Tag Archives: Bill Mullins

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 16, 2014

Tutorial: Twitter 2-factor authentication, step-by-step;  First phase of TrueCrypt audit finds no backdoors;  Which ZoneAlarm Is Best for You? Google Glass: Everything You Need to Know;  CloudMagic: Email for the highly connected;  How to calibrate your monitor;  Linux is about to take over the desktop;  15 gadgets to reduce your energy consumption;  Google developing contact lens camera;  IRS could be watching your social media;  Free SystemRescueCd;  Windows XP lives on;  Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches.

Windows XP lives on: Avast survey shows 27 percent of its XP users don’t plan to switch – Avast had previously reported that 23.6 percent of its users were still running Windows XP. In the days before Microsoft ended support of Windows XP on April 8, Avast surveyed close to 165,000 of those users. The results, released in in a blog post on Monday, indicate that 27 percent of Avast’s Windows XP users don’t plan on doing anything, even though Windows XP systems are theoretically vulnerable to attack from hitherto unreported vulnerabilities.

Gmail update lets you easily attach Google+ photos – Google just rolled out a minor Gmail update today that lets you easily attach a Google+ photo from within the composition window. Once you’re done writing your email, select the option to insert a photo and it’ll default to your Google+ albums, as well as anything you’ve privately backed up to your Google+ account. You can also share whole albums with family and friends, and fear not: even if the album is private, only those you’ve shared the albums with will be able to see them. You can also resize photos right from within the composition window.

Which ZoneAlarm Is Best for You? – Check Point Software, publisher of ZoneAlarm, offers six distinct SKUs, from the simple free firewall on up to the mega-suite ZoneAlarm Extreme. As an experiment, I’m reviewing all six. I’ve found that there are definitely enough differences to make the effort worthwhile. And yes, that “2015″ you see in the product names isn’t a typo. These are the first 2015-labeled products I’ve seen.

Tutorial: Twitter 2-factor authentication, step-by-step – Making sure you keep your Twitter account safe is incredibly important. This step-by-step, screenshot-by-screenshot article by our own David Gewirtz should make it easier to be safer.

First phase of TrueCrypt audit finds no backdoors – Remember when late last year cryptographer Matthew Green and Kenneth White, Principal Scientist at Social & Scientific Systems, called for – and then organized – a crowdfunded, public security audit of TrueCrypt? Well, the results of the first phase of the audit have been published, and the news is good in regards to potential backdoors present in the code.


Why you don’t need to encrypt your backup – You should back up all of your data files and encrypt the sensitive ones that you don’t want other people to read. But that doesn’t mean you have to encrypt the backup.

Google Glass: Everything You Need to Know – It’s now two years since its unveiling, so it’s a great time to summarize everything we know about Google Glass; here are the key facts.

CloudMagic: Email for the highly connected – Jack Wallen shares his newest, favorite email client for Android: CloudMagic. This app offers greater email options for those who need more.


Beyond basic TV settings – Once you’ve got the basics (contrast, brightness, color, etc.) set, there are still dozens of adjustments on your TV. What do they mean, and what’s the right setting? I’m glad you asked.


How to calibrate your monitor – Learn how to tweak your desktop or laptop display using free test patterns or the built-in utility in Windows or Mac OS X.

Microsoft launches Office 365 Personal, $69.99 for a year – Microsoft has now officially launched Office 365 Personal, allowing people a way to access all of its Office software on one PC and one tablet for $69.99 a year or $6.99 a month.

Linux is about to take over the desktop but not like you think it will – You’d better get ready for the personal computing, BYOD, and corporate computing revolution. Linux is coming to a desktop near you. But not like you think or had hoped. It’s coming in the form of the Chrome OS on Chromebooks.


Google adds a paragraph to its Terms of Service to explain Gmail scanning for ads – Google has updated its Terms of Service document, adding in a paragraph that attempts to better explain how the company scans the content of emails in its Gmail service to generate ads.

Calculate your PC’s energy use – Microsoft’s free Joulemeter utility gives you a rough estimate of a Windows system’s power consumption. Plus: tips for reducing your electronics energy bill.

15 gadgets to reduce your energy consumption – Earth Day is April 22, so it’s a great time to look at your personal energy consumption. Tech tools are often energy hogs, so we’ve compiled a list of gadgets that do just the opposite.


Netflix pays off Comcast, discovers that speeds magically improve – In fact, Comcast streaming speeds shot up 65 percent since Netflix struck an interconnectivity deal with the ISP that gives it better access to Comcast’s network.

Facebook’s great hope, India, crosses 100 million users – The leading social networking company in the world must be thrilled as it hits the 100 million user mark in India, the second country to reach this milestone after the US. Apparently analysts say that at this rate, India will in fact outstrip the US and boast the most number of users in the world, at around 150 million. India currently has around 160 million internet users, a fraction of what it will eventually field considering its 1.2 billion strong population.


LaCie admits to year-long credit card breach – The French hardware company confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that malware successfully made its way through to access sensitive customer information stemming from transactions on its website. Here’s where things get really bad: Virtually everyone who shopped on LaCie’s website in the last year is at risk. LaCie, which is set to merge with American hard drive maker Seagate, said it was informed about the breach on March 19, 2014 by the FBI. But the hardware company speculated that all transactions between March 27, 2013 and March 10, 2014 were possibly affected.

With Heartbleed, IT leaders are missing the point – If our checks and balances are so fragile that a typo can obliterate all meaningful security, we have some fundamental things to fix.

The Woops of WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) raises its ugly head again – WPS is an alternate on-ramp to a Wi-Fi network. It is also a security nightmare, and it has just been extended to include NFC. No WPS for me, thank you.

Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner thwarted by hack – Reseachers at Germany’s Security Research Labs were able to sneak past Samsung’s fingerprint security by using a fingerprint spoof.


Israeli hacker hijacks webcams to unmask Anonymous OpIsrael hackers – Israeli Elite Force hackers doxed 16 members of Anonymous OpIsrael by using the hackers’ own webcams against them, showing yet another example of why you should cover your webcam when you are not using it.

Company News:

Twitter Acquires Data Provider Gnip – Twitter has acquired social data provider Gnip, extending the companies’ four-year partnership. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Twitter, this move will help “to offer more sophisticated data sets and better enrichments” for developers and businesses. Gnip (pronounced guh-nip) launched in 2008 and served as the first official data partner for Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, WordPress, Google+, Facebook, and YouTube.

Apple loses bid to dismiss states’ e-book antitrust cases – Judge rejects Apple’s argument that states lack standing in the case, which seeks as much as $840 million in damages.

Intel paints bleak picture for Windows tablets vs. Android – When Intel announced its tablet numbers for the first quarter on Tuesday, it was clear that Android buried Windows. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call that out of the 5 million tablet processors shipped “80 to 90 percent” were for Android and the rest Windows. That leaves a pretty small number for Windows, underscoring the uphill battle Microsoft is fighting against Android and Apple in the tablet market.

Microsoft concedes Chromebooks are work-worthy – Microsoft on Monday conceded that Google’s Chrome OS and the Chromebooks the operating system powers can do real work, a reversal of its ‘Scroogled’ campaign that had called laptops worthless.

Yahoo Beats Street For Q1 On Sales Of $1.09B, EPS Of $0.38 But Flat Display Sales Of $438M – Yahoo has just reported its Q1 earnings, with ex-TAC revenues of $1.087 billion and earnings per share of $0.38, and net income of $314 million. That just about beat analysts’ expectations on revenue: they were expecting ex-TAC sales of $1.08 billion – First Call estimates were $1,076.9 million.

Games and Entertainment:

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 Offers 6 Killer Android Games for One Low Price – There is a new Humble Mobile Bundle, and it offers some excellent games with more on the way. For one low price you get six Android games in the current bundle, but more will be added soon. Not that you really need them–the games included now are great. The Humble Bundle continues to be the best deal in gaming.


Call of Duty: Ghosts Snoop Dogg voice pack video gets “bizzy” – There’s nothing like a good ol’ dose of “dee oh double-g” to bring a piece of media up to snuff with infamy. That’s exactly what the folks at Activision and Infinity Ward decided and laid down cash for in Call of Duty: Ghosts this week, preparing Snoop Dogg for an MP announcer role in a download pack available on April 22nd, 2014.


Batman’s 75th Birthday: here’s how you celebrate – While the first appearance of Batman took place on March 30, 1939 in Detective Comics No. 27, several celebratory events and releases are being made this week. Lighting up more successful video games than any other comic book character, Microsoft has decided to take this week to dunk Xbox users into Gotham’s finest titles with discounts galore – just in time for Easter, too!

Xbox One update brings Kinect and controller enhancements, adds silent updates – Now that the big Titanfall update has come and gone, Microsoft has focused on updating the rest of the console with some much needed usability fixes. With a third update in as many months, each bringing great new fixes and features to the console, the Xbox One is barely recognizable from the console that launched in November. Microsoft has worked hard to fix a lot of problems that probably shouldn’t have made it to consumer release in the first place, but they have done so swiftly and efficiently.


Mean and green: How to build a gaming PC that’s fast, quiet, and efficient – Every enthusiast wants a killer, high-performance PC that blows fire and chews up benchmarks for breakfast. (PCMark, yum!) But packing a PC to the gills with cutting-edge hardware creates a hot rod in more than name alone: Truly powerful rigs tend to be big, hot, and loud, and they usually suck power faster than a parched pre-teen chugs Kool-Aid. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. With all of the CPU advances, it’s now possible to configure a relatively fast system that’s also whisper quiet and surprisingly power efficient. With the right component choices and some careful planning, it doesn’t even have to break the bank. Here’s how we did it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

After Google Glass, Google developing contact lens camera – The next step after Google Glass high-tech specs could be contact lenses with cameras in them to take pictures when you blink and to help the blind across the road.


Tax dodgers beware: IRS could be watching your social media – In its quest to find and audit tax dodgers, the IRS is said to use online activity trackers to sift through the mass amounts of data available on the Internet, according to Marketplace. This data is then added to the information the agency already has on people, such as Social Security numbers, health records, banking statements, and property.

A letter to my daughter: Privacy and the internet – Millennials are growing up with very different ideas about privacy and information security than those of us who actually built the digital world we now live in.


Creationists get their ‘Cosmos’ (It’s quite short) – In order to assuage the creationist protesters who complain that Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s series doesn’t allow for a God-centric explanation, Funny Or Die creates a creationist version. It lasts mere minutes.

How many downloads does it take to hit No. 1 in the App Store? – A marketing director counts up the number of daily downloads by country and reveals what it took for his company’s app to top Apple’s charts.

Something to think about:

“Computer games don’t affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.”

-     Marcus Brigstocke

Today’s Free Downloads:

OpenVPN – The OpenVPN application was designed to be a full-featured SSL VPN solution which can accomodate a wide range of configurations, including remote access, site-to-site VPNs, WiFi security, and enterprise-scale remote access solutions with load balancing. OpenVPN implements OSI layer 2 or 3 secure network extension using the industry standard SSL/TLS protocol, supports flexible client authentication methods based on certificates, smart cards, and/or 2-factor authentication, and allows user or group-specific access control policies using firewall rules applied to the VPN virtual interface. OpenVPN is not a web application proxy and does not operate through a web browser.

Hardwipe – Hardwipe can be used to permanently erase, or to “hard wipe”, data on disk and portable storage media to prevent personal and sensitive business information from ever being recovered. It can wipe entire drives, wipe files individually, and sanitize unused drive space. It supports right-click context menus within Windows file explorer, or can just be used as a standalone application.

SystemRescueCd – SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of linux software such as system tools (parted, partimage, fstools, …) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It requires no installation. It can be used on linux servers, linux desktops or windows boxes. The kernel supports the important file systems (ext2/ext3/ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, btrfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NTT surveys Snowden impact on IT ops/strategy – A new study of global ICT decision-makers, titled NSA Aftershocks, commissioned by NTT Communications, shows how the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) PRISM program has affected enterprise business strategy and operations. The market research firm Vanson Bourne interviewed 1000 leaders at major companies in France, Germany, Hong Kong, the UK and the USA in the last two months.

Among its findings:

Almost nine in ten IT leaders are concerned their data may have been accessed without their permission

Only 5 percent of respondents believe location does not matter when it comes to storing company data

More than three in ten (31 percent) are moving data to locations where the business knows it will be safe

87 percent say they now have an in-depth knowledge of the data protection laws in the countries where their business operates

83 percent agree the revelations have prevented them from moving their IT infrastructure into the cloud

ICT decision-makers now prefer buying a cloud service located in their own region, especially EU respondents (97 percent)

A sixth is delaying or cancelling cloud projects

A study released in August of last year by the Information and Technology Innovation Foundation predicted that US companies could lose up to $35 billion in revenue through 2016. The new survey suggests that IT decision-makers are indeed taking action that affects US companies.

Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches – Lavaboom, a new German-based and supposeldyNSA-proof email service, will go into private beta this week with a mission spread the gospel according to Edward Snowden by making encrypted email accessible to all. Although it has been referred to in various parts of the interwebs as an heir to Lavabit, the now-defunct encrypted email service used by Snowden, the new service’s name is a tribute to its predecessor and nothing more. Lavaboom is a free service with a 500MB mailbox limit made secure by three main principles: end-to-end encryption; “zero-knowledge privacy”; and “three-way authentication”. The firm said its aim is to make encryption as “simple as sending regular email” so anyone can use it.

FBI to have 52 million photos in its NGI face recognition database by next year  – Database will include non-criminal photos as well as mugshots – New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer. The EFF received these records in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on Next Generation Identification (NGI)—the FBI’s massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one-third of the US population. The facial recognition component of this database poses real threats to privacy for all Americans.


Utah cops warrantlessly search prescription drug records of 480 emergency personnel – Utah law enforcement officials searched, without a warrant, the prescription drug records of 480 public paramedics, firefighters and other personnel to try to figure out who was stealing morphine from emergency vehicles. The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday derided the 2013 dragnet search as “shocking” and called it a “disregard for basic legal protections” to provide law enforcement with “unfettered” access to such private data.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 14, 2014

Tutorial: Facebook 2-factor authentication, step-by-step;  Before Heartbleed: Worst vulnerabilities ever?   SANS warns end users against Heartbleed patch panic;  Install any Windows desktop gadget in Windows 8.x with 8GadgetPack;  How to clean the crap off your PC;  Sony warns users its Vaio Fit 11A may burst into flames;  44 percent of Twitter users have never tweeted; Meet Ballistic, a full first-person shooter that runs right in your browser;  Free KeePass Password Safe;  Free World of Warplanes;  How to tell if your Android device is vulnerable to Heartbleed.

Before Heartbleed: Worst vulnerabilities ever? – There have been some pretty bad vulnerabilities before Heartbleed. Is it really any more severe than CodeRed or Blaster? In this gallery we have collected 15 of the most severe vulnerabilities in tech history. All the vulnerabilities are in software. One purely hardware vulnerability suggested to us — the thermal exhaust port on the Death Star — was deemed out of scope, even though it was a relatively critical bug.

SANS warns end users against Heartbleed patch panic – While Heartbleed client-side attacks are possible, the SANS Institute warns that home users rushing to patch are more at risk of falling for scams — but change passwords regardless.

