirus test results today. AV-Comparatives performed a multi-faceted evaluation of nine Mac antivirus products and found most of them to be effective.


Report: Businesses at risk from unreported mobile device theft – A new survey from Kaspersky Lab shows some concerning trends when it comes to securing and protecting business data on mobile devices.

Company News:

Verizon to Pay $7.4M to Settle FCC Privacy Probe – Verizon will pay $7.4 million to settle an FCC investigation into the service provider’s failure to notify consumers before using personal information for marketing purposes. The FCC Enforcement Bureau’s probe revealed that Verizon Communications neglected to tell 2 million new customers of their privacy rights, then accessed personal information to advertise services.

US court approves eBay settlement over no-hire agreement – A court in California has approved a settlement reached earlier this year between eBay and the U.S. Department of Justice over a deal the e-commerce company is said to have reached with Intuit not to hire each other’s employees. Under the settlement proposed in May and cleared Tuesday by District Judge Edward J. Davila of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, eBay is prevented for five years from entering into or maintaining agreements with other companies that restrain employee recruitment and hiring.

Apple, Google resume talks with tech workers in wage-fixing suit – Four Silicon Valley companies have resumed mediation talks with tech workers who sued the firms for allegedly colluding to fix wages, according to a court document filed Wednesday. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe have come together with the plaintiffs, after Judge Lucy Ko, of the Northern District of California in San Jose, in August rejected a $324.5 million settlement as being too low.

Microsoft Will Mass-Produce Its Big-Ass Touchscreens – Remember the Big-Ass Table? Microsoft isn’t done making huge slabs of touch-capable screen, it turns out. The company’s Stephen Elop announced this week that Microsoft intends to “mass-produce” its Perceptive Pixel (PPI) displays, which are touch-enabled and can stretch to up to 82 inches in size.


Microsoft Nokia rebranding has begun – The change is now! Microsoft has begun changing the names of Nokia apps in their Lumia smartphones to ones more suitable for their slightly less Nokia-branded universe. While we don’t expect a press release on the subject, we will see a whole lot more Microsoft before the week is through.

AVG To Buy Family-Focused Mobile Security Company, Location Labs, In Deal Worth Up To $220M – Mobile security company Location Labs is being acquired by online security firm AVG in a deal worth up to $220 million. AVG said today it will pay around $140 million initially to buy Location Labs, plus up to an additional $80 million in cash consideration over the next two years, based on certain performance metrics and milestones being met.

Appeals court clears Yelp of claims that it fixed reviews – A federal appeals court has cleared Yelp of claims that it extorted businesses into advertising on its site by fabricating bad reviews about them. A handful of small-business owners filed a class-action lawsuit against Yelp in 2010, claiming it tried to strong-arm them into buying ads by hiding or removing positive reviews, or penning negative ones. The claims had already been dismissed in federal court, and the court of appeals on Tuesday upheld that decision.

Games and Entertainment:

CodeSpells: Write code, invent magic spells – Programming has become a highly important skill — but from the outside, it often seems like it would be both difficult and boring to learn. Ask anyone who’s a programmer and they’ll probably say otherwise, but taking that initial step can be a hurdle for many. Enter CodeSpells, an open-world video-game that aims to inspire interest in coding — by having players write their very own magic spells by experimenting with code.


Scientific American – Brain Games: Do They Really Work? – One of the crucial questions for brain-training programs is whether or not the specific skills emphasized during training, such as improved auditory perception, actually generalize to other cognitive abilities. In other words, will practicing auditory perception lead to improved visual perception? And how long do training effects persist? According to Sherry Willis and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University brain exercises that focus on training reasoning skills do translate into long-lasting improvements in daily life.

Avernum 2: Crystal Souls announced – Following Avernum: Escape from the Pit—Spiderweb’s remake of their first Avernum game from way back when—comes Avernum 2: Crystal Souls, a remake of their second. You’ll know what to expect if you’ve played a Spiderweb game before now, and you’ve probably already made your mind up whether to buy it or not. For everyone else: here’s a lovely trailer.


Retro groove might be hippest ‘Game of Thrones’ theme cover yet – Sure, there have been a lot of covers of the “Game of Thrones” theme song. We’ve seen it get the electronica treatment, heard it get played on an ’80s game console and on wine glasses, and even listened to a version in which the epic-sounding track gets rendered Super Mario style. But none of those versions are quite as hip as the one just released by Berlin-based YouTuber Milan Vuckovic.


Watch Dogs: Bad Blood DLC tells the story of T-Bone – The upcoming Watch Dogs DLC Bad Blood will put players in the shoes of T-Bone Grady, the legendary hacker and trusted companion of Aiden Pearce, who risks his safety to help out an old friend but soon realizes that there’s more to his story than meets the eye.


Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition review – a tangible feeling of growth – Revamped from both its 2012 and 2013 releases, the graphics are the most obvious improvement, with the slick visuals gorgeously rendering your wizard’s magic as it blasts into a gaggle of Hellions. As with the original, the task is seemingly straightforward: hack, shoot or spell (depending on the chosen class of warrior) a way through endless hordes of evil, while looting bodies and the landscape for new, more powerful weapons, elixirs and armours. The sheer scale of the enemy armies, however, soon makes life tough.


Off Topic (Sort of):

30 Incredible Vintage Tech Commercials – Apropos of nothing, here’s a collection of old-timey tech. We’ve come a long way, no? AT&T’s “You Will” ads from the early ’90s were eerily prescient. Widescreen monitors? Check. Touchscreens? Check. Dash-mounted GPS? Check. Using a tablet to send a fax from the beach? Eh, close enough.


(The TI-994A – my last “computer” purchase before the jump into PCs. This was a terrific little machine, for the time.”)

Founder of 4Chan Chris Poole, the ‘anti-Zuckerberg’ – podcast – This podcast is a repeat of our edition from 17 April 2014. The anonymous online picture-based forum (warning: some content may offend) was set up in 2003 by the-then 15-year-old Chris Poole. Since its inception as an anime and manga discussion forum, 4chan has become a key player in online anonymity. In the first of two conversations dedicated to online identity and anonymity, Aleks Krotoski meets with Chris to discuss at length his perspective on this issue and explore why he has been dubbed the “anti-Zuckerberg”.

Insurers will now be able to track driver behavior via smartphones – A new usage-based insurance (UBI) software platform will allow companies to track drivers’ behavior through smartphone sensors and geolocation services. Agero, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of roadside safety software and services to automakers and insurance companies, said its new UBI telematics suite will transmit to insurers the information needed to offer discounts to good drivers, penalize others, and send alerts to emergency assistance service providers.