Private keys may be inaccessible to Heartbleed – Research by CloudFlare indicates that Heartbleed can be used to obtain contents of server memory, but not private keys.

Heartbleed bug: What you need to know (FAQ) – CNET has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help users learn more about the bug and protect themselves. The Heartbleed situation is ongoing, and we’ll update this FAQ as new issues arise. Check back for new information.

How to tell if your Android device is vulnerable to Heartbleed – Believe it or not, some Android devices are susceptible to the Heartbleed bug. Here’s what you need to know.

Beat it, bloatware: How to clean the crap off your PC – Boot up a new PC for the first time, and you should be able to watch it fly. Instead, it may sputter and struggle to get off the ground, thanks all the preinstalled junk that vendors habitually dump onto new PCs. Bloatware—also known as crapware—is more than annoying, because it actively consumes your computer’s resources. It’s worth your time to clean it off a new PC so you can use it to its full potential. Here’s how to do that with minimal headaches.

Windows 8.1 Update might change your mind about Windows 8 – With the second major revision to Windows 8, somewhat confusingly named Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft seems to have finally remembered that there are PC users out there who still work with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. With Windows 8.1 Update, you now get a computing environment that feels flexible enough to work on 8-inch tablets as well as 27-inch desktops.

Install any Windows desktop gadget in Windows 8.x with 8GadgetPack – Greg Shultz takes a look at 8GadgetPack, a free tool that reinstalls the original desktop gadget program files in Windows 8.x. Find out how to use 8GadgetPack to install any Windows desktop gadget.


Sony warns users its Vaio Fit 11A may burst into flames – If you own or have access to a Sony Vaio Fit 11A then you need to stop using it immediately, and stop anyone else using it, too. Sony has shipped over 25,000 units of the Fit 11A to some 52 countries, but it is now warning owners that the hybrid laptop is in danger of catching fire. The reason, as usual, is the battery.

44 percent of Twitter users have never tweeted, says report – As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Twitter analytics company Twopcharts says that, according to its data, 44 percent of Twitter accounts have never tweeted.  No “Trying out this Twitter thing.” No “Just setting up my tweetz.” Not even “Hi.” The Journal places Twitter’s userbase at 974 million accounts, so if you do the math, that’s roughly 429 million accounts that have been silent.

Google gives strong signal a Chrome tablet is indeed on the way – Even though there are those of us who don’t believe a Chrome tablet is a viable product, speculation that we’ll soon see one announced has recently surfaced. This is due to a press invite to an Acer event that leads one to believe a tablet may be announced. This week, Google quietly updated Chrome OS, and one of things added in the update sure implies it is getting ready for a tablet. One look at the release notes and it jumps out.


Facebook Reveals Which Countries Censor Citizens’ News Feeds – This is the first time the social network has disclosed how often it allows governments to remove or restrict content for legal reasons. While India leads the pack, it was followed by Turkey, which restricted 2,014 pieces of content primarily because it defamed or criticized Ataturk or the Turkish state, which is illegal. Germany was allowed to censor 84 pieces of content because local laws prohibit Holocaust denial. That law also exists in France (80 restrictions) and Austria (78 restrictions). A map chronicling how much was banned and why can be seen here. Facebook didn’t include information it would have removed anyway because it violated its community standards.

Firefox OS 2.0 starts emerging from its cocoon – Mozilla’s modernized mobile OS is catching up to Apple and Google rivals with improvements necessary to carry Firefox OS beyond its bare-bones roots. Copy-paste and find-my-phone tools patch significant shortcomings.


Report: Google Beta Testing Android App for Chrome Remote Desktop – Get excited, Chrome fans: Google is still beta testing an Android app for its popular (to us, at least) Chrome Remote Desktop feature, and word is that the app’s launch is going to hit sooner than later. For those who haven’t had the chance to partake in Chrome Remote Desktop, the name is pretty self-explanatory. Install the extension into your browser for the world’s easiest Virtual Network Computing (VNC) setup.

Translate foreign menus – Nothing bums out my travel gluttony more than a menu I can’t decipher. Fortunately, whether you have an iPhone or Android phone, there are some useful apps out there that can help you translate a menu in seconds. None are perfect, but having a couple on hand could keep you from eating the wrong part of a bull.


Intel unveils Education 2-in-1 convertible laptop – As with many other hybrid notebooks, the Education 2-in-1 allows students to detach the display from the keyboard in order to use it as a standalone tablet. You can also flip the screen around to have it face the front to show content off to the rest of the classroom. It includes a stylus to ease input for kids still making their way around a keyboard, and also comes with educational accessories like a snap-on magnifying lens and a temperature sensor probe.



In Heartbleed’s wake, Comodo cranks out fresh SSL certificates – One of New Jersey-based Comodo’s main business lines is issuing the digital certificates that encrypt traffic between users and a Web service, a critical shield that protects users from spying by third parties. Over the last day or so, Comodo has seen a huge uptick in requests for new digital certificates from website operators, said Robin Alden, Comodo’s chief technology officer.

U.S. charges nine with distributing Zeus malware – Two defendants face arraignment in federal court Friday, charged with distributing the malware that helped siphon millions of dollars from U.S. accounts. How the NSA shot itself in the foot by denying prior knowledge of Heartbleed – In admitting it didn’t know about a massive security flaw in one of the Web’s most used encryption libraries, the NSA inadvertently revealed a massive institutional failure.

Tutorial: Facebook 2-factor authentication, step-by-step – Setting up Facebook authentication can be a bit of a pain, but this step-by-step, screenshot-by-screenshot article by our own David Gewirtz should make it easy.

Company News:

Dropbox CEO defends Rice despite ‘Drop Dropbox’ privacy backlash – CEO Drew Houston cites Rice’s international experience, as users fume over the appointment of a known wiretapping advocate to the Board of the cloud storage company.

Amazon will pay workers up to $5000 to quit – Not getting much actual fulfillment out of your job in the Amazon fulfillment center? It’s not all bad. The company might just pay you $5,000 to quit your job. Why would Amazon want to do this? Well, it turns out that Amazon has a rather serious problem with employee turnover. In fact, Amazon has the second worst turnover rate of any of the Fortune 500 companies.

Samsung set to “kapture” the media’s attention on April 29 – Samsung has just given word that it plans to hold a media event in Singapore near the end of the month. And if previous rumors are to be given credence, the “Kapture the Moment” slogan in the teaser could very well be referring to the company’s next photography-centric smartphone, the Galaxy S5 Zoo

Microsoft’s board sued by shareholder, not happy with IE fine by EU – Microsoft’s massive 2013 fine from the European Union is the center of a new lawsuit against the company’s board of directors. Reuters states that the lawsuit was filed on Friday by a shareholder of Microsoft, Kim Barovic, who claims that the board and company executives mismanaged the situation that led to the fine, which involved Microsoft breaking its 2009 agreement with the EU over its Internet Explorer web browser.

Games and Entertainment:

Telltale’s ‘Walking Dead’ game ready for Android users’ braaains – The popular episodic adventure finally makes its way to Android, and you can play the first episode for free.


Meet Ballistic, a full first-person shooter that runs right in your browser -  Web games sure have evolved since I was a kid. Even five years ago, trapped at a receptionist job, the best I could do was a really high-level Flash game to whittle the hours away. Crush the Castle. Worms clones. This is what I considered a web game. And then I took a look at Ballistic. Here, why don’t you take a look at Ballistic.


Trailer: Firaxis Announces ‘Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth’ – If you’re one of the many gamers who has spent countless hours building empires, crushing barbarians, and getting annoyed at the enemy AI’s horrible diplomacy in Sid Meier’s turn-based Civilization strategy games, then it’s time to get a little excited: You’re going to be pulling a Richard Branson soon. Which is to say, you’re going to be heading off to space for “just one more turn.”


Off Topic (Sort of):

The road to the 60TB hard drive – Within the next six years, hard disk drives will go from 6TB of storage to 60TB. Here are the technological advancements that will make that possible.


Brace yourself, here comes the mobile appsplosion – Companies are engaged in a kind of arms race with competitors to see how many apps they can get everyone to use. But this aggressive push for more apps is going to end up giving users app fatigue.

Origami DNA robots intelligently control drug delivery in living animals – The lines between biology and engineering are blurring further every day. Mechanical implants can carry signals across gaps in severed nerves, while microorganisms push steadily into manufacturing and materials synthesis. Still, in a new study published this week, the use of the phrase “nano-robot” is a bit overzealous. What we have here is an exquisitely accurate way of targeting drugs within a living body, and a new model for control of injected material — but robots?

How to mitigate tracking risks: wrap your phone in tinfoil, quit Google – in new book, Julia Angwin wants to live a modern life while frustrating the NSA. When author Julia Angwin has to post a photo of herself online, she now prefers to use a stencil image of her face in order to avoid detection by facial recognition software. Welcome to her paranoid world of trying to frustrate increasingly sophisticated snoops.

Something to think about:

“In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.”

-     John Lilly

Today’s Free Downloads:

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


World of Warplanes – The main game mode in World of Warplanes organizes battles between two teams of 15 players who meet in air battle over a variety of locations. Victory can be achieved by destroying all the opposing planes or earning advantage points by eliminating the enemy’s ground targets. At the same time, both approaches to victory — teamwork and a player’s individual contribution — are important, because any pilot has the power to turn the tables in World of Warplanes. The period represented in the game is one of the most captivating and challenging in the history of aircraft engineering. One may start a piloting career with biplanes of the 1930s, move on to legendary WWII warplanes, and end up with jet fighters of the Korean War, predecessors of modern aircrafts.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA denies it knew about Heartbleed flaw – The U.S. National Security Agency, which has a cybersecurity mission in addition to surveillance, has disputed a report that it knew about the Heartbleed security vulnerability for at least two years before other researchers disclosed the flaw this month. The NSA used Heartbleed to gather intelligence, according to a report from Bloomberg, quoting two anonymous sources. Heartbleed is a flaw in OpenSSL that could allow attackers to monitor all information passed between a user and a Web service. But an NSA spokeswoman called the report incorrect. “NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private-sector cybersecurity report,” she said by email. “Reports that say otherwise are wrong.” At the same time that the NSA was accused of using Heartbleed to conduct surveillance, another agency was trumpeting its efforts to share information about the bug.

Obama reportedly lets NSA keep some security flaws secret – While President Obama has decided that the National Security Agency should reveal most major flaws it discovers in Internet security, a loophole exists that could allow the agency to exploit flaws for surveillance purposes, The New York Times reported Saturday. After a three-month review of recommendations made by a presidential task force on how to reform the agency, Obama decided that some flaws could kept secret in the event of “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” senior administration officials told the newspaper. While the president’s decision has never been publicly detailed, the exception came to light Friday when the White House denied a report that it knew of the Heartbleed bug for at least two years, keeping it secret to gather intelligence. The bug, which was introduced into OpenSSL more than two years ago by a developer, allows sensitive data to be scraped from affected servers. In its denial Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it learned of the vulnerability’s existence when it was made public in a cybersecurity report last week. The office also said the president’s review of the task force’s recommendations had led to “reinvigorated” process for deciding when to publicly disclose vulnerabilities. “Unless there is a clear national security or law enforcement need, this process is biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities,” the office said in a statement.

Sweden won’t enforce data retention law against ISP that deleted metadata – The Swedish authorities won’t take action against an ISP that erased all retained communications metadata, even though there is still a law in place compelling providers to retain such data, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) said Friday. Swedish ISP Bahnhof decided earlier this week to delete retained records and stop collecting data about its customers’ communications in the wake of a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). On Tuesday, the court invalidated the EU’s Data Retention Directive that requires telecommunications and Internet providers to retain their customer’s location and traffic data for investigatory purposes. It found that the directive seriously interferes with fundamental privacy rights. Sweden, like other EU member states, has transposed the directive into national law. As a result of the CJEU ruling, Bahnhof and other ISPs can stop collecting data and delete records without consequence because PTS stopped enforcing the law, a PTS spokesman said.

Turkey’s prime minister says he’ll pursue Twitter for ‘tax evasion’ – “Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are international companies established for profit and making money. Twitter is at the same time a tax evader. We will go after it,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, according to a report by news agency AFP. “These companies, like every international company, will abide by my country’s constitution, laws, and tax rules.” Twitter was banned by Erdogan’s government last month in a runup to elections, but the ban was later lifted after Turkey’s supreme court ruled that it interfered with free speech and individual rights. The court also ordered that a YouTube ban be lifted (with 15 videos to remain inaccessible), but so far the government hasn’t stopped blocking that site.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 11, 2014

Were Intelligence Agencies Using Heartbleed in November 2013?  Your Heartbleed bug fix in three steps;  5 tips for running Windows XP relatively safely;  Ten cool tablet accessories, most under $10;  10 common mistakes Android newbies make;  Protect your device from malicious ads;  Take a ride on CloudPages for Google Apps;  Breaches expose 552 million identities in 2013; Getting started with Carousel for Dropbox;  Google adding continuous rogue Android app scans;  Staples 3D printing launches in two stores;  R.B.I. Baseball 14 slides into App Store;  Titanfall update today: what you get and how to get it.

Your Heartbleed bug fix in three steps – This week there’s little question that the internet security world has been tossed down a flight of stairs. With Heartbleed, a relatively major bit of a mistake was made in OpenSSL, a form of security that most of the internet uses, resulting in a major open door for hackers and spies of all kinds. With this bug having only been discovered this week and implemented a whopping two years ago, IT professionals are notably miffed. (As per the usual, untrained talking heads (particularly on TV), have responded as if the sky is following. Yes, this is a serious issue – but, it’s hardly the first one – and, it won’t be the last one this year. The chances of you (a casual user), being directly impacted by this are so slim as to be almost non-existent. Nevertheless, follow the process described in this article. There’s no downside to being prudent.)

5 tips for running Windows XP relatively safely – Today Microsoft stops supporting the decade-old Windows XP operating system. If you can’t upgrade (or don’t want to), follow these tips to continue running the Windows XP with a little security.

10 common mistakes Android newbies make – If you’re just learning the Android ropes, you might get tangled up in a mistake or two. Here are 10 ways to avoid problems and get the maximum benefit from your Android device.

Pro tip: Use Malwarebytes to check app privacy – There’s a feature within Malwarebytes called the Privacy Manager, which will scan your device for apps that access your personal information and do an audit for security issues. It’s reliable and a must-have to keep in front of the ever-moving security curve. If you don’t already have Malwarebytes installed on your device, the process is simple.

Protect your device from malicious ads – The chances of encountering a malware-bearing ad on your phone or tablet are increasing. But blocking ads on mobile is neither easy nor very effective. Here’s a better approach to ad-blocking on your device.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Skype for Xbox One to get update next week, improves auto zoom and more – The official Skype blog states that the 1.3 version of the app will add some improvements to the camera auto zoom feature for video chats. The blog states, “We found ways to better identify people in the picture, especially when there are multiple people in the room. The camera can adjust and see the entire family, even the little ones.”

Getting started with Carousel for Dropbox – Dropbox released its Carousel photo app on Wednesday; it promises to be “a gallery for all the photos and videos from your life.” The app is available for iPhone and for Android. I took the Carousel iPhone app for a spin to show you how it works and what it can do.


Google Lets Anyone In The U.S. Become A Glass Explorer For $1,500 Starting April 15 – That’s right, as of next Tuesday, any American resident can grab a Google Glass unit for $1,500 plus applicable taxes, and these will ship with your favorite shade or Glass-specific frame included, too. The program opens its doors at 6 AM PT on Tuesday (9AM for you east coasters), and there are only limited spots available, so it’s probably going to be first-come, first-served.

Take a ride on CloudPages for Google Apps – CloudPages can add more options to your Google Apps environment such as single sign-on, password recovery and contact sharing features. Find out what it offers and how it came about.

FTC Says Facebook Will Need Permission From WhatsAppers To Use Their Data – Facebook will need the “affirmative consent” of WhatsApp users in order to use their data for advertising or anything. The ruling comes from Federal Trade Commission alongside its approval in US for Facebook to acquire WhatsApp. The $19 billion deal announced in February will still have to get past international regulators.

Chromecast gains Aereo: TV streamed to HDMI – Google’s Chromecast device caused quite a stir when it was first released, turning the television into a “show me anything” display overnight. With a $35 price tag and integration open to any developer wishing to integrate, this little device is in thousands of homes across the world. Today the team at Aereo have made clear their intent to leverage that group of users.

The pros and cons (mostly cons) of saving files to the desktop – As far back as I can remember, no version of Windows has ever, by default, saved data files (documents, spreadsheets, photos, and so on) to the desktop. And at least since XP, it has not been a particularly safe place to save them. But, because the desktop is always visible, some people just can’t resist temptation.


Check out this crazy dual-screen iPhone 6 concept – The latest concept features a superthin new iPhone with a second slide-out screen. Is it fantasy or prophecy?


Ten cool tablet accessories, most under $10 – These ten accessories meet both the useful and cheap criteria. When used with any tablet, they add benefit to the owner in different ways. Many of the accessories are from AmazonBasics. This is a store within a store, the huge Amazon online retail operation. The value is so great we searched through the store to find good accessories worth sharing. Take a look at the ten tablet accessories in this collection, and odds are you’ll find at least one you can use. It won’t cost you much to give it a try, anyway.

Why almost every PC could use a video card upgrade – There was a time when no PC could play a decent game unless it was outfitted with a discrete graphics processor. Today, most off-the-shelf desktop rigs—and nearly all notebook PCs—rely entirely on the CPU for video and graphics processing. And yet the market for discrete graphics continues to thrive. If you don’t give a flying joystick about playing AAA PC games, is a video card a worthwhile upgrade? Let’s compare the performance of integrated and discrete graphics processors to find out.


Breaches expose 552 million identities in 2013 – After lurking in the shadows for the first ten months of 2013, cybercriminals unleashed the most damaging series of cyberattacks in history. Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), Volume 19, shows a significant shift in cybercriminal behavior, revealing the bad guys are plotting for months before pulling off huge heists – instead of executing quick hits with smaller rewards.


Proposed law seeks to make retailers financially responsible for data breaches – When it comes to massive data breaches – such as the ones at Target and Neiman Marcus – in which millions of customers’ credit and debit card numbers were breached, who should foot the bill?

Google adding continuous rogue Android app scans – Google is updating Android to continuously check phones and tablets for rogue apps, picking out those with malware behavior even if they’ve managed to squeeze through the initial verification. The new feature, which builds on Android’s existing “Verify apps” system that sifts through software at the point of installation to flag up any concerns, will add real-time and ongoing checks.


Company News:

AMD launches low-cost, low-wattage AM1 chipset: Socketable all-in-one chip starts at $34, aims sights at budget Pentiums – New flavors of Athlon and Sempron promise top power draws of 25W and enough power to play modern games in 1080p. Roughly one month after its announcement, AMD’s AM1 chipset launched internationally today, promising an all-in-one desktop computing solution that combines CPU and GPU with low wattage, low cost, and (relatively) high performance. Today’s launch comes in four flavors, ranging from the $34, dual-core Sempron 2650 to the $59, quad-core Athlon 5350.

AMD working with Toshiba on AMD-branded SSD – AMD must count 2014 as one of its better years already, due in most part to the millions of PS4 and Xbox One consoles flying off store shelves. But its main business remains the components that go inside our PCs, and in particular processors and graphics cards. However, AMD isn’t a company to shy away from slapping its name on new products, and it looks like we are set to get an AMD-branded SSD soon.

Petition Demanding Removal Of Condoleezza Rice From Dropbox Board Pops Up Online, On Twitter – Internet activists are at it again. Following yesterday’s news regarding the appointment of Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, to the board of cloud storage and syncing service Dropbox, a petition has sprung up online, demanding that users tell Dropbox they’re opposed to this move, and threaten to leave the service if Rice isn’t removed from the board.

Amazon acquires comiXology, the future of Kindle comics is bright – One of the best ways to read legally obtained comics on mobile devices, comiXology, has just been acquired by Amazon, manufacturer of the Kindle, which is one of the best ways to read on mobile devices. ComiXology CEO David Steinberger posted an official letter announcing the acquisition, and he sees bright things in both companies’ future.

Mozilla responds to media speculation over board resignations – According to Mozilla’s blog, Brendan Eich was not forced to resign and did not step down out of employee pressure as well. Eich, who has been a founding member of Mozilla, decided to leave the company on his own to prevent any damage to the Foundation’s mission of a free and open web. Mozilla’s board members who resigned following Brendan’s appointment had planned to do so well before the CEO appointment, and the matter is said to be unrelated altogether. (Mozilla = Cowards)

Staples 3D printing launches in two stores – Staples has launched an in-store 3D printing service in two of its locations: New York and Los Angeles. With this, they aim to make 3D printing a service available to anyone who wants to have a product whipped up, and all the while helping get the 3D printing industry’s consumer-level ball rolling.

Games and Entertainment:

R.B.I. Baseball 14 slides into App Store – If you’re old enough to remember R.B.I. Baseball, the classic Nintendo game, you’re old enough to be excited by this news: R.B.I. Baseball has been rebooted for next-generation platforms, including PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and iOS. In particular, R.B.I. Baseball 14 for iOS revives the classic franchise for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It’s a fast-moving, arcade-style ballgame, but with the full weight of Major League Baseball behind it.


Microsoft reveals Age of Empires: World Domination for iOS, Android and Windows Phone – Microsoft is expanding its Age of Empires real time strategy game franchise to the mobile phone and tablet arena. Today, it was revealed that Age of Empires: World Domination will be released this summer for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Plans for such a game were first revealed in July 2013 but no other details were provided at that time. The game’s official website has now launched, along with a trailer that shows off some gameplay from the title.


Relive your XP nostalgia with Microsoft’s ‘Escape from Windows XP’ game – Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows XP support on Tuesday and the IE team has put together a fun little game called ‘Escape from Windows XP’ which is a small browser based shooter that, as you would expect, you try to escape Windows XP. You can check out the browser based game here and it should work with any modern browser. The game is a simple, arcade style, shooter where broken windows of IE6 make up the ‘ground’ that you play on while destroying various bits of XP nostalgia.


Watch Dogs NVIDIA trailer: delivering PC’s highest-level graphics – With Watch Dogs’ final release right around the corner, final graphics and gameplay videos are being released left and right. Today we’re to understand from a PC Games video (now pulled) that Ubisoft is suggesting the game will be full HD (1080p) on the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One has no such confirmation. Meanwhile, NVIDIA has stepped up with their optimizations video – always an interesting spot to watch when a new game has had top-level work done with the folks that make the graphics cards you might very well be using to play the game.


Titanfall update today: what you get and how to get it – Today the folks at Respawn Entertainment have let it be known that quite a few changes are coming to Titanfall for Xbox One, PC, and Xbox 360 builds. This update brings on Private Matches in Beta mode, Party Colors, Auto-Titan Color in Obituary, Menu Changes, Game Version notes on Main Menu, and a number of Game Balance Changes. One massive set of bug fixes are in the mix as well.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Video games may cause aggression based on difficulty, not violence – Violent video games are a popular scapegoat for aggressive behaviour — but it seems that violent content may not be the culprit after all. A new study suggests that, if a person acts aggressively after playing a game, the root cause is frustration over the game’s difficulty.

TinkerBots lets you build and train a toy robot – The pieces are designed to snap together with ease, and they’re capable of bringing creations much more complex than a wiggly dog to life. Not to take anything away from the dog — it’s a wonderfully example of how simple and yet powerful TinkerBots are. To train the dog to walk, you simply have to switch on the Power Brain’s recording mode and twist and turn the dog manually. Press play, and it repeats the motion you just programmed.


France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours – A new agreement between employer organizations and labor unions in France has made it illegal for French managers to contact their employees about work-related matters outside of normal business hours. The agreement [PDF], which amends an existing pact signed in 1999, specifies that employees must have “the opportunity to disconnect from remote communication tools at their disposal” (in the words of Google’s Francophone translating robots) to ensure that they comply with strict rules on working hours. That means French workers who receive emails or calls from coworkers or the boss at dinnertime can now safely ignore them without fear of retribution.

Largest volcanic eruption in human history changed the 19th century as much as Napoleon – Most have heard of the Battle of Waterloo, but who has heard of the volcano called Tambora? This extraordinary geological event took place 199 years ago this week, and on the cusp of its bicentenary Tambora is finally getting its due. With the help of modern scientific instruments and old-fashioned archival detective work, the Tambora 1815 eruption can be conclusively placed among the greatest environmental disasters ever to befall mankind. The floods, droughts, starvation, and disease in the three years following the eruption stem from the volcano’s effects on weather systems, so Tambora stands today as a harrowing case study of what the human costs and global reach might be from runaway climate change.

DATA Act, Which Would Make Government-Spending Data Available Online, Passes Senate – The Senate unanimously passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, today. The DATA Act is designed to help bring new transparency to spending by the federal government, by making spending data available to the public at USASpending.gov. The bill’s goal, to quote the Congressional Research Service’s (CRS) summary, is to “provide consistent, reliable, and searchable government-wide spending data.” That data will “improve the quality of data submitted to USASpending.gov by holding federal agencies accountable for the completeness and accuracy of the data submitted,” according to the CRS.

Turns out most people prefer to watch TV instead of tweet about it – Twitter and Facebook think they’re pretty important to TV viewers and have spent the last year or so fighting for a piece of advertisers’ budgets. But it turns out that most people aren’t paying attention to social media at all when they tune in to their favorite shows. But research shows that people are using Facebook to talk about the primetime show they’re watching 3.8 percent of the time, and even less on Twitter—just 1.8 percent of the time. Those numbers are higher for TV events like awards shows, which generate more watercooler discussion in general than normal shows, which rarely have moments like Ellen DeGeneres’s record-breaking selfie.

Something to think about:

“I wonder if there is going to be some backlash from the mainstream press and the public. If nothing really bad happens — if this turns out to be something like the Y2K bug — then we are going to face criticisms of crying wolf.”

-      Bruce Schneier  on  Heartbleed

Today’s Free Downloads:

Don’t Sleep – Don’t Sleep is a small portable program to prevent system shutdown, Standby, Hibernate, Turn Off and Restart. Especially when old Programs run on Windows-7 or Windows Vista. Here’s more aggressive power-saving features with new rules. But not only that, it also prevents logging off the computer, and the deactivation of the monitor or activation of the screen saver. Of course you can also manually disable all the options and then activate again, but with Don’t Sleep one can save now many hand moves and also save time! And it’s easier than ever. Apart from the fact Don’t Sleep has a timer that allows time control unblock, or shutdown the computer for a specified time. Don’t Sleep does not have to be installed and can be executed easily from the desktop, and can be carried on a small usb-stick or other memory device.


HTTrack Website Copier – HTTrack is a free (GPL, libre/free software) and easy-to-use offline browser utility. It allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Wild at Heart: Were Intelligence Agencies Using Heartbleed in November 2013? – Yesterday afternoon, Ars Technica published a story reporting two possible logs of Heartbleed attacks occurring in the wild, months before Monday’s public disclosure of the vulnerability. It would be very bad news if these stories were true, indicating that blackhats and/or intelligence agencies may have had a long period when they knew about the attack and could use it at their leisure. In response to the story, EFF called for further evidence of Heartbleed attacks in the wild prior to Monday. The first thing we learned was that the SeaCat report was a possible false positive; the pattern in their logs looks like it could be caused by ErrataSec’s masscan software, and indeed one of the source IPs was ErrataSec. The second log seems much more troubling. We have spoken to Ars Technica’s second source, Terrence Koeman, who reports finding some inbound packets, immediately following the setup and termination of a normal handshake, containing another Client Hello message followed by the TCP payload bytes 18 03 02 00 03 01 40 00 in ingress packet logs from November 2013. These bytes are a TLS Heartbeat with contradictory length fields, and are the same as those in the widely circulated proof-of-concept exploit. A lot of the narratives around Heartbleed have viewed this bug through a worst-case lens, supposing that it might have been used for some time, and that there might be tricks to obtain private keys somewhat reliably with it. At least the first half of that scenario is starting to look likely.

Australia: Facebook feud fires alarm over public service snoop plans – Federal government departments are using increasingly powerful cyber-snooping equipment to monitor the social media lives of millions of Australians. A dramatic public confrontation between the Immigration Department and a Sydney-based political activist over her Facebook page has resulted in accusations that mass surveillance is being used to keep tabs on political dissent. Other large government departments including Centrelink, Defence and Social Services have all conducted mass monitoring of social media activity. Centrelink’s parent agency, the Department of Human Services, even has its own software, which was developed by the CSIRO. A social media team of 10 public servants operates the software. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection hires private sector contractors who can monitor more than half-a-billion ”pieces” of social media each day on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Flickr. Immigration experimented several years ago with powerful software called Radian 6, which can provide surveillance across a range of social web platforms, but decided not to adopt it. The department’s key research contractor has told Fairfax that the monitoring currently undertaken for Immigration was about ”taking the temperature of society” and that no reputable research company would help government departments compile ”hit lists” of political opponents. (recommended by Mal C.)

US set to boycott Brazil’s anti-surveillance plans – A document released by WikiLeaks this week revealed that spying activities carried out by the United States will be condemned at Brazil’s upcoming global Internet governance event – but the proposals to change the current set-up will face strong opposition from the United States. The draft agreement for the NETmundial consists of 180 contributions from a multi-stakeholder committee and was due to be publicly released on April 14. The document outlines the key discussion themes – essentially the redefinition of the concept of Internet governance and principles such as rights to access information, freedom of association and expression, privacy, accessibility, diversity and development. NETmundial is a multistakeholder event created after the NSA spying scandal, which involved various nations including Brazil – and the impact that government-led surveillance is having on the privacy of Internet users and the infrastructure of the Web will be at the top of the agenda at the conference. “Mass and arbitrary surveillance undermines trust in the Internet and trust in the Internet Governance ecosystem,” says the NETmundial agreement.  “[Human] rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in accordance with international human rights law,” the document adds. Representatives from Brazil, France, Ghana, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey and the US have all agreed to participate of NETmundial. But WikiLeaks implied that this seemingly collaborative process was in fact a situation where the US “appears to have comprehensively thwarted Germany [and] Brazil in [the] internet governance plan, leaving only platitudes.”