Agero’s PolicyPal can track general information such as what percentage of your mileage is on local roads or highways, as well as detailed information, such as how often you make sharp turns or brake hard.

The Fappening Has Revealed a New Type of Pervert – Human failure, not celebrity nudity, is what’s really getting them off. Our appetite for pornographic trespass is no longer for accidentally bared skin, but accidentally bared humanity. We want to know the setting the woman is in, the story behind each shot.

This robot bird of prey is designed to scare real birds – Unless you look really close, this robot peregrine falcon would almost look like the real thing from a distance, especially while flapping its wings high above the sky. That resemblance to a real avian predator, however faint, might just be enough to scare away other birds that would other wise ruin crops or even endanger human lives.


Marijuana Production: The Next Great Energy Hog? – As a growing number of states flirt with marijuana legalization, they must grapple with how best to bring a multi-billion dollar industry out from the shadows and into the light of the regulated, tax-paying world. While both sides of the legalization debate cherry pick the results of these experiments to support their particular point of view, the new reality on the ground has highlighted one facet that few are talking about: marijuana production is a huge power suck. At least producing marijuana indoors is a big fat electricity hog, which is how the vast majority of legal growhouses still operate.


Brain-to-brain verbal communication in humans achieved for the first time – A team of researchers has successfully achieved brain-to-brain human communication using non-invasive technologies across a distance of 5,000 miles.


New Ultra High-Def Satellite Shows Mind-Blowing View of a Forest Fire – State-of-the-art imaging technology on board DigitalGlobe’s recently launched WorldView-3 satellite offers unprecedented views of world events. The technology, known as Shortwave Infrared Imagery, or SWIR, can penetrate thick clouds of smoke, as shown in the image below of a forest fire. The photo reveals a clear image of an August fire at the Happy Camp complex in California’s Klamath National Forest.


A forest fire at the Happy Camp complex in California’s Klamath National Forest imaged with (left) and without (right) SWIR, in Aug. 2014.

Baidu launches chopsticks that tell you your food is safe to eat – From recycled cooking oil to fox meat and chemicals, a litany of food scandals has turned Chinese diners’ stomachs, but a new “smart chopsticks” concept by search engine Baidu could be the answer. The device, which the company says can tell consumers whether their meal is safe to eat, was born of an April Fool video, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Something to think about:

“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…”

-      Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.



(Tor running on my personal system.)

War Thunder – War Thunder is a next generation MMO combat game dedicated to World War II military aviation, armored vehicles, and fleets. You will take part in all of the major combat battles, fighting with real players all over the world.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal: In a lot of ways, we’re worse off today than we were under George W. Bush – Back then, Bush’s extremist assault on civil liberties, human rights and other core American values in the name of fighting terror felt like an aberration.

The expectation was that those policies would be quickly reversed, discredited — and explicitly outlawed — once he was no longer in power.

Instead, under President Barack Obama, they’ve become institutionalized.

There will be no snapping back to a pre-Bush-era respect for basic human dignity and civil rights. Thanks to Obama, it’s going to be a hard, long fight.

In some cases, Obama has set even darker precedents than his predecessor. Massively invasive bulk surveillance of Americans and others has been expanded, not constrained. This president secretly condemns people to death without any checks or balances, and shrugs as his errant drones massacre innocent civilians. Whistleblowers and journalists who expose national security wrongdoing face unprecedented criminal prosecution.

In a few cases, Obama publicly distanced himself from Bush/Cheney excesses, but to little effect. He forswore torture, and promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. But by actively covering up what happened in the U.S.’s torture chambers, and by refusing to hold the torturers and their political masters in any way accountable, he has done nothing to make sure that the next time a perceived emergency comes up, it won’t all happen again. And Gitmo, which he treated as a political rather than moral issue, is still very much open for business.

To his credit, Obama is not driven, like Bush and Dick Cheney were, to involve us in massive land wars. And he inherited a mess full of no-win scenarios. But he chose to extend a dead-end war in Afghanistan for two years — and 1,300 American lives — based on political optics rather than military strategy. And he is blind to reality in the Middle East; cleaving to the belief that airstrikes and fealty to Israel are viable long-term strategies, and ignoring the fact that his counter-terrorism policies actually create more terrorists than they destroy.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 3, 2014

Fake cell phone towers eavesdropping on Android devices;  How those nude photos were leaked (and why you should care);  What to look for in Android permissions;  Five mobile apps to keep CXOs ahead of the pack;  Use Normal to target power-hogging apps;  Meet Tox, an open, privacy-focused Skype replacement;  Home Depot investigating potentially huge credit card hack;  FLIR One iPhone camera makes stealing PIN codes really easy;  Recommend Netflix Favorites to Facebook Friends;  Xbox 360 ‘Minecraft’ owners can get the game for $5 on Xbox One this Friday; Xbox One welcomes free shooter game Warframe;  GM to install distraction-tracking gadgets in 500k cars;  This is what caffeine does to your brain;  Toilet seat with built-in fan sucks out the stench;  Rizonesoft Pixel Repair (free).

Dozens of fake cell phone towers discovered eavesdropping on Android devices – If you’re taking a late-summer roadtrip, chances are your phone will be intercepted by a fake cell phone tower. At least that’s what Les Goldsmith, CEO of ESD America and developer of the CryptoPhone 500, claims. On a road trip taken from Florida to North Carolina by one of ESD America’s customers, Goldsmith says, the device encountered 8 different interceptors. The fake towers may very well be operated by the government, Goldsmith says, but he also entertains the possibility that they could’ve been planted by a foreign government such as China to snoop on military communications. Regardless of the source or the intent, regular citizens are falling victim to the interceptors and running the risk of having their phone calls and even text messages intercepted by unknown parties.

How those nude photos were leaked (and why you should care) – What does the hack mean for your own cloud security? Here are all of your nude selfie-related questions answered.

What to look for in Android permissions – Do you know what to look for in the Android permissions listing? Jack Wallen offers a bit of advice to help you through this murky water. If you’re unsure what I’m talking about, it’s simple: every time you install an app on the Android platform, you are given a listing of the permissions that app requires. To ensure the security of your device, it is imperative to read through that listing to make sure you’re not giving an app permissions it shouldn’t need or have. It’s a very simple system, but one that doesn’t offer a lot of control.