Republicans Don’t Want America to Give Up Control of Web Addresses – House Republicans advanced legislation Thursday that they say will keep the Internet open and free from government censorship. Every Democrat on the panel considering the measure opposed it in service, they say, of the same goal. At issue is a question with profound implications for the future of global communications that delves into the deepest bowels of the Internet, and a version of the age-old question: Who guards the guards? “We can’t let the Internet turn into another Russian land grab,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), one of the bill’s co-sponsor’s, said in a statement announcing the so-called DOTCOM Act. “America shouldn’t surrender its leadership on the world stage to a ‘multistakeholder model’ that’s controlled by foreign governments.” The “domain name system” is sort of like the phone book for the Internet—it’s the tool your computer used to convert the URL “Time.com” into the unique code of numbers and letters that are the actual address for this website—and it has historically been owned by the United States but administered through the international nonprofit ICANN. The Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act (a name excruciatingly eked out of the DOTCOM Act acronym) would, if passed into law, prevent the Obama Administration from going through with its plan to permanently turn control of the Internet’s domain name system over to an international authority comprised of various Internet stakeholders. Under the DOTCOM Act, that handover would be delayed at least until the completion of a government study into the implications of such a move. After rejecting four Democratic amendments that would have weakened the bill, Republicans in a House subcommittee on technology advanced it to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. (Do these imbecilic political sociopaths not yet realize that the rest of the world will never again allow the U.S. to dominate the Internet as it has in the past? That, can’t come soon enough.) 


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 10, 2014

Heartbleed test extension keeps hacker bug at bay;  Facebook Is Forcing All Users To Download Messenger;  Come to Oz for sun, surf, ratting on co-workers and surveillance;  Get 50GB of iDrive Android cloud storage for 99 cents;  LastPass checks sites for ‘Heartbleed’ automatically; Showdown follow-up: Evernote vs. OneNote;  Google Voice: A cheapskate’s guide to cheap VoIP;  WordPress releases important security update;  Canada halts online tax returns in wake of Heartbleed;  Facebook faces class action suit in Canada;  1 in 4 Americans Apparently Unaware the Earth Orbits the Sun;  Before everyone loved Windows XP, they hated it;  Why XP Users Should Consider Zorin OS!

Heartbleed test extension keeps hacker bug at bay – Supposing you’re aware of the Heartbleed bug – which has been patched in many locations around the web already – you know that it’s a massive deal in the internet security universe. It’s left massive portions of the web open for hacking for two whole years, and it’s only being patched by most of the web this week. As luck would have it, there’s something you can do on your end this week as well to keep safe as an average web user. With the Chromebleed extension for Google’s Chrome web browser, you’ll be able to roll out with near-instant checks of every site you’re on. If the site is vulnerable to Heartbleed, you’ll get a Chrome notification.

Google Chrome now remembers the passwords your bank doesn’t want it to – Google Chrome 34 arrived on the Stable Channel yesterday, and it brought with it the usual security patches and stability tweaks as well as a few new features. Among them: the password manager will now store passwords for sites that normally block that from happening (like your bank’s or credit card company’s). Typically, sites like banks will disable built-in password managers by adding the autocomplete=off parameter to the password input field. They consider it a security risk to store credentials for their services, which may be true in some cases. (TRUE in EVERY case – not SOME cases!!)

Facebook Is Forcing All Users To Download Messenger By Ripping Chat Out Of Its Main Apps – Facebook is taking its standalone app strategy to a new extreme today. It’s starting to notify users they’ll no longer have the option to send and receive messages in Facebook for iOS and Android, and will instead have to download Facebook Messenger to chat on mobile.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Why XP Users Should Consider Zorin OS! – Zorin OS comes in both free and premium editions. The free edition is well and truly adequate for most users needs and is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, I downloaded the 32-bit version which consists of a 1.5 GB ISO. In order to replicate the hardware environment many XP users might be dealing with, I chose to install Zorin OS on my old Dell Pentium 4 machine (1 GB RAM) running XP, and immediately ran into a minor problem – the old Dell’s ROM drive would not recognize the Zorin OS installation DVD. Fortunately, BIOS included a boot from USB option so I used an excellent freeware called ‘Rufus’ to create a bootable USB flash drive, and that worked perfectly. I mention this because it’s likely that a similar scenario may present itself for those installing Zorin on older machines. Rufus is portable, no installation required, and is both quick and easy to use.


Six Clicks: iOS 7 tips and tricks – Here are six tips and tricks that will help you be more productive when using your iPad and iPhone, whether you use it for work or play.

Get 50GB of iDrive Android cloud storage for 99 cents – That’s not 99 cents per day or even per month — that’s 99 cents for an entire year. And every year after that.

Dropbox Mailbox for Android and desktop revealed – Dropbox has announced Mailbox for Android and desktop, bringing its email client over from iOS, in addition to revealing Microsoft Office integration with Project Harmony. The new Mailbox app – which will be released for Android as a free app later today, though is not quite ready for desktop use – will also introduce some new features, such as synchronization across devices thanks to now requiring a Dropbox account to log in.

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Update videos help you discover all the new features – Microsoft has released four new videos that offer people information on what’s included in the just released Windows 8.1 Update, including the changes made to the desktop user interface.


Google is testing new UI and features for Google Calendar – Much in the same way that Google is currently testing features out for Gmail, we are now seeing updated UI and new features for the Google Calendar Android app. The biggest thing you’ll notice from this new version of Google Calendar is the total visual overhaul. This new design is entirely minimal, replacing grids and hard lines with blocks of flat color everywhere in order to offer a cleaner, softer UI with very simple mechanics. Using the app is just as pleasing as looking at it, with visual flourishes that couldn’t be captured in screenshots.


LastPass checks sites for ‘Heartbleed’ automatically – The Security Check lets you know if the site certificate has been updated and then provides a link to a site to help you update your password for the site. It will also indicate if you should wait before updating your password, or if a site and your password are not at risk. You can run the check in three ways. It works from your desktop browser either by tapping the service’s add-ons Tools option and choosing Security Check, or logging in via the Web site and choosing Security Check from the left column. It’s also available on the LastPass mobile app’s options menus.


Hands-On Video Of Carousel, Dropbox’s Replacement For Your Camera Roll – We take more photos than we know what to do with, and that crummy camera roll that came with your phone can’t handle them. That’s why Dropbox built Carousel for iOS and Android — to make managing your photos simple, just like it did with file storage. Lightning quick with automatic backup and an innovative chat feature, Carousel puts a lifetime of photos at your finger tips.


XOEye smartglasses could be the all-work, no-play wearable that people actually use – Conceived in Nashville and destined for the factory floor, the XOEye XOnes aim to bring blue-collar productivity to the face computer space.


Showdown follow-up: Evernote vs. OneNote – In part two of the Evernote vs. OneNote comparison, Patrick Gray focuses on the usability difference between the applications.

Gamify your apps to increase user interaction and build loyalty – Starbucks and American Airlines apply game mechanics and rewards systems to their non-game apps to engage users. Read these gamification basics so you can start building “sticky” apps.

You can drive, you just can’t have any fun: Ford MyKey curbs teen drivers – Introduced in the 2009 Ford Taurus but now widely available in Ford and Lincoln models, MyKey comes with some basic boundaries already set. The vehicle won’t go over 80 MPH, it shows speed warnings, and—in a true coup d’état for any parent—it disables the radio until the teen driver buckles up. The truck limits the radio volume to 45% to help teens listen for traffic cues. MyKey even disables adult radio stations on satellite radio and warns drivers about low fuel earlier.

Google Voice: A cheapskate’s guide to cheap VoIP – Here’s how you can make and receive Google Voice phone calls from any old wired phone you may have lying around your house. The only problem is that this might not be your best solution. That’s coming in a later article.

60 Movies, TV Shows on Amazon Every Geek Should Watch – Amazon Instant Video just doesn’t get the same recognition that Netflix does. There’s a couple reasons for that. One is that Netflix has amazing original programming like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. But there’s also the fact that Amazon’s unlimited streaming offering for $99 a year Amazon Prime members has a more limited catalog of films and shows. But limited is all in how you look at it.


Heartbleed: Anatomy of OpenSSL’s password, crypto-key leaking bug – The OpenSSL bug dubbed Heartbleed is so bad, switching off the internet for a while sounds like a fantastic idea. A tiny flaw in the widely used encryption library allows anyone to trivially and secretly dip into vulnerable systems, from your bank’s HTTPS server to your private VPN, to steal passwords, login cookies, private crypto-keys and much more. How, in 2014, is this possible?

Checkout this tool by Filippo Valsorda – You’ll note that this site (as per the graphic below), is unaffected by Heartbleed.


Google Services Updated to Address OpenSSL CVE-2014-0160 (the Heartbleed bug) – You may have heard of “Heartbleed,” a flaw in OpenSSL that could allow the theft of data normally protected by SSL/TLS encryption. We’ve assessed this vulnerability and applied patches to key Google services such as Search, Gmail, YouTube, Wallet, Play, Apps, and App Engine.  Google Chrome and Chrome OS are not affected. We are still working to patch some other Google services. We regularly and proactively look for vulnerabilities like this — and encourage others to report them — so that that we can fix software flaws before they are exploited.

WordPress releases important security update – WordPress 3.8.2 is now available. This is an important security release for all previous versions and you should update immediately. This releases fixes a weakness that could let an attacker force their way into your site by forging authentication cookies. This was discovered and fixed by Jon Cave of the WordPress security team. The new release also contains a fix to prevent a user with the Contributor role from improperly publishing posts. This release also fixes nine bugs and contains three other security hardening changes.

56% of employees still receive no security awareness training – A new research survey by EMA takes you inside today’s organizations to reveal how employee decisions related to information security can significantly increase organizational risk. The report examines the implementation of security awareness training in government, public and private companies and non-profit groups.

According to employee responses in the survey report:

    30% leave mobile devices unattended in their vehicle

33% use the same password for both work and personal devices

35% have clicked on a link in an email from an unknown sender

58% have sensitive information on their mobile devices

59% store work information in the cloud.

Canada halts online tax returns in wake of Heartbleed – Canada Revenue Agency has halted online filing of tax returns by the country’s citizens following the disclosure of the Heartbleed security vulnerability that rocked the Internet this week. The agency has suspended public access to its online services as a preventive measure to protect the information it holds, while it investigates the potential impact on tax payer information, it said. It reiterated the Minister’s decision in a statement about the Heartbleed bug on its homepage.

Company News:

Facebook faces class action suit in Canada over interception of private messages – The lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court alleges that URLs (uniform resource locators) in the private messages were “harvested” by Facebook in violation of its users’ privacy, without their knowledge or consent, Rochon Genova, the law firm representing the users, said Wednesday. Facebook did not disclose to users that their private messages would be intercepted and scanned, and the contents of those messages treated as “likes” for third-party sites through the social plug-in function, according to the law firm. The social networking company was not immediately available for comment.

HP to pay $108 million for overseas bribery and corruption – An international subsidiary of HP has agreed to plead guilty to violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and admit to its role in bribing Russian officials to secure a big contract there, the U.S. Department of Justice said. The U.S. is also entering into “criminal resolutions” with HP subsidiaries in Poland and Mexico, relating to contracts with Poland’s national police agency and Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company, the DOJ said. The HP entities will pay a total of $77 million in criminal penalties and forfeiture related to those dealings. HP has also reached a deal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that will cost it a further $31 million.

Dropbox for Business exits beta as storage vendor sets sights on workplaces – With its Business version, Dropbox is stepping into a highly competitive market where rivals include Box, Google, Microsoft, IBM, YouSendIt, Citrix, Accellion, Egnyte and WatchDox. Dropbox has about 275 million users of its consumer-oriented product who save about 1 billion files to the service every day. About 100,000 third-party applications have been built for the Dropbox service.

Dropbox grows leadership team with Condoleezza Rice – At first glance, it seems like an unusual choice. But the cloud storage service is trying to grow its international presence, which is something a former US Secretary of State should know how to do.

McAfee outlines its plan to secure the Internet of Things – The Intel Security subsidiary said that to ensure the foundation of IoT security, IP-connected devices must be designed with protection standards built into the devices, and not as an afterthought.

Intel to eliminate 1,500 jobs in restructuring push – As assembly and testing moves towards Asia, Intel is closing facilities in Costa Rica, resulting in the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Games and Entertainment:

Critics Call Comcast’s Time Warner Cable Deal ‘Unthinkable’ – Comcast’s proposed $45 buyout of Time Warner Cable is “unthinkable,” a coalition of more than 50 public interest groups wrote in a letter to U.S. regulators on Tuesday. The merger, which would combine the two largest cable companies in the country, would harm competition while offering no “tangible benefits” to consumers, according to the groups, which urged regulators to block the deal because it would give Comcast too much market power.

Humble Bundle for PC and Android 9 Now Includes 9 Awesome Games for One Low Price – The Humble Bundle is known to be the best deal in gaming, but the current Humble Bundle 9 for PC and Android takes it to a whole new level. The final few games have been revealed for this deal, bringing the total to nine. You can get all of them for just a few bucks on all available platforms, potentially saving a boatload of cash and doing some good in the process.


This War Of Mine turns war survivors tales into game design – The teaser video for This War Of Mine begins with soldiers running through an urban landscape. It’s a deliberate misdirection. This is a game about war, but not about soldiers. It’s not about fighting a war; it’s about surviving one—as a civilian.


How to get Hearthstone on the iPad right now – Blizzard’s wildly popular digital CCG Hearthstone finally released on the iPad last week, but it unfortunately only landed in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The global release is a slow rollout rather than an instant launch, and Blizzard has stated that the official North American app will be released SoonTM. If you can’t wait, though, you can still grab the app and begin playing in the bathroom or during your commute right now — you just need to follow a few simple steps.

Bethesda’s The Evil Within Gameplay trailer terrifies – The following presentation is not for children. It’s not for the especially faint of heart, either. Tango Gameworks and Bethesda Softworks present The Evil Within in an early gameplay trailer for PAX East weekend, showing off their vision for a horror game like no other.


Game developer: Xbox One performance matching PS4 “physically impossible” – Late last month, a discussion with Oddworld Inhabitants’ co-founder Lorne Lanning was posted over at Xbox Achievements, where it was said he believed the performance difference between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 was closing. As it turns out, his statements were misinterpreted.

The Last of Us Remastered official for PS4 this summer – After seeing a teaser of this title this morning, it’s been made official: The Last of Us Remastered is coming to PlayStation 4. This game was a massive title last year, winning awards aplenty and scoring quite a few positive reviews while it was at it. Now Sony has made clear that they intend to bring it back to the future with a Remastered edition this summer, only on PlayStation 4.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Stanford project turns Xbox 360 controller into human sensor – A project at Stanford University has team members modifing an Xbox 360 controller so that it can monitor human vital signs like heart rate, blood flow and more, which could be used in future games.


1 in 4 Americans Apparently Unaware the Earth Orbits the Sun – Yes, 1 in 4. In other words, a quarter of Americans do not understand one of the most fundamental principles of basic science. So that’s where we are as a society right now. The survey, conducted by the National Science Foundation, included more than 2,200 participants in the U.S., AFP reports. It featured a nine-question quiz about physical and biological science and the average score was a 6.5. And the fact that only 74 percent of participants knew that the Earth revolved around the sun is perhaps less alarming than the fact that only 48 percent knew that humans evolved from earlier species of animals. Here’s the thing, though: Americans actually fared better than Europeans who took similar quizzes — at least when it came to the sun and Earth question. Only 66 percent of European Union residents answered that one correctly.