Airbnb Sued by Group of Users in New York City for Breach of Privacy – The company released user data to New York City authorities investigating suspected violations of housing and rental laws. Around 25 people with apartments listed on the online accommodation-sharing website Airbnb are suing the company to prevent what they claim is a breach of their privacy.

Three months with the Surface Pro 3: Using it more and less than expected – It has been three months since I first got my hands on the Pro 3 and it’s time to take a look at the long term use of the device to see if it is better or worse after than launch-hype has worn off.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Two Google scheduling tricks to keep you organized in the fall – The fall is always a big period of adjustment. These two tools baked into Google can help by keeping your academic, professional and home lives organized.

Five mobile apps to keep CXOs ahead of the pack – Staying on top of business news, following tech developments, managing tasks, brainstorming solutions, and even watching the weather halfway across the world: All in a day’s work for today’s leaders.

HTC owners can now get 100GB of free cloud storage on Google Drive – HTC previously offered 50GB of free storage on Google Drive for anyone with an HTC smartphone, but now they’re doubling the storage to 100GB — and better yet, it’s free to all HTC users, old and new.

Use Normal to target power-hogging apps – If there’s one thing every smartphone user wants, it’s better battery life. Indeed, save for a larger screen, the one thing iPhone 6 buyers are most hoping for is more power. Of course, there are various ways to squeeze extra runtime from your battery, but current iPhone owners have a new tool for their arsenal: Normal: Battery Analytics. This 99-cent (69p and AU$1.29 in the UK and Australia, respectively) iOS utility relies on crowdsourced data to help pinpoint your iPhone’s biggest power hogs.


Meet Tox, an open, privacy-focused Skype replacement – A relatively new project made up of programmers who frequent 4Chan, Hacker News, and Reddit are working on an open source, security-focused Skype replacement, as first reported by Wired on Monday. The new project, called Tox, is yet another example of programmers uniting in the post-Snowden era  to make easy-to-use tools with encryption and privacy considerations built-in. It’s still too early to recommend Tox as a solid (or even more secure) alternative to Skype as the project is under active development. Nevertheless, Tox is far enough along that there are usable Tox clients you can try out.


Recommend Netflix Favorites to Facebook Friends – Television binge-watching loves company, so Netflix has partnered with Facebook to allow users to recommend shows to friends. Starting today, the new social recommendation feature makes it easy to privately suggest shows, movies, documentaries, and other Netflix content.


Raspberry Pi Foundation bakes a custom, optimized browser for the $35 mini-PC – Midori served the Raspberry Pi well, but now it’s time to welcome a new browser optimized for the mini PC and based on Epiphany/Gnome Web.


Raspberry Pi’s new Epiphany browser.

Revamped Google for Work puts new spin on courting businesses – Ten years after the search giant started eyeing business customers, it’s doing some rebranding to catch the eye of people bringing their devices to work.

Gamers Sign Open Letter Against Online Harassment – In the wake of a female blogger receiving threats over her online critiques of the gaming industry, dozens of gamers have taken a public stand against harassment in the industry. In an open letter posted to Medium, Andreas Zecher from independent games studio Spaces of Play called on the gaming community to report threats or harassing speech. Several of Zecher’s colleagues signed on, as did others from independent labels and major players like Infinity Ward, Bioware, Ubisoft, Riot Games, and Dice.

Beware! 8 sinister consequences of Google and Amazon drones – If Google, Amazon, and Facebook usher in a new era of urban delivery drones, will we lose more than we gain? Crave’s Eric Mack sees danger ahead for everything from Spam to Slurpees.


Home Depot investigating potentially huge credit card hack – Home Depot is investigating a potentially huge credit and debit card breach, with early signs that the scale of the stolen cards could well exceed the sizable Target hack of late 2013. Evidence of a new cache of fraudulently cloned cards began showing up today at black-market stores, with whispers from banks going on to be confirmed by Home Depot that something seemed awry.

Hackers make drive-by download attacks stealthier with fileless infections – Cybercriminals are increasingly infecting computers with malware that resides only in memory in order to make their attacks harder to detect. Recent attacks launched with the Angler exploit kit—a Web-based attack tool—injected malicious code directly into other processes and did not create malicious files on affected computers, an independent malware researcher known online as Kafeine said Sunday in a blog post. Fileless malware threats are not new, but their use is rare, especially in large scale attacks, because they don’t persist across system reboots when random access memory (RAM) is cleared.

Apple Denies Any Breach Of Its Systems In Celebrity Photo Leak – Apple has released an official statement in response to accusations that its iCloud storage system might be somehow behind the recent leak of a large number of nude or otherwise private celebrity photos, whose victims included Jennifer Lawrence. In the statement Apple denies any breach within its systems, but does concede that celebrity accounts were compromised by attackers using standard phishing techniques to guess user names, passwords and the answers to security questions.

FLIR One iPhone camera makes stealing PIN codes really easy – As shown in the video, it’s pretty simple to walk up to an ATM or payment kiosk keypad immediately after someone has used it and point your FLIR case at the buttons. The heat signature from the person’s finger will still be visible on most keypads for about a minute. This tells you which buttons were pressed, but the intensity of the heat can also indicate the order — that is, the warmest key was probably the last digit and the coolest was the first.


Celebrity photo leak worsens as underage photos found – The hacking of celebrity accounts and the theft of explicit photos of a number of female stars has become even more serious, with word that at least one of the women was underage when the leaked pictures were taken. Several sites hosting the photos – which have already prompted an official statement from Apple early today, about the role iCloud played in their theft – have been notified that, in some shots, Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney was under the age of 18.


Hackers compromise Namecheap user accounts – Hosting provider Namecheap said Monday hackers compromised some of its users’ accounts, likely using a recently disclosed list of 1.2 billion usernames and passwords compiled by Russian hackers. The “vast majority” of login attempts have failed, wrote Matt Russell, vice president of hosting, on a company blog. The attackers are trying brute-force attempts to gain control of accounts, which involves repeatedly trying different usernames and passwords until the right combination grants access.

Europol launches international cybercrime task force – Europol launched a cybercrime task force Monday to fight online crime in the EU and other countries. The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) will be piloted for six months and hosted at Europol’s European CyberCrime Center (EC3), the organization said in a news release. The J-CAT will coordinate international investigations to take action against key online threats and top targets, such as underground forums and malware, including banking Trojans, Botnets and online fraud, Europol said.

Company News:

Microsoft Partners Said To Test Windows 9 Ahead Of Public Release – Microsoft is expected to release a technical preview of Windows 9 on September 30. So if you were looking forward to getting your paws on the code, you have only four weeks left to wait. That is, if you are not a key Microsoft partner. According to NeoWin’s Brad Sams, Microsoft is currently providing some partners with access to the operating system ahead of the public.

BlackBerry plots Passport launch for September 24 – The Waterloo, Ontario company on Tuesday announced a media event, pegged for September 24, where the smartphone maker will unveil its latest and greatest smartphone. There will be three events held in tandem in Toronto, London, and Dubai.


OUYA rumored to be looking for buyers to save it – Remember the new partnership between OUYA and Chinese OEM Xiaomi reported last month? Apparently, that isn’t the only thing the two have been talking about. Sources are now claiming that the gaming startup is currently engaged in acquisition talks with big Chinese companies, painting a rather dreary picture for the former darling of Android gaming.


AMD Rolls Out Unlocked, Eight-Core FX Series CPUs – AMD’s new desktop CPU lineup includes the first pair of lower-wattage E Series processors in the FX lineup, the AMD FX-8370E and FX-8320E, both with TDPs of 95W. The FX-8370E, priced at $199.99, has a base clock of 3.3GHz and can be throttled up to 4.3GHz. The FX-8320E is priced at $146.99, and has a 3.2GHz base clock and 4.0GHz maximum clock. AMD suggests that both the new E Series eight-cores be paired with its own Radeon R9 285 graphics processors in desktop systems using an AMD 970 board and DDR3-1866 memory.

Court strikes down Uber car service in Germany – Uber had already been banned in Berlin, but the Tuesday’s court ruling means the car service could be shut out nationwide.

Compuware goes private in $2.5 billion deal – Compuware said it was selling the company to private equity firm Thoma Bravo in a deal valued at $2.5 billion. The enterprise software company, which primarily offers mainframe operating software, has been retooling, divesting units and fending off activist investors. Compuware also spun off its Covisint unit recently. Those moves refocused Compuware on its mainframe and application performance monitoring software. As a private company Compuware and Thoma Bravo said they will be able to take a long-term strategic view and focus on returns.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox 360 ‘Minecraft’ owners can get the game for $5 on Xbox One this Friday – “Minecraft” for Xbox One will be available for download this Friday, Microsoft announced today, and owners of the Xbox 360 version of the game will get a significant discount on the title. For those who bought “Minecraft” on Xbox 360, the game will cost just $4.99 to download; for those who are buying it on an Xbox console for the first time, it will cost $19.99. The discount applies to Xbox 360 owners who purchased the game either as a physical copy at retail or as a digital copy via Xbox Live. Additionally, all content purchased for the Xbox 360 game will be free to re-download on Xbox One.


You can now explore the worlds of Destiny with Google Street View – Bungie’s next big title, the first-person shooter space-themed pseudo MMO Destiny, is due out in one week on September 9. If you participated in the beta or watched livestreams but still need something to satiate your caped space warrior hunger, Bungie has something that should hold you over until next week. Using Google’s Street View technology, Bungie has built Destiny Planet View, allowing you to explore various game worlds using the familiar Street View medium.


Bio Inc. Infects Android with Biomedical Strategy Gameplay – After infecting and subsequently wiping out untold multitudes of unfortunate virtual patients, Bio Inc had made the trip from iOS to Android. Bio Inc bills itself as a biomedical strategy simulator. What it really amounts to is annihilating it humanity one virtual person at a time.


You Should Play: Godus – These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play. You play as a deity trying to expand your following by creating a civilization. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Godus is ideally suited for numerous (and lengthy) play sessions.


Xbox One welcomes free shooter game Warframe – When we first logged in to the PlayStation 4 back in November of 2013, there was one extremely unique shooting game ready for us to play – one called Warframe. This wasn’t and isn’t the only 3rd-person shooter game in this console’s generation – and it certainly isn’t alone now on the Xbox One. But it is free – and it does allow you to fight with a sword.


Best new games for mobile – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in August.

Off Topic (Sort of):

‘What If?’ A terrific combination of the ridiculous and real – Learning how science and the world work is rarely is as much fun as in this book from Randall Munroe, the creator of the XKCD comic. It’s good for kids and adults.


What if you drained the world’s oceans? Randall Munroe explores these and other questions in his book “What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.”

BMW’s new armored X5 SUV can stop AK-47 bullets – There are a multitude of factors to consider when you buy a car, but for most people, the degree to which it protects you from an AK-47 round is not on the list. For those who are concerned about armor quality, BMW has announced its new X5 Security Plus. This armored SUV can protect occupants from direct fire from any weapon up to and including the popular AK-47. BMW didn’t announce an exact price when revealing the X5 Security Plus in Moscow, but it is expected to clock in at nearly $200,000.


GM to install distraction-tracking gadgets in 500k cars – If you’re on the road, there’s a good chance that you’ve fired off at least one text message while behind the wheel. Distracted driving is a perilous activity for all involved, but that hasn’t stopped many drivers from updating statuses, responding to snapchats, and other similar activities while behind the wheel. Various “nanny” systems have been proposed that will take action against this, and it seems GM will be the first automaker to mass produce vehicles with such a system in place.

Toilet seat with built-in fan sucks out the stench – Bad bathroom odors are conquered by Fresh Air Plus, a toilet seat with a fan and exhaust pipe that banishes smells to the outside. Fresh Air Plus is trying to position itself as a more budget-friendly alternative to spending bucks on candles or air fresheners, or venting out your precious heating and cooling through a ceiling fan that takes forever to clear out the air. You’ll have to decide if your $180 early-bird pledge or $200 standard pledge is worth the potential for eventual savings.


This is what caffeine does to your brain – If you’re an avid coffee drinker like me, you probably need three to five cups in the morning to feel like a normally functioning human being. You can probably also have a cup at 9 p.m. and still be fast asleep by 10. Caffeine, the main stimulant found in coffee, works on a chemical level to give you a boost of energy. But how does the whole process actually work scientifically, and why do some people need more coffee to stay awake than others? This video from AsapSCIENCE breaks it down.


Something to think about:

Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.

-     Putt’s Law

Today’s Free Downloads:

Rizonesoft Pixel Repair – With this little tool, you can detect stuck or dead pixels and also repair stuck pixels. Many tools like this can be found all over the internet, but we could not find a tool with all the functions in one. Therefore, an adequate application was created, called Rizonesoft Pixel Repair.