Memory lane: before everyone loved Windows XP, they hated it – It wasn’t meant to be this way. Windows XP, now no longer supported, wasn’t meant to be popular. For all its popularity and sustained usage, people seem to have forgotten something important about it: it sucked.

Cortana gives Siri some attitude in parody clip from Arsenio Hall Show – Microsoft’s announcement of its Cortana voice command digital assistant in Windows Phone 8.1 did not go unnoticed by the media. This week, the U.S. late night talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show decided to pit a fictional version of Cortana up against Apple’s iOS assistant Siri. As you can see from the clip (which has a few elements that may be considered NSFW), Hall tries to compare how the two virtual assistant work with similar requests. It would appear that Hall’s version of Cortana has a bit more attitude than the more polite Siri as she proceeds to make fun of the Los Angeles Lakers, going out for grilled cheese sandwiches instead of making them at home, and more.

Land Rover Transparent Bonnet concept lets you see what’s under the car – Land Rover has unveiled a new concept system that makes the hood of the car see through so that the driver can see what is under the car and out of their line of sight. The tech is called the Transparent Bonnet concept and provides a full view of what is under and in front of the car, so drivers can see hidden obstacles. Land Rover says that the transparent bonnet system is part of a suite of concept tech being showcased in the Discovery Vision Concept car at the New York International Motor Show.


Something to think about:

“Worry is a misuse of imagination.”

-    Dan Zadra

Today’s Free Downloads:

WifiInfoView – WifiInfoView scans the wireless networks in your area and displays extensive information about them, including: Network Name (SSID), MAC Address, PHY Type (802.11g or 802.11n), RSSI, Signal Quality, Frequency, Channel Number, Maximum Speed, Company Name, Router Model and Router Name (Only for routers that provides this information), and more. When you select a wireless network in the upper pane of this tool, the lower pane displays the Wi-Fi information elements received from this device, in hexadecimal format. WifiInfoView also has a summary mode, which displays a summary of all detected wireless networks, grouped by channel number, company that manufactured the router, PHY type, or the maximum speed.


NetHotfixScanner – Network Hotfix Scanner is a free advanced hotfix check utility that scans network computers for missing hotfixes and patches, and helps you download and install them. NetHotfixScanner gives you a quick look at the hotfixes and patches installed or missed on any remote computer in your corporate network, it tells you by colored icons specific security bulletin rating ( critical, important, moderate ), title, description and bulletin URL. The tool is designed with a user-friendly interface and is easy to use.


Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows – Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple. Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.


BMW M3 Challenge – Start the ignition to see just what the V8 high-rev engine is capable of. Shift up through the gears to propel the BMW M3 Coupé forwards as it constantly pushes the boundaries of driving pleasure even further. Brake as you approach the first bend but keep your steering tight, you don’t want to lose your advantage. Think you could have performed better? Then try again. Thanks to the BMW M3 Challenge, the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit is all yours. Configure your BMW M3 Coupé using original paint finishes and enjoy the powerful sound of the engine at 8,300 rpm – until you have to brake again that is.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Come to Oz for sun, surf, ratting on co-workers and surveillance: Government workers prohibited from tweeting about their jobs as A-G labels Snowden ‘traitor’ – Australia’s deserved reputation as a nation whose government likes to pry into almost everything online has “improved” thanks to two new incidents. The first event saw Australia’s government promulgate and then retrospectively made secret new social media rules for Australian Government employees. The rules, allegedly published here by Fairfax media, include a guideline that government employees social media activity must not be “so harsh or extreme in their criticism of the Government, Government policies, a member of parliament from another political party, or their respective policies, that they could raise questions about the employee’s capacity to work professionally, efficiently or impartially”. There’s also this nasty rat-out-your-colleagues provision:”If an employee becomes aware of another employee who is engaging in conduct that may breach this policy there is an expectation that the employee will report the conduct to the Department. This means that if you receive or become aware of a social media communication by another PM&C employee that is not consistent with this policy, you should advise that person accordingly and inform your supervisor.” Even better, the policy also catches any comment that might “compromise public confidence in the agency or the APS”. The policy not only makes it a career-ending move to make Facebook or Twitter posts that criticise the government, in particular ministers, even anonymously: it also encourages staff to “dob in a mate”, “d0xing” (outing) workmates that use anonymous accounts to criticise the government. (Looks as if Australia has been taken over by fascists.  Is it time to revolt and take it into the streets?) 

Supreme Court weighing when online speech becomes illegal threat – The Supreme Court is being asked to decide that unanswered question as prosecutions for online rants, from Facebook to YouTube, are becoming commonplace. Authorities are routinely applying an old-world 1932 statute concerning extortion to today’s online world, where words don’t always mean what they seem. The latest case involving the legal parameters of online speech before the justices concerns a Pennsylvania man sentenced to 50 months in prison after being convicted on four counts of the interstate communication of threats. Defendant Anthony Elonis’ 2010 Facebook rant concerned attacks on an elementary school, his estranged wife, and even law enforcement.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 9, 2014

Heartbleed bug: how to avoid this massive web hack;  Windows 8.1 Update 1 released;  Sticking with Windows XP can be a smart move;  Science says using social media makes you depressed;  Facebook Admits Users Are Confused About Privacy;  How to run Windows XP in a virtual machine;  ‘Sesame Street’ launches own video-on-demand service;  Save ink when you print a Web page;  Best tips to remove smudges and stains from a monitor or HDTV;  Teens still tiring of Facebook, prefer Instagram;  Netflix Is Now Streaming In 4K;  Dumb things IT people say;  Wolfenstein gameplay trailer;  The Walking Dead game series hits Google Play;  Snowden to NSA: Go ahead, deny I tried to raise the alarm legally.

What Is Heartbleed? The Video – You’ve probably heard about Heartbleed. You’ve probably been told that, as far as security vulnerabilities go on the Internet, it’s pretty damned scary. But what is Heartbleed? How does it work? Why is it something that you should care about? This Khan Academy-style video tries to break it all down.

Heartbleed bug: how to avoid this massive web hack – Since a fix was released yesterday, a bug has been crawling around the internet for a staggering two years. Introduced to glom on to the system known as OpenSSL back in December of 2011 and in the wild since Open SSL v1.0.1, this bug has been on the web since the 14th of March, 2012. But why was it only made apparent this week, and what can you do?

Heartbleed bug affects Yahoo, OKCupid sites; users face losing passwordsUPDATE 3: Because of a major bug in OpenSSL, Yahoo users are advised not to log in to their email and instant messaging accounts, and other services until the bug is fixed.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 released, now available for download – Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 update 1 on Windows update which brings new features for mouse and keyboard users to the Windows 8 platform including app pinning and new context menus.

Microsoft requires migration to Windows 8.1 Update within 5 weeks – Computerworld – Microsoft yesterday confirmed that Windows 8.1 users must upgrade to Windows 8.1 Update, the refresh that begins rolling out to customers today. “Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with updates released in May 2014,” said Michael Hildebrand of Microsoft in a Monday blog.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to run Windows XP in a virtual machine – With virtualization, you can run a whole Windows XP desktop inside a window on your Windows 7, 8 or Vista PC. Any Windows XP software you have should run in the virtual machine, and because the virtual computer can’t make changes to your real computer’s hard drive, you won’t have to worry about end-of-support security issues. If you have legacy software you need to run, or just want to run a virtual Windows XP PC, read on—we’ll show you how you can get a virtual machine set up in under 15 minutes.


Forget the XPocalypse: Sticking with Windows XP can be a smart move – When Microsoft ends support for XP, it will no longer issue security updates for the operating system. XP users will be on their own, and be potentially vulnerable to a variety of dangers, particularly zero-day threats. But die-hard owners of XP machines don’t seem particularly concerned. Many of them might not know they’re about to be vulnerable. But as PC World’s Ian Paul reports, many of them are tech-savvy users who know the potential hazards, and believe they have good reasons not to switch.

‘Sesame Street’ launches own video-on-demand service – Parents looking to show their preschooler how to get to “Sesame Street” any time they want now have a new avenue to Bert, Ernie, and Elmo. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the classic children’s program, on Tuesday launched a new video subscription service called Sesame Go that offers on-demand access to hundreds of full-length episodes of “Sesame Street.” The service, powered by the open-source video technology firm Kaltura, will cost $3.99 a month or $29.99 year for ad-free access from the Web or mobile devices.


Save ink when you print a Web page – The free PrintFriendly.com service and HP’s free Smart Print extension for Internet Explorer (which works with any model printer) make it easy to select only the portions of the page you want to print. Also, switching to a lighter font could cut your printing costs by a fifth or more.

The camera adds 15 pounds, but this app subtracts it – SkinneePix does what every person who has an online dating profile desires: makes you look better. You may feel like the end result is dishonest, but if the camera is adding 15 pounds because of lighting even though you eat well and regularly exercise, that’s not exactly fair either. SkinneePix aims to even the playing field through the use of what appears to be filters that target the face, as the edits don’t seem to affect the body.

Science says using social media makes you depressed – Instead of going out on Friday after work, you’ve been going to the gym and going home early. Your coworkers invite you out for a drink, but it’s on a Wednesday and you use the weeknight as an excuse to bail even though the same reasoning would apply to the very people who invited you out. You’re kind of a drag lately, but nothing is really wrong — you’re just down for some unexplainable reason. A new scientific study suggests that social media may be the cause of your slump.

Survey finds teens still tiring of Facebook, prefer Instagram – Internet analysts at Piper Jaffray have both good news and bad news for the world’s largest social network: Teens continue to lose interest in Facebook but are showing an increasing appetite for Instagram, a Facebook property. The mixed-bag news comes from the investment bank and asset management firm’s semi-annual survey of upper-income and average-income teens in the US. Piper Jaffray’s spring 2014 report Taking Stock With Teens, published Tuesday, surveyed around 5,000 teens, and includes findings spanning fashion, video games, Apple products, and social networks.

Skype for Windows 8.1 updated, adds a few new features – Microsoft has released version 2.7 of its Skype app for Windows 8.1, which allows users to stay invisible to their contacts but still receive any messages directed at them, among other additions.

Facebook Admits Users Are Confused About Privacy, Will Show More On-Screen Explanations – Facebook today offered reporters a deep dive on how it handles privacy and previewed some upcoming changes. The company revealed it does 80 trillion privacy checks per day on the backend to make sure data isn’t wrongly exposed. It runs 4000 surveys about privacy per day which pushed it to now begin displaying on-screen descriptions of how privacy controls work, including for status update audience selectors and resharing.

More Internet Domains Set to Go Live This Month – After launching its first wave of new domains earlier this year, generic top-level domain (gTLDs) registry Donuts on Tuesday announced plans to roll out 17 new domain names this month, including .bargains, .cheap, .coffee, .holiday, .zone, and .cool. This means that anyone will be able to soon register website names on these domains – like PCMagis.cool or danger.zone, for instance.

Three power user menu options every Windows 8.1 user should know – Windows 8.1 already has a Start menu of sorts buried under a right-click on the Start button in the lower left corner. Commonly known as the power user menu, this menu is a popular option to quickly shut down a PC since it’s much simpler than clicking on the Settings charm. There’s more to the power user menu than just turning off your computer, however. Here are three features from the power user menu that every Windows 8.1 user should know about.

The best tips to remove smudges and stains from a PC monitor or an HDTV – Even if you don’t have snot-nosed kids or wet-nosed pets, your computer monitor or HDTV panel will eventually accumulate a collection of annoying smudges and stains. My household happens to contain both of the aforementioned creatures and, thus, I’ve developed a method for wiping down the HDTV in the living room and the LCD monitor in my office, as well as the screen of my laptop and iPad.



OpenSSL Heartbeat (Heartbleed) Vulnerability (CVE-2014-0160) and its High-Level Mechanics – The vulnerability occurs in what is known as the heartbeat extension to the SSL / TLS protocol, and it specifically impacts version 1.0.1 and beta versions of 1.0.2 of OpenSSL. Even though OpenSSL is just one implementation of the SSL / TLS protocol, it is the most widely deployed implementation. In this SOC Talk, Elastica’s CTO Dr. Zulfikar Ramzan walks through the mechanics of the flaw (at a high level), how an attacker can exploit it, and its underlying ramifications. It is important to stress that the flaw is not inherent to the SSL / TLS protocol itself, but rather to the specific OpenSSL implementation.

Adobe issues Flash security update – A fix for Flash Player addresses four security problems. Windows, Mac and Linux users are all vulnerable.

Not your father’s spam: Trojan slingers attach badness to attachment WITHIN attachment – Cybercrooks are upping the ante by loading malware as an attachment inside another attachment in a bid to slip past security defences. A new variant of the Upatre Trojan comes bundled in spammed messages that imitate emails from known banks such as Lloyds Bank and Wells Fargo. The .MSG file of the malicious emails contains another .MSG file attached with an attached “ZIP” file. The ZIP files poses as a password-protected archive containing a “secure message” from the intended victim’s bank while in reality containing a variant of the Upatre Trojan.

Office, IE, Flash fixes accompany Windows XP’s final Patch Tuesday – The April edition of the monthly security update contains four bulletins that address a total of 11 vulnerabilities in various Microsoft products. Two of the bulletins have been rated by the company as critical fixes, while the other two are classified as important updates. The critical fixes include a cumulative security update for Internet Explorer versions 6 to 11 on Windows XP through Windows 8.1 and RT. The update, which is considered a critical fix for all non-server versions of Windows, addresses six flaws that would allow for remote code execution on a targeted system.

How a website flaw turned 22,000 visitors into a botnet of DDoS zombies – The attack worked by exploiting a Web application vulnerability on one of the biggest and most popular video sites on the Web, according to a blog post published recently by researchers at security firm Incapsula, which declined to identify the site by name. Malicious JavaScript embedded inside the image icons of accounts created by the attackers caused anyone viewing the users’ posts to run attack code that instructed their browser to send one Web request per second to the DoS victim. In all, the technique caused 22,000 ordinary Web users to unwittingly flood the target with 20 million GET requests.

As Microsoft Support for XP Expires, Antivirus Vendors Pick Up The Slack – As you might be aware Microsoft support for Windows XP expires today, which means that the company will stop issuing security patches. Around 30 percent of you have ignored all warnings up until now and you’re still using it. Stubborn bunch, aren’t you? Cybercriminals use sophisticated PowerShell-based malware – Two separate threats that use malicious Windows PowerShell scripts were identified in the past few weeks by malware researchers.

Company News:

Apple: Samsung should pay us $2.191B for infringement – An expert hired by Apple says he reached the amount based on the scale, time span, rivalry between the companies, and belief the patents covered technologies that helped Samsung gain users.

Facebook’s India User Base Crosses 100M, Set To Become Its Biggest Market – India is inching closer to overtake the U.S. as Facebook’s biggest market, at least in terms of the number of active users. With over 100 million users as of March 31, India is now the only country where Facebook can aspire to have 1 billion users, thanks to a growing base of Internet users (currently around 200 million) and increasing proportion of mobile phone subscribers in its over 1.23 billion population.