You can use the Dead pixel locator section on Rizonesoft Pixel Repair to look for dead or stuck pixels. You can also use this section to help you find dirty little spots and dust when you clean your screen. Now, after you have located stuck pixels, try to repair them with this tool. Set the color mode, press go and place the flashy window thingy under the stuck pixel. Pixel Repair will attempt to repair stuck pixels and it will not repair dead pixels.


MultiMonitorTool – MultiMonitorTool is a small tool that allows you to do some actions related to working with multiple monitors.

With MultiMonitorTool, you can disable/enable monitors, set the primary monitor, save and load the configuration of all monitors, and move windows from one monitor to another. You can do these actions from the user interface or from command-line, without displaying user interface. MultiMonitorTool also provides a preview window, which allows you to watch a preview of every monitor on your system.

Using MultiMonitorTool

MultiMonitorTool doesn’t require any installation process or additional dll files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file – MultiMonitorTool.exe

The main window of MultiMonitorTool contains 2 panes: The upper pane displays the list of all monitors detected on your system. When you select a monitor in the upper pane, the lower pane displays the details of all visible windows on the selected monitor.

You can select one or more monitors in the upper pane, and then use the following options: Disable Selected Monitors (Ctrl+F6), Enable Selected Monitors (Ctrl+F7), Disable/Enable Switch (Ctrl+F8), or Set As Primary Monitor (Ctrl+F9)

You can also select one or more Windows in the lower pane, and then use the ‘Move Window To Next Monitor’ and ‘Move Window To Primary Monitor’ options in order to easily move Windows from one monitor to the other.


HostsMan – Freeware application that lets you manage your Hosts file with ease. Features include online update of hosts file, enable/disable usage of hosts file, open Hosts file with one click, merge two hosts files, built-in hosts editor and more.


online update of hosts file;

enable/disable usage of hosts file;

open Hosts file with one click;

merge two hosts files;

built-in hosts editor;

prevent other programs of writing to the hosts;

scan hosts for errors, duplicates and possible hijacks;

find how many host names;

easily install newly downloaded hosts file;

create encrypted backups of your hosts file;

resolve host names;

keep log of latest blocked sites;


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama faces calls to reform reagan-era mass surveillance order – A coalition of civil liberties groups and members of Congress are calling on President Obama to urgently review a controversial executive order being used by the National Security Agency to conduct mass surveillance.

Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era authority, allows the NSA to covertly sweep up vast amounts of private data from overseas communication networks with no court oversight. Last week, The Intercept revealed how 12333 underpins a secret search engine the NSA built to share more than 850 billion records on phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats with other U.S. government agencies, including domestic law enforcement. The search system, named ICREACH, contains information on the private communications of foreigners as well as, it appears, millions of Americans not accused of any wrongdoing.

Now, more than 40 organizations and rights groups – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the American Civil Liberties Union – are calling on Obama and his surveillance review panel to ensure there is no “disproportionate or unnecessary collection” taking place under 12333.

In a letter to the President, dated 29 August and released on Tuesday, the groups say that the surveillance undermines “the fundamental rights of internet users everywhere” and demand that secret legal opinions or interpretations that relate to 12333 be declassified by the government. The letter states:

We, the undersigned former government officials, organizations, and members of Congress, write to express our concerns about the U.S. government’s surveillance activities conducted under the authority  of Executive Order 12333. Many involve communications that are protected by the U.S. Constitution,  and all implicate international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and  Political Rights, to which the United States is a party. These activities undermine the fundamental rights of internet users everywhere.

First US appeals court hears argument to shut down NSA database – Six days after the first Snowden leak appeared on the front pages of newspapers worldwide, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to stop the mass surveillance by US intelligence agencies. A New York federal judge ruled against the ACLU in December. Today, ACLU lawyers made a second effort, making their case to a three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. It’s the first time a US Appeals Court has considered whether the “bulk telephony” database is constitutional.

Oral arguments stretched on for nearly two hours this morning, an unusually long argument for the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which often gives just 10 or 15 minutes to each side for oral argument in an appeal case. C-SPAN was allowed to record and broadcast the full proceeding, another unusual step in an appeals court that’s nearly always closed to cameras. The proceedings can be viewed on C-SPAN’s website.

Judge mulls contempt charges in Microsoft’s e-mail privacy fight with US – A federal judge is mulling whether to hold Microsoft in contempt of court for defying orders to give the US government e-mails stored on an overseas server.

The case is the nation’s first testing the Obama administration’s position that any company with operations in the US must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. The US believes the e-mail on a Microsoft server in Dublin, Ireland is associated with narcotics trafficking.

Microsoft on Tuesday reiterated its position that it was talking with US District Judge Loretta Preska, the judge who sided with the Obama administration on Friday. “We will not be turning over the e-mail,” Microsoft said in a statement.

The precedent-setting case became mired in a procedural muck on Friday. A contempt order could solve it, however.

Can the feds fix local police? – The August 9 shooting of Michael Brown was a tragedy, but at least the ensuing backlash against myriad police sins in Ferguson, Missouri, and throughout the nation has lead to a long overdue conversation about the cops.

On the other hand, conversation—even if it includes heartening agreement from conservatives, libertarians, and liberals that something needs to change—is not enough. Having previously cast a moderately critical eye toward police, a writer for the conservative National Review wrote that protests in Ferguson were a bust and that most people, white and black alike, still support police, want more of them, want longer prison sentences, and approve of dramatic remedies for unrest such as sending in the National Guard.

The increased media attention and the belatedly concerned pandering of the political class should not be dismissed. President Obama’s sudden concern about police militarization may be cynical, but his promise to take another look at the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security’s funding of local police is a welcome first step.

However, even the solutions to an established problem present an ideological quandary. Conservatives tend to distrust federal law enforcement, while excusing local police. Liberals do the opposite.

Australia: ALRC recommends tort for serious invasion of digital privacy – The Australian Law Reform Commission has recommended a new Commonwealth tort for a serious invasion of privacy, including the disclosing of a person’s private information or images without their consent, or watching, listening or recording a person in their private space.

The recommendation came in the ALRC’s Serious Invasions of Privacy In the Digital Era report (PDF) tabled in parliament today, following an inquiry launched in June last year by then-Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

Under the tort outlined in the recommendations of the final report, a person would need to prove their privacy was invaded through the disclosure of private information, or the invasion of their private space. The tort would only apply to intentional or reckless invasions of privacy.