Google uses Windows XP’s end of support to push Chromebooks to corporations – In a post on its Enterprise blog, Google stated that from now until June 30th, companies that contact Chromebooks for Business sales will get $100 for each managed device that is bought by the customer. Google is also offering $200 off the recently launched VMware Desktop as a Service, which will allow businesses to access Windows apps remotely on Chromebooks.

Microsoft gets clearance from Chinese authorities to purchase Nokia’s devices division – Nokia has just announced that it has received clearance from Chinese authorities to sell its devices business unit to Microsoft and is moving closer to completion of the deal

JP Morgan makes $63 billion case for Apple laptop-tablet hybrid – The “A8″ processor could drive Apple into a new multibillion market as the chip achieves performance on par with Intel processors powering the MacBook Air, says JP Morgan.

Selected Press Releases:

MediaFire Announces 1 TB of Storage for 2.50 a Month, New Android and iPad Apps on the Way – Today, MediaFire is looking to provide a better, safer, and more affordable alternative to these companies, with the launch of our new consumer cloud storage plan, which gives users one terabyte of cloud storage for only five dollars a month. As an added bonus, for a limited time, MediaFire is offering half off all storage plans, enabling new users to sign up for just two dollars and fifty cents per month! More.

ai.type’s New Keyboard App Enhances Typing Experience for Android Users When They Need it Most – Fresh off a very successful Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ai.type has officially released version 2.0 of their Android keyboard to the public. The new keyboard employs Crowdsourced Predictive Text; so that it actually ‘learns’ what to type based on prior usage and recognised industry verbiage. More.

Games and Entertainment:

The Walking Dead game series hits Google Play – The Walking Dead game series, which is split into multiple episodes that comprise a series, have finally hit the Google Play Store, expanding their audience to Android users. The game is available for free, and joins the versions already available for those on other systems.


Super Smash Bros. coming to 3DS “summer 2014,” Wii U in “winter” – Adding some much-needed fuel to the waning Nintendo Wii U fire, Super Smash Bros. game director Masahiro Sakurai took to Nintendo’s YouTube channel today to announce release windows for the fighting series’ next two entries. The boringly named pair of games, Super Smash Bros. For 3DS and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, will launch “this summer” and “this upcoming winter,” respectively. Both titles will include the exact same characters and move sets, Sakurai promised, but the game’s wild, constantly mutating stages will differ between the platforms. The two versions will link up in various ways, “but I will tell you about those on a later date,” Sakurai said.


Netflix Is Now Streaming In 4K – 4K TV is here. Sort of. Netflix is now streaming the second season of House of Cards and some nature documentaries in 4K/Ultra HD format. But of course, your TV has to support the higher resolution to take advantage of the extra pixel count. Programs available for viewing in 4K will appear with the Ultra HD 4K label. Netflix confirmed to Multichannel News that the company is now streaming some titles in the higher resolution. Currently, Netflix is limiting 4k streaming to only TVs with Netflix and HEVC/H.265 decoding capabilities built in.

Wolfenstein gameplay trailer: Nowhere to Run and lots of guns – Today we see another release from the teams responsible for presenting the 2014 release of Wolfenstein – a new vision of the original first-person-shooter Nazi-killer. Bethesda Softworks have some high-fidelity graphic designers and advertising magicians on their side, that much is certain. Here you’re going red and white once again, dancing to Die Partei Damen (the party girls) mix of Nowhere to Run while you see a massacre.


AMD reveals dual GPU Radeon R9 295X2 card, liquid cooling system included – AMD has announced its new super high end graphic card, the Radeon R9 295X2, with two Radeon GPUs and a built in liquid cooling system. It goes on sale for $1,499 later this month.


Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut now playing on Xbox One and PS4 – Strike Suit Zero, a popular space flight combat game that formed a successful Kickstarter project before landing on Steam, has now made its way to Xbox One and PS4. So if you’re a fan of space robots and flight combat you may want to get your wallets ready, especially as this is the Director’s Cut of the game.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Dumb things IT people say – My job gives me the good fortune to interact with a lot of different people at many companies across every industry. It’s one of the best parts of the job, but it also gives me the opportunity to hear the crazy things we in IT say.

Gay marriage foes outraged at Mozilla CEO flap, call for boycott – The National Organization for Marriage, a pressure group that was first formed to support the passage of Proposition 8, called for a boycott of Firefox on Friday over what it says was a targeted attack by gay rights activists. “This is a McCarthyesque witch hunt that makes the term ‘thought police’ seem modest,” NOM president Brian Brown said in a statement. “We urge all consumers to remove Mozilla’s Firefox web browser from their computers as a sign of protest.” Similarly, conservative website TruthRevolt.org has called upon its readers to uninstall the open source browser in protest of what it describes as “Mozilla’s decision to fire Eich.”

Shareholders slam Facebook over ‘incongruent’ PAC contributions on gay rights, online piracy – Facebook shareholders are taking the company to task for political contributions to politicians whose positions on issues such as gay rights and online piracy counter Facebook’s. The contributions do not agree with Facebook’s public statements on issues including the Stop Online Piracy Act, the Protect IP Act, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, according to a document filed Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by shareholder NorthStar Asset Management, which represents more than 55,000 Facebook shares.

LAPD officers monkey-wrenched cop-monitoring gear in patrol cars – The Los Angeles Police Commission is investigating how half of the recording antennas in the Southeast Division went missing, seemingly as a way to evade new self-monitoring procedures that the Los Angeles Police Department imposed last year. The Police Commission, an independent body that oversees LAPD policy, was only notified of the situation two months ago. Neither the commission nor the LAPD immediately responded for comment. The self-monitoring had been imposed by the LAPD as the result of federal monitoring of its police activities that formally ended last year after more than a decade.

Mom checks Facebook, stops son from being shot, police say – A Utah mom sees comments on her son’s Facebook page. They are from teens who allegedly claim they will shoot him. She informs the police, who say that the teens were ready to carry out the threat.


Meet Your Inner Fish—and a few other animals left inside you – A miniseries airing on PBS tomorrow shows how evolution made us out of old parts. This concept is demonstrated in a variety of ways. Film of current-day human activities that rely on our inner animals, animations of species long extinct, and interviews with scientists all go into painting the picture of our evolutionary legacies. If there’s any doubt about the connection between evolutionary innovations and modern humans, interviews are done with people affected by mutations in the genes that control these innovations, which are also shared with our fellow animals.

Comcast beats Monsanto in Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” poll – Comcast has edged out controversial agribusiness giant Monsanto in Consumerist’s March Madness-style “Worst Company in America” poll. “In one of the narrowest Final Death Matches in the centuries’ long history of WCIA battle, Comcast managed to hold the genetically modified body blows of Monsanto,” Consumerist wrote. To outlast 31 other competitors, Comcast had to win five rounds, defeating Yahoo, Facebook, Verizon, and SeaWorld before taking on Monsanto. The final poll was close, with 51.5 percent of voters selecting Comcast.

Something to think about:

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

-     George W. Bush

Today’s Free Downloads:

Hornil StylePix – Hornil StylePix, or simply StylePix, is a graphics editing program with a number of advanced features. Stylepix is an acronym for “Style Pictures”. This means your pictures with nice style. Hornil StylePix has intuitive user interface. It is designed to control the selected functions easy and conveniently. Even if you have no experience, you can easily learn how to edit image and retouching your photos. As a result, Hornil StylePix´s intuitive UI reduces your time to work. Hornil StylePix runs on fewer resources environment such as Net-books and laptop computer or virtual machines(vmware, virtual box, virtual pc and etc.) with full image handling features.


FreeText – FreeText is a simple and easy-to-use notebook for making notes, keeping to-do lists, storing information on accounts and contacts, etc. It can be helpful when you need to save a link, interesting citation, phone number or to simply insert text from a clipboard for a short time. By clicking on a program icon you can immediately start entering data. You don’t have to create and save files — the file is always open in the program, and all changes are automatically saved. No worries! The program is initially customized to launch when your computer turns on and to be always shown in the notification area.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Spied On Human Rights Groups, Says Snowden – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed that U.S. government intelligence agencies spied on NGOs and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as part of its dragnet mass surveillance programs. Snowden was giving testimony, via video-link, to the Council of Europe at a parliamentary hearing on mass surveillance taking place in Strasbourg today. “The U.S. National Security Agency has a directorate that has worked to intentionally subvert the privacy laws and constitutional protections of EU member states against mass surveillance,” said Snowden reading a prepared statement to the Council. “The body of public evidence indicates mass surveillances results in societies that are not only less liberal, but less safe.” “I am proud of the fact that despite the dramatic protestations of intelligence chiefs, no evidence has been shown by any government that the revelations of the last year have caused any specific harm,” he added. “My motivation is to improve government, not to bring it down.” The Council had provided Snowden with a series of questions to which he responded to in the testimony.

Europe’s Top Court Rules 2006 Telecoms Data Retention Law Is Invalid – The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the top court in the European Union, has ruled that an EU-wide law that requires telecoms companies to store user-data for up to two years so it can be handed over to law enforcement authorities is invalid. The EU Data Retention Directive came into force in 2006, requiring Member States to retain communications data for fixed line, mobile telephony and Internet communications, such as the calling telephone number and the name and address of service subscribers/users — and to make the retained data available on request to law enforcement authorities. The law was characterized as an anti-terrorism measure aimed at protecting the public, and a way for law enforcement authorities to combat other crimes. However, the ECJ has ruled the directive is invalid on right-to-privacy grounds — specifically flagging up a clash with two fundamental rights under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the E.U.: “namely the fundamental right to respect for private life and the fundamental right to the protection of personal data”.

Lawmakers push US attorney general for NSA surveillance changes – Several U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday urged the nation’s attorney general to curtail the National Security Agency’s collection of overseas electronic communications, saying President Barack Obama’s promise to revamp a surveillance program focused on U.S. telephone records didn’t go far enough. The Obama administration should go beyond a limited proposal made last month to restructure the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records and live up to the president’s January pledge to overhaul a wider range of surveillance programs, Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat, said. It’s important to end the U.S. phone records collection, but Obama’s more recent proposal, along with one made by leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, “focus on one program used to access one database collected under one legal authority,” Conyers told Attorney General Eric Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. “To me, the problem is far more complicated than that narrow lens implies.”

Snowden to NSA: Go ahead, deny I tried to raise the alarm legally – Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has challenged the National Security Agency to explicitly deny that he tried — before leaking secret documents to journalists — to use legal, internal means to raise a red flag about the possibly unconstitutional nature of the outfit’s surveillance programs. “The NSA at this point not only knows I raised complaints, but that there is evidence that I made my concerns known to the NSA’s lawyers, because I did some of it through e-mail. I directly challenge the NSA to deny that I contacted NSA oversight and compliance bodies directly via e-mail and that I specifically expressed concerns about their suspect interpretation of the law, and I welcome members of Congress to request a written answer [from the NSA] to this question,” Snowden told Vanity Fair in a feature that’s scheduled for publication later this week. The challenge came in response to a claim by NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett, who led the agency’s investigation of Snowden and who Vanity Fair says told the magazine that Snowden made no formal complaints and that no one at the NSA has reported Snowden mentioning his concerns to them.

UK spies did not misuse powers for mass surveillance, watchdog says – British intelligence agencies do not misuse their powers to engage in random mass intrusion into the communications of law-abiding U.K. citizens, a government watchdog said in an annual report. In a report released Tuesday, U.K. Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Anthony May, discussed disclosures based on documents leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about what had been secret surveillance programs of the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ. The commissioner’s job is to ensure that government agencies follow laws when intercepting communications and he works independently of the government. It is “quite clear” that people who do not associate with potential terrorists or serious criminals, or engage in other actions that could threaten national security are of no interest to surveillance agencies, he wrote.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 8, 2014

Too much Twitter leads to infidelity and divorce;  How to get your data from Windows XP to a new PC;  Five free apps that let you do more with Outlook 2013;  Government breaches at all-time high, press blunder under-reports by millions;  How to install Windows apps on Linux with CrossOver;  First look: Adobe Lightroom mobile for iPad;  A $200 3D printer? Meet the Micro;  Google TV to be rebooted as Android TV;  Internet is a TOOL OF SATAN;  Windows Firewall Console (free);  EverNote (free);  Australians set piracy record of Games of Thrones season premiere;  Supreme Court takes a pass on NSA surveillance case.

How to get your data from Windows XP to a new PC – With the Windows end-of-service deadline finally upon us, a lot of holdouts are hurriedly making the upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. Moving all your important files from Windows XP to your new computer may sound like just one more hassle. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that hard at all. Here are four simple options for transferring your data from Windows XP to a new PC without breaking a sweat.

Too much Twitter leads to infidelity and divorce, study shows – A University of Missouri study finds that active Twitter users are far more likely to experience Twitter-related conflict with their romantic partners.

Five free apps that let you do more with Outlook 2013 – You can install an app for Outlook 2013 by clicking on the Files menu and then clicking the Manage Apps button and following the prompts. Once you install an app, it will be invoked automatically when you compose or view a message — but only when appropriate. For example, an app that is designed to map addresses is typically invoked only when you open an email that contains an address. Apps are accessible via a link located just above the message body. Let’s take a look at five free Outlook 2013 available from the Office Store.

How to live tweet an event: 7 best practices – Forget the watercooler. Twitter’s become the place where people congregate to dispense with the old, “hey, did ya hear?” Except, instead of waiting until break time the next day, the conversation is always happening. For a brand, the middle of the action seems like a desirable place to be, and that is driving more brands to consider live tweeting important events. But before a brand dives into a live situation, there are a few things to remember. Here are tips for live tweeting a variety events, including conferences, pop culture events, and unanticipated news happenings.

How to install Windows apps on Linux with CrossOver (Gallery) – Summary: In this example, I’m installing Microsoft Office 2010 on Mint 16 using CrossOver Linux 13.1.2.


Microsoft shows off next-gen Windows for connected cars – The concept looks like Windows for the car: There’s a Start screen, with common tasks that can be “pinned” to the car’s dashboard, while things the driver needs to know right away (such as an upcoming school zone) are displayed prominently. In Teixeira’s demo, users could select different views, such as climate control, or more information about the currently playing artist. In the demo, he swiped right to reveal service information, such as a 30,000-mile maintenance reminder, as well as an assessment of how efficiently he drove. And, of course, there are apps—which automakers and third-party companies alike are already pushing forward on.



Amazon Dash wants to make buying groceries as easy as saying ‘cheese’ – Amazon Dash is about the size of a remote control, and it features both a microphone and a barcode scanner, which allows you to either speak the name of the item you need (say, “cheese”) or scan the barcodes for whatever you need. The Dash then sends your order to Amazon Fresh using its Wi-Fi connection: All you need to do is review the order on your smartphone, tablet, or computer to schedule your delivery and make the purchase official.


Windows 8.1 Update is a mandatory update for Windows 8.1 users – Microsoft released Windows 8.1 in October 2013, and while it was recommended for all Windows 8 users, it was not a requirement to continue receiving support from the company. That won’t be the case for Windows 8,1 users when it comes to Tuesday’s release of Windows 8.1 Update as it will be delivered via Windows update. In a Microsoft Premier Field Engineering Platform blog post, the company flat out says that Windows 8.1 Update is a required download for Windows 8.1 users. The blog post states: Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)

Raspberry Pi Compute Module shrinks to memory stick size – The wraps have been taken off the new Raspberry Pi compute module, and with it comes a new slimmed down size. The new unit is slimmed down enough to fit into a DDR2 memory slot you’d find in laptops, and is aimed at business and industrial users.