Report author Professor Barbara McDonald told ZDNet that the tort would be as technology-neutral as possible.

“It’s the activity or the actual interference that is wrongful, rather than how it is made,” she said.

“However, in some cases the uses of technology will make it easier to show it was an intrusion because it is not something you could have done with your own sight and hearing.”

McDonald said deliberate use of technology to capture a private image would then be seen as possible invasion of privacy.

Australia: Brandis warns against future Snowdens and Mannings – Public servants will face far more scrutiny from their employer under new guidelines from Attorney-General George Brandis to prevent the ‘insidious enemy’ of ‘trusted insiders’ leaking sensitive government information to the public.

Brandis yesterday launched a new personnel security handbook (PDF) for government that outlines how agencies can be protected against deliberate, or accidental, information leaks through their staff.

He told a Security in Government conference in Canberra that the “trusted insider” was an “insidious enemy” that could cause enormous damage through the leaking of information.

Brandis again referred to the “treachery” of National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and said his leaks about the NSA’s spying and data retention regimes, as well as Australia’s own spying activities in Indonesia had put Australia’s relationships in countries in our region under strain.

“Prior to Snowden’s disclosures, we were working with our allies to fight national security threats and combating terrorism, people smuggling and organised crime,” he said.

“Was it in the public interest for these programs to be jeopardised by Snowden’s actions?” Brandis asked.

He did not name any specific instances where Snowden’s leak had endangered lives, but said that former Director-General of the US National Security Agency, Keith Alexander had said that lives would be lost because “capabilities that were once effective are now rendered ineffective”.

Brandis also said that the 2010 leaks from Chelsea Manning to Wikileaks hurt international diplomatic relationships.

Exploit a flaw or go to war? NATO’s cyber battle rules raise more questions than they answer – Later this week, ministers are due to ratify NATO’s new cyber defence policy. As exclusively revealed by ZDNet in June, the new policy means that a digital attack can now be considered as the equivalent of an attack with tanks or rockets — and thus could trigger NATO’s collective defence clause.

Known as Article 5, the clause states an attack against one member of NATO “shall be considered an attack against them all”. This concept is at the very heart of the organisation — the largest military alliance in the world — making the decision to add coverage of cyber attacks to the clause a significant move.

The new policy also includes some detail around cyber defence governance and how members would assist a country under cyber attack, plus the integration of cyber defence into operational planning, including civil emergency planning. NATO also wants to improve information sharing with industry.

The change in policy reflects how digital attacks have become a common element of many military campaigns, and is intended as a deterrent, because until now it’s not been entirely clear if, say, hacking a nation’s power grid could be considered to be an act of war.

As such, NATO will be hoping that by clarifying its policy it is issuing a warning to state-sponsored hackers, who have grown increasingly bold. But the new policy also leaves a number of tricky questions unanswered.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 2, 2014

Keeping your photos – explicit or not – safe from the cloud;  Top Android apps, August 2014;  Top iOS apps of the month, August 2014;  Best mobile games of August 2014;  Jennifer Lawrence, failed by the Web;  What Are Hackers Thinking?  Firefox now ships with adverts, but don’t panic;  A scan-to-PDF tool for Android that’s worth its weight in data;  IRS calling? Nope. It’s a scam;  Fraudulent Netflix site wants to leave you high and dry;  5 tips on migrating to open-source software;  Tests compare Mac OS X anti-malware products;  The 11 best PC co-op games to play with your friends;  Apple manipulates journalists using anonymous social media accounts;  Which is better: Xbox One or PS4?  September’s Hottest Video Game Releases;  Map: See Every Single Device Connected to the Internet;  Watch yourself! Adult magazine’s guide to sousveillance, or copwatching;  PornHub tells us which operating system comes first with revealing stats.

Keeping your photos – explicit or not – safe from the cloud – This week a leak of explicit celebrity photos has summoned the need for additional security measures. Not just the kind of security measures you take by purchasing “keep me private” apps and the like, but the kind that includes common sense and the flipping of a few key switches in your phone. As it turns out – you CAN take whatever photos you like without having them leaked to the public.

Jennifer Lawrence, failed by the Web – We’ve all been naive to believe that there is any sort of true security on the Web. The case of the mass leaking of naked celebrity pictures is just one example.

(Failed by the Web? B.S. Just another artificial Hollywood construct who is most deserving of a Darwin Award. Hollywood; Actors; Responsibility – Oxymoron.)

Facebook says not to believe the rumors, wants you to trust its Messenger app – You’ve probably read the rumors by now: Facebook’s Messenger app records your movements! Spies on your conversations! Kills baby unicorns! Facebook wants you to know that it’s doing nothing of the sort. In a statement from Peter Martinazzi, a member of the Facebook Messenger development team, the social media company explains that Messenger doesn’t actively listen in or watch you through your phone’s on-board camera and microphone. Instead, it asks to use your camera and microphone so you can make audio chats, or send photos and videos to your friends.

Chrome extension adds bookmarks to right-click menu – The Context Bookmarks extension lets you keep your bookmarks bar hidden but its contents readily available.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Why in-air gestures failed, and why they’ll soon win – Don’t count out in-the-air gesture technology out yet. It will soon become a mainstream technology that just about everyone will use.


With Leap Motion’s technology, a user can control a  PC with gestures. Credit: Leap Motion

What Are Hackers Thinking? – When you’re a victim of a malware or phishing campaign, you’re probably asking yourself a series of panicked questions. Why are you being targeted in the first place? What exactly are hackers looking for? Password management company Thycotic decided to tackle these burning questions by going directly to the source. The company conducted a survey of self-identified hackers at Black Hat USA 2014 to understand these cyber masterminds better.


A scan-to-PDF tool for Android that’s worth its weight in data – There are plenty of scanning apps out there and plenty that do a great job of scanning to PDF. The problem with many of these apps is that they rely heavily on your ability to do a good job of snapping a photo of the image you want to import into a PDF. Snap a crooked shot or one that’s out of perspective, and you’ll wind up sending off a less-than-professional document. That’s all fine and good if you can take perfect shots of your documents every time. But for those times when you can’t, you’ll be glad you have Quick PDF Scanner.

Top Android apps, August 2014 – Here are some of the most interesting apps for the Android operating system we’ve discovered this month.

Top iOS apps of the month, August 2014 – What are some of the most interesting apps for Apple’s iOS operating system we’ve discovered this month?