First look: Adobe Lightroom mobile for iPad – Adobe’s pro photography editing software has come to the iPad: Take an in-depth tour of its features with Macworld contributor and photographer Jeff Carlson.


Top tips for traveling with your smartphone – Before you book your next vacation, be sure to watch this travel episode of The Fix.

A $200 3D printer? Meet the Micro – The compact Micro topped its $50,000 Kickstarter funding goal 11 minutes after launching, and early-bird backers nabbed an especially great deal.


iPad at Work: The essential guide for business users 2014 – Apple’s iPad is an impressive piece of technology. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of it as a business tool.


Massive Security Bug In OpenSSL Could Affect A Huge Chunk Of The Internet – I saw a t-shirt one time. “I’m a bomb disposal technician,” it read. “If you see me running, try to keep up.” The same sort of idea can be applied to net security: when all the net security people you know are freaking out, it’s probably an okay time to worry. This afternoon, many of the net security people I know are freaking out. A very serious bug in OpenSSL — a cryptographic library that is used to secure a very, very large percentage of the Internet’s traffic — has just been discovered and publicly disclosed. It seems the bug has been in OpenSSL for 2+ years (since December 2011, OpenSSL versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f) before its publicly announced discovery today. Even worse, it appears that exploiting this bug leaves no trace in the server’s logs.

Government breaches at all-time high, press blunder under-reports by millions – This is one of those articles that spoils your faith in mankind. Not only are government security incidents fully into holy-cow territory, the press is reporting numbers three magnitudes too low because someone misread a chart and everyone else copied that report.

Scamming still works better than mobile malware: Symantec – With larger and more frequent data breaches, online scammers are able to rely on existing techniques, and have no need yet to move into the realm of mobile malware.

Few European ATMs upgraded to Windows 7 – A research report indicates that Europe is far behind the US in moving ATMs from Windows XP. Less than 1 percent of ATMs in Europe are running Windows 7.

6 ways the Internet of Things will transform enterprise security – Most enterprise security organizations are unlikely to have a spamming refrigerator on top of their list of things to worry about. But news earlier this year that an Internet-connected fridge was co-opted into a botnet that sent spam to tens of thousands of Internet users is sure to have piqued the interest of at least a few. If nothing, the incident showed how even a benign consumer appliance could pose a danger to enterprises if connected to the Internet without proper security protections. Here in no particular order are six ways the Internet of Things will affect enterprise security.

Company News:

Twitter Buys Cover, Android Lockscreen App – Twitter on Monday confirmed that it is acquiring the Android lockscreen app Cover for an undisclosed sum. Cover, which launched in October, learns the apps you use at different times of the day, and puts them on your lock screen for easy access. Cover first announced the acquisition in a Monday blog post that noted that the companies fit well together.

Movie studios sue Dotcom, Megaupload for copyright infringement – Six major U.S. movie studios have sued Megaupload, the Hong Kong company running the now defunct file-sharing website of the same name, and its founder Kim Dotcom for allegedly encouraging and profiting from copyright infringement. The civil suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria charges Megaupload and Dotcom, among others, of encouraging its users to upload infringing copies of popular entertainment content, including from the Hollywood studios.

After Raising $250 Million, Lyft Cuts Prices By Up To 20% In All Markets – Last week, Lyft announced that it had raised a massive $250 million round of funding as part of its effort to compete against other on-demand ride services. Now the company is going on the offensive against its competitors, with a price cut of up to 20 percent in all of its markets.

Microsoft’s $7.2BN Deal To Buy Nokia’s Devices Business Gets The Nod In China – Chinese regulators have approved Nokia’s planned sale of its devices business to Microsoft, taking the $7.2 billion deal one step closer to closing. Nokia said today it has received regulatory approval from the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.

Press Releases:

American Megatrends Inc. (AMI) today announced the release of the StorTrends iDATA (Intelligent Data Analysis Tracking Application), a free software tool designed to provide an accurate assessment of IT infrastructure performance, capacity and throughput requirements. By measuring all of the necessary components of an IT infrastructure, the StorTrends iDATA tool can assess pain points in an environment before they become disruptive and provide the details needed to make informed storage decisions.

Wombat Security Technologies – (Wombat) today announced it is a key sponsor of a webinar to be presented by Enterprise Management’s Association (EMA) industry expert David Monahan on the rapidly growing Security Awareness and Training Market, to be held Tuesday, April 8 at 2:00pm EDT. In addition to its sponsorship role, Wombat’s input helped shape the questions behind the survey which was utilized to develop EMA’s report. Wombat has deep roots in the Security Awareness and Training Market, and is a recognized authority, having recently been named the Gold winner of the 2014 Global Excellence Awards in Tomorrow’s Technology Today for its Security Training Platform and Bronze winner in the New Product category for its CyberStrength® Security Awareness assessment product.

Games and Entertainment:

Australians set piracy record of Games of Thrones season premiere – In the wake of Games of Thrones airing the first episode of its fourth season in the US, data from TorrentFreak showed Australia downloaded the most pirated copies of the episode.

Alien Tribe 2 for iPad Does Justice to the 4x RTS Genre – Alien Tribe 2 is what real-time strategy fans call a 4x game, meaning the goal is to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. Charming, right? You don’t have to be all tyrannical about it, though. In Alien Tribe 2 for iPadyou have to keep your civilization alive by colonizing new planets, building up defenses, and finding the resources you need to stay ahead of the bad guys.


Xbox Live original TV content begins in June with six shows – Microsoft is getting into the content business in a much larger way than anyone originally understood, with six new shows on the way to the Xbox One. At a time where Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are all deep into their own unique content, Microsoft has quite the arsenal in mind for a global audience. This move further cements the Xbox One as a entertainment console that is capable of delivering a good gaming experience, as opposed to Sony who is set on delivering a high-end gaming console that also handles streaming content.


Google TV to be rebooted as Android TV, with all new everything – Google TV has been gutted and re-imagined as Android TV in the hopes that it will do a better job infiltrating living rooms than its predecessor, but so far there’s little more than a leaked coat of paint to show how it has improved.


Goat Simulator update incoming: multiplayer arrives in May – During GDC earlier this year, we went hands-on with the oddly popular Goat Simulator, giving a look at the gameplay in all its wonderful absurdity. For faithful players who are looking forward to the upcoming 1.1 update, take heart: multiplayer will be arriving with it, as well as a new map.


Watch Dogs PC recommended specs include 8-core CPU and 8GB of RAM – There have been a couple very anticipated games announced for the PC and game consoles so far in 2014. One of the most anticipated games was Titanfall and it is now available for PC gamers. Another anticipated PC game is Watch Dogs. We already know a few of the minimum specs for Watch Dogs on the PC after they were tipped by the creative director of the game, Jonathan Morin.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Trace the past with NY Public Library’s Open Access Maps Project – GPS can’t quite capture the beauty of historical maps. Thanks to the Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division at the New York Public Library, 20,000 high-res maps are now available for download.


Internet is a TOOL OF SATAN that destroys belief, study claims – A US computer scientist has released a study claiming to have found out why so many Americans are abandoning their religious faith and says it’s the internet’s fault. “Internet use decreases the chance of religious affiliation,” reports Allen Downey, professor of computer science at Olin school of engineering. Downey analyzed data from 20 years of polling by the National Opinion Research Center for its General Social Survey. He found that the number of people citing no religious belief increased from 8 to 18 per cent between 1990 and 2010, and argues the growth of internet use accounts for a large proportion of that.

Scientists apply physics to biology to create uncrackable encryption scheme – Is it possible to ensure online privacy and truly have secure digital communications? Scientists believe their new encryption scheme gives an “infinite number of choices for the secret encryption key shared between the sender and receiver” and therefore promises to be “so nearly unbreakable that it will be equally unwelcome to internet criminals and official eavesdroppers.”

Drone falls out of the sky and injures athlete – A triathlete suffered head injuries after an unmanned aerial vehicle fell out of the sky, with the pilot claiming the drone had been hacked.

StoreDot unveils ‘flash-battery’ capable of charging devices in just 30 seconds – For years, battery life has been the bane of a smartphone user’s existence. Lithium-ion batteries are notoriously inefficient, and frequent device use often leads to a decay of battery life over time. Nanotechnology company StoreDot is looking to change that: Today, they unveiled a new ‘flash-battery’ capable of charging a device to full capacity in just 30 seconds.

Money: The Unauthorised Biography, book review – Here’s what we think we know about money. In the beginning, there was barter. Barter got awkward after a while — you want a sheep, but your neighbour only has beans, and the neighbour who has a sheep only wants eggs — and so we moved to metal coins as universal units of value. From there, we moved to increasing levels of abstraction: gold-backed paper notes, then paper notes backed only by the full faith and credit of the issuing government, then numbers in cyberspace. ‘Wrong!’, says Felix Martin, the author of Money: The Unauthorised Biography and partner in the fixed income division at Liontrust Asset Management.

Something to think about:

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

-     Abraham Lincoln

Today’s Free Downloads:

EverNote – EverNote for Windows is an intuitive note management application that offers you a single place for the organization, easy input and quick retrieval of all types of notes and clippings. With EverNote, you can conveniently capture and quickly find typed or handwritten memos; excerpts from Web pages, documents and emails; passwords, phone messages, and to do’s; brainstorms, sketches, camera phone snapshots; and more. EverNote provides a unique approach by storing all different types and formats of notes on an endless, virtual roll of paper. With this innovation, you can quickly find any note by sight – without having to open notes individually – either by a single click on any date in the Time Band, or by using EverNote’s handy Accelerator Scroller.


Windows Firewall Console – The Windows Firewall Console helps users take control of their Window 8 Firewall and it also is a full replacement for TinyWall. It also has a very nice transparency eye candy look. This program also has a Windows Firewall Security Fix and is very Lightweight on your Computer System with Web Browser Security options. The user must first click the popup green shield icon for the Two Way Firewall Patch after that use the green shield to add each safe application. If you need to reset the firewall settings? Use the red shield and repeat the popup green shield icon button and green shield button process very simple. This 100% Freeware product has a better GUI than Tinywall 2.1 and gives the users the options to change the look & feel of there Security Software and does not mess up stuff like Tinywall 2.1 Firewall policy rules on Windows 7 Firewall or Host file locking conflicts with any Antivirus program including MSE or Windows 8 Defender.


MyGodMode - Utility for accessing all 260+ Windows´ system management functions and customization options from a single place. MyGodMode integrates with desktop, start menu, quick start toolbar and context menu. The GodMode folder, also known as “All tasks”, allows all system management tools, usually spread in various places (control panel, computer management, administration tools etc) to be conveniently accessed from a single place, searchable, and it was originally intended to be available only to Microsoft developers.


Free File Camouflage – Want to save a copy of your personal file on a USB Pendrive but you are worried that, in case of theft, someone will be able to access your data? With Free File Camouflage you can hide your files inside a JPEG image! The software can be used with the main interface or via the explorer “send to” context menu (the first time you only need to select a directory with some images). All the files are encrypted using AES and hidden inside an image.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Edward Snowden and journalist Laura Poitras awarded truth-telling prize – The 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling was awarded Monday to Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras. The award, named for the Vietnam veteran who helped uncover the My Lai Massacre and later became an investigative journalist, is the latest honor bestowed upon the reporting efforts related to the Snowden files. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor and whistleblower, was awarded the prize based on his actions in exposing the extent of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance. Poitras, a filmmaker and journalist, was awarded for her work in helping Snowden disclose the documents related to such government surveillance efforts. A celebrated documentary filmmaker and investigative reporter prior to her contact with Snowden, Poitras was the first to establish encrypted contact with Snowden. Her efforts ultimately led to the exposure of the NSA’s vast warrantless surveillance operation. Congress and the American public continue to debate how best to characterize Snowden, who is believed to be residing in Russia and faces criminal prosecution in the United States.

As gov’t discusses expanding digital searches, ACLU sounds caution – Late last month, we reported on new federal efforts to gain an expanded ability to conduct “remote access” searches under a warrant against a target computer whose location is unknown or outside of a given judicial district. The government’s proposed revisions to criminal rules will be discussed at an upcoming Department of Justice (DOJ) meeting later this month in New Orleans. Proposed rules to let one judge authorize “remote access” essentially anywhere. Federal agents have been known to use such tactics in past and ongoing cases: a Colorado federal magistrate judge approved sending malware to a suspect’s known e-mail address in 2012. But similar techniques have been rejected by other judges on Fourth Amendment grounds. If this rule revision were to be approved, it would standardize and expand federal agents’ ability to survey a suspect and to exfiltrate data from a target computer regardless of where it is. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a 21-page memorandum with comments and recommendation to the DOJ. Specifically, the ACLU fears “jurisdictional overreach,” which under the new rules would allow a magistrate judge in any district to impose a “remote access search warrant” in any other district. The memo is authored by Nathan Freed Wessler, Chris Soghoian, Alex Abdo, and Rita Cant, who are attorneys and fellows at the ACLU.

Supreme Court takes a pass on NSA surveillance case – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a lawsuit challenging the U.S. National Security Agency’s collection of U.S. phone records filed by a conservative activist, despite a lower court’s ruling that the program may be illegal. The court, without comment, denied the request by activist and former federal prosecutor Larry Klayman, along with Charles and Mary Strange, to immediately hear their case against U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NSA Director Keith Alexander, Verizon Communications and Roger Vinson, the judge who signed the order allowing the surveillance. Klayman had appealed the case directly to the Supreme Court after Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stayed his decision suspending the NSA program, pending appeal by the government. The case has generated significant attention, with Leon ruling in December that the NSA’s large-scale telephone records collection program likely violates the U.S. Constitution.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 7, 2014

Smarten Up! Everyone Needs to Think About Android Security;  The Web can make you lose your religion;  The #1 paid app in the Google Playstore “Virus Shield” is a complete scam;  Netflix vs. Hulu Plus;  The 6 Types of Apps That Are Making You a Worse Person;  Welcome to the Era of Politically Correct Web Browsing;   Sitedrop Turns A Dropbox Folder Into A Visual Workspace;  Google may be launching their own wireless cell phone service;  18 million email addresses and passwords stolen in Germany;  Patent Office blocks Google’s trademark of ‘Glass’;  If President Obama wanted the NSA to quit storing phone metadata, he’d act now.

Smarten Up! Everyone Needs to Think About Android Security – When writing about Android security, I tend to see a lot of the same issue over and over again (SSL, guys! Come on!). We asked Widdit CEO Noam Fine and head of mobile development Nir Orpaz to explain why Android developers make the security choices they do and what needs to be done better after dealing with a security crisis of their own.

Welcome to the Era of Politically Correct Web Browsing – Welcome to the brave new world of socially conscious… web-browsing. In the past, consumers might patronize certain businesses (Whole Foods, say, or Ben & Jerry’s) whose stated missions extended beyond increasing shareholder value and avoided others that might have politically objectionable CEOs or reputations for being anti-abortion (Domino’s Pizza, say) or public positions opposed to certain forms of birth control (Hobby Lobby, for instance). Now we’re boycotting free products such as Firefox and demanding companies dance to the tune called by customers. I think that’s a good thing overall — but it may end up being just as difficult for consumers to live with as it will be for corporations.

XPocalypse Now: Security experts size up the cyberthreats – There are no more lifelines. In a few days, Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows XP support for consumers. With no more updates or security patches available (other than some bare-bones malware support), it’s forecast to be open season on the legacy operating system. But just how bad will the “Windows XPocalypse” be? We spoke to several security experts to find out.

5 key things Windows XP users need to know before buying a new PC – XP has just days of official support left. If you’re thinking about buying a new PC, here are a few tips to help you navigate the aisles of your local electronics retailer.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

iPad at Work: The essential guide for business users 2014 – Apple’s iPad is an impressive piece of technology. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of it as a business tool.

Hands on with the Tablo DVR – Another box to tempt cord-cutters! This one records over-the-air TV and sends it to your tablet or computer—no actual television set required.


Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs? – For many people, streaming video services have started filling the gap between sitting in front of the TV when your favorite show comes on and getting a DVR. These supplemental services have become a critical part of our entertainment experience, even going as far as allowing some people to cancel their cable subscriptions altogether, but which is the best all around video streaming service?

Linux Mint programs for Windows XP users – The biggest challenge for Windows XP users switching to Linux Mint is having to change the programs you’ve known and used for years. Fortunately, some programs are available on both Linux and Windows. In addition, there are Linux programs that duplicate the functionality of your favorite Windows programs. For today, I’m going to focus on native Linux and Web-based programs that you can use to duplicate your Windows XP software functionality.


Sitedrop Turns A Dropbox Folder Into A Visual Workspace Where You Can Collaborate With Others – Getting everyone to use the same project management software is a challenge, but everyone seems to have a Dropbox account. Hoping to build on top of the consumer-friendly service’s popularity, a new startup called Sitedrop allows you quickly turn any Dropbox folder into a website where you can visually showcase your work and collaborate with others. Sitedrop users are able to view, comment, favorite and even upload files to the online workspace just by dragging a file or link to a Dropbox folder.

Report: More ads are coming to Twitter–a lot more – According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the company is expected to roll out 15 new kinds of ads over the next six months or so. According to the Journal, the new ad initiative will start modestly enough, with a new type of ad that encourages Twitter users to download apps to their smartphones: Clicking the download link will take you to that app’s listing on the App Store.

Here’s a 5-Minute Amazon Fire TV Walkthrough – Hot on the heels of Amazon’s Fire TV announcement on Wednesday, here’s a look at the setup, interface and features now that the streaming TV box is out in the wild.


Cortana blows away Siri and Google Now, may bring me back to Windows Phone – I didn’t think too much of the earlier Cortana leaks, but after seeing it perform in person and diving into all that it can do I think this smart personal assistant may even bring people to Windows Phone from iOS and Android.


The 6 Types of Apps That Are Making You a Worse Person – Apps can make you healthier (train for a 5k! watch your insulin intake!), more responsible (swipe through your taxes!), and live a more efficient life (find the perfect movie/takeout/girlfriend!), but they can also egg on your more nefarious side. And in the recent months, there’s been a pronounced uptick in apps that drive antisocial, anonymously catty, all around bad behavior–because at the end of the day, there’s a little bit of each and every one of us that’s kind of awful.

8 Ways to Get Your Posts Seen More on Facebook – A recent study estimated that brand posts on Facebook are typically seen by about 6 percent of a page’s fans, and that figure is expected to fall further this year. The decline has created a growing tension between brands, which have used social media for free marketing for a decade, and Facebook, which is trying to boost its thriving advertising business and manage a deluge of content from individual users and Pages. Despite the angry reaction, Facebook will continue to nudge brands toward paying to reach more of their fans. But there are some strategies page owners can implement to make their free posts more effective. Here’s a guide to making your Facebook Page work for you in the pay-to-play era.


The #1 paid app in the Google Playstore “Virus Shield” is a complete scam – The $3.99 app “Virus Shield” by Deviant Solutions doesn’t protect the user’s privacy, scan for malware, speed up the user’s phone or block ads. However it has 10,000 downloads and a 4.7 star rating.

18 million email addresses and passwords stolen in Germany – The stolen identities were discovered in the context of an investigation into a botnet which is being used to send spam emails from stolen email addresses, according to the BSI. “The botnet is still in operation,” according to a statement issued on Monday by the BSI, and “the stolen identities are being actively exploited.” Of the 18 million email users affected, three million are based in Germany. The BSI has been working in collaboration with email service providers in the country — including Deutsche Telekom, GMX, and Vodafone — to notify those who may be affected.

Microsoft will block adware without easy uninstall – Microsoft has toughened its criteria for classifying programs as adware and gave developers three months to conform with the new principles or risk having their programs blocked by the company’s security products. The most important change in Microsoft’s policy is that adware programs will be blocked by default starting July 1. In the past such programs were allowed to run until users chose one of the recommended actions offered by the company’s security software.

Samsung Adding Anti-theft Solutions to Smartphones – The world’s largest mobile-phone maker said users will be able to activate for free its “Find My Mobile” and “Reactivation Lock” anti-theft features to protect the soon-to-be-released Galaxy 5 S

Company News:

Google Pays Another Tiny Fine In Europe — $1.4M — For Street View Privacy Concerns – Google has paid a €1 million ($1.4 million) fine in Italy levied by the country’s data protection watchdog for complaints relating to its Street View street-level image capturing cars that date back to 2010. Google has also previously been fined in Europe on privacy grounds relating to its early 2012 decision to unify the privacy policies of more than 70 different products. Google was fined around $200,000 in France in January for privacy infringements relating to that decision. Spain also levied a $1.3 million fine back in December for the same issue. Even cumulatively such amounts pale into insignificance for a company of Google’s size — underlining the regulatory difficulties of reigning in any overreaching behaviour by the U.S. tech giant.

Yahoo reportedly eyes push into original video programming – Internet company plans to acquire high-end original programming, joining the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Mozilla denies pushing CEO to resign – In response to the outcry over his resignation, Mozilla has published an extensive FAQ on the resignation of its controversial short-term CEO Brendan Eich.

Google may be launching their own wireless cell phone service – Google may be venturing further into everyday life by launching their very own wireless cell phone service to compete with companies such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Games and Entertainment:

8 Game of Thrones Parodies That Will Forever Ruin the Show for You – The Game of Thrones credits sequence is, hands down, the best opener in television history. The sprawling clockwork map animation perfectly encapsulates George R. R. Martin’s vast fantasy universe. And it’s all accompanied by an epic orchestral score that makes you just want to head out into the forest in search of a small village to conquer. Rarr!!! We scoured the YouTube-iverse in search of the most inventive reinventions, mash-ups, and smash-ups of the Game of Thrones opener. While some are funny and some are just bizarre, we can promise that you will never be able to watch GoT the same ever again! Enjoy! And also, sorry!

5 million gamers signed up to play The Elder Scrolls Online beta – Bethesda has released an infographic demonstrating just how much interest The Elder Scrolls Online has generated, with the main takeaway being how many gamers signed up to play before launch. In total, over 5 million people registered to take part in the beta. That’s a figure most developers would kill to count as a sales total for their game, MMO or not.


DirectX 12: A game changer for Xbox One – Microsoft demonstrates DirectX 12 doubling the framerate of games at Build 2014 which will help push the Xbox One deeper into next generation gaming and will enhance the user experience. With relatively little effort by developers, upcoming Xbox One games, PC Games and Windows Phone games will see a doubling in graphics performance. Suddenly, that Xbox One game that struggled at 720p will be able to reach fantastic performance at 1080p. For developers, this is a game changer.

Space Sim FTL Begins its Perilous Mission on iPad – FTL is one of the most addictive space faring simulation games you can play right now, and it has just crossed over from PC to iPad. In FTL you are the captain of a ship with an important mission. You must reach Galactic Federation HQ, but there are hostile aliens, vicious rebels, and dangerous star systems in your path.


Microsoft adds a gaming bundle for the Surface Pro 2 – Having thoroughly pushed the productivity angle for the Surface Pro 2, Microsoft is now turning to gamers with a new bundle. The Surface Pro 2 Geek and Sundry bundle includes an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows, a downloadable copy of Farming Simulator 2013, and downloadable content for the free-to-play game War Thunder. The bundle costs the same as the Surface Pro 2 by itself, starting at $899 for the 64GB model. Microsoft says this is a limited-time offer, good through May 1 or while supplies last.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Anti-Tech Protesters Are Telling Kevin Rose’s Neighbors That He’s A “Parasite” – Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose says that his San Francisco home was visited by protesters today, who held up a banner calling him a “parasite” and distributed leaflets with the same message. What did he do to deserve this? Well, he invested in startups. Rose posted a photo on Instagram of what he said was a flyer distributed to his neighbors. It says, in part:


The Web can make you lose your religion, study says – Research published in the MIT Technology Review offers that there seems a direct link between increased use of the Internet and a decline in religious dedication.

Patent Office blocks Google’s trademark of ‘Glass’ – The Trademark Office has two big concerns. The first problem is that simply being titled Glass might have the trademark confused with every other pending tech trademark that also uses the term. The second issue is that, even if Google’s Glass were the only product that employs the word, it’s still “merely descriptive,” and words that only describe a product don’t receive trademark protection. It needs to show some type of “distinctiveness.” As the Wall Street Journal points out, a salsa company couldn’t trademark the term “spicy sauce” for that reason.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ makes it easy for anyone to fly a drone – Lately, we’ve seen drones move from potentially militaristic purposes to potentially crazy uses, like making deliveries for Amazon or even snooping WiFi hotspot connections. DJI’s new Phantom 2 Vision+ has a less nefarious purpose of making impossible shots possible and even makes it easy for less experienced quadcopter pilots to do so.


NYC Firefighters, Police in Vicious Brawl During Charity Hockey Match – What began as a charity hockey match between New York City police officers and firefighters later erupted into bedlam as the benches cleared and punches were exchanged on the ice in Long Island on Sunday. (A hockey MATCH? Is that sorta like a baseball MATCH?)


Expect an irate call if you try to hack your Tesla Model S – Once upon a time it was a rite of passage for car lovers to get under the hood and tinker with the mechanics; in the modern world of EVs, that’s been upgraded to hacking access to the computer systems, as one Tesla Model S owner discovered. Some investigation of a mysterious port turned out to be a hidden ethernet link into the Model S’ internal communications system, as well as a shortcut to getting an irate call from Tesla itself warning owners not to fiddle lest they be accused of “industrial espionage”.

Something to think about:

“Wrong should not win by technicalities”

-     Aeschylus

Today’s Free Downloads:

Classic Shell – Classic Shell is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it. The main features are – Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins. Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs. Find programs, settings, files and documents. Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer. Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer.


WOT for Chrome – Web of Trust (WOT) is a website reputation and review service that helps people make informed decisions about whether to trust a website or not. Also available for Internet Explorer and Firefox. WOT displays a colored traffic light next to website links to show you which sites people trust for safe searching, surfing and shopping online: green for good, red for bad, and yellow as a warning to be cautious. The icons are shown in popular search engine results, social media, online email, shortened URL’s, and lots of other sites. WOT shows you which websites you can trust based on millions of users’ experiences around the world to help you stay safe when you search, surf, and shop online.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

ACLU launches user-friendly database of every Snowden doc: Search all now-public NSA surveillance docs at your leisure – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a searchable online database that contains all of the documents obtained by Edward Snowden and made public since last June. “These documents stand as primary source evidence of our government’s interpretation of its authority to engage in sweeping surveillance activities at home and abroad, and how it carries out that surveillance,” Emily Weinrebe of the ACLU’s National Security project wrote on Thursday. “The ACLU hopes to facilitate this debate by making these documents more easily accessible and understandable,” Weinrebe wrote. “Toward that end, today we are launching the NSA Documents Database.” The database is searchable by document title, category, or full-text content, allowing anyone with online access to delve through all the documents and find information on whatever previously secret government info-slurping they’re interested in.

The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket – This week, the Associated Press exposed a secret program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development to create “a Twitter-like Cuban communications network” run through “secret shell companies” in order to create the false appearance of being a privately owned operation. Unbeknownst to the service’s Cuban users was the fact that “American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes”–specifically, to manipulate those users in order to foment dissent in Cuba and subvert its government. According to top-secret documents published today by The Intercept, this sort of operation is frequently discussed at western intelligence agencies, which have plotted ways to covertly use social media for ”propaganda,” “deception,” “mass messaging,” and “pushing stories.” These ideas–discussions of how to exploit the internet, specifically social media, to surreptitiously disseminate viewpoints friendly to western interests and spread false or damaging information about targets–appear repeatedly throughout the archive of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Documents prepared by NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ–and previously published by The Intercept as well as some by NBC News–detailed several of those programs, including a unit devoted in part to “discrediting” the agency’s enemies with false information spread online.

If President Obama wanted the NSA to quit storing phone metadata, he’d act now – President Barack Obama says he wants Congress to adopt legislation that would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata, a surveillance initiative exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. As it currently operates, the NSA’s collection program gathers and stores the metadata of every call made to and from the United States. President Obama’s plan, proposed by a presidential panel he commissioned, would prevent the government from tapping into the trillions of records for political or other purposes. Under the plan, the NSA would be required to get authorization from a secret court before demanding that telecoms hand over calling metadata of specified terror targets and their associated contacts. “I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk,” Obama said. “Instead, the data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today.” Rights groups are applauding the move. But they say it’s virtually a meaningless gesture in its current form.

Snowden leaks erode trust in Internet companies, government – Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data collection practices have eroded the public’s trust in major technology companies — and in the Internet, a Harris Interactive survey found. Harris polled over 2,000 U.S. adults for their opinions on surveillance, data gathering, Internet privacy and trust in a post-Snowden era. About 85% of those polled were at least somewhat familiar with Snowden’s leaks about government surveillance and some 80% wanted Congress to implement new laws for curbing the NSA. Despite that, over half believed that mass surveillance helps prevent terrorism and an almost equal number felt that Internet companies should cooperate with the government’s efforts in this regard. Somewhat paradoxically though, two out of three survey respondents also felt betrayed because ISPs and other online companies are working secretly with the government to collect and monitor the communications of private citizens. About 60% are less trusting of ISPs and other technology companies than before the revelations.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 4, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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


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


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


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


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


Something to think about:

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

-    Meister Eckhart

Today’s Free Downloads:

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


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


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


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 3, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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


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


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


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


Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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


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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

-    Penn Jillette

Today’s Free Downloads:

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


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


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 2, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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



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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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


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

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

Something to think about:

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

-    Paul Harvey

Today’s Free Downloads:

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




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

Dexpot – Dexpot turns your monitor into 20 different virtual desktops – Dexpot creates additional workspaces you can quickly switch between them. Take, for example, Desktop 1 to listen to your favourite music, surf the web on Desktop 2, use Desktop 3 to handle your daily word processing or switch to Desktop 4 for a game of Solitaire. Different icons, wallpapers, start-ups, and much more can be configured for each desktop.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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