Internet Archive Uploads 2.4 Million Historical Images to Flickr – If you have a hankering for some old-timey cat pictures, the Internet Archive has you covered. These images are the first batch of what the Internet Archive is calling “The Commons,” a new collection made up photographs from the more than 600 million book pages that the organization has digitally scanned. The pages themselves amount to more than 19 petabytes’ worth of data—with more than 14 million images eventually expected to make their way online.

Firefox now ships with adverts, but don’t panic – Mozilla talked about shipping Firefox with built-in ads, and they’ve arrived. Sponsored Tiles are now active in Firefox Nightly. How, exactly, do Sponsored Tiles change Firefox? Not much at all, really. Sponsored Tiles look exactly like the Discovery Tiles Mozilla has already been offering to you as suggested browsing destinations on the New Tab page. They are, however, clearly marked as being sponsored — just like the targeted ads that occupy the top of every major search engine’s results page.


Google Glass human emotion detector is by far the creepiest wearable app – You know that old mood ring joke? A husband buys his wife a mood ring and uses the colors to tell whether or not he’s in trouble, and the punch line is when she’s mad, the ring leaves a red mark upside his head? Thanks to Fraunhofer IIS, there’s now a Google Glass app for this experience, complete with a probable smack upside your head or worse should you ever use the app on an unsuspecting person.


5 tips on migrating to open-source software – Regardless of what Free Open Source Software (FOSS) you need to use, you might not always find it the most natural evolution — especially when you’ve spent the whole of your career using proprietary software. The thing is, a lot of open-source software has matured to the point where it rivals (and sometimes bests) its proprietary counterpart. With that in mind, I wanted to offer up my five best tips for migrating from a closed-software ecosystem to an open one.

Migrate systems from one version of Windows to another with the Zinstall Migration Suite – This tool will allow you to quickly and easily transfer an entire user workspace — including applications, settings, personalization, documents, domain settings, security policies, and data files — from one system to another in a multitude of scenarios. For example, you can migrate from one computer to another, transfer from a physical machine to a virtual machine, perform an in-place upgrade, or simply transfer profiles, settings, and data. In this article, I’ll show you how the Zinstall Migration Suite works. As I do, I’ll use the package to migrate an existing Windows 7 system over to a new Windows 8.1 installation. The Zinstall Migration Suite is an enterprise-level product and, as such, pricing varies.


WallyHome review: Sniffs out water leaks all over your home – WallyHome is a network of moisture sensors that you can stash all over your home, where they’ll immediately alert you to problems like leaks, mold, or abnormal temperature and humidity levels. After I set up sensors in my bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and even the attic, I could rest easier knowing I’d be notified—and thoroughly. When I simulated a leaky bathroom sink, I got a push notification, an email, and a text message, and WallyHome even followed up with an “all clear” email once I’d cleaned everything up.



IRS calling? Nope. It’s a scam – CNET’s Charlie Cooper got a call one day from the IRS — or so the caller claimed. But it was an all too common social-engineering scam. And you could be next.

Fraudulent Netflix site wants to leave you high and dry – Eric Lawrence, creator of the famous Fiddler web debugger, spotted a phishing attack targeting Netflix customers. Readers of this blog may remember a similar one we identified several months ago. This new one is more sophisticated (better graphics, etc) although it does not have the tech support scam element but instead goes after your identity and wallet.


Find My iPhone exploit patched following celebrity photos leak – In a move that may be related to the recent glut of leaked celebrity photos, Apple has patched a “Find My iPhone” exploit that was detailed shortly before the content pilfering took place. It isn’t yet known whether the two are related, but the timing has many suspicious.

CryptoWall ransomware held over 600,000 computers hostage, encrypted 5B files – A file-encrypting ransomware program called CryptoWall infected over 600,000 computer systems in the past six months and held 5 billion files hostage, earning its creators more than $1 million, researchers found. The threat has been spreading since at least November 2013, but until the first quarter of this year it remained mostly overshadowed by CryptoLocker, another ransomware program that infected over half a million systems from September 2013 through May.


Rigged industrial software site points to watering hole attack – The rogue code injected into the compromised site loaded a JavaScript file from a remote server that was actually a reconnaissance framework dubbed Scanbox, Blasco said. In addition to collecting basic information like the browser type, computer IP (Internet Protocol) address, operating system and language, this tool uses advanced techniques to detect which security programs are installed on the visitor’s system, he said. According to the AlienVault analysis, Scanbox also tests if the computer uses Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) anti-exploitation tool and enumerates the locally installed versions of Adobe Flash, Microsoft Office, Acrobat Reader and Java — programs that are frequently targeted with Web-based exploits to install malware.

Tests compare Mac OS X anti-malware products – The Mac malware situation is a much lower-pressure one than that on Windows, so many products perform very well. But it’s still worth comparing them, so tests 18 products, both free and paid.

Company News:

Apple manipulates journalists using anonymous social media accounts – Apple has long been praised for its PR mastery, but it’s hordes of positive press isn’t a coincidence: the company whips certain journalists to provide good coverage, and even spies on writers.

Intel turns its attention to desktop performance, unveils 8-core Haswell-E processor – Intel took the wraps off its most powerful consumer CPU at the PAX video-game conference in Seattle, WA, today. Intel’s Core i7 High-end Desktop Processor Family, code-named Haswell-E, consists of three unlocked processors that support hyperthreading, DDR4 memory, and Intel’s all-new X99 chipset. The top-of-the-line Core i7-5960X boasts eight cores (16 processor threads), 20MB of cache, and 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This $999 processor runs at a base clock frequency of 3.0GHz and torques up to 3.5GHz in turbo mode.


Windows 8 gains market share as XP drops slightly – The latest data for desktop usage share shows that Windows 8 has gained during the last month while XP has lost nearly one percent, but Windows 7 still remains dominant.


China gives Microsoft twenty days to respond to antitrust inquiry – Chinese authorities looking into alleged antitrust violations by Microsoft have given the company twenty days to “make a written explanation” to questions and concerns raised by investigators.

Apple tipped to unveil iPhone Wallet next week – On a technological level, we could say that we could see it coming. The iPhone 6 is rumored to tuck an NFC chip inside, the first for the company who has previously been quite cold over the wireless technology. Paired with the Touch ID biometric security and you have pretty much the scaffolding for a payment system that is potentially more secure than what we’ve seen so far.

Alibaba IPO planned for week of Sept. 8, report says – The Chinese e-commerce giant is reportedly set to launch its blockbuster IPO in the U.S. the very same week Apple is expected to bring us the iPhone 6.

Games and Entertainment:

The 11 best PC co-op games to play with your friends – Here we’ve rounded up twelve games that are better in every way to play with friends. Yeah, you could play some of them alone. Sure, you could (if you’re insane) play some of them with random Internet strangers who love to use profanity. But if you pair up with a partner or three you’ll have a much more rewarding experience.


Divinity: Original Sin

Which is better: Xbox One or PS4? – Few topics in our day-to-day lives, like choosing which game console is superior, turn otherwise civil individuals into aggressive combatants. So now it’s time to look at the evidence and answer the question for ourselves. Nearly ten months after the launch of the next-generation consoles, is the PS4 or Xbox One the better platform?

Best mobile games of August 2014 – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in August 2014.

September’s Hottest Video Game Releases – Summer is drawing to a close and with it goes the easygoing mood of the season as the world returns to work and school. Fortunately, just because playtime is over doesn’t mean that gaming time is over, as there are a ton of great game releases in September to help ease the transition to more serious pursuits. In fact, the pace of highly anticipated game releases picks up this month with a wave of promising games that span many consoles and genres.


Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition revealed, preorders now up – Released in 2000, Icewind Dale takes players once more to the D&D campaign world of Forgotten Realms, this time to the frigid north to fight, what else, evil. But Beamdog has done more than just bring forward the old game to this decade, it has added a ton of new features you won’t find in the original version. The Enhanced Edition, or EE, expands the amount of content considerably. And it’s not just the six expanded quests. The game adds new classes and combinations inherited from Beamdog’s previous work with Balduer’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition.


10 obscure Steam features that can power up your PC gaming – Let’s cut to the chase: For many people, PC gaming is synonymous with Steam. Valve’s ubiquitous gaming client is both storefront and service, delivering a one-stop shop for buying games, playing and managing those games, and even building out a friends list to chat with while you game. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Steam’s rife with hidden features that can help you get more out of your PC gaming experience—tricks that few people ever touch. Here are some of the most useful.

Off Topic (Sort of):

See Every Single Device Connected to the Internet – The map was created by John Matherly, founder of Shodan, a search engine that probes the Internet’s backend for connections to all sorts of devices from routers to refrigerators. Matherly said it took about five hours to ping every IP address on the Internet and store every positive response. It took another 12 hours to plot the responses on a heat map which glows bright orange in densely connected areas and blue and black in sparsely connected areas.


John Oliver turns to YouTube to thank, spank commenters – In a YouTube special, the HBO comedian marvels at the commentary he incites. It’s already received some erudite comments.


You’re overestimating Google’s driverless cars – Never tested in snow or heavy rain, potentially ignoring police, and confused into swerving by crumpled newspaper: Google’s self-driving cars face more than a few lingering problems before they’re truly ready for the road. The search behemoth’s plans to start tests of its control-free “pods” out in public had already collided with California’s DMV, which demanded that at least rudimentary steering and pedals be fitted before they’d be road-legal, but that may only be the start of Google’s headaches.


PornHub tells us which operating system comes first with revealing stats – As you can imagine, the majority of computers being used to watch internet pornography are Windows machines, sitting at a commanding 85%. Apple’s OS X only makes up about 11% of the desktop porn-watching community, while Linux only makes up a very Linux-like 1.7% of watchers. As for what versions of Windows lords over the porndom, Windows 7 sits atop the moist throne with a staggering 62% of viewers, followed by XP’s 16%, Window 8′s 14%, and Vista’s 6.5% — which is surprising, because people are still actually using Vista. Older versions of Windows, such as NT, ME, 2000, and even 95 and 98 still visit PornHub, but those numbers are relatively meager.

Something to think about:

“There are no whole truths; all truths are half- truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil”.

-     Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947)

Today’s Free Downloads:

QuickSetDNS – QuickSetDNS is a simple tool that allows you to easily change the DNS servers that are used for your Internet connection. You can set the desired DNS servers from the user interface, by choosing from a list of DNS servers that you defined, or from command-line, without displaying any user interface.


Wireless Network Watcher – Wireless Network Watcher is a small utility that scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network.

For every computer or device that is connected to your network, the following information is displayed: IP address, MAC address, the company that manufactured the network card, and optionally the computer name.

You can also export the connected devices list into html/xml/csv/text file, or copy the list to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other spreadsheet application.

Using Wireless Network Watcher

Wireless Network Watcher doesn’t require any installation process or additional dll files. In order to start using it, simply extract the executable file (WNetWatcher.exe) from the zip file, and run it.

If you want, you can also download WNetWatcher with full install/uninstall support (wnetwatcher_setup.exe), so a shortcut for running WNetWatcher will be automatically added into your start menu.

After running WNetWatcher, it automatically locates your wireless adapter, and scans your network. After a few seconds, you should start see the list of computers that are currently connected to your network.

If from some reason, WNetWatcher failed to locate and scan your network, you can try to manually choosing the correct network adapter, by pressing F9 (Advanced Options) and choosing the right network adapter.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Continues Its Campaign Against A US Warrant Demanding Overseas Data – A search warrant commanding Microsoft to turn over certain customer email data that is currently stored overseas was unfrozen late this week. The company declined to comply.

In a statement, Microsoft said that it “will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal.” This protest act by Microsoft, arguing that domestic warrants should not be able to command access to data stored abroad, has picked up support from other technology companies.

Profits are at risk. Modern technology companies vend cloud-based services to a global user base — if any one country can use domestic warrants to command access to the data of all companies that are headquartered within its borders, regardless of where the information in question is physically stored, no company can protect the data of users who hail from other countries from its own government. That would harm the company’s ability to sell services to those potential international customers.

More to the point, why a United States search warrant would apply to a datacenter in Ireland holding data of a person that may not be a United States citizen is somewhat suspect.

Watch yourself! Adult magazine’s guide to sousveillance, or copwatching – In the grim light of Eric Garner’s death, Michael Brown’s death, and the ensuing protests in Ferguson, New York City, and other cities across America, we at ADULT, the independent magazine I edit, have decided to publish online one of our first print issue’s more memorable pieces: Katie J.M. Baker’s guide to sousveillance, or copwatching. Although memorable seems like the wrong word, the kinds of events that impelled her to write the article never seem to stop happening long enough for her guide to be forgotten.



